Myths & Facts Online:
- "Gaza does not receive necessary humaitarian supplies due to Israel's blockade."
- "The 'Flotilla 2' is intended solely to relieve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza."
- "The United Nations repudiated the claim that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal."
- "A Unilateral Declaration of Independence is the Palestinians’ only avenue to advance the Peace Process."
- "Palestinian leaders claim that the future Palestinian state will welcome Jews and Israelis."
- "Mahmoud Abbas is working toward reaching peace with Israel."
- "Time is not on Iran's side vis-a-vis its acquiring the atomic bomb."
- "Due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel's economy has been suffering."
- "Of the Palestinian prisoners released in the Shalit deal, most who have spoken out say they will renounce terror."
- "Israel's proposed rebuilding of the Mugrabi Gate leading to the Temple Mount is an act of religious war."
- "The Palestinian leadership wants to normalize ties with Israel."
- "The Palestinians agreed to negotiate with Israel without preconditions."
- "Palestinians terrorism is no longer a threat to Israel."
- "Israel no longer faces any threats from Gaza."
- "The rights of Palestinian women are protected in the Palestinian Authority."
- "Palestinians are talking about peace with Israelis in Jordan."
- "Terrorism against Jews is limited to attacks in Israel and the Palestinian territories."
- "Israeli democracy is threatened and Americans need to speak out to save it."
- "Iran is the only Muslim nation in the Middle East seeking to develop nuclear technology."
- "Women do not have equal rights in Israel."
- "Israel's policy of targeted killings is immoral and counterproductive."
- "Israel does not support humanitarian development and sustainablity in the Palestinian territories."
- "Israel is whitewashing history to promote the judaization of Jerusalem."
- "The State Department knows the capital of Israel."
- "Israeli policy has caused an exodus of Christians from the West Bank."
- "The United States is committed to ensuring a complete halt to the Iranian nuclear program."
- "Israel's new unity government reduces the prospect for continued peace negotiations with the Palestinians."
- "Palestinians no longer object to the creation of Israel."
- "Mahmoud Abbas has rooted out corruption from the Palestinian Authority."
- "The rise of Islamists in Egypt's government does not pose a strategic threat to Israel."
- "The Palestinian Authority promotes a culture of tolerance and peace toward Israel."
- "Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation is at it weakest point in years."
- "Israel is culpable in the 2003 death of American activist Rachel Corrie."
- "Intelligence about Iran's nuclear program may be as faulty as the information about Iraq's."
- "Iran has become isolated because of international sanctions."
- "We will know when Iran has a bomb and can take action at that time."
- "Iran should be allowed a nuclear weapon since Israel has one."
- "Anti-Semitism is on the decline around the world."
- "Iran does not believe it can win a nuclear war."
- "Iran wants to control its nuclear stockpile and would never give a bomb or nuclear material to terrorists."
- "We are seeing accurate media coverage from Gaza."
- "Israel is deliberately targeting the media."
- "Israel's war in Gaza was immoral because more Palestinians died than Israelis."
- "The Israeli construction plan called the E1 project threatens the two-state solution and the contiguity of a future Palestinian state."
- "Israeli policies are obstructing peace."
- "If Iran has a bomb, it can be deterred the way the U.S. deterred the Soviet Union."
- "Israeli settlements are an obstacle to Mideast peace."
- "Israel has nothing to fear from a nuclear Iran."
- "The United States must be involved in the next peace process initiative between Israel and her neighbors to end the conflict."
- "The Palestinians are now ready to make peace with Israel."
- "Attacking Iran will create more instability in the Middle East."
- "If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was solved, the Middle East would be a peace."
- "Israel has created separate bus lines to segregate Jews and Palestinians."
- "The European Union has no reason to name Hezbollah a terrorist organization."
- "Non-lethal Palestinian rocket attacks have no impact on Israel's civilian population."
- "Israelis overreact to harmless rock-throwing by Palestinians."
- "Now is a good time to revive the Arab peace initiative."
- "The Palestinian Authority is committed to reforming Palestinian society."
- "Syria’s chemical weapons pose no threat outside of Syria."
- "Israel has refused to discuss a compromise on the future of Jerusalem."
- "'Nakba Day' has nothing to do with the peace process."
Gaza does not receive necessary humanitarian supplies due to Israel's blockade.
Though Hamas attempts to manipulate public opinion and distort reality to claim that Israel is making Gaza into the worlds “largest open-air prison,” the facts paint a completely different story. In 2010, both the International Red Cross (ICRC) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) publicly reported that there were no shortages of food or supplies in Gaza. 1 Even when Hamas resumed bombarding Israel with mortars and rockets, Israel continued to provide humanitarian assistance, electricity and even waste disposal to Gaza.
In April 2011, Mathilde De Riedmatten, ICRC Deputy Head of Sub Delegation in Gaza, announced that there was “no humanitarian crisis in Gaza … there are products [in supermarkets], there are restaurants and a nice beach.” 2 She noted that the ICRC and IDF “coordinate the entry of goods into Gaza and the entry and exit of people … sometimes patients who are going to Israel to receive medical care.” 3 In fact, over the first quarter of 2011 alone, Israel delivered a daily average of 5,000 tons of food, goods, fuel and development assistance through its land crossings with Gaza. Moreover, in 2010, Israel authorized the exit of more than 18,000 Palestinian patients from Gaza to Israeli hospitals for medical treatment – everything from cancer chemotherapy to heart surgeries. 4
While Israel continues to supply necessary humanitarian supplies, the citizens of Gaza can now also move and trade freely with Egypt. On May 25, 2011, the Supreme Military Council - ruling Egypt since the overthrow of President Mubarak – officially opened the Egyptian border crossing with Gaza at Rafah, ending a four-year closure of Gaza’s only international border outside of Israel. Now Israel’s detractors, who accused Israel of blockading the Strip while ignoring Egypt’s closure of the border, can no longer use Israeli policy as justification for future blockade-busting flotillas to supply Gazans.
Life in Gaza is certainly difficult, but the situation there does not constitute the humanitarian crisis Hamas and the media have portrayed. This is largely because Israel has ensured that a steady supply of food and basic supplies reach the Palestinian people. With its border now open to Egypt, Gazans can also no longer claim to be under a total blockade and can procure the resources they need through the Rafah crossing. The concern now is whether Egypt will allow Hamas to exploit the opening to smuggle in weapons for use against Israel.
The 'Flotilla 2' is solely intended to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
For the second time in two years, a group of anti-Israel activists have organized a flotilla under the pretext of bringing necessary supplies to Gaza. The true aim of the organizers, however, is to attract international attention and embarrass and provoke Israel by challenging its policy of preventing the terrorists of Hamas from smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip. These provocateurs know that Gaza has no shortage of essential goods, that any needed supplies can be transferred through Egypt and that Israel is prepared to welcome ships into its ports and transfer the cargo to the Palestinians provided it is searched for contraband and weapons before being forwarded.
Labeling itself the international “Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human,” this year’s convoy will include ships sailing from the United States, Canada, Greece, Ireland, France and Italy and has invited journalists and politicians to join their blockade-busting mission. The U.S. State Department criticized the organizers, declaring that “groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions.” 5 American citizens were warned not to participate in the activity, which may also violate American law because funding for the mission was raised illegally in the States. 6 In addition, several countries have taken measures to prevent ships from sailing from their ports. Cyprus, for example, which was used as a springboard for the 2010 flotilla, has banned all sailings to Gaza from its seaports. 7
Israel already has indications that some of the activists are planning to use violence against Israeli soldiers if they attempt to board the ships or prevent them from landing. Israeli intelligence learned that some of the flotilla participants may be bringing along chemical agents such as sulfuric acid in order to “shed the blood of IDF soldiers.” 8 The provocateurs apparently hope to gain the type of notoriety and publicity that activists in 2010 achieved when they brutally attacked Israeli soldiers boarding one of the flotilla vessels.
In 2010, flotilla organizers justified their actions by claiming a humanitarian crisis existed in Gaza. It was not true then and is not true now, as the deputy head of the Red Cross subdelegation to Gaza flatly stated in April 2011 that there is “no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” As recently as June 19, 2011, an aid convoy to Gaza named “Miles of Smiles 3” delivered 15 medical vehicles and 30 tons of medical supplies and milk powder to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. 9
Israel has the right –legally and ethically – to stop and inspect ships that attempt to deliver supplies straight to Gaza. In the past, ships attempting to smuggle tons of weapons into Gaza were prevented from doing so by the Israeli blockade. If the Flotilla 2 activists are truly intending to deliver humanitarian supplies, and not to create a bloody confrontation with Israel, it is possible to do so by following procedures set up by the Egyptian and Israeli governments. By trying to circumvent the avenues provided to them, flotilla participants are demonstrating they are far more interested in self-promotion than the welfare of Palestinians.
"Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza. Canada recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concerns and its right to protect itself and its residents from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by preventing the smuggling of weapons."
Canadian Foreign Minister 10
"The Secretary-General called on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage such flotillas, which carry the potential to escalate into violent conflict."
Ban Ki Moon,
United Nations Secretary-General 10
The United Nations repudiated the claim that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal.
On September 2, 2011, the United Nations released its investigative report concerning the May 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla that tried to breach Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The UN Palmer Committee, led by former New Zealand prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, examined the facts, circumstances and context that surrounded the deadly conflagration off Gaza's coast and submitted findings on the international legitimacy and legality of Israel's continued blockade of the Hamas-run enclave. Despite attempts by many media outlets to bury the findings and highlight only the parts that criticized the Jewish state, Palmer's report adopted conclusions that vindicated Israel's positions concerning the blockade and placed the responsibility for the confrontation on the "humanitarian" groups that formed the flotilla.
The 105-page report, which relied heavily on Israel's internal investigation into the incident as well as accounts from flotilla participants, concluded that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is consistent with customary international law, is legitimate due to the security threat posed by Hamas and does not constitute collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.11
"Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza....The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea," the report concluded. Palmer also affirmed Israel's legal right to stop and board the vessels.
"Israeli Defense Forces faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk [and] several others wounded," the report stated.
While the UN committee stated that the Israeli soldiers acted responsibly in defending themselves against the self-proclaimed IHH peace activists - armed with clubs, knives, and steel pipes - it also reprimanded Israel for boarding the ship without prior notice and using "excessive and unnecessary force." Israel took issue with this conclusion and reiterated its regret at the loss of life during the incident.12
The United Nations has now officially stated that Israel's two-year naval blockade is legal and legitimate. To protect its citizens from the continued threat of arms smuggling by Hamas, Israel has the ongoing responsibility to inspect any cargo that enters Gaza. It is Hamas and its supporters - not Israel's blockade -that pose the greatest danger to peace and security in the region.
The report criticized the flotilla's organizers and questioned their "true nature and objectives, particularly IHH [that] planned in advance to violently resist any boarding attempt."
Regarding Turkey, Palmer's report said that "not enough was done to inform the flotilla participants of the risks." Moreover, states like Turkey have "a responsibility to take proactive steps" to warn flotilla participants and "to endeavor to dissuade them" from challenging Israel's naval blockade.
The Palmer report also contradicted human rights groups' claim that a humanitarian crisis exists in Gaza. Anyone wanting to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, the report said, must do so in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian Authority through the land crossings.13
A unilateral declaration of independence is the Palestinians’ only avenue to advance the peace process.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is poised to defy the wishes of Israel, the United States and many European nations when he submits a request to the UN to recognize a state of Palestine. Abbas maintains that Israeli intransigence at the negotiating table has left the Palestinians no choice other than unilateral action to advance the peace process. 14 In truth, it is the Palestinians who have refused even to sit down for talks with Israel. Despite repeated invitations from Israel, and encouragement by the Obama Administration, Abbas has boycotted negotiations for two years.
Rather than discuss the crucial issues of borders, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem, Abbas has chosen to pursue a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in an effort to gain international recognition for his uncompromising positions on these issues. A UN vote, however, will not provide independence to the Palestinians; it will be only a symbolic victory. Israel will not withdraw from any territory as a result, will not recognize “Palestine,” and will not change its support for a two-state solution based on agreed upon borders and security arrangements.
The Palestine Liberation Organization has held observer status at the UN since 1974 and Abbas is now seeking the privileges of an independent state. The Palestinians expect at least 150 of the 192 UN members to endorse their statehood bid, but the United States has already pledged to veto any resolution put before the Security Council. 15 Without Security Council approval, the General Assembly can only change the PLO’s status as it does not have the power to declare the establishment of states or to admit members to the UN. Nevertheless, a General Assembly vote would give international recognition to a phantom Palestinian state.
Though it is unlikely to matter to the General Assembly, which has an automatic majority for any pro-Palestinian initiative, the Palestinians do not yet have all of the characteristics of a state. According to the 1933 Montevideo Convention, the four requirements for a state are a permanent population, a defined territory, effective government over the population, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states.
As Steven Rosen of the Middle East Forum observed, " the General Assembly will create an imaginary state that has two incompatible presidents, two rival prime ministers, a constitution whose most central provisions are violated by both sides, no functioning legislature, no ability to hold elections, a population mostly not under its control, borders that would annex territory under the control of other powers, and no clear path to resolve any of these conflicts."
In addition, the Palestinian Authority is unable to support itself financially, depending almost entirely on foreign aid. Finally, the “state” is divided between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the latter outside the control of Abbas. Hamas rules Gaza independently, opposes the UDI, as well as any peace with Israel, and continues to engage in terror. A vote for the UDI would endorse Hamas rule and create a UN member state whose objective is the destruction of another member.
By going to the UN to circumvent negotiations, the Palestinians will undermine the peace process by violating international agreements, alienating the Israeli public and giving the Palestinian people false hope that their lives will change. Many Palestinians, including Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, recognize this course is irresponsible, and may threaten some of their interests, and are therefore opposed to the UDI. 17
Approval by the UN of a unilateral declaration of independence has potentially serious detrimental consequences for the Palestinians. Israel will feel justified, for example, in taking its own unilateral measures. The Oslo Accords could also be declared null and void and Israel could cease to abide by its provisions, such as providing water to the PA (which would no longer exist) or recognizing Palestinian control over certain areas in the West Bank. By declaring “independence,” the PA would threaten bilateral cooperation with Israel in more than 40 spheres of activity, including security collaboration, institution building and economic support. 18
Moreover, the UDI would jeopardize economic aid from the United States, which is legally prohibited from funding terrorist organizations and Hamas would now be governing at least part of phantom Palestine. The U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubenstein, told the PA that Congress is prepared to “take punitive measures to cut aid” if the UDI is pushed forward. 19
Additionally, the UDI will raise expectations among the Palestinian people that they will be independent, that Israeli involvement in their lives will end, that the settlements will disappear and that they will have a capital in Jerusalem. When none of these come to pass, the public may turn on its leaders or, more likely, vent its frustration on Israel. As EU Parliament Chief Jerry Buzek warned, “unilateral actions can become very dangerous.” 20
A UDI would contravene almost every international resolution and agreement aimed at achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Oslo Accords, the Road Map and Security Council resolutions 242, 338 and 1850 stipulate, the only route to a sustainable peace is through negotiations. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admonished the Palestinian leadership on the UDI tactic, saying “there is no substitute for face to face discussion.” At a time when much of the Middle East is either in flames or simmering, the Palestinians seem determined to throw a gasoline can into the mix. The United States and Israel are trying to do everything possible to discourage them from their incendiary policy and to restart peace negotiations, but Abbas may not be deterred from proving once again that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the United States Maen Areikat said on September 13, 2011, that a future Palestinian state should be free of Jews, a call for ethnic cleansing reminiscent of Nazi Germany. This is not the first time that a Palestinian official has suggested making “Palestine” judenrein and reflects an ugly undercurrent of anti-Semitism within the Palestinian Authority.
Once a Palestinian state is established, why shouldn’t Jews be welcome there? The same question could be asked of any country, but is particularly relevant in the case of the area likely to become Palestine because it 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. In fact, 1.3 million Arabs live as free and equal citizens in Israel. “After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated at first,” Areikat told USA Today. 21
Areikat insists that the Palestinians need to work on building their national identity, but part of their demand for independence is based on the claim that they already have a national identity. Moreover, how would identity-building be impeded by the presence of Jews, unless you subscribe to Nazi-like ideology about purity of the race and argue that Jews may somehow contaminate the Palestinian nation.
After provoking criticism, Areikat later gave a partial retraction, but his anti-Semitic views have been echoed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who 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.” 22
Now Abbas is requesting that the United Nations endorse a Palestinian state that will be founded on anti-Semitism and a promise of ethnic cleansing. The question now becomes whether a body created with the aim of promoting peace, dignity and universal human rights will disgrace itself by voting in favor of a resolution that undermines those principles.
"To summarize, the new Palestinian state will be a genuine apartheid state. It will practice religious and ethnic discrimination, will have one official religion and will base its laws on the precepts of that religion."
Harvard law professor 23
Mahmoud Abbas is working toward reaching peace with Israel.
Increasingly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appears to be the negotiator of choice for the West simply because officials see no option. Israelis are increasingly beginning to question this default option after three years of Abbas refusing to enter negotiations with Israel and a lifetime of rejectionism.
New evidence that Abbas is the impediment to peace continues to mount. In September 2011, Abbas defied the United States and many other nations by submitting an application for recognition to the UN Security Council.
A month later, Abbas again ignored the objections of the United States and other Western powers and submitted an application to UNESCO seeking recognition of Palestine. While winning the vote, the White House condemned the decision as "regrettable" and "premature," and said it undermines the effort to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians.24
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly invited Abbas to talks without preconditions and Abbas has refused. In fact, Abbas came out of his first meeting with President Obama saying he hoped the Obama Administration would force Netanyahu out of office. Abbas added that he was willing to wait years until that happened.25
Even after Israel placed a ten-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank in an effort to entice the Palestinians into peace talks, Abbas refused to sit with the Israeli leaders until just two weeks before the freeze was set to expire and, after one meeting, never returned to the talks.26
A new memoir by former U.S. National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has provided additional damning evidence of Abbas's rejection of peace. In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to withdraw from approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with an additional 1.5 percent of the territory used to create a passage to Gaza and the remaining 4.5 percent to be "swapped" so that Israel could annex its major settlement blocs.27
Olmert also proposed a division of Jerusalem that would have allowed the Palestinians to establish their capital in the predominantly Arab part of the city. Rice called the proposal "amazing" and warned the Prime Minister that "Yitzhak Rabin had been killed for offering far less."28
While rejecting peace Abbas also glorifies terrorists. Most recently, he praised five of the terrorists released in the deal to free Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit (who was kidnapped on Abbas's watch). The killers, along with other former prisoners, were awarded grants by Abbas as a "presidential token of honor."30 In December 2011, Abbas met with a woman (released in the Shalit deal) who lured a 16 year-old Israeli teenager to his death by Palestinian militants, under the pretext of an internet romance in 2001.31
Abbas has found excuses not to negotiate a deal with three different Israeli prime ministers and there is no reason to expect that a change in Israeli leadership would make him any less intransigent.
After spending two years trying to satisfy Palestinian demands and encourage them to return to the negotiating table, President Obama has reportedly grown so disenchanted with Abbas that he has not spoken to him in months.32
Time is not on Iran's side vis-a-vis its acquiring the atomic bomb.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report on November 8, 2011, with new evidence of Iran’s commitment to building a nuclear weapon and the progress it has made toward achieving its goal.
The IAEA expresses “more concern about the possible existence of undeclared nuclear facilities and material in Iran” and “was informed that Iran has undertaken work to manufacture small capsules suitable for use as containers of a component containing nuclear material. Iran may also have experimented with such components in order to assess their performance in generating neurons. Such components, if placed in the centre of a nuclear core of an implosion type nuclear device and compressed, could produce a burst of neutrons suitable for initiating a fission chain reaction,” the report states.34
Unwilling to take military action, the international community has tried both carrots and sticks to halt the Iranian drive toward the nuclear threshold. Years of fruitless negotiations and offers of incentives were viewed by the Iranians as signs of Western weakness and were exploited to accelerate their program. As multiple IAEA reports have illustrated, sanctions have had no more impact as several nations have failed to enforce them rigorously, and other countries, especially China, have openly flouted them. Efforts to impose tougher sanctions have proved futile as China and Russia block their adoption at the UN Security Council.
U.S. policy has also been a failure. The Obama Administration first tried negotiating with the Iranians and was made to look as foolish as the Europeans who had previously failed to talk Iran out of building a bomb. The Administration has continued to apply half-measures and refused to impose any significant sanctions that would seriously inflict pain on the Iranian leadership or the general public. The fear of hurting the people has ensured they do not suffer enough to risk a revolution against the regime.
The only publicly disclosed efforts to stop the Iranians that have reportedly slowed them down have been quasi-military operations involving the assassination of nuclear scientists and the use of cyber warfare to infect the nuclear program's computer systems with a virus. The IAEA report makes clear, however, that even these covert operations have not discouraged Iran from pursuing a weapon and making progress toward their goal.
Some apologists for Iran have suggested that the regime poses no danger to U.S. interests. This is nonsense. Iran funds international terror, works to undermine Arab-Israeli peace, threatens oil supplies, promotes instability, targets our troops in the region and hatched a terror plot in Washington, D.C. The pre-nuclear Iran is already spurring proliferation as Arab rivals start to explore a nuclear deterrent.
The nations in the Middle East have no doubt about the danger posed by the Iranians and, with the exception of their allies in Syria and proxies in Lebanon, are united in calling for measures to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Saudi Arabia has made no secret of its desire, for example, to see the United States use military force against Iran.35
Iran is continuing on what appears to be an inexorable march to join the nuclear club. Continuing policies that have failed for a decade will not halt that advance.
Due to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel's economy has been suffering.
Israelis have always envisioned a day when they would have peace with their neighbors and enjoy normal commercial relations that would be a boon to both Israel and the Arab states. Unfortunately, the Arab states initiated an economic boycott in 1945 and most still refuse to engage in any trade with Israel. The ongoing conflict also imposes heavy costs on Israel, forcing it to devote resources to security that might otherwise be directed to more productive uses.
Despite these impediments, Israel has shown a remarkable capacity to thrive economically throughout its history. Today, in fact, as the economies of most nations struggle, Israel’s is booming. Israel now has the world’s fastest-growing economy.36
One indication of the strength of Israel’s economy is its rating by Standard and Poor. While S&P downgraded America’s rating in August 2011 (for the first time since 1917) from AAA to AA+ following the stalemate over raising the debt ceiling,37 the ratings services raised Israel’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit ratings in September 2011 from “A” to “A+,” denoting its “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.”38
Another sign of Israel’s economic strength was its admission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in June 2011. This placed Israel among a select group of 34 nations that “promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.”39
According to the OECD, Israel’s economy is expected to grow by 5.4 percent in 2011, up from 4.7 percent in 2010. Unemployment is also expected to decline from 6.6 percent to 6.2.
For 2011-2012, Israel ranks as the 22nd most-competitive market in the world, two ranks up from last year in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.40 Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden, Finland and the United States rank as the top five, respectively, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the only other Middle East nations in the top 25, rank at 14 and 17, respectively.41
These are just a few indicators of the strength of Israel’s economy. Israel, like other nations, also has its share of economic problems. As the protests of the summer of 2011 indicated, many Israelis are unhappy with the gap between rich and poor and the cost of housing and child care. The number of Israelis below the poverty line has also grown to 23.6% of the total population today. These are real concerns that Israelis want their government to address.
Israelis also hope that one day they will be at peace with all their neighbors and can then focus more of their resources on improving the lives of the people and expanding the economy and less on security.
Of the Palestinian prisoners released in the Shalit deal, most who have spoken out say they will renounce terror.
