INDEX OF MYTHS:
(2005-2013 archives - CLICK HERE)
“Israel remains the only Middle East country with a separation fence.” (September 9)
“Summer is a time for Palestinian children to enjoy camp like Israelis and Americans.” (September 2)
“There are no terrorist attacks on Israel originating from the West Bank anymore.” (August 26)
“The Israeli government wants to destroy the al-Asqa mosque.” (August 19)
“Israel praises terrorists who attack Palestinians.” (August 11)
“The Palestinians' top priority is peace with Israel.” (August 5)
“The United States, the West and America’s regional allies were the big winners in the Iran deal.” (July 29)
“Israel is exaggerating the threat of a radical Islamic takeover of the West Bank to avoid territorial compromise.” (July 7)
“The Iran deal reported in the media is the best the West can get.” (July 1)
“Israel was guilty of war crimes during the 2014 Gaza War.” (June 24)
“The IDF commits attrocities because former soldiers from 'Breaking the Silence' say so.” (June 17)
“Jerusalem is not Israel's capital.” (June 10)
“Abbas is finally prepared to negotiate with Israel.” (May 26)
“The Pope considers Mahmoud Abbas an 'angel of peace'.” (May 19)
“Myths & Facts Regarding the 'Framework Deal' With Iran.” (April 9)
“Palestinian reconciliation makes the Palestinian Authority a partner for peace.” (April 1)
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.” (March 25)
“Israeli Arabs have been denied political representation in the Knesset.” (March 18)
“Israel systematically violated the laws of war during Operation Protective Edge.” (March 11)
“Israel opened dams to flood Gaza.” (March 4)
“Reported negotiations with Iran will make the Middle East safer.” (February 18)
“The Palestinian public opposes terrorism and supports negotiations with Israel.” (February 11)
“Palestinians all support asking the UN to recognize Palestine.” (February 4)
“A Palestinian state will not be part of the Islamic State's caliphate.” (January 27)
“Muslims are encouraged to visit Israel and meet Israelis.” (January 20)
“The International Criminal Court will inevitably indict Israelis for war crimes in Gaza.” (January 13)
“The Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court is a response to Israels failure to negotiate peace.” (January 6)
“Following Operation Protective Edge Hamas abandoned its goal of destroying Israel.” (December 16)
“European recognition of 'Palestine' will advance the peace process.” (November 19)
“Muslims recognize the Temple Mount as sacrosanct to Muslims and Jews.” (November 12)
“Israel denies medical treatment to its enemies.” (November 5)
“Palestinians support the boycott and divestment movements against Israel.” (October 29)
“Iran has moderated its hostility and should be an ally in the fight against ISIS.” (October 14)
“All nations have the same policy about avoiding civilian casualties in war.” (October 6)
“The Palestinian's Peace Negotiator wants peace.” (October 1)
“The Palestinian Authority believes in a secular Palestinian state.” (September 24)
“UN peacekeepers can be relied upon to keep the peace between Israel and its neighbors.” (September 17)
“Iran is an ally in the fight against the Muslim extremist group ISIS.” (September 8)
“Israel was responsible for the 2014 war with Hamas.” (September 3)
“Israel should now accept the Arab Peace Initiative.” (August 20)
“Israel must end its illegal blockade of Gaza to end the war with Hamas.” (August 13)
“There are no terrorist attacks on Israel originating from the West Bank anymore.” (August 6)
“UNRWA is a humanitarian organization that remains neutral in the conflict.” (July 31)
“Journalists are never deceived by Palestinian propaganda.” (July 22)
“Hamas never endangers Palestinian civilians; it is the Israelis who target them.” (July 22)
“Hamas is firing rockets at Israel to end the 'occupation.'” (July 16)
“Israel is indiscriminately attacking Palestinian targets in Gaza.” (July 10)
“Summer camp for Palestinians in Gaza is a fun escape for children like American camps.” (June 17)
“Human rights organizations use reliable information in reports criticizing Israel.” (June 4)
“Human rights organizations present unbiased reports on Israel.” (May 15)
“Mosques are sacrosanct and never used by terrorists.” (May 7)
“Hamas-Fatah reconciliation paves the way to peace negotiations with Israel.” (April 29)
“Jonathan Pollard's conviction for espionage proved that Israel works against American interests.” (April 2)
“The Arab world and Palestinians have changed since the three "noes" of 1967.” (March 26)
“The Palestinians have recognized Israel as the state of the Jewish people.”(March 19)
“If Israel makes peace with the Palestinians the other Arab states will normalize ties with Israel.” (March 12)
“The Palestinian Authority no longer engages in terrorism against Israel.” (February 19)
“Jews will be welcome in a future Palestinian state.” (February 5)
“Arab militaries do everything possible to protect civilians in war zones.” (January 28)
“Academic boycotts of Israel are popular in America.” (January 9)
Academic boycotts are popular in America.
In December 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) passed a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel and specifically demanding that American universities end all collaboration with Israeli institutions. The ASA itself, and its members, were not required to comply with the resolution; nevertheless, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement crowed about the “victory” and expect it to set a precedent for other academic institutions to follow suit. So far, only the tiny Native American Studies Association has done so, but the ASA has paid a high price in the court of public opinion and academia for its decision.
Of the ASA’s total membership of 5,000, 826 members (17 percent) voted for the resolution. Subsequently, the ASA has faced a torrent of criticism from the academic community and beyond. Among the critics are prominent academic associations, many university presidents, and a group of students who won awards from the ASA. 447
Like most campus-related BDS “victories,” this one will have no impact on Israel and do nothing to help the Palestinians, many of whom now benefit from attending Israeli universities and from collaboration between colleges in the West Bank and Israel. In fact, many professors in Israel are very active in the peace camp and their research often examines issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute from a critical perspective. Moreover, hundreds of American scholars enjoy fruitful collaboration with Israeli colleageues each year.
The call for a boycott was especially ironic given that just a few weeks earlier Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, told South African journalists, “We do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself.…We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.” 448
The principal impact of the ASA action was to give the association a black eye and associate it with other zealots who believe academic freedom does not apply to research or cooperation with Israel. Though it may have come as a shock to the ASA, the backlash did not surprise anyone knowledgeable about Israel or committed to the free exchange of ideas. Within a month more than 100 universities rejected the idea of boycotting Israel. 449 Another fifty institutions specifically denounced the ASA’s decision. Drew Faust, President of Harvard University, said, “the recent resolution of the ASA proposing to boycott Israeli universities represents a direct threat to [academic freedoms and values], ideals which universities and scholarly associations should be dedicated to defend.” 450
Individual universities were not the only ones to denounce the ASA boycott. The American Council on Education (representing 1,700 academic institutions), the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (216 institutions), the Association of American Universities (62 institutions) and the American Association of University Professors (48,000 members) criticized the ASA vote. Not one university defended the ASA resolution and five universities - Bard College, Brandeis University, Indiana University, Kenyon College and Penn State Harrisburg - announced they would terminate their membership in the ASA. Thus, roughly 2,000 academic institutions representing tens of thousands of faculty disagree with the minority within the ASA which has aligned itself with a movement that openly calls for Israel to be replaced with a Palestinian state. 451
Writers in the media have also poured scorn on the ASA. Alan Luxenberg, president of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, wrote, for example, that the ASA boycott showed a “stunning lack of diversity of intellectual interests and perspectives” by the ASA’s Higher Council. Walter Reich, the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, said “boycotting Israeli academic institutions not only trashes the sacrosanct academic principle of the free exchange of ideas; it's also hypocritical and wrong. Most egregiously, it targets Israel to the exclusion of countries with immeasurably worse human-rights records.” Stanley Fish of the New York Times said the boycotters' argument was “as pathetic as it is laughable.”452
And Henry Reichman, professor emeritus of history at CSU East Bay, and first vice president of the American Association of University Professors, said the boycott is “at best misguided” and “is the wrong way to register opposition to the policies and practices it seeks to discredit; it is itself a serious violation of the very academic freedom its supporters purport to defend.” 453
The BDS movement may have thought the ASA action would act as a clarion call for academics to join their anti-Semitic campaign to delegitimize and demonize Israel, but it has attracted only a tiny minority of professors, the overwhelming majority of faculty are smarter and better informed.
Arab militaries do everything possible to protect civilians in war zones.
The militaries of Arab countries across the Middle East have time and again shown a callous disregard for human life, including the lives of their own citizens. The Syrian civil war, in which more than 100,000 people have been killed, is but one example of this behavior. Since the beginning of hostilities in March 2011, the Syrian army has poisoned, bombed, shelled and tortured Syrian civilians. This is nothing new for the ruling Assad family, which committed perhaps the largest mass murder in the region in the last century when Hafez Assad ordered the military to raze the Syrian town of Hama in 1982 to suppress opposition to his regime, and killed an estimated 20,000 people.
During the Arab Spring and subsequent “Islamic Winter,” tyrannical regimes throughout the Middle East murdered tens of thousands of dissidents and demonstrators to maintain power. Such incidents have taken place in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen.
In addition, irregular Muslim “armies” -- a euphemism for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas -- have indiscriminately fired rockets into Israeli civilian areas for years while using their own civilians as human shields
Students of Middle East history, and followers of current events, will not find this Arab on Arab or Muslim on Muslim carnage surprising. What may come as a shock is that even Al-Jazeera, the leading media outlet in the Arab world, known for its harsh criticism of Israel, chastised the Syrian army and asked the audience why Arabs cannot behave more humanely in war - like the Israeli army.
Here are a few of the comments from the show:
“Why don’t they learn from the Israeli army which tries, through great efforts, to avoid shelling areas populated by civilians in Lebanon and Palestine?
“Didn’t Hezbollah take shelter in areas populated by civilians because it knows that Israeli air force doesn’t bomb those areas?”
“Why doesn’t the Syrian army respect premises of universities, schools or inhabited neighborhoods? Why does it shell even the areas of its supporters?”
“The Israeli army, if it wanted to break up a demonstration, would have used water cannons or rubber bullets, not rockets or explosive barrels as happens in Aleppo today.”
“You mustn’t compare the Syrian army with French or Israeli… The Israeli army didn’t shell Aleppo University and students there. They didn’t shell the university with rockets, killing dozens of students.”454
The Israel Defense Forces has a strict code of ethics and takes pride in protecting civilians in combat zones. During Israel’s most recent operation in the Gaza Strip, for example, the IDF went so far as to drop leaflets and make phone calls to encourage civilians to leave the battlefield and prevent Hamas from using them as shields. Pilots aborted missions, after locking in on terrorists, if even one civilian was spotted in the vicinity.
Whether or not the Al-Jazeera show starts a conversation in Muslim countries about their military tactics, it was refreshing to hear Arab commentators acknowledge the extraordinary efforts made by the IDF to avoid civilian casualties. It is too bad that it took Syrian war crimes for them to recognize the difference between the morality of Israeli and Arab soldiers.
Jews will be welcome in a future Palestinian state.
One of the most disturbing aspects of Secretary of State John Kerry’s otherwise praiseworthy efforts to achieve a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is the fact that Kerry, the media and the international community all ignore outrageous Palestinian statements and positions. While the State Department lambastes Israel every time an Israeli deigns to question the U.S. approach, it is silent when Palestinians attack Kerry’s intentions as well as his proposals. The most disgraceful Palestinian position that has gone uncontested is their plan to ethnically cleanse a future Palestinian state of Jews.
Even before negotiations started, Palestinian officials made clear they plan to conduct a policy of ethnic cleansing of Jews reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Abbas said in December 2010, “If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”362 The PLO's ambassador to the United States, Maen Areikat, said on September 13, 2011, that a future Palestinian state should be free of Jews.363
Lest anyone believe such remarks were anomalies, Abbas, the man often referred to as a “moderate,“ announced on the eve of the resumption of peace talks (in summer 2013) that “in a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands.”364
These were not the first instances where Palestinian officials have suggested making “Palestine” judenrein, and reflect an ugly undercurrent of anti-Semitism within the Palestinian Authority. One might expect such racist and anti-Semitic views to provoke world condemnation, but the media ignores them, and peace activists are so desperate to reach an agreement that they make excuses for the Palestinians. Imagine the uproar if any Israeli official suggested that no Arabs or Muslims should be allowed to live in Israel.
Besides being immoral, the Palestinians’ position is also hypocritical: Abbas demands that Palestinian refugees be allowed to move to Israel while simultaneously planning to expel all Jews from territory where they have lived for centuries.
Moreover, while 1.68 million Arabs, more than 20 percent of the population, live peacefully in Israel with full civic rights, no Jew can live in the Palestinian state. “Well, what is that?” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked. “There are Arabs who live here, but they can't contemplate Jews living there.”455
The Palestinian Authority no longer engages in terrorism against Israel.
One of the three prerequisites to Israel’s recognition of the PLO and subsequent peace negotiations was that the Palestinians cease all terrorism against Israel. Yet, almost from the day Yasser Arafat sent this promise to Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, assaults have continued. The heinous attacks conducted in the 1990s killed the Oslo process and a spike in terror in the last 14 months threatens to derail President Obama’s peace efforts as well.
Since the first Oslo agreement in September 1993, more than 1,500 Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Even after withdrawing from nearly half the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, the attacks continue. Thousands of rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel and terrorists try to infiltrate from the West Bank on an almost daily basis. In an effort to build confidence and minimize inconvenience, Israel removed all but a handful of checkpoints in the West Bank, but terrorists continue to be caught attempting to smuggle weapons through them.
Now, just as Secretary of State John Kerry is working tirelessly to bring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table he has avoided for the last eight years, the level of violence has escalated, continuing an alarming trend that began in 2013.
“Last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank,” Kerry told guests at a conference February 19, 2014. The Shin Bet reported a few days earlier, however, that six Israelis were killed in 2013 -- three civilians and three members of the security forces. The number of attacks recorded in the West Bank more than doubled from the year before to 1,271. The Shin Bet also reported that “Circa 190 significant attacks orchestrated to occur this year [in 2013] were thwarted (as opposed to 112 last year), mostly from Judea and Samaria. They included: 52 kidnapping plots, 52 shooting plots, 67 IED plots, and 16 suicide plots.” 456
Kerry also acknowledged that in 2014 “there’s been an uptick in some violence.” In fact, more than 30 rockets have been launched from Gaza at Israel in the first six weeks of the year. Five were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, as they were approaching Ashkelon, a city of approximately 118,000 people.
In January alone, a variety of other terror incidents were recorded:
Rock-Throwing Incidents: 468
Injured Israeli Civilians: 14
Security Forces Injured: 14 457
The PA’s commitment to violence is also reflected in its financial support for terrorists. Even as it pleads poverty and is unable to meet its budget obligations, the PA manages to find money for “martyrs,” their families and terrorists released from Israeli prisons. The PA has allocated an additional $46 million in 2014 just for the former prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murdering Israelis, who the Palestinians consider “heroes.” Since the PA relies on Western donors to cover much of its budget, and that money is fungible, Americans, Europeans and other contributors to the Abbas kleptocracy are essentially subsidizing rewards for terrorists. 458
Despite repeated assurances, the PA has not stopped terrorists from targeting Israel. If the Palestinians did not live up to these promises in the past - or the present - why should Israelis trust them to do so in the future? After giving up land and getting more terror rather than peace, is it surprising that Israelis are reluctant to make further concessions to the Palestinians or that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that security guarantees are a sine qua non for any new agreement?
If Israel makes peace with the Palestinians the other Arab states will normalize ties with Israel.
One way that Israel is being pressured to make concessions to the Palestinians is to suggest that by doing so it will bring about a sea change in the region whereby the rest of the Arab world will normalize relations with Israel. Proponents of this idea often point to the Arab peace initiative of 2002 as evidence for this belief. Unfortunately, neither the Arab plan nor the words and the deeds of Arab states support this rosy scenario.
First, it is doubtful the Arab “peace“ initiative was ever a serious proposal given that it was formulated originally by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah primarily as a publicity ploy to divert attention from the Saudi role in 9/11. Abdullah's unwillingness to negotiate with Israel has reinforced this suspicion. In addition, the proposal requires Israel to capitulate to demands the Arabs have been making for decades, which Abdullah and his comrades know are unacceptable, and fails to demand anything of the Palestinians or Arab states.
Most important, the initiative does not say what most of its proponents think it does; that is, it does not promise peace or an end to the conflict even if Israel accepts all the conditions. Rather than full normalization of relations, the plan offers only a vague pledge of “normal relations.”
Several Gulf Arab states established ties with Israel without any Israeli concessions, and some continue today, but these states are pressured by others, especially Saudi Arabia, not to have any relations with Israel. Moreover, few people believe that Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon or Saudi Arabia will change their orientation toward Israel regardless of its actions.
In early March 2014, the Arab League sent a powerful message that its members have no intention of changing their relationship with Israel when Arab foreign ministers said they reject the idea of “recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also reiterated that he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The Arab League seems intent on sabotaging U.S. peace efforts since Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly plans to include the demand that Abbas recognize Israel as a Jewish state in the framework agreement he has been preparing to jumpstart negotiations. The Arab position was also a direct rejection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's demand for evidence the Palestinians (and other Arab states) accept the permanence of Israel and the Jewish people's right to self-determination in their homeland. Netanyahu has made this the sine qua non for an agreement because he believes recognition of the Jewish state “would finally make clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict.”459
The Palestinians have recognized Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that one of the most important precursors for achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians is their recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. In his speech to AIPAC on March 4, 2014, Netanyahu explained:
Just as Israel is prepared to recognize a Palestinian state, the Palestinians must be prepared to recognize a Jewish state. President Abbas, recognize the Jewish state, and in doing so, you would be telling your people, the Palestinians, that while we might have a territorial dispute, the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own is beyond dispute. You would be telling Palestinians to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, or amputating parts of the Negev and the Galilee. In recognizing the Jewish state, you would finally making clear that you are truly prepared to end the conflict. So recognize the Jewish state. No excuses, no delays, it's time.460
Mahmoud Abbas gave his response three days later when he vowed the Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "They are pressing and saying, 'no peace without the Jewish state,'" he said, without clarifying if he was referring to Israel or the United States. Regardless, he said, "There is no way. We will not accept." Two days later, the Arab League backed Abbas' stance, emphasizing "its rejection of recognizing Israel as a 'Jewish state.'"461
After unequivocally rejecting any recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Abbas has been dissembling by suggesting that the Palestinians already recognized Israel in 1988 and 1993. He is referring to Yasser Arafat satisfying U.S. conditions for opening a dialogue with the PLO during the Reagan Administration and the exchange of letters between Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin mutually recognizing the Palestinians and Israel to make the Oslo peace process possible.
Here is what Arafat said on December 14, 1988: "In my speech also yesterday (Tuesday) it was clear that we mean our people's right to freedom and national independence according to Resolution 181 and the right of all parties concerned in the Middle East conflict to exist in peace and security and as I have mentioned including the state of Palestine and Israel and other neighbors according to the Resolutions 242 and 338." The PLO also renounced terrorism to fulfill another requirement for opening a dialogue with the United States. Notice that Arafat's statement says nothing about recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
After agreeing to speak to the PLO, President Reagan said, "I am under no illusions about the PLO. Their words will have to be supported by actions, namely a continuing renunciation of terrorism everywhere and disassociation from those who perpetrate it." History has shown that Palestinian deeds have not matched their words as they have continued their longstanding efforts to destroy Israel through a combination of diplomacy and terror.
In his 1993 letter to Rabin, Arafat again said nothing about Israel as a Jewish state, only that the "PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security." He also declared that "all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations," a pledge inconsistent with the refusal of Abbas to negotiate and threats to circumvent talks by seeking recognition for Palestinian demands at the UN. Arafat's promise to renounce "the use of terrorism and other acts of violence" also proved illusory and has been reiterated by Abbas without any end to terror directed against Israel.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry continues his rewriting of history by telling members of Congress that international law already declares Israel a Jewish state and that Netanyahu's insistence on a public declaration of Israel's Jewish character from the Palestinians is "a mistake." According to Kerry, the "'Jewish state'" issue was "resolved in 1947 in Resolution 181 where there are more than 40-- 30 mentions of 'Jewish state.'" 462 The part that Kerry left out is that the Arab and Muslim states rejected the resolution and subsequently invaded the new Jewish state in hopes of destroying it at birth.
Kerry also seems oblivious to the present reality in which Abbas has no political legitimacy given his refusal to hold elections for the last decade, his limited authority within the West Bank and total lack of control over the Gaza Strip. In fact, reports indicate internal rifts are threatening Abbas' control of the Palestinian Authority, and those are separate from the virtual civil war between Fatah and Hamas, whose leaders explicitly say they will never recognize Israel or accept a Jewish state on Islamic land.
Is it any wonder that polls indicate that 64 percent of Israelis do not trust Kerry to take account of Israel's security as a crucial factor or that 74 percent of Israelis believe the United States is exerting more pressure on Israel than the Palestinians?463
The Shin Bet reports that terrorism from the West Bank is escalating, combined with the resumption of rocket barrages into Israel from Gaza and Abbas' refusal to bargain with Netanyahu reflect a total betrayal of the promises made in 1988, 1993 and all subsequent negotiations, and reminders of why Israelis do not take Palestinian rhetoric seriously. Even if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, most Israelis will remain skeptical until they see those words translated into deeds that will permanently end the conflict.
The Arab world and the Palestinians have changed since the three "noes" of 1967.
After the 1967 War, Israel expected to sign a peace agreement with the Arab states, thinking they had finally been convinced they could not drive the Jews into the sea and would be better off coexisting with the Jewish State. Instead, the Arab states held a summit in Khartoum and decided they would not make peace with Israel, negotiate with Israel or recognize Israel. Recall also that this declaration was made at a time when there were zero settlements in the disputed territories. Only Egypt and Jordan have changed their position since that time. This is the reason a comprehensive peace has eluded every American president and Israeli prime minister.
The obstacles to peace with the Palestinians are similar. At the Fatah conference of August 2009, the Palestinians declared their own series of noes: no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and no end to the armed struggle against Israel. Meanwhile, they issued more than a dozen demands, including Israeli acceptance of the “right of return“ of Palestinian refugees, the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, the freezing of all settlement construction and the lifting of the Gaza blockade. They also vowed to continue the struggle against Israel “until Jerusalem returns to the Palestinians void of settlers and settlements.”
As Secretary of State John Kerry heroically attempts to bridge the gaps between the parties, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas emerged from his meetings at the White House boasting that he had rejected the administration's proposals. He also announced a new version of the three noes: no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, no forsaking the demand for Palestinian refugees to be allowed into Israel, and no commitment that a peace agreement will end the conflict. 464
The final “no“ is the most unambiguous statement of the Palestinians' absolute refusal to accept a two-state solution, which, in turn, explains the objection to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. According to the “moderate“ Abbas, if Israel cedes the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem, the conflict will continue. These declarations make clear the Palestinians are still pursuing the strategy of stages whereby they first seek control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and then plan to “liberate“ the remainder of “Palestine.”
According to reporter Khaled Abu Toameh, “Abbas is now hoping to turn himself into a hero by telling his people that he had the guts to say no to Obama and Kerry.” To give the perception of support, Fatah activists organized rallies welcoming Abbas home.
The desire of the Palestinian people to coexist with their Israeli neighbors is being sublimated to the Islamist ideology of fanatical leaders who cannot accept a Jewish state in the Islamic world or Jews ruling over Muslims. Roughly half of the population is under the thumb of Hamas, which is at war with Fatah; while Fatah is at war with itself and fractured. The bottom line is that none of the men -- and they are all men -- who claim to represent the people (Abbas has not won an election in nearly a decade) are interested in peace. 464a
It has been nearly 47 years since the Arab states originally issued the three noes and Abbas has demonstrated nothing has changed for the Palestinians during that time. Will a 48th year pass before the Palestinians say “yes“ to peace?
Jonathan Pollard's conviction for espionage proved that Israel works against American interests.
News reports suggested that the United States is considering releasing Jonathan Pollard in exchange for Israel agreeing to continue peace talks with the Palestinians. The idea appears moot now that the Palestinians have violated the terms of the current talks by asking for recognition from 15 United Nations bodies and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's refusal to meet with his Israeli counterpart. Nevertheless, since the idea was put on the table, it is useful to review the Pollard case.
Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, began spying for Israel in June 1984; he learned that he may have been discovered in November 1985 and fled to the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., which refused to take him in. He was subsequently arrested by the FBI on charges of selling classified material to Israel. Pollard was convicted of espionage and sentenced to life imprisonment. His wife, Anne, got five years in jail for assisting her husband.
Initially, Israel said Pollard was part of a rogue operation, but quickly apologized.”It is Israel's policy to refrain from any intelligence activity related to the United States,“ an official government statement declared, “in view of the close and special relationship of friendship“ between the two countries. Prime Minister Shimon Peres stated: “Spying on the United States stands in total contradiction to our policy.” 465
While it was always suspected that the United States routinely spied on Israel, this was not confirmed until years later when Edward Snowden released classified documents from the National Security Agency. Nevertheless, the United States and Israel worked together to investigate the Pollard affair. The Israeli inquiry revealed that Pollard initiated the contact with the Israelis and was recruited by a small, independent scientific intelligence unit unrelated to Israeli military intelligence or the Mossad. 466
A subcommittee of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Intelligence and Security Services concluded: “Beyond all doubt ... the operational echelons (namely: the Scientific Liaison Unit headed by Rafael Eitan) decided to recruit and handle Pollard without any check or consultation with the political echelon or receiving its direct or indirect approval.” The Knesset committee took the government to task for not properly supervising the scientific unit.
As promised to the U.S. government, the spy unit that directed Pollard was disbanded, his handlers punished and the stolen documents returned.467 The last point was crucial to the U.S. Department of Justice's case against Pollard.
Pollard denied spying “against“ the United States. He said he provided only information he believed was vital to Israeli security and was being withheld by the Pentagon. This included data on Soviet arms shipments to Syria, Iraqi and Syrian chemical weapons, the Pakistani atomic bomb project and Libyan air defense systems.468
Pollard's life sentence was severe and controversial, but other spies received longer prison terms, such as Arthur Walker who is serving three life terms plus forty years. Aldrich Ames was also sentenced to life but his crime led to the death of at least 10 intelligence assets. On the other hand, John Walker Lindh received a 20-year sentence for joining the Taliban in Afghanistan, and William Kampiles, a CIA officer, sold secrets to the Soviets and served only 18 years of a 40-year sentence. Pollard supporters have argued that his sentence was also far longer than the average term imposed for spying for the Soviet Union and other enemies of the United States. 469 Some argued that his sentence should have been more lenient because he was spying for an ally; however, the law makes no distinction regarding the beneficiary of the stolen material.
Moreover, the person who coordinated the government's damage assessment, said "there are no other Americans who have given over to an ally information of the quantity and quality that Mr. Pollard has." 469a
As an example, Bowman said one of the documents Pollard stole was a Top Secret Radio Signal Notations Manual. "The manual listed the physical parameters of every known electronic signal, noted how America collected signals around the world, and listed all the known communications links then used by the Soviety Union. It would permit any recipient to take measures to avoid the United States' collection of signals and communications intelligence information, and we have no idea how widely this might have been shared."
Though initially shunned by Israel, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu granted him citizenship. Netanyahu requested clemency for Pollard during Middle East peace talks at the Wye Plantation in Maryland in 1998; however, CIA Director George Tenet threatened to quit if President Bill Clinton released Pollard. Since then, Israeli officials have made repeated entreaties on Pollard's behalf.
At the end of Clinton's term, the issue was again raised and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, along with a majority of senators argued against a pardon. "Mr. Pollard is a convicted spy who put our national security at risk and endangered the lives of our intelligence officers," Shelby said. "There are not terms strong enough to express my belief that Mr. Pollard should serve every minute of his sentence ... " 470
In November 2003, a federal judge rejected requests by Pollard to appeal his life sentence and review classified government documents that Pollard said would prove his spying was not as damaging or as extensive as prosecutors had charged. The judge said that Pollard had waited too long to object to his sentence and ruled that Pollard's attorneys offered no compelling justification for seeing the sealed intelligence documents. 471
A U.S. federal appeals court in July 2005 rejected Pollard's claim that he had inadequate counsel in his original trial and denied his request to downgrade his life sentence. The court also denied Pollard's attorneys access to classified information they hoped would help in their attempt to win presidential clemency for their client. The rulings leave Pollard with little recourse but the Supreme Court to change his fate. The Supreme Court, however, refused in 2006 to hear his case.472
In 2012, the 1987 damage assessment of Pollard's crimes was declassified. Though heavily redacted, the document indicated that Pollard was asked to collect U.S. intelligence on Arab states, Pakistan and the Soviet Union. The full scope of Pollard's espionage activities remains secret.
