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“The Two-State solution” is the constantly repeated remedy for bringing peace to the Middle East. Solemnly declared over and over again by world leaders, public figures and journalists throughout the world, the Two-State solution calls on Israel to let the Palestinians have their own independent state, and thereby at long last, Israel will be accepted by the neighboring Arab peoples. It has been declared so many times that it has become a global mantra, a hallowed principle that brooks no deviation or obstruction – from Israel. But in its insistence, an enormous amount of history – past and current – is ignored, as are the declarations of intent made by Israel’s many mortal enemies. Also overlooked are the dangerous consequences to Israel’s security with each step it has taken in order to comply with the conditions for the Two-State idea.
The alternative to the two-state paradigm would appear to be a single state for all the people in the region of post-1922 Palestine. But demographically, this could lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Another idea is transfer of Arab populations to neighboring countries. However, forcibly imposed this would undoubtedly end any chance of peaceful co-existence with the Arab and Muslim world – probably for generations to come.
Is there another solution? Martin Sherman offers a bold answer in a series of articles, which have appeared in The Jerusalem Post. He says that all policy must contend with prevailing realities as they are and not as we wish them to be. He cautions: “As policy input, political correctness is a poor substitute for factual correctness. Similarly, good intentions are no guarantee of good policy. Indeed, often quite the reverse is true.”
Martin Sherman, who grew up in South Africa, has had an eventful academic, military and public career. Graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 1970 with a B.Sc. in Physics and Geology, he also has a degree in Business Administration, as well as a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations from Tel Aviv University. He has lectured at numerous universities and written papers for many prominent academic journals. He is the author of two books: Despots, Democrats and the Determinants of International Conflict; and The Politics of Water in The Middle East, (Macmillan). Dr. Sherman is currently the academic director of Jerusalem Summit.
His opinion pieces have appeared in most major newspapers in Israel (both in English and Hebrew). He has also been interviewed on radio and TV including CNN and BBC.
See website: http://www.martinsherman.org
We present here a slightly abridged version of an article about the Two-State solution and its alternatives, which appeared on January 6, 2012 in Sherman’s regular Jerusalem Post column “Into the Fray.”
To be or not to be – that is the
By MARTIN SHERMAN
“The maximum any Israeli government can offer is less than the minimum any Palestinian leader can accept. The real gap between both sides is much greater than perceived, and that gap is growing.”
Maj.-Gen.(reserve) Giora Eiland,
former head of the National Security Council, 2009
The Jewish people is rapidly approaching a crucial juncture. It will soon have to decide whether or not it is willing to maintain its nation-state; whether it is willing to forgo over a century of unparalleled sacrifice, effort and achievement to satisfy the cynical and hypocritical dictates of political correctness; whether it is prepared to surrender substance for form; to forsake real national freedoms for the artificial facade of feigned individual equality.
As the infeasibility of the two-state paradigm becomes increasingly apparent, even to the staunchest of its erstwhile supporters, the need to formulate a cogent alternative that will preserve the Jewish nation-state is becoming increasingly pressing.
It is not only the disillusioned among the Israeli Left who are expressing ever-more despair at the prospect of implementing the two-state solution. It is increasingly being dismissed as a realistic – or even desirable – aspiration by Palestinians, and not only radical Islamists who reject it because it entails recognizing a Jewish state. Thus for example, in his recent book, What is a Palestinian State Worth? even Sari Nusseibeh, a show-case “moderate,” expresses “heretical” doubts as to whether the struggle for statehood merits the effort.
This should be seen against the shift in the general Palestinian attitude toward the two-state principle, reflected in a strangely under-reported and grossly misreported poll conducted recently for The Israel Project by Stanley Greenberg together with Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.
According to the poll, there was a “huge drop in acceptance of a two-state solution.” 52% said they would not accept such a solution – up from 36% less than a year previously – while two-thirds rejected the principle that one of the states should be a Jewish homeland. A similar proportion said, “The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state;” and 84% said that “Over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state.”
Only the grossly undiscerning will fail to notice the tangible change in official Palestinian negotiating strategy in recent years. The pursuit of a two-state solution has become a leisurely distraction rather than a seriously sought after end-of-conflict arrangement. Far-reaching concessions – difficult for Israel to accept even as part of a final agreement – are being presented as conditions for merely resuming negotiations, delaying them for extended periods – hardly a rational tactic for a people eager to extricate themselves from onerous “occupation.”
