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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘relevant’

BBC Amplifies UN Criticism of Israeli PM Without Providing Relevant Context

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

{Originally posted to the BBC Watch website}

In an article date stamped September 15th (but which actually appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page the following day) the BBC chose to amplify some specific passages from earlier remarks made by the UN Secretary General.  Readers of “UN’s Ban: Netanyahu ethnic cleansing remarks ‘outrageous’” were told that:

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has criticised Israel’s prime minister for saying Palestinians want the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews in the West Bank.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s use of the term in a video attacking opponents of Jewish settlement construction on occupied territory was “outrageous”, he said.”

While readers would not necessarily understand that the above (and later repeated) tendentious portrayal of the aim of Netanyahu’s video came from Ban himself, a more accurate description appears further down in the same article.

“Last Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a video in English on his Facebook page in which he criticised people who described settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.”

Predictably, the article includes amplification of the BBC’s stock mantra on Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and certain districts of Jerusalem.

“Mr Ban stressed that settlements were illegal under international law.” […]

“About 570,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu called the demand that they leave “outrageous”.” […]

[Quoting Ban] “”Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end.”

Israel rejects the assertion that the settlements are illegal, and over the past two weeks has advanced plans for another 463 housing units at four locations.”

As ever, the BBC compromises its own impartiality by failing to inform its audiences of the existence of alternative opinions on that particular issue of ‘international law’. Neither are readers told that more than half of those touted “463 housing units” are accommodation for senior citizens and that they, like the rest, are located in regions which, under any reasonable scenario, would remain under Israeli control in the event of an agreement.

But the most remarkable feature of this BBC report is that while it provides amplification for censure from Ban Ki Moon and Mahmoud Abbas, it makes no effort whatsoever to inform audiences of the facts behind the statements which are the subject of that criticism.

In 2010 Mahmoud Abbas told journalists:

“We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it,”

He repeated that message in 2013:

“Abbas said that no Israeli settlers or border forces could remain in a future Palestinian state and that Palestinians deem illegal all Jewish settlement building within the land occupied in the 1967 Six Days War.”

And Abbas is of course not the only PA political personality to adopt such a position: here, for example, is the ‘moderate’ Sari Nusseibeh speaking to Al Jazeera in 2007.

“The Israelis now living in the territories of the future Palestinian state should return to living within the borders of the state of Israel. No Jew in the world, now or in the future, as a result of this document, will have the right to return, to live, or to demand to live in Hebron, in East Jerusalem, or anywhere in the Palestinian state.”

Moreover, in addition to demanding a Jew-free Palestinian state, Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues consistently refuse to recognise Israel as the Jewish state – i.e. to declare an end to their claims regarding that country and the ‘return’ of Palestinian refugees to its territory.

Of course Israelis do not have to dig too deep in their collective memory to recall that prior evacuation of all the Jews from their homes in Hebron in 1929, in Jerusalem in 1948 or in the Gaza Strip and parts of northern Samaria in 2005 did nothing to remove ‘obstacles to peace’. As former Labour MK Einat Wilf noted:

“While the settlements are not (to say the least) the best vehicle to make the argument about ethnic cleansing in the Israeli – Arab conflict, it’s not a bad idea to remind the world that it is the Arab side that has pursued a consistent policy of ethnically cleansing the Jews from the region – whether from Arab countries (successfully) or during the Arab war of 1947-1949 designed to crush the nascent State of Israel (mercifully a failure to this day).

It has to be said again and again: Had the Arabs not violently rejected the UN Partition proposal and opened war against the nascent State of Israel there would have been no displacement of Arab Palestinians and no refugees. If anything, when the cease fire lines were set in 1949 all Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Arab side of those lines, whereas Arabs remained securely on the Israeli side of it, becoming Israel’s Arab citizens.”

The BBC, however, chose to amplify Ban Ki Moon’s remarks without providing audiences with the relevant context which would enable them to judge their accuracy and relevance. The result of course is that once again – and despite the corporation’s remit – audiences are deprived of the opportunity to see beyond the BBC’s favoured political narrative.

Related Articles:

BBC tells audiences location of centuries-old Jewish habitation is an ‘illegal settlement’

More BBC promotion of the ‘Peace Now’ narrative on construction

Why is the BBC’s failure to properly report the Jewish state issue important?

