Gaza War Diary 1 Mon-Tue. Jan. 30-31, 2017 Day 1242-1243 1 1:30am
Dear Family & Friends,
More sun today & tonight a lovely rain.
Lots of crucial issues:
All the very best, Gail/Geula/Savta/Savta Raba x 2/Mom
7.Pseudo-Liberal Jews Are Causing Unspeakable Damage By Isi Leibler
1.Oz VeGaon & Sovereignty Now Conference: by Womeningreen@womeningreen.org to womeningreen Dear Friends,
Please join us today & Friday at Oz veGaon where we will enjoy shiurim & lectures by fascinating speakers.
We remind you to register to our 4th Sovereignty Conference. Details at end of email.
Yehudit Katsover & Nadia Matar
1) TODAY TUESDAY: Racheli Fraenkel & Rav Dov Zinger
Please G-d today, Tuesday January 31st, at the Bet Midrash Havruta at Oz veGaon:
6:00pm shiur by Rav Dov Zinger on the melody of Eretz Yisrael
7:00pm Shiur by Racheli Fraenkel on the beauty of the Ilan tree
Light refreshments – fruit from Eretz Yisrael
Open to the public – men, women & youth- bring family & friends.
Shiurim are in Hebrew.
2) Friday at Oz veGaon with Prof. Eli Pollak
MK Smotrich hopes sanity prevails & court approves Amona draft plan. ‘We are mobilized to move caravans within 48 hours’
By Eliran Aharon, Arutz Sheva 31/01/17 17:44
MK Bezalel Smotrich – by Eliran Aharon
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) related this afternoon (Tuesday) to the High Court’s hearing the petition against the plan to relocate Amona to absentee land & to IDF preparations to evacuate the village.
Smotrich notes that the preparations do not necessarily indicate a forced eviction. “First of all we are waiting for the High Court’s decision. I hope common sense prevails even in the Supreme Court…
“If, G-d forbid, the court rejects the plan & continues in the same callous & distorted line that guides them with regards to Amona then perhaps we will see the government forced into the evacuation by the Supreme Court,” said Smotrich, explaining that the relevant parties are prepared for the eventuality that plan is approved, “We are mobilized to move trailers within 48 hours.
“I want to tell the people of Amona that by their merit alone did we start drafting the normalization law. Your struggle was not in vain; you made a tremendous achievement for the Land of Israel & settlement there,” added Smotrich
AFSI is very pleased that the new media outlet, JNS, the Jewish News Service, has done an in-depth report on AFSI’s Chairman, Mark Langfan & his amazing educational maps. We congratulate Russel Pergament, Amelia & Joshua Katzen, on their enterprise, designed to combat the overwhelming negative portrayals of Israel in the media.
Please see the article following the JNS article, which appeared in the Forward newspaper, identifying Langfan with AFSI, “which advocates Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank.” I quickly wrote a note to the author of the article, (firstname.lastname@example.org) explaining that the “occupied West Bank” is NOT terminology that correctly identifies Judea and Samaria, and if he needs instruction on that point, we would be happy to supply it.
Israeli Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau caused a media stir last month when, at a cabinet meeting, he quoted from former Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban’s statement that Israel’s 1967 borders are reminiscent of “Auschwitz” because of their indefensibility. But New York attorney Mark Langfan has been saying – rather, portraying – that same point for years.
Langfan for more than 2 decades has been designing his own Middle East maps-which depict what he calls “actual conditions” in the region, including topography, natural resources, geopolitics & trade & transportation routes – & schlepping (as he puts it) them to Capitol Hill, where members of Congress from Day One told him their constituents believe Israel is an apartheid state.
GRAPHIC MAP BY MARK LANGFAN 4/30/2011
“The maps provided a tool to enable [legislators] to say to these people, basically, Israel should exist,” Langfan says in an interview with JNS.org.
Langfan says his maps work off the assumption that the 1967 “Auschwitz borders” mentioned by Landau “are indefensible and will cause another Holocaust.” Furthermore, the maps seek to counter the assumption of Israel’s enemies that all of the problems in the Middle East “are because of the Jews.”
“According to that theory, if Israel is gone, all the regional problems are solved,” Langfan says. “Well, that’s not exactly what would be likely to happen.”
The motivation behind Langfan’s self-funded maps project, he says, is “trying to leverage the maps as a valuable tool to help Israel.”
“The issues of the Middle East are complex & multifaceted,” Langfan says. “The maps serve as a tool to help explain the realities & put them into perspective-an important means of presenting issues to Congress as well as American & Israeli Jews.”
Langfan presents his maps in 8-10 minute explanatory talks during which the understanding of topography “becomes an important, simple base for additional information.”
“These are not interpretive renditions of reality,” he says. “These maps show actual conditions on the ground, presented for the sake of understanding. The intent is to be able to lecture informed, varied audiences, from high school kids to generals & everyone in between.”
One of Langfan’s maps details major Palestinian rocket-launching sites, showing the close proximity of those battlements to Israeli population centers.
“When you realize that both Hezb’Allah & Hamas can fire rockets-like firing from Brooklyn to Manhattan-it really brings home the reality of the distance, really, the lack of distance [between rocket-launching sites and Israel],” Langfan says.
“The [Middle East] has 370 million Muslims and 11 million Christians in Greece,” Langfan explains. “The only barrier between them is Israel. Without Israel, the Muslims will seek to conquer Greece and Cyprus. If Israel were not there, would oil and gas revenues be shared with the Christians of Cyprus? The discovery of natural gas and oil reserves makes the existence of a strong Israel all the more important.”
Gaining control over what Langfan calls the “Black Gold Triangle-the oil-rich strip along the east and west coasts of the Persian Gulf” – is what Langfan says the “world chess game is all about.”
“Each component is a piece of puzzle,” he says. “Oil is key. OPEC represents 78 percent of the world’s oil-this area has 56 percent of that supply.”
Langfan points out that Shi’ite Muslims hold virtually all of the Middle East oil reserves, even in Sunni-governed Saudi Arabia. He believes that Iran’s encouragement of the continuation of turmoil in Syria “is not over Syria,” but rather over the oil triangle.
Another Langfan map, designed around the issue of energy control, “simplifies understanding of the politics of energy,” he says.
“For Iran, it’s a question of controlling territory – a smothering campaign,” Langfan says. “Amman (the capital of Jordan) & Jerusalem are hardly involved.”
[GAIL SEZ: I remember carrying Mark’s famous Topographical Map (above) to a Conference of Presidents’ General Assembly in NYC, when a friend of Manny’s & I (a Consul for Press & Information) passed in the Hall & exclaimed: Gail, why are you bringing that here…Are you trying to start trouble. I answered: “I never go anywhere without my country!”
In almost any conversation about the Middle East, the question of Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons capacity arises. Langfan says the Iranians “are not fools” & “have placed their nuclear facilities in as protected a place as possible.” A strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “means crossing 4,500 meter-high-mountains,” he says, explaining that “attacking Iran is a tougher proposition than attacking Iraq, where all of their nuclear facilities are east of the mountains.”
Regarding Israel, Langfan says, “The strategic value of that little piece of land is extraordinary.” He is opposed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict & says the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “has a problem” on that issue.
“[AIPAC] has supported the two-state solution, but its position has morphed into one that recognizes Israel as a strategic asset of the United States,” Langfan says, calling that position a “contradiction” because the two stances are “mutually exclusive.”
“No matter what Israeli general or politician you speak to, they all say ‘We will take painful risks for the peace process,'” Langfan says. “They never mention Israel as a strategic asset. If you have a strategic asset, do you expose your strategic asset to pain and risks for peace?”
