Friday, January 20, 2017

Deepening Sunni - Shia Conflict



Iran Repopulates Syria with Shia Muslims - Martin Chulov

People are starting to return to the valleys between Damascus and Lebanon, where whole communities had abandoned their lives to war. But the people settling in are not the same as those who fled during the past six years. Unlike the predominantly Sunni Muslim families who once lived there, the new arrivals are Shia Muslims, not just from elsewhere in Syria, but also from Lebanon and Iraq.    


The population swaps are central to a plan to make demographic changes to parts of Syria, realigning the country into zones of influence that backers of Bashar al-Assad, led by Iran, can directly control. Iran's project will fundamentally alter the social landscape of Syria, as well as reinforce Hizbullah in Lebanon, and consolidate its influence from Tehran to Israel's northern border. "Iran and the [Syrian] regime don't want any Sunnis between Damascus and Homs and the Lebanese border," said one senior Lebanese leader. "This represents a historic shift in populations."  
(Guardian-UK)
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U.S. Should Isolate Iran Immediately - Jeb Bush and Dennis Ross

A pattern of Iranian aggression has accelerated in the year since the nuclear deal with Iran was implemented. Yet the Obama administration has ignored the comprehensive nature of the Iranian threat and soft-pedaled non-nuclear sanctions seemingly out of fear that Iran would walk away from the nuclear deal. As a result, Iran's leaders have become more emboldened and its footprint continues to grow across the region.
  

Iranian advisors with Shia militias from as far away as Afghanistan flooded Syria, giving Tehran a military arc of influence stretching to the Mediterranean. Eleven Arab states also recently accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and meddling in their internal affairs.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control should not provide licenses to Boeing and Airbus until Iran stops using Iran Air and other carriers to ferry weapons and personnel for the Assad regime and Hizbullah in Lebanon. The new administration must also establish unmistakable red lines for continued Iranian harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. Only through a new campaign of pressure can the U.S. demonstrate to Iran that it runs very great risks if its policies don't change and if it is ever tempted to pursue nuclear weapons again.
Jeb Bush was governor of Florida (1999-2007). Dennis Ross, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was a special assistant to President Obama (2009-2011).
(TIME)


The Sunni Muslim World vs. Iran - Zvi Mazel

Sunnis make up 85% of the Muslim world, while Shi'ites are less than 15%. Nevertheless, Iran enjoys an advantage because it is the supreme Shi'ite religious and political authority, whereas in the Sunni world, every imam can issue his own fatwas - though there is no general obligation to follow them. The lack of religious solidarity - let alone a common policy - severely hampers the ability of Sunni countries to counter the Iranian threat.
 

Beginning with Khomeini, Tehran has developed a powerful and aggressive army to push its agenda: exporting its Islamic Revolution to Sunni states as a first step before attacking "the great Satan" - the U.S. and its allies. Iran was a major driving force in the disintegration of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the shambles that is Lebanon.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.
(Jerusalem Post)


Trump Administration: Turning Point in MidEast Policy? - Dore Gold 

The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States is likely to lead to a major transformation of U.S. Middle East policy. Many of the assumptions that accompanied the years of President Barack Obama will no longer be held by American policymakers.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Embassy Move: Correcting Historic Injustice



Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - Robert Satloff

Any assessment of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem needs to place appropriate value not just on repairing a historic injustice but on the powerful signal broadcast to the Middle East - and the wider world - that a new administration is determined to chart a new course in the region, one in which fulfilling commitments to allies is a top priority.

The move of the U.S. embassy is 69 years overdue. Given that American administrations of both parties have done official business with the government of Israel in Jerusalem for seven decades and that five presidents have held official meetings with Israeli prime ministers in Jerusalem going back to the early 1970s, it is right and proper that America's main diplomatic mission to Israel be situated in the city Israelis have considered their capital from the founding of the state. Moreover, the U.S. should call on all UN member states to join in establishing their embassies to Israel in Jerusalem.


U.S. officials should tell Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the relocation is happening and that he and the PA have an interest in preventing, not provoking, violence from which only radicals, especially Hamas, can benefit. Abbas should be told not to urge mass protest that has the potential to turn violent, and that the continued provision of economic aid will depend on how the Palestinian leadership comports itself in presenting the facts of the embassy relocation to the Palestinian people. 
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


Trump: I Did Not Forget Jerusalem Pledge
- Alexander Fulbright

President-elect Donald Trump was asked by Israel Hayom if he intends to go through with his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. "Of course I remember what I said about Jerusalem. You know that I am not a person who breaks promises," Trump responded in remarks published in Hebrew on. 

