Monday, December 27, 2010

U.S. Fecklessness Drives Jordan Into Iran's Embrace

Caroline Glick, in a column in the Jerusalem Post entitled "Slouching Towards Tehran," notes that Jordan's King Abdullah II was one of the first world leaders to sound an alarm regarding Iran, warning in 2004 of a "Shi'ite crescent," extending from Iran to Iraq and then through Syria to Lebanon. As recently as 2009, according to State Department communication disclosed by Wikileaks, U.S. Ambassador to Jordan R. Stephen Beecroft reported that a Jordanian Senator, Said Rifai, had beseeched, “Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won’t matter.”

However, two weeks ago, Ms. Glick notes, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, the chief of staff of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met with King Abdullah Amman and extended a formal invitation from Ahmadinejad for him to pay a state visit to Iran. His Hashemite Majesty accepted the invitation.

What happened to erode King Abdullah's former defiance of the Tehran mullahs? The Obama Administration. The Jordanian monarch watched President Obama's feckless efforts to engage the Islamic Republic in Iran in dialogue and diplomacy. According to the Beecroft cable from Wikileaks, King Abdullah had previously warned Washington that if the Arab world perceived that the U.S. was appeasing Iran at their expense, "that engagement will set off a stampede of Arab states looking to get ahead of the curve and reach their own separate peace with Teheran."

Ms. Glick writes that Jordan watched as Ahmadinejad stole the Iranian election, and the U.S. did nothing. Iran prevented the pro-U.S. faction that won the Iraqi elections from taking office, and forced the reinstallation of the defeated pro-Iran Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the U.S. did nothing. Iran conducted repeated war games along the Straits of Hormuz, progressed in its nuclear program, deepened its military alliances with Turkey and Venezuela and escalated its proxy war against the US and its allies in Afghanistan. The Obama Administration said little and did nothing.

And so, Ms. Glick observes, Jordanian King Abdullah II has adopted the strategy successfully employed by his father: "The late King Hussein survived by watchng the prevailing winds closely and always siding with the side he believed was strongest at any given time." Jordan, a weak nation, is moving quickly to make its separate peace with Ahmadinejad.

The biggest immediate loser of this American foreign policy failure, of course, will not be the United States, but rather Israel, which now watches as yet another of its neighbors cozies up to the Islamic Republic of Iran, an implacable enemy set on the destruction of the Jewish State.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Columbia University Establishes a Center for Palestine Studies

At the New Rebublic online, writers Armin Rosen and Jordan Hirsch, both recent Columbia graduates, endorse "Palestine Studies" as an appropriate academic discipline, but express concern that the new Center for Palestine Studies (CPS) at Columbia University already shows signs of a center of anti-Israel political activism.

Here is a prime example: One of Israel's hallmark achievements as a secular, democratic society is its tolerance of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered (LGBT)persons--unique in the Middle East. It is common for gay Palestinian Arabs to flee Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Yehuda and Shomron ("the West Bank"), where they live in great physical danger, for the tolerant atmosphere of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. So how does legal scholar Katherine Franke describe her own reasons for association with the Center for Palestine Studies? She told Messrs. Rosen and Hirsch that she focuses on “gender and sexuality and how the rights of LGBT people in Israel are being used to punish Israel’s Arab neighbors.” So instead of studying how LGBT people fare in Palestine, which presumably would be the topic most directly related to "Palestine Studies," she instead will emphasize in her work how the positive treatment of LGBT people in Israel is actually just one more weapon wielded by the nefarious Zionists in pursuit of their unceasing persecution of their Arab neighbors.

Rosen and Hirsch also present the example of Mahmood Mamdani, the former head of Columbia's Institute of African Studies, who is now associated with the CPS. Professor Mamdani "justifies his involvement by pointing to a conference he helped to organize titled 'Post-Apartheid Reflections on Israel and Palestine,' which taught him 'how a thematic focus [on Palestine] could bring African scholars … into the mainstream of intellectual discussions.'" This reflects his prior anti-Israel political activism--"in a 2002 speech at a pro-divestment teach-in, Mamdani argued that Israel was an apartheid state and a settler-colonial enterprise comparable to Liberia." So in the case of Mr. Mamdani, as for Ms. Franke, the focus of "Palestine Studies" is not the academic inquiry into Palestine, but scholarship aimed at attacking and ultimately delegitimizing Israel.

Where I depart from the outlook of Messrs. Rosen and Hirsch is their surprise that a Center for Palestine Studies would be devoted primarily to anti-Israel studies and activism. It was inevitable--indeed a Center for Palestine Studies could not be anything other than a center to lay the scholastic groundwork for the delegitimization of Israel. That is because the entire concept of a Palestinian nation arose solely as a means to combat Zionism and the creation of Israel. The Palestinians are not merely anti-Israel, they are the anti-Israel. Of course there was never an independent nation of Palestine. Indeed I challenge the readers to find any reference to "Palestinians" prior to 1948 that refers to the Arab inhabitants of Palestine. The only people who called themselves "Palestinians" during the British Mandate over Palestine, from 1920 through 1948, were the Jewish residents of Palestine.