Israel hoped that the 477 prisoners it released as part of the Gilad Shalit exchange deal in November 2011 would show remorse for their actions; however, the oldest prisoner released so far seems to be the only one with any hint of penitence.42
Seventy-nine-year-old Sami Younis had served 29 years of a 40-year sentence for activity in the terror cell that murdered soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1980. While never explicitly expressing regret, Younis said that “what was correct for that time is no longer correct. Since the Oslo accord, I’ve become a soldier for peace. Sixty years of war and bloodshed is enough.”43
Unfortunately, several others prisoners have shown no remorse whatsoever for their heinous crimes and immediately incited others to follow in their terrorist footsteps. These include failed suicide bombers and Palestinians who dispatched or drove other terrorists to attack Israeli bus stations, hotels and restaurants.
These killers and would-be murderers were welcomed home as heroes not only by their families and friends but also by Palestinian Authority officials. President Mahmoud Abbas, often called a “moderate” by wishful thinkers, declared, “You are freedom fighters and holy warriors.”44
One appalling example of a terrorist using her notoriety to promote violence was failed suicide bomber Wafa al-Bis, who told dozens of Palestinian children at her Gaza home: “I hope you will walk the same path we took and, God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs.”45
Al Bis was 19 when she tried to blow up an Israeli hospital but was found with 22 pounds of explosives sewn to her underwear at the Erez crossing checkpoint. Indeed, Bis’ mother said “this is jihad, it is an honorable thing and I am proud of her.”46
Ahlam Tamimi was not only unrepentant; she was willing to resort to violence again. In July 2001, Tamimi, then a 20 year-old student, drove a suicide bomber who blew up a Jerusalem Sbarro restaurant that killed 16 people and injured 130.
When asked if she felt sorry, she replied “No. Why should I feel sorry?” Tamimi does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and added, “I dedicated myself to jihad for the sake of Allah, and Allah granted me success. You know how many casualties there were [in the 2001 attack]? This was made possible by Allah.” The interviewer asked if she would do it again and she said, “Yes.”47
Similarly, Muhammad Abu Ataya – sentenced to 16 years in prison for membership in Hamas’ military brigade – said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “will not deter us from continuing the journey of resistance.” Speaking to Lebanese Al-Quds TV, Abu Ataya stated he was imprisoned for “killing spies and traitors [and] going after the herd of settlers and the Israeli army,” actions which he still supported.48
Another of the murderers who gained his freedom was Yehya Sinwar, a senior operative who helped form Hamas’ military wing in Gaza. He had been serving four life sentences for his involvement in the 1994 kidnapping and murder of Israel Defense Forces soldier Nachshon Wachsman. Upon his release, Sinwar extolled the virtue of kidnapping Israelis as a means of improving the morale of Palestinian prisoners. “For the prisoner, capturing an Israeli soldier is the best news in the universe, because he knows that a glimmer of hope has been opened for him,” he told The New York Times.49
On Monday, December 12, 2011, Israel temporarily closed the single pedestrian walkway open to non-Muslims that leads to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Israel’s Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which closed the walkway to the Mugrabi Bridge, cited the public safety of visitors who use the walkway as the reason for closure. The ramp is a temporary structure that is unstable, a fire hazard and prone to storm damage. It was built after an earthquake damaged the original ramp in 2004.
Israel wants to build a safer, permanent structure, but has been reluctant to do so because of the type of hysterical reaction of Arab officials that accompanied the brief closure of the current bridge. Egyptian, Jordanian, and Palestinian (Hamas and the Palestinian Authority) officials characterized the Israeli move as negative, and their statements range from calling it “illegal” and “unacceptable” to “a declaration of religious war.”50
Jordan’s religious affairs minister Abdul-Salam Abbadi criticized the Israelis of “further Judaizing Jerusalem and changing the Islamic and Christian character in the Old City using baseless excuses.” One PA Official called the decision “illegal unacceptable and provocative [because] Israel has no right running these sites in the occupied part of east Jerusalem.” Hamas accused Israel of “provoking the feelings of all Islamic and Arab people.”51
Additionally, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights “condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing policies adopted by Israeli occupation authorities aimed at creating a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem, the latest of which has been closing the wooden bridge of Bab al-Maghariba.”52
The outrage expressed over Israel’s actions is less about the bridge than the underlying issue of who ought to have jurisdiction to control the gate to the Temple Mount. Palestinians insist this should be part of the capital of a future Palestinian state and Muslims argue they should control the area because it is the site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism, the site of the original holy Temple built by Solomon. Politically, it is also part of Israel’s capital and subject to the government’s authority.
The issue has nothing to do with freedom of religion or access to the Temple Mount. The Mugrabi Bridge is used primarily by non-Muslims. Muslims can and routinely do enter the Temple Mount from another of the several gates only open to Muslims.
Israel has demonstrated sensitivity to the issue by refraining from demolishing the bridge and building a more structurally sound one up to this point; however, the time is coming when public safety will have to take precedence over politics. The Mugrabi Bridge is unsafe and needs to be replaced. Providing this security to Muslims and non-Muslims alike who wish to visit the Temple Mount or pray in the mosque should be commended.
Israel’s quest for peace with its neighbors starts with a desire to engage in mutually beneficial cooperative activities and to build confidence and positive attitudes to encourage coexistence and lasting peace. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with President Obama, has spent most of the last three years trying to convince Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to simply sit at the negotiating table to reach a peace agreement. Abbas has stubbornly refused to engage in peace talks. Worse, he is now doing everything in his power to prevent other Palestinians from engaging Israelis in any way.
The West Bank-ruling Fatah party declared war on normalization with Israel, Bethlehem’s (Palestinian) mayor called for a total boycott of Israel, and hundreds of Palestinians successfully interrupted and stopped two conferences about peace whose participants included Palestinians and Israelis.53
Senior Fatah official Hatem Abdel Kader announced Fatah’s plans to “thwart any Palestinian-Israeli meeting, even if it’s held in Tel Aviv or west Jerusalem…In Fatah we have officially decided to ban such gatherings.” Last week, Palestinians stopped an attempt by the Israeli Palestinian Confederation to hold a conference in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and the following day, another anti-normalization protest forced the group to cancel another planned meeting at which Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh planned to speak.54
This week, Palestinian political activists thwarted a meeting between Israelis and Palestinians in east Jerusalem that was organized by the Palestine-Israel Journal, a non-profit group started by two well-known Palestinian and Israeli journalists. The group's main goal is to broaden the peace process's support base by promoting dialogue between the civil societies. The thwarted meeting's topic was the "Arab Spring's impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." 55
Lifelong civil rights leader and the first South African democratic leader Nelson Mandela said: “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”56 The Palestinians, however, call for boycotts and other measures to avoid working with Israelis to build the kind of partnership Mandela rightly said could lead to peace.
Once again, the obstacle to peace is clear – Palestinian intransigence. Abbas still believes he can establish a state without negotiating with Israel. Until he is either disabused of this delusion or replaced by a true leader who promotes normalization and seeks peace through dialogue, the two-state solution that Israel and most of the world seek will remain out of reach.
After three years of refusing to talk to Israeli officials, Jordan’s King Abdullah persuaded the Palestinians to meet with Israeli negotiators in Amman, raising hopes that, at last, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was dropping his demand that Israel freeze all settlements before agreeing to enter peace talks. Israelis also were cautiously optimistic that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s longstanding invitation to discuss all outstanding issues would be accepted and that progress could be made toward achieving a two-state solution.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat threw cold water on those hopes immediately, saying the Amman meeting was not a resumption of negotiations. He continued to insist that “Netanyahu needs to freeze construction of settlements and accept the ’67 outline for a two-state solution before we return to the negotiating table.”57
This was never a precondition for talks in the past; in fact, Abbas held 35 meetings with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert while settlement construction continued.58 When Netanyahu did agree to a 10-month freeze under pressure from the Obama Administration, Abbas still refused to negotiate until the last month of the freeze, when he nixed continuing the negotiations on the grounds that Israel would not extend the settlement freeze. 59
Palestinians and their supporters claim that Israeli settlement construction undermines confidence in Israel’s commitment to peace; however, they have no one to blame but themselves for the growth of settlements. The moment they sign a peace agreement, the settlement construction will cease, but there is no reason to expect that to happen in advance of negotiations.
The Palestinians operate under the impression that Israel must make concessions, prisoner releases, settlement freezes, dismantling of checkpoints, just to get them to the bargaining table. Compromise, however, is supposed to be part of peace talks, not the price for the talks themselves. In its desire for peace with the Palestinians, Israel has nevertheless made such concessions in the past, but there is no reason to do so now.
While the Palestinians complain about the impact of settlements on their confidence, they are doing everything in their power to undermine Israeli confidence in their sincerity about peace. First, Fatah has been working to reconcile with Hamas, which condemned the Amman talks, vows to destroy Israel and declared itself the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.60 Besides reiterating its unwillingness to recognize Israel, let alone make peace with it, Hamas continues to engage in terror attacks against Israel, firing a total of 633 rockets and 400 mortar shells into Israel from the Gaza Strip in the last three years. 61
Second, rather than express a desire to peacefully end the conflict with Israel, the Palestinians have threatened a lengthy diplomatic offensive against Israel aimed at winning recognition from the international community for their demands without having to compromise through direct talks with Israel, isolating Israel and seeking international sanctions to try to force Israel to capitulate to their demands. “[The year 2012] will be the start of an unprecedented diplomatic campaign on the part of the Palestinian leadership, and a year of pressure on Israel that will put it under a real international siege [through a] campaign similar to the one waged against apartheid in South Africa,” Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath said.62 The Palestinian campaign is expected to include:
- Requesting that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) pass a resolution condemning settlement construction and imposing international sanctions on Israel.
- Urging the International Criminal Court in The Hague to try Israel for war crimes for Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008-2009.
- Persuading Palestinian citizens to file lawsuits against Israel in Western courts.
- Seeking implementation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which Palestinians falsely claim would prohibit settlement construction.
- Encouraging the UN General Assembly (GA) or UN Human Rights Council to send a fact-finding commission to investigate the settlement issue.
- Renewing the effort to secure full-membership status for Palestine in the UNSC or asking the GA for nonmember status.
- Orchestrating mass rallies against Israel in the West Bank to draw attention to the Israeli occupation, according to Hamas.63
Third, Palestinian incitement continues. In a particularly bold gesture of defiance, Abbas appointed a convicted terrorist, responsible for shootings and bombings against Israelis, and released as part of the Shalit exchange deal, as an advisor in his Ramallah office.64
These are not words or actions of leaders interested in serious negotiations to make peace. Rather than seeking to resolve differences, the Palestinians seem committed to intensifying the conflict. This reckless policy is being pursued against the backdrop of the region’s turmoil and the growing likelihood that radical Islamists will take power throughout the region. This is a time when Israelis need reassurance that their most immediate neighbors are interested in coexistence if they are to be expected to make risky territorial concessions.
Hopefully, the two sides will continue direct talks, but those negotiations can only succeed if there is a dramatic change in the Palestinian position and they drop their preconditions and discuss the difficult compromises both sides must make to achieve a two-state solution.65
The Palestinian decision to finally sit down with Israeli officials to discuss issues is an important first step toward achieving a two-state solution. One of the principal impediments to peace, however, remains Palestinian terrorism.
To its credit, thanks in large measure to U.S. training and cooperation with Israel, the Palestinian Authority has significantly reduced the attacks and threats from the West Bank. The Palestinians originally promised to cease all terror when Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin agreed to mutual recognition.66 They have reiterated this pledge in each succeeding agreement without yet fulfilling the commitment. For example, in 2011 alone, the following attacks occurred:
- March 11 - Udi Fogel, 36, and Ruth Fogel, 35, along with three of their children Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and 3-month-old Hadas were stabbed to death by terrorists in their home in Itamar, in northern Samaria.67
- March 23 - One woman, identified by the police as a 56-year-old British tourist, was killed and about 50 people wounded when a bomb exploded across from the Jerusalem Convention Center, near the Central Bus Station. The bomb had been placed near a telephone booth at a crowded bus stop next to Egged city bus #74.68
- April 24 - Ben-Yosef Livnat, 24, of Jerusalem was killed by a Palestinian policeman at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.69
- September 23 - Asher Palmer, 25, and his year old son Yonatan of Kiryat Arba were killed when their car crashed on Route 60 near Hebron, after being struck by stones. 70
These are just the attacks that have succeeded; terrorists regularly attempt to infiltrate Israel or to mount other attacks in the West Bank. The much criticized security fence and the handful of remaining checkpoints, however, continue to save the lives of innocent Israeli Jews and Arabs. For instance, on January 7, 2012, Israel Border Police thwarted a major terror attack originating from Jenin when they captured four Palestinians carrying 11 pipe bombs, a pistol and a commando knife at the Salem Crossing in the northern West Bank. They are suspected of having planned to attack a military court.71
The Palestinian Authority continues to lack any control whatsoever over the Gaza Strip and the terrorists operating there. In fact, PA President Mahmoud Abbas continues to seek an alliance with Hamas, the party responsible for the ongoing terror emanating from their area of control.
Since February 2009, Hamas has fired at least 633 rockets and 405 mortar shells from Gaza at Israeli civilian areas.72 In addition to creating a constant level of anxiety for hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in southern Israel, many of these attacks have had deadly results. In 2011, the following Israelis were killed and injured:
- April 7 - Daniel Viflic, 16, of Bet Shemesh, died (April 17) of mortal wounds suffered when an anti-tank missile was fired at a school bus in the Negev near Kibbutz Sa'ad just moments after it had dropped off the rest of the school children.73
- August 18 - Eight Israeli citizens were killed and more than 40 wounded in a multi-pronged terrorist attack north of Eilat in southern Israel. Five civilians were killed when terrorists opened fire on a passenger bus and another civilian was killed in a separate attack on an empty bus. An IDF combat soldier was killed when his jeep hit an IED placed on the road and a member of the Israeli police special SWAT unit was killed when his unit led heavy fighting against a group of retreating terrorists. The victims: sisters Flora Gaz (52) and Shula Karlinsky (54) and their husbands - Moshe Gaz and Dov Karlinsky (58); Yosef Levi (58); St Sgt Moshe Naftali (22) of the Golani Brigade; SWAT Cpt Paskal Avrahami (49); and Yitzhak Sela (56), of Be'er Sheva, was driving the bus. The Popular Reistance Committees, responsible for the terrorist attacks, is an independent terrorist organization in Gaza, supported, subsidized and trained by Hamas.74
- August 20 - Yossi Shoshan, 38, from the small town of Ofakim in southern Israel, was killed when a GRAD rocket shot by Gaza terrorists landed near him in Be'er Sheva as he was driving to find his pregnant wife who was hiding from the attacks.75
- August 22 - Eliyahu Naim, 79, who sustained serious head injury while running for cover during an Ashkelon rocket attack died at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem on Sept 4, 2011.76
- October 29 - Moshe Ami, 56, a father of four from Ashkelon, was killed when shrapnel from a GRAD rocket fired by terrorists in Gaza hit his car.77
Furthermore, the IDF believes that the amount of weaponry that has been smuggled into Gaza in 2011 has increased by 15 to 20 percent compared to the previous year in part due to weapons brought in from Libya amidst the turmoil there. Israel is particularly concerned about sophisticated Russian-made antitank missiles and shoulder-to-air missiles.78
Previous efforts to move the peace process forward have been thwarted by Palestinian terror and could do so again. The only way to convince the people of Israel that Palestinians are sincere about ending the conflict is to put a permanent end to violence and the ongoing incitement that encourages terror.
Israel faces a serious security threat from Gaza. Led by Hamas, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza continue to fire hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israel – more than thirty rockets have struck Israeli civilian areas since December 2011 alone. Moreover, with strengthened financial support from Iran and a weakening of Egyptian security in the Sinai, Hamas has been able to vastly enhance its weapons caches despite ongoing IDF attempts to destroy Hamas weapons facilities.
While Israel is constantly searching for avenues to advance the peace process, Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction and has proven unwilling, even under the guise of “Palestinian reconciliation,” to recognize Israel or consider any peace agreements. The prisoner exchange with Israel for the release of Gilad Shalit has emboldened the terrorists in Gaza. Shalit “will not be the last soldier kidnapped by Hamas as long as Israel keeps Palestinian prisoners detained,” Hamas’ military wing spokesman said after the October 2011 exchange.79
Hamas is believed to have a fighting force of more than 20,000 armed men, including five brigades assigned to different areas of the Gaza Strip. Additionally, Hamas has elite surveillance, anti-tank, mortar & rocket fire and anti-aircraft teams equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry.80 Though the IDF inflicted a heavy toll on Hamas, both in terms of men killed and weaponry destroyed, during Operation Cast Lead, many observers believe that Hamas’ capability is even greater now, a mere two years later.
Since the end of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009, Hamas has fired 633 rockets and 400 mortar shells into Israel, including 80 grad rockets, compared to only two in 2010. These rocket barrages terrorize over one million Israeli residents and have directly led to the deaths of five innocent civilians, including 16-year-old Daniel Viflic, who was killed when Hamas fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus.81
Moreover, the breakdown in security along the Sinai-Gaza border has allowed Hamas to rearm and enhance its weapons stock. As a result of the turmoil across northern Africa, thousands of missiles - including shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles and rockets with a range of more than 40 kilometers [sufficient to reach Ashdod to the north and the outskirts of Be’er Sheva to the southeast] - are now being smuggled into Gaza through illegal tunnels on its border with Sinai. Another sign of the terror is the fact that saboteurs have blown up the gas pipeline between Egypt, Israel and Jordan seven times since last year.82
In years past, Israel was able to rely on the Egyptian military to secure this border, but with the collapse of the Mubarak government and the growing possibility of Islamic extremists taking over the country, Israel now has no partner to help impede the flow of illegal weapons into Gaza.
The fact that the threat to Israel from Gaza has steadily been growing has forced Israel to prepare for the contingency of a military operation to protect its citizens. No country would allow hundreds of thousands of its citizens to be forced to live in perpetual fear of coming under attack from rockets. To avert another outbreak of violence, it is essential that the Palestinian Authority assert control over Gaza and the international community take steps to prevent arms smuggling to Gaza and to ensure that Hamas understands it will be held responsible for a future conflict.
Discrimination against women is common in Palestinian society and institutionalized by Palestinian authorities in the territories, particularly in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Physical violence, including spousal abuse, employment prejudice and education inequities are just some of the ways that Palestinian women are mistreated on a daily basis. Like the abuse of women throughout the Arab and Muslim world, however, the media, human rights organizations and even women’s rights groups have paid little attention to these violations of human rights.
In January 2012, women employees at the Palestinian Women’s Affairs Ministry began a “hunger strike till death” to protest harassment and mistreatment of women by their own leadership.83“The situation is [so] grave,” one striker said, “[that] women have received threats to be shot in their legs … [or] not to let [into] their offices.”84
Such abuse, though, is only the tip of the iceberg.
In 2007, two in five women in Gaza reported being subjected to violence and, in 2009, the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights reported nine women had been murdered in honor killings in the Palestinian Territories.85 In 2009, 52 percent of Gazan women faced regular physical violence and 14 percent were victims of sexual violence; 37 percent of women in the Gaza Strip said domestic violence is the primary safety problem facing girls and young women.86
Legally, women are supposed to be protected by Palestinian law, but their rights are still severely infringed. Rape, for instance, is illegal – and punishable with up to fifteen years in jail - but the law does not cover spousal rape and abuse. Likewise, assault and battery are crimes under Palestinian Authority law, but rarely applied to cases of domestic violence. Moreover, Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza are governed by Shariah law when it comes to marriage, but few women are actually accorded their proper rights from these laws.87
In Gaza, Hamas officials prohibit all mixing of men and women in public while premarital sex and other “ethical crimes” are punishable by incarceration. The “morality police” punish women for dressing “inappropriately” or riding motorcycles. In 2010, Hamas banned women from smoking water pipes in public cafes. Female university students regularly report discrimination by university administrators, professors and their male peers.88
Women’s participation in the workforce in Gaza is approximately 14 percent, compared to 67 percent for women in the West Bank. Cultural restrictions and traditional stereotypes continue to hinder women’s workforce participation, especially in professions such as journalism, where female reporters are often relegated to covering mundane topics, if they are allowed to report on anything at all.89 In March 2011, a handful of Palestinian female journalists complained that they had been beaten and tortured by Hamas security forces in Gaza, just before Hamas raided media offices in Gaza, including those of CNN and Reuters, and confiscated equipment and documents.90
Perhaps the most reprehensible abuse of women is their use as human shields by Hamas. During Operation Cast Lead, a number of incidents occurred where Hamas terrorists used women to protect themselves and military sites.91
“Where women are educated and empowered,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “economies are more productive and strong. Where women are fully represented, societies are more peaceful and stable.” 92
The mistreatment of women in the Palestinian Authority should be high on the agenda of human rights organizations as well as politicians interested in Middle East peace. Ensuring the rights of Palestinian women will help make the PA economy stronger, the society more just and the conditions for peace with Israel more favorable.
Palestinians refuse to make the simple declarative statement that they support two states for two peoples – as Benjamin Netanyahu did in June 2009. They sit in what are supposed to be peace talks without ever agreeing that peace should be the outcome of negotiations.93
Lacking a mandate from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to actually negotiate, the Palestinian delegation refused to listen when Israel’s security concerns were raised (they prevented the Israeli briefer from entering the room). Moreover, when the Israeli team broached the subject of East Jerusalem and Jewish settlement blocs, chief “negotiator” Saeb Erekat had no counter offer other than accusing Israel of trying to deprive Palestine of territorial contiguity.94
Israel continues to be pressured to make gestures to the Palestinians just to keep them at the negotiating table, ignoring the fact that the Palestinians never consider any Israeli concessions sufficient and simply raise their demands each time Israel gives in to international pressure and offers Mahmoud Abbas a carrot.
Now Abbas has expanded his list of preconditions for Israel to meet before agreeing to future negotiations. In addition to a settlement freeze, Abbas now demands that Israel release more Palestinian prisoners, dismantle West Bank checkpoints, and even cede territory to PA control. In essence, Abbas is seeking to flip the negotiation process on its head - demanding results before talks - and then seeks to blame Israel for the lack of progress until his demands are met.95
Peace seems to be the last thing on the Palestinian agenda. Instead, Fatah and Hamas have announced their reconciliation without Hamas meeting any of the international conditions for recognition, namely recognizing Israel, ending terror and affirming past Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Hamas officials have made clear they remain committed to Israel’s destruction and this must now be considered the policy of the unity government.96
Beyond rhetoric, the Palestinians continue to engage in warlike activities, including the firing of rockets into Israel, attempting to carry out terrorist attacks, mounting an international campaign to delegitimize Israel and inciting violence in schools, the media and mosques.97
Some still naively believe the conflict is about land. Israel proved through its withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, however, that it is prepared to give up land in the hope of achieving peace. The Palestinians, however, do not give any indication that they will be satisfied unless Israel withdraws to the Mediterranean Sea. The Palestinians’ leaders today are not just at war with Israelis but with the Jewish people. This was evident in the statement by the Mufti of Jerusalem, the inheritor of the position once held by Hitler’s would-be accomplice Haj Amin al-Husseini. The current Mufti, Sheikh Ikrem Sabri, quoted a hadith on January 9, 2012, which said that:
The hour of judgment will not come until you fight the Jews….The Jew will hide behind the stone and behind the tree. The stone and the tree will cry, ‘Oh Muslim, Oh Servant of God, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’98
Israelis would like nothing more than to have peace with the Palestinians, especially watching the turmoil in the Arab world around them; however, the earthquake we are witnessing in the region makes Israel’s security needs even more urgent. Israelis now see Islamists taking over Egypt and threatening to tear up the treaty with Israel; Hamas terrorists firing rockets from Gaza, Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorists taking over Lebanon and threatening to fire 50,000 rockets at northern Israel; Syria in shambles, with the prospect of an Islamist regime coming to power in Damascus; the Palestinians in the West Bank joining hands with Hamas and Iran getting closer each day to achieving a nuclear capability.100
As the earth falls in around them, the Israelis need reassurance, not pressure. The inventory of their concessions is long; the list of Palestinian compromises can be written on a postage stamp. It is said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The long journey toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians ultimately begins with the Palestinians taking that first step – one Israel has already taken – and agreeing to two states for two peoples.