(Times of Israel)
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Friday, January 13, 2017

It's Jihad Stupid

In Paris, Kerry called ISIS attackers there "psychopathic monsters."  He appears to hold another standard for Palestinian jihadis.

The Threat of Radical Islamic Terrorism Is the Same in Europe and Israel
- Dan Diker

Radical Islamic terrorism in Europe and Jerusalem are both motivated by extremist ideologies and must be condemned equally.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry branded the ISIS terrorists who massacred 130 people in Paris in 2015 as "psychopathic monsters." "Psychopathic," ideologically and religiously motivated terrorists also live and work in Jerusalem, like the "truck terrorist" Fadi al-Qanbar.

He was not driven by socioeconomic deprivation or nationalist sentiment. He enjoyed complete freedom of movement and received the same social and economic benefits as Jewish residents of Jerusalem.
From a jihadi point of view, there is no difference between terrorism in Berlin, Nice, or Jerusalem. Palestinian jihadis and their fellow travelers in ISIS, al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Syria, Hamas, Iran's IRGC and its Hizbullah proxy have declared that Islamic terrorism against Europe and Israel stems from the same radical roots and aims for the same extremist end: exclusive Islamic sovereignty across the lands of the Near East and ultimately the world.
 

The West must condemn and battle Islamic terrorism unconditionally and without reservation wherever it strikes.
The writer is director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
(Jerusalem Post)
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Palestinian Thugocracy



A Life of Degradation and Bitterness under Fatah Rule
- A letter from a West Bank Palestinian attorney 
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The Jerusalem Center was contacted by a respected Palestinian attorney from a West Bank city. After personally interviewing him, we are publishing a letter he wrote. His identity will not be made public to ensure his safety.
    Below are excerpts. Read the
full letter here.

  • Palestinian Authority/Fatah leaders forget that the people lean toward Hamas not because they love it, but because they hate what the Fatah movement does - which only gets worse by the day.
  • The Palestinian citizen suffers from ugly terror if he expresses an opinion that is opposed to that of the PA, or insists on his rights before an official or has refused to pay a bribe to a senior official, his sons, or his bodyguards.
  • The citizen wonders - is he supposed to pay the extortion money to the members of the Fatah Executive Committee, or to the members of the Fatah Central Committee, or to their sons, when he does not have the wherewithal to protect himself from their evil and from the evil of their sons, their bodyguards, and Fatah?
  • I demand of the international legal organizations that pretend to defend human rights, the states of the European Union, and the United States, the great economic and rhetorical supporter of the PA, and even of the United Nations, which has a commitment to human rights, to set up investigatory committees on the irregularities of the Palestinian Authority.
  • The security apparatus of the PA and the Fatah movement has been committing crimes against the Palestinian people, which reach the level of crimes against humanity, for half a century - and the crimes continue. I still have never heard of any settler, Israeli soldier, or Israeli officer extorting a Palestinian citizen. It is what the PA and Fatah people do.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Israelis Don't Need Theories



On Palestinian Statehood - Bret Stephens
  • Would a Palestinian state serve the cause of Mideast peace? This used to be conventional wisdom, on the theory that a Palestinian state would lead to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
  • Today the proposition is ridiculous. No deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah is going to lift the sights of those now fighting in Syria, Iraq or Yemen. Nor will a deal reconcile Tehran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to the existence of a Jewish state.
  • Aren't the Palestinians entitled to a state? Maybe. But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans, Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots, Rohingya, Tibetans, Uyghurs or West Papuans - all of whom have distinct national identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood? What gives Palestinians the preferential claim?
  • Comparisons aside, would a Palestinian state be good for Palestinian people? A June 2015 poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that a majority of Arab residents in east Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state.
  • But isn't a Palestinian state a necessity for Israel? Can it maintain its Jewish and democratic character without separating itself from the Palestinians?
  • In theory, Israel would be well-served living alongside a sovereign Palestinian state that lived in peace with its neighbors. But Israelis don't live in theory. They live in a world where Israeli prime ministers made good-faith offers of Palestinian statehood and were met with rejection and violence.
(Wall Street Journal)
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Friday, January 06, 2017

Drumroll: the MidEast Colonialists Are Arabs



Shun Palestinian Colonialism - Melanie Phillips


The goal of the Palestinians is the colonial conquest of another people's country. That country is the State of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, whose unique connection goes back to antiquity. In the 7th century the Arab world conquered Judea, as the ancient kingdom of the Jewish people had been known. The Jews are the only people for whom this was ever their national kingdom. Now the Arabs want again to conquer and colonize the same land, which since 1948 has been restored to the Jewish people.


