On Monday, a peace agreement will be signed by Israelis and Palestinians. This ``Geneva accord'' has gotten much attention. And the signing itself will be greeted with much hoopla. Journalists are being flown in from around the world by the Swiss government. Jimmy Carter will be heading a list of foreign dignitaries. The U.S. Embassy in Bern will be sending an observer.
This is all rather peculiar: the agreement is being signed not by Israeli and Palestinian officials, but by two people with no power.
On the Palestinian side, the negotiator is former information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, who at least is said to have Yasser Arafat's ear. The Israeli side, however, is led by Yossi Beilin, a man whose political standing in his own country is so low that he failed to make it into Parliament. After helping bring his Labor Party to ruin, Beilin abandoned it for the far left Meretz Party, which then did so badly in the last election that Beilin is now a private citizen.
There is a reason why he is one of Israel's most reviled and discredited politicians. He was the principal ideologue and architect behind the ``peace'' foisted on Israel in 1993. Those Oslo agreements have brought a decade of the worst terror in all Israeli history.
Now he is at it again. And Secretary of State Colin Powell has written a letter to Beilin and Rabbo expressing appreciation for their effort, and next week he plans to meet with them.
This is scandalous. Israel is a democracy, and this agreement was negotiated in defiance of the democratically (and overwhelmingly) elected government of Israel. If a private U.S. citizen negotiates a treaty on his own, he could go to jail under the Logan Act. If an Israeli does it, he gets a pat on the back from the secretary of state.
Moreover, this ``peace'' is entirely hallucinatory. It is written as if Oslo never happened. The Palestinian side repeats solemn pledges to recognize Israel, renounce terror, end anti-Israel incitement, etc.-- all promised in Oslo. These promises are today such a dead letter that the Palestinian side is openly bargaining these chits again, as if the Israelis have forgotten that in return for these pledges 10 years ago, Israel recognized the PLO, brought it out of Tunisian exile, established a Palestinian Authority, permitted it an army with 50,000 guns and invited the world to donate billions to this new Authority.
Arafat pocketed every Israeli concession and betrayed every promise he signed at Oslo.
It is Lucy and the football all over again, and the same chorus of delusionals who so applauded Oslo -- Jimmy Carter, Sandy Berger, Tom Friedman -- is applauding again. This time, however, the Israeli surrender is so breathtaking it makes Oslo look rational.
A Palestinian state, of course. Evacuating every Jewish settlement in new Palestine, of course. Redividing Jerusalem, of course. But that is not enough. Beilin gives up the ultimate symbol of the Jewish connection and claim to the land, the center of the Jewish state for 1,000 years before the Roman destruction, the subject of Jewish longing in poetry and prayer for the 2,000 years since -- the Temple Mount. And Beilin doesn't just give it up to, say, some neutral international authority. He gives it to sovereign Palestine. Jews will visit at Arab sufferance.
Not satisfied with having given up Israel's soul, Beilin gives up the body too. He not only returns Israel to its 1967 borders, arbitrary and indefensible, but he does so without any serious security safeguards.
Palestine promises to acquire and buy no more weapons than specified in some treaty Annex. This is a joke. Oslo had similarly detailed limitations on Palestinian weaponry and nobody even pretended to enforce them. Last year, a massive illegal boatload came in from Iran on the Karine A. What did the world do about it? Nothing.
Today, however, Israel still has control over Palestine's borders. Under Beilin, this ends. Palestine will be free to acquire as much lethal weaponry as it wants.
And on the critical question that even the most dovish Israelis insist on -- that the Palestinians not have the right to flood Israel with Arab refugees -- the agreement is utterly ambiguous. Third-party countries are to suggest exactly how many Palestinians are to return to Israel, and the basis for the number Israel will be required to accept will be the mathematical average!
This is not a treaty, this is a suicide note -- by a private citizen on behalf of a country that has utterly rejected him politically. That it should get any encouragement from the United States or from its secretary of state is a disgrace.
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Is the American-led road map to an Israeli-Palestinian settlement dead or just temporarily comatose?
