I WILL BE AWAY UNTIL MONDAY JANUARY 2, 2017
Our ineffable secretary of state, John Kerry, delivered another parting shot at Israel today, offering the Obama administration’s “vision” for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. There are many things to be said about it — not least that Kerry’s speech, like last week’s venomous, Obama-orchestrated United Nations resolution on which it builds, is something “pro-Israel” Democrats make sure to do after Election Day.
For now, I just want to highlight one gem (noted by Michael Warren at The Weekly Standard).
Kerry did not mention that Jordan was never subjected to international pressure to grant the Palestinians their own state during the 19 years that Jordan occupied Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem; nor did he acknowledge that the Palestinians would long ago have had their own state if they had recognized Israel’s right to exist and abandoned jihadist terror. Leaving all that aside, Kerry accused the Israeli government of undermining any hope of a two-state solution. In this context of claiming that Israeli policy was “leading toward one state, or perpetual occupation,” Kerry admonished: “If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic. It cannot be both.”
Presumably, Kerry was referring to the fact that Israel has a significant Arab-Muslim population. He conveniently did not mention, since it must never be mentioned, the vow of Mahmoud Abbas (the Palestinian leader Kerry sees as Israel’s “peace partner”) that, “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli — soldier or civilian — on our lands.”
Implicitly, of course, if Kerry is saying that a country with a Muslim minority cannot maintain its Jewish character and still abide by democratic principles, then neither can the United States maintain its Judeo-Christian character and still abide by democratic principles — notwithstanding that our Judeo-Christian character is the basis for our belief in the equal dignity of all men and women, a foundational democratic principle. It is a principle one does not find in classical Islam, the law of which explicitly elevates Muslims over non-Muslims and men over women.
I thought it might be interesting, then, to review the Constitution of Afghanistan, which the State Department had a major role in drafting. Here are Articles One through Three:
Article One: Afghanistan shall be an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary and indivisible state.
Article Two: The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rituals.
Article Three: No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.
Then there’s Article Six:
The state shall be obligated to create a prosperous and progressive society based on social justice, preservation of human dignity, protection of human rights, realization of democracy, attainment of national unity as well as equality between all peoples and tribes and balance development of all areas of the country. [Emphasis added.]
A “progressive society based on social justice” that is both Islamic and democratic? According to the State Department, no problem.
Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States, its former patron and continued financial benefactor.
Immediately upon entering office, President Obama hectored Israel on so-called settlements. Obama promised to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel — and delivered on that promise.
Last week, the U.S. declined to veto, and therefore allowed to pass, a United Nations resolution that, among other things, isolates Israel internationally and condemns the construction of housing in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Obama has long been at odds with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over objections from the Obama administration, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress last year about the existential dangers of the Obama-brokered Iran deal and the likelihood of a new Middle East nuclear-proliferation race.
Obama then doubled down on his irritation with Netanyahu through petty slights, such as making him wait during White House visits. In 2014, an official in the Obama administration anonymously said Netanyahu, a combat veteran, was a “coward” on Iran.
At a G-20 summit in Cannes, France, in 2011, Obama, in a hot-mic slip, trashed Netanyahu. He whined to French president Nicolas Sarkozy: “You’re tired of him? What about me? I have to deal with him every day.”
In contrast, Obama bragged about his “special” relationship with autocratic Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Never mind that Erdogan seems to want to reconstruct Turkey as a modern Islamist version of the Ottoman Empire, or that he is anti-democratic while Israel is a consensual society of laws.
The Middle East surrounding democratic Israel is a nightmare. Half a million have died amid the moonscape ruins of Syria. A once-stable Iraq was overrun by the Islamic State.
The Arab Spring, U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the coup of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to regain control of Egypt, and the bombing of Libya all have left North Africa in turmoil.
Iran has been empowered by the U.S.-brokered deal and will still become nuclear.
Russian president Vladimir Putin’s bombers blast civilians not far from Israel’s borders.
Democrats are considering Representative Keith Ellison as the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee despite his past ties to the Nation of Islam and his history of anti-Israel remarks.
Yet in all this mess, somehow Israel is in its best geostrategic position in decades. How?
The answer is a combination of unintended consequences, deft diplomacy, political upheavals in Europe and the United States, and Israel’s own democratic traditions.
