Why has the Embassy Act, passed by massive majorities in the Senate (93-5) and House (374-37), remained a dead letter for 21 years?
The media has been abuzz with reports that President-elect Donald Trump intends to honor his pre-election promise to act on the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – whose implementation has been deferred by six monthly waivers invoked by successive presidents, most recently last week by President Obama – and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Why has the Embassy Act, passed by massive majorities in the Senate (93-5) and House (374-37), remained a dead letter for 21 years? Fear of enraging the Arab street and the Muslim world, most of which has neither reconciled itself to Israel’s existence nor even the peoplehood of the Jews and thus the Jewish immemorial association and claim to the city, is the short answer.
This clamor and fixation on Jerusalem, quite recent in Muslim history, has led many to conclude that Jerusalem is holy to Islam; therefore any US move ahead of a peace settlement is premature.

As it happens, however, it is a propaganda lie that Jerusalem is holy to Islam or central to Palestinian Arab life. Though possessing Muslim shrines, including the Dome of the Rock and al-Aksa mosques, the city itself holds no great significance for Islam, as history shows.

Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Koran, nor is it the direction in which Muslims turn to pray. References in the Koran and hadith to the ‘farthest mosque,’ an allusion to which al-Aksa Mosque is named, and which has sometimes been invoked to connect Islam to Jerusalem since its earliest days, clearly doesn’t refer to a mosque which didn’t exist in Muhammad’s day.

Indeed, the site of the biblical temples is called Temple Mount, not the Mosque Mount, and – in contrast to innumerable Palestinian Authority statements today – was acknowledged as such for decades in the Jerusalem Muslim Supreme Council’s publication, A Brief Guide to the Haram Al-Sharif,’ which states on p. 4 that ‘Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.”

(After 1954, all such references to the biblical temples disappeared from this publication.) During the illegal annexation and rule of the historic eastern half of Jerusalem by Jordan (1948-67), Amman remained the country’s capital, not Jerusalem.

Under Jordanian rule, Jews were entirely driven out, the Old City’s 58 synagogues destroyed, and Jewish gravestones used to pave roads and latrines. Jewish access to the Western Wall was forbidden, in contravention of Article 8 of the 1949 Israeli/Jordanian armistice.

Indeed, the eastern half of the city became a backwater town, with infrastructure like water and sewerage scanty or non-existent, and its Christian population, denied the right to purchase church property in the city, also declined. No Arab ruler, other than Jordan’s King Hussein, ever visited. As Israeli elder statesman Abba Eban put it, “the secular delights of Beirut held more attraction.”

Significantly, neither the PLO’s National Charter nor the Fatah Covenant, drafted during Jordanian rule, even mention Jerusalem, let alone call for its establishment as a Palestinian capital.

This would never be obvious from the tenor and content of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim pronouncements on the city today, which are as emphatic as to the Arab, Muslim and Palestinian primacy of the city as they are in denying its Jewish provenance.

Conversely, Jerusalem, the capital of the biblical Jewish kingdoms, is the site of three millennia of Jewish habitation — hence the ‘Jerusalem 3000’ celebrations initiated by the government of Yitzhak Rabin.

The holiest of Judaism’s four holy cities, Jerusalem is mentioned 669 times in the Bible, and alluded to in countless prayers.

Major Jewish rituals, including the conclusion of the Passover Seder and Yom Kippur service, end with the age-old affirmation, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

Jerusalem is the only city in the world in which Jews have formed a majority since the 1880s. Today, in addition to being home to Judaism’s greatest sanctuaries, Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the National Library and the Hebrew University. Its population is twothirds Jewish.

Perfidious Obama’s Last Betrayal by Jed Babbin

Our new president will have to make the UN pay for what his predecessor has done to Israel.

My college roommate Ed Atkins and I were commissioned second lieutenants in the US Air Force the day before we graduated in June 1970. My eyes were lousy and Ed’s weren’t, so our paths diverged. I went to law school and he went to flight school, the lucky dog. After all, the mission of the Air Force is “to fly and to fight.” He was going to do it, and I was being trained to risk only paper cuts in the law library. I was (and still am) jealous as hell.
Fresh from a combat tour in Vietnam, during which he accumulated a slew of Air Medals and a Distinguished Flying Cross, Ed was stationed in Germany when the 1973 Yom Kippur War broke out. Israeli forces were caught on the ground on the highest holy day of the Jewish year, and things went badly for the first few days. At that point the Soviet Union was moving to intervene on the Arabs’ side. President Nixon ordered our nuclear forces to DefCon 3 and our Air Force to prepare to fly into the fight. Ed and his squadron were arming and fueling their F-4 Phantoms to fly to Israel and engage anything — Soviet or Arab — that stood in their way when Israel turned the tide and won without our help.