“Israel is not a dependent little entity that needs to beg for its existence,” he adds. “Rather, the Jewish state is a vital component in maintaining the integrity of western civilization.”
Ultimately, Langfan dismisses the approach of those who believe “we have to beg for Israel & beg the politicians” to support of the Jewish state.
“My approach is radically different,” he says. “If you think there are problems in the Middle East now, think what would happen if there were no Israel.”
4.On Boycotting Radical Islamic Nations by Nonie Darwish
https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9869/immigration-ban-radical-islam January 31, 2017 at 6:00 am
Early this morning an Arabic radio station in the Middle East called asking my opinion about President Trump’s ban on refugees & citizens of 7 Muslim nations. The radio host, who sounded angry over the ban, was a Christian Arab. She was surprised to hear that I supported the ban & think that it should have taken place the day after 9/11.
She then asked me if I knew any Arab American activist who was against the ban because she wanted to interview someone against the ban. She seemed shocked to hear that I do not have any Arab or Muslim friends who are protesting the ban & that many immigrants of Islamic & Middle East origin support the ban & are fed up & embarrassed by what Jihadists are doing.
She said that all she sees on CNN & other channels are riots that portray almost all Americans supporting Muslims & against Trump. I am upset over the success of the Leftist propaganda all over the Middle East. It brings back memories of the life of the hate indoctrination & misinformation I lived under for most of my life.
What would Muslim countries do to the West, I asked, if 19 American terrorists flew airplanes into Arab capitals & their government & military headquarters? What did she think Arabs would do if every week or so American terrorists would conduct synchronized killing sprees all over the Muslim world, gunning Muslims down, blowing them up with homemade pressure cookers, ramming into crowds with trucks? There was silence.
She then started calming down & said that of course she is against terrorism“but” …I asked: “Do you see what Jihad did to your Christian community in the Middle East?” She was silent for a minute, then it occurred to me that she might be afraid to continue the conversation because her bosses were probably Muslims.
I was sure she was going to hang up on me, but to my surprise she asked me to please hold. Then she was back, live from the studio & started interviewing me & asked the same questions on air. I poured my heart out in Arabic to the Arab listeners.
The lesson here is that Arabs are hungry to hear the truth; this Arab station, instead of rejecting these ideas, ended up putting them on air. The lesson America needs to learn is that the West is not doing Muslims (especially the reformists) a favor by constantly treating them as children who should be shielded from reality.
Muslims need to know that the world does indeed have a justifiable & legitimate concern about Islam & actions done in the name of Islam by Muslims. Muslims need to look at themselves in the mirror & see the world from the point of view of their victims. Instead, the West is sacrificing its culture, values, laws, pride & even self-respect. Muslim culture needs a wake-up call telling them that, sooner or later, non-Muslim nations will close their doors to any kind of Muslim immigration if the Jihad culture continues. That will also be a strong message to Muslims already in the West who still believe in Jihad.
President Donald Trump signs an executive order restricting immigration, 1/27/17
(Image source: Reuters video screenshot)
The Muslim people are hungry for the truth: that their educational system & mosque preaching are full of incitement, abhorrent, hate-filled & the foundation upon which violent Jihad is built. The Islamic commandment to do Jihad, sacrifices Muslim men, women & children to kill & get killed.
As long as the West continues its appeasement of Islamic Jihad, Islam will never reform & the West will lose. So far, the West has continued to extend a lifeline to the religion of Islam; a religion for which the number one enemy is the truth & which struggles to suppress the truth.
It might be compassion that leads the West to take in millions of Muslim refugees, but it is reckless compassion. Why isn’t Saudi Arabia taking refugees temporarily until things settle down in Syria & Iraq? Do Westerners question the motivation of Islamic theocracies, as to why ultra-rich Arab nations are sending us their refugees but taking in none?
Who is really benefiting from the policy of appeasement, the acceptance of Sharia-stricken theocracies & their Jihadist, hate-filled education? Some “tough love” is urgently needed if Muslims are to be motivated to change & reform.
Nonie Darwish, born & raised in Egypt, is the author of “Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values over Islamic Values”
Recent Articles by Nonie Darwish
§ New Year Speech to the Muslim World, 2017-01-01
§ What About the Cultural Imbalance?, 2016-11-29
§ America’s “Arab Spring”, 2016-11-03
§ Faked Outrage in the Middle East, 2013-07-18
Giulio Meotti, is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book “A New Shoah”, that researched the personal stories of Israel’s terror victims, published by Encounter & of “J’Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel” published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage & Commentary.
The world is fractured along ethnic, religious, economic & political lines. Western Europe & Putin’s Russia are fighting each other in a war of propaganda. The Islamic world is imploding along the Sunni & Shia lines. Latin America is divided between pro-Western countries & Leftist populist Venezuela’s style regimes. Europe itself is fractured between liberalism & populism.
But the world is united behind a single issue: attacking the State of Israel.
At the UN Security Council, the world united & decided to demonize Israel & the Jews, those thieves, by approving a resolution that considers “illegal” the Jewish presence in the lands liberated in the 1967. The United States for the first time in forty years decided NOT to protect Israel with its veto. It meant abandoning the Jews to their fate.
The European countries, these graveyards of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, abstained together in another recent UNESCO resolution that erased 4,000 years of Jewish history of Jerusalem.
Not long ago, 70 countries agreed & met in Paris to create an international court blaming Israel for the situation in the Middle East.
For many years, the Western democracies have seen Israel as the expression of the highest values of Western culture. Now it is as if the much of the West has decided to get rid of Israel, as if it needs to distance itself from the Jewish State. For thirst of energy, for cynical political calculation, for demagoguery, the West has accepted actions that serve to push Israel to the margins of the international consortium.
70 years ago, Adolf Hitler conquered Europe & sent his henchmen to arrest the Jews, deport them to the concentration camps & burn them in the crematoria. Hitler didn’t meet any resistance in his path: the French willingly cooperated to kill the Jews, Eichmann & a few other officials were able to destroy the Hungarian community of half million Jews, in the Netherlands very few Jews came back from the camps.
It is hard to prove, but probably Hitler was the tool of Europe’s own conscience & desire to rid herself of the Jews. Now the world is rallying behind the flag “Death to Israel”.
A few days ago, in the German town of Wuppertal, a court established that 3 German Palestinians who had torched a synagogue in July of 2014 did so to draw “attention to the Gaza conflict” & that attacking a synagogue 3,000 miles away from Israel was not anti-Semitism, but legitimate criticism for the actions of the Israeli Jews.
It is important to remind the democratic governments & their public opinions, primarily those in Europe, to fulfill their responsibilities toward the Jewish people, to be aware that Israel is our border. It is Israel’s government responsibility to shame those in the West who are trying to scapegoat the Jews.
Trump speaking to Putin on telephone from the Oval Office (Sean Spicer/Twitter)
Trump & Putin agreed to cooperate in fighting ISIS as well as on other regional issues in their first phone conversation.
US President Donald Trump & Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin both committed on Saturday to engage in bilateral cooperation on a range of issues, in their first telephone discussion.
“Both sides expressed their readiness to make active joint efforts to stabilize & develop Russia-US cooperation on a constructive, equitable & mutually beneficial basis,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
The White House added that both leaders stressed a desire to work together in fighting common threats.
“Both President Trump & President Putin are hopeful that after today’s call the two sides can move quickly to tackle terrorism & other important issues of mutual concern,” read a White House statement.
Specifically, Trump & Putin spoke of engaging in joint efforts to fight against Islamic terror groups in Syria.
“The presidents have spoken in favor of establishing a real coordination between the US & Russian actions in order to defeat ISIS & other terrorist organizations in Syria,” the Kremlin stated.
