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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘process’

Putin, Netanyahu, Talk Peace Process on Phone

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, the Kremlin press service reported, adding that the conversation was initiated by Israel.

“The leaders exchanged opinions on Middle East settlement issues and topical aspects of the general situation in the region. They agreed to continue active Russian-Israeli contacts at different levels,” the report said.

On Wednesday August 17, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, discussed prospects for advancing Palestinian-Israeli peace talks with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Amman. Bogdanov also delivered a personal message from Putin to Abbas.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later issued a statement saying “the talks were meaningful and trustful. The sides considered prospects for advancing the Palestinian-Israeli settlement in strict compliance with the principles of international law. They also discussed the restoration of Palestinian national unity along the PLO’s political platform designed to create an independent Palestinian state, which would live in peace and security with its neighbors, including Israel.”

To be clear, in its current situation, the PA only has two neighbors: Israel and Jordan, so it’s a relief to read that it plans to live in peace with both. This considering the fact that Hamas, in the Gaza Strip, also has only two neighbors, Israel and Egypt, and it is maintaining a perpetual state of war with both.

JNi.Media

Why Is Israel Chained To The Diplomatic Process?

Friday, August 5th, 2016

We are used to thinking that the goal of the state of Israel is to achieve peace and that the problems our state faces are security, demographics, Palestinian nationalism, international pressure, and economics.

But “peace” cannot be the defined goal of a state. Peace is the result of the proper definition and achievement of a goal. If peace were the Jewish people’s goal, it would be easier to achieve it in another place, by surrendering our sovereignty, or by assimilation.

But Israel’s leaders tell us that we must remain committed to a “peace process” to solve Israel’s problems. What are these problems according to the “experts” leading our country?

1) Security. Yet, the more we progress in the “peace process,” the more the security situation deteriorates. Buses and restaurants blown up by Islamic suicide bombers and missiles slamming into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were unheard of before the “peace process.” Indeed, years of experience have shown us that any quest for security should distance us from all diplomatic processes.

2) Demography. But this too is a red herring. The average Tel Aviv woman has as many children as her neighbor in Ramallah. According to the American/Israeli Demographic Institute, the Jewish majority between the Jordan and the Sea is expected to reach 80 percent in the next 20 years. National upheavals like those in the Middle East and Ukraine can certainly speed up the process – all without “peace” talks.

3) The “Palestinian” nationalism problem. This problem was artificially created in reaction to Zionism. There is no “Palestinian” problem in any of the lands in which there is Arab sovereignty: Jordan, Egypt, Syria, or Lebanon. At the moment that Israel would G-d forbid disappear from the map, “Palestinian” nationalism would disappear, as well.

“The goal of the Jews in the Land of Israel is to establish a Jewish state there. The goal of the Arabs in the Land of Israel is to prevent the Jews from doing so” (British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, pinpointing the foundation of the conflict in a speech before the UN in 1947).

Not much has changed since Bevin’s succinct explanation. There really is no “Palestinian” nationalism. There is the Arab nation, which does not accept Jewish sovereignty over Israel. This is also the reason why a “Palestinian” state has not yet been established and never will be established – despite the fact that no other group has ever received more international aid to create its potential state. The “Palestinians” simply do not want a state. All they want is to prevent Israel from having a sovereign state.

4) International pressure. If this pressure is indeed a problem, the last thing we should do is continue the “peace” process for this process always increases the pressure on Israel. The economic boycott of Israel was largely an Arab boycott before Israel recognized the existence of the “Palestinian” nation and its rights to Israel’s heartland. But since the Oslo process, it has become a largely European boycott of Israeli products.

Before the Oslo Accords, a large question mark hovered over the legitimacy of the PLO and its leaders. No such question mark hovered over the right of the Jews to their own state. Today, after 20 years of the “diplomatic process,” the situation has reversed. We recognize them, but they do not recognize us, and the world does not require them to do so. In other words, international pressure is exacerbated by the diplomatic process and cannot be used as an excuse to engage in it.

5) The economic problem. Yet, the diplomatic process makes things worse. The Oslo Accords siphon off 10.5 percent of the national budget every year. They have cost Israel over one trillion shekels since they were signed, not including items that cannot be calculated, such as the influence of the process on the cost of housing. Israel’s economic success is not in the merit of the diplomatic process, but despite it.

