Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New British Chief Rabbi Needs to Bring Passion & Zionism to Anglo Jewry

Firstly, I apologise to my regular followers for not blogging much over the past 10 days. I am starting a new job (I'll still be broadcasting on Arutz7 and US talk radio as well of course), as a social media marketing director for a firm that specializes in Birthright and Masa groups to Israel. Essentially, we're dedicated to ensuring all young Jews spend significant time here, getting to know the country, and their connection to it.

Chief Rabbi of UK designate, Efraim Mirvis
That opening actually segways into the main content of this musing quite nicely: Yesterday the United Synagogue in Great Britain (the Orthodox movement in UK, which is a little confusing to American Jews, where the United Synagogue there is conservative!) announced its LONG awaited decision on who would be the next chief Rabbi of Britain when the current incumbent Lord Sacks retires next  year. The successful candidate is Rabbi Efraim Mirvis and I wish him mazeltov and hatzlacha on this important post. I know him a little, as I'm a former informal educator with the United Synagogue, and from what I have seen and heard, Rabbi Mirvis is a hard working, dedicated, warm and knowledgeable man, who has done an excellent job in his current post at Kinloss Synagogue in N.London. I'm not going to criticize him here, although I always saw him as the "safe candidate" - a man who won't rock the boat or cause controversy, but at the same time will he be a dynamic and innovative chief rabbi that will set the tone for Anglo Jewry in the 21st century? I have my doubts.

So what does he need to achieve? For me, the primary thing he needs to tackle the critical and growing detachment and even disinterest of young British Jews from Judaism, their community and to a growing extent Israel. If he doesn't, then he'll have failed. The US made steps to standardize and  improve its synagogue youth program over the past 10 years and thats to its credit, but as in its whole history, it hasn't gone far enough. You see, the US sees itself (and always has) as a moderate Orthodox movement - middle of the road - safe. The problem is, the middle of the road is actually not safe at all. In America, the Orthodox Union created NCSY, full on, no apologies experience of orthodox Judaism for young people. Former NCSYers today pack modern Orthodox synagogues across US. I'm not sure the US's Tribe program will have the same dynamic impact in the UK. Middle of the road doesn't inspire passion, and the US has long lacked passion!

I also strongly believe that there is not a long term future for a thriving Jewish community in the UK. Thats why I chose to leave and become Israel four years ago. British Jews need to wake up to that fact: simply to go to school, Jewish kids in London have a level of security that equals the President of Israels home here in Jerusalem. If that's what it takes to keep Jewish children safe in England, then perhaps they don't belong there at all? However it's a big step to leave the country of your birth for Israel, and especially if you are part of that safe, United Synagogue cadre, who's Judaism is hidden behind curtains and only airs publicly a couple of times a year. "We're Jewish and proud" declare Anglo Jews," but not TOO Jewish!!". So Rabbi Mirvis needs to bring passionate Zionism into the United Synagogue, establishing innovative programs to build living bridges between England and Israel. More long term school groups in Israel, studying alongside Israelis, more shlichim (emissaries) in roles in English communities. learning modern Hebrew should be encouraged, subsidized even. Whatever it takes to build living bridges between UK Jews and Israel, bridges that one day those people can walk across to their new home.

What English Jewry doesnt need more of is 'nice' programs, 'safe' zionism, lip service even. Anglo Jewry needs a chief rabbi that understand the future of Jews is in Israel, not England, and who works to build a Jewish identity among young people that is focused on preparing for that move, instilling zionism it as a value alongside Shabbat and Kashrut. Israel can't be just a nice place to visit, donating money isn't being a Zionist either - moving here, living the most Jewish life possible, thats Zionism and thats the Jewish future in the 21st Century - only a Chief Rabbi who understands that will, for my money, be a successful Chief Rabbi! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The US, UK & EU Are Enabling The Palestinians

Incredulity... best word I can come up with when I read the reaction of Israel's international "allies" such as the UK and US, to Israel's announcement that its building houses in areas already long developed as suburbs of Jerusalem. How does one damage a non existent peace process, and why should Israel care about the wishes of Palestinian leaders who showed last week they couldn't give a damn about Israel or the West's concerns? Why should Israel care  about the views of the UK, US and EU, who pay for the Palestinian Authority, but were unable to stop it from such a destructive path away from direct talks?

Lets just remember last week that these same countries were asking Palestinian 'president' Abbas not to go to the UN, saying it would have negative consequences to the already moribund peace process - what "consequences" were they thinking of? Clearly not any reaction from Israel, judging by their horror this week at Israel's announcement! How emasculated is the UK, EU & US?  Abbas gets all his aid from these countries, and yet they could not stop him?? 

From Israel's perspective, Abbas's action were a message to her and the world that he believes he can get his Palestinian state without any agreement with Israel, and regardless of what the international community says - that he can little by little create a fait accomplis that Israel will just have to accept. Israel has always said, over multiple governments "just talk to us". William Hague, Britain's foreign minister said on the eve of the UN vote, that it was obvious the Palestinians had been avoiding talks for some time. We know from Wikileak revelations that former PM Olmert had offered the Palestinians 97% of what they are asking for, only to have his demands rejected. It is unthinkable that aid continued to flow to his corrupt Palestinian Authority after he rejected what was essentially everything he had wanted and far more than he could have realistically hoped for from Israel! The aid giving states had the leverage to say to Abbas "this is it - take this opportunity or you are on your own" - they stayed silent and continued to pay their taxpayers money in to his outstretched hand.

The current government, under Binyamin "Bibi' Netanyahu, froze settlement constructions for a clearly stated 10 month period, as a strong gesture to the Palestinians that there was a window for negotiation and someone willing to take risks to talk. This was politically painful for Bibi, alienating his core support, but it was his belief that if settlements were the sticking point in negotiations, then such a huge public gesture would create the good will necessary for talks to resume. The Palestinians did nothing until the very end of the period, only making a fuss as Bibi's 10 months ended. What a wasted opportunity. Where was the indignant British, US and EU governments during this freeze,' encouraging FORCING Abbas to the table? They were writing Aid checks! 

So a week after the ridiculous UN vote, with an election around the corner, and a country dealing with the aftermath of weeks of bombing from the one part of the Palestinian world that is independent, Bibi is doing what he warned he would do last week: He is clearly showing that if Abbas does not care about the Oslo agreements (as demonstrated by his UN stunt) then Bibi too is not bound by them either. If Palestinians want to change that, and want to define theirs and  Israels borders then they know what to they need to do - sit down and talk. No pre-conditions, no barriers to solutions, no inflammatory statements - talk. 