Any joint action between Russia & the US in this regard would be a significant departure from Obama administration policy, when there was no cooperation between the US & Russia in fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) & other terror groups in Syria.
In an interview with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity that aired on Thursday, Trump expressed a desire for bilateral cooperation with Russia in fighting ISIS.
“It’s good for Russia, it’s good for us,” Trump said. “We go out together & knock the hell out of ISIS, because that’s a real sickness.”
Trump & Putin also reportedly discussed establishing cooperation on other regional issues, including the Arab-Israeli conflict & the Iran nuclear program.
By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News
7.Pseudo-Liberal Jews Are Causing Unspeakable Damage By Isi Leibler
Jpost.com 1/28/17 21:20 pm
Contrary to all the claptrap about democracy that they sanctimoniously preached while in office, Leftists are unwilling to accept the fact that their candidate was defeated by a parvenu.
Israeli & US flags. (photo credit:REUTERS)
Chaos is the order of the day throughout the entire democratic world.
This has been accelerated by the hypocrisy & intolerance of the vindictive Left, aided & abetted by foolish bleeding-heart pseudo-liberals who have become accomplices in the undermining of democracy.
One can understand that many Democrats were incredulous & devastated that Hillary Clinton could be defeated by Donald Trump, whose lack of civility, absence of political experience & coarse language even offended conservatives. But the outpouring of rage, the histrionic protest marches throughout the world, establishment of committees to impeach Trump – even prior to the traditional 100-day honeymoon period – is unprecedented.
Contrary to all the claptrap about democracy that they sanctimoniously preached while in office, Leftists are unwilling to accept the fact that their candidate was defeated by a parvenu.
The same chaos has swept through Europe, many of whose citizens are revolting against the failure of the Brussels-based European Union bureaucrats to address their needs & above all, collapse in the quality of their lives resulting from millions of so-called refugees flooding their countries.
This has led to a rise in global populism, a revival of conservative & right-wing political parties & rejection of the “politically correct” way of life imposed by sanctimonious liberal ideologues.
How has this chaos impacted on Diaspora Jews? As history has testified, during periods of stress & anxiety, Diaspora Jews face grave threats. Anti-Semitism, already having reached record levels since the Nazi era, is poised to become even more vicious.
That situation has been temporarily muted because the prevailing threat of Islamic fundamentalist terrorist attacks in many Western nations has directed public anger toward Muslims rather than Jews. This does not apply to Hungary, Greece & Germany.
The Jews, as a minority that has suffered tyranny & persecution, would be expected under current circumstances to concentrate primarily on their own security. Ethics of the Fathers quotes Hillel the Elder, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?” Liberal-inclined Diaspora Jews – especially those lacking an authentic Jewish education – appear to have reversed this dictum. They consider that the well-being of the world & politically correct standards of social values must be their priority – with disregard to the harm this inflicts on them as a community.
Observing Conservative & Reform Jewish leaders in the US, accompanied by once-mainstream liberal Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League & National Council of Jewish Women, at the forefront of hysterical demonstrations accusing Trump of being fascist & encouraging anti-Semitism, it is if they have been possessed by a ‘dybbuk’.
The same bleeding hearts in the US as well as those in Europe were at the forefront of calls to open the gates to Muslim “refugees” steeped in anti-democratic behavior & nourished on diets of undiluted, visceral anti-Semitism. Setting aside the question of Islamic State terrorist sleeper cells, there is little doubt that these elements will strengthen existing anti-Semitism in the older immigrant Muslim communities that failed to integrate. Yet many Jews are so dismally ignorant & oblivious that they even compare these immigrants to Jews facing annihilation during the Holocaust who were denied haven by other democratic countries.
This behavior is even more disturbing at a time of historic opportunities with the election of President Trump.
Although by no means yet assured, the US, still the only true global super-power, may truly treat Israel as a genuine ally, a move that would be reinforced by an overwhelmingly pro-Israel Congress. Trump has repeatedly proclaimed his determination to reverse former president Barack Obama’s hostile anti-Israeli policy & create a new alliance between the US & Israel that would be sensitive to the security needs of the Jewish state.
His commitment to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would have more than symbolic value. It would have a major impact in reversing the odious definition of the settlement blocs & even the Western Wall & Temple Mount as “occupied territory.” Israel could proceed to build homes & the Jewish neighborhoods over the Green Line would prosper. Furthermore, the US will hopefully no longer acquiesce to the UN persecution of Israel & will reject calls to return to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines.
Trump is also likely to bring an end to the US component of the scandalous $300 million per annum provided to the Palestinian Authority, much of which is doled out to murderers.
Israel will also have a powerful ally that recognizes Iran as a rogue state and would substantially reduce the genocidal threat from the Iranian Muslim fundamentalists.
All this has yet to be delivered but there is no doubt that there is now a window of opportunity which Israel should exploit to dramatically minimize the security challenges & separate from the Palestinians with defensible borders. This can be achieved if Israel now has the support of a US that can be counted on as a true ally. Over the past 8 years under Obama, the US dramatically eroded Israel’s diplomatic standing, treated the Jewish state as a pariah & provided incentives to the Palestinians to stall negotiations & engage in terrorism. With renewed American support, Israel could at long last stabilize itself.
There is no disputing that many Democratic Party supporters, including large numbers of Jews, were bitterly disappointed at the election result & were further outraged by Trump’s triumphant &, in their view, divisive inaugural address. But surely it is in the interest of the Jewish community to develop a good relationship with the new administration, especially taking into account the enormous uplift it could provide to the beleaguered Jewish state.
Even setting aside his religious Jewish son-in-law, Trump has always been close to Jews & his inner councils incorporate an unprecedented number of passionate religious Zionist Jews. This was highlighted by the honored role of Rabbi Marvin Hier as the first Orthodox rabbi invited to invoke a prayer at the presidential inauguration.
In this context, setting aside individual political beliefs, one must question the legitimacy of those purportedly mainstream Jewish organizational leaders who led the scurrilous accusation of fascism against the new president & the Jewish progressive religious groups calling for mourning & fasting.
One of the main justifying positive elements of progressive Jews was that even if they did not consider themselves obligated to follow Halacha (Jewish law), their activity would ensure that they at least remained within a Jewish framework. What their leaders are doing now is the opposite – encouraging them to take up liberal causes even if it means forsaking Israel, the most fundamental component providing them with a Jewish identity.
They have reversed Hillel’s maxim & act for what they perceive to be the universal needs of humanity, dismissing the interests of their own people. They are undermining themselves as a community & acting as lemmings marching off a cliff to their own destruction.
There is only one example in Jewish history to which such behavior can be compared. The Jewish Bolsheviks also turned against their own people & ultimately the revolution consumed them.
Unfortunately, the vociferous anti-Trump Jewish activists represent a far greater proportion of the Left & their bleeding-heart pseudo-liberal allies than the Bolsheviks, who represented an insignificant proportion of Russian Jews.
It is clear that in the Diaspora, committed Jews will remain overwhelmingly supportive of Israel while the pseudo-liberal or progressive Jews will become less interested in Israel & ultimately lose their identity. Indeed, Christian Evangelicals now play a far greater role in promoting Israel than some mainstream Jewish groups.
We live in a world of chaos and upheaval.
Now is the time for all committed Jews to unite, stand together & concentrate primarily on securing their own rights. Diaspora Jews who, from their comfortable armchairs, claim a better understanding than Israelis of what is good for their security should be treated with contempt. Israel is entitled to expect support from committed Jews over the next few years until it stabilizes its relationship with the world & creates an iron barrier to deter its genocidal enemies.
