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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Obama Allegedly Demands That Israel Agree to an Immediate Unilateral Ceasefire

Is Obama seeking to deprive Israel of its sovereignty and its right to defend itself?

Israel's Channel 1 has published a Hebrew transcript of President Obama's conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday. The White House had previously released a "read out" of Obama's conversation with Netanyahu (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/27/readout-president-s-call-prime-minister-netanyahu-israel), but apparently much "went missing" from this summary.

According to the English translation of the Hebrew transcript of a highly revealing segment of this alleged conversation (see: http://www.timesofisrael.com/day-22-five-soldiers-killed-four-of-them-in-mortar-attack-idf-bombards-gaza/) between Barack Obama (BO) and Benjamin Netanyahu (BN):

"Barack Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.

Benjamin Netanyahu: And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?

BO: I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.

BN: Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

BO: I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.

BN: Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages.

BO: Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege and restrictions on Gaza.

BN: Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.

BO: I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.

BN: I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –

BO: (interrupting Netanyahu) The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities."

If this transcript is correct, are we to understand that Israel must agree to an immediate unilateral ceasefire, notwithstanding the fact that Hamas has broken all previous ceasefires?

Are we to understand that Israel has no say regarding the mediators?

Are we to understand that Obama trusts Turkey and Qatar?

Hamas, which has been bankrolled by Qatar, is designated by the US as a terrorist organization. Qatar is also infamous for its abuse of foreign laborers.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is known for his horrific anti-Semitic outbursts and recently declared:

"[Israel] curse[s] Hitler morning and night. However, now their barbarism has surpassed even Hitler’s."

Meanwhile, as also being reported by The Times of Israel:

"Muhammad Deif, the titular head of Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades, says in a recorded statement broadcast on Al Aqsa TV that his forces will not accede to a ceasefire until Israeli hostilities end and the siege on Gaza is lifted."

Deif further explicitly declared on Tuesday (see: http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Hamas-military-commander-There-will-be-no-ceasefire-victory-will-be-ours-369336):

"There will be no ceasefire. Victory will be ours."

[Both the US National Security Council and the Prime Minister of Israel’s Office are claiming in identical statements that the transcript is a "fabrication." However, as reported by The Times of Israel: "Despite rejections by American and Israeli officials, Channel 1′s Or Nahari insists that the transcript leaked to him by a 'senior American official' is authentic, but acknowledges that the quotes he published were merely an excerpt from a long conversation."]

Monday, July 28, 2014

David Brooks, "No War Is an Island": Obama, Read This Op-ed!

Yesterday, the US State Department's Jen Psaki ("It's simply not the way partners and allies treat each other") and an "anonymous" senior aide to Obama were busy berating the Israeli government for scorning John Kerry's efforts to reach a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas pursuant to the terms of Hamas (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2014/07/david-grossman-israel-without-illusions.html). As reported by The Washington Free Beacon (http://freebeacon.com/national-security/obama-admin-u-s-israel-relationship-in-jeopardy-over-criticism-of-kerry/):

"According to the AP’s Matt Lee and Julie Pace, administration officials used 'unusually harsh language' to declare that 'criticism of Kerry could put the relationship between the U.S. and Israel in jeopardy' and had 'crossed a line.'"

However, the threatening language directed at Israel mysteriously disappeared from the article written by Lee and Pace (see: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-fuming-over-israeli-criticism-kerry), and suddenly both Obama and Kerry were talking about the need for a demilitarized Gaza, a key Israeli demand which was absent from Kerry's cease-fire proposal.

What happened? Why did the White House back off?

As might be expected, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer yesterday went further than the Israeli cabinet in denouncing Kerry (http://freebeacon.com/national-security/krauthammer-chaos-around-the-world-result-of-obamas-disengagement-and-withdrawal/):

"Kerry goes over and negotiates in Paris, who with? Qatar and Turkey. And returns essentially as the lawyer for Hamas, hands Israel a proposition that is so outrageous that the cabinet votes 19-0 against it. Israeli cabinets have never voted 19-0 on whether the sun rises in the east. It was unbelievable. It would have given Hamas all of its demands."

