This week, the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem unveiled an enormously exciting new exhibit – “In the Valley of David and Goliath” – that features 3,000 year-old artifacts recovered from Khirbet Qeiyafa, which overlooks the Elah Valley southwest of Jerusalem. Archaeologists believe this ancient fortified city could be the biblical city of Sha’arayim (“Two Gates”) mentioned in the story of the battle of David and the Philistine giant, Goliath. Finds from the excavation have been carbon-dated back to the 11th Century BCE.
Professor Yosef Garfinkel, Yigal Yardin Chair of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who supervised the excavations, described them as a “Biblical Pompeii.” Evidence exists for this being a Judean stronghold at the edge of the Philistine area: there are no pig bones in the remains, and more significantly, there was a pottery jar with an inscription in Canaanite script, which is believed to be the earliest known example of Hebrew writing.
It is always exciting when a Biblical account and archeological evidence converge. We are provided here with very likely evidence of an Israelite Kingdom dating back 3,000 years.
Take note world: we were here. (And be very clear on this: Whatever may be claimed to the contrary, the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians today have less than nothing to do with the Philistines of millennia ago.)
The very astute historian and political analyst Prof. Efraim Karsh, who is about to assume the position of director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center), has done a comprehensive study of the Oslo Accords, very aptly referring to it as the “Oslo Disaster” (emphasis added):
“…the Oslo ‘peace process’ has substantially worsened the position of both parties and made the prospects for peace and reconciliation ever more remote.
“The process has led to establishment of an ineradicable terror entity on Israel’s doorstep, deepened Israel’s internal cleavages, destabilized its political system, and weakened its international standing.
“It has been a disaster for West Bank and Gaza Palestinians too. It has brought about subjugation to corrupt and repressive PLO and Hamas regimes…
“This abject failure is a direct result of the Palestinian leadership’s perception of the process as a pathway not to a two-state solution – meaning Israel alongside a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza – but to the subversion of the State of Israel. They view Oslo not as a path to nation-building and state creation, but to the formation of a repressive terror entity that perpetuates conflict with Israel, while keeping its hapless constituents in constant and bewildered awe as Palestinian leaders line their pockets from the proceeds of this misery…
“Politically and diplomatically…Oslo instantaneously transformed the PLO (and, to a lesser extent, Hamas) into an internationally accepted political actor while upholding its commitment to Israel’s destruction, edging toward fully fledged statehood outside the Oslo framework, and steadily undermining Israel’s international standing…
Karsh is exceedingly pessimistic about the chances that this situation will change:
“There has been no real reckoning by the Oslo architects and their erstwhile ‘peace camp’ successors, both in Israel and abroad, of the worst blunder in Israel’s history, and no rethinking of its disastrously misconceived assumptions – let alone any public admission of guilt or show of remorse for its horrific costs.
“Instead, they continue to willfully ignore the Palestinian leadership’s total lack of interest in the two-state solution and serial violation of contractual obligations. They continue to whitewash ongoing Palestinian violence, belittle the extent of Israeli suffering, and blame Jerusalem for the stalled process despite the public endorsement of the two-state solution by five successive Israeli prime ministers, Peres, Barak, Sharon, Olmert, and Netanyahu.
“Not only has the same terror-tainted Palestinian leadership come to be universally viewed as the prospective government of a future Palestinian state, but its goal of having this state established without negotiating with Israel, or even recognizing its right to exist, seems to be gaining ever wider currency…
“Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation, so it will only be when Palestinian society undergoes a real ‘spring’ that the century-long conflict between Arabs and Jews can at long last be resolved…This requires sweeping the corrupt and oppressive PLO and Hamas rulers from power, eliminating endemic violence from political and social life, and teaching the virtues of coexistence with Israeli neighbors.
“Sadly, the possibility of a Palestinian spring…has been destroyed for the foreseeable future by the Oslo ‘peace process’.”
This is an important piece that I encourage you to share broadly.
