The Day In Israel: Tues Sept 7th, 2010

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How deliciously symbolic of palestinian intransigence.

Salam Fayyad

In its latest campaign under the slogan “I am your partner. Are you my partner?” the Geneva Initiative, which promotes a model agreement as the basis for peace between Israel and the Palestians, has featured a number of senior Palestinians – but it turns out that the two most senior officials, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, did not give their permission for the use of their likenesses.

Furthermore, in the past several days, through an intermediary, Fayyad has asked that his picture be removed from the Geneva Initiative’s campaign. Abbas, who has been in Washington and North Africa over the past week, has not asked that the campaign stop using his likeness and has not withdrawn his participation in the campaign, but Fayyad, who was in the West Bank at the time, has sought to have his picture removed.

Palestinian sources said Fayyad views the campaign as “too Israeli” and tilted in favor of Israel, but they made it clear that it wasn’t a case of Fayyad not wanting to be a peace partner, but rather that in his view the campaign presented the Palestinians as responsible for the fact that there was no peace, something Fayyad said was not the case. The Palestinian prime minister’s view, according to the sources, was that the absence of peace is the Israeli government’s doing.

Yep. This Geneva Initiative certainly does serve as the model for peace with the palestinians.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

9:12PM: Appropriately named billionaire George Soros has announced he is donating – wait for it – $100 million – to the anti-Israel Human Rights Watch.

Billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros on Tuesday announced that he would donate $100 million spread out over 10 years to Human Rights Watch, on condition that the funding be matched by other philanthropic grants to the organization.

The grant, from the Soros-founded Open Society Foundations is slated to be used to expand Human Rights Watch’s operations around the globe. The expansion will require Human Rights Watch operating budget to grow from $48 million to $80 million per year within five years.

“Human Rights Watch is one of the most effective organizations I support. Human rights underpin our greatest aspirations: they’re at the heart of open societies,” said Soros, chairman of the Open Society Foundations.

Human Rights Watch was founded in 1978 with the goal of investigating and helping to root out human rights violations around the globe. The organization currently maintains a staff of almost 300 to address human rights conditions in nearly 90 countries. Human Rights Watch also publishes around 100 reports on human rights abuses in different countries across the globe.

The new grant will be used to expand the organization’s reporting network and research staff to cover more countries and issues in greater depth.

“In an increasingly multipolar world, we must ensure that Human Rights Watch’s message resonates in the most influential capitals around the globe, said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Ending serious abuses requires generating pressure from any goverment with clout, including emerging powers.”

Roth added, “We hope that George Soros’s example will help the human rights movement worldwide by encouraging philanthropists to invest in the ideals of human rights.”

$100 million can buy a heck of a lot of Nazi memorabilia.

6:25PM: Hizbullah has denied its members removed long-range rockets from a suspected arms depot in Lebanon and transferred them to other locations after several blasts and a fire in the three-storey building last week.

Their explanation? Well, they don’t really have one.

Hizbullah “does not comment on Israeli lies,” the sources told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat in remarks published Tuesday.

That’s it? No far-fetched excuse like “Those were golf clubs”?

Color me disappointed.

6:15PM: It looks like the palestinians are not just using living people as human shields.

Egyptian security forces have discovered weapons caches in 11 different locations in the Sinai peninsula, an Egyptian source revealed Tuesday.

Egypt has bolstered security along the border in order to keep weapons and explosives from being smuggled into the Gaza Strip.

Officers patrolling the border between the Gaza Strip and Sinai found anti-aircraft missiles, a quarter ton of TNT, and other weaponry hidden in villages and cemeteries near Rafah, the source said.

I guess they won’t have to worry too much about the impact of work accidents.

5:48PM: Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Rosh Hashana greetings in English:

Notice how he makes a point of saying “Jerusalem, the united capital of Israel,” followed by some interesting body language.

3:30PM: Seriously, what is there to talk about with the PA?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s talk about an “historic compromise” and said there would be no compromises on core issues such as Jerusalem and borders.