So if it’s not for peace, security, demographics, Palestinian nationalism, diplomatic pressure, or the economy – why is Israel constantly pursuing a diplomatic process? The true and deep answer is that we seek legitimacy for our Israeli identity. This answer was given by none other than the architect of the Oslo process himself, Dr. Ron Pundak:

“Peace is not a goal in and of itself. It is the means to bring Israel from one era to the next; to the era that I consider the era of the normal state. ‘Israelization’ of society instead of its ‘Judaization’ will foster the synthesis of Jewish nationalism, flourishing of Israeli culture, separation of religion and state, and complete equality for the Arab minority in Israel” (Ron Pundak, Jan. 2014).

Simply put, we strive for Israeliness instead of Jewishness. As long as our neighbors fight us and do not accept this new Israeliness as legitimate, we are thrown again and again to the Jewishness from which we started (and fled). That is why we desperately need a peace accord with the Arabs. Not because of security or demographics. We need an agreement with the Arabs at all costs in order to fulfill the dream of Israeli normalcy. The Israeli needs the Arab in order to forget that he is a Jew.

And for this, we lose thousands of victims to terror, surrender vast tracts of our homeland, uproot settlements and their residents, tolerate missiles in Tel Aviv, suffer the loss of our existential legitimacy, lose more than 10 percent of our national budget annually, and so much more.

Moshe Feiglin

After 9 Years Egypt Foreign Minister Meeting Netanyahu to ‘Promote Peace Process’

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrives in Israel Sunday to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, the first visit of an Egyptian FM in nine years. The PM told his cabinet meeting Sunday that he would meet with the visitor twice, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. Shoukry met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas two weeks ago.

According to Egyptian diplomats speaking to Ma’an, Shoukry’s visit will focus on Egyptian proposals to kickstart the peace process once again, as well as the French peace initiative. The man behind today’s visit, according to Netanyahu, was his special emissary, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, the chief negotiator on behalf of Netanyahu in the Israeli negotiating team.

According to a statement released by Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid, the Shoukry visit is the next step in a process begun by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who a few months ago called on all the parties in Israel to unite around the peace process with the Palestinians and on Arab countries to also enlist to promote the peace.

Since he has managed to expand his ruling coalition from 61 to 67 members, Netanyahu has been speaking freely about his desire for a regional political move, a topic he raised in his meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago, in Rome.

David Israel

The Peace Process Enabled Hate

Friday, June 24th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

Writing in the Jerusalem Post on Monday, historian Efraim Karsh made a point I’ve made many times before: Contrary to the popular notion that Israel’s “occupation” spurs Palestinian terror, the numbers inarguably prove that terror increases whenever Palestinians gain control of territory and drops whenever Israel reasserts control. In fact, Karsh said, Israel’s average annual death toll from post-Oslo terror (dating to 1993) is roughly triple the level pre-Oslo. But while he correctly cites the absence of Israel’s military as a major reason for this increase, another factor is no less important: By giving the Palestinian Authority control over schools and airwaves, Israel enabled it to launch a campaign of hate education that has significantly boosted the motivation for anti-Israel terror.

Before discussing what this education entails, consider two demonstrations of its efficacy. One is last summer’s Fikra Forum poll comparing the attitudes of East Jerusalem Palestinians, who aren’t under Palestinian civilian control, to those in the West Bank and Gaza, who are. Overwhelmingly, it found, Jerusalem residents were more moderate:

A majority (62 percent) think Israel will still exist, as either a Jewish or a bi-national state, in 30 or 40 years – compared with just 47 percent of West Bankers and 42 percent of Gazans who think so … Thirty percent of East Jerusalem’s Palestinians, as against a mere 18 percent of West Bankers, say that there were Jewish kingdoms and temples in Jerusalem in ancient times…

A stunning 70 percent say they would accept the formula of “two states for two peoples – the Palestinian people and the Jewish people.” In the West Bank, the comparable figure is 56 percent; in Gaza, 44 percent. An equally noteworthy 40 percent in East Jerusalem say that “Jews have some rights to the land along with the Palestinians” – as against just 13 percent in the West Bank or 11 percent in Gaza. And concerning Jerusalem itself, only 23 percent of its Palestinian residents insist on Palestinian sovereignty over the entire city – just half the percentage with that view in either the West Bank or Gaza.

The second is an interview with the Times of Israel earlier this month by former New York Times reporter David Shipler, who recently published a revised version of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Asked what had changed in the 30 years since Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land was originally published, Shipler said the biggest change was the way Palestinian positions and views of Israel have hardened.

“Land for peace seemed like a possible and legitimate idea back then. Most Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza I talked to went back in history to 1967. They wanted to turn the clock back by an Israeli withdrawal from the territories conquered in the Six Day War,” Shipler said.

