Tuesday 27 September 2011

Durban III: a sick joke

With all the fuss about the possible UN recognition of a Palestinian state last week, I forgot to say much about the high-level United Nations General Assembly meeting marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of 'The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action', a.k.a. 'Durban III'.

The theme of the conference was 'Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: recognition, justice and development'. In fact, Durban III was actually an attempt to distract world attention from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance by slinging mud at Israel and the West.

Watch this eloquent, informed, articulate and hilarious 20-minute take on the Durban event by Douglas Murray.

Monday 26 September 2011

Edinburgh Academic defends Israel

Last spring,270 students at Edinburgh University voted in favour of a motion which described Israel as an 'Apartheid State' and called for a boycott of goods. The Jewish Chronicle, however, reported that the Edinburgh University Students’ Association (EUSA) had confirmed a proposed boycott of Israeli products will not be enforced.

The following letter by Edinburgh University alumnus, Dr. Denis MacEoin (pictured), arguing against the boycott, is one of the most eloquent and informed defences of Israel I have read. Everyone should read it.

I am an Edinburgh graduate (MA 1975) who studied Persian, Arabic and Islamic History in Buccleuch Place under William Montgomery Watt and Laurence Elwell Sutton, two of Britain’s great Middle East experts in their day. I later went on to do a PhD at Cambridge and to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University.

Naturally, I am the author of several books and hundreds of articles in this field.
I say all that to show that I am well informed in Middle Eastern affairs and that, for that reason, I am shocked and disheartened by the EUSA motion and vote. I am shocked for a simple reason: there is not and has never been a system of apartheid in Israel. That is not my opinion, that is fact that can be tested against reality by any Edinburgh student, should he or she choose to visit Israel to see for themselves.

Let me spell this out, since I have the impression that those member of EUSA who voted for this motion are absolutely clueless in matters concerning Israel, and that they are, in all likelihood, the victims of extremely biased propaganda coming from the anti-Israel lobby. Being anti-Israel is not in itself objectionable. But I’m not talking about ordinary criticism of Israel. I’m speaking of a hatred that permits itself no boundaries in the lies and myths it pours out. Thus, Israel is repeatedly referred to as a ‘Nazi’ state. In what sense is this true, even as a metaphor? Where are the Israeli concentration camps? The einzatsgruppen? The SS? The Nüremberg Laws? The Final Solution? None of these things nor anything remotely resembling them exists in Israel, precisely because the Jews, more than anyone on earth, understand what Nazism stood for. It is claimed that there has been an Israeli Holocaust in Gaza (or elsewhere). Where? When? No honest historian would treat that claim with anything but the contempt it deserves. But calling Jews Nazis and saying they have committed a Holocaust is as basic a way to subvert historical fact as anything I can think of.

Likewise apartheid. For apartheid to exist, there would have to be a situation that closely resembled things in South Africa under the apartheid regime. Unfortunately for those who believe this, a weekend in any part of Israel would be enough to show how ridiculous the claim is. That a body of university students actually fell for this and voted on it is a sad comment on the state of modern education. The most obvious focus for apartheid would be the country’s 20% Arab population. Under Israeli law, Arab Israelis have exactly the same rights as Jews or anyone else; Muslims have the same rights as Jews or Christians; Baha’is, severely persecuted in Iran, flourish in Israel, where they have their world centre; Ahmadi Muslims, severely persecuted in Pakistan and elsewhere, are kept safe by Israel; the holy places of all religions are protected under a specific Israeli law. Arabs form 20% of the university population (an exact echo of their percentage in the general population). In Iran, the Baha’is (the largest religious minority) are forbidden to study in any university or to run their own universities: why aren’t your members boycotting Iran?

Arabs in Israel can go anywhere they want, unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa. They use public transport, they eat in restaurants, they go to swimming pools, they use libraries, they go to cinemas alongside Jews – something no blacks could do in South Africa. Israeli hospitals not only treat Jews and Arabs, they also treat Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank. On the same wards, in the same operating theatres.

In Israel, women have the same rights as men: there is no gender apartheid. Gay men and women face no restrictions, and Palestinian gays often escape into Israel, knowing they may be killed at home. It seems bizarre to me that LGBT groups call for a boycott of Israel and say nothing about countries like Iran, where gay men are hanged or stoned to death. That illustrates a mindset that beggars belief. Intelligent students thinking it’s better to be silent about regimes that kill gay people, but good to condemn the only country in the Middle East that rescues and protects gay people. Is that supposed to be a sick joke?