After years of embarrassment over Pollard's actions, and its implications for the Jewish community (e.g., bringing greater suspicion on Jews applying for or belonging to intelligence agencies and raising questions about the “dual loyalty“ of American Jews), major Jewish organizations have joined the chorus of officials and former officials calling for Pollard's release.473 Former U.S. officials who now support commuting Pollard's sentence include former CIA director James Woolsey, secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former attorney general Michael Muckasey, former deputy secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb and a number of former and current members of Congress (a bi-partisan letter circulated in Congress and signed by nearly 40 members calls on their peers to urge President Barack Obama to commute Pollard's life sentence to time served). Opponents also remain vocal, including the man who prosecuted Pollard, Joseph diGenova, and the Naval investigator who conducted the inquiry into Pollard's actions.
Federal guidelines at the time of Pollard's sentencing made prisoners eligible for parole if they had a record of good behavior and had served 30 years of a life sentence. If granted, Pollard could be released on November 21, 2015.
Hamas-Fatah reconciliation paves the way
to peace negotiations with Israel.
After several prior claims of reconciliation, it remains to be seen if Hamas and Fatah, rulers of
the Gaza Strip and West
Bank, respectively, can form a united government. The immediate impact of the announcement to reconcile was to stop all peace talks. After refusing to talk to his Israeli counterpart for six years, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to blow up any chance of an agreement by secretly agreeing to join forces with an organization committed to Israel's destruction.
If implemented, the agreement joins the two leading Palestinian parties and sets the stage for long overdue parliamentary elections. This is not just a blow to peace, but a defeat for the Palestinian people.
Neither party has shown any interest in democracy. Fatah has repeatedly delayed scheduled elections, primarily due to fear of
losing to Hamas as it
did in the last election. Both, meanwhile, have ruled autocratically
and abused the human rights of the Palestinians under their control. Hamas remains committed
to creating an Iranian-style Islamic government and has created an oppressive
environment in Gaza for non-Muslims
and Muslims alike.
Internal politics are of less concern to Israel than the unwavering antagonism of Hamas toward peace. Hamas officials
have repeatedly said they are committed to Israel’s destruction and have said their views have not changed in reconciling
with Fatah. While Fatah officials have said that Hamas has agreed to peace talks with Israel, no Hamas spokesmen have said this. To the contrary, Hamas officials continue to say the opposite: “The issue of Hamas recognizing Israel is a complete nonstarter ... aimed at primarily weakening the movement's positions on Israel,“ Hamas spokesman Taher Nunu said.
The last time the two were supposed to reconcile,
Nabil Shaath, a high-ranking aide to Abbas, said that demanding Hamas to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel is “unfair, unworkable and does not make sense.” 544
The future of security cooperation between Hamas and Fatah also looms
as a major concern to both Israel and the United States. The United
States has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to train and arm
the Palestinian Authority’s National Security Force in the West
Bank.. 545 Under the unity pact, Hamas’
security apparatus- which prides itself on actively targeting Israel - will presumably be integrated into the PA force, basically spelling an end to
the Palestinian commitment to fight terror. 546 Moreover, the agreement will likely require both sides to release hundreds of militants held in each other's jails, a move that would pose a serious security risk for Israel and destroy the goodwill the PA built with Israel from arresting these men in the first place. 547
The decision to reconcile appears to be a tactical one based on necessity
rather than a commonality of views. Fatah has grown progressively weaker in the West
Bank and is known for its corruption. Officials seeing the revolutionary
fervor against similarly corrupt, autocratic regimes fear an uprising
against them and believe a unity deal will mollify the Palestinian street. Fatah also wants to press
the UN to declare a state of Palestine
unilaterally and is afraid that countries may have an excuse to vote
against them if they are divided. Hamas also has an incentive to work with its rivals because of fears it has also lost public favor by its failure to improve the lives of Gazans and because the new Egyptian government's opposition has weakened the group. It also has lost support from Syria as a result of its failure to stand behind Bashar Assad.
Given the deep divisions it remains to be seen if a power sharing arrangement can be reached. Hamas believes it can ultimately take over the Palestinian
Authority from within if elections are held and it is allowed to
spread its tentacles further in the West
The Fatah decision to
abandon the way of peace and join the terrorists calling for armed struggle
to bring about Israel’s destruction
also threatens Palestinian well-being. After watching its economy boom
in the last few years, in large part because of Israeli and international
assistance, the world is likely to reconsider its support for a government
that includes terrorists.
The Quartet has made clear it will not work with Hamas unless it recognizes Israel’s right to exist, eschews terror and agrees
to honor past Israel-Palestinian
agreements. If Hamas meets these conditions, it will cease to be Hamas, given that its covenant is unambiguous in stating that Islam (as they interpret it) requires the destruction of Israel.
The United States immediately criticized the Palestinian decision to reconcile and members of Congress are calling for withholding aid to the PA. According to
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-FL), “U.S. taxpayer funding [to terrorist organizations] is
prohibited under current law.” 550
Ultimately, the Palestinians must unite to achieve their national goals,
but by allowing terrorists to become part of their government, Fatah has distanced itself even further from those who have worked to create
an independent Palestine. The Palestinians do indeed need to reconcile — but with Israel, not Hamas.
Mosques are sacrosanct and never used by terrorists.
Even in the asymmetric fight against terror in which civilians are routinely used as shields by militants one might expect mosques to be out of bounds for use by terrorists. They are not. Terrorists find mosques to be ideal places to store weapons and to hide out because they have the benefit of being civilian targets and holy places so that targeting them would lead to international criticism regardless of their non-religious use.
During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas stored ammunition and fired rockets into Israel from mosques.474 This tactic has been used by radical Muslims in many places including Lebanon (by Hezbollah), Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan (by the Taliban). 475
Today, mosques continue to be used by terrorists for nefarious purposes. In Gaza, for example, Hamas has attached reconnaissance cameras to minarets. In April 2014, Egyptian soldiers discovered entrances to six smuggling tunnels in Al-Nasr Mosque’s, including one in the washroom and another behind the pulpit.476
The exploitation of mosques by radical Islamic groups is especially ironic given their self-proclaimed piety. Then again, it should not be surprising that people who commit murder can rationalize their use of holy places to further their goals.477
Once a mosque is used for military purposes, it becomes a legitimate target and makes it more difficult to justify placing holy places off limits. This is just one example of the nearly impossible dilemmas Israel faces in the fight against Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror groups.
Human rights organizations present unbiased reports on Israel.
Human rights organizations regularly pillory Israel for real and imagined abuses. Israel frequently argues that these groups’ research is shoddy, biased, falsified and untrue. The groups see official Israeli channels as less credible than Arabs who are often proven liars, unreliable witnesses and members of terrorist organizations.
In a rare example of candor Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigator Donatella Rovera admitted some difficulties in reporting on armed conflicts.478 “Responding effectively to human rights violations and humanitarian crises resulting from armed conflict requires accurate and credible factual information and analysis.” Sadly, these essentials are often missing from the reports of HRW and other human rights monitors.
Consider the impartiality standard. In 2001, during the UN’s conference to address intolerance, a parallel NGO conference convened to publicize “the voices of the victims.” Delegates adopted a resolution labeling Israeli policies racist and war crimes.479
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson called the allegations accusing Israel of war crimes “inappropriate and unacceptable,” Nevertheless, Amnesty International, HRW, Lawyers for Human Rights and Physicians for Human Rights endorsed the resolution. 480
The disclosure that HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director tried to raise money from Saudi Arabia by touting HRW’s history of anti-Israel reportage was further evidence of the group’s bias.481
Rovera admits the information gathered by human rights groups is often inaccurate and leads to specious accusations. “Access to relevant areas during the conduct of hostilities may be restricted or outright impossible ... Evidence may be rapidly removed, destroyed, or contaminated - whether intentionally or not. ‘Bad’ evidence,” she concludes, “can be worse than no evidence, as it can lead to wrong assumptions or conclusions.”
Human rights organizations play an important role in monitoring Middle East conflicts; however, they cannot meet Rovera’s standards if they start with an anti-Israel bias. If the principles outlined by Ms. Rovera are adhered to, and the challenges she acknowledges are admitted, it may be possible to fairly and accurately report on the behavior of Israel and its neighbors.
Human rights organizations use reliable information in reports criticizing Israel.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) investigator Donatella Rovera admits that the civilians NGOs rely on for information are often unreliable. “Especially in the initial stages of armed conflicts,” Rovera reported, “civilians are confronted with wholly unfamiliar realities - armed clashes, artillery strikes, aerial bombardments, and other military activities and situations they have never experienced before - which can make it very difficult for them to accurately describe specific incidents.”482
Rovera noted that she interviewed civilians in Gaza “who described what they thought were artillery or bomb strikes being launched by far away government forces and striking near their homes - whereas in reality the loud bangs and tremors were caused by mortars or rockets being launched by opposition fighters from their positions nearby. For the untrained ear it is virtually impossible to distinguish between incoming and outgoing fire, and all the more so for those who find themselves close to the frontlines.” Rovera admits the difference “is vastly important to investigators.”
Rovera correctly observes that “even individuals and organizations with a proven track record of credible and objective work” can present biased and inaccurate information. She also acknowledges that “interested parties go to extraordinary lengths to manipulate or manufacture “evidence” for both internal and external consumption.” For example, she says, combatants “manipulate video footage of incidents which occurred at other times in other places - including in other countries - and present them as “proof” of atrocities.” We've seen this behavior from the Palestinians and Lebanese many times, such as the false allegation that Israeli soldiers killed Muhammad al-Dura, the specious claim that Israel committed a massacre in Jenin and the manipulated photos from Lebanon showing toys or stuffed animals amidst rubble to suggest the deaths of innocent children when it is clear that these were props carefully placed after the building was destroyed.
“Fear can lead victims and witnesses to withhold evidence or give deliberately erroneous accounts of incidents,” Rovera notes. “In Gaza, I received partial or inaccurate information by relatives of civilians accidentally killed in accidental explosions or by rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel that had malfunctioned.” She also found that “witnesses” often lied because “they feared reprisals by the armed groups.”
Having all these concerns does not prevent HRW and other NGOs from issuing inaccurate reports that quickly circle the globe through various media. Israel is tarred by false accusations that it can refute, but too late to undo the damage. Three weeks after the beginning of the war initiated by Hezbollah on July 12, 2006, for example, HRW charged Israel with indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Lebanon.483 The failure of investigators to find evidence of Hezbollah's presence at bomb sites did not mean the terrorists had not been there since it is possible that any weapons, documents or bodies were removed before HRW arrived on the scene. As analyst Joshua Muravchik observed, “There was no dependable method by which HRW could assess the veracity of what it was told by the “witnesses,” many of whom were in areas where the population was sympathetic to, or intimidated by Hezbollah. Indeed, there was no means by which it could be sure that they were not Hezbollah cadres, since members of the group do not ordinarily wear uniforms or display identity badges.”484
HRW also found no evidence for the scurrilous accusation that civilians were “deliberately” killed. On the contrary, a great deal of evidence was available showing the efforts Israel made to avoid harming noncombatants, such as dropping leaflets to warn civilians to evacuate locations before they were attacked, pinpoint attacks on Hezbollah targets that could more easily have been carpet-bombed, and Israeli pilots who withheld fire because of the presence of civilians in target areas.
Anyone watching television coverage of the Second Lebanon War saw the images of rockets being fired from civilian areas, and the photos of weapons and armed men in what should have been peaceful neighborhoods. Numerous witnesses told reporters very different stories than those reported by HRW, giving examples of weapons caches in mosques and fighters using UN troops as shields.485 HRW had no trouble accepting the word of the Lebanese people it interviewed, but gave no credence to evidence presented by Israel, such as weapons captured in fighting in civilian areas or videos showing the deployment and launching of rockets from areas that were attacked.
One important matter Rovera did not acknowledge is the human rights community's frequent failure to make basic moral and legal distinctions. For example, HRW did not differentiate between Hezbollah's action in initiating the conflict and Israel's reaction in self-defense, or between Hezbollah's deliberate targeting of civilians and Israel's efforts to avoid civilian casualties. HRW also failed to note the contrasting goals of the combatants: Hezbollah's declared aim is to destroy Israel, while Israel's goal is to protect its citizens.
Now that Rovera has admitted the flaws in the reporting system, the question is whether they will be rectified.
Summer camp for Palestinians in Gaza is a fun escape for children like American camps.
Palestinian children would probably love to have the summer camp experience many American kids enjoy. For Palestinians in Gaza, however, the purpose of camp is not to have fun but to indoctrinate children with the Hamas ideology and to train them to join their terrorist ranks. This is nothing new; similar camps have been run for years.
Summer camp teaches Palestinian children how to resist the Israelis and that the greatest glory is to be a martyr. Campers stage mock kidnappings and learn how to slit the throats of Israelis. Islamic Jihad has run "Paradise Camps" that offered 8-12 year-olds military training and encourage them to become suicide bombers.486
Hamas has run as many as 700 camps for 100,000 children and teenagers. Included in the camps' curricula were lessons in shooting firearms and dismantling grenades. Some Palestinian parents were so upset about the military training and incitement of their children against Israel and Fatah they pulled them out of the camps.487
In the summer of 2014, thousands of Palestinian children, some as young as five-years-old, learned the skills to become terrorists. Photos from the camp showed campers with war paint on their faces standing at attention. Others showed kids running through an obstacle course with open flames and squirming beneath barbed-wire fences. The Hamas counselors taught their wards how to carry an assault rifle and how to protest at a political demonstration. Kids not only learned to hold weapons, they get to shoot Kalashnikov rifles and anti-tank weapons and to have live fire exercises.488
Once again, in the summer of 2015, the military wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigades, have recruited heavily to enroll youths in their summer camps. For the first time, girls will be included in the military and terror training program. Hamas spokeman Mushir Al-Masri said, “This year will include military training for girls, in which they will carry weapons. This is not limited to men only.”640 Hamas has actively recruited within many mosques within Gaza as well for its camps, drawing criticism from Fatah for exploting the presence of children at Ramadan services.
The participants of the militant camp were also trained in firing sniper rifles, using the portraits of Israeli leaders for targets. The Palestinian youth simulated attacks on Israeli destinations through model terror tunnels, meant to recreate the experience of infiltrating Israeli territory. Human rights activists condemned the camps as a forced militarization of Gazan society and a violation of children's rights.641
Israel is indiscriminately attacking Palestinian targets in Gaza.
During the years since Israel’s last major operation in Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Hamas terrorists and their affiliates continued to build up their arsenals to prepare for the next round of fighting. During these last three years more than 3,000 rockets and mortars have been fired into Israel. These attacks caused minimal damage but reminded Israel that the Hamas arsenal was growing in size and sophistication and would eventually pose such a severe threat that it would have to be neutralized.
For most of the last three years, Hamas has been careful to fire just enough rockets to scare Israelis in the south but not enough to provoke a large military response from Israel. While the Israeli government tolerated this level of violence, the Israelis living within rocket range continued to be traumatized by the unpredictability of the terrorists and random targeting of the explosives, which required them to seek shelter within 15 seconds of the Code Red alarm sounding.
Despite improvements, the terror rockets remain essentially unguided missiles; otherwise the loss of life and property would be much more severe. The terrorists simply aim in the direction of Israel’s major cities and hope they land somewhere that will cause destruction and panic. Some do hit their mark and a number of Israelis have been killed or wounded. More ominously, rockets during this round of fighting have reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
This latest round of fighting was inevitable; Israelis have been talking for some time about the need to end the rocket threat once and for all. The spark that set off this conflagration was the murder of three Israeli teenagers whose killers have yet to be found by the Palestinian Authority. Additional fuel was thrown on the fire by the alleged murder of an Arab youngster in a revenge attack. Israeli officials condemned this heinous act and police arrested the alleged perpetrators within four days.
Palestinian rabble rousers, who need little incentive to attack Jews, have been incited by Hamas and Fatah. For example, the Fatah Facebook page posted this threat on July 7, 2014:
Sons of Zion, this is an oath to the Lord of the Heavens: Prepare all the bags you can for your body parts.;489
Palestinians inside and outside Israel have taken to the streets in what turned out to be riots that threaten to widen the war beyond Gaza.
As in past conflicts, the Palestinian propaganda machine is working to paint Israel's Operation Protective Edge as indiscriminately attacking Gaza and killing dozens of Palestinians. The BBC found, however, that many pictures being disseminated through Twitter at #GazaUnderAttack are bogus. Some photos are from the conflict; however, many others were taken as far back as 2009 or were taken during conflicts in Syria or Iraq.490
Israel is once again fighting an asymmetric war in which the IDF does everything possible to protect civilians and keep them out of harm’s way, Hamas uses Palestinians as shields, hoping Israel will attack and kill these innocents to win propaganda points and media coverage. For example, “When Gazan terrorists want to try to avoid being killed (always) they merely grab a child, ask civilians to go into a building, launch a rocket from a children’s playground…. And the IDF will do nothing (unless sometimes, when the attack is absolutely imminent).”
In addition, Hamas built its military command center underneath Shifa hospital (ironically, built by Israel for the safety of the Gazan population). “But the IDF isn’t about to attack a hospital, even if that would end the war, or significantly hamper Hamas’s ability to attack Israel.”491
Hamas' arsenal contains an estimated 10,000 rockets ranging from crudely constructed Qassam rockets to Iranian-developed, technologically-advanced Fajr rockets. Hamas took advantage of the years of relative quiet to smuggle into Gaza increasingly sophisticated weapons, mostly from Iran, but also from post-revolutionary Libya. Hamas now has the capability of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and putting 4.5 million Israelis - more than half the population - at risk and many confined to shelters.
The Iron Dome missile defense system, cooperatively developed by Israel and the United States is 90 percent effective in protecting populated areas and has stopped numerous rockets; however, the system cannot stop rockets fired at short distances, such as those targeted at Sderot, and the 10 percent that get past the Iron Dome can cause severe damage and casualties. Rockets have already landed in Tel Aviv.
Looking only at casualty figures tells only part of the story of the impact of rocket barrages. They forced the closure of schools in southern Israel and brought life to a standstill. “There is a whole generation of kids there who have known nothing except sirens and bomb shelters,” said Mark Regev,492 spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many of these children will suffer from post-traumatic stress for years to come.
As in past operations, Israel is doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. Meanwhile, Israel’s behavior is on solid legal ground; Article 51 of the United Nations Charter reserves to every nation the right to engage in self-defense against armed attacks. “The claim that Israel has violated the principle of proportionality -- by killing more Hamas terrorists than the number of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas rockets -- is absurd,” according to Alan Dershowitz. “First, there is no legal equivalence between the deliberate killing of innocent civilians and the deliberate killings of Hamas combatants. Under the laws of war, any number of combatants can be killed to prevent the killing of even one innocent civilian. Second, proportionality is not measured by the number of civilians actually killed, but rather by the risk posed.”493
No innocent Palestinians would be in any danger if the Palestinian Authority took the long promised steps to stop terrorism, or if the international community, especially the Arab world, pressured Hamas to stop attacking Israel. No innocent Palestinians would be in danger if Hamas terrorists did not deliberately hide among them. If the peace-seeking Palestinians prevented the terrorists from living in their midst and firing rockets from their neighborhoods, Israel would have no reason to target those areas.
Hamas is firing rockets at Israel to end the 'occupation.'
“The Palestinians are only resisting occupation” is a favorite talking point of apologists for Palestinian terrorism, and Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population are no exception. This fallacy was proven when Israel evacuated all troops and civilians from Gaza in 2005 and, instead of peace, was rewarded with an increase in terrorism. Still, Palestinians and their advocates maintain that “the occupation” is the primary motivation for terrorism against Israel.
Unlike Mahmoud Abbas, who makes moderate statements when he wants to win public relations points, and radical ones when speaking to his constituents, the message of Hamas is unequivocal and consistent. As stated in the organization’s covenant, the Islamic Resistance Movement “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” and that “there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.”
The head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal was not afraid to speak plainly during a 2012 rally in Gaza:
Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on any inch of the land...We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel. 494
This is not the behavior of resistance fighters grudgingly forced to take up arms in defense of their homes and families, but a culture of martyrdom in which even killing the children of the enemy is praised and admired.
While Israelis lament the loss of innocent Palestinian lives; Hamas rejoices whenever Israelis are murdered. On July 13, 2014, Hamas released a music video celebrating the bombing of an Israeli school bus that killed 16-year-old Daniel Viflic.495
Palestinian Christians in the territories live under similar conditions and yet they do not engage in terrorism or call for Israel’s destruction. This is also true of many other suffering peoples living in far more difficult circumstances than the Palestinians. The intentional murder of civilians is a horrendous abuse of human rights and a war crime; Palestinians are the only people who believe terrorism is a legitimate tactic.
If Hamas was interested in ending the “occupation,” it would join rather than oppose peace negotiations. Peace, however, has never been the goal of Hamas. The group’s true objective is expressed in the title of a book written by the political adviser to then Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas: “The End of the Jewish State: Just a Matter of Time.”
Hamas never endangers Palestinian civilians, especially children; it is the Israelis who target them.
Hamas has been shown to use mosques, hospitals, ambulances and schools to conceal and transport weapons and as bases and hiding places for its fighters on multiple occasions. Many rockets are also fired from near these normally sacrosanct places to attract Israeli fire in the hope that civilians will be killed. Hamas then offers journalists, whose freedom is otherwise constrained to what the terrorists want them to see, “telegenic victims,” children whenever possible.
It seems no matter how much evidence Israel produces to show the risks Hamas is taking with the lives of the innocent, the media is interested only in the body count, and from Hamas’ cynical viewpoint, the higher the civilian death toll the better. One story even the media could not ignore was the discovery of 20 rockets hidden in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which typically takes a see and hear no evil approach to its work in Gaza.496
This organization, which is heavily subsidized by American taxpayers, has a long history of acting as an advocate for the Palestinians rather than a neutral participant in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Like Inspector Renault in Casablanca saying he was shocked to find gambling in Rick’s place, which he knew was a casino, UNRWA officials express similar surprise when their complicity in terrorism is revealed. Pretending to have no idea where the rockets could have come from, the agency condemned the groups responsible.
The story does not end with the discovery of the rockets; though UNRWA had to remove them from the school once it became public knowledge that they had been found on UNRWA property. But rather than destroy the weapons cache, turn it over to Israeli forces or give them to a neutral institution, they informed “the relevant parties” instead. Thus, UNRWA did know where the rockets came from (as if there was any doubt) and returned the weapons to the original source, essentially abetting the war crimes committed by Hamas.497 This was followed by the discovery of more rockets in a second school.498
The UNRWA cases are proof of Israel’s claim that civilian institutions are being used to store weapons. Additional evidence is available to demonstrate that rockets are fired from positions near these institutions. The use of civilians and sites such as schools and hospitals to store and fire weapons, are war crimes and the Palestinian government, including the Palestinian Authority leadership that is ultimately responsible for the Gaza Strip, should be held accountable.
Journalists are never decieved by Palestinian propaganda.
The normally skeptical press is remarkably docile and unquestioning when it comes to information coming from Hamas. As we’ve seen in past conflicts, journalists often check their professional ethics at the door to gain access to areas controlled by terrorists. Unlike journalists in Israel who are free to report whatever they want, the price of admission to Gaza is to go where Hamas wants them to go, see what the terrorists want them to see and report what they are told.
Hamas spokespeople are articulate and well-prepared to present their case to the media. They have also prepped the civilian population on how to respond to media inquiries. The interior ministry published guidelines instructing the civilian population in how to contribute the Hamas propaganda campaign. For example:
Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don't forget to always add 'innocent civilian' or 'innocent citizen' in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Begin [your reports of] news of resistance actions with the phrase 'In response to the cruel Israeli attack,' and conclude with the phrase, ‘This many people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.’ Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of ‘the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction.’
Avoid publishing pictures of rockets fired into Israel from [Gaza] city centers. This [would] provide a pretext for attacking residential areas in the Gaza Strip. Do not publish or share photos or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [forces] in Gaza.
When speaking to the West, you must use political, rational, and persuasive discourse, and avoid emotional discourse aimed at begging for sympathy. There are elements with a conscience in the world; you must maintain contact with them and activate them for the benefit of Palestine. Their role is to shame the occupation and expose its violations.
Avoid entering into a political argument with a Westerner aimed at convincing him that the Holocaust is a lie and deceit; instead, equate it with Israel's crimes against Palestinian civilians.
Do not publish photos of military commanders. Do not mention their names in public, and do not praise their achievements in conversations with foreign friends!499
Journalists are always looking for the powerful story and photograph. What is startling is the failure to find pictures of Hamas terrorists in the act of firing rockets from civilian areas or those who have been “martyred.” A similar pattern emerged during the last Lebanon War when Hezbollah tightly controlled what journalists could see, film and write. “Foreign correspondents were warned on entry to the tour [of a southern Beirut suburb],” according to a report by Marvin Kalb, “that they could not wander off on their own or ask questions of any residents. They could take pictures only of sites approved by their Hezbollah minders. Violations, they were told, would be treated harshly.” He added, “The rarest picture of all was that of a Hezbollah guerilla. It was as if the war on the Hezbollah side was being fought by ghosts.”500 The media is giving the impression Israel is now fighting ghosts in Gaza.
Journalists can be forgiven if they shoot pictures of children; they’re emotion-laden photos, which editors readily publish knowing they are contributing to Hamas propaganda. What is more disturbing is the journalists’ failure to investigate the claims by Hamas’ health minister and others with regard to casualties. We’ve learned from past conflicts the Palestinians fabricate Israeli “atrocities,” and, as the guidelines cited above indicate, they have been instructed by their leaders to do so.
Palestinian officials, all of whom were employed in Gaza by Hamas, have an incentive to skew casualty numbers to tarnish Israel’s image and give the appearance of victimization. Determining how many terrorists are killed is complicated because they are told to take off their uniforms and put on civilian clothing.
Thus, no one seems to ask the obvious question of how many of the dead reported by the Palestinian Health Ministry are members of Hamas. The first guideline makes clear that “anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian.” So the widely reported casualty totals coming from the Palestinians do not include any terrorists.
Journalists treat official Israeli sources with skepticism while unquestioningly repeat propaganda from Hamas. This was also true during Operation Cast Lead when Israel was also charged with using disproportionate force and targeting civilians; however, after the fighting ceased, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad admitted Hamas lost more than 600 men during the war; a figure consistent with the 709 calculated by the IDF. This was a majority of the casualties.501
After Cast Lead, the UN Human Rights Council issued the notoriously flawed and biased Goldstone Report. Judge Richard Goldstone subsequently denounced the report and its principal allegations. He said the report’s erroneous claims that Israel carried out deliberate attacks on civilians became a tool for Israel’s detractors to demonize the Jewish state and denigrate its right to self-defense.502 Goldstone said the truth was that “civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy” and that in the aftermath of having thousands of rockets and missiles fired at its cities, Israel had the “right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against such attacks.”503
The IDF has been reluctant to release any casualty figures but, when the smoke clears, it is likely the IDF’s information will be more accurate. As of July 22, 2014, the IDF has killed approximately 200 terrorists who are either missing from the Hamas statistics or deliberately falsified and referred to as civilians.
UNRWA is a humanitarian organization that remains neutral in the conflict.
The United Nations Relief and Works Association (UNRWA) was established in 1949 by the United Nations to provide food, clothing, education, shelter, and work for the 600-800,000 Palestinians who became refugees from 1947-49 by fleeing their homes to avoid being caught in the crossfire of the war started when Arab forces began to attack the Jews and, later, when the surrounding Arab states invaded the nascent state of Israel.503a Most Palestinians fled for this reason; most wealthy Palestinians left even earlier in anticipation of the fighting. In a few instances Palestinians were expelled from their homes because they were in areas where they posed a threat to the Jews fighting for their lives against the invaders.