I will cut those who continue to support a “two-state solution” just a tiny bit of slack: There are some among them – albeit a decreasing number – with their heads in the sand, so very eager for things to be good that they hold on to the “two-state” vision as a panacea for problems here in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
But – really! – those who are simply blindly optimistic are a very small minority. In the main, what we are seeing is malice, disguised as desire for “peace.” It is with intent that Israel is being pressured and weakened. Do not delude yourselves that it is otherwise. The nations of the world cut the PLO slack as they do for no other entity. In many cases, it doesn’t matter what the PLO’s real intentions are or what they have failed to do or how they are using their money (donated by those same nations).
For this reason, anything other than a very strong stance by the government of Israel is a huge mistake. There is no way for us to win by showing a conciliatory stance, and it’s time to face this. Concessions only make matters worse for us. It’s important to speak truth to the world’s falsehoods.
Conflicting predictions re what will happen with the PA elections next month persist, with various reports as to how Fatah and Hamas are playing the game. Most recently, four Fatah lists in different regions of Gaza have been disqualified. We will continue to watch this as the implications are serious.
Julie Bishop, Australian Foreign Minister, who has been more than not a friend of Israel, has just completed a warm visit here.
She says that both sides have responsibility for the impasse on negotiations. The PA, with regard to violence and unilateral actions towards statehood, and Israel because of settlement construction. Such is the political climate that this even-handed position is welcomed by Jerusalem.
Bishop extended to Prime Minister Netanyahu an invitation to visit Australia early in 2017. He accepted gladly; his visit will be the first to Australia by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
As I write, Netanyahu is in the Netherlands, which he last visited in 2012. This is not a place enormously receptive to Israel: a former prime minister and Palestinian Arab activist, Dries van Agt, is calling for his arrest for “war crimes.” In meetings with Dutch leaders – including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and King Willem-Alexander, who are expected to be welcoming – Netanyahu will emphasize Israel’s role in fighting international terrorism.
This role that Israel is able to play may be a game-changer in certain diplomatic circumstances. I’ve alluded to this before: the world needs us.
Meanwhile, Putin – eager to usurp the US role – is getting into the “peace negotiations” scene. On Monday, Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East, met with Netanyahu for a discussion about a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas in Moscow hosted by Putin. The prime minister subsequently indicated he was considering the possibility of such a meeting, and is always ready to meet with Abbas “without preconditions.”
The response from Abbas is ambiguous. Some reports indicated he was willing, while a source close to him declared that certain conditions – cessation of all building over the Green Line, etc. – would have to be met first. If Netanyahu insists on no preconditions, then Abbas’s saying yes, with conditions, is effectively saying no, while attempting to put the onus on Israel.
We’ve witnessed this game-playing before. It all comes to nothing.
Uzi Dayan, Major General in the IDF (ret.), and former National Security Advisor, in an interview this week, said that time is on our side. Israel’s greatest challenges, he said are effectively combatting terrorism, and dealing with the nuclearization of Iran (what he calls “unfinished business”).
To properly confront these threats, says Dayan, we need internal (i.e., national) unity, Jerusalem, and defensible borders.
Jerusalem is not just the capital of Israel, but of the Jewish people. Defensible borders include the Jordan River as the border to the east, to secure strategic depth.
Dayan does not delude himself that there is a “partner for peace.” And what the Palestinians see now more and more is that many Arab nations are devoted to issues more critical than theirs.
Avi Dichter, former head of Shin Bet and currently chair of the Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, who gave a briefing at the Israel Project offices in Jerusalem this week, pinpoints Iran – which he refers to as “recently empowered” – and its proxy terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, as the greatest existential threats to Israel.
”If you listen very carefully to [Mashaal’s] speeches, in English he speaks in a way that you can understand that he supports a solution on the ‘67 lines. I recommend you listen to his speeches in Arabic.”
In Arabic Mashaal talks about taking a whole lot more.