Facing the inevitable
In view of accumulating evidence, it would be imprudent for Israel to continue deluding itself that Palestinians entertain any serious intentions as to the two-state solution – other than in the two-stage sense. Indeed, the accelerating erosion of support for the idea makes the formulation of operational alternatives a pressing imperative.
The alternatives that have been discussed most often fall into two categories. Those which entail: (a) conferring Israel citizenship on the Palestinians – i.e. various versions of the one-state approach; and (b) transferring civilian rule over the Palestinians to some non-Palestinian Authority Arab administration – such as Jordan or prominent local clan-leaders traditionally well-disposed to Israel, who would preside over scattered enclaves.
For a variety of reasons, neither of these offers a stable long-term formula. As a detailed critique of these alternatives is beyond the scope of this article, I will restrict myself to the following observations.
Regarding the first category, the inclusion of the Palestinian Arab population across the 1967 Green Line into Israel as fully fledged citizens would create an unbearable socio-economic burden on the country that would not only jeopardize its character as a Jewish state but as an advanced Western democracy as well – a problem many EU countries are beginning to experience, even with proportionately far smaller “discordant” populations.
It is a measure that would create difficulties far more complex and profound than could be dealt with – as some naively hope – by adopting a regional electoral system and gerrymandering the boundaries of the constituencies to minimize the impact of non-Jewish voters. Quite apart from the legal challenges – before an inherently amenable Supreme Court – as to the equity of such an arrangement, and possible mass relocation of voters to other constituencies, the cultural and economic disparities would tear society apart.
Regarding the second category, it is wishful thinking – especially in the wake of the Arab Spring – to hope that any “traditional” regime would consent to be seen as “pulling the Zionists’ chestnuts out of the fire.”
It is more than doubtful that any Arab ruler – whether a clan leader or the Jordanian monarch – would be willing, or indeed able, to function for any length of time as what would be perceived as a perfidious “prison warder.”
Moreover, in light of the instability in the region, it would irresponsible to adopt a long-term policy based on the assumption that the regime in Amman would not be replaced or at least dominated by elements inimical to any cooperation with Israel.
In both cases, the consequences of these alternatives are liable to be worse than those they are designed to avoid.
The humanitarian paradigm
These factors – the eroding relevance of the two-state paradigm, the ominous emergence of the one-state paradigm and the inadequacy of proffered alternatives – led to the proposal in my two preceding columns (in The Jerusalem Post) of the humanitarian paradigm, which addressed the fate of the Palestinian Arabs in a comprehensive, non-coercive manner. Operationally it comprised three constituent elements.
• Ending discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian refugees by abolishing or transforming UNRWA.
• Ending discrimination against Palestinians in the Arab world and the prohibition on their acquiring citizenship of countries in which they have been resident for decades.
• Providing generous relocation finance directly to individual Palestinian breadwinners to allow them to build better futures for themselves in third countries of their choice.
Unsurprisingly, numerous reservations were raised as to the feasibility of the proposal. These will now be addressed – at least in part.
The feasibility factor – I
The proponents of the Oslowian two-state principle are the last who can invoke feasibility as a precondition for the admissibility of an operational proposal –at least as an item on the agenda of public debate. After all, this is a formula that has been tried for almost two decades, and despite massive international endorsement and financial support, has wrought nothing but death, destruction and despair. Surely a proposal that has proved so disastrous should by any rational yardstick be branded unworkable and hence unfeasible. And if the demonstrable infeasibility, futility and failure of the two-state paradigm has not disqualified it as meriting serious consideration, why should a conceptually consistent, untried humanitarian paradigm not be accorded the same opportunity – at least as a legitimate topic for debate.
The feasibility factor – II
Inevitably, any radical departure from long-established conventional wisdom will be met with stiff resistance. However, the existing configuration of public opinion should not be considered immutable. Indeed, imagine how hopeless the notion of a Palestinian state was in the late 1960s in the wake of Israel’s sweeping Six Day War victory. Even in the late 1980s the idea was dismissed as unrealistic, unreasonable radicalism by all but a minuscule albeit determined minority on the far Left. However, it was a minority that managed to enlist the resolve, resources and resourcefulness to transform the marginal into mainstream in remarkably short order.