The Arabs lost the war and rather than being able to return triumphant to a Palestinian state, the Palestinians became refugees. Most still lived in parts of historic Palestine; nevertheless, they demanded the right to return to their old homes. This was not possible given their decision to flee and to side with the Arabs bent on destroying Israel.
The 150,000 Palestinians who did not flee became full-fledged citizens of Israel. Thousands more were allowed to return on a humanitarian bases, but most were considered enemies of the state and a possible third column that would threaten Israel from the inside and therefore remained homeless. With the exception of Jordan, none of the Arab states permitted the Palestinians to become citizens and most were confined to camps or specific areas where they were denied most of the rights their fellow Palestinians enjoyed in Israel.
Originally, the expectation was that UNRWA would provide short-term relief to these refugees until they could be resettled in the Arab states, or a peace agreement was reached that provided for the repatriation of some of the refugees to Israel. However, the refusal of the Arab states (with the exception of Jordan) to resettle the refugees created a problem that has now persisted for more than 60 years. During that time, the number of “refugees” served by the UNRWA has ballooned to more than 5 million. During that time UNRWA has become a $500 Million bureaucracy that has functioned as a welfare agency, which has kept the Palestinians as perpetual refugees and helped stoke resentment and the growth of terror movements in the camps under its control.
Following the Hamas takeover in Gaza, the terrorist organization has used UNRWA to pursue its violent campaign against Israel and the UN has adopted a “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” approach to the misuse of its facilities. Israel’s Channel 2, for example, discovered an UNRWA run camp was teaching students that “Jews are the wolf” and they would one day conquer Israel504 through “education and jihad.”505 In August 2006, Justus Reid Weiner and Noam Weissman concluded:
UNRWA educational institutions are controlled by individuals committed to Hamas ideology and they are educating terrorists. Numerous terrorist operatives and Hamas political leaders have been educated in UNRWA schools.506
Despite denials from the UN, UNRWA facilities have been used as civilian shields by Hamas and as storehouses for weapons. For example, in 2007 Israel released footage of three terrorists firing mortars from an UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun. During Operation Cast Lead, Israel was accused of attacking a UN school, however, an investigation supported Israel’s contention that Hamas terrorists were firing from the vicinity.507 This tactic is being used again during Operation Protective Edge. In addition, three UN schools were found to have rockets stored in them, and, inexplicably, the administrators promptly returned the weapons to Hamas.508
One deadly incident occurred when Israeli soldiers discovered a tunnel leading into Israel inside a UNRWA clinic. The site was booby-trapped; the soldiers apparently set off an explosion and died when the building collapsed.509
UNRWA officials repeatedly suggest Israel is killing civilians in their facilities with malice and forethought. Israel insists that soldiers have only attacked these positions when they are fired upon. The UN typically disputes this; however, John Ging, Director of OCHA and the former UNRWA director in Gaza, admitted on July 31, 2014, that “armed groups are firing their rockets into Israel from the vicinity of UN facilities and residential areas.”510
One example of UNRWA’s complicity in Hamas’s terror operations was revealed in a report prepared by James Lindsay, a former UNRWA general-counsel, who concluded:
UNRWA has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of organizations such as Hamas from joining its staff. UNRWA has no preemployment security checks and does not monitor off-time behavior to ensure compliance with the organization's anti-terrorist rules. No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services.511
Many members of Congress and others believe UNRWA has outlived whatever usefulness it once had and would like to see it defunded so the care for any legitimate Palestinian refugees can be turned over to the UNHCR, the agency responsible for every other refugee population in the world. The unmasking of UNRWA in Gaza as a shield and armory for terrorists may hasten this long overdue transition.
There are no terrorist attacks on Israel originating from the West Bank anymore.
While all eyes have been on Gaza, the world has ignored the West Bank, taking for granted that, unlike Gaza, Israel faces no terror threat from the east. Unfortunately, it is not true. Terror attacks and attempts continue to emanate from the West Bank despite the pledges dating to the Oslo agreement in 1993 that the PLO, and now the Palestinian Authority, would cease all terror.
The Shin Bet reported 187 serious terror attempts in 2013. They included: 52 kidnapping plots, 52 shooting plots, 67 IED plots, and 16 suicide plots. More alarming is that, contrary to conventional wisdom that Hamas is not active in the West Bank, almost half (84) of those attempts were planned by Hamas. Six Israelis were killed in 2013 -- three civilians and three members of the security forces.512Note that these figures do not include dozens of instances where Palestinians threw rocks at Israelis injuring both soldiers and civilians.
Similarly, in the first half of 2014, another 96 attempts to carry out terror attacks were discovered, roughly half attributable to Hamas. 512a
Israel has been pilloried for maintaining checkpoints in the West Bank, even after removing all but 12, but those remaining checkpoints have saved lives by catching many of these terrorists trying to infiltrate Israel. For example, on July 27, 2014, border guards thwarted a terror attack when they stopped a suspicious vehicle at a checkpoint near Beitar Illit. An explosive device was attached to the gas cylinders in the suspect's car. 513
These figures are just the latest indication that the Mahmoud Abbas has failed, even with U.S. training for his security forces, to stop the violence. Furthermore, the supposedly secular moderate Abbas has in recent years increasingly resorted to Islamic imagery and rhetoric to incite the masses. On June 4, 2014, for example, Abbas used a tactic that dates back to the Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s, calling on Muslims around the world to defend the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. This “Al-Aqsa is in danger” lie has been used for decades to arouse the Muslim world against Israel and the fact that Abbas has resorted to this calumny is further evidence that he feels the need to placate Hamas and its followers.
Even more alarming was his use of a quotation from the Koran to justify war against Israel. On Fatah’s main Facebook page, a post said: “[PA] President [Mahmoud Abbas] concluded his brief speech with the first verse of the Quran that permits Muslims to wage war for Allah.” 514
This Islamization of the conflict with Israel, combined with the ongoing terror and incitement, raises new doubts about the willingness and ability of Abbas to negotiate peace. 515
Israel must end its illegal blockade of Gaza to end the war with Hamas.
If the current ceasefire holds, and Hamas does not violate it as they have previous breaks agreed to by Israel, the Palestinians hope to extract a number of concessions from Israel in exchange for holding their fire. Beside the absurdity of a terrorist entity dictating terms to the people it is terrorizing, Israel has other good reasons to refuse Palestinian demands.
As usual, the international chorus that believes the conflict will disappear if Israel is forced to capitulate to Palestinian ultimatums, is now calling for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza. Israel may adopt a less restrictive policy, but it is under no obligation to allow a free flow of goods.
Critics forget that Israel did not impose tighter restrictions on Gaza until June 2007, two years after withdrawing every soldier and citizen, when Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority. From 2005 to 2007, Israel endured nearly 2,000 rocket attacks, yet continued to allow necessary supplies into the Gaza Strip and kept commercial crossings open.
Hamas has declared war on Israel by its covenant's call for the destruction of Israel, acts of terrorism and rocket barrages. In response, Israel has isolated Hamas, a legal act in accordance with international law.
Detractors label Israel's actions "collective punishment"; however, this refers to the "imposition of criminal-type penalties to individuals or groups on the basis of another's guilt." Israel has done no such thing. Israel has no obligation to maintain open borders with a hostile population. The suspension of trade relations or embargoes is a frequent tool of international diplomacy and has never been regarded as "collective punishment".
The complaints directed at Israel ignore the fact that Israel cannot blockade Gaza by itself. Egypt shares a six-mile border with Gaza and Egypt's leaders believe Hamas poses a threat to their nation. Consequently, Egypt has stepped up its efforts to enforce its own blockade by destroying smuggling tunnels and bolstering its military presence near the border. Unlike Israel, Egypt prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gazans before and during the war.
Egypt has been very successful in skirting criticism. During ceasefire talks in Cairo, Egypt tried to limit the discussion to Israel's actions. Palestinians were told not to mention the Egyptian blockade and to focus the blame for the "seige" on Israel. 516
One difference between Israel's blockade and most others; Israel only seeks to deny Hamas weapons and supplies that can be used to threaten Israel (e.g., cement to build tunnels into Israel). Despite the incessant terror, Israel allows food, medicine and other basic goods to reach the people of Gaza. Israel also sends thousands of gallons of fuel into Gaza and provides Palestinians electricity from Israeli power sources.
Israel has exceeded the requirements of International law which obligates Israel to permit passage of food, clothing and medicines intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases. Israel is not required to provide these supplies; it is obligated only to allow others to transfer provisions. Moreover, if Israel has reason to believe Hamas will intercept these goods and the enemy will benefit, even these provisions may be prohibited. 517
During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas set up a hospital for the exclusive use of its fighters, and supplied the facility by stealing medical supplies entering Gaza from aid organizations. 518
By contrast, thousands of Gazans have been admitted to Israel's world-class medical facilities. During Operation Protective Edge Israel set up a clinic outside Gaza for Palestinians needing treatment. Terrorists have tried to exploit Israel's good will by masquerading as patients and ambulance drivers. In 2005, Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received in a cooking accident. After her arrest, she admitted that the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had instructed her to use her personal medical authorization documents to enter into Israel to carry out a suicide attack. 519
In response to international pressure, Israel reversed its policy and agreed to allow cement and other construction materials into Gaza. When Israel evacuated Gaza, the expectation was that Palestinians would be taken from refugee camps and given permanent housing. Rather than build these much needed apartments, as well as schools and hospital, Palestinians have been kept in the camps by Hamas so it can use the building materials to construct weapons of terror and tunnels to infiltrate Israel.
"Peace activists" seeking to break the blockade have not spoken out against Hamas terror against Israel or the denial of human rights to Palestinians by Hamas officials ruling the Gaza Strip. They do not acknowledge that Hamas is not interested in humanitarian aid; the terrorists want to obtain more long-range rockets from Iran to enable them to pose an ongoing threat to more than half of Israel's population, including major cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Israel's international airport.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas voiced his support of the blockade to President Barack Obama when they met at the White House on June 9, 2010. Abbas advocated making changes to Israel's policy slowly, so that it could not be interpreted as a victory for Hamas. 520
The international community has complied with the blockade, insisting that Hamas renounce violence, recognize Israel, and respect previous peace deals. Now, the Israelis and others interested in peace are also demanding that Hamas be disarmed.
Still, many journalists and world leaders dismiss the cause-and-effect connection between Hamas-led violence and the plight of the Palestinians. Were Hamas to forswear violence, Israel would feel secure enough to end restrictions on Gaza.
Israel should now accept the Arab Peace Initiative.
Even as the fighting in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge raged, Obama Administration officials and pundits began to talk about the day after and, for them, this means a return to pressuring Israel accept their formulate for peace negotiations. If anything, however, the conflagration has demonstrated the fallacy of past initiatives.
First, the reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas was, as most predicted, a disaster. Mahmoud Abbas tied his future, and that of the Palestinians, to a unified government. The marriage was never consummated, but it showed Israelis that Abbas doesn’t understand that hitching his wagon to the terrorists in Gaza only reinforced his image as weak and incapable of making peace with Israel. It also tacitly endorsed the Hamas goal of destroying Israel.
Second, the incessant rocket and mortar barrages from Gaza into the heart of Israel were a reminder of the failed disengagement. Israel withdrew every soldier and civilian to test the popular mantra that Israelis would enjoy peace if they gave up land. The land for peace formula was buried with the first rocket salvo.
Third, the ease with which Hamas can now threaten more than half the Israeli population reinforced the importance of holding territory. Israelis shudder at the thought of terrorists in the West Bank having similar weapons and living within a few feet of Jerusalem, 10 miles from Tel Aviv and a rocket launch from Ben-Gurion Airport. The revelation that Israeli security forces foiled a plot by a Hamas cell in the West Bank intensified Israeli fears that the West Bank could soon resemble the Hamastan of Gaza. 521 The fact that Abbas didn’t even know about the coup plotters in his backyard once again illustrated his cluelessness and the folly of those who have insisted that Hamas could not take over the West Bank if Israeli troops left.
The Arabists who believe they know what’s best for Israel remain convinced that if Israel would only capitulate, the wars in Syria and Iraq, the Iranian nuclear threat and the Sunni-Shiite contest for power will magically disappear. This absurd sentiment, which has been heard from officials in the U.S. Defense and State Departments, as well as the CIA, has led to the resurrection of the Arab Peace Initiative (API).522
To remind those who might have forgotten, this was originally the brainchild of the king of Saudi Arabia as a means of diverting attention from the Saudi role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and rebranding the king as a peacemaker. What was a problematic proposal to begin with was made worse in the course of discussions at an Arab League Summit, which resulted in a proposal that was even more objectionable to Israel.
Western diplomats who often see only what they want to see interpreted the API as a bold step forward by the Arab states, promising normalization of relations with Israel if it met all their demands. A closer reading of the proposal, however, made clear that the Arabs were not offering peace or even full normalization of relations with Israel. Moreover, the Israelis were given an ultimatum to accept the proposal as is or face the possibility of war.
Israel agreed to negotiate using the API as a base, but the Arabs did not. The fact that the Saudi King who was so gung-ho about the plan would neither travel to Israel for talks nor invite an Israeli delegation to Riyadh is evidence it was nothing but a smokescreen to cover the Saudi role as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. 523
Nothing has changed to make the API more palatable to Israel. It relies on the discredited land for peace formula, but, in this case, does not even offer peace in exchange for Israeli concessions. And the Saudis still have no interest in negotiating with Israel even though the two countries have found common cause in fighting Hamas, Hafez Assad in Syria and preempting the Iranian nuclear program.
In May 2014, Maj. Gen. (res) Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israeli Military Intelligence met with Prince Turki al-Faisal, son of the late King Faisal and director of Saudi intelligence for more than two decades suggested that the prince follow in the footsteps of Anwar Sadat and come to Jerusalem. He invited al-Faisal to pray at a mosque in Jerusalem and then address the Israeli people from the Knesset. Alternatively, Yadlin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was prepared to go to Riyadh or Jeddah for negotiations. The general said a majority of Israelis would accept the API if al-Faisal spoke to them from Israel’s capital. 524
Al-Faisal, however, insisted that Israel first agree to the API before he would contemplate such a trip. This response was yet another reminder that, despite Arabist optimism, the Saudis, perhaps the most anti-Semitic country in the world, have no intention of negotiating peace with Israel.
This latest war in Gaza was yet another example of why Israelis yearn for peace. Anyone who believes that Israelis want to live in bomb shelters, flee to safety at the sound of a siren or send their youth to fight and die to keep them safe hasn’t spent any time in Israel. No one should doubt how urgently Israelis want peace, but the world should also recognize that Israelis are not so desperate that they will commit national suicide to placate those are tired of the conflict.
Israel was responsible for the 2014 war with Hamas.
It is easy to demonstrate that Israel was not responsible for the Gaza War by pointing out that it did not start until Hamas killed three Israeli teenagers and subsequently bombarded Israeli civilian areas with hundreds of rockets. Hamas was held responsible not only by Israel and the West, but also by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which blamed Hamas for starting and prolonging war.
In comments leaked to the press from a meeting between PA Presidend Mahmoud Abbas and Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar, Abbas lambasted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal for instigating the war. Having been told by Saudi King Abdullah that Mashaal is a liar, Abbas caught him in a lie when he asked Mashaal if Hamas was behind the murder of the Israeli teenagers and Mashaal said he would "neither deny nor confirm." Ultimately, Hamas claimed responsibility for the crime that instigated the war. 525
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council, Ibrahim Khraishi, said that every missile Hamas launched against Israel "constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at civilian targets". Khraishi also acknowledged that "many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing". 526
Abbas blamed the casualties and destruction in Gaza on Hamas and its refusal to accept a truce. By insisting on discussing demands first before ending the war, the violence was prolonged needlessly. Egypt proposed a truce on July 15, 2014, which was supported by the Arab League and agreed to by Israel. Hamas rejected the terms and continued targeting Israeli civilians with mortars and rockets. Over the course of the 50 days of fighting, several ceasefire agreements were reached, but each time Hamas broke them with a new barrage of rockets. On Tuesday August 25 however, Hamas accepted the same terms offered July 15; however, it was too late for many Israelis and Gazans who were killed or injured in the interim.
Abbas shed no tears for the Israelis killed and injured by the Hamas terror attacks, but was outraged by how his own men were treated. In a statement by Fatah, Hamas was condemned for attacking members of Fatah and placing some in prisons where their lives were endangered by Israeli air strikes. Hamas members also shot and beat members of Fatah and placed more than 300 under house arrest. Echoing what Israeli officials had asserted, Fatah accused Hamas of confiscating food and medicine and distributing it to Hamas fighters and selling it on the black market. 525
Iran is an ally in the fight against the Muslim extremist group ISIS.
Some news reports have said that Iran and the United States are secretly cooperating in the fight to destroy the Islamic State (ISIS)527. If true, it would represent a weakening of the international campaign to isolate Iran because of its nuclear program and failure to adhere to UN resolutions. Worse, the focus on ISIS has led Western leaders to take their eyes off the most serious radical Islamic threat in the region and that is the Iranian theocracy.
ISIS is a nefarious collection of terrorists with the goal of taking over Iraq and Syria as part of a larger campaign to reestablish and expand the once great Muslim Empire. Because ISIS is waging a visible war to accomplish its goals, the world has turned its attention to stopping ISIS; however, the Iranian regime has a similar ideology and comparable goals.
Today, Iranian troops are fighting to keep the despotic Assad regime in power in Syria. Tehran continues to support its proxy terrorist force in Lebanon (Hezbollah) and the Iranians have also been arming Hamas.
The most serious issue, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, remains unresolved. As most analysts predicted, the negotiations with Iran during the first half of 2014 made virtually no progress. In an effort to further avoid the tough decision of taking active measures to destroy the Iranian facilities, the United States and other Western nations agreed to extend the deadline. This is a repetition of the pattern followed by Iran in years of negotiations with the Europeans when, as they admitted later, their goal was to string the Europeans along while continuing to work on the development of a bomb.
According to the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran continues to stonewall inspectors, who still know little about the military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program. In fact, one inspector has repeatedly been denied entry into Iran. To read the full IAEA report on Iran for August click here.
Iran has taken some steps, but they have implemented just three of five nuclear transparency steps that it pledged to take by August 25, 2014. This is after missing the July deadline for reaching a comprehensive deal.
The two areas where Iran has continued to withhold information are related to experiments on explosives that could be used for an atomic device, and studies related to calculating nuclear explosive yields. The IAEA report also found that Iran has continued to work on erasing any potential evidence that explosive tests were conducted at the Parchin military base.
President Obama and others have pledged that they would not allow the negotiations to drag on indefinitely, but Tehran probably does not take this very seriously. They already have succeeded in punching a large hole in the sanctions regime, continued their sponsorship of terror, and worked toward improving their ability to enrich uranium without any repercussions. Furthermore, they sense the West is weak and unwilling to take any military action against them. They watched President Obama draw a red line on Syria's use of chemical weapons and then ignore it when Syria crossed the line; they have heard him describe the threat posed by ISIS while refusing to commit any ground troops; and they have seen America withdraw from Iraq and plan to do the same from Afghanistan. Europeans have been even more reluctant to take military action after their publics revolted against those leaders who sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Iranians may yet find they have miscalculated as the world powers escalate the attacks on ISIS, but the suggestion that those powers are so desperate for help in fighting ISIS that they have considered an alliance - even if only for convenience m- with Iran is troubling.
Some Western leaders hoped the election of the "moderate" Hassan Rouhani as president would lead to a quick end to the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. As an incentive, some sanctions were lifted and Iran has been able to take in billions of dollars. The sanctions, which were always too porous to be effective, now appear to be little more than a nuisance.
ISIS is a serious threat, especially to Western nations that are facing the prospect of their citizens going to fight for ISIS and then returning to their home countries more radicalized and trained to carry out terror attacks. Without understating that danger, the international community cannot afford to let up for one minute on the radical Muslims in Tehran whose success in building a nuclear weapon will exponentially increase the danger in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
UN peacekeepers can be relied upon to keep the peace between Israel and its neighbors.
After the latest fighting in Gaza, there is some talk about using international troops to prevent a future flare-up. Similarly, peace negotiators have raised the idea of posting an international force in the West Bank, perhaps in the Jordan Valley, as a way of meeting Israel's security concerns. Naturally, given its history as peacekeepers, the United Nations is viewed as a possible source for such a force. History has taught Israelis, however, that UN forces are ineffective and cannot be relied upon to shield Israelis from those who wish to do them harm.
The first disastrous case of a UN peacekeeping force being imposed on Israel in the interest of maintaining peace occurred following the 1956 Suez War when President Dwight Eisenhower pressured Israel into withdrawing from the parts of the Sinai it captured from Egypt. A UN Emergency Force (UNEF) was then sent to ensure that neither side would threaten the other nor would Egypt be allowed to close the Straits of Tiran, the international waterway that Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser blockaded, which served as one of the causes of the war.
The force was small and lightly equipped, with only 3,400 men, nearly half of whom were assigned to patrol 295 miles of desert. The force had no authority and was only permitted to use its weapons in self-defense. Most critically, the UNEF required Egypt's permission to deploy on its territory. Thus, in 1967, when Nasser ordered the UNEF out of the Sinai, the UN Secretary-General complied without seeking approval from the Security Council or Israel. Nasser subsequently mobilized his troops to invade Israel and, once again, prohibited Israeli ships from transiting the Straits of Tiran. The massive troop buildup in the Sinai combined with the blockade and weeks of genocidal threats ultimately led Israel to launch the surprise attack on Egypt and Syria that helped limit the war to only six days.
The ease with which UNEF had been withdrawn, placing Israel in jeopardy, led to their insistence that future peacekeepers in the Sinai be part of a multinational force led by the United States, without any ties to the UN. Congress subsequently voted to establish the Multinational Force and Observers to supervise the implementation of key security aspects of the treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel. From Israel's standpoint, the U.S. role in the force was crucial and reassured them there would be no repeat of the UNEF disaster.
On the Golan Heights, however, a UN force was again created to serve as a buffer between Israel and Syria. The reluctance of Syria to challenge Israel after 1973 made the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mission relatively easy. The moment it became difficult, however, in the wake of the Syrian civil war, the peacekeepers proved again inadequate to the task. A number of them, a contingent from Fiji, were taken hostage and, shortly after they were released, the entire 1,200-member force withdrew from Syria to essentially hide behind the Israeli troops who now faced the growing presence of radical Islamists on its border without a buffer force. This retreat increased the possibility that the Syrian war will spill over into Israel and/or the Islamists will establish a beachhead from which to threaten Israel in the future.
An ongoing UN catastrophe can be found in Lebanon. Following a PLO terror attack in March 1978, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon and captured almost the entire southern part of the country with the goal of establishing a cordon sanitaire that would keep the PLO far away from Israel's border. After the Lebanese Government protested to the Security Council, Israel was asked to withdraw, and another small "peacekeeping" force, the Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), was sent to stand between the Israelis and the Palestinians in Lebanon.
UNIFIL did nothing to prevent the PLO from building up what amounted to a state within a state and a terrorist infrastructure that continued to target Israelis at home and abroad. After further provocations from the PLO in June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon as UNIFIL stepped aside and remained behind the Israeli lines. Having failed to keep the peace, the “force” offered protection and humanitarian assistance to Lebanese civilians. When Israel withdrew, UNIFIL took up its position again as a useless deterrent to war.
Hezbollah replaced the PLO as Israel's nemesis with the backing of Iran and Syria. The group engaged in terror attacks against the IDF that killed both civilians and military personnel and, by the summer of 2006, Hezbollah had become a dangerous enemy committed to Israel's destruction. The group fortified positions, smuggled thousands or rockets from Iran through Syria and claimed a force of 15,000. Once again UNIFIL was nowhere to be found during these developments.
In July 2006, Hezbollah fired a barrage of katyusha rockets and mortars into northern Israel. Using this diversion, Hezbollah terrorists crossed the border and killed three Israeli soldiers on patrol, severely wounded another three and abducted two. Israel again sent in troops to end the terror threat. Meanwhile, Hezbollah attacked UNIFIL, used its bases as a shield, and passed on intelligence on IDF 528.
Israelis were forced to live in bomb shelters for weeks while Hezbollah rockets rained down on them prompting the IDF to intensify its operations. When civilian casualties in Lebanon began to grow, and thousands of Lebanese fled the country, Israel was pressured to end the fighting before completing the job of destroying Hezbollah.
The United States led the campaign to persuade Israel to withdraw by promising that the UN would send a "robust" peacekeeping force to prevent arms smuggling from Syria and Iran, keep Hezbollah far north of Israel's border and guarantee the peace. The UN also called on the Lebanese army to disarm Hezbollah, something it refused to do.
Israel's actions succeeded in deterring Hezbollah from further attacks, but this was no thanks to UNIFIL. Rather than "robust" it has just been a bust. Hezbollah has replenished its stocks and is believed to have 100,000 rockets or more. The group has continued to operate under the UN's nose, smuggling weapons and rebuilding the infrastructure in southern Lebanon in preparation for the next round of fighting.
The record is clear. If Israel reaches any new agreements with the Palestinians or its other enemies, the security of its citizens cannot, in any way, depend on the United Nations.
The Palestinian Authority believes in a secular Palestinian state.
Many people have forgotten, or simply chosen to ignore, that one of the reasons that President Clinton's peace summit with Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat failed was the latter's assertion that Jews had no historical connection to Jerusalem. Israel's top negotiator Shlomo Ben-Ami told Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: "You are barely 4 million Muslim Palestinians and pretend to represent one billion Muslims regarding the Temple Mount. Clinton's proposals are historic and you are about to miss another opportunity:" I added that Arafat placed the Muslim agenda before the national Palestinian agenda. "Your national agenda is held hostage in the hands of the Muslim agenda and you will pay a heavy price for this...."529
The following year Arafat criticized Hamas and Islamic Jihad for acting independently and ignoring his authority. Two days later, Arafat proclaimed:
"With God's help, next time we will meet in Jerusalem, because we are fighting to bring victory to our prophets, every baby, every kid, every man, every woman and every old person and all the young people, we will all sacrifice ourselves for our holy places and we will strengthen our hold of them and we are willing to give 70 of our martyrs for every one of theirs in this campaign, because this is our holy land. We will continue to fight for this blessed land and I call on you to stand strong."
Hamas, in particular, had forced Arafat and Fatah to eschew political rhetoric for Islamic language that played to the masses. When he agreed to the Oslo agreement with Israel, Arafat alienated the Islamists, who vehemently opposed any accommodation with Israel, which they insisted was a cancer that had to be excised from the region. The PLO responded to criticisms about its lack of commitment to Islam, and the growing popularity of Hamas, by adopting Islamic references and imagery in its rhetoric. For example, in a speech in Bethlehem, Yasser Arafat aroused his listeners by chanting "Struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle. Combat, combat, combat, combat. Jihad, Jihad, Jihad, Jihad." 530 Terrorists captured or killed by Israel became martyrs for Islam; calls to liberate al-Aqsa became more common; and the PLO's "military" arm was named the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, which engaged in terror attacks that were just as heinous as those conducted by Hamas.
Following Arafat's rejection of a Palestinian state at the summit with Clinton, an uprising was launched by Arafat and referred to as the al-Aqsa intifada. This and other references to the al-Aqsa mosque date back to the 1920s when the Mufti of Jerusalem incited the masses by accusing the Jews of plotting to destroy it. Since then, this libel has been a recurrent theme; whenever a Palestinian leader finds himself in trouble, he need only accuse the Jews of threatening the mosque and Muslims will riot against Jewish worshippers (as occurred during the middle of July 2014. Abbas hopes that publicizing a threat to the mosque the Muslim world will be enraged and mobilize a jihad against Israel).
Despite such claims over the last 100 years, and the fears of American Arabists who justify keeping the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv out of a misguided fear of a Muslim uproar, the Muslim world has done little more than issue condemnations and ask the U.N. to censure Israel's actions. While the al-Aqsa mosque is revered as the third holiest shrine in Islam, no current Muslim leader is prepared to go to war today over the dubious accusations of the Palestinian leaders.