University is supposed to be about learning to use your brain, to think rationally, to examine evidence, to reach conclusions based on solid evidence, to compare sources, to weigh up one view against one or more others. If the best Edinburgh can now produce are students who have no idea how to do any of these things, then the future is bleak. I do not object to well documented criticism of Israel. I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations. We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it’s clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens. Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest). Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world’s freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Baha’is…. Need I go on? The imbalance is perceptible, and it sheds no credit on anyone who voted for this boycott.

I ask you to show some common sense. Get information from the Israeli embassy. As for some speakers. Listen to more than one side. Do not make your minds up until you have given a fair hearing to both parties. You have a duty to your students, and that is to protect them from one-sided argument. They are not at university to be propagandized. And they are certainly not there to be tricked into anti-Semitism by punishing one country among all the countries of the world, which happens to be the only Jewish state. If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930s (which, sadly, there was not), don’t you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it? Of course he would, and he would not have stopped there. Your generation has a duty to ensure that the perennial racism of anti-Semitism never sets down roots among you. Today, however, there are clear signs that it has done so and is putting down more. You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play. Please tell me that this makes sense to you. I have given you some of the evidence. It’s up to you to find out more.

Friday 23 September 2011

The UN's Triple Whammy.

This week, in the fight for its survival, the United Nations delivered not a double whammy but a triple whammy to Israel.

First, the UN hosted The World Conference Against Racism, a.k.a. Durban III, at which Israel was singled out as the world’s most racist and abusive state. Thankfully, every Western democratic member of the permanent five powers on the UN Security Council boycotted the conference, which virtually guaranteed that Durban III, and whatever racist conclusions it arrived at, would not be able to claim a trace of moral authority.

The second blow was Iranian President Mahoud Ahmadinejad’s speech, in which he once again took the opportunity to denounce Israel. Israeli Prime Minister struck back powerfully and eloquently:

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.

What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations! Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You're wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.

Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization.

It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.

Yesterday, a third body blow was delivered to Israel by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In his speech, he stated that:

The goal of the Palestinian people is the realization of their inalienable national rights in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on all the land of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which Israel occupied in the June 1967 war, in conformity with the resolutions of international legitimacy and with the achievement of a just and agreed upon solution to the Palestine refugee issue in accordance with resolution 194, as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative which presented the consensus Arab vision to resolve the core the Arab-Israeli conflict and to achieve a just and comprehensive peace. To this we adhere and this is what we are working to achieve.

Achieving this desired peace also requires the release of political prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons without delay...

I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people in the homeland and in the Diaspora, to say, after 63 years of suffering of the ongoing Nakba: Enough. It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence (emphasis mine).

Note that President Abbas made no mention of the homeland of the Jewish people.

The time has come for our men, women and children to live normal lives ... for our farmers to be able to take care of their good land without fear of the occupation seizing the land and its water, which the wall prevents access to, or fear of the settlers, for whom settlements are being built on our land and who are uprooting and burning the olive trees that have existed for hundreds of years. The time has come for the thousands of prisoners to be released from the prisons to return to their families and their children to become a part of building their homeland, for the freedom of which they have sacrificed (emphasis mine).

The issue of settlements is raised with tedious regularity but, according to the document West Bank Settlements, Communities, and Facts on the Ground:

The release of thousands of prisoners!? Fear of settlers? According to Palestinian and Israeli sources, the built-up areas of Israeli settlements cover 1.7 percent of West Bank land, The scheduled route of the security fence incorporates between 5 and 8 percent of West Bank land. Israel currently administers 60 percent of the West Bank (known as “Area C”) per the Oslo Agreement.

Netanyahu responded in typically robust fashion:

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbours with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland — it was then that this was braided — branded, rather — shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it was denounced! And it’s here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel — the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution. It’s the — the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraq headed the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.

You might say: That’s the past. Well, here’s what’s happening now — right now, today. Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thing up.

So here in the U.N., automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun sets in the west or rises in the west. I think the first has already been pre-ordained. But they can also decide — they have decided that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me — and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. The truth is — the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.