Given the paltry funding and the puny efforts that have characterized Israel’s public diplomacy in the past two decades, the current public perception can hardly be taken as persuasive gauge of what might be achieved with adequate financing and appropriate focus. Today the entire public diplomacy budget is reportedly of the order of magnitude of what a medium-to-large Israeli corporation spends on promoting fast-food or snacks.
The feasibility factor – III
According to the International Monetary Fund, Israel’s GDP is approaching a quarter trillion dollars. If it were to allot less than one half of 1% of GDP to public diplomacy, that would be over $1 billion – enough to swamp anything the George Soroses of the world devote to Israel’s delegitimization.
Given the nation’s achievements in many other fields of human endeavor, one can only surmise what impact a determined assault on the authenticity and legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative, financed by an annual $1b. budget over two decades – the length of the post-Oslowian era – might have on the acceptability of a humanitarian rehabilitation of Palestinian Arabs, cruelly misled by their leaders for decades.
Indeed, important elements of the humanitarian paradigm are already gaining international legitimacy. The anomalous and detrimental role of UNRWA – a pivotal element in the proposal – has been recognized by countries such as Canada and the Netherlands which have either curtailed their funding to the organization or are considering doing so. It is distinctly plausible that the US could be convinced – especially in these days of austerity – to terminate its funding for this wasteful and counter-productive body which perpetuates the Palestinians’ dependency and statelessness.
Likewise, the brutal discrimination against Palestinians in Arab states, allegedly to “help preserve their identity,” is also the subject of increasing international attention and censure. Pressure should be brought to bear on Arab regimes to end this unacceptable practice, even if it means temporarily channeling budgets formerly allotted to UNRWA to facilitate their integration as citizens of the countries of their longstanding residence.
These elements cannot be detached from the overall thrust of the humanitarian paradigm, which is to focus on ameliorating the situation of the individual Palestinian rather than promoting the nefarious goals of an invented national entity.
The estimated cost of implementation is strongly dependent on the level of compensation and the size of the Palestinian population in the “territories,” which is the subject of intense debate.
A few years ago, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted a survey on the level of compensation Palestinian refugees considered fair to forgo the “right of return.” If we take more than double the minimum amount specified by most pollees as fair compensation for relocation/rehabilitation, and if we adopt a high-end estimate of the Palestinian population, the total cost would be around $150b. for the West Bank Palestinians and $250b. if Gaza is included. This is a fraction of the US expenditure on its decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have produced results that are less than a resounding success.
Spread over a period equivalent to the current post-Oslo era, this sum would comprise a yearly outlay of no more than a few percentage points of current GDP – something Israel could well afford on its own.
If additional OECD countries were to contribute, the total relocation/rehabilitation of the Palestinian Arabs could be achieved with an almost imperceptible economic burden.
Based on talk on how to prevent a doomsday situation
A new stage in humanity’s
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
Can be ordered through Amazon
This is the third part my talk, whose full title is: “How to solve your problems … and save the world”? In the earlier installments we offered the key to avoiding and solving most of our own personal problems, through the understanding and practise of truthfulness as a way of life.
And similarly, it is truthfulness practised by more and more people everywhere that will save the world? Oh come on Ralph, the reader might say. Be serious for goodness sake. How is truthfulness going to solve pollution and poverty? How is truthfulness going to cope with the likes of Ahmadinijad and Zawahiri? Well just think about it. Throughout history it has usually been the opposite of truthfulness and honesty – it has been lies and deceit that bungling, inept leaders, scoundrels and tyrants have used to gain and keep power and to wreak havoc and bring boundless misery into the world.
Even in the more benign democracies of the world, political factors make truthfulness among all the aspirants to power, something very conditional, even a handicap. To a large extent, gaining power, even in these democracies, is a game, a contest in which, very often, the winner takes all. And the gullibility of the general public panders to these games. Consequently, governance – which is really management on a large scale – governance is mediocre at best, and sometimes quite pathetic. In totalitarian states, not only public gullibility enables a self-serving dictatorship, but dread and fear as well. But for the moment, I’m talking about Israel and other democracies.