Once the threats to the Jewish people have been overcome, we can & will become more directly involved in ‘tikkun olam’ (repairing the world) & fulfilling Rabbi Hillel’s wise advice.
The author’s website can be viewed at www.worldfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at ileibler@ leibler.com.
US embassy confirms Israelis born in 7 Muslim nations subject to US travel ban can still travel to US.
AFP, 31/01/17 20:08
US Embassy – צילום: ILTV
Israeli Jews born in the seven countries included under US President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions will NOT be banned from entering the US, the US embassy in Tel Aviv said Tuesday.
The executive order signed on Friday banned nationals of seven mainly Muslim countries from the Middle East and Africa for 90 days but has sparked confusion in its interpretation.
Israel is home to around 140,000 people born in the seven countries covered by the decree, including about 45,000 from Iran & 53,000 from Iraq, according to official statistics.
Many fled persecution & the majority are now over the age of 65.
Their Israeli passports list their place of birth but most no longer hold the nationality of their country of birth. The Israeli government had been seeking clarification as to whether they were included in the ban.
“If you have a currently valid US visa in your Israeli passport & were born in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen & do not have a valid passport from one of these countries, your visa was not cancelled & remains valid,” a US embassy statement said.
“We continue to process visa applications for applicants born in those countries, so long as they do not have a valid passport from one of those countries,” it added.
Denial doesn’t mean there are no consequences.
Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran, is an educator, author & lecturer. His most recent book is “Mediations at Sixty: One Person, Under God, Indivisible,” published by KTAV Publishing House. He is the author of “Kos Eliyahu – Insights into the Haggadah & Pesach” which has been translated into Hebrew & published by Mosad HaRav Kook, Jerusalem.
A small child believes that by closing his eyes, the “monsters” he fears cease to exist.
When Moshe foretold of the plague of barad (hail), he warned Pharaoh that any person or animal left in the fields would be killed. “Whoever among the servants of Pharaoh feared the word of Hashem chased his servants & livestock to the houses. & whoever did not take the word of God to heart – he left his servants & livestock in the field.” (Exodus 9:20-21)
Who were these Egyptians who, after witnessing six makos – plagues – of the Lord still ignored Moses’ warning? With ample evidence that Moses’ warnings were to be heeded & with the “price” for ensuring their workers & livestock so low – simply bring them in for the night – why even risk such catastrophic loss? Unlike Pharaoh they had no pragmatic reason to be so stubborn.
For his part, as an absolute ruler, Pharaoh could ill-afford to appear weak before his nation. His sovereignty was at risk. Without the Hebrew slaves, his economy & his country could be lost to him. He might very well have understood the power of Hashem but he was determined to endure whatever punishment befell him, certain in his arrogance that he would not only withstand God’s punishment but overcome it.
However, it was not callousness nor foolishness nor arrogance nor pragmatism that held the servants of Pharaoh at bay; it was the simple human tendency to deny the reality before them.
What is denial?
There are many times – too many times – that we each make mistaken choices. Based on limited understanding or knowledge, we make a decision that turns out badly. It could be as simple as choosing a place to eat out. Perhaps we have heard recommendations from people at work. Maybe we have read a positive review. Yet, after the meal we shake our heads in amazement that a meal could be so poorly cooked & service could be so frustratingly bad. It could also be that our decision is more significant. Perhaps we invest in a business opportunity which, despite our research & the honest efforts of all involved, results in a loss of money.
There are an infinity of examples of decisions which don’t turn out the way we might have wished. Despite the outcome, however, they were made thoughtfully & considerately. Our mistakes & the consequences of them are not the result of the very real human tendency toward denial.
The Steipler Gaon teaches that denial is not the result of ignorance or thoughtfulness. It is not a mistake or of a determination to fail. It is, rather, the result of a lack of will. Denial is a distortion of one’s thinking based on his physical desires (ta’ava). It is the process of distorting reality to conform to what we want it to be.
It is closing our eyes & believing that by doing so the realities before us cease to exist. Conceptually, it is like forcing a square peg into a round hole – we want the peg to go in the hole so, no matter how compelling the evidence that it won’t, we ignore the evidence & continue forward. That is, when faced with a situation we want to be a certain way, we irrationally but quite convincingly create the sense that the situation is in fact what we want it to be.
We insist that we live in the world that should be rather than the world of what is, trying to ignore the simple truth that consequence flow naturally from what is not from how things should be.
We are deceived by our denial by the yetzer ha’ra which is much more convincing to the poor schlemiel who is determined to sin at any cost than any amount of rational evidence or argument. The yetzer ha’ra can twist rational thinking, can distort honest evaluation & undermine good judgment.
The yetzer ha’ra can actually convince us that there are no ill consequences that will result from our denial. As if life would be somehow improved if there were no consequences!
Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt wrote about such a world in a drash on Parashat Ki Tavo, published on Aish.com. In his brief discussion, Rabbi Rosenblatt imagined a world without consequences, a world in which one can have relationships outside of marriage without it affecting feelings within the marriage, where showing up to work (or not) has no bearing on one’s monthly salary or job security, where driving recklessly is fine & he asked if we would crave such an existence. He clearly responds that we would not. Without consequences, life would be sapped of meaning.
Life is not & should not be, a hefker – a free for all, helter skelter, chaotic enterprise. Yet, for the denier, the lack of consequence is the ultimate justification for his denial. Denial, in fact, makes him so deaf & dumb to consequence that he is comfortable doing as Pharaoh’s servants & “leaving his workers & livestock out in the field” where they are sure to be killed by the falling “hail” of God’s judgment.
The Talmud (Yoma 38b) captures exactly how denial happens; captures how a perfectly intelligent, normal human being can fall into a convoluted & distorted abyss – & deny it is so! This is particularly true in matters of faith, morality & ethics. The Talmud describes that we each have an internal GPS; we enter the destination that we want to reach. With that destination settled, the route is a formality. “If one wants to become contaminated (li’tameh) Heaven allows him to do so; if he wants to purify (li’taer) himself, Heaven assists him.”
If your destination is spiritual truth, your route will take you along Torah, Halakha, Hashkafa, Mussar & you will surely arrive at your destination. By the same token, if you choose to be in denial of all values, morals, tradition, ancestral teachings your route is less certain but you will just as surely reach your destination.
One cannot get to Heaven by traveling the road to Hell. There are consequences.
In ancient times, denial drove the most foolish & demeaning beliefs, from the worship to inanimate objects to the sacrifice of human beings. In modern times, the denier worships at an altar of sexual perversion & substance abuse & prays to a god of insults & demeaning behavior.
Denial now, just as in ancient times, has the power to confuse rational, intellectual examination of any matter & invite a ruach tumah, a spirit of self-indulgence, of physicality to take hold not only of the body but the mind & spirit as well.
Once one is on such an immoral path, it is imperative that the denial itself be recognized & addressed in order to change directions. This was pointed out to me by my son Zev when I asked him for examples of denial in modern life. He noted that when those struggling with addiction seek to turn their lives around, the first step of recovery is admitting one has an addiction & overcoming the denial that inhibits healing.
He gave me two other examples that are helpful for all of us to consider when it comes to recognizing & addressing the power of denial in our lives. He noted that many people fail to write a will – despite the absolute, one hundred percent certainty that they will one day die. The other example was very interesting. He wrote that he’d always found the Mesilas Yisharim’s statement concerning how ra (evil) is so powerful that it is even able to appear as tov (good). Often, he observed, there are people who focus on doing chesed outside their homes even as the need within their homes is great. They are, in effect, in denial about the right place to focus their chesed!