It is too soon to declare the road map dead, not least because both the US and Israel have, for now, no interest in doing so. Even though the Bush administration is now probably focused more on "conflict management" than on "conflict resolution," this does not mean that everything proposed in the road map is moot.
The road map's staying power comes despite the major distortions introduced when the vision of President George W. Bush's speech of June 2002 was transformed in conjunction with the Quartet – the European Union, the UN, and Russia, along with the US. The doctored version, among other problems, included totally unworkable timetables.
Worse, it was built upon a basic asymmetry, with Israel agreeing to eventual Palestinian statehood without the Palestinians being required to do away with the so-called right of return – which means abolishing Israel as a Jewish state.
The road map, then, as distinct from Bush's original vision, had far too many structural flaws to be the one and only compass for the peace process.
Even the underlying vision of a "democratic, viable" Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel inevitably raises a question, since there is no other Arab state in the region to which these characteristics apply. What guarantee is there that the projected Palestinian state would be different?
THE BUSH administration's Middle East policy was based on a triangle of separate but related subjects: victory in Iraq and the war against terror, an effort to reform and democratize the Arab world, and resolving the Arab-Jewish conflict.
After many years of the US being regarded in the region as a paper tiger, the peoples of the Middle East viewed America's decisive military victory over Saddam Hussein with awe, if not with glee. So far, this attitude has not changed despite America's problems in Iraq, but it could if the security situation worsens.
Part of the Palestinian leadership and people understood that only with American support would they have a chance to realize part of their aspirations. Thus, a perception, even if misguided, among Palestinians that America's policy was being set back in the region as a whole would probably lead to an increase in terrorist activity.
In this context, it should be remembered that America's precipitate withdrawal from Beirut 20 years ago caused it to lose face in the Middle East for decades, while Iraq and a durable security framework for the Persian Gulf and the region as a whole are far more important than Beirut ever was. The recent attack on an American convoy in the Gaza Strip, killing three American security personnel, may have been a signal to the US: "The roads of Gaza won't be safer for you than the streets of Baghdad."
Israelis view the evolution of America's role in the Middle East in the light of two recent anniversaries: 30 years after the Yom Kippur War and a decade after Oslo. The two events are in a sense mirror images of each other.
The Yom Kippur War started disastrously, but ended with one of Israel's greatest military victories and created the conditions for eventual Egyptian-Israeli peace. Oslo, by contrast, was initially greeted with almost universal acclamation and ended in disaster – for peace, for Israel's security, and in the view of many, also for the Palestinians. Both the Yom Kippur War and Oslo and are traumas Israelis do not want to repeat.
THEREFORE, IT'S only natural that many Israelis see matters through a glass darkly, and that what they see is the lack of a significant body of Arab opinion recognizing the right of the Jewish state right to exist.
Indeed, Israelis ask themselves, given that Oslo, Camp David II and the road map had actually brought about an increase in Palestinian terrorism, is this not proof that real, historic, ideological compromise was never really part of the Palestinian leadership's agenda?
The Palestinians, it is often said, need to be shown a "light at the end of the tunnel." But was not the violence, at least partly, a result of their leaders being either afraid or unwilling to face that light?
In the meantime, the most important operative condition in both the road map and in the Bush concept was the imperative to stop Palestinian violence and to dismantle the terrorist organizations. This was especially important to Israelis in light of the failure of the Oslo agreement and Yasser Arafat's "Aksa intifada" following the breakdown of the Barak-Clinton initiative at Camp David.
The governments of Ariel Sharon and George Bush share, in practice, this basic view. They also believe that the effort to reach permanent solutions to the Palestinian problem will have to be preceded by fairly long-term interim arrangements – certainly longer-term than the unrealistic time-table envisaged by the quartet's road map.
There also is agreement that, in addition to breaking up the terrorist infrastructure, the frozen process of Palestinian political reform must be relaunched.
