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September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘state’

The Two-State Solution Is Obsolete

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

The Americans, the Europeans and the international community in general are constantly demanding the implementation of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. For example, when French President Francois Hollande spoke at the Knesset recently, he stated, “We need a compromise through a two-state solution.” He emphasized that Jerusalem should be a shared capital city of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples and stressed that settlement construction should come to an end. Statements by US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron are very similar to Hollande’s.

However, any political analysis of the current situation on the ground in the Holy Land would suggest that such models are an obsolete way of thinking. For starters, the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority are not controlled by the same political entity. The Gaza Strip is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, who to date refuses to reconcile with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority. By refusing to sign a reconciliation agreement with Fatah, Hamas has essentially ensured that there can be no united Palestinian leadership. If there is no united Palestinian leadership, there can’t be a unified Palestinian state.

History is full of examples of entities that broke up because they were separated by geographic distance and cultural differences. Bangladesh used to be East Pakistan. However, the culture in Bangladesh is very different from the Pakistani mentality. In Pakistan, they primarily speak Urdu, while the language in Bangladesh is Bangla. The Bangladeshi people felt oppressed by Pakistan. Some Bangladeshis accuse them of committing genocide against them. Furthermore, Pakistan was geographically disconnected from them and so they decided to break off to become a separate country.

The situation is quite similar in regards to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip. Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip feel oppressed by Hamas and Hamas supporters within the Palestinian Authority view the Fatah leadership with disdain. Furthermore, the populations in Gaza and Judea and Samaria are very different from each other culturally speaking. The Arabs living in Judea and Samaria are more liberal and cosmopolitan than the ones living in the Gaza Strip. To add insult to injury, the two territories are geographically disconnected from each other and the two populations rarely intermarry with each other.

The Fatah-Hamas divide in itself should have killed the idea of a two-state for two peoples’ paradigm. This should be the case especially given the fact that Hamas refuses to recognize the existence of the Jewish state as well and states specifically in their charter that they are opposed to all peace negotiations. They support waging a violent jihad until Israel ceases to exist. For them, it is war until either Israel vanishes or they cease to exist.

Even if Fatah recognizes Israel’s right to exist, in the absence of a military defeat of Hamas, two-states for two peoples living in peace is a fairy tale for children. Yet interestingly enough, even Fatah remains committed to destroying Israel in phases, refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and views the two-states for two-people’s paradigm merely as the first phase towards liberating all of Palestine. Given this reality, it is time for the international community to consider other models for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the absence of paradigms that have been proven to be unworkable.

Who by the Sword, Who by Wild Beasts, Who by Hunger, Who by the Plague

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

In the supplemental prayer of The Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, we say these words almost mechanically, theoretically, because this is the text. But in Syria this is reality. The regime’s war against the citizens’ demonstrations, which began two years and seven months ago, has become a dirty, despicable and accursed war, where everyone is fighting everyone else. People from both sides have lost the likeness of man, thrown human values to the winds, lost any semblance of humanity, and have become predatory animals, (“and who by a wild beast”).

Assad’s army has besieged the eastern neighborhoods of Damascus because they serve as a corridor of passage to the capitol for the jihadists who come from Jordan and Iraq. In these neighborhoods in recent weeks, tens of thousands of people have been besieged, cut off from all sources of life: food, water, electricity, and from Asad’s point of view they might as well all die from starvation. These were the neighborhoods that suffered the great attack of chemical weapons on the 21st of August in which approximately 1500 people were killed, men, women and children. As a result of the hunger, a group of Muslim religious arbiters issued a ruling that allows the residents of these neighborhoods to eat cats, dogs and donkeys, in order to survive the siege and the starvation.

There are reports about places like Mu’adhamiyat al-Sham where there have been many cases of death by starvation because of the siege imposed on these places, in addition to cases when injured people have died because they did not receive treatment in time. In addition, there are places where diseases like cholera are rampant, which are caused by spoiled food, contamination of water and the environment, and from pests such as mice, rats, and snakes that multiply alarmingly in ghost towns and ruins of cities like Homs, Hama and Idlib.

Approximately seven million Syrians are destitute refugees in neighboring countries and within Syria. The approaching winter threatens to pose great harm to their health and their lives, as if the misery that people – if it is possible to call them people – have caused them was not bad enough. Because of the distress and poverty, the refugees do anything they can in order to live: the men work for pennies, and many women are forced to do unethical things in order to earn a piece of bread. Families sell their daughters in forced marriages, to get a handful of dinars and reduce the number of mouths that they must feed.