But the real bombshell for the Obama administration was the Washington Post opinion piece entitled "John Kerry’s big blunder in seeking an Israel-Gaza cease-fire" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/david-ignatius-john-kerrys-big-blunder-in-seeking-an-israel-gaza-cease-fire/2014/07/28/ab3fbfd2-1686-11e4-9349-84d4a85be981_story.html?hpid=z2#) by David Ignatius, a friend of the White House, who yesterday observed:

"Kerry’s error has been to put so much emphasis on achieving a quick halt to the bloodshed that he has solidified the role of Hamas, the intractable, unpopular Islamist group that leads Gaza, along with the two hard-line Islamist nations that are its key supporters, Qatar and Turkey. In the process, he has undercut not simply the Israelis but also the Egyptians and the Fatah movement that runs the Palestinian Authority, all of which want to see an end to Hamas rule in Gaza."

Suddenly, the West Wing woke up to the havoc wrecked by Kerry and feverishly entered into damage-control mode.

Which brings us to David Brooks's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "No War Is an Island" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/opinion/david-brooks-when-middle-east-conflicts-become-one.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0), subtitled "When Middle East Conflicts Become One." Brooks, who is read by Obama, writes today:

"After the Arab Spring, the Islamists briefly gained the upper hand [in Egypt]. But when the Muslim Brotherhood government fell, the military leaders cracked down. They sentenced hundreds of the Brotherhood’s leadership class to death. They also closed roughly 95 percent of the tunnels that connected Egypt to Gaza, where the Brotherhood’s offshoot, Hamas, had gained power.

As intended, the Egyptian move was economically devastating to Hamas. Hamas derived 40 percent of its tax revenue from tariffs on goods that flowed through those tunnels. One economist estimated the economic losses at $460 million a year, nearly a fifth of the Gazan G.D.P.

Hamas needed to end that blockade, but it couldn’t strike Egypt, so it struck Israel. If Hamas could emerge as the heroic fighter in a death match against the Jewish state, if Arab TV screens were filled with dead Palestinian civilians, then public outrage would force Egypt to lift the blockade. Civilian casualties were part of the point."

Or stated otherwise, Hamas is bankrupt, isolated and fighting for its survival on the world stage. Hamas has nothing to lose in this war, and will not agree to a cease-fire without first having something tangible to show to the Arab street for its efforts.

Brooks fails to mention that Hamas lost the support of Iran, after Hamas backed the rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad in Syria and moved its headquarters from Damascus to Qatar. It is no accident that Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, has refused to fire a single missile at Israel during the past three weeks. (The scattering of rockets fired at northern Israel from Lebanon during the past three weeks has been attributed to militant Palestinian factions.)

Essentially, Kerry spent the past week in Cairo, Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Paris in an effort to throw a lifeline to Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States. Kerry is only now beginning to comprehend the damage caused by his acceptance of the cease-fire terms demanded by Hamas, as pressed upon him by Qatar and Turkey. Notwithstanding Obama administration declarations to the contrary, these were not the cease-fire terms of Egypt, and the terms did not take into account Israeli calls for a demilitarized Gaza.

Egypt, by the way, has become overtly contemptuous of Obama. As part of a widely publicized effort to demean the American secretary of state, Kerry last week was screened with a metal detector device before meeting with Egyptian President Sisi. Kerry, however, seems to have been blissfully unaware of this Middle Eastern insult.

Is Kerry hostile to Israel? I don't think so. The man is simply out of his depth.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

David Grossman, "An Israel Without Illusions": Talk With Hamas?

I am a great admirer of Israeli author David Grossman, whom I have met only once. Several years ago, we sat next to one another on a flight to Amsterdam, and he mentioned to me that there had been a bit of confusion concerning our seating arrangement owing to our shared surname. I mentioned that my oldest boy was a paratrooper, and I wanted to ask about his suffering after the death of his son in the 2006 Lebanon War, but I dared not broach the subject.

Today, in a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "An Israel Without Illusions" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/opinion/david-grossman-end-the-grindstone-of-israeli-palestinian-violence.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), David Grossman writes:

"Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking, I ask the leaders of my own country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors: How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people — an act that could also have served to pressure Hamas? Why have you ignored, for 12 years, the Arab League initiative that could have enlisted moderate Arab states with the power to impose, perhaps, a compromise on Hamas? In other words: Why is it that Israeli governments have been incapable, for decades, of thinking outside the bubble?"

"Without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas"? My own feeling is that it is extremely difficult to engage in dialogue with persons belonging to a party whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis.