Well, as they say, it’s not over till it’s over and there will be much discussion over the next week or so. Now is the time for us to pray more than ever for the peace of Jerusalem.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Demo & Counter Demo

Earlier this evening I went up to London support a demonstration Downing Street calling for the United Nations to vote against the bid by the Palestinian authority to be recognised as a sovereign state. It was actually a counter demonstration because a pro-Palestinian demonstration had been organised.

The counter demo was well supported with some 350 people in attendance. As with other Zionist demonstration I've attended, the crowd was good-natured, well behaved and without abusive calls or gestures, even when one or two supporters for the other side made aggressive gestures as they passed.

As with all demos, there was noise. All I could hear from the other camp were angry chants initiated by shrill young females. The anger was countered by the singing of Heveinu shalom aleichem (We bring you peace).

Sadly, we had a nutter over on our side, a highly strung character called Paul who thought he was Christ when he was just a pain in the tuchas. Paul was in full flow when I arrived, shouting New Testament verses about 'vain traditions' and so on. I was alarmed because of what the Jewish people would think, so I took him aside to talk to him. What was Paul not preaching his message of judgement to the other side too? Because he’d been sent to the Jews and to the Gentiles, the others’ time hadn’t come yet. One of the organised assured me that no one was upset by Paul's incoherent ramblings, so I stepped back and left him to continue yelling.

If their supporters are anything to judge by, what the Palestinians primarily want is not so much their own state as the demise of Israel.

There are some hopes that the bid for statehood will fail. A joint statement issued on 26 June 2009 by the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation and the United Nations makes clear:

Unilateral actions taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations, and will not be recognized by the international community.

Also, any unilateral act by either Israel or the Palestinian Authority is in direct contravention of the Oslo Accords of both 1993 and 1995, which specifically call for a negotiated resolution to the permanent status of Palestinian statehood. The Accords, signed by the PLO on behalf of the PA, explicitly forbid either side from acting in the manner that the Palestinians are now threatening. If the Mahmoud Abbas violates those agreements the whole premise of future negotiations will be undermined and even the legitimacy of the PA itself will be called into question.

A final agreement has to be precisely final and that is why it must be reached by negotiation between the parties. Anything else will be a dangerous mirage for the Palestinians. (Former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar, 6 September 2011)

The Palestinian action is also a direct violation of UN Resolutions 242 and 338, the main resolutions pertaining to the 1967 borders, as they both call for negotiated agreements leading to ‘secure and recognized boundaries’. As pointed out in my last but one posting, 1967 and all that, the 1967 lines were never seen as international borders but rather as armistice lines from 1948. A Pal;estinian unilateral declaration of statehood based on the 1967 lines is thus in defiance of these UN Resolutions.

If this motion passes the UN General Assembly, it is widely accepted that future negotiations betweeen Israel and the Palestinians will be significantly more difficult and complicated, as it will be harder for the Palestinians to compromise on their positions. The Palestinians will also have less incentive to achieve a negotiated settlement while continuing to attempt to isolate Israel in the international arena.

A unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians at the United Nations can lead to a stalemate between the sides especially when a peace agreement can be achieved through direct negotiations. (Israel President Shimon Peres, 4 September 2011).

To view a video that shows a peace process that is working, view Israelis and Palestinians Make Peace

Jeff Halper: Settlers in danger from Palestinians. Is he bothered?

In an interview with Russia Today, Santa Claus lookalike Jeff Halper (pictured), says the Israeli Defence Force is preparing settlers for the mass uprising of Palestinians, expected after the UN votes on a Palestinian statehood in September.

The preparations include handing out tear gas and stun grenades to civilians. Military resistance to Palestinians will only bring international sanctions on Israel after Palestine is recognised in September's vote. That's the view of Halper, a political activist and co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Halper, an Israeli who is able to place an anti-Israel spin on every news item (in an interview with the Church of Scotland magazine Life and Work he was able to castigate his own people for not disliking him!), says every settlement is a military base.

Notice that Halper expects there to be violence against settlers if the UN recognises a Palestinian state on Friday but he doesn’t believe the settlers to be able to defend themselves.

Halper appears to believe that there are no circumstances under which Israel is ever justified in destroying a Palestinian building. Halper has no apparent objection – or at least none that he has ever expressed – however about Israel demolishing Jewish settlements.