That’s the way it’s been since 1948, when Israel became a nation. We’ve always been the big brother willing to deter or defeat Islamic aggression against the only democracy in the Middle East.

That lasted until January 2009, when President Obama came into office and began shunning Israel. Then came last Friday, when Barack Obama ordered our UN ambassador to abstain rather than veto a UN Security Council resolution that declared Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank illegal, and those territories illegally “occupied.” Israel was thus delegitimized and ordered to return to the borders it had before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

President Obama’s enmity toward Israel, though often denied, has been obvious since his inauguration. Through many meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his attempt to force a false peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and his nuclear weapons deal with Iran, Obama has made it clear to anyone who wanted to see that his hatred of Israel coincided with his intention to diminish our national security as well as that of the Jewish state.

The Friday resolution, first offered by Egypt, was withdrawn as a result of hard lobbying by Israel and the statement by President-elect Trump that it should be vetoed. New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela, and Malaysia picked it up and offered it for a vote. The Obama administration denies orchestrating the resolution and vote, but the Israelis accuse it of doing precisely that. And therein lies an important lie.

Secretary of State John Kerry visited New Zealand in mid-November. In a meeting with New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCulley, Kerry told him that the New Zealand government could play an important role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

McCulley said, “It is a conversation we are engaged in deeply and we’ve spent some time talking to Secretary Kerry about where the U.S. might go on this. It is something that is still in play.” He added, “I think there are some very important decisions that the Obama administration is going to have to make in its lame-duck period on this issue.” That was the preliminary to Friday.

The resolution, apparently orchestrated by Obama, passed only because the U.S. didn’t veto it to protect Israel as it has on similar resolutions on countless occasions. It was a huge victory for the Palestinians and the Muslim nations — and terrorist networks — which have Israel’s destruction as their principal foreign policy goal.

We were surprised by Obama’s perfidious action, but we shouldn’t have been.

Obama’s self-defeating settlements policy Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger

President Obama’s collaboration with the December 23, 2016 UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2334, which condemns Israel’s settlements policy, has defied history and reality, injuring the peace process and US national security.

While President Obama greets the Jewish people upon Chanukah, which commemorates the victory of the Maccabees in a series of heroic battles in the crux of the Land of Israel, the mountain ridges of Judea and Southern Samaria – Beth El, Beth Horon, Hadashah, Beth Zur, Ma’aleh Levona, Adora’yim, Elazar, Beit Zachariya and Ba’al Hatzor – he contends that these are “occupied lands.” When Shimon the Maccabee (who succeeded Judah and Jonathan) was confronted with such a contention, he responded: “We have not occupied a foreign land; we have not ruled a foreign land; we have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation.”

President Obama’s and the State Department’s support of UNSCR 2334 undermines the peace process and US national security interests in the following manner:

1. It provides a tailwind to the UN demand to halt Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, while encouraging the thirty-time-larger Arab construction there; an attempt to prejudge and force – not negotiate – a solution.

2. It dis-incentivizes Arabs to negotiate, since they expect further global pressure on Israel. Thus it undermines direct negotiation, which is the most effective way to advance peace, as documented by the Israel-Egypt and Israel-Jordan peace accords. On the other hand, the litany of US and international peace initiatives failed due to attempts to force a solution and by-pass direct negotiation.

3. Just like previous US and international initiatives, this too radicalizes the Arabs, forcing them to outflank the US and the globe from the maximalist side, escalating their expectations and demands; thus, further reducing prospects of resolving the highly-complicated peace process.


In 1989, following her tenure as President Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick described how the Palestinians have used the UN to destroy Israel.

Following outgoing US President Barack Obama’s assault on Israel at the UN Security Council last Friday, longtime UN observer Claudia Rossett wrote an important article at PJMedia where she recalled Kirkpatrick’s words.

In “How the PLO was legitimized,” published in Commentary, Kirkpatrick said that Yassir Arafat and the PLO worked “to come to power through international diplomacy – reinforced by murder.”

