INDEX OF MYTHS:
(2005-2012 archives - CLICK HERE)
“Israel opened dams to flood Gaza” (March 4)
“Reported negotiations with Iran will make the Middle East safer” (February 18)
“The Palestinian public opposes terrorism and supports negotiations with Israel” (February 11)
“Palestinians all support asking the UN to recognize Palestine” (February 4)
“A Palestinian state will not be part of the Islamic State's caliphate” (January 27)
“Muslims are encouraged to visit Israel and meet Israelis” (January 20)
“The International Criminal Court will inevitably indict Israelis for war crimes in Gaza” (January 13)
“The Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court is a response to Israels failure to negotiate peace” (January 6)
“Following Operation Protective Edge Hamas abandoned its goal of destroying Israel” (December 16)
“European recognition of 'Palestine' will advance the peace process”. (November 19)
“Muslims recognize the Temple Mount as sacrosanct to Muslims and Jews” (November 12)
“Israel denies medical treatment to its enemies” (November 5)
“Palestinians support the boycott and divestment movements against Israel.” (October 29)
“Iran has moderated its hostility and should be an ally in the fight against ISIS.” (October 14)
“All nations have the same policy about avoiding civilian casualties in war”. (October 6)
“The Palestinian's Peace Negotiator wants peace.” (October 1)
“The Palestinian Authority believes in a secular Palestinian state”. (September 24)
“UN peacekeepers can be relied upon to keep the peace between Israel and its neighbors” (September 17)
“Iran is an ally in the fight against the Muslim extremist group ISIS” (September 8)
“Israel was responsible for the 2014 war with Hamas.” (September 3)
“Israel should now accept the Arab Peace Initiative.” (August 20)
“Israel must end its illegal blockade of Gaza to end the war with Hamas.” (August 13)
“There are no terrorist attacks on Israel originating from the West Bank anymore.” (August 6)
“UNRWA is a humanitarian organization that remains neutral in the conflict.” (July 31)
“Journalists are never deceived by Palestinian propaganda.” (July 22)
“Hamas never endangers Palestinian civilians; it is the Israelis who target them.” (July 22)
“Hamas is firing rockets at Israel to end the 'occupation.'” (July 16)
“Israel is indiscriminately attacking Palestinian targets in Gaza.” (July 10)
“Summer camp for Palestinians in Gaza is a fun escape for children like American camps.” (June 17)
“Human rights organizations use reliable information in reports criticizing Israel.” (June 4)
“Human rights organizations present unbiased reports on Israel.” (May 15)
“Mosques are sacrosanct and never used by terrorists.” (May 7)
“Hamas-Fatah reconciliation paves the way to peace negotiations with Israel.” (April 29)
“Jonathan Pollard's conviction for espionage proved that Israel works against American interests.” (April 2)
“The Arab world and Palestinians have changed since the three "noes" of 1967.” (March 26)
“The Palestinians have recognized Israel as the state of the Jewish people.”(March 19)
“If Israel makes peace with the Palestinians the other Arab states will normalize ties with Israel.” (March 12)
“The Palestinian Authority no longer engages in terrorism against Israel.” (February 19)
“Jews will be welcome in a future Palestinian state.” (February 5)
“Arab militaries do everything possible to protect civilians in war zones.” (January 28)
“Academic boycotts of Israel are popular in America.” (January 9)
“The Iranian government is committed to fulfilling the terms it agreed to in the Geneva nuclear deal“ (December 4)
“The negotiated compromise with Iran removes Tehran's nuclear weapons threat.” (November 25)
“A third intifada will erupt if Israel does not satisfy Palestinian demands.” (November 6)
“The Palestinians have made concessions to advance the peace process; Israel has remained uncompromising.” (October 30)
“Israel is responsible for expelling the Arabs of Palestine during the 1948 War of Independence.” (October 23)
“Iran is isolated because of the international sanctions regime.” (October 10)
“Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei issued a fatwa against producing nuclear weapons.” (October 3)
“Palestinians support the boycott and divestment movement against Israel.” (September 24)
“Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is disinterested in peace with the Palestinians.” (September 12)
“Christians are a protected minority in the Middle East.” (August 28)
“Israel must make concessions for the peace process to succeed.” (August 15)
“Palestinian leaders enter peace talks with Israel sharing a common desire for democacy.” (July 31)
“Israel 'occupies' the West Bank.” (July 24)
“The U.S. must be involved in any successful peace process between Israel and her neighbors.” (July 11)
“The election of Hassan Rouhani eliminates the Iranian nuclear threat.” (June 27)
“The United States helped Israel defeat the Arabs in six days in June 1967.” (June 6)
“An Israeli attack on Iran would endanger U.S. interests in the Middle East.” (May 30)
“'Nakba Day' has nothing to do with the peace process.” (May 22)
“Israel has refused to discuss a compromise on the future of Jerusalem.” (May 14)
“Syria’s chemical weapons pose no threat outside of Syria.” (May 2)
“Now is a good time to revive the Arab peace initiative.” (April 25)
“The Palestinian Authority is committed to reforming Palestinian society.” (April 18)
“Israelis overreact to harmless rock-throwing by Palestinians.” (April 3)
“Non-lethal Palestinian rocket attacks have no impact on Israel's civilian population.” (March 21)
“The European Union has no reason to name Hezbollah a terrorist organization.” (March 13)
“Israel has created separate bus lines to segregate Jews and Palestinians.” (March 7)
“If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was solved, the Middle East would be a peace.” (February 20)
“Attacking Iran will create more instability in the Middle East.” (February 13)
“The Palestinians are now ready to make peace with Israel.” (February 7)
“Israel has nothing to fear from a nuclear Iran.” (January 22)
“Israeli settlements are an obstacle to Mideast peace.” (January 17)
'Nakba Day' has nothing to do with the peace process.
On May 15, 2014, Palestinians across the Middle East commemorated the 66th anniversary of “al-Nakba,” marking “the catastrophe” of Israel’s creation in 1948. Palestinians are understandably bitter about their national history over the last six and a half decades, but if the Palestinians and the Arab states had accepted the United Nations partition resolution in 1947, the State of Palestine would instead have celebrated its 66th birthday alongside Israel.
We are often told that Palestinian intransigence in the peace process is because they object to the “occupation” of territories - namely the West Bank and East Jerusalem - which Israel captured in the Six Day War of 1967. But if this is true, then why is “Nakba Day“ celebrated on the date that Israel gained independence in 1948 rather than in June on the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the Six Day War?
The simple answer is that the Palestinians consider the creation of Israel the original sin, and their focus on that event is indicative of a refusal - even today - to reconcile themselves with the Jewish State. While Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas have many other political disagreements, they equally value the importance of publizing “Nakba Day.” As such, it should come as no surprise that Israelis find it difficult to be optimistic about the prospect of negotiating a two-state solution with a united Fatah-Hamas government that believes their country has no right to exist.
“Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Therefore, we will not recognize the Israeli enemy's [right] to a single inch.”
Hamas Leader Mahmoud Zahar 341
“The root of this conflict never was a Palestinian state, or lack thereof. The root of the conflict is, and always has been, [Palestinian] refusal to recognize the Jewish state. It is not a conflict over 1967, but over 1948, over the very existence of the State of Israel. [Nakba Day] events did not occur on June 5, the anniversary of the Six Day War. They occurred on May 15, the day the State of Israel was established. The Palestinians regard this day, the foundation of the State of Israel, [as] their nakba, their catastrophe.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 342
An Israeli attack on Iran would endanger U.S. interests in the Middle East.
Israel is doing everything possible to avoid the necessity of launching a self-defense operation to stop Iran’s nuclear program; nevertheless, it is conceivable that military action may be required if sanctions and negotiations continue to fail. Some, like former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, have warned that an attack on Iran will “haunt us for generations” in the Middle East.343 The truth is that U.S. interests are already threatened in the region, and will become more tenuous if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.
This is not the first time that U.S. officials have feared dire consequences as a result of Israeli strikes against Arab threats. However, in the two prior examples of Israel attacking Arab nuclear sites – Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 – the threats were eliminated without any harm to American interests. In fact, in the former case, Israel ensured the United States would not face the possibility of an Iraqi nuclear response during the 1991 Gulf War.
Some analysts have warned that Iran will attack U.S. targets if Israel acts against Iran. This would be counterproductive since no one expects an Israeli military strike to be as effective as an American one. If Iran were to retaliate against the United States for any Israeli operation it would only provoke American forces to respond to protect our interests and exponentially increase the punishment inflicted on Iran.
Some analysts have warned that Iran will attack U.S. targets if Israel acts against Iran. This would be counterproductive since no one expects an Israeli military strike to be as effective as an American one. If Iran were to retaliate against the United States for any Israeli operation it would only provoke American forces to respond to protect our interests and exponentially increase the punishment inflicted on Iran.
This is not to say that American interests in the Middle East are not in danger, but the threats are unrelated to any action against Iran. Radical Islamists already threaten U.S. interests in the region and will continue to do so regardless of how the Iranian nuclear issue is resolved because they are determined to drive America out of the Middle East and to restore the Muslim empire.
The United States helped Israel defeat the Arabs in six days in June 1967.
Maps of Battle for Sinai (l) & Battle for Jerusalem (r) - Click to Enlarge
The United States tried to prevent the war through negotiations, but it could not persuade Nasser or the other Arab states to cease their belligerent statements and actions. Still, right before the war, President Johnson warned: “Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone.” 344 Then, when the war began, the State Department announced: “Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed.” 345
Moreover, while the Arabs were falsely accusing the United States of airlifting supplies to Israel, Johnson imposed an arms embargo on the region (France, Israel’s other main arms supplier, also embargoed arms to Israel).
By contrast, the Soviets were supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs. Simultaneously, the armies of Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts.346
The election of Hassan Rouhani eliminates the Iranian nuclear threat.
The Iranian regime has apparently succeeded in bamboozling the Western media by portraying newly elected Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, as a moderate who could end the Islamic Republic’s showdown with the international community over its nuclear program. The Guardian, CNN, Reuters and Yahoo News all headlined stories about “Rouhani the Moderate” while The Washington Post went even further with the headline, “Rouhani seen as best hope for ending nuclear standoff with West.”347
The election of Rouhani, however, changes nothing in Iran’s strategic vision for its nuclear program and may even be a tactical victory for the Ayatollahs. As Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in the early 2000s, Rouhani never agreed to any real compromise with the West and later admitted that the temporary suspension of certain elements of the program in 2003 was a ploy to enable Iran to build up its nuclear infrastructure. In 2004 he spoke of using a “calculated strategy” in negotiations with the EU3 – France, UK, and Germany – to buy time, and then finding “the most suitable time to do away with the suspension.”348 In his first press conference as president-elect, he firmly announced that “the era of suspension is gone.”349
Moderation is a relative term. Compared to the genocidal anti-Semite he will succeed, Rouhani may seem reasonable, but he has always been a staunch supporter of the Islamic Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini. He became a close political ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and served as his personal assistant to the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). Rouhani also served as national security advisor to past presidents Khatami and Rafsanjani who oversaw the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program.350
Rouhani’s comparative restraint, however, is irrelevant to the nuclear question since Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guard control Iran’s nuclear policy.351 Rouhani has no mandate to modify Iran’s position toward its right to enrich uranium and has given no indication that he has any desire to do so anyways. Following his electoral victory, Rouhani pledged to continue to safeguard Iran’s “inalienable rights” to nuclear power.352
Rouhani’s election gives comfort to Iran’s apologists who now argue he should be given an opportunity to play his hand in negotiations. Some even argue that sanctions should be lifted and harsher measures delayed. That, however, would be an irreversible mistake that would give Iran more time to continue to advance toward the breakout point where it cannot be prevented from building a nuclear bomb. Already, Iran is closing in on this red line – in mid-June, International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Yukiya Amano reported that Iran has made a “steady increase in capacity and production” of its nuclear program despite punitive measures taken by the West.353
If Rouhani is willing and able to shift Iran’s policy to comply with United Nations resolutions, then he should act accordingly; otherwise, he is just Ahmadinejad in a more palatable package.
The United States must be involved in any successful peace process between Israel and her neighbors.
Less than 24 hours after President Obama’s
second inauguration, the first op-ed appeared suggesting he prioritize
pushing Israel into a peace
agreement with the Palestinians. This notion has become a familiar
refrain from people frustrated with the reality that the Palestinians
are divided and have demonstrated no interest in negotiating with Israel since Obama first took office.
Now, Secretary John Kerry is about to embark on his fifth trip to the Middle East in the last half-year with Israel's leaders continuing to say they are prepared to negotiate without preconditions. Meanwhile, the Palestinians persist in demanding that Israel make concessions (a settlement freeze and the release of convicted criminals) and agree to unacceptable terms (e.g., recognition of the 1967 border as the basis for negotiations) before they will sit with any Israeli officials. Given the intransigence of Mahmoud Abbas, and the outright hostility of Hamas, few people expect talks to occur or to achieve any breakthrough on the core issues that have bedeviled negotiators since 1993. Moreover, history shows American initiatives have not only been failures but sometimes make the situation worse by creating unreal expectations.354
While the United
States can play a valuable role as a mediator, the parties themselves must resolve
The list of failed American initiatives to broker
peace between Israel and her
principles for peace
. “The first and greatest principle,”
he said, “is that every nation in the area has a fundamental
right to live and to have this right respected by its neighbors.”
The Arab response
came a few weeks later: “no peace with Israel, no recognition
of Israel, no negotiations with it ... ”
: President Nixon’s Secretary of
State, William Rogers, offered a plan
that sought to ““balance“” U.S. policy,
but leaned on the Israelis to withdraw to the pre-1967
; to accept many Palestinian
; and to allow Jordan
a role in Jerusalem
Israel deemed the plan completely unacceptable, and even though
Rogers’ plan tilted toward the Arab position, they too rejected
: President Ford’s Secretary of
State, Henry Kissinger
had a little more success in his shuttle diplomacy, arranging
the disengagement of
after the 1973
, but he never put forward a peace plan, and failed to
move the parties beyond the cessation of hostilities to the formalization
: Jimmy Carter was the model for presidential
engagement in the conflict. He wanted an international conference
at Geneva to produce a comprehensive peace. While Carter spun
his wheels trying to organize a conference, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
to bypass the Americans and go directly to the Israeli people
. Despite revisionist
history by Carter’s former advisers, the Israeli-Egyptian
was negotiated largely despite
Carter. Menachem Begin
on secret contacts long before Camp
and had reached the basis for an agreement before Carter’s
intervention. Carter’s mediation helped seal the treaty,
but Sadat’s decision to go to Jerusalem
was stimulated largely by his conviction that Carter’s policies
announced a surprise peace
that called for allowing the Palestinians self-rule
in the territories in association with Jordan. The plan rejected
both Israeli annexation and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Israel denounced the plan as endangering Israeli security. The
plan had been formulated largely to pacify the Arab states, which
had been angered by the expulsion of the PLO
, but they
also rejected the Reagan
: George Bush's Administration succeeded
in convening a historic regional conference
in 1991, but it ended without any agreements and
the multilateral tracks that were supposed to settle some of the
more contentious issues rarely met and failed to resolve anything.
Moreover, Bush’s perceived hostility toward Israel eroded
trust and made it difficult to convince Israelis to take risks
barely had time to get his vision of peace together
when he discovered the Israelis had secretly negotiated an agreement
with the Palestinians in Oslo
The United States had nothing to do with the breakthrough at Oslo
and very little influence on the immediate aftermath. In fact,
the peace process became increasingly muddled as the United States
got more involved.
also required no real American involvement. The
Israelis and Jordanians already were agreed on the main terms
of peace, and the main obstacle had been King
unwillingness to sign a treaty before Israel
had reached an agreement with the Palestinians. After Oslo, he
felt safe to move forward and no American plan was needed.
: In a last ditch effort to save his presidential
put forward a peace
to establish a Palestinian state. Again, it was Prime
Minister Ehud Barak’s
willingness to offer dramatic concessions that raised the prospects
for an agreement rather than the president’s initiative.
Even after Clinton was prepared to give the Palestinians a state
in virtually all the West
to make east Jerusalem
their capital, the Palestinians rejected the deal.
George W. Bush
also offered a plan
but it was undercut by Yasser
, who obstructed the required reforms of the Palestinian
, and refused to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure
and stop the violence. Bush’s plan morphed into the Road
, which drew the support of Great Britain, France, Russia,
and the United Nations, but was never implemented because of continuing
Palestinian violence. The peace process only began to move again
when Prime Minister Ariel
made his disengagement
, a unilateral approach the State Department had long
opposed. Rather than try to capitalize on the momentum created
by Israel’s evacuation of the Gaza Strip
, however, the Bush
Administration remained wedded to the Road Map.
: In his own last-ditch effort to bring
momentum to a stalled process toward peace, George W. Bush
the Annapolis Conference
in Washington, D.C.
While the conference did mark the first time
the two-state solution was agreed upon as a framework for eventually
ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this abstract commitment
from both Israeli and Arab parties made no difference to the situation
or the West Bank
; and terrorist organization Hamas
been elected rulers of the all-Palestinian Gaza Strip
tried in his first term to bring about a peace agreement
and not only failed, but was counterproductive and undermined
hope for negotiations
during those four years. Rather than proposing
a peace plan, he began by focusing on a demand for a settlement
freeze in the West Bank
in 2009. This, combined
with other public comments and policies, caused the Israeli government
to doubt his commitment to Israeli security and created tension
in the U.S.-Israel relationship
. Simultaneously, because Israel
agreed only to a temporary 10-month freeze in the West Bank
leaders saw Obama
as too weak to force Israel to make concessions,
and refused to respond positively to the administration’s
requests that they take steps to show their willingness to make
peace with Israel if a Palestinian state were established. Meanwhile,
the Palestinians, who had negotiated for years without insisting
on a settlement freeze, refused to talk to the Israelis unless
a total settlement freeze was imposed. After two years, Obama
had succeeded in alienating all the parties and the Palestinians
refused all Israeli invitations to restart peace talks.
: On his fourth visit in six months to the region, Secretary of State John Kerry
tried to convene a four-party summit in Amman between Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, and American negotiators before Israeli-Palestinian direct talks
. Instead, the press conference to announce the summit was postponed and Kerry
ended that trip claiming progress but that more work was needed. Since he took office, Kerry
has been shuttling between that Palestinians and Israelis but no breakthrough has been achieved to date.
Secretary Kerry's determination is admirable, but that is insufficient to change the dynamics that have created a stalemate. Despite his best intentions, he will fail so long as the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and accept that they will have to make compromises and agree to end the conflict. The Secretary would be wise to wait for conditions for negotiations to ripen and focus on the more urgent issues in the region: chaos in Egypt, civil war in Syria, the risk of civil war in Lebanon, and the Iranian nuclear threat.
Israel “occupies“ the West Bank.
In politics words matter and, unfortunately, the misuse of words applying to the Arab-Israeli conflict has shaped perceptions to Israel’s disadvantage. As in the case of the term “West Bank,” the word “occupation” has been hijacked by those who wish to paint Israel in the harshest possible light. It also gives apologists a way to try to explain away terrorism as “resistance to occupation,” as if the women and children killed by suicide bombers in buses, pizzerias, and shopping malls were responsible for the plight of the Palestinians.
Given the negative connotation of an “occupier,” it is not surprising that Israel’s detractors use the word or some variation as many times as possible when interviewed by the press. The more accurate description of the territories in Judea and Samaria, however, is “disputed” territories.
Nonetheless, the European Union has fallen for the propaganda and accepted the fallacious terminology. In July 2013, the EU published new guidelines severely limiting interaction with Israeli entities beyond the pre-1967 lines. The new rules enforce the union’s “long-held position that bilateral agreements with Israel do not cover the territory that came under Israel’s administration in June 1967,” the statement announcing the guidelines read. This means that the EU has banned any funding of and cooperation with Israeli institutions that operate beyond the “Green Line.” 355
This directive is another example of Israel being singled out for special treatment.
In fact, most other disputed territories around the world are not referred to as being occupied by the party that controls them. This is true, for example, of the hotly contested regions of Kashmir, Cyprus, and Tibet. Yet rarely does the international community make a fuss over these territories.356
Occupation typically refers to foreign control of an area that was under the previous sovereignty of another state. In the case of the West Bank, there was no legitimate sovereign because the territory had been illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Only two countries—Britain and Pakistan—recognized Jordan’s action. The Palestinians never demanded an end to Jordanian occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.
“For a Texan, a first visit to Israel is an eye-opener. At the narrowest point, it’s only 8 miles from the Mediterranean to the old Armistice line: That’s less than from the top to the bottom of Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport. The whole of pre-1967 Israel is only about six times the size of the King Ranch near Corpus Christi.”
President George W. Bush357
It is also necessary to distinguish the acquisition of territory in a war of conquest as opposed to a war of self-defense. A nation that attacks another and then retains the territory it conquers is an occupier. One that gains territory in the course of defending itself is not in the same category. This is the situation with Israel, which specifically told King Hussein that if Jordan stayed out of the 1967 war, Israel would not fight against him. Hussein ignored the warning and attacked Israel. While fending off the assault and driving out the invading Jordanian troops, Israel came to control the West Bank.
By rejecting Arab demands that Israel be required to withdraw from all the territories won in 1967, UN Security Council Resolution 242 acknowledged that Israel was entitled to claim at least part of these lands for new defensible borders.
Since Oslo, the case for tagging Israel as an occupying power has been further weakened by the fact that Israel transferred virtually all civilian authority in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. Israel retained the power to control its own external security and that of its citizens, but 98 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and 100 percent in Gaza came under the PA’s authority. The extent to which Israel has been forced to maintain a military presence in the territories has been governed by the Palestinians’ unwillingness to end violence against Israel. The only way to end the dispute over the territories is for the Palestinians to negotiate a final settlement. Until now, the intransigence of the Palestinian Authority’s leadership has been the only serious roadblock to serious talks, the only route to an agreement that will lead to a sustainable future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The EU action is especially ill-timed because it undermines the current peace efforts of Secretary John Kerry by creating the impression that the international community will pressure Israel to make concessions without the Palestinians having to negotiate or compromise.
Palestinian leaders enter peace talks with Israel sharing a common desire for democracy.
Since the creation of the Palestinian Authority by the Oslo agreements, the PA has been run as a dictatorship, first by Yasser Arafat and, since his death in 2004, by Mahmoud Abbas. The PA held one election, in which Hamas emerged victorious, and all subsequently scheduled elections have been cancelled for fear Hamas would dominate the results and take complete control over the PA.
Of course, Hamas does not need the ballot box to exert control; in 2007 the terrorists staged a coup to take over the entire Gaza Strip and now exercises their radical Islamic despotic rule over all 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza and enjoys the support of many of the 2.7 million living in the West Bank.358 This means that Abbas enters negotiations representing only 60 percent of the population.
Hamas makes no secret of its opposition to the resumption of peace talks or the negotiation of any peace agreement with Israel. “Hamas rejects Kerry's announcement of a return to talks and considers the Palestinian Authority's return to negotiations with the occupation to be at odds with the national consensus,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.359
Abbas does not even have the support of the full PLO, which he chairs. At least two factions oppose talks: “The PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] is against a return to negotiations,” said one of the party’s leaders, Khaleda Jarar. “It is an individual move,” she said, in allusion to Abbas. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) joined the PFLP in protest against the peace talks.360
The Arab Spring's deterioration into the Islamic Winter does not bode well for the future of “Palestine.” Even today, the PA denies the Palestinian people basic rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, and provides scant protection for women’s rights and opposes gay rights. According to the U.S. State Department: “The three most egregious human rights violations across the occupied territories were arbitrary arrest and associated torture and abuse ... restrictions on civil liberties; and the inability of residents of the Gaza Strip under Hamas to choose or hold to account their own government.” The report also noted the ongoing problem of corruption in the PA and terrorist attacks by Hamas, which included launching deadly rockets and mortars against civilian targets in Israel.361
The conditions are likely to worsen as extremists push for the adoption of Sharia law and the recognition of any new entity as an Islamic state. If the record of other Islamic states in the region is any indication, it is likely a future Palestinian government would not only limit the rights of its people but impose severe restrictions on non-Muslims, assuming any are allowed or choose to remain in such a state.
Even before negotiations have started, Palestinian officials have made clear they plan to conduct a policy of ethnic cleansing of Jews reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Abbas said in December 2010, “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”362 The PLO's ambassador to the United States, Maen Areikat, said on September 13, 2011, that a future Palestinian state should be free of Jews.363 These were not the first instances where Palestinian officials have suggested making “Palestine” judenrein and reflect an ugly undercurrent of anti-Semitism within the Palestinian Authority.
Lest anyone believe such remarks were anomalies, Abbas, the man often referred to as a “moderate,“ announced on the eve of the resumption of peace talks that “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands.”364
Such shocking racist and anti-Semitic views should provoke world condemnation, but the media ignores them, and peace activists are so desperate to reach some agreement that they make excuses for Abbas. This was the same mistake made following the Oslo Accords when Arafat was inexplicably portrayed as a man of peace even as he continued to foment incitement and terror.
The call for ethnic cleansing of Jews is especially outrageous given that more than 1 million Arabs, more than 20 percent of the population, live peacefully in Israel and enjoy the rights guaranteed by Israel’s democracy. In fact, Israeli Arabs are so afraid of what a Palestinian government would do to their freedom that they overwhelmingly tell pollsters they would prefer to stay in Israel to moving to “Palestine.” Many Palestinians in the West Bank have moved inside Israel’s security barrier in hopes of staying in Israel rather than becoming citizens under the corrupt and despotic Abbas regime.
Why doesn’t Secretary Kerry ask Abbas why Jews should be expelled from their homes? The same question could be asked of most Arab countries, but is particularly relevant in this case because the area likely to become Palestine incorporates territory that has been the home of Jews for centuries.
Imagine the uproar if any Israeli official suggested that no Arabs or Muslims should be allowed to live in Israel.
It is even more ironic that Abbas wants to expel all Jews from their homeland while simultaneously demanding that Palestinians should be allowed to move to Israel.
Israel must make concessions for the peace process to succeed.