Abbas has followed in his mentor's footsteps in adopting radical Islamic rhetoric and behavior. Examples abound, but here are just a few:
The PA continues to misinform its youth in schools and demonize Jews in textbooks and the media.
In a poetry segment on a Friday morning talk show on PA TV (which is controlled by Abbas), a poet recited a poem cursing the Jews as "the most evil among creations, "barbaric monkeys" and "wretched pigs." The poem has been featured several times on PA TV, sometimes recited by young school children.531
The PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, said all of the Western Wall and Jerusalem belong to the Palestinians. He speciously claimed that "no person besides Muslims ever used it [the Western Wall] as a place of worship throughout all of the Jewish nation's history."532
Besides the statements, which some might dismiss as rhetoric, the Palestinian Authority has taken the more practical step of establishing Islam as the official religion of "Palestine," which contradicts the fantasies of liberal supporters of the Palestinians who believe their future state, unlike all the other Muslim states, will be a liberal democracy. To the contrary, one need only look at the authoritarian rule of the "moderate" Abbas for a foreshadowing of things to come. Abbas has repeatedly cancelled elections and stayed in office 5 years beyond the end of his term; Abbas does not allow freedom of speech, assembly or religion. Critics of the regime are jailed or, in some cases, executed. Women's rights are a slight improvement of those in Gaza, but honor killings and other abuses remain common. Similarly, gays are persecuted based on Koranic prohibitions forbidding homosexuality. Putting aside the threat of a radical Islamic state on Israel's border, the threat to the liberties of Palestinians are also at stake if the Palestinians are allowed to create another Sharia-based state.
If anyone doubts the conflict is not primarily religious, with Islamic intolerance the greatest obstacle to peace, simply listen to Abbas. In July 2014, Abbas explicitly said the war with Israel is a "war for Allah," a remark that set off renewed attacks by Palestinians against Jews in Jerusalem.533
The Palestinian's Peace Negotiator wants peace.
For many years, the chief peace negotiator for the Palestinian Authority has been Saeb Erekat, an urbane, articulate spokesperson for the Palestinian cause. Unfortunately, he is also a serial liar who has taken Joseph Goebbels concept of the "Big Lie" to a new low.
One of the most shocking things is not Erekat's lies, but the willingness of the media to continue to give him a forum to spread them. It is fair to ask why the media does not challenge his fabrications and, more to the point, why they continue to treat him as a credible spokesperson.
Joseph Goebbels said:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
When it comes to telling big lies, Erekat is the master of the whopper. Here are just a few examples:
In April 2002 Erekat told CNN that at least 500 people were massacred and 1,600 people, including women and children, were missing in Jenin after Israeli forces launched an operation to wipe out the terror network in the city. Erekat produced no evidence and the Palestinians' own review committee later reported a death toll of 56, of whom 34 were combatants. No women or children were reported missing. 534
In November 2007, just as peace talks were going to begin in Annapolis, Erekat attempted to delegitimize Israel by making the remarkable statement that "no state in the world connects its national identity to a religious identity." 536 He apparently failed to read the draft constitution for "Palestine" or the PA's Basic Law, which declare Islam the state religion of Palestine. Islam is also the state religion more than 20 countries. Nations with predominantly Muslim populations are not the only ones to link their national and religious identity. At least 14 nations constitutionally recognize Christianity or Catholicism as their state religion. Bhutan and Cambodia are officially Buddhist nations. 535
In 2011, Erekat said Israel was illegally demolishing the Shepherd Hotel building in Jerusalem to "ethnically cleanse Jerusalem from its Palestinian inhabitants, culture and history."537 The building served as an Israeli district court after 1967 and then as a border police station before being privately purchased by an American businessman who kept it vacant for almost a decade. A planned apartment complex on the site was to have no effect on Arab residents or other buildings; moreover, the site was never considered a Palestinian cultural heritage spot.
Pinocchio would have been envious of Erekat's February 2014 invention of a connection between his family and the Canaanites to prove the Palestinians predated the Jews in the land of Israel. Palestinians periodically make this claim but no evidence links them to the ancient people who disappeared in the sands of time. In fact, Arabs have lived in the area for roughly 1,000 years, not more than 5,000 as he claims. Moreover, a large percentage of today's Palestinians, including Erekat, are descendants of tribes from other Arab lands. In Erekat's case, his family Facebook page said the family came from a tribe that lives in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They moved to Palestine in 1860. (video)
In September 2014, Erekat asserted that during Operation Protective Edge, launched to stop the thousands of rocket and missile attacks by Hamas terrorists, Israel killed 12,000 Palestinians, wounded another 12,000, and 96 percent of the casualties were civilians. Not even Israel's worst detractors cite numbers remotely related to Erekat's. The UN, for example, said the death toll was 2,100 and maintained that three-quarters were civilians. Israel, however, insists that roughly 1,000 of those killed were associated with Hamas or other terror groups. 538
Fittingly, Erekat has come up with his own version of the "big lie"
and proved to be a master of the technique. "There's a saying," he said, "that if you don't stop a man who is lying after 24 hours, the lies turn into facts." 539
It is hard to see how Israel can be expected to reach a peace agreement with a Palestinian negotiator who repeatedly tells monumental lies about Israel. How can someone so unscrupulous be trusted? And how can journalists continue to listen to his lies and repeat them.
All nations have the same policy about avoiding civilian casualties in war.
Israel is pilloried each time non-combatants die inadvertently when measures are taken to defend its citizens. The world does not seem to care that the enemy Israel is fighting uses its own people as human shields, which makes it impossible to attack the terrorists targeting Israeli civilians without the possibility of injuring the innocent. The world also does not give Israel credit for taking unprecedented wartime steps to warn civilians. Meanwhile, the same countries that condemn Israel hypocritically use whatever measures are necessary to kill their enemies and rarely apologize for the collateral damage they cause.
Little regard was given for civilian casualties during World War II when Dresden was fire bombed or nuclear weapons were dropped on Japan. In fact, the strategy was, in part, to kill so many civilians that the Axis powers would capitulate. Imagine if Israel adopted a similar approach and deliberately carpet bombed Palestinian cities and caused tens of thousands of casualties. Such a policy might also cause the Palestinians to give up their terror campaigns and to oust the leaders who brought the rain of fire upon them. Israel, however, does not fight this way; the moral code of the IDF, which reflects that of Israeli society, does not allow for such a policy.
During the Bush administration, the United States adopted Colin Powell's doctrine, which holds that "America should enter fights with every bit of force available or not at all." When tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians died in the Gulf Wars, you did not hear any handwringing among the coalition partners or condemnation from the United Nations.
The double standard was even clearer in 2002 when American officials condemned Israel because a number of civilians died when Israel assassinated a leader of Hamas. The same day the United States bombed a village in Afghanistan in an operation directed at a Taliban leader that instead killed 48 Afghan civilians at a wedding party. In both cases, flawed intelligence played a role.
In 2013, the Obama administration seemed to reject the Powell Doctrine when it adopted a policy that required "near certainty" that there will be no civilian casualties before an air attack would be permitted. This was after the disclosure that many civilians were killed in American drone strikes.
The Obama policy did not last a year before the reality of warfare intervened. On September 10, 2014, Obama announced a new policy that left no room for nuance: "Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL." 540
When the coalition bombing campaign against ISIL began in Iraq, no prior warnings, "knocks on the roof," or calls for civilians to evacuate the area were issued to minimize civilian casualties, as Israel had done during Operation Protective Edge. In fact, the White House acknowledged that the strict standards President Obama imposed do not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq.
Following a report that women and children were among the casualties when a Tomahawk missile struck the village of Kafr Daryan in Syria's Idlib province, a National Security Council spokesperson said the "near certainty" standard was intended to apply "only when we take direct action 'outside areas of active hostilities.'" She said that description "simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now."
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who was briefed on U.S. operations said he heard about civilian casualties, acknowledged that "nothing is perfect." Moreover, he said the death of non-combatants in U.S. strikes are "much less than the brutality of the Assad regime."541
By contrast, Israel has never abandoned the policy of doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, often putting its own soldiers in harm's way to do so, as was the case in 2002, when Israel suffered 23 casualties using ground troops to root out terrorists in Jenin when it could have simply flattened the area with bombs. On many occasions - some captured on video - Israeli pilots abort missions when civilians are in the area. Israel does not use its full might as the Powell Doctrine dictates; its use of force is judicious and precise. In wartime, mistakes are sometimes made because of faulty intelligence or inaccurate targeting, but Israel takes responsibility and investigates these incidents to prevent their recurrence.
Legal expert Alan Dershowitz argues that Israel should not be held to an unattainable standard; rather, new realistic and moral criteria need to be adopted for judging nations that are fighting the kind of terrorism represented by ISIS and Hamas. Dershowitz says they must apply "equally to the U.S., to Israel and to all nations committed both to the rule of law and to the obligation to protect citizens from terrorist attacks."542
Iran has moderated its hostility and should be an ally in the fight against ISIS.
The "sudden" discovery that ISIS is a threat to the region and beyond has led the United States and others to rush into alliances with countries that espouse policies that are not significantly different from ISIS. The regional fight with ISIS is not only about territory and power, it is also a continuation of the centuries old conflict between Sunnis and Shiites.
As a Sunni group, ISIS has naturally drawn the wrath of Shiites, particularly in Iraq and Iran (and by extension their Lebanese proxies, Hezbollah). Even Sunni nations are afraid of ISIS, however, because of its declared goal of establishing a caliphate (which they've already declared) with its leaders as rulers. Consequently, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States have joined the coalition to stop ISIS.
The irony is that Saudi Arabia is also a radical Islamic state that has been attempting to spread its influence around the world in a nonviolent jihad that involves the indoctrination of Muslims in the Wahhabi brand of Islam. Simultaneously, the Saudis work to undermine Western values, interests, and security.
We've also learned that Qatar has become one of the leading financiers for terrorists. As patrons of Hamas, for example, they are underwriting a terrorist organization that shares with ISIS the goal of spreading Islam around the globe until it becomes the dominant religion.
The most serious breach in the wall against Muslim extremism, however, is the ongoing discussions with Iran about its potential role in fighting ISIS. Iran does have an interest in defeating ISIS because it is threatening Shiite domination of Iraq and Iranian patronage of Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that Iran's leaders are just as brutal and fanatical as ISIS, and have for decades sought to spread their revolution across the region as a prelude to what they hope will ultimately result in the global domination of Islam. Unlike ISIS, Iran already controls a large nation with a formidable army, and is, along with the Saudis (and now the Qataris), the leading sponsor of international terror. While ISIS is collecting conventional weapons as it overruns Iraqi military positions, Iran continues to seek a nuclear weapon.
The war against ISIS has distracted the United States and the West from the ongoing Iranian danger and played into Tehran's strategy of stringing out negotiations for as long as possible while continuing to develop a nuclear weapons capability. News reports have suggested that the Obama Administration, after already lifting the supposedly "crippling" sanctions, is now backing away from an insistence that all enrichment of uranium be halted and the centrifuges involved in the process destroyed. Caving in to Iranian demands to retain the ability to quickly assemble the components of a bomb would create a far greater threat to the world than ISIS poses. 543
And if anyone believes that Iran's positions have dramatically changed under the "moderate" president Hassan Rouhani, consider remarks made by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called on the Muslim world to unite and wage a war against "the enemies of Islam, chief among them Israel." He also predicted that "the Zionist regime and its supporters will one day go into extinction." Khamenei insisted that ISIS and al-Qaida are "creations of the West, particularly the Americans and their allies in the region..."544
Defeating ISIS is vital to preventing the spread of one radical Islamic party, but it will not eliminate the broader Islamist threat posed by Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and some of the countries we have chosen as allies.
Palestinians Support the boycott and divestment movements against Israel.
In an effort to delegitimize, isolate and ultimately destroy Israel, organizations around the world have called on universities, governments, labor unions and co-ops to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel (termed the BDS movement). Supporters claim that international pressure through the BDS movement will help the Palestinian people achieve independence.385 However, BDS advocates do not support a Palestinian state coexisting beside Israel, do not help individual Palestinian businesses and do not represent the views of the Palestinian Authority or even most Palestinians living in the territories.
Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, told South African journalists, "We do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself... We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel." 448
Palestinians actively engage in trade with the Israeli government. The Palestinian Authority shares a variety of cooperative agreements with Israel in nearly 40 spheres of activity, from joint security measures to environmental protection and conservation. In 2008, Israel's Histadrut labor union signed an agreement with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions to advance common goals and build fraternity. In August 2012, then-PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signed a series of bilateral trade agreements that took effect January 2013 and marked an important step in bolstering economic ties between Israel and the PA.386 Overall, Israeli-Palestinian trade (import/export of goods & services) totals nearly $4 billion annually.387
Palestinians also work with Israelis in business and industry. In September 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to increase the number of work permits - to 40,000 - for Palestinians in the territories who work for various companies inside Israel proper.388 What is especially ironic is that while the PA's leaders constantly complain about Israeli settlements, at least 30,000 Palestinians work in those settlements, helped construct them or supplied some of the building materials.389 A survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics found that Palestinians working for Israeli businesses are paid more than twice the salary that their peers receive from Palestinian employers.
In an article in the Palestinian Authority mouthpiece, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Israel was praised for its treatment of Palestinian workers. "whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers," the article noted, "they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers" because "the salaries of workers employed by Palestinians amount to less than half the salaries of those who work for Israeli employers" in the West Bank. Furthermore, the paper reported "the work conditions are very good, and include transportation, medical insurance and pensions. These things do not exist with Palestinian employers."545
An Arabic TV broadcast on Al-Hura also reported on the positive relations between Israeli employers and Palestinian workers. "There are 10 large industrial centers in Judea and Samaria, in which some 15,000 Palestinians work side by side with Israeli employees," according to Aryeh Savir of United With Israel. "At Barkan alone, 3,000 Palestinians are employed together with 3,000 Israeli employees. They work together, earning the same wages, enjoying the same social benefits, vacation days and pensions as prescribed by Israeli law. They go on trips together. Coexistence between the two peoples happens here, and all are awarded with a good and respectable livelihood." 545
Moreover, Palestinians invest in Israel. Statistical data from 2011 shows that private Palestinian investment in Israeli companies - notably hi-tech and industry - amounted to roughly $2.5 billion, more than double the Palestinian investment within the West Bank.390 For example, Hani Alami, a leader in the Palestinian telecommunications industry, bought 30 percent of the Israeli company Alvarion. Israeli Arab Hisham Adnan Raya, a construction magnate, was an angel investor in the Israeli web design company Webydo.391
Ironically, the founder of the BDS movement, Omar Barghouti, does not personally boycott Israel - he obtained a Master's Degree and, since 2009, has been pursuing a Doctorate at Israel's Tel Aviv University.392 He is just one of thousands of Palestinians who study at Israeli colleges and institutions.
While BDS advocates try to paint Israel as a demonic country practicing the type of discrimination associated with old South Africa, tens of thousands of Palestinians enjoy the benefits of working, studying and investing with Israelis. Their livelihoods and good relations with their Israeli neighbors are threatened by misguided European efforts to punish Israel for settlement construction and the broader BDS campaign, which begs the question: If Palestinians don't support BDS, who does the movement represent?
Israel denies medical treatment to its enemies.
Even as Israel is being pilloried by certain organizations for alleged human rights violations against its neighbors, Israel has welcomed the sick and injured from many of those same countries. Today, near the Syrian border, for example, Israel has been taking in people at a medical station set up to aid refugees of the Syrian Civil War. Though this is the type of humanitarian gesture that is routine for Israel, and could burnish its image, little has been said about the clinic to protect the Syrians who return home and are afraid to admit they were under the care of Israelis.
During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas set up a hospital for the exclusive use of its fighters, and supplied the facility by stealing medical supplies entering Gaza from aid organizations 546. By contrast, thousands of Gazans have been admitted to Israeli medical facilities.
Terrorists have tried to exploit Israel's good will by masquerading as patients and ambulance drivers. In 2005, for example, Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received in a cooking accident. After her arrest, she admitted that the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had instructed her to use her personal medical authorization documents to enter into Israel to carry out a suicide attack547
Despite the risks, Israel set up a medical facility just outside the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge, and allowed many Palestinians to receive urgent care they could not have found in Gaza or other parts of the Arab world. This was just another way that Israel made every effort to protect the Palestinian civilian population without getting any international recognition for its efforts. Meanwhile, Hamas built its military command center underneath Shifa Hospital (ironically, built by Israel for the safety of the Gazan population) so it could be used as a shield against Israeli attacks.
During calmer periods, Israel allows thousands of Palestinians to come to Israel to take advantage of the world-class physicians there. In 2012, more than 200,000 patients, 21,270 of them children, were given permits to obtain medical care in Israel.548
Israel's health care is so good that even Israel's most uncompromising enemies set aside their animus for the sake of getting family members the help they need. Shockingly, leaders of Hamas, who spend their time devising terror attacks against Israel and are committed to its destruction, look to Israel when their families are sick. For example, in 2012, Ismail Haniyeh's brother-in-law was treated for a cardiac problem and, in 2014, his mother-in-law went to Jerusalem for treatment and one of his children was admitted to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. The previous year, one of Haniyeh's granddaughters was treated in Israel.549 The sister of another senior Hamas leader, Mousa Abu Marzouk, was also treated in Israel for cancer 550
More regular access to advanced medical care is only one of many benefits the Palestinians could derive from peace with Israel. If members of Hamas can set aside their enmity for the sake of family members, perhaps the Palestinian leadership will recognize that their people could all benefit from coexisting with Israel.
Muslims recognize the Temple Mount as sacrosanct to Muslims and Jews.
Denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem typically takes three forms: It is said that Jews were present in the city for a short period and therefore they have no claim to sovereignty over the city; that the Temple of Solomon was actually an ancient Muslim building or did not exist at all; and that the Western Wall is sacred to Muslims and did not become a place of veneration for Jews until the nineteenth century. These are recent Palestinian propaganda points designed to erase the Jewish connection to the city, but the Supreme Muslim Council published a guide to the Temple Mount in 1924 that acknowledged it was the site of Solomon's Temple.
For now, Jerusalem remains a rallying point for Palestinians and other Muslims. The "al-Aqsa is in danger libel," as Nadav Shragai calls it,551 dates back at least to the 1920s, when the mufti of Jerusalem used the lie to incite the masses. Even more secular Palestinians use Islamic imagery to rally the masses. For example, Fatah's terror organization is called the Al-Aqsa Brigades and the second intifada, which was planned by the PLO, is referred to as the "Al-Aqsa Intifada."
Eighty years after Haj Amin el-Husseini challenged the Jews' right to live in their homeland and their connection to Jerusalem, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Akrama Sabri, made similar claims. He complained that Muslims hadn't sacrificed enough to liberate al-Aqsa. Like the former Mufti, Sabri is a rabid anti-Semite who said that he is "filled with wrath toward the Jews," who he believed were scheming to take over not only Palestine but the whole world, and that he "never wished a Jew peace."552
It is not surprising that Muslims outside Israel have also used al-Aqsa as a rallying point. The Muslim Brotherhood's Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for example, said "the danger to al-Aqsa is now greater than ever . . . and hence the Muslims of the world must arise and defend it because it is not the property of the Palestinians alone but of the whole Muslim nation."553
Israel has done extensive research along the length of the Western Wall and a short distance from the southern side of the Temple Mount. Whenever Israel engages in any excavations, however, Muslims protest. The most serious brouhaha arose in 1996 after Israel completed digging along the entire length of the Western Wall, revealing two-thousand year old stones where the street had once been. The entire project was completely outside the Temple Mount and nowhere near the mosques. Nevertheless, the Muslim authorities claimed the Jews were digging under the mount with the intention of destroying the mosques or at least undermining their foundations. While the work had been going on for some time, the spark that led to widespread rioting and international condemnation was Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to open an exit from what is now referred to as the Western Wall tunnel, at a point along the Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter of the city.
The exit was opened in the middle of the night in the hope of minimizing the reaction, but Arafat and others criticized Israel and the Arab League repeated the libel by claiming "Israel's aim in opening this gate is to cause the collapse of the al-Aqsa Mosque, so that it can build the Third Temple in its stead."554 Palestinians rioted and attacks on soldiers and civilians resulted in the deaths of 15 Israeli soldiers and dozens of injuries. Forty Palestinians died in the melee and hundreds more were injured.
Muslims have not let up in perpetuating the "al-Aqsa libel" or in contending that every Israeli action in the area of the Temple Mount is an affront to Islam. In 2004, for example, the only access for non-Muslims to the Temple Mount, a ramp leading to the Mughrabi Gate, partially collapsed. Israel wanted to replace the old ramp with a sturdier permanent one. Once again, Palestinian and Muslim officials accused Israel of destroying a "historical pathway to the al-Aqsa Mosque" and new plots against the mosque itself even though the ramp was outside the mount. Israel brought in experts, including representatives of UNESCO to testify to the fact that a new ramp would not cause any damage to the Mount, nevertheless, the uproar led Israel to make a number of compromises regarding excavations in the area. The date for replacing the ramp was delayed and when the Arab Spring began, it was postponed indefinitely out of fear that it might provoke a reaction from Muslims in Egypt and Jordan and further destabilize the two countries with whom Israel shared a peace treaty. Ultimately, the old ramp was renovated and fortified, but the plan for replacing it was delayed indefinitely.
In 2013, Palestinians complained about Israeli excavations that posed no danger to the Temple Mount but were labelled as an attempt "to Judaize Jerusalem and [cause] the collapse of al-Aqsa Mosque to build the so-called second temple on ruins of it."555 Tensions escalated when Palestinians began to protest and, in some cases, attack Jews visiting the Temple Mount with stones, bottles, and other projectiles. They claimed Jews desecrate Islam's holy place and plan to build the third temple on the site.
On February 25, 2014, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, told a television interviewer that Israel plans to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.556 The repetition of the libel rarely has anything to do with the behavior of Jews; it inevitably is used for a political purpose, such as rallying the masses, provoking violence, or diverting attention from some unpopular actions taken by Palestinian leaders.
Jews, like other non-Muslims, have been visiting the Temple Mount since 1967. The Israeli government limits visits by non-Jews to specific times and also insists that visitors show sensitivity to Muslims by dressing modestly and refraining from bringing any Jewish sacred objects or conducting any public prayers. The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that Jews may pray at the Temple Mount, but police were given the discretion to prevent any provocative activities. Most Orthodox Jews do not go to the area because their rabbinical authorities have said they should not step foot in an area where the Ark of the Covenant may have been kept (no one knows for sure where the inner sanctum of the Temple was located on the Temple Mount) and only the high priest was is permitted to enter. Israeli politicians have on occasion been barred from going to the area when security officials anticipate the visits might cause disturbances. Extremist Jewish groups suspected of plotting against Muslim shrines are either prohibited from the Temple Mount altogether or escorted by police. When plots against the mosque have been uncovered, the schemers have been arrested.
Occasionally, for security reasons, Israel bars or limits Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount. The rest of the time the area is accessible to Muslims, even those who come from countries that are technically at war with Israel, such as Anwar Sadat, who prayed at al-Aqsa mosque on his visit to Jerusalem. On major Muslim holidays, especially Ramadan, tens of thousands of Muslims pray on the Temple Mount.
In September 2013, Jordan condemned Israel for building a platform for women and other non-Orthodox worshippers who wanted a place to pray according to their own customs. Ultra-Orthodox Jews control the Western Wall plaza and impose restrictions on worshippers there. They insist, for example, that men and women pray on separate sides of a barrier and bar women from singing or wearing prayer shawls or yarmulkes. Jordan claimed the platform was built in the courtyard of the al-Aqsa Mosque complex and represented a "flagrant" attack on historical Islamic sites and should be removed. In fact, the platform was built in an archaeological park south of the Temple Mount and is nowhere near the mosque or any other Islamic sites or places of prayer.557
Meanwhile, the Temple Mount and the mosque are used for propaganda and to raise funds. For example, inside al-Aqsa, glass display cases exhibit tear gas shells used by the Israeli police to quell riots during the first intifada. An Arab security guard said they were used "to make visitors sympathize and give donations." Despite large amounts of contributions, the area is not well maintained, raising questions about where the money from individuals and Muslim countries actually goes. Other members of the security staff pointed out scaffoldings that are not really used for maintenance, but are instead shown to donors to suggest that money is needed for repairs. "Look at the donation boxes here; they collect an average of one million shekels ($284,000) per month. We have no idea where that money goes. The poor and the needy never see any of it."558
Salah leads the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, a pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist organization that has called for violence against Jews at the Temple Mount and warned Palestinian leaders in the West Bank not to make any concessions to Israel. He is a provocateur who served a prison sentence for funding Hamas and meeting with an Iranian intelligence agent. He was also held for five months after assaulting an Israeli police officer and inciting violence. He was convicted of incitement again in November 2013 because of a statement he made calling for all Arabs to use violence in support of the Palestinians and to "initiate an Islamic intifada from sea to sea, in support of the holy Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aqsa mosque." Protesters listening to his speech subsequently attacked police and chanted, "With blood we will redeem you, al-Aqsa." His conviction was, more specifically, for his use of the ancient blood libel: he referred to children in Europe, "whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread."559
As the mufti attempted nearly a century earlier, Palestinian Islamic extremists, as well as "secular moderates" such as Mahmoud Abbas continue to stoke the religious war between Muslims and Jews. They hope to incite a new Palestinian uprising and, ideally, to inspire Arab and Islamic armies to go to war to prevent the Jews from destroying the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
European recognition of 'Palestine' will advance the peace process.
The Palestinians have tried to win statehood by doing everything but making concessions in face-to-face negotiations with Israelis that would give the Palestinians independence and grant peace and security to Israel.
From 1948 until the 1967 War, the Palestinians hoped that the Arab states would drive the Jews into the sea. They seriously miscalculated, however, and the outcomes of both wars left them in worse shape than if they had accepted the UN partition decision. The Palestinians' delusions were fed by the statements of Arab leaders that created the misperception (which persists to this day) that the Arab states care about their fate. In fact, the Palestinians have always been despised by most of their fellow Arabs and viewed as pawns in the larger geopolitical struggle involving Arabs, Muslims, Jews, Israelis, Christians and the West.
Thus, when the Arab states invaded Israel in 1948, they did so for purely selfish purposes; that is, the desire to carve up Palestine among themselves. Israel managed to prevent the invaders from completely overrunning their new state; however, the Gaza Strip was seized by Egypt and Judea and Samaria by Jordan. The fact that neither country was prepared to permit the creation of a Palestinian state on their watch is further evidence of their disinterest in Palestinian independence. During the 19 years of Jordan's occupation, the Palestinians made no demands for statehood and King Hussein showed no interest in conceding the territory he conquered, including East Jerusalem, to the Palestinians. Moreover, when the PLO challenged Jordanian rule in 1970, King Hussein's forces killed approximately 5,000 Palestinians and expelled Yasser Arafat and his minions.
Recognizing that their Arab brethren would not, and could not, dislodge Israel from the region, the Palestinians undertook a more intensive campaign of terror, targeting Jews in Israel and abroad in a futile effort to "liberate Palestine." Even after a worldwide terror campaign, two uprisings and a series of engagements with Israeli forces, such as 2014's Operation Protective Edge, Palestinian terrorists have been equally unable to displace Israel.
The Palestinians have now embarked on a new strategy, one less dependent on the support of their Arab brethren and more focused on the frustration, impatience, guilt and anger of the international community toward Israeli policies. The Palestinians first went to the UN General Assembly, where they enjoy a guaranteed majority that would adopt a resolution that the earth is flat if it was introduced by the Palestinian delegation. In 2013, the General Assembly agreed to recognize "Palestine," which opened the door to greater participation in the UN as well as access to a host of UN agencies.
General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, and its actions have changed nothing on the ground, consequently, the Palestinians are now threatening to seek Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 "borders" with East Jerusalem as the capital. They believe they have the votes to win so long as the United States does not exercise its veto. President Obama has said that he would veto such a resolution; however, he now holds tremendous leverage over the Israelis. If Israel does not cooperate with the United States, Obama can decide not to use a veto, which would allow the expected Council majority to recognize "Palestine." Once this binding resolution is adopted, the Palestinians will ask for sanctions to coerce Israeli compliance. Ultimately, they hope that draconian UN measures will force Israel to capitulate to Palestinian demands and, ideally, destroy the Jewish state.