Asad’s army systematically refuses humanitarian aid organizations to operate in the besieged cities, claiming concern that the lives of the volunteers will be endangered by fire from the opposition. But soldiers of the opposition to the regime are not guiltless either: they fight with each other over ideological differences, mainly regarding the future of Syria: will it be a civil state or an Islamic state. In the city of Aleppo “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” is in control and the city is run by an Islamic court that imposes Islamic Shari’a by force of arm, whip and sword. Lately several tribes that live around Aleppo have announced that they have joined “The Islamic State” organization, in order to shelter in the shadow of the dominant force, and stay out of trouble.

The fact that children are present in the battle areas causes them severe emotional damage because of the terrible sights that they are exposed to. Children join the battle and take an active part in killing anyone who is thought to be an enemy. Asad’s militias, the “Shabiha”, are constantly on the lookout for the families of soldiers and officers who have deserted the army so that they can kill the men and abuse the women. In many cases they document and photograph this abuse to show it to those who are still serving, to discourage them from deserting.

This past month several dozens of jihad organizations operating in Syria came to the conclusion that the disagreements among them harm their fighting cause and strengthen Asad. This conclusion led dozens of organizations to put aside their differences and unify under an organizational umbrella by the name of “Jaysh al-Islam” – “The Army of Islam”. The other large organization – “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” – is considering joining the “Army of Islam”, and it may be that “Jabhat al-Nusra”, which blessed the consolidation with “The Army of Islam”, will also join in the future.

Leading Israeli Analysts Can’t Agree on PA Strategy

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

 Although most of the analysts warned against the U.S. campaign to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014, they could not agree on an Israeli alternative. Some of the analysts urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to formulate an interim solution to the West Bank while others said relations with the PA would continue to mark a conflict that must be managed.

“Netanyahu is going through the same syndrome as did Begin, Rabin, Sharon, and Olmert,” Shmuel Sandler, the deputy director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs, said. “He wants to stake a place for himself in the chronicles of the Jewish state as a contributor to a peace process.”

The center conducted a recent roundtable discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian process, which the United States wants completed by early 2014. One of the analysts said the negotiations have been complicated by the insistence of President Barack Obama to link this with Iran’s nuclear program.

“Obama, with absolutely no reasonable basis, combines the Israeli-Palestinian issue with the American-Iranian file,” Mordechai Kedar, who also consults with Israel’s government and military, said. “This way Obama can show his face in public as someone who had at least one success in the Mideast, after his failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and more.”

Kedar, a specialist on the Arab world, warned Netanyahu against establishing a Palestinian state. Instead, Kedar, who dismissed the prospect of an agreement with the PA, said Israel should offer what he termed an “eight-state solution.”

“This involves the establishment of a council of Palestinian emirates or mini-states based on the sociology of the different clans and tribes in Gaza, Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” Kedar said. “This will give Arab leadership a firm local base with a traditional and homogeneous sociological foundation.”

The analysts also disagreed over Israel’s strategic position. Several of the analysts, including center director Efraim Inbar, said Israel, despite threats of Western sanctions, was becoming stronger economically and militarily.

But others said Netanyahu was driven by his fear of a crisis with Obama. They said time was working against Israel. “Israel’s legitimacy is a strategic asset,” Joshua Teitelbaum said. “It is getting harder and harder to convince even Israel’s supporters of the legitimacy of expanded Jewish settlement in areas that are still under negotiation for the establishment of a possible Palestinian state.”

Syria (Today) and ‘Palestine’ (Tomorrow) II

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

As I noted last week, what is currently taking place in Syria closely resembles what we can ultimately expect in a future “Palestine.”

In principle, and contrary to his beleaguered country’s overriding legal rights and security interests, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a Palestinian state back in June 2009. Yet Mr. Netanyahu, more or less prudently, conditioned this concessionary agreement on prior Palestinian “demilitarization.” More specifically, said the prime minister: “In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel.”

In fact and in law, this published expectation offers no effective obstacle to Palestinian statehood, or to any subsequent Palestinian war against Israel.

Neither Hamas, now subtly closing ranks with its once more powerful Muslim Brotherhood mentors in post-Morsi Egypt, nor Fatah, whose “security forces” were recently trained by American General Keith Dayton in nearby Jordan at very great American taxpayer expense, will ever negotiate for anything less than full sovereignty. Why should they? Supporters of Palestinian statehood can readily discover authoritative legal support for their stance in binding international treaties.