And there are several well-defined reasons why Israel has demolished Palestinian homes. Sometimes it is to deter the families of convicted terrorists from continuing to attack Israel. Sometimes homes are demolished in counter-terrorist operations, such as when houses are used as bomb laboratories, or as terrorist headquarters or offices. There are times when homes are demolished because they are booby-trapped. When houses are used as hide-outs or cover for snipers or for launching missiles, they sometimes have to be destroyed. And if homes are in the way or Israeli tanks or armoured personnel carriers, they are demolished.

There may have been times of course when Palestinian houses have been demolished by mistake or even wrongly but the man who opposes the demolition of any Palestinian home for whatever reason would apparently deny settlers (even if they are, in his opinion illegal) the right to defend themselves against murderous attackers.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

1967 and all that

There's a lot of talk about Israel withdrawing to the '1967 Borders'.

Does anybody know what the '1967 Borders' were?

There were no borders in 1967!

Between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon there were (as now) only Armistce Lines, patrolled by the United Nations. There were no peace agreements between Israel and her northern neighbours.

Today, there are still only two internationally acknowledged borders: the border between between Israel and Egypt and the border between Israel and Jordan. These exist because Israel made peace with those two countries.

The Armistice Lines between Israel and Lebanon, and between Israel and Syria came into existence after Israel’s War of Independence in 1948/9, which was forced on the legally established fledgling Jewish State by the surrounding Arab Islamic nations who remain dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

During the 1948/9 War of Independence, the Gaza Strip was illegally conquered and occupied by Egypt. Judea and Samaria provocatively labelled 'The West Bank' were illegally conquered and occupied by the racist and apartheid Kingdom of Jordan, which has never allowed Jews to live within her borders.

The Kingdom of Jordan also illegally conquered and occupied the Old City of Jerusalem against the stated will of the United Nations, which had said in Resolution 181, that the Old City of Jerusalem would be governed by the UN as an 'International City'

In the infamous Resolution 242 passed by the UN in the wake of the June 1967 'Six Day War', Israel was instructed, among other things, to hand East Jerusalem, including the Old City back to Jordan, which had been ocupying it illegally for the previous 19years, and not to the United Nations, from whom Jordan had taken East Jerusalem! This was hypocrisy on an international scale.

It was not 'Palestinians' who had occupied Gaza, Judea, Samaria and the Old city from 1948 to 1967, but Egypt and Jordan, the supposed allies ofthe 'Palestinian Cause'.

So what now does Mahmoud Abbas want the United Nations to do if/when it votes on Friday?

Abbas wants Israel to return to a time of insecurity, when her ‘borders’ were untenable and she was being attacked constantly.

They want her to return to a time of illegality, when Israel’s 'borders' were illegal according to International Law, even though recognised as legitimate by the UN.

Justice, only justice

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is planning to address the UN General Assembly on Friday, shortly after Palestinian Authority President Abbas presents his demand for full membership and recognition as a state. Netanyahu holds no illusions regarding the reception he is likely to receive. ‘The General Assembly is not a place where Israel usually receives a fair hearing,' said Netanyahu, ‘but I still decided to tell the truth before anyone who would like to hear it.’

I believe this week will be the most significant week in Israel’s history since 1948.

The Palestinians remain committed to demanding a state formed from Israeli land, and the bottom line is that while a Security Council veto would deny the Palestinians official member status, the Palestinians appear to be fully committed to that demand. If the vote in the Security Council fails due to a US veto they can seek upgraded observer status at the General Assembly as a non-member state.

Such a move could be interpreted as implicit UN recognition of a Palestinian state. The advantage of this option would be that it would require only a simple majority of the General Assembly. Since around 120 countries already recognise the state of Palestine, it would likely win such a vote overwhelmingly.

If ‘Palestine’ receives recognition as a non-member state, its leaders will be able to sign certain international treaties, such as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The result of such an outcome will be thousands of lawsuits against Israel and isolation and demonization of the State of Israel.

We should all pray that justice will prevail at the UN on Friday.

Monday 19 September 2011

IDF seeking to prevent casualties ahead of UN vote

From the BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre) website.
The Israel Defense Forces are currently on a high level of alert, in preparation for all possible scenarios as the date for the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN draws near. The key aim, according to a statement by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Saturday, is to prevent any deaths, Israeli or Palestinian. IDF Central Command, which covers the West Bank, has been reinforced with three additional battalions, according to Israeli media reports. Border Police and IDF reserve forces will also be made available according to need. Both IDF and the Palestinian Authority security forces have been equipped with large amounts of non-lethal crowd control equipment, to best enable the prevention of fatalities. There are particular concerns regarding the possibility of clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians. These could take the form of attacks by extremist settlers on Palestinian property, or an attempt by Palestinians to march on one of the settlements adjoining Area A, which is under Palestinian security and political control.