The terror war against Israel and the Jewish people is not confined to the Middle East. For years PLO terrorists attacked Jewish targets around the world, hijacked airplanes, murdered Olympic athletes and targeted diplomats. This worldwide terror campaign appears to be escalating again with the support of Iran, aided by its proxy Hezbollah. As events of early 2012 show, terrorism against Jews is neither a byproduct of “occupation” nor a response to specific Israeli actions but is bred out of wanton incitement to kill Jews wherever they are.
In February 2012, terrorists attacked official Israeli representatives abroad in India and Georgia, while in Thailand, security officials were able to prevent Iranian and Lebanese cells from carrying out their planned strikes.101 Thai security officials arrested several Iranian men who likely were trying to attack Israelis in Bangkok.102 These incidents came on the heels of the January arrest of three Iranian men in Azerbaijan who had planned to kill two Israeli religious emissaries in Baku.103
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated unequivocally that Israel holds Iran responsible for the string of attacks. “In recent months we have witnessed several attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries,” he said. “Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind all of these attempted attacks … Iran is behind these attacks; it is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world.”104
These are just the latest atrocities perpetrated by Iran and its allies. Argentina's Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed in 1992, long before any tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. That bomb killed 29 and injured more than 250.105 Among the victims were Israeli diplomats, children, clergy from a church located across the street and other passersby. Two years later, the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 85 and wounding 300.106
For now, Jews are the targets, but if steps are not taken to stop Iran’s nuclear program, the entire world may face the perilous threat of Iranian-sponsored global terrorism buttressed by a nuclear capability.
Public figures in the Jewish world from Peter Beinart and Thomas Friedman to Jeffrey Goldberg and Roger Cohen have expressed concern that Israeli democracy is increasingly doomed. “[Among] the greatest danger[s] by far to Israel is that it will squander the opportunities of power,” Cohen wrote in The New York Times.108 Enemies of Israel are wringing their hands with glee as Jews help them try to chip away at one of the critical pillars of the U.S.-Israel relationship, our shared values.
In truth, Israeli democracy is secure and thriving. The contrast with its neighbors is even more glaring today than ever before as Arab states such as Yemen and Syria descend into tribal, religious and civil wars, autocracies such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain brutally crackdown on dissenters and supposedly democratic revolutions in places such as Egypt fizzle and bring to power radical Islamists for whom freedom and democracy are anathemas.
Israel’s Basic Law for Human Dignity and Liberty, one of a handful of laws that collectively serves as the de facto Israeli constitution, declares that “fundamental human rights in Israel are founded upon recognition of the value of the human being, the sanctity of human life, and the principle that all persons are free.”109
Israeli government officials are elected by popular vote and Israel protects its citizens’ freedoms of expression, press, assembly and religion, as well as the rights of women, Arabs and minorities.110
In a region where homosexuality can be considered a capital crime, Israel has one of the most progressive records in the world related to the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Israel’s annual Gay Pride Parade dates back to 1998 and, since 2002, there have been Pride Parades in Jerusalem. The Tel Aviv Pride Parade is the largest on the Asian continent with 100,000 participants from around the world.111
Many organizations, including some internationally funded nongovernmental organizations, operate in Israel and pursue agendas that are highly critical of Israeli policies. Some of these perform useful watchdog functions while others appear more interested in undermining the state than improving it. Anger toward some of these groups prompted legislators to propose a variety of measures that some viewed as constraints on freedom of speech or otherwise anti-democratic. Israelis, however, used their democratic rights to oppose these measures and none have been adopted to date.112
When troubling issues arise, the democracy works the way it should. For example, when a woman was mistreated on a public bus by an Orthodox Jew, the free press reported the story, Israelis mobilized to fight against this type of behavior and the political leadership spoke out and said they would not tolerate it. This does not mean that such discrimination will disappear overnight, but the democratic forces inside Israel reacted as they should.113
The political left and right routinely complain about each other’s policies, but this is the nature of a healthy democracy. The political middle helps place checks on the extremists at both poles. Israel also has an independent judiciary that helps ensure Israel’s democratic principles and its laws are upheld.
Israel’s democracy, like other democracies, is not perfect. It still has a distance to go before all people are treated equally in practice as well as in law. The United States faces similar struggles after nearly three centuries of independence; should we be surprised that Israel has not solved the same problems in its first 64 years?
Israelis do not need to be told by outsiders, Jewish or otherwise, how to sustain their democracy. They have learned how to protect their security and their civil rights in a dangerous neighborhood. Israeli democracy isn’t always pretty, but it works.
"As the only regional democracy with a constitutional culture strong enough to sustain its political structure, Israel is a crucially situated outpost of the West."
Ruth Wisse, Harvard Yiddish literature professor 114
Those who argue that the world can live with a nuclear Iran ignore the likelihood that a nuclear arms race is likely to ensue in the Middle East, which will exponentially increase the danger to the region and beyond. The cost of stopping Iran’s drive for a bomb, therefore, must be balanced with the benefit of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
At least 12 Middle Eastern nations have either announced plans to explore atomic energy or signed nuclear cooperation agreements since the exposure of the Iranian program. Like Iran, they say they are interested in only “peaceful uses” of nuclear technology.
The Saudis have been quite explicit about the impact an Iranian bomb will have on their security. “If Iran develops a nuclear weapon,” an official close to Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal said in June 2011, “that will be unacceptable to us and we will have to follow suit.”115 In January 2012, Saudi King Abdullah signed an agreement with China for cooperation in the development and use of atomic energy for civilian purposes. 116
In January 2011, Egypt’s prime minister reaffirmed his country’s plan to construct its first nuclear power plant in the coast city of El-Dabaa.117 In 2009, the United Arab Emirates accepted a $20 billion bid from a South Korean consortium to build four nuclear power reactors by 2020.118
Jordan has cooperation agreements related to building nuclear power infrastructure with South Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy, Romania, Turkey and Argentina. Kuwait has agreements with the U.S., Russia, and Japan. In 2010, Qatar raised the possibility of a regional project for nuclear generation. Algeria has one of the most advanced nuclear science programs in the Arab world and is considering the role that nuclear power could play in its domestic energy generation. Two years ago, Oman signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia.119
The international community does not have a good record in preventing rogue nations from developing nuclear weapons, despite arms inspections, sanctions and other measures aimed at reassuring the public. Iraq was believed to be developing a bomb when Israel destroyed its nuclear reactor in 1981.120 Similarly, Syria managed to build a secret nuclear facility under the nose of the international watchdogs and was stopped only by an Israeli military operation.121
President Barack Obama illustrated the danger of a nuclear Iran vis-à-vis the nuclear arms race it would spur: “It will not be tolerable to a number of states in that region for Iran to have a nuclear weapon and them not to have a nuclear weapon. Iran is known to sponsor terrorist organizations, so the threat of proliferation becomes that much more severe,” Obama said. “The dangers of an Iran getting nuclear weapons that then leads to a free-for-all in the Middle East is something that I think would be very dangerous for the world.”122
The task of eliminating the Iranian nuclear threat and the proliferation that will follow should not be the responsibility of Israel. It is true that Israel is the one state that Iran has threatened to wipe off the map, but the Arab states are also on the front line and petrified of a nuclear Iran. This is why the Saudis explicitly called for a military attack on Iran.123 A nuclear arms filled Middle East, however, will ultimately pose a threat to global peace and stability. International action is needed to ensure that Iran does not get the bomb and set in motion the nuclearization of the Middle East.
Israel is widely considered among the world’s most progressive nations in defending the inalienable rights of women.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence – calling for the equal treatment of Israeli citizens regardless of race, religion, or gender – stands as a beacon of civility, freedom, and justice in a region where women are denied many basic freedoms by the rule of law.124
In fact, Israel was one of the first countries in the world to be led by a female head of state. From 1969 to 1974, Golda Meir served as Israel’s Prime Minister, setting the stage for future generations of women to follow in her political footsteps.125 Today, 24 women serve in the 120-member Knesset, a higher proportion than sit in the U.S. Congress.126 Three women also are ministers in the Israeli cabinet – Sofa Landver, Orit Noked, and Limor Livnat.127 Additionally, the leaders of two of Israel’s three major political parties - Kadima and Labor - are both women, Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yachimovich, respectively.128
Three of the twelve Israeli Supreme Court Justices are women, and the recently resigned President of the Supreme Court was also a woman, Dorit Beinisch.129 Moreover, women now comprise a majority of judges throughout Israel.130
The Israel Women’s Lobby was formed in 1984 to encourage the involvement of women in shaping legislation and influencing the policy of decision-makers. In the 1990s, a new group, Ahoti, was founded to empoower disadvantaged women, particularly Mizrahim (women from Arab countries), Ethiopians, and Arab Israelis.131
Another important litmus test of the status of women in any country is the degree of gender equality in the labor market. In Israel, approximately 50 percent of women participate in the workforce, a number that compares favorably internationally.132 In terms of equal economic participation for women in the workforce, Israel was ranked 15th out of 31 nations in Europe, Asia, North America, and Oceania, by the International Labor Organization.133
Women also play a crucial role in defending the state. Service in the Israel Defense Forces is compulsory for both men and women – women serve for twenty-four months, men for thirty-six months. Today, women take active roles in all units of the IDF, including combat units and the air force.134 In October 2011, 27 female combat soldiers completed the IDF Ground Forces Officers Training Course, and in December 2011, five female pilots graduated from the Israeli Air Force’s elite Flight Academy.135
In addition to preparing for war, Israeli women are also active in the pursuit of peace. A law was adopted in 2005 mandating adequate representation of women in peace negotiating teams. Other women are active in groups such as Peace Now and Women in Black, which advocate Israeli withdrawal from the disputed territories, Bat Shalom, an organization of Jewish, Palestinian, and Arab women that encourage Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, and Women in Green, which views settlements as an asset to Israeli security.136
Israel is also working to advance the status of women around the world. Since 1961, the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC) has been training women in Africa and Asia. The center’s courses, workshops, study tours and seminars in Israel and in partner countries raise awareness of gender bias and the need for gender-sensitive policy decisions. Since its establishment, 17,500 participants from more than 150 countries have attended programs related to Community Development, Early Childhood Education and Organization, and Management of Microenterprises.137
Like the United States, Israel has not yet achieved perfect gender equality in all spheres of society. Nevertheless, great strides have been made toward that end. In a region where Egyptian “democracy” protestors attacked and raped women, the Saudi monarchy practices gender apartheid, and other Arab states tolerate “honor killings" and other abuses directed at women, Israel offers a model for those Arabs who believe in liberty and justice for all.138
On March 9, 2012, the Israeli Air Force targeted and killed two members of the Popular Resistance Committee terror organization in the Gaza Strip, Zuhair al-Qaissi and a collaborator, who were preparing an attack against Israel.. Al-Qaissi was also responsible for planning the infiltration of Eilat from the Egyptian Sinai in August 2011 in which eight Israelis, including six civilians, were brutally murdered, as well as Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping in 2006.139
Israel is faced with the difficult task of protecting its civilian population from Palestinians who are prepared to blow themselves up to murder innocent Jews as well as terror groups that indiscriminately fire rockets into Israeli towns. One strategy for dealing with the problem has been to pursue negotiations to resolve all of the conflicts with the Palestinians and offer to trade land for peace and security. After Israel gave up much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and offered virtually all of the remainder, however, the Palestinians chose to use violence to try to force Israel to capitulate to all their demands.
A second strategy is for Israel to “exercise restraint,” that is, not respond to Palestinian terror. The international community lauds Israel when it turns the other cheek after heinous attacks. While this restraint might win praise from world leaders, it does nothing to assuage the pain of the victims or to prevent further attacks.
“The assassination of Hamas head Sheik Ahmed Yassin in 2004 played in the world as the killing of a crippled holy man by Israeli rockets as he was leaving the mosque in a wheelchair after morning prayers. Because of secrecy surrounding the operation, no file was prepared to explain why he was being killed, that he was an arch-terrorist who had, two days previously, sent two Gaza suicide bombers into Ashdod Port in an attempt to cause a mega-blast of the fuel and nitrates stored there. Or that he had been directly responsible for the deaths of scores, if not hundreds of Israelis.”
Hirsh Goodman, columnist 140
Moreover, the same nations that urge Israel to exercise control have often reacted forcefully when put in similar situations. For example, the British assassinated Nazis after World War II and targeted IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland. In April 1986, after the U.S. determined that Libya had directed the terrorist bombing of a West Berlin discotheque that killed one American and injured 200 others, it launched a raid on a series of Libyan targets, including President Muammar Qaddafi’s home. Qaddafi escaped, but his infant daughter was killed and two of his other children were wounded. President Reagan justified the action as self-defense against Libya’s state-sponsored terrorism. “As a matter of self-defense, any nation victimized by terrorism has an inherent right to respond with force to deter new acts of terror. I felt we must show Qaddafi that there was a price he would have to pay for that kind of behavior and that we wouldn’t let him get away with it.”141
"The Israeli targeted assassinations against Palestinian resistance groups, especially against their leaders, is very effective. It is definitely a policy that aims at paralyzing these groups and stopping them from carrying out future attacks against Israel.”
- Mukhaimer Abu Saada, professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City 143
Israel has chosen a third option for defending itself—eliminating the masterminds of terror attacks.
In 2006, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that “it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is prohibited according to customary international law, just as it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is permissible according to customary international law."144
Targeting the terrorists has a number of benefits. First, it places a price on terror: Israelis can’t be attacked with impunity anymore, for terrorists know that if they target others, they will become targets themselves. Second, it is a method of self-defense: pre-emptive strikes eliminate the people who would otherwise murder Israelis. While it is true that there are others to take their place, they can do so only with the knowledge they too will become targets, and leaders are not easily replaceable. Third, it throws the terrorists off balance. Extremists can no longer nonchalantly plan an operation; rather, they must stay on the move, look over their shoulders at all times, and work much harder to carry out their goals.
Of course, the policy also has costs. Besides international condemnation, Israel risks revealing informers who often provide the information needed to find the terrorists. Soldiers also must engage in sometimes high-risk operations that occasionally cause tragic collateral damage to property and persons.
The most common criticism of “targeted killings” is that they do no good because they perpetuate a cycle of violence whereby the terrorists seek revenge. This is probably the least compelling argument against the policy, because the people who blow themselves up to become martyrs could always find a justification for their actions. They are determined to bomb the Jews out of the Middle East and will not stop until their goal is achieved.
In August 2002, we had all the leadership of Hamas—Sheik Yassin and all his military commanders ... in one room in a three-story house and we knew we needed a 2,000-pound bomb to eliminate all of them—the whole leadership, 16 people, all the worst terrorists. Think about having Osama bin Laden and all the top leadership of al-Qaeda in one house. However, due to the criticism in Israeli society and in the media, and due to the consequences of innocent Palestinians being killed, a 2,000-pound bomb was not approved and we hit the building with a much smaller bomb. There was a lot of dust, a lot of noise, but they all got up and ran away and we missed the opportunity. So the ethical dilemmas are always there. 145
Despite intolerable security threats, a surge in terrorism, and a stymied peace process, the government of Israel continues to support the Palestinian people and invest in their future by providing crucial medical, security, and economic assistance aimed at enhancing their quality of life.
With the Palestinian Authority facing dire financial difficulties in 2011 due to a shortfall in international donations and budget mismanagement, Israel stepped up its economic collaboration to help sustain and stabilize the Palestinian economy. In concrete terms, Israel transferred more than 5 million shekels in tax revenues to the PA - an increase of nearly 6 percent from 2010, Israeli purchases from the PA rose by almost 20 percent to $815.9 million, and Israeli trade with the PA grew to nearly $4.4 billion. Additionally, Israel provided more than 57,000 permits for Palestinians to work in Israel and for Israeli companies in the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also adopted measures, together with the Middle East Quartet, that will help the PA better balance their budget, increase tax collection from Gaza, and reform its revenue collection system to minimize losses.146
Israeli security cooperation with the Palestinians has also improved in the past year. Israel agreed to help expand the Palestinian security presence in a number of cities in the West Bank and is working to build at least seven new Palestinian police stations. Nearly 1,000 meetings were held in the last year between Israeli and Palestinian security forces to collaborate on methods for counter-terrorism, gathering evidence for crimes, addressing drug trafficking, and combating auto theft. Moreover, despite a 10 percent surge in terrorist attacks in 2011, the IDF further eased movement for the Palestinian people by dismantling three permanent checkpoints. Israel has now removed 30 checkpoints in the West Bank since 2009, leaving only 11, and measures were also made to ensure that the remaining checkpoints operate more efficiently to reduce travel delays, especially during times of religious worship and Muslim holidays.147
Israel also continues to ensure that Palestinians get proper medical treatment. Last year, 206,958 Palestinian patients from the West Bank and Gaza were treated in Israeli hospitals, an increase of 11 percent over 2010. Many of these patients received life-saving care such as chemotherapy and radiation treatment, organ transplant surgeries, or special birthing procedures that were unavailable to them in the territories. In addition, Israel hosted more than 100 training sessions for medical teams from the West Bank to learn both basic and more advanced treatment methods.148
While much of the world provides lip service to the Palestinian cause, Israel continues to be one of the only true lifelines for the Palestinian people. Despite little interest from Palestinian leaders to return to peace negotiations or clamp down on terrorism from Gaza, Israel is boosting the Palestinian economy, improving security for both Palestinians and Israelis, and providing world-class medical care for residents of the territories. Israel continues to meet all of its obligations under the various bilateral agreements – including stipulations for providing water, sanitation, and electricity to the PA – yet it gets little recognition for its efforts at maintaining the Palestinian quality of life.
Jerusalem is not only the modern day capital of the State of Israel; it was also the biblical capital of the Jewish nation. In the thousands of years that have passed since King David conquered Jerusalem, and in spite of forced exiles, violent revolts, and countless wars, Jews have continuously lived in the holy city and kept it central to Jewish tradition. The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, from prayer and philosophy to settlement, is unmistakable and unbreakable. Even so, the Israeli government has never tried to whitewash the rich Islamic and Christian histories in Jerusalem to promote a vision of the city as Jewish-only. In fact, this cultural and religious diversity is very much celebrated, and allegations to the contrary are not only patently false, but blatantly incendiary and anti-Semitic.
Defined as a unique form of ethnicization that relies on obliterating Palestinian identity, disenfranchising Jerusalem’s non-Jewish residents, and strategically extending Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries so as to incorporate Jewish areas, claims of “judaization” constitute yet another calculated attempt to garner international condemnation of Israel. Proponents of this theory charge Israel with attempting to imbue Jewish religious value on Islamic shrines and engaging in ethnic cleansing to rid the city of Arabs.149 As Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asserted, "The Israeli occupation authorities are using the ugliest and most dangerous means to implement plans to erase and remove [Jerusalem’s] Arab-Islamic and the Christian character."150
As in other smear campaigns orchestrated by Palestinian officials, the truth is quite different than the propaganda.
Jews have constituted the majority of Jerusalem’s population since at least 1844, but the Arab population has been exponentially growing since Israel reunited the city in 1967. Far from “cleansing” the city of Arabs, Israeli authorities have watched the Arab population increase by 291 percent, nearly doubling the Jewish growth rate.151 While the media only focuses on the approval for construction of Jewish homes, in 2009 the Jerusalem Municipality began the subsidized construction of more than 5,000 housing units in the city’s predominantly Arab neighborhoods of Tel Adasa, Sawahara, Beit Safafa, and Jabal Mukabar.152 An additional 2,500 homes were approved for these same neighborhoods in 2011.153 Furthermore, the Israeli government does not impede legal Arab construction and the Jerusalem municipal laws allow for anyone, regardless of race or religion, to buy private land anywhere in the city.154
Whereas Jordan destroyed and defiled Jewish holy places during its 19-year occupation of Jerusalem, Israel has scrupulously protected all shrines in the city. While Abbas and other Palestinians reinvent history and try to diminish the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, Israeli leaders have never made any attempt to deny the linkage that exists between Christians and Muslims with the city. The Israeli “Protection of Holy Places Law of 1967” ensures that all holy sites are open to whoever wishes to use them, and criminalizes any vandalization of such sites.155 Muslims freely worship at the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, and Christians are openly welcomed to pray at the more than 300 churches in and around Jerusalem.156
Thousands of Arab students attend Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, hundreds of thousands of Arabs are served equally in Jerusalem’s medical facilities, Arab citizens vote freely in Israeli political elections, and a plurality of East Jerusalem residents routinely tell pollsters they actually prefer to live under Israeli rule in the city.157 Jerusalem remains one of the freest and most open cities in the entire Middle East for people of all faiths, creeds, and colors.
Jews have a 3,000-year connection with Jerusalem, but Israel does not attempt to utilize this historical relationship to wipe out the Palestinian narrative from the city’s history. The Palestinians cannot wish away Jewish history or succeed in reaching their goals by fabricating claims of the “judaization” of Jerusalem. If they wish to change their political status in the city, they will have to enter negotiations with Israel and form an agreement that both sides accept. However, the recognition of the Jewish historical ties to the city and Jerusalem’s legal status as Israel’s capital cannot be open for debate.
American students are often ridiculed for their poor knowledge of geography, but the government institution responsible for U.S. foreign policy would be expected to have a better handle on such basic questions as the capitals of the nations of the world.
Apparently, however, the State Department is unable to identify the capital of the State of Israel.
The following exchange took place on March 28, 2012, between State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland and a reporter:
QUESTION: Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfuffle over an announcement that was made by the department about the travel of your boss … Is it the State Department's position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel?
MS. NULAND: Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed …. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it's a permanent-status issue; it’s got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.
Q: Is it the view of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, notwithstanding the question about the embassy -- the location of the U.S. embassy?
MS. NULAND: Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue. It's got to be resolved through negotiations.
Q: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is that correct or not?
MS. NULAND: I have just spoken to this issue … and I have nothing further to say on it ….
Q: What is the capital of Israel?
Q: What is the capital of Israel?
Q: I just want to go back to -- I want to clarify something … Perhaps give you an “out" on your Jerusalem answer. Is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think - or is it just East Jerusalem?
MS. NULAND: Matt, I don't have anything further to what I've said 17 times on that subject. OK?
Q: All right. So hold on. So, I just want to make sure. You're saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final-status issue.
It seems clear from this exchange that the U.S. State Department does not know where the capital of Israel is located and refuses even to recognize West Jerusalem, an area never “occupied” or claimed by the Palestinians, as the capital of Israel.
Jerusalem is not only the biblical heart of the Jewish nation, but it is also the modern day, political capital of the State of Israel. This was consecrated by Israel's founders and further cemented by Israel's Basic Laws. Future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians may change the status of East Jerusalem, but, in the interests of peace, it is crucial that United States leaders categorically and unwaveringly recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State of Israel.
Palestinian Christians often suffer because they are stuck in the middle of the conflict created by Palestinian Muslims’ unwillingness to live in peace with a Jewish state. While the Christian Arab population in Israel has grown and prospered, the Palestinian Christian population is discriminated against by Palestinian leaders, particularly Hamas in Gaza, for reasons unrelated to the political dispute with Israel. Specious media reports, including Bob Simon's “60 Minutes” report, have ignored this reality and instead accused Israel of harming the Christian community and provoking a mass exodus from the West Bank over the past four decades.