In our earlier blogs on this subject, we had talked about wishful thinking and holding onto old ideas and concepts no matter how things change or what new information emerges? And automatically rejecting any ideas or even events and developments that might not tally with our own perceptions. It’s called cognitive dissonance. It’s really a form of lying to ourselves. And we mentioned how these very common tendencies can prevent clear and sensible thinking.
Well, with any issue that has a political bearing, cognitive dissonance readily prevails, and often, even normally level-headed, intelligent, honest people can have their ability to think objectively and comprehensively, noticeably diminished. Right wing or left wing, religious or liberal, conservative, centrist, socialist – it doesn’t matter. Bring up any issue with a political bearing and intellectual integrity and rational thinking are often seriously compromised. Not always, not with everyone, but all too often.
If we take a brief, candid look at Israel’s situation we find that Israel faces bigger, far more dangerous challenges, probably than ever before; quite probably no other country in the world faces such colossal threats and challenges. That’s why the people of Israel have to figure out how to make the right decisions regarding every aspect of their national well-being and security. The trouble is that just about every issue in Israel has a political bearing, arousing heated, divisive squabbling along party lines and coalition hanky-panky. And this makes wise, sensible, crucially-needed decision-making extremely difficult, if not impossible. On the other hand, if government decisions were based primarily on honest, objective imperatives, truthfully debated, and based only on what’s good for the country and its people, it would have a better chance of overcoming the many threats and challenges facing us. But for this to happen, integrity and truthfulness must become the dominant qualities among all sectors of Israeli society, because it’s from this society that Israel’s politicians emerge, bringing with them, for better or for worse, all the general mores. For the moment Israeli society has a long way to go before integrity and truthfulness become the dominant qualities among all its sections.
Also compounding the gravity of Israel’s situation is its standing with the rest of the world. It’s interesting that Israel has been condemned – not just criticized – but actually condemned, in the various United Nations agencies and forums far more often than any other country in the world, and that includes some truly repressive, murderous regimes such as Sudan, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Iran, Somalia, etc., etc. And Israel heads the condemned list by far. Also, the media all over the world, including in Western democracies, is quick to pounce on Israel every time it tries to defend itself against military attacks. And there are many Jews in these countries as well as in Israel itself, who see Israel as largely to blame for the conflict with the Arabs. And of course, a major criticism is Israel’s occupation of Judea and Samaria and settlement construction.
What is largely ignored or downplayed by the leaders and people of the world and the media, is the multitude of infractions inflicted upon the Jews of Israel by the neighboring peoples. Over ninety years of unrelenting enmity and enormous efforts, to physically destroy Israel, using military invasions and terror, backed by commercial and academic boycott as well as the cynical manipulation of the United Nations.
Also ignored or downplayed are the incredibly disproportionate statistics. The Arabs outnumber the Jews of Israel by over 50 to one. They are backed by another billion Muslims. They have most of the world’s oil reserves. They have the second largest land-mass in the world, larger than the USA, Canada or Australia. On the other hand Israel, one of the smallest countries in the world, has needed to defend itself in half-a-dozen full-scale wars – all of them with the express purpose of either immediately or incrementally, destroying Israel. One would think that this enormous disparity would arouse some appreciation among the nations of the world and the general media regarding Israel’s desperate struggle to survive.
But no, it is Israel that is castigated, condemned, boycotted – not just by its sworn enemies, but by governments, trade unions, church organizations, municipalities, even highly educated, cultured folks at universities in North America, Europe and Britain, with seldom a word of disapproval towards those seeking the destruction of Israel.
Might all this be a case of double standards and bias? Well, when one also considers that seldom throughout history, or quite probably never, has a country been called upon by the nations of the world to return territories that it conquered in wars of defense, as is the case with Israel, it’s hard not to see bias. And in order to try and make peace with the Arab world, Israel has repeatedly ceded lands it conquered in these wars of defense … and yet with every concession that Israel has made, certainly in the last two decades, the enmity of Israel’s adversaries has kept growing, and peace has become less likely than ever before.