Huge natural gas and oil finds off Israel’s Mediterranean coast and in the Golan Heights have radically changed Israel’s energy and financial positions. Israel no longer needs to import costly fossil fuels and may soon be an exporter of gas and oil to needy customers in Europe and the Middle East. (America recently became the world’s greatest producer of carbon energy and also no longer is dependent on Middle Eastern oil imports, resulting in less political influence by Arab nations.) Israel is creating its own version of Silicon Valley at Beersheba, which is now a global hub of cybersecurity research.
The Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel has had the odd effect of empowering Israel.
Rich Persian Gulf states see Obama as hostile both to Israel and to themselves, while he appeases the common enemy of majority-Shiite Iran.
I could not agree more. In fact I suggested it in the December Outpost and on Ruthfully yours…..http://www.ruthfullyyours.com/2016/11/29/my-say-leave-the-un/
Who is to blame for the recent debacle in the U.N.? We shall not rehash details of Obama’s and Kerry’s ambush, nor of perfidious Albion’s tradition of genteel anti-Semitism. Nor shall we discuss the peculiar case of one of the resolution’s principal sponsors: New Zealand. How much are the indigenous Maoris enjoying their “legal occupation”? En passant, we will point out the absurdity of the Jewish prime minister of Ukraine ordering his ambassador to vote in favor of a resolution condemning Jewish possession of the Wailing Wall.
Instead, I blame Benjamin Netanyahu and every single one of his predecessors in the prime minister’s office. There have been more than enough blood libels perpetrated upon Jewish state, from the infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution in the 1970s to the recent outrages at the UNESCO, at the U.N. Human Rights Council, etc. to justify suspension, if not outright withdrawal, of Israel from the U.N. membership.
Advantages of such an action are numerous.
Israel would no longer be subject to Security Council resolutions: no one would be able to accuse Israel of being in non-compliance with Resolution X and General Assembly condemnation Y.
All U.N. personnel would be deprived of diplomatic status in Israel and could be summarily removed. This would be particularly gratifying in the case of UNRWA, which has been caught in activities supporting terror on numerous occasions. Nor would a U.N. diplomatic passport serve as an enabling mechanism to interfere with security activities of Israeli police and the IDF.
The leftists would scream about Israel cutting itself off from the “community of nations.” To this our reply should be simply: “‘Community of nations’ is a Newspeak phrase to describe four wolves and a sheep voting on who is to be dinner, and we are tired of being a sheep.”
It is time for Israel to get rid of the self-imposed burden of U.N. membership. It should have been done 40 years ago, but better late than never.
Two demagogues have inserted their countries into a monstrous civilisational war between millennialist Shia fundamentalists and apocalyptic Sunni fundamentalists. There were always going to be consequences for such folly – the assassination of Ambassador Karlov is but one.
All of this was clarified yet again with the slaying of Andrey Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, by Mevlut Mert Altintas, a twenty-two-year-old policeman. To begin with all we knew – and almost all we needed to know – was that (a) Altintas served in security details protecting none other President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in recent months and (b) the assailant, after dispatching Karlov, repeatedly shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria! Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!”
Much of what Putin and Erdoğan say about the public murder of a prime symbol of Russian intervention on the side of Damascus-Iran-Hezbollah in Syria is likely to be propaganda. Turkey’s Ministry of Truth, for instance, was quick off the mark to insist American-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen had a role in Karlov’s death. Altintas, according to this conspiracy theory, was a member of FETÖ, the term invented by Ankara to demonise the Gulen movement as a shadowy, underground terrorist entity determined to subvert the Turkish Republic. Under the headline “Great Sabotage”, the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper explained it this way: “The pro-FETÖ assassins of the CIA have been mobilised.”
So far, at least, Russia’s version of the Ministry of Truth has been more circumspect about blaming Western intelligence agencies, and yet a smattering of Putin’s allies in the Duma made some like-minded rumblings. Frantz Klintsevich, a significant figure in the Russian parliament, speculated on the “highly likely” possibility that “foreign NATO secret services” were behind the assassination. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, another ally of Putin’s in the Duma, spoke of a “false flag operation by the West.”
The grain of truth in such dissembling is that Mevlut Mert Altintas took the action he did to protest the nascent rapprochement between Putin’s Russia and Erdoğan’s Turkey. That said, Altintas seems an unlikely agent of FETÖ or the CIA. The dramatic footage of him murdering Karlov and then denouncing the fall of eastern Aleppo makes that abundantly clear: “Only death will remove me from here. Everyone who has taken part in the oppression will one by one pay for it one by one.” A spokesman for Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) later confirmed Altintas’ Salafi-jihadist sympathies. The slaying of Andrey Karlov, in other words, was retribution for Russia’s part in the Shia alliance’s recent victory in Aleppo.