Kirkpatrick explained, “The long march through the UN has produced many benefits for the PLO. It has created a people where there was none; a claim where there was none. Now the PLO is seeking to create a state where there already is one. That will take more than resolutions and more than an ‘international peace conference.’ But having succeeded so well over the years in its campaign to delegitimize Israel, the PLO might yet also succeed in bringing the campaign to a triumphant conclusion, with consequences for the Jewish state that would be nothing short of catastrophic.”

As Rossett noted, in falsely arguing that Obama’s support for Friday’s UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is in line with Reagan’s policies, Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power deliberately distorted the historical record of US policy towards Israel and the PLO-led UN onslaught against the Jewish state.

In stark contrast to Power’s self-serving lie, neither Reagan nor George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush would have ever countenanced a resolution like 2334.

Obama’s predecessors’ opposition to the war against Israel at the UN was not merely an expression of their support for Israel. They acted also out of a fealty to US power, which is directly targeted by that war.

It is critical that we understand how this is the case, and why the implications of Resolution 2334 are disastrous to the US itself.

Resolution 2334 is being presented as an “anti-settlement” resolution. But it is not an anti-settlement resolution.

Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and neighborhoods in Jerusalem are being used – as they always have been used – as a means of delegitimizing the Jewish state as a whole, and legitimizing Palestinian terrorists and Islamic terrorists more generally. Resolution 2334 serves to criminalize Israel and its people and to undermine Israel’s right to exist, while embracing Palestinian terrorists and empowering them in their war to annihilate Israel.

Berlin Terror Attack and Immigration Law Violations What America should learn from this newest horrific lesson. Michael Cutler

On Monday, December 19th Berlin was rocked by a deadly terror attack that killed 12 innocent victims and injured 48. A December 21, 2016 CNN report, “Berlin attack: Police hunt Tunisian suspect after finding ID papers” named 24 year-old Tunisian, Anis Amri as the prime suspect who drove a stolen truck into pedestrians visiting a Berlin Christmas market.

The body of the truck’s driver was found in the truck. He was shot and stabbed, likely by Amri.

This attack is reminiscent of the terror attack carried out in Nice, France on July 14, 2016 by a 31 year-old Tunisian, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel.

According to the CNN report, Amri had entered Italy without documentation and was subsequently convicted of committing violent crimes in Italy and spent four years on prison.

Italian authorities attempted to deport him back to Tunisia but Tunisia refused to accept him because he had multiple identity documents in false at least six false names and Tunisian authorities claimed to not have any reliable records to identify him.

He is then believed to have entered Germany illegally. He unsuccessfully applied for political asylum in Germany, his application was reportedly denied, at least in part, because of his ongoing relationship with radical Islamic organizations.

Here is an excerpt from the CNN news report:

Before Amri was publicly named, Ralf Jaeger, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, told reporters the suspect was known to German security services as someone in contact with radical Islamist groups, and had been assessed as posing a risk.

One German security official told CNN the suspect had been arrested in August with forged documents in the southern German town of Friedrichshafen, on his way to Italy, but a judge released him. The suspect also came onto the radar of German police because he was looking for a gun, the official said.

However, while Germany refused Amri’s asylum application because of known terror ties, they permitted him to remain at large where he continued to pose a threat, a threat that became all too clear when he mowed down his victims.

Given the string of successive deadly terror attacks across Europe, the United States and other regions of the world, you would have thought that German officials, including the judge who released Amri, would err on the side of caution to protect German citizens.

Defective Law and Morality in the UN Security Council Resolution Making Jews trespassers and criminals on their own land. Richard L. Cravatts

The shameful and morally incoherent December 23rd resolution vote by the UN Security Council demanding that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” also includes dangerous language that proclaims that Israeli settlements, which are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution,” have “no legal validity.”

The United States, contrary to its customary role, abstained from the vote, which passed by a vote of 14 in favor out of 15 countries, and this departure marks in a new low in the U.S.’s relations with Israel, even though the State Department under President Obama has, during the last eight years, promiscuously referred to the Israeli settlements as “unhelpful,” “obstructions to peace,” and “illegitimate.”

The problem with this defective diplomacy, as is often the case when Israel is concerned, is that operates in what commentator Melanie Phillips has called “a world turned upside down,” where the perennial victim status of the long-­suffering Palestinians trumps any sovereign rights of Israel regarding its borders, security, and even its survival in a sea of jihadist foes who yearn for its destruction. The settlement debate has now also been hijacked by the Arab world and its Western apologists who, willingly blind to history, international law, and fact, continue to assign the blame for the absence of peace on the perceived offenses of occupation and Israeli truculence. As a result of this latest UN resolution, even those Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods which everyone has agreed would be folded into Israel upon the creation of a Palestinian state can now be deemed “illegal” and their inhabitants criminal trespassers; more grotesquely, the Western Wall and Temple Mount can now be considered “occupied” Palestinian sites.