The Palestinians, and their supporters worldwide, continue to operate under the impression that Israel must make “goodwill” gestures - such as prisoner releases, settlement freezes and checkpoint dismantlement – to get the peace process back on track. While Israel is routinely pressured by the United States and others to make such gestures, the Palestinians are not expected to make any corresponding goodwill gestures.
What seems to be forgotten, however, is that compromises and concessions are supposed to be the subject of peace talks, not a price Israel should be expected to pay just to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table. If the Palestinians are truly committed to peace, as they claim, then they should be anxious to sit down and discuss all the outstanding issues without preconditions.
Nevertheless, Israel has made countless concessions in the past both to entice the Palestinians to start talks and during negotiations themselves. In late July 2013, the Israeli cabinet voted to release 103 Palestinian prisoners over the course of nine months to fulfill a precondition set by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before he would return to the negotiating table.365
The idea of releasing convicted prisoners is odious to Israelis and it is important to understand the magnitude of such a move. Not only does a prisoner release increase Israel’s immediate security concerns – recidivism to terror amongst released Palestinian prisoners is more than 60% - but it also takes a heavy emotional toll on the Israeli populace, which suffered at the hands of these terrorists and must now watch passively as they are set free.366
The prisoners slated for release are not political dissidents; they are hardened killers. All 26 set to be released in mid-August were convicted of murder or accessory to murder.367 To give just a few examples of the heinous crimes committed by prisoners to be freed: Abu-Musa Salam Ali Atia (of Abbas’ own Fatah party) murdered Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg in 1994; Salah Ibrahim Ahmad Mugdad (also of Fatah) bludgeoned to death 72-year-old Israel Tenenbaum in 1993; also in 1993, Sha’at Azat Shaban Ata orchestrated the stabbing of 51-year-old Simcha Levi, a woman who made her living by transporting Palestinians day laborers to work; and, Maslah Abdullah Salama Salma (Hamas) murdered store owner Reuven David in 1991 by beating him death after tying up his arms and legs.368
Israel should not be expected to satisfy Palestinian demands before negotiations begin. Peace takes two willing parties, and by their latest painful sacrifice, Israel’s leaders have proven once again they will take risks for peace. Now the ball is in the Palestinians’ court. Will they finally seize the opportunity and make the necessary compromises to achieve independence and live in peace beside Israel, or will they demonstrate again, in the words of Israeli diplomat Abba Eban, their penchant “to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
Christians are a protected minority in the Middle East.
“First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people” has been an adage in the Muslim world envisioning the extermination of the Jews followed by the Christians.369 As violence sweeps through the Middle East, transforming the Arab Spring into an Islamic Winter, the order has been reversed (few Jews live in the Arab World anymore) and Muslim anger and bigotry is now directed at the small Christian communities across the region - notably in Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and Syria. These ancient communities are facing existential threats to their survival that if left unchecked could drive away the remnants of Christianity in the Middle East. The only thriving Christian community in the region is in Israel, where the Christian community is protected, respected and growing.
The inferior status – dhimmitude - of Christians in lands under Islamic rule has been reinforced for centuries by systematic discrimination; however, even their status as “People of the Book,” has not protected them from the outburst of Islamist violence across the region.
In Egypt, where Coptic Christians are the largest minority group and account for approximately 10 percent of the population, they have been the target of frenzied assaults by Muslim Brotherhood loyalists since the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.370 The Maspero Youth Union (MYU), a Coptic rights group, estimated that more than five dozen churches have been looted, vandalized or completely destroyed across at least nine Egyptian governorates and a number of Copts have been killed.371
In Syria, where Christians also account for roughly 10 percent of the population, the bloody civil war pitting the regime of Bashar Assad against a host of Islamist and non-Islamist rebels has left the Christian community caught in the middle.372 In Homs, Latakia and other areas, both rebel and government forces have killed Christians and burned churches.373 Vladimir Bulygin, head of the Constitutional Legislation Committee of Russia’s Federation Council, noted in late August 2013 that “Syria’s Christians are in serious danger, as the world ignores crimes committed against them.”374
Unfortunately, the experience of Christian minorities in Egypt and Syria is not unique to those countries.
In Saudi Arabia, Christians are barred from becoming citizens and laws make it illegal to import, print or own Christian religious materials.375 In Lebanon, the only Muslim country in the Middle East where Christians once formed a majority of the population, the steady radicalization of the government and the growth of Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah Shiite terror have led to a large-scale exodus of Christians over the years.376 Christians have also been the target of Islamists in Gaza since the violent coup that brought Hamas to power in 2007. The small remnant of Christians in Gaza has tried to flee, but many have been unable to leave and now suffer regular persecution. In Iraq and the PLO-controlled West Bank, Arab Christians have also been targets of discrimination and sometimes violence that has prompted many to leave. Cities with rich Christian history, such as Bethlehem, are now under control of a Muslim majority and almost completely devoid of Christians.377
The only place in the Middle East where Christians faces no restrictions on the practice of their faith is Israel. Christians comprise a little more than two percent of Israel’s population, but the country assures them freedom of worship, grants them unfettered access to their holy sites and allows the Christian community to legislate their own religious affairs, such as marriage and divorce.378
Shockingly the world appears indifferent to Christian suffering in the Middle East. Groups such as the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, Sabeel and the American Friends Service Committee are so obsessed with the behavior of Israeli Jews that they can’t muster even a modicum of indignation over the mistreatment of their brethren in Muslim countries. Arab-American organizations have no difficulty denouncing any alleged Israeli discrimination against Christians but are silent when Muslims persecute and kill them. Similarly, successive Popes have had a lot to say about the importance of Middle East peace but have been silent while Christians are abused and compelled to flee their homelands in the Arab world.
The Christian position in the Middle East is increasingly precarious; the old adage may yet come to fruition, and soon. In the words of Palestinian Christian journalist Samir Qumsiyeh, “If the situation continues, [Christians] won’t be here anymore in twenty years.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is disinterested in peace with the Palestinians.
With renewed attention on the restarting of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the international media continues to portray Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a hardliner who is unwilling to compromise with his Palestinian interlocutors. Since his election to lead Israel’s government in January 2013, however, Netanyahu has unwaveringly supported the two-state solution and repeatedly offered compromises and goodwill gestures to the Palestinians.
Though he had no obligation to do so, Netanyahu suspended settlement construction in East Jerusalem and outside the “consensus settlement blocs” in the West Bank just to get Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to talk peace.379 He also authorized the release of more than 100 Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails – most of whom are convicted murderers – to fulfill another of the Palestinians’ preconditions.380 Following the resumption of talks in September 2013, Netanyahu agreed to grant an additional 5,000 permits, to the 35,000 previously approved, allowing Palestinian laborers to work inside Israel.381
Abbas, on the other hand, has yet to compromise on any substantive issue and refused to return to the bargaining table before winning concessions from Israel. It is this intransigence of Abbas – not Netanyahu – that has stalled peace negotiations. Abbas has refused every step that would help build confidence and has allowed violence to spread in the territories and incitement to linger within his own government.382 Rather than display any interest in peace with Israel or a willingness to cooperate with Secretary Kerry’s renewed initiative, Abbas has said he wants to take Israel to the International Criminal Court if it does not capitulate to his demands. The Palestinian President has also reiterated his blatantly anti-Semitic refusal to accept “the presence of a single Israeli” in a future Palestinian state.383
Following the beginning of negotiations in September, both sides agreed to keep talks secret to allow negotiators the greatest possible flexibility; however, the Palestinians quickly leaked to the press what they claimed were unreasonable Israeli offers.384 This demonstrated, yet again, a lack of Palestinian credibility and exacerbated the mistrust Israelis already feel as a result of decades of terror attacks, incitement and intransigence.
While Netanyahu has never wavered from his commitment to Israel’s security, his views on the permanence of Israeli control over the whole of Judea and Samaria have evolved over time. He now actively campaigns for a permanent resolution to the conflict that would result in the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel. This is the position of a statesman and peacemaker, terms the media should be using to portray Israel’s prime minister.
Palestinians support the boycott and divestment movement against Israel.
In an effort to delegitimize, isolate and ultimately destroy Israel, organizations around the world have called on universities, governments, labor unions and co-ops to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (termed the BDS movement). Supporters claim that international pressure through the BDS movement will help the Palestinian people achieve independence.385 However, BDS advocates do not support a Palestinian state coexisting beside Israel, do not help individual Palestinian businesses and do not represent the views of the Palestinian Authority or even most Palestinians living in the territories.
Palestinians do not boycott the Jewish State; in fact, they actively engage in trade with the Israeli government. The Palestinian Authority shares a variety of cooperative agreements with Israel in nearly 40 spheres of activity, from joint security measures to environmental protection and conservation. In 2008, Israel’s Histadrut labor union signed an agreement with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions to advance common goals and build fraternity. In August 2012, then-PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signed a series of bilateral trade agreements that took effect January 2013 and marked an important step in bolstering economic ties between Israel and the PA.386 Overall, Israeli-Palestinian trade (import/export of goods & services) totals nearly $4 billion annually.387
Palestinians also work with Israelis in business and industry. In September 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to increase the number of work permits - to 40,000 - for Palestinians in the territories who work for various companies inside Israel proper.388 What is especially ironic is that while the PA’s leaders constantly complain about Israeli settlements, at least 30,000 Palestinians work in those settlements, helped construct them or supplied some of the building materials.389 A survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that Palestinians working for Israeli businesses are paid more than twice the salary that their peers receive from Palestinian employers.
Moreover, Palestinians invest in Israel. Statistical data from 2011 shows that private Palestinian investment in Israeli companies - notably hi-tech and industry - amounted to roughly $2.5 billion, more than double the Palestinian investment within the West Bank.390 For example, Hani Alami, a leader in the Palestinian telecommunications industry, bought 30 percent of the Israeli company Alvarion. Israeli Arab Hisham Adnan Raya, a construction magnate, was an angel investor in the Israeli web design company Webydo.391
Ironically, the founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, does not personally boycott Israel - he obtained a Master’s Degree and, since 2009, has been pursuing a Doctorate at Israel’s Tel Aviv University.392 He is just one of thousands of Palestinians who study at Israeli colleges and institutions.
While BDS advocates try to paint Israel as a demonic country practicing the type of discrimination associated with old South Africa, tens of thousands of Palestinians enjoy the benefits of working, studying and investing with Israelis. Which begs the question: If Palestinians don’t support BDS, who does the movement represent?
Iran Supreme Leader Khamenei issued a fatwa against producing nuclear weapons.
With its suspected nuclear weapons program under the close watch of the West and its economy struggling under the pressure of economic sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to insist that it is uninterested and morally opposed to developing weapons of mass destruction. For nearly a decade, Iran has attempted to convince world leaders that the head of its government, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued an official religious edict, a fatwa, opposing the development of nuclear weapons and calling them a sin. “Khamenei has been consistently saying at least for the past seven or eight years,” according to Iranian journalist Muhammad Sahimi, “that the production of nuclear weapons is against Islamic teaching and therefore Iran will never pursue such a path.” 393
Even President Barack Obama, in his 2013 address to the United Nations General Assembly, repeated the canard. “The Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons,” Obama said. In a press conference, Obama said a diplomatic solution can be achieved regarding Iran’s nuclear program because of this fatwa.394
The problem, however, is that Khamenei has never issued such an edict – nor has any other leading Iranian cleric. Suspicion grew when Iranian officials gave various dates for when it was supposed to have been issued - 2004, 2005 and 2012. Even Western organizations couldn’t agree on the date of Khamenei’s fatwa; for example, the Washington Institute said it was 2003 while Newsweek claimed it was 2004. 395
To clear up the confusion, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) examined Khamenei’s fatwas dating back to 2004. MEMRI found no evidence that Khamenei had ever said Islam did not allow Iran to produce nuclear arms. 396 Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, similarly noted: “Khamenei lists all of his fatwas on his webpage, but the nuclear fatwa isn’t among them.” 397
“There is no such fatwa. It is a lie from the Iranians, a deception, and it is tragic that President Obama has endorsed it,” MEMRI Founder and President Yigal Carmon said. 398
If Khameini did issue a religious edict on the subject, it has obviously been ignored and is irrelevant so long as Iran continues to violate UN resolutions, enriches uranium and, according to the IAEA, continues its steady progress toward building a nuclear weapon. 399
Iran is isolated because of the international sanctions regime.
International sanctions were imposed on Iran to isolate the regime and pressure Iran's leaders to give up their nuclear weapons program. Iran, however, was never completely isolated and now Western countries are even beginning to restore diplomatic ties with Tehran before any agreement is reached.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of the failure to isolate Iran occurred when Iran hosted the summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in August 2012. Despite U.S. efforts to discourage attendance, representatives of 120 nations attended, including several heads of state. The U.N. Secretary-General also attended.400
In October 2013, after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani swooned world leaders with his speech at the United Nations General Assembly, several European nations began thawing their relations with Iran. British Foreign Minister William Hague announced that the United Kingdom and Iran would resume diplomatic ties at the nonresident charge d’affaires level, one step below ambassador, while Germany and the Netherlands both assigned new ambassadors to Iran.401 Additionally, French parliamentarians met with their Iranian counterparts to discuss opening a new chapter in bilateral relations, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida scheduled a visit to Tehran to discuss issues of mutual benefit and Tajikistan okayed an official visit from President Rouhani.401a
The sanctions are meant to isolate Iran economically, but this too has largely failed as many countries have continued to trade with the Islamic Republic. In June 2013, the Obama Administration exempted a number of countries, including China, India, South Korea and Singapore, from fully complying with the terms of U.S. sanctions.402 China, for example, even went as far as to abuse the exemption and increase its imports of Iranian oil, showing an 18% increase over the previous year.403 Meanwhile, other nations, such as Turkey, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates, have strengthened their own bilateral trade ties with Iran during the 2013 summer months.404
Isolating Iran and forcing its leaders to dismantle the nuclear weapons program -- without a military confrontation – necessitates the enforcement and commitment to sanctions until Iran fully complies with UN resolutions.
Israel is responsible for expelling the Arabs of Palestine during the 1948 War of Independence.
One of the greatest canards associated with the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is that all the Arabs living in Palestine were expelled by the Jews. A plethora of evidence, however, demonstrates that the Palestinian refugees were told to leave their homes by their own leaders. Contemporary press reports do not mention forcible expulsions, but they do frequently describe the Arabs as “fleeing” or “evacuating.” Moreover, in recent years, many Arab leaders - including PA President Mahmoud Abbas - have candidly admitted this truth.
According to historian Benny Morris, as early as December 1947, “Arab officers ordered the complete evacuation of specific villages in certain areas, lest their inhabitants ‘treacherously’ acquiesce in Israeli rule or hamper Arab military deployments ... There can be no exaggerating the importance of these early Arab-initiated evacuations in the demoralization, and eventual exodus, of the remaining rural and urban populations.” 405
In March 1948, the Arab National Committee in Jerusalem, following the instructions of the Arab Higher Committee, ordered women, children and the elderly in various parts of Jerusalem to leave their homes: “Any opposition to this order ... is an obstacle to the holy war ... and will hamper the operations of the fighters in these districts.” The Arab Higher Committee also ordered the evacuation of “several dozen villages, as well as the removal of dependents from dozens more” from April to July 1948.406
Time Magazine, in their May 1948 report on the battle for Haifa, noted: “The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by orders of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city.” 407
In August 1948, John Bagot Glubb, the commander of Jordan’s Arab Legion, said: “[Arab] villages were frequently abandoned even before they were threatened by the progress of war.”408
The Economist, a frequent outspoken critic of the Zionists, issued a similar report in October 1948: “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit.”
The Secretary of the Arab League Office in London, Edward Atiyah, would later write: “This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boastings of an unrealistic Arabic press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders, that it could be only a matter of weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to re-enter and retake possession of their country.” 409
“The refugees were confident their absence would not last long, and that they would return within a week or two,” Monsignor George Hakim, a Greek Orthodox Catholic Bishop of Galilee told the Beirut newspaper, Sada al-Janub on August 16, 1948. “Their leaders had promised them that the Arab Armies would crush the ’Zionist gangs’ very quickly and that there was no need for panic or fear of a long exile.”
“The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies,” wrote the Jordanian newspaper Filastin in February 1949.
These historical accounts are bolstered by more recent statements from Palestinian and Arab leaders confirming that the Jews' role in the Palestinian exodus of 1948 is exaggerated.
Dr. Walid al-Qamhawi, a former member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, noted in the 1970's that “it was collective fear, moral disintegration and chaos in every field that exiled the Arabs of Tiberias, Haifa and dozens of towns and villages.” 410
Haled al Azm, the Syrian Prime Minister in 1948, admitted the Arab role in persuading the refugees to leave in his memoirs written in 1973:
“Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the United Nations to resolve on their return.” 411
Similarly, Jordan’s King Hussein blamed Palestinian leaders for the refugee problem:
“The tragedy of the Palestinians was that most of their leaders had paralyzed them with false and unsubstantiated promises that they were not alone; that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Muslims would instantly and miraculously come to their rescue.” 412
In December 2006, Palestinian journalist Mahmoud Al-Habbash wrote in the PA’s official newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida:
“The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the 'catastrophe' in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those 'Arkuvian' promises made by the leaders and the political elites.” 413 [Arkuvian is a reference to Arkuv, a figure from Arab tradition known for breaking promises and lying.]
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, explained what happened in his home town of Safed in an interview with PA-TV in January 2013:
“The [Arab] Liberation Army retreated from [Safed], causing the people to begin emigrating. In Safed, just like Hebron, people were afraid that the Jews would take revenge for the massacre in 1929 ... The people were overcome with fear, and it caused the people to leave the city in a disorderly way.” 414
The truth, confirmed by historians, contemporaneous documents and accounts, and recent research and statements by Palestinians, is that the overwhelming majority of Arabs who became refugees fled their homes. They did so for a variety of reasons: their leaders told them to; their leaders and troops abandoned their towns; Arab propaganda spoke of massacres that frightened many Arabs; evacuations by Arabs demoralized many who stayed behind; and noncombatants wanted to get out of a war zone and find safety in neighboring countries.
It is also true that thousands of wealthy Palestinians left before the fighting began and that during the war Jewish forces did expel a small number of Palestinians who were usually in villages behind their lines making them a strategic threat.
As Morris notes, “In general, Haganah and IDF commanders were not forced to confront the moral dilemma posed by expulsion; most Arabs fled before and during the battle, before the Israeli troops reached their homes….” 415
The Palestinians have made concessions to advance the peace process; Israel has remained uncompromising.
With renewed attention on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, the international media continues to portray Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a hardliner, unwilling to compromise with his Palestinian interlocutors. For example, The Independent beat on the overused canard that Netanyahu approving settlement projects impedes peace prospects while The Guardian wrote that Netanyahu’s negotiation tactics are “hardline” and “uncompromising.” 416
Palestinian officials, not surprisingly, have echoed these sentiments while continuing to stick to their policy of insisting that all their demands be met without any concessions on their part. In fact, the Palestinians refuse to even soften their bargaining position - a Palestinian official involved with the negotiations leaked that the PA insists on a full right-of-return, the release of all prisoners in Israeli jails, the ability to sign agreements without Israeli intervention, control over water and border crossings with Israel.417 As Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO’s chief representative to the United States, said in early October 2013, “We cannot accept a compromise [on Jerusalem as capital] … it would undermine the creation of a Palestinian state.”418
Meanwhile, Netanyahu has repeated his commitment to a two-state solution, and made goodwill gestures to the Palestinians in hopes of achieving peace. In particular, after saying he would not do so, Netanyahu defied members of his own government and instituted a quiet freeze of settlement construction in the West Bank.379 Netanyahu has done even more to help individual Palestinians and their families - in September 2013, he agreed to grant 5,000 permits, in addition to the 35,000 previously approved, to allow Palestinian laborers to work inside Israel.381
In August 2013, Netanyahu authorized the first phase in a four-stage release of more than 100 Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails to satisfy a Palestinians demands to begin negotiations.419 Two months later, despite strong opposition from members of his ruling coalition, Netanyahu approved the release of 26 prisoners in the second phase.420 All of those released were convicted for murder, or attempted murder. Families who lost loved ones murdered by those released are understandably upset, nevertheless, Netanyahu said he must “honor government decisions, even if it is difficult and unpleasant” - hardly the stance of a hardline leader trying to obstruct the peace process.421
What has Israel received in return for these confidence-building measures?
Nothing. Not peace, not direct talks with Palestinian leaders, not a cessation of violence and not any reciprocal concessions. In fact, incitement continues to grow within the PA, there has been a dramatic upsurge in terror incidents emanating from the West Bank and rocket attacks have renewed from Gaza.422 The only statements coming from the Palestinian side are the well-worn belligerent expressions of intransigence, such as the message PA President Mahmoud Abbas gave during the ceremony welcoming back the released prisoners on October 29.”There will never be a deal with Israel if even just one prisoner remains behind bars,“ said Abbas.”We are obligated to continue using any measure to free all prisoners until they return home.”423
The discussions between the two parties have involved key officials but neither leader. To jumpstart the talks Netanyahu has called for face-to-face talks with Abbas. As of the end of October 2013, Abbas remained unwilling to sit with the one person who ultimately must be persuaded that an agreement can be reached that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state and provides the security Israelis need.
A third intifada will erupt if Israel does not satisfy Palestinian demands.
With the Palestinian economy stagnant and the peace process with Israel stalemated, many Palestinians are understandably frustrated. Their leaders are ineffectual, their diplomatic tactics are losing support internationally and the media is focused on Syria, Iran and Egypt. The combination of exasperation and the unalterable commitment of some Palestinians to destroy Israel have led to a surge in terror attacks from the West Bank and Gaza throughout September and October 2013. In addition, after months of relative quiet, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are calling for renewed violence against Israel.424
Terrorism and the threat of violence has always been a tool of Palestinian leaders to blackmail and coerce others. Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk, for example, said “We are on the verge of a third intifada and the talks between the [Palestinian] Authority and Israel will blow up in their faces.”425 Fatah leader Abu Jihad, meanwhile, told Al-Jazeera, “I can tell you with a high degree of certitude that an intifada is coming.”426
Israelis have heard it all before. Even as they open their borders to tens of thousands of Palestinian workers, release convicted murders from jail and attempt to negotiate a settlement of the conflict, the Palestinian reaction to getting anything less than everything they demand is to threaten violence.
Renewed terrorism on the scale of a widespread uprising, however, would sabotage negotiations, further destabilize the region and undermine the peace efforts of the Obama Administration. And despite the calls for violence, the Palestinian public is actually opposed to a return to “armed struggle,” in part because of its history of failure and also because the standard of living has improved in recent years in the West Bank. According to a November 2013 Arab World for Research & Development (AWRAD) poll, only 29 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza support a third intifada.427 This number is already down from the 35 percent of Palestinians who said they would support a new intifada in February 2013.428
“Overall the Palestinian reality is not ripe for the outbreak of a new uprising,” said Nayef Rajoub, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority.429 Walid Suleiman, editor of the Akbar al-Khalil newspaper, concurs with that sentiment and adds that “Palestinians must always look before they leap, especially in light of the bitter experience of the past two uprisings.”430
Despite the surge of terrorism, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “There is no sign of a popular uprising or so-called third intifada … There is no motivation for it, and we see no organization of it.”431
PA President Mahmoud Abbas warned of “explosive” and “catastrophic” repercussions should the Kerry-led round of peace talks with Israel fail. His “constituents,” however, appear reluctant to follow the senseless path of violence yet again, especially at a time when Israel is offering concessions and openly talking about the establishment of a Palestinian state living in peace.
The negotiated compromise with Iran removes Tehran's nuclear weapons threat.
On November 23, 2013, the United States and other Western powers (P5+1) struck a negotiated compromise with Iran over its nuclear program. The agreement offers Iran limited sanctions relief that could be worth between $10 and $40 billion if fully implemented and tacit recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes in exchange for the Islamic Republic taking concrete steps to freeze its nuclear program. 432
Critics argue that allowing Iran to continue uranium enrichment, even with limits on scope and capacity level, without forcing the mullahs to turn over all previously enriched material, remove its centrifuges and completely dismantle the Arak heavy water reactor will not prevent Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon.
As of November 2013, Iran had already amassed 7,150 kg of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) enriched to 5% U-235 and nearly 200kg of UF6 enriched to 20% U-235.433 Though creating a nuclear bomb requires more highly enriched uranium (HEU), both totals are near the figure needed to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear device.434 Iran also has nearly 18,000 centrifuges already installed and spinning at its Fordow and Natanz plants, which the interim deal does not address. The agreement also does not address Iran’s continued refusal to allow inspectors to assess whether the Parchin facility was used for nuclear testing and ignores the possibility that Iran may have already established secret facilities for its nuclear program.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal with Iran “is not an historic agreement, it is an historic mistake … the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.”435
Though Netanyahu has been pilloried for campaigning against the arrangement - which he believes leaves Israel vulnerable - plenty of others have also questioned the wisdom of the deal with Iran.
French President Francoise Hollande walked away from the first round of negotiations with Iran after effectively vetoing the deal that the Obama Administration wanted to sign.436 Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird noted he was "deeply skeptical" of the interim deal with Iran and said that "Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt." 436a
Saudi Arabia has made no secret of its anger toward the Obama administration for its overtures to Iran. Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan told diplomats in October 2013 that the Kingdom is considering a “major shift” in relations with the U.S. so as not to be “dependent” on Obama’s handling of Iran.437 The Prince’s statement only adds to prior Saudi declarations that it would build a bomb in the event of an Iranian nuclear breakout, and new revelations suggest the Saudis may have already paid Pakistan to produce bombs for delivery to Riyadh.438
The U.S. Congress is also dissatisfied and wants to impose tougher sanctions against Iran. The White House, however, lobbied for a delay in proposing new sanctions legislation for fear of giving Iran an excuse to renege on the agreement and break off negotiations. Still, many members of Congress believe that Iran only came to the negotiating table as a result of the impact of sanctions and that therefore the sanctions regime must be tightened to keep the pressure on Iran and ensure that a final agreement completely eliminates Iran’s capacity to build a bomb.