Dichter also addressed the terror situation in Jerusalem which has improved considerably:
“Nothing happens in one day, but you can see that when the philosophy of war is used against [terrorists] by the army, police, and Shin Bet, attacks go down.” (emphasis added here and above)
Please note, he did not say terrorism was reduced via incentives and perks and gestures.
Both Dichter and Dayan, above, refer to the primacy of a “recently empowered,” “nuclearized” Iran as existential threat to Israel. And precisely whom do we have to thank for this?
None other than the arrogant, conniving president of the US, of course. The very same man who, while claiming to be Israel’s friend, is filled with malice towards the Jewish state.
Please consider the following article very carefully (emphasis added):
Dr. Emily Landau, head of the Arms Control Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, in discussion with the JPost on Monday, indicated that Iran is systematically testing the boundaries of the JCPOA nuclear deal, with the Obama administration repeatedly sweeping this under the carpet, and acting as “Iran’s lawyers.”
This hardly comes as surprise to many of us – who have long asked which side Obama is on, but here you have it from an expert.
Among the concerns that Landau referred to is a report published last week by the Institute for Science and International Security, headed by former IAEA inspector David Albright. It cites information that Iran received a number of exemptions from Washington ahead of the implementation of the JCPOA in January.
So, not only is the JCPOA horrendously inadequate, Obama ensured that the terms by which Iran had to abide were even more slack than would be indicated on paper. One exemption Iran received was that enriched uranium that had been converted into other chemical forms would not be counted in its enriched uranium supplies, thus permitting Iran to surpass its cap of low enriched uranium.
The JPost article elaborates:
“The upcoming elections in the US represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue with the next administration to formulate a response to Iran, Landau argued. While the US has stated that Iran is implementing its side of the deal, ‘Israel can’t be satisfied with that,’ Landau said, due to a host of ‘worrying dynamics and other issues’ that Washington is ignoring, as well as the fact that ‘the JCPOA is tremendously flawed.’”
“Recent developments will help create a new reality a decade from now, in which Iran will be ‘much stronger vis-à-vis world powers. Then, no one will be willing and able to stand up to Iran during the crunch time’…
“The radical ayatollahs are set to keep their hold on power in Iran…’They, together with the Revolutionary Guards, have the real hold on power. There is no basis, right now, for dreams of moderation. Yet the US is acting as if we are on the road to a changed Iran.’”
Please! wrap your heads around this. Obama – in a betrayal of his own country, of Israel, and of the Western world – has created a situation in which a radical Islamist Iran will be able to threaten the world with nuclear power in the not so distant future.
I am aghast that there are Americans, particularly presumably intelligent and sophisticated American Jews, who do not perceive this.
Most significant is the fact that it may be possible yet to change the dynamic. We’re coming close, but it is not yet too late:
“The upcoming elections in the US represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue with the next administration to formulate a response to Iran.”
I can think of dozens of reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton, but this reason is most significant of all.
This is what the former secretary of state said at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, just a year ago, as the Senate began debate on the deal:
…the US faces a choice to either “move forward on a path to diplomacy or turn down [a] more dangerous path leading to a far less certain and riskier future.”
…the deal “blocks every pathway for Iran to get a bomb” and…it was “unrealistic” to [try to] get a better deal, as some opponents claimed was possible.
Well, it is crystal clear that the deal does not block every pathway for Iran to get a bomb, and almost any deal would have been better than the one Obama negotiated.
This said, it is obvious that Hillary in the White House will not represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue regarding a response to Iran.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the Iran deal and calls for imposition of new sanctions and renegotiation of the deal. With him, there is opportunity for Israel to have a new dialogue regarding a response to Iran.
I point out that the Obama administration has blocked Israeli moves to attack Iran, and has refused to provide Israel with the bunker busters that would allow an Israeli attack to take out Iran’s nuclear equipment.
I speak a great deal, and with great conviction, about having visions of a better future. But sometimes it’s not enough to be “visionary.” Sometimes it’s essential to act to bring those good things about.
When there is a real and present danger, no one gets a free pass.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
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