Abbas also reiterated his rejection of Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. “We’re not talking about a Jewish state and we won’t talk about one,” Abbas said in an interview with the semi-official Al-Quds newspaper. “For us, there is the state of Israel and we won’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”

Had the world rejected palestinian terrorism outright, the palestinians would not feel so emboldened as to demand everything without giving anything in return.

1:16PM: Do you recall the news story from weeks ago about the Arab man convicted of “rape by deception” after having intercourse with a Jewish woman while pretending to be a Jew, for which Israel was heavily criticized?

Well, surprise surprise, there’s more to it.

A few weeks ago, Israeli newspapers reported that an Arab man had been convicted of “rape by deception” after having intercourse with a Jewish woman while pretending to be a Jew.

Various blogs ran with the story. The more sober blogs noted that the crime of rape by deception was established as a crime in Israel in a context having nothing to do with inter-ethnic/religious sex, and various law professors noted the interesting hypotheticals that could arise under this crime.

The more hysterical anti-Israel blogs (do I even need to mention Juan Cole?), by contrast, found that the case reflected a deep illness in Israeli society. For example, Andrew Sullivan:

But it’s the visceral emotional core of this that is so offensive. It’s about racism, religion and the risk of miscegenation. It’s about the deep disgust of some Israeli Jews toward Arabs, upheld by the courts. It’s a variant of the racial sexual panics of the Jim Crow South.

Gideon Levy, an Israeli whose vitriol for his own country puts Sullivan to shame, added:

It was no coincidence that this verdict attracted the attention of foreign correspondents in Israel, temporary visitors who see every blemish. Yes, in German or Afrikaans this disgraceful verdict would have sounded much worse.

It turns out, however, that the victim actually accused the perpetrator of “simple” violent, forcible rape, and the charge of “rape by deception” was a plea bargain (original Hebrew, but here’s an English translation) agreed to by the defendant to avoid trial on the real charge, and agreed to by the prosecutor because the victim, a past victim of significant sexual violence, would have been traumatized by pursuing the case.

11:26AM: Photo of the day:

Mohammed hair
A Palestinian girl touches a glass tube during a special prayer following Lailat al Qadr at a mosque in the West Bank city of Nablus September 6, 2010. Some local Muslims believe the tube contains a hair from the beard of the Prophet Mohammad. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini

Touch? Looks like she is sniffing it. Which I guess is kind of gross, but would be even grosser if the hair belonged to Yasser Arafat.

Meanwhile, it looks like the palestinians have been sold another lie.

11:16AM: As blogged a few days ago, the IDF Spokespersons office released more footage from the aftermath of last week’s explosion of a Hezbollah Weapons cache that occurred in a heavily occupied civilian area of south Lebanon.

What I didn’t mention was this: Amongst the many violations of UN Security Council resolution 1701 (remember those are the strict ones that are supposed to carry severe consequences when violated) it would appear that the IDF is burrying the lead:

Hezbollah operatives can be seen emptying the storage facility and moving the contents to a new location–a mosque in a nearby village.

Another day, another terrorist atrocity in the making.

(Originally a new post by Brian of London but moved as an update to this post since I largely dealt with the footage already)

9:42AM: Here is a wonderful speech by Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar to the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem last week.

Transcript:

First of all, I would like to thank the World Jewish Congress for your kind invitation. It is a pleasure indeed to be with all of you here in the Holy city of Jerusalem. Even more today. I want to start by firmly condemning the ruthless terrorist attack that yesterday killed four Israelis, one of them pregnant, outside a Jewish settlement near Hebron.

I want to emphasize , once again, my clear conviction that nobody should talk, neither deal, nor yield to terrorists. The only fate for terrorism is to be fought and defeated. Today, understandably, all our eyes are on Washington DC, where hosted by President Obama, Primer Minister Netanyahu and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahamoud Abbas, are going to enter direct talks after so many months of impasse.

Though I’m not sure about the possibility to achieve a “historic agreement” given the circumstances on the Palestinian side, we must be optimistic. At least the world will see that it is not the Israeli government that is the one that is not willing to talk and is not ready to deliver.

