Wednesday, September 28, 2011


An Israeli settler and his 18-month-old son were killed when the man lost control of his car after being hit by stones hurled by Palestinians. "Preliminary results of the investigation lead us to conclude that the father was hit in the head by a stone, which made him lose control of the vehicle," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Sunday. The crash occurred on Friday. The settler, 25-year-old Israeli-American Asher Palmer, and his son, Yonathan, lived in the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron in the southern West Bank. Police had initially ruled out an attack against the car. On the day of the crash, Palestinians had hurled stones at settlers' vehicles, particularly in the region where the settler and the child were killed. It is believed that the stone was thrown from a car going in the opposite direction and smashed thru the windshield hitting the driver. Although the death of a Palestinian rioter was given headline coverage during the UN presentations last week, the death of Palmer and his son have not received any coverage in the international press this week.

Former Al Jazeera Afghanistan bureau chief Samer Allawi, a Palestinian, has admitted to being a Hamas operative. Allawi was arrested by Shin Bet Israeli security in August in the West Bank after entering from Jordan. After his confession Allawi was given a three year suspended sentence. He admitted he was recruited by Hamas in 1993 and on several occasions had visited Syria to receive training and instructions, including meetings with Mousa abu Marzook, Deputy Head of Hamas in Syria. He also met with other Al Jazeera journalists at a meeting in Saudi Arabia where they discussed how they could aid Hamas by criticizing the US military in Afghanistan.

A decision by the Israeli Government to build a further 1,100 apartments in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, that is over the 1967 ceasefire line, was widely criticized Wednesday by the UN, the US and the Quartet. The US State Department issued a statement by Secty. Hillary Clinton saying that this move was "counterproductive" and was a unilateral step, while the Palestinian spokesman said that this decision was a deliberate move to undermine the Palestinian efforts for statehood. Most Israelis regard this development as part of a natural increase in areas that are an integral part of Jewish Jerusalem. The Quartet does not support any preconditions to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, so the longer the Palestinians wait until negotiations begin the more building there will have been. Both sides are currently preparing their formal responses to the request by the Quartet for a renewal of negotiations.

Following the speech by Pres. Obama in the UN GA last week, his popularity rating in Israel has increased, while in the US, his rating among Jews and all segments of the population has decreased. But, such fluctuations are not a serious measure of the result of actual voting in elections. What will happen in the Middle East depends a lot on whether or not Obama can retain the Presidency in the next election, or whether a strong opponent appears on the Republican side in the primaries.
PS. There will be a gap for a few days due to Rosh Hashana. Shana Tovah u'metukah to all my readers!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Excerpts from the UN speeches

Here is the "Zionist" section of Pres. Obama's speech to the Gen. Assembly of the UN on Sept. 21, 2011:

"But understand this as well: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring. And so we believe that any lasting peace must acknowledge the very real security concerns that Israel faces every single day.

Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, look out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.

The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors

It needed to be said and Obama said it, but I wish I could believe in his "unshakeable" commitment.

Here is an excerpt from Pres. Abbas's speech at the UN Sept. 23, 2011

"The core issue here is that the Israeli government refuses to commit to terms of reference for the negotiations that are based on international law and United Nations resolutions, and that it frantically continues to intensify building of settlements on the territory of the State of Palestine."

Here is PM Netanyahu's reply:

"President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that's odd. Our conflict has been raging for -- was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the -- I guess that the settlements he's talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be'er Sheva. Maybe that's what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn't say from 1967; he said from1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict..

The settlements have to be --it's an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border."

Monday, September 26, 2011


There should be consequences as a result of the unilateral move for Palestinian statehood by Pres. Abbas of the PA and PLO. There must be consequences for such a unilateral move against all previous bilateral agreements and negotiations. Some might applaud Abbas for taking a bold step, for drawing attention to the Palestinian cause after there has been more attention to the other Arab countries and for creating a new momentum or atmosphere. But, this maneuver was largely a PR move and an attempt to avoid serious negotiations with Israel. At all costs he must avoid an "end of conflict" agreement or recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, that would be the end of the Palestinian cause and could spell "curtains" for him. Even now, before the Security Council has voted, Hamas who rejected his initiative, are planning his downfall and replacement. Woe be to Israel if Hamas ever gets control of the West Bank.

Now immediately after the application has been submitted the Quartet (US, Russia, EU and UN) came up with an appeal, that supposedly took them four days of intense meetings to craft (?), that asks both sides to go back to the negotiating table. Israel immediately accepted this invitation, in line with PM Netanyahu's speech last Friday. Once again Abbas rejected the invitation. But, that gives Abbas the possibility of no consquences following his unilateral application. How can Abbas accept, after he has justified his application for UN recognition on the grounds that negotiations have been a waste of time as far as the Palestinians are concerned and Israel is still building and occupying settlements on what they consider Palestinian land. But the Quartet request made no mention of preconditions, indeed they oppose preconditions to negotiations, so Abbas refused. Then negative consequences should follow for him. But, once again the Palestinians may get away with it unless Israel takes action.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has stated that there should be negative economic consequences for the PA from its unilateral statehood bid. He refers to the monthly tax rebates that Israel pays the PA. He suggests that once the PA made such a bid, without
reference to Israel, then they broke all agreements and Israel should withhold these payments. Others have urged that the US Congress reconsider payments that the US makes to the PA, that basically allows it to survive. Why should they continue to support an organization that in effect no longer exists, but has moved unilaterally to change its status. If the Congress judges that the move by Abbas was intended to avoid negotiating peace with Israel, why should US taxpayer monies continue to be paid to support such policies.

Israel must await the vote in the Security Council in about a month, when at least because of the US veto, the application will be rejected. Then Israel must wait to see if there is a Palestinian application to the General Assembly, which there is likely to be and which will be passed by a large majority. But, while this will not have any actual legal standing, it is only advisory without the SC vote, nevertheless the Palestinians and their supporters will hail it as an actual recognition. Then Israel must act, Netanyahu must order the IDF to occupy all of the West Bank except area A, the Palestinian cities, and Netanyahu must declare those areas of dense Jewish settlement part of Israel and not part of the Palestinian State. There will be criticism of Israel as usual, but Netanyahu must make it clear that he was forced into this action by the Palestinian's unilateral maneuver. At that point the future looks uncertain. Let's hope that no country wants to go to war for the Palestinian cause and for this tiny area of land. But, it could happen. Israel must hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The UN speeches

If the presentations at the UN General Assembly of Pres. Abbas of the PA and PM Netanyahu of Israel last Friday were a popularity contest, then Abbas would win hands down. But, we all know that the majority of member states of the UN General Assembly see the Palestinian cause as their favorite cause and as Netanyahu pointed out some 95% of resolutions condemning a State are directed against Israel, and not the most terrible violators of human rights, such as China, N. Korea, Iran, Syria, etc. In an organization where the Chair of the Security Council is held by Lebanon, whose Government is controlled by the terrorist organization Hizbollah, what can one expect?