Congressional action may not be sufficient to prevent European and Asian states from rushing to reestablish ties with Iran, reinforcing the Islamic Republic’s belief that it can weather the sanctions storm, retain the right to enrich uranium and, thus, maintain its ability to develop nuclear weapons in the future. Furthermore, the resumption of relations with Iran undermines the remaining sanctions and makes it more difficult to reverse those being eased if Iran reneges on the agreement or refuses to accept the terms proposed in future rounds of talks.
The only way to remove Iran’s nuclear weapons threat, without resorting to force, is to intensify the pressure on Tehran and insist that the final agreement eliminates its nuclear program. This requires the cessation of enrichment, the removal of centrifuges and the destruction of the Arak reactor. Any deal that falls short of these objectives represents a victory for Iran that will leave it with the capability to build nuclear weapons in the future.
The Iranian government is committed to fulfilling the terms it agreed to in the Geneva nuclear deal.
The agreement negotiated on November 24, 2013, between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, UK, Russia, France & China) is not scheduled to go into effect until sometime in early 2014 and the U.S. State Department admitted that all of the details have yet to be worked out.439 The United States, however, is behaving as though the agreement was completed and Iran has begun to implement its obligations. The agreement is controversial, but even if it were not, the fact that the United States is already delivering on its promises while Iran is backtracking on theirs is not a good sign.
The Geneva agreement calls on Iran to make limited concessions to slow down its nuclear program, but falls short of requiring Iran to end all enrichment activites, as stipulated by six U.N. Security Council resolutions. Nevertheless, the P5+1 agreed to unfreeze a limited amount of Iranian assets and loosen some economic sanctions. Iranian government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht confirmed that the United States has already released to Iran $8 billion in frozen assets.440
Iran, however, has not taken any reciprocal steps to implement the agreement. On the contrary, the Iranian government is already declaring victory and claiming it has no intention of eliminating its weapons program. In fact, Iranian leaders won’t even acknowledge agreeing to the terms of the deal. Iran’s Foreign Ministry, for example, issued a statement critical of the U.S. for its “one-sided interpretation of the agreed text.”441 Tehran then released its own version of the agreement, which contradicted a number of key points in the version released by the Obama Administration relating to Iran’s commitment not to install more centrifuges or continue work on the Arak Heavy Water Reactor.442
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif fed doubts about Iran’s commitment to the deal when he announced that, “Iran will decide the level of enrichment according to its needs for different purposes.” According to the Geneva deal, however, the enrichment level was to be agreed upon by both sides, not unilaterally by Iran, and was meant to ensure the Islamic Republic’s stockpile of enriched uranium remains below the level required to build a nuclear weapon.443
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi declared that Iran does not consider the deal legally binding and retains the right to nullify it. “The moment we feel the opposite side is not meeting its obligations or its actions fall short, we will revert to our previous position and cease the process,” said Araqchi. “[And] we are in no way optimistic about the other side.”444
Even more alarming were comments made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after agreeing to the Geneva deal. Rouhani said that Iran has no intention of dismantling its nuclear facilities; insead, Tehran plans to intensify its nuclear activities by building a second nuclear reactor near the existing Bushehr facility. When asked by The Financial Times if dismantling Iran’s nuclear facilities was a “red line,” Rouhani replied, “100 percent.” He added that Iran would continue to enrich uranium according “to our needs for nuclear fuel.”445
Another indication that Iran has not dramatically changed its policy was Tehran’s response to the prospect of Israel participating in future talks between Iran and the six world powers. “Such a thing will never happen and we definitely will not be in the room in which representatives from the Zionist regime will have [a] presence,” Zarif declared.446
Rouhani said the Geneva talks were a first step to see if mutual trust could be established with the United States. Based on their words and deeds so far, however, the Iranians have failed to build that trust while reinforcing the suspicions of the agreement’s critics.
Academic boycotts are popular in America.
In December 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) passed a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel and specifically demanding that American universities end all collaboration with Israeli institutions. The ASA itself, and its members, were not required to comply with the resolution; nevertheless, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement crowed about the “victory” and expect it to set a precedent for other academic institutions to follow suit. So far, only the tiny Native American Studies Association has done so, but the ASA has paid a high price in the court of public opinion and academia for its decision.
Of the ASA’s total membership of 5,000, 826 members (17 percent) voted for the resolution. Subsequently, the ASA has faced a torrent of criticism from the academic community and beyond. Among the critics are prominent academic associations, many university presidents, and a group of students who won awards from the ASA. 447
Like most campus-related BDS “victories,” this one will have no impact on Israel and do nothing to help the Palestinians, many of whom now benefit from attending Israeli universities and from collaboration between colleges in the West Bank and Israel. In fact, many professors in Israel are very active in the peace camp and their research often examines issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute from a critical perspective. Moreover, hundreds of American scholars enjoy fruitful collaboration with Israeli colleageues each year.
The call for a boycott was especially ironic given that just a few weeks earlier Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, told South African journalists, “We do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself.…We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.” 448
The principal impact of the ASA action was to give the association a black eye and associate it with other zealots who believe academic freedom does not apply to research or cooperation with Israel. Though it may have come as a shock to the ASA, the backlash did not surprise anyone knowledgeable about Israel or committed to the free exchange of ideas. Within a month more than 100 universities rejected the idea of boycotting Israel. 449 Another fifty institutions specifically denounced the ASA’s decision. Drew Faust, President of Harvard University, said, “the recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities represents a direct threat to [academic freedoms and values], ideals which universities and scholarly associations should be dedicated to defend.” 450
Individual universities were not the only ones to denounce the ASA boycott. The American Council on Education (representing 1,700 academic institutions), the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (216 institutions), the Association of American Universities (62 institutions) and the American Association of University Professors (48,000 members) criticized the ASA vote. Not one university defended the ASA resolution and five universities - Bard College, Brandeis University, Indiana University, Kenyon College and Penn State Harrisburg - announced they would terminate their membership in the ASA. Thus, roughly 2,000 academic institutions representing tens of thousands of faculty disagree with the minority within the ASA which has aligned itself with a movement that openly calls for Israel to be replaced with a Palestinian state. 451
Writers in the media have also poured scorn on the ASA. Alan Luxenberg, president of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, wrote, for example, that the ASA boycott showed a “stunning lack of diversity of intellectual interests and perspectives” by the ASA’s Higher Council. Walter Reich, the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, said “boycotting Israeli academic institutions not only trashes the sacrosanct academic principle of the free exchange of ideas; it's also hypocritical and wrong. Most egregiously, it targets Israel to the exclusion of countries with immeasurably worse human-rights records.” Stanley Fish of the New York Times said the boycotters' argument was “as pathetic as it is laughable.”452
And Henry Reichman, professor emeritus of history at CSU East Bay, and first vice president of the American Association of University Professors, said the boycott is “at best misguided” and “is the wrong way to register opposition to the policies and practices it seeks to discredit; it is itself a serious violation of the very academic freedom its supporters purport to defend.” 453
The BDS movement may have thought the ASA action would act as a clarion call for academics to join their anti-Semitic campaign to delegitimize and demonize Israel, but it has attracted only a tiny minority of professors, the overwhelming majority of faculty are smarter and better informed.
Arab militaries do everything possible to protect civilians in war zones.
The militaries of Arab countries across the Middle East have time and again shown a callous disregard for human life, including the lives of their own citizens. The Syrian civil war, in which more than 100,000 people have been killed, is but one example of this behavior. Since the beginning of hostilities in March 2011, the Syrian army has poisoned, bombed, shelled and tortured Syrian civilians. This is nothing new for the ruling Assad family, which committed perhaps the largest mass murder in the region in the last century when Hafez Assad ordered the military to raze the Syrian town of Hama in 1982 to suppress opposition to his regime, and killed an estimated 20,000 people.
During the Arab Spring and subsequent “Islamic Winter,” tyrannical regimes throughout the Middle East murdered tens of thousands of dissidents and demonstrators to maintain power. Such incidents have taken place in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen.
In addition, irregular Muslim “armies” -- a euphemism for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas -- have indiscriminately fired rockets into Israeli civilian areas for years while using their own civilians as human shields
Students of Middle East history, and followers of current events, will not find this Arab on Arab or Muslim on Muslim carnage surprising. What may come as a shock is that even Al-Jazeera, the leading media outlet in the Arab world, known for its harsh criticism of Israel, chastised the Syrian army and asked the audience why Arabs cannot behave more humanely in war - like the Israeli army.
Here are a few of the comments from the show:
“Why don’t they learn from the Israeli army which tries, through great efforts, to avoid shelling areas populated by civilians in Lebanon and Palestine?
“Didn’t Hezbollah take shelter in areas populated by civilians because it knows that Israeli air force doesn’t bomb those areas?”
“Why doesn’t the Syrian army respect premises of universities, schools or inhabited neighborhoods? Why does it shell even the areas of its supporters?”
“The Israeli army, if it wanted to break up a demonstration, would have used water cannons or rubber bullets, not rockets or explosive barrels as happens in Aleppo today.”
“You mustn’t compare the Syrian army with French or Israeli… The Israeli army didn’t shell Aleppo University and students there. They didn’t shell the university with rockets, killing dozens of students.”454
The Israel Defense Forces has a strict code of ethics and takes pride in protecting civilians in combat zones. During Israel’s most recent operation in the Gaza Strip, for example, the IDF went so far as to drop leaflets and make phone calls to encourage civilians to leave the battlefield and prevent Hamas from using them as shields. Pilots aborted missions, after locking in on terrorists, if even one civilian was spotted in the vicinity.
Whether or not the Al-Jazeera show starts a conversation in Muslim countries about their military tactics, it was refreshing to hear Arab commentators acknowledge the extraordinary efforts made by the IDF to avoid civilian casualties. It is too bad that it took Syrian war crimes for them to recognize the difference between the morality of Israeli and Arab soldiers.
Jews will be welcome in a future Palestinian state.
One of the most disturbing aspects of Secretary of State John Kerry’s otherwise praiseworthy efforts to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is the fact that Kerry, the media and the international community all ignore outrageous Palestinian statements and positions. While the State Department lambastes Israel every time an Israeli deigns to question the U.S. approach, it is silent when Palestinians attack Kerry’s intentions as well as his proposals. The most disgraceful Palestinian position that has gone uncontested is their plan to ethnically cleanse a future Palestinian state of Jews.
Even before negotiations started, Palestinian officials made clear they plan to conduct a policy of ethnic cleansing of Jews reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Abbas said in December 2010, “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”362 The PLO's ambassador to the United States, Maen Areikat, said on September 13, 2011, that a future Palestinian state should be free of Jews.363
Lest anyone believe such remarks were anomalies, Abbas, the man often referred to as a “moderate,“ announced on the eve of the resumption of peace talks (in summer 2013) that “in a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands.”364
These were not the first instances where Palestinian officials have suggested making “Palestine” judenrein, and reflect an ugly undercurrent of anti-Semitism within the Palestinian Authority. One might expect such racist and anti-Semitic views to provoke world condemnation, but the media ignores them, and peace activists are so desperate to reach an agreement that they make excuses for the Palestinians. Imagine the uproar if any Israeli official suggested that no Arabs or Muslims should be allowed to live in Israel.
Besides being immoral, the Palestinians’ position is also hypocritical: Abbas demands that Palestinian refugees be allowed to move to Israel while simultaneously planning to expel all Jews from territory where they have lived for centuries.
Moreover, while 1.68 million Arabs, more than 20 percent of the population, live peacefully in Israel with full civic rights, no Jew can live in the Palestinian state. “Well, what is that?” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked. “There are Arabs who live here, but they can't contemplate Jews living there.”455
The Palestinian Authority no longer engages in terrorism against Israel.
One of the three prerequisites to Israel’s recognition of the PLO and subsequent peace negotiations was that the Palestinians cease all terrorism against Israel. Yet, almost from the day Yasser Arafat sent this promise to Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, assaults have continued. The heinous attacks conducted in the 1990s killed the Oslo process and a spike in terror in the last 14 months threatens to derail President Obama’s peace efforts as well.
Since the first Oslo agreement in September 1993, more than 1,500 Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Even after withdrawing from nearly half the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, the attacks continue. Thousands of rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel and terrorists try to infiltrate from the West Bank on an almost daily basis. In an effort to build confidence and minimize inconvenience, Israel removed all but a handful of checkpoints in the West Bank, but terrorists continue to be caught attempting to smuggle weapons through them.
Now, just as Secretary of State John Kerry is working tirelessly to bring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table he has avoided for the last eight years, the level of violence has escalated, continuing an alarming trend that began in 2013.
“Last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank,” Kerry told guests at a conference February 19, 2014. The Shin Bet reported a few days earlier, however, that six Israelis were killed in 2013 -- three civilians and three members of the security forces. The number of attacks recorded in the West Bank more than doubled from the year before to 1,271. The Shin Bet also reported that “Circa 190 significant attacks orchestrated to occur this year [in 2013] were thwarted (as opposed to 112 last year), mostly from Judea and Samaria. They included: 52 kidnapping plots, 52 shooting plots, 67 IED plots, and 16 suicide plots.” 456
Kerry also acknowledged that in 2014 “there’s been an uptick in some violence.” In fact, more than 30 rockets have been launched from Gaza at Israel in the first six weeks of the year. Five were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, as they were approaching Ashkelon, a city of approximately 118,000 people.
In January alone, a variety of other terror incidents were recorded:
Rock-Throwing Incidents: 468
Injured Israeli Civilians: 14
Security Forces Injured: 14 457
The PA’s commitment to violence is also reflected in its financial support for terrorists. Even as it pleads poverty and is unable to meet its budget obligations, the PA manages to find money for “martyrs,” their families and terrorists released from Israeli prisons. The PA has allocated an additional $46 million in 2014 just for the former prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murdering Israelis, who the Palestinians consider “heroes.” Since the PA relies on Western donors to cover much of its budget, and that money is fungible, Americans, Europeans and other contributors to the Abbas kleptocracy are essentially subsidizing rewards for terrorists. 458
Despite repeated assurances, the PA has not stopped terrorists from targeting Israel. If the Palestinians did not live up to these promises in the past - or the present - why should Israelis trust them to do so in the future? After giving up land and getting more terror rather than peace, is it surprising that Israelis are reluctant to make further concessions to the Palestinians or that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that security guarantees are a sine qua non for any new agreement?
If Israel makes peace with the Palestinians the other Arab states will normalize ties with Israel.
One way that Israel is being pressured to make concessions to the Palestinians is to suggest that by doing so it will bring about a sea change in the region whereby the rest of the Arab world will normalize relations with Israel. Proponents of this idea often point to the Arab peace initiative of 2002 as evidence for this belief. Unfortunately, neither the Arab plan nor the words and the deeds of Arab states support this rosy scenario.
First, it is doubtful the Arab “peace“ initiative was ever a serious proposal given that it was formulated originally by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah primarily as a publicity ploy to divert attention from the Saudi role in 9/11. Abdullah's unwillingness to negotiate with Israel has reinforced this suspicion. In addition, the proposal requires Israel to capitulate to demands the Arabs have been making for decades, which Abdullah and his comrades know are unacceptable, and fails to demand anything of the Palestinians or Arab states.
Most important, the initiative does not say what most of its proponents think it does; that is, it does not promise peace or an end to the conflict even if Israel accepts all the conditions. Rather than full normalization of relations, the plan offers only a vague pledge of “normal relations.”
Several Gulf Arab states established ties with Israel without any Israeli concessions, and some continue today, but these states are pressured by others, especially Saudi Arabia, not to have any relations with Israel. Moreover, few people believe that Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon or Saudi Arabia will change their orientation toward Israel regardless of its actions.
In early March 2014, the Arab League sent a powerful message that its members have no intention of changing their relationship with Israel when Arab foreign ministers said they reject the idea of “recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also reiterated that he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The Arab League seems intent on sabotaging U.S. peace efforts since Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly plans to include the demand that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state in the framework agreement he has been preparing to jumpstart negotiations. The Arab position was also a direct rejection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand for evidence the Palestinians (and other Arab states) accept the permanence of Israel and the Jewish people's right to self-determination in their homeland. Netanyahu has made this the sine qua non for an agreement because he believes recognition of the Jewish state “would finally make clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict.”459
The Palestinians have recognized Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that one of the most important precursors for achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians is their recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. In his speech to AIPAC on March 4, 2014, Netanyahu explained:
Just as Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinians must be prepared to recognize a Jewish state. President Abbas, recognize the Jewish state, and in doing so, you would be telling your people, the Palestinians, that while we might have a territorial dispute, the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute. You would be telling Palestinians to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, or amputating parts of the Negev and the Galilee. In recognizing the Jewish state, you would finally making clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict. So recognize the Jewish state. No excuses, no delays, it's time.460
Mahmoud Abbas gave his response three days later when he vowed the Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "They are pressing and saying, 'no peace without the Jewish state,'" he said, without clarifying if he was referring to Israel or the United States. Regardless, he said, "There is no way. We will not accept." Two days later, the Arab League backed Abbas' stance, emphasizing "its rejection of recognizing Israel as a 'Jewish state.'"461
After unequivocally rejecting any recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas has been dissembling by suggesting that the Palestinians already recognized Israel in 1988 and 1993. He is referring to Yasser Arafat satisfying U.S. conditions for opening a dialogue with the PLO during the Reagan Administration and the exchange of letters between Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin mutually recognizing the Palestinians and Israel to make the Oslo peace process possible.
Here is what Arafat said on December 14, 1988: "In my speech also yesterday (Tuesday) it was clear that we mean our people's right to freedom and national independence according to Resolution 181 and the right of all parties concerned in the Middle East conflict to exist in peace and security and as I have mentioned including the state of Palestine and Israel and other neighbors according to the Resolutions 242 and 338." The PLO also renounced terrorism to fulfill another requirement for opening a dialogue with the United States. Notice that Arafat's statement says nothing about recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
After agreeing to speak to the PLO, President Reagan said, "I am under no illusions about the PLO. Their words will have to be supported by actions, namely a continuing renunciation of terrorism everywhere and disassociation from those who perpetrate it." History has shown that Palestinian deeds have not matched their words as they have continued their longstanding efforts to destroy Israel through a combination of diplomacy and terror.
In his 1993 letter to Rabin, Arafat again said nothing about Israel as a Jewish state, only that the "PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security." He also declared that "all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations," a pledge inconsistent with the refusal of Abbas to negotiate and threats to circumvent talks by seeking recognition for Palestinian demands at the UN. Arafat's promise to renounce "the use of terrorism and other acts of violence" also proved illusory and has been reiterated by Abbas without any end to terror directed against Israel.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry continues his rewriting of history by telling members of Congress that international law already declares Israel a Jewish state and that Netanyahu's insistence on a public declaration of Israel's Jewish character from the Palestinians is "a mistake." According to Kerry, the "'Jewish state'" issue was "resolved in 1947 in Resolution 181 where there are more than 40-- 30 mentions of 'Jewish state.'" 462 The part that Kerry left out is that the Arab and Muslim states rejected the resolution and subsequently invaded the new Jewish state in hopes of destroying it at birth.
Kerry also seems oblivious to the present reality in which Abbas has no political legitimacy given his refusal to hold elections for the last decade, his limited authority within the West Bank and total lack of control over the Gaza Strip. In fact, reports indicate internal rifts are threatening Abbas' control of the Palestinian Authority, and those are separate from the virtual civil war between Fatah and Hamas, whose leaders explicitly say they will never recognize Israel or accept a Jewish state on Islamic land.
Is it any wonder that polls indicate that 64 percent of Israelis do not trust Kerry to take account of Israel's security as a crucial factor or that 74 percent of Israelis believe the United States is exerting more pressure on Israel than the Palestinians?463
The Shin Bet reports that terrorism from the West Bank is escalating, combined with the resumption of rocket barrages into Israel from Gaza and Abbas' refusal to bargain with Netanyahu reflect a total betrayal of the promises made in 1988, 1993 and all subsequent negotiations, and reminders of why Israelis do not take Palestinian rhetoric seriously. Even if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, most Israelis will remain skeptical until they see those words translated into deeds that will permanently end the conflict.
The Arab world and the Palestinians have changed since the three "noes" of 1967.
After the 1967 War, Israel expected to sign a peace agreement with the Arab states, thinking they had finally been convinced they could not drive the Jews into the sea and would be better off coexisting with the Jewish State. Instead, the Arab states held a summit in Khartoum and decided they would not make peace with Israel, negotiate with Israel or recognize Israel. Recall also that this declaration was made at a time when there were zero settlements in the disputed territories. Only Egypt and Jordan have changed their position since that time. This is the reason a comprehensive peace has eluded every American president and Israeli prime minister.
The obstacles to peace with the Palestinians are similar. At the Fatah conference of August 2009, the Palestinians declared their own series of noes: no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and no end to the armed struggle against Israel. Meanwhile, they issued more than a dozen demands, including Israeli acceptance of the “right of return“ of Palestinian refugees, the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, the freezing of all settlement construction and the lifting of the Gaza blockade. They also vowed to continue the struggle against Israel “until Jerusalem returns to the Palestinians void of settlers and settlements.”
As Secretary of State John Kerry heroically attempts to bridge the gaps between the parties, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas emerged from his meetings at the White House boasting that he had rejected the administration's proposals. He also announced a new version of the three noes: no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, no forsaking the demand for Palestinian refugees to be allowed into Israel, and no commitment that a peace agreement will end the conflict. 464
The final “no“ is the most unambiguous statement of the Palestinians' absolute refusal to accept a two-state solution, which, in turn, explains the objection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. According to the “moderate“ Abbas, if Israel cedes the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem, the conflict will continue. These declarations make clear the Palestinians are still pursuing the strategy of stages whereby they first seek control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and then plan to “liberate“ the remainder of “Palestine.”
According to reporter Khaled Abu Toameh, “Abbas is now hoping to turn himself into a hero by telling his people that he had the guts to say no to Obama and Kerry.” To give the perception of support, Fatah activists organized rallies welcoming Abbas home.
The desire of the Palestinian people to coexist with their Israeli neighbors is being sublimated to the Islamist ideology of fanatical leaders who cannot accept a Jewish state in the Islamic world or Jews ruling over Muslims. Roughly half of the population is under the thumb of Hamas, which is at war with Fatah; while Fatah is at war with itself and fractured. The bottom line is that none of the men -- and they are all men -- who claim to represent the people (Abbas has not won an election in nearly a decade) are interested in peace. 464a
It has been nearly 47 years since the Arab states originally issued the three noes and Abbas has demonstrated nothing has changed for the Palestinians during that time. Will a 48th year pass before the Palestinians say “yes“ to peace?
Jonathan Pollard's conviction for espionage proved that Israel works against American interests.
News reports suggested that the United States is considering releasing Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel agreeing to continue peace talks with the Palestinians. The idea appears moot now that the Palestinians have violated the terms of the current talks by asking for recognition from 15 United Nations bodies and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's refusal to meet with his Israeli counterpart. Nevertheless, since the idea was put on the table, it is useful to review the Pollard case.
Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, began spying for Israel in June 1984; he learned that he may have been discovered in November 1985 and fled to the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., which refused to take him in. He was subsequently arrested by the FBI on charges of selling classified material to Israel. Pollard was convicted of espionage and sentenced to life imprisonment. His wife, Anne, got five years in jail for assisting her husband.
Initially, Israel said Pollard was part of a rogue operation, but quickly apologized.”It is Israel's policy to refrain from any intelligence activity related to the United States,“ an official government statement declared, “in view of the close and special relationship of friendship“ between the two countries. Prime Minister Shimon Peres stated: “Spying on the United States stands in total contradiction to our policy.” 465
While it was always suspected that the United States routinely spied on Israel, this was not confirmed until years later when Edward Snowden released classified documents from the National Security Agency. Nevertheless, the United States and Israel worked together to investigate the Pollard affair. The Israeli inquiry revealed that Pollard initiated the contact with the Israelis and was recruited by a small, independent scientific intelligence unit unrelated to Israeli military intelligence or the Mossad. 466
A subcommittee of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Intelligence and Security Services concluded: “Beyond all doubt ... the operational echelons (namely: the Scientific Liaison Unit headed by Rafael Eitan) decided to recruit and handle Pollard without any check or consultation with the political echelon or receiving its direct or indirect approval.” The Knesset committee took the government to task for not properly supervising the scientific unit.
As promised to the U.S. government, the spy unit that directed Pollard was disbanded, his handlers punished and the stolen documents returned.467 The last point was crucial to the U.S. Department of Justice's case against Pollard.
Pollard denied spying “against“ the United States. He said he provided only information he believed was vital to Israeli security and was being withheld by the Pentagon. This included data on Soviet arms shipments to Syria, Iraqi and Syrian chemical weapons, the Pakistani atomic bomb project and Libyan air defense systems.468
Pollard's life sentence was severe and controversial, but other spies received longer prison terms, such as Arthur Walker who is serving three life terms plus forty years. Aldrich Ames was also sentenced to life but his crime led to the death of at least 10 intelligence assets. On the other hand, John Walker Lindh received a 20-year sentence for joining the Taliban in Afghanistan, and William Kampiles, a CIA officer, sold secrets to the Soviets and served only 18 years of a 40-year sentence. Pollard supporters have argued that his sentence was also far longer than the average term imposed for spying for the Soviet Union and other enemies of the United States. 469 Some argued that his sentence should have been more lenient because he was spying for an ally; however, the law makes no distinction regarding the beneficiary of the stolen material.
Moreover, the person who coordinated the government's damage assessment, said "there are no other Americans who have given over to an ally information of the quantity and quality that Mr. Pollard has." 469a
As an example, Bowman said one of the documents Pollard stole was a Top Secret Radio Signal Notations Manual. "The manual listed the physical parameters of every known electronic signal, noted how America collected signals around the world, and listed all the known communications links then used by the Soviety Union. It would permit any recipient to take measures to avoid the United States' collection of signals and communications intelligence information, and we have no idea how widely this might have been shared."