“But in speaking to people now, I understood that the time frame has become 1948 for the Palestinians. It’s always been about historical grievances and a clash of national narratives, but there are now more severe distortions of history, especially on the Palestinian side. Now Israelis are seen only as colonialists. There is no recognition of Jewish history in the Land of Israel, of the Holocaust, and the real reasons for the creation of Israel,” he continued.

Shipler also noticed that three decades later, there is less—if any—daylight between individual Palestinians’ expressed opinions and the official line of the Palestinian leadership.

“The conversations I had with Palestinians this time were more militant and less nuanced than in the early ’80s,” he said.

The bottom line is that, after more than two decades of PA indoctrination, Palestinians who have been living under Palestinian civilian control are far more anti-Israel and less willing to compromise than they were in 1986, and also than their peers who spent those decades under Israeli civilian control. Nor is that surprising when you examine what the PA teaches its children.

Earlier this month, IMPACT-SE released its latest study of Palestinian schoolbooks. Inter alia, it found, maps generally omit Israel, and even pre-1967 Israel is referred to as land under Israeli “occupation.” Jewish history in the Holy Land isn’t merely ignored, but actively erased: In one egregious example, the Jerusalem Post reported, “Hebrew letters are removed from a trilingual stamp from the British Mandate period.” Some books even actively promote jihad, like this line from an eighth-grade text: “Oh brother, the oppressors have exceeded all bounds and jihad and sacrifice are necessary.”

Last year, Palestinian Media Watch released its own study of Palestinian hate education, which noted that at least 25 schools are named for Palestinian terrorists, whom students are actively encouraged to view as role models. In a film shown on official PA television, for instance, one student at a school named for Dalal Mughrabi–perpetrator of the deadliest terror attack in Israel’s history–said her “life’s ambition is to reach the level that the martyr fighter Dalal Mughrabi reached,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Another clip from televised news in the PA showed a boy saying he learned in school to “fight the Jews, kill them and defeat them,” and another told children that Jews are “Satan with a tail.”

The report also contains chapters on incitement in Palestinian textbooks, educational materials glorifying Hitler, and the PA policy of blocking joint peace-building activities between Palestinian and Israeli children.

Moreover, what children learn in school is reinforced by nonstop incitement from PA officials and the PA-controlled media. Just this week, for instance, the PA Foreign Ministry accused a nonexistent Israeli rabbi of urging his followers to poison Palestinian wells, a libel PA President Mahmoud Abbas repeated in his speech to the European Parliament on Thursday. Also this week, the official PA television station broadcast a Ramadan program telling viewers that Nazareth, Haifa, Jaffa, and Acre–all cities in pre-1967 Israel–are part of “holy Palestine which is a waqf [Islamic trust]. Therefore it is forbidden to relinquish a single grain of its soil.” Last week, the PA education minister visited a school to “honor” the “martyr” who murdered an Israeli policewoman in February.

And all of the above is from the “moderate” PA. In Hamas-controlled Gaza, the incitement is even worse.

Compounding the problem is that the post-Oslo upsurge in terror created a vicious cycle: To protect itself, Israel curtailed Palestinian access to its territory; consequently, most Palestinians today know less about Israel than they did 30 years ago, when many worked or visited there. They no longer have personal experience to counteract what the PA and Hamas teach them.

By ceding territory to an unrepentant terrorist organization, the Oslo Accords enabled an entire generation to be raised on a steady diet of hatred for Israel. And in so doing, they mortally wounded the very two-state solution they sought to promote.

 

Evelyn Gordon

Jordan and Israel to Trade Water in New Venture

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Jordanian Prime Minister Abdalla Ensour and his cabinet approved a new plan to trade water with Israel.  In a new Red Sea desalination project expected to cost $1 billion, Jordan will sell part of the resulting water to Israel in exchange for water from the Tiberias reservoir.

Middle East countries are known to face chronic water shortages.

“We will sell Israel water at a rate of JD1 per cubic metre and buy from them at a rate of JD0.3 per cubic metre. This process will save us the effort and cost of conveying water from the south to the northern governorates,” Ensour said, the Jordan Times reported.

According to Jordanian Minister of Water and Irrigation Hazem Nasser, the agreement is legal based on Article 2 of the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1994, and is of “strategic national interest” to Jordan.

JNS News Service

Liberty 101: The Principle of Establishment

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Developments at home and abroad are forcing Americans to think anew about the meaning of liberty and the proper nature and function of government.  What is important to us, and what must we do to keep it?  How do we change the things that manifestly aren’t working, and are in fact doing us daily harm?