So it seems very clear that bias and double standards have blocked common sense and common decency on the part of many people all over the world. Ordinary people and their leaders and the opinion-makers in the media. But why is this? It’s a big subject, and it can’t fit in the scope of this talk. But briefly, let’s say that the bias and double standards are largely due to the concern for regular oil supplies, international politics and commerce, vested interests in certain journalistic circles and intellectual liberalism that might have tripped over itself, and oh, something to do with feelings about those pesky Jews. But no matter what the reasons, bias and double standards pop up when facts are not faced honestly; when falsehood is propagated and honored. That in a nutshell is the big picture regarding the Israel-Arab conflict, which incidentally got started and is perpetuated, to a large extent through falsehood. And yes, also through an inordinate degree of ignorance.
This series of blogs has been about a most basic value – truthfulness. Something that is clearly not fully understood, appreciated or practised … possibly anywhere. In briefly bringing up the Israel-Arab conflict, I have tried to show the connection between falsehood and conflict. How falsehood can start conflict and perpetuate it and prevent its resolution.
And the terrible thing is that it is this same general inability to face facts honestly by so many people, regarding the Israel-Arab conflict, that is also preventing humanity as a whole from coping adequately with all the other serious, pressing existential threats and challenges to our planet that we had mentioned earlier.
A CALL FOR HONESTY
By RALPH DOBRIN
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click: www.amazon.com type: how to avoid Armageddon
I received an e-mail from Emma Ruby-Sachs of the organization Avaaz. An interesting name – Ruby-Sachs, indicating Jewish roots and sentiments towards the oppressed and downtrodden. But like so many nice Jewish people she’s clearly got a very filtered view of the world. In her letter she wrote:
The Palestinian bid for recognition is down to the wire – and if we join forces in the next 72 hours we could get the crucial EU leadership needed to push it through.
Right now three key countries — France, the UK and Germany – are still wavering under pressure from nay-sayers who are trying to crush this new opportunity for freedom. To flip them we’re planning a spectacular delivery of our 900,000 strong petition with a gigantic 300 sq m Palestinian flag right outside the EU Council meeting. We also need to run three urgent public opinion polls that clearly show these leaders that their people support recognition, and flood the media with full page ads.
We can grab the attention of these leaders, show them a massive public mandate to act and hammer home a message of hope for the Palestinian people. We may not get this chance again – if 10,000 of us make a small donation now, we can rush funds into the powerful public actions we need at this critical moment.
Recognition of Palestine could open up a new avenue for peace in the region, and give the Palestinian people the support they need for protection under international law. And this support could not come soon enough: a far-right government in Israel is expanding settlement building in the West Bank, and obstructing the possibilities for a viable two-state solution – a solution supported by the majority of citizens in Israel and Palestine.
More than a hundred and twenty countries have already pledged to support Palestinian statehood, but getting key EU countries on board now is crucial to give this bid the backbone and global legitimacy it needs. Public pressure pushed Spain to pledge its support for statehood. Public opinion polls that show that the majority of citizens want their leaders to support the bid and a stunning media-grabbing stunt at the heart of decision-making could shift the three decisive countries: UK, Germany and France.
It’s countdown time. Our actions in the next few days could flip leaders from a collision course to a decision that would usher in an era of freedom and rescue a path to a negotiated settlement. Just a small donation today will make a difference.
Over 900,000 of us have already lent our voice to this hopeful call for self-determination and peace. Catapulting that call to key EU leaders, news media and the UN meeting itself is the vital next step. Together, we can drown out the fear and intolerance with a global call for non-violence, diplomacy and recognition for Palestine.
Emma, Alice, Antonia, Ricken, Benjamin, Pascal, Diego and the whole Avaaz team
These are stirring words. But they indicate the need for all well-meaning people to ask a few questions. I posed them here to Ms. Ruby-Sachs.
I applaud your concern for the downtrodden. But do you really know what you’re talking about? Sorry for the abrupt question. But do you know that Palestine is divided geographically between Gaza (ruled exclusively and ruthlessly by the explosively and zenophobically militant Islamist Hamas movement), while Judea and Samaria is ruled by the Fatah movement in the guise of the PLO, and which will almost certainly lose to the Hamas, once Israel evacuates completely — assuming the Arabs of the area will be so unfortunate. (Israel had withdrawn most of its armed forces from most of Judea and Samaria following the Oslo Peace Accords, only to face thousands of terrorist attacks coming from the evacuated areas.)