Though initially shunned by Israel, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu granted him citizenship. Netanyahu requested clemency for Pollard during Middle East peace talks at the Wye Plantation in Maryland in 1998; however, CIA Director George Tenet threatened to quit if President Bill Clinton released Pollard. Since then, Israeli officials have made repeated entreaties on Pollard's behalf.
At the end of Clinton's term, the issue was again raised and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, along with a majority of senators argued against a pardon. "Mr. Pollard is a convicted spy who put our national security at risk and endangered the lives of our intelligence officers," Shelby said. "There are not terms strong enough to express my belief that Mr. Pollard should serve every minute of his sentence ... " 470
In November 2003, a federal judge rejected requests by Pollard to appeal his life sentence and review classified government documents that Pollard said would prove his spying was not as damaging or as extensive as prosecutors had charged. The judge said that Pollard had waited too long to object to his sentence and ruled that Pollard's attorneys offered no compelling justification for seeing the sealed intelligence documents. 471
A U.S. federal appeals court in July 2005 rejected Pollard's claim that he had inadequate counsel in his original trial and denied his request to downgrade his life sentence. The court also denied Pollard's attorneys access to classified information they hoped would help in their attempt to win presidential clemency for their client. The rulings leave Pollard with little recourse but the Supreme Court to change his fate. The Supreme Court, however, refused in 2006 to hear his case.472
In 2012, the 1987 damage assessment of Pollard's crimes was declassified. Though heavily redacted, the document indicated that Pollard was asked to collect U.S. intelligence on Arab states, Pakistan and the Soviet Union. The full scope of Pollard's espionage activities remains secret.
After years of embarrassment over Pollard's actions, and its implications for the Jewish community (e.g., bringing greater suspicion on Jews applying for or belonging to intelligence agencies and raising questions about the “dual loyalty“ of American Jews), major Jewish organizations have joined the chorus of officials and former officials calling for Pollard's release.473 Former U.S. officials who now support commuting Pollard's sentence include former CIA director James Woolsey, secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former attorney general Michael Muckasey, former deputy secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb and a number of former and current members of Congress (a bi-partisan letter circulated in Congress and signed by nearly 40 members calls on their peers to urge President Barack Obama to commute Pollard's life sentence to time served). Opponents also remain vocal, including the man who prosecuted Pollard, Joseph diGenova, and the Naval investigator who conducted the inquiry into Pollard's actions.
Federal guidelines at the time of Pollard's sentencing made prisoners eligible for parole if they had a record of good behavior and had served 30 years of a life sentence. If granted, Pollard could be released on November 21, 2015.
Hamas-Fatah reconciliation paves the way
to peace negotiations with Israel.
After several prior claims of reconciliation, it remains to be seen if Hamas and Fatah, rulers of
the Gaza Strip and West
Bank, respectively, can form a united government. The immediate impact of the announcement to reconcile was to stop all peace talks. After refusing to talk to his Israeli counterpart for six years, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to blow up any chance of an agreement by secretly agreeing to join forces with an organization committed to Israel's destruction.
If implemented, the agreement joins the two leading Palestinian parties and sets the stage for long overdue parliamentary elections. This is not just a blow to peace, but a defeat for the Palestinian people.
Neither party has shown any interest in democracy. Fatah has repeatedly delayed scheduled elections, primarily due to fear of
losing to Hamas as it
did in the last election. Both, meanwhile, have ruled autocratically
and abused the human rights of the Palestinians under their control. Hamas remains committed
to creating an Iranian-style Islamic government and has created an oppressive
environment in Gaza for non-Muslims
and Muslims alike.
Internal politics are of less concern to Israel than the unwavering antagonism of Hamas toward peace. Hamas officials
have repeatedly said they are committed to Israel’s destruction and have said their views have not changed in reconciling
with Fatah. While Fatah officials have said that Hamas has agreed to peace talks with Israel, no Hamas spokesmen have said this. To the contrary, Hamas officials continue to say the opposite: “The issue of Hamas recognizing Israel is a complete nonstarter ... aimed at primarily weakening the movement's positions on Israel,“ Hamas spokesman Taher Nunu said.
The last time the two were supposed to reconcile,
Nabil Shaath, a high-ranking aide to Abbas, said that demanding Hamas to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel is “unfair, unworkable and does not make sense.” 544
The future of security cooperation between Hamas and Fatah also looms
as a major concern to both Israel and the United States. The United
States has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to train and arm
the Palestinian Authority’s National Security Force in the West
Bank.. 545 Under the unity pact, Hamas’
security apparatus- which prides itself on actively targeting Israel - will presumably be integrated into the PA force, basically spelling an end to
the Palestinian commitment to fight terror. 546 Moreover, the agreement will likely require both sides to release hundreds of militants held in each other's jails, a move that would pose a serious security risk for Israel and destroy the goodwill the PA built with Israel from arresting these men in the first place. 547
The decision to reconcile appears to be a tactical one based on necessity
rather than a commonality of views. Fatah has grown progressively weaker in the West
Bank and is known for its corruption. Officials seeing the revolutionary
fervor against similarly corrupt, autocratic regimes fear an uprising
against them and believe a unity deal will mollify the Palestinian street. Fatah also wants to press
the UN to declare a state of Palestine
unilaterally and is afraid that countries may have an excuse to vote
against them if they are divided. Hamas also has an incentive to work with its rivals because of fears it has also lost public favor by its failure to improve the lives of Gazans and because the new Egyptian government's opposition has weakened the group. It also has lost support from Syria as a result of its failure to stand behind Bashar Assad.
Given the deep divisions it remains to be seen if a power sharing arrangement can be reached. Hamas believes it can ultimately take over the Palestinian
Authority from within if elections are held and it is allowed to
spread its tentacles further in the West
The Fatah decision to
abandon the way of peace and join the terrorists calling for armed struggle
to bring about Israel’s destruction
also threatens Palestinian well-being. After watching its economy boom
in the last few years, in large part because of Israeli and international
assistance, the world is likely to reconsider its support for a government
that includes terrorists.
The Quartet has made clear it will not work with Hamas unless it recognizes Israel’s right to exist, eschews terror and agrees
to honor past Israel-Palestinian
agreements. If Hamas meets these conditions, it will cease to be Hamas, given that its covenant is unambiguous in stating that Islam (as they interpret it) requires the destruction of Israel.
The United States immediately criticized the Palestinian decision to reconcile and members of Congress are calling for withholding aid to the PA. According to
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-FL), “U.S. taxpayer funding [to terrorist organizations] is
prohibited under current law.” 550
Ultimately, the Palestinians must unite to achieve their national goals,
but by allowing terrorists to become part of their government, Fatah has distanced itself even further from those who have worked to create
an independent Palestine. The Palestinians do indeed need to reconcile — but with Israel, not Hamas.
Mosques are sacrosanct and never used by terrorists.
Even in the asymmetric fight against terror in which civilians are routinely used as shields by militants one might expect mosques to be out of bounds for use by terrorists. They are not. Terrorists find mosques to be ideal places to store weapons and to hide out because they have the benefit of being civilian targets and holy places so that targeting them would lead to international criticism regardless of their non-religious use.
During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas stored ammunition and fired rockets into Israel from mosques.474 This tactic has been used by radical Muslims in many places including Lebanon (by Hezbollah), Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan (by the Taliban). 475
Today, mosques continue to be used by terrorists for nefarious purposes. In Gaza, for example, Hamas has attached reconnaissance cameras to minarets. In April 2014, Egyptian soldiers discovered entrances to six smuggling tunnels in Al-Nasr Mosque’s, including one in the washroom and another behind the pulpit.476
The exploitation of mosques by radical Islamic groups is especially ironic given their self-proclaimed piety. Then again, it should not be surprising that people who commit murder can rationalize their use of holy places to further their goals.477
Once a mosque is used for military purposes, it becomes a legitimate target and makes it more difficult to justify placing holy places off limits. This is just one example of the nearly impossible dilemmas Israel faces in the fight against Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror groups.
Human rights organizations present unbiased reports on Israel.
Human rights organizations regularly pillory Israel for real and imagined abuses. Israel frequently argues that these groups’ research is shoddy, biased, falsified and untrue. The groups see official Israeli channels as less credible than Arabs who are often proven liars, unreliable witnesses and members of terrorist organizations.
In a rare example of candor Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigator Donatella Rovera admitted some difficulties in reporting on armed conflicts.478 “Responding effectively to human rights violations and humanitarian crises resulting from armed conflict requires accurate and credible factual information and analysis.” Sadly, these essentials are often missing from the reports of HRW and other human rights monitors.
Consider the impartiality standard. In 2001, during the UN’s conference to address intolerance, a parallel NGO conference convened to publicize “the voices of the victims.” Delegates adopted a resolution labeling Israeli policies racist and war crimes.479
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson called the allegations accusing Israel of war crimes “inappropriate and unacceptable,” Nevertheless, Amnesty International, HRW, Lawyers for Human Rights and Physicians for Human Rights endorsed the resolution. 480
The disclosure that HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director tried to raise money from Saudi Arabia by touting HRW’s history of anti-Israel reportage was further evidence of the group’s bias.481
Rovera admits the information gathered by human rights groups is often inaccurate and leads to specious accusations. “Access to relevant areas during the conduct of hostilities may be restricted or outright impossible ... Evidence may be rapidly removed, destroyed, or contaminated - whether intentionally or not. ‘Bad’ evidence,” she concludes, “can be worse than no evidence, as it can lead to wrong assumptions or conclusions.”
Human rights organizations play an important role in monitoring Middle East conflicts; however, they cannot meet Rovera’s standards if they start with an anti-Israel bias. If the principles outlined by Ms. Rovera are adhered to, and the challenges she acknowledges are admitted, it may be possible to fairly and accurately report on the behavior of Israel and its neighbors.
Human rights organizations use reliable information in reports criticizing Israel.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigator Donatella Rovera admits that the civilians NGOs rely on for information are often unreliable. “Especially in the initial stages of armed conflicts,” Rovera reported, “civilians are confronted with wholly unfamiliar realities - armed clashes, artillery strikes, aerial bombardments, and other military activities and situations they have never experienced before - which can make it very difficult for them to accurately describe specific incidents.”482
Rovera noted that she interviewed civilians in Gaza “who described what they thought were artillery or bomb strikes being launched by far away government forces and striking near their homes - whereas in reality the loud bangs and tremors were caused by mortars or rockets being launched by opposition fighters from their positions nearby. For the untrained ear it is virtually impossible to distinguish between incoming and outgoing fire, and all the more so for those who find themselves close to the frontlines.” Rovera admits the difference “is vastly important to investigators.”
Rovera correctly observes that “even individuals and organizations with a proven track record of credible and objective work” can present biased and inaccurate information. She also acknowledges that “interested parties go to extraordinary lengths to manipulate or manufacture “evidence” for both internal and external consumption.” For example, she says, combatants “manipulate video footage of incidents which occurred at other times in other places - including in other countries - and present them as “proof” of atrocities.” We've seen this behavior from the Palestinians and Lebanese many times, such as the false allegation that Israeli soldiers killed Muhammad al-Dura, the specious claim that Israel committed a massacre in Jenin and the manipulated photos from Lebanon showing toys or stuffed animals amidst rubble to suggest the deaths of innocent children when it is clear that these were props carefully placed after the building was destroyed.
“Fear can lead victims and witnesses to withhold evidence or give deliberately erroneous accounts of incidents,” Rovera notes. “In Gaza, I received partial or inaccurate information by relatives of civilians accidentally killed in accidental explosions or by rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel that had malfunctioned.” She also found that “witnesses” often lied because “they feared reprisals by the armed groups.”
Having all these concerns does not prevent HRW and other NGOs from issuing inaccurate reports that quickly circle the globe through various media. Israel is tarred by false accusations that it can refute, but too late to undo the damage. Three weeks after the beginning of the war initiated by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006, for example, HRW charged Israel with indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Lebanon.483 The failure of investigators to find evidence of Hezbollah's presence at bomb sites did not mean the terrorists had not been there since it is possible that any weapons, documents or bodies were removed before HRW arrived on the scene. As analyst Joshua Muravchik observed, “There was no dependable method by which HRW could assess the veracity of what it was told by the “witnesses,” many of whom were in areas where the population was sympathetic to, or intimidated by Hezbollah. Indeed, there was no means by which it could be sure that they were not Hezbollah cadres, since members of the group do not ordinarily wear uniforms or display identity badges.”484
HRW also found no evidence for the scurrilous accusation that civilians were “deliberately” killed. On the contrary, a great deal of evidence was available showing the efforts Israel made to avoid harming noncombatants, such as dropping leaflets to warn civilians to evacuate locations before they were attacked, pinpoint attacks on Hezbollah targets that could more easily have been carpet-bombed, and Israeli pilots who withheld fire because of the presence of civilians in target areas.
Anyone watching television coverage of the Second Lebanon War saw the images of rockets being fired from civilian areas, and the photos of weapons and armed men in what should have been peaceful neighborhoods. Numerous witnesses told reporters very different stories than those reported by HRW, giving examples of weapons caches in mosques and fighters using UN troops as shields.485 HRW had no trouble accepting the word of the Lebanese people it interviewed, but gave no credence to evidence presented by Israel, such as weapons captured in fighting in civilian areas or videos showing the deployment and launching of rockets from areas that were attacked.
One important matter Rovera did not acknowledge is the human rights community's frequent failure to make basic moral and legal distinctions. For example, HRW did not differentiate between Hezbollah's action in initiating the conflict and Israel's reaction in self-defense, or between Hezbollah's deliberate targeting of civilians and Israel's efforts to avoid civilian casualties. HRW also failed to note the contrasting goals of the combatants: Hezbollah's declared aim is to destroy Israel, while Israel's goal is to protect its citizens.
Now that Rovera has admitted the flaws in the reporting system, the question is whether they will be rectified.
Summer camp for Palestinians in Gaza is a fun escape for children like American camps.
Palestinian children would probably love to have the summer camp experience many American kids enjoy. For Palestinians in Gaza, however, the purpose of camp is not to have fun but to indoctrinate children with the Hamas ideology and to train them to join their terrorist ranks. This is nothing new; similar camps have been run for years.
Summer camp teaches Palestinian children how to resist the Israelis and that the greatest glory is to be a martyr. Campers stage mock kidnappings and learn how to slit the throats of Israelis. Islamic Jihad has run "Paradise Camps" that offered 8-12 year-olds military training and encourage them to become suicide bombers.486
Hamas has run as many as 700 camps for 100,000 children and teenagers. Included in the camps' curricula were lessons in shooting firearms and dismantling grenades. Some Palestinian parents were so upset about the military training and incitement of their children against Israel and Fatah they pulled them out of the camps.487
In the summer of 2014, thousands of Palestinian children, some as young as five-years-old, are learning the skills to become terrorists. Photos from the camp show campers with war paint on their faces standing at attention. Others show kids running through an obstacle course with open flames and squirming beneath barbed-wire fences. The Hamas counselors teach their wards how to carry an assault rifle and how to protest at a political demonstration. Kids not only learn to hold weapons, they get to shoot Kalashnikov rifles and anti-tank weapons and to have live fire exercises.488
The organization running these camps has reconciled with the Palestinian Authority and the new power sharing arrangement has gained recognition from most countries in the world, including the United States. The U.S. maintains that Hamas must abandon its goal of destroying Israel. Hamas, however, remains committed to that objective and is training the next generation to carry on the fight.
Israel is indiscriminately attacking Palestinian targets in Gaza.
During the years since Israel’s last major operation in Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Hamas terrorists and their affiliates continued to build up their arsenals to prepare for the next round of fighting. During these last three years more than 3,000 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel. These attacks caused minimal damage but reminded Israel that the Hamas arsenal was growing in size and sophistication and would eventually pose such a severe threat that it would have to be neutralized.
For most of the last three years, Hamas has been careful to fire just enough rockets to scare Israelis in the south but not enough to provoke a large military response from Israel. While the Israeli government tolerated this level of violence, the Israelis living within rocket range continued to be traumatized by the unpredictability of the terrorists and random targeting of the explosives, which required them to seek shelter within 15 seconds of the Code Red alarm sounding.
Despite improvements, the terror rockets remain essentially unguided missiles; otherwise the loss of life and property would be much more severe. The terrorists simply aim in the direction of Israel’s major cities and hope they land somewhere that will cause destruction and panic. Some do hit their mark and a number of Israelis have been killed or wounded. More ominously, rockets during this round of fighting have reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
This latest round of fighting was inevitable; Israelis have been talking for some time about the need to end the rocket threat once and for all. The spark that set off this conflagration was the murder of three Israeli teenagers whose killers have yet to be found by the Palestinian Authority. Additional fuel was thrown on the fire by the alleged murder of an Arab youngster in a revenge attack. Israeli officials condemned this heinous act and police arrested the alleged perpetrators within four days.
Palestinian rabble rousers, who need little incentive to attack Jews, have been incited by Hamas and Fatah. For example, the Fatah Facebook page posted this threat on July 7, 2014:
Sons of Zion, this is an oath to the Lord of the Heavens: Prepare all the bags you can for your body parts.;489
Palestinians inside and outside Israel have taken to the streets in what turned out to be riots that threaten to widen the war beyond Gaza.
As in past conflicts, the Palestinian propaganda machine is working to paint Israel's Operation Protective Edge as indiscriminately attacking Gaza and killing dozens of Palestinians. The BBC found, however, that many pictures being disseminated through Twitter at #GazaUnderAttack are bogus. Some photos are from the conflict; however, many others were taken as far back as 2009 or were taken during conflicts in Syria or Iraq.490
Israel is once again fighting an asymmetric war in which the IDF does everything possible to protect civilians and keep them out of harm’s way, Hamas uses Palestinians as shields, hoping Israel will attack and kill these innocents to win propaganda points and media coverage. For example, “When Gazan terrorists want to try to avoid being killed (always) they merely grab a child, ask civilians to go into a building, launch a rocket from a children’s playground…. And the IDF will do nothing (unless sometimes, when the attack is absolutely imminent).”
In addition, Hamas built its military command center underneath Shifa hospital (ironically, built by Israel for the safety of the Gazan population). “But the IDF isn’t about to attack a hospital, even if that would end the war, or significantly hamper Hamas’s ability to attack Israel.”491
Hamas' arsenal contains an estimated 10,000 rockets ranging from crudely constructed Qassam rockets to Iranian-developed, technologically-advanced Fajr rockets. Hamas took advantage of the years of relative quiet to smuggle into Gaza increasingly sophisticated weapons, mostly from Iran, but also from post-revolutionary Libya. Hamas now has the capability of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and putting 4.5 million Israelis - more than half the population - at risk and many confined to shelters.
The Iron Dome missile defense system, cooperatively developed by Israel and the United States is 90 percent effective in protecting populated areas and has stopped numerous rockets; however, the system cannot stop rockets fired at short distances, such as those targeted at Sderot, and the 10 percent that get past the Iron Dome can cause severe damage and casualties. Rockets have already landed in Tel Aviv.
Looking only at casualty figures tells only part of the story of the impact of rocket barrages. They forced the closure of schools in southern Israel and brought life to a standstill. “There is a whole generation of kids there who have known nothing except sirens and bomb shelters,” said Mark Regev,492 spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many of these children will suffer from post-traumatic stress for years to come.
As in past operations, Israel is doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. Meanwhile, Israel’s behavior is on solid legal ground; Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves to every nation the right to engage in self-defense against armed attacks. “The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets -- is absurd,” according to Alan Dershowitz. “First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian. Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed.”493
No innocent Palestinians would be in any danger if the Palestinian Authority took the long promised steps to stop terrorism, or if the international community, especially the Arab world, pressured Hamas to stop attacking Israel. No innocent Palestinians would be in danger if Hamas terrorists did not deliberately hide among them. If the peace-seeking Palestinians prevented the terrorists from living in their midst and firing rockets from their neighborhoods, Israel would have no reason to target those areas.
Hamas is firing rockets at Israel to end the 'occupation.'
“The Palestinians are only resisting occupation” is a favorite talking point of apologists for Palestinian terrorism, and Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population are no exception. This fallacy was proven when Israel evacuated all troops and civilians from Gaza in 2005 and, instead of peace, was rewarded with an increase in terrorism. Still, Palestinians and their advocates maintain that “the occupation” is the primary motivation for terrorism against Israel.
Unlike Mahmoud Abbas, who makes moderate statements when he wants to win public relations points, and radical ones when speaking to his constituents, the message of Hamas is unequivocal and consistent. As stated in the organization’s covenant, the Islamic Resistance Movement “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” and that “there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.”
The head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal was not afraid to speak plainly during a 2012 rally in Gaza:
Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on any inch of the land...We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel. 494
While Israelis lament the loss of innocent Palestinian lives; Hamas rejoices whenever Israelis are murdered. On July 13, 2014, Hamas released a music video celebrating the bombing of an Israeli school bus that killed 16-year-old Daniel Viflic.495 This is not the behavior of resistance fighters grudgingly forced to take up arms in defense of their homes and families, but a culture of martyrdom in which even killing the children of the enemy is praised and admired.
Palestinian Christians in the territories live under similar conditions and yet they do not engage in terrorism or call for Israel’s destruction. This is also true of many other suffering peoples living in far more difficult circumstances than the Palestinians. The intentional murder of civilians is a horrendous abuse of human rights and a war crime; Palestinians are the only people who believe terrorism is a legitimate tactic.
If Hamas was interested in ending the “occupation,” it would join rather than oppose peace negotiations. Peace, however, has never been the goal of Hamas. The group’s true objective is expressed in the title of a book written by the political adviser to then Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas: “The End of the Jewish State: Just a Matter of Time.”
Hamas never endangers Palestinian civilians, especially children; it is the Israelis who target them.
Hamas has been shown to use mosques, hospitals, ambulances and schools to conceal and transport weapons and as bases and hiding places for its fighters on multiple occasions. Many rockets are also fired from near these normally sacrosanct places to attract Israeli fire in the hope that civilians will be killed. Hamas then offers journalists, whose freedom is otherwise constrained to what the terrorists want them to see, “telegenic victims,” children whenever possible.
The UNRWA cases are proof of Israel’s claim that civilian institutions are being used to store weapons. Additional evidence is available to demonstrate that rockets are fired from positions near these institutions. The use of civilians and sites such as schools and hospitals to store and fire weapons, are war crimes and the Palestinian government, including the Palestinian Authority leadership that is ultimately responsible for the Gaza Strip, should be held accountable.
It seems no matter how much evidence Israel produces to show the risks Hamas is taking with the lives of the innocent, the media is interested only in the body count, and from Hamas’ cynical viewpoint, the higher the civilian death toll the better. One story even the media could not ignore was the discovery of 20 rockets hidden in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which typically takes a see and hear no evil approach to its work in Gaza.496
This organization, which is heavily subsidized by American taxpayers, has a long history of acting as an advocate for the Palestinians rather than a neutral participant in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Like Inspector Renault in Casablanca saying he was shocked to find gambling in Rick’s place, which he knew was a casino, UNRWA officials express similar surprise when their complicity in terrorism is revealed. Pretending to have no idea where the rockets could have come from, the agency condemned the groups responsible.
The story does not end with the discovery of the rockets; though UNRWA had to remove them from the school once it became public knowledge that they had been found on UNRWA property. But rather than destroy the weapons cache, turn it over to Israeli forces or give them to a neutral institution, they informed “the relevant parties” instead. Thus, UNRWA did know where the rockets came from (as if there was any doubt) and returned the weapons to the original source, essentially abetting the war crimes committed by Hamas.497 This was followed by the discovery of more rockets in a second school.498
Journalists are never decieved by Palestinian propaganda.
The normally skeptical press is remarkably docile and unquestioning when it comes to information coming from Hamas. As we’ve seen in past conflicts, journalists often check their professional ethics at the door to gain access to areas controlled by terrorists. Unlike journalists in Israel who are free to report whatever they want, the price of admission to Gaza is to go where Hamas wants them to go, see what the terrorists want them to see and report what they are told.
Hamas spokespeople are articulate and well-prepared to present their case to the media. They have also prepped the civilian population on how to respond to media inquiries. The interior ministry published guidelines instructing the civilian population in how to contribute the Hamas propaganda campaign. For example:
Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don't forget to always add 'innocent civilian' or 'innocent citizen' in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Begin [your reports of] news of resistance actions with the phrase 'In response to the cruel Israeli attack,' and conclude with the phrase, ‘This many people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.’ Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of ‘the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction.’
Avoid publishing pictures of rockets fired into Israel from [Gaza] city centers. This [would] provide a pretext for attacking residential areas in the Gaza Strip. Do not publish or share photos or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [forces] in Gaza.
When speaking to the West, you must use political, rational, and persuasive discourse, and avoid emotional discourse aimed at begging for sympathy. There are elements with a conscience in the world; you must maintain contact with them and activate them for the benefit of Palestine. Their role is to shame the occupation and expose its violations.
Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel's crimes against Palestinian civilians.
Do not publish photos of military commanders. Do not mention their names in public, and do not praise their achievements in conversations with foreign friends!499
Journalists are always looking for the powerful story and photograph. What is startling is the failure to find pictures of Hamas terrorists in the act of firing rockets from civilian areas or those who have been “martyred.” A similar pattern emerged during the last Lebanon War when Hezbollah tightly controlled what journalists could see, film and write. “Foreign correspondents were warned on entry to the tour [of a southern Beirut suburb],” according to a report by Marvin Kalb, “that they could not wander off on their own or ask questions of any residents. They could take pictures only of sites approved by their Hezbollah minders. Violations, they were told, would be treated harshly.” He added, “The rarest picture of all was that of a Hezbollah guerilla. It was as if the war on the Hezbollah side was being fought by ghosts.”500 The media is giving the impression Israel is now fighting ghosts in Gaza.
Journalists can be forgiven if they shoot pictures of children; they’re emotion-laden photos, which editors readily publish knowing they are contributing to Hamas propaganda. What is more disturbing is the journalists’ failure to investigate the claims by Hamas’ health minister and others with regard to casualties. We’ve learned from past conflicts the Palestinians fabricate Israeli “atrocities,” and, as the guidelines cited above indicate, they have been instructed by their leaders to do so.