Mahmoud Abbas has explicitly rejected Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority indoctrinates its children to conquer Israeli cities. You've only got to look at the insignia and maps, not just of Hamas but also Abbas' "moderate" Fatah, to see that the land they demand for a state of Palestine includes the whole of Israel.

The Palestinians claim there can't be a state of Palestine while Israelis are living in the disputed territories. Well, why not? Arabs make up some 20% of Israel's population. There is no reason apart from sheer racism and antisemitism - racist ethnic cleansing. Israel's "occupation" is nothing of the kind and the "settlements" are lawful.
The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK).
(Jerusalem Post)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Obama's 3 Pronged Attack on Israel



Obama and Israel, strike and counter-strike - Caroline Glick

UN Security Council Resolution 2334 was the first prong of outgoing President Barack Obama’s lame duck campaign against Israel.

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday was the second.

On January 15, stage 3 will commence in Paris.

At France’s lame duck President Fran├žois Hollande’s international conference, the foreign ministers of some 50 states are expected to adopt as their own Kerry’s anti-Israel principles.

[Jerusalem Post via JWR]
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Obama's final, most shameful, legacy moment - Dr. Charles Krauthammer

It's incomprehensible - except as a parting shot of personal revenge on Benjamin Netanyahu. Or perhaps as a revelation of a deep-seated antipathy to Israel that simply awaited a safe political interval for public expression.

Another legacy moment for Barack Obama. And his most shameful.
[Washington Post via JWR]
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Top Dem Spits Fire @Obama: VideoBite




And for a less polished, but vehemently funny reaction, consider:


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Kerry Joins Obama in Israel Pile-On

Kerry prepares, and conceals, a bed of nails
Source: Israel Hayom

In Parting Shot, Kerry Tears into Israel over Settlements
- Josh Lederman and Matthew Daly

In a farewell speech, Kerry deviat[ed] from the traditional U.S. message that foreign powers shouldn't impose a solution.

Most of his speech focused on Israel, and he said the two-state solution was "now in serious jeopardy." Yet he offered fewer details about how to get to such a deal, given the failure of so many previous attempts, including his own nine-month effort that collapsed in 2014. 
(AP-Washington Post)


Kerry Denounced by Lawmakers in Both Parties - Jonathan Martin

Secretary of State John Kerry's rebuke of the Israeli government set off a wave of criticism from lawmakers in both parties. Republicans denounced what they said was the Obama administration's harsh treatment of a steadfast ally and Democrats signaled that they were uneasy with Kerry's pressure on Israel. 

(New York Times)


It's Not the Settlements - Rick Richman

Immediately after the UN voted last week to vilify Israel, Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security advisor, held a conference call to argue that the Obama administration was motivated by its "grave concerns" about "the continued pace" of Israeli settlement activities.
   

Rhodes said, "Since 2009, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has increased by more than 100,000."
  

The figure of 100,000 sounds significant until you realize that 80% of it has been in the settlement blocs "everyone knows" Israel will retain in any conceivable peace agreement.
  

The 20,000 person increase east of the separation barrier translates into less than 1% of the population in the disputed territories over a period of eight years. The vast majority of Israeli settlement activity has been within settlement blocs that no one can realistically expect Israel to dismantle.

During the Bush administration, the U.S. and Israel agreed on a formula for settlements: building could continue within the boundaries of existing settlements, but not outside them, so that construction would not affect the amount of land available for a Palestinian state, which was more than 90% of the disputed territories.

It was the Obama administration that reneged on that agreement in 2009 and made an issue out of something that had already been resolved.
(Commentary)


Kerry's Rage Against Israel - Editorial

Israelis 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. Israelis also remember that 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.
(Wall Street Journal)


Obama's Betrayal of Israel Must Not Stand - Editorial

Fortunately, the bipartisan uproar sparked by Obama's UN decision provides an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to rally around a more constructive policy. They should start by agreeing to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That would provide a powerful reaffirmation to Israel of the U.S.' enduring commitment. In the choice between terror and peace, and democracy and repression, there can be no room for impartiality, let alone abstention. 
(Bloomberg)
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Obama Reveals His Feathers


Obama's Legacy on Israel - Elliott Abrams

Just weeks before leaving office, President Obama could not resist the opportunity to take one more swipe at Israel - and to do real harm.
   