Lets also be frank - if Abbas really wants a state, then there will be no rejecting a solution that gives him 97% of what he asks for coming into the negotiations! There will be compromise and pain for both sides, and in the end  the parties have to weigh up their gains and losses and decide if the current situation is better for their people than the agreement on the table. Can anyone tell me honestly, that they believe that since Arafat rejected the Camp David agreement and since Abbas walked away from Olmert's 97% offer, that the Palestinian people are better for it? Bibi says he is still open to negotiate and if Abbas was a truly "courageous man of peace" as Hague described him last week, then he'd call Bibi's bluff and be at that table ready to build his people a future, not running to the UN and threatening International court actions! If the indignant UK, US & EU really wanted peace in the region, they'd put their pens and check books in their pockets until they see Abbas at that table.

The rest of the world needs to stop enabling the Palestinians in their delaying tactics and their provocations and de-legitimization of Israel - if as Hague has said, they are avoiding talks, then there should be no voting for them in  or even abstaining in the UN, no promises of aid to prop up a Palestinian Authority that is a big part of the problem. Its all very well pressuring Israel not to do anything to set the process back, but if the international community allows Abbas years of doing precisely that, then it is those aid giving countries that have brought this situation about. Abbas leads an authority entirely dependent on this foreign aid, generously given. It isn't as if the international community does not have in its hands the very tool that it needs to bring him to the negotiating table. Not using that tool, by threatening his only source of income,  whilst pressuring Israel not to set back a peace process that has not in reality been active for several years, is ridiculous. 

The answer to the Arab-Israel issue is negotiations, not how many homes Israel does or doesn't build. Therefore, the world must bring the parties to the table. Israel is already there, waiting. If the Palestinians need to be forced, then I say to the world, force them. Take away their aid the way a millionaire cuts of the allowance of his playboy son - Abbas acts as if the power is in his hands - he's wrong, its in William Hague's , Brussels and Obama's  hands!

But ask yourself this -  The Palestinians weep to the world about their desire for a state, so why do I need to write this blog? Why an earth would anyone need to threaten them to commence serious negotiations? Why aren't they at that table? If you can answer that, you can understand Israel's position!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

UN Vote on Palestine Has Made a Palestinian State Less Likely.

William Hague MP
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP, speaking in parliament the day before the UN vote to grant Palestine non member observer status, explained why Britain was unable to support the vote at the General Assembly, despite wanting to. He said that the UK was not against a Palestinian state, in fact as we know, they support a two state solution, but that if there was to be agreement to the Israel / Palestine issue, there had to be direct negotiations. He therefore made the UK's support conditional on Mr. Abbas agreeing to immediate re-start of direct talks with Israel, with no pre-conditions. Mr. Abbas did not respond to Mr. Hague, and the UK abstained on Thursday.

This makes us wonder what the Palestinian Authority is planning to do next? Abbas, who a week ago had become almost irrelevant in the eyes of his people when compared to Hamas & its 'martyrs', has certainly put himself back on the front page of the Palestinian newspapers for at least a few days. The Palestinian people have had their expectations raised, having been told that something significant has happened at the UN, but in truth all the Palestinians gained is new ways to make mischief on international stages and nothing substantive that will move the Palestinians toward a future or improve their lives. In fact, the possibility of a full Palestinian state may have been set back for years, if not permanently by Abbas's attempt to make himself relevant again.  When the Palestinians realize (as they soon will) that their mandate expired, extremely unpopular leader and his corrupt inefficient Palestinian Authority have once again wasted their time and achieved nothing, their disappointment will turn to further support for Hamas & other terror groups. Attacks on Israelis will increase, any Israeli response will be met by cries of "restraint" from the hand-wringing UN & "war crimes" from the morally bankrupt Arab world, and peace? That appears further away then it was before this ridiculous vote.

One thing we have learned from this UN stunt is that once again, as even sympathetic Hague noted had been their policy for some time, the Palestinians are going to avoid negotiations. The day after the vote, Mr. Abbas did not say "right, now lets talk", he said, "we're going to report anything Israel does that we don't like to the International Criminal Court" (which they can now do thanks to the UN and its Islamic block vote). In other words, the one gain he feels he has made is on the propaganda stage. So Palestine may not have a future, but Pallywood certainly does! This would gladden the hating hearts of many opponents of Israel, but it would also have the potential to cause a backlash from European governments and certainly from  Israel and the United States. The ICC does important work, and many countries would hopefully resent the Palestinian hijacking its already clogged calendar and diverting its work to becoming a tool for their propaganda, as they did to the Durban conference on Racism.

The Palestinians would probably face the  cutting off of funds to their cash-strapped authority. Meanwhile, any U.N. agency Palestine sought to join would probably find itself, like UNESCO, facing  the loss of the one-fifth of its budget supplied by Congress. The almost bankrupt Palestinian Authority, by pushing the UN vote against strong US opposition,has basically bitten the American hand that feeds it and  may have committed suicide.

In the meantime, Israel (still the only genuine democracy in the Middle East)  is six weeks away  from general elections. Barring an unseen and unlikely scandal, Prime Minister Netanyahu's Likud party will win the most seats in the Knesset, the only question remaining is how many extra MKs he will need to create a coalition. If, as seems likely, Abbas's stunt has angered the Israeli public, alienating support for so called 'doves' on Israels fragmented political left,  Bibi will be the big winner. Not only will he pick up seats, but other smaller parties on the right will also gain, enabling Netanyahu to form a government  with few if any moderate voices. This will make the next government stable and long term and mean that concession from Israel less likely and this will again be partially thanks to Abbas's UN bid.

We will, over the next few weeks, hear a great deal of noise from the Palestinians about Israeli 'settlements' being the big stumbling block, and any development on Jerusalem's edge will be described as 'settlement activity', but this is just 'noise'. The Palestinians know that if they say "lets just talk" Israel will more than likely freeze construction in any disputed area in an effort to encourage negotiations. Indeed, if the Palestinians want settlement building to stop, then all they need to do is have an internationally agreed border with Israel...but of course to get that they'll need negotiations and not empty UN votes. 