Easily misrepresented or abused, international law can generally be manipulated to serve virtually any preferred geo-political strategy, a jurisprudential twisting sometimes referred to as “lawfare.” For example, pro-Palestinian international lawyers, seeking to identify self-serving sources of legal confirmation, could conveniently cherry-pick pertinent provisions of the (1) Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (the 1933 treaty on statehood, sometimes called the Montevideo Convention), and/or (2) the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

Israel, as an existing sovereign state, has a basic or “peremptory” right to survive. From the standpoint of the government’s responsibility to assure citizen protection, a responsibility that goes back in modern political thought to the 16th century French philosopher, Jean Bodin, and also to the seventeenth-century English theorist, Thomas Hobbes, this right is also a fixed obligation. It was, therefore, entirely proper for Netanyahu to have originally opposed a Palestinian state in any form, an opposition, incidentally, once shared by Shimon Peres, himself the proudest Israeli champion of a “two-state solution.”

To wit, in his otherwise incoherent book, Tomorrow is Now (1978), Peres had said the following about Palestinian statehood:

The establishment of such a state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces into [Judea and Samaria]: This force, together with the local youth, will double itself in a short time. It will not be short of weapons or other military equipment, and in a short space of time, an infrastructure for waging war will be set up in [Judea, Samaria] and the Gaza Strip…. In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence.

In writing about “time of war,” this former prime minister had neglected to mention that Israel is already locked in a permanent condition of war. The war, not “tomorrow” (whatever that was intended to signify) is now. Pertinent target “infrastructure installations” could include Dimona, and also a number of other presumably vulnerable Israel nuclear reactor facilities.

Any Israeli arguments for Palestinian demilitarization, however vehement and well intentioned, are certain to fail. International law would not even expect Palestinian compliance with any pre-state agreements concerning the right to use armed force. This is true even if these compacts were to include certain explicit U.S. guarantees. Moreover, per the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, because authentic treaties can only be binding upon states, a non-treaty agreement between the Palestinians and Israel could prove to be of little or no real authority.

What if the government of a new Palestinian state were somehow willing to consider itself bound by the pre-state, non-treaty agreement? Even in these very improbable circumstances, the new Arab regime could have ample pretext to identify relevant grounds for lawful treaty termination.

A new Palestinian government could withdraw from the treaty-like agreement because of what it regarded as a “material breach,” a reputed violation by Israel that allegedly undermined the object or purpose of the agreement. Or it could point toward what Latinized international law calls Rebus sic stantibus. In English, this doctrine is known as a “fundamental change of circumstances.”

Syria (Today) and ‘Palestine’ (Tomorrow)

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

As the Syrian “revolution” continues to unravel, there is conspicuously little talk about “Palestine.” More precisely, despite the recurrent mantra of alleged Palestinian centrality to a comprehensive Middle East peace – an avalanche of warnings to Israel that has been repeated, endlessly, as if it were some sort of religious incantation – the world now understands differently. Finally, it is plain to see, all such allegations of Palestinian state primacy had been contrived. Utterly contrived.

These allegations had always represented a very carefully engineered lie. Nothing more.

Sometimes, even in the Middle East, truth does eventually emerge intact. Now more than ever it is apparent – incontestable, in fact – that the Arab/Islamic world has long been preparing to destroy itself. Now more than ever, it is abundantly clear that Israel is not, and has never been, the problem.

Ultimately, for Israel’s myriad Arab/Islamic regional enemies, the truth is scandalous. Even if Israel had never been created, these enemies would have been kept very busy slaughtering each other. Even if Israel had never “happened,” these foes’ markedly atavistic preparations for war, terror, and genocide would have been unhidden and irrepressible. Even if Israel had never existed, their lethally crude inclinations toward one another would have managed to surface.

There are several additional ironies to the blighted history of blaming Israel, most of them dealing with Israel’s disproportionate contributions to science, technology, education, and medicine. In this connection, as thousands of Syrians are presently being torn, mangled, and burned at the bloodied hands of other Syrians, they are getting treatment, in substantially increasing numbers, at Israeli hospitals. There, Jewish doctors, entirely without any sort of compensation, are capably and compassionately healing the grievous wounds of Arabs brutalized by other Arabs. The enormous bill for such medical services is being borne, without complaint, by the overburdened Israeli taxpayer.

In Israel, rendering such pro bono medical assistance to Arabs is not unprecedented. Indeed, on many occasions Israeli doctors have ministered not only to large numbers of Palestinian civilians but also to Palestinian terrorists, sometimes even immediately after these aspiring heroes and “martyrs” had committed unspeakably barbarous attacks upon Israeli schools, buses, and restaurants. On occasion, upon learning that their lives had been saved by Jewish physicians, they energetically spat at the ministering doctors and nurses.