The Palestinians also hope European recognition will pressure Obama to do the same. Already, Sweden has recognized "Palestine" while London's Parliament voted to encourage the British government to do the same. Ireland and Spain are also considering recognition and France has scheduled a vote on recognition for November 28, 2014. These unilateral decisions to recognize "Palestine" are not only ill-advised but dangerous. 560
First, political recognition will raise Palestinian expectations, which will go unfulfilled, because declarations by the United Nations or individual countries will change nothing on the ground since Israel will not change its posture regarding land, sovereignty and security. This will only exacerbate existing Palestinian frustrations that have often led to violence.
Second, unilateral steps by the international community reinforce the Palestinian belief that Israel can be coerced to capitulate to their demands by outside forces. This relieves the Palestinians of the need to negotiate directly with Israel and to make the concessions that will be required to turn declarations of statehood into full-fledged independence.
Over the last seven years the Palestinian expectation that President Obama would "deliver" Israel has had just these effects. The Palestinians have eschewed direct talks, rejected compromises and resorted to terrorism; yet, they are no closer to statehood. International recognition of "Palestine" is another recipe for failure and violence.
Following Operation Protective Edge Hamas abandoned its goal of destroying Israel.
Though Hamas took a severe beating during Operation Protective Edge, losing more than 500 fighters, thousands of rockets and a number of key leaders, the group remains unflinching in its determination to destroy Israel. Rather than focus on helping the people of Gaza rebuild, Hamas immediately began preparing to fight again.
On December 14, 2014, Hamas celebrated its 27th anniversary with a parade of 2,000 of its armed fighters and trucks carrying long range rockets and launchers as well as a drone with Hamas markings. Khalil Al Hayya, a senior Hamas leader, told the assembled crowd, "This illusion called Israel will be removed."561
Iran, which shares the same goal, has been helping Hamas to rebuild its arsenal. Speaking at the parade, Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for the group's armed wing, the Qassem Brigades, praised Iran for supplying Hamas with money and weapons. Some of these weapons may be rockets that Hamas has been firing from Gaza into the sea, presumably to test their accuracy and range in preparation for future attacks on Israel. 562
As most analysts predicted, the "reconciliation" of Palestinian factions has failed to materialize and their rivalry has intensified. Israel and the international community had hoped the Palestinian Authority would take over control of Gaza following Hamas' defeat; however, Hamas continues to prevent that from happening. In fact, the internecine fighting has continued, with Hamas and Fatah arresting and killing each other's members. This was exemplified by Israel's discovery of a plot by Hamas members in the West Bank to stage a coup against the government of Mahmoud Abbas. The presence of Israeli security forces in the West Bank probably saved not only his government but his life. 563
It is not only Israel and Fatah that are concerned with Hamas; Egypt also views the organization as a threat. Egyptian troops have been attacked in the Sinai by Hamas terrorists and the group has used tunnels for years to smuggle weapons and other goods from Egypt into Gaza. Consequently, Egypt has been destroying tunnels and building an underground metal wall to prevent future infiltrations.564 With Israel’s permission, Egypt has also deployed more troops to the Sinai to fight Hamas and other Islamist militants. 565
The Palestinian application to join the International Criminal Court is a response to Israel's failure to negotiate peace.
The records of Israel and the Palestinian Authority toward negotiations are well known. Israel has consistently called for direct negotiations while PA president Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (except for a brief encounter in 2009 when no talks were held) since he was elected in 2005.566
The election of Barack Obama stimulated new hope that the United States might finally force Israel to capitulate to their demands. The Palestinians were quickly disappointed, however, when it became clear that Obama was unable or unwilling to do so.
This lack of U.S. support prompted the Palestinians to forego even the pretense of interest in negotiations and to mount an international campaign to gain recognition for "Palestine" in hopes that the UN would impose a settlement on Israel based on Palestinian demands. Thanks to the automatic majority that supports every Palestinian initiative in the General Assembly, Palestine was recognized as a non-member observer state in 2012.
The Palestinian strategy ran into an American road block when President Obama vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to declare Israeli settlements illegal. The Palestinians then sought Security Council support for their demands for a state based on the 1967 borders (actually the 1948 armistice line) with Jerusalem as their capital and a number of other provisions opposed by Israel or requiring a negotiated solution. After Obama threatened to veto this measure, the Palestinians hoped to win a moral victory by securing the 9 votes needed to pass a resolution (barring a veto). They failed to do this, however, allowing the United States to vote against the resolution without casting a veto.567
Following this defeat, Abbas hoped to save face with his constituents by seeking to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the intention of asking the court to charge Israeli soldiers and politicians with war crimes. The ICC, which is an independent body unaffiliated with the UN, rejected an earlier effort by the PA to accept the jurisdiction of the court on the grounds that it did not qualify as a state. Now, hoping to use UN recognition of its status, the PA is again seeking to become a member of the court.
Despite the Orwellian vote of the General Assembly, "Palestine" is not a state and should therefore again be rejected for membership in the ICC. It would be especially Orwellian for the ICC to accept a member whose leaders and associated militias have been actively engaged in war crimes.
Still, the record of international institutions standing up to the bullying of the Arab/Islamic bloc is not encouraging. In the event that the ICC does accept Palestine, however, Abbas may find himself wishing he'd engaged in negotiations.
First, nothing the ICC can do will bring the Palestinians one iota closer to statehood. At worst, the ICC could charge and potentially convict some Israelis of war crimes. The standard for such prosecutions, however, is high and, as became clear by the court's recent failure to convict Kenyan strongman Uhuru Kenyatta, it is unlikely that the court would have better luck finding fault with the democratically elected leaders of Israel or the IDF, about which Richard Kemp has said, "No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF in order to minimize damage." Israel can also be counted on to fight any prosecution vigorously and, like the United States, refuse to recognize the court's jurisdiction over its citizens.568
Second, Abbas has infuriated the United States, including many of his allies in the White House and State Department, by his disregard for President Obama's warnings and overall contempt toward U.S. policymakers. That attitude will come back to haunt him if the ICC accepts "Palestine's" membership because that will trigger U.S. legislation calling for the complete cutoff of economic aid to the PA, money Abbas desperately needs to keep his kleptocracy afloat.
Third, once coming under ICC jurisdiction, it will be possible for Israel to bring charges against the terrorists in "Palestine," for whom the evidence of war crimes is overwhelming. Rather than standing at the head of an independent state, Abbas may find himself in the dock facing imprisonment as a war criminal for his responsibility in inciting violence and for the rocket and terror attacks committed by members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah.
Finally, Alan Baker notes, "the Palestinians have knowingly and deliberately bypassed their contractual obligations pursuant to the Oslo Accords in an attempt to prejudge the main negotiating issues outside the negotiation." Israel has given no indication it is going to act, but the Palestinians' breach of the Oslo agreements would be justification for Israel "to declare that the Oslo Accords are no longer valid and to act unilaterally in order to protect its essential legal and security interests."569
The International Criminal Court will inevitably indict Israelis for war crimes in Gaza.
The Palestinians have applied for membership to the International Criminal Court with the intent of asking the ICC to charge Israeli soldiers and officials with war crimes. Since "Palestine" is not a state by any common definition of the term, it will be up to the ICC to decide if the fictional state of Palestine satisfies its criteria for membership, an outcome that is by no means assured.
Bringing charges before the court is also a difficult and time consuming process with no guarantee of success. In 12 years, the court has investigated 36 cases, some taking 10 years or more, and convicted only two war criminals.
Israel has more going for it than just the ineffectiveness of the ICC; it also has justice on its side. First, any accusations of misbehavior by Israeli troops are investigated by Israeli authorities, as is the case in other democracies. The cases brought before the ICC typically involve countries that do not have independent judiciaries or are otherwise unable to adjudicate their own cases.
Furthermore, Israel's conduct of the war in Gaza has been praised for the lengths the IDF went to avoid civilian casualties. Former undersecretary of defense Michele Flournoy, for example, thanked outgoing IDF chief of general staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz for guiding Israel through the Gaza war with "a compassionate hand."570
Col. Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, has spoken out repeatedly about the extraordinary conduct of the IDF. After Operation Protective Edge, he stated, "No army in the world acts with as much discretion and great care as the IDF in order to minimize damage. The US and the UK are careful, but not as much as Israel."571
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also commended the IDF: "I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties." He added that "the IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties," and revealed that an American delegation visited Israel to learn from the IDF's experience in Gaza, including "the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties."572
The facts will not stop the Palestinians or their supporters from attempting to use the court to tarnish Israel's image and to make life more difficult for any accused Israelis. Nevertheless, even if the Palestinians overcome the various hurdles involving membership and the court's investigative process, it is unlikely any Israelis will be convicted of war crimes.
Muslims are encouraged to visit Israel and meet Israelis.
Most of the Muslim world has enforced a boycott against interacting with Jews dating back to before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. After the signing of peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis hoped that people from those two countries would become regular visitors; however, that never happened, in large part because of pressure from Muslims to avoid any contact with "Zionists." The few individuals who have defied the pressure have often found themselves ostracized when they returned home.
Even American Muslims are castigated for having the audacity to meet Israelis and see for themselves what life is like in Israel. The Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI) was launched in 2013 under the initiative of Imam Abdullah Antepli of Duke University and Yossi Klein Halevi of the Hartman Institute of Jerusalem. The program invites North American Muslims to "explore how Jews understand Judaism, Israel, and Jewish peoplehood." The participants are also encouraged to "experience how Palestinian [Arabs], both inside and outside Israel, identify themselves."
The initiative has provoked criticism by promotors of the campaign to boycott Israel and others who claim the participants were being given an "Israeli propaganda tour." In addition to criticism, the Muslims who have the audacity to think for themselves and seek out their own answers to questions about the situation in Israel may now also become victims of a boycott. Reportedly, at least 43 pro-Palestinian or Muslim-American community organizations, and 200 independent activists, have signed a letter promising not to invite participants to speak, and calling for a "complete boycott" of the group. Antepli explained the trip was meant to educate the participants. "My religion says even if knowledge is all the way in China, go and learn it." He added that he believed understanding religious Zionism was important if Muslims wanted to reach out to American Jews. 573
The taboo against meeting Israelis is so strictly enforced that a Muslim does not have to go to Israel to be attacked by their brethren; merely meeting or being photographed with an Israeli can be enough to trigger outrage and threats. Take the recent case of the seemingly innocuous selfie taken at the Miss Universe pageant in Miami by Israeli Doron Matalon. Miss Israel took a photo of herself with the representatives of Japan, Slovakia and Lebanon and posted it on Instagram. The image of the smiling Lebanese beauty, Saly Greige, beside an Israeli prompted an investigation by the Lebanese government that came with a warning of possible punishment for the crime of having contact with someone from the enemy state of Israel 574. In response to calls for her withdrawal from the pageant, Greige claimed that Matalon jumped into the photo she was taking with the other beauty queens. Greige added that she had avoided being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel and cropped Matalon out of the picture when she posted it on her Instagram account.
A Palestinian state will not be part of the Islamic State's caliphate.
For years, supporters of a Palestinian state have falsely portrayed a future entity as secular and democratic. The autocratic rule of Yasser Arafat and now Mahmoud Abbas (whose term as president was due to expire six years ago, but has been prolonged by refusing to hold elections), combined with the suppression of the rights associated with democratic nations (freedom of speech, assembly, religion, press, women's rights, gay rights) is evidence a future Palestinian state is unlikely to be democratic. Similarly, the fact that no Arab state is secular is good reason to believe a Palestinian state will be Islamic. As radical Islamists gain more influence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it is increasingly possible that "Palestine" might be incorporated into the caliphate proclaimed by the Islamic State (a.k.a., ISIS, ISIL).
According to the draft constitution for a Palestinian state, the official religion will be Islam so there was never any possibility the state would be secular. The influence of the radical Muslims of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, moreover, has raised the specter of an Iranian-style repressive Islamic state emerging. In fact, this already exists, minus sovereignty, in the Gaza Strip where Hamas rules with an Islamic fist according to its interpretation of Sharia law. Furthermore, the group's objective is to work with other Muslims to restore the Islamic empire and to expand it to encompass the entire world. 575
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have also been working to establish a foothold in the West Bank to overthrow Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, just as they did in Gaza, so it too is a part of their future Islamic state. They oppose Abbas' application for statehood to the United Nations, reject any negotiations with Israel and remain committed to Israel's destruction. The threat to Abbas is ongoing and he was likely saved from a coup and execution at the end of 2014 when Israeli intelligence foiled a Hamas plot. In truth, Abbas probably owes his life and the limited power he does have to Israel’s success in containing the growth of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.
Now Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Islamic Jihad may face a far more dangerous threat arising from the infiltration and growth in popularity of ISIS. In November 2014, Israeli security forces nabbed a number of Palestinians in Hebron who created a terrorist cell affiliated with ISIS and were planning terrorist attacks. One suspect confessed that he planned to create the cell and to build explosives that could be thrown at IDF troops. Another suspect revealed that two members of the cell planned to murder a solider and use his weapon and uniform to carry out an attack. 576
We are now learning that Hamas and the Palestinian authority have known for some time that ISIS is infiltrating their strongholds in hopes of building enough support to take over both the West Bank and Gaza. This danger, combined with the bad publicity associated with revealing the ISIS presence, has led both groups to try to censor any news about the group, such as a protest by 2,000 supporters of ISIS who marched in Gaza City carrying Islamic State flags, denouncing the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in the Charlie Hebdo magazine and threatening to slaughter French nationals. Hamas tried to impose a news blackout, but photos of the demonstration were leaked to social media.
While Hamas may share the ideology of ISIS, it fears competition that may draw away its supporters with even more fiery rhetoric about the war on the infidels and the establishment of a caliphate rather than a Palestinian state. Hamas also worries that if the ISIS threat becomes known, Western countries and Arab states fighting ISIS will refuse to provide funds for reconstruction.
Abbas has multiple fears. First, he is afraid that knowledge of an ISIS presence will reduce support at the UN for the recognition of a Palestinian state. Second, by the same logic as Gaza, he could lose Western and Arab assistance if it becomes clear that aid may end up in the hands of ISIS. Third, the ISIS threat reduces the Israeli incentive for negotiations given that most Israelis were already skeptical of Abbas ability to deliver on any agreement and that any territorial concessions on the West Bank could lead to the creation of an extension of Gaza's Hamastan. Now Israelis have to take into account the even more frightening scenario of radical Islamists attacking the Golan Heights and ISIS seizing control of the West Bank, Gaza and possibly even Jordan.
Paradoxically, Abbas also has less incentive to negotiate with Israel because he knows that if "not for the IDF and various branches of the Israeli security establishment, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Islamic State would have toppled the Palestinian Authority and beheaded Abbas and his officials a long time ago." 577
Despite the new reality, will Israel continue to be pressured to capitulate to Palestinian officials' demands that endanger the state, even as those officials continue incite terror and reject negotiations or compromise? Will the West turn a blind eye to the growth of ISIS in the West Bank and Gaza the way it did the growth of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon?
The international community must decide whether to keep its head in the sand and continue the politically correct, but specious mantra that there is no radical Islam, and that Muslim terrorists have no connection to their faith. The recent policies of the major Western leaders have not been encouraging. Rather than pushing futile negotiations, or recognition of the non-existent state of Palestine, it is vital that these leaders make fighting against radical Islam and stopping Iran's nuclear program their top priorities.
Palestinians all support asking the UN to recognize “Palestine”.
Mahmoud Abbas is generally recognized as the leader of the Palestinians, and his views are assumed to reflect those of the people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as those living outside the territories; however, this is not true. Paradoxically, he has more support from the international community than he does from his own constituents.
Abbas has no mandate to speak for the Palestinians. Although he holds the title of president of the Palestinian Authority, he has not won an election since 2005 and has canceled all subsequent plebiscites because of the fear he would lose. Thus, he has essentially declared himself a dictator like Moammar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad (although they at least held sham elections every few years).
It comes as no great surprise that Hamas pilloried Abbas for engaging in a diplomatic initiative that theoretically replaced the goal of liberating all of Palestine by force. What was more shocking, however, and further evidence of the true state of Abbas' power (as well as reinforcing the Israeli belief that he couldn't negotiate a peace agreement even if he wanted to), was the opposition from factions within the PLO, including his own Fatah party. Illustrating Abbas's autocratic rule, Jamal 0Muheissen, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, complained that he and his colleagues learned about the proposed Security Council resolution from the internet; it was never approved by Fatah.
Despite the fact that the proposed resolution conceded nothing to Israel, and was a purposeful strategy to avoid negotiating with Israel, critics accused him of treason, turning his back on his people and making dangerous concessions to Israel. Five Palestinian groups, two of which are members along with Fatah of the PLO, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Popular Front-General Command (PFLP-GC) and Al-Sai'qa, joined Hamas and Islamic Jihad in calling on Abbas to withdraw the resolution, eschew negotiations and "pursue resistance in all its forms."
Reiterating the longstanding position of Hamas, its leader Mahmoud Zahar said, "This Palestinian resolution is catastrophic and has no future on the land of Palestine. The future belongs to the resistance. We will continue to work to liberate all the land and achieve the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Hamas will not accept anything less than all the lands that were occupied in 1948." 578
Members of the Security Council would be wise to pay less attention to the impotent and unpopular Abbas and more to his opponents' intent on sabotaging any diplomatic undertaking that does not lead to the destruction of Israel.
The Palestinian public opposes terrorism and supports negotiations with Israel.
Palestinian public opinion is difficult to gauge since the Palestinian Authority has not held elections in 10 years to offer the people a chance to express their views through the support of particular candidates. Moreover, polls taken in the territories, as in totalitarian societies, do not necessarily reflect the true opinion of people who know that criticizing or opposing their leaders can result in their arrest (or worse). Given those caveats, pollsters do offer insight into the attitudes of Palestinians and many of them are problematic.
A poll released in November 2014 by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (PCPO), for example, found that a majority of Palestinians opposed resuming peace talks with Israel. That same poll found that a narrow majority (54-46 percent) support a two-state solution. A Washington Institute poll in June 2014, however, found that only 27 percent of Palestinians supported a two-state solution as a five-year political goal, while 60 percent said “the goal should be to return Historic Palestine to our hands, from the river to the sea.”579 580
Another poll, by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Centre (JMCC) in November 2013, found that nearly half the respondents opposed the Oslo peace agreement and fewer than one-third of Palestinians believed “peaceful negotiations” were the best way to establish a Palestinian state. In fact, they were nearly evenly split between that answer, “armed resistance” and “non-violent resistance.” 581
Polls have also indicated that Palestinians continue to support terrorism. In a December 2014 PCPO survey, for example, 58 percent of Palestinians agreed that firing missiles at Israel is a good idea. Perhaps more alarming are the results of a Pew survey of Muslims from September 2013, which found that 62 percent of Palestinian Muslims said that suicide bombing attacks are often or sometimes justified to defend Islam from its enemies. Note, too, that the results were nearly equal in Hamas-ruled Gaza (64 percent) and the Fatah-governed West Bank (60 percent). By comparison, the country with the second highest level of support for suicide bombings was Lebanon (39 percent).582
Reported negotiations with Iran will make the Middle East safer.
Since the discovery of Iran's secret program to develop nuclear weapons, the hope has been that either sanctions would compel Iran to abandon the project or that a negotiated agreement would prevent, or at least delay, the acquisition of a bomb for several years. Military action has been raised as an option of last resort, but the preference of all parties, with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia, has been to find a peaceful solution.588
European governments tried unsuccessfully for several years to negotiate a deal with Iran. When the talks finally ended, the chief Iranian negotiator - now Iran's President Hassan Rouhani - said that the Iranians had purposely dragged out the talks while continuing their program and never intended to reach an agreement. 583Some observers, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), worry that Iran is engaged in a similar tactic now since it has made few concessions in talks with the United States and succeeded in moving the deadline for an agreement. Meanwhile, the IAEA has continued to report the number of Iranian centrifuges has grown, complained that Iran is not cooperating with its investigation and that the nuclear program has not halted.584
The IAEA reported February 19, 2015, as the the Obama Administration was claiming progress in negotiations, that Iran was stalling their inquiry, and deliberately complicating efforts to reach a deal with the P5+1. According to the report, “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify” the scope of Iranian explosive tests and other allegations. 587
The negotiations themselves are also problematic. Perhaps the most serious concern is that the deal reportedly being discussed would allow Iran to keep much of its nuclear infrastructure, creating the possibility that it would take mere months to ramp up the program to produce weapons.585
Another concern is that the Obama Administration appears desperate to reach a deal, despite the president's assertions that no deal is better than a bad deal. The growth of ISIS has convinced the administration that it needs Iranian cooperation to defeat the radical Sunni Muslim group. It may be true that Iran could help in the fight against ISIS, but it is not interested in doing so to help the West or to eradicate radical Islamists; Iran is fighting because it sees ISIS as a rival for influence and a threat to its position in Iraq and, especially, Syria. Iran is no less brutal or radical, and has similar interests in gaining hegemony in the region and beyond. Already, Iran has gained influence in Yemen to go along with its virtual control of Lebanon and puppet mastery of Syria, as well as serving as the armorer for Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.
Not surprisingly, America's Sunni allies are apoplectic at the prospect of an agreement with Iran that leaves its nuclear infrastructure in place, and the notion that Iran can play a stabilizing role in the region. To the contrary, Iran is viewed as a threat to the Gulf States, which is why the Saudis advocated military action against Tehran during the Bush Administration.
Arab leaders have also made no secret of their anger over Obama's failure to take forceful action in Syria, which could have ousted President Bashar Assad and eliminated Iran's most important ally. Paradoxically, Obama's failure to act contributed to the growth of ISIS and the newfound willingness to allow Assad to stay in power and seek Iran's help in battling ISIS.
Israel has made no secret of its displeasure over the Obama Administration's handling of Iran because of the perception in Jerusalem that Obama is so anxious for a deal that he will make concessions that endanger Israel. This fear has prompted the controversial decision of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress to directly relate Israel's concerns about the direction negotiations are heading.
Many members of Congress also fear that the president may agree to a bad deal and have been agitating for stronger sanctions to put more pressure on Iran. As it is, Iran has found ways around previously imposed sanctions and does not believe they need to make concessions, especially given what they see as Obama's desire to reach an agreement that would make sanctions even less effective. As it is, just for negotiating, Obama agreed to ease some sanctions, with Iran scheduled to receive up to $11.9 billion through the end of negotiations, and he has threatened to veto any legislation for stronger measures for fear that the Iranians will walk away from the talks.586
Yet another deadline is approaching on March 24, and much of the world is concerned that the Iranians will succeed in prolonging the talks further, or convince Obama to accept a deal that will allow Iran to attain a nuclear capability sooner rather than later. This result would give Iran unprecedented power, allow it to threaten Israel and its Arab neighbors, potentially force Israel into a military response, conceivably arm terrorists with nuclear weapons and set off a nuclear arms race in the region.
Israel opened dams to flood Gaza.
While it may come as no shock that Hamas officials will spin the news to slander Israel, the media is expected to check their facts before printing libelous propaganda as legitimate news. Following a major winter storm last week in Israel, a swath of the Gaza Strip flooded due to heavy precipitation. A Hamas official was quick to blame Israel, saying, “The occupation forces opened the Wadi Salqa dams to sink dozens of Palestinian homes in the central region of the Gaza Strip.”589 Other officials from Hamas were quick to confirm that Israel had opened dams in the Gaza region to purposely flood the Gazan countryside.
Predictably, many media outlets jumped on the opportunity to publish an article bashing Israel for increasing the suffering of the people of Gaza. Al Jazeera, Agence-France Press, the Daily Mail, and others published articles decrying Israel's actions, with the AFP article quoting Gaza's Ministry of the Interior, who said, “By [Israel] opening the channels they flooded many homes... We had to evacuate as quickly as possible.”590
None of these news organizations had done their due diligence however. Not only are there no such dams around Gaza, operated by Israel or otherwise, but this lie has been used by Hamas during previous winters. In 2013, Hamas trotted out the same fabrication, accusing the Israeli government of opening dams just east of the Gaza Strip since, “For Gaza to drown is an old Zionist dream.”591 Of course, then as now the claims were false and, in fact, Israel aided the recovery efforts in Gaza by donating high power pumps to help clear floodwater from the region.
While publicly Hamas officials choose to blame Israel for Gaza's myriad issues, anonymously, an official in Gaza revealed that “It is easy to say it is dams, easier than saying that the problem is infrastructure - not having infrastructure, having bad infrastructure.”590 Time and again, Hamas has chosen to invest the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid it receives into weapons, tunnels and rockets, rather than helping to uplift the people of Gaza with improved roads, drainage ditches and sewers that would ameliorate the annual flooding in Gaza brought on by inclement weather.
Although the various news sites have commendably gone through the motions of issuing corrections and retractions, their inability to practice basic fact-checking to establish the veracity of the Hamas statements shows a significant lack of journalistic integrity and an overzealous craving to find “news” that casts Israel in a negative light. This oversight is especially egregious given that the lie has been repeated in years past. Perhaps in the future, the international media will think twice before taking the word of Hamas's propaganda officials as factual news.
Israel systematically violated the laws of war during Operation Protective Edge.
Even as Hamas rockets were being fired indiscriminately into Israel in July-August 2014, the media and human rights organizations pilloried Israel with allegations of human rights violations and war crimes. The UN Human Rights Council launched an investigation, due to be released soon, that is expected to repeat the mistakes and false allegations of the notorious Goldstone Report published after Israel's previous operation in Gaza in 2009. In response to the misinformation, lies and propaganda disseminated during and after Operation Protective Edge, a group of senior American military officers were commissioned to prepare an assessment of the war and to specifically examine whether the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) was violated. 592
The report characterizes Hamas as a “hybrid” organization; that is “a non-state force equipped with advanced weapons systems normally associated with nation-state conventional militaries.”5921 Hamas combined four elements:
- Acting with reckless disregard for civilian safety, if not deliberately putting them in harm's way;
- Distorting internationally-recognized legal standards to exploit legal protections afforded civilians and the casualties caused by this exploitation;
- Portraying its opponent, through an information operations campaign, as legally culpable for what were lawful, defensive responses to aggression; and
- Securing advantageous pressure from the international community on its opponent to terminate legitimate defensive military action. 5922
Hamas, the report notes, redefined “battlefield losses as strategic victories.” The terrorists were not interested in winning the battle in Gaza, but in the court of international public opinion by “portraying the IDF's military operations as indiscriminate and disproportional.” 5923 Thus, “Hamas's strategy for victory depended on incurring civilian casualties among its own people.”592 4
“Hamas habitually violated LOAC” by indiscriminately firing rockets at civilian population centers rather than military targets, and by deliberately placing rocket launchers and other military assets in or near UN facilities, schools, hospitals, mosques and other civilian areas. “By firing from specially protected sites, Hamas effectively stripped them of their protected status, rendering them lawful military objectives for Israeli attack.”5925
Palestinian civilians were often forced to gather near launch sites and prevented from leaving areas targeted by the IDF, even after being warned to evacuate. Hamas successfully exploited the widespread ignorance regarding the “balance between military necessity and humanitarian protection... to present a false narrative that combat operations which produce civilian casualties are inherently unlawful.”5926
The report clarifies what the LOAC requires armies to do to protect civilians. The standard is that there can be no deliberate attacks on civilians or on lawful targets if “the attacking commander reasonably anticipates that the harm to civilians and damage to civilian property will be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage to be gained by the attack.” Furthermore, the “LOAC does not render unlawful any attack that risks or even results in incidental injury and collateral damage; its principles are applied with a standard of the best available information at the time of a commander's decision, not information that subsequently becomes available after an engagement.” 5927. The emphasized portion is important because it makes clear that human rights watchdogs have no way of knowing what information commanders have when they make their decisions and cannot base their conclusions on information discovered after the fact.
Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of the LOAC is the principle of proportionality. Human rights organizations, the media and officials of many governments repeatedly accused Israel of using “disproportionate force” because the number of Palestinian casualties greatly exceeded those of the Israelis as if the Israelis were obligated to allow themselves to be killed just so the casualty ratio would look more balanced. Harm to civilians and their property is permitted if “it is not the result of deliberate attack, but is instead an incidental or collateral consequence of an attack on a proximate lawful military objective, so long as the attack was not anticipated to be excessive in relation to the expected advantage.” 5928
Hamas was particularly skillful in its use of the media and manipulation of journalists. Messages were tailored to particular audiences so that Arabic reports glorified the resistance and the number of rockets fired at Israel while the Western media was fed information about Israeli aggression and the killing of civilians. Reporters in Gaza were prevented from seeing things that Hamas did not want them to, which explains why dispatches failed to document the “military firing positions, weapons, ammunition and military facilities among Gazan civilians.” 5929
The report specifically criticized the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, the UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for their condemnations of Israel, which “were premised on premature, effects-based assessments of military operations, or on the same flawed understandings of the law that Hamas was promoting, while refusing to apply that same law to its own actions.” The result was to misrepresent “Israeli attempts to minimize civilian deaths and the legality of their targeting Hamas and other factions engaged in military operations.” 59210
Contrary to what the critics of Israeli actions said, the task force concluded that “Israeli military operations in Gaza met or exceeded the requirements of the Law of Armed Conflict as part of an extensive effort to avoid civilian casualties”(emphasis added). The task force members agreed with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey's statement that “Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.” 59211
The investigators were especially impressed by the fact that the IDF was willing to warn civilians of impending attacks even though it eliminated the element of surprise. They also acknowledged that a number of lawful missions were canceled because of the presence of civilians. In one case, the IDF gave up the opportunity to strike the senior leaders of Hamas because they were hiding in the Shifa Hospital.592 12
The report also contradicted the propaganda narrative that Israel created a humanitarian catastrophe. According to the task force, “The IDF made an extensive effort to alleviate Gazan civilian suffering by pushing food and medicine into - and conducting medical evacuations out of - Gaza... This humanitarian support for Gazans' basic needs may have inadvertently reduced pressure on Hamas to end the conflict, but demonstrates Israel's intent was likely not to cause undue suffering among Gaza’s population.” 59213
The report acknowledges the IDF is not perfect and that mistakes were made, but they gave credit to the military for making a commitment to investigate any credible accusations of unlawful activity. Furthermore, the report concluded that, “Contrary to accusations of widespread unlawful military conduct, we observed that Israel systemically applied established rules of conduct that adhered to or exceeded the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) in a virtually unprecedented effort to avoid inflicting civilian casualties, even when doing so would have been lawfully permitted, and to satisfy the concerns of critics.”592 14
Based on past experience, the likelihood of the HRC report reaching similar conclusions is remote; nevertheless, we now have a thorough investigation by experts on the LOAC to counterbalance any contrived effort to misrepresent Israel's actions during the war.
Israeli Arabs have been denied political representation in the Knesset.
From the establishment of the state, Israel has adhered to democratic principles and allowed all of its citizens to vote in national elections. As in other areas of Israeli law, Israeli Arabs have the same rights to form parties, run for office and vote for the party of their choice. From the first Israeli Knesset in 1949, Israeli Arabs have been represented within the parliamentary system. In fact, three Arabs were members of that first Knesset, including Tawfik Toubi, the second longest serving Knesset member (41 years, 5 months and 9 days) after Shimon Peres. Altogether, at least 70 Israeli Arabs have won seats in Israel's parliament. 593
It appears from the initial returns from the 2015 Israeli election, that Arabs will have the largest representation ever in the 20th Knesset - 17 seats compared with 12 in the previous government. This election also marked the first time the disparate and often contentious Arab political parties have created a joint list. The members continue to have serious disagreements, but realized that given the change in the election law that required parties to reach a higher threshold of votes to win a seat, they might be shut out of the Knesset running as four different parties. Instead, the unified Arab list appears to have won 12-13 seats and will be the third largest party after Likud and the Zionist Union.
In addition to the members of the Joint List, four Arab parliamentarians are expected to represent Zionist parties, double the number from the previous Knesset.594
So, not only do Israeli Arabs participate fully within the Israeli democratic system, the results of the 2015 election give them the potential to wield more political influence than ever before.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the creation of a Palestinian state.
A furor erupted after Netanyahu said that he opposed the creation of a Palestinian state because it would lead to radical Islamist attacks against Israel in the waning hours of the 2015 election in what most people interpreted as a last minute pitch for votes from his more right-wing constituents595. President Obama had what the Wall Street Journal has described as a "tantrum" over the apparent reversal of his position supporting a two-state solution596
Following his electoral victory, Netanyahu tried to reassure the president, Israelis and the international community that he was still committed to the two-state solution, but, he continued to be excoriated by Obama and members of his administration. Leaks to the press have suggested the president is contemplating a number of punitive measures, including refusing to meet with Netanyahu, voting for resolutions hostile to Israel's interests at the UN, and reassessing the U.S.-Israel relationship.
This "crisis" in the relationship needs to be put into political and historical context.
First, the reaction of the president to a clear electioneering maneuver is extreme. It is common for U.S. candidates to say things to appeal to their base, or a particular constituency, and to moderate or reverse their positions later in the campaign or after being elected. A good example is candidate Barack Obama’s appearance before the pro-Israel crowd at the AIPAC Policy Conference in 2008 when he received a thunderous ovation for saying that he believed Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel. Within 24 hours, however, Obama backtracked on his position and said the final status of Jerusalem would have to be negotiated.
It is also striking that Obama said he had to take Netanyahu "at his word" regarding the statement during the campaign, but not his explanation afterward, which the president could have heard in a direct call to the prime minister before blasting him in the press. Critics of the president also wondered aloud why Obama does not seem to take Iranian leaders at their word. For example, just as Secretary of State Kerry was claiming to make progress on a nuclear deal with Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei was calling for "Death to America." 597
The campaign statements were politics, the treatment of the embassy was policy and Obama knows the difference. The overreaction to Netanyahu's remark about the two-state solution, as well as his ill-advised call for his constituents to vote because of the large Arab turnout, had less to do with what he said than the fact that he was frustrated by Netanyahu's victory. Obama's antipathy toward Netanyahu is so great that he did exactly what he angrily accused Netanyahu of doing in the 2012 U.S. election, namely, interfering in the election to defeat him.
What is more important than campaign politics, however, is policy and Netanyahu has been treated unfairly from the time he was elected in 2009 when he was labeled anti-peace, right-wing, and hard line. Few critics seem to remember that he is the only prime minister to agree to significant territorial concessions in the West Bank, agreeing to withdraw from 13 percent of the territories in 1997. From that concession, as well as Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza, Netanyahu learned that Israeli compromises were not reciprocated. Worse, instead of trading land for peace, Israel was rewarded with more terror. Experience, therefore, has shaped his skepticism, nay realism, regarding the peace process.
This is one element of the historical context ignored by Netanyahu's critics and peace processors who spuriously believe that an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank will end the conflict with the Palestinians and bring peace and stability to the region. They also overlook the record of the Obama peace initiatives in the Middle East. At the beginning of Obama's term, he assured the prime minister that if Israel froze settlement construction for 10 months, the Palestinians would negotiate a peace agreement and the other Arab states would take confidence building measures to show Israelis they were also interested in peace.
The president failed to deliver on either commitment. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas spurned negotiations, even after the settlement freeze, and has refused to meet with Netanyahu for all but a few hours of Obama's eight years in office. Similarly, the Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, declined to make any positive gestures toward Israel.
Flash forward to 2014 when Kerry began a months-long effort to bring the parties together and create a framework for talks that might lead to a resolution of all the outstanding issues. That also failed, but not because of Netanyahu. As former Middle East envoy Martin Indyk told CNN, Abbas was presented with Kerry's proposal and promised to respond but never did. 598
Another forgotten historical fact is that while Yitzhak Rabin has been rightly lionized, he did not support a two-state solution. In his final speech to the Knesset before his assassination, he explicitly said that he supported the establishment of "an entity which is less than a state." 599
By contrast, Netanyahu reversed his longstanding opposition to a Palestinian state and defied many in his own party and government by declaring in 2009 get that he supported a two-state solution "if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state."600 His position today has not substantively changed. As he told Israeli news site NRG, what has changed are the conditions that affect Israel's security. 601 For example, Abbas still refuses to talk to Netanyahu or to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. The Palestinians have also been circumventing negotiations by going to the UN in hopes of winning recognition for their state and convincing the Security Council to impose a solution on Israel in violation of Security Council Resolution 242. Abbas has also repeatedly threatened to ask the International Criminal Court to charge Israelis with war crimes. Each of these ploys reduces Israeli confidence in the possibility of achieving real peace with the Palestinians.
Security conditions have also dramatically changed around Israel's borders, and must be taken into account to ensure that concessions do not endanger the nation. Israeli strategists see that Hezbollah has more than 100,000 rockets targeting Israel in the North and that Hamas is rearming in the south. They see that Abbas is still unwilling and unable to make any commitments; he remains so unpopular he refuses to hold long overdue elections, he has no authority in the Gaza Strip and he may be unable to prevent Hamas or other radical Muslims from seizing control of the West Bank. Israel also has to worry about the stability of Jordan given the flood of Syrian refugees and efforts by Islamists to destabilize the monarchy. Furthermore, the Syrian civil war could spill over into Israel at any time and radical Muslims may take over Syria and pose a threat on a border that has remained quiet since 1973. Finally, Israel must consider whether it can move toward peace with the Palestinians when the number one danger to the state, the Iranian nuclear program, has not been resolved.
One of the most important elements required for a two-state solution is also missing, and that is Israeli confidence that America will have their back if they take the risks necessary for peace. Even before the latest spat, polls showed that Israelis lack confidence in the administration, and Obama's enmity toward Netanyahu only exacerbates the situation. The path to a two-state solution contains many obstacles, but Netanyahu’s exaggerated campaign rhetoric is not the roadblock to progress.
Palestinian reconciliation makes the Palestinian Authority a partner for peace.
Over the last several years the Palestinians have repeatedly announced that Hamas and Fatah have reconciled and that a unified Palestinian government could move forward with peace negotiations. This was a spurious notion from the beginning because Hamas refused to meet the minimum requirements for being a party to talks with Israel, namely, agreeing to cease terror, recognize Israel's right to exist and honor past agreements.
Israel, meanwhile, refused to negotiate with the Palestinians so long as Hamas was part of the government. As it turned out, Israel did not have to worry because the differences in ideology and religious fervor are so extreme that reconciliation has never lasted. The reconciliation announced in 2014 was no different.
Following Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, Western countries offering aid to reconstruct Gaza pressured Hamas to allow the Palestinian Authority to retake control of Gaza; however, Hamas has not relinquished power and has no intention of doing so. If anything, Hamas expects to expand its reach to take control of the West Bank from Fatah.
The relationship between the Palestinian factions was never good, and both have routinely arrested, tortured and murdered their rivals. The hostility has reached a new high with the declarations by PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior advisor, Mahmoud Habbash, that Arab states should attack Gaza and destroy Hamas. "Protecting legitimacy in an Arab country is a duty of all Arab leaders," said Habbash. "They must take the initiative to strike with an iron fist against those who come out against legitimacy, regardless of the time and place, starting from Palestine. What happened in the Gaza Strip was a [Hamas] coup. There should be no dialogue with those behind the coup and they must be hit with an iron fist." 602
It is not surprising that Abbas would call on the Arab states for help, given his antipathy and impotence to challenge Hamas, and the Arabs' willingness to fight radical Islamists in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
Though Abbas would never admit it, he owes his life and continued leadership to Israel, which weakened Hamas in Gaza, foiled at least one Hamas assassination plot and prevented Hamas from taking over the West Bank. Nevertheless, Abbas is now threatening to ask the International Criminal Court to charge Israel with the commission of war crimes during the war in Gaza. The timing is especially ironic given that Abbas now wants the Arab world to declare war on Gaza and, if any Arab states agreed, human rights would be the least of their concerns.
Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh noted the hypocrisy of Abbas and his cronies. "If the Palestinian Authority openly favors military action against Hamas," he asked, "why was it opposed to Israel's use of force to destroy the Islamist movement's rocket launchers and ammunition?" Abu Toameh concludes, "Obviously, the PA believes it is acceptable for an army or armies to attack the Gaza Strip, on condition that it is not the Israel Defense Forces trying to stop Hamas's rocket attacks."602
Abbas' incendiary remarks have provoked widespread anger among Palestinians, but silence from the West. The question that should be asked of Abbas, Abu Toameh suggests, is whether he will file "war crimes" charges against his Arab brethren if they do as he asks and attack the Gaza Strip.
The Pope considers Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace.”
A furor erupted after a number of news agencies reported that during an audience with Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis referred to him as “an angel of peace.” As a man whose life is devoted to forgiveness, it was not entirely shocking that the Pope would make such a statement. Nevertheless, people familiar with Abbas's history as a Holocaust denier, PLO leader during the height of the organization's terrorist activities, and a continuing inciter and glorifier of violence were taken aback. The fact that Abbas has shown no inclination to make peace, or even to negotiate, for the last six years, has ruthlessly suppressed his opponents, and abused his own people by his dictatorial rule has made him a more appropriate candidate for the angel of death.
As it turned out, the journalists reporting the story got it wrong. The major news agencies, the Associated Press, Reuters and AFP reported that the Pope gave Abbas a bronze medallion, similar to one given to heads of state, representing an “angel of peace destroying the bad spirit of war.” The journalists wrote that the Pope also said, “It is appropriate because you are an angel of peace.”
The Italian newspaper La Stampa, reported, however, that what the Pope actually said was, “May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace.”603
This is a case study in the distortions often created by news services, which report inaccurate, biased or distorted information that is picked up and repeated without question by the major media (in this instance the New York Times, BBC, Fox, NBC and others repeated the erroneous version of the Pope's statements) and is the lifeblood of smaller media outlets that rely on these agencies for most of their foreign affairs news.
Abbas is finally prepared to negotiate with Israel.
One of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first acts as prime minister was to say that he is interested in negotiations with the Palestinians and specifically wants to define the boundaries of the main settlement blocs where construction would be allowed.604 Remember that as far back as the 2000 Barak-Arafat negotiations, the Palestinians had expressed a willingness to allow Israel to annex the large settlement blocs as part of a land swap.
It took little time for the Palestinians to respond, as they have to every Israeli call for negotiations, with a resounding rejection. Of course this was no surprise given that this has been their answer to all calls for talks since Mahmoud Abbas met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Even former U.S. envoy Martin Indyk, who has been a frequent critic of Netanyahu, acknowledged that Abbas has no interest in negotiations. Indyk said that Abbas understandably feels a lack of legitimacy since he has refused to hold an election for the last 10 years and fears making the compromises needed to reach an agreement, “so he is paralyzed by that.”605
While Abbas continues to be hailed by Western leaders as a “moderate” and “partner for peace,” his PLO militias remain opposed to any concessions with Israel and do not recognize Israel’s right to exist. These groups engage in ongoing terror operations either with the approval of Abbas or, at least, without any condemnation by him. The “armed wing” of Fatah, the largest faction of the PLO, is the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which, along with other splinter groups, has not given up the “armed struggle” to liberate Palestine. 606
Furthermore, Abbas continues to engage in initiatives that are anti-peace. He is seeking an investigation by the International Criminal Court into his bogus allegations of Israeli war crimes in Gaza and the legality of Israeli settlements. He has become so petty in his contempt for Israel and the notion of peace that he is now asking the international soccer federation FIFA to suspend Israel, an action which the head of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, says would “badly damage the whole organization.” 607 608
Meanwhile, while Abbas carries out his anti-peace campaign, Israel has called for negotiations to resume and has taken measures to improve the living conditions of Palestinians. For example, the number of Palestinians working for Israelis on either side of the Green Line doubled in the last four years. Palestinians now make up 2.2 percent of all workers in Israel and that number is expected to grow. At the height of the second intifada, only a handful of Palestinians were allowed to work in Israel. Today, 92,000 Palestinians work for Israelis and earn an average of NIS 198 per day (approximately $50) compared to NIS 91 per day ($23) in the territories. 609
Israel is also acting to ameliorate the acute shortage of water in the Gaza Strip caused by the Palestinians' failure to build and maintain waste treatment plants. As a result of their mismanagement of water the main aquifer is too polluted to use for potable water. Israel has already been providing the Palestinians with more water than required by the Oslo agreements, but announced in March 2015 the intention to double the amount of water it supplies to the Gaza Strip. 610 It is doing so, despite the fact that rather than use international aid for waste treatment and water supplies, Hamas has been siphoning all available funds to rebuild its terror tunnels and rocket arsenal.611
Once again, anyone interested in the facts can see which party is taking measures to advance peace and which are doing everything possible to obstruct it.
Jerusalem is not Israel's capital.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by an American citizen to have his birthplace listed in his passport as Jerusalem, Israel. In doing so the court did not make a judgement as to whether Jerusalem is indeed the capital, but more narrowly determined that the Executive Branch has the sole power to recognize foreign nations. Although the court may have been correct in interpreting the law, it ignored the historical and practical reality that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. As the plaintiff's attorneys said after the decision was announced, the court perpetuated “the absurd position that no country is sovereign over Jerusalem, and that no part of the city, including the western portion of Jerusalem,...is in Israel.”612
Of the 195 nations with which America has diplomatic relations, Israel is the only one whose capital is not recognized by the U.S. government. The U.S. embassy, like most others, is in Tel Aviv, 40 miles from Jerusalem. The United States does maintain a consulate in East Jerusalem, however, that deals with Palestinians in the territories and works independently of the embassy, reporting directly to Washington. Today, then, we have the anomaly that American diplomats refuse to meet with Israelis in their capital because Jerusalem's status is negotiable, but make their contacts with Palestinians in the city.
It is bad enough that the United States refuses to recognize Israel's capital, but the State Department has actively discouraged other nations from doing so as well. Going back to at least 1962, the department has felt a “moral obligation” to inform governments contemplating the establishment of a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem the United States' position on non-recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Some of the governments contacted by diplomats include Japan, Guatemala, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Ethiopia.
The State Department's justification according to the 1962 memo is: “The status of Jerusalem is a matter of United Nations concern and no member of the United Nations should take any action to prejudice the United Nations interest in this question. Our objective has been to keep the Jerusalem question an open one and to prevent its being settled solely through the processes of attrition and fait accompli to the exclusion of international interest and an eventual final expression thereof presumably through the United Nations.”
This is not the reason for the U.S. position. The explanation is found in the historic hostility of State Department Arabists to the creation of Israel and the persistent fear that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would anger the Arab/Muslim world and threaten American interests (e.g., the reliable supply of oil, regional stability and the provocation of attacks against the United States).
Recognizing the absurdity of the State Department's position that Israel essentially has no capital, Congress passed a resolution in 1990 declaring that “Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel” and “must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.” Presidents Bush and Clinton rejected the Congressional action prompting Congress to adopt The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. This landmark bill declared that, as a statement of official U.S. policy, Jerusalem should be recognized as the undivided, eternal capital of Israel and required that the U.S. embassy in Israel be established in Jerusalem no later than May 1999. The law also included a waiver, however, that allowed the president to ignore the legislation if he deemed doing so to be in the best interest of the United States.
In every presidential election since that time, most candidates have declared their intention to move the embassy; however, after being elected every president from Clinton to Obama has used the waiver to subvert the will of Congress.
In 2002, Congress passed an act that allowed Americans born in Jerusalem the option of listing their birthplaces as “Jerusalem, Israel” on their passport and birth certificate. President George W. Bush signed the law, but refused to enforce the provision. This prompted a lawsuit by the parents of Menachem Zivotofsky, an American citizen born in Jerusalem, who wanted their son's birthplace to be recorded as “Jerusalem, Israel” on his U.S. passport. The Obama Administration opposed the suit, which was decided in the administration's favor by the Supreme Court in June 2015.
While critics of congressional efforts to force the administration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital insist that such a move would harm the peace process, supporters of the legislation argue the opposite is true. By making clear that the United States believes Jerusalem should remain unified under Israeli sovereignty, unrealistic Palestinian expectations regarding dividing the city can be moderated and thereby enhance the prospects for a final agreement.
The IDF commits attrocities because former soldiers from 'Breaking the Silence' say so.
Breaking the Silence (BtS) is an organization composed of former soldiers founded in 2004 that publishes anonymous testimonies by soldiers alleging abuses committed by the IDF. The organization “has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a 'human rights organization,'” Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz. “Any organization whose website includes the claim by members to expose the 'corruption which permeates the military system' is not a neutral observer.”613 The agenda is to convince its audience that Israel should withdraw from the West Bank.
What is striking is that the group's audience is not Israelis, but foreigners. Members of the group travel around Europe and the United States (they often appear on college campuses) where they make no effort to put Israeli actions in context, but instead seem determined to smear and embarrass their country in the hope that this will stimulate international pressure on Israel to withdraw from the territories. In June 2015, for example, the cultural center in Zurich hosted a BtS photo exhibition along with “testimonies.”
Equally striking is that the organization’s funding comes from outside Israel. BtS has a budget of approximately one million dollars and has received support from the European Union, Misereor (Germany), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Norway, AECID (Spain), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), ICCO (Netherlands), CCFD (France), Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK), SIVMO (Netherlands), Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Open Society Institute, the New Israel Fund and others. The photo exhibit cited above, for example, is sponsored by the Swiss Foreign Ministry, the Municipality of Zurich, and several church groups that are known for their anti-Israel views. The agenda of some of these funders became apparent following the IDF’s 2009 operation in Gaza when NGO Monitor revealed that several BtS donors conditioned their contributions on the group’s ability to gather a minimum number of incriminating “testimonies” against the IDF. 614
Journalist Matti Friedman finds the foreign funding extraordinary and asks, “Do Norwegian taxpayers fund an organization that encourages, say, British soldiers to reveal British army wrongdoing to the international press? Does Switzerland try to get Hamas soldiers to open up about things they’ve done?” 615
In 2015, the BtS tour focuses on allegations of misdeeds committed during the 2014 war in Gaza. Friedman called the report “propaganda” and said it “was not intended to explain, but to shock.” He noted that the authors say they interviewed “over 60” soldiers, but provide no dates or names. The IDF is willing to investigate the allegations, but cannot without more information so it is impossible to verify or refute them.
“The editors seem to want readers to believe there were “no rules” in Gaza, and that the IDF acted without taking civilian life into consideration. In fact the interviews themselves show the army taking numerous steps to avoid harm to civilians. The soldiers regularly mention warning leaflets, “roof-knocking” rockets, phone calls, warning shells, warning shots, lists of protected sites like UN facilities, and drones vetting targets for civilians before an airstrike. All of the action we encounter in the report is happening in areas where the army had already warned Gazan civilians (and, of course, Hamas guerrillas) that soldiers were about to arrive. ”
In May 2015, the High Level International Military Group, made up of 11 former chiefs of staff, generals, senior officers, political leaders and officials from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Holland, Spain, Italy, Australia and Colombia visited Israel for a fact-finding mission on the 2014 Gaza conflict. The group was led by a former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and a former Foreign Minister of Italy. The group agreed with the conclusion of the Pentagon's fact-finding mission to Israel that “Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.” The Military Group concluded that “Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard... .A measure of the seriousness with which Israel took its moral duties and its responsibilities under the laws of armed conflict is that in some cases Israel's scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers' and civilians' lives.”616
To be fair, Ben-Dror Yemini notes, “The IDF is not perfect, and not all IDF soldiers are angels,” but “there are anomalies - in every army in the world and on every battlefield.” What makes the BtS reports deceptive is that “these deviations from the norm are put on display, without any background context, without proof, without a comparative picture, without presenting the fact that a Hamas-issued document ordered the organization's fighters to take cover among the civilian population, hide in population centers.” 617
Moreover, IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Eitan Dangot, noted that “when the truth is finally revealed - and in many cases the truthful version turns out to be completely different than what was initially published,” the damage to Israel’s image has already been done. 618
Israel was guilty of war crimes in the 2014 Gaza war.
On June 22, 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council released the findings of the commission it appointed to investigate the 2014 Gaza conflict, suggesting that both Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes. Given the HRC's historical bias against Israel, it was not surprising that the investigators equated the firefighters of the IDF with the Hamas arsonists.
The HRC has a history of slandering Israel’s human rights record while ignoring the world’s worst violators of human rights. The council has condemned Israel in 45 individual resolutions, nearly as many as those directed at the rest of the countries of the world combined. The “investigation” was designed to come to the predetermined conclusion that Israel was guilty of abuses. This was evident when the council appointed as head of this supposedly impartial commission William Schabas, who previously worked for the Palestine Liberation Organization. Schabas was forced to resign after his background was disclosed, but the objective of proving Israeli crimes remained unchanged.
The truly independent High Level International Military Group, comprised of 11 of the world's top generals and former diplomats, came to an entirely different conclusion than the HRC. The group, led by former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Klaus Naumann, found that “Israeli forces acted proportionately as required by the laws of armed conflict and often went beyond the required legal principles of proportionality, necessity and discrimination.” In some cases, their report said, “Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.”
The generals did not dispute that the Palestinians suffered a high number of civilian casualties, and acknowledged that some were “caused by error and misjudgment;” however, they concluded “the majority of deaths were the tragic inevitability of defending against an enemy that deliberately carries out attacks from within the civilian population.” 619 620
One member of the military group, Colonel Richard Kemp of Great Britain, submitted his own report to the HRC. He reiterated that “the IDF took exceptional measures to adhere to the Laws of Armed Conflict and to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza.” He also criticized those who suggested that Israel make greater efforts to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza because none of them had any idea how to do this. “I conclude that this was because Israel was taking all feasible steps,” stated Kemp. He also noted that Israel was investigating specific incidents where it is alleged that soldiers acted improperly. “I am not aware of any nation that has conducted more comprehensive or resolute investigations into its own military activities than Israel during and following the 2014 Gaza conflict,” Kemp testified.
By contrast, Kemp said, Hamas flouted the Laws of Armed Conflict by “deliberately targeting the Israeli civilian population, using their own civilian population as human shields and seeking to entice the IDF to take military action that would kill large numbers of Gaza civilians for their own propaganda purposes. There was and is of course no accountability or investigation of any allegations against Hamas and other extremist groups in Gaza.” 621
In addition to these investigations, two American legal experts also examined Israel’s conduct. Michael Schmitt and John Merriam lecture on the law of armed conflict at the US Naval War College, and Schmitt also advises on the topic at NATO, Harvard and Exeter. They concluded that Israel’s “approach to targeting is consistent with the law and, in many cases, worthy of emulation.” 619
General Charles Wald, USAF (ret.), former Deputy Commander of United States European Command (EUCOM), also participated in an investigation of Israel’s conduct of the war. He asserted the HRC report was unbalanced and failed to accurately assess human rights violations perpetrated by Hamas. As a result, Weld said “the international community should not accept this inaccurate and biased report and should instead rely on the balanced and accurate reports that are authored by actual experts on how to conduct combat operations in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict.” 622
The Israeli Defense Forces have time and again showed unprecedented restraint when operating in densely populated combat zones full of civilians. An Israeli brigade commander went as far as to say that, “If anything, I think we were too humane. There were instances where the extensive caution caused harm to soldiers.” 623
These views were also supported by a fact-finding mission carried out by representatives of the Pentagon. According to the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, “Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.” He was so impressed with Israel’s conduct of the war that he sent a team to Israel to study Israel’s strategies, including lessons about how to limit civilian casualties.624 625
The HRC has consistently engaged in Israel bashing while shielding terrorists and their sponsoring countries. By equating Israel’s democratic government defending its citizens with a terrorist organization whose goal is to destroy Israel, the HRC reveals its moral bankruptcy. Misleading reports such as the ones issued after the last two wars in Gaza will not curb human rights abuses since Hamas has no intention of changing its tactics of indiscriminately bombarding civilian areas in Israel and using its own people as human shields. Israel, despite its adherence to the laws of war, will nevertheless continue to be pilloried by the international community and the media, and will be forced to endanger its own soldiers out of fear of international scrutiny, scurrilous charges of abuse and investigations meant to prove Israel’s predetermined guilt.