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

Hadar Sela

INTO THE FRAY: “The Only Relevant Question…”

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

16 years after the failed Camp David summit, the fiction of the two-state solution is about to be shattered once and for all. The only relevant question today, is what does Israel intend to do next? Caroline Glick, “The end of Mahmoud Abbas”, Aug, 29, 2016.

Last month, following the decision of the Republican Party (GOP) to remove the longstanding support for a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict from the party platform, I published an article entitled “What if the GOP wins” (July 22, 2016).

Imperative to prepare for post-two state era

In it, I noted that this shift was merely one more indication that “enthusiasm for the two-state concept is waning—even among ardent erstwhile adherents”, some of whom have actually acknowledged that the Palestinians have contributed to its accelerated irrelevance.

However, I advised that Israel must begin preparing itself for a new reality, in which the two-state principle is no longer the dominant paradigm which, in large measure, monopolized the discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For while the growing awareness of the dangerous futility entailed in continued pursuit of the two-state “chimera” was potentially a distinctly positive development, the challenges Israel may have to face in a post-two-state era could well be as dire—perhaps more so—than those posed by the perilous two-state paradigm.

Indeed, with the passing of the two-state formula as a relevant policy option, new perils will immediately—and inevitably—emerge. Accordingly, I urged that planning on how they should be contended with be seen as a pressing national imperative.

I was, therefore, extremely gratified that Caroline Glick took up essentially the same theme in her latest article “The end of Mahmoud Abbas” published earlier this week, urging that we focus on “the only relevant question today,” which she defines as “what does Israel intend to do next” given that “the fiction of the two-state solution is about to be shattered once and for all”.

As if in a parallel universe

Given the realities on the ground inside the Palestinian administered (or rather largely un-administered) territories, it is hard to believe that any well-meaning soul is seriously suggesting anything approaching a two-state prescription as a means of defusing—never mind permanently resolving –the conflict.

Citing studies from the Gatestone Institute and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Glick describes the disintegration of Palestinian society, its descent into lawlessness and violent anarchy, together with the accelerating decline of Abbas’s central authority in Ramallah—all this against the backdrop of approaching municipal elections in which lists associated with/backed by the Islamist Hamas are expected to emerge victorious—or at least with handsome gains.

Indeed, it would appear that today’s adherents to the fatally flawed formula of two states inhabit a parallel universe, where realities are very different, and far more amiable than in this one.

After all, given the situation on the ground, a quarter-century after the initiation of the Oslo process with all the pomp and ceremony, the international fanfare and enthusiastic optimism, it is difficult to accept that anyone could, in good faith, still suggest, that some stable two-state scenario was even remotely feasible—much less desirable. When it comes to Israelis, who profess concern for the security and well-being of their country, continuing support for the idea is little short of staggering.

Accordingly, given the past precedents and future projections it is difficult to avoid the disturbing conclusion that yet unchastened Israeli two-staters have greater allegiance to their pet ideology than they do to the security of their country and the safety of their countrymen.

Fading relevance of ‘two-statism’

Glick writes: “Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist.” It is a caveat that both the Israeli political leadership and civil society elites will do well to heed.

An urgent and thorough debate is called for to formulate ways to contend with emerging realities, in which the demise of the two-state principle appears inevitable—or at least highly probable.

Indeed, recent polls show sagging support for the idea in both Israeli and Palestinian societies. A joint survey conducted by the left-leaning Israel Democracy Institute and the Palestinian Center for Policy Survey Research (August 22, 2016) show that only small majorities support (and hence very sizeable minorities oppose) the generic two-state idea.

However, when the proposal is fleshed out and the details elaborated, support declines steeply from small majorities to distinct minorities.

Thus, only 39% of Palestinians and 46% of Israelis (39% of the Jewish population) support a peace agreement “package” that comprises:

– A de-militarized Palestinian state;

– An Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line with equal territorial exchange;

– A family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees;

– West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,

– The Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty and the Muslim and Christian quarters and the al Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount under Palestinian sovereignty; and

– The end of the conflict and claims.

Significantly, the Palestinian Authority has rejected similar offers repeatedly in the past.