Palestinian officials, all of whom were employed in Gaza by Hamas, have an incentive to skew casualty numbers to tarnish Israel’s image and give the appearance of victimization. Determining how many terrorists are killed is complicated because they are told to take off their uniforms and put on civilian clothing.
Thus, no one seems to ask the obvious question of how many of the dead reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry are members of Hamas. The first guideline makes clear that “anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian.” So the widely reported casualty totals coming from the Palestinians do not include any terrorists.
Journalists treat official Israeli sources with skepticism while unquestioningly repeat propaganda from Hamas. This was also true during Operation Cast Lead when Israel was also charged with using disproportionate force and targeting civilians; however, after the fighting ceased, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad admitted Hamas lost more than 600 men during the war; a figure consistent with the 709 calculated by the IDF. This was a majority of the casualties.501
After Cast Lead, the UN Human Rights Council issued the notoriously flawed and biased Goldstone Report. Judge Richard Goldstone subsequently denounced the report and its principal allegations. He said the report’s erroneous claims that Israel carried out deliberate attacks on civilians became a tool for Israel’s detractors to demonize the Jewish state and denigrate its right to self-defense.502 Goldstone said the truth was that “civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy” and that in the aftermath of having thousands of rockets and missiles fired at its cities, Israel had the “right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against such attacks.”503
The IDF has been reluctant to release any casualty figures but, when the smoke clears, it is likely the IDF’s information will be more accurate. As of July 22, 2014, the IDF has killed approximately 200 terrorists who are either missing from the Hamas statistics or deliberately falsified and referred to as civilians.
UNRWA is a humanitarian organization that remains neutral in the conflict.
The United Nations Relief and Works Association (UNRWA) was established in 1949 by the United Nations to provide food, clothing, education, shelter, and work for the 600-800,000 Palestinians who became refugees from 1947-49 by fleeing their homes to avoid being caught in the crossfire of the war started when Arab forces began to attack the Jews and, later, when the surrounding Arab states invaded the nascent state of Israel.503a Most Palestinians fled for this reason; most wealthy Palestinians left even earlier in anticipation of the fighting. In a few instances Palestinians were expelled from their homes because they were in areas where they posed a threat to the Jews fighting for their lives against the invaders.
The Arabs lost the war and rather than being able to return triumphant to a Palestinian state, the Palestinians became refugees. Most still lived in parts of historic Palestine; nevertheless, they demanded the right to return to their old homes. This was not possible given their decision to flee and to side with the Arabs bent on destroying Israel.
The 150,000 Palestinians who did not flee became full-fledged citizens of Israel. Thousands more were allowed to return on a humanitarian bases, but most were considered enemies of the state and a possible third column that would threaten Israel from the inside and therefore remained homeless. With the exception of Jordan, none of the Arab states permitted the Palestinians to become citizens and most were confined to camps or specific areas where they were denied most of the rights their fellow Palestinians enjoyed in Israel.
Originally, the expectation was that UNRWA would provide short-term relief to these refugees until they could be resettled in the Arab states, or a peace agreement was reached that provided for the repatriation of some of the refugees to Israel. However, the refusal of the Arab states (with the exception of Jordan) to resettle the refugees created a problem that has now persisted for more than 60 years. During that time, the number of “refugees” served by the UNRWA has ballooned to more than 5 million. During that time UNRWA has become a $500 Million bureaucracy that has functioned as a welfare agency, which has kept the Palestinians as perpetual refugees and helped stoke resentment and the growth of terror movements in the camps under its control.
Following the Hamas takeover in Gaza, the terrorist organization has used UNRWA to pursue its violent campaign against Israel and the UN has adopted a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” approach to the misuse of its facilities. Israel’s Channel 2, for example, discovered an UNRWA run camp was teaching students that “Jews are the wolf” and they would one day conquer Israel504 through “education and jihad.”505 In August 2006, Justus Reid Weiner and Noam Weissman concluded:
UNRWA educational institutions are controlled by individuals committed to Hamas ideology and they are educating terrorists. Numerous terrorist operatives and Hamas political leaders have been educated in UNRWA schools.506
Despite denials from the UN, UNRWA facilities have been used as civilian shields by Hamas and as storehouses for weapons. For example, in 2007 Israel released footage of three terrorists firing mortars from an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun. During Operation Cast Lead, Israel was accused of attacking a UN school, however, an investigation supported Israel’s contention that Hamas terrorists were firing from the vicinity.507 This tactic is being used again during Operation Protective Edge. In addition, three UN schools were found to have rockets stored in them, and, inexplicably, the administrators promptly returned the weapons to Hamas.508
One deadly incident occurred when Israeli soldiers discovered a tunnel leading into Israel inside a UNRWA clinic. The site was booby-trapped; the soldiers apparently set off an explosion and died when the building collapsed.509
UNRWA officials repeatedly suggest Israel is killing civilians in their facilities with malice and forethought. Israel insists that soldiers have only attacked these positions when they are fired upon. The UN typically disputes this; however, John Ging, Director of OCHA and the former UNRWA director in Gaza, admitted on July 31, 2014, that “armed groups are firing their rockets into Israel from the vicinity of UN facilities and residential areas.”510
One example of UNRWA’s complicity in Hamas’s terror operations was revealed in a report prepared by James Lindsay, a former UNRWA general-counsel, who concluded:
UNRWA has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of organizations such as Hamas from joining its staff. UNRWA has no preemployment security checks and does not monitor off-time behavior to ensure compliance with the organization's anti-terrorist rules. No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services.511
Many members of Congress and others believe UNRWA has outlived whatever usefulness it once had and would like to see it defunded so the care for any legitimate Palestinian refugees can be turned over to the UNHCR, the agency responsible for every other refugee population in the world. The unmasking of UNRWA in Gaza as a shield and armory for terrorists may hasten this long overdue transition.
There are no terrorist attacks on Israel originating from the West Bank anymore.
While all eyes have been on Gaza, the world has ignored the West Bank, taking for granted that, unlike Gaza, Israel faces no terror threat from the east. Unfortunately, it is not true. Terror attacks and attempts continue to emanate from the West Bank despite the pledges dating to the Oslo agreement in 1993 that the PLO, and now the Palestinian Authority, would cease all terror.
This Islamization of the conflict with Israel, combined with the ongoing terror and incitement, raises new doubts about the willingness and ability of Abbas to negotiate peace. 515
The Shin Bet reported 187 serious terror attempts in 2013. They included: 52 kidnapping plots, 52 shooting plots, 67 IED plots, and 16 suicide plots. More alarming is that, contrary to conventional wisdom that Hamas is not active in the West Bank, almost half (84) of those attempts were planned by Hamas. Six Israelis were killed in 2013 -- three civilians and three members of the security forces.512Note that these figures do not include dozens of instances where Palestinians threw rocks at Israelis injuring both soldiers and civilians.
Similarly, in the first half of 2014, another 96 attempts to carry out terror attacks were discovered, roughly half attributable to Hamas. 512a
Israel has been pilloried for maintaining checkpoints in the West Bank, even after removing all but 12, but those remaining checkpoints have saved lives by catching many of these terrorists trying to infiltrate Israel. For example, on July 27, 2014, border guards thwarted a terror attack when they stopped a suspicious vehicle at a checkpoint near Beitar Illit. An explosive device was attached to the gas cylinders in the suspect's car. 513
These figures are just the latest indication that the Mahmoud Abbas has failed, even with U.S. training for his security forces, to stop the violence. Furthermore, the supposedly secular moderate Abbas has in recent years increasingly resorted to Islamic imagery and rhetoric to incite the masses. On June 4, 2014, for example, Abbas used a tactic that dates back to the Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s, calling on Muslims around the world to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. This “Al-Aqsa is in danger” lie has been used for decades to arouse the Muslim world against Israel and the fact that Abbas has resorted to this calumny is further evidence that he feels the need to placate Hamas and its followers.
Even more alarming was his use of a quotation from the Koran to justify war against Israel. On Fatah’s main Facebook page, a post said: “[PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] concluded his brief speech with the first verse of the Quran that permits Muslims to wage war for Allah.” 514
Israel must end its illegal blockade of Gaza to end the war with Hamas.
If the current ceasefire holds, and Hamas does not violate it as they have previous breaks agreed to by Israel, the Palestinians hope to extract a number of concessions from Israel in exchange for holding their fire. Beside the absurdity of a terrorist entity dictating terms to the people it is terrorizing, Israel has other good reasons to refuse Palestinian demands.
As usual, the international chorus that believes the conflict will disappear if Israel is forced to capitulate to Palestinian ultimatums, is now calling for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza. Israel may adopt a less restrictive policy, but it is under no obligation to allow a free flow of goods.
Critics forget that Israel did not impose tighter restrictions on Gaza until June 2007, two years after withdrawing every soldier and citizen, when Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority. From 2005 to 2007, Israel endured nearly 2,000 rocket attacks, yet continued to allow necessary supplies into the Gaza Strip and kept commercial crossings open.
Hamas has declared war on Israel by its covenant's call for the destruction of Israel, acts of terrorism and rocket barrages. In response, Israel has isolated Hamas, a legal act in accordance with international law.
Detractors label Israel's actions "collective punishment"; however, this refers to the "imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another's guilt." Israel has done no such thing. Israel has no obligation to maintain open borders with a hostile population. The suspension of trade relations or embargoes is a frequent tool of international diplomacy and has never been regarded as "collective punishment".
The complaints directed at Israel ignore the fact that Israel cannot blockade Gaza by itself. Egypt shares a six-mile border with Gaza and Egypt's leaders believe Hamas poses a threat to their nation. Consequently, Egypt has stepped up its efforts to enforce its own blockade by destroying smuggling tunnels and bolstering its military presence near the border. Unlike Israel, Egypt prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gazans before and during the war.
Egypt has been very successful in skirting criticism. During ceasefire talks in Cairo, Egypt tried to limit the discussion to Israel's actions. Palestinians were told not to mention the Egyptian blockade and to focus the blame for the "seige" on Israel. 516
One difference between Israel's blockade and most others; Israel only seeks to deny Hamas weapons and supplies that can be used to threaten Israel (e.g., cement to build tunnels into Israel). Despite the incessant terror, Israel allows food, medicine and other basic goods to reach the people of Gaza. Israel also sends thousands of gallons of fuel into Gaza and provides Palestinians electricity from Israeli power sources.
Israel has exceeded the requirements of International law which obligates Israel to permit passage of food, clothing and medicines intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases. Israel is not required to provide these supplies; it is obligated only to allow others to transfer provisions. Moreover, if Israel has reason to believe Hamas will intercept these goods and the enemy will benefit, even these provisions may be prohibited. 517
During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas set up a hospital for the exclusive use of its fighters, and supplied the facility by stealing medical supplies entering Gaza from aid organizations. 518
By contrast, thousands of Gazans have been admitted to Israel's world-class medical facilities. During Operation Protective Edge Israel set up a clinic outside Gaza for Palestinians needing treatment. Terrorists have tried to exploit Israel's good will by masquerading as patients and ambulance drivers. In 2005, Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received in a cooking accident. After her arrest, she admitted that the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had instructed her to use her personal medical authorization documents to enter into Israel to carry out a suicide attack. 519
In response to international pressure, Israel reversed its policy and agreed to allow cement and other construction materials into Gaza. When Israel evacuated Gaza, the expectation was that Palestinians would be taken from refugee camps and given permanent housing. Rather than build these much needed apartments, as well as schools and hospital, Palestinians have been kept in the camps by Hamas so it can use the building materials to construct weapons of terror and tunnels to infiltrate Israel.
"Peace activists" seeking to break the blockade have not spoken out against Hamas terror against Israel or the denial of human rights to Palestinians by Hamas officials ruling the Gaza Strip. They do not acknowledge that Hamas is not interested in humanitarian aid; the terrorists want to obtain more long-range rockets from Iran to enable them to pose an ongoing threat to more than half of Israel's population, including major cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Israel's international airport.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas voiced his support of the blockade to President Barack Obama when they met at the White House on June 9, 2010. Abbas advocated making changes to Israel's policy slowly, so that it could not be interpreted as a victory for Hamas. 520
The international community has complied with the blockade, insisting that Hamas renounce violence, recognize Israel, and respect previous peace deals. Now, the Israelis and others interested in peace are also demanding that Hamas be disarmed.
Still, many journalists and world leaders dismiss the cause-and-effect connection between Hamas-led violence and the plight of the Palestinians. Were Hamas to forswear violence, Israel would feel secure enough to end restrictions on Gaza.
Israel should now accept the Arab Peace Initiative.
Even as the fighting in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge raged, Obama Administration officials and pundits began to talk about the day after and, for them, this means a return to pressuring Israel accept their formulate for peace negotiations. If anything, however, the conflagration has demonstrated the fallacy of past initiatives.
First, the reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas was, as most predicted, a disaster. Mahmoud Abbas tied his future, and that of the Palestinians, to a unified government. The marriage was never consummated, but it showed Israelis that Abbas doesn’t understand that hitching his wagon to the terrorists in Gaza only reinforced his image as weak and incapable of making peace with Israel. It also tacitly endorsed the Hamas goal of destroying Israel.
Second, the incessant rocket and mortar barrages from Gaza into the heart of Israel were a reminder of the failed disengagement. Israel withdrew every soldier and civilian to test the popular mantra that Israelis would enjoy peace if they gave up land. The land for peace formula was buried with the first rocket salvo.
Third, the ease with which Hamas can now threaten more than half the Israeli population reinforced the importance of holding territory. Israelis shudder at the thought of terrorists in the West Bank having similar weapons and living within a few feet of Jerusalem, 10 miles from Tel Aviv and a rocket launch from Ben-Gurion Airport. The revelation that Israeli security forces foiled a plot by a Hamas cell in the West Bank intensified Israeli fears that the West Bank could soon resemble the Hamastan of Gaza. 521 The fact that Abbas didn’t even know about the coup plotters in his backyard once again illustrated his cluelessness and the folly of those who have insisted that Hamas could not take over the West Bank if Israeli troops left.
The Arabists who believe they know what’s best for Israel remain convinced that if Israel would only capitulate, the wars in Syria and Iraq, the Iranian nuclear threat and the Sunni-Shiite contest for power will magically disappear. This absurd sentiment, which has been heard from officials in the U.S. Defense and State Departments, as well as the CIA, has led to the resurrection of the Arab Peace Initiative (API).522
To remind those who might have forgotten, this was originally the brainchild of the king of Saudi Arabia as a means of diverting attention from the Saudi role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and rebranding the king as a peacemaker. What was a problematic proposal to begin with was made worse in the course of discussions at an Arab League Summit, which resulted in a proposal that was even more objectionable to Israel.
Western diplomats who often see only what they want to see interpreted the API as a bold step forward by the Arab states, promising normalization of relations with Israel if it met all their demands. A closer reading of the proposal, however, made clear that the Arabs were not offering peace or even full normalization of relations with Israel. Moreover, the Israelis were given an ultimatum to accept the proposal as is or face the possibility of war.
Israel agreed to negotiate using the API as a base, but the Arabs did not. The fact that the Saudi King who was so gung-ho about the plan would neither travel to Israel for talks nor invite an Israeli delegation to Riyadh is evidence it was nothing but a smokescreen to cover the Saudi role as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. 523
Nothing has changed to make the API more palatable to Israel. It relies on the discredited land for peace formula, but, in this case, does not even offer peace in exchange for Israeli concessions. And the Saudis still have no interest in negotiating with Israel even though the two countries have found common cause in fighting Hamas, Hafez Assad in Syria and preempting the Iranian nuclear program.
In May 2014, Maj. Gen. (res) Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence met with Prince Turki al-Faisal, son of the late King Faisal and director of Saudi intelligence for more than two decades suggested that the prince follow in the footsteps of Anwar Sadat and come to Jerusalem. He invited al-Faisal to pray at a mosque in Jerusalem and then address the Israeli people from the Knesset. Alternatively, Yadlin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was prepared to go to Riyadh or Jeddah for negotiations. The general said a majority of Israelis would accept the API if al-Faisal spoke to them from Israel’s capital. 524
Al-Faisal, however, insisted that Israel first agree to the API before he would contemplate such a trip. This response was yet another reminder that, despite Arabist optimism, the Saudis, perhaps the most anti-Semitic country in the world, have no intention of negotiating peace with Israel.
This latest war in Gaza was yet another example of why Israelis yearn for peace. Anyone who believes that Israelis want to live in bomb shelters, flee to safety at the sound of a siren or send their youth to fight and die to keep them safe hasn’t spent any time in Israel. No one should doubt how urgently Israelis want peace, but the world should also recognize that Israelis are not so desperate that they will commit national suicide to placate those are tired of the conflict.
Israel was responsible for the 2014 war with Hamas.
It is easy to demonstrate that Israel was not responsible for the Gaza War by pointing out that it did not start until Hamas killed three Israeli teenagers and subsequently bombarded Israeli civilian areas with hundreds of rockets. Hamas was held responsible not only by Israel and the West, but also by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which blamed Hamas for starting and prolonging war.
In comments leaked to the press from a meeting between PA Presidend Mahmoud Abbas and Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar, Abbas lambasted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal for instigating the war. Having been told by Saudi King Abdullah that Mashaal is a liar, Abbas caught him in a lie when he asked Mashaal if Hamas was behind the murder of the Israeli teenagers and Mashaal said he would “neither deny nor confirm.” Ultimately, Hamas claimed responsibility for the crime that instigated the war. 525
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khraishi, said that every missile Hamas launched against Israel "constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets". Khraishi also acknowledged that "many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing". 526
Abbas blamed the casualties and destruction in Gaza on Hamas and its refusal to accept a truce. By insisting on discussing demands first before ending the war, the violence was prolonged needlessly. Egypt proposed a truce on July 15, 2014, which was supported by the Arab League and agreed to by Israel. Hamas rejected the terms and continued targeting Israeli civilians with mortars and rockets. Over the course of the 50 days of fighting, several ceasefire agreements were reached, but each time Hamas broke them with a new barrage of rockets. On Tuesday August 25 however, Hamas accepted the same terms offered July 15; however, it was too late for many Israelis and Gazans who were killed or injured in the interim.
Abbas shed no tears for the Israelis killed and injured by the Hamas terror attacks, but was outraged by how his own men were treated. In a statement by Fatah, Hamas was condemned for attacking members of Fatah and placing some in prisons where their lives were endangered by Israeli air strikes. Hamas members also shot and beat members of Fatah and placed more than 300 under house arrest. Echoing what Israeli officials had asserted, Fatah accused Hamas of confiscating food and medicine and distributing it to Hamas fighters and selling it on the black market. 525
Iran is an ally in the fight against the Muslim extremist group ISIS
Some news reports have said that Iran and the United States are secretly cooperating in the fight to destroy the Islamic State (ISIS)527. If true, it would represent a weakening of the international campaign to isolate Iran because of its nuclear program and failure to adhere to UN resolutions. Worse, the focus on ISIS has led Western leaders to take their eyes off the most serious radical Islamic threat in the region and that is the Iranian theocracy.
ISIS is a nefarious collection of terrorists with the goal of taking over Iraq and Syria as part of a larger campaign to reestablish and expand the once great Muslim Empire. Because ISIS is waging a visible war to accomplish its goals, the world has turned its attention to stopping ISIS; however, the Iranian regime has a similar ideology and comparable goals.
Today, Iranian troops are fighting to keep the despotic Assad regime in power in Syria. Tehran continues to support its proxy terrorist force in Lebanon (Hezbollah) and the Iranians have also been arming Hamas.
The most serious issue, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, remains unresolved. As most analysts predicted, the negotiations with Iran during the first half of 2014 made virtually no progress. In an effort to further avoid the tough decision of taking active measures to destroy the Iranian facilities, the United States and other Western nations agreed to extend the deadline. This is a repetition of the pattern followed by Iran in years of negotiations with the Europeans when, as they admitted later, their goal was to string the Europeans along while continuing to work on the development of a bomb.
According to the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran continues to stonewall inspectors, who still know little about the military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program. In fact, one inspector has repeatedly been denied entry into Iran. To read the full IAEA report on Iran for August click here.
Iran has taken some steps, but they have implemented just three of five nuclear transparency steps that it pledged to take by August 25, 2014. This is after missing the July deadline for reaching a comprehensive deal.
The two areas where Iran has continued to withhold information are related to experiments on explosives that could be used for an atomic device, and studies related to calculating nuclear explosive yields. The IAEA report also found that Iran has continued to work on erasing any potential evidence that explosive tests were conducted at the Parchin military base.
President Obama and others have pledged that they would not allow the negotiations to drag on indefinitely, but Tehran probably does not take this very seriously. They already have succeeded in punching a large hole in the sanctions regime, continued their sponsorship of terror, and worked toward improving their ability to enrich uranium without any repercussions. Furthermore, they sense the West is weak and unwilling to take any military action against them. They watched President Obama draw a red line on Syria's use of chemical weapons and then ignore it when Syria crossed the line; they have heard him describe the threat posed by ISIS while refusing to commit any ground troops; and they have seen America withdraw from Iraq and plan to do the same from Afghanistan. Europeans have been even more reluctant to take military action after their publics revolted against those leaders who sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Iranians may yet find they have miscalculated as the world powers escalate the attacks on ISIS, but the suggestion that those powers are so desperate for help in fighting ISIS that they have considered an alliance - even if only for convenience m- with Iran is troubling.
Some Western leaders hoped the election of the "moderate" Hassan Rouhani as president would lead to a quick end to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. As an incentive, some sanctions were lifted and Iran has been able to take in billions of dollars. The sanctions, which were always too porous to be effective, now appear to be little more than a nuisance.
ISIS is a serious threat, especially to Western nations that are facing the prospect of their citizens going to fight for ISIS and then returning to their home countries more radicalized and trained to carry out terror attacks. Without understating that danger, the international community cannot afford to let up for one minute on the radical Muslims in Tehran whose success in building a nuclear weapon will exponentially increase the danger in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
UN peacekeepers can be relied upon to keep the peace between Israel and its neighbors
After the latest fighting in Gaza, there is some talk about using international troops to prevent a future flare-up. Similarly, peace negotiators have raised the idea of posting an international force in the West Bank, perhaps in the Jordan Valley, as a way of meeting Israel's security concerns. Naturally, given its history as peacekeepers, the United Nations is viewed as a possible source for such a force. History has taught Israelis, however, that UN forces are ineffective and cannot be relied upon to shield Israelis from those who wish to do them harm.
The first disastrous case of a UN peacekeeping force being imposed on Israel in the interest of maintaining peace occurred following the 1956 Suez War when President Dwight Eisenhower pressured Israel into withdrawing from the parts of the Sinai it captured from Egypt. A UN Emergency Force (UNEF) was then sent to ensure that neither side would threaten the other nor would Egypt be allowed to close the Straits of Tiran, the international waterway that Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser blockaded, which served as one of the causes of the war.
The force was small and lightly equipped, with only 3,400 men, nearly half of whom were assigned to patrol 295 miles of desert. The force had no authority and was only permitted to use its weapons in self-defense. Most critically, the UNEF required Egypt’s permission to deploy on its territory. Thus, in 1967, when Nasser ordered the UNEF out of the Sinai, the UN Secretary-General complied without seeking approval from the Security Council or Israel. Nasser subsequently mobilized his troops to invade Israel and, once again, prohibited Israeli ships from transiting the Straits of Tiran. The massive troop buildup in the Sinai combined with the blockade and weeks of genocidal threats ultimately led Israel to launch the surprise attack on Egypt and Syria that helped limit the war to only six days.
The ease with which UNEF had been withdrawn, placing Israel in jeopardy, led to their insistence that future peacekeepers in the Sinai be part of a multinational force led by the United States, without any ties to the UN. Congress subsequently voted to establish the Multinational Force and Observers to supervise the implementation of key security aspects of the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel. From Israel’s standpoint, the U.S. role in the force was crucial and reassured them there would be no repeat of the UNEF disaster.
On the Golan Heights, however, a UN force was again created to serve as a buffer between Israel and Syria. The reluctance of Syria to challenge Israel after 1973 made the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mission relatively easy. The moment it became difficult, however, in the wake of the Syrian civil war, the peacekeepers proved again inadequate to the task. A number of them, a contingent from Fiji, were taken hostage and, shortly after they were released, the entire 1,200-member force withdrew from Syria to essentially hide behind the Israeli troops who now faced the growing presence of radical Islamists on its border without a buffer force. This retreat increased the possibility that the Syrian war will spill over into Israel and/or the Islamists will establish a beachhead from which to threaten Israel in the future.
An ongoing UN catastrophe can be found in Lebanon. Following a PLO terror attack in March 1978, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon and captured almost the entire southern part of the country with the goal of establishing a cordon sanitaire that would keep the PLO far away from Israel’s border. After the Lebanese Government protested to the Security Council, Israel was asked to withdraw, and another small “peacekeeping” force, the Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), was sent to stand between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Lebanon.
UNIFIL did nothing to prevent the PLO from building up what amounted to a state within a state and a terrorist infrastructure that continued to target Israelis at home and abroad. After further provocations from the PLO in June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon as UNIFIL stepped aside and remained behind the Israeli lines. Having failed to keep the peace, the “force” offered protection and humanitarian assistance to Lebanese civilians. When Israel withdrew, UNIFIL took up its position again as a useless deterrent to war.
Hezbollah replaced the PLO as Israel’s nemesis with the backing of Iran and Syria. The group engaged in terror attacks against the IDF that killed both civilians and military personnel and, by the summer of 2006, Hezbollah had become a dangerous enemy committed to Israel’s destruction. The group fortified positions, smuggled thousands or rockets from Iran through Syria and claimed a force of 15,000. Once again UNIFIL was nowhere to be found during these developments.
In July 2006, Hezbollah fired a barrage of katyusha rockets and mortars into northern Israel. Using this diversion, Hezbollah terrorists crossed the border and killed three Israeli soldiers on patrol, severely wounded another three and abducted two. Israel again sent in troops to end the terror threat. Meanwhile, Hezbollah attacked UNIFIL, used its bases as a shield, and passed on intelligence on IDF 528.