Obama has done us one favor, which is to settle the long argument about his attitude toward Israel.
  

No partisan of his can henceforth say with a straight face, as Thomas Friedman wrote in the New York Times in 2012: "The only question I have when it comes to President Obama and Israel is whether he is the most pro-Israel president in history or just one of the most."     When the crunch came, Israelis had to turn to Egypt to try to postpone a UN vote.
  

Think about that: there is more trust between Israel and Egypt today than between either of them and the U.S.
(Weekly Standard)


New Zealand Is a Colonialist State Founded on the Theft of Maori Land
- Liel Leibovitz

New Zealand introduced the resolution in the UN Security Council that pronounced settlements to be illegal.
   

New Zealanders are no strangers to settlements. In 1831, there were fewer than 1,000 Europeans living in New Zealand among the local Maori tribes. These Europeans had neither historical attachment nor any legal claim to the land.
  

Eventually, Maori sovereignty in their ancestral homeland was effectively eliminated.
(Tablet) 


The Occupiers Who Voted Against Israel - Alan Dershowitz

Votes in favor of the anti-Israel UN resolution were cast by Russia, which has occupied Konigsberg since 1945, after capturing that ancient German city, ethnically cleansing its population, and bringing in hundreds of thousands of Russian settlers; China, which has occupied Tibet and brought in thousands of Chinese settlers; France, which occupied and settled Algeria for many years; and Great Britain, which has occupied and colonized a significant portion of the globe. 
(Gatestone Institute)


Egyptian Report Reveals Obama's Collaboration with Palestinian Authority in UN Ambush of Israel
- Yochanan Visser

Israel's Channel 1
broadcast a report quoting Egyptian media that published the secret protocol of a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and two top Palestinian Authority officials in Washington on Dec. 15. Oded Granot, an Arabic-speaking Middle East expert, said the protocol was iron-clad evidence that the procedure that led to the ambush against Israel in the Security Council on Friday was coordinated between Kerry, Rice, PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat, and Ryad Mansour, the PA envoy to the United Nations.     

Kerry and Rice told the two PA officials that the Obama administration was ready to cooperate with a Palestinian action at the Security Council on condition that the resolution would be "balanced." Kerry also reportedly suggested to Erekat that the PA could bring up ideas to set the parameters for a forced permanent solution to the conflict.
   

Granot said the Egyptians most likely published the protocol to express their frustration with the attitude of the Obama administration in orchestrating the move behind the back of Egyptian President el-Sisi. 
(Western Journalism)


Video - Krauthammer: It's As If the UN Passed a Resolution Declaring Mecca Jewish Territory

Columnist Charles Krauthammer discussed the recent UN resolution on Fox News, saying, "Does anybody think that Venezuela and New Zealand spent nights slaving over the wording of this resolution? (They were the ones who introduced it.) Of course not. This was a U.S. operation all the way."
    

"The pernicious part is the inclusion in the resolution of the term 'east Jerusalem.' That was totally unnecessary, and it's completely illogical. It turns the holiest site in Judaism - the Temple Mount, the Western Wall - into foreign territory. People say, 'it's the third holiest shrine in Islam.' It's the first holiest shrine of Judaism. It's as if the UN passed a resolution declaring Mecca and Medina to be sovereign Jewish or Christian territory. It's absurd, it's an insult to the intelligence of the world, and it is supremely damaging to the Israeli claim to its own holy places." 
(National Review)


Why This UN Resolution Was Different - Jonathan S. Tobin 

While previous resolutions unfairly criticized the Jewish state, none of them specifically labeled the Jewish presence in territory Israel took control of in the 1967 Six-Day War as illegal. It means that hundreds of thousands of Jews living in decades-old Jewish neighborhoods in the city of Jerusalem or in settlement blocs that even Obama has conceded would remain inside Israel in the event of a peace treaty are now international outlaws.
  

It will put air in the sails of an anti-Semitic BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) movement that had seemed to be losing ground in recent years. Now, for the first time, it can claim to have the backing of the UN. Under the terms of this resolution, Jewish holy places in Jerusalem are considered to be Palestinian. This is an endorsement of the vicious Palestinian campaign at UNESCO and other UN bodies to deny Jewish history and religion by claiming Jerusalem's holy places are exclusively Muslim.
    