The assassination of Ambassador Karlov suggests that major fault lines divide the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey; even if Tsar Vladimir and Sultan Erdoğan themselves would prefer an alliance between their two countries rather than enmity. Back in December 2014, for instance, Ishaan Tharoor, in an article titled “How Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdoğan are made for each other”, captured the friendliness “between two of the most outspoken and demagogic statesmen on the planet” at the time of President Putin’s last visit to Ankara. President Erdoğan provided a welcome “with fitting pageantry: an escort of liveried cavalrymen on horseback, a full military salute and a series of discussions in the cavernous halls of Erdoğan’s vast, new presidential palace.”
Both leaders, Ishaan Tharoor contended, were “kindred spirits”. They were the opposite of “bleeding heart liberals” and pursued reactionary social agendas in their separate domains: Putin, the ardent nationalist and devotee of the Russian Orthodox Church, wary of gender equality and an enactor of legislation hostile to gays; and Erdoğan, the Muslim Brotherhood-style Islamist determined to roll back Turkey’s Kemalist legacy. Erdoğan and Putin were both despots who “squelched” any internal obstruction to their “creeping authoritarianism” and were united by a distrust of the West.
Last week’s United Nations Security Council resolution on Israel is a weapon of war pretending to be a plea for peace. Israel’s enemies say it has no right to exist. They claim the whole state was built on Arab land and it’s an injustice for Jews to exercise sovereignty there. Palestinians still widely promote this untruth in their official television and newspapers, whether from the PLO-controlled West Bank or Hamas-controlled Gaza. That is the unmistakable subtext of Friday’s U.N. Resolution 2334, despite the lip service paid to peace and the “two-state solution.”
The resolution describes Israel’s West Bank towns and East Jerusalem neighborhoods as settlements that are a “major obstacle” to peace. But there was a life-or-death Arab-Israeli conflict before those areas were built, and before Israel acquired the West Bank in the 1967 war.
Arab opposition to Israel’s existence predated—indeed caused—that war. It even predated Israel’s birth in 1948, which is why the 1948-49 war occurred. Before World War I, when Britain ended the Turks’ 400-year ownership of Palestine, Arab anti-Zionists denied the right of Jews to a state anywhere in Palestine.
Officials of Egypt (in 1979) and Jordan (in 1994) signed peace treaties with Israel, but anti-Zionist hostility remains strong. The Palestinian Authority signed the Oslo Accords in 1993 but continues to exhort its children in summer camps and schools to liberate all of Palestine through violence.
Arab efforts to damage Israel have been persistent and various, including conventional war, boycotts, diplomatic isolation, terrorism, lower-intensity violence such as rock-throwing, and missile and rocket attacks. Israel’s defensive successes, however, have constrained Palestinian leaders to rely now chiefly on ideological war to de-legitimate the Jewish State.
Highlighting the “occupied territories”—in U.N. resolutions, for example—implies moderation. It suggests an interest only in the lands Israel won in 1967. But the relatively “moderate” Palestinian Authority, in its official daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, continually refers to Israeli cities as “occupied Haifa” or “occupied Jaffa,” for example. In other words, even pre-1967 Israel is “occupied territory” and all Israeli towns are “settlements.”
When David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence in 1948, he invoked the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine,” as recognized in the Palestine Mandate approved in 1922 by the League of Nations. That connection applied to what’s now called the West Bank as it did to the rest of Palestine. Because no nation has exercised generally recognized sovereignty over the West Bank since the Turkish era, the mandate supports the legality of Jewish settlement there. That’s why attacking the settlements’ legality—as opposed to questioning whether they’re prudent—is so insidious. Arguing that it is illegal for Jews to live in the West Bank is tantamount to rejecting Israel’s right to have come into existence.
Friday’s U.N. resolution is full of illogic and anti-Israel hostility. It says disputed issues should be “agreed by the parties through negotiations.” Among the key open issues is who should control the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Yet the resolution calls these areas “Palestinian territory.” So much for negotiations.
John Kerry delivered a marathon speech Wednesday excoriating Israel for its settlements policy, and we hear Israeli TV stations dropped the live broadcast after the first half-hour. Who can blame them? If Israelis don’t feel the need to sit through another verbal assault from the soon to be former Secretary of State, it’s because they live in a reality he shows no evidence of comprehending.
Mr. Kerry has made the pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian peace a major goal of his tenure, conducting intensive negotiations for nearly a year until they collapsed in spring 2014. That collapse came after the Palestinian Authority announced the creation of a unity government with Hamas, the terrorist group sworn to Israel’s destruction. Shortly thereafter, Hamas started a war with Israel from its Gaza stronghold, the third such war since Israel vacated Gaza of all settlements in 2005.