One need not take my word regarding the nature of Palestinian peoplehood. Read "the Palestinian National Covenant," the constitutional document of the so-called Palestinian people. It largely defines the Palestian nationality by its opposition to Zionism and its objective of eliminating Israel, and by the negation of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish historical ties to the land of Israel. It was not enough to assert, in Article 7, "That there is a Palestinian community and that it has material, spiritual, and historical connection with Palestine are indisputable facts." The Covenant felt compelled to add, in Article 20, "Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood." For the concept of an Arab Palestinian people to flourish, the idea of the Jewish people residing in its historical homeland must be negated.

Indeed, the Covenant even hints that the notion of Palestinian Arab nationality is just a way station toward the higher goal of a united Arab nation, in which, once the Zionist enterprise is uprooted, the concept of a separate Arab Palestinian people would wither away. Thus, Article 12 states, in its entirety:

"The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity. In order to contribute their share toward the attainment of that objective, however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity, and oppose any plan that may dissolve or impair it."
(Emphasis added.)

In other words, let's first get rid of the Zionists, then we can revisit whether we have any further use for this "Palestinian identity" baggage.

So, Messrs. Rosen and Hirsch, let us not fool ourselves--a Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University is, and could not be anything but, an academic center for anti-Israel studies and political activism.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Arab Foreign Ministers Demand U.S. Endorsement of Israeli Pullback to 1967 Borders Before Peace Talks Resume

Those who are so quick to blame Israel for the breakdown in Middle East peace negotiations had better come up with an explanation for this news story. Meeting in Cairo today, Arab foreign ministers spoke out against any further peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, whether in direct or indirect negotiations, until the United States endorses a pullback by Israel to its borders prior to the June 1967 "Six Day War." The chutzpah of this demand is breath-taking: the Arab nations are demanding that the U.S. endorse the surrender of all of Israel's negotiating leverage before peace talks may even resume.

A little history may be useful to the reader in understanding the audacity of the Arab demand. The pre-June 1967 borders of Israel were not internationally recognized borders, but rather the 1949 ceasefire lines left after Israel successfully beat back an invasion by Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in its War of Independence. Because U.N. negotiator Ralph Bunche, an American diplomat who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the ceasefire negotiations and implementation, drew the ceasefire lines on the "official" U.N. map in green ink, the ceasefire lines became known as the "Green Line." They were never recognized as Israel's national borders by any of the Arab nations who had invaded the newborn Jewish State, seeking to strangle it at birth. To the contrary, those nations never recognized the legitimate existence of Israel as a nation at all, and except for Egypt and Jordan they still do not recognize her existence, and have been in a continuous declared state of war with Israel since 1948.

Yet now the very nations that invaded Israel in 1948 and sought to destroy her again in 1967 have the temerity and insolence to demand that the United States endorse the Green Line as Israel's borders before peace talks may resume.

Here are two more pieces of historical information that reveal the pernicious nature of the declaration by the Arab foreign ministers:

1. From the 1949 ceasefire until June 5, 1967, all of what is now known as the West Bank (Yehuda and Shomron) and the Gaza Strip were occupied, not by Israel, but by Kingdom of Transjordan (which annexed the West Bank and changed its name to Jordan) and by Egypt (whose armies controlled Gaza). At any time during those 18 years, nothing would have prevented the Arab League from endorsing the creation of a Palestinian state in those territories or Egypt and Jordan from midwifing its birth. They did not do so and had no desire to do so. The demands for a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza did not arise until after the Six-Day War, when contrary to the expectations of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, which had united to once again try to destroy Israel, Israel decisively defeated their armies and conquered Yehuda, Shomron, Gaza, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. (Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1982 after those two nations signed a peace treaty.)

2. In the 1949-1949 War, Arab armies captured the three most important Jewish holy sites, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. During the next 18 years, no Jew (not merely no Israeli, but no Jew) was allowed to visit and pray at those sites. (If you don't believe this, you are probably unaware that no Jew may enter Saudi Arabia today.) Jewish towns and villages such as the Etzion group in Yehuda, the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem and Kfar Drom in Gaza were also captured, and their Jewish inhabitants either killed or taken prisoner. In the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, the Jordanian Arab Legion and Palestinian Arabs looted and destroyed over 50 synagogues and houses of study, including the famous and beautiful Hurva Synagogue. No Jew was allowed to live in those areas, or anywhere in Yehuda, Shomron or Gaza, for the next 18 years. (That situation still prevails in Gaza, under Hamas, and in those areas of Yehuda and Shomron controlled by the "moderate" Palestinian authority.) The Arab Legion commander who led the conquest of the Jewish Quarter bragged to his superiors, "For the first time in 1,000 years not a single Jew remains in the Jewish Quarter. Not a single building remains intact. This makes the Jews' return here impossible."