“Regionalism”: a ridiculous canard

Refusing to concede the irresponsible impracticality of continued endorsement of the two-state folly, its proponents, undeterred by the disaster their political credo has wrought on Jew and Arab alike, have, in a desperate effort to rescue it from fading into oblivion plucked a new “rabbit” from their magicians hat. This is the idea of “regionalism”.

Having more of less despaired of reaching a two-state outcome in a bilateral arrangement between Israel and the Palestinian-Arabs, dogged—or rather dogmatic—two staters now bandy about the idea of such an outcome being achieved within the context of a regional accord with the wider Arab world. This proposal is usually presented in the form of the Arab Peace Initiative (API) –a.k.a. The Saudi Peace Plan, which involves Israel withdrawing to the pre-1967 lines, including from the Golan Heights, division of Jerusalem and acknowledging the “right of return” of Palestinian-Arabs to within these pre-1967 borders. In return for these far-reaching concessions, the Arab world would “establish normal relations with Israel in the context of a comprehensive peace, and consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended… and provide security for all the states of the region.”

But “regionalism” of this kind is nothing but a risible ruse—a mere sleight of hand to prevent the public acknowledgement of the final failure of the two-state formula.

You couldn’t make this stuff up

Significantly, since it was first raised, almost a decade and a half ago, this “Initiative” has been rejected by successive Israeli governments—including some of the most ultra-concessionary ones—such as those headed by Ehud Olmert. Indeed, for years any such proposal would have been considered borderline sedition—and with good reason.

For in essence, what does this “regionalism” entail?

It involves Israel undertaking perilous (and largely irrevocable, except at enormous cost) concessions in exchange for pledges (entirely revocable at the slightest pretext) for some of the most decadent, depraved, oppressive, unstable, anachronistic and tyrannical regimes on the planet. Seriously???

You couldn’t make this stuff up—especially today with the post-“Arab Spring” ravaging the area.

If—with a giant leap of faith –one might have conceived there being any sense in such an arrangement back in 2002, when the Saudi initiative was first aired, there can be no justification for such forlorn hope today. With the Arab world ablaze with merciless fratricidal frenzy, with Arab countries at war among—and within—themselves, with no guarantee that the regimes of today will be the regimes of tomorrow, what possible stock can be placed in any pledges to “ provide security for all the states of the region”—when they can provide it for none today?

What credence can be given an undertaking to “establish normal relations with Israel” when Arab nations cannot even establish, much less maintain, “normal” relations (in the normal sense of “normal”) with one another?

No, “regionalism” is little more than a “red herring” to divert attention from the increasingly evident collapse of the concept of two-states.

Israel will do well not to succumb to its lure.

End of Two-State Era: Potential Payoffs and Pitfalls

With the growing prospect of the two-state option being abandoned, the question of what alternative paradigm Israel should adopt is becoming a matter of increasing—and urgent—relevance. But while there can be little doubt this is a development that heralds great opportunity for Israel—it is not one without dangerous pitfalls.

Indeed, to reap the potential benefits (and avoid the potential pitfalls, inextricably inherent in this emerging situation), Israel must prepare a persuasive, sustainable, long-term alternative blueprint for the outcome of the conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs to replace the two-state folly.

In recent years, a debate on such alternatives has indeed begun. Sadly however, to date, its output has been less than impressive. After all, not everything that is not a two-state proposal is preferable to the two-state principle itself. Indeed, nearly all the major alternatives being advanced today by prominent opponents of the two-state paradigm, are – notwithstanding the sincere goodwill of their authors—no less inimical to the long-term survival of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

In broad brush strokes, these “alternatives” can be divided into three major categories.

The first is that proposed by those who favor “managing—rather than resolving–the conflict”, which basically consists of “kicking the can down the road”. In effect, it calls for letting the problem fester, until some unspecified event(s) occur to—hopefully and inexplicably—facilitate resolution.

The other two, somewhat more proactive, suggestions can be divided into those that will, almost inevitably, lead to either:

(a) The Lebanonization (and later Islamization) of Israel, by incorporating the Palestinian-Arab residents of the territories across the pre-1967 lines, into the permanent enfranchised population of Israel; or
(b) The Balkanization of Israel by trying to encapsulate the Palestinian-Arab population in disconnected, miniscule, autonomous enclaves in portions of these areas.

No less menacing than two-state formula

In a series of past articles, I have—with varying degrees of acerbity and exasperation—laid out in considerable detail, the manifest shortcomings of these alternative proposals.