We recite this history to show that it’s not for lack of U.S. diplomacy that there is no peace—and that mishandled diplomacy has a way of encouraging Palestinian violence. In 2000 then-President Bill Clinton brought Israeli and Palestinian leaders to Camp David to negotiate a final peace agreement, only to watch Palestinians walk away from an offer that would have granted them a state on nearly all of Gaza and the West Bank. That failure was followed by another Palestinian terror campaign.
Israelis remember this. They remember that they elected leaders—Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, Ehud Barak in 1999, Ehud Olmert in 2006—who made repeated peace overtures to the Palestinians only to be met with violence and rejection.
In his speech, Mr. Kerry went out of his way to personalize his differences with current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claiming he leads the “most right-wing” coalition in Israeli history. But Israelis also remember that Mr. Netanyahu ordered a settlement freeze, and that also brought peace no closer.
The lesson is that Jewish settlements are not the main obstacle to peace. If they were, Gaza would be on its way to becoming the Costa Rica of the Mediterranean. The obstacle is Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in any borders. A Secretary of State who wishes to resolve the conflict could have started from that premise, while admonishing the Palestinians that they will never get a state so long as its primary purpose is the destruction of its neighbor.
But that Secretary isn’t Mr. Kerry. Though he made passing references to Palestinian terror and incitement, the most he would say against it was that it “must stop.” If the Administration has last-minute plans to back this hollow exhortation with a diplomatic effort at the U.N., we haven’t heard about it.
Contrast this with last week’s Security Council resolution, which the Obama Administration refused to veto and which substantively changes diplomatic understandings stretching to 1967. Mr. Kerry claimed Wednesday that Resolution 2334 “does not break new ground.”
Last week’s UN Security Council resolution sent the following message to the Palestinians: Forget about negotiating. Just pressure the international community to force Israel surrender up all that you demand.
Abbas and his cronies are more belligerent and defiant than ever. They have chosen the path of confrontation, and not direct negotiations — to force Israel to its knees.
One of Abbas’s close associates hinted that the resolution should be regarded as a green light not only to boycott Israel, but also to use violence against it, to “bolster the popular resistance” against Israel — code for throwing stones and firebombs, and carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.
The resolution has also encouraged the Palestinians to pursue their narrative that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem or any other part of Israel.
The Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad see the resolution as another step toward their goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic empire. When Hamas talks about “resistance,” it means suicide bombings and rockets against Israel — it does not believe in “light” terrorism such as stones and stabbings.
The UN’s highly touted “victory,” is a purely Pyrrhic one, in fact a true defeat to the peace process and to the few Arabs and Muslims who still believe in the possibility of coexistence with Israel.
Buoyed by the latest United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, Palestinian leaders are now threatening to step up their diplomatic warfare against Israel — a move that is sure to sabotage any future effort to revive the moribund peace process. Other Palestinians, meanwhile, view the resolution as license to escalate “resistance” attacks on Israel. By “resistance,” of course, they mean terror attacks against Israel.
She was proud of her submission, not of her achievements.
Other than that, her email was full of post-modern nonsense such as science as a “belief” just like religion. In fact, science is doubt based on knowledge, while religion is certainty based on faith. Would she, I wondered, also “deconstruct” the Koran?
She had exercised her freedom only to give it up.
She was sitting there quietly in the middle of the classroom — a Swedish Muslim all dressed in black with a white powdered face. I was lecturing on John Stuart Mill at Sweden’s University West. What did I say? I said that while religion may not be true, it still gives people a sense of belonging and trust, and liberal society cannot give you that. The liberal soup is thin, and most of us want something richer, some kind of political main-course goulash. When people say that liberal society is empty, they actually mean this: I cannot give my life any purpose, so can someone kindly do it for me? Please hand me some grandiose message to live by because I cannot figure out anything on my own. Emptiness? Well, that could be another word for limitless opportunities.
Two days later, the Muslim student sent me an email. She accused me of not being “neutral”. She wrote that I had called religious people “pathetic”. I had not. She accused me of defaming Islam, herself as a woman and as an individual student.
As for Islam, I had never mentioned it, and as for her, I had never seen her before. Possibly in her vanity, she seemed to think the lecture was about her; in fact, it was about John Stuart Mill. She said (and this shook me a bit) that she would keep me “under surveillance”; she signed off with: “The student dressed in her pride”. Too bad she could not find something else about which to be proud. She was proud of her submission, not of her achievements. If you cannot give your life meaning, perhaps somebody will chip in and do it for you.