The Iran deal reported in the media is the best the West can get.
The effort to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons has been at the top of the international agenda for the last several years. Most people agree that the best way to do this is to reach an accord where the Iranians agree to abandon this goal. Unfortunately, the terms of the agreement currently under discussion appear from media reports to be inadequate and dangerous.
Negotiations began with the United States intent on imposing very stringent terms on Iran, which President Obama said would provide a “comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.” Since that time, however, the administration has been retreating from many of the positions it originally held.
The Administration started out by saying the “nuclear negotiations are focused exclusively on the nuclear issue and do not include discussions of regional issues” and that sanctions would continue to be enforced on “Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program.” On June 7, 2015, however, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the administration was considering suspending all sanctions on Iran. 626
A central demand at the outset of talks was that Iran disclose its past nuclear activities and any military aspects of its research. On June 24, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was no longer concerned about Iran fulfilling UN resolutions related to their past endeavors. In a statement some analysts and members of Congress found incredulous, Kerry said, “We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.”627
Negotiators originally insisted that Iran dismantle its Fordo nuclear facility. Now Fordo will be allowed to remain open and Iran will not be required to destroy the centrifuges installed there, opening the possibility for them to be used to enrich uranium for a bomb.
With regard to enrichment, the Security Council had demanded, and the administration affirmed, that Iran must suspend all uranium enrichment. Current negotiations would allow Iran to continue enrichment.
Secretary of State Colin Powell said in 2004 that Iran was trying to fit missiles to carry nuclear weapons.629 Consequently, the expectation was that an agreement would place restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program. Most recently, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said the administration is only concerned about missiles “capable of carrying nuclear warheads.”
The integrity of the entire agreement depends on verification that Iran is adhering to its terms. President Obama has said that Iran would be subject to intrusive inspections; however, France is said to be the country that is insisting that all of Iran’s nuclear installations, including military sites, be inspected. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, however, has ruled out inspections of any military sites.630 Moreover, by definition, no one knows about any secret installations Iran has or will build. Therefore, even if Iran agreed to inspections of its known sites, it could still pursue its nuclear weapons research undetected.
The United States had insisted that Iran show evidence of compliance with the agreement before sanctions are lifted; however, Obama agreed to release $11.9 billion of Iranian assets during the negotiations and Kerry indicated sanctions may be eased before Iran provides information on its secret nuclear program. Khamenei insists that all sanctions be lifted immediately after the agreement is signed.631
The framework agreement Iran agreed to called for a freeze on the production of nuclear fuel; however, consistent with its history of cheating, “international inspectors found that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations.” The administration dismissed the report, with State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf insisting the Iranians have “always been in compliance.” 632
The administration also took issue with another reported concession, ignoring Iranian violations of international sanctions. The UN Panel of Experts on Iran suggested, however, that information about Iran’s defiance were being withheld for political reasons, namely, to avoid spoiling the current talks.632
One of the principal accomplishments of the Iran deal is to increase Iran’s “breakout time” - the amount of time it would take Iran to produce enough bomb-grade material for a nuclear weapon - from two to three months to at least one year. Alan J. Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, however, believes the administration’s calculations are wrong. He says the current breakout time is closer to two months and the proposed deal would only stretch this period by one month.633
The administration said it would close off all avenues for Iran to build a bomb, however, the terms of the agreement would leave Iran on the threshold of having a nuclear capability. According to Kuperman, Iran could dramatically increase its enrichment capacity after 10 years, shrinking the breakout time to days rather than months. Iran, he says, could then “produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb before we even knew it was trying - thus eliminating any hope of our taking preventive action.” 633
Iran will not hesitate to walk away from the talks if the West doesn’t concede to its demands. “Do not think that Iran needs a deal,” said Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament. “We welcome an agreement, but I do not [want] you to think that if you exert more pressure, Iran will tolerate it. Do not make Iran withdraw from the talks, and do not make it follow its nuclear path more speedily.” 634
Proponents of a deal argue this is why the U.S. must accept whatever Iran offers. Iranians can take this hard line because they sense the Obama administration’s desperation and do not believe he will walk away, strengthen sanctions or use military force to stop their nuclear program.
The administration’s concessions are dangerous. They would, for example, leave Iran on the threshold of building a nuclear weapon, make it easy for Iran to cheat on the agreement, allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium and to develop ballistic missiles. The lack of faith the Arab states have in a deal with Iran will encourage nuclear proliferation in the region. Furthermore, ending sanctions will result in a windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars that Iran can use to fund further nuclear weapons research, global terrorism and its hegemonic interests in the region.
The conclusion of Stephen Hayes and many others is that “the impending deal is an embarrassment: the world’s greatest power prostrate before the world’s most patiently expansionist, terror-sponsoring, anti-American theocracy.”626
Israel is exaggerating the threat of a radical Islamic takeover of the West Bank to avoid territorial compromise.
Long before ISIS emerged as a regional threat, Israel had warned that the radical Islamists of Hamas would not be satisfied with ruling the Gaza Strip. They have had their eye on the West Bank as well, and Israelis have good reason to worry that a future Palestinian state could turn into the same type of terrorist base as the Gaza Strip, and put the entire country within range of deadly rockets that could paralyze the country and provoke a war that would probably put an end to the idea of a Palestinian state permanently.
Israelis are not alone in their concern about a Hamas presence in the West Bank. The fear of a political takeover by Hamas through elections (as the Muslim Brotherhood did in Egypt) is the principal reason Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to stage new ones for nearly a decade. It has also doomed the repeated attempts at “reconciliation” between the PA and Hamas, as Abbas is not willing to share power and risk losing all of his. Realizing a peaceful takeover is unlikely for the time being, Hamas has become increasingly active in plotting a coup against Abbas from within the West Bank.
Abbas claims that Hamas tried to assassinate him in 2006. He said they tried again in 2007 when he planned to visit Gaza. “Four large explosive devices were uncovered by Abbas' security officers on the road leading from the Erez crossing to Gaza, as the Palestinian president left Ramallah and was about to travel on that route... The assassination attempt took place while the Palestinian president was on his way to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to discuss the establishment of a national unity government...” 635
The threat of a Hamas takeover became so serious that the PA asked Israel for help. On June 11, 2007, the head of the Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, told U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones that the PA had “ask[ed] us to attack Hamas...[and] to train [Fatah] forces in Egypt and Yemen... This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate.” 636
The very next day, Hamas staged a coup in the Gaza Strip and, facing virtually no resistance, seized power in a few days and has held it ever since. It’s no accident that Abbas has never visited the Gaza Strip as president of the PA.
Even while Hamas was preparing to fight Israel from Gaza, the group continued to plan the takeover of the PA. In the summer of 2014, for example, the Shin Bet became aware of a plot organized by Hamas operatives based in Turkey to conduct terrorist attacks in Israel and then overthrow Abbas. The Israelis made a number of arrests and warned Abbas of the scheme. In a meeting with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad, Abbas said:
The Israeli intelligence chief [Yoram Cohen, head of Shin Bet, the Israel Security Agency] came to me two weeks ago in Ramallah... He told me I want to keep you appraised of several dangerous issues that threaten your existence and the existence of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, including the fact, as he told me, that they [the Israelis] had arrested 93 Hamas members who were preparing for a coup against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, sponsored by Saleh al-Aruri from Turkey... He said we have names and details about weapons and tunnels they prepared for the coup against you. 637
Abbas added that his security forces had seized weapons and explosives that “were not meant for Israel, but for us.”
Abbas has been warily watching for any signs that Hamas is expanding its influence in the PA. In April 2015, for example, the Hamas-affiliated student list defeated the Fatah-affiliated list in student elections at Birzeit University, the largest university in the disputed territories. The Palestinian news agency Ma’an observed that “in the absence of regular national elections, university elections are seen as important indicators of public opinion by political commentators in Palestine, and Birzeit is considered to be the most important campus in the yearly political contests.” 638 Reacting like the dictator that he is, Abbas sent his security forces to arrest members of Hamas in several universities.
The danger escalated over the following weeks. Tipped off by Israeli security forces, which have been conducting their own counterterror operations to root out Hamas cells, the PA began largescale arrests of Hamas activists in the West Bank on July 2, 2015. Hamas claimed that more than 120 of its members were rounded up in less than 48 hours. 639
In the rush to push Israel into risky territorial concessions, peace processors from the United States, France and elsewhere have refused to take the threat of a Hamas takeover seriously. They should take their cue from the man who worries about it every day -- Mahmoud Abbas.
The United States, the West and America’s regional allies were the big winners in the Iran deal.
The Iran deal is subject to a great deal of debate as proponents and opponents dissect the agreement and argue over the merits of the deal. Below is a chart assessing who came out ahead based on the terms of the agreement and America’s overall foreign policy goals in the Middle East. Click here to view a chart detailing the big winners and losers of the Iran deal.
The Palestinians’ top priority is peace with Israel.
According to a poll conducted in the disputed territories in June 2015642, majorities in both the West Bank and Gaza have not abandoned their dream of liberating “all of historic Palestine.” Fifty-eight percent of West Bankers and 65 percent of Gazans say that even if a “two-state solution” is negotiated, “the struggle is not over and resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.”
This result comes as no surprise to Israelis who have long maintained that the Palestinians have not reconciled themselves to coexisting with Israel, even if they were to have an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestinian opinion further reinforces the Israeli fear that no territorial compromise will satisfy them. For the Palestinians, establishing a state in the territories is just the first stage in their campaign to liberate Palestine. Israeli concessions will only fuel their belief that time is on their side and that continued “resistance,” combined with international pressure, will be Israel’s undoing.
Meanwhile, establishing a Palestinian state was not the first or second highest priority for respondents. Making enough money to live comfortably and having a good life were far more important. For example, 44 percent of West Bankers said making money was their top priority and only 14 percent said it was statehood.
Palestinians have no real freedom of expression, so survey results are always suspect, and results are often contradictory. For example, the poll did find majorities in favor of economic cooperation and a Hamas ceasefire with Israel, and nearly half the respondents accepted the principle of “a state for the Jewish people” and shattered one sacred cow by agreeing that Palestinian refugees should not return to what is now Israel.
The Palestinian people also clearly reject the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) campaign supposedly being waged on their behalf. Most would like Israeli companies to offer more jobs and want the Israeli government to allow more Palestinians to work inside Israel.
In yet another contradiction, however, the survey found that 56 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank support “armed struggle and car attacks against the occupation” and 84 percent of Gazans agree. Given this ongoing support for terrorism, it should not be surprising that Israelis are wary of making any concessions that might help the Palestinians complete the first stage of their objective of liberating Palestine.
Israel praises terrorists who attack Palestinians.
On July 31, 2015, arsonists set fire to two Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Duma. An 18-month old boy died in the blaze at the Dawabsheh home, and his father succumbed to his injuries a few days later. The boy’s mother and sister are in critical condition. Though nothing has been proven yet, Jewish extremists from the West Bank are suspected of the crime.
Murderous attacks by Jews against Arabs are extremely rare and, when they occur, they are immediately denounced by Israel’s leaders and the public. “This is an act of terrorism in every respect,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, pledging that Israel would “take firm action” against the perpetrators. His denunciation was echoed by Israel's President, Reuven Rivlin, and members of the opposition parties. The horrific attack was likewise condemned by Jews around the world.
Netanyahu and Rivlin also paid separate visits to the infant's four-year-old brother Ahmed Sa'ed, who is being treated along with his mother in Tel HaShomer hospital. Netanyahu pledged that he and his parents would receive the best treatment to save their lives. 643
In addition to words, Israel reacted with deeds, as the Israeli cabinet approved applying administrative detention measures, previously used against Palestinian suspects, to Israeli citizens suspected of participating in terror attacks against Palestinians. The public also reacted to the shocking attack by holding rallies attended by thousands of Israelis protesting hate crimes. 644
Contrast the reaction of Israelis to the horrific attack in Duma with the behavior of Palestinians following terrorist attacks against Israelis. Rather than protests, the Palestinian public holds parades and celebrations. Rather than denounce the killers, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and other Palestinian leaders laud them as “martyrs.” The PA also rewards the families of deceased terrorists, and those with relatives in jail, with generous payments, even at a time when the PA is in financial shambles and cannot pay many of its bills or employees. The main financiers of the PA, donor nations such as the United States, who believe they are improving the welfare of the Palestinian people and promoting peace, are actually subsidizing support for terrorists.
In addition to money, terrorists also receive a variety of honors, especially those who killed the most Israelis. For example, the perpetrator of the Passover Seder massacre that killed 30 Jews had a soccer tournament named for him. The bus hijacker responsible for the most deadly terror attack in Israel’s history, the 1978 slaughter of 37 civilians, 12 of them children, “has had summer camps, schools, graduation ceremonies and sporting events named for her, as well as many TV documentaries honoring her. A monument in Nablus was erected to honor the commander of the local Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. He was responsible for several terror attacks, including a double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on January 5, 2003, which left 23 people dead and dozens injured. Streets, neighborhoods, and squares are also named after Palestinian terrorists. In school, Palestinian children are taught to aspire to death as a martyr. 645
So long as Palestinians praise murderers and preach hatred, they will find no common ground with Israelis who celebrate life and condemn intolerance. As Golda Meir said: “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” 646
The Israeli government wants to destroy the al-Aqsa mosque.
In August 1929, rumors spread of Jews killing Arabs and of a Jewish plot to seize control of Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. With a rallying cry to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque, Arab mobs looted Jewish shops and attacked Jewish men, women, and children throughout the country. By the end of the rioting, 135 Jews (including eight Americans) were killed and more than 300 wounded.
This was the first time during the British Mandate that religion played a direct role in stoking the conflict in Palestine. It would not be the last, however, as Muslim leaders have found it advantageous to periodically make similar accusations to arouse the local population and the Muslim faithful worldwide.
In recent years, the calls to liberate al-Aqsa from the Jews have become more common. On September 29, 2000, the Voice of Palestine, the Palestinian Authority's official radio station, called on “all Palestinians to come and defend the al-Aqsa mosque.” The PA closed its schools and bused Palestinian students to the Temple Mount to participate in premeditated riots that escalated into the Palestinian War - popularly known as the al-Aqsa Intifada.
It is not surprising that Muslims outside Israel have also used al-Aqsa as a rallying point. The Muslim Brotherhood's Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for example, said “the danger to al-Aqsa is now greater than ever...and hence the Muslims of the world must arise and defend it because it is not the property of the Palestinians alone but of the whole Muslim nation.”647
A cartoon posted by Fatah shows an Israeli attempting to destroy the Temple Mount
One of the most frequent uses of the “al-Aqsa libel” occurs when Israel engages in any archaeological activity in Jerusalem. Dating back more than 3,000 years, the city has a rich past that was unexplored for centuries. In fact, prior to 1967, few excavations were done in the city. After the Muslim Wakf was given responsibility for the Temple Mount, this policy was continued. The authorities are concerned about damage to the Muslim sites, but given the care taken by archaeologists to protect the area, the more likely objection is the fear that researchers will make discoveries that support existing evidence of the longstanding Jewish association with Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, which would contradict Muslim propaganda claims denying such a connection.
Due to Muslim objections to archaeological research, we know relatively little about the history of the Temple Mount. Worse, actions by the Wakf have contributed to the destruction of evidence from the past, and, ironically, have created the greatest threat to the stability of the Temple Mount. This was especially true when, in the mid-1990s, the Israeli Islamic Movement began the process of converting an area in the southeastern corner of the mount known as Solomon's Stables (so named because the Crusaders had used the area as stables and believed it was located near Solomon's Temple) into a mosque.
Often the Palestinians will regurgitate the libel even when Israel is engaged in activities outside the Temple Mount and nowhere near the mosques. For example, an Islamic group protested Jewish activities in the nearby village of Silwan because it is “the gateway to al-Aqsa Mosque.” The group also believed that the Jews planned to destroy the mosque and rebuild the Temple.648
In 2010, Israel restored the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, which had been destroyed in 1948 by the Jordanians. Despite its remote location from the Temple Mount, accusations that the reconstruction was part of a plot against al-Aqsa provoked two days of rioting.
The greatest international uproar occurred in 1996 when Israel completed digging a tunnel along the entire length of the Western Wall, revealing two-thousand year old stones where the street had once been. The entire project was completely outside the Temple Mount and nowhere near the mosques. Nevertheless, the Muslim authorities claimed the Jews were digging under the mount with the intention of destroying the mosques or at least undermining their foundations. While the work had been going on for some time, the spark that led to widespread rioting and international condemnation was Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to open an exit from what is now referred to as the Western Wall tunnel, at a point along the Via Dolorosa in the Muslim Quarter of the city. Prior to opening the exit, visitors to the tunnel had to walk from the end back the way they came and, in narrow spaces, barely could fit past people coming from the other direction. The new exit made it possible to avoid backtracking so thousands more visitors could enjoy the site.
Once again the facts were irrelevant to those looking for a reason to criticize Israel and demonstrate sympathy for the Arabs and Muslims. The Arab League falsely claimed “Israel's aim in opening this gate is to cause the collapse of the al-Aqsa Mosque, so that it can build the Third Temple in its stead.”649 Palestinians rioted and attacked on soldiers and civilians resulted in the deaths of 15 Israeli soldiers and dozens of injuries.
A cartoon showing a Muslim woman sweeping the Jewish presence off the al-Aqsa Mosque and Temple Mount
Jews, like other non-Muslims, have been visiting the Temple Mount since 1967, but the Israeli government limits visits by non-Jews to specific times and insists that visitors show sensitivity to Muslims by dressing modestly and refraining from bringing any Jewish sacred objects with them. The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that Jews may pray at the Temple Mount, but police were given the discretion to prevent any provocative activities. Extremist Jewish groups suspected of plotting against Muslim shrines are either prohibited from the Temple Mount altogether or escorted by police. When plots against the mosque have been uncovered, the schemers have been arrested.
Ignoring Jews' right to visit their holiest place, Palestinians routinely turn to violence under the pretense of defending the mosque. In 2013, tensions escalated when Palestinians began to protest and, in some cases, attack Jews visiting the Temple Mount with stones, bottles, and other projectiles, falsely accusing the pilgrims of desecrating Islam's holy place and planning to build the third temple on the site.
The repetition of the libel rarely has anything to do with the behavior of Jews; it inevitably is used for a political purpose, such as rallying the masses, provoking violence, or diverting attention from some unpopular action taken by Palestinian leaders, such as returning to peace talks before Israel satisfies their preconditions.
Protests based on the libel are not restricted to Jerusalem. For the past 18 years, Israeli Muslims have held an annual “Al-Aqsa is in Danger” festival. Thousands of people attended the 2013 rally in Umm al-Fahm, where they heard a vitriolic speech by Sheikh Raed Salah, the former mayor of the Israeli Arab town. “Anyone who gives away one stone from al-Aqsa, or one meter of east Jerusalem, or whoever gives up the right of return or the right to free prisoners,” Salah thundered, “is a traitor.”650
With attention focused on Iran, and conflagrations throughout the Middle East, the Palestinians are apparently feeling neglected, which is often a good time to trot out the “al-Aqsa libel.” Predictably, PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Sheikh Yusuf Ida'is, said on official PA TV on July 8, 2015, “the Israeli establishment insists on carrying out its evil plan to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and establish the alleged Temple.”
The libel has increasingly been used by “secular” Palestinians to demonstrate their Muslim bona fides in an effort to offset the religious appeal of Hamas. More ominously, this is just one indication of the Islamization of the conflict.
There are no terrorist attacks on Israel originating from the West Bank anymore.
Thankfully, no successful suicide bombings have been carried out by Palestinian terrorists in several years. This has not been for lack of trying, however, according to a report by the Shin Bet. Israel’s internal security service prevented 17 suicide attacks in just the first seven months of 2015.651
This is just a fraction of the number of terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Altogether, 804 attacks occurred from January-July 2015, including shootings, bombings, stabbings, kidnappings and suicide attacks. 652 This figure does not include an unspecified number of terrorist attempts stopped by Palestinian Authority security forces.
This is a continuation of a dangerous trend. In 2014, 1,793 terrorist attacks were executed in Judea and Samaria, a 41 percent increase from 2013.653 The vast majority of attacks (84 percent) involved firebomb throwing, but the number of incidents involving firearms (shootings, IED explosions, and grenades, including the throwing of improvised pipe bombs and grenades) also increased from the previous year. 654
Israel thwarted 214 planned attacks in 2014, compared to 187 in 2013, and 111 so far in 2015. The 2014 plots included: 108 shootings; 51 IED detonations; 34 kidnappings; and 21 suicide bombings. 654
The “good news” is that the security fence and few remaining checkpoints continue to be effective in preventing terrorists from infiltrating Israel; virtually all the failed attacks were in the disputed territories. The number of Israeli casualties in the West Bank in 2013, 2014 and to date in 2015, totaled three, five and two, respectively.
The bad news is that Hamas is the main threat and has developed a military infrastructure in the West Bank with the help and direction of Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip and abroad. Members of Hamas were responsible for 55 percent of the attacks documented by the Shin Bet through July 2015. The group was also responsible for 2014’s most heinous attack, the kidnapping and murder of three teenage yeshiva students in Gush Etzion.
Israelis are increasingly concerned that Hamas may take over the West Bank, which would put Israel’s capital, airport, and demographic and industrial heartland within easy range of Hamas rockets. Such a development would likely end all hope for a territorial compromise and the establishment of a Palestinian state for the foreseeable future.
The media's continuing mischaracterization of Palestinian dictator Mahmoud Abbas as a “moderate,” combined with the diplomatic world’s unfounded belief that he is a partner for peace, have deflected attention from the unceasing terrorism emanating from the territory he ostensibly controls. The world has also ignored the repeated violations of Palestinian commitments to end terror dating to the Oslo agreement in 1993.
No one should be naive enough to believe that Israel can or will compromise its security by making risky territorial concessions so long as terror continues, the Palestinian public supports violence and the possibility of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank exists.
Summer is a time for Palestinian children to enjoy camp like Israelis and Americans.
What did you during your summer vacation? Most students are used to hearing that question when they return to school. The answer for many Israeli and American children is that they spent a fun time playing sports, doing arts and crafts and experiencing the outdoors. The answer for many children in the Gaza Strip, however, is very different. Camps run by Hamas are not meant for enjoyment but indoctrination and military training.
The Telegraph newspaper published a series of photos from one of the summer camps showing young boys holding rifles, jumping through burning rings, crawling through obstacle courses, and dismantling weapons blind-folded. 655
Another camp, run by the Izzidin Kassam Brigade, offered two weeks of basic combat training to 25,000 Palestinians aged 15-60. “The goal of these military training camps,” according to the Brigade, “is to train the vanguard for liberation - spiritually, intellectually and physically - to be ready and able to play its role in liberation.” 656 The participants were given instruction in firing sniper rifles, using the portraits of Israeli leaders for targets. They also simulated infiltrating Israel through terror tunnels. 657
At the graduation ceremony at one camp, senior Hamas officials attended and watched the graduates parade alongside home-made terrorist rockets. During their summer of fun they were “trained in military techniques and in firing live ammunition.” The message they are sent home with is to “confront any possible Israeli attack.” 658
This is typical of summer camp in Gaza under Hamas. What was new in 2015 was the first all-female camp “to prepare academically exceptional girls aged 12-18 for the liberation battle of Palestine.” Roughly 1,000 girls attended and received instruction from women associated with Hamas on how to resist the “occupation.” Apparently they are unaware that Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago and it is no longer occupied, so there is nothing for them to resist except perhaps the tyranny of Hamas rule.
One 16-year-old woman told Al-Monitor that the camp “revived our hopes to create a female army to liberate Al-Aqsa from the occupation. We learn about weapons and how to handle them, and we are ready to through intensive military training for this purpose.” 659
Human rights activists have denounced the camps for violating children’s rights and indoctrinating the children into a militarized society that is dominated by Hamas and run according to its radical interpretation of Islam. 657
Israel remains the only Middle East country with a separation fence.
Israel is the only country in the world that has been condemned for building a security fence while countries around the world, including several in the Middle East, construct new fences to protect themselves from illegal immigrants and their enemies.
Israel reluctantly began building a security fence only after more than 1,000 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks. Since that time, the number of attacks and fatalities inside Israel that originate in the West Bank has been reduced to nearly zero. Israel is now building a fence along its border with Jordan because of fears about the instability of the kingdom. 660
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia built a 60-mile barrier along an undefined border zone with Yemen to halt arms smuggling of weaponry and a 500-mile fence along its border with Iraq. Turkey built a barricade in the southern province of Alexandretta, which was formerly in Syria, and is an area that Syria claims as its own.
In 2015, Turkey announced plans to further fortify its border with Syria after a suicide bombing. Tunisia also began to construct a fence to guard its border with Libya after an attack on a Tunisian beach hotel killed 38 foreign tourists. The Saudis are also erecting new barriers in response to the escalation of the civil war in Yemen. Even ISIS has built barriers to defend its territory in Iraq and to keep people from escaping. 661
Three decades before any of these fortifications were built, Morocco built the oldest and longest security barrier to separate areas controlled by Morocco and the Polisario. In 2014, Morocco began construction of a new divider along its border with Algeria.
Only Israel’s security fence has been the subject of UN condemnation and a ruling by the International Court of Justice, one more example of the double-standard applied to Israel.
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405 Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, (MA: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 590.
406 Middle East Studies, (January 1986); See also, Morris, pp. 263, 590–2.
407 “International: On the Eve?,” Time Magazine, (May 3, 1948).
408 London Daily Mail, (August 12, 1948) cited in Shmuel Katz, Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, (Taylor Publications Ltd: 2002), p. 13.
409 Edward Atiyah, The Arabs, (London: Penguin Books, 1955), p. 183.
410 Yehoshofat Harkabi, Arab Attitudes to Israel, (Jerusalem: Israel Universities Press, 1972), p. 364.
411 The Memoirs of Haled al Azm, (Beirut, 1973), Part 1, pp. 386–7.
412 King Abdallah, My Memoirs Completed, (London: Longman Group, Ltd., 1978), p. xvi
413 Al-Hayat al-Jadida, (December 13, 2006), quoted in Itamar Marcus and Barbara Cook, “The Evolving Palestinian Narrative: Arabs Caused the Refugee Problem,” Palestinian Media Watch, (May 20, 2008).
414 Itamar Marcus, “Abbas' UN Speech Contradicts his 'Refugee' History,“ Palestinian Media Watch (October 10, 2013).
415 Morris, p. 592.
416 Harriet Sherwood, "Netanyahu: Occupation is not Cause of Conflict," The Guardian (October 7, 2013); and, Alistair Dawber, "Middle East Peace Process Hits Stumbling Block," The Independent (July 31, 2013).
417 Ilan Ben-Zion, "Palestinians Make Stiff Land Demands for Peace," Times of Israel (October 27, 2013).
418 Jacob Donnelly, "PLO Representative Areikat: Palestine Must Stop Concessions to Israel," The Daily Princeton (October 7, 2013).
419 Ben Harris, "Who Israel Released," JTA (August 14, 2013).
420 Jodi Rudoren, "Prisoner Release Stirs Anger in Israeli Coalition," New York Times (October 28, 2013).
421 "Netanyahu on Prisoner Release: Promises Must be Kept," Jerusalem Post (October 27, 2013).
422 "West Bank Seeing 'Infectious Wave of Attack'," Jerusalem Post (October 22, 2013)
423 "Abu Mazen Greets the Prisoners," Yediot Ahronoth (October 30, 2013).
424 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Hamas, Islamic Jihad Call for a Third Intifada," Jerusalem Post (September 26, 2013).
425 Shlomi Eldar, "Only Palestinian Authority Can Prevent Third Intifada," Al-Monitor (September 23, 2013).
426 Khalid Amayreh, "Is a Third Intifada in the Offing?", Al-Jazeera (October 1, 2013).
427 "AWRAD Poll: West Bankers Oppose Intifada," IMRA (November 5, 2013).
428 "Results of an Opinion Poll," AWRAD (February 21, 2013).