However, not all officials and analysts are predicting Palestinian violence following the statehood bid. Senior PA official Nabil Sha'ath said in an interview with Israel Army Radio over the weekend that he does not foresee an outbreak of violence in the West Bank unless the settlers initiate confrontation. Sources in the West Bank also suggest a lack of enthusiasm among large numbers of the population for the UN bid, indicating that disappointment is unlikely to be intense if it fails to go through. However, protests did take place at the Qalandia Checkpoint near Jerusalem on Saturday, in which rocks were thrown at IDF troops.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Sitting round waiting for the phone to ring

This afternoon I sat by the phone for 30 minutes expecting the BBC to call me. In vain.

I listened to Any Questions and was frustrated and angry to hear the panel suggest that Israel is the hindrance to peace in the Middle East and that President Obama should therefore not exercise the US veto when the PA President Mahmoud Abbas asks the UN Security Council to recognise a Palestinian State on 23 of this month.

As soon as the programme finished, I called Any Answers to say I wanted to make a point. A young woman who sounded like she was suffering from terminal boredom answered.

‘Any Answers...’

‘Hello. I’d like to respond to the question on Palestinian statehood.’

‘What’s your name?’ I told her.

‘Where do you live?’ I gave her the information.

‘What do you do?’ I told her I was the General Secretary of a Christian charity.

‘What’s your point?’ I said I disagreed with the panel and that Israel has been the one party in the peace process that has actively pursued peace.

‘And what’s point are you’re trying to make? That President Obama should veto any UN vote to recognise a Palestinian state until the Palestinian Authority is willing to make peace with Israel.’

‘Right.... and will you be near your phone between two o’clock and half past two?’ I would be.

‘Alright... stay by your phone and someone from Any Answers might call you.’ Click.

I stayed by the phone but no one called me. As I listened to the programme, listeners wanted to talk about the Euro and its imminent collapse, trade unions, pensions, rogue traders and spoilt unhappy children.

Oh well… And I’d prepared so well.

What I wanted to point out was that Israel has made all the running throughout the peace process. It was the Jews that agreed to the United Nations Partition plan in 1947; the Arabs turned the plan down.

Following the Six-Day War when Israel captured the Sinai from Egypt, she handed it back to Egypt in return for a guarantee of peace. Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat was later assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood for making peace with the Israelis. Now there is talk in Egypt about tearing up Sadat’s peace agreement.

In 1996, Israel made peace with Jordan.

Israel has withdrawn from Palestinian towns and cities; she has removed checkpoints; she has provided water and electricity to Palestinians and allowed humanitarian aid to be transported into Gaza.

Israel has dismantled Jewish settlement and forcibly removed thousands of its own citizens from Gaza in 2005. The Palestinian response to that major peace effort was to increase aggression against Israel.

Israel Prime Minister announced to the US congress earlier in the year that he will be the first to welcome a Palestinian state if President Abbas is prepared to recognise a Jewish state. Abbas has refused to do so, making it clear that an independent state of Palestine will be Jew-free.

The Palestinian authority must do something to merit statehood. I can think of nothing that the Palestinians have done since Oslo to further the peace process.

However, Mr Abbas knows he is in a win/win situation. Whatever the outcome of his bid for Palestinian statehood he cannot lose. If he fails to persuade the UN Security Council to support him, or if the US vetos a pro-vote, the PA will continue to receive billions of dollars in US aid while the nations step up their boycotts on Israeli goods.

As Barry Rubin observes so perceptively:

Will the United States cut off all aid? Of course not. Will it make them more unpopular at home? No. If it kills talks with Israel? That’s good. They don’t need or want them. If it delays the creation of a real state? Since the PA can’t and won’t negotiate for a compromise agreement it doesn’t matter. The PA will get a huge majority in the General Assembly and that will seem a diplomatic victory. If the United States vetos, the PA has an excuse for not succeeding.

If you don’t confront the reality of why a country or group act the way it does–and why a weak Western policy makes radical behaviour possible – any discussion of the issue is a waste of time.

(Read Rubin’s blog here)

Tuesday 13 September 2011

What's Arabic for Hutzpah?