We should be optimistic but also prudent. Expectations are too high, and as a politician I know that big expectations tend to produce bigger frustrations. Last time the leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Authority met in order to produce a peaceful and lasting agreement, the outcome of the meeting was precisely the opposite: a second Intifada far more lethal than the first one.

But let us dream for a while and believe that a final status agreement between Israel and a Palestinian State were to be reached soon. It would not only change the dynamics here, it would show to the entire world how wrong they have been in blaming Israel for all the wrongdoings in the region, or the lack of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement as the source of all violence stretching from Morocco to the Hindu Kush.

The world would see that a Palestinian State would neither tame the Islamic radicals and jihadists whose goal is to establish a fundamentalist theocracy, nor would it diminish the nuclear and revolutionary ambitions of the Iranian regime, the real two main drivers of the future of the region and the world.

In any case we should be looking to Washington DC not only for the talks going on there today, but for deeper reasons. The US has been the cornerstone of the Western world, expanding our core values of freedom, prosperity and human dignity, and protecting our security vis a vis our enemies. The United States has played a vital role and our way of life depends on her playing that central role in the future. Something that is not guaranteed. Revealing his Arab mind, Bin Laden said when he and some of his fellows were celebrating the destruction of the Twin Towers, that if someone has to choose between a strong horse and a weak horse, he will invariable choose the strong one.

For decades if not centuries, the strong horse has been the West, clearly. Today, nonetheless, we are facing some competitors. There are some that would like to see a new world order where the western powers have a diminished role and influence, like Russia and China, each one for different reasons. There are some others who would like to have more influence for themselves, like Brazil or, lately, Turkey. And, of course, there are those who would like to destroy our system to impose their vision, like the revolutionary ayatollahs in Iran, or the jihadists led or inspired by Al Qaeda. To add more confusion, we in the West are going through one of the most, if not the most, severe economic crisis in our recent history. And while the crisis is global, affecting the whole planet, some are better prepared to deal with its consequences than others. If the crisis lasts too long, a new distribution of power will be inevitable. There will be winners and losers. Of that there is no doubt.

Furthermore, major parts of the West are suffering a kind of crisis of identity. Europe is a good example. With a declining population, increasing numbers of Muslim immigrants, many of them exposed to radical ideas, multiculturalism has imposed itself as the politically correct way to deal with the challenges of different cultures living together even if some of them do not want to be integrated or do not respect the other.

The problem becomes all the more acute when judeo-christian values are aggressively challenged every day and the 68-generation that dominates our current leadership does nothing to defend them.

Peacenik Europe has been fighting the West for too long, and because of that has been so hypercritical of Israel.

The US provides a different story. At least until very recently. President Obama has put in motion forces that, if unchecked, may redefine the nation and its place in the world in ways that, to me, may cause major problems to all of us.

From his inauguration he has sought a new relationship with the Muslim world even at the cost of undermining America’s best ally in the region, as he has done with Europe in seeking to “press the reset button” in relations with Moscow.

He seems to have devoted more time and energy in organizing today’s meeting in Washington and advancing a new peace plan than in trying to prevent the Iranian regime from building its bomb. He has projected an image of somebody who wants to escape from the problems of the world, from Iraq to Afghanistan, embracing many enemies of America while punishing its traditional allies.

I don’t think the growing attacks against Israel, and the general campaign of deligitimation are unrelated to the crisis of the West, and more particularly, the crisis of confidence that emanates from the White House today. When the strong horse is not perceived to be strong anymore, people tend to act in ways that would have seemed unbelievable just days before.

Our weakness, perceived or real, is the strength of our enemies. We can complain but accept our decline doing nothing, as many seem to prefer, or we can counter attack, defend ourselves and strengthen our values.

I have chosen the second option. Because I believe in the West, what we have been, what we are and what we can be.

And here is where Israel enters the equation. If the major strategic challengers are a potential nuclear Iran on the one hand and jihadism on the other hand, Israel is vital for us, for our nations and societies. Israel is not only an integral part of the West, for all kind of reasons I don’t need to elaborate here, Israel is today essential for us. Even more now than before, not only because you are in the region where the strategic tectonic plates collide, but because you are one of the few nations willing to pay a price for your survival, a nation that will do whatever it takes to defend itself, a nation where our core democratic values are so ingrained that defending the State of Israel is the same as defending our liberal system.