It was impossible until June 1967. Jews only regained access to their holy places and were able to rebuild their destroyed homes, synagogues and houses of study in the Old City of Jerusalem, Yehuda, Shomron and Gaza as a result of the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War.

In contrast, from the 1949 ceasefire until today, Israel has tolerated and provided full civil rights to all of its citizens, Jew and Arab, Moslem and Christian, including the unfettered right to practice their religions. The government of Israel not only protects Moslem and Christian holy places under its control, it financially supports them.

Yet these arrogant sons of Ishmael (of whom an angel of the Lord aptly says in the Bible, Genesis 16:12 "He will be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man and every man's hand shall be against him")now have the utter nerve to demand that the U.S. endorse and pressure Israel to surrender back what she lost in 1948-49 and regained in 1967. In order to even talk about peace with the Palestinians, the Arab foreign ministers say that the U.S. must urge Israel and the Jewish people to give up any claim to the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Hurva and the rebuilt and new synagogues and houses of study; Israel must depart from Tomb of the Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb and the towns, villages and farms that the Arab armies callously destroyed in 1949, to say nothing of the Jerusalem neighborhoods cities, towns, villages and farms that Israel has built "over the Green Line," in Yehuda and Shomron since June 1967.

All this, so that the Palestinian Arabs will be able to make their new terrorist state Yudenrein (free of Jews), as Saudi Arabia, Gaza and the PA-controlled portions of Yehuda and Shomron are today. And Israel's critics acuse her of ethnic cleansing? What a joke!

This public challenge to U.S. foreign policy by the Arab ministers must be met with a public response by the United States. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton must issue a statement endorsing the immediate resumption of direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, without any preconditions.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Obama Administration Diplomatic Triumph--Iran Turns from Nuclear Weapons to Baking Yellowcake!

The Hedgehog Blog belatedly congratulates the Obama Administration on a diplomatic triumph that became public a few weeks ago. The Obama policy of engagement with the Iranian Islamist regime has apparently borne fruit, or perhaps flour. Last week the Iranian Islamic Republic announced that its nuclear program had delivered its first batch of yellowcake to the Ishfahan Uranium Conversion Facility. Obviously, the sanctions and diplomatic pressure generated by President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have succeeded in turning the Iranian regime away from nuclear weapon development and toward the peaceful pursuit of baking yellowcake.

I have no ideal what the photo below depicts, but let's pretend it displays the initial results of the Iranian yellowcake baking enterprise:

Democratic Congress Vindicates George W. Bush on GITMO

If it were not for the Wall Street Journal, the story might have passed unnoticed--the Mainstream Media certainly wasn't going to call attention to it. Last week, in one of its last acts, the Democratic-controlled Congress overwhelmingly voted to de-fund any effort to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay--the notorious "GITMO"-- and to ban any effort to move prisoners from there to the United States mainland.

Thus came the final vindication of the policy of the George W. Bush administration in establishing and maintaining GITMO, and the repudiation of President Obama's campaign promise and subsequent efforts to close the facility.

Of course, closing GITMO never made rational sense. Even if abuses of prisoners had occurred there--a very debatable proposition--the logical solution was never to close the prison, but rather to change its operational practices. GITMO opponents argued that the international reputation of the prison required its closure as a symbolic act of contrition on the part of the United States, part and parcel of the Obama policy of conducting foreign policy by apology. Apparently Congress was not persuaded that the diplomatic gains from such a public catharsis of liberal guilt justified closing a facility constructed at a cost of a half-billion dollars, and spending the amounts necessary to build equally secure prisons for captured terrorists on the U.S. mainland.

Beyond that however, the factual record has amply demonstrated that W. had it right the first time. As detailed by John Yoo and Robert Delahunty in their Wall Street Journal column, the intelligence community reported to Congress that over one-quarter of the prisoners released by Presidents Bush and Obama from GITMO in the past 8 years have returned to battle against the United States and the West. Over half of those 150 freed terrorists have since been killed or recaptured, but many of the released prisoners remaining at large have assumed leadership roles in Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamist terrorist groups. Moreover, even an Obama administration task force found that of the 240 detainees at Guantanamo when President Obama took office, nearly all were leaders, fighters or organizers for jihadist groups, not the innocent drivers and shepherds caught up in the net of the U.S. and its allies, as left-wing advocates of the closure of GITMO would have one believe.

Perhaps someone from the Democratic leadership of the present Congress will give George W. Bush a call and apologize for the calumny directed at him regarding GITMO. Yeah, sure.