“As the world turns” was until recently the name of a very long-running soap opera. And it is so appropriate as the title of this post, because, folks, we are living in a soap opera – another metaphor for our surreal situation.
Of course, there are islands of lucidity, when we see people who actually know what they are talking about, in real time. Such a moment came in the video I share here, of activist Dr. Joe Frager interviewing Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Ambassador John Bolton at a Hovevei Zion event in NYC.
Frager asked Shaked how to make the people of the US understand that Yehuda v’Shomron (Judea and Samaria) are an integral part of the Israel.
Her answer (emphasis added):
“We in the Jewish Home party (Habayit Hayehudi ) talk all the time about how Judea and Samaria are our homeland and they are part of Israel, so we are there to stay. Today there are 425,000 citizens in Judea and Samaria, the area is flourishing. I think the people of America just need to listen more to the ministers and MKs from Jewish Home.”
Bolton, for his part, said (emphasis added):
“I think people in America need to understand that the two-state solution has failed and that continuing to pursue it won’t do anything to bring stability to anywhere in the region as it falls into chaos. This discussion is important to help people here understand what the consequences can be.”
Bravo to both of them.
And sometimes there is something that has a “soap opera” feel to it, but gives us a laugh:
Before Rosh Hashana, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv sends out gift baskets to a number of Jewish organizations, including Peace Now. Inadvertently, they included a bottle of wine from the Shomron (Samaria), which is actually a big wine-producing area. Oops. Neither the US Embassy nor Peace Now thinks we should be there.
Maybe they need to speak with Ayelet Shaked.
The legality of our presence in Judea and Samaria is enormously important now, as the world pushes for a “peace process” that would lead to a “two-state solution.” And while I have taken the liberty of making a bit of fun, this is a most serious situation:
At the annual ministerial meeting at the UN on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared that France would be doing a major push to have that international Mid-East conference they’ve been talking about take place by the end of the year. He’s been working to do mobilization this week, while many nations are gathered.
The tactic he is employing now – rather than using the threats of his predecessor – is the promise of perks. If the two parties reached an agreement, there would be incentives offered them. What he imagines those incentives would be is not clear.
We’ll track this as it goes. I tend to doubt that Israel would attend the French-initiated conference at all. It is my suspicion that Netanyahu agreed to a meeting in Russia with Abbas (time not yet set) in part to deflect the focus of the French initiative.
Meanwhile, we’ve got Kerry and Abbas, who met on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Monday to discuss “constructive ideas” for boosting the possibility of a “two state solution.”
I rather doubt that Abbas – who’s playing it to the hilt now – would recognize a genuinely constructive idea if it hit him in the head. (More about him below.) And I’m not real sure about Kerry, either. But the push is on.
The opening general debate session of the UN General Assembly is now in progress, and speakers are using that podium to turn up the heat on Israel as well:
For me, most reprehensible of all was the statement of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who spoke Tuesday (emphasis added):
“No injustice has spread more bitter fruit than the denial of a Palestinian state. I say: Peace is a conscious decision. Israel has to embrace peace or eventually be engulfed in a sea of hatred in a region of turmoil.”
know that he is in something of a bind:
He fervently wants Israel at his border and not a Palestinian state, which would generate instability. But the radicals in his country are nipping at his heels, so that he fears publicly acknowledging even the discreet cooperative relationship he has with Israel.
However, in light of various assistance that Israel has afforded Jordan (a year ago, for example, we gave Jordan 16 retired Cobra helicopters to fend off ISIS), I think that the vehemence of this statement is over-the-top inexcusable. It is vile. And I’m not even going to deal here with his ludicrous charges against Israel regarding the Temple Mount.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who has praised Israeli-Egyptian security cooperation in other venues, at the UN podium spoke only about the importance of Palestinian Arab aspirations to establish an independent state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital; he said this is linked to comprehensive peace in the area.
In my book, he is one of the good guys. He pumps for a “two-state solution” but without malice towards Israel. In the course of his speech, he stopped to deviate from his written words:
“I want to address the leaders and citizens of Israel.