Netanyahu remembers that his first act as prime minister was to freeze settlement activity for 10 months, at great political cost, to encourage Abbas to negotiations. Abbas totally ignored the gesture. So the issue isn't settlement building, it isn't UN votes, it isn't even is that Abbas is unwilling or unable to enter into talks. He cannot ever say this of course (at least not in any language other than Arabic) but this is his policy. Any concession to Israel in negotiations will be met with violent rejection from the Palestinian street, told since 1947 that the true goal is nothing less than the destruction of Israel and a state built across the entirety of where Israel stands today. Abbas knows this will never be, but he also knows that the Palestinians won't accept a two state solution in 2012 anymore than they did in 1947. So he makes noise about talks, finds reasons why they cant happen (settlements, pre-conditions Israel will not accept, UN votes etc).

Abbas - Peace in our time?
Abbas gets away with his 'talks avoidance strategy' because even those international politicians such as Hague who recognize it for what it is, enable the Palestinians to play this game. How is it a pro-Israel position to tell Palestinians to get their butts  to the negotiating table or there will be no more financial support ? Divert aid money currently propping up his stagnant position, and place it in an international fund for a future Palestine - if they want it, then they need to create a state to receive it, and if they want to do that, then they need to drop the impossible preconditions and talk to Israel. That is how they'll create a future for themselves and supporting that is as pro-Palestinian as it gets.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Digging up Arafat Proves There is No Rest for The Wicked

I'm not sure if I want to blog on this topic or not - part of me is enjoying this master terrorist having his rotten bones dug up - why should he be allowed peace even in death, when he brought none to his own or the Jewish people in his life? Part of me is also laughing at the waste of energy, resources and time going into this conspiracy theory, but there's also the thought in my head of where this will lead:

The story goes that Al Jazeera uncovered the 'hidden secret' of there being a radioactive source (Polonium) in Arafat's belongings when he died. That particular element can be traced to 2 known sources - Russia and Israel. The Palestinians, who always believed their decrepit old leader was murdered by the evil Zionists, leaped on this story & independent French and Swizz CSI boffins were flown in to dig up his maggot ridden remains.

The chances are that they will find nothing. For one thing, from what we know of his symptoms, they were not consistent with Polonium poisoning. If by some bizarre twist they do find what they are looking for, then they are left with a near impossible "whodunit" - Palestinians will obviously go wild with "Jews killed beloved leader Arafat" and he'll be elevated to martyr of Islam, which is similar to a catholic saint, but involves more killing innocents than saving them! The truth is, whoever would have planned his death, the actual person or people that did the deed would almost certainly have had to be in his inner circle - something I cannot imagine Fatah wanting to think about! Candidates for wanting Arafat out the picture range from Mossad to CIA; Abbas, Iran, Hamas, even his own wife and so many more.

If, as I suspect, in a few weeks the CSI body snatchers announce that their results are "inconclusive", it will make no difference - Palestinians will carry on believing Israel bumped him off, and nobody else will care. My suggestion to the Palestinians would be, if the results are inconclusive, don't give up  -dig him up again! In fact make shaking up his rotting carcass an annual event!  It's important that this yearly churning up of his grave be seen by the world as a fair and open process, so to make sure it is done with due diligence, the Palestinians should invite respected witnesses to the event. Ideal candidates for this role could be selected from the committee who awarded a Nobel prize to an unrepentant terrorist, that died with blood of thousands on his hands and the millions stolen from his own people in  his bank accounts.

In the highly unlikely and near impossible event that they are able to prove conclusively that Israel did in fact assassinate Arafat in this weird James Bond way, I would demand that all those involved are hunted down and exposed by the Israeli government, and awarded medals of honor by the UN.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Israel - Not The Problem, The Solution!

Once a year the President of the United States stands before Congress to deliver the "State of The Union Address". Often that speech contains the phrase "our democracy is strong". This is a given - whatever challenges the United States faces from economic downturn to war, whatever political arguments split the electors,  the American democracy is truly strong. The same can be said for Israel! A much younger country, whose electoral system certainly needs tweaking,  but nobody can argue that the Israeli democracy is not strong: regular, fair and legal elections, with the entire citizenship, regardless of gender, race or religion, enfranchised; Israel has a vociferous and active judiciary, that often shows its independence with decisions that cause the government of Israel to lose sleep over; and last but by no means least, a free, open  media.

The Palestinians argue with some justification, that they are an occupied people, denied basic rights . However when you get past the polemic and easily dismissed propaganda lies they aim at Israel (apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing, holocaust, etc), their lives under Israeli control (at least prior to the Palestinian Authority taking autonomous control over the majority of West Bank Palestinians in the 1990s) were far better than Palestinians enjoyed in almost any other country in the Middle East: Life expectancy soared from 48 years in 1967 to 72 years by 2000 while infant mortality plummeted from 60 per thousand live births to 15 per 1000 and childhood diseases disappeared due to systematic Israeli programs to eradicate them; Israel fostered educational development, building 7 universities and 20 community colleges for the Palestinians, where not one existed under Jordan. Israeli educational standards meant that Palestinian illiteracy dropped from 50% to 30% just between 1967 and 1980. By 1990, only 14% of Palestinian adults over age 15 were illiterate; and Israel offered political and civil freedoms, including freedom of association, trade unions, civic organizations and opposition parties, none of which had been allowed under Jordan, and still aren't allowed for Palestinians in countries such as Lebanon or Syria. It also established freedom of the press, even for newspapers hostile to Israel, giving the Palestinians of the West Bank the freest press in the Arab world. 

The truth is that the one thing that Palestinians do not have under Israel is the democratic right to elect a government, to have their say in the running of their lives, to be citizens of a state they feel is their own. I understand that urge and desire for self determination. I could argue with much justification and proof that the Palestinians did not exist as an entity,  people or nation prior to the formation of the State of Israel, but were and in truth remain, merely southern Syrians, which is how the historical records show they saw themselves in 1948. However, it is clear since then that through the processes and events of history, they have formed a separate national identity. To a great extent it has been forced on them by most of the arab states treating them as worse than second class citizens, denying them basic civil rights for 3 generations, but nevertheless a people they have become. It can also be said, and is true, that if the PA represents the beginnings of a future democracy, it is a failure, with elections many years overdue and results of elections that did occur being ignored, or overturned, sometimes violently

The hypocrisy of international pro-Palestinian movements is that they promote the right of self determination for Palestinians whilst denying it to the Jewish people. If you say you are not antisemitic, that you "have nothing against the Jewish people" but that you "hate zionism" and that "zionism isn't Jewish", you are in fact saying that you deny the Jews the right of self determination, which is at its root what zionism is. Zionism is merely the practical application of the right of Jewish self determination.