In a 2009 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) wrote that Christians are a “dwindling community” in the disputed territories because they have been “disproportionately affected by … [Israeli] occupation.”159 Bob Simon’s “60 Minutes” report echoed these allegations, noting “a real possibility” that the area will become a Christian “spiritual theme park, a great place for tourists but not for Arab Christians” because of “burgeoning Israeli settlements” and “the wall that completely surrounds" the area.160
The facts, however, indicate a different story. The “wall” Simon refers to is the 470 mile security barrier Israel erected to protect its citizens - Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims - from Palestinian terrorist infiltrations. Only about 5 percent of the barrier is a concrete wall, the rest is a chain-link fence. The fence does create hardships for Palestinians in some places, however, these inconveniences pale in comparison to the loss of life resulting from terrorist attacks prior to the fence's completion. The Israeli courts and government have also taken steps to minimize the problems the fence causes. If the Palestinians put a permanent stop to terror and sign a peace agreement with Israel, the fence will cease to be an issue.
Additionally, the notion that settlements somehow drive Christians out of the territories is typical of the American misperception that for every Jew who moves to the West Bank, Palestinians must pick up and leave. If Simon had traveled through the area or simply looked at a map, he could have easily seen that the Jewish settlements do not encroach on the places where Palestinian Christians live. The largest Christian neighborhoods in the West Bank – in and around Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jenin –do not have any Jews living in them or settlements interfering with the lives of Christians.161
While some Christians have indeed fled the Palestinian-controlled territories to avoid the conflict and Muslim persecution, the overall number of Christians in these areas has actually steadily increased since 1967. Today, the Christian population of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, stands at approximately 52,000 - its highest total since 1945.162 The Christian proportion of the population in the territories, however, has significantly declined - from around 15% to 2% - primarily due to the exponential growth in the Muslim population of the region.163
It is particularly hypocritical for Simon and otheres to feign concern for Christians in Israel and the territories while consistently ignoring the plight of Christians in Arab countries, where they have long faced persecution. It is especially galling now that Christian communities across the Middle East are facing uncertainty and insecurity in the face of Muslim extremism in Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria.
Condemning Israel for the plight of the Palestinian Christians misses the true root of their predicament - official mistreatment by the Palestinian government. The Palestinian Authority relegates Christians to second-class status and has been openly hostile to its Christian minority.164 The PA threatens Christians who wish to purchase land from Muslims, refuses economic assistance to Christian-owned businesses, and, in 2010, shut down Al-Mahed “Nativity” TV, the only Christian broadcast in the territories.165 Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat even tried to erase Christian heritage by depicting Jesus as “the first radical Palestinian armed guerrilla.”166
The PA has also routinely ignored terrorists who ransack and defile Christian holy places. In 2008, a bomb was detonated in the Christian Zahwa Rosary School in Gaza City and, in 2006, terrorists firebombed no fewer than five West Bank churches in response to a purported slight in a speech by Pope Benedict XVI. In 2002, nearly 200 armed Palestinian gunmen barricaded themselves insides Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity during Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield and took the priests and nuns inside hostage, a situation the Holy See condemned as a violation of religious tradition, the laws of war, and of the bilateral agreement with the PA to protect Manger Square.167
In stark contrast, Christians in Israel are given official protection under the law. The Christian population of Israel has grown from fewer than 35,000 in 1948 to more than 150,000 today. Israeli Arab Christians today are, on average, more affluent and better-educated than Israeli Jews. As Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren noted, Israeli Christians are prominent in all aspects of Israeli life - serving in the Knesset and the Foreign Ministry, sitting on the Supreme Court, and even serving in the Israel Defense Forces even though they are officially exempt from military service.168
Israel welcomes millions of Christians every year - in 2011, a record 3.5 million Christians tourists visited the Holy Land.169 Additionally, Israel helps protect Christian holy sites and has upheld the “Status Quo Arrangement for Christian Holy Places in Jerusalem” which gives the Christian community full custody over the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden of Gethsemane, the fourteen Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa, and other religious sites.170
Christians see Israel as the one country that offers them protection against the rising sea of radical Islam in the Middle East.171 While the media and anti-Israel Christian groups focus on alleged deprivations of the Christians who are prospering in Israel, they continue to ignore the serious threats to their future posed by Islamists in the region.
In a surprising and significant move, the Obama administration has reportedly agreed to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium to the 5 percent purity mark in return for Iranian commitments to accept unrestricted inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stricter oversight by the international community, and nuclear safeguards long demanded by the United Nations. This concession is a retreat from the president’s previous declaration that “the United States must lead the world in working to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program.”172
Such a bargaining position would be problematic for a number of reasons. First, it violates Obama’s commitment to halt Iran’s enrichment program. It also undermines his pledge that he would not accept “a policy of containment” with regard to the Iranian nuclear program.173 Second, it ignores the strong bipartisan sentiment in Congress calling for tougher legislation to force Iran to cease all enrichment programs.174
The United States has agreed that Iran has a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, but this does not require any enrichment of uranium by the Iranians. Russia has already supplied Iran with a nuclear power facility that can meet its immediate needs, which are minimal given Iran’s vast oil reserves.
Negotiators appear desperate to reach some agreement with Iran in the hope of staving off a military attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. By agreeing to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium to the 5 percent purity concentration – agreed by scientists as the upper-end for civilian nuclear needs – the United States would be running the risk of giving the Iranians time to assemble the know-how and the infrastructure to develop a nuclear weapon at a later date. Obama would also be letting Iran evade the harshest of economic sanctions set to hit the country during the summer of 2012 before seeing if they will force Iran to give up its program entirely.
Uranium is considered weapons-grade at 90 percent purity, though anything enriched above the 20 percent level signifies a move toward weaponization, and the jump from 20 to 90 percent is deemed relatively easy.175 At present, the majority of Iran’s uranium, about 5 tons, is enriched at the 5 percent level, but it has produced approximately 200 pounds at the 20 percent mark, demonstrating its ability to enrich to a higher level.176 IAEA Secretary General Yukiya Amano affirmed that “what we know suggests [Iranian] development of nuclear weapons.”177
To date, the Iranians have shown a willingness to string out negotiations while continuing their nuclear program. Talks end without an agreement while the Iranians move closer to building the bomb. As early as July 2006, the UN Security Council called on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment and implement transparency measures for its nuclear facilities; Iran refused.178 In 2008, the P5-plus-1 (the U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K. and Germany) offered Iran technical and commercial incentives to freeze high-level enrichment; Iran not only rebuffed the offer, but vowed to cease cooperating with inspectors.179 Now, after years of complacency by the West, why should anyone expect the Iranians to give up their nuclear ambitions or to adhere to any agreement they might sign? After all, Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty more than 40 years ago but still secretly disregarded the treaty’s terms and proceeded with nuclear weapons development.
Members of Congress, as well as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have said that U.S. interests are threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran. According to one source, the bipartisan opposition to the reported Obama compromise is so strong that any deal allowing continued Iranian enrichment "would be dead on arrival" in Congress.180
The Iranians should be allowed to use uranium for peaceful energy generation but they do not need to do their own enrichment – fuel stocks can easily be purchased from a half dozen different countries or through the international Uranium Enrichment Consortium (URENCO).181
While a compromise with Iran may reduce the chance of a military strike on Iran in the short-run, it could easily result in a more dangerous situation in the long-run. The Iranians may use the time they are given to continue to make technological advances toward weapons development, as well as to better prepare their defenses.
The understandable desire to forestall the need to take military action should not be an excuse for appeasement. The United States must not back down from its insistence that the Iranian nuclear program be permanently shut down. If an agreement is reached to end the program, it must be scrupulously monitored. Negotiators should remember Ronald Reagan’s adage with regard to negotiations with the Soviet Union – trust but verify.
On May 8, 2012, Israeli Prime Minister and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu joined with Shaul Mofaz, recently elected head of the opposition Kadima Party, to announce the formation of a new coalition government. Brokered with the support of more than two-thirds of the 120 members of the Knesset, the new unity government not only staves off early elections and the dissolution of the Parliament, but it also represents a unique opportunity for the government to enter into peace talks with the Palestinian Authority while backed by the support of a broad spectrum of Israel's political leaders.
The new coalition, Israel's largest since 1984, has a number of priorties, including bridging the wealth gap, improving the economy, creating a new law to conscript ultra-Orthodox Jews for national service, and determining a response to Iran's nuclear program. Netanyahu and Mofaz also immediately expressed a desire to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions. Mofaz said that the new government could reach an "historic territorial compromise with our Palestinian neighbors," while Netanyahu called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to "use this opportunity to resume the peace talks." 182
Netanyahu's inner political circle now has a peace and security coalition that includes three former IDF chiefs-of-staff - Mofaz, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon - who have advocated compromise with the Palestinians. In 2000, Barak offered to withdraw from most of the territories and create a Palestinian state.183 Similarly, Mofaz has also called for an aggressive approach to the peace process that would lead to an evacuation from many Jewish settlements and most of the West Bank.184
Given the security credentials of Mofaz and Barak, the unity government gives Netanyahu the broad legitimacy and stability necessary to take risks for peace with the Palestinians. The Palestinians, however, may not recognize the political earthquake that occurred in Jerusalem and the opportunity it presents for negotiating a two-state solution. Abbas' first reaction was to declare: "I will not return to the negotiations without freezing settlement activities," and to once again threaten to seek UN recognition if Israel does not capitulate to his demands.185
We will soon learn if the Palestinians will once again demonstrate their proclivity for never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Palestinians no longer object to the creation of Israel.”
While Israelis used April and May 2012 to celebrate their 64th year of independence, Palestinians marked the establishment of Israel by mourning the very creation of the Jewish State. On May 15, ceremonies for what the Palestinians call "Nakba Day" ("The Catastrophe," in Arabic) spawned a number of small but violent protests against Israeli security personnel in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and other major cities.186 Sadly, if the Palestinians and the Arab states had accepted the partition resolution of 1947, the Palestinain people would also be celebrating their 64th independence day right alongside the Israelis.
Palestinians are understandably bitter about their history over the decades, but we are often told that what they object to today is the “occupation” of the territories Israel captured in 1967. If that is true, then why isn’t "Nakba Day" celebrated in June on the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the Six-Day War when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip?
The reason 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. This is why Hamas has never left any doubt about its refusal to accept Israel’s existence through its unwavering commitment to the Hamas Covenant which calls for the destruction of Israel. 187 Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a purported moderate, describes of the decision to create a Jewish state in 1948 as a crime. 188
It may be that the current leadership does not truly represent the feelings of the Palestinian people. A January 2012 poll found that nearly 60 percent of the Palestinian public oppose a return to armed resistance against Israel to obtain independence while 58 percent support returning to exploratory peace talks with Israel.189 This is a hopeful sign; however, as long as the Palestinian Authority treats Israel’s creation as a catastrophe, and its leaders refuse to negotiate, the prospects for coexistence will remain bleak.
“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 190
"My friends, 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. You must have noticed that yesterday's 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. But their catastrophe was that they did not have a leadership that was willing to reach a true historic compromise between the Palestinian people and the Jewish people."
— Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister 191
Mahmoud Abbas has rooted out corruption from the Palestinian Authority.
In a June 2002 speech outlining a vision for Middle East peace, U.S. President George W. Bush said, “Today, the Palestinian people live in economic stagnation, made worse by official corruption ... If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption, and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a provisional state of Palestine.”192
In the decade since Bush's declaration, however, the Palestinian Authority has made no progress toward democratic rule (on the contrary, it has repeatedly postponed elections), has only taken minimal steps to minimize terror in the West Bank, and has lost all control of the Gaza Strip where Fatah’s erstwhile partners in a unity government express a continued commitment to the destruction of Israel.
The PA’s record on confronting corruption is even more abysmal. Under former Chairman Yasser Arafat and current President Mahmoud Abbas, corruption has resulted in the squandering of billions of dollars in international aid, wreaking havoc on the Palestinian economy and leaving most Palestinians to barely eke out a living.
In May 2012, Hasan Khreishah, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament, acknowledged that "corruption in the PA is now more widespread than in the past."193 Fatah representative Najat Abu Bakr expressed a similar sentiment, noting that Abbas manages “the most corrupt government in the Palestinian history.”194 Some of the more high profile incidents of corruption in the past decade include:
- An IMF report documented how Arafat diverted nearly $1 billion of international aid into his own personal bank accounts, now used by his widow Suha.195
- Former Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei was accused by the PA ambassador to Romania of depositing $3 million of PLO funds into his personal bank account.196
- Rouhi Fattouh, one of Abbas’ advisers and the former speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was caught by Israeli customs officials using his Israeli-issued VIP pass to smuggle thousands of cellular phones from Jordan into the West Bank.197
- Safwat Ibraghit, PA deputy ambassador to France, was accused of using Palestinian students to spy on Muslim groups in France and then relaying the information to Palestinian intelligence.198
- PA Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh was charged with fiscal misconduct including embezzlement and insider trading.199
- Mohammed Rashid, a financial adviser to Arafat, is suspected of transferring millions of dollars out of the Palestinian Investment Fund to set up fake companies to embezzle the money.200
The U.S. and EU have heaped praise on Abbas for implementing reform in the PA - from appointing Western-educated economist Salam Fayyad as Finance Minister in 2003 to establishing an Anti-Corruption Commission in 2010 - but the Palestinian people continue to complain about his corrupt behavior.201 Indeed, the Anti-Corruption Commission seems to be just another asset manipulated by Abbas to target his political rivals. Though accused of siphoning millions of dollars from international aid into his personal accounts and leveraging the Palestinian Investment Fund to enrich his family businesses, Abbas has yet to be investigated by the commission.202
These financial scandals not only undermine Israeli and American peace efforts but also threaten to strengthen Hamas. Without a transparent and honest government with which to negotiate, Israel could never fully rely on the Palestinians to properly implement, oversee, and protect whatever assurances are made for peace. Similarly, it was mistrust of Fatah that brought Hamas to power in the elections of 2006 and the seemingly still unchecked corruption could further bolster support for the terrorist organization as it tries to gain a foothold in the West Bank.
The Palestinians have now had nearly a decade to fulfill President Bush’s requirements for earning U.S. support. Their inability - or unwillingness - to do so is one more reason they have not achieved their goal of statehood.
The rise of Islamists in Egypt's government does not pose a strategic threat to Israel.
When the Egyptian revolution began in late January 2011, many political commentators celebrated the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood remained largely in the periphery and wishfully believed that the Islamists' political clout would be diminished by the surge of secular, liberal-leaning protestors. By the end of June 2012, however, this assumption proved unmistakably misplaced as the Brotherhood – not the secular protestors – emerged empowered through Egypt’s political transition, leaving the country’s strategic relationship with Israel on a very dangerous precipice.
In June 2012, Egyptians narrowly elected the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Freedom & Justice Party” (FJP) candidate Mohamed Morsi to be their new president. This follows the victory of Islamists in the parliamentary elections of late 2011 (two-thirds of the legislative seats were won by the MB and hardline Salafi Al-Nour Party). After decades of suppression by Egyptian leaders who feared the Brotherhood’s extremist ideology, the organization may soon be in a position to impose its radical views on the entire population, including those secular, moderate Egyptians who initiated the protests in Tahrir Square with the hopes of transforming their country into a modern democracy. The potentially hazardous shift in policy for the Arab World’s largest country is currently constrained by the military, which both wants to hold onto power and fears the implications of an Islamist takeover.
Given the military’s steps to minimize the power of the presidency, it is too early to tell how much power Morsi will actually wield. While he vowed in his victory speech to “preserve international accords and obligations,” many others in the Brotherhood have made no secret of their hatred of Israel and desire to scrap the peace agreement. FJP's deputy leader, Dr. Rashad Bayoumi, told al-Hayat that the Brotherhood would not recognize Israel, saying that such recognition “is not an option. Whatever the circumstances, we do not recognize Israel at all.” 203 Following Morsi’s election, Nader Amram, a member of FJP’s foreign relations committee, said on France Channel 24 that Israel “breaks the law all over the world” and shouldn’t discuss democratic values because they “are suppressing an unarmed people in Gaza and the West Bank.” 204 Morsi himself has held similarly odious stances regarding Israel, telling CNN in February 2011 that he stands “against Zionism” and stressed in November 2011 that Egypt’s leaders should “help the [Palestinian] resistance as much as we can.” 205
The Muslim Brotherhood poses a danger to Egyptians who crave freedom and civil rights. A government run by the MB also represents a security threat to Israel. 206 Egypt’s relationship with Iran may thaw with the rise of Morsi, who apparently told FARS News Agency that he wished to create better relations with the Islamic Republic.207 Morsi also plans to travel to Tehran in August 2012 to participate in an international conference of the Non-Aligned Movement during which he will hand control of the organization over to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.208 This budding relationship could easily place allies of Iran along both the northern and southern borders of Israel.
Terrorism is already on the rise from Egypt. The Sinai is becoming a kind of “wild west” where terrorists have blown up the gas pipeline from Egypt to Israel more than a dozen times and staged a growing number of lethal attacks on Israelis. Additionally, the Brotherhood’s benevolent view of Hamas increases the likelihood that Egypt will actively aid or at best look the other way, in the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.
More ominous is the possibility of the Brotherhood gaining control of the Arab world’s largest and best-trained military and its arsenal of U.S.-made weapons. Already, Israel has had to completely change its strategic calculus from devoting minimal resources to defend its southern border to preparing for the possibility of the collapse of the peace treaty and a future conflict. The United States also has to shift its strategy now that it cannot count on the same level of cooperation it enjoyed for decades with Sadat and Mubarak.
The people of Egypt are likely to suffer first and foremost from the rise of Islamic extremists who are shattering the hope for democracy. The question is whether the international community is willing or able to take steps to prevent Egypt from turning into another Iran, Lebanon or Gaza and making clear that democracy is not synonymous with an election and must provide the people with freedom the civil rights.
The Palestinian Authority promotes a culture of tolerance and peace toward Israel.
One of the central elements of the peace process since the signing of the Oslo Accords has been the issue of incitement. Signing this agreement on the White House lawn in 1993, the Palestinians pledged to end the practice of using their media and education system to stoke hatred and intolerance toward Israel. Over the two decades since, however, the Palestinian Authority has blatantly broken this promise and continues to glorify terrorists, publish maps without Israel and use the media to promote contempt for Jews and Israel. A whole generation of young Palestinians has now grown up in a culture that demonizes Israelis and discourages peace. As the PA, under President Mahmoud Abbas, obstinately rejects negotiations and seeks instead to delegitimize Israel - both inside the Palestinian territories and outside, in the international community - the anti-Israel incitement has escalated.
In January 2010, the PA named a public square in the Ramallah district after Dalal Mughrabi – a terrorist who murdered 37 civilians including 13 children and an American citizen – generating international opprobrium.209 The Palestinians, however, did not put an end to their unsettling cultural trend for venerating terrorists.
In October 2011, following the release of nearly 500 prisoners in an exchange for abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Abbas led a jubilant ceremony that welcomed back the “freedom fighters and holy warriors.”210 The released prisoners included 280 serving at least one life sentence for the participation in suicide bombings and shooting attacks that killed thousands of Israelis.211 Even PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, often hailed as a moderate, has glorified Palestinian terrorists by honoring their actions in his weekly radio address or by visiting their families to hand out sweets and other gifts.212
Between April and June 2012, PA-TV repeatedly aired a children’s show highlighting a poem that teaches the viewers to hate Jews and Christians and target them as "inferior and smaller, more cowardly and despised."213 In July 2012, a PA-TV program featured an artist who depicted “the Zionist enemy's cruelty and savagery" in 2009's Operation Cast Lead through a painting that portrayed Israel as a child-eating ogre that impaled Palestinians on a bayonet.214
For many years, children attending Hamas-run summer camps in Gaza have been given paramilitary training and routinely indoctrinated to “love resistance” and to work towards the goal of “killing [Zionists] on a bus in a suicide bombing.”215
It is a sad commentary on Palestinian society that doctors, lawyers, architects and scientists do not achieve acclaim; rather it is the murderers of Jews who get their faces and names commemorated in buildings, at soccer matches, and on trading cards. What hope is there for peace with the younger generation of Palestinians brought up on hatred? Isn’t this the real obstacle to peace that should outrage the world?
Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation is at its weakest point in years.
Since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood has won an expanded role in the Egyptian government, anti-Semitism is on the rise in official Egyptian media outlets, and Israel’s embassy in Cairo was sacked by an angry mob. Growing lawlessness in Sinai has forced Israel to consolidate resources and manpower to protect its southern frontier from cross-border terrorism and new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has been reticent to tighten control of the region for fear of igniting a Bedouin uprising.
Given these tensions, it would be no surprise if the level of cooperation between the peace partners had eroded. This, however, is not the case. This, however, is not the case.
“We can already see improvement on the ground,” Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said with regard to Egyptian-Israeli security cooperation. “I believe that Cairo will enlist to the cause and do all they can,” he added.216
Ayalon’s remarks come in the wake of an August 2012 attack in which a group of nearly three dozen militants stormed an Egyptian army base in the Sinai, massacred 16 soldiers and infiltrated Israel before being subdued by the Israeli military.217 The terror attack stirred swift reactions both in Israel and Egypt and confirmed concerns over increased violence in Sinai and the need jointly to address the problem.218
Though Morsi is fearful that the impression of cooperation with Israel may provoke a public backlash, he has distanced himself from accusations by the Muslim Brotherhood that the Mossad was behind the deadly attack in Sinai. He has also taken the initiative to purge officials - including the governor of North Sinai and the head of Egyptian military police – who were accused of lapses that contributed to the success of the attack, and he has given leeway to his defense organizations to work with their Israeli counterparts.219 Veteran Israeli military correspondents Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff reported that the “renewed honeymoon” in security relations between the two countries includes the passing along of attack warnings, talks between senior field officers, and upgraded intelligence collaboration between the Egyptian and Israeli Ministries of Defense and security services.220
For Israel, which faces imminent threats from Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, it is important that Israel maintain close security cooperation with Egypt to ensure that violence does not escalate along their shared border. For Morsi, the strategic alliance with Israel is key to stabilizing a country that faces a myriad of social and economic problems and can ill afford to allow terrorists to undermine his new government.
Morsi has also taken some alarming steps that indicate the Muslim Brotherhood is solidifying its control over the government, including sacking several senior military officials.221 Still, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted, “Israel and Egypt obviously have a common interest in keeping the border quiet.”222 The continuity and strength of this cooperation could well be an indispensable barometer for the future of Egypt-Israel relations.
Israel is culpable in the 2003 death of American activist Rachel Corrie.
On August 28, 2012, nearly a decade after the incident in which American activist Rachel Corrie was tragically killed while interfering in an Israel Defense Forces operation, Haifa District Court Judge Oded Gershon rejected a lawsuit brought by the Corrie family against the army and dismissed all claims of negligence against Israel. Judge Gershon found that Corrie “put herself in a dangerous situation” by being in a closed military zone and would have been spared by simply removing herself from the situation; thus her death was “the result of an accident she brought upon herself.” At least three investigations found that the driver of the D-9 armored bulldozer whom the family blamed for Rachel’s death could not have seen her and Judge Gershon found no fault with the internal military investigation of Corrie’s death. 223
What has been mostly missed in media reports about the verdict, however, is the role of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Corrie’s death. In March 2003, Corrie was part of a group that served as human shields to prevent the IDF from destroying terrorist smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza.224 The area in which they were operating was a war zone by any definition: over the previous two and half years there had been approximately 1,400 shooting attacks, 6,000 grenade attacks, 200 anti-tank rockets fired, and 150 explosive devices detonated against Israeli soldiers.225 By being in this obviously dangerous area, Corrie and the other activists were, for all intents and purposes, pawns used by the ISM in their mission to provoke the Israeli military and create causes celebre for anti-Israel fanatics worldwide. Corrie’s tragic death, a result of placing herself in front of an Israeli military vehicle, has been used by the ISM to vilify Israel and generate support for the organization’s methods.