It is, of course, completely fallacious to overlook the fact that not only all of the land that is current­-day Israel, but also Gaza and the West Bank, is part of the land granted to the Jews as part of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, which recognized the right of the Jewish people to “close settlement” in a portion of those territories gained after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. According to Eugene V. Rostow, the late legal scholar and one of the authors of UN Security Council Resolution 242 written after the 1967 war to outline peace negotiations, “the Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan River, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors,” something which Israel’s intransigent Arab neighbors have never seemed prepared to do.

Moreover, Rostow contended, “The Jewish right of settlement in the West Bank is conferred by the same provisions of the Mandate under which Jews settled in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem before the State of Israel was created,” and “the Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there.” The Six Day War of 1967, in which Israel recaptured Gaza and the West Bank, including Jerusalem, resulted in Israel being cast in another perfidious role—in addition to colonial usurper of Arab land, the Jewish state became a brutal “occupier” of Arab Palestine, lands to which the Jews presumably had no right and now occupied, in the opinion of many in the international community, illegally.

When did the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem become Palestinian land? The answer is: never. In fact, when Israel acquired the West Bank and Gaza and other territory in the defensive war 1967 after being attacked by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, the Jewish state gained legally-recognized title to those areas. In Israel’s 1948 war of independence, Egypt, it will be recalled, illegally annexed Gaza at the same time Jordan illegally annexed the West Bank—actions that were not recognized by most of the international community as legitimate in establishing their respective sovereignties.

Israel’s recapture of those territories in 1967, noted Professor Stephen Schwebel, State Department legal advisor and later the President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, made the Jewish state what is referred to as the High Contracting Party of those territories, both because they were acquired in a defensive, not aggressive, war, and because they were part of the original Mandate and not previously under the sovereignty of any other High Contracting Party. “Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully,” Schwebel wrote, referring to Jordan and Egypt, “the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-­defense has, against that prior holder, better title.”

While those seeking Palestinian statehood conveniently overlook the legal rights Jews still enjoy to occupy all areas of historic Palestine, they have also used another oft­-cited, but defective, argument in accusing Israel of violating international law by maintaining settlements in the West Bank: that since the Six Day War, Israel has conducted a “belligerent occupation.” But as Professor Julius Stone discussed in his book, Israel and Palestine, the fact that the West Bank and Gaza were acquired by Israel in a “sovereignty vacuum,” that is, that there was an absence of High Contracting Party with legal claim to the areas, means that, in this instance, the definition of a belligerent occupant in invalid. “

So, significantly, the absence of any sovereignty on territories acquired in a defensive war—as was the case in the Six Day War of 1967—means the absence of what can legally be called an occupation by Israel of the West Bank, belligerent or otherwise. “Insofar as the West Bank at present held by Israel does not belong to any other State,” Stone concluded, “the Convention would not seem to apply to it at all. This is a technical, though rather decisive, legal point.”

The matter of Israel violating Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is one that has been used regularly, and disingenuously, as part of the cognitive war by those wishing to criminalize the settlement of Jews in the West Bank and demonize Israel for behavior in violation of international law, and, in fact, was the core of Friday’s resolution. It asserts that in allowing its citizens to move into occupied territories Israel is violating Article 49, which stipulates that “The occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territory it occupies.” The use of this particular Geneva Convention seems particularly grotesque in the case of Israel, since it was crafted after World War II specifically to prevent a repetition of the actions of the Nazis in cleansing Germany of its own Jewish citizens and deporting them to Nazi-occupied countries for slave labor or extermination. Clearly, the intent of the Convention was to prevent belligerents from forcibly moving their citizens to other territories, for malignant purposes— something completely different than the Israel government allowing its citizens to willingly relocate and settle in territories without any current sovereignty, to which Jews have long­standing legal claim, and, whether or not the area may become a future Palestinian state, should certainly be a place where a person could live, even if he or she is a Jew.

US Should Not Only Defund UN But Withdraw From It Let’s take our $3 billion and go. Daniel Greenfield

The United States pays 22% of the total UN budget. What we get for our $3 billion a year is a corrupt organization whose dysfunctional and hostile agencies are united in opposing us around the world.