Let is for arguments sake, say that you are not against Zionism, that you believe there should be a Jewish state, but that the Palestinians deserve the same - they deserve their own state. I'm not arguing against that idea, but we must ask ourselves if this Palestinian state is a goal in and of itself, or do we want a state so that Palestinian lives will be better than they are now? If that is the case, can we really see any evidence that a Palestinian state will enjoy successes similar to Israel, creating a beacon of economic growth, freedoms and innovation that Zionism created in Israel? In all likelihood it will be a corrupt regime, where ordinary citizens lives will be far worse than they are under Israel control.

The truth is, if we look across the Arab world, there are no democracies and rights are given little more than lip-service. Yes, the people sense what is missing, they try every few decades to change things, hope arises with events such as The Arab Spring, only to be quashed when the candidate of democratic reform becomes the next generation of dictator. Democracy becomes "One man, One vote, One time"! Egypt is a perfect example, with democratically elected Morsi attempting to grant himself the power to be above the law and the be the next Mubarak. When we compare the arab world, despite its resources, to Asia or the Indian subcontinent, it is an abject failure: it fails to innovate, to manufacture, indeed the Arab / Islamic world fails in every evaluation - no freedoms, no  elections, no representations; no production;  little contribution to thought or ideas -  Islam tries hard, and often succeeds, to drag the Arab world back to the violence and crude injustice of the Middle Ages - can one imagine in Japan, Korea, or India, political prisoners being summarily executed and their dead bodies dragged through the streets behind motor bikes driven by AK47 brandishing members of the ruling party? 

If we want the Palestinians to have a state that is more than another corrupt Middle East dictatorship, viewing its people as cattle to be prodded in whatever direction benefits the small elite, then the international community has to work toward that end: Aid cannot be delivered unconditionally, but needs to have clear objectives and achievement goals, it must be targeted, monitored, assessed and when necessary withdrawn. If the Palestinian Authority chooses to spend EU aid on paying convicted terrorists large wages, while PA employees fail to be paid month after month, then the aid giver has to redirect the money, bypass the PA and put in place local NGOs to drive education and an economic engine, let people feel the benefit of growth,  engage them in local projects that empower them, and cultivates a new generation of genuine leaders. If an independent Palestinian government, such as the Hamas regime in Gaza, chooses to  treat its people as human shields, spending its money and energy on weapons rather than schools and growth, then no money should reach Hamas - nobody should give them support. People who say "Free Gaza", should think about what freedoms they are talking about, and who is the obstacle to these things. A Gaza that develops a vibrant economy could (and should have been since 2005) a beacon of hope - an example of what could be across the Palestinians and wider Arab world! What pressure would Israel have been under if post withdraw Gaza had gone in that direction? How could Israel not look at the West Bank differently had the Palestinians shown what their state would look like in Gaza. The reality is that many of us believe Gaza is view of what a future Palestine will look like - can you tell me why it should not be seen that way?

Its very easy to say "well, if Israel hadn't come along everything would be ok", "if Israel stopped settlement building, Palestinians would be in utopia" - stuff and nonsense - look at the arab world - Israel is the excuse, not the problem! Palestinians could have had a state in '48, 67, and several times since, but they chose not to! 40,000 people are not dead in Syria because of Israel; President Morsi is not trying to become a dictator because of Israel; bombs are not exploding in Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon etc  because of Israel - its truly time to stop the absurd scapegoating that says Zionism is root of all the myriad of problems and failures in the Middle East, and see Israel for what it is - a potential engine for being the solution. If Israel were the model for a future Palestine, Lebanon, Syria etc - providing not only the example of a state's development  but a partnership in growth and democratic change, what would the Middle East look like? It sounds like a dream, but  what's holding it back? I'd argue only the vested interests of highly violent people and lets be frank, deeply rooted Islamic hatred for all things not Islam, and a related antisemitism of almost Hitler-like proportions.  Eliminate those problems, and the Middle East could become an economic engine - a vast area of states with 130,000,000 people that innovate in the way tiny Israel with just seven million inhabitants innovates. A dream? Yes, but seriously - why is it a dream? 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Announcement: I'm Appointed Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Israel New Talk Radio


Over the past few months I've been recording items on Israel current affairs for the Israel News Talk Network INTN, and it looks like I will be doing much more in the future! INTN produce high quality current affairs radio on Israel related topics, for syndication on talk radio stations across the US. Programs can also be heard directly from on the INTN website 

Please check out and 'like' INTN's Facebook page & if you feel really motivated to become an INTN partner in this high quality Hasbara project, then there's more info here.

Last week I recorded a wide ranging discussion, during the latter hours of the 'Operation Pillar of Cloud', with INTN head Michael McGuire about the situation here in Israel, much of which is still relevant, despite the fact that there is now a ceasefire in place. You can here the archive of the interview here .

For those that want to check out "J-JAM" my weekly Jewish music show which airs live every Tuesday at 7pm Israel time on Arutz7 ( ) , all the past episodes are archived here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gaza Ceasefire - why Hamas's Celebrations Mask a Major Defeat.

I write this just 40 minutes after the 'ceasefire' between Israel & the Gaza terrorists and I do it with some haste, so apologies for the lack of finesse in the writing. My initial reaction was anger - this makes no sense, the job isn't done & Hamas will claim victory, but then I started to think: Netanyahu is nobody's fool, and neither is Egypt's Morsi, who has proven himself a skilled opportunist politician. So I ask myself, what has really happened tonight? What has Israel been promised?

Its no coincidence that Hillary Clinton has been shuttling between the two leaders all day. Whatever she has said to both men, and especially to Netanyahu, has been enough for him to call a ceasefire, so what could she offer him? Thats easy - Iran - Hamas is a distraction, they are merely Iran's proxies, therefore a symptom of the problem, which in Israel's mind has always been Iran. Clearly, Netanyahu has got the policy agreement with the Obama administration that he has craved for months - that's a big victory for him.

In addition, it is clear from the various leaders statements that Hamas has been placed on a very short leash. Netanyahu is not withdrawing his forces from Gaza's border and any infraction of the ceasefire, those men will be going in. Over the past few days, international support has largely been on Israel's side, but its been made clear that a ground incursion would seriously damage that support. Now, if Hamas & Islamic Jihad do not abide by a ceasefire that has essentially been forced on them by Egypt, Israel appears to have a clear green light from the US (and Egypt) to use ground forces. That's also a major victory, and in part is due to how successful Israel has been in getting its 'message' out.