Accounts of such grotesque behavior are only too well known among Israeli health professionals. I have heard them myself, directly from several physician friends in Hadera, Haifa, and Jerusalem.

What are the noteworthy connections between Syria and “Palestine”? In essence, what is currently taking place in Syria closely resembles what we can ultimately expect in “Palestine.” There exists, in these two intersecting regional catastrophes (one already underway, the other aspirational and still impending), a common reflection of irremediable fragmentations in the Arab world and propensities for violence and cruelty.

In a Palestinian state – in any Palestinian state – the internecine rivalries now so starkly evident in Syria could be quickly replicated, or even exceeded, by what would be ignited between Hamas, Fatah, and assorted other splinter terror factions. Significantly, some of these Palestinian factions, especially the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) are headquartered in Syria.

As I have indicated before on these pages, once a 23rd Arab state is carved out of Israel, rocket bombardments upon Israeli cities from Gaza would be augmented by multiple, coordinated missile assaults from Lebanon. Sunni Hamas and Shiite Hizbullah would gleefully collaborate in any joint war against “The Jews.” At the same time, Fatah could fall under attack from some of its Sunni “partners” in Palestine.

This is to say nothing about what can still be expected in Iran (which regards Syria’s al-Assad as a Persian satrap) and, perhaps more urgently, from Iran.

Israel, a country half the size of Lake Michigan, one that renders massive humanitarian aid to others, even in parts of North and South America, has had absolutely nothing to do with causing persistent Middle Eastern conflict, repression, and squalor.

Even if Israel had never been formally re-established in 1948, these disabling and interactive conditions would likely still be ubiquitous and full-blown. Nonetheless, although Washington fully understands the long and scandalous history of scapegoating Israel, President Obama remains stubbornly committed to the so-called “Road Map.”

Aging Rocker’s Failed Anti-Israel Crusade

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Back in 1976, when the burgeoning punk movement began transforming the rock’n’roll landscapes of London and New York, a young punk rocker named John Lydon scrawled the words “I Hate…” on his Pink Floyd t-shirt.

With this one stroke, Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, demarcated the past from the future: eschewing the lengthy and ponderous compositions of Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, Rotten and his mates set about delivering sharp, angry tunes in a compact three-minute format.

Almost 40 years later, popular music has undergone numerous other transformations, but Rotten (who now calls himself Lydon again) and Waters have remained polar opposites. And as Israelis know better than most, that’s true both inside and outside the recording studio.

Back in 2010, Lydon rounded on critics of his decision to play a gig in Tel Aviv by telling them, “I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they [the Palestinians] are treated.”

By contrast, Waters, outwardly, a much more refined and eloquent fellow, has firmly hitched himself to the movement pressing for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Waters’s support for BDS is thought to be the reason that his scheduled appearance at the 92nd Sreet Y in New York City was canceled back in April, while more recently he tussled with the Simon Wiesenthal Center over an accusation of anti-Semitism that stemmed from a feature of his live show, in which a Star of David is projected onto a flying inflatable pig.

In his response to the Wiesenthal Center, Waters denied he was an anti-Semite, coming out with the standard response that hating Zionism and hating Jews are completely distinct. But a subsequent letter written in August to “My Colleagues in Rock’n’Roll” – his legendary pomposity remains unaltered – is certain to revive the charge. This time, it’s hard to see how Waters can wriggle around it.

The letter begins by citing another British musician, the violinist Nigel Kennedy, who slammed Israeli “apartheid” during a recent concert that was recorded by the BBC. “Nothing unusual there you might think,” Waters wrote, “[but] then one Baroness Deech, (nee Fraenkel) disputed the fact that Israel is an apartheid state and prevailed upon the BBC to censor Kennedy’s performance by removing his statement.”

Why did Waters think it necessary to point out the maiden name of Baroness Ruth Deech, a noted academic and lawyer? The answer is obvious: before she was Deech, a name that resonates with English respectability, she was Fraenkel, a name that sounds positively, well, Jewish. And much as she might try to hide her origins, the intrepid Waters is determined to out her, along with her nefarious Jewish –sorry, I mean, Zionist – agenda.

Sarcasm aside, this is anti-Semitism of the ugliest, most primitive kind. Appropriately, Waters’s letter appeared first on the website of the Electronic Intifada, a U.S.-based outfit that has emerged as one of the prime organizing platforms of the BDS movement.

The Waters letter ends as follows: “Please join me and all our brothers and sisters in global civil society in proclaiming our rejection of Apartheid in Israel and occupied Palestine, by pledging not to perform or exhibit in Israel or accept any award or funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

In case it’s not clear, in the BDS movement, such elaborate formulations are code for “until such time as the state of Israel, which was born in a state of original sin, is finally eliminated.”