429 Khalid Amayreh, "Is a Third Intifada in the Offing?", Al-Jazeera (October 1, 2013).
431 Spencer Ho, "Ya'alon Says Third Intifada Not in the Offing," Times of Israel (October 22, 2013).
432 Maayan Lubell, "Sanctions Relief Worth up to $40 Billion to Iran: Israel," Reuters (November 13, 2013).
433 "Board of Governors Report," International Atomic Energy Agency (November 2013).
434 "Fissile Material Basics," Institute for Energy & Environmental Research (April 2012).
435 "Remarks at Start of Weekly Cabinet Meeting," Prime Minister's Office (November 24, 2013).
436 Herve Asquin, "France Firm on Iran Nuclear Issue, Hollande Tells Israel," Agence France-Presse (November 17, 2013).
436a Barrie McKenna, "Canada 'Deeply Skeptical' Iran Will Follow Through on Nuclear Deal," Globe and Mail (November 24, 2013).
437 Amena Bakr, "Saudi Arabia Warns of Shift Away from U.S. Over Syria, Iran," Reuters (October 22, 2013).
438 Mark Urban, "Saudi Nuclear Weapons 'On Order' from Pakistan," BBC News (November 6, 2013).
439 Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, "US Now Indicates Iran Interim Deal Wasn't Quite Finalizes," Times of Israel (November 27, 2013).
440 "Spokesman Confirms US Release of $8bln of Iran's Frozen Assets," FARS News Agency (November 25, 2013).
441 Lazar Berman, "Iran Rejects US's 'One-Sided' Version of Nuclear Deal," Times of Israel (November 26, 2013).
442 "Iranian News Agency Publishes Alleged Text of Nuclear Deal," Times of Israel (November 24, 2013).
443 AFP, "Iran Has Final Say on Nuclear Enrichment, Says Zarif," Yahoo News (November 29, 2013).
444 "Iran, Powers to Meet Next Week on Carrying Out Nuclear Deal," Reuters (December 1, 2013).
445 "Rouhani Says Iran will Intensify Nuclear Work," Israel Hayom (December 1, 2013).
446 AP, "Report: Iran FM Says Country Won't Talk to Israel," Washington Post (November 29, 2013).
447 American Studies Association, "ASA Turpie Award Winners in Opposition to Israeli Boycott Resolution," ASA (January 5, 2014).
448 William A. Jacobson, "List of Universities rejecting academic boycott of Israel (Update -- Over 150)" Legal Insurrection (December 22, 2013).
449 Yoel Goldman, "Abbas: Don't boycott Israel," Times of Israel (December 13, 2013.)
450 President of Harvard University, "Statement on ASA Resolution" Harvard University, Office of the President (December 20, 2013).
451 BDS Cookbook, "In Their Own Words" StopBDS.com (2014).
452 Stanley Fish, "Academic Freedom Against Itself: Boycotting Israeli Universities" NYTimes.com (2014).
453 Alan Luxenberg, "Hypocricy, Thy Name is ASA," The American Interest (December 20, 2014), Walter Reich, "Reject boycott of Israel," Philly.com (January 7, 2014), Henry Reichman, "Against Academic Boycotts," Inside Higher Ed (December 12, 2013.)
454 "Why Can't Arab Armies be More Humane Like Israel's?" Tom Gross Media (January 16, 2014).
455 “Netanyahu: Jew Free Palestinian State Would be Ethnic Cleansing“ Algemeiner (January 15, 2014). Israel Security Agency, "Terror Data and Trends: 2013 Annual Summary Report."
456 "Kerry Says No Deaths from West Bank Terror in 2013, Just Days After Shin Bet Lists Fatalities," Algemeiner (February 3, 2014).
457 "Terror in 2014: The Nonstop Threats to Israel," IDF Blog (February 7, 2014).
458 Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “PA Allocates $46 million more for terrorists in 2014,“ Palestinian Media Watch, (February 12, 2014).
459 “Arab League rejects Israel as Jewish State,“ Al Jazeera, (March 9, 2014).
460 “Full Transcript: Prime Minister Netanyahu's Speech at AIPAC Policy Conference, 2014,“ Algemeiner (March 4, 2014)
461 AP, “Palestinian President Abbas says there’s 'no way' he'll recognize Israel as Jewish state,“ Fox News (March 7, 2014)
462 Michael Wilner, “Kerry: Netanyahu wrong to insist Palestinians recognize Israel as Jewish state“ Jerusalem Post (March 14, 2014)
463 “Peace Index: February 2014“ Peace Index
464 Times of Israel Staff, "TV report: Abbas said 'no' to Obama on 3 core peace issues," Times of Israel (March 22, 2014).
464a Khaled Abu Toameh, "Abbas: I Am a Hero. I said 'no' to Obama," Gatestone Institute (March 21, 2014).
465 Wolf Blitzer, Territory of Lies (NY: Harper & Row, 1989), p. 201.
466 "Edward Snowden has more US-Israel secrets to expose, Glenn Greenwald says," Reuters (January 7, 2014).
467 New York Times (December 2 and 21, 1985).
468 Blitzer, pp. 166-171.
469 Ruth Marcus, "Free Jonathan Pollard," Washington Post (April 2, 2014); Alan Dershowitz, Chutzpah, (MA: Little Brown, & Co., 1991), pp. 289-312.
469a M.E. Bowman, "Don't Trust This Spy," New York Times (January 14, 2014).
470 Washington Post (December 23, 2000).
471 Washington Post (November 14, 2003).
472 Matthew E. Berger, "After court denies his appeal, Pollard left with few legal options," JTA (July 24, 2005).
473 "Conference of Presidents leaders Back Peres' request for Pollard's release," Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (April 11, 2012).
474 “Hamas placing rockets near water reservoirs, digging dozens of ‘terror tunnels,’“ Times of Israel (January 23, 2014)
Think-Israel; Space War; Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System; “Assad forces hide in mosques, fearing a US missile strike,“ The National (September 3, 2013)
476 Joel Gulhane, “Gaza tunnels discovered in Rafah Mosque,” Daily News Egypt (April 27, 2014)
477 “Extended Footage (English): Hezbollah Removes Weapons from Explosion Site in Al-Shahabiya, Israel Defense Forces (September 6, 2010)
478 Donatella Rovera, “Challenges of monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding during and after armed conflict,” Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (April 28, 2014).
479 “Dateline Durban: UN World Conference Against Racism,” ADL (September 4, 2001).
480 “Robinson Calls NGO Language Inappropriate,” ADL (September 7, 2001).
481 David Bernstein, “Human Rights Watch Goes to Saudi Arabia,” Wall Street Journal (July 15, 2009).
482 Donatella Rovera, “Challenges of monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding during and after armed conflict,” Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (April 28, 2014).
483 “Fatal Strikes: Israel’s Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon,”Human Rights Watch Vol. 18, No. 3, (August 2006), p. 3.
484 Joshua Muravchik, “Human Rights Watch vs. Human Rights: The cynical manipulation of a worthy cause has a history,” The Weekly Standard (September 11, 2006).
485 Alan Dershowitz, “What Are They Watching?” New York Sun (August 23, 2006).
486Near East Report, (June 25, 2001); Jerusalem Post, (July 20, 2001).
487Arnon Ben-Dror, “Welcome to Camp Hamas,” Israel Defense Forces, (August 29, 2009).
488Michael Morrow, "Hamas groups run brutal summer camps for Palestinian kids, News.com.au, (June 11, 2014); Sophia Rosenbaume, "Inside the summer camp for child terrorists, New York Post, (June 11, 2014).
489Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Fatah to Israelis: Prepare body bags,” Palestine Media Watch, (July 7, 2014).
490BBC Trending, “Are #GazaUnderAattack images accurate?” BBC News, (July 8, 2014).
491JoeSettler, “Iron Dome, Human Shields, and the Real Problem,” The Jewish Press.com, (July 10, 2014).
492“Interview: Mark Regev” JC.com, (July 10, 2014).
493Alan M. Dershowitz, "Israel's Policy Is Perfectly 'Proportionate,'" Wall Street Journal, (January 2, 2009).
494Steven Erlanger, "Leader Celebrates Founding of Hamas With Defiant Speech," New York Times (December 8, 2012).
495Palestinian Media Watch, (July 15, 2014).
496 “UNRWA Discovers 20 Rockets Hidden in Gaza School; Claims Incident Was ‘First of its Kind in Gaza,” The Algemeiner, (July 17, 2014); UNRWA Strongly Condemns Placement of Rockets in School,” UNRWA, (July 17, 2014).
497Raphael Ahren, “UN agency handed rockets back to Hamas, Israel says,” Times of Israel, (July 20, 2014).
498UNRWA Condemns Placement of Rockets, For a Second Time, in One of Its Schools, UNRWA, (July 22, 2014).
499“Hamas Interior Ministry To Social Media Activists: Always Call The Dead 'Innocent Civilians'; Don't Post Photos Of Rockets Being Fired From Civilian Population Centers,” MEMRI, (July 17, 2014)
500Mitchell Bard, “Israel’s other enemy in Lebanon war — the media,” Jweekly.com, (April 27, 2007).
501“Hamas MP Fathi Hammad: We Used Women and Children as Human Shields,” Al-Aqsa TV, cited in Dispatch #1710, MEMRI (February 29, 2008).
502Editorial, “Mr. Goldstone Recants,” Wall Street Journal, (April 5, 2011).
503Richard Goldstone, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes,” Washington Post, (April 1, 2011).
503aProgress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine, Submitted to the Secretary-General for Transmission to the Members of the United Nations, General Assembly Official Records: Third Session, Supplement No. 11 (A/648), Paris, 1948, p. 47 and Supplement No. 11A (A/689 and A/689/Add.1, p. 5; and “Conclusions from Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator on Palestine,” (September 16, 1948), U.N. doc. A/648 (part 1, p. 29; part 2, p. 23; part 3, p. 11), (September 18, 1948).
504 Lazar Berman, "Palestinain kids taught to hate Israel in UN-funded camps, clip shows." Times of Israel, (August 14, 2013).
505 Rachel Avraham, "Analysis: UNRWA Teaches Palestinian Children to Support Violence and Hate Israel," Jerusalem Online, (September 4, 2013).
506 Justus Reid Weiner and Noam Weissman, "Hamas' Determination to Perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Critical Role of Hate Indoctrination," Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, (August 1, 2006).
507 "Israel OK's Gaza's 'Humanitarian Corridor.'" CBS News, (January 6, 2009).
508 Josh Rogin, "Did the United Nations Give Rockets to Hamas?" The Daily Beast (July 20, 2014).
509 Mitch Ginsberg, "Militants 'blow up UNRWA clinic,' killing 3 soldiers.'" Times of Israel, (July 30, 2014).
510 Power and Politics with Evan Solomon, CBC News Network, (July 31, 2014).
511 James Lindsay, Fixing UNRWA: Repairing the UN's Trouble System of Aid to Palestinian Refugees. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (January 2009).
512 "Kerry Says No Deaths from West Bank Terror in 2013, Just Days After Shin Bet Lists Fatalities," The Algemeiner (February 3, 2014).
512aJerusalem Report (July 28, 2014).
513 Noam 'Dabul' Dvirynet, “Border Guard officers thwart terror attack near Jerusalem, Ynet.com, (July 27, 2014).
514 Facebook, "Fatah-The Main Page", Palestinian Media Watch, (July 24, 2014).
515 Erel Segal, "Obama administration gets it wrong on Hamas,” Al-Monitor, (June 2, 2014).
516 Khaled Abu Toameh, "The real 'seige' of the Gaza Strip", The Gatestone Institute, (August 12, 2014).
517 Section II, "San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea", International Humanitarian Law, (June 12, 1994).
518 “Hamas opens hospital for gunmen,” Jerusalem Post, (January 6, 2009).
519 Jerusalem Post, (July 1, 2005).
520 Barak Ravid, “Abbas to Obama: I'm Against Lifting The Gaza Naval Blockade,” Haaretz, (June 13, 2010).
521 "Israel Disrupts Hamas Plot to Overthrow PA," The Investigative Project on Terrorism, (August 19, 2014).
522 Avi Issacharoff, "US said to seek adding 'Jewish state' language to Arab Peace Initiative," The Times of Israel, (January 7, 2014).
523 Mitchell Bard “The Arab Lobby,” pg 177.
524 Mitch Ginsberg, “Saudi royal turns down ex-IDF intel chief's invite to the Knesset,”The Times of Israel (May 26, 2014).
525 Khaled Abu Toameh, “Fatah blasts Hamas over 'crimes' during Gaza operation,”The Jerusalem Post (August 30, 2014).
526 “Palestinian UN rep 'Each and every missile launched against Israel constitutes a crime against humanity',”UN Watch (July 13, 2014).
527 “Iran's supreme leader approves working with US military to strike at Isis in challenge to the west',”The Daily Mail (September 5, 2014).
UNIFIL Press Releases
530 Yasser Arafat calls for "jihad, struggle, and combat".Palestinian Media Watch, October 21 1996.
531Islam-based hate speech on PA TV: Jews are "most evil among creations," "barbaric apes, wretched pigs" Palestinian Media Watch, September 18 2014
532Itamar Marcus, "PA: The Western Wall... No person besides Muslims ever used it as a place of worship, throughout all of history." Palestinian Media Watch, January 15 2013
533Itamar Marcus, "Abbas calls for "War for Allah"" Palestinian Media Watch, July 27 2014
534Why TV News Loves A Liar. New York Post, (April 17, 2002)
5352006 Report on International Religious Freedom
536David Harris, "Palestinian leaders: denying reality, delaying peace". AJC. October 12, 2010
537 Melanie Lidman, Khaled Abu Toameh "Clinton Criticizes East Jerusalem Shepherd Hotel Demolition". Jerusalem Post, January 10, 2011
538"PA's Erekat claims 90% of Gaza's dead were civilians". Times of Israel, September 29 2014
539Jack Khoury, Jonathan Lis, "Palestinian, Arab Israeli leaders lash out at Netanyahu's 'Islamophobic' UN speech". Haaretz, September 30, 2014
541Michael Isikoff, "White House exempts Syria airstrikes from tight standards on civilian deaths". Yahoo News, September 30 2014
542"ISIS fight: Coalition airstrike casualties weigh on Canada's decision". CBC News, October 5 2014
543Herb Keinon, "Steinitz ahead of nuclear talks: Iran is Israel's greatest threat, not ISIS or Hezbollah". The Jerusalem Post, September 17 2014
544Yasser Okbi, Maariz Hashavua, "Iran's Khamenei vows 'Zionist regime and its supporters will go extinct". The Jerusalem Post, October 4 2014
545"Arabs Praise Israel for Treatment of Palestinian Workers", Breitbart, October 1 2014
546"Hamas Opens Hospital for Gunmen", Jerusalem Post (January 6, 2009)
547 Jerusalem Post (January 6, 2009)
548"Israel Hospitals Took Care of Nearly 220,000 PA Arabs in 2012," The Jewish Press.com, (July 30, 2013).
549"Hamas leader's daughter received medical treatment in Israel: sources," Reuters, (October 19, 2014).
550"Senior Hamas official Marzouk's sister hospitalized in Israel," Jerusalem Post, (March 11, 2014).
551 Shragai, The 'Al-Aqsa is in Danger' Libel, 2012.
552 Ibid., p. 54.
553Ibid., p. 61.
554Ibid., p. 100-101.
555 Mohammed Mar'i, "Israel planning to raze Al-Aqsa to build 'second temple,'" Saudi Gazette, June 25, 2013,
556 Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, "PA: Israel planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque," Palestine Media Watch, March 30, 2014.
557"Gov't condemns Israeli building on Al Haram Al Sharif," The Jordan Times, September 2, 2013.
558 Mudar Zahran, "Who Is Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque?" Gate Stone Institute, December 9, 2013
559"Jerusalem court convicts sheikh of incitement," Times of Israel, November 7, 2013.
560"Irish parliament calls on government to recognize Palestine," Times of Israel, October 22 2014. "Jerusalem slaps Spain's parliament for Palestine recognition vote," The Jerusalem Post, November 19, 2014.
561"Hamas holds Gaza military parade, vows Israel's destruction," The Jordan Times, December 14, 2014.
562"Hamas Shoots Seven Test Rockets in Two Days," Arutz Sheva, December 5, 2014.
563"Abbas orders probe into Hamas coup plot revealed by Israel," Times of Israel, August 19, 2014.
564"Egypt building underground metal wall to curb smuggling into Gaza," The Gaurdian December 10, 2014.
565"Egypt gets Israel's OK for more Sinai troops to fight Islamists," JTA November 6, 2014.
566"Obama: Israel and the Palestinians Must Do More for Middle East Peace," The Huffington Post, November 22, 2009.
567"Jordan: Draft Palestinian Statehood Resolution," United Nations Security Council, December 30, 2014.
568"Former British Commander in Afghanistan: No Army Acts With As Much Discretion As The IDF Does," The Jerusalem Post, September 4, 2014.
569"Ten Points Regarding the Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords," JCPA, January 5, 2015.
570"In Washington, Gantz warns against concessions with Iran," The Jerusalem Post, (January 8, 2015).
571"Former British commander in Afghanistan: No army acts with as much discretion as IDF does," The Jerusalem Post, (September 4, 2014).
572"Top US general: Israel protected civilian lives in Gaza," Times of Israel, (November 7, 2014).
573"American Muslims Visit Israel, Others Promise to Boycott Them"Arutz Sheva, (January 20, 2015).
574"Miss Lebanon's selfie with Miss Israel stirs up controversy in Middle East"Fox News, (January 19, 2015).
575"Abbas pumps new life into Hamas"The Gatestone Institute (April 30, 2014).
576Cohen, Gili. "Israeli forces nab ISIS-linked cell in the West Bank,"Haaretz (January 4, 2015).
577Abu Toameh, Khaled. "Islamic State Deepens grip in Future Palestine"The Gatestone Institute (January 3, 2015).
578Abu Toameh, Khaled. "Why Palestinians Opposed Abbas's Statehood Bid" The Gatestone Institute (December 31, 2014).
579 PCPO (November 2014).
580 PCPO (November 2014).
581 JMCC (November 2013).
582 “Muslim Publics Share Concerns about Extremist Groups,” Pew Research Center (September 10, 2013).
583 “IAEA: Iran still stalling UN nuclear probe as deal deadline looms,” Jerusalem Post (February 19, 2015).
584 Kredo, Adam. “Iran: White House Lying About Iran’s Concessions in Nuke Talks,” Free Beacon (December 9, 2014).
585 “AP Exclusive: US and Iran Discussing Nuclear Talks Compromise,” The Washington Post (February 3, 2015).
586 Kredo, Adam. “U.S. to Award Iran $11.9 Billion Through End of Nuke Talks,” Free Beacon (January 21, 2015).
587 Nasrallah, Shadia. “Iran Still Stalling U.N. Nuclear Inquiry as Deal Deadline Looms: IAEA” Reuters (February 20, 2015).
588 Epstein, Reid. “Obama to get an earful from Saudis” Politico (March 28, 2014).
589 Berman, Lazar. “False 'Israel drowns Gaza' claims sweep internet” Times of Israel (February 25, 2015).
590 Sheera Frenkel. “No, Gaza Was Not Flooded By Israel Opening “The Dams” Buzzfeed News (February 24, 2015).
591 Miller, Elhanan. “How Hamas used the weather to defame Israel” Times of Israel (December 18, 2013).
592 “2014 Gaza War Assessment” JINSA (March 2015).
1- JINSA Report, page 10
2- JINSA Report, page 7
3- JINSA Report, pages 9-10
4- JINSA Report, page 33
5- JINSA Report, page 40
6- JINSA Report, pages 11, 20
7- JINSA Report, page 11
8- JINSA Report, page 36
9- JINSA Report, page 12
10- JINSA Report, page 42
11- JINSA Report, page 46
12- JINSA Report, page 46
13- JINSA Report, page 45
14- JINSA Report, page 7
593 “Wikipedia: List of Arab members of the Knesset”
594 Maltz, Judy. “More Women and Arabs, Fewer Orthodox in Next Knesset” Haaretz (March 18, 2015).
595 Ravid, Barak. “Netanyahu: If I'm Elected, There Will Be No Palestinian State” Haaretz, (March 16, 2015).
596 “Obama's Israel Tantrum” Wall Street Journal, (March 24, 2015).
597 “Khamenei Calls 'Death to America' As Kerry Hails Progress on Nuke Deal” Times of Israel, (March 21, 2015).
598 Cohen, Tom/King, John. “Obama: 'Peace is Possible,' But See The World as Palestinians do” CNN, (March 22, 2015).
599 “Rabin Speech to the Knesset on Ratification of Oslo Peace Accords” CNN, (October 5, 1995).
600 “Netanyahu's Foreign Policy Speech at Bar-Ilan University” Haaretz, (June 14, 2009).
601 “Netanyahu's Foreign Policy Speech at Bar-Ilan University” NRG, (March 16, 2015).
602 Abu Toameh, Khaled. “Abbas Wants Arabs to Bomb Gaza Strip” The Gatestone Institute, (March 31, 2015).
603 “Vatican clarifies Abbas 'angel of peace' comments” BBC News, (May 18, 2015).
604 Miller, Elhannan. “Palestinians reject Netanyahu bid to define settlement blocs,” Times of Israel, (May 26, 2015).
605 Keinon, Herb. “Diplomacy: pulling in different directions,” Jerusalem Post, (May 24, 2015).
606 Abu Toameh, Khaled. “Fatah armed militias warn Israelis 'you must leave!',” Gatestone Institute, (May 20, 2015).
607 Reuters. “Palestinians want Israel out of fifa, eyes a 3/4 majority to pass proposal,” Jerusalem Post, (May 2, 2015).
608 Reuters. “Fifa president rejects call to ban Israelis',” Jerusalem Post, (April 7, 2015).
609 Lazaroff, Tovah. “Number of Palestinians working in Israel doubles,” Jerusalem Post, (March 4, 2015).
610 Khoury, Jack. “Israel to double amount of water supplied to Gaza,” Jerusalem Post, (March 4, 2015).
611 www.thetower.org staff. “Hamas rebuilding terror tunnels, not housing, as fued with Fatah continues,” The Tower, (April 15, 2015).
612 Bravin, Jess. “High court backs President in use of Jerusalem on U.S. Passports,” Wall Street Journal, (June 8, 2015).
613 Harel, Amos. “Gaza testimonies / Diverting the debate from the real issue,” Haaretz (July 16, 2009).
614“Breaking the Silence,” NGO Monitor, (May 25, 2015).
615 Friedman, Matti. “The latest 'Breaking the Silence' report isn't journalism. It's propaganda,” Mosaic Magazine, (May 25, 2015).
616“Key preliminary findings of the high level international military group on the Gaza Conflict,” UNWatch, (June 12, 2015).
617 Yemini, Ben-Dror. “A Manipulation of Human Rights,” Ynet News, (May 9, 2015).
618 Daoud, David. “Former leading IDF official accuses Breaking the Silence of publishing baseless findings,” Algemeiner, (June 14, 2015).
619 “Top world generals: No Israeli war crimes in Gaza,” Israel Today, (June 15, 2015).
620 Lazaroff, Tovah. “Ex-Generals, Diplomats, absolve Israel of war crimes,” Jerusalem Post, (June 13, 2015).
621 Colonel Richard Kemp. “Submission to the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict,” www.richard-kemp.com, (February 21, 2015).
622 “US General Charles Wald, USAF (Retired): UNHRC report on 2014 Gaza conflict unbalanced, fails to accurately assess violations by Hamas,” BusinessWire, (June 22, 2015).
623 Harel, Amos. “Israeli brigade commander: excessive caution in Gaza caused harm to soldiers,” Haaretz, (June 24, 2015).
624 Bernstein, David. “Joint Chiefs Chairman Dempsey undermines Obama administration criticism of Israeli actions in Gaza,” Washington Post, (November 10, 2014).
625 “US military chiefs back Israel on Gaza tactics,” VOA, (November 10, 2014).
626 Stephen F. Hayes, “The Iran Deal, Then and Now,” Weekly Standard, (July 6, 2015).
627 Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, “No, U.S. Doesn't Have 'Absolute Knowledge' on Iran's Nukes,” BloombergView, (June 19, 2015); David E. Sanger And Michael R. Gordon, “Crucial Questions Remain as Iran Nuclear Talks Approach Deadline,” New York Times, (June 28, 2015)
629 Robin Wright and Keith B. Richburg, “Powell Says Iran Is Pursuing Bomb,” Washington Post, (November 18, 2004).
630 Thomas Erdbrink and David E. Sanger, “Iran’s Supreme Leader, Khamenei, Seems to Pull Back on Nuclear Talks,” New York Times, (June 23, 2015).
631 Adam Kredo, “US to award Iran $11.9 billion through end of nuke talks,” Fox News, (January 21, 2015); Thomas Erdbrink and David E. Sanger, “Iran’s Supreme Leader, Khamenei, Seems to Pull Back on Nuclear Talks,” New York Times, (June 23, 2015).
632 Teresa Welsh, “U.S. Denies Shielding Iranian Sanctions Violations from UN,” US News & World Report, (June 10, 2015).
633 Alan J. Kuperman, “The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw,” New York Times, (June 23, 2015).
634 Carol Morello, “Iran nuclear talks to miss Tuesday deadline, will run ‘a few days’ longer,” Washington Post, (June 28, 2015).
635 Shaked, Ronny. “Abbas escapes assassination attempt,” Ynet News, (January 28, 2007).
636 Rosen, Steven J. “Will Mahmoud Abbas reject Israeli protection?” The Gatestone Institute, (October 20, 2014).
637 Hanna, Elie. “Palestinian Authority President Abbas to Qatari Emir Tamim: Meshaal is lying,” Al-Akhbar, (September 5, 2014).
638Ma’an, (April 23, 2015) quoted in http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=14696
639 Issacharoff, Avi, “PA determined to curb Hamas resistance in West Bank,” Times of Israel, (July 5, 2015).
640 “Intense Campaign by Hamas's Military Wing to Recruit Youths for Its Summer Camps,” Middle East Media Research Institute, (July 6, 2015).
641 “Hamas Summer Camp Trains 25,000 Gazans as Fighters,” Ynet News, (July 25, 2015).
642 Pollock, David. “New Poll Shows Most Palestinians for Practical Progress, Tactical Compromises with Israel,” Fikra Forum, (July 23, 2015).
643“Netanyahu calls Abbas after toddler murder,” Turkish Weekly, (August 1, 2015).
644“Israelis protest hate crimes in wake of baby's death,” Al Jazeera, (August 2, 2015).
645“Glorifying Terrorists and Terror,” Palestinian Media Watch.
646 Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Selected Quotes From Golda Meir,” MSU Denver.
647 Nadav Shragai, “The Al-Aqsa is in Danger Libel: The History of a Lie”, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
648 Rafael Israeli, “From Arab Spring to Islamic Winter”, New Brunswick, Transaction Publishers, 2013, p. 291.
649 Shragai, The “Al-Aqsa is in Danger” Libel, 2012, pp.100-101.
650 Yasser Okbi, “Islamic Movement leaders warn of Israeli plan to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque,” Jerusalem Post, (September 20, 2013).
651 Issacharoff, Avi, “Israel foiled 17 suicide attacks so far this year, Shin Bet says,” Times of Israel, (August 12, 2015).
652 Shin Bet Reports.
653 Shin Bet 2013 Annual Summary.
654 Shin Bet 2014 Annual Summary.
655 “In pictures: Hamas run Palestinian youth military summer camp in Gaza,” Telegraph (No date given).
656 “Hamas Summer camp opens it's doors in Gaza,” Jerusalem Post, (July 25, 2015).
657 “Hamas 'summer camp' trains 25,000 Gazans as fighters,” YNet News, (July 25, 2015).
658“Thousands of Gazan children graduate Hamas military summer camp,” Jerusalem Post, (August 6, 2015)
659Okuyun, Turkce. “Hamas concludes first-ever military training camp for girls,” AL Monitor (August 10, 2015)
660Melman, Yossi, “Hashemite concerns,” Jerusalem Report, (July 27, 2015), pp. 14-17.
661Wardany, Salma/Alexander, Caroline. “Fences Rise Across Middle East as Jihadi Threat Escalates,” Bloomberg, (July 23, 2015)