So what's in it for Egypt's President Morsi, who after all, was not a combatant in this fracas.  I can only speculate, as probably much of what he will gain from this will not become apparent right away. However I do think he's a very clever man indeed. He steers a difficult path between being an Islamic Brotherhood president, and still seen as a man the west can deal with. The jury is still out as to who Morsi really is, but he certainly does not have an easy job: He leads a country with a deep rooted antisemitism and hatred of Israel, that is also at peace with Israel. He has been seen even by Israel as a someone who can act as a go between. Egypt used to be the leader of the arab world, and could well retake that position, but today there's another candidate for the role, and one that isnt even Arab - Iran! Morsi's role must have involved being rewarded by the US in some way, probably with promises of aid, sophisticated weapons etc. In addition, Hamas are a pain in the rear to him- entangling Egypt with Iran and agitating the Egyptian public  against Israel, which is the last thing he needs if he is to maintain a relationship with the US that Egypt needs, but that its people hate. Hamas's Gaza provides a base for the "Sinai terrorists" who are causing him headaches and have cost him a lucrative source of income supplying Israel and Jordan with gas. He has agreed to restrict Hamas's weapons supply routes through Egypt, and Hamas cannot be pleased about that. He is vital to the collar that has been placed on the neck of Hamas tonight.

In Gaza they will celebrate their 'victory' - this ceasefire allows them just enough to be able to spin it that way to Palestinians who want to believe they won, but Hamas has got little else from it. Hamas has lost key generals, international support, used up a huge quantity of its weapons, lost key infrastructure and helped give Israel the international support it needs for a ground op in Gaza if Hamas misbehave. In addition, Israel's Iron Dome has proven very successful, and the US has agreed to supply more, making Hamas's weapons of choice increasingly less effective as the days go by. Hamas has also probably not delighted its Iranian masters either, as this conflict has brought Israel and the US closer than it has been since Obama took office - good news for Israel, but bad news for Iran as the split between Israel and the US was primarily over Iran. In fact, other than a possible improvement in support from Palestinians and some bragging rights in the "we're nasty terrorist" society, it is hard to see what if anything Hamas got out of the past week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Palestinians: Not Yet Ready For Statehood

Once again Palestinian Authority's  leader "President" Abbas, is heading to the UN to ask the General Assembly to defacto create a Palestinian state. This stunt will have no meaning in international law, and will not advance hope of a better future for Palestinians or Israelis but would be a major propaganda victory for a man who's had few victories of late, and would further demonize Israel, whilst maintaining the illusion of seeking peace. He holds out the "promise" of heading to direct talks with Israel if successful at  the UN, as an incentive to encourage gullible states to vote for this mischief making PR circus. Surely nobody believes that after years of avoiding talks, a pat on the back from the UN General Assembly will propel Abbas to the negotiating table? Especially as this ridiculous waste of time takes place while Palestinian terrorists living in part of his territory he cannot even enter, never mind control, are firing hundreds of rockets at Israel! Abbas's recent crude effort to be seen as a peacemaker is doing him no good - recent interviews he has given in English where he has suggested he could drop the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees were followed by interviews in Arabic where he assured Palestinians he had not meant it!

Let us remember that Abbas is essentially unelected - his mandate as President ran out years ago, and recent limited local elections in the Palestinian Authority, boycotted by Hamas, left his faction in 5th place! Abbas therefore represents nobody - as Israel's fiery foreign secretary Lieberman has loudly pointed out and thanks to lack of Arab support, coupled with rampant corruption, the Palestinian Authority which he controls would be bankrupt if not for Israeli & EU bailouts. Many of the PA's employees get paid infrequently and poorly at best (except for Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons who are paid generous 'wages' by Abbas's government, and always on time!). Abbas rarely leaves his base in Ramallah, because of widespread threats from his own people in other parts of the West Bank. Ironically,  he is free to travel in Israel! Any efforts on his part to unify the Palestinians in the West Bank with Gaza are stalled, if not dead in the water. 

Despite not representing anybody, leading a PA on the verge of collapse, and a presiding over a Palestinian people who dislike him intensely and who are so divided, it is hard to imagine how they will ever be reunified, Abbas will somehow explain to the UN that Palestine is ready to be a state. He'd like the members of the UN to provide him some defined borders, and ideally some generous donations to the cause. This new status of Palestine would of course be imposed on Israel, without negotiations, as something even stronger than preconditions - UN mandated preconditions - making it even less likely that there could be successful resumption of talks. 

There is of course, no benefit to Israel whatsoever in this UN bid: A successful Palestinian bid at the UN would limit Israel's ability to enter talks and even in the best case scenario, were Israel able to conclude a successful negotiation with Abbas, it is highly unlikely he could carry his people with him. Iranian backed Hamas would reject such an agreement, and would likely end up replacing Abbas (despised by most Palestinians) with their own government, either by an election or violent overthrow. Either way Palestine would become Hamasistan and Israel would be back to square one. 

If the UN was the body its founders had hoped it would be, Abbas would not even think of attempting this nonsense. If the UN were not the broken, highly expensive  talking shop that it has become, it would demand of Abbas (and Israel too) that they negotiate - no games, no preconditions, just negotiate. Start talking - days, weeks or years, keep talking. Prepare the Palestinians for compromise, because any agreement will be final, and painful for both sides (something the Palestinian street is not ready to accept). If Abbas wants a precondition then the UN, and EU  should make negotiations a  precondition to receiving further aid. What he's doing now is the appearance of effort, but really, every day he wastes is one more day Palestinians will not be building a future, and one more day young Israeli's will have to give up for army service. Its gone on far too long, and its time for the UN and the world to stop the nonsense...but of course, we all know they wont!

Monday, November 5, 2012

UK Taxpayers Unwittingly Paying Salaries to Terrorists

Despite the economic crisis, I hope & believe that the average British citizen does not begrudge the percentage of his or her tax money that goes to international development, which of course is the PC way of saying Aid. The Dept for International Development's own mission statement goes to great lengths to show how responsibly the British government distributes British taxpayers money to help the poorest people of this world, stating:

we (have) strengthened our criteria for providing aid directly to governments of developing countries. This strengthened approach means we only provide aid directly to governments once we are satisfied, based on robust assessments that: Firstly, they share our own commitment to these four partnership principles:
  • poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals 
  • respecting human rights (from political freedoms, to the rights of minorities including Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) and religious minorities) and other international obligations
  • improving public financial management, promoting good governance and tranparency and fighting corruption 
  • being more accountable to their citizens.
Secondly, that providing aid directly to the government represents the best way of delivering results and value for money compared to other options for spending aid.