In them I demonstrate why:

– “Managing the conflict” is an exercise in futility—and self-delusion—that will only carry the country on a perilous downward spiral, with prevailing problems, both security and political, increasing in scale and intensity;

– Proposals that prescribe including the Palestinian Arabs in the permanent population of a post-two-state Israel would almost inevitably turn the country into a Muslim-majority tyranny within a few generations—even if the optimistic demographers are right and, initially, the Muslim population will comprise a 35-40% minority;

– Proposals that advocate partial annexation and limited autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs, concentrated in disconnected mini-enclaves will result in wildly torturous and contorted borders, virtually impossible to demarcate and secure, thus emptying “sovereignty” in the annexed areas of any meaningful content.

None of these three categories can pave the way for Israel—as the nation-state of the Jews—to a sustainable long-term situation that is any less menacing than that entailed in the two-state scenario.

To do this Israel requires a policy paradigm that addresses both its geographic and demographic imperatives for survival—lest it adopt a proposal that threatens to make it untenable, either geographically or demographically—or both.

Accordingly, it must be a proposal that ensures Israeli control over vital geo-strategic assets in Judea-Samaria and drastically reduces the presence of the hostile Arab population resident there—preferably by non-coercive means such as economic inducements…which, by the way, is what attracted the bulk of the Arab population here in the first place.

A very relevant question…

To formulate such an alternative policy paradigm in lieu of the two-state formula, to acquire sufficient legitimacy for it, to advance it in the public discourse and to generate widespread recognition for its adoption as a national imperative is undoubtedly, as Glick identifies, one of the most pressing and pertinent questions on the Zionist agenda today.

Dr. Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategic-israel.org)

Dr. Martin Sherman

Looking For God In Our Skyscrapers

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Over the last decade, Tisha B’Av, the day that we traditionally mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, has been admitted to the pantheon of Jewish holy days that are not for the observant only: holy days that speak to everyone.

Yom Kippur has always been there. It is the private holy day, special to us all. A solid majority of the Jews in Israel fast on that day. Even those who do not fast feel something special: they respect the day and search for its meaning. Yom Kippur does not just pass us by like the holiday of Shavuot, for example.

Pesach is another holy day that has always been a holiday for all the Jews. It is the family holiday. The Seder night – kosher-for-Passover or not – is celebrated by Jewish families everywhere. It is a holiday that has not been separated from the nation by the walls of religion.

What we still lack is the national dimension, the dimension that retains a void not filled by banging on plastic hammers on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Yom Ha’atzmaut always leaves us with a vague sense of emptiness.

The collective subconscious that pulls the young people of Tel Aviv’s trendy Shenkin Street to alternative lamentations on the city rooftops discovers something in Tisha B’Av. It longs for the spiritual national dimension. It searches for meaning and warmth.

Real Israeli culture, the authentic national creation that we are all looking for, the point that affords meaning and validity to our national existence, is there – in our Father’s house, from which we were exiled and to where we will return.

Return to religion enriches the returnee. But usually it is at the expense of the real achievement of the return to Zion, Israel’s rising and return from the dimension of community to the dimension of nation – at the expense of the return to reality and history.

Generally speaking (and yes, there are certainly exceptions), the returnee to religion is no longer interested in the news, politics or the state. He has found his personal happiness and leaves the rest to the Messiah. His God is not so relevant outside his home, study hall or synagogue.

The new generation, however, wants God to be relevant in all dimensions. It doesn’t want to escape into religion. It wants a grand message, rectification of the world; neither to go backward into pre-Zionism nor to be stuck in the place bereft of identity and meaning in which Zionism – which shed all regard for religion – finds itself today.

The new generation wants it all. It wants to go forward into religion, to a Torah that is also a relevant culture and to a God who is with us here, in our modernity. It wants to proceed in our multilevel interchanges, in our skyscrapers, and in our hi-tech. It is looking for a God who is with us in our most private moments, in our most national triumphs, and in our most universal aspirations. The new generation wants warmth, a sense of belonging and meaning. It wants to herald a great message. It wants a home: it’s Father’s home, the home to which we all belong.

It wants the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Moshe Feiglin

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/looking-for-god-in-our-skyscrapers/2013/08/01/

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