So Abbas received plaudits for his historic move to break the impasse of 18 years of "fruitless" talks. Yet when he returns to reality in Ramallah, he will find little has changed on the ground, except that he has destroyed the one basis for future peace talks that was bilateral negotiations under the auspices of UN resolution 242, that he has thrown out of the window. In order to avoid actually having peace talks and leaving all options open, Abbas has outflanked all peace initiatives and taken a deliberate unilateral step. Since there are actually only two sides to this conflict, it doesn't really matter what the others think, what matters is what the Israeli Government thinks about his move, and the facilitators of the negotiations, the Americans. And they think that it stinks. Since the basis for negotiations is now ended, there will be certain consequences, but Netanyahu did not tell us what they might be, nor did he threaten anything.

One feature of Netanyahu's speech was that he hardly mentioned the unilateral bid for statehood by Abbas, but he emphasized Israel's over-riding security needs. He initially addressed the real issues that concern Israel and Israelis, namely Iran, its hateful philosophy and its policy of developing nuclear weapons, Turkey and its turn against Israel, and the upheavals in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world that have not yet resolved into anything like democratic states. As he indicated Israel must be prepared for anything. Abbas is no longer a legally elected official, his period of office expired last January, and he intends to retire, on a high note. So what assurances does Israel have that this now self-declared state will not allow terrorists to bring missiles into the West Bank with which to bombard Israel as Hamas is doing from Gaza. And what can stop Hamas taking over this supposed state. Such consequences cannot be accepted by Israel!

The crux of the matter, as Netanyhau stated, is that States do not go to the UN to be established, they go there once established after peace negotiations, as South Sudan recently did with Sudan, to be recognized. For all the fanfare and talk of historic moments, etc. etc. this maneuver was a popularity contest, but historically it will be seen for what it was, a hollow moment in which nothing real was accomplished. Once the Security Council considers the Palestinian request and once it is rejected, then only negative consequences can follow.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Abbas's UN gambit

Gabon and Bosnia are two very small, very unimportant countries that do not usually have any influence over world affairs. But, with the current situation at the UN, the importance of Gabon and Bosnia-Herzegovina has been enhanced. The Security Council of the UN is composed of five permanent members — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States — and ten non-permament members (with year of term's end): Bosnia and Herzegovina (2011); Brazil (2011); Colombia (2012); Gabon (2011); Germany (2012); India (2012); Lebanon (2011);Nigeria (2011); Portugal (2012); South Africa (2012).

Now of these 15 countries, several are certain to vote for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State, a proposal that Pres. Abbas of the PA has committed to put before the SC, something that he will announce publicly next Friday, and he will then submit a formal letter to the Secty. Gen. Ban-ki Moon. It takes nine of the countries voting to pass or reject such a resolution. But, which ones will vote for the proposition that the UN should unilaterally recognize a Palestinian State?

Now mind you, such a vote itself will be illegal and will be contrary to all previous UN SC resolutions, that promoted bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians (such as SC 242). It would be illegal because the UN can only vote to recognize a state that pre-exists the vote, such as in the cases of Israel and South Sudan, the most recent member recognized by the UN. In other words, the UN cannot establish a state (the UN "Partition Plan" of 1948 proposed partition of Palestine, it did not of itself grant sovereignty to any state), it can only recognize one that already exists, and clearly a Palestinian State does not already exist. Secondly, the UN is committed to the folllowing statement "Unilateral action taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognised by the international community," Joint Statement adopted by the Quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia) June 26, 2009. This statement was adopted in order to indicate to Israel that the building of settlements on the West Bank, was considered an Israeli unilateral action by the Quartet. Indeed, to satisfy the US, PM Netanyahu introduced a complete moratorium on Israeli building on the West Bank for 10 months, but it was not enough for the Palestinians, and they subsequently made such a moratorium a precondition for further talks. Such a statement cannot simply be overlooked when the Palestinians take such a significant unilateral step. Incidentally, Hamas in Gaza also opposes such a resolution, because it involves dealing with the UN, the US and with Israel. So much for the unity of the Palestinians.

So the ones that will vote for the resolution irrespective are Lebanon, South Africa (because the PLO supported the ANC when they were in exile), China and India (because they think it is the third world thing to do), and probably Brazil and Colombia. Russia and Britain are likely to abstain, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy said France will only support an "observer" status for Palestine. Those who may vote against with the USA, are Portugal, Germany (Israel's traditional friend) and Nigeria. That leaves Gabon and Bosnia, so the US is plying them with all sorts of goodies to get them to vote against. Bosnia-Herzegovina is a Muslim country, although they have a large Serb minority. But their Islam is moderate and they owe their independence to the USA, so they may vote against. Gabon is merely a small, impoverished African State. They may hold the balance for the vote in the SC. If the vote appears to pass or have a majority, then the US will forced to use its veto (all permanent members of the SC have a veto) and that will stop the process. But, if the US uses its veto, that will cause anti-American riots in the Arab/Muslim world, so the US is trying to avoid using its veto. Why is Pres. Abbas, who has been treated royally by Pres Obama, inflicting this on the US?

If the SC rejects Abbas's gambit for unilateral independence then he can go to the General Assembly where he will receive a much more favorable response, with ca. 120 countries already slated to vote for the proposition. However this will also not gain them a State by itself, yet will raise all sorts of expectations in the Arab/Muslim world, that can only have negative consequences. Already there have been large demonstrations in Ramallah, that Abbas said would be peaceful. But then, of course, there were the usual riots all over the West Bank, with Palestinian youth throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers manning checkpoints (this was not shown on most media because they are pro-Palestinian). Unfortunately we can expect worse violence starting Friday after Abbas and Netanyahu give their speeches at the UN GA. But, the actual vote may not take place for some time and the worst violence may be yet to come.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


When the revolutions of so-called "enlightenment" occured in Europe from the 18th century onwards and cries of "liberte, fraternite et egalite" were heard throughout the lands formerly controlled by Emperors and Kings, it was believed that a new era of democracy would be ushered in. At least this was the liberal interpretation. But, instead the removal of the monarchies and their heavy hand of control gave rise to popular movements that were anything but enlightened. In France you had the Revolution, that swept away all constaints and ended up guillotining thousands of "aristocrats" (see for example Simon Schama's magisterial "Citizens"), in Germany the removal of petty Junkers and Landgraves resulted in virulently anti-Semitic popular movements that led to National Socialism (see for example "The Pity of it All" by Amos Elon) and in Russia, the Revolution went from Romanovs to Communists who held power for 70 years and murdered millions (see for example "The Gulag Archipelago" by Alexander Solzhenitsyn).

So my question is, why should we expect a gradual evolution to democracy and reason in the Muslim Lands that are undergoing social revolutions, that have been mis-named "The Arab Spring," merely because they have removed petty and controlling dictators? Maybe this is a transition that every human society must go through to get to liberal democracy, or maybe there are some societies that at their core are not liberal and when their passions are released will automatically turn on the weakest elements. Hence the Egyptian mob that ransacked the Israeli Embassy is but a harbinger of things to come. Incidentally, the so-called democracy of Iraq is in reality a battle-ground between Sunni and Shia and is becoming effectively an Iranian colony. Syria is not only undergoing a revolt against the Alawite dictatorship of Pres. Assad, but is likely to continue into a further bloodbath when the Sunnis take revenge on the Alawites. Libya and Egypt are effectively under military control and who knows where they will end up.

This leaves Israel in a difficult position, not only are we the only liberal democracy in the region, but we are surrounded by these huge populations that are ignorant of reality, that believe all sorts of nasty rumors ("Israelis delight in killing Palestinian children," "Jews are sons of pigs and dogs," "9/11 was part of a Zionist conspiracy" etc., etc.). And add to this the gradual transition of Turkey from secular democracy to Islamic State, with a strong tinge of imperial and anti-Israel emphasis.

Since the Arab world is rife with division and instability, foreign powers are slavering over the potential carving up of the spoils. In this context you can put Iran (the Shia champion), America (unwittingly being drawn into a regional power play) and Turkey (former colonial master of the Arabs). Turkey PM Erdogan's recent tour of Arab countries is definitely part of his campaign to curry favor with the Arabs. Israel is caught in the middle. It will require a tough leader to guide Israel through the Scylla and Charybdis of this mess. But, although Israel is small, it is a regional player and must exercise its might and brights to survive the coming challenges. Seen in this context the Palestinian situation is not a cause as many erroneously think, but rather a side issue of the main game. The leaders of Israel must not be distracted by stories of Palestinian "suffering" and need for a state, they must focus on the strengthening of Israel for the coming battle against renewed Arab and Muslim extremism that has little memory of past defeats.
*To all my loyal readers I wish you a Happy New Year, Shana Tovah, and a prosperous, healthy and fulfilling year ahead.
For those who wish to see my previous blogs go to ISblog (

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


It has been said that the Eurozone countries cannot allow Greece to default because that would lead to the breakdown of the whole euro system. Steps taken by the major euro players France and Germany to prevent Greek default seem to indicate that this is true and we might then see a move towards greater federalization in the EU.

The Eurozone of 17 countries (with a further 8 EU countries obligated to join) led by Germany and France, have already loaned over one hundred billion euros to Greece, that is being paid in instalments or tranches. But, the deficit in Greece due to Government over-spending and bad bank loans is still ca. 320 billion euros. Since Greece has insufficient income (from taxes and other sources) to repay its debts and has still not enacted enough austerity measures, it needs another large incursion of funds to avoid default. Failing that, Greece could leave the Eurozone and revert to its former currency the drachma. And there are other Eurozone countries in great financial difficulties, such as Ireland and Portugal, who might then follow. So to save the situation and support the euro the Eurozone ministers (not including the UK, that is a member of the EU but not the Eurozone), have agreed on two moves. The first is the establishment of a "rescue fund," a large central fund, now past three hundred billion euros, that will be available in future to rescue member countries in financial difficulties. This is modelled on the Federal Reserve in the US, that was established after the dollar failed in the 1929 crash. But the States in the US do not have their own monetary policy or sovereignty, for example the dollar is the same in Mississippi and New York. This is what the Eurozone is striving for, to have a single monetary policy. But, to do that the countries of the Eurozone must give up some of their sovereignty, something that many of them are loath to do, and the richer countries, such as Germany, must be prepared to share their wealth with the poorer, such as Greece. Not a politically popular policy.

Another maneuver the finance ministers of the Eurozone countries have tentatively considered is the floating of Eurozone Bonds, as opposed to bonds of each separate country. So far there is a mixed reception to this initiative, with Germany against it, saying that financial institutions will be reluctant to buy Euro Bonds given that they are designed to prop up a failing currency. A two day meeting of Eurozone Finance Ministers in Wroclaw, Poland, just wound up without any clear decisions. It remains to be seen whether or not any tactics can work, but the overall strategy is that the Eurozone cannot allow Greece to default if they want the euro to continue, and in order to do this they are forced to further federalize Europe. Whether there will eventually be a United States of Europe or the euro will fail remains to be seen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Palestinian statehood?

Pres. Abbas of the PA is a perfect example for the Palestinians. He is illegal, his term as President actually expired in January last year, he has no legal position, but nevertheless the Palestinians follow him, because actually he is the head of the PLO and according to the PLO's charter they are the sole representative of the Palestinian people (neither the PA nor Hamas). In his speech last Friday and since he has said that he doesn't support the use of violence against Israel (i.e. not terrorism) but if violence occurs it will be due to Israel's "occupation," which is the excuse for everything, the Palestinians are never guilty of anything. The fact is that no Muslim leader, least of all a Palestinian leader, can compromise, least of all on territory. What was Muslim territory must remain so forever (they want Spain back) and so he cannot actually compromise on territory. That is why he is going to the UN, because negotiations will require compromises from both sides and he simply cannot do it. He cannot say "I recognise Israel as the State of the Jewish people" because that would in effect be ceding Muslim territory to the Jews, something that is inconceivable. So he is avoiding negotiations, first by putting pre-conditions that prevent them occuring and then outflanking them by going to the UN for recognition.

But the UN cannot establish a state, any state! I saw a news report that said that the Palestinian application to the UN is copied from Israel's application in 1948. But, nothing could be further from the truth! Israel accepted the UN Partition Plan of 1948 and the Arabs rejected it (there was no Palestinian people then!). Then Ben Gurion declared Israeli Statehood and several major countries (US, Russia, France) recognized its existence, and only then did Israel go to the UN for recognition. Before a State can be recognized by the UN it must have control over its own territory, it must have the ability to defend that territory and it must be able to exist both organizationally (i.e. with an organized Government) and economy. Palestine has none of these things! Currently it has no organized Government, its territory is divided between two hostile parties (West Bank and Gaza), it has no economic means of survival (without enormous donations) and no major countries recognize it. Its all a fraud, popular with a lot of people, but actually a PR trick.

I saw an interview in which someone warned Israel and the international community not to respond harshly to the Palestinian gambit. So what are they supposed to do, nothing? Abbas directly flouts Pres. Obama's wishes, he takes unilateral action, that is intended to outflank Israel, and then we shouldn't do anything? Abbas is trying to soften the impact of this total turnaround by saying that after the UN recognition of their State, negotiations for peace can start again. But, why would anyone trust him, when he has thrown negotiations out of the window? What can be expected as a reaction. The two expected consequences are that many donors to the PA will withdraw their support for an illegitmate Palestinian State, including the US, where resolutions are ready to be passed in Congress cutting of all aid. Also, to be expected is that Israel will take its own unilateral action, annexing those areas that it has said that it wants to occupy in land swaps where large majorities of Jews live (including Ariel, Ma'ale Adumim, Etzion, the Jordan Valley, etc.) containing ca. 200,000 Jews. It would be stupid and dangerous for Israel not to take over these areas. How things will then work out is unclear, but you can be sure that Abbas will say, "all we did was apply to the UN for Statehood, and look what they've done, it's not fair!"

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Turkish model

During his tour of the North African "Arab spring" countries, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, Turkey's PM Erdogan was greeted with rapturous welcomes. Perhaps the Arab "street" wanted to show that they appreciate the support of a strong Muslim country and a leader that has taken a strident anti-Israel stand. He is certainly more outspoken than their own provisional governments, that have adopted a curious zig-zag policy towards Israel. Last week the Egyptian Foreign Minister said that the Peace Treaty with Israel was not "sacred" and could be changed. After the Israeli Government called in the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel to the Foreign Ministry and complained, the Egyptian Government reversed its statement and said that they had no intention of changing the Israel-Egyptian Peace Treaty.

Nevertheless, Erdogan was intent on sending his own message, that Islam and democracy are compatible, as shown by the Turkish model. He was hosted in Egypt at a public meeting of the Moslem Brotherhood, the source of most Islamism in the world from Hamas to al Qaeda. But, when Erdogan uttered the word "secular" his hosts were very upset and they criticized the use of this term. For them secularism is taboo, they only want to take the Islamist and anti-Israel parts of his message, and reject democracy and secularism. Nevertheless the general message that he brought of Islam and democracy co-existing, was a welcome sign. If these North African Arab countries adopt the Turkish model, they will be a lot better off than they were, but they will still remain strongly anti-Israel.

Then we will have a test, whether their democratic tendency will be stronger that their anti-Israel and anti-Western tendency. It has been proposed (by Francis Fukuyama) that democracies never make war on each other. But, this might be tested if Turkey keeps stirring the pot and the North African Arab countries adopt a form of democracy, yet retain their intense anti-Israel policies. Turkey announced that it is going to support the Palestinian claim for Statehood at the UN. If that is as far as it goes, then fine. A lot depends on how far Erdogan is prepared to go. If he starts sending Turkish warships to patrol the Eastern Mediterranean as he has warned and especially if he sends his warships to escort any future flotillas to Gaza, then this could result in a military clash with the Israeli Navy, and could lead to war. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Noone in Israel wants a war with Turkey.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Unilateral action

The biggest potential danger threatening Israel, apart from a nuclear Iran, is the impending unilateral application for Statehood by the Palestinians at the UN.

Why are the Palestinians taking this initiative? They claim that after 17 years of negotiations with Israel they have achieved nothing. But, that is not true, the Oslo Accords were very generous to them, and they achieved the establishment of the Palestine Authority and control of all the major Palestinian cities and ca. 95% of the Arab population. Also, Israel withdrew completely from Gaza. They also rejected the generous concessions made by PM Barak to Arafat, and by PM Olmert to Abbas. But, the fact is that no Palestinian leader can afford to make a peace treaty with Israel and accept the "end of conflict". That would lead to a permanent split in the Palestinian entity, which has already in fact occured between Hamas and Fatah. It would also lead to a collapse in Palestinian culture that is totally based on the conflict with Israel (see for example "The Dream Palace of the Arabs" by Fuad Ajami), and it would almost certainly lead to the assassination of any Palestinian leader who would accept Israel and end the conflict. That is why Abbas is making an end run around negotiations with Israel to the UN.

What is the danger in this maneuver? It is not in the application itself, for while the Palestinians surely have enough support to gain passage of a resolution in the General Assembly, this resolution will not guarantee the legitimacy of a sovereign State without the necessary imprimatur of the Security Council. The US has publicly declared that it will veto any unilateral attempts to impose a solution without negotiations. But, the likelihood is that the Palestinian leadership will then move to establish their State on the ground in place of the Palestine Authority that was created under the Oslo Accords of 1993. But, by doing so the Oslo Accords will become invalid and the agreed separation of the West Bank into interim divisions (A for Palestinian control, B for joint control and C for Israeli control) will become void. If the Palestinians then send in their militias (trained and supported by the US, UK and other western countries) or masses of Palestinian civilians to take over all areas, then there could be clashes with the IDF seeking to protect Jews living in settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) where they have a legitimate claim under international law. In summary, the Palestinian application to the UN is effectively a declaration of war against Israel.

The competing claims of the Arabs and Jews will not then be resolved by negotiation but by unilateral Palestinian action followed by reactive Israeli moves. The IDF will be sent in to occupy and protect those areas that include the large Jewish settlement blocs (Ariel, Ma'ale Adumim, Etzion, Maa'le Efraim). If Israel doesn't move, then the Palestinians will take over, with possible calamitous consequences for the 200,000 or so Jews living there, possibly including massacres. If the IDF does take over the Jewish-settled areas, then it is likely that the Israel Government and Knesset will move to annex those areas into Israel, making the Palestinian area remaining less (by ca. 10%) than the total West Bank. This will be considered a "land grab" by the Palestinians and possibly a breach of the UN GA resolution, possibly resulting in sanctions against Israel by the GA, even though these would not be enforceable under international law. This may be interpreted as a causus belli by many Arab and/or Muslim States, leading once again to a state of war between Israel and an expanded Muslim bloc, possibly including Iran and Turkey. It is precisely this scenario that the US and the EU are trying to avoid in persuading Pres. Abbas of the PA from taking this unilateral course of action.

However, in this scenario there is the germ of a potential solution. Once Israel has annexed the regions that it considers essential, the rest of the West Bank will remain under Palestinian control, and the border between them could become a de facto border. Although contested by the Palestinians they might not find enough support to actually result in a war against Israel. After all Syria is otherwise occupied, Egypt is hardly prepared for an external conflict, Lebanon is split between Hizbollah and the Christians, and Jordan is hardly a threat. So it comes down to whether Turkey and/or Iran have the balls to take the bull by the horns and actually make war over this for the Palestinians. I doubt if they would, because Erdogan is interested in currying favor with the Arabs, but not actually fighting for them. Iran might, but they can't depend on Syria now or Hizbollah, and Hamas in Gaza are not a significant military threat. So in any event Israel would win this round and the situation would likely return to an uneasy truce, that in time might solidify into a long-term solution. It's a possible scenario at least, but one of many.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Occam and conspiracy theories

In the philosophy of science there is an axiom that everyone should adopt, namely "Occam's razor" or Occam's principle. Occam was an English monk who proposed this concept in the 12th century. Simply stated Occam's principle is that if there are two explanations for something one should accept the simpler of the two, or stated another way, if there is a satisfactory explanation for something one need not search for or accept a more complex explanation.

I personally do not like or accept so-called conspiracy theories of events, such as Kennedy's assassination or the Twin Towers collapse. During the 10th anniversary of "9/11" there was endless speculation in the media about why the Twin Towers collapsed and the way in which they collapsed. Some of this speculation seems ridiculous to me. Suddenly people who know nothing about the subject become experts on how tall buildings collapse. I saw a plane crash into each of the two buildings of the Twin Towers, I saw them collapse, cause and effect. According to Occam's principle not much more need be said. If you want to know how the Towers collapsed then you can seek reasonable explanations, such as that the planes (weighing ca. 100 tons each) severed many interior supports (concrete and metal) of the building, the planes contained almost full tanks of aviation fuel that burnt at extremely high temperature, weakening the supports and causing some to melt. Then the top portions of the Towers above the impact points, weighing huge amounts, collapsed onto the remaining portions, causing them to collapse too. Aren't these reasons obvious and straightforward. According to common sense any speculation about any other causes for the collapse are tendentious and unnecessary.

For example, someone spotted several small chips with an orange and grey color in the voluminous dust produced in the collapse, and attributed these to a hot-burning substance called thermite, that is used to cause buildings to collapse in planned demolitions. There are several problems with this explanation, first such orange paint (consisting of iron oxide) was used to cover many interior metal portions of the Twin Tower buildings and this was often painted over with a grey paint, second, although Thermite consists of iron oxide and aluminium, it is not usually used to detonate buildings, but rather plain dynamite is used. So according to Occam's principle, forget the idea of a planned detonation bringing the Towers down. Another point made is that small tufts of smoke indicating small explosions are seen on floors below the main impact point. But why assume these are "planned" explosions, why not assume the much more likely explanation that burning fuel oil poured down pipes and cavities within the buildings and caused minor fires and explosions on lower floors.

Then there is the collapse of Building 7 on the Twin Towers site. This building was not hit by any plane, it was physically separate from the Twin Towers themselves and half their height and it collapsed vertically, much like the Towers themselves. It has been stated that this was a CIA building, and therefore that the CIA, for reasons unknown, detonated its supports and caused it to collapse. This is simply nonsense! When the Twin Towers collapsed adjacent to this building, people much further away said it felt like an "earthquake," also the force of the initial dust storm from their collapse was incredible, finally there were fires underground caused by the fuel and the collapse and all these buildings were connected underground. To believe any other explanation than that this building collapsed due to the initial plane crashes and the subsequent collapse of the Towers is perverse.

I want to address the question of the identity of the hijackers. Their identities were clearly proven from Passports and facts connecting them. Most of them were part of a cell that lived and met in Hamburg, their dates of arrival and departure from Hamburg are known. Their addresses and dates of arrival in the US are known and their attendence at pilot training schools at various locations around the US are known. The addresses of banks to which specific amounts of money was sent to them are also known. Some have said that with the amount of training they could not pilot a commercial airliner, but this is not true, I heard an experienced airline pilot refute this. And in fact some of the hijackers specifically asked to be taught how to fly such planes. The remark of one of the hijackers that he did not need to know how to land such a plane only how to fly it caused a flight instructor to contact his local FBI office and a report was prepared by an FBI agent, but was never acted on. This was due to incompetence and lack of inter-agency communication rather than any conspiracy.

Finally, much has been said about the identity of the hijackers, for example that this was a Zionist plot and that no Jews were killed because they had been forewarned . This is a grotesque lie, many Jews were killed, just look at the names. Of course, in the Arab world, where rumor often passes for fact, this lie is widely believed. But, it is simply false! All the hijackers were Muslims and several of them have been traced to al Qaeda training sites in Pakistan or Afghanistan. 18 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens and in most cases their families have been identified. One of them, Zacarias Massaoui, a French citizen, was denied entry into the USA and was arrested, subsequently tried and found guilty of being involved in the plot. There is so much more detailed information, I suggest everyone read the entries in Wikipedia, under the specific headings "Flight 11", "Flight 93," and the names involved: Mohammed Atta, Massaoui, Khaled Shiekh Mohammed, etc. etc. You cannot but be impressed by the amount of detailed information gathered after the event. If you have any other theories, don't write to me about them!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Migron is a headache, it is a small Jewish settlement on the West Bank in Samaria. It has been in the headlines because the Israel Govt. sent the IDF into Migron last week and in the middle of the night they roughly turfed three families out of their homes and razed them to ruins. This was after an anti-settlement Israeli organization Peace Now petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to have the "outpost" dismantled. That this action was considered an important step was indicated by the statement of support for Israel's action by the US State Department, which has been pressing for such a policy for years. As they always say, it has been US policy that all Jewish settlements on the West Bank are illegal, although this is not supported by interpretations of international law (from the 1922 Treaty of Lausanne to the 1993 Oslo Accords).

Whatever the interpretation, this action unleashed a hornet's nest, in the form of predictable counter-attacks by the settlers and their supporters, who feel that they are being victimized. There were several actions, first against mosques in the Arab villages in the area, one of which was burnt, and then an attack on an Israeli military camp, in which buildings and trucks were set on fire and vandalized. In every case, the perpetrators spray painted in Hebrew the words "Migron" and "price tag" on the walls. These actions of course produced another stream of comments from the Israeli Govt., which deplored them, and even the US Secty. of State who condemned them. However, the US did not reflect that their position, which is at least legally questionable if not politically self-serving, was the cause of these counter-reactions. What do you expect if you go in the middle of the night and bulldoze people's houses, especially if the occupants are Jews? This is reminiscent of Nazi Germany, although so far noone was killed. If the Israeli Govt. doesn't know that it will cause a reaction of this type then it is ignorant. If the Obama Administration doesn't know that it will cause internal schisms within Israel, then it is premediated.

Let us also not be naieve. Jewish settlements are a permanent fixture in Judea and Samaria and no Palestinian declaration of statehood, whether supported by 130 countries at the UN or not, is going to change that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It sounds better in Amharic

Last Thurs evening we attended a performance at Netanya Academic College of "It sounds better in Amharic," a one-man show put on in English by an Ethiopian Israeli named Yossi Vassa, co-sponsored by Netanya-AACI and the Forgotten People's Fund that collects money for poor Ethiopian Jews. He was very engaging and charming and one identified with his story.

He described how his family and village decided to leave their homes to go to the mythical "Jerusalem," based on the persuasion of a white Jew, that the children thought must have a terrible disease because they had never seen a white man before (when they got to Israel they found that the disease had spread). They trekked across a wasteland to the Sudanese border for three months mainly using donkeys. There they were cheated and forced to live in a terrible camp with no food and no money for a year, during which his two younger brothers and his grandmother died. Until finally they were taken to an airfield and saw a plane for the first time and flew miraculously to Israel.

They were not taken to "Jerusalem," but to Netanya, which has a large Ethiopian population. Here they tried to maintain their village cohesion, while major changes were occurring to them. They were randomly given Hebrew names, and he was dubbed Yossi because he liked the name of the man who was their absorption manager. The children learned Hebrew and so he became the most important person in his family because his parents had no idea what was going on and he translated for them. The old adult control of the children broke down and they became westernized. Eventually he became an actor, a profession that did not exist in their village, and one that his parents cannot understand ("They pay you for this?").

After the performance there was a question and answer period. He was asked if, after all the suffering and difficulties, he still was glad that he had come to Israel. He answered in the affirmative; even though they suffered on the journey, they were constantly suffering in Ethiopia from anti-Semitism from the predominantly Christian population and there was no future for them there. Many of their people had been forcibly converted to Christianity, and they were constantly being attacked and their land stolen (in fact the remnants of the forcibly converted, called Falash Mura, are currently being flown from Ethiopia directly to Israel where they are converting back to Judaism). Overall it was an enlightening and even inspiring experience.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Latin American visit to NAC

On Tues 6 September, the Netanya Academic College (NAC) hosted Ambassadors and Diplomatic Attaches of the Central and South American countries (Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and Chile). This was a very important visit because in most of those countries there is a community of secret Jews or "anusim" (Hebrew for "forced") and this was an opportunity to find cultural bridges between Israeli Jews and those countries.

Rabbi Moshe Pinchuk, Head of the Jewish Heritage Center at NAC, welcomed the visitors and gave some introductory remarks. He then introduced Prof. Michael Corinaldi, Head of the new “International Institute for the Study of Secret Jews (Anusim)”, who spoke briefly about the subject of the “Secret Jews,” formerly referred to as “marranos.” Prof. Corinaldi pointed out that the terms "marrano", and "chueta" used on the Balearic Islands, are derogatory terms and urged those present to stop using these terms to refer to the descendents of conversos, those Jews who were forcibly converted to Catholic Christianity in Spain and Portugal. The term "anusim" is preferred. Many of the descendents of these former Jews spread around the world, particularly in what were then Spanish and Portuguese colonies, including the countries represented there.

Mrs. Gloria Mound, Senior Advisor to the Head of the Inst., spoke briefly about her experiences starting 37 years ago visiting the Balearic Islands, where she subsequently did ground-breaking research on the descendents of the Secret Jews living there. She gave an example of a Brazilian girl who wished to marry in the UK a Cohen, normally forbidden to marry a convert, and Mrs. Mound was able to prove to the Rabbinic authorities that she was Jewish according to their criteria. Another case is pending of a girl from New Mexico who is a descendent of a converso family from Formentera (one of the smallest Balearic Islands) who wishes to marry an Israeli. These are only two examples of hundreds of such cases that Mrs. Mound has handled over the years.

Rabbi Pinchuck then presented the program of the Jewish Heritage Center and his specific course that is designed to familiarize diplomatic staff that serve in Israel with Jewish practices.

Following a reception the representatives were taken on a tour of the NAC and of the City of Netanya.

The Facebook page of the Inst. for Studies of Secret Jews is at:
Please feel free to visit the page and add anything of relevance, particularly if you can write in Spanish or Portuguese.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In memoriam "9/11"

How to memorialize "9/11", or rather the nearly 3,000 victims of that heinous attack by Muslim terrorists piloting commercial airliners into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, PA. Of course, there were heroes among them, the 342 NY City Firemen who walked knowingly into that inferno in order to save others and were killed themselves; the passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 from Boston bound to San Francisco, that the terrorists turned en route towards Washington, who attacked the hijackers and forced the plane to crash rather than see it aimed at one of America's founding symbols, the White House or the Capitol. But, we always say that in any mass tragedy it is better to focus on one person, one incident in order to appreciate the general sacrifice.

In the Jerusalem Post magazine this weekend (see there was an article about Daniel Lewin, aged 31, a hi-tech engineer, who had boarded United Airlines flight 11 at Logan Airport, Boston, en route to Los Angeles for a business meeting. Lewin was an Israeli and a founder of a hi-tech company called Akamai in Boston. Lewin had made important contributions to the development of the internet and to IBMs systems program Genesys. There were 91 other people aboard the flight that was taken over by 5 terrorists and re-routed towards New York City. Lewin, who was originally from Detroit, had served in the IDF as a member of the General Staff Reconnaisance unit (sayeret matkal) which carried out uniquely dangerous missions. According to testimony given at the time by flight attendants Amy Sweeting and Betty Ong, who both perished, recorded and written down by an air traffic controller and held by the FBI, Lewin attacked the hijackers, but was overpowered and stabbed in the neck and left to die on the floor of the plane. This occurred sometime between the hijacking and when the plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center 30 mins later. Accordingly Lewin was probably the first victim of the "9/11" attacks, and it should be noted that he died fighting the evil. He was a hero and deserves to be remembered by all of us for his courage and sacrifice.