If the major flaws in the road map were corrected, our sights set a bit lower, and the difficult first stages overcome, the road map could still function as a means of forging a long-term Israeli-Palestinian modus vivendi. Such an arrangement, though falling short of solving all the outstanding issues, would nevertheless give the two peoples a protracted period of calm and prosperity.
If this, too, should prove unattainable, one should not be surprised if there will be a growing sentiment among Israelis for unilateral separation of one sort or another. The idea itself is not new, but as long as the Oslo-bred illusion of having a real peace partner on the Palestinian side persisted, support for it was weak.
The Geneva accord and similar initiatives now try to rekindle that illusion, but most Israelis have learned from experience and probably will not be fooled again. Thus, unilateral separation, with or without the umbrella of the road map, might very well become the idea du jour.
The writer twice served as Israel's ambassador to the US.
Nowadays it is fashionable to be anti-Semitic. What used to be whispered, and said in low voices, has now been allowed to be openly and publicly stated. The Arab and Muslim world have had tremendous success with their incessant propaganda in this regard. In view of the tremendous positive contributions Jews and Judaism have made to mankind and to Western Civilization throughout the ages, this is not to be understood. One can only marvel as to why these unwarranted and false accusations have gained prominence and are so widely repeated.
The facts are that this relatively tiny and gifted people have had a tremendous impact on this world of ours. Especially is this true with regard to religion, but in many other fields as well. Mankind is better off today because there are Jews. The spiritual concept of One G-d is Jewish in origin, and of course the Jewish Prophets have had an impact on whatever morality that exists in the world today. The Old Testament Bible is still hallowed as a major source of religious belief. Many people, both Christians and Jews, live by its precepts.
Despite the recent Holocaust that decimated the Jewish People, they have returned to their ancient Homeland, and miraculously rebuilt it. They made the wasteland they came to into a democratic land of milk and honey, excelling in science, technology, and agriculture. They freely gave these contributions to the world. Due to Arab continued hostility, they have had to relearn the art of military warfare, and of necessity, to excel in it.
All out of proportion to their numbers, they have continually won Nobel Prizes in health, science, technology, and in many other fields of endeavor. The benefits to mankind down through the ages have been quite phenomenal. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism persists and is spreading. Jews and Israel, in recent European polls, are claimed to represent a threat to world peace. In the light of their magnificent contributions to mankind, this type of nonsense makes no sense whatsoever.
To be a Jew in a hostile world is not easy. Yet, any Jew can take enormous pride in the accomplishments of His People to make this a better and safer world. Israel is in the forefront of this endeavor, and should be encouraged and supported by America and many other nations. Unfortunately, in this imperfect world, that is not the case. The absurd Arab funded propaganda directed against the Jews and Israel is being widely believed. That Arab campaign has no foundation in fact or truth and will, if followed, eventually only cause great harm and damage to all of mankind.
Ruth and Nadia Matar are co-chairwomen of Women in Green, a grassroots women's movement dedicated to the security and Jewish heritage of historic Israel.
We have found that while the United States has taken some extremely limited steps to defend itself, it has failed to do so against its most dangerous enemies. In some cases, it has even offered to assist these enemies. This disregard for its interests has, unfortunately, carried over into America's treatment of its friends.In wartime, the assistance of allies is very valuable. Great Britain and Australia have contributed significantly to the American war effort, and for this we can only extend our gratitude. But while gratitude has been extended publicly by the administration to these allies, the same is not true for another crucial ally: Israel. Not only has the United States failed to thank Israel publicly for its friendship, but it has also worked actively to undermine this friendship, by pressuring Israel to restrain itself in its war against Palestinian terrorists. Israel's war, however, is but a microcosm of the wider war between the West and Islamic terrorism. For this reason, America's restraint of Israel is not simply ironic, but self-defeating.
Because American policy toward Israel has been so self-defeating, we judge American relations with Israel to have reversed any progress in the current war it may have made. For this reason the Bush administration receives a plain and simple F for its Israel policy.