Israelis were forced to live in bomb shelters for weeks while Hezbollah rockets rained down on them prompting the IDF to intensify its operations. When civilian casualties in Lebanon began to grow, and thousands of Lebanese fled the country, Israel was pressured to end the fighting before completing the job of destroying Hezbollah.
The United States led the campaign to persuade Israel to withdraw by promising that the UN would send a “robust” peacekeeping force to prevent arms smuggling from Syria and Iran, keep Hezbollah far north of Israel’s border and guarantee the peace. The UN also called on the Lebanese army to disarm Hezbollah, something it refused to do.
Israel’s actions succeeded in deterring Hezbollah from further attacks, but this was no thanks to UNIFIL. Rather than “robust” it has just been a bust. Hezbollah has replenished its stocks and is believed to have 100,000 rockets or more. The group has continued to operate under the UN’s nose, smuggling weapons and rebuilding the infrastructure in southern Lebanon in preparation for the next round of fighting.
The record is clear. If Israel reaches any new agreements with the Palestinians or its other enemies, the security of its citizens cannot, in any way, depend on the United Nations.
The Palestinian Authority believes in a secular Palestinian state.
Many people have forgotten, or simply chosen to ignore, that one of the reasons that President Clinton's peace summit with Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat failed was the latter's assertion that Jews had no historical connection to Jerusalem. Israel's top negotiator Shlomo Ben-Ami told Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: "You are barely 4 million Muslim Palestinians and pretend to represent one billion Muslims regarding the Temple Mount. Clinton's proposals are historic and you are about to miss another opportunity:" I added that Arafat placed the Muslim agenda before the national Palestinian agenda. "Your national agenda is held hostage in the hands of the Muslim agenda and you will pay a heavy price for this...."529
The following year Arafat criticized Hamas and Islamic Jihad for acting independently and ignoring his authority. Two days later, Arafat proclaimed:
"With God's help, next time we will meet in Jerusalem, because we are fighting to bring victory to our prophets, every baby, every kid, every man, every woman and every old person and all the young people, we will all sacrifice ourselves for our holy places and we will strengthen our hold of them and we are willing to give 70 of our martyrs for every one of theirs in this campaign, because this is our holy land. We will continue to fight for this blessed land and I call on you to stand strong."
Hamas, in particular, had forced Arafat and Fatah to eschew political rhetoric for Islamic language that played to the masses. When he agreed to the Oslo agreement with Israel, Arafat alienated the Islamists, who vehemently opposed any accommodation with Israel, which they insisted was a cancer that had to be excised from the region. The PLO responded to criticisms about its lack of commitment to Islam, and the growing popularity of Hamas, by adopting Islamic references and imagery in its rhetoric. For example, in a speech in Bethlehem, Yasser Arafat aroused his listeners by chanting "Struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle. Combat, combat, combat, combat. Jihad, Jihad, Jihad, Jihad." 530 Terrorists captured or killed by Israel became martyrs for Islam; calls to liberate al-Aqsa became more common; and the PLO's "military" arm was named the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, which engaged in terror attacks that were just as heinous as those conducted by Hamas.
Following Arafat's rejection of a Palestinian state at the summit with Clinton, an uprising was launched by Arafat and referred to as the al-Aqsa intifada. This and other references to the al-Aqsa mosque date back to the 1920s when the Mufti of Jerusalem incited the masses by accusing the Jews of plotting to destroy it. Since then, this libel has been a recurrent theme; whenever a Palestinian leader finds himself in trouble, he need only accuse the Jews of threatening the mosque and Muslims will riot against Jewish worshippers (as occurred during the middle of July 2014. Abbas hopes that publicizing a threat to the mosque the Muslim world will be enraged and mobilize a jihad against Israel).
Despite such claims over the last 100 years, and the fears of American Arabists who justify keeping the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv out of a misguided fear of a Muslim uproar, the Muslim world has done little more than issue condemnations and ask the U.N. to censure Israel's actions. While the al-Aqsa mosque is revered as the third holiest shrine in Islam, no current Muslim leader is prepared to go to war today over the dubious accusations of the Palestinian leaders.
Abbas has followed in his mentor's footsteps in adopting radical Islamic rhetoric and behavior. Examples abound, but here are just a few:
The PA continues to misinform its youth in schools and demonize Jews in textbooks and the media.
In a poetry segment on a Friday morning talk show on PA TV (which is controlled by Abbas), a poet recited a poem cursing the Jews as "the most evil among creations, "barbaric monkeys" and "wretched pigs." The poem has been featured several times on PA TV, sometimes recited by young school children.531
The PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, said all of the Western Wall and Jerusalem belong to the Palestinians. He speciously claimed that "no person besides Muslims ever used it [the Western Wall] as a place of worship throughout all of the Jewish nation's history."532
Besides the statements, which some might dismiss as rhetoric, the Palestinian Authority has taken the more practical step of establishing Islam as the official religion of "Palestine," which contradicts the fantasies of liberal supporters of the Palestinians who believe their future state, unlike all the other Muslim states, will be a liberal democracy. To the contrary, one need only look at the authoritarian rule of the "moderate" Abbas for a foreshadowing of things to come. Abbas has repeatedly cancelled elections and stayed in office 5 years beyond the end of his term; Abbas does not allow freedom of speech, assembly or religion. Critics of the regime are jailed or, in some cases, executed. Women's rights are a slight improvement of those in Gaza, but honor killings and other abuses remain common. Similarly, gays are persecuted based on Koranic prohibitions forbidding homosexuality. Putting aside the threat of a radical Islamic state on Israel's border, the threat to the liberties of Palestinians are also at stake if the Palestinians are allowed to create another Sharia-based state.
If anyone doubts the conflict is not primarily religious, with Islamic intolerance the greatest obstacle to peace, simply listen to Abbas. In July 2014, Abbas explicitly said the war with Israel is a "war for Allah," a remark that set off renewed attacks by Palestinians against Jews in Jerusalem.533
The Palestinian's Peace Negotiator wants peace.
For many years, the chief peace negotiator for the Palestinian Authority has been Saeb Erekat, an urbane, articulate spokesperson for the Palestinian cause. Unfortunately, he is also a serial liar who has taken Joseph Goebbels concept of the "Big Lie" to a new low.
One of the most shocking things is not Erekat's lies, but the willingness of the media to continue to give him a forum to spread them. It is fair to ask why the media does not challenge his fabrications and, more to the point, why they continue to treat him as a credible spokesperson.
Joseph Goebbels said:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
When it comes to telling big lies, Erekat is the master of the whopper. Here are just a few examples:
In April 2002 Erekat told CNN that at least 500 people were massacred and 1,600 people, including women and children, were missing in Jenin after Israeli forces launched an operation to wipe out the terror network in the city. Erekat produced no evidence and the Palestinians' own review committee later reported a death toll of 56, of whom 34 were combatants. No women or children were reported missing. 534
In November 2007, just as peace talks were going to begin in Annapolis, Erekat attempted to delegitimize Israel by making the remarkable statement that “no state in the world connects its national identity to a religious identity.” 536 He apparently failed to read the draft constitution for "Palestine" or the PA's Basic Law, which declare Islam the state religion of Palestine. Islam is also the state religion more than 20 countries. Nations with predominantly Muslim populations are not the only ones to link their national and religious identity. At least 14 nations constitutionally recognize Christianity or Catholicism as their state religion. Bhutan and Cambodia are officially Buddhist nations. 535
In 2011, Erekat said Israel was illegally demolishing the Shepherd Hotel building in Jerusalem to "ethnically cleanse Jerusalem from its Palestinian inhabitants, culture and history."537 The building served as an Israeli district court after 1967 and then as a border police station before being privately purchased by an American businessman who kept it vacant for almost a decade. A planned apartment complex on the site was to have no effect on Arab residents or other buildings; moreover, the site was never considered a Palestinian cultural heritage spot.
Pinocchio would have been envious of Erekat's February 2014 invention of a connection between his family and the Canaanites to prove the Palestinians predated the Jews in the land of Israel. Palestinians periodically make this claim but no evidence links them to the ancient people who disappeared in the sands of time. In fact, Arabs have lived in the area for roughly 1,000 years, not more than 5,000 as he claims. Moreover, a large percentage of today’s Palestinians, including Erekat, are descendants of tribes from other Arab lands. In Erekat’s case, his family Facebook page said the family came from a tribe that lives in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They moved to Palestine in 1860. (video)
In September 2014, Erekat asserted that during Operation Protective Edge, launched to stop the thousands of rocket and missile attacks by Hamas terrorists, Israel killed 12,000 Palestinians, wounded another 12,000, and 96 percent of the casualties were civilians. Not even Israel’s worst detractors cite numbers remotely related to Erekat's. The UN, for example, said the death toll was 2,100 and maintained that three-quarters were civilians. Israel, however, insists that roughly 1,000 of those killed were associated with Hamas or other terror groups. 538
Fittingly, Erekat has come up with his own version of the "big lie"
and proved to be a master of the technique. "There's a saying," he said, "that if you don't stop a man who is lying after 24 hours, the lies turn into facts." 539
It is hard to see how Israel can be expected to reach a peace agreement with a Palestinian negotiator who repeatedly tells monumental lies about Israel. How can someone so unscrupulous be trusted? And how can journalists continue to listen to his lies and repeat them.
All nations have the same policy about avoiding civilian casualties in war
Israel is pilloried each time non-combatants die inadvertently when measures are taken to defend its citizens. The world does not seem to care that the enemy Israel is fighting uses its own people as human shields, which makes it impossible to attack the terrorists targeting Israeli civilians without the possibility of injuring the innocent. The world also does not give Israel credit for taking unprecedented wartime steps to warn civilians. Meanwhile, the same countries that condemn Israel hypocritically use whatever measures are necessary to kill their enemies and rarely apologize for the collateral damage they cause.
Little regard was given for civilian casualties during World War II when Dresden was fire bombed or nuclear weapons were dropped on Japan. In fact, the strategy was, in part, to kill so many civilians that the Axis powers would capitulate. Imagine if Israel adopted a similar approach and deliberately carpet bombed Palestinian cities and caused tens of thousands of casualties. Such a policy might also cause the Palestinians to give up their terror campaigns and to oust the leaders who brought the rain of fire upon them. Israel, however, does not fight this way; the moral code of the IDF, which reflects that of Israeli society, does not allow for such a policy.
During the Bush administration, the United States adopted Colin Powell's doctrine, which holds that "America should enter fights with every bit of force available or not at all." When tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians died in the Gulf Wars, you did not hear any handwringing among the coalition partners or condemnation from the United Nations.
The double standard was even clearer in 2002 when American officials condemned Israel because a number of civilians died when Israel assassinated a leader of Hamas. The same day the United States bombed a village in Afghanistan in an operation directed at a Taliban leader that instead killed 48 Afghan civilians at a wedding party. In both cases, flawed intelligence played a role.
In 2013, the Obama administration seemed to reject the Powell Doctrine when it adopted a policy that required "near certainty" that there will be no civilian casualties before an air attack would be permitted. This was after the disclosure that many civilians were killed in American drone strikes.
The Obama policy did not last a year before the reality of warfare intervened. On September 10, 2014, Obama announced a new policy that left no room for nuance: "Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL." 540
When the coalition bombing campaign against ISIL began in Iraq, no prior warnings, "knocks on the roof," or calls for civilians to evacuate the area were issued to minimize civilian casualties, as Israel had done during Operation Protective Edge. In fact, the White House acknowledged that the strict standards President Obama imposed do not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.
Following a report that women and children were among the casualties when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria's Idlib province, a National Security Council spokesperson said the "near certainty" standard was intended to apply "only when we take direct action 'outside areas of active hostilities.'" She said that description "simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now."
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who was briefed on U.S. operations said he heard about civilian casualties, acknowledged that "nothing is perfect." Moreover, he said the death of non-combatants in U.S. strikes are "much less than the brutality of the Assad regime."541
By contrast, Israel has never abandoned the policy of doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, often putting its own soldiers in harm's way to do so, as was the case in 2002, when Israel suffered 23 casualties using ground troops to root out terrorists in Jenin when it could have simply flattened the area with bombs. On many occasions - some captured on video - Israeli pilots abort missions when civilians are in the area. Israel does not use its full might as the Powell Doctrine dictates; its use of force is judicious and precise. In wartime, mistakes are sometimes made because of faulty intelligence or inaccurate targeting, but Israel takes responsibility and investigates these incidents to prevent their recurrence.
Legal expert Alan Dershowitz argues that Israel should not be held to an unattainable standard; rather, new realistic and moral criteria need to be adopted for judging nations that are fighting the kind of terrorism represented by ISIS and Hamas. Dershowitz says they must apply "equally to the U.S., to Israel and to all nations committed both to the rule of law and to the obligation to protect citizens from terrorist attacks."542
Iran has moderated its hostility and should be an ally in the fight against ISIS
The "sudden" discovery that ISIS is a threat to the region and beyond has led the United States and others to rush into alliances with countries that espouse policies that are not significantly different from ISIS. The regional fight with ISIS is not only about territory and power, it is also a continuation of the centuries old conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.
As a Sunni group, ISIS has naturally drawn the wrath of Shiites, particularly in Iraq and Iran (and by extension their Lebanese proxies, Hezbollah). Even Sunni nations are afraid of ISIS, however, because of its declared goal of establishing a caliphate (which they've already declared) with its leaders as rulers. Consequently, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States have joined the coalition to stop ISIS.
The irony is that Saudi Arabia is also a radical Islamic state that has been attempting to spread its influence around the world in a nonviolent jihad that involves the indoctrination of Muslims in the Wahhabi brand of Islam. Simultaneously, the Saudis work to undermine Western values, interests, and security.
We've also learned that Qatar has become one of the leading financiers for terrorists. As patrons of Hamas, for example, they are underwriting a terrorist organization that shares with ISIS the goal of spreading Islam around the globe until it becomes the dominant religion.
The most serious breach in the wall against Muslim extremism, however, is the ongoing discussions with Iran about its potential role in fighting ISIS. Iran does have an interest in defeating ISIS because it is threatening Shiite domination of Iraq and Iranian patronage of Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that Iran's leaders are just as brutal and fanatical as ISIS, and have for decades sought to spread their revolution across the region as a prelude to what they hope will ultimately result in the global domination of Islam. Unlike ISIS, Iran already controls a large nation with a formidable army, and is, along with the Saudis (and now the Qataris), the leading sponsor of international terror. While ISIS is collecting conventional weapons as it overruns Iraqi military positions, Iran continues to seek a nuclear weapon.
The war against ISIS has distracted the United States and the West from the ongoing Iranian danger and played into Tehran's strategy of stringing out negotiations for as long as possible while continuing to develop a nuclear weapons capability. News reports have suggested that the Obama Administration, after already lifting the supposedly "crippling" sanctions, is now backing away from an insistence that all enrichment of uranium be halted and the centrifuges involved in the process destroyed. Caving in to Iranian demands to retain the ability to quickly assemble the components of a bomb would create a far greater threat to the world than ISIS poses. 543
And if anyone believes that Iran's positions have dramatically changed under the "moderate" president Hassan Rouhani, consider remarks made by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called on the Muslim world to unite and wage a war against "the enemies of Islam, chief among them Israel." He also predicted that "the Zionist regime and its supporters will one day go into extinction." Khamenei insisted that ISIS and al-Qaida are "creations of the West, particularly the Americans and their allies in the region..."544
Defeating ISIS is vital to preventing the spread of one radical Islamic party, but it will not eliminate the broader Islamist threat posed by Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and some of the countries we have chosen as allies.
Palestinians Support the boycott and divestment movements against Israel
In an effort to delegitimize, isolate and ultimately destroy Israel, organizations around the world have called on universities, governments, labor unions and co-ops to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (termed the BDS movement). Supporters claim that international pressure through the BDS movement will help the Palestinian people achieve independence.385 However, BDS advocates do not support a Palestinian state coexisting beside Israel, do not help individual Palestinian businesses and do not represent the views of the Palestinian Authority or even most Palestinians living in the territories.
Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, told South African journalists, "We do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself.…We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel." 448
Palestinians actively engage in trade with the Israeli government. The Palestinian Authority shares a variety of cooperative agreements with Israel in nearly 40 spheres of activity, from joint security measures to environmental protection and conservation. In 2008, Israel's Histadrut labor union signed an agreement with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions to advance common goals and build fraternity. In August 2012, then-PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signed a series of bilateral trade agreements that took effect January 2013 and marked an important step in bolstering economic ties between Israel and the PA.386 Overall, Israeli-Palestinian trade (import/export of goods & services) totals nearly $4 billion annually.387
Palestinians also work with Israelis in business and industry. In September 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to increase the number of work permits - to 40,000 - for Palestinians in the territories who work for various companies inside Israel proper.388 What is especially ironic is that while the PA's leaders constantly complain about Israeli settlements, at least 30,000 Palestinians work in those settlements, helped construct them or supplied some of the building materials.389 A survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that Palestinians working for Israeli businesses are paid more than twice the salary that their peers receive from Palestinian employers.
An article in the Palestinian Authority mouthpiece, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Israel was praised for its treatment of Palestinian workers. "whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers," the article noted, "they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers" because "the salaries of workers employed by Palestinians amount to less than half the salaries of those who work for Israeli employers" in the West Bank. Furthermore, the paper reported "the work conditions are very good, and include transportation, medical insurance and pensions. These things do not exist with Palestinian employers."545
An Arabic TV broadcast on Al-Hura also reported on the positive relations between Israeli employers and Palestinian workers. "There are 10 large industrial centers in Judea and Samaria, in which some 15,000 Palestinians work side by side with Israeli employees," according to Aryeh Savir of United With Israel. "At Barkan alone, 3,000 Palestinians are employed together with 3,000 Israeli employees. They work together, earning the same wages, enjoying the same social benefits, vacation days and pensions as prescribed by Israeli law. They go on trips together. Coexistence between the two peoples happens here, and all are awarded with a good and respectable livelihood." 545
Moreover, Palestinians invest in Israel. Statistical data from 2011 shows that private Palestinian investment in Israeli companies - notably hi-tech and industry - amounted to roughly $2.5 billion, more than double the Palestinian investment within the West Bank.390 For example, Hani Alami, a leader in the Palestinian telecommunications industry, bought 30 percent of the Israeli company Alvarion. Israeli Arab Hisham Adnan Raya, a construction magnate, was an angel investor in the Israeli web design company Webydo.391
Ironically, the founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, does not personally boycott Israel - he obtained a Master's Degree and, since 2009, has been pursuing a Doctorate at Israel's Tel Aviv University.392 He is just one of thousands of Palestinians who study at Israeli colleges and institutions.
While BDS advocates try to paint Israel as a demonic country practicing the type of discrimination associated with old South Africa, tens of thousands of Palestinians enjoy the benefits of working, studying and investing with Israelis. Their livelihoods and good relations with their Israeli neighbors are threatened by misguided European efforts to punish Israel for settlement construction and the broader BDS campaign, which begs the question: If Palestinians don't support BDS, who does the movement represent?
Israel denies medical treatment to its enemies.
Even as Israel is being pilloried by certain organizations for alleged human rights violations against its neighbors, Israel has welcomed the sick and injured from many of those same countries. Today, near the Syrian border, for example, Israel has been taking in people at a medical station set up to aid refugees of the Syrian Civil War. Though this is the type of humanitarian gesture that is routine for Israel, and could burnish its image, little has been said about the clinic to protect the Syrians who return home and are afraid to admit they were under the care of Israelis.
During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas set up a hospital for the exclusive use of its fighters, and supplied the facility by stealing medical supplies entering Gaza from aid organizations 546. By contrast, thousands of Gazans have been admitted to Israeli medical facilities.
Terrorists have tried to exploit Israel's good will by masquerading as patients and ambulance drivers. In 2005, for example, Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received in a cooking accident. After her arrest, she admitted that the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had instructed her to use her personal medical authorization documents to enter into Israel to carry out a suicide attack547
Despite the risks, Israel set up a medical facility just outside the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge, and allowed many Palestinians to receive urgent care they could not have found in Gaza or other parts of the Arab world. This was just another way that Israel made every effort to protect the Palestinian civilian population without getting any international recognition for its efforts. Meanwhile, Hamas built its military command center underneath Shifa Hospital (ironically, built by Israel for the safety of the Gazan population) so it could be used as a shield against Israeli attacks.
During calmer periods, Israel allows thousands of Palestinians to come to Israel to take advantage of the world-class physicians there. In 2012, more than 200,000 patients, 21,270 of them children, were given permits to obtain medical care in Israel.548
Israel's health care is so good that even Israel's most uncompromising enemies set aside their animus for the sake of getting family members the help they need. Shockingly, leaders of Hamas, who spend their time devising terror attacks against Israel and are committed to its destruction, look to Israel when their families are sick. For example, in 2012, Ismail Haniyeh's brother-in-law was treated for a cardiac problem and, in 2014, his mother-in-law went to Jerusalem for treatment and one of his children was admitted to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. The previous year, one of Haniyeh's granddaughters was treated in Israel.549 The sister of another senior Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouk, was also treated in Israel for cancer 550
More regular access to advanced medical care is only one of many benefits the Palestinians could derive from peace with Israel. If members of Hamas can set aside their enmity for the sake of family members, perhaps the Palestinian leadership will recognize that their people could all benefit from coexisting with Israel.
Muslims recognize the Temple Mount as sacrosanct to Muslims and Jews
Denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem typically takes three forms: It is said that Jews were present in the city for a short period and therefore they have no claim to sovereignty over the city; that the Temple of Solomon was actually an ancient Muslim building or did not exist at all; and that the Western Wall is sacred to Muslims and did not become a place of veneration for Jews until the nineteenth century. These are recent Palestinian propaganda points designed to erase the Jewish connection to the city, but the Supreme Muslim Council published a guide to the Temple Mount in 1924 that acknowledged it was the site of Solomon's Temple.
For now, Jerusalem remains a rallying point for Palestinians and other Muslims. The "al-Aqsa is in danger libel," as Nadav Shragai calls it,551 dates back at least to the 1920s, when the mufti of Jerusalem used the lie to incite the masses. Even more secular Palestinians use Islamic imagery to rally the masses. For example, Fatah's terror organization is called the Al-Aqsa Brigades and the second intifada, which was planned by the PLO, is referred to as the "Al-Aqsa Intifada."
Eighty years after Haj Amin el-Husseini challenged the Jews' right to live in their homeland and their connection to Jerusalem, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Akrama Sabri, made similar claims. He complained that Muslims hadn’t sacrificed enough to liberate al-Aqsa. Like the former Mufti, Sabri is a rabid anti-Semite who said that he is "filled with wrath toward the Jews," who he believed were scheming to take over not only Palestine but the whole world, and that he "never wished a Jew peace."552
It is not surprising that Muslims outside Israel have also used al-Aqsa as a rallying point. The Muslim Brotherhood's Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for example, said "the danger to al-Aqsa is now greater than ever . . . and hence the Muslims of the world must arise and defend it because it is not the property of the Palestinians alone but of the whole Muslim nation."553
Israel has done extensive research along the length of the Western Wall and a short distance from the southern side of the Temple Mount. Whenever Israel engages in any excavations, however, Muslims protest. The most serious brouhaha arose in 1996 after Israel completed digging along the entire length of the Western Wall, revealing two-thousand year old stones where the street had once been. The entire project was completely outside the Temple Mount and nowhere near the mosques. Nevertheless, the Muslim authorities claimed the Jews were digging under the mount with the intention of destroying the mosques or at least undermining their foundations. While the work had been going on for some time, the spark that led to widespread rioting and international condemnation was Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to open an exit from what is now referred to as the Western Wall tunnel, at a point along the Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter of the city.
The exit was opened in the middle of the night in the hope of minimizing the reaction, but Arafat and others criticized Israel and the Arab League repeated the libel by claiming "Israel's aim in opening this gate is to cause the collapse of the al-Aqsa Mosque, so that it can build the Third Temple in its stead."554 Palestinians rioted and attacks on soldiers and civilians resulted in the deaths of 15 Israeli soldiers and dozens of injuries. Forty Palestinians died in the melee and hundreds more were injured.
Muslims have not let up in perpetuating the "al-Aqsa libel" or in contending that every Israeli action in the area of the Temple Mount is an affront to Islam. In 2004, for example, the only access for non-Muslims to the Temple Mount, a ramp leading to the Mughrabi Gate, partially collapsed. Israel wanted to replace the old ramp with a sturdier permanent one. Once again, Palestinian and Muslim officials accused Israel of destroying a "historical pathway to the al-Aqsa Mosque" and new plots against the mosque itself even though the ramp was outside the mount. Israel brought in experts, including representatives of UNESCO to testify to the fact that a new ramp would not cause any damage to the Mount, nevertheless, the uproar led Israel to make a number of compromises regarding excavations in the area. The date for replacing the ramp was delayed and when the Arab Spring began, it was postponed indefinitely out of fear that it might provoke a reaction from Muslims in Egypt and Jordan and further destabilize the two countries with whom Israel shared a peace treaty. Ultimately, the old ramp was renovated and fortified, but the plan for replacing it was delayed indefinitely.
In 2013, Palestinians complained about Israeli excavations that posed no danger to the Temple Mount but were labelled as an attempt "to Judaize Jerusalem and [cause] the collapse of al-Aqsa Mosque to build the so-called second temple on ruins of it."555 Tensions escalated when Palestinians began to protest and, in some cases, attack Jews visiting the Temple Mount with stones, bottles, and other projectiles. They claimed Jews desecrate Islam's holy place and plan to build the third temple on the site.
On February 25, 2014, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, told a television interviewer that Israel plans to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.556 The repetition of the libel rarely has anything to do with the behavior of Jews; it inevitably is used for a political purpose, such as rallying the masses, provoking violence, or diverting attention from some unpopular actions taken by Palestinian leaders.