And another thing, the issue of Palestinian statehood was featured on Newsnight (see my previous blog).

Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal (pictured) has demanded that the US support Palestinian statehood…or else.

To make matters worse, he published his demands on September 11 — the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America. Seventeen of the 19 hijackers that flew the planes into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon were Saudis.

The director of the Saudi intelligence service at that time was none other than Turki al-Faisal, who met repeatedly with Osama bin Laden during the 1990s and personally intervened to block bin Laden’s extradition and execution.

Now al-Faisal writes:

The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world. If it does not, American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined, and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region. Moreover, Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has.

Al-Faisal is addressing the country that saved him and his entire nation when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. American blood was spilled, and American dollars were spent to defend him and his ungrateful nation. Now he presumes to lecture the USA on ethics!

The Terrible Twins

Richard Dawkins was on Newsnight last night, talking about his book for kids The Magic of Reality.

Talk about 'terrible twins'! Dawkins was in typical high dudgeon but the only thing Paxman could find to challenge him about was his contention that science was more 'poetic' than 'myth'.

I was dead tired but I had to dash off a letter to Newsnight and this is what I sent:

I watched Jeremy Paxman’s interview with Richard Dawkins tonight and agree with Prof Dawkins that truth is more important than comfort.

While I have become used to Prof Dawkins supercilious and patronising comments about theists, I was somewhat concerned by Jeremy Paxman’s dismissal of everyone who believes in the essential truth of the Genesis account of creation as ‘stupid’.

There are a significant number of scientists with impeccable qualifications who find the biblical account of creation more scientific than the Darwinian hypothesis.

When I read
The God Delusion, I expected to be seriously challenged. Instead, I was struck by the juvenile shallowness of Dawkins’ arguments. He used arguments I abandoned at the age of eighteen.

Moreover, it should not be overlooked that some years ago, on Melvin Bragg’s
In Our Time, Dawkins admitted that he believed in spontaneous generation, only he preferred to call it ‘autocatalysm’ (self-creation) because that sounded more scientific.

I have read a number of Dawkins’ books as well as books by other evolutionists, and the more I read, the more I believe evolutionists have got it wrong.

I appreciate that Paxman and Dawkins, for reasons best known to themselves, are able to believe in unintelligent design, that everything came into being because Nothing exploded, that the laws of physics were established by random processes and that life arose spontaneously from non-life. I just don’t have the faith to believe all that stuff.

Dawkins and Paxman are intelligent men and I defend their right to tell me I’m mistaken or that I’m just plain wrong. Both men are entitled to their opinions and, given the opportunity, I could defend my views reasonably articulately. But although I’m certainly not the world’s most intelligent guy, I kind of resent being called ‘stupid’ because I disagree with them.

Now I've gotta get some sleep. Good night.

Those who do not learn from history...

Last week I sent out an email newsletter in which I explained that although CWI is first and foremost a mission concerned with the spiritual well-being of the Jewish people, we cannot afford to stand by silently when Jewish people and our own friends and colleagues are in danger.

I pointed out that the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on the United Nations to support the establishment of a Palestinian state when the UN meets on the 20th of this month. In the lead up to the historic vote, attacks on Israel have increased and as we draw closer to the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Centre claims that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks abound on the Internet.

I related how, in May, PM David Cameron had assured Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that 'Britain is a good friend of Israel' while at the same time warning that unless Israel ‘engages seriously in a meaningful peace process’ with the Palestinian Authority, it is more likely that Britain will endorse the “State of Palestine” for which the PA is expected to seek recognition at the UN in September.’

Columnist Melanie Philips asked if Mr Cameron made a habit of threatening his friends. ‘This is not the behaviour of a friend,’ said Miss Phillips, ‘so much as the kind of intimidation that is more reminiscent of a Mafia protection racket.’

I reproduced a letter I had written to Mr Cameron, inviting readers to feel free to adapt it to write their own letter to Mr Cameron, to the Home Secretary and to their local MPs. Here it is:

The Prime Minister
The Right Honourable David Cameron MP
House of Commons

Dear Prime Minister,

Although I welcome your assurance to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Britain’s friendship with Israel is ‘unshakeable’, I was deeply concerned to read your warning to Mr Netanyahu that unless Israel ‘engages seriously in a meaningful peace process’ with the Palestinian Authority, Britain will support the PA’s call for the recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN this month.