It is vital to understand this, particularly at a time when the historic leader of the West, the United States of America, is going through a period of introspection, exhaustion, and even confusion. If the US keeps fading away as a force for good in the World Israel will be forced to play a growing role in the region, and possibly beyond the region.

Defending Israel is ultimately defending the western roots, the western values that many in Europe, and some in America, seem to have forgotten. They are not obsolete. And the best proof is precisely Israel and its people.

Letting the delegitimation of Israel grow, seems to me the best path to weaken not only the freedom of maneuver of Israel, but to undermine ourselves in front of our enemies, which are the same.

That’s why a few months ago I got together with some personal friends in a new project called the Friends of Israel Initiative. Even when we first heard that Israeli soldiers were intercepting the Flotilla heading to Gaza, and we were caught by the public uproar against Israel, we all believed that it was necessary that somebody should stand up and say: enough is enough, that over-emotive and often irrational modes of discourse about Israel are simply not acceptable, that they should be replaced with reason and decency.

We come from different continents, and from a variety of personal experiences. And the key element, I believe, is that, we are non-Israelis and mainly non-Jews. We are, simply put, concerned citizens, concerned democrats.

Why would we feel inclined to defend Israel knowing that we will automatically be stigmatized?

The answer is very simple, because we live in a world where it is indispensable to defend our moral values, our identity and the faith in our democratic societies, to build a better and safer world.

We are used to seeing on TV, and sometimes at close quarters, the imperatives and consequences of, let me call it, hard-wars. But besides, below or above conflicts like the one being waged in Afghanistan, there is something else going on, let me call it a soft-war. By which I mean an attack on our core values, on our very way of life.

For all the founder members of the Friends of Israel Initiative, Israel is a western democratic country, Furthermore, it is a land of the future, a country of great opportunities.

We decided to start moving with our Initiative because we all shared a sense of urgency. We, as a global group, believed that our best contribution would be to reinforce the international standing of Israel. Because many had come to the conclusion that Israel may be the weakest link. That a criticized Israel may evolve in time into an isolated Israel; and an isolated Israel may become a pariah state. At that point, anything could be possible.

That’s why we believe halting this process of eroding the rights of Israel is not only important, but vital: To Israel, of course, but to all western countries. As I put it in an op-ed in the Times a couple of months ago, “if Israel goes down, we all go down”.

Let me conclude by saying one more thing: Our goal is to be proactive and constructive. We aspire to make the case for Israel as a normal country, with all the virtues and, yes, all of the defects of a normal democratic society. We want to make our case sustainable over time. Israel is usually portrayed in a very negative way. We want, and we need, to open a space to discuss Israel and the wider region in a more rational way.

It will take a lot of effort, and time, as well as money. But we believe we will see results. You don’t win battles by adopting a purely defensive posture. Neither do you win battles by simply focusing on the particular crisis of the moment. Because the world is currently undergoing profound and rapid changes that will have enduring consequences for all of us, we cannot wait to act. We have been in Paris and London, and in two weeks time we will organize a launch of the Initiative in Washington DC. It is important that European voices, mainly non-Jewish, try to bring some reason into the debate there as well.

If we want to prevail over our adversaries we must start reinforcing ourselves, starting with the ideological front and the war of ideas. There is where we should and we can make our best contribution. And with your help, we will.”

Hat tip: Carl, next to whom I sat during the speech.

9:20AM: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit has said our demand to be recognized as a Jewish state is worrying.

Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state is worrying, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told the al-Arabiya television network.

“If the international community defines Israel as a Jewish state – such a decision should be approved by the UN,” Aboul Gheit said.

In the interview, Aboul Gheit equated Israel’s demand to Iran’s decision to call itself the “Islamic Republic of Iran,” saying, “Israel wants to call itself a Jewish or Hebrew state. This is worrying.”

The truly worrying thing here is the fact a so-called peace partner does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Notice I said worrying, not surprising. In the peace treaties we signed with both Egypt and Jordan, there is no mention of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Stupid Jews.

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