Here’s the rub, though: ten years ago, when the BDS movement was a relatively new phenomenon, statements like these would have set off a minor panic in the Jewish world. These days, we’re far more sanguine, and we’ve learned that Israel can survive and flourish no matter how many graying prog-rockers like Waters dedicate their lives to removing the world’s only Jewish state from the map.

As unpalatable as this may be for Waters’s digestion, the plain truth is that the BDS movement has failed. Its original aim was to replicate the massive outcry against South African apartheid during the 1980s, when songs like “Free Nelson Mandela” and “(I Ain’t Gonna Play) Sun City” ruled the airwaves. Instead, it has remained a fringe movement, a minor irritant that has had precious little impact on Israel’s economic life and garners media attention only when someone like Waters decides to shoot his mouth off.

The Truth About Syria

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

If you are interested in reading more about Syria, you’re welcome to read my book The Truth About Syria online or download it for free.

WHY SYRIA MATTERS

“It is my pleasure to meet with you in the new Middle East,” said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a speech to the Syrian Journalists’ Union on August 15, 2006.1 But Bashar’s new Middle East was neither the one hoped for by many since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s 1991 defeat in Kuwait nor expected when Bashar himself ascended the throne in 2000. Actually, it was not even new at all but rather a reversion, often in remarkable detail, to the Middle East of the 1950s through the 1980s. The Arab world, now accompanied by Iran, was re-embracing an era that was an unmitigated disaster for itself and extolling ideas and strategies which had repeatedly led it to catastrophe.

No Arab state had more to do with this important and tragic turnabout than does Syria, this development’s main architect and beneficiary. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab states wanted quiet; Iraq needed peace to rebuild itself. Even Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, pressed by sanctions and scared by his Iraqi counterpart Saddam’s fate, was on his good behavior. Only Syria remained as a source of instability and radicalism.

Thus, a small state with a modest economy became the fulcrum on which the Middle East shifted and which, in turn, shook the globe. Indeed, Bashar’s version of the new Middle East may well persist for an entire generation. Does this make Bashar a fool or a genius? That cannot be determined directly. What can be said is that his policy is good for the regime, simultaneously brilliant and disastrous for Syria, and just plain disastrous for many others.

To understand Syria’s special feature, it is best to heed the all-important insight of a Lebanese-American scholar, Fouad Ajami: “Syria’s main asset, in contrast to Egypt’s preeminence and Saudi wealth, is its capacity for mischief.”

In the final analysis, the aforementioned mischief was in the service of regime maintenance, the all-encompassing cause and goal of the Syrian government’s behavior. Demagoguery, not the delivery of material benefits, is the basis of its power.

Why have those who govern Syria followed such a pattern for more than six decades under almost a dozen different regimes? The answer: Precisely because the country is a weak one in many respects. Aside from lacking Egypt’s power and Saudi Arabia’s money, it also falls short on internal coherence due to its diverse population and minority-dominated regime. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein used repression, ideology, and foreign adventures to hold together a system dominated by Sunni Arab Muslims who were only one-fifth of the population. In Syria, even more intense measures were needed to sustain an Alawite regime that rules based on a community only half as large proportionately.

To survive, then, the regime needs transcendent slogans and passionate external conflicts that help make its problems disappear. Arabism and, in more recent years, Islamism, are its solution. In this light, Syria’s rulers can claim to be not a rather inept, corrupt dictatorship but the rightful leaders of all Arabs and the champions of all Muslims. Their battle cries are very effectively used to justify oppression at home and aggression abroad. No other country in the world throws around the word “imperialism” more in describing foreign adversaries, and yet no other state on the globe follows a more classical imperialist policy.

In broad terms, this approach is followed by most, if not all, Arab governments, but Syria offers the purest example of the system. As for the consequences, two basic principles are useful to keep in mind:

1. It often seemed as if the worse Syria behaved, the better its regime does. Syrian leaders do not accept the Western view that moderation, compromise, an open economy, and peace are always better. When Syria acts radical, up to a point of course, it maximizes its main asset—causing trouble—which cancels out all its other weaknesses. As a dictatorship, militancy provided an excuse for tight controls and domestic popularity through its demagoguery.

2. Success for the regime and state means disaster for the people, society, and economy. The regime prospers by keeping Syrians believing that the battle against America and Israel, not freedom and prosperity, should be their top priority. External threats are used to justify internal repression. The state’s control over the economy means lower living standards for most while simultaneously preserving a rich ruling elite with lots of money to give to its supporters.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/the-truth-about-syria/2013/08/26/

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