This last observation is particularly interesting. Denial need not only be negative! Doing chesed is always a positive & good thing. But failing to recognize where & when chesed is most needed is a form of denial. So too a recent suggestion from a high profile Open Orthodox activist, that we “change” the Haggadah on Pesach night “in light of current events.” Rather than asking G-d Shfoch Chamatcha, to “pour out His wrath upon the nations of the world” we are asked to pray for strength & peace, justice, love & healing. The rationale being that asking for G-d’s wrath on the nations was justified in the past but in the times we live in now we should be more “positive”.
I would never suggest that we not pray for strength & peace, justice, love & healing. These are good & wonderful things. But to live in denial of our past & the potential of the future, to turn away from history & tradition, places us on a path of blindness. That is, denial.
The consequences of which could be disastrous. Because there are consequences. We cannot close our eyes & have evil disappear. Denial is not an option.
‘This was, once again, a room full of students who do not identify as Jewish, explaining to Jewish students how to define their own oppression,’ says Jewish Society student
SOAS has more than 5,000 students from 133 countries on campus, and just over 50 per cent of them are from outside the UK Rex
A row has broken out at a London university after Jewish students were told they did not have the right to define what constitutes anti-Semitism.
Debating at a SOAS Student’s Union (SU) meeting this week, university members passed a new motion for a “Jewish Equality Act”, ensuring prayer spaces for religious students and kosher food was made available on campus.
It also included a commitment to account for Jewish holidays when scheduling events.
As part of the debate of the motion, however, members voted to remove a line stating “Jewish students should be given the right to self-determination & be able to define what constitutes hatred against their group like all other minority groups”.
An amendment to the motion was passed instead, ruling that union members must abide by a pre-existing set definition, put forward by Professor David Feldman from the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism.
Union representatives said the amendment was proposed by a Jewish student and agreed by the majority of those present.
But the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) criticised SOAS SU for its “appalling treatment” of a minority group.
A spokesperson from the UJS said: “This was, once again, a room full of students who do not identify as Jewish, explaining to Jewish students how to define their own oppression.
“This is in contrast to the way that other forms of oppression are defined, as per the Macpherson principle, allowing the victim to define their own oppression.”
The Macpherson principle was adopted from the 1999 report into the Metropolitan Police’s mishandling of Steven Lawrence’s murder.
It defines racism as “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”, but does not dictate that the incident will be found to be racist upon investigation.
SOAS SU has made headlines already this week for its efforts to address racial inequality on campus.
In its newly published ‘Degrees of Racism’ report, the union asked that “all academics must be prepared to acknowledge… they are capable of racism”.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, Avrahum Sanger, president of SOAS’s Jewish Society said members of the Jewish community were not able to express themselves at the university for fear of anti-Semitic hate.
“Some students tell me they’re too scared to wear the star of David, or speak Hebrew & Israeli students don’t want to attend Jewish events because they’re afraid of being singled out,” he added.
Regarding SOAS’s general meeting on Tuesday, Josh Nagli, UJS Campaigns Director, said the comments made while debating the motion were “outrageous”.
[Pro-Palestine protest turns violent at UCL student Israeli society]
“Not only were Jewish students told that they did not have the right to define their own oppression, but they also heard that Zionists are not welcome in their Students’ Union,” he said.
SOAS is no stranger to the Israeli-Palestinian debate. The Government’s Charity Commission are currently investigating an alleged anti-Semitic talk held at SOAS last year.
Speaking at a talk hosted by the university’s Palestine Society in November, Thomas Suarez described the creation of Israel as a “racist”, “fascist” endeavour & linked the “cult” of Zionism to the Nazis.
In 2015, the SOAS SU held a referendum where members voted to “boycott” Israel.
Regarding Tuesday’s debate, a spokesperson from the union said remarks about Zionism had been made as part of a separate motion about external organisations that was debated for some time, with a number of students arguing each side.
In a statement, they said: “A comment was made by one individual student which was not part of the motion itself & did not play a role in shaping the outcome of the motion… No organisation was banned from speaking on campus.
“We look forward to working on the outcomes of the ‘Equality for Jewish Students Act’ motion in the months to come & continue in the proud tradition of anti-racist struggles here at SOAS.
“The student body at SOAS remains united in fighting against all forms of racism & bigotry including anti-Semitism.”
Last month the Government’s Holocaust envoy, Sir Eric Pickles, said British universities had shown “grave cowardice” over dealing with anti-Semitism on campus, and that he was “looking into” new legislation to protect Jewish students.
“The classic definition of dealing with racism & anti-Semitism is those who stand by & do nothing,” he added.
His comments come after universities minister Jo Johnson urged academic institutions to “act swiftly” to investigate claims of anti-Semitism & other hate crimes on campus.
Mr. Johnson said universities had a “clear responsibility” under the 2010 Equality Act “to ensure they protect their staff & students & act swiftly to investigate & address hate crime, including anti-Semitic related incidents reported to them.”
He added: “There is no place in our society for any form of harassment or discrimination“.
SOAS released the following statement: “We have been actively working with our students’ union & with our students’ Jewish Society to continue to find ways to ensure that Jewish students feel welcome on campus.
“We regret that any students at the students union general meeting found any views being expressed offensive. Freedom of speech does not mean the expression of views which are anti-Semitic or which are otherwise illegal or incite racial hatred.
“We understand that the general meeting of the students’ union on Tuesday a motion proposed by the Jewish Society which was supportive of the place of Jewish students at SOAS was passed. We have welcomed this and will be working with the students’ union and the Jewish Society to take the recommendations forward.”
Responding to claims from Jewish students that Zionist speakers would be banned from campus, the university said: “SOAS rejects any suggestion that representatives of external organisations should be banned from speaking on campus.
“We note that no motion was passed by the students’ union to put in place such a ban. Rules are already in place which prevent expression of views which are illegal or promote racial hatred.”
in Israel Journal Of Foreign Affairs Vol. 10 , Iss. 3,2016
Hillel Cohen’s volume of reoriented Zionist history, now translated into English, comes with a bit of baggage. On the one hand, it is undoubtedly a riveting, even fascinating, recounting of a crucial period in the history of the Palestine Mandate, when the clash between the local Arabs and the Jewish community—both the Old Yishuv and the new post-Balfour Declaration Zionist entity— became irrevocably constant and violent. On the other hand, Cohen, an associate professor in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been criticized as adopting not only a post-Zionist perspective, but as Benny Morris of the New Historians school has written, as having produced a work of “nebulous post-Zionism.” The author, in fact, devotes several pages in this English edition to attempting to refute Morris’ critique of the earlier Hebrew edition.
For Cohen, the starting point in the Arab–Israeli conflict, the “year zero,” is 1929. In August of that year, murderous riots erupted; at least 133 Jews were killed by Arabs and seventeen communities were abandoned, most temporarily. In addition, 110 Arabs were killed, almost all by British police. But was that truly the “starting point?” In Cohen’s version, the year 1920 is missing, and Arab anti-Jewish violence somehow only begins in 1921. This, I believe, is no mere error. What the publisher lauds as Cohen’s “non-linear reconstruction of events [which] calls for a reconsideration of cause and effect” is at the same time his Achilles’ heel.
During the Passover holiday of 1920, which correlated with the Muslim religious festival of Nebi Mussa, the future Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, incited a murderous rampage through Jerusalem’s Old City alleyways as well as a nearby neighborhood, in which seven Jews were killed and dozens injured. To gloss over this event, which is the true “political” start of the “conflict,” is most unfortunate. By failing to present the possibility that 1929 was but a follow-up to an earlier attempt by this Muslim fanatic (who went on to serve Hitler during World War II) to simply murder Jews, Cohen opens himself up to the charge that his chronology is a tool of distortion.