As well as Lewin and the many Jewish people who perished in the incidents, five Israelis were killed in the WTC attack. Israel has the only memorial outside the US that lists the names of all the victims, that is located outside Jerusalem. The incident of "9/11" had a profound impact on the US and the free world. Never again!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Embassy attack

It is helpful to think of the Muslims as not adhering to normal civilized practices, such as honoring treaties, attacking embassies or believing absurd rumors. Thus, they break treaties when they decide it is convenient for them, following the example of Mohammed, or they attack embassies, such as the current attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo or the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979, or they believe that the 9/11 attacks that were perpetrated by a group of Muslims were carried out by a Jewish-Zionist-American conspiracy. Although the Egyptian forces held back while the mob was attacking our Embassy in Cairo they were eventually mobilized and are now protecting the building. However, our flag was once before taken down from the building and they allowed it to happen again. Just as they allowed a group of terrorists to pass thru their guarded border to attack Israel and kill civilians, but then complain when their guards were killed in the crossfire. Perhaps the Egyptian mob doesn't understand that they are not capable of mounting any kind of attack on Israel, but hopefully the Egyptian military itself does understand and has internalized that painful lesson.

During the attack the phone calls between PM Netanyahu, Pres. Obama and Gen Tantawi, the Head of the Interim Governing Council in Egypt avoided a catastrophe. Although Israel Ambassador Levanon and 80 of his staff were not in the Embassy and were flown to safety in Israel, six guards were trapped inside a sealed room in the Embassy with a strengthesed metal door. They were in constant touch with the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and a call from Netanyahu to Obama to Tantawi did the trick. A team of Egyptian security men dressed in normal garb got into the Embassy and rescued the guards, who were also then flown to safety in Israel. Meanwhile the Embassy was ransacked and destroyed by the mob.

This attack resulted in many foreign leaders criticizing Egypt for not adhering to international norms to protect foreign embassies, after all this could happen to other embassies if they didn't respond. So they responded, and the Egyptian Minister of the Interior apologized to Israel, while they put a huge cordon of troops around teh building, too late, but better than nothing. PM Netanyahu gave a speech in which he said that despite the attack on the Embassy, which is sovereign Israeli territory, Israel would adhere to the peace treaty with Egypt, and he left an Ambassadorial representative in Cairo to ensure that diplomatic relations were not broken. Seemingly crisis averted. But, who knows what can happen in the future given the delicate and unpredictable situation prevailing in Egypt.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Saber rattling

It was reported today that PM Erdogan of Turkey has threatened to send Turkish warships to protect any future flotilla of ships containing humanitarian aid to Gaza. This almost amounts to a declaration of war with Israel, since the Palmer Report issued recently by the UN Secty. General confirmed the legality of the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and affirmed the right of Israel to stop and search any ships entering Gaza waters. This is the right of any state that is being attacked by an enemy, to check all ships and cargo to stop arms and individuals (terrorists) reaching that enemy, in this case Gaza.

Since the Palmer Report rejected Turkish and Arab assertions that Israel's Gaza blockade is "illegal," Erdogan has had the rug pulled out from under him. Instead of taking the rational position of accepting the Report, he not only has rejected it, but has issued a threat to take the case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. If he does, international maritime lawyers confidently predict that he will once again lose (unless there are some Muslim judges who vote automatically against Israel). In that case he is getting himself in deeper, it is a case of blind hatred of Israel prejudicing the relations between states.

The Israeli Government by contrast has been treading softly and making placating noises towards Ankara. There is a Turkish delegation expected for the annual Defense Forces exhibition in Israel, that many Defense MInisters from around the world attend. They issued a statement welcoming the Turkish delegation and it is expected that they will still attend. So it is a case of Turkey being split, some centers continuing good ties with Israel, while others, particualrly the Erdogan Govt. making matters worse. PM Netanyahu spoke at a naval officers graduation ceremony yesterday and reiterated that Israel will not apologise to Turkey and expressed confidence in the performance of the naval commandos. Also, Israeli Defense Minister Barak repeated his regret at what happened to the Turks aboard the Mavi Maramara, without actually apologizing.

But, if Erdogan carries out his threat, then this could bring Israel and Turkey into a direct collision course and could initiate military action that could lead to war. We all hope that cooler heads will prevail in Turkey and that members of the EU and the US will bring pressure to bear on Turkey to not take such an illegal and indefensible step.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Last gasp

Last Saturday night there was an even larger turnout of the social protest movement in Israel, with some 200,000 participating in Tel Aviv and another 200,000 estimated altogether in other cities in the country. The main message of this protest movement is that the economic conditions in Israel are unfair, that apartments cost too much, bringing up baby costs too much and food costs too much and the mass of poor and middle class people want the Government to change things for the better. It is likely that similar protest movements in other countries, such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and even England, would be even more justified under the poorer economic situations in those countries.

But, this may be the last gasp of the protest movement. The tent cities in the main towns are being dismantled as the student occupants go back to school. The homeless will stay on, but without the same political power, and the organizers of the movement will now have to evaluate what they have accomplished. The Trachtenberg Committee, set up by the Netanyahu Government to take testimony from all and sundry, are nearing the end of their term, they are supposed to report back in only a month after their formation. What they will make of the situation and how they will advise the Government to tackle some of the problems will be interesting to see. It is very unlikely that problems like the cost of housing, which is due to market forces, can be changed in a short period of time. Everyone would like things to be cheaper, but how to manage this is unclear.

Israel is already turning back to the usual focus on the security situation. What with the attacks in the Negev and the continuing rockets being fired in the South, the deliberate Turkish acts to exacerbate relations between us, the internal strife in Egypt and Syria, people are casting a dim eye around and seeing little to be happy about. The worst event anticipated will be the Palestinian maneuver to obtain unilateral Statehood from the UN. Now that we are in September, there is barely a few weeks to go before that transpires, and then we will see the outcome. By the time October rolls around the protest movement will be almost forgotten, a little adventure by our young and restless during the summer that won't amount to much. We will be too busy trying to understand the outcome of the more serious Arab maneuvers designed to extinguish our existence.

Monday, September 05, 2011

NO apology!

Turkey has been waging a deliberate rejectionist propaganda campaign against Israel. In Turkey, the traditional secular Government has been replaced with the Islamist oriented Government of Recip Tayyip Erdogan that has defanged the Army and is intent on delegitimizing Israel. First, the Turkish Government connived in the sending of the Mavi Marmara flotilla to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza and they also included trained Islamist terrorists on board that attacked the Israeli commandos when they arrived. This is not just my opinion but is included in the Palmer Report that was issued by the UN. The Report also said that Israel used "excessive force" in fighting these terrorists, but how else were they to defend themselves. But, the Report makes it clear that the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza is legal and justified.