On its official website, ISM hails itself as a “Palestinian-led movement” that resists Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories by using “nonviolent, direct action methods and principles.” 226 However, as Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, noted, “Leaders of the ISM movement have repeatedly made statements in support of violence.”227 In 2002, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf declared: “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent … yes people will get killed … [but those killed] would be considered shaheed [martyrs].”228 In eulogizing Corrie, her ISM colleague Joseph Smith chillingly noted that, “The idea of resistance is worth anything … the life of one international [activist], I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression.”229 Paul Larudee, the Northern California head of the ISM who in the past has openly assisted Hezbollah and received awards from Hamas, similarly stated: “We recognize that violence is necessary and it is permissible.”230
The ISM actively encourages young people to place themselves in harm’s way to "break Israel's siege" while calling the Corrie verdict a “travesty of justice” which must be challenged through boycott, divestment, sanctions, and demonization of Israel.231 At a time when the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is stalled, true peace activists can make a difference by promoting understanding and tolerance between the parties – not by inciting violence and hatred.
Intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program may be as faulty as the information about Iraq’s.
After what happened in Iraq, people may be skeptical about intelligence claims regarding Iran; however, the cases are completely different. It is not only intelligence agencies from multiple countries that believe Iran has accumulated the know-how and most of the components for a nuclear bomb, it is also the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been monitoring Iran’s activities.
The IAEA, for example, reported in 2010 that Iran had raised the level of uranium enrichment up to 20 percent, far beyond the 4 percent needed to run nuclear power reactors that Iran claims is the purpose of their program. The agency also reported that Iran had set up additional centrifuges to increase the level of enrichment to weapons grade.232
In August 2012, the IAEA said Iran had more than doubled the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges at its underground facility at Fordow. The IAEA report also noted that "extensive activities" at the Parchin complex, which has yet to be inspected, prove that Iran is leading a determined effort to cleanup that site from any evidence of illicit nuclear-weapons-linked testing.233
IAEA officials have also said that Iran has advanced its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models. This information, gathered by the U.S., Israel, and at least two other Western nations, reinforced IAEA concerns that Iran was working toward a nuclear weapons capability.234
When former President Bill Clinton was asked whether America could risk another flawed military action if it turned out Iran is telling the truth about its intentions, Clinton said the situations were completely different. In the case of Iraq, he said, “I personally never saw any intelligence that was at all persuasive on the nuclear issue.” Iran, he noted doesn’t even pretend that “they don't have centrifuges, that they can't enrich uranium.” Clinton added, “they have the capacity to go well beyond what is necessary to generate the kind of material necessary to turn on the lights, to generate electricity. So I think it's a very, very different thing.”235
If Iran is not building a nuclear weapon, then how can it’s behavior be explained? “If you don't want a nuclear weapon, then why won't you comply with the international community's inspection regime,” Clinton observed. “If you don't want a nuclear weapon, you have been given nine ways from Sunday to prove that.”236
In fact, Iran routinely boasts when it increases the number of centrifuges it is running and enriches uranium to a higher level of purity. The day after the Obama Administration announced new sanctions on Iran in February 2010, for example, the Iranians themselves publicized that they had started to enrich uranium at the 20 percent level.237
Multiple UN resolutions have been adopted, and international sanctions have been imposed on Iran, because most of the world believes Iran is developing a nuclear weapon and should be prevented from doing so.
Iran has become isolated because of international sanctions .
One of the purposes of imposing international sanctions on Iran was to try to isolate the regime in the belief that this would pressure Iran’s leaders to agree to give up their nuclear weapons program. While a consensus has been achieved among most nations that Iran should not be allowed to have a nuclear capability, Iran has not been isolated at all.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of the failure to isolate Iran occurred when Iran hosted a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in August 2012. Despite U.S. efforts to discourage attendance, representatives of 120 nations showed up in Tehran, including several heads of state. The U.N. secretary-general also attended.
The sanctions are especially meant to isolate Iran economically, but this, too, has largely failed as large numbers of countries have continued to trade with the Islamic Republic. The Obama Administration has also exempted a number of allies from fully complying with the terms of U.S. sanctions.238
We will know when Iran has a nuclear weapon and can take action at that time.
If there is one thing we have learned over the years it is the need for a healthy dose of skepticism about what intelligence agencies know and when they know it. We have myriad examples from the failure to predict the fall of the Soviet Union to the misinformation about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to the inability to anticipate the current Arab turmoil. In the case of Iran, the failure of the intelligence community to detect Iran’s secret nuclear program, and continued doubts about whether all of Iran’s activities are known, should give pause to anyone who wants to trust the future of the Middle East to the analysts in Langley or anywhere else.
Iran should be allowed a nuclear weapon since Israel has one.
Iran and some of its supporters have made the argument that there is no justification for Israel and other nuclear powers to have bombs while denying Iran the right to have one as well.
First, the Iranians can’t have it both ways. They can’t say that they are not building a bomb but should be allowed to have one. If they weren’t interested in nuclear weapons, the argument would be irrelevant.
Second, other nuclear nations do not behave the same way the Iranians do. They do not threaten the destruction of a fellow member state of the UN, as they have threatened Israel, and they do not support global terrorism. As former President Bill Clinton observed, “Israel is not supporting Hezbollah. Israel doesn't send terrorists to cross Syria to train in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon....no one thinks that Israel is about to drop a bomb on Tehran. So the difference is this is a government with a record of supporting terror.”239
Clinton’s point about terrorism is a crucial one. He noted that the more nuclear states, the more likely that fissile material will be lost or transferred to third parties. “So the prospect of spreading, in a way, dirty nuclear bombs with smaller payloads that could wreak havoc and do untold damage, goes up exponentially every time some new country gets this capacity.”
Another important distinction is that Israel is presumed to have first developed nuclear weapons in the 1960s, but none of its neighbors have been sufficiently concerned that Israel might use them to feel the need to build their own. Furthermore, Iran’s drive for the bomb is not a response to a threat from Israel; their program began out of the fear that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq might build one.
If Iran obtains a weapon, however, it would also set off a nuclear arms race in the region as many of the Arab states will feel the need to have a bomb in the hope it will deter the Iranians. The Saudis, for example, have explicitly said that if Iran gets the bomb, they will get one too.240
Anti-Semitism is declining around the world.
Anti-Semitism – the prejudice, discrimination, and hatred of Jews – though often shrouded in the veil of anti-Zionism, is on the rise not only in the Arab World, but in the United States and Europe as well. Venomous slander, libel, and physical violence against Jews are reaching alarming proportions. The March 2012 attack in France that left four Jews dead, and the July 2012 bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists were indications of the threats Jews are facing. And perhaps most disturbing, former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler observed, is “the silence, the indifference, and sometimes even the indulgence in the face of such genocidal anti-Semitism.”241
Hatred of Jews, and incitement to violence against them, has unfortunately been commonplace for decades throughout the Arab World. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, when optimists hoped democracy and liberal values would take hold in the volatile region, the opposite seems to be the case. In Egypt, for instance, hateful rhetoric from the powerful Muslim Brotherhood is the norm rather than the exception and the Egyptian press treatment of Israel is worse than it was under former president Hosni Mubarak.
Vitriol against Jews and Israel continues to emanate from Tehran as Iran continues its quest to build a nuclear weapon. Though it should be shocking, the attacks on Israel by Iran’s President from the floor of the General Assembly have become an annual ritual. In September 2012, for example, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the Jewish people “uncivilized Zionists.”242
Incitement from the Palestinian Authority has not abated despite repeated promises in the various peace agreements and negotiations to put a stop to it. For example, during the trilateral talks between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the U.S. in September 2010, Mahmoud Abbas committed to condemning terrorism.243 Similarly, that same month, when Abbas met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Obama, and former President Mubarak, he pledged his condemnation of the terrorist attacks that occurred the previous day.244 Hamas, meanwhile, makes no secret of its commitment to destroy the Jewish state and has resumed firing barrages of rockets into Israeli cities and towns.
The intensification of anti-Semitism is not confined to the Middle East. In Europe, a February 2012 poll of ten countries conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), found “disturbingly high levels” of anti-Semitic beliefs among European citizens, and that such “values” had even increased in several countries, notably England and France.245
In the United States, anti-Semitism has taken a more tangible spike. The most recent ADL audit on anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. found a 2.3% increase over the previous year, counting a total of 1,239 such cases including 22 physical assaults and 317 cases of vandalism. From assaults to online hate content and from vandalism to harassment, wrote the ADL, levels of anti-Semitism in the United States are not only unacceptably high but are continuously growing.246
Despite this increase in anti-Semitism worldwide, there remains a flagrant and almost pernicious indifference exhibited by the international community. The United Nations, which first acknowledged anti-Semitism as a form of racism in 1998, stood idle as its 2001 and 2011 Durban Conferences on Racism were hijacked by participants who issued anti-Semitic and anti-Israel declarations.247 Ironically, it was the Durban Conference that gave momentum to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign that targets Israel, but is fundamentally anti-Semitic.248
Iran does not believe that it can win a nuclear war.
One of the reasons that deterrence worked during the Cold War is that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union believed it could win a nuclear war, or at least not achieve a victory without suffering unacceptably horrific losses. Some argue that Iran knows Israel would use its own nuclear weapons to retaliate if it were ever hit by Iranian nuclear missiles and therefore would never risk a first strike.
The problem with this analysis is that some Iranians do believe they can win a nuclear war. Hashemi Rafsanjani, the President of Iran from 1989 until 1997, was just as adamant about destroying Israel as his successor. He said that "Israel is much smaller than Iran in land mass, and therefore far more vulnerable to nuclear attack." Since Iran has 70 million people and Israel has only seven million, Rafsanjani believed Iran could survive an exchange of nuclear bombs while Israel would be annihilated.249
In a 2001 speech, Rafsanjani said: “If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything … [and] only harm the Islamic world.”250
He does have a point since just three bombs, one for Haifa, one for Tel Aviv and one for Jerusalem would wipe out most of Israel’s population and industry. Iran could have a potentially devastating impact on Israel even if it did not start a nuclear war. How many Israelis would want to live in a country under constant nuclear threat? How many people would want to immigrate? Would tourists still visit Israel? Would foreign companies want to set up businesses in a country under a nuclear cloud? Israel’s freedom to act against other threats from its neighbors and terrorists would also be constrained by the risk of provoking a nuclear response from Iran. This is why Israel is so adamant about preventing Iran from having the capability to carry out the threats issued by Rafsanjani and other Iranian officials.
The danger is becoming increasingly acute as Iran inexorably progresses toward the completion of the nuclear fuel cycle and the capability to build a weapon. So far, neither pressure from international sanctions nor official United Nations inspections have convinced Iran to give up its nuclear program.251
Israel has the right to defend itself, but the Iranian threat extends beyond Israel to the Arab countries of the Gulf, U.S. military bases and European capitals. The threat of Iran giving terrorists nuclear materials poses a global threat.
A nuclear Iran that is not afraid of the consequences of nuclear war cannot be deterred or contained. This is why an international consensus exists that Iran must not be allowed to develop the capability to build a nuclear bomb.
Iran wants to control its nuclear stockpile and would never give a bomb or nuclear material to terrorists.
This is another one of those propositions where the world is asked to place its faith in the goodwill of the Iranians. The truth is the Iranians are global sponsors of terror and the question is really whether it is worth the risk of giving them the means to supply terrorists with material that would give them the capability to launch attacks that would be exponentially worse than 9/11.
At the United Nations in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad said that “Iran is ready to transfer nuclear know-how to the Islamic countries due to their need.”252 Iran has also been sending weapons to Hezbollah, which has targeted Americans, as well as Hamas, which has resumed firing rockets into southern Israel. Imagine if either of these groups were given any radioactive materials.
Former President Bill Clinton noted, “the more of these weapons you have hanging around, the more fissile material you've got, the more they're vulnerable to being stolen or sold or just simply transferred to terrorists.” He added, “even if the [Iranian] government didn't directly sanction it, it wouldn't be that much trouble to get a Girl Scout cookie's worth of fissile material, which, if put in the same fertilizer bomb Timothy McVeigh used in Oklahoma City, is enough to take out 20 to 25 percent of Washington, D.C. Just that little bit.”253
The media is accurately covering Gaza during Operation "Pillar of Defense."
Typically journalists are allowed in Gaza by sufferance, that is, they are allowed as long as they report favorably on Hamas. Reporters are also usually accompanied by Hamas minders who show them only what they want the journalists to see, especially damaged buildings and injured people in hospitals. The reporters often parrot whatever statistics they are given regarding casualties and do not independently verify the numbers or if the people were injured by Israelis. In fact, a number of cases have already been discovered where the Palestinians attributed injuries or deaths to Israeli raids that were actually the product of misfiring Hamas rockets or were hurt in unrelated incidents.
Palestinians often stage injuries or scenarios in an effort to fool the media and present Israel in a negative light. A classic example of this "Pallywood" phenomenon involved a Palestinian funeral where a man was being carried on a stretcher and the pall bearers dropped the stretcher and the man got up and walked away.254 In the early days of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, the Palestinians have been caught in similar efforts to manipulate the press. One of the most successful was a photo that was broadcast around the world and appeared on the front page of many newspapers showing a dead child cradled in the arms of the Egyptian Foreign Minister.
According to most news accounts, the four-year-old boy named Mahmoud Sadallah, was from the neighborhood of Annazla, close to Gaza City. Upon examination of the neighborhood, the New York Times raised questions about whether the damage could have been done by an Israeli plane, “raising the possibility that an errant missile fired by Palestinian militants was responsible for the deaths.”256 The IDF also said that it had not carried out any airstrikes at that time in that area.
An AP report said the boy was in an alley close to his home when he was killed. The area showed signs of an explosion, but “neighbors said local security officials quickly took what remained of the projectile, making it impossible to verify who fired it.”257 But Experts from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights also said they believed that the explosion was caused by a Palestinian rocket.258
In another case, footage from the BBC captured by watchdog group Honest Reporting shows a heavy man lying on the ground and being carried away by residents, apparently after being injured by an Israeli attack. Moments later, that same man again fills the frame, except he is walking about and obviously unhurt.259
In addition to staging phony deaths, Hamas is also trying to pass off photos of casualties from the Syrian civil war as Palestinians killed by Israel. For example, the Arab news site Alarab Net released a picture of a family it said had been massacred in Gaza. It turns out the photo was originally published on an Arab news site weeks before the Gaza operation began under the heading, “Syria killed 122 Friday…Assad Used Cluster Bombs.” Hamas also uploaded a photo on its Twitter page of a dead child in his weeping father’s arms. This picture was also discovered to be an old one taken in Syria.260
Just as photos emanating from Hamas sources must be verified, so too must claims by hospital spokespeople who give reporters casualty figures. Usually reporters simply repeat whatever they are told rather than investigate whether the numbers are accurate. Moreover, we learned in Operation Cast Lead that many of the casualties claimed to be civilians often turn out to be members of Hamas.
Unfortunately, despite the extraordinary measures Israel has taken to avoid civilian casualties, some pictures will accurately show the horrors of war. No one should forget, however, that not a single Palestinian would be injured if Hamas had not bombarded Israel with rockets and casualties are unavoidable given that Hamas terrorists launch rockets and hide in civilian areas. Pictures also do not capture the stress and fear that nearly half the Israeli population lives with under the onslaught of the Palestinian terror blitz.
During Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel deliberately targeted the media in Gaza.
On November 19, 2012, the IDF targeted a cadre of senior Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operatives who were hiding in a media building in Gaza. The strike hit only the second floor, which is where the senior terrorists were. The rest of the building was intact. Those killed were Halil Batini, a PIJ senior operative and key figure in the organization's long range rocket launching operations, responsible for internal security; Tissir Mahmoud Mahmed Jabari, a senior PIJ operative responsible for training and approving terrorist attacks against Israel and Baha Abu al Ata, the commander of PIJ’s Gaza City Brigade, who was involved in planning attacks against Israel, arms manufacturing, and long range rockets.261
New York Times reporter Jodi Rudoren wrote on her Facebook page that she is staying at "a hotel filled with foreign journalists, a place I am confident that Israel is not trying to hit and in fact is probably trying pretty hard to avoid (I imagine a map with a big Times "T" on it with a red line through it).”262
Israel has received requests for press credentials from at least 500 foreign journalists on top of the nearly 1,400 already covering Israel. These journalists are enjoying unprecedented freedom in covering the Gaza conflict.263
In stark contrast, Hamas is infamous for beating journalists and lately has been forcing reporters to be accompanied by "sponsors." On November 21, Hamas began trapping journalists in the Gaza Strip.264
Rudoren said there were reports that Hamas is not allowing foreign journalists to leave. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs elaborated (November 17, 2012): "Hamas is not allowing at least 22 foreign nationals who wish to exit the Gaza Strip for Israel to do so. Among the foreigners being detained are nine Italian citizens, one Canadian, one South Korean, a French national and six journalists from Japan."265
Israel's operation in Gaza was immoral because more Palestinians died than Israelis.
One of the more obscene practices used by the media and Israel's detractors during Israel's recent Operation Pillar of Defense was to tally the casualties like it was a sporting event rather than a war. Dissatisfied that Jewish casualties did not equal or exceed the number of Palestinians killed or injured, Israel was accused of disproportionate or indisciminate force. What army fights an enemy with the idea that it is supposed to allow its citizens to be killed so journalists can say the casualty totals were equal so the fight was fair?
The difference in casualties is not that difficult to comprehend. Though the Palestinian terrorists are deliberately targeting men, women and children, their weapons are less accurate than those of the Israeli army. In addition, many lives were saved by the Iron Dome, which intercepted 421 (84 percent) of the rockets it targeted.266 Israelis also have been drilled in how to respond when they hear the warning siren go off and most have shelters in their houses.267
“The Israeli body count isn't low because Hamas is trying to minimize Israeli casualties. Quite the opposite: Hamas's intention is to kill as many Israelis as possible. Without vigilance and luck, and without attempts by the Israeli Air Force to destroy rocket launchers before they can be used, the Israeli body count would be much higher.”
Still, the impact of the Hamas rocket barrages cannot be underestimated. What is the psychological impact on a population that has only 15 seconds to find shelter? What is the economic and emotional impact of nearly half the Israeli population being in range of Iran-supplied rockets? How many days of school did children miss because their schools had to be closed to protect them?
Psychologists have documented that Israeli children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of living for years under the threat of being killed by terrorists.269
It is well documented that Israel does everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. As Colonel Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan testified to the Goldstone Committee in 2009, "The IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare."270 There is a limit to what the IDF can do when Hamas hides behind the innocent, in civilian neighborhoods, schools, mosques and hospitals.271 Many terrorists escape because Israel will not attack such targets if it risks innocent lives.272
During the eight days of fighting, Hamas fired over 1,500 rockets at Israeli towns and cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, killing six and injuring 239. Despite being under constant attack, Israel continued to provide humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. Israel sent 108 truckloads of supplies into Gaza including medical supplies, food, and gas. During the fighting, 26 Palestinians from Gaza crossed into Israel for medical treatment.273
Israelis should not have to apologize for doing everything in their power to protect their citizens and, as a result, minimizing the number of casualties. They are under no obligation to earn the sympathy of critics by sacrificing their women and children. Israeli soldiers, many in their teens, put their lives at risk to protect their fellow Israelis and should not have to die for the world to recognize that the disparity in casualty totals is a function of how Hamas hides behind its civilians.
“At the end of the day, what these 'disproportionate numbers' show is how we in Israel protect our children with elaborate shelters and missile defense systems, whereas the terror groups in Gaza hide behind theirs, using them as human shields in order to win a cynical media war.”
Nira Lee, IDF officer274
No American or person of any other nationality would apologize for their country defending its interests. The United States certainly has not apologized for the civilian toll, numbering in the tens of thousands, in Iraq and Afghanistan. No American would feel better if an equal number of Americans had been killed. We mourn the loss of our 5,000 plus soldiers, but do not worry if the world believes that our actions were disproportionate because our dead and wounded represent a fraction of the number of enemy combatants and civilians who died during the fighting.
Sadly, innocent Palestinians did die as a result of the conflict that Hamas provoked. Israel, however, has no moral responsibility to let the terrorists kill their citizens to make the casualty box score look more even for the media or Israel’s detractors.
“War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours....When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it’s the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you’ll know what to do!”
George S. Patton275
Ma’ale Adumim is a suburb of Israel’s capital, barely three miles outside Jerusalem’s city limits, a ten-minute drive away. Ma’ale Adumim is not a recently constructed outpost on a hilltop; it was established in 1975 and is now the largest Jewish city in the territories, with a population of approximately 46,000. The community is popular because it is clean, safe, and close to where many residents work. Israel has long planned to fill in the empty gap between Jerusalem and this bedroom community -- referred to as the E1 project.
The E1 corridor is approximately 3,250 acres and is largely uninhabited state land on steep hills. According to the plan, a new neighborhood of Ma’ale Adumim would be constructed with approximately 3,500 housing units. The plan also includes tourist, industrial and commercial areas and a nature reserve. 276
Every Israeli prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin has supported the plan and, according to the Clinton parameters, Ma’ale Adumim was to be part of Israel in a final peace agreement. The Palestinians agreed to this as well. The area is also included within the route of the separation fence on the Israeli side.
Critics of the E1 plan complain that it would kill the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute by making it impossible for the Palestinians to have a contiguous state. This is untrue because the Palestinian state would be contiguous around the eastern side of the city.
Clinton Parameters (2001)
[click on map to enlarge]
The other complaint is that linking Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem would cut off east Jerusalem from a Palestinian state, but Israel has proposed constructing a four-lane underpass to guarantee free passage between the West Bank and the Arab sections of Jerusalem that would actually reduce the time for Palestinian drivers traveling in a north-south direction. In addition, “access to Jerusalem through Abu Dis, Eizariya, Hizma and Anata is not prevented by the proposed neighborhood, nor would it be precluded by a string of neighborhoods connecting Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.” 277
Curiously, none of the critics of E1, who express such concern for the contiguity of a future Palestinian state, are disturbed by the fact that the failure to complete the project would preclude Israel from having contiguous borders as Ma’ale Adumim would become an island in the middle of the Palestinian state. Incidentally, this one-sided concern about contiguity is also evident in discussions regarding linking the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which are not contiguous either, and would require some rail or auto link that would break up the continuity of Israel in the Negev.
The hypocrisy toward the E1 project is further exemplified by the international silence over the illegal Palestinian Arab building in the area. The Palestinians want to prevent Israel from linking Ma’ale Adumim with Jerusalem by filling the area with their own homes and they also hope to surround Jewish neighborhoods built after 1967. If the Palestinians succeed, they can threaten Jerusalem from the east and block the city’s development while also threatening the Jerusalem-Jericho road, a strategically vital passage for the movement of troops and equipment through the Jordan Valley. The illegal construction has already reduced the area for building Israeli homes and narrowed the corridor to Jerusalem from about one mile to six-tenths of a mile.
[click on map to enlarge]
According to the Oslo II agreement, Israel retained control over the area around E1 and therefore has the right to build in the area, but the Palestinians do not. Israel has built a police station and the infrastructure for completing construction in the area but has refrained from moving ahead on the project. In fact, every time a prime minister announces plans to begin work on E1, they mysteriously reverse course, usually within 24 hours, apparently after being threatened by the United States. This occurred in the most recent case when Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the project would move forward and then almost immediately backtracked after being condemned by the United States and many other Western nations.278
The two-state solution is not threatened by the E1 project; it is in danger from the continuing terrorism from Gaza and the refusal of Mahmoud Abbas to engage in peace negotiations. While settlement construction is controversial in Israel, there is broad consensus that Ma’ale Adumim will be part of Israel after any agreement with the Palestinians and that it should be linked to Jerusalem. After years of planning, the time to complete the E1 project is overdue and should no longer be held hostage to the specious complaints of the Palestinians and their supporters.