“I call on the Israeli government and the Israeli people to find a solution to this problem. We have a real opportunity to write a new page in history of our region moving towards peace.”
Ban Ki Moon, outgoing UN secretary-general, did not mention Palestinian Arab violence at all, instead saying (emphasis added):
“Ten years lost to illegal settlement expansion. Ten years lost to intra-Palestinian divide, growing polarization and hopelessness. This is madness…replacing a two-state solution with a one-state construct would spell doom.”
We would expect nothing different from the chief officer of the UN. And I would say that I welcome his imminent departure, except for the fact that I don’t expect his successor to be any better.
Obama, in his farewell speech on Tuesday, didn’t refer to Palestinian Arab violence either.
Precisely what “Palestinian land” he is referring to was not made not clear – although we can guess. We know he was more than a tad confused when he spoke, because he also said, [We have] “resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy.” He is seriously in need of a reality check.
There are still more speakers scheduled:
Netanyahu will be speaking about terrorism and the need for the world to unite in fighting it. I will follow through on this. I expect him to share well thought-out advice that is likely to be ignored much as his advice on Iran was. I anticipate that the world is not ready to confront with seriousness what he is likely to challenge them to deal with. We’ll see.
Putin will be speaking. As he is playing a growing role on the world stage, happily flexing his muscles, we should pay careful attention to what his says – for whatever clues it provides as to his thinking and intentions.
And then there is Mahmoud Abbas.
Writing about him in this context challenges my skills as a professional – so deep is my antipathy to him. But, of course, that he is made welcome at the UN podium and treated with respect says as much about the UN as it does about him. Holocaust-denying, inciting, lying, anti-Semite that he is.
According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, he will be appealing to the UN to consider the “great suffering” of the people under “occupation.” He will be seeking UN resolutions to redress “continuing Israeli crimes,” according to “moral and historical imperatives.” And, it is being said, he hopes to include “the right of return.”
Again, now, he wants to bring up the “right of return”? I believe he sees himself as having a tactical advantage at the moment and wants to make the most of it.
And so, I will take a minute here to address the purported “right of return,” which allegedly is founded in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which was passed in December 1948.
In a nutshell, there is no such thing as “the right of return.” The resolutions of the General Assembly are merely recommendations and carry no weight in international law.
What this resolution did was examine a variety of factors that had to be addressed in order achieve a truce as the War of Independence drew to a close. In order to facilitate this, it established a Conciliation Commission. The resolution in its entirety deals with a number of relevant issues – demilitarization, road development, free access to holy places, etc. etc.
One of the issues to be dealt with was refugees. And here, please note, it does not refer to “Arab” refugees, for there were Jewish refugees as well (although they were conveniently forgotten along the way). This Commission was instructed to “facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees…” Please note the inclusion of the option of resettlement for refugees. “Repatriation” was only one possibility.
What the Arabs have done is to cite Clause 11 in isolation:
“the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date…”
Even this, taken by itself, is problematic.
“Wishing to return…and live at peace with their neighbors…”
At no point was Israel expected to take in Arabs who were hostile. And what does “the earliest practicable date” mean?
The great irony here is that Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen all voted against this resolution because it implicitly recognized the existence of Israel. Only in retrospect did they go back and draw upon what suited them.
One final word: The number of Arab refugees is routinely cited as four million by the Arabs and their supporters. This is a gross misrepresentation, a fraud promoted and nurtured by UNRWA, the refugee agency that attends to the Arab refugees. Incredibly, UNRWA says that all refugees retain refugee status even if they have found citizenship elsewhere – only “return” to their original homes in Israel eliminates that status. But people living in third countries who have citizenship are not refugees. What is more, UNRWA confers refugee status down through the generations – now the fourth generation. This applies to no other refugee population.
It was difficult not to be somewhat uneasy about Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama yesterday, given the political climate. Our prime minister has been talking about how we have to have gratitude to Obama for that MOU deal. That rings bells.
The two spoke to the press before their meeting, exuding a warm atmosphere. There was even banter about playing golf together and similar nonsense meant to convey a happy message: Israel and the US are the closest of friends, and the US watches out for Israel’s interests.