Hard to argue with those criteria, but it does beg the question of how the British government justifies continuing to pay vast amounts of money to the Palestinian Authority, which glorifies terrorism, denies human rights, attacks press freedoms and suffers from a horrendous corruption problem.

The Department for International Development spends around £80 million a year in the Palestinian Territories, of which around £30 million goes to the general budget. That money is then given to prisoners. By prisoners, we're talking about convicted terrorists held in Israeli prisons. The longer they are interred the more money the terrorists receive, which means the worse the crimes committed by them, the more British taxpayers money they get! These terrorists receive between  £500 - £2000 per month, far above the average wage that the Palestinian Authority pays the rest of its employees. To make matters worse, despite the vast amount of aid the Palestinian Authority receives from the US, UK and EU, it actually has failed to pay its 200,000 public-sector workers for the best part of the past 16 months. However, the PA always manages to pay its terrorists in Israeli prison on time, and far more generously than it pays its other employees.

This has led to questions in the UK parliament: Alan Duncan MP, International Development Minister, has written to MP Robert Halfon, who had questioned the UK’s role in funding these prisoners. He said: ‘The PA operates  two social assistance programmes to provide welfare payments to households who have lost their main breadwinner.
‘I hope you will also agree that dependent spouses or children should not be held responsible for the crimes of family members, or forced to live in poverty as a consequence.’

It's disingenuous for Mr. Duncan to describe  paying terror prisoners as "social assistance" and "welfare", because that is not the terminology that the Palestinian Authority itself uses: in PA law this payment is Ratib - salary, and their law never mentions "social assistance" or "welfare.".   And Mr Duncan is either misinformed  or flat out lying, when he says the payments are given to the prisoner's "households", because under PA law, the money is given directly to these terrorist prisoners themselves,  so there is no guarantee that this "welfare" will ever reach the families. Considering the kind of people we are talking about, it is not unreasonable to believe that sizeable contributions, paid in part by British taxpayers, are going to the terrorists' favorite causes! 

Raheem Kassam, director of communications for the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign affairs think-tank in London, was quoted by the Daily Mail recently as saying: 'Incitement in the Palestinian territories is a crucial issue when considering the potential for peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. 
'That Palestinian prisoners are being supported by UK taxpayer money is an absolute scandal that must be stopped.'

If the Palestinians want to reward terrorists, and pay them  wages while other PA employees do not get paid on time, that is their right, and If they want to spend their limited budget on naming schools, town squares and streets after terrorist "martyrs" that too is their decision to make, but the taxpayers of Britain should not be paying them to do it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Opportunities Lost - Why Jewish Settlement of the West Bank is Not The Issue.

Palestinian Authority leaders pay a great deal of lip service to their desire to  create a state of their own, even turning to the  United Nations to try to achieve some kind of unprecedented observer status for their as yet non existent state. At the same time the Palestinians, their friends and even elements of Israeli society, point to the Jewish settlements in Judea & Samaria (aka The West Bank) as the primary obstacle which stands in the way of a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and the subsequent declaration of an independent Palestinian state in that area, which they claim is their ultimate aim, but this assertion does not hold up under even basic critical analysis or historical evidence:

Since 1947, the Arab world, including the Palestinians, have had multiple opportunities to negotiate with Israel & create a state. At that time the arab world rejected the United Nations partition plan, which would have created a tiny Israeli state and much larger Palestinian one, preferring instead to go for it all in a genocidal war with Israel that failed. 

PLO Terrorist, Munich Olympics 1972
Twenty years later, after the Six Day War, Israel's efforts to swap its newly acquired territory in the Golan, Sinai and West Bank, for peace was rebuffed with the infamous "3 Noes" from the arabs. Even so, for the next dozen years Israel did little to settle Jews in the West Bank, assuming that negotiations would happen, and the West Bank would change hands. Rather than grabbing at  this opportunity to try to turn their overwhelming loss in 1967 into something positive, the Palestinians chose a twelve year policy of international terrorism against Israeli & Jewish targets, they wrongly believed would lessen Israeli resolve. Incidents like the Munich Olympics and Entebbe hijacking are written in blood into Israeli and world history. It should be noted, by the way, that unlike what would have occurred had the arab's won the 1967 war, the West Bank residents remained in their homes, villages and cities. They were not massacred and they were not expelled, indeed their quality of life improved under Israel!

Despite the terror attacks, Israel however did not capitulate, as it saw no gain in unilateral moves that the arab world was stating would make not alter their attitude to "The Zionist Entity". Instead under Menachem Begin, Israel began to once again create settlements in the West Bank, more fully integrating it into Israel. I say once again, because prior to Jordan's land grab in 1948, this area had been home to a Jewish community since biblical times. Indeed, Hebron, ancient home and burial places of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob is considered the second holiest city to Jews and the area known as Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, had seen whole communities slaughtered in the war of independence. In any case, even as Jews started to build on the West Bank, Israel came to an agreement with Egypt that was based around a "land for peace deal", with the Sinai area being returned to Egypt. This clear demonstration of Israel's willingness to exchange land captured in the Six Day War for peace, could have been an opportunity for the Palestinians to begin a peace process and indeed Israel understood this, and offered them autonomy in the West Bank, which they of course rejected. 

Having made that offer, and now decades  after the Six Day war, Israel clearly saw that an intransigent arab response meant the West Bank would be in Israel hands for a very long time. Begin & subsequent prime ministers continued to invest in the area, building Jewish settlements, but also improving life for the Palestinians: Access to Israel's superb health system improved life expectancy dramatically, reduced infant mortality and eliminated childhood diseases. Palestinian education had been ignored by Jordan prior to 1967, leading to high illiteracy levels, but Israel's investment in education not only drastically improved literacy but also built universities and colleges. Unemployment went down, and employment was at record levels for the area. It was by no means a bed of roses for the Palestinians as an occupied people and therefore 2nd class "non citizens  within Israeli life, but it is a fact that their quality of life at that time was far better than much of the arab world.