Your threat concerns me for a number of reasons.

First, you are pressurising the victim in the Israel-Palestine conflict rather than the aggressor. Israel has constantly tried to make peace while their enemies have not, and virtually all Israel’s concessions to the Palestinians have been reciprocated with an increase in aggression.

Second, Mr Netanyahu has stated publicly that he will be the first to welcome a Palestinian state if that state is willing to recognise a Jewish state. Although Mr Abbas wishes the world to recognise and support a Palestinian state, he has stated repeatedly that he will never accept Israel as a Jewish state.

Third, a ‘State of Palestine’ will be a racist state, inasmuch as Mr Abbas has declared on several occasions that not a single Jew will be allowed to live there.

Fourth, Mr Abbas’ Fatah party is in an alliance with Hamas, a terror organisation explicitly committed to the genocide of the Jews and the destruction of the state of Israel. If Britain supports the establishment of a Palestinian state, it will be endorsing a regime committed to a programme of genocide.

Such unreasonable pressure on Israel is nothing less than a demand that Mr Netanyahu negotiate the destruction of his own country. Should Britain support a Palestinian state at the UN later this month, I believe future generations will condemn you as the Prime Minister who stood shoulder to shoulder with genocidal terrorists against their victims.

May I be assured that you will be a true friend to Israel by opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state until such a time as the Palestinian leaders unambiguously recognise the right of the Jewish people to a national homeland?

Yours sincerely,

About six people responded to my email by unsubscribing but three people expressed concerns that CWI was deviating from its core concern: Jewish evangelism.

The following is the essence of my response to one of the respondents:

I did say at the start of the letter that ‘CWI is first and foremost a mission concerned with the spiritual well-being of the Jewish people’. The email was therefore a departure from my usual letters.

I am guessing that you did not receive the daily newsletters I emailed when I was reaching out to Hasidic Jews in August. If you did receive them, you will know that I was rising at 5.00am each day to reach out with the gospel to Orthodox Jewish men when they went to ritually immerse themselves in the sea. It should be evident therefore that CWI is not off-track regarding its ‘core commitment’.

I’m glad that your church member supports ‘the right of all people whether Jew or Gentile to be protected from abusive states’. That was the motivation behind my email because Israel is the target of state-sponsored abuse through terror organisations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Additionally, the Iranian state continues to threaten Israel with annihilation even as it continues to seek nuclear capability. Things will get far worse if a Palestinian state, presided over by a founder member of the PLO, that refuses to accept or acknowledge the existence of a Jewish state. We should never forget that in 1967, following the Six-Day War, that all the Arab nations resolved at the Khartoum conference: No recognition of Israel; no negotiations with Israel; no peace with Israel. They have never rescinded those resolutions.

I agree totally that ‘Israel is not exempt from its responsibilities to treat Palestinians with dignity.’ When Israel was in control of the so-called West Bank, the Palestinian economy thrived and there was freedom of religion. After the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the economy of the West Bank plummeted.

In 2010 and 2011, the economies of the PA and Gaza rose sharply as a result of aid from Israel. But the PA and Gaza have continued to bite the hand that feeds them.
I’m not sure what the church member means when he says he supports ‘the right of Palestinians to challenge the status imposed on them by the secular state of Israel.’ By choosing to reject Israel’s control and become a separate entity (the Palestinian Authority) the Palestinians chose their own status.

My friends and colleagues in Israel will suffer greatly should a Palestinian state be estate be established, because a state of ‘Palestine’ will be committed to the destruction not only of the Jewish state but also of the Jewish people.

And, of course, every Jew (or Arab) who is killed is one more person who never gets to hear the gospel.

Most Christians, with hindsight, believe that in the 1930s, the churches in Germany should have stood up to Hitler but seem to think we should remain silent in the face of modern-day Nazism in the Middle East. If that appears too strong a statement, it is worth noting that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which inspired Hitler and Mein Kampf are best sellers in Arab lands. In ten years, I don’t want to find myself wringing my hands and wishing I had spoken up when the world was making straight the way for another Holocaust.

Since the Jewish people began to return to the land from 1897 onwards, they have been the constant victims of Arab aggression. For example, in 1929, without any provocation, hundreds of Palestinian Jews were slaughtered in riots in Jerusalem, Hebron and other places.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Arabs collaborated with Nazi Germany and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini supported Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’, intending to implement a similar programme in Palestine.