Furthermore, Cohen’s timeline, his “Chronological Overview of Events” (p. xix), stops at May 1931. He should have included the December 1931 World Islamic Congress, convened by the Mufti, which petrified the conflict into one of constant religious confrontation. That body called on Muslim states to boycott any trade with the Jewish community in Palestine, and, more importantly, it resolved that “Zionism is ipso facto an aggression detrimental to Muslim well-being … [and is] ousting Muslims from the control of Muslim land and Muslim Holy Places.” With 130 delegates from twenty-two countries, this was the true turning point in recasting the conflict from a nationalist competition to one of a clash of theologies as well as a pan-Middle Eastern concern.
Critics have identified the way the author presents, avoids, hides, and alters facts as problematic. One reviewer, Allan Arkush, writing in The Jewish Review of Books, notes, “Cohen clearly wishes to undermine the Jews’ longstanding conviction that they were the victims in 1929.” That goal is the essence of this book and is not substantiated. Unfortunately, the average reader will be susceptible to Cohen’s presentation.
In a February 2013 Haaretz article based on his book, Cohen asserted that the Arabs’ main “failing” in 1929 was that rioting brought about the unification of all the disparate factions within the Jewish community under the banner of Zionism, a situation that doomed the Arabs. To think that he considers Zionism so shallow an ideology that it was only Arab rape and slaughter that could have coalesced all the different Jews to support Jewish statehood is shocking. Presumably the inchoate power of Jewish longing for a return to Zion is a negligible factor?
By the way, incidents of intra-communal violence were hardly unknown in the British Empire. In 1931, the Kanpur riots erupted in India, which resulted in the deaths of over 400 people and left a city devastated. In six days, March 24–30, 1931, eighteen mosques were torched, forty-two temples plundered and over 250 private homes damaged. Thus, it would appear that incendiary situations were not unique to the Arab–Zionist struggle.
Indeed, the mutual distrust between Hindu and Muslim communities that paralleled what was happening in Mandatory Palestine had evolved into riots all across India in the 1920s. In 1923, India experienced eleven riots; in 1924, eighteen; in 1925, sixteen; and in 1926 thirty-five. In the twelve months from April 1926–March 1927, forty riots took place that resulted in the death of 197 people and injuries to 1,598. In 1927, as of August, some 300 people had been killed and 2,500 injured.
An earlier riot in 1923 was caused when the members of Hindu Mahasabha formed a procession and passed in front of a mosque, playing loud music. The Muslim community objected, starting a skirmish between the two parties. Is there not an echo of the Western Wall controversy there? Is this relevant to Cohen’s deconstructionist revision of Zionist history?
On page 230, the author accuses the Jews of having a “blind spot” as to the distress of the Arabs over the loss of their status as the majority community in their own country. That is far from the truth. Many Jews were members of a variety of groups and parties that sought a resolution to the developing conflict, and which Ahad Ha-Am had already described in his 1891 A Truth from Eretz-Yisrael. There was no blind spot; rather it was acknowledged but set aside in favor of the much more relevant Jewish nationalism, which even the nations of the world had recognized by granting a mandate to reconstitute the historic Jewish homeland.
On page 254, Cohen himself demonstrates his own blind spot when he writes that “the murder of the Awn family [by Hinkis], like that of the Maklefs, can be termed a massacre.” Even if Cohen is completely correct regarding the facts of the murder of members of that Arab family, the perpetrators were reacting to Arab-initiated violence. This was not the case at all when Arab neighbors snuck up on the Maklefs at Motza. Indeed, it is the “minor” errors such as this one that cumulatively work against Cohen’s grand design.
For example, in his casualty count on page xxi, he fudges figures in an effort to portray Jews as responsible for the bloodshed. Cohen writes that “about twenty of the Arabs killed [out of 116] were not involved in attacks on Jews. They were killed in lynching and revenge attacks carried out by Jews, or by indiscriminate British gunfire.” But how many Arabs does he claim were actually murdered by Jews? And how many killed by Jews in a criminal situation?
Seeking to “balance” Jewish and Arab violence, on page 32 he digresses to the Lechi’s January 1942 Yael Street anti-police operation. But he errs when suggesting that the final charge was avoided because of “cold feet.” The demolition button was not pressed because too many bystanders had gathered and innocent persons would have been killed.
On page 44, Cohen has it that Lord Balfour “disregarded the national rights of the Arabs” as opposed to religious and individual rights. But that was the whole point. All the rest of the Middle East was to be Arab with one Jewish state, and that national homeland’s “historic connection” with the Jews superseded that of the Arab occupiers who had conquered it in 638 CE. Arab rights, when legitimate, were indeed recognized, but not when not legitimate. Cohen is playing an anachronistic game here.
Cohen documents a “Jewish underground plot” on page 111. However, was it really an “underground plot,” or that of one person who was, perhaps, eliminated by the underground because the idea was dangerous and wrong?
At times, Cohen demonstrates sloppiness. On page 119 he misidentifies the Shaw Commission as an “International Commission of Inquiry for the Wailing Wall.” On page 122, he mentions that “rumors” were circulating, but who spread them? He also can be lazy in his research. On page 124, he notes that a bomb was set off near the house of a sheikh involved in inciting against Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall “[o]n one of the nights of 1927 … .” It took me less than an hour to find out that that incident occurred on the night of August 31/September 1, and that it was a Hagana operation.
Cohen seeks to arouse sympathy for the Hebron rioters when, on page 161, he notes that indeed, there were murderers who chose not to kill small children. However, one must not forget that others did not recoil from doing so. That was also the case at Motza (p. 174), where the murder of the Maklef children refutes Cohen’s attempt to soften Arab terror. On page 218, we read that “we” all “know” that “there was a range of thinking in the Palestinian Arab community.” But do we really know that? And was that range similar to the range of opinions and thinking in the Jewish community?
As far as sources are concerned, Cohen did not make exhaustive use of what is available. For example, the 2012 Journal of Palestine Studies article by Alex Winder, “The ‘Western Wall’ Riots of 1929: Religious Boundaries and Communal Violence” is not referenced. Sympathetic to the Arab cause, Winder’s article also offers insight into the extent to which Oriental Jews were integrated into the Arab majority, a theme that features prominently in Cohen’s book. Winder’s research does not fully uphold Cohen’s narrative and even undermines it. Six Israeli archives were mined by Cohen, but strangely, the Jabotinsky Institute in Tel Aviv is not listed as one of them. Given the significant involvement of Jabotinsky and the Revisionist Zionist youth movement Betar in the events described by the author, this constitutes a glaring omission. On the other hand, Cohen’s very impressive Arab-language sources, including six contemporary newspapers as well as later books and articles, add to the richness of his research.
On one level, Cohen’s book is very detailed &tells the 1929 story in an absorbing fashion. Unfortunately, there are no maps, too few pictures, and no replication of newspaper headlines that would have provided further insight. Cohen’s book, while highlighting elements of the 1929 riots that were either downplayed or ignored in previous studies, does not really contribute any groundbreaking findings. What he does do is present a post-modern reinterpretation, stretching the norms of scholarship, in order to engender sympathy for the Arab cause. This, of course, is the hallmark of contemporary post-Zionism.
12.Guide for the Diplomatically Perplexed:Trump By Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg 1/24/17
Donald Trump, photo by Gage Skidmore, October 4, 2016, Flickr
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 400
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The “art of the deal” does not translate directly from the world of business to the world of diplomacy. Diplomatic deal-making requires mastery of four basic elements: integration of diplomacy with the credible threat of force; the rewarding of friends & punishing of enemies (rather than the opposite); a diplomatic focus on interests rather than emotions; & a refusal to condescend to the citizens who will be affected.