The United Nations does only two things consistently and effectively: waste money and bash Israel. Sometimes it manages to do both at the same time.

After an extended, and no doubt costly, visit to the region, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women blamed Muslim men beating their wives on Israeli settlements.

No wonder the UN Security Council just condemned them. Who wouldn’t rightfully be upset that Jews living in Jerusalem somehow causes poor Mohammed to batter his wife?

The Jewish State is the UN’s scapegoat for anything and everything. The Palestinian Authority blamed Israel at the UN for Global Warming. WHO denounced Israel for violating “health rights.” And even when Muslim terrorists stab Israelis, it’s still Israel’s fault.

The latest anti-Israel vote at the UN has led to calls to defund the corrupt organization which, even when it isn’t actively trying to hurt us or our allies, is making the world worse every which way it can.

Just this summer the UN admitted that it had spread cholera that killed tens of thousands in Haiti. Sexual abuse allegations against its staffers were up 25% last year. In the spring, the UN admitted that peacekeepers from three countries had raped over 100 girls in only one African country. That’s not the kind of international cooperation that any of the organization’s founders had in mind.

Here’s what we get for our $3 billion.

UNRWA schools are turning out students who want to fight for ISIS. The UN’s email system has been used to distribute child pornography. UN staff members have smuggled drugs, attacked each other with knives and pool cues, not to mention a tractor. This month the UN marked Anti-Corruption Day despite refusing to fight its own corruption. The former President of the UN General Assembly was arrested on bribery charges last year. He had also headed UNICEF’s executive board. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is battling accusations of bribery.

Dear Michelle: There Most Certainly Is Hope By Eileen F. Toplansky

In her usual crass, coarse, and graceless manner, Michelle Obama epitomized the very worst of the America she so disdains when she opined about “hopelessness” regarding the election. She conveniently forgets about the debt her husband piled up, or the incredible unemployment numbers, or the decrease in Americans’ buying power, or the diminution of America’s standing in the world, or the worsening race relations – courtesy of her husband.

The Obamas had the means to effect so much positive change. But as dutiful leftists who hate the United States of America, they were intent upon sowing division and destruction. They were never concerned about the people, despite all the hype about hope.

It would shock Mrs. Obama to learn that many young people do not share her dismal view of victimization and do not engage in racism. And despite the anti-Trump hysteria at many colleges, there are those instructors who really do insist upon critical thinking skills. To that end, this semester, I distributed the following prompt:

Is there any reason why you believe that your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity makes you incapable of working hard and achieving success in school? Explain your answer and then read the piece titled “Unbelievable: Students Are Getting Bonus SAT Points For Being Black or Hispanic.” Summarize the piece and give your reaction to what you have just learned from the article. Do you feel there should be a different set of standards for different ethnic, racial or religious groups? Explain your answer.

Many of my students hail from predominantly black, white, and Hispanic lower socioeconomic straits. Many hold down two jobs to pay for their education. Their English skills are not commensurate with college-level writing; their vocabulary is limited, and proper grammar and syntax are sorely lacking. Yet they possess an inherent sense of justice and fairness. Here are their responses:

This young white man works two jobs and has a subtle learning disability.

No, I do not believe that race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity can make you incapable of working hard and achieving success in school because it doesn’t matter where you come from when it comes to academic success. Academic success can be accomplished by anyone who wants to put in the work and effort to get where they want to be in their studies. After reading this assigned article, I think it is extremely unfair the way we treat minorities with academics because we tend to think that blacks and Hispanics are incapable of achieving academic success.

Also, I learned that most athletes get this type of special treatment. Playing sports in school should be a privilege because your studies is the most important thing in life especially if you want to make yourself into something great.

They are giving us the wrong idea that race, religion, or ethnicity can determine your path in school which is inaccurate.

This young woman is from the Dominican Republic.

National Review compares Barron and Eric Trump to Uday and Qusay By James Lewis

Apparently Kevin Williamson at National Review has jumped over that deadly lemming cliff, along with millions of Trump-maddened New York liberals.

Williamson writes in NR today that

“My own view is that Donald and Ivanka and Uday and Qusay are genuinely bad human beings and that the American public has made a grave error in entrusting its highest office to this cast of American Psycho extras. That a major political party was captured by these cretins suggests that its members are not worthy of the blessings of this republic…”

​Apparently NR editors didn’t read this piece, or worse, they read it and approved it.