Jews, like other non-Muslims, have been visiting the Temple Mount since 1967. The Israeli government limits visits by non-Jews to specific times and also insists that visitors show sensitivity to Muslims by dressing modestly and refraining from bringing any Jewish sacred objects or conducting any public prayers. The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that Jews may pray at the Temple Mount, but police were given the discretion to prevent any provocative activities. Most Orthodox Jews do not go to the area because their rabbinical authorities have said they should not step foot in an area where the Ark of the Covenant may have been kept (no one knows for sure where the inner sanctum of the Temple was located on the Temple Mount) and only the high priest was is permitted to enter. Israeli politicians have on occasion been barred from going to the area when security officials anticipate the visits might cause disturbances. Extremist Jewish groups suspected of plotting against Muslim shrines are either prohibited from the Temple Mount altogether or escorted by police. When plots against the mosque have been uncovered, the schemers have been arrested.
Occasionally, for security reasons, Israel bars or limits Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount. The rest of the time the area is accessible to Muslims, even those who come from countries that are technically at war with Israel, such as Anwar Sadat, who prayed at al-Aqsa mosque on his visit to Jerusalem. On major Muslim holidays, especially Ramadan, tens of thousands of Muslims pray on the Temple Mount.
In September 2013, Jordan condemned Israel for building a platform for women and other non-Orthodox worshippers who wanted a place to pray according to their own customs. Ultra-Orthodox Jews control the Western Wall plaza and impose restrictions on worshippers there. They insist, for example, that men and women pray on separate sides of a barrier and bar women from singing or wearing prayer shawls or yarmulkes. Jordan claimed the platform was built in the courtyard of the al-Aqsa Mosque complex and represented a "flagrant" attack on historical Islamic sites and should be removed. In fact, the platform was built in an archaeological park south of the Temple Mount and is nowhere near the mosque or any other Islamic sites or places of prayer.557
Meanwhile, the Temple Mount and the mosque are used for propaganda and to raise funds. For example, inside al-Aqsa, glass display cases exhibit tear gas shells used by the Israeli police to quell riots during the first intifada. An Arab security guard said they were used "to make visitors sympathize and give donations." Despite large amounts of contributions, the area is not well maintained, raising questions about where the money from individuals and Muslim countries actually goes. Other members of the security staff pointed out scaffoldings that are not really used for maintenance, but are instead shown to donors to suggest that money is needed for repairs. "Look at the donation boxes here; they collect an average of one million shekels ($284,000) per month. We have no idea where that money goes. The poor and the needy never see any of it."558
Salah leads the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, a pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist organization that has called for violence against Jews at the Temple Mount and warned Palestinian leaders in the West Bank not to make any concessions to Israel. He is a provocateur who served a prison sentence for funding Hamas and meeting with an Iranian intelligence agent. He was also held for five months after assaulting an Israeli police officer and inciting violence. He was convicted of incitement again in November 2013 because of a statement he made calling for all Arabs to use violence in support of the Palestinians and to "initiate an Islamic intifada from sea to sea, in support of the holy Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aqsa mosque." Protesters listening to his speech subsequently attacked police and chanted, "With blood we will redeem you, al-Aqsa." His conviction was, more specifically, for his use of the ancient blood libel: he referred to children in Europe, "whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread."559
As the mufti attempted nearly a century earlier, Palestinian Islamic extremists, as well as "secular moderates" such as Mahmoud Abbas continue to stoke the religious war between Muslims and Jews. They hope to incite a new Palestinian uprising and, ideally, to inspire Arab and Islamic armies to go to war to prevent the Jews from destroying the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
European recognition of 'Palestine' will advance the peace process.
The Palestinians have tried to win statehood by doing everything but making concessions in face-to-face negotiations with Israelis that would give the Palestinians independence and grant peace and security to Israel.
From 1948 until the 1967 War, the Palestinians hoped that the Arab states would drive the Jews into the sea. They seriously miscalculated, however, and the outcomes of both wars left them in worse shape than if they had accepted the UN partition decision. The Palestinians' delusions were fed by the statements of Arab leaders that created the misperception (which persists to this day) that the Arab states care about their fate. In fact, the Palestinians have always been despised by most of their fellow Arabs and viewed as pawns in the larger geopolitical struggle involving Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Israelis, Christians and the West.
Thus, when the Arab states invaded Israel in 1948, they did so for purely selfish purposes; that is, the desire to carve up Palestine among themselves. Israel managed to prevent the invaders from completely overrunning their new state; however, the Gaza Strip was seized by Egypt and Judea and Samaria by Jordan. The fact that neither country was prepared to permit the creation of a Palestinian state on their watch is further evidence of their disinterest in Palestinian independence. During the 19 years of Jordan's occupation, the Palestinians made no demands for statehood and King Hussein showed no interest in conceding the territory he conquered, including East Jerusalem, to the Palestinians. Moreover, when the PLO challenged Jordanian rule in 1970, King Hussein's forces killed approximately 5,000 Palestinians and expelled Yasser Arafat and his minions.
Recognizing that their Arab brethren would not, and could not, dislodge Israel from the region, the Palestinians undertook a more intensive campaign of terror, targeting Jews in Israel and abroad in a futile effort to "liberate Palestine." Even after a worldwide terror campaign, two uprisings and a series of engagements with Israeli forces, such as 2014's Operation Protective Edge, Palestinian terrorists have been equally unable to displace Israel.
The Palestinians have now embarked on a new strategy, one less dependent on the support of their Arab brethren and more focused on the frustration, impatience, guilt and anger of the international community toward Israeli policies. The Palestinians first went to the UN General Assembly, where they enjoy a guaranteed majority that would adopt a resolution that the earth is flat if it was introduced by the Palestinian delegation. In 2013, the General Assembly agreed to recognize "Palestine," which opened the door to greater participation in the UN as well as access to a host of UN agencies.
General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, and its actions have changed nothing on the ground, consequently, the Palestinians are now threatening to seek Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 "borders" with East Jerusalem as the capital. They believe they have the votes to win so long as the United States does not exercise its veto. President Obama has said that he would veto such a resolution; however, he now holds tremendous leverage over the Israelis. If Israel does not cooperate with the United States, Obama can decide not to use a veto, which would allow the expected Council majority to recognize "Palestine." Once this binding resolution is adopted, the Palestinians will ask for sanctions to coerce Israeli compliance. Ultimately, they hope that draconian UN measures will force Israel to capitulate to Palestinian demands and, ideally, destroy the Jewish state.
The Palestinians also hope European recognition will pressure Obama to do the same. Already, Sweden has recognized "Palestine" while London's Parliament voted to encourage the British government to do the same. Ireland and Spain are also considering recognition and France has scheduled a vote on recognition for November 28, 2014. These unilateral decisions to recognize "Palestine" are not only ill-advised but dangerous. 560
First, political recognition will raise Palestinian expectations, which will go unfulfilled, because declarations by the United Nations or individual countries will change nothing on the ground since Israel will not change its posture regarding land, sovereignty and security. This will only exacerbate existing Palestinian frustrations that have often led to violence.
Second, unilateral steps by the international community reinforce the Palestinian belief that Israel can be coerced to capitulate to their demands by outside forces. This relieves the Palestinians of the need to negotiate directly with Israel and to make the concessions that will be required to turn declarations of statehood into full-fledged independence.
Over the last seven years the Palestinian expectation that President Obama would "deliver" Israel has had just these effects. The Palestinians have eschewed direct talks, rejected compromises and resorted to terrorism; yet, they are no closer to statehood. International recognition of "Palestine" is another recipe for failure and violence.
Following Operation Protective Edge Hamas abandoned its goal of destroying Israel
Though Hamas took a severe beating during Operation Protective Edge, losing more than 500 fighters, thousands of rockets and a number of key leaders, the group remains unflinching in its determination to destroy Israel. Rather than focus on helping the people of Gaza rebuild, Hamas immediately began preparing to fight again.
On December 14, 2014, Hamas celebrated its 27th anniversary with a parade of 2,000 of its armed fighters and trucks carrying long range rockets and launchers as well as a drone with Hamas markings. Khalil Al Hayya, a senior Hamas leader, told the assembled crowd, "This illusion called Israel will be removed."561
Iran, which shares the same goal, has been helping Hamas to rebuild its arsenal. Speaking at the parade, Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for the group's armed wing, the Qassem Brigades, praised Iran for supplying Hamas with money and weapons. Some of these weapons may be rockets that Hamas has been firing from Gaza into the sea, presumably to test their accuracy and range in preparation for future attacks on Israel. 562
As most analysts predicted, the "reconciliation" of Palestinian factions has failed to materialize and their rivalry has intensified. Israel and the international community had hoped the Palestinian Authority would take over control of Gaza following Hamas' defeat; however, Hamas continues to prevent that from happening. In fact, the internecine fighting has continued, with Hamas and Fatah arresting and killing each other's members. This was exemplified by Israel's discovery of a plot by Hamas members in the West Bank to stage a coup against the government of Mahmoud Abbas. The presence of Israeli security forces in the West Bank probably saved not only his government but his life. 563
It is not only Israel and Fatah that are concerned with Hamas; Egypt also views the organization as a threat. Egyptian troops have been attacked in the Sinai by Hamas terrorists and the group has used tunnels for years to smuggle weapons and other goods from Egypt into Gaza. Consequently, Egypt has been destroying tunnels and building an underground metal wall to prevent future infiltrations.564 With Israel’s permission, Egypt has also deployed more troops to the Sinai to fight Hamas and other Islamist militants. 565
The Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court is a response to Israel's failure to negotiate peace
The records of Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward negotiations are well known. Israel has consistently called for direct negotiations while PA president Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (except for a brief encounter in 2009 when no talks were held) since he was elected in 2005.566
The election of Barack Obama stimulated new hope that the United States might finally force Israel to capitulate to their demands. The Palestinians were quickly disappointed, however, when it became clear that Obama was unable or unwilling to do so.
This lack of U.S. support prompted the Palestinians to forego even the pretense of interest in negotiations and to mount an international campaign to gain recognition for "Palestine" in hopes that the UN would impose a settlement on Israel based on Palestinian demands. Thanks to the automatic majority that supports every Palestinian initiative in the General Assembly, Palestine was recognized as a non-member observer state in 2012.
The Palestinian strategy ran into an American road block when President Obama vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to declare Israeli settlements illegal. The Palestinians then sought Security Council support for their demands for a state based on the 1967 borders (actually the 1948 armistice line) with Jerusalem as their capital and a number of other provisions opposed by Israel or requiring a negotiated solution. After Obama threatened to veto this measure, the Palestinians hoped to win a moral victory by securing the 9 votes needed to pass a resolution (barring a veto). They failed to do this, however, allowing the United States to vote against the resolution without casting a veto.567
Following this defeat, Abbas hoped to save face with his constituents by seeking to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the intention of asking the court to charge Israeli soldiers and politicians with war crimes. The ICC, which is an independent body unaffiliated with the UN, rejected an earlier effort by the PA to accept the jurisdiction of the court on the grounds that it did not qualify as a state. Now, hoping to use UN recognition of its status, the PA is again seeking to become a member of the court.
Despite the Orwellian vote of the General Assembly, "Palestine" is not a state and should therefore again be rejected for membership in the ICC. It would be especially Orwellian for the ICC to accept a member whose leaders and associated militias have been actively engaged in war crimes.
Still, the record of international institutions standing up to the bullying of the Arab/Islamic bloc is not encouraging. In the event that the ICC does accept Palestine, however, Abbas may find himself wishing he'd engaged in negotiations.
First, nothing the ICC can do will bring the Palestinians one iota closer to statehood. At worst, the ICC could charge and potentially convict some Israelis of war crimes. The standard for such prosecutions, however, is high and, as became clear by the court's recent failure to convict Kenyan strongman Uhuru Kenyatta, it is unlikely that the court would have better luck finding fault with the democratically elected leaders of Israel or the IDF, about which Richard Kemp has said, "No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF in order to minimize damage." Israel can also be counted on to fight any prosecution vigorously and, like the United States, refuse to recognize the court's jurisdiction over its citizens.568
Second, Abbas has infuriated the United States, including many of his allies in the White House and State Department, by his disregard for President Obama's warnings and overall contempt toward U.S. policymakers. That attitude will come back to haunt him if the ICC accepts "Palestine's" membership because that will trigger U.S. legislation calling for the complete cutoff of economic aid to the PA, money Abbas desperately needs to keep his kleptocracy afloat.
Third, once coming under ICC jurisdiction, it will be possible for Israel to bring charges against the terrorists in "Palestine," for whom the evidence of war crimes is overwhelming. Rather than standing at the head of an independent state, Abbas may find himself in the dock facing imprisonment as a war criminal for his responsibility in inciting violence and for the rocket and terror attacks committed by members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah.
Finally, Alan Baker notes, "the Palestinians have knowingly and deliberately bypassed their contractual obligations pursuant to the Oslo Accords in an attempt to prejudge the main negotiating issues outside the negotiation." Israel has given no indication it is going to act, but the Palestinians' breach of the Oslo agreements would be justification for Israel "to declare that the Oslo Accords are no longer valid and to act unilaterally in order to protect its essential legal and security interests."569
The International Criminal Court will inevitably indict Israelis for war crimes in Gaza
The Palestinians have applied for membership to the International Criminal Court with the intent of asking the ICC to charge Israeli soldiers and officials with war crimes. Since "Palestine" is not a state by any common definition of the term, it will be up to the ICC to decide if the fictional state of Palestine satisfies its criteria for membership, an outcome that is by no means assured.
Bringing charges before the court is also a difficult and time consuming process with no guarantee of success. In 12 years, the court has investigated 36 cases, some taking 10 years or more, and convicted only two war criminals.
Israel has more going for it than just the ineffectiveness of the ICC; it also has justice on its side. First, any accusations of misbehavior by Israeli troops are investigated by Israeli authorities, as is the case in other democracies. The cases brought before the ICC typically involve countries that do not have independent judiciaries or are otherwise unable to adjudicate their own cases.
Furthermore, Israel's conduct of the war in Gaza has been praised for the lengths the IDF went to avoid civilian casualties. Former undersecretary of defense Michele Flournoy, for example, thanked outgoing IDF chief of general staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz for guiding Israel through the Gaza war with "a compassionate hand."570
Col. Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, has spoken out repeatedly about the extraordinary conduct of the IDF. After Operation Protective Edge, he stated, "No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF in order to minimize damage. The US and the UK are careful, but not as much as Israel."571
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also commended the IDF: "I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties." He added that "the IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties," and revealed that an American delegation visited Israel to learn from the IDF's experience in Gaza, including "the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties."572
The facts will not stop the Palestinians or their supporters from attempting to use the court to tarnish Israel’s image and to make life more difficult for any accused Israelis. Nevertheless, even if the Palestinians overcome the various hurdles involving membership and the court's investigative process, it is unlikely any Israelis will be convicted of war crimes.
Muslims are encouraged to visit Israel and meet Israelis
Most of the Muslim world has enforced a boycott against interacting with Jews dating back to before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. After the signing of peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis hoped that people from those two countries would become regular visitors; however, that never happened, in large part because of pressure from Muslims to avoid any contact with "Zionists." The few individuals who have defied the pressure have often found themselves ostracized when they returned home.
Even American Muslims are castigated for having the audacity to meet Israelis and see for themselves what life is like in Israel. The Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI) was launched in 2013 under the initiative of Imam Abdullah Antepli of Duke University and Yossi Klein Halevi of the Hartman Institute of Jerusalem. The program invites North American Muslims to "explore how Jews understand Judaism, Israel, and Jewish peoplehood." The participants are also encouraged to "experience how Palestinian [Arabs], both inside and outside Israel, identify themselves."
The initiative has provoked criticism by promotors of the campaign to boycott Israel and others who claim the participants were being given an "Israeli propaganda tour." In addition to criticism, the Muslims who have the audacity to think for themselves and seek out their own answers to questions about the situation in Israel may now also become victims of a boycott. Reportedly, at least 43 pro-Palestinian or Muslim-American community organizations, and 200 independent activists, have signed a letter promising not to invite participants to speak, and calling for a "complete boycott" of the group. Antepli explained the trip was meant to educate the participants. "My religion says even if knowledge is all the way in China, go and learn it." He added that he believed understanding religious Zionism was important if Muslims wanted to reach out to American Jews. 573
The taboo against meeting Israelis is so strictly enforced that a Muslim does not have to go to Israel to be attacked by their brethren; merely meeting or being photographed with an Israeli can be enough to trigger outrage and threats. Take the recent case of the seemingly innocuous selfie taken at the Miss Universe pageant in Miami by Israeli Doron Matalon. Miss Israel took a photo of herself with the representatives of Japan, Slovakia and Lebanon and posted it on Instagram. The image of the smiling Lebanese beauty, Saly Greige, beside an Israeli prompted an investigation by the Lebanese government that came with a warning of possible punishment for the crime of having contact with someone from the enemy state of Israel 574. In response to calls for her withdrawal from the pageant, Greige claimed that Matalon jumped into the photo she was taking with the other beauty queens. Greige added that she had avoided being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel and cropped Matalon out of the picture when she posted it on her Instagram account.
A Palestinian state will not be part of the Islamic State's caliphate
For years, supporters of a Palestinian state have falsely portrayed a future entity as secular and democratic. The autocratic rule of Yasser Arafat and now Mahmoud Abbas (whose term as president was due to expire six years ago, but has been prolonged by refusing to hold elections), combined with the suppression of the rights associated with democratic nations (freedom of speech, assembly, religion, press, women's rights, gay rights) is evidence a future Palestinian state is unlikely to be democratic. Similarly, the fact that no Arab state is secular is good reason to believe a Palestinian state will be Islamic. As radical Islamists gain more influence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it is increasingly possible that "Palestine" might be incorporated into the caliphate proclaimed by the Islamic State (a.k.a., ISIS, ISIL).
According to the draft constitution for a Palestinian state, the official religion will be Islam so there was never any possibility the state would be secular. The influence of the radical Muslims of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, moreover, has raised the specter of an Iranian-style repressive Islamic state emerging. In fact, this already exists, minus sovereignty, in the Gaza Strip where Hamas rules with an Islamic fist according to its interpretation of Sharia law. Furthermore, the group's objective is to work with other Muslims to restore the Islamic empire and to expand it to encompass the entire world. 575
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also been working to establish a foothold in the West Bank to overthrow Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, just as they did in Gaza, so it too is a part of their future Islamic state. They oppose Abbas' application for statehood to the United Nations, reject any negotiations with Israel and remain committed to Israel's destruction. The threat to Abbas is ongoing and he was likely saved from a coup and execution at the end of 2014 when Israeli intelligence foiled a Hamas plot. In truth, Abbas probably owes his life and the limited power he does have to Israel’s success in containing the growth of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.
Now Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad may face a far more dangerous threat arising from the infiltration and growth in popularity of ISIS. In November 2014, Israeli security forces nabbed a number of Palestinians in Hebron who created a terrorist cell affiliated with ISIS and were planning terrorist attacks. One suspect confessed that he planned to create the cell and to build explosives that could be thrown at IDF troops. Another suspect revealed that two members of the cell planned to murder a solider and use his weapon and uniform to carry out an attack. 576
We are now learning that Hamas and the Palestinian authority have known for some time that ISIS is infiltrating their strongholds in hopes of building enough support to take over both the West Bank and Gaza. This danger, combined with the bad publicity associated with revealing the ISIS presence, has led both groups to try to censor any news about the group, such as a protest by 2,000 supporters of ISIS who marched in Gaza City carrying Islamic State flags, denouncing the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in the Charlie Hebdo magazine and threatening to slaughter French nationals. Hamas tried to impose a news blackout, but photos of the demonstration were leaked to social media.
While Hamas may share the ideology of ISIS, it fears competition that may draw away its supporters with even more fiery rhetoric about the war on the infidels and the establishment of a caliphate rather than a Palestinian state. Hamas also worries that if the ISIS threat becomes known, Western countries and Arab states fighting ISIS will refuse to provide funds for reconstruction.
Abbas has multiple fears. First, he is afraid that knowledge of an ISIS presence will reduce support at the UN for the recognition of a Palestinian state. Second, by the same logic as Gaza, he could lose Western and Arab assistance if it becomes clear that aid may end up in the hands of ISIS. Third, the ISIS threat reduces the Israeli incentive for negotiations given that most Israelis were already skeptical of Abbas ability to deliver on any agreement and that any territorial concessions on the West Bank could lead to the creation of an extension of Gaza's Hamastan. Now Israelis have to take into account the even more frightening scenario of radical Islamists attacking the Golan Heights and ISIS seizing control of the West Bank, Gaza and possibly even Jordan.
Paradoxically, Abbas also has less incentive to negotiate with Israel because he knows that if "not for the IDF and various branches of the Israeli security establishment, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Islamic State would have toppled the Palestinian Authority and beheaded Abbas and his officials a long time ago." 577
Despite the new reality, will Israel continue to be pressured to capitulate to Palestinian officials' demands that endanger the state, even as those officials continue incite terror and reject negotiations or compromise? Will the West turn a blind eye to the growth of ISIS in the West Bank and Gaza the way it did the growth of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon?
The international community must decide whether to keep its head in the sand and continue the politically correct, but specious mantra that there is no radical Islam, and that Muslim terrorists have no connection to their faith. The recent policies of the major Western leaders have not been encouraging. Rather than pushing futile negotiations, or recognition of the non-existent state of Palestine, it is vital that these leaders make fighting against radical Islam and stopping Iran's nuclear program their top priorities.
Palestinians all support asking the UN to recognize “Palestine”
Mahmoud Abbas is generally recognized as the leader of the Palestinians, and his views are assumed to reflect those of the people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as those living outside the territories; however, this is not true. Paradoxically, he has more support from the international community than he does from his own constituents.
Abbas has no mandate to speak for the Palestinians. Although he holds the title of president of the Palestinian Authority, he has not won an election since 2005 and has canceled all subsequent plebiscites because of the fear he would lose. Thus, he has essentially declared himself a dictator like Moammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad (although they at least held sham elections every few years).
It comes as no great surprise that Hamas pilloried Abbas for engaging in a diplomatic initiative that theoretically replaced the goal of liberating all of Palestine by force. What was more shocking, however, and further evidence of the true state of Abbas' power (as well as reinforcing the Israeli belief that he couldn't negotiate a peace agreement even if he wanted to), was the opposition from factions within the PLO, including his own Fatah party. Illustrating Abbas's autocratic rule, Jamal 0Muheissen, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, complained that he and his colleagues learned about the proposed Security Council resolution from the internet; it was never approved by Fatah.
Despite the fact that the proposed resolution conceded nothing to Israel, and was a purposeful strategy to avoid negotiating with Israel, critics accused him of treason, turning his back on his people and making dangerous concessions to Israel. Five Palestinian groups, two of which are members along with Fatah of the PLO, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Popular Front-General Command (PFLP-GC) and Al-Sai'qa, joined Hamas and Islamic Jihad in calling on Abbas to withdraw the resolution, eschew negotiations and "pursue resistance in all its forms."
Reiterating the longstanding position of Hamas, its leader Mahmoud Zahar said, "This Palestinian resolution is catastrophic and has no future on the land of Palestine. The future belongs to the resistance. We will continue to work to liberate all the land and achieve the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Hamas will not accept anything less than all the lands that were occupied in 1948." 578
Members of the Security Council would be wise to pay less attention to the impotent and unpopular Abbas and more to his opponents' intent on sabotaging any diplomatic undertaking that does not lead to the destruction of Israel.
The Palestinian public opposes terrorism and supports negotiations with Israel
Palestinian public opinion is difficult to gauge since the Palestinian Authority has not held elections in 10 years to offer the people a chance to express their views through the support of particular candidates. Moreover, polls taken in the territories, as in totalitarian societies, do not necessarily reflect the true opinion of people who know that criticizing or opposing their leaders can result in their arrest (or worse). Given those caveats, pollsters do offer insight into the attitudes of Palestinians and many of them are problematic.
A poll released in November 2014 by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), for example, found that a majority of Palestinians opposed resuming peace talks with Israel. That same poll found that a narrow majority (54-46 percent) support a two-state solution. A Washington Institute poll in June 2014, however, found that only 27 percent of Palestinians supported a two-state solution as a five-year political goal, while 60 percent said “the goal should be to return Historic Palestine to our hands, from the river to the sea.”579580
Another poll, by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Centre (JMCC) in November 2013, found that nearly half the respondents opposed the Oslo peace agreement and fewer than one-third of Palestinians believed “peaceful negotiations” were the best way to establish a Palestinian state. In fact, they were nearly evenly split between that answer, “armed resistance” and “non-violent resistance.” 581
Polls have also indicated that Palestinians continue to support terrorism. In a December 2014 PCPO survey, for example, 58 percent of Palestinians agreed that firing missiles at Israel is a good idea. Perhaps more alarming are the results of a Pew survey of Muslims from September 2013, which found that 62 percent of Palestinian Muslims said that suicide bombing attacks are often or sometimes justified to defend Islam from its enemies. Note, too, that the results were nearly equal in Hamas-ruled Gaza (64 percent) and the Fatah-governed West Bank (60 percent). By comparison, the country with the second highest level of support for suicide bombings was Lebanon (39 percent).582
Reported negotiations with Iran will make the Middle East safer
Since the discovery of Iran's secret program to develop nuclear weapons, the hope has been that either sanctions would compel Iran to abandon the project or that a negotiated agreement would prevent, or at least delay, the acquisition of a bomb for several years. Military action has been raised as an option of last resort, but the preference of all parties, with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia, has been to find a peaceful solution.588
European governments tried unsuccessfully for several years to negotiate a deal with Iran. When the talks finally ended, the chief Iranian negotiator - now Iran's President Hassan Rouhani - said that the Iranians had purposely dragged out the talks while continuing their program and never intended to reach an agreement. 583Some observers, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), worry that Iran is engaged in a similar tactic now since it has made few concessions in talks with the United States and succeeded in moving the deadline for an agreement. Meanwhile, the IAEA has continued to report the number of Iranian centrifuges has grown, complained that Iran is not cooperating with its investigation and that the nuclear program has not halted.584
The IAEA reported February 19, 2015, as the the Obama Administration was claiming progress in negotiations, that Iran was stalling their inquiry, and deliberately complicating efforts to reach a deal with the P5+1. According to the report, “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify” the scope of Iranian explosive tests and other allegations. 587
The negotiations themselves are also problematic. Perhaps the most serious concern is that the deal reportedly being discussed would allow Iran to keep much of its nuclear infrastructure, creating the possibility that it would take mere months to ramp up the program to produce weapons.585
Another concern is that the Obama Administration appears desperate to reach a deal, despite the president's assertions that no deal is better than a bad deal. The growth of ISIS has convinced the administration that it needs Iranian cooperation to defeat the radical Sunni Muslim group. It may be true that Iran could help in the fight against ISIS, but it is not interested in doing so to help the West or to eradicate radical Islamists; Iran is fighting because it sees ISIS as a rival for influence and a threat to its position in Iraq and, especially, Syria. Iran is no less brutal or radical, and has similar interests in gaining hegemony in the region and beyond. Already, Iran has gained influence in Yemen to go along with its virtual control of Lebanon and puppet mastery of Syria, as well as serving as the armorer for Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.