Grossman goes on to say:

"[T]he Palestinian majority, represented by Mahmoud Abbas, has already decided in favor of negotiation and against terrorism."

Well, not quite. According to the recent results of a Washington Institute for Near East Policy poll (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/new-palestinian-poll-shows-hardline-views-but-some-pragmatism-too), "a clear majority [of Palestinians] (60% overall, including 55% in the West Bank and 68% in Gaza) say that the five-year goal 'should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'"

Of course, I share David Grossman's desire to see a democratic prosperous state of Palestine. However, I have no illusions concerning the ultimate desires of a majority of Palestinians, particularly at a time when Islamic radicalism is sweeping the Middle East.

If Israel will only be nicer to the Palestinians, might their attitude toward Israel change? This is not far removed from the Father Flanagan style of diplomacy adopted by Barack Obama when he entered the Oval Office in 2009: If America will merely extend a hand of friendship to the world's bullies and tyrants, they will surely find their way back into the fold of moderate nations ("There's no such thing as a bad leader"). Five and a half years later, given developments in the Ukraine, Syria, Iran, Libya and Iraq, I would imagine that even Obama is prepared to admit that his policy has proven a catastrophic geopolitical experiment.

Obama? Over the course of the past few days, his secretary of state, John Kerry, has managed to infuriate Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority - no small achievement - by seeking a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, based upon the demands of Hamas.  Kerry's proposal included:

  • Acceptance of Hamas demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza, which of necessity would facilitate shipment of armaments to Hamas and Islamic Jihad;
  • The building of a seaport for Gaza, opening the way for the import of large advanced weapons systems, which, in the past, could not squeeze through the tunnels from Egypt;
  • The free flow of funds for Hamas from Qatar and Iran, despite the fact that Hamas is designated by the United States as a terrorist organization.

On the other hand, John Kerry's proposal would have prevented Israel from continuing to destroy the Hamas tunnel network.

Israel's reaction? As reported by The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-completely-capitulated-to-hamas-in-ceasefire-proposal-says-israel/):

"Channel 2′s diplomatic reporter Udi Segal said 'voices' from the cabinet had described Kerry as 'negligent,' 'lacking the ability to understand' the issues, and 'incapable of handling the most basic matters.'"

Given the firestorm created by Kerry's whirlwind trip to Cairo, Tel Aviv and Paris, Obama is now attempting to put out the flames. Yesterday, Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, after which the White House issued a "readout" of the conversation (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/07/27/readout-president-s-call-prime-minister-netanyahu-israel) (my emphasis in red):

"Building on Secretary Kerry’s efforts, the President made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed the United States’ support for Egypt’s initiative, as well as regional and international coordination to end hostilities. The President underscored the enduring importance of ensuring Israel’s security, protecting civilians, alleviating Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, and enacting a sustainable ceasefire that both allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives and addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs, while strengthening the Palestinian Authority. The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza."

Regrettably, Kerry did not take into account Egypt's terms for a cease-fire. Instead, he accepted all of the demands of Hamas, proposed by Qatar and Turkey, whose foreign ministers participated in Kerry's partie in Paris (representatives of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority were not on the guest list). In addition, Kerry's proposal did not call for the disarmament of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza.

The US State Department is now in a huff over criticism of the secretary of state. As reported by The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/obama-call-netanyahu-urges-immediate-unconditional-ceasefire/):

"[A] senior US official said Sunday night that the ceasefire proposal ostensibly issued by Kerry, which the Israeli cabinet rejected unanimously, was just a confidential draft to be used for deliberations and did not give in to Hamas’s demands. Kerry spoke to Hamas supporters Qatar and Turkey to exert greater influence over the terrorist organization, he said.

The official also harshly attacked Israeli reports that criticized the secretary of state for championing a proposal they reported as being too generous to Hamas while all but ignoring Israel’s security needs.

. . . .

Many reports in the Israel media about the American initiative were either inaccurate, contained 'overheated assertions' or mischaracterized Kerry’s strategy and motivations, the plainly bitter official lamented. Some articles about the secretary included 'ad hominem and gratuitous attacks on him, even going as far as to accuse him of betrayal of our ally Israel, which is a charge I think is extremely offensive,' he said."