Moreover, it removes any incentive for the Palestinian Authority to budge from its refusal to negotiate peace with Israel. In effect, Obama, who has claimed to be a champion of the peace process, has effectively killed it. 
(Commentary)
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Obama Leads "Gang Rape" of Israel at UN

 


 




Obama's Fitting Finish - Brett Stephens

Barack Obama ’s decision to abstain from, and therefore allow, last week’s vote to censure Israel at the U.N. Security Council is a fitting capstone for what’s left of his foreign policy. Strategic half-measures, underhanded tactics and moralizing gestures have been the president’s style from the beginning. Israelis aren’t the only people to feel betrayed by the results.


Also betrayed: Iranians, whose 2009 Green Revolution in heroic protest of a stolen election Mr. Obama conspicuously failed to endorse for fear of offending the ruling theocracy.


Iraqis, who were assured of a diplomatic surge to consolidate the gains of the military surge, but who ceased to be of any interest to Mr. Obama the moment U.S. troops were withdrawn, and only concerned him again when ISIS neared the gates of Baghdad.


Syrians, whose initially peaceful uprising against anti-American dictator Bashar Assad Mr. Obama refused to embrace, and whose initially moderate-led uprising Mr. Obama failed to support, and whose sarin- and chlorine-gassed children Mr. Obama refused to rescue, his own red lines notwithstanding.


Ukrainians, who gave up their nuclear weapons in 1994 with formal U.S. assurances that their “existing borders” would be guaranteed, only to see Mr. Obama refuse to supply them with defensive weapons when Vladimir Putin invaded their territory 20 years later.


Pro-American Arab leaders, who expected better than to be given ultimatums from Washington to step down, and who didn’t anticipate the administration’s tilt toward the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate political opposition, and toward Tehran as a responsible negotiating partner.


Most betrayed: Americans.


Mr. Obama promised a responsible end to the war in Iraq. We are again fighting in Iraq. He promised victory in Afghanistan. The Taliban are winning. He promised a reset with Russia. We are enemies again. He promised the containment of Iran. We are witnessing its ascendancy in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. He promised a world free of nuclear weapons. We are stumbling into another age of nuclear proliferation. He promised al Qaeda on a path to defeat. Jihad has never been so rampant and deadly.


[T]he administration is likely being deceptive about last week’s U.N. vote, claiming it did not promote, craft or orchestrate a resolution that treats the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a settlement in illegally occupied territory. Yet in November, John Kerry had a long talk on the subject with the foreign minister of New Zealand, one of the resolution’s sponsors.

Even this might be excusable, if Mr. Obama at least had the courage of his mistaken convictions, or if his deception were in the service of a worthier end. Instead, we have the spectacle of the U.S. government hiding behind the skirts of the foreign minister of New Zealand—along with eminent co-sponsors, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal—in order to embarrass and endanger a democratic ally in a forum where that ally is already isolated and bullied. In the catalog of low points in American diplomacy, this one ranks high.

After the Carter administration pulled a similar stunt against Israel at the Security Council in December 1980, the Washington Post published an editorial that does the paper honor today.

“It cannot be denied,” the editors wrote, “that there is a pack and that it hounds Israel shamelessly and that this makes it very serious when the United States joins it.” The editorial was titled “Joining the Jackals.”

Unlike Mr. Carter, Mr. Obama hasn’t joined the jackals. He has merely opened the door wide to them, whether at the U.N. or in the skies over Syria or in the killing fields in Ukraine. The United States abstains: What a fitting finish to this ruinous presidency.
[Wall Street Journal]

Obama’s war against America - Caroline Glick

By leading the gang rape of Israel, Obama undermined the rationale for American power. If US agrees that Israel is committing a crime by respecting the civil and human rights of its citizens to live in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, then how can America claim that it has the right to defend its own rights and interests, when those clash with the views of the vast majority of state members of the UN? 

Following Obama’s assault on Israel, Senators Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz called for the US to end its financial support for the UN at least until the Security Council abrogates Resolution 2334. They are correct.
[Jerusalem Post]


Obama's Parting Betrayal of Israel - John Bolton

[O]n the eve of Hanukkah and Christmas, Barack Obama stabbed Israel in the front.

Mr. Obama’s refusal to use Washington’s veto was more than a graceless parting gesture. Its consequences pose major challenges for American interests.

Mr. Obama argues that Resolution 2334 continues a bipartisan American policy toward the Middle East. It does precisely the opposite. The White House has abandoned any pretense that the actual parties to the conflict must resolve their differences. Instead, the president has essentially endorsed the Palestinian politico-legal narrative.

Mr. Trump should unambiguously reject Mr. Obama’s view that Resolution 2334 is justified to save the “two-state solution.” That goal, at best, has been on life-support for years. After Mr. Obama’s provocation, its life expectancy might now be only until Jan. 20. And good riddance. This dead-end vision, by conjuring an imaginary state with zero economic viability, has harmed not only Israel but also the Palestinians, the principal intended beneficiaries.

Far better to essay a “three-state solution,” returning Gaza to Egypt and giving those parts of the West Bank that Israel is prepared to cede to Jordan. By attaching Palestinian lands to real economies (not a make-believe one), average Palestinians (not their political elite), will have a true chance for a better future. Other alternatives to the two-state approach should also be considered.

Mr. Obama loves using the word “pivot” for his ever-changing priorities. It is now up to Mr. Trump to pivot away from his predecessor’s disastrous policies on Israel. Taking up the challenge will be difficult, but well worth the effort for America and its friends world-wide.
[Wall Street Journal]
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Democratic Lawmakers Blast UN Resolution

The Obama administration's decision to abstain from a UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements was the subject of intense opposition from lawmakers in the president's own party. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that the UN resolution "seeks to place responsibility for continued conflict fully on Israel and ignores violence and incitement by Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaderships. Any workable and long-lasting solution to this conflict must come about through direct, bilateral negotiations, and this resolution undermines that effort." Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that "the UN should stop wasting its time trying to embarrass Israel, and the United States should continue the policy of vetoing anti-Israel resolutions."

The ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), said, "This resolution is one-sided and unfairly calls out Israel without assigning any blame for the Palestinian role in the current impasse." Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) warned that the "resolution would undermine, if not undo, the chances for productive discussions between the two sides." Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) called the resolution "unconstructive." Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) stressed that "any lasting peace must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, not imposed by the international community." 
(The Tower)


Democrats Scorch Obama over UN Vote - Jeremy Berke

Congressional Democrats issued scathing statements aimed at the Obama administration over the U.S. abstention on [the] UN Security Council vote. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he was "deeply disappointed" that the Obama administration allowed such a "one-sided" resolution to pass. "Actions like this will only take us further from the peace we all want to see." Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said, "I am dismayed that the administration departed from decades of U.S. policy by not vetoing the UN resolution." 

(AOL News)



Netanyahu: UN Resolution a Call to Arms for Israel's Friends

Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter [in the Old City of Jerusalem] is "occupied territory." This is delusional. The resolution determines that the Western Wall is "occupied territory." This too is delusional....There is also an attempt here, which will not succeed, to impose permanent settlement terms on Israel."
   

"All American presidents since Carter upheld the American commitment not to try to dictate permanent settlement terms to Israel at the Security Council. And yesterday, in complete contradiction of this commitment, including an explicit commitment by President Obama himself in 2011, the Obama administration carried out a shameful anti-Israel ploy at the UN."
   

"Last night's resolution is a call to arms for all of our many friends in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, friends who are sick of the UN's hostility toward Israel, and they intend to bring about a fundamental change in the UN. Therefore, this evening I tell you in the language of our sources, the sweet will yet come forth from the bitter, and those who come to curse will yet bless."  (Prime Minister's Office)


Obama's Anti-Israel Tantrum - Editorial

The decision by the U.S. to abstain from a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel over its settlements on the West Bank reveals clearly the Obama Administration's animus against the State of Israel itself. No longer needing Jewish votes, Mr. Obama was free, finally, to punish the Jewish state in a way no previous President has done. The resolution will offer support in every European capital, international institution and U.S. university campus to bully Israel.

(Wall Street Journal)


UN Resolution Lets Palestinians Think They Can Bypass Israel Talks
- Alan M. Dershowitz

It is now illegal for Jews to pray at the Western Wall or live in certain Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. These actions require Israelis to enter areas that were captured from Jordan during Israel's defensive war of 1967. According to the Security Council resolution that the U.S. did not veto, any area that was not part of Israel before June of 1967 is now illegally occupied.
   

This resolution also encourages boycotts of Israeli products manufactured beyond the so-called Green Line, and pressures the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli officials. In addition, the resolution makes illegal Israel's security barrier, which has saved numerous lives.
   

But the most dangerous consequence of this resolution is that it makes peace much more difficult to achieve because it sends a false message to the Palestinians that they can achieve a state through the UN rather than through direct negotiations with Israel. The Palestinian leadership's refusal to accept Prime Minister Netanyahu's offer to negotiate without preconditions has now been rewarded. They will continue in their rejectionist mode, fortified by this one-sided resolution.
   

Why did President Obama, in his parting days, tie the hands of his successor? He was certainly not reflecting the will of the people or of Congress. Nor is this an issue on which Israelis are divided. There is no Israeli leader who supports this resolution. This is a sad day for America, for Israel and for the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
The writer is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.
(New York Daily News)


Video - Israeli Ambassador to the UN

"While thousands are being massacred in Syria, this Council wasted valuable time and effort condemning the democratic State of Israel for building homes in the historic homeland of the Jewish people."

"We overcame those decrees during the time of the Maccabees and we will overcome this evil decree today. We have full confidence in the justice of our cause and in the righteousness of our path. We will continue to be a democratic state based on the rule of law and full civil and human rights for all our citizens, and we will continue to be a Jewish state proudly reclaiming the land of our forefathers, where the Maccabees fought their oppressors and King David ruled from Jerusalem."
(Facebook)
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Reform Rabbis: Abstention "Leaves Us Dismayed, Disappointed and Angry" - David Suissa

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the U.S., in a statement signed by President Rabbi Denise Eger and Chief Executive Rabbi Steven A. Fox, expressed "strong disagreement" with the UN Security Council resolution, saying that the U.S. abstention "leaves us dismayed, disappointed and angry."
 

The CCAR concurred with many others that "peace negotiations belong between the two parties involved" and that "the United Nations is not the arena in which to address these complex issues," adding that "the UN's obsessive and relentless criticism of Israel, while ignoring the unspeakable repression committed by illegitimate regimes and terrorist organizations worldwide, falsely and maliciously labels Israel uniquely as a pariah state." 
(Los Angeles Jewish Journal)


We Are Not Occupiers in Our Own Land - Nadav Shragai

As Simon the Hasmonean put it some 2,200 years ago: "We have not taken foreign territory or any alien property, but have occupied our ancestral heritage, for some time unjustly wrested from us by our enemies; now that we have a favorable opportunity, we are merely recovering our ancestral heritage" (Maccabees 1, 15:33-34).
  

Our friends must finally hear that we are not occupiers in our own land, and that we are connected to it with bonds of love, the Bible, heritage and nature; that the settlements in Judea and Samaria, as elsewhere in the Land of Israel, are the realization of justice and natural rights.
The writer, a journalist and commentator at Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom, has documented the dispute over Jerusalem for thirty years.
(Israel Hayom)


Rejecting the False Notion that Israel Is an "Occupier" - Alan Clemmons

"Occupier" is nothing more than a polite way of calling Israel a thief, suggesting that Jewish invaders colonized territory belonging to the Arabs, which therefore must be restored to its rightful, victimized owners.
  

To suggest that the Jews are occupiers in a region that has been known as Judea for over 3,000 years is no less ridiculous than to suggest that Arabs are occupiers in Arabia.The writer, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, was the originating sponsor of the first state anti-BDS legislation in the U.S. in 2015.
(Jerusalem Post)


From an International Law Perspective, This Is Not an Occupation
- Mark Goldfeder

The president's decision to support the UN resolution was wrong as a matter of law. Article 6 of the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine explicitly encouraged "close settlement by Jews on the land." Legal scholars such as Eugene Kontorovich and Abraham Bell have noted that international law clearly dictates that Israel inherited the boundaries of the Mandate of Palestine as they existed in May 1948. Israel thus has title to the land.
   

If there was ever an occupation of territory, it happened in 1948 when two invading Arab armies, Jordan (in the West Bank) and Egypt (in Gaza), occupied territory that they had taken through aggressive action that is forbidden under international law. Thus to give meaning to the "pre-67 lines" is to retroactively ratify aggression and support occupation.
   

In short, Israel was given land under a Mandate that was never repealed, two other countries attacked Israel and squatted on the land for a while, and then, when they attacked Israel again and lost, Israel regained the land it had originally been given. Israel has exclusive title and sovereignty; from an international law perspective, this is not an occupation.
   

So long as institutions like the UN continue to issue one-sided statements that ignore foundational concepts in international law - pressuring the Israeli leadership to concede more and more while ignoring their previous concessions and failing to hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for their actions - real peace cannot happen.
The writer is a senior lecturer at Emory Law School and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.
(CNN)


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Obama Owns Aleppo: "Weakened & Disgraced"



Aleppo’s fall is Obama’s failure - Leon Wieseltier

Contemplating the extermination of Aleppo and its people, I was reminded of a sentence that I read this summer. It appeared in an encomium to Elie Wiesel shortly after his death. It was a sterling sentence. It declared: “We must never be bystanders to injustice or indifferent to suffering.” That was Wiesel’s teaching, exactly. The problem with the sentence is that it was issued by the White House and attributed to President Obama. And so the sentence was not at all sterling. It was outrageously hypocritical.

How dare Obama, and members of his administration, speak this way? After five years and more in which the United States’ inaction in Syria has transformed our country into nothing other than a bystander to the greatest atrocity of our time, they have forfeited the right to this language. Their angry and anguished utterances are merely the manipulation of the rhetoric of conscience on behalf of a policy without a trace of conscience. You cannot be cold-hearted and high-minded at the same time. Historians will record — they will not have to dig deeply or interpret wildly to conclude — that all through the excruciations of Aleppo, and more generally of Syria, the United States watched. As we watched, we made excuses, and occasionally we ornamented our excuses with eloquence. The president is enamored of his eloquence. But eloquence is precisely what the wrenching circumstances do not require of him. In circumstances of moral (and strategic) emergency, his responsibility is not to move us. It is to pick up the phone. “Elie did more than just bear witness,” Obama said in his eulogy, “he acted.” And he added: “Just imagine the peace and justice that would be possible in our world if more people lived a little more like Elie Wiesel.”

Just imagine.

[I]t is a shameful and incontrovertible fact of our history that during the past eight years the values of rescue, assistance, protection, humanitarianism and democracy have been demoted in our foreign policy and in many instances banished altogether. The ruins of the finest traditions of American internationalism, of American leadership in a darkening world, may be found in the ruins of Aleppo. Our ostentatious passivity is a primary cause of that darkening. When they go low, we go home. The Obama legacy in foreign policy is vacuum-creation, which his addled America-First successor will happily ratify. Aleppo was not destroyed by the Syrian army. It was destroyed by a savage coalition led and protected by Russia. While they massacred innocent men, women and children, we anxiously pondered scenarios of “deconfliction.”

It was no different from the obligation to act against the evil in Auschwitz. And we scorned the obligation. We learned nothing. We forgot everything. We failed. We did not even try.

As a direct or indirect consequence of our refusal to respond forcefully to the Syrian crisis, we have beheld secular tyranny, religious tyranny, genocide, chemical warfare, barrel bombs and cluster bombs, the torture and murder of children, the displacement of 11 million people, the destabilization of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the ascendancy of Iran in the region, the emergence of Russia as a global power, the diminishment of the American position in the world, the refugee crisis in Europe, the resurgence of fascism in Europe and a significant new threat to the security of the United States. It is amazing how much doing nothing can do, especially when it is we who do nothing.

Not long after he mourned Wiesel, the president engaged in another one of his exercises in empathy without consequence. At the U.N. Summit for Refugees and Migrants, he spoke of Alan Kurdi, the Syrian boy who washed up dead on a beach in Turkey. “That little boy on the beach could be our son or our grandson,” the president moistly said. “We cannot avert our eyes or turn our backs.” And then we proceeded to avert our eyes and turn our backs. The people who had the power to prevent, stop or even mitigate this catastrophe should now bow their heads and fall silent and reflect on how it is that they brought us so low. Aleppo is no more, and we are weakened and disgraced.
[Washington Post]
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Aleppo: Reflection of World Politics - Prof. Eyal Zisser

Syrian President Assad's victory in the battle for Aleppo is a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah. All three joined to form an unholy alliance, which assured Moscow a triumphant return to the Middle East stage, and Iran the status of regional power with considerable influence.

Aside from several limp condemnations or expressions of grief from leaders in Europe and the U.S., the world is silent. For Israel, the lessons to be learned from the fighting in Syria are clear: It must never pin its hopes and stake its future on help from the international community.

The world supports the strong and the victorious. Therefore, it would behoove Israel to strengthen itself in earnest, as a necessary guarantee of its ongoing existence and growth in our region.
(Israel Hayom)
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