Not surprisingly, America's Sunni allies are apoplectic at the prospect of an agreement with Iran that leaves its nuclear infrastructure in place, and the notion that Iran can play a stabilizing role in the region. To the contrary, Iran is viewed as a threat to the Gulf States, which is why the Saudis advocated military action against Tehran during the Bush Administration.
Arab leaders have also made no secret of their anger over Obama's failure to take forceful action in Syria, which could have ousted President Bashar Assad and eliminated Iran's most important ally. Paradoxically, Obama's failure to act contributed to the growth of ISIS and the newfound willingness to allow Assad to stay in power and seek Iran's help in battling ISIS.
Israel has made no secret of its displeasure over the Obama Administration's handling of Iran because of the perception in Jerusalem that Obama is so anxious for a deal that he will make concessions that endanger Israel. This fear has prompted the controversial decision of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress to directly relate Israel's concerns about the direction negotiations are heading.
Many members of Congress also fear that the president may agree to a bad deal and have been agitating for stronger sanctions to put more pressure on Iran. As it is, Iran has found ways around previously imposed sanctions and does not believe they need to make concessions, especially given what they see as Obama's desire to reach an agreement that would make sanctions even less effective. As it is, just for negotiating, Obama agreed to ease some sanctions, with Iran scheduled to receive up to $11.9 billion through the end of negotiations, and he has threatened to veto any legislation for stronger measures for fear that the Iranians will walk away from the talks.586
Yet another deadline is approaching on March 24, and much of the world is concerned that the Iranians will succeed in prolonging the talks further, or convince Obama to accept a deal that will allow Iran to attain a nuclear capability sooner rather than later. This result would give Iran unprecedented power, allow it to threaten Israel and its Arab neighbors, potentially force Israel into a military response, conceivably arm terrorists with nuclear weapons and set off a nuclear arms race in the region.
Israel opened dams to flood Gaza
While it may come as no shock that Hamas officials will spin the news to slander Israel, the media is expected to check their facts before printing libelous propaganda as legitimate news. Following a major winter storm last week in Israel, a swath of the Gaza Strip flooded due to heavy precipitation. A Hamas official was quick to blame Israel, saying, “The occupation forces opened the Wadi Salqa dams to sink dozens of Palestinian homes in the central region of the Gaza Strip.”589 Other officials from Hamas were quick to confirm that Israel had opened dams in the Gaza region to purposely flood the Gazan countryside.
Predictably, many media outlets jumped on the opportunity to publish an article bashing Israel for increasing the suffering of the people of Gaza. Al Jazeera, Agence-France Press, the Daily Mail, and others published articles decrying Israel's actions, with the AFP article quoting Gaza's Ministry of the Interior, who said, “By [Israel] opening the channels they flooded many homes... We had to evacuate as quickly as possible.”590
None of these news organizations had done their due diligence however. Not only are there no such dams around Gaza, operated by Israel or otherwise, but this lie has been used by Hamas during previous winters. In 2013, Hamas trotted out the same fabrication, accusing the Israeli government of opening dams just east of the Gaza Strip since, “For Gaza to drown is an old Zionist dream.”591 Of course, then as now the claims were false and, in fact, Israel aided the recovery efforts in Gaza by donating high power pumps to help clear floodwater from the region.
While publicly Hamas officials choose to blame Israel for Gaza's myriad issues, anonymously, an official in Gaza revealed that “It is easy to say it is dams, easier than saying that the problem is infrastructure - not having infrastructure, having bad infrastructure.”590 Time and again, Hamas has chosen to invest the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid it receives into weapons, tunnels and rockets, rather than helping to uplift the people of Gaza with improved roads, drainage ditches and sewers that would ameliorate the annual flooding in Gaza brought on by inclement weather.
Although the various news sites have commendably gone through the motions of issuing corrections and retractions, their inability to practice basic fact-checking to establish the veracity of the Hamas statements shows a significant lack of journalistic integrity and an overzealous craving to find “news” that casts Israel in a negative light. This oversight is especially egregious given that the lie has been repeated in years past. Perhaps in the future, the international media will think twice before taking the word of Hamas's propaganda officials as factual news.
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316 Ben White, "Peaceful Palestinian Resistance is Paying Off," Christian Science Monitor (February 11, 2010); Richard Boudreaux, "Palestinian Who See Non-Violence as their Weapon," Los Angeles Times (November 4, 2009).
317 Itamar Fleishman, "Mimouna Guest of Honor: Paramedic Who Saved Adele," YNET News (April 2, 2013).
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318b Daniel Eisenbud, "2-Year-Old Jewish Girl Injured in East Jerusalem Rock Attack in Stable Condition," Jerusalem Post (December 1, 2013).
318a "9 Israelis, 1 Palestinian Hurt in West Bank Rock Attack," Times of Israel (October 27, 2013).
319 Chaim Levinson, "Fatal West Bank Car Crash Caused by Palestinian Stone-Throwing," Haaretz (September 25, 2011).
320 "Yehuda Shoham," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (June 11, 2011).
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345 Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963–1969, (NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), p. 299.
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347 Shirad Bozorgmehr, “Rouhani is Iran’s Next President After Appealing to Tradition, Reform,” CNN (June 15, 2013); “Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani Pledges Path of Moderation,” The Guardian (June 17, 2013); Max Fisher, “Iran’s Next President, Hassan Rouhani, Seen as Best Hope for Ending Nuclear Standoff with West,” Washington Post (June 15, 2013).
348 Louis Charbonneau, “Rohani Once Appoved of Hiding Iran Atomic Work,” Reuters (June 19, 2013).
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355 Herb Keinon, “EU officially publishes settlement guidelines despite Israeli objections,” Jerusalem Post (July 19, 2013).
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357 George W. Bush, “Speech to the American Jewish Committee,“ (May 3, 2001).
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360 AFP, “Palestinian party rejects Mideast peace talks,” YNet (July 29, 2013); “Nablus: Elements of the left demonstrating against negotiations,“ Palestine Press News Agency (July 30, 2013).
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377 Yoram Ettinger, “Bethlehem Will Become Town of Churches Devoid of Christians,” IsraPundit (December 29, 2007).
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415 Morris, p. 592.
416 Harriet Sherwood, "Netanyahu: Occupation is not Cause of Conflict," The Guardian (October 7, 2013); and, Alistair Dawber, "Middle East Peace Process Hits Stumbling Block," The Independent (July 31, 2013).
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431 Spencer Ho, "Ya'alon Says Third Intifada Not in the Offing," Times of Israel (October 22, 2013).
432 Maayan Lubell, "Sanctions Relief Worth up to $40 Billion to Iran: Israel," Reuters (November 13, 2013).
433 "Board of Governors Report," International Atomic Energy Agency (November 2013).
434 "Fissile Material Basics," Institute for Energy & Environmental Research (April 2012).
435 "Remarks at Start of Weekly Cabinet Meeting," Prime Minister's Office (November 24, 2013).
436 Herve Asquin, "France Firm on Iran Nuclear Issue, Hollande Tells Israel," Agence France-Presse (November 17, 2013).
436a Barrie McKenna, "Canada 'Deeply Skeptical' Iran Will Follow Through on Nuclear Deal," Globe and Mail (November 24, 2013).
437 Amena Bakr, "Saudi Arabia Warns of Shift Away from U.S. Over Syria, Iran," Reuters (October 22, 2013).
438 Mark Urban, "Saudi Nuclear Weapons 'On Order' from Pakistan," BBC News (November 6, 2013).
439 Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, "US Now Indicates Iran Interim Deal Wasn't Quite Finalizes," Times of Israel (November 27, 2013).
440 "Spokesman Confirms US Release of $8bln of Iran's Frozen Assets," FARS News Agency (November 25, 2013).
441 Lazar Berman, "Iran Rejects US's 'One-Sided' Version of Nuclear Deal," Times of Israel (November 26, 2013).
442 "Iranian News Agency Publishes Alleged Text of Nuclear Deal," Times of Israel (November 24, 2013).
443 AFP, "Iran Has Final Say on Nuclear Enrichment, Says Zarif," Yahoo News (November 29, 2013).
444 "Iran, Powers to Meet Next Week on Carrying Out Nuclear Deal," Reuters (December 1, 2013).
445 "Rouhani Says Iran will Intensify Nuclear Work," Israel Hayom (December 1, 2013).
446 AP, "Report: Iran FM Says Country Won't Talk to Israel," Washington Post (November 29, 2013).
447 American Studies Association, "ASA Turpie Award Winners in Opposition to Israeli Boycott Resolution," ASA (January 5, 2014).
448 William A. Jacobson, "List of Universities rejecting academic boycott of Israel (Update -- Over 150)" Legal Insurrection (December 22, 2013).
449 Yoel Goldman, "Abbas: Don't boycott Israel," Times of Israel (December 13, 2013.)
450 President of Harvard University, "Statement on ASA Resolution" Harvard University, Office of the President (December 20, 2013).
451 BDS Cookbook, "In Their Own Words" StopBDS.com (2014).
452 Stanley Fish, "Academic Freedom Against Itself: Boycotting Israeli Universities" NYTimes.com (2014).
453 Alan Luxenberg, "Hypocricy, Thy Name is ASA," The American Interest (December 20, 2014), Walter Reich, "Reject boycott of Israel," Philly.com (January 7, 2014), Henry Reichman, "Against Academic Boycotts," Inside Higher Ed (December 12, 2013.)
454 "Why Can't Arab Armies be More Humane Like Israel's?" Tom Gross Media (January 16, 2014).
455 “Netanyahu: Jew Free Palestinian State Would be Ethnic Cleansing“ Algemeiner (January 15, 2014). Israel Security Agency, "Terror Data and Trends: 2013 Annual Summary Report."
456 "Kerry Says No Deaths from West Bank Terror in 2013, Just Days After Shin Bet Lists Fatalities," Algemeiner (February 3, 2014).
457 "Terror in 2014: The Nonstop Threats to Israel," IDF Blog (February 7, 2014).
458 Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA Allocates $46 million more for terrorists in 2014,“ Palestinian Media Watch, (February 12, 2014).
459 “Arab League rejects Israel as Jewish State,“ Al Jazeera, (March 9, 2014).
460 “Full Transcript: Prime Minister Netanyahu's Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference, 2014,“ Algemeiner (March 4, 2014)
461 AP, “Palestinian President Abbas says there’s 'no way' he'll recognize Israel as Jewish state,“ Fox News (March 7, 2014)
462 Michael Wilner, “Kerry: Netanyahu wrong to insist Palestinians recognize Israel as Jewish state“ Jerusalem Post (March 14, 2014)
463 “Peace Index: February 2014“ Peace Index
464 Times of Israel Staff, "TV report: Abbas said 'no' to Obama on 3 core peace issues," Times of Israel (March 22, 2014).
464a Khaled Abu Toameh, "Abbas: I Am a Hero. I said 'no' to Obama," Gatestone Institute (March 21, 2014).
465 Wolf Blitzer, Territory of Lies (NY: Harper & Row, 1989), p. 201.
466 "Edward Snowden has more US-Israel secrets to expose, Glenn Greenwald says," Reuters (January 7, 2014).
467 New York Times (December 2 and 21, 1985).
468 Blitzer, pp. 166-171.
469 Ruth Marcus, "Free Jonathan Pollard," Washington Post (April 2, 2014); Alan Dershowitz, Chutzpah, (MA: Little Brown, & Co., 1991), pp. 289-312.
469a M.E. Bowman, "Don't Trust This Spy," New York Times (January 14, 2014).
470 Washington Post (December 23, 2000).
471 Washington Post (November 14, 2003).
472 Matthew E. Berger, "After court denies his appeal, Pollard left with few legal options," JTA (July 24, 2005).
473 "Conference of Presidents leaders Back Peres' request for Pollard's release," Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (April 11, 2012).
“Hamas placing rockets near water reservoirs, digging dozens of ‘terror tunnels,’“ Times of Israel (January 23, 2014)
Think-Israel; Space War; Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System; “Assad forces hide in mosques, fearing a US missile strike,“ The National (September 3, 2013)
Joel Gulhane, “Gaza tunnels discovered in Rafah Mosque,” Daily News Egypt (April 27, 2014)
“Extended Footage (English): Hezbollah Removes Weapons from Explosion Site in Al-Shahabiya, Israel Defense Forces (September 6, 2010)
478 Donatella Rovera, “Challenges of monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding during and after armed conflict,” Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (April 28, 2014).
479 “Dateline Durban: UN World Conference Against Racism,” ADL (September 4, 2001).
480 “Robinson Calls NGO Language Inappropriate,” ADL (September 7, 2001).
481 David Bernstein, “Human Rights Watch Goes to Saudi Arabia,” Wall Street Journal (July 15, 2009).
482 Donatella Rovera, “Challenges of monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding during and after armed conflict,” Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (April 28, 2014).
483 “Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon,”Human Rights Watch Vol. 18, No. 3, (August 2006), p. 3.
484 Joshua Muravchik, “Human Rights Watch vs. Human Rights: The cynical manipulation of a worthy cause has a history,” The Weekly Standard (September 11, 2006).
485 Alan Dershowitz, “What Are They Watching?” New York Sun (August 23, 2006).
486Near East Report, (June 25, 2001); Jerusalem Post, (July 20, 2001).
487Arnon Ben-Dror, “Welcome to Camp Hamas,” Israel Defense Forces, (August 29, 2009).
488Michael Morrow, "Hamas groups run brutal summer camps for Palestinian kids, News.com.au, (June 11, 2014); Sophia Rosenbaume, "Inside the summer camp for child terrorists, New York Post, (June 11, 2014).
489Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Fatah to Israelis: Prepare body bags,” Palestine Media Watch, (July 7, 2014).
490BBC Trending, “Are #GazaUnderAattack images accurate?” BBC News, (July 8, 2014).
491JoeSettler, “Iron Dome, Human Shields, and the Real Problem,” The Jewish Press.com, (July 10, 2014).
492“Interview: Mark Regev” JC.com, (July 10, 2014).
493Alan M. Dershowitz, "Israel's Policy Is Perfectly 'Proportionate,'" Wall Street Journal, (January 2, 2009).
494Steven Erlanger, "Leader Celebrates Founding of Hamas With Defiant Speech," New York Times (December 8, 2012).
495Palestinian Media Watch, (July 15, 2014).
496 “UNRWA Discovers 20 Rockets Hidden in Gaza School; Claims Incident Was ‘First of its Kind in Gaza,” The Algemeiner, (July 17, 2014); UNRWA Strongly Condemns Placement of Rockets in School,” UNRWA, (July 17, 2014).
497Raphael Ahren, “UN agency handed rockets back to Hamas, Israel says,” Times of Israel, (July 20, 2014).
498UNRWA Condemns Placement of Rockets, For a Second Time, in One of Its Schools, UNRWA, (July 22, 2014).
499“Hamas Interior Ministry To Social Media Activists: Always Call The Dead 'Innocent Civilians'; Don't Post Photos Of Rockets Being Fired From Civilian Population Centers,” MEMRI, (July 17, 2014)
500Mitchell Bard, “Israel’s other enemy in Lebanon war — the media,” Jweekly.com, (April 27, 2007).
501“Hamas MP Fathi Hammad: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields,” Al-Aqsa TV, cited in Dispatch #1710, MEMRI (February 29, 2008).
502Editorial, “Mr. Goldstone Recants,” Wall Street Journal, (April 5, 2011).
503Richard Goldstone, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes,” Washington Post, (April 1, 2011).
503aProgress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine, Submitted to the Secretary-General for Transmission to the Members of the United Nations, General Assembly Official Records: Third Session, Supplement No. 11 (A/648), Paris, 1948, p. 47 and Supplement No. 11A (A/689 and A/689/Add.1, p. 5; and “Conclusions from Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine,” (September 16, 1948), U.N. doc. A/648 (part 1, p. 29; part 2, p. 23; part 3, p. 11), (September 18, 1948).
Lazar Berman, "Palestinain kids taught to hate Israel in UN-funded camps, clip shows." Times of Israel, (August 14, 2013).
505 Rachel Avraham, "Analysis: UNRWA Teaches Palestinian Children to Support Violence and Hate Israel," Jerusalem Online, (September 4, 2013).
506 Justus Reid Weiner and Noam Weissman, "Hamas' Determination to Perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Critical Role of Hate Indoctrination," Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (August 1, 2006).
507 "Israel OK's Gaza's 'Humanitarian Corridor.'" CBS News, (January 6, 2009).
508 Josh Rogin, "Did the United Nations Give Rockets to Hamas?" The Daily Beast (July 20, 2014).
509 Mitch Ginsberg, "Militants 'blow up UNRWA clinic,' killing 3 soldiers.'" Times of Israel, (July 30, 2014).
510 Power and Politics with Evan Solomon, CBC News Network, (July 31, 2014).
511 James Lindsay, Fixing UNRWA: Repairing the UN's Trouble System of Aid to Palestinian Refugees. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (January 2009).
512 "Kerry Says No Deaths from West Bank Terror in 2013, Just Days After Shin Bet Lists Fatalities," The Algemeiner (February 3, 2014).
512aJerusalem Report (July 28, 2014).
513 Noam 'Dabul' Dvirynet, “Border Guard officers thwart terror attack near Jerusalem, Ynet.com, (July 27, 2014).
514 Facebook, "Fatah-The Main Page", Palestinian Media Watch, (July 24, 2014).
515 Erel Segal, "Obama administration gets it wrong on Hamas,” Al-Monitor, (June 2, 2014).
516 Khaled Abu Toameh, "The real 'seige' of the Gaza Strip", The Gatestone Institute, (August 12, 2014).
517 Section II, "San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea", International Humanitarian Law, (June 12, 1994).
518 “Hamas opens hospital for gunmen,” Jerusalem Post, (January 6, 2009).
519 Jerusalem Post, (July 1, 2005).
520 Barak Ravid, “Abbas to Obama: I'm Against Lifting The Gaza Naval Blockade,” Haaretz, (June 13, 2010).
521 "Israel Disrupts Hamas Plot to Overthrow PA," The Investigative Project on Terrorism, (August 19, 2014).
522 Avi Issacharoff, "US said to seek adding 'Jewish state' language to Arab Peace Initiative," The Times of Israel, (January 7, 2014).
523 Mitchell Bard “The Arab Lobby,” pg 177.
524 Mitch Ginsberg, “Saudi royal turns down ex-IDF intel chief's invite to the Knesset,”The Times of Israel (May 26, 2014).
525 Khaled Abu Toameh, “Fatah blasts Hamas over 'crimes' during Gaza operation,”The Jerusalem Post (August 30, 2014).
526 “Palestinian UN rep 'Each and every missile launched against Israel constitutes a crime against humanity',”UN Watch (July 13, 2014).
527 “Iran's supreme leader approves working with US military to strike at Isis in challenge to the west',”The Daily Mail (September 5, 2014).
UNIFIL Press Releases
530 Yasser Arafat calls for "jihad, struggle, and combat".Palestinian Media Watch, October 21 1996.
531Islam-based hate speech on PA TV: Jews are "most evil among creations," "barbaric apes, wretched pigs" Palestinian Media Watch, September 18 2014
532Itamar Marcus, "PA: The Western Wall... No person besides Muslims ever used it as a place of worship, throughout all of history." Palestinian Media Watch, January 15 2013
533Itamar Marcus, "Abbas calls for "War for Allah"" Palestinian Media Watch, July 27 2014
534Why TV News Loves A Liar. New York Post, (April 17, 2002)
5352006 Report on International Religious Freedom
536David Harris, "Palestinian leaders: denying reality, delaying peace". AJC. October 12, 2010
537 Melanie Lidman, Khaled Abu Toameh "Clinton Criticizes East Jerusalem Shepherd Hotel Demolition". Jerusalem Post, January 10, 2011
538"PA's Erekat claims 90% of Gaza's dead were civilians". Times of Israel, September 29 2014
539Jack Khoury, Jonathan Lis, "Palestinian, Arab Israeli leaders lash out at Netanyahu's 'Islamophobic' UN speech". Haaretz, September 30, 2014
541Michael Isikoff, "White House exempts Syria airstrikes from tight standards on civilian deaths". Yahoo News, September 30 2014
542"ISIS fight: Coalition airstrike casualties weigh on Canada's decision". CBC News, October 5 2014
543Herb Keinon, "Steinitz ahead of nuclear talks: Iran is Israel's greatest threat, not ISIS or Hezbollah". The Jerusalem Post, September 17 2014
544Yasser Okbi, Maariz Hashavua, "Iran's Khamenei vows 'Zionist regime and its supporters will go extinct". The Jerusalem Post, October 4 2014
545"Arabs Praise Israel for Treatment of Palestinian Workers", Breitbart, October 1 2014
546"Hamas Opens Hospital for Gunmen", Jerusalem Post (January 6, 2009)
547 Jerusalem Post (January 6, 2009)
548"Israel Hospitals Took Care of Nearly 220,000 PA Arabs in 2012," The Jewish Press.com, (July 30, 2013).
549"Hamas leader's daughter received medical treatment in Israel: sources," Reuters, (October 19, 2014).
550"Senior Hamas official Marzouk's sister hospitalized in Israel," Jerusalem Post, (March 11, 2014).
551 Shragai, The 'Al-Aqsa is in Danger' Libel, 2012.
552 Ibid., p. 54.
553Ibid., p. 61.
554Ibid., p. 100-101.
555 Mohammed Mar'i, "Israel planning to raze Al-Aqsa to build 'second temple,'" Saudi Gazette, June 25, 2013,
556 Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, "PA: Israel planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque," Palestine Media Watch, March 30, 2014.
557"Gov't condemns Israeli building on Al Haram Al Sharif," The Jordan Times, September 2, 2013.
558 Mudar Zahran, "Who Is Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque?" Gate Stone Institute, December 9, 2013
559"Jerusalem court convicts sheikh of incitement," Times of Israel, November 7, 2013.
560"Irish parliament calls on government to recognize Palestine," Times of Israel, October 22 2014. "Jerusalem slaps Spain's parliament for Palestine recognition vote," The Jerusalem Post, November 19, 2014.
561"Hamas holds Gaza military parade, vows Israel's destruction," The Jordan Times, December 14, 2014.
562"Hamas Shoots Seven Test Rockets in Two Days," Arutz Sheva, December 5, 2014.
563"Abbas orders probe into Hamas coup plot revealed by Israel," Times of Israel, August 19, 2014.
564"Egypt building underground metal wall to curb smuggling into Gaza," The Gaurdian December 10, 2014.
565"Egypt gets Israel's OK for more Sinai troops to fight Islamists," JTA November 6, 2014.
566"Obama: Israel and the Palestinians Must Do More for Middle East Peace," The Huffington Post, November 22, 2009.
567"Jordan: Draft Palestinian Statehood Resolution," United Nations Security Council, December 30, 2014.
568"Former British Commander in Afghanistan: No Army Acts With As Much Discretion As The IDF Does," The Jerusalem Post, September 4, 2014.
569"Ten Points Regarding the Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords," JCPA, January 5, 2015.
570"In Washington, Gantz warns against concessions with Iran," The Jerusalem Post, (January 8, 2015).
571"Former British commander in Afghanistan: No army acts with as much discretion as IDF does," The Jerusalem Post, (September 4, 2014).
572"Top US general: Israel protected civilian lives in Gaza," Times of Israel, (November 7, 2014)
573"American Muslims Visit Israel, Others Promise to Boycott Them"Arutz Sheva, (January 20, 2015)
574"Miss Lebanon's selfie with Miss Israel stirs up controversy in Middle East"Fox News, (January 19, 2015)
575"Abbas pumps new life into Hamas"The Gatestone Institute (April 30, 2014)
576Cohen, Gili. "Israeli forces nab ISIS-linked cell in the West Bank,"Haaretz (January 4, 2015)
577Abu Toameh, Khaled. "Islamic State Deepens grip in Future Palestine"The Gatestone Institute (January 3, 2015)
578Abu Toameh, Khaled. "Why Palestinians Opposed Abbas's Statehood Bid" The Gatestone Institute (December 31, 2014)
579 PCPO (November 2014)
580 PCPO (November 2014)
581 JMCC (November 2013)
582 “Muslim Publics Share Concerns about Extremist Groups,” Pew Research Center, (September 10, 2013)
583 “IAEA: Iran still stalling UN nuclear probe as deal deadline looms,” Jerusalem Post, (February 19, 2015)
584 “Iran: White House Lying About Iran’s Concessions in Nuke Talks,” Free Beacon, (December 9, 2014)
585 “AP Exclusive: US and Iran Discussing Nuclear Talks Compromise,” The Washington Post, (February 3, 2015)
586 “U.S. to Award Iran $11.9 Billion Through End of Nuke Talks,” Free Beacon, (January 21, 2015)
587 “Iran Still Stalling U.N. Nuclear Inquiry as Deal Deadline Looms: IAEA” Reuters, (February 20, 2015)
588 “Obama to get an earful from Saudis” Politico, (March 28, 2014)
589 “False ‘Israel drowns Gaza’ claims sweep internet” Times of Israel, (February 25, 2015)
590 “No, Gaza Was Not Flooded By Israel Opening “The Dams” Buzzfeed News, (February 24, 2015)
591 “How Hamas used the weather to defame Israel” Times of Israel, (December 18, 2013)