Ad hominem attacks against John "Botox-face" Kerry? Given all of Kerry's imbecilic self-gratifying efforts over the past week, why would anyone stoop to that level?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Open Letter to President Obama: Keep Kerry Away From the Middle East

Dear President Obama,

Over the past five and a half years as President of the United States, you have routinely declared your support of Israel. On March 5, 2012 you stated:

"Our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid. And as I've said to the Prime Minister in every single one of our meetings, the United States will always have Israel's back when it comes to Israel's security. This is a bond that is based not only on our mutual security interests and economic interests, but is also based on common values and the incredible people-to-people contacts that we have between our two countries."

Indeed, your willingness to fund the Israeli-developed short-range rocket defense system called Iron Dome has enabled Israel to withstand the current onslaught of more than 2,500 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli population centers over the past three weeks. For this assistance, Israel is forever grateful.

However, if your support is "rock solid," why did your secretary of state initiate his efforts to achieve a cease-fire involving the current war between Israel and Hamas by traveling to Egypt? If Israel is indeed an ally, shouldn't John Kerry have begun his discussions by meeting with Israel's government in order to better understand its needs in this time of crisis?

John Kerry flew from Cairo to Tel Aviv, notwithstanding a ban on flights to Israel by America's Federal Aviation Administration, a move regarded by many in Israel as intended to place pressure on Israel to agree to the terms of a cease-fire being imposed proposed by Kerry. As you can well imagine, this ban threatened to choke off Israeli commerce at a time when Israel was desperately in need of support from its friends.

Prime Minister Netanyahu explained to John Kerry during his visit to Israel that the Israel Defense Forces had obtained intelligence that Hamas intended to attack Israeli agriculural communities via a network of tunnels during the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days, in order to take hostages back to Gaza. Ignoring this information, John Kerry proposed a week-long cease-fire that included:

  • Acceptance of Hamas demands for the opening of border crossings into Gaza, which of necessity would facilitate shipment of armaments to Hamas and Islamic Jihad;
  • The building of a seaport for Gaza, opening the way for the import of large advanced weapons systems, which, in the past, could not squeeze through the tunnels from Egypt;
  • The free flow of funds for Hamas from Qatar and Iran, despite the fact that Hamas is designated by the United States as a terrorist organization.

On the other hand, John Kerry's cease-fire proposal would have prevented Israel from continuing to destroy the Hamas tunnel network.

After Israel rejected the risible terms of John Kerry's proposed one-week cease-fire, Mr. Kerry traveled to Paris, where he engaged in discussions with diplomats from France, Britain, Italy and Germany, and also the foreign ministers of Qatar, which has been primarily responsible for funding Hamas armaments and tunnels, and of Turkey, whose prime minister welcomes Hamas visitors and regularly engages in anti-Semitic diatribes. Although Qatar and Turkey were allowed by Kerry to advocate on behalf of Hamas, Israel was prevented from attending the conference. Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, opponents of Hamas and also refused entry to Kerry's Parisian partie, are also furious with America's secretary of state.

John Kerry's conduct of these negotiations has created significant backlash in Israel. As reported by The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-completely-capitulated-to-hamas-in-ceasefire-proposal-says-israel/):

"Channel 2′s diplomatic reporter Udi Segal said 'voices' from the cabinet had described Kerry as 'negligent,' 'lacking the ability to understand' the issues, and 'incapable of handling the most basic matters.'"

Mr. President, you have stated that "the United States will always have Israel's back when it comes to Israel's security." Well today, we have learned that Kerry has once more acted behind Israel's back and promised Hamas a pay-off in exchange for its agreement to his cease-fire terms. Again, as reported by The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/kerry-told-hamas-many-of-its-demands-would-be-met-under-ceasefire-deal/):

"US Secretary of State John Kerry informed Hamas via Qatar last week that under his proposal for a ceasefire with Israel, based on the original Egyptian initiative, the US would guarantee the fulfillment of many of Hamas’s demands for an end to the war, Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel on Saturday.

. . . .

The guarantees promised to Hamas by Kerry under a ceasefire, as relayed to The Times of Israel by the Palestinian sources, pertain to the following issues: an easing of restrictions on the passage of goods from Israel to Gaza; an easing of restrictions on the passage of traders and businessmen from Gaza to Israel; expansion of the permitted Gaza fishing zone to 12 miles off the coast; the opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, to be manned by Palestinian Authority officials; and a promise to ensure the transfer of salaries to Gaza’s government employees."