Despite that, the Jordanian citizens on the West Bank, who now identified themselves as Palestinian, were indeed an occupied people. Tough anti terror measures by Israel, coupled with antisemitism and inherent hatred in the Palestinian world, led to a growing disobedience, and riots that erupted as the 1st Intifada.  Israel recognised that a change had to occur on the West Bank and Palestinian resolve to never recognise Israel had weakened, as their people put pressure not  only on Israel but on the PLO leadership as well: In the early 1990s the Oslo Process began. For the Palestinians they would get autonomy under Yasser Arafat, prior to final status agreement. Israel would get recognition and an end to armed struggle as well as a peace agreement with Jordan, who would give up their claim on the West Bank.

As part of the several attempts to come to a final status agreement, most importantly at Camp David in the summer of 2000, Israel offered to withdraw from all of the Gaza Strip and between 90-96%of the West Bank. Unfortunately, Palestinians rejected these offers and instead of building a state for their people, they chose a 5 year war of terror that killed many 100s of Israeli civilians and resulted in Israel building fences between Jewish and Palestinian areas, restricting movement of Palestinians and subsequent economic decline. It was not an outcome Israel had sought when it went into Oslo, but it ended the intifada and to this day the security fence and checkpoints have saved uncountable numbers of lives. The Palestinian failure to live up to its Oslo commitments to end terror opened the door for Israel to allow more settlement building and many thousands of Israelis chose to live in the ancient Jewish land of Judea and Samaria. 

In 2005, Israel boldly decided to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza, evacuating all its soldiers and painfully dismantling 21 settlements in the area it called Gush Katif, with approximately 9,000 citizens, many of whom had lived in their homes peacefully for decades, and whose businesses employed Gaza residents. Israel also removed four settlements in the West Bank. The hope was that “ending the occupation” and evacuating settlements would satisfy the Palestinians’ demands and provide an opportunity for them to begin to build the infrastructure of an independent state in Gaza. Instead, they saw it as a sign of Israel's lack of determination- a crack in their resolve and even weakness and they launched a rocket and mortar bombardment that continues to this day, against southern Israel that keeps the innocent civilians there in a state of constant anxiety. Once again, instead of land for peace Israel traded land for terror, death and war. The Gazan, who had had the opportunity they had dreamed of for decades in their hands, found themselves human shields to their Hamas "leaders".

As I have written elsewhere the Palestinians often declare their support for talks, but go to great lengths to avoid them. The vast majority of Palestinians today live under autonomous Palestinian control, but find the quality of their lives has deteriorated since Oslo ( and interestingly, are starting to show signs that they recognise the Palestinian Authority as the cause of their problems).

Meanwhile on the international stage, Israel has discovered that any steps it takes to defend itself are condemned, but it is clear that the Palestinian leadership still have the same goal in mind that they had in 1947- all or nothing, as judging by an open letter President Abbas sent to Gaza residents this week, where he clearly states that he believes all of Israel is occupied territory: "The recognition of [the State of  Palestine  at the UN] will not free the ground the next day, but it will prove our just cause that our land is occupied and not disputed territory, and this is true in regards to all of  the territories Israel occupied before June 1967.".

The arab world is in turmoil and mired in violence and religious extremism, and the Palestinian community deeply divided to the point of civil war, while the hatred and scapegoating of Israel for all the many failures of the Islamic world deepens. There is probably little or no possibility of the type of decisions that are needed to resolve the Palestinian question and the nightmare scenario for Israel is it makes further difficult concessions to end up with a second Gaza on the West Bank. Indeed Israel has made major unilateral concessions and has been badly punished for its efforts, and is unlikely to do that again. One thing is clear, this is not now, nor was it ever, a process that is being stopped by the presence of Jewish settlements! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Easy Guide To Recognizing Antisemitism & Racism disguised as Anti Israel Rhetoric

Anti Zionists work hard to prove that they are not antisemites, because after all - being any kind of racist is just not cool is it? Being anti Zionist isn't a negative, they argue, because after all its based on positive and good humanitarian can almost see images of kittens by a fire and sweet children cuddling granny!!! I've blogged about this fraud previously, but I wanted to share a perfect example of why  this is a lie:
One typical Islamist front,,  have an article that makes this point for me, with a headline to an article that screams the dire warning: 
which is a chant the antizionist brigade  repeat constantly. Rule of thumb, by the way, is that if you can replace the word 'Zionist' with 'Jewish' in a sentence (or headline) and you end up with something that sounds very anti semitic, then it always was antisemitic. Try it with this example! 
In this case there's actually no need, because the html address includes the filename " /six-jewish-companies-own-96-of-the-worlds-media/ " making it very clear that the authors make no distinction between Jewish / Zionist & Israeli. Inside the article we don't find actual Israelis cited, but people like Michael Eisner and others, who apparently aren't "americans" but merely "Jews". This article is crude in its antisemitism, partly because it was written a couple of years ago, and exposure by people like myself has forced these bigots to become more subtle. Never the less the article is still up & pakalert are still active on Twitter. I have seen  links to the article on several mainstream anti Israel websites this week. 

Antizionists argue Israel's legititmate right to exist. The use of the word Zionist in this context is simply to avoid saying Israel, as if the name of the only democracy in the Middle East somehow legitimizes it. "Zionist Entity" says Iran, never "Israel" . People who are antizionist generally offer no positive ideas or solutions to the difficulties in the middle east and they tend to label anyone who does as being themselves zionists. They have one solution - genocide of the Zionists (ie Israel). For the antizionist / antisemites this issue has never been about one or two state solutions, never been about Palestinian rights or refugees, but rather from the earliest days it'sd been about hatred of Jews. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Palestinian supreme leader in the 1930-40s was proud of his hatred of Jews as he wrote in his memoirs:
 "Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Nazi Germany (during WW2) was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: 'The Jews are yours.'"
Reprinted from mainstream Arab press

To spot the hate for yourself , as I say above, always try to always replace the word Zionist with Jewish - see how things read - I saw this medieval blood libel retweeted several times today  but the writer swears it isn't Jews he hates: 
Zionism is when the coffee You drink is the blood of an innocent
Blood libels in 2012 - what a world!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arab World Faces a Few Home Truths

Abdulateef Al-Mulhim is an arab journalist and blogger whose recent article on the arab spring, the failings of the Arab world, and its total mishandling of Israel since 1948, has caused quite a stir. As the article gets widely reprinted (I just discovered it in the London  Times), I pray it sparks a genuine debate in the arab world over its demonization of Israel & Zionism. 