Publicly, Obama referred to the need to “keep alive the possibility of a stable, secure Israel, at peace with its neighbors, and a Palestinian homeland that meets the aspirations of their people.”
Reports are that he came on tougher privately, speaking of “profound US concerns” that settlement-building was eroding prospects for peace. But, I’m happy to say, those same reports indicate that Netanyahu advanced a counter-argument to Obama’s position.
But we’re not done yet. What continues to be unsettling are the rumors that Obama might withdraw support for Israel at the UN after election. This undoubtedly is what Abbas is playing towards. It would be Obama’s last chance to sock it to us, when it no longer mattered to him politically. Clifford May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has sounded such a warning.
While former Mid-East negotiator Aaron David Miller suggests that the newly signed MOU might serve as a “trigger mechanism” for a fresh American push for “peace” during Obama’s lame-duck period. Sort of a quid pro quo approach.
In response to this concern about the possibility of Obama opting not to veto a coercive Security Council resolution, 88 senators signed a letter sent to Obama urging him to:
“make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months. Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict.” (Emphasis added)
The letter additionally recalled the statement by former US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice that “even well-intentioned initiatives” at the UN could “risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiation table and make the compromises necessary for peace.”
I’d like to say that this is a fantastic move, but I cannot. It is certainly heartening in that it shows Congressional support for Israel in its attempt to forestall inappropriate action by Obama. But in the end, what it says is that coercion won’t solve the problem of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict, only negotiations leading to a “two-state solution” will do that.
Oh. We’re back to that again? What makes this even more problematic is that AIPAC (which most definitely is not what it once was) drafted that letter.
Two very pro-Israel Senators, Ted Cruz (R–TX) and Marco Rubio (R–FL), refused to sign the letter. Cruz subsequently clarified that he supported the “spirit” of the letter but rejected the notion that “the two-state solution” was the “only” solution. He objected to coercing Israel in this direction. It is thought that Rubio has similar feelings on the matter.
And I suspect that some of the others who did not sign may have had similar thoughts. Consider Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), for example, who has now said that the next president should renegotiate the MOU and give Israel better terms.
Perhaps all those who did sign it should consider having a conversation with Ambassador Bolton, who, bless him, DOES understand that this paradigm has failed.
We still have a whole lot of work ahead of us.
Let’s end with some good news. This is big (emphasis added):
”By combining gene therapy with chemotherapy and delivering it to a primary tumor site, researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine have discovered in mice an ‘extremely effective way’ to prevent the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body…
“Two weeks after initiating cancer in the breasts of their mice, the researchers injected primary tumor sites with a hydrogel that contained naturally occurring RNAs to target the movement of cancer cells from primary to secondary sites.
“Two days after the treatment, the primary breast tumors were gone…
“’We realized we had stopped breast cancer metastasis in a mouse model, and that these results could be applicable to humans,’ [research team leader Noam] Shomron said. ‘There is a strong correlation between the effect on genes in mouse cells and the effect on those in human cells.’”
And this is a lovely reflection of Israel:
“During a raid on the house of a Hamas operative in the village of Jaba, near Jenin, in the early hours of Monday morning, security forces discovered a month-old fawn that was being held illegally and in conditions not suitable for wild animals.
“Border Police forces who conducted the raid transferred the fawn to the nature reserve section of the Civil Administration for treatment and rehabilitation.
“The Civil Administration said the fawn was being monitored by veterinarians at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem, while continued recovery will most likely be conducted at a petting zoo. Veterinarians think that due to the age of the animal and the amount of time it spent in captivity, there is little chance it could survive in the wild…”
Said Operations commander Yasser Assadi,
“Even in operations where we detain wanted suspects, it is impossible to ignore the sight of a suffering animal being held in captivity. This situation also involves saving life.” (Emphasis added)
Proclaim Freedom: Dror Yikra – a 10th century Yemenite Jewish song, rendered here by Yonatan Razel. Traditionally a Shabbat song.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
“We Have Legal Grounds” –