I ask you, Mr. President, does John Kerry's behavior evidence "rock solid" support of Israel? Is this any way to treat an ally in a time of crisis? Please explain to me how Kerry's offer to Hamas does not amount to appeasement of a terrorist organization?

Mr. President, you appointed John Kerry as secretary of state, and it is for you alone to judge his diplomatic capabilities, as evidenced by his handling of the crisis in the Ukraine, Iran's nuclear weapons development program, and the negotiations he sponsored between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. On the other hand, Kerry's most recent communications with Israel concerning his cease-fire proposal can only be described as antagonistic, self-aggrandizing and destructive of America's longstanding relationship with Israel.

Mr. President, if you believe that John Kerry is advancing American overseas credibility, it is of course your prerogative to retain him as your secretary of state. On the other hand, if your support of Israel is truly "rock solid," please find someone else to engage in cease-fire negotiations involving the war in Gaza.

John Kerry is no friend of Israel.

Yours sincerely,
Jeffrey

Amos Yadlin, "To Save Gaza, Destroy Hamas": Is Obama a Friend of Israel?

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "To Save Gaza, Destroy Hamas" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/26/opinion/to-save-gaza-destroy-hamas.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), former head of Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin writes:

"The latest round of warfare showed that Hamas had become more dangerous, and its offensive capacity stronger, than we had known. Its ability to threaten Israeli towns through its tunnels and to rain rockets on Israeli cities raised what had been a nuisance to a challenge of strategic proportions.

For these reasons, Hamas’s rule over Gaza must be brought to an end, its military wing disarmed, and Gaza’s people given the chance to elect new leaders."

Yadlin's determination is identical to that of Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, who stated two days ago in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Israel must be permitted to crush Hamas" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/michael-oren-israel-must-be-permitted-to-crush-hamas/2014/07/24/bd9967fc-1350-11e4-9285-4243a40ddc97_story.html):

"U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of Great Britain and France all are rushing to achieve a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Their motive — to end civilian suffering and restore stability to the area — is noble. The images of the wounded and dead resulting from the conflict are indeed agonizing. However, these senior statesmen can be most helpful now by doing nothing. To preserve the values they cherish and to send an unequivocal message to terrorist organizations and their state sponsors everywhere, Israel must be permitted to crush Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

. . . .

Though bitter, the fighting between Israel and Hamas raging in Gaza’s alleyways is merely part of the far vaster struggle between rational nations and the al-Qaeda and Islamic State-like forces seeking their destruction. Relative to that global conflict, Operation Protective Edge may seem small, but it is nevertheless pivotal. To ensure that it concludes with a categorical Israeli win is in the world’s fundamental interest. To guarantee peace, this war must be given a chance."

Regrettably, Barack Obama and John ("Botox") Kerry do not see it this way, and yesterday, Israel was forced to reject a seven-day cease-fire proposed by John Kerry, which, according to The Times of Israel (http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-and-us-openly-at-odds-over-gaza-ceasefire-terms/) would have prevented Israel from continuing to destroy the Hamas tunnel network.

All of which calls into question the priorities of Obama and Kerry. Does Obama truly regard Israel as an ally? If so, why did Kerry first stop in Cairo to discuss the terms of a cease-fire, before traveling to Israel? Why did the Obama administration not interfere with the determination by the FAA to prevent American planes from landing at Ben Gurion Airport? By the way, does anyone really wish to claim that landing at Ben Gurion is more dangerous today than landing in Kiev or Baghdad? Kerry landed at Ben Gurion, despite the FAA order.

According to the old proverb, "A friend in need is a friend indeed." Obama is no friend of Israel. As observed by Commentary's Tom Wilson (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2014/07/25/kerrys-unacceptable-ceasefire-seeks-to-appease-hamas/):

"If nothing else, the fact that the Egyptians came up with a ceasefire that Israel could accept, whereas Kerry has come up with something that Israel appears poised to reject, certainly says something about just how far down the rabbit-hole the Obama administration has gone with its foreign policy."

Of course, Israel does have friends in Washington. Listen to what Senator Marco Rubio has to say about the conflict in Gaza:


Friday, July 25, 2014

US Pressuring Israel Into Cease-Fire

What you are not reading in The New York Times or hearing on CNN:

Israel is being coerced to agree to a cease-fire being brokered by the United States and Egypt, just as Hamas and Islamic Jihad opposition to the IDF is beginning to crumble. Owing to additional funding being provided by the US to Israel for more Iron Dome anti-rocket systems, Israel is under great pressure to agree to John Kerry's proposal.

Additionally, captured Hamas fighters have revealed that a major kidnapping operation was planned for the Jewish High Holy Days, i.e. late September, making use of the tunnels leading from Gaza into Israel. Unknown to the world, these tunnels have been dug over the course of many years in preparation for this attack.

In short, the current war has averted a disaster in the making.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Roger Cohen, "Hope in the Abattoir": Where Is Cohen's Apology?

Roger ("Iran is not totalitarian") Cohen has no credibility. He also has no journalistic integrity.

As recently reported by The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) (http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=35&x_article=2764):

"Days after a New York Times editorial completely distorted a Hebrew poem cited by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – the Chaim Nahman Bialik was a rejection of human revenge, not an endorsement of it – columnist Roger Cohen similarly distorts another Israeli source. Cohen writes ('Israel's bloody status quo'):


Sheldon Adelson’s right-wing Israel Hayom, the biggest-selling newspaper in Israel, has called for Gaza to be 'returned to the Stone Age.' During the last Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza, in 2012, a government minister called for Gaza to be consigned 'to the Middle Ages.' Before that, there was the Gaza War of 2008-2009, in which 1,166 Palestinians died and 13 Israelis, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The story goes on and on. There is no denouement. Gaza, a small place jammed with 1.8 million people, does not recess to the Stone, Iron, Middle or other Ages. It does not get flattened, as Ariel Sharon’s son once proposed. The death toll is overwhelmingly skewed against Palestinians. Hamas, with its militia and arsenal of rockets, continues to run Gaza. The dead die for nothing.

Like the editorial writer who either ignored or did not comprehend the well-known, crucial lines of the Bialik poem rejecting the notion of human vengeance, Cohen has completely distorted an excerpt from Israel Hayom by removing it from its context. Here is what Israel Hayom's Amos Regev actually wrote:

The Gaza Strip must be returned to the Stone Age. Not in the sense of destroying every home and all the infrastructure, which would leave Gaza residents wandering among ruins. Rather, Israel should eliminate every rocket, bomb and gun in Gaza. In other words, get rid of the arsenal Hamas has accumulated over the past 10 years. The snake must be defanged, leaving Hamas without rockets. The most it would have left would be stones. . . .

Rather, Israel must return Hamas to a situation in which the most it can do is throw stones. This is how it was when Hamas was founded, in Gaza, during the First Intifada. But since then, particularly over the past 10 years, Hamas equipped itself with long-range rockets. It would take only 10 days to return Hamas to the Stone Age.

In other words, Regev is not talking about 'flattening' Gaza, as Cohen would have readers believe. Rather, Regev's reference to the 'Stone Age' refers to the demilitarization of Gaza, in which Hamas, stripped of its rocket arsenal, would be armed only with stones."


Does Cohen bother apologizing for this grotesque distortion in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hope in the Abattoir" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/25/opinion/roger-cohen-the-shared-destiny-of-israel-and-gaza.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region)? No way.

Instead, Cohen concludes his op-ed today concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a vacuous conclusion:

"Nobody is going away. The peoples of the Holy Land are condemned to each other. Without that realization, any truce, even any demilitarization of Gaza, will only be a way station to the next round of slaughter."

Needless to say, Cohen makes certain not to mention that in 2008, when Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps and Palestinian control of east Jerusalem, Abbas refused. Cohen also ignores the fact 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.

Also, no mention by Cohen of the recent results of a Washington Institute for Near East Policy poll (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/new-palestinian-poll-shows-hardline-views-but-some-pragmatism-too) which determined (my emphasis in red):

"Regarding the longer-term, fundamental issue of a two-state solution, Palestinian public opinion has clearly taken a maximalist turn. Other recent polls, even after the collapse of the latest peace talks, showed a majority or plurality still favoring the goal of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, alongside Israel (though the numbers were gradually declining). But now, a clear majority (60% overall, including 55% in the West Bank and 68% in Gaza) say that the five-year goal 'should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.'"

Or in other words, Israelis are willing to accept a demilitarized Palestinian state. On the other hand, a clear majority of Palestinians refuse to accept Israel's right to exist. But why should Cohen mention this, given his need to "balance" the blame for the latest outbreak of fighting in Gaza?

Disgusting.