Al-Mulhim asks what the arabs have gained by their refusal to recognise Israel in 1948 and all the subsequent wars they have lost to Israel; He points to Israels incredible success militarily, economically, in research and development and most importantly in social issues and democracy, and asks why they Arab world is not partnered with this success story? He points out that Israeli arabs enjoy all the benefits the Arab Spring fights for elsewhere in the Middle East and he notes that Palestinians under Israeli control have the highest standards of living, freedoms, and life expectancy in the Arab world:
"...even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. "

Al-Mulhim also repeats what is becoming blatantly clear to anyone who watches the Arab media, that as regimes struggle with the "Arab Spring: and fight for their existence, and governments fall or are replaced, the Palestinians (never the arab world's favorite child), are more than ever becoming a low priority, even an embarrassment

Perhaps Al-Mulhim's comments open the door to  a possible solution to the Israeli / Palestinian impasse- a pan-Middle East answer: This would involve the Arab world ending its scapegoating of Israel, and its blind refusal to negotiate with its most successful neighbour or often to even recognise its existence. Instead, the Arab states could make peace, and enter into meaningful discussions with Israel to create a future for the Palestinians. It would almost certainly mean so called Palestinian refugees becoming citizens of the states they have lived & been born in for 3 generations, and perhaps ceding land from Jordan to a future Palestine as well as establishing a multi-international trade agreement (including Israel) for this Palestinian state to allow it the chance to succeed. 

As Al-Mulhim so eloquently points out, the arab world has gained nothing from its pointless wars with Israel, but it has much to gain from peace with them! I pray his views represents a significant, if until now silent  constituency, of arabs and that others will express the common sense and clarity that he has shown.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mitt Romney: A Rare Voice of Sanity on Palestinian Issue?

Mitt Romney is being strongly criticized for suggesting that the Palestinians don't want peace. His proof of this position ought to be obvious to anyone: their avoidance of dialogue and multitude of reasons to not even attempt to negotiate with Israel. I have blogged about the underlying causes of this reluctance toward talks, such as the vested interest of corrupt Palestinian officials, and the Palestinian refugee myth which has backed the Palestinian leadership into a corner they cannot escape from.
The issues, arguments and accusations coming from the Palestinians, the so called "friends of Palestinians" and the wider Islamic world clearly demonstrate that they do not seek a genuine dialogue with Israel, (which in turn means they don't seek peace, because that is the only way it will come!). Firstly, if you seek dialogue you push for talks, no conditions, perhaps no plan of what the outcome will be, you just seek to talk. You keep talking for weeks, months even years, maintaining some kind of dialogue no matter how fruitless, and at the same time, you prepare your people for an eventual compromise, which may be painful, but in the end will be for the good of everyone. The Palestinians are not doing these things, Israel to a great extent is, and certainly Israel's friends hope for talks. This is why Israel has a vibrant peace movement and the Palestinians don't. This why Israel has just agreed with The Mid East Quartet's call for talks and the Palestinians have once again made excuses why they will not attend. Instead, for the second year in succession, the Palestinians will go to the UN for some kind of quasi backing for a two state solution and recognition of Palestine as a member state, despite not having borders, or any kind of economic stability or plan (not to mention no great love of democracy either). Indeed this not yet formed Palestinian state is already split in half, and on the verge of  a civil war between Hamas & Fatah, but off to the UN they will go, rather than engage in negotiation- This is what my late grandma would have called "Make Work" - it certainly isn't working for peace!

Worse though, the debate on the international stage and in 'the street' is not even in the ball park of reality: Real issues of land, populations, resources such as water, freedom of religions and of course security agreements are not discussed. Instead 'excuse' arguments are created such as settlements – everyone from the EU, Tony Blair to President Obama has been sold the idea that the evil Israeli settler is the reason there's no peace yet. The demographics of 'settlement' make that an absurd assertion (The Jewish communities settlements are on only 1.3% to 1.7% of the land area in the West Bank, according to B'Tselem, the human rights watchdog group), but even if we accept for argument sake the untenable argument that settlements are a stumbling block to a peace agreement, why should they be a stumbling block to peace talks? If Mitt Romney was wrong, and the Palestinians truly seek peace, then the concept of "we wont talk unless Israel agrees ahead of talks to.. {fill in the current red line pre-condition here!}" is ridiculous. True seekers of peace will always take any opening for a dialogue, no matter how far apart the two sides may seem. It is perfectly acceptable to go into negotiations saying "we wont budge on A,B or C", but not to even try to talk unless you can use the UN to bully your opponent to agree in advance to difficult issues? That's absurd and disingenuous, proving that Mitt Romney is not far from the truth when he says:
"I look at the Palestinians not wanting to seek peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there's just no way.".
The Palestinians 'friends' worldwide talk about ethnic cleansing of Palestinians on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, about genocide committed by Israel. They accuse Israel of apartheid, building Nazi concentration camps, and other untenable accusations. In fact life expectancy of Palestinians in the West Bank, soared from just 48 years in 1967 to 72 by 2000, while infant mortality plummeted from 60 per thousand live births to 15 per 1000 and childhood diseases disappeared due to systematic Israeli programs to eradicate them. Despite actual facts, debate on university campuses, and often in the media continues to focus on the slurs, and lies while the real issues here in Israel & in the Palestinian sphere are not even being discussed. Friends of Israel get sucked into this agenda created by the so called Friends of Palestinians, and waste time defending the libel of ethnic cleansing or apartheid and so also not debate actual real issues that exist: the future borders, the possibility of settlers becoming dual citizens of Palestine, the thorny question of an agreement to Fatah being nullified by a future Hamas takeover of the West Bank, militarization of a Palestinian state, refugees, water rights and so much more.

Instead, despite the truth of the situation for Palestinians under Israeli control, which is that their lives are much better, longer and healthier than they were prior to Israeli control (or at least they were prior to the Palestinian Authority's creation), or than that of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and other places, we are arguing the myths and lies and not reality. That path excludes any hope of a future for the Palestinian people, and any prayer of an end to the intractable situation in this small corner of the Mid East. It means there is no future for the Palestinians, because their leaders are not working toward one, and it seems, despite the storm of criticism aimed at him, that Mitt Romney understands this, and that President Obama, and certainly much of the US media, doesn't get it at all.