Given the sad state of American diplomacy after 8 years of the Obama administration, including the last 4 with John Kerry as Secretary of State & with Donald Trump preparing to take over on January 20, this is an appropriate time to review the basics of international diplomacy. While Trump & his team, including Secretary of State designate Rex Tillerson, have extensive experience in business, the art of the international political deal is quite different. There are 4 basic rules of successful diplomacy:
1. In relations between states, diplomacy must be carefully integrated with & backed by force & vice versa
Power is the political equivalent of gravity & in an international system based on anarchy (“the state of nature,” according to Hobbes), military & economic power are central to survival & success. But since the exercise of power (via military attacks or economic measures) usually triggers a comparable response, diplomacy is deployed to reduce costs while achieving the same objectives. Thus the well-known adage that diplomacy is a form of “war by other means.”
However, throughout the Obama presidency, the essential role of power in international diplomacy was largely ignored. Obama’s first major foreign policy initiative took place in Cairo in March 2009, when he called for freedom, democracy & friendship between the US & the Arab world. But there was no action plan behind the speech – no carrots & no sticks. In all of Obama’s Middle East activities, including supporting the ouster of Mubarak in 2011, which was followed by the ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood & then the return of a military regime, interests & power were largely ignored.
In the few instances in which Obama threatened to use force, there was no follow-through. (The killing of Bin Laden was a one-time attack against an individual, not an ongoing strategy against a state or terror group.) In Syria, Obama warned the Assad regime that there would be zero tolerance for the use of chemical weapons, but he failed to follow through. When Assad crossed that red line, Obama canceled the planned military strike, instead adopting a Russian-led plan to remove Syria’s chemical arms. Some of these weapons were reportedly shipped out of Syria, but there was no verification of this & enough remained to allow Assad to employ them again. What might have been a diplomatic success was erased as soon as the use of force was off the table & with this failure, any option for American diplomacy in Syria disappeared.
2. Reward your friends & punish your enemies (not the reverse)
For John Kerry and Barack Obama, their main diplomatic “success” was the agreement with the Iranian regime on their illicit nuclear program. Along the way, Washington eschewed every form of leverage (see point 1). To avoid friction & maintain good feelings, the US allowed Iran to continue many of its ongoing weapons-related activities, including upgrading centrifuges, testing new & better ballistic missiles & more importantly, supporting terror, including Hezb’Allah’s butchery on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria. When Iran captured, detained & humiliated American sailors, Obama & Kerry continued to smile, obtaining their release by sending planeloads of dollars to Iran. This was a classic example of rewarding enemies, while friends, such as Israel, which opposed the deal (a vast understatement), were treated like enemies.
Obama and Kerry also tried to befriend triumphalist Russia. In 2012, as Putin began to flex his muscles, Obama told Russia’s puppet president, Dmitry Medvedev, that “After my election I will have more flexibility” in meeting Russian demands regarding American missile defense deployment & other issues. Shortly afterwards, when Putin started re-establishing the Russian empire by taking parts of Ukraine, Kerry & Obama took no action. This scenario was repeated as Russia joined Iran in Syria to destroy not only ISIS, but every other alternative to the brutal Assad regime as well. A constant flow of summits & phony ceasefire agreements notwithstanding, America was, at best, a passive bystander to the slaughter in Aleppo & elsewhere.
At the same time, throughout his presidency, Obama, the non-diplomat, heaped scorn & isolation on Egypt & Israel – the 2 reliable American allies in the highly unstable Middle East. For enacting policies designed to protect Israel’s citizens from terror, Netanyahu was treated like a political leper by US administration officials. Other allies, including those in the Asia-Pacific region, began to distance themselves from Washington as they realized that being close was more dangerous.
3. Diplomacy is based on interests, not personal contacts or emotions
Successful diplomats leave their personal likes & dislikes outside the negotiating room. While friendship & personal links can sometimes smooth the path towards agreement & loathing can block an otherwise sensible deal, these are supposed to be aberrations.
Although a carefully managed display of emotions can have a tactical impact, effective diplomats are like top poker players, careful not to reveal their hand, their mood, or their next move. Kissinger was a master at this, to the point that he was often accused of being stone-hearted & impervious to emotion. But by sticking to a grand strategy & keeping his eye on long-term goals, Kissinger negotiated agreements with Russia & China & eventually to end the war in Vietnam. In the Middle East, after the 1973 war, he maneuvered Egypt & Israel into disengagement agreements, setting up the subsequent peace treaty. In all of these instances, Kissinger stuck to interest-based negotiations.
Similarly, the 1979 peace treaty negotiated by Begin & Sadat – the greatest diplomatic accomplishment of recent decades – highlights the irrelevance of emotions or personal likes & dislikes. We do not know how the leaders of Israel & Egypt felt about each other. The evidence indicates that there were periods of cooperation as well as intense frustration. But the bottom line for both was the centrality of interests & substance. After 18 months of often difficult negotiations, they emerged with a treaty that has held up for 38 years & is still going strong.
For John Kerry, in contrast, personal friendships are the essence of diplomacy. In photo-ops during negotiations with President Rouhani & Foreign Minister Zarif over Tehran’s illicit nuclear program, Kerry exuded warmth, regardless of the situation. To avoid upsetting his partners, he ensured that the Iranian regime received almost everything it sought. Even when Iran captured & took American sailors hostage, in blatant violation of international norms, Kerry & Obama could not bring themselves to break off the nuclear talks.
Compare this approach to Kerry’s hour-long & strangely timed farewell speech on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His anger towards PM Netanyahu was palpable from the beginning, & grew as he went through the charge sheet. Kerry blamed Netanyahu for refusing to accept optimistic (or naïve) American advice, but showed no anger or disappointment towards the Palestinians. The display of emotion was entirely out of synch with the substantive messaging, which tried to tell both sides that peace was a matter of fundamental rational interests.
4. Avoid condescension; diplomats do not know what is good for everyone.
Diplomats who arrogantly tell people they are wrong & that they know better than the people what is good for them, get little traction. Sovereignty & independence are important to identity & no country’s citizens relish being patronized by outsiders. A major factor in the British vote to leave the EU (Brexit) was the combination of EU official paternalism & the fear of the loss of national identity. Leaders who reject patronizing external pressures usually enhance their standing.
Presidents Reagan, Clinton & George W. Bush were skilled at avoiding the appearance of condescension when engaged in diplomacy. Obama, on the other hand, was one of the most patronizing presidents in decades. He clearly believed he knew what was best for everyone, including American allies.
In the Middle East, Obama sought to go over the heads of political leaders, as in his March 2009 Cairo speech. In March 2013, Obama addressed hundreds of Israeli students in an attempt to sell policies for peace that were in pointed contrast to the policies of the coalition led by Netanyahu. Obama’s performance was, as usual, very polished, but the details & examples he employed were far from the daily experience of Israelis. He appeared patronizing & the gambit failed.
Similarly, in their last-minute initiatives focused on Israel, including the American decision to abstain (& thus passively support) UNSCR 2334 & the subsequent speech on the evil of settlements, Obama & Kerry repeatedly instructed Israelis that the policies they recommended (e.g., end settlements, two states, etc.) were for Israel’s own good. The message was that Americans could define Israeli interests better than the country’s elected leaders. This did not help them win friends or influence people.
If international negotiations on war & peace were simple & straightforward, the world would be a calmer place. But the reality is far more complex, as the Obama-Kerry track record shows. Before launching diplomatic initiatives or responding to others, Mr. Trump & Mr. Tillerson would be wise to review these principles & learn a few lessons from history.