In the Orwellian world of Middle East politics:
Perhaps it is worth reminding the inhabitants of this Orwellian world of the following facts:
- The country that is bombarded for years by rockets and has half its population at risk has no interest in peace while the terrorists behind the bombardment are viewed as partners for peace negotiations.
- The leader who has called for negotiations without preconditions is pilloried for an alleged disinterest in peace while the leader who has refused to talk for four years is hailed as a moderate partner for peace.
- The leader who said in his last speech before his assassination that he did not support the establishment of a Palestinian state is remembered as a great peace maker while the prime minister who has called for the creation of a Palestinian state living beside Israel is a hardliner standing in the way of Palestinian independence.
- The “moderate” Palestinians wish to unite with Islamic extremists who openly call for Israel’s destruction.
- The United Nations, which adopted a resolution calling for negotiations to bring about peace for all nations with “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” undermines its longstanding position by voting to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state with borders that impinge on the rights of another state, are not secure and would be inhabited by people who threaten and carry out acts of force.
- Israel is the country that is targeted by Palestinian terrorists who openly call for its destruction.
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the leader who has called for negotiations without preconditions and it is Mahmoud Abbas who has set conditions and refused to discuss peace since 2008.
- It is also Netanyahu who has said he would accept a two-state solution while Yitzhak Rabin, rightly recognized as a peacemaker, said he would not accept a Palestinian state.
- Mahmoud Abbas, supposedly a moderate, continues to spew vitriol and oversee the Palestinian Authority, at least in the West Bank, where terrorists continue to infiltrate Israel and incitement against Israel regularly appears in the Palestinian media. Abbas now wants to unite with Hamas, whose leader, Khaled Meshal said during his first visit to Gaza: “Palestine from the river to the sea, from the north to the south, is our land and we [Hamas] will never give up one inch or any part of it.”279
- UN Security Council Resolution 242 has been the basis for peace talks since 1967. It does not mention the Palestinians nor does it require Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders as specified in the non-binding General Assembly resolution unilaterally imposing terms on Israel. Resolution 242 does, however, explicitly say that every state in the region has the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries.”280
While the Orwellians continue to insist that the Palestinians desire peace and a two-state solution while Israelis oppose this outcome, it is worth remembering the facts about the many opportunities the Palestinians have squandered to establish a state and the repeated peace offers made by Israel:
- In 1937, the Peel Commission proposed the partition of Palestine and the creation of an Arab state.
- In 1939, the British White Paper proposed the creation of a unitary Arab state.
- In 1947, the UN would have created an even larger Arab state as part of its partition plan.
- From 1949 until 1967, it was Jordan that occupied the West Bank and Egypt that controlled the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians never sought the creation of a Palestinian state in those territories.
- The 1979 Egypt-Israel peace negotiations offered the Palestinians autonomy, which would almost certainly have led to full independence.
- The Oslo agreements of the 1990s laid out a path for Palestinian independence, but the process was derailed by terrorism.
- In 2000, Yasser Arafat rejected Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer to create a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and 97 percent of the West Bank.
- Over the course of 35 meetings in 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to withdraw from almost the entire West Bank and partition Jerusalem on a demographic basis, but Abbas did not accept the proposal.
- From 2009 until today, Prime Minister Netanyahu has invited Abbas to sit down without preconditions to negotiate a two-state solution to the dispute and Abbas has refused to discuss peace.
We are long past 1984 and it is time for Israel’s critics to face reality and the facts.
In the debate about Iran, it is sometimes suggested that Iran is irrational and that is why it should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. Others then argue that calling Iranians irrational reflects a Western bias. The truth is that Iranians are rational, but they may be acting according to a different rationale than people in the West.
The Islamic regime’s logic is rooted in a potentially lethal cocktail of history, religion and politics. It is the religious aspect, in particular, that differentiates Iran from the Soviet Union and other nuclear powers. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believes the most important task of the Iranian Revolution was to prepare the way for the return of the Twelfth Imam, who disappeared in 874, bringing an end to Muhammad’s lineage. This imam, the Mahdi or “divinely guided one,” Shiites believe, will return in an apocalyptic battle in which the forces of righteousness will defeat the forces of evil and bring about a new era in which Islam ultimately becomes the dominant religion throughout the world. While Shiites have been waiting patiently for the Twelfth Imam for more than a thousand years, Ahmadinejad may believe he can hasten the Mahdi’s return through a nuclear war. It is this apocalyptic world view, Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis notes, that distinguishes Iran from other governments with nuclear weapons.281
Lewis quotes a passage from Ayatollah Khomeini cited in an 11th grade Iranian schoolbook, “I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against the whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all of them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom, which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another’s hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours.”282
Would leaders who did not hesitate to use children as cannon fodder in the war with Iraq, or who send suicide bombers to kill the innocent, be reticent about using nuclear weapons? How can the idea of Mutual Assured Destruction that prevented a superpower clash apply to people who believe the end of the world will lead to “eternal life and martyrdom?”
Some might argue they don’t mean what they say and when the time came, the Iranians would “love their children too” and back down from the nuclear brink, but would you be willing to take that chance with your children?
Paradoxically, perhaps the most prevalent myth about the Arab-Israeli conflict is the easiest to disprove both rhetorically and empirically. Consider the following facts:
- From 1949–67, when Jews were forbidden to live on the West Bank, the Arabs refused to make peace with Israel.
- From 1967–77, the Labor Party established only a few strategic settlements in the territories, yet the Arabs were unwilling to negotiate peace with Israel.
- In 1977, months after a Likud government committed to greater settlement activity took power, Egyptian President Sadat went to Jerusalem and later signed a peace treaty with Israel. Incidentally, Israeli settlements existed in the Sinai and those were removed as part of the agreement with Egypt.
- One year later, Israel froze settlement building for three months, hoping the gesture would entice other Arabs to join the Camp David peace process, but none would. The Palestinians also rejected an offer of autonomy that most likely would have led to statehood.
- In 1994, Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel and settlements were not an issue; if anything, the number of Jews living in the territories was growing.
- Between June 1992 and June 1996, under Labor-led governments, the Jewish population in the territories grew by approximately 50 percent. This rapid growth did not prevent the Palestinians from signing the Oslo accords in September 1993 or the Oslo 2 agreement in September 1995.
- In 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to dismantle dozens of settlements and withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank, but the Palestinians still would not agree to end the conflict.
- In August 2005, Israel evacuated all of the settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in Northern Samaria, but terror attacks continued.
- In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to withdraw from approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, but the deal was rejected.
- In 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze settlement construction for 10 months and the Palestinians refused to engage in negotiations until the period was nearly over. After agreeing to talk, they walked out when Netanyahu refused to prolong the freeze.
On the last point, President Obama’s special envoy for Mideast peace, George Mitchell noted that the Palestinians were unwilling to accept the settlement freeze offered by Netanyahu because they said it was “useless.” Mitchell added, “They refused to enter into the negotiations until nine months of the 10 had elapsed. Once they entered, they then said [the freeze] was indispensable. What had been worse than useless a few months before then became indispensable and they said they would not remain in the talks unless that indispensable element was extended.”283
In late 2012, the myth took on absurd proportions following the Palestinian decision to seek statehood recognition at the UN General Assembly and Israel’s retaliatory announcement of the intention to build more homes for Jews in existing settlements and in Jerusalem. As a Washington Post editorial noted, the hysterical international reaction to Israel’s moves was “counterproductive because it reinforces two mistaken but widely held notions: that the settlements are the principal obstacle to a deal and that further construction will make a Palestinian state impossible.”284
The Post added that “Mr. Netanyahu’s government, like several before it, has limited building almost entirely to areas that both sides expect Israel to annex through territorial swaps in an eventual settlement. For example, the Jerusalem neighborhoods where construction was announced last month were conceded to Israel by Palestinian negotiators in 2008 [emphasis in original].285
The biggest uproar, the Post observed, was over Netanyahu’s decision to plan for construction in a four-mile strip known as E-1 that would connect Jerusalem with the suburb of Ma’ale Adumim. The Palestinians, and many media outlets including the New York Times, claimed this project would make it impossible to establish a contiguous Palestinian state. The Post correctly reported that Israel will undoubtedly annex Ma’ale Adumim – a city of 40,000 – in any peace deal so the E-1 project is essential to ensure that it does not become an island in the middle of a Palestinian state.286
While UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Israel’s actions an “almost fatal blow” to the two-state solution and British Foreign Secretary William Hague said new building would make it “very difficult to achieve,” the Post called the rhetoric “offensive at a time the Security Council is refusing to take action to stop the slaughter of tens of thousands of civilians – including many Palestinians – by the Syrian regime. Like Obama’s initial call for a settlement freeze, the rhetoric also encourages Mahmoud Abbas to continue to insist on a freeze before negotiating. “If Security Council members are really interested in progress toward Palestinian statehood,” the Post concluded, “they will press Mr. Abbas to stop using settlements as an excuse for intransigence – and cool their own overheated rhetoric.”287
Even though settlements have not impeded peace, many Israelis still have concerns about the expansion of settlements. Some consider them provocative, others worry that the settlers are particularly vulnerable, and note they have been targets of repeated Palestinian terrorist attacks. To defend them, large numbers of soldiers are deployed who would otherwise be training and preparing for a possible future conflict with an Arab army. Some Israelis also object to the amount of money that goes to communities beyond the Green Line, and special subsidies that have been provided to make housing there more affordable. Still others feel the settlers are providing a first line of defense and developing land that rightfully belongs to Israel.
The disposition of settlements is a matter for the final status negotiations. The question of where the final border will be between Israel and a Palestinian entity will likely be influenced by the distribution of these Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria (the border with Gaza was unofficially defined following Israel’s withdrawal). Israel wants to incorporate as many settlers as possible within its borders while the Palestinians want to expel all Jews from the territory they control.
If Israel withdraws toward the 1949 armistice line unilaterally, or as part of a political settlement including land swaps (i.e., in exchange for more territory in the West Bank, Israel would cede land in the Negev or elsewhere to the Palestinians) many settlers will face one or more options: remain in the territories (the disengagement from Gaza suggests this may not be possible), expulsion from their homes, or voluntary resettlement in Israel (with financial compensation).
The impediment to peace is not the existence of Jewish communities in the disputed territories; it is the Palestinians’ unwillingness to accept a state next to Israel instead of one replacing Israel.
Jews have learned from painful history that when someone threatens to kill them, they should take it seriously. Therefore, no one should be surprised at the alarm expressed by Israel after hearing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaim, "This origin of corruption [Israel] will soon be wiped off the Earth's face!" and Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i, Iran's Supreme Leader, declaring, "Israel is a cancerous tumor. So what do you do with a cancerous tumor? What can be done to treat a tumor other than removing it?"
Some argue Iran would never launch a nuclear attack against Israel because no Muslim leader would risk an Israeli counterstrike that might destroy them. This theory doesn't hold up, however, if the Iranian leaders believe there will be destruction anyway at the end of time. What matters, Middle East expert Bernard Lewis observed, is that infidels go to hell and believers go to heaven. Lewis quotes a passage from Ayatollah Khomeini, cited in an 11th grade Iranian schoolbook, "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against the whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all of them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom, which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."288
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believes the most important task of the Iranian Revolution was to prepare the way for the return of the Twelfth Imam, who disappeared in 874, thus bringing an end to Muhammad's lineage. Shiites believe this imam, the Mahdi or "divinely guided one," will return in an apocalyptic battle in which the forces of righteousness will defeat the forces of evil and bring about a new era in which Shi'a Islam ultimately becomes the dominant religion throughout the world. The Shiites have been waiting patiently for the Twelfth Imam for more than a thousand years, but Ahmadinejad may believe he can now hasten the return through a nuclear war. It is this apocalyptic world view, Lewis notes, that distinguishes Iran from other governments with nuclear weapons.
There are those who think that Iran would never use such weapons against Israel because innocent Muslims would be killed as well; however, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad's predecessor, explicitly said he wasn't concerned about fallout from an attack on Israel. "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in its possession," he said, "the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world." As one Iranian commentator noted, Rafsanjani apparently wasn't concerned that the destruction of the Jewish State would also result in the mass murder of Palestinians as well.289
Iran will not have to use nuclear weapons to influence events in the region. By possessing a nuclear capability, the Iranians can deter Israel or any other nation from attacking Iran or its allies. When Hezbollah attacked Israel in 2006, for example, a nuclear Iran could have threatened retaliation against Tel Aviv if Israeli forces bombed Beirut. The mere threat of using nuclear weapons would be sufficient to drive Israelis into shelters and could cripple the economy. Will immigrants want to come to a country that lives in the shadow of annihilation? Will companies want to do business under those conditions? Will Israelis be willing to live under a nuclear cloud?
If you were the prime minister of Israel, would you take seriously threats to destroy Israel by someone who might soon have the capability to carry them out? Could you afford to take the risk of allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons? How long would you wait for sanctions or other international measures to work before acting unilaterally to defend your country?
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 have shown no interest in negotiating with Israel for the four years of Obama’s first term. The idea that now is the time for a new U.S. initiative in the Middle East is wrongheaded on multiple grounds.
Let’s set aside the fact that Israel relinquished Gaza nearly eight years ago and received thousands of rockets in return instead of the peace on which the Israeli disengagement was predicated; and that most Israelis do not want to give up territory in the West Bank that could become another Hamastan. Ignore also everything happening along Israel’s borders: the ascension to power of Islamists in Egypt; the civil war in Syria; the takeover of Lebanon by Hezbollah; and the potential downfall of the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan. And those are just the state of affairs to Israel’s immediate borders, to say nothing of what is happening elsewhere in the neighborhood.
If none of the above were true, it would still be unwise for President Obama to launch a new peace initiative. While the United States can play a valuable role as a mediator, history shows that American peace initiatives have never succeeded, and that the parties themselves must resolve their differences.
- 1953: The Eisenhower Administration tried to ease Arab-Israeli tensions by proposing the joint Arab-Israeli use of the Jordan River, a plan that would have helped the Arab refugees by producing more irrigated land and would have reduced Israel’s need for more water resources. Israel cautiously accepted the plan, the Arab League rejected it.
- 1967: President Johnson outlined five 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 ... ”
- 1969: 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 borders; to accept many Palestinian refugees; 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 it.
- 1975: President Ford’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had a little more success in his shuttle diplomacy, arranging the disengagement of forces after the 1973 war, but he never put forward a peace plan, and failed to move the parties beyond the cessation of hostilities to the formalization of peace.
- 1978: 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 decided to bypass the Americans and go directly to the Israeli people and address the Knesset. Despite revisionist history by Carter’s former advisers, the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement was negotiated largely despite Carter. Menachem Begin and Sadat had carried on secret contacts long before Camp David 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 were misguided.
- 1982: President Reagan announced a surprise peace initiative 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 from Beirut, but they also rejected the Reagan Plan.
- 1991: George Bush's Administration succeeded in convening a historic regional conference in Madrid 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 for peace.
- 1993: President Clinton 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.
- 1994: Peace with Jordan 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 Hussein’s 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.
- 2000: In a last ditch effort to save his presidential legacy, Clinton put forward a peace plan 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 Bank and Gaza, and to make east Jerusalem their capital, the Palestinians rejected the deal.
- 2002: President George W. Bush also offered a plan, but it was undercut by Yasser Arafat, who obstructed the required reforms of the Palestinian Authority, and refused to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and stop the violence. Bush’s plan morphed into the Road Map, 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 Sharon made his disengagement proposal, 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.
- 2007: In his own last-ditch effort to bring momentum to a stalled process toward peace, George W. Bush organized 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 in Israel or the West Bank; and terrorist organization Hamas had been elected rulers of the all-Palestinian Gaza Strip just several months prior.
- 2009: President Obama 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 and Jerusalem 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, Arab 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.
Now is not the time for Obama to repeat his first-term mistakes. Far more urgent matters in the Middle East that he can influence require his attention: Iran’s nuclear program; Syria’s civil war; Egypt’s turn toward radical Islam; the prevention of civil war in Iraq; and the bolstering of King Abdullah in Jordan.
History has shown that Middle East peace is not made in America. Only the parties can decide to end the conflict, and the terms that will be acceptable. No American plan has ever succeeded, and it is unlikely one will ever bring peace. The end to the Arab-Israeli conflict will not be achieved through American initiatives or intense U.S. involvement; it will be possible only when Arab leaders resolve to live in peace with Israel.
In his first comments as America’s new Secretary of State, John Kerry said that pursuing Israeli-Palestinian peace would be one of his top priorities. "So much of what we aspire to achieve and what we need to do globally, what we need to do in the Maghreb and South Asia, South Central Asia, throughout the Gulf, all of this is tied to what can or doesn't happen with respect to Israel-Palestine. And in some places it's used as an excuse. In other places it's a genuine, deeply felt challenge."290
Kerry's statement was alarming because it represented the long discredited State Department view that the Palestinian issue is the root of all Middle East problems and ignored the turmoil in the region unrelated to the Palestinian issue, including threats from al-Qaeda, unrest in Iraq, ongoing fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan, new terror threats in North Africa, Syria in flames, Egypt on the verge of chaos, and most important, Iran nearing the ability to build a nuclear weapon.
The timing also was dubious because of the public pronouncements of the Palestinians. Just a few months ago at the United Nations, Mahmoud Abbas gave a vitriolic speech accusing Israel of “one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossession in modern history;” of unprovoked “aggression” in Gaza; and of “an apartheid system of colonial occupation, which institutionalizes the plague of racism.”291 Are these the words of a leader interested in peace?
Similarly, in December 2012, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal used his first visit to Gaza to declare: “From the sea to the river, from north to south, we will not give up any part of Palestine — it is our country, our right and our homeland.” He added that Palestinians are “all united in the way of resistance.”292
The situation is even worse given that Abbas wants to reconcile with Hamas, which has repeatedly stated it will not accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and the Palestinian public opinion supports Hamas. In a December 2012 poll, for example, 41% of the Palestinians think that armed attacks on army and settlers can force Israel to withdraw from the territories; while 24% think peaceful non-violent resistance can force Israelis to withdraw and 30% think that negotiations with Israel can bring it to withdraw.293
When Palestinians were asked, given the outcome of the war between Hamas and Israel and the UN recognition of a Palestinian state, whose way is the best to end the Israeli occupation and build a Palestinian state: Hamas’ way or Abbas’s way, 60% say Hamas’ way and 28% Abbas’ way. By contrast, more than 60% of Israelis said they were willing to give up some or all of the West Bank.294
Everyone in Israel longs for peace, so the Secretary will not be turned away or discouraged; nevertheless, he should not be blind to regional realities and recent history. Israeli nerves still raw from absorbing thousands of Palestinian terror rockets and seeing half their population forced to be on constant alert. Even the most dovish Israelis are unwilling to make concessions in the West Bank unless they have security guarantees that will prevent the territory from becoming another Hamistan terror base.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly invited Abbas for negotiations, and Abbas has spent the last four years rejecting the overtures, doing everything in his power to subvert a negotiated settlement and trying to convince the international community to impose Palestinian terms on Israel.
Secretary Kerry needs to make clear to the Palestinians that their only chance for statehood is through direct talks with Israel; that Hamas cannot be a part of the Palestinian leadership; that the Palestinian Authority must cease incitement, and demonstrate through words and deeds a commitment to the two-state solution; and that the United States will not accept excuses or preconditions to negotiations.
Kerry should also reassure Israelis that he understands the Gaza precedent, the new strategic dangers they face from their neighbors, and the necessity of eliminating the Iranian threat before Israelis can be expected to take new risks for peace.
More instability?! Have the proponents of this idea been following the news for the last two years?
Even in the best of times, the Middle East is an unstable region because of ongoing disputes between various Arab states. Now, an increased level of chaos has spread across the region as a result of upheavals in North Africa, Yemen and the Persian Gulf, continuing unrest in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a bloody civil war in Syria.
Among the possible worst case scenarios, it is conceivable that a military strike on Iran would cause a backlash among peoples in the region angered by an attack on a Muslim nation; it may unite the Iranian people in defense of their country; or, current rulers of conservative regimes may come under attack for complicity in the attack.
The consequences of a strike could, however, have positive consequences for the region. The Israeli military strikes on nuclear facilities in Iraq (1981) and Syria (2007), for example, did not provoke greater instability in the Middle East despite lacking any international consensus. Both attacks eliminated potentially destabilizing nuclear weapons programs and discouraged a nuclear arms race in the region. Arab leaders now are petrified of a nuclear Iran and will, at least tacitly, support measures that would eliminate Iran’s nuclear threat.295
While the negative scenario envisions the Iranian population rallying around its leaders in the event of a military strike, it is also possible that, when liberated from the intimidation of the mullahs, the Iranian people will launch a “Persian Spring” demanding freedom and democracy from their government. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is obviously nervous about this possibility, noting in April 2012 that he believes Libya’s abandonment of its nuclear program in 2003 eventually hastened the overthrow of Qaddafi.296
In the short-term, an attack on Iran might have a deleterious impact on oil prices as speculators react to the possibility of reduced supplies; however, in the long-term, an attack could actually help stabilize the oil market as it would hamper Iran’s ability to threaten global oil supplies and weaken its position within OPEC, where it has advocated stricter quotas to drive up prices.
A successful strike on Iran could also help free two countries that have been under its thumb for three decades. Without the support of the radical Shiite leaders in Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will lose his principal patron in the region and Syria will no longer serve as a forward Iranian base for harboring terrorists and interfering in the affairs of Lebanon. The fall of Iran’s leadership would also put an end to its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, effectively thwarting the organization’s ability to terrorize Israel and control Lebanese affairs.
Furthermore, destroying the Iranian nuclear program would eliminate the threat of Iranian sponsored nuclear terrorism and proliferation, and would signal to the rest of the region that nuclear weapons programs will not be tolerated. This outcome is especially important in light of nuclear agreements signed by more than a dozen Arab countries in response to Iran’s continued nuclear developments.
It is easy for opponents of military action to construct nightmare scenarios that will scare the public and sway world leaders away from confrontation with Iran. However, military planners and statesmen must analyze the current situation objectively and weigh the risk of a negative outcome, as well as the danger posed by inaction, against the potential benefits of a proactive strike against Iran.
If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was solved, the Middle East would be at peace.
A cardinal view of Arabists is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core of all Middle East problems. According to Middle East scholar Martin Kramer, this " linkage" theory holds that the Israeli-Palestinian issue, practically alone, prompts the rise of terrorists, weakens friendly governments, and makes it impossible for the United States to win Arabs and Muslims over to the good cause.297 Though this doctrine has been proven erroneous, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, continues to adhere to this discredited viewpoint.
"The core of all challenges in the Middle East remains the underlying Arab-Israeli conflict," Hagel said in 2006. "The failure to address this root cause will allow Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terrorists to continue to sustain popular Muslim and Arab support."298 In 2008, Hagel took this view even further, noting that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "cannot be looked at in isolation. Like a stone dropped into a placid lake, its ripples extend out father and father. Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon feel the effects most noticeably. Farther still, Afghanistan and Pakistan; anything that impacts their political stability also affects the two emerging economic superpowers, India and China."299
As events across the Middle East have shown, however, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is but one of many ethnic, religious and nationalist feuds plaguing the region, most of which are independent of each other. Here is but a partial list of conflicts that have occurred in the Middle East over the past two and a half decades: the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88); the First Gulf War (1991); the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90); the Sudanese Civil War (1983-2000); the "Arab Spring" upheavals (2011- ); and the ongoing Syrian Civil War (2011- ). None of these are connected to the Palestinian issue.
"Almost every border in that part of the world, from Libya to Pakistan, from Turkey to Yemen, is either ill-defined or in dispute," scholar Daniel Pipes notes in his book The Long Shadow, "But Americans tend to know only about Israel’s border problems and do not realize that these fit into a pattern that recurs across the Middle East."300
If the Israeli-Palestinian problem was solved, it would have either minimal or no impact on the many intra-Arab rivalries or the Iranian nuclear threat to the region. Sunnis and Shiites would still be competing for influence, as will secularists and fundamentalists, and a host of other conflicts would remain unaffected by a change in relations between Israelis and Palestinians. Moreover, espousing linkage may have a deleterious impact on the Middle East, as it could "lead to panicked overreaction whenever Israelis and Arabs do exchange blows."301
The achievement of a peace agreement will also have little impact on regional disputes. Israel will still have to remain vigilant to ensure that a Palestinian state does not become a threat or the first stage of the policy of liberating "greater" Palestine over time. Peace with the Palestinians may be a catalyst for regional peace, but it is no guarantee that Syria or Lebanon will change their policies toward Israel, especially if Iran continues to influence their behavior and Hezbollah remains in power and committed to Israel’s destruction. Furthermore, a treaty with the Palestinians would not satisfy the Iranians’ desire to "wipe Israel off the map."
“Our leaders should have a realistic - as opposed to a 'realist' - understanding of the root causes of Middle East strife. How can they protect us from threats if they don’t understand the causes of these threats? Decades of dictatorship, [not the Arab-Israeli conflict], brought the Middle East to its current condition, along with misogyny, poor education, corruption, the politicizing of Islam and sectarian hatred.”
Jeffrey Goldberg 302
Israel has created separate bus lines to segregate Jews and Palestinians.
Leave it to the Palestinians to turn an Israeli accommodation to make their lives better into a political attack. The latest example relates to Israel’s decision to create a bus line exclusively for Palestinians to expedite their travel into Israel to work, which some Palestinians and their supporters are now claiming to be a policy of segregation.
The need for the new bus line was created because Israel has significantly increased the number of work permits given to Palestinians and the existing bus lines have become overcrowded. After years of being prevented from working in Israel because of the Palestinian War (2000-2005) and the wave of terrorist attacks, Israel has been gradually easing restrictions on Arabs in the West Bank, and the number of Palestinians now allowed to work in Israel is at or near the prewar levels. While Israel’s detractors accuse Israel of mistreating Palestinians, nearly 40,000 now go to work each day in Israel. Many others, paradoxically, work in the Jewish settlements that their leaders castigate.
Before establishing the new lines, Palestinian workers had no direct line from their communities to the border crossing. They had a choice of traveling to an Israeli settlement and taking a bus from there into Israel or using “pirate” driving services that have been transporting Palestinian workers by circuitous routes “at exorbitant prices.” Thanks to the new buses, the cost of traveling to Tel Aviv will be reduced by nearly 75 percent.303
While Israel maintains the new bus lines are a goodwill gesture, critics have called it an example of Israeli racism. In fact, the buses pick up Palestinians in Arab communities and have different endpoints than the buses they used to take. Furthermore, no Palestinians are prevented from using the old buses, which most disliked because they had to travel with Jewish settlers. The settlers also had complained about what they viewed as a security threat from riding with Palestinians from the West Bank.
Palestinian workers agree with Israeli officials that the new buses make their lives much easier. The Times of Israel reported: “Hundreds of laborers gathered at the Eyal checkpoint before dawn to take advantage of the new service. Outside of some overcrowding from heavier-than-expected demand, few problems were reported, and riders seemed pleased with the new arrangement.”304
Not only did Israeli officials discover there weren’t enough buses to meet the demand, but Palestinian workers requested additional buses to run on Fridays so they would not have to pay “pirates.”305 The attitudes of Palestinian workers might best be summarized by Naim Liftawi, a 40-year-old employee at an upholstery factory in Kfar Sava, “the [critics] can say what they want, as long as I'm safe on the bus. I just want to put bread on the table for my children.306
Unfortunately, the buses have already come under attack. Unknown assailants set fire to two buses on the new line on March 5, 2013.307
The European Union has no reason to name Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
For decades, the Europeans have taken a “head in the sand” approach to recognizing the obvious – that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. If Hezbollah’s terror attacks were limited to the Middle East, European leaders might have cause to suggest the group does not threaten them, but the truth is that Hezbollah is engaged in terror on an international scale and has also killed internationals in Lebanon.
In February 2013, after an exhaustive investigation, the Bulgarian government announced that it believed Hezbollah was responsible for a July 2012 attack in the resort town of Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver and injured dozens more. As U.S. National Security Adviser Thomas E. Donilon observed, “This report is significant because a European Union member state, Bulgaria, explicitly pointed a finger at Hezbollah and lifted the veil on the group’s continued terrorist activities. Europe can no longer ignore the threat that this group poses to the Continent and to the world.”308
Most people forget that, excluding the terrible events of 9/11, more Americans have been killed by Hezbollah than any other terrorist group. In 1983, Hezbollah bombed the United States Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people. Then the group bombed the American and French Marine Barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Americans and 58 French service members. In 1996, Hezbollah assisted in the Khobar Towers attack in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 Americans. Subsequently, in 1997, Hezbollah became one of the first groups added to the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.
Even before the Bulgaria attack, Hezbollah had a bloody record of international terror marked by kidnappings, airplane hijackings, bombings in Paris and an attempted bombing in Bangkok. Two of the group’s most heinous attacks occurred thousands of miles from the Middle East, in Buenos Aires. In 1992, Hezbollah detonated a car bomb outside the Israeli Embassy, killing 29 people and injured more than 250 others. Among the victims were Israeli diplomats, children, clergy from a local church and other innocent bystanders. Two years later, Hezbollah struck again, bombing the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish community center in Buenos Aires - 87 people were killed and more than 100 people were injured.
With the help of Iran and Syria, Hezbollah has terrorized Lebanon and essentially taken over the country. Currently, at fear of losing the patronage of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian arms smuggling routes, Hezbollah fighters have even joined in the defense of the dictatorial regime.
Given its indisputable record of terror and the fact that United States, Israel, Canada, the UK, Egypt and Bahrain all consider it a terrorist organization, it is hard to understand the reluctance of the European community to do the same. A number of excuses can be manufactured, such as the traditional European fear of doing anything that might alienate the Arabs; the concern that European nationals serving in the peacekeeping force in Lebanon could become targets; the desire not to complicate relations with Hezbollah’s sponsor, Iran; the fear of the French, in particular, of jeopardizing their historic role in Lebanon; the specious argument that because Hezbollah has a “political wing,” it is not a terror organization; or, the desire to keep channels of communication open.
Hezbollah’s freedom of action would be severely restricted if the EU labeled it a terrorist organization; however, this requires all 27 member states to agree on the designation.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on the EU to act, as have more than 100 members of the U.S. Congress. Donilon called on the Europeans to respond swiftly to ensure no other attacks occur in Europe. He said they “must disrupt [Hezbollah’s] operational networks, stop flows of financial assistance to the group, crack down on Hezbollah-linked criminal enterprises and condemn the organization’s leaders for their continued pursuit of terrorism.” 309
Following the Bulgarian report on the Burgas bombing, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said “It is important that the EU respond robustly to an attack on European soil.” Hague promised to discuss with his European colleagues “measures we can now take to continue to make our citizens safer.”310
Non-lethal Palestinian rocket attacks have no impact on Israel's civilian population.
The years of rocket attacks from Hamas terrorists in Gaza have given researchers an opportunity to study their impact on the Israeli population that has come under fire. While apologists for Hamas have downplayed the severity of the thousands of rockets and mortars that have been fired into Israel because of the low number of casualties, the damage caused is far more serious and widespread than news reports at the time of the attacks suggest.
The latest research finding to document the severity of these terror attacks found that women in Sderot had significantly more miscarriages than those who are not exposed to warning sirens and missile barrages. In an article published in Psychosomatic Medicine Journal of Bio-Behavioral Medicine, Tamar Wainstock and Professor Ilana Shoham-Vardi of Ben-Gurion University's Department of Epidemiology, suggested the increased number of miscarriages was most likely attributable to the stress of living with the threat of a rocket attack.311
After eight years of rocket attacks, health officials are also reporting that “many residents have to be treated for hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, and/or central auditory processing disorders.” 312
Not surprisingly, children have been especially traumatized by the anxiety and fear provoked by the attacks. It takes months of treatment to recover and a single rocket attack during the therapy period can send the whole process back to square one. According to a 2008 study conducted by Natal, the Israel Center for Victims of Terror and War, between 75 percent and 94 percent of Sderot children aged 4-18 exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and 28 percent of adults and 30 percent of children in Sderot have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The distinction between post-traumatic stress symptoms, such as problems sleeping and concentrating, and PTSD itself, is that the latter can interfere seriously with daily life. One of the goals of therapists is to try to prevent stress disorders before any rocket attacks by teaching adults and children how to reduce anxiety in a place that is under ongoing danger.313
What do these statistics mean for the lives of children living under fire? Here are a few examples:
In Sderot it is now normal practice to take showers in under a minute for fear that a siren will sound while they are washing up. Music is seldom played as it may block out the sound of the red alert, and even seat belts are no longer worn in cars because they can restrict a quick exit. When rocket fire is more constant, entire families will often live in bomb shelter for days on end.314
Palestinian terrorism poses not only a physical threat to Israelis, but also a psychological one. The years of attacks are now taking a toll, especially on women and children.
Israelis overreact to harmless rock-throwing by Palestinians.
Of the many “David versus Goliath” images that are portrayed in the media to dramatize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the most common may be that of the helpless Palestinian throwing rocks at heavily armed Israeli soldiers. These images are powerful but also frequently misleading, failing to distinguish between the aggressor and the victim.
While the media is often drawn to rock-throwing riots against IDF troops (often staged by Palestinian instigators), many of these incidents occur beyond the glare of media lights and are directed not at soldiers, but Jewish men, women and children, often innocently driving along a roadway.
The “David vs. Goliath” imagery is typically used to illustrate an underdog battling against a much greater power, yet those applying this analogy to the Palestinians ignore the fact that David’s rock actually killed Goliath and marked the beginning of the end to the rule of the Philistines in Biblical Israel. Over the years, Palestinian “Davids” have killed many Jews with their stones - but none of them were “Goliaths.”
The media typically ignores these near-daily terror attacks against Jews, or significantly downplays their lethality. A March 2013 cover article in the New York Times’ Sunday Magazine, for example, called Palestinian rock throwers “unarmed” resisters.315 Christian Science Monitor referred to the tactic as "peaceful palestinian resistance" while the Los Angeles Times labelled rock throwers as “Palestinians who see nonviolence as their weapon.”316
The incidents of March 14, 2013, however dispel the false notion that rock-throwing is nonviolent or harmless. That day, a woman was driving with her three young daughters past the city of Ariel when a group of Palestinians threw rocks at a truck coming in the other direction. The truck swerved and collided with the family’s car, injuring the mother and the two older daughters. The youngest, a three-year-old child, was critically injured, and doctors are still trying to save her life.317 Later that same night, on the same highway, a 10-month-old baby was injured when rocks thrown at his parents’ car shattered the windshield. 318
These are but two examples, but many more can be cited in which Palestinian rock throwers have murdered, or attempted to murder, innocent Jews. For example:
November 2012: Ziona Kalla, wife of Israeli singer Itzik Kalla, sustained serious injuries as a result of stones hurled at her car by Palestinians near Beitar Illit.
September 2011: Asher Palmer and his 1-year-old son were killed in a stone-throwing attack near Kiryat Arba. Two Palestinians from the nearby village of Halhul admitted to instigating the attack. Waal al-Araja – a member of the Palestinian security forces -- was convicted of murder in the case in March 2013.319
June 2001: Five-month-old Yehuda Haim Shoham’s family was returning from visiting relatives in Ra'anana when a Palestinian threw a rock at the front windshield that hit and killed baby Yehuda in the back seat.320
May 2001: Koby Mandell (13) and Yosef Ishran (14) were beaten to death with rocks when they were hiking on the outskirts of Tekoa. Their bodies were found in a cave, covered with stones. The perpetrators have still not been found.321
October 2000: Bachor Jean (54) was killed by rocks thrown at his vehicle while he was travelling from Haifa to Rishon Lezion. The rocks shattered the windshield and struck his chest. His brother, who was driving the car, sped to the hospital but was too late. The perpetrators were found to be from the nearby Arab village Jisar a-Zarka.322
January 1983: Esther Ohana (21) was killed by a rock thrown at her car that hit her in the head while driving near the Palestinian village Dahariya.
In 2013 alone, the IDF has already recorded 1,195 rock throwing incidents in the West Bank.323 No one should be fooled into believing stone-throwing is harmless or a form of non-violent protest; rocks are weapons used by Palestinians to injure and kill Israeli Jews.
Now is a good time to revive the Arab peace initiative.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has made no secret of his desire to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Press reports have suggested that to do so he may attempt to convince the parties in the region to reconsider the so-called Arab peace initiative.
However, with all of the necessary parties focused on regional turmoil and threats - from the instability in Egypt to the civil war in Syria to the Iranian nuclear program - this does not seem to be a propitious time to push Israel to make dangerous concessions to neighbors who show no new interest in peace. In fact, rather than expanding peace, the greater fear at the moment is that the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty might unravel.
Beyond the current atmosphere, the substance of the Arab peace proposal is problematic.
When the plan was originally announced in 2002, Israel said it was prepared to negotiate with the Arab states but that many of their demands were simply unacceptable.
It is worth remembering that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah presented a vision of peace at a time when the Saudis were under scrutiny for their involvement in the 9/11 attacks and were desperate to project themselves globally as peacemakers not supporters of terror. Abdullah’s plan was subsequently revised and adopted by the Arab League as a peace initiative that offered Israel "normal relations" in exchange for a withdrawal to the pre-1967 “Green Line” and a resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue.
The "new" initiative was actually a restatement of the Arab interpretation of UN Resolution 242, namely that Israel must withdraw from “all” territories captured during the Six Day War of1967. The resolution, however, only calls on Israel to withdraw from territories, not "all" the territories, in exchange for peace.
Additionally, Resolution 242 states that every nations has the right to live within "secure and recognizable boundaries," which military analysts have understood to mean the pre-1967 armistice lines, with modifications, to guarantee Israel' security. Incidentally, the resolution does not put precedence for one or the other, rather holds them as equal principles. Israel, therefore, is under no legal obligation to withdraw before the Arabs agree to live in peace.
The Arab plan calls for Israel to withdraw specifically from the Golan Heights. In the past, Israel expressed a willingness to do so, but now that rockets are being fired across the border and the Syrian army has lost control of the surrounding area, no Israeli government would contemplate withdrawing from the strategic high ground.
The plan’s demand that Israel withdraw from "the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon" is not only ingenuous, but at odds with the UN conclusion that Israel has completely fulfilled its obligation to withdraw from Lebanese territory.
The Arab initiative also calls for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN General Assembly Resolution 194, a resolution the Arab states all voted against. The Arabs interpret the resolution as requiring Israel to allow all of the nearly five million Palestinians who claim refugee status to move to Israel. In fact, the UN recognized that Israel could not be expected to repatriate a hostile population that might endanger its security. The solution to the problem, like all previous refugee problems, would require at least some Palestinians to be resettled in Arab lands.
Israel has agreed to allow some Palestinian refugees to move to Israel on a humanitarian basis and as part of family reunification. Thousands have already been admitted this way.
The refugee issue was not part of Abdullah's original proposal and was added later under pressure from other Arab delegations. Also, it is important to note that Resolution 242 says nothing about the Palestinians and the reference to refugees can also be applied to the Jews who fled and were driven from their homes in Arab countries.
Another change from Abdullah's previously stated vision was a retreat from a promise of full normalization of relations with Israel to an even vaguer pledge of "normal relations."
The Arab demand that Israel accept the establishment of a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital has been part of the negotiations since Oslo. Israel's leaders have accepted the idea of creating a Palestinian state in part of those territories and offered to evacuate as much as 97 percent of the West Bank in exchange for peace; however, the Palestinians have rejected all of Israel’s compromises.
It is also worth noting that most of the Arab League nations have no reason not to be at peace with Israel now. Israel holds none of their territory and is more than willing to make peace with the members of the League.
If the Arab proponents of the plan were sincere, the response should be that they are prepared to sit down with Israel’s leaders and discuss how to overcome the disagreements. But this has not been the Arab response. Rather than accept an Israeli invitation to come to Jerusalem to negotiate or exploit the willingness of Israel’s leaders to go to an Arab capital for talks, the Arabs have told Israel it must accept the plan or face the threat of war.
Peace plans are not worth the paper they are printed on if the proponents continue to talk about war and pursue policies such as supporting terrorists, arming radical Muslims, inciting their populations with anti-Semitic propaganda and enforcing boycotts that promote conflict.
Progress toward real peace requires the Arab states to show by words and deeds that they are committed to finding a formula for coexisting with Israel. The only ultimatum should be that if the first efforts to reach an understanding do not succeed, they will try and try again.
The Palestinian Authority is committed to reforming Palestinian society.
At the end of March 2013, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the PA’s 2013 fiscal year budget, which totals $3.9 billion in spending. Despite persistent complaints of insufficient funds to meet the PA’s obligations, economic stagnation, the failure of Arab donors to make good on their aid pledges, and a recurring debt of more than $1 billion, Abbas increased the budget by nearly $400 million over 2012.324
Beyond the increase in expenditures and the over-reliance on foreign aid to cover spending, the 2013 budget also reveals the priorities of the Palestinian government. A whopping 28 percent is allocated for defense, more than the sums budgeted for education (16 percent) and medical services (10 percent) combined.325 By comparison, Israel allocates 19% of its budget on defense, Britain 5.8%, Germany 3.6%, Jordan 14.8%, Egypt 6.3%, Iran 7.9% and Turkey 3.7%.326
The PA lacks a formal army, does not maintain an official state of war with any country- including Israel, and faces no military threats except from internal political rivals.327 So where does the PA plan to spend nearly one-third of its budget? Much of the money will go to buy the loyalty of 65,000 “defense workers”– 41 percent of all the PA’s civil servants – despite the fact that more than half of these workers live in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and pay no taxes to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.328
How does this budget reflect an interest in peace with Israel? The PA might justify some of the cost if it was allocated for preventing terror and incitement, but, instead, 4 percent of the budget actually goes to pay “salaries” of convicted terrorists who are currently incarcerated in Israeli jails. Payments to these convicts range from roughly $1,100 to $3,300 depending on the length of their sentence.329
Meanwhile, it is Israel that carries most of the burden of preventing Palestinian terror.
Curiously, though Abbas is a vocal advocate toward the plight of Palestinian refugees, no money was allocated in the budget to build permanent housing for the nearly 800,000 Palestinians living in 19 refugee camps under the PA’s control in the West Bank.330 Even after being responsible for the welfare of these people for almost 40 years, Palestinian leaders still prefer to use them as pawns to exemplify victimization and to be encouraged by their environment to become terrorists.
Perhaps more outrageous than the PA budget is the fact that it is almost completely dependent on foreign aid from Western donors whose values the Palestinians’ reject. U.S. taxpayers have contributed more than $4 billion to subsidize people who are engaged in terror and have killed Americans; who do not believe in freedom of speech, religion, the press or assembly, and routinely abuse the rights of women and gays. Is there any other government in the world that so clearly rejects our values and interferes with our interests that receives this level of financial aid? If you answered, Egypt, you correctly identified the only other example.
How much longer will Western nations be expected to financially and politically support a Palestinian leader who drafts a budget based on money he doesn’t have, and devotes nearly a third of its resources to defense rather than meeting the social needs of his people? How much longer will Western nations prop up a leader who refuses to negotiate with Israel and has only dragged the Palestinians further down the road to perpetual conflict?
Syria’s chemical weapons pose no threat outside of Syria.
While the world rightly focuses on the dangers posed by Iran’s nuclear program, the threat from other radical countries that possess weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) – namely, chemical and biological weapons – has largely been ignored.
Aside from those who monitor the proliferation and storage of these weapons, most people are likely unaware that a number of Middle East countries possess these deadly agents. Saddam Hussein was the only Middle Eastern leader known to have used chemical weapons - against his own people – until April 2013, when intelligence reports confirmed that Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime used sarin gas against rebel forces.331 This nerve agent, which interferes with the functioning of glands and muscles in the body, is potentially lethal.
Syria has one of the largest chemical weapons caches in the region. These agents include sarin, tabun, VX and mustard gas.332 Beyond the humanitarian concern for protecting innocent Syrians from contamination, international fears are growing that these weapons are not well guarded and could be acquired and used by rebel forces. Especially worrisome is the possibility that radical Muslim elements, such as rebels associated with al-Qaida, could get their hands on these WMD’s and use them against regime forces or as weapons of terror against Israel or other enemies.
Assuming that most, if not all, of these weapons remain in the country, the next leader of Syria will assume control over them. Until the current civil war, the Assad regime built up its stockpiles but never used them; however, there is no assurance a future leader will resist the temptation to use WMDs against foreign or domestic enemies.
Another fear is that Assad or his Iranian allies may try to transfer WMD’s to Hezbollah, or that Hezbollah fighters inside Syria could steal them. Israel has said this would be a threat to its security and that it would act to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring WMDs.333
Western countries and Syria’s Arab neighbors are also concerned about the security of Syria’s non-conventional weapons and their use against innocent people. In August 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama said the use or movement of chemical weapons would be “a redline for us and that there would be enormous consequences….That would change my calculations significantly.”334 He reiterated in April 2013 that Syria’s use of chemical weapons would be “a game changer” because it meant more attacks could be launched against civilians and the probability that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands would increase.335
Now that British, French, Qatari, American and Israeli intelligence agencies have confirmed the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the world is waiting to see whether President Obama will act on his ultimatum. If Obama fails to act after setting the red line, it will send a message to Iran and other enemies of the United States that American threats need not be taken seriously.336
Israel has refused to discuss a compromise on the future of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity. Palestinians have no special claim to the city; they simply demand it as their capital. Nevertheless, Israel has recognized that the city has a large Palestinian population, that the city is important to Muslims, and that making concessions on the sovereignty of the city might help minimize the conflict with the Palestinians. The Palestinians, however, have shown no reciprocal appreciation for the Jewish majority in the city, the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people or the fact that it is already the nation’s capital.
The Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed in 1993 left open the status of Jerusalem. Article V said only that Jerusalem is one of the issues to be discussed in the permanent status negotiations.
“Anyone who relinquishes a single inch of Jerusalem is neither an Arab nor a Muslim.”
Most Israelis oppose dividing Jerusalem; still, efforts have been made to find some compromise that could satisfy Palestinian interests. For example, while the Labor Party was in power, Knesset Member Yossi Beilin reportedly reached a tentative agreement that would allow the Palestinians to claim the city as their capital without Israel sacrificing sovereignty over its capital. Beilin’s idea was to allow the Palestinians to set up their capital in a West Bank suburb of Jerusalem — Abu Dis. The PA subsequently constructed a building for its parliament in the city.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered dramatic concessions that would have allowed the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem to become the capital of a Palestinian state, and left the Palestinians in control over the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount. These ideas were discussed at the White House Summit in December 2000, but rejected by Yasser Arafat.
In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a peace plan that included the partitioning of Jerusalem on a demographic basis. Abbas rejected the offer.
From 2009 until the present (May 2013), Abbas has refused to negotiate despite four years of cajoling by President Obama. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly offered to immediately resume talks without preconditions to no avail. Even after Israel placed a ten-month moratorium on settlement construction in the West Bank, Abbas refused to sit with the Israeli leaders.
Rather than advance the peace process, the Palestinians have obstructed it at every turn, and sought to circumvent direct talks by seeking international support for their positions. Abbas's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat called on the Arab countries to suspend the Arab peace initiative and called on the international community to isolate Israel. Abbas, meanwhile, said he hoped the Obama Administration would force Netanyahu out of office and declared his willingness to wait years until that happened.338 After realizing that Obama would not force Israel to capitulate to their demands, however, Abbas has looked to the UN to impose them.
Not only has Abbas refused to consider any compromise on Jerusalem. Meanwhile, he has repeatedly tried to reconcile with the Hamas terrorists controlling Gaza. Hamas has made clear it will not negotiate or compromise with Israel and that Jerusalem, like the rest of “Palestine” is Islamic land that must be under Muslim control. "Palestine - all of Palestine - is from the sea to the river. We won't relinquish one inch of the land of Palestine. The involvement of Hamas at any stage with the interim objective of liberation of [only] Gaza, the West Bank, or Jerusalem, does not replace its strategic view concerning Palestine and the land of Palestine."339
In 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry tried to revive interest in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. Hopes were raised when Arab officials suggested they would be prepared to accept border modifications, reversing their insistence that Israel withdraw to the 1949 armistice line. On Jerusalem, however, the plan remains unacceptable to Israel.
The Arab Peace Initiative states that the Arab states and Israel will “accept the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital” and the Arab states will consider the Arab-Israeli conflict over, sign a peace agreement with Israel and normalize ties with Israel.340
'Nakba Day' has nothing to do with the peace process.
On May 15, 2013, Palestinians across the Middle East commemorated the 65th 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 65th 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
1 Dan Izenberg, "Analysis: Is There a Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza", Jerusalem
Post, (March 22, 2010).
2 Rotem Caro Weizman, "Red Cross Official: There is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza", Israel Defense Forces, (April 20, 2011).
3 Yaakov Lappin, "Red Cross: There is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza", Jerusalem Post, (April 21, 2011).
4 Coordinator of Government Activities, "Developments in Policy Towards the West Bank and Gaza in 2010", Israel Defense Forces, (March 17, 2011).
5 Wire Staff, "US Warns Against New Gaza Flotilla Plans", Reuters, (June 24, 2011).
6 Editorial Staff, "The Floating Gaza Strip Show", Washington Times, (June 27, 2011).
7 Reuters Wire, "Cyprus Bans All Sailings to Gaza Ahead of Flotilla Plan", Reuters Canada, (June 23, 2011).
8 Barak Ravid, "Israel Fears Gaza Flotilla Activists May Try to Kill IDF Soldiers", HaAretz, (June 27, 2011).
9 Yousef al-Helou, "Miles of Smiles Aid Convoy Enters Gaza", PressTV, (June 19, 2011).
10 Factsheets, "Government Officials Against the Flotilla", NGO Monitor, (May 29, 2011).
11 Neil MacFarquhar and Ethan Bronner, "Report Finds Naval Blockade by Israel Legal but Faults Raid", The New York Times, (September 1, 2011).
12 Prime Minister's Office, "Prime Minister's Office accouncement following publication of Palmer Report by UN Secretary General," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, (September 3, 2011).
13 Sir Geoffrey Palmer, President Alvaro Uribe, Joseph Ciechanover Itzhar, Suleyman Ozdem Sanberk, "Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident," The United Nations, (September 2011).
14 Khaled Abu Toameh, “Abbas: Israel’s ‘intransigence’ forcing us to the UN,” The Jerusalem Post, (September 7, 2011).
15 AFP, “EU may 'draft own resolution on Palestinian UN bid',” Yahoo News, (September 3, 2011).
16 Steven Rosen, “The Palestinians' Imaginary State,” Foreign Policy, (August 3, 2011).
17 Larry Grossman, “AJC Briefing: The Perils of UDI,” The American Jewish Committee, (September 2011).
18 Irwin Cotler, “The time isn't right for statehood bid,” The Montreal Gazette, (September 8, 2011).
19 DPA, “U.S.: We will stop aid to Palestinians if UN bid proceeds,” Haaretz, (August 26, 2011).
20 Associated Press Staff, “EU: Palestinian state vote could be 'dangerous',” Cnsnews.com, (June 14, 2011).
21 Oren Dorell, “PLO ambassador says Palestinian state should be free of Jews,” USA TODAY, (September 14, 2011).
22 Khaled Abu Toameh, “Abbas Vows: No Room for Israelis in Palestinian state,” The Jerusalem Post, December 25, 2010).
23 Alan Dershowitz, “Push for Palestinian state at UN must be rejected: It will hurt Arabs and Jews alike,” New York Daily News, (September 21, 2011.
24 VOA News, “Israel Considers Response to UNESCO Vote,” Voice of America, (November 1, 2011.
25 Democratic Underground, “PA Official: Abbas expects US pressure to push out Netanyahu,” May 29, 2009).
26 Jeffrey Heller and John Irish, “I sraeli settlement freeze ends, peace talks in balance,” Reuters, (September 27, 2010).
27 Condoleezza Rice, “No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Time in Washington,” Crown Publishers: 2011.
28 Condoleezza Rice, “Best. Deal. Ever,” The Daily Beast, (October 23, 2011.
29 Israel Harel, “The IDF, now part of Mahmoud Abbas’ fan club,” Haaretz, (October 27, 2011.
30 Itamar Marcus and Nan Jaques Zilberdik, “Abbas glorifies terrorist prisoners,” Palestinian Media Watch, (November 1, 2011.
31 Associated Press, “Palestinian leader meets woman who aided 2001 killing of Israeli teen; Israel irked,” Washington Post, December 21, 2011.
32 Mark Landler, “Obama and Abbas: From Speed Dial to Not Talking,” New York Times, (September 9, 2011.
33 Yoel Marcus, “Abbas must choose to seek peace deal with Israel,” Haaretz, (October 28, 2011.
34 Director General, “Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” International Atomic Energy Agency, (November 8, 2011.
35 David E. Sanger, “America’s Deadly Dynamics with Iran,” New York Times, (November 5, 2011.
36 Susan Rosenbluth, “Good News in Israel: Best Economy in the West, Energy Independence, and Maybe Future Exports,” The Jewish Voice and Opinion, (January 13, 2011.
37 Zachary A. Goldfarb, “S&P Downgrades U.S. credit rating for first time," Washington Post, August 6, 2011.
38 Nadav Shemer, “S&P raises Israel’s credit rating from A to A+,” Jerusalem Post, Sept. 9, 2011.
39 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development,“History of the OECD,” 2011.
40 “Economic Highlights: 3rd Quarter 2011,” State of Israel Ministry of Finance International Affairs Department, (September 2011.
41 World Economic Forum, “The Global Competitiveness Index 2011-2012 rankings,” 2011.
42 Reuters, “Gaza: Luxury hotel hosts freed terrorists,” YNet, (October 19, 2011.
43 Yaniv Kubovich, Avi Issacharoff, Nir Hasson, Gili Cohen and Eli Ashkenazi, “Palestinian prisoners return to heroes’ welcome,” Haaretz, (October 19, 2011.
44 Editorial, “Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Swap Offers Little New Hope for Peace,” Washington Post, (October 19, 2011.
45 Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Would-be bomber tells Gaza children to be like her,” Reuters, (October 19, 2011.
46 Adrian Blomfield, “Freed Palestinian Prisoner Vows to “Sacrifice” Her Life,” Telegraph, (October 19, 2011.
47 IPT News, “Released Hamas Terrorists Pledge More Violence,” October 27, 2011.
48 Middle East Media Research Institute, “Released Terrorist Muhammad Abu Ataya, Sentenced to 16 Life Terms in Prison, Brandishes Gun and Says: Netanyahu ‘Will Not Deter Us from Continuing the Journey of Resistance,’” MEMRI video clip, (October 20, 2011.
49 Stephen Farrell, “On the Day After, Moving Ahead and Looking Back,” New York Times, (October 19, 2011.
50 Malkah Fleisher, “Hamas: Temple Mount Gate Closure is ‘Declaration of War,’” The Jewish Press, December 13, 2011.
51Matti Friedman, “Citing public safety, Israel orders closure of controversial walkway in Jerusalem’s Old City,” Associated Press, December 12, 2011.
52 Palestinian Center for Human Rights, “In the Context of Efforts to Create a Jewish Majority in Occupied East Jerusalem, IOF Close Bab al-Maghariba in Anticipation of Altering the City’s Non Jewish Features,” December 13, 2011.
53 Khaled Abu Toameh, “Bethlehem mayor calls for cultural boycott of Israel,” Jerusalem Post, December 16, 2011.
54 Khaled Abu Toameh, “Fatah declares ‘war’ on normalization with Israel,” Jerusalem Post, December 17, 2011.
55 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Protest again thwart Israeli-Palestinian meeting," Jerusalem Post, December 21, 2011.
56 Nelson Mandela, “Mandela in his own words,” CNN, (June 26, 2008.
57 Attila Somfalvi, “Erekat: No negotiations yet,” YNet, (January 2, 2012).
58 Greg Sheridan, “Ehud Olmert still dreams of peace,” The Australian, (November 28, 2009).
59 Christine Parrish, “Sen. George Mitchell on Mid-East Peace Process,” The Free Press, (November 17, 2011.
60 Barry Rubin, “Hamas Openly Joins Brotherhood; Brotherhood Openly Joins Hamas’s War on Israel,” GLORIA Center, (January 3, 2012).
61 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Palestinian ceasefire violations since the end of Operation Cast Lead,” MFA, (January 4, 2012; DPA, “Hamas calls Israeli-Palestinian meeting a ‘farce,’ Haaretz, (January 4, 2012).
62 Barak Ravid, Avi Assacharoff and Natasha Mozgovaya, “Palestinians plan diplomatic steps to put Israel under ‘international siege,’” Haaretz, (January 2, 2012).
64 Israel Hayom Staff, “Abbas appoints terrorist released in Shalit deal as adviser,” Israel Hayom, (January 2, 2012).
65 Barak Ravid, Natasha Mozgovaya and the Associated Press, “Israeli, Palestinian envoys agree to meet in Jordan again next week,” Haaretz, (January 3, 2012).
66 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “107 Israel-PLO Mutual Recognition- Letters and Speeches- 10 September 1993,” MFA, (September 10, 1993.
67 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Fogel family stabbed to death in Itamar,” MFA, (March 11, 2011.
68 AFP, “British tourist killed by Jerusalem bomb,” AFP, (March 24, 2011.
69 Yair Altman, “Livnat: My nephew murdered by terrorists masked as policemen,” YNet, April 24, 2011.
70 Ben Hartman and Jpost.com staff, “Defense Ministry: Asher Palmer, son were terror victims,” Jerusalem Post, (September 28, 2011.
71 Yaakov Katz, “Border Police thwart major terror attack near Jenin,” Jerusalem Post, (January 8, 2012).
72 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Palestinian ceasefire violations since the end of Operation Cast Lead,” MFA, (January 4, 2012).
73 Haaretz Service, “Boy hurt in Gaza rocket attack on Israeli bus dies of his wounds,” Haaretz, April 17, 2011.
74 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Eight killed, over 30 wounded in terror attacks in southern Israel,” MFA, August 18, 2011.
75 Yaakov Lappin, “Man killed by Beersheba rocket named: Yossi Shoshan, 38,” Jerusalem Post, August 21, 2011.
76 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Eliyahu Naim,” MFA, (September 4, 2011.
77 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Moshe Ami,” MFA, (October 29, 2011.
78 Yaakov Katz, “Analysis: A boiling pot waiting to explode,” Jerusalem Post, December 29, 2011.
79 Walter Reich, “Saving Shalit, Encouraging Terror,” New York Times, (October 18, 2011.
80 Yaakov Katz, “IDF preparing for major Gaza action within months,” Jerusalem Post, (January 16, 2012).
81 Ibid; Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Palestinian ceasefire violations since the end of Operation Cast Lead,” MFA, (January 4, 2012).
82 AFP, “Israel raises alarm over Sinai-Gaza cooperation,” AFP, (January 16, 2012; Roee Nahmias, “Blast hits Israel-Egypt gas pipeline for 7th time,” YNet, (November 10, 2011.
83 Nasouh Nazzal, “Palestine women’s ministry staff go on hunger strike,” Gulf News, (January 18, 2012).
85 U.S. Department of State, “2009 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, (March 11, 2010; U.S. Department of State, “2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, April 8, 2011.
86 U.S. Department of State, “2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, April 8, 2011.
87 U.S. Department of State, “2009 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, (March 11, 2010).
88 U.S. Department of State, “2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, April 8, 2011.
89 U.S. Department of State, “2009 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, (March 11, 2010; U.S. Department of State, “2010 Human Rights Report: Israel and the occupied territories,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, April 8, 2011.
90 Khaled Abu Toameh, “Gaza cops use ‘beatings, stun guns’ on women reporters,” Jerusalem Post, (March 28, 2011.
91 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Hamas Exploitation of Civilians,” MFA, (January 13, 2009).
92 United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, “UN Women Brochure,” UN Women, (February 18, 2011.
93 Karin Laub, “Palestinian leader: Talks with Israel over,” AP, (January 25, 2012).
94 Evelyn Gordon, “So, You Think the Palestinians Are Interested in Negotiating?” Commentary, (January 30, 2012).
95 Avi Issacharoff, “PA to demand Barghouti release as part of renewed negotiations with Israel,” Haaretz, (October 25, 2011.
96 United Nations Department of Public Information, “Statement by Middle East Quartet,” United Nations, (September 23, 2011.
97 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Behind the headlines: The Palestinian refusal to negotiate peace,” MFA, (January 4, 2010; Avi Issacharoff and Jack Khoury, “Abbas to lead Palestinian unity cabinet, following Hamas-Fatah deal,” Haaretz, (February 6, 2012).
98 Roi Kais, “PM: Probe Jerusalem mufti who encouraged killing of Jews,” YNet, (January 22, 2012).
99 Dan Williams, “Israel condemns Palestinian cleric over sermon,” Ma’an News Agency, (January 22, 2012).
100 AFP, “Hezbollah has 50,000 rockets, report,” AFP, December 7, 2010; Ethan Bronner, “Unity Deal Brings Risks for Abbas and Israel,” New York Times, (February 6, 2012).
101 JTA, “Netanyahu blames Iran for attacks on diplomats in India, Georgia,” JTA, (February 13, 2012; Panarat Thepgumpanat, “US Embassy warns of terrorist attack, Thai police arrest Hezbollah suspect,” Christian Science Monitor, (February 13, 2012).
102 Jpost.com Staff, Herb Keinon and Reuters, “Thai officials: Attacks in Bangkok aimed at Israelis,” Jerusalem Post, (February 14, 2012).
103 Eli Shvidler, “Azerbaijan thwarts terror attack against Israeli, Jewish targets,” Haaretz, (January 23, 2012).
104 JTA, “Israeli diplomat’s wife injured by car bomb in New Delhi,” JTA, (February 13, 2012).
105 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Major Terror Attacks against Israeli Embassies and Representatives Abroad,” MFA, (February 2012).
106 JTA, “Jewish Agency gathers in Buenos Aires,” JTA, (November 14, 2011).
107 Jpost.com Staff, "FM: World must respond decisively to Iran attacks," Jerusalem Post, (February 15, 2012).
108 Roger Cohen, “The Dilemmas of Israeli Power,” New York Times, (February 13, 2012).
109 Knesset, “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty,” Knesset, (March 17, 1992.
110 Gerald Steinberg, “Israel’s Vibrant Democracy,” The Times of Israel, (February 19, 2012).
111 Consultado General De Israel Los Angeles, “Israel in the Community,” Consulate General of Israel Los Angeles, December 7, 2011).
112 Gerald Steinberg, “Israel’s Vibrant Democracy,” The Times of Israel, (February 19, 2012).
113 Daniella Cheslow, “Poster Child,” Tablet Magazine, (January 9, 2012).
114 Ruth Wisse, Jews and Power, Schocken and Nextbook: New York, 2007, p. 184.
115 Jason Burke, “Riyadh will build nuclear weapons if Iran gets them, Saudi prince warns,” The Guardian, (June 29, 2011).
116 Summer Said, “Saudi Arabia, China Sign Nuclear Cooperation Pact,” Wall Street Journal, (January 16, 2012).
117 ESI-Africa.com, “Egypt’s el-Dabaa nuclear power station will go ahead,” ESI-Africa.com, (January 20, 2012).
118 BBC, “South Korea awarded UAE nuclear power contract,” BBC, December 27, 2009).
119 World Nuclear Association, “Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries,” World Nuclear News, (February 2012).
120 Federation of American Scientists, Israel's Strike against the Iraqi Nuclear Reactor 7 June, 1981, Jerusalem: Menachem Begin Heritage Center, 2003.
121 Seymour M. Hersh, “A Strike in the Dark: Why did Israel bomb Syria?” The New Yorker, (February 11, 2008.
122 Jeffrey Goldberg, “Obama to Iran and Israel: ‘As President of the United States, I Don’t Bluff,” The Atlantic, (March 2, 2012).
123 Gavriel Queenann, “Report: Arab Nations Pressing for Iran Strike,” Arutz Sheva, (November 18, 2011).
124 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Declaration of Establishment of state of Israel,” MFA, (May 14, 1948; Sarah Trister, “Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Supporting the Fight for Freedom and Equality,” Huffington Post, (March 10, 2010).
125 “Golda Meir,” Encyclopedia Judaica, Keter, Jerusalem, 1972, pp. 1242–44.
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133 Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, “Statistical Abstract of Israel 2011: Employment Rate of Persons Aged 15 and Over, by Sex,” CBS, 2011).
134 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Integration of women in the IDF,” MFA, (March 8, 2009).
135 Israel Defense Forces Blog, “163rd IAF Flight Course Graduates,” Israel Defense Forces, December 22, 2011).
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139 David Horovitz, "Gaza's strategic repercussions," The Times of Israel, (March 13, 2012).
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143 Jonah Mandel, “Israeli targeted killings called into question,” The China Post, (March 14, 2012).
144 Aviram Zino, “High Court: Targeted killing permissible,” YNet, December 14, 2006.
145 Amos Yadlin, “Ethical Dilemmas in Fighting Terrorism,” Vol. 4, No. 8, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (November 25, 2004.
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150 JPost.com staff, “Abbas urges Arabs to fight Judaization of J’lem,” Jerusalem Post, (February 26, 2012).
151 Palestinian Media Watch, “‘Judaization of Jerusalem,’” PMW, (March 28, 2012).
152 The Israel Project, “Jerusalem Tip Kit,” TIP, (March 28, 2012).
153 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Behind the Headlines: Background information from the Municipality of Jerusalem regarding the Shepherd Hotel building,” MFA, July 19, 2009).
154 Gil Ronen, “Jerusalem Planning Over 5,000 New Arab Housing Units,” Arutz Sheva, (November 18, 2009).
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157 Pechter Polls, “Detailed November 2012 East Jerusalem Survey Results—The Palestinians of East Jerusalem: What Do They Really Want?” Pechter Polls, (January 13, 2011; David Pollock, “What Do the Arabs of East Jerusalem Really Want?” JCPA, (September 7, 2011.
158 Victoria Nuland, “Daily Press Briefing,” U.S. Department of State, (March 28, 2012).
159 Churches for Middle East Peace, “CMEP to Sec. Clinton on Palestinian Christian Issues,” CMEP, (May 5, 2009).
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170 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Jerusalem: the Holy City,” MFA.
171 Adam Garfinkle, Politics and Society in Modern Israel: Myths and Realities, (NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1997), pp. 108 & 110.
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178“Security Council Resolution 1696,” United Nations, (July 31, 2006).
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180Paul Richter, “US Signals Major Shift on Iran Nuclear Program,” Los Angeles Times, (April 27, 2012).
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186 Edmund Sanders, "Palestinians Clash with Israeli Soldiers in Nakba Day Protests," Los Angeles Times, (May 15, 2012)
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188 Jerusalem Post, (May 15, 2005).
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190 Al-Manar TV, (January 25, 2006).
191 "PM Netanyahu's Address at the Knesset: Herzl Day", Prime Minister's Office, (May 16, 2011)
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193 Khaled Abu Toameh, “The Main Goal of the Palestinian Government,” Gatestone Institute, (May 16, 2012).
194 Gabe Kahn, “PA Corruption Probe: Maybe, Maybe Not,” Arutz Sheva, (December 21, 2011).
195 "Press Briefing on the West Bank and Gaza, IMF Middle Eastern Department," International Monetary Fund, (September 20, 2003).
196 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Palestinian Affairs: Abbas's Latest Headaches," Jerusalem Post, (March 27, 2008).
197 The Associated Press, “Palestinian Resigns Over Smuggling,” Washington Post, (April 7, 2008).
198 Amira Hass, “What Happens When a Palestinian Journalist Dares Criticize the Palestinian Authority?” Haaretz, (April 2, 2012).
199 Gabe Kahn, “Second PA Minister Indicted in Corruption Probe,” Arutz Sheva, (November 29, 2011).
200 The Associated Press, “Late Yasser Arafat’s Moneyman Targeted in Corruption Probe, Accused of Stealing Millions,” Washington Post, (May 16, 2012).
201 “Palestinian Public Opinion Poll #43,” Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, (April 3, 2012).
202 Jonathan Schanzer, “Reining in Abbas: How America Should Punish the Palestinian Leader,” The National Interest, (October 18, 2011).
203 Reuters, "Muslim Brotherhood Vows Not to Recognize Israel," Jerusalem Post, (January 1, 2012).
204 The Debate, "Egypt: Who's in Charge?," France24, (June 26, 2012).
205 Steve Frank, "Muslim Brotherhood 'Against Violence'," CNN, (February 3, 2011).
206 JPost Staff, "New Egypt Leader Morsi Vows to Keep International Accords," Jerusalem Post, (June 25, 2012).
207 "Egyptian Presidency Denies Mursi Gave Interview on Stronger Ties With Iran," Al-Arabiya News, (June 25, 2012).
208 Political Desk, "Newly Elected Egyptian President to Travel to Iran: Report," Tehran Times, (July 3, 2012).
209 Richard Cohen, "Palestinians' Destructive Veneration of Terrorists," Washington Post, (March 16, 2010).
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211 "List of Palestinian Prisoners Released in First Stage of 'Shalit Exchange Deal'," Jewish Virtual Library, (October 18, 2011).
212 Itamar Marcus, "Palestinian Authority Funding Glorification of Terrorists," FrontPage Magazine, (July 29, 2011).
213 "PA Children Taught to Hate Jews and Christians," Palestinian Media Watch, (June 17, 2012).
214 "Israel is Monster that Eats Palestinian Children, in Palestinian Art on PA-TV," Palestinian Media Watch, (July 23, 2012).
215 Elior Levy, "Gaza Kindgergartners Want to 'Blow Up Zionists'," YNet News, (June 12, 2012).
216 Ron Friedman, "Kerem Shalom Attack has Already led to Better Security Cooperation, Says Deputy FM," Times of Israel, (August 7, 2012).
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218 Frida Ghitis, "World Citizen: Egypt's Ties with Israel, Hamas to be Forged in Sinai," World Politics Review, (August 9, 2012).
219 Kareem Fahim, "Egyptian Officials Fired Over Soldiers' Killings in Sinai," New York Times, (August 8, 2012).
220 Amos Harel & Avi Issacharoff, "Israel-Egypt Security Cooperation at One of Highest Levels Since Peace Deal," Haaretz, (August 9, 2012).
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