Liberty 101 is a series devoted to discussing these topics.  And the subject for today is what I call the principle of establishment.  Very simply, the principle of establishment recognizes that liberty and the protection of natural rights don’t just happen.  They are not the end-point of unguided trends in human life.  They cannot be claimed as entitlements, on the basis that someone else must then bestir himself to “provide” them to us.  They are elements in a moral, sociopolitical code, which we must actively establish, and which we must arrange, through our own efforts, to protect.

The only reason America started out with our unique Constitution and polity is that we established them.  We took what had been, and deliberately established something new.  To get to the point of having options in that regard, we had to fight a war.  It was by no means “settled” political theory, in anyone’s philosophy, that we had any “right” to do this – i.e., a right that should have bound Great Britain to accede to our wishes.

In the Declaration of Independence, the signers appealed to natural rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – as the citizen’s moral basis for challenging and limiting government.  But the Declaration is not a statement that these God-given rights confer a “right” to “dissolve the political bonds which have connected” one people with another.  Dissolving our political bonds with Britain was a necessary but essentially mechanical step in the process of establishment.  The Declaration makes it clear that doing that is a choice, one for which the signers and the Continental Congress proposed to take responsibility.

Our Founders had spent at least a decade appealing to king and parliament.  In this process, they suggested that their rights should be binding on the governmental decisions emanating from London.  It didn’t work.

After that, the Founders decided; committed; fought; won; and then established.  The God-given rights enumerated in the Declaration were to be the guiding premise for establishing a new order in the former colonies.

The significance of the establishment principle cannot be overstated.  It is necessary to the installation and preservation of liberty.  If we lose sight of its necessity, we will lose the prospect of liberty.  Liberty is not what our fellows on this earth have the natural urge to accord us.  It is certainly not what government of any kind naturally respects.  It is antithetical to all schemes for collective salvation, whether we are to be saved from sin, inequality, or climate change.  Liberty interferes terribly with ideological messianism, just as it does with the unfettered collection of revenues for complacent governments.

Liberty always – always – has to be deliberately established and hedged about with protections.  It never just emerges, through a process of defensive horse-trading, from anyone’s current arrangements.  Defending liberty is hard enough; establishing it requires being prepared to say “No” at least as much as “Yes,” and even being prepared to kill, where necessary, as much as to die.  It is something we must want badly to win, in the only way that can be effective:  that is, over the objections of the enemy who wants to deny it to us.

The urge to deny liberty to others comes in many forms.  All three of the great monotheistic religions have gone, to differing degrees, through periods in which denial of liberty to others of their faith was a key feature of temporal administration.  (To differing degrees, all three have also identified doctrinal reasons to change course or shift emphasis on this.  Judaism and Christianity, in particular, provided the core of the West’s moral thinking about God-given rights and man’s rights against the state.)

The monotheistic faiths are by no means unique in this regard; the pagan religions of the ancient empires, in the Americas as well as the Eastern hemisphere, were used robustly as a means of subjugating populations.

Up until the last two centuries, governments were almost universally engaged in subjugating their people.  There has been no such pattern as that of government defending the people against the encroachments of religion; governments are invariably, and by nature, the worst offenders.  Indeed, it was precisely through using the powers of government to enforce religious orthodoxies that denial of liberties became institutionalized in, for example,  the Christianity of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance.

We fool ourselves badly, meanwhile, if we think modern collectivist ideologies represent a change from that pattern.  Rather, they are simply the continuation of it: imperial statism and religious authoritarianism in post-Enlightenment clothing.  Jacobinism, Marxism, Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism, Maoism, progressivism, radical “environmentalism”: all have had their essential features in common with the dark spirit of ancient imperialism, the perverted, politicized Christianity of religious wars and Inquisitions, and the radical Islamism of today.  In dismissing or even promoting the loss of life and liberty as a virtual sacrament, moreover, the modern collectivist –isms complete the circle of ancient human-sacrifice religions.

On a more local and pragmatic level, we are all familiar with the “creeping statism” endemic in government of any kind.  Give government a charter to manage something for us, and its portfolio will do nothing but grow.  There is no such thing as a naturally quiescent state of liberty.  Someone always has an idea, not just for a better mousetrap, but for a scheme to require us to purchase and use it.

Unless he is actively stopped, by convention and expectation, underlaid with shared values but also with implied force, at least one of our neighbors is always one sign of weakness away from telling us what size we can make our house, whether we can hold Bible studies there, and how much of our income we have to spend on medical services.  This, and not an Eden of self-effacing tolerance, is the reality of human life.  Liberty requires establishment and protection, because in every generation, there is a thriving industry in grievances, social prophylaxis, and knowing better than others do how they should live.