That high-pitched grinding sound you hear is William F. Buckley drilling his way out of the grave to keep his beloved National Review from being kidnapped by a hysterical mob of establishment cons.

Uday and Qusay Hussein infamously dropped screaming human beings into industrial plastic shredders to kill them. Either Mr. Williamson is ignorant of that fact, or he has secret information about Barron and Eric Trump and Ivanka that we are not privy to. If so, I would like to ask Mr. Williamson and his neglectful editors to provide the evidence to the world. I am looking forward to Mr. Williamson’s next NR column, which will no doubt show us the cellphone pics.

It may be time for mass hara-kiri at the National Review, for descending into blithering idiocy on Christmas 2016.

Mr. Williamson wrote this NR column to argue for a return to civility in politics… and, in his next breath, committed what Jonah Goldberg has called “argumentum ad Hitleram.”

As a fan of Buckley’s magazine, I’m shocked and saddened.

Tell me it ain’t so, please!

325 miles to Aleppo, Syria. Hard lessons for Israel : David Collier

“There are three major lessons for Israel in the ruins of Aleppo:

1. Ignore international promises
2. Strength is the best deterrent
3. Israel needs to trust only itself when it comes to its long-term security

And those who still follow the ‘new Middle East’ argument. Who suggest Israel should make large concessions because, well, it has worked so well for them before. Some parts of Israel are only 250 miles from Aleppo in Syria. In the comfort of London and New York, it is easy to tell others to take risks for peace.”

…….It is difficult not to be moved by events in Syria. Images from Aleppo, Syria are heart-breaking. It is also fair to say, most of us in the west, despite vocally shouting that ‘something needs to be done’, haven’t got much idea about exactly what. Syria is a tale of 1000 trenches with 2000 armies.

During the ‘Arab spring’ in 2011, I remember being engaged in debate over events in Libya. As ‘interventionists’ were encountering difficulty coordinating international support for anti-Gaddafi action, I was pointing towards Syria, worried international impotence was signaling to Assad he could act with impunity. Action in Libya was the ‘easy’ choice.

At the time, most commentary over the ‘Arab Spring’ was positive. Thousands of experts, mostly liberal elites listening to the sound of their own echo, applauding the ‘rising up’ of the Arab street. This policy brief from the European Policy Centre discusses how Europe should ‘open up’ to ‘democracies in the making’. Brian Whitaker in the Guardian suggested on 14/3/2011 that “the Arab spring is brighter than ever”.

My pessimism in conversations on the topic was unwelcome. Nobody wanted the input of the doomsayer. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in the Guardian led with a headline “Arabs are democracy’s new pioneers”. They asked “what these new experiments in freedom and democracy will teach the world over the next decade?” It is now 2016, we are half way into that ‘next decade’. This piece is in answer to that puzzle.
In the beginning

To do this I must start this story 20 years earlier. To be precise at 3.30am on 18th January 1991.

At that time, I was huddled inside a ‘sealed room’. In reality this was just a room specially decorated with masking tape and plastic sheeting, designed to increase my chance of surviving a chemical attack. I didn’t speak Hebrew, and the information given on the radio was linguistically out of my reach. One of my neighbours kept their dog leashed outside their house and I’d frequently sneak over to let it run free for a while. So when the sirens came, I first ran to free ‘Lady’, to share my protection against chemical attack. So, there we sat in the sealed room, two loners, taking our chances together.

The reason I mention Iraq is because Arab response to Saddam’s belligerency, coupled with Israel’s restraint, were taken as early signals of what Shimon Peres would begin to call the ‘New Middle East’. Regardless of how foolish such thought looks in 2016, the underlying pillars of these ‘believers’ have been the central drivers of the global strategy towards Israel for the last three decades.

Within three years of Iraq, and to loud international applause, Israel was importing terrorists from Tunis. Just months later, buses were exploding in Israel’s cities. As Yitzhak Rabin sought ways to act against the rise in terror, Israel was asked to act with restraint.
International applause

Israel often hears international applause when it lowers its guard and is swiftly criticised when it reacts to aggression from within the new reality. In early 1995, as bus bombs in Israel threatened to unseat Rabin and the Labour party, pressure was applied on Israel to deliver the concessions to make peace with Syria. The price – the Golan Heights. The UK Foreign Secretary in 1995 suggested ‘historic opportunities could be missed’, if the parties seeking peace were ‘over cautious’.