Then Erdogan insisted that Israel must apologize for the death of the nine Turkish citizens in the combat on the boat. Israel refuses to apologize, what for, for legitimately defending itself? Now Turkey has used the publication of the Report as an excuse to expel the Israeli Ambassador and downgrade diplomatic ties with Israel. They have also cancelled the joint military pacts they had with Israel. All this is a deliberate anti-Israel maneuver to curry favor with the Muslim world to gain influence there. It should not be forgotten that Turkey controlled most of the Middle East for hundreds of years, and as a right wing Islamist PM, Erdogan is pursuing a policy focussed on the east, not the west. In a sense this has little to do with Israel, but has more to do with Turkey's historic role in the region and its internal politics. In summary, Turkey is using Israel to score points with the Arabs. This is easy to do when the Palestinians are intent on obtaining legitimacy for their state from the UN. Turkey will be one of those Muslim nations that will line up to support the Palestinians.

Turkey has other problems, the illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus, a clear case of brazen military expansionism. They are also still waging a military campaign against the Kurds and recently attacked Kurdish positions in northern Iraq, a completely illegal act. Further they are always trying hard to deny the truth of the 1917 massacre of Armenians that was a forerunner of the Holocaust. Turkey is also playing the Syria card, while Syria descends into chaos, Turkey will be there to pick up the pieces. But, the consquences can be worse for them than they think.

The Arabs have no love for the Turks considering how they were treated by them when Turkey was their colonial master. Also, the Arab arena has traditionally been the playground for the pursuit of glory and power between the two peripheral Muslim nations, Turkey and Iran. Iran is making headway in the Arab world with its threat to develop nuclear weapons. This not only discomfits Israel but also Turkey, so Turkey is looking for ways to counter the influence of Iran, and delegitimizing Israel is one of them. Look for further anti-Israel moves by Turkey to show the Muslim world that they are leaders in the campaign against Israel. But, in the long run this will not accrue to their benefit, they will lose any possibility of joining the EU and they will lose US support and influence.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Palestinian Fall

Pres. Abbas in response to PM Netanyahu's request for a continuation of negotiations: "But its a long, long time from May to December, and the days grow short when you reach September, and the Autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, and I haven't got time for the waiting game...."

As we get closer to the September opening of the UN, we come closer to the day when things will change dramatically in the Middle East. We have had the "Arab spring" which has resulted in the overthrow of three Arab dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and Syria's dictator Bashar Assad is nearing the end-game. Now we have the "Palestinian Fall," in both senses of the word. At this time the Palestinians have decided to take their chances and opt for asking the UN General Assembly to grant them unilateral Statehood. Abba Eban memorably said that "the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity," and this is one the greatest mistakes of their convoluted history.

Until now the Israel-Arab conflict has been bound up in UN resolutions that have required bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to come to a peaceful conclusion on the basis of a "two-state solution." By taking this unilateral step, the Palestinians are negating previous bilateral agreements. The agreements that Israel negotiated with the Palestine Authority will become null and void if that Authority no longer exists. The Oslo Accords that established the PA will themselves no longer be valid. All agreements that the US made with the PA will become obsolete. How that will change the actual picture is not entirely clear. But, it will free Israel to also take unilateral action, to declare that the agreements with the PA no longer limit its actions and to redraw the map of Israel in the Middle East. How this will intersect with the fundamental changes that are going on in the Arab world simultaneoulsy remains to be seen. Certainly none of the Arab countries neighboring Israel are in a state to take any action in support of the Palestinians.

The Israeli Government is currently undecided what to do in response to the Palestinian initiative. Netanyahu is waiting to see what the actual wording of the UN resolution is, how the Palestinians themselves respond and whether or not there will be a further violent uprising, the so-called "third intifada" that is being threatened. Pres. Abbas insists that he is against the use of terrorism, but so did Arafat. If there are mass waves of civilians against Israeli checkpoints then the IDF will have to be able to deal with that. But, just as in the past, violent attacks failed and terrorism failed, so the Palestinian tactics will again fail against a well-prepared, highly motivated and organized State such as Israel. We have seen worse and we have surmounted all previous difficulties.

Currently different Ministers of the Government are expressing different opinions. But, the actual Government response will be decided once the dust settles. This explains why Israel has been holding back in dealing with the rockets from Gaza, they don't want to give the Palestinians any excuses to take to the UN. But, after they make their move we will make ours, and the Middle East will never be the same again.Reply

The Derfner affair

Larry Derfner was a columnist writing in the Jerusalem Post and he was known as the resident left-wing opinion in a predominantly center-right newspaper. He could be counted on to always take the pro-Palestinian opinion on any issue or clash. But I use the past tense since he was fired last week and a small item appeared on the front page of the paper announcing his firing. This is what happened.

In his personal blog last week Derfner wrote "I think a lot of people who realize that the occupation is wrong also realize that the Palestinians have the right to resist it – to use violence against Israelis, even to kill Israelis, especially when Israel is showing zero willingness to end the occupation, which has been the case since the Netanyahu government took over ..." This was taken to mean that Derfner was justifying the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinians, as exemplified in the recent attack near Eilat when 8 Israelis were killed. There then came calls, orchestrated by Steven Plaut, a well-known right wing columnist, that Derfner should be fired by the Editor of the Post, Steve Linde. It was felt that Derfner had gone too far, that sympathizing with the Palestinians is one thing, calling for the formation of a Palestinian State is another, but justifying the murder of Israelis for any reason is beyond the red line that all writers must adhere to. Further, this was justified because of the policies of the Netanyahu Government, a clear political bias, not due to the bad policies or extreme positions of the Palestinians themselves. In other words blame it on the Israeli Government. Now, this might have gone down well in an extreme leftist newspaper like Ha'aretz, where such opinions are commonly expressed, but not in the Jerusalem Post. Apparently the Post received so much criticism for allowing Derfner to continue writing there and potential loss of revenue, that Linde had to fire him.

Then of course, there was the left's reaction. Most commentators pointed to "freedom of speech" as a major issue. Let everyone say what they like is the libertarian view. But, columnists in newspapers are not allowed to say anything, or should not be allowed to. And this is one exception, you cannot justify violence against Israelis, "even to kill Israelis" for any reason, no reason, including national and religious opinions can be used to justify killing people. Of course, Derfner replied that he had been misunderstood, that he had written against violence and killing in the past, that he really didn't mean to justify killing Israelis. But, as Plaut pointed out, he might not have written what he did had he been thinking about the killing of his own family, who are also Israelis. So Derfner is gone, and a lot of us who prefer a middle of the road columnist to an extreme leftist can breath easier. Let's hope the terrorists who truly believe what Derfner wrote will not be able to attack again. Note that they attack Israelis randomly (sometimes killing Israeli Arabs or foreign visitors) while the IDF is a well organized Army and only retaliates against the killers themselves. Luckily the IDF also protects the freedom of speech of leftists like Derfner.