In 1947, the Arabs violently opposed the establishment of a Jewish state even though the Jews were willing to share the land.

When the state of Israel was established in May 1948, the Arab states immediately confiscated the possessions of their Jewish citizens and expelled them. Those same Arab states, on the day Israel became a nation, also declared war on Israel and attacked the fledgling state.

In 1967, by a miracle, in six days, Israel defeated Egypt, Jordan and Syria in a defensive war that was intended to wipe Israel off the map.

In October 1973, on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar when Jews in Israel were fasting and praying, Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise attack against Israel.

In spite of all the Arab hostility, Israel’s Arab citizens still enjoy all the legal and civil privileges of Israel’s Jewish citizens. Arabs in Israel have a better standard of living and better health than their brothers in Arab countries. Yet Israel’s Arab neighbours still wish to destroy the Jewish state and its citizens.

Never were the words of Edmund Burke more important: 'Those who do learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'

Monday 12 September 2011

9/11 in Israel

The picture above shows an Israeli soldier placing a stone on a memorial just outside Jerusalem yesterday in accordance with the traditional Jewish way of mourning, during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks (Tara Todras-Whitehill/AP).

Israelis yesterday solemnly remembered the 11 September 2001 terrorist assault on the US, as Americans prepared to mark the 10th anniversary of the largest terrorist attack in history.

Israeli Internet news sites and television news stations provided live broadcasts of memorial ceremonies being held in the US and Israel.

Israeli President Shimon Peres phoned US President Barack Obama to tell him:

"The Israeli nation has shared happy times with you, but has also shed tears with you a decade ago. Today Israel once again bows its head as America mourns the loss."

Though there there are Arab individuals who detested what was done to America on 9/11,in London's Grosvenor Square yesterday, Muslim protesters expressed no remorse for the attrocities that were carried out by their coreligionists. Showing no respect for the dead, they burned a US flag during the minute's silence.

Israel was the only nation in the Middle East to stand by America on that fateful day ten years ago. The surrounding nations, and even the "Palestinian" half of Jerusalem, erupted in celebration when the Twin Towers burned and fell. It was a critical reminder of who America's true friends are in the Middle East.

Why then is President Obama, who yesterday read the 46th Psalm (written by a Jewish psalmist) at the commemoration of the 9/11 attack, so determined to establish a Palestinian state? Does he think that by offering America's only Middle East ally on the altar of appeasement the Arab nations will begin to like the US?

Mr Obama would do well to consider the words of Winston Churchill: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last.”

Friday 9 September 2011

If you have half a mind, that's all you'll need...

Last night I watched TV for the first time in weeks and, boy was it good!

In 9/11: Conspiracy Road Trip, five young confirmed conspiracy theorists were given a free trip to the United States, courtesy of BBC 3, where an attempt was made to introduced them to foreign concepts such as critical thinking, probability and common sense.

Charlotte was a nanny in New York at the time of the attacks and had evidently been traumatised by the experience. Charlie, a former philosophy student, thought the twin towers had been brought down by controlled explosion. Rodney took pride, like so many conspiracy nuts, that he was privy to ‘something that very few people know about.’

Each member of the group was allowed to expound their particular take on the events of 9/11 that persuaded them that the attacks were an inside job. The group was then introduced to experts and witnesses in an effort to resolve the issues that troubled them.

One member of the group doubted that anyone but a trained pilot could have flown a passenger plane into the twin towers. She was given a flying lesson and in less than an hour she flew a plane round Manhattan and successfully landed it, which should have proved that anyone with even rudimentary training could have flown an airliner into the largest building in Manhattan.

A technician and a demolition expert demolished the notion that the collapse of the twin towers was due to a controlled explosion in the building. Charlie, at least, appeared almost astonished to discover there were perfectly reasonable explanations for phenomena he'd previously found baffling. But Charlotte and Rodney were not for turning. The fact that one of the expert witnesses had a commendation from President Bush on his wall was proof positive that he was untrustworthy.

As with most conspiracy theorists, nothing was going to persuade her that Bush and his administration had chosen to kill thousands of American citizens as a pretext for invading Afghanistan.

I was listening closely for when Israel would be brought into the equation and, sure enough, Rodney was of the opinion that Israel was in there.

Well, as we all know, only the Jews are evil enough to pull off such a stunt and we know they are evil because they did it.