The context for the current American relationship with Israel began in 1993, when the Oslo agreement between Yasser Arafat and Yitzak Rabin created the Palestinian Authority (PA), for the first time giving Arafat official, internationally recognized control over small patches of the occupied territories. Through the rest of the 1990s the primary result of this newfound Palestinian autonomy was an ever-increasing campaign of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. After each bombing the United States would encourage restraint, for the sake of protecting the "peace process." After each encouragement, a "cease fire" would be declared--which would then be broken promptly by the Palestinians.
Beginning in 2001, Israel began a series of occupations and reoccupations of the West Bank in an effort to stem the tide of suicide bombers. Most recently, after another series of withdrawals encouraged by the Americans, and a series of subsequent Palestinian attacks, Israel reoccupied and blockaded major Palestinian towns in July of 2002, resulting in the capture of over 140 suicide bombers and a six week-long lull in bombing. As if this had not proven the efficacy of Israeli occupation in preventing further attacks, American pressure mounted again for further Israeli withdrawals. Naturally the beginning of the withdrawals brought with it further Palestinian attacks.
At this point Israel decided that the American peace process had gone far enough, and justifiably refused any further negotiations with Yasser Arafat. In response, the United States proposed a diplomatic gimmick that it hoped would rejuvenate the "peace process." Amid further Palestinian attacks and Israeli reprisals, President Bush declared his intention to draw up a "road map" for peace, on the condition that Yasser Arafat appoint a new Palestinian Prime Minister and cabinet, to assume nominal control over the PA and provide an acceptable negotiating partner for the Sharon government. In March, Arafat yielded, nominating his long-time PLO deputy, Mahmoud Abbas to fill in as prime minister. With the ascension of Abbas, the US released its "road map," for the first time ever calling for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state. To achieve this goal, the PA was to begin to crack down on Palestinian terrorist groups, while Israel was to end Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.
But although it used different names--a "road map" instead of a "peace process," and Abbas instead of Arafat--the latest American imposition is essentially the same as every previous "peace" initiative in its restraint of Israel and empowerment of the PA. Mahmoud Abbas differs from Arafat only in his degree of outright opposition to Israel: rather than advocating violence, Abbas has taken a more pragmatic line, arguing that Israel cannot be defeated militarily and must instead be undermined politically. True to form, once in office, Abbas began by doing nothing to uphold the PA's end of the bargain. He openly declared that he had no intention of cracking down on militants, insisting that this action would result in a civil war ; he would attempt "persuasion" instead. Not surprisingly, this attempt at persuasion accomplished little, and Palestinian attacks continued though May and June. And despite the formal declaration of a three-month cease fire by major militant groups on June 29th, the violence continued, with suicide bombings following on July 8th, August 12th, and a particularly deadly one on August 19th. Because of the scale of the most recent bombing, Abbas had taken some perfunctory steps to crack down on militants, but because Arafat continued to fight to retain control over most of the PA's security forces, there was little Abbas could do if he wanted to. This underscores the fact that Abbas' figurehead position had been manufactured by the United States merely to create the appearance of diplomatic progress, but represented no real change in Palestinian politics. Abbas has now resigned, and the administration finds itself back at square one.
The American restraint of Israel is particularly paradoxical in light of America's own war against militant Islamic terrorism. The United States would never deign to negotiate with Osama bin Laden, and yet it demands that Israel negotiate with the terrorist Yasser Arafat, or his stand-ins. Arafat and his PLO cronies were the inventors of modern terrorism, and the murderers of countless Israelis (and some Americans). Even in his internationally-approved position in the PA, it is probable that Arafat continued to support Palestinian terrorist groups. As recently as November, Israeli forces operating in Gaza discovered evidence linking the PA to the construction of an explosive factory, likely to be used to build suicide bombs. Arafat's longstanding relationship to Fatah, the parent organization of the suicide-bombing Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, makes it difficult to believe that Palestinian attacks have been planned and funded without his knowledge. Arafat may have become more politically suave, but he is, at heart, the same terrorist he always was.
Prior to the August 19th suicide bombing, American policy toward Israel had become even more audacious than simply pressuring Israel to negotiate with the PA. It has instituted an unprecedented program of direct economic aid to the PA. And it had even opposed the seemingly minimal step Israel had taken to defend itself in the absence of future occupation of the territories: the construction of a simple security fence. It was only with the deadly August 19th bombing that the United States temporarily regained its senses, and backed away from the worst of its demands for Israel.
But a temporary relapse of sanity is not enough to protect Israel against its enemies. In truth, Israel should be permitted and even encouraged to end the Palestinian Authority. Under Arafat's control of the PA, the Palestinian territories have become a haven and base of operations for terrorists launching attacks against Israel. As such the very existence of the Palestinian Authority is a threat to Israel, and it deserves to be destroyed, whether or not every one in the PA bureaucracy is complicit in terrorism.
Arafat's regime is also a fledgling dictatorship, suppressing the rights of even his own Palestinian citizens. As a dictatorship, it is therefore in the nature of the PA to pose this threat to Israel, and not simply an accident of its current leadership. In any government based on the principle of rule by force, the most forceful gangs will call the shots. Even if Arafat were miraculously removed from his position, there would be no obvious replacements who could combat the Palestinian culture of gang-terrorism. The only hope for the reform of Palestinian culture is the relative freedom Palestinians would enjoy under full Israeli occupation: the freedom of speech, political dissent, and economic interaction with Israel that Palestinians did enjoy prior to the creation of the PA.
Nonetheless, the Bush administration has claimed that the establishment of a Palestinian state is necessary for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This claim flies in the face of all of the evidence of PA complicity in terrorism, and can only come from the premise that the key to peace is the appeasement of aggressors. Give the Palestinians what they want, goes the argument, and they will leave Israel alone. But as with appeasement of aggressors throughout history--whether of Hitler in 1938, or of North Korea in 1994--granting the demands of aggressors only emboldens them further. It should come as little surprise, in this regard, that maps in Palestinian schools show all of Israel as a part of "Greater Palestine": there can be no question that the ultimate goal of Arafat and his ilk remains the destruction of the state of Israel--and the creation of a Palestinian state would only bring the achievement of that goal one step closer.
Leaving aside the intentions of the Palestinians, however, the Bush administration also argues that the creation of a Palestinian state is necessary for peace throughout the Middle East, and a precondition for any further action in the war against militant Islam. But this argument only substitutes the appeasement of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and others demanding a Palestinian state, for appeasement of the Palestinians. Further, it is not true that Israeli-Palestinian "peace" is necessary for solving other problems in the Middle East. Quite the contrary: only by winning the war against nations such as Iran and Syria, and instilling reform in Saudi Arabia--the major sustainers of Palestinian terrorism against Israel--can Israeli-Palestinian peace be made possible.
The United States has no obligation to support Israel as an end itself. Its primary moral obligation is to defend its own citizens against foreign threats. Even from this perspective, however, the United States is obliged to permit Israel to defend itself, because Israel's battle is the same as America's. To begin with, the enemies of Israel are also the enemies of the United States. Terrorist organizations traditionally aligned against Israel, such as Hezbollah, have openly declared war against the West, while traditionally anti-American groups, such as Al Qaeda, have entered the war against Israel (e.g., the November Al Qaeda attack on Israeli tourists in Kenya). Also, Israel's intelligence in opposing these groups, and other governments in the region, continues to be indispensable. But most of all, Israel is America's natural ally in the war against militant Islam, because it is the only outpost of freedom and Western civilization in the Middle East. For this Israel deserves our strong moral support, including our support for its right to defend itself.
And yet the Bush administration has not offered this moral support. Through its imposition of the "peace process," it has actually worked to undermine Israeli self-defense. It is one thing not to do everything one can to oppose one's enemies, but it is quite another to sacrifice one's own friends to pacify these enemies. The obscene injustice of America's policy of restraining Israel against vicious Palestinian terrorists casts a pall over the entirety of its war on terrorism.
The mission of Patriots for the Defense of America is to promote a strong, uncompromising foreign policy and to defend America's right to self-defense against enemy nations. Visit their website at: http://defenseofamerica.org/
"SHARON EATING BABIES" CARTOON WINS BRITISH PRIZEBy Ellis Shuman - IsraelInsider.com - November 27, 2003
The United Kingdom's Political Cartoon Society selected a cartoon published by The Independent in January depicting a naked Ariel Sharon biting off the bloodied head of a Palestinian child as helicopter warships hovered overhead blasting out "Vote Sharon" from loudspeakers as its "Cartoon of the Year." In his acceptance speech, cartoonist Dave Brown thanked the Israeli Embassy in London for its angry reaction to the cartoon, which he said had contributed greatly to its publicity. See cartoon here.
Immediately after the cartoon was originally published, the Israeli Embassy lodged an official protest. In response, The Independent, considered the most pro-Palestinian of all British publications, published the cartoon a second time on its front page, along with responses both for and against. Now the Israeli Foreign Ministry is considering if it can take any legal actions against the British paper, Maariv reported.
The baby-eating cartoon, which Brown said was based on Francesco de Goya's 1819 painting of "Saturn Devouring One of His Children," was published in The Independent on January 27, Britain's Holocaust Memorial Day, and was penned after a raid by IDF missiles on Gaza City just before the Israeli general elections.
The cartoon reportedly bears a striking similarity to the cartoon that appeared in the official Palestinian newspaper al-Quds on May 17, 2001, where Sharon is depicted devouring children for breakfast.
Brown's cartoon was one of 35 entries in the British Political Cartoon Society's annual competition, which is sponsored by The Independent. Brown, 45, who started his career on The Sunday Times in 1989 and has worked for many British publications, is a cartoonist on The Independent's staff.
"The prize was presented after a vote by the members of the Political Cartoon Society and national newspaper cartoonists. It was presented by the former cabinet minister Clare Short on Tuesday night at the headquarters of The Economist in London," The Independent reported.
Ned Temko, editor of the British publication, the Jewish Chronicle, said of the Independent's cartoon: "It is one of the oldest images of European anti-Semitism - the classic 'blood libel' of Jews murdering gentile children for their blood."
Suitable for 'Der Sturmer'In January, Shuli Davidovich, the Israeli Embassy in Britain's press secretary, wrote to The Independent: "As Britain commemorates National Holocaust Day, I am shocked that The Independent has chosen to evoke an ancient Jewish stereotype which would not have looked out of place in 'Der Sturmer', and which can unfortunately still be found in many Arabic newspapers.
"The blood-thirsty imagery not only misrepresents the real reason for the IDF's [Israeli Defense Forces] operations in Gaza, but also feeds the hostility toward Israel and the Jewish people which lies at the very core of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"One must be extremely careful to draw the line between legitimate criticism and the anti-Semitism that often parades as such," she wrote.
The British Press Complaints Commission found in March that the cartoon did not breach its code after it received dozens of complaints.
"The most vile stereotypes imaginable"
"This image conjures up some of the most vile stereotypes imaginable," said American Jewish Committee Executive Director David A. Harris. "Not only should this grotesque cartoon never have been honored, but it should never have been published in the first place by The Independent. It is not about legitimate political criticism. It is all about incitement against a people," Harris said.
Protesting the cartoon award, Robin Dienstman wrote on the Political Cartoon Society message board: "It isn't a requirement for a political cartoon to be fair and unbiased. The very nature of cartooning is to take a stand on a subject. However, the message that Dave Brown's cartoon is sending is one of hatred and genocide. Instead of honoring it, you should have stood up to it and denounced it. If it had been Arafat instead of Sharon in the picture you wouldn't have hesitated to call this 'cartoon' exactly what it is; a tool of the basest kind of racism."
Minister for Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky said Brown's cartoon "is just like Nazi propaganda. These characterizations lead to hatred of Jews, and could lead to another Holocaust. It could cause more people to believe that to kill Jews is legitimate, because Jews are inhuman."
the Political Cartoon Society may be contacted at: http://www.politicalcartoon.co.uk/html/contactus.html
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