If you want liberty, you can’t wait for others to recognize your right to it.  You must establish it and protect it.  This is actually true of all good things in our common life on this earth.  None of them just happen.  They require establishment and protection.  Establishment and protection are accomplished in different ways; in today’s consciously-stabilized geopolitical environment, they occur almost entirely within existing borders, as when colonies became new nations after World War II, or autocratic regimes were changed after the fall of the Soviet Union.

But America is the chief and most singular example in our modern era (indeed, in all history) of the establishment principle.  Only one other nation shares the principle of radical establishment that ours represents, and that is Israel.  Both nations were established for unique, historic purposes, in the teeth of opposition, with a specific moral and political commitment as the premise of their self-proclaimed charters.  Both invoked the God Jehovah in their establishing premise; both intended to found a unique project in which there would be irreducible liberties, and priorities that would overrule, in perpetuity, the importunings and temptations of a given generation.

Both nations took it as a given that the ordinary course of human affairs wasn’t good enough: that paying tribute and living at the sufferance of “empires” was a sure path to servitude, extortion, and death.  It is a point for another day that the nation-state is the only viable entity for acting on this proposition; suffice it to say here that establishing liberty and a principle of nationhood require holding and living independently on territory.  Someone will always object to that.  Someone will always object to the establishment of liberty, which always and everywhere means that the territory in question cannot be held for slavery and tribute.

The question is not whether liberty will ever cease to be obnoxious to mankind’s oldest patterns and urges.  It won’t.  The question is what choices we will make, knowing that liberty must be established and protected, and that that will inevitably be considered offensive by noisy and determined enemies.  He who insists on establishing liberty will always encounter opposition.  But there is no other way to have it.

J. E. Dyer

Creme De La Creme: How the IDF Picks its Most Elite Units

Monday, August 12th, 2013

After another round of nationwide enlistment, the time has come to find soldiers for the Israeli army’s most elite units. In order to be selected among the truly great, soldiers must pass intensive examinations – both mental and physical. We approached Major Danny Ben Dov, the man in charge of physical selections and unit placement for infantry and paratroopers, to learn what it takes to be listed among the best of the best.

elite7 You’ve heard about the units: the Yahalom combat engineers, Duvdevan – the unit responsible for conducting undercover operations against militants in urban areas and Oketz – the elite canine special forces unit. Behind these special units lies a complex placement process. Whether you want to curl up with a German Shepherd, maneuver an advanced UAV, or operate behind enemy lines – the path to achieving this goal is laden with potential pitfalls.

elite5

In recent months a new slew of soldiers has reached bases across the country in order to begin their basic training. However, before they could finish lacing up their military boots, practicing telling military time, and getting ready for their first shifts of guard duty, the IDF transfers a select few for special assignments reserved for the very best.

Most units open their doors to potential new recruits, however these young soldiers should take time to seriously consider the proposal, as beyond the acceptance are arduous physical and mental tests specifically designed to push the soldier to the limit.

For those looking to find the secret key to acceptance into these coveted units, the head of physical selections for IDF special units explains which features and attributes assist in weeding out the weak and singling out potential candidates.

“I am responsible for approving all units’ selections based on physical criteria in the IDF,” said Maj. Ben Dov. “Certain elite units have particular standards and requests for potential soldiers. They require special characteristics and have a very specific screening process for accepting soldiers into their units.”

However, contrary to what one might think – that all elite units have the same selection criteria – Maj. Ben Dov clarifies that not all unit classifications and soldier requirements are identical to one another.

“The placement of each soldier is chosen based on the nature of the unit itself and the type of combat soldier the unit is looking for,” explained Maj. Ben Dov. The process itself is intricate and includes discussions with the unit’s commanders as well.

“The commanders build their selection process by consulting with us, and then we go through the military’s professional instructions and general requirements,” said Maj. Ben Dov. “Part of the varying features we look for are determination and motivation.”

Though physical requirements come most immediately to mind when discussing elite combat units, Maj. Ben Dov maintains that physical strength is not the most significant part in the selection process.

“During the selection process, there are sprinting exercises, lifting exercises and other physical tests, but the main thing is not so much the physical part itself,” he said. “We are looking to see the person after the physical aspect, following these tests. There are all kinds of thinking exercises and lengthy discussions, allowing us to see the candidate’s abilities to think quickly and express him or herself clearly.”

Maj. Ben Dov summarized by explaining that throughout the entire selection process, it is imperative for one to be true to his or her personality traits. “It is important for potential examinees to come prepared both physically and mentally, but most important is to be your true self, because, through the various exercises, we eventually peel through the false stories and get to the true nature of the soldier.”

IDF Spokesperson's Office

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