Other than that, her email was full of post-modern nonsense such as science as a “belief” just like religion. In fact, science is doubt based on knowledge, while religion is certainty based on faith. We had given her the tools of postmodernism, and here she was trashing the fabric of Western society. Would she, I wondered, also “deconstruct” the Koran?
But I was not bothered by her email, really. Students have the right to say all kinds of things, perhaps even to write inappropriate emails to their professors. It is, someone said, a human right not to “get it”. All it takes is to talk. If a student fails to understand the basic principles of a university — free inquiry, the need to question our views — the university will introduce the student to them. So I did not reply, but calmly awaited the next step by my department.
A few days later, an email requesting a meeting was sent out. But she never got it. I did. How odd, I thought, but I went there and, in front of a wide-eyed administrator, explained the rise of the modern university as a realm of free discussion, unhampered by the power of the state and the church; and spoke about the principles of free speech, and cited Karl Popper, Mill, George Orwell, Voltaire, and others on the way. She looked happy.
A few days later came another email. Now I was called in for consultations with Head of the Department and the Head Administrator. “Look”, I told them, “this is a university. Do you know what that means?” They said they did. “Do you know why I am here?” I gave them the answer. “For lecturing on John Stuart Mill.”
“Ten years ago,” I went on, “I wrote an article about a performance of Ideomeneo — a Mozart opera that was cancelled in Berlin because it might offend Muslim sensibilities. The title of the article was ‘The Enlightenment may end up as a historical paranthesis.’ Do you know what the Enlightenment is about?”
I looked at them and they looked back at me.
It appears that Iran literally gained nothing from the Moscow conference, meaning that its participation was merely of a ceremonial nature.
“The regime in Tehran is the source of crisis in the region and killings in Syria; it has played the greatest role in the expansion and continuation of ISIS. Peace and tranquility in the region can only be achieved by evicting this regime from the region.” — Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and a leader of the opposition to Iran’s regime.
The recent three-party conference held in Moscow with the participation of Russia, Turkey and Iran came to a significant end. With mainstream media emphasizing how the U.S. Administration was completely sidelined in talks that discussed the future of Syria, a different perspective also sheds light on how Iran was sidelined to an unprecedented degree. Considering that this session ended with a document signed by all three parties, one can take a hard look at the results.
This document emphasizes Syria’s independence and territorial integrity as a multi-racial, multi-religious, non-sectarian, democratic and secular state; underscores the necessity of reaching a political solution; welcomes joint efforts in East Aleppo to evacuate civilians and armed rebels; highlights the need to expand a ceasefire across the country and facilitate access to humanitarian aid; supports a possible agreement between the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government; and accentuates continuing joint efforts against terrorism and especially the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), differentiating their forces from those of the armed democratic opposition.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (center) holds a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (right) in Moscow, December 20, 2016. (Image source: Russia Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
A closer look brings us to a preliminary conclusion that most of the articles are clash Iran’s interests. For example, Iran was, and remains, fully against the safe evacuation of civilians and rebels from East Aleppo.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani went so far as saying, “Various Islamic states… are worried about the fate of terrorists and seek their safe exit from Aleppo.”
In this document, there is no mention of the Assad regime or any language discussing its remaining in power. And importantly, while Iran went to great lengths to massacre all dissidents and annihilate the entire Syrian opposition under the pretext of fighting ISIS, this document specifically differentiates and recognizes the separate nature of ISIS and the Free Syrian Army.
The Moscow conference also emphasized the role of the United Nations in resolving the Syrian crisis, highlighting the necessity to abide by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2254. This resolution emphasizes the Security Council as the reference body, also enjoying support from the United States and Saudi Arabia. There is no reference to Assad’s future role; instead the resolution “expressed support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held within 18 months and administered under United Nations supervision, ‘to the highest international standards’ of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians—including members of the diaspora—eligible to participate.”
Taking these factors into consideration, it appears that Iran literally gained nothing from the Moscow conference, meaning that its participation was merely of a ceremonial nature.
The conference outcome makes it clear that Russia enjoys hegemony over Iran in Syria, and that Moscow has imposed its interests and road map to Tehran, leaving the mullahs no choice but to submit to the status quo. This setback of its hegemony seems a major reason why Iran needed to parade Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Qassem Suleimani in Aleppo: perhaps to boost an iota of morale into its dwindling social base.