Gerald M. Steinberg is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, founder of the graduate program on Conflict Management and Negotiation, and president of NGO Monitor.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family
Guide for the Diplomatically Perplexed:Trump By Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: With the start of a new era in the White House, Israel must let go of the two-state solution as defined by the Clinton Parameters. It is time for a reassessment of Rabin’s approach, which stressed the importance of the preservation & development of Area C in Judea & Samaria under Israeli control as a prerequisite for defensible borders.
The entry of President Trump into the White House marks a new era in the US & around the world, giving rise to crises & upheavals as well as new opportunities. The demands of the State of Israel, in the context of its overall vital interests in the region, will be reviewed & reassessed. It is imperative that Israel formulate a clear stand on central issues based on wide public support. As a first step, Israel must let go of the two-state solution as laid out in the Clinton Parameters.
The time has come to inquire what PM Netanyahu means when he speaks of his commitment to a 2-state solution. When even the leaders of the Zionist Left agree that settlement blocs should remain under Israeli sovereignty, it must be clarified for the public what these blocs actually mean. Do they contribute anything towards Israel’s need for defensible borders?
The course Israel has taken since the signing of the Oslo Accords requires critical examination, regardless of the essential reassessment in anticipation of the Trump era. Since the autumn of 1993, almost everything has changed. Above all, new threats have emerged with a previously unknown military logic of their own.
The Israeli-Palestinian issue, too, has undergone significant changes. The Oslo idea, in its quest to end Israeli control over Palestinian citizens, was largely realized. It was already complete in January 1996, when Israel concluded the withdrawal of its forces from the populated territories of the West Bank. The Palestinian population living in Areas A & B, or approximately 90% of the total Palestinian population of the West Bank, has been controlled since then by the Palestinian Authority (PA). How can this be described as “apartheid”?
In the summer of 2005, the Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip ended (control over the Palestinian population in the Strip had already been transferred to the PA in May 1994). Gaza has been a sovereign entity controlled by Hamas since its seizure of power in the summer of 2007. East Jerusalem & Area C in the West Bank remain in dispute, including settlements, army bases, major roads, vital commanding areas & the open expanse towards the Jordan Valley.
These areas, held by Israel, are the minimum required for the conservation of a defensible territory. They fill 2 necessary conditions for a secure Israel. The first is the buffer area of the Jordan Valley, without which it would be impossible to prevent the quick arming of Palestinian terrorists in Judea & Samaria. The second is the advantage of Israeli control over the main longitudinal & lateral routes, which, together with the hold over the commanding areas, enables speedy access of IDF operational forces deep into Palestinian concentrations. Relinquishing these prerequisites in the Gaza Strip enabled the emergence of the Hamas military threat.
UN Security Council Resolution 2334 & the Paris Conference further solidified the notion of 2 states as requiring a complete overlap of 2 not-necessarily congruent trends: ending of Israeli control over the Palestinians & the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders & a full Israeli withdrawal. PM Yitzhak Rabin was disinclined towards this overlap, as expressed in his last speech in the Knesset (October 1995). He was resolute on Jerusalem & emphasized the crucial hold by Israel of the Jordan Valley & the lateral routes leading to it.
The Clinton Parameters for conflict resolution, laid out in December 2000, were a step back from Rabin’s position. The turnaround was summed up in 2 premises not held by Rabin. The first was that the solution required establishment of a contiguous, fully sovereign Palestinian state, whereas Rabin envisaged a political entity short of a fully-fledged state. The second was that the border between Israel & Palestine should be based, with minor changes, on the 1967 borders in Judea & Samaria & the Gaza Strip.
These premises left very little room for negotiation. Some clarification is required on how the Israeli position pulled away from the Rabin solution & towards the Clinton solution, which, in all likelihood, Rabin would not have accepted.
It is noteworthy that Rabin exploited implementation of the Oslo accords to reshape the area as delineated by Israeli security interests. As part of this effort, he led a drive to construct a network of bypassing roads in Area C, without which the IDF would have had great difficulty advancing its forces to the deployment areas during Operation Defensive Shield (2002). The IDF could not, for example, have transferred a tank division hauled on tank transporters from the Anatot Base to Nablus if its route had passed through Police Square in Ramallah.
The fast, advanced road network outlined by Rabin gave Israel control over routes & flexibility in operating IDF forces & demonstrated during Operation Defensive Shield the operational significance of utilizing to the full an area that is defensible. Rabin’s expanse-shaping moves were conducted concurrently with progress on the implementation of the Oslo Accords & the international community made no claims that he was misleading it.
By contrast, any advance, however small, made in building up Jerusalem raises the suspicion that Netanyahu may not be sincere in his intentions about 2 states. There are many reasons for this difference, one of the most important being that Rabin did NOT commit to a contiguous Palestinian state in the form of the Clinton Parameters. Netanyahu, especially during his term after 2009, found himself tied to that frame of reference.
At the strategic crossroads where we now stand, the Israeli government must re-clarify the complex of security interests inherent in Israel’s control over Area C. In this reexamination, Israel must depart from the idea of 2 states as interpreted, for example, by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, former head of the National Security Council. He has argued & continues to argue that while current circumstances do not allow the reaching of a permanent agreement & it is dangerous to rush towards unilateral withdrawal, the idea of dividing the area into 2 states on the basis of the 1967 borders, with amendments made for “settlement blocs”, is nevertheless the only reasonable option by international standards. Therefore, according to his understanding, settlement activity in all remaining areas that might someday be included in a Palestinian state should be avoided. Statements along these lines a& in this spirit have also been made by Dennis Ross. Herein lies the main disagreement on what to do in Area C.
An Israeli reassessment has the potential to introduce a change in Jerusalem’s position by renewing its demand for the preservation of a defensible area, which depends on consistent Israeli hold over Area C.
The Israeli & international dominant discourse puts the State of Israel at an imaginary crossroads with only 2 options: preserving the democratic Jewish state by retreating to the 1967 areas, or becoming trapped in a conflicted bi-national state in which apartheid is inevitable. This is a conceptual trap not devoid of manipulation, as a crossroads allows more than 2 directions. The Israeli discourse, caught between these 2 dichotomous choices, ignores the potential security threat stemming from loss of control over the depth of the area & the Jordan Valley.
Senior security officials who support withdrawal assure the public that the army would be able to meet the country’s security challenges even with withdrawal to the 1967 lines. Their position ignores important changes that have taken place. If, after the withdrawal, the West Bank is taken over by an organization similar to Hamas in Gaza – Hezb’Allah, in all likelihood – the IDF would struggle to provide an adequate response to the possibility of simultaneous attack on Israel on several fronts.
These officials claim that even after uprooting the Jewish residents, the IDF would be able to operate throughout the area. But they ignore the level of forces that would be required for this undertaking. Without the mass presence of a Jewish population, the IDF will be defeated, and will withdraw as it did from south Lebanon in May 2000.
In the new war, under the new logic, citizens have a significant role to play in the general fighting effort. This was visible in the fighting in Donetsk, Crimea & Abkhazia, as well as in the Chinese expansion into the China Sea via thousands of civilian fishing boats. It is a familiar necessity resonating from the early days of Zionism: to maximize the civilian presence together with a military foothold.
In short, without a constant hold on the whole of Area C, Israel has no defensible borders. The way Rabin delineated the expanse of Area C demonstrates his farsighted understanding of the importance of those areas beyond the 1967 borders, which must be in Israel’s full control.
It is time to emphasize that there is more than one way to realize the two-state logic.
It is in Israel’s security interests that it embark on full-scale construction in Area C.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research associate the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. He was a Corps commander, and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared in Makor Rishon on January 20, 2017.
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published by the Greg Rosshandler Family
A Two-State Solution? Just Not According to the Clinton Parameters, by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen