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Friday, December 30, 2016

Rashid Khalidi, "John Kerry and Israel: Too Little and Too Late": More Israel Bashing From The New York Times



Do you remember the controversy surrounding Obama and Rashid Khalidi?  The Los Angeles Times still refuses to release the video of Obama speaking at a 2003 going-away party honoring Khalidi, at which virulent anti-Semitism was expressed by other speakers. Well, it should come as no surprise that today, in the aftermath of John Kerry's speech earlier this week attacking Israeli settlements on the West Bank, Khalidi is being given space on The New York Times op-ed page to vent his spleen at Israel. Described by the Times as "a professor of Arab studies at Columbia who was an adviser to the Palestinian delegation during peace negotiations from 1991 to 1993" (no mention, of course, by the Times of the relationship between Obama and Khalidi or the video stashed away in a Los Angeles Times safe), Khalidi bashes Israel in his Times guest op-ed entitled "John Kerry and Israel: Too Little and Too Late":

"During Mr. Obama’s eight years in office, the illegal Israeli settler population has swelled by 100,000, to well over 600,000. Simultaneously, for eight years Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has directed a barrage of calculated slights, insults and acts of disrespect at the president of the United States. The Obama administration has finally reacted with Mr. Kerry’s speech and by allowing Resolution 2334, which condemns Israeli settlement expansion, to pass in the United Nations Security Council. By doing so, the United States simply acted in accordance with international law and the global consensus of nearly 50 years.

Meanwhile, a third generation of Palestinian children is growing up under a brutal occupation and Gaza has been under siege for a decade. Palestinians are obliged to seek the permission of the Israeli military for the most basic of needs, such as medical treatment, or to travel abroad or even just to Jerusalem."

Fascinating. Khalidi would have us believe that there are no hospitals in the West Bank or Gaza. In fact, there are some 60 hospitals and medical centers in the West Bank and Gaza, and although I am not claiming that Palestinian medical facilities are on a par with Israeli facilities, it is worth noting that average life expectancy in the West Bank is 75.91, compared with 75.69 in Hungary, 75.41 in China, 75.05 in Saudi Arabia, 74.57 in Turkey, 74.35 in Jordan, 73.70 in Egypt, and 71.15 in Iran.

Khalidi describes Israel's "occupation" of the West Bank as "brutal"? Consider what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, now in his twelfth year of his four-year term in office, declared to Jackson Diehl in 2009 (my emphasis in red):

"'I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements,' he said. 'Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life.'"

This statement was made after Abbas refused Israeli Prime Minister Olmert's 2008 peace offer, providing the Palestinians with an independent state along the 1967 lines together with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem. 

As for Khalidi's claim that "During Mr. Obama’s eight years in office, the illegal Israeli settler population has swelled by 100,000, to well over 600,000." An answer to this rubbish is to be found in an editorial in today's Washington Post entitled "On Israel, we’re right back where Obama started," which informs us (my emphasis in red):

"THE OBAMA administration is ending eight years of failed Middle East diplomacy exactly where it began in 2009 — with an exaggerated and misguided focus on Israeli settlement construction. As he railed at the continuing growth of West Bank Jewish housing on Wednesday with a prolixity that Fidel Castro would have admired, Secretary of State John F. Kerry sounded a lot like President Obama during the early months of his first term, when he insisted that the Israeli government freeze all construction as a starting point for negotiations on a Palestinian state.

. . . .

Mr. Kerry’s speech was, above all, a vivid demonstration of the administration’s inability to learn from its mistakes or adjust the ideological tenets that Mr. Obama brought to office.

. . . .

In fact, the two-state solution remains entirely viable, as even the settlement statistics cited by Mr. Kerry demonstrate. The administration asserts that the Jewish population in the West Bank has increased by 100,000 since 2009 — but by Mr. Kerry’s account, 80 percent of that growth was in areas Israel would likely annex in any settlement. In eight years, 20,000 people have been added to communities in territory likely to become part of Palestine — an area where 2.75 million Arabs now live. That growth of about 3 percent per annum, the product of a restraint for which Mr. Netanyahu received no White House credit, means that the Jewish population outside Israel’s West Bank fence may have decreased as a percentage of the overall population even as Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry have made it the focal point of U.S. policy."

Perhaps the WaPo editorial should have also observed what was acknowledged by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank (see: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/erekat-olmert-offered-palestinians-territorial-equivalent-of-west-bank-1.393484).


Bottom line: Khalidi's Israel bashing op-ed amounts to just one more effort by The New York Times to discredit Israel during the waning days of the Obama administration. Despicable.


[I sent this blog item to Andrew Rosenthal, former editorial page editor of The New York Times:

Dear Andrew,

I thought you might be interested.

Jeffrey

Rosenthal's response:

I'm not sure why. But thanks.

Andy
Why am I not surprised?]

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

David Sanger, "John Kerry, in a Final, Pointed Plea, Will Outline a Vision of Mideast Peace": Blind Man's Bluff



In a myopic New York Times article entitled "John Kerry, in a Final, Pointed Plea, Will Outline a Vision of Mideast Peace," David Sanger writes of John Kerry's speech today, which is intended "to shape the outlines of a Middle East peace deal":

"The decision to go ahead with his speech in the waning days of the administration is characteristic of Mr. Kerry, a serial negotiator who over the past four years traveled the world on three major missions: an Israeli-Palestinian accord, the Iranian nuclear accord, and a cease-fire and political accord for Syria. He will leave office on Jan. 20 having achieved the nuclear deal, but having tried and failed on the other two."

Kerry's nuclear deal with Iran was an achievement? Oh really. As reported by Jenna Lifhits in a December 25, 2016 Weekly Standard article entitled "U.N. Agency Publishes Secret Iran Deal Docs On Exemptions Obama Admin Dismissed":

"Iran was given secret exemptions allowing the country to exceed restrictions set out by the landmark nuclear deal inked last year, some of which were made public this week by the United Nations nuclear watchdog and others that are likely still being withheld, according to diplomatic sources and a top nuclear expert who spoke to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday posted documents revealing that Iran had been given exemptions in January that permit the country to stockpile uranium in excess of the 300 kilogram limit set by the nuclear deal, experts said. The agreements had been kept secret for almost a year, but recent reports indicated that the Trump administration intended to make them public."

In fact Kerry's unsigned Swiss cheese arrangement with Iran, negotiated in Geneva and shot through with holes, was anything but an achievement.

Sanger goes on to say concerning last week's Security Council resolution denouncing Israeli West Bank settlements:

"'We did not discuss the substance of the resolution at any time with the United States,' Gerard van Bohemen, New Zealand’s ambassador to the United Nations, said later, disputing Mr. Netanyahu’s account that the vote was orchestrated in Washington. 'We did not know how the United States would vote.'

The surprise was palpable. Román Oyarzun Marchesi of Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council, asked for a show of hands in support of the resolution: 14 hands went up. He asked for a show of hands against: zero hands went up. A gasp was heard in the Council chamber. It meant that the United States, which can unilaterally veto a resolution as a permanent member of the Security Council, had not done so."

The surprise was "palpable"? Yeah, right. As reported today in a Times of Israel article entitled "Israel: US pressured Ukraine to support anti-settlement resolution":

"An Israeli official said Wednesday that highest-level US administration officials phoned Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko directly to pressure him to support the United Nations Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements.

'Either Obama or Biden spoke to Poroshenko about the matter,' a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel, elaborating on Israel’s claims that the US worked behind the scenes to bolster the resolution and to ensure that it was supported by all the other countries on the council.

According to one highly placed Israeli official who spoke to Tablet Magazine, it was Biden who personally intervened to ensure that Ukraine would support the resolution. 'Did Biden put pressure on the Ukrainians? Categorically yes,' said a source within the Israeli government. 'That Biden told them to do it is 1000% true,' he said."

Nauseating. Enough said.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Times of Israel, "Feinstein defends Obama over UN settlement vote": Obama's Final Poke in the Eye



In a Times of Israel article entitled "Feinstein defends Obama over UN settlement vote," Senator Dianne Feinstein is quoted as stating:

"I’ve watched with growing concern the increase in Israeli settlements over the years, where approximately 400,0000 individuals now live. I believe the expansion of settlements has but one goal: to undermine the viability of a two-state solution."

Below are my published comments in response to this article and those of someone who answered me:

JG:
Feinstein: "I’ve watched with growing concern the increase in Israeli settlements over the years, where approximately 400,0000 individuals now live." Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: Israeli settlements have been built on only some 1.1% of the West Bank.

A pity Feinstein is not more concerned with the Hamas covenant, which calls for the murder of all Jews, or Fatah calls for a Palestine "from the river to the sea."


LS · London:
So does building settlements make Israel more or less secure? I dont follow the logic. Will settlements prevent violence or merely forment more ? It certainlhy hasnt made israel more secure or respected in the international community. This What-about-ery rarely seems to address the question. On the only basis it can be determined by men (the legal&equitable one ). Israel will always have the protection of her friends ..... that doesnt mean she will enjoy their support when she breaks international law. I doubt there wil be any serious consequences on Israel as a result of this UNSC statement. It wont prevent her building more settlements - successive governments in Israel have proven committed to settlement buiding. It does however send a message (however laced with Irony that is the US- of all states - that ultimately helped deliver it ).

No state should be above the rule of law. None.


JG:
Sorry, but Israel will never be secure or respected by the "international community." Query for you, Lekan: Where does the "international community" stand regarding the occupation of all of Tibet by China? And what has the "international community" done regarding the atrocities committed by Russia and Iran against civilians in Syria? In fact, the "international community" has done nothing. After all, it's so much more fun to condemn Israel.

And what does the "international community" have to say about "honor killings" against women in the Muslim Middle East, including the West Bank and Gaza? And what does the "international community" tell us about the murders of gays throughout the Muslim Middle East? Again, the "international community" does not care.

By the way, Lekan, are you aware that when Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, Abbas refused? Do you know that several years earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Barak similarly offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and tear down 63 Israeli settlements? In exchange for the settlements that would remain part of Israel, Barak said he would increase the size of Gaza by a third. Barak also agreed to Palestinian control of much of East Jerusalem, which would become Palestine's capital, and Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount. Arafat, however, also refused.

"So does building settlements make Israel more or less secure?" I favor a two-state solution, i.e. a solution to the conflict that provides for two states accepting one another's right to live in peace. But there can also be no denying that after Israel left Gaza, some 12,000 missiles have been fired at Israeli kibbutzim, towns and cities. How do these missiles, in your opinion, accord with so-called "international law"? Will Israel be "safer" if missiles are also fired from the West Bank at Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem?


LS · London:
Jeffrey Grossman simple question bro - theres alot of what-about-ery here. which as i said in my first post - is beside the point and extraneous to the specific matter in hand. the ills and wrongs of the other side do not legitmise the ills and wrongs of 'our side'

With regard to my knowledge of the history of the differnt negotiations and summits , viz camp david, tabtha, and others (plus the law/resolutions and conventions that should underpin them) the answer is yes, I am aware. I am also aware that Barak was not offering a solution based on the accepted 1967 constraints/borders (despite protestations of some to the contrary). I'm also aware that other offers to stop settlement buildings we tied to conditions and blueprints that werent acceptable to the palestinian people - mainly the lack of a contiguous state untinerrupted by Israeli occupied lands. On top of which the simple principle that the offer of cessation of illegal activity (by a sovereign state) is being used as a bargaining chip - is hardly a legitmate or respectable tactic. The state sponsored illegal activity should stop if we are law abiding nations.
So it isnt quite as straight forward as implying that successive israeli leaders have magnanimously offered to the palestinians (that which is theirs by law incidentally ) and the palestinians have just been unreasonable. That not an accuate or believable version of events from our side. You answer the question of security with a question about the law of missles, which doesnt speak as to whether the evidence supports the implied thesis that settlements make Israel more secure - they clearly do not.

I want Israel and Palestine to be secure in their respective states; but we cant have it all our own way. We cant do provocative acts and expect/demand security any more than the palestinian authorities or Hamas and Hezbollah can expect peace for the firing of rockets.


JG:
"I'm also aware that other offers to stop settlement buildings we tied to conditions and blueprints that werent acceptable to the palestinian people - mainly the lack of a contiguous state untinerrupted by Israeli occupied lands." Sorry, Lekan, but when Arafat and Abbas respectively declined the offers of Barak and Olmert, the issue of a contiguous Palestinian state was never raised. Again, this is because the settlements, built on only 1.1 percent of the West Bank as per Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat
, do not stand in the way of a contiguous Palestinian state.

Moreover, Erekat has accepted the principle of land swaps to deal with the issue of Israeli settlements.

Like you, "I want Israel and Palestine to be secure in their respective states," but there is also that small matter of the Hamas Charter, which calls for the murder of all Jews, and repeated Fatah demands for a Palestine "from the river to the sea" without the presence of a single Jew.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Peter Baker and Somini Sengupta, "Trump Pressures Obama Over U.N. Resoution on Israeli Settlements": Yes, There Is a Santa Claus



In a New York Times article entitled "Trump Pressures Obama Over U.N. Resolution on Israeli Settlements," Peter Baker and Somini Sengupta write:

"President-elect Donald J. Trump thrust himself into one of the world’s most polarizing debates on Thursday by pressuring President Obama to veto a United Nations resolution critical of Israel, the newly elected leader’s most direct intervention in foreign policy during his transition to power.

Mr. Trump spoke out after Israeli officials contacted his team for help in blocking the draft resolution condemning settlement construction even as they lobbied its sponsor, Egypt. Within a couple of hours, Egypt withdrew the resolution, at least temporarily, and its president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, called Mr. Trump to discuss how 'to establish true peace in the Middle East,' according to an aide to the president-elect.

. . . .

Frustrated by two failed efforts to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians during his tenure, Mr. Obama has been considering an effort to lay out an American framework during his final days in office. Palestinian leaders and their allies had hoped he would allow the anti-settlement resolution at the United Nations to pass as an expression of frustration at Israeli policies."

Sorry, Obama, but the Egyptians are unwilling to anger an unsuppressed unpredictable president-elect, and as Mark Moyar concluded in a New York Times op-ed entitled "The World Fears Trump’s America. That’s a Good Thing.":

"As the world’s most powerful country, and the only one whose leadership can safeguard the world order, the United States must care more about whether it commands international respect than whether it is loved by international elites. The incoming administration appears poised to return the United States to this precept after an eight-year drought. Americans and America’s allies should be relieved. America’s enemies are right to be afraid."

Or as Niccolo Machiavelli wrote some 500 years ago:

"It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both."

At least as regards the Middle East, Machiavelli was right.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Richard Cohen, "Trump’s choice for Israeli ambassador is a danger to American lives": Echoing the New York Times's Hysteria



In a Washington Post op-ed entitled "Trump’s choice for Israeli ambassador is a danger to American lives," Richard Cohen echoes the hysteria of The New York Times re Trump's nomination of David Friedman as America's next ambassador to Israel:

"The Senate will get a crack at Friedman. This is a nomination that must be rejected. He is a danger to peace in the Middle East, to American lives, to moderation and to civil discourse."

"Civil discourse" in the Middle East? A day doesn't go by without calls from Iran for the eradication of Israel. And then there is the Hamas covenant calling for the murder of all Jews.

Friedman poses a threat to American lives? Oh really? Just yesterday the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated, and a semi-trailer plowed into a Berlin Christmas market in a terror attack that killed 12 and injured 48 persons. On Sunday, 10 people were killed and 34 wounded in a terror attack in Karak, Jordan. In fact, the entire Middle East is a tinderbox, having little to do with tiny Israel and having everything to do with conflicting Shiite/Sunni efforts to restore regional historic primacy.

"Moderation" means refusing to acknowledge that West Jerusalem, Israel's capital, has not been an integral part of that country since 1948? The time hasn't come to recognize that reality?

Spare me the bullshit, Dick.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

New York Times Editorial, "A Dangerous Choice for Ambassador to Israel": Friedman's Appointment More Dangerous Than Obama's Neglect of Aleppo?



In an editorial entitled "A Dangerous Choice for Ambassador to Israel," The New York Times begins (my emphasis in red):

"In appointing David Friedman as the next ambassador to Israel, Donald Trump voiced a desire to 'strive for peace in the Middle East.' Unfortunately, his chosen representative would be far more likely to provoke conflict in Israel and the occupied territories, heighten regional tensions and undermine American leadership."

Ah yes, David Friedman's appointment could undermine American leadership of the kind exhibited with respect to Aleppo. See the Times's whitewash of Obama's "benign" neglect of this horrific Syrian tragedy in its editorial on Wednesday.

Today's editorial continues (my emphasis in red):

"Mr. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer who has represented the president-elect in matters involving Atlantic City casinos, has no diplomatic experience, unlike nearly every American ambassador who has served in this most sensitive of posts. That might not be quite so alarming if he didn’t also hold extremist views that are radically at odds with American policy and with the views of most Americans."

Okay, Friedman has no diplomatic experience, as did Thomas Pickering, ambassador to Israel from 1985 to 1988, who is now prominently listed by the National Iranian American Council as a member of its advisory board. Maybe it's to Friedman's credit that he has no prior diplomatic experience.

Friedman's extremist views? The Times writes (my emphasis in red):

"In a further sign of Mr. Friedman’s apparent zeal for confrontation rather than diplomatic finesse, he has announced that he expects to have his office in Jerusalem, rather than Tel Aviv, where the American Embassy has been for 68 years, along with the embassies of most other countries. Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem, which has sites that are sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews, as their capital. Like the crucial questions of borders, Israeli security and the fate of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, the contested status of Jerusalem should be resolved by negotiation, not by American fiat."

Excuse me, but the Palestinians are making no claims whatsoever on Western Jerusalem, except, of course, those calling for Israel's eradication. Why shouldn't America's embassy be located in Israel's capital, as in any other country? It is high time for the United States to acknowledge Israel's capital and right to exist as a sovereign nation. Sorry, but this is not something to be "resolved by negotiation" by the P5+1. Jerusalem has been Israel's capital since it declared independence in 1948, notwithstanding ingrained US State Department hostility.

More to the point, America should again take the lead on the international stage. This role was abnegated by Obama with tragic consequences, and his dereliction of responsibility will forever stain in blood whatever remains of this president's "legacy."