A question of immense importance is: Do you know how Israel got to be in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza (the latter it has completely evacuated in the cause of peace, to which Hamas responded by launching thousands of rockets into all Israel’s southern cities across the border)?
And do you know who really prevented the establishment of an independent Arab state in Judea in 1948 — according to the United Nations Partition Resolution? It was Jordan which simply usurped the territory.
I am sure you must know that Palestine used to be a fairly large country and that 77% of it had been cut off in 1922 by the British Mandate authorities in order to create out of this part of Palestine a purely Arab state, Transjordan, which subsequently became the Kingdom of Jordan! You knew that of course?
These are just a tiny fraction of the relevant questions that should be asked before rushing off to push for the creation an independent state of Palestine, which can only bode very ill for the Arabs in the region and probably the rest of the world.
By the way, as a good person, concerned about helping the downtrodden, I reckon that you are also working for China’s return of Tibet for the Tibetians; Turkey’s return of Northern Cyprus to Cyprus; Russia’s return of Karelia to Finland – to mention just a few of the nefarious take-overs of other people’s territory. If not, why only Judea and Samaria? After all, the Arabs aim is to annihilate the Jewish state and its citizens. So many of the leaders and the ordinary people keep making this abundantly clear; the Arabs whose population is 50 times larger than the tiny Jewish state of Israel and who have the second largest land mass in the world, larger than the USA, Canada or China – an area 500 times larger than Israel. So, why the determination to join in the quest to annihilate the Jewish state by truncating it even further and preventing free military build-up across its borders? Actually, I’ll rephrase that question – why not pity the Arabs of the region? By that I mean that the Arabs living in Israel because they most certainly have more rights and better prospects for a good life than the Arabs in any other Arab land on earth. And the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza would have very similar rights — if only they would stop attacking Israel. Indeed, they could have had their independent state years ago. All they needed to do is stop attacking Israel and let it be. Incidentally, if they have restrictions on their freedom of speech and suffer from government corruption, it is from their own leaders.
I am pretty sure that you are an honorable person, so these questions should prompt some honest answers from you. If you don’t have educated, unbiased answers you are welcome to reply to my mail.
Respectfully and biased in favor of real peace,
Ralph Dobrin, Jerusalem
TALKING ABOUT DOOMSDAY
It is my intention to get myself invited to speak to audiences everywhere in Israel and anywhere else on the entire globe, on the critical subject of how to prevent the advent of a doomsday situation. Apart from my book “How to Avoid Armageddon,” published by Online Publishing earlier this year, and dozens of articles, I have begun giving talks in my hometown Jerusalem. As part of my promotional campaign I have prepared a promotional video for YouTube. The text is as follows:
Despite the fact that in many countries all over the world the average person enjoys a level of luxury, comfort and convenience undreamed of, even by kings not so long ago, humanity now finds itself in the midst of one of the most crucial moments in history, with threats and challenges to our well-being, to our very existence, that have never been so daunting.
We all have a pretty good idea regarding these threats and challenges – the serious environmental and demographic problems and a depraved form of religious fundamentalism that keeps growing more menacing all the time – to mention just a few of the issues. And when observing the growing hostility towards Israel by over half the nations in the world … together with the enormous amount of rocketry aimed at it from neighboring countries, even a cautious skeptic might be able to see a possible correlation with biblical prophesy that talks about Doomsday.
But I want to believe that we can avoid such a terrible thing happening, whether we see it in the light of biblical prophetic warnings, or as a logical consequence to unfolding events and developments, and still bring about a Messianic era – if that’s what you yearn for. Pragmatically, it would mean working for a more just world order, promoting decent education everywhere, providing enough food and water for everyone, fostering mutual respect and appreciation among all people, and doing whatever is necessary in order to protect the environment and contain pollution, and of course thwart the demonic ambitions of nasty tyrants and dangerous bigots.
And yes, there are serious efforts being made all the time to deal with these issues. And there are many wonderful people devoting their lives to making this a better, safer world. But there are many conflicting interests and complexities slowing down or even blocking these efforts. So, how are we going to overcome all these conflicting interests and complexities. We have to do so, otherwise we’re all going to be in very serious trouble.
Well, I can tell you that we’re not going to need anything terribly revolutionary or based on ingenious scholarship or the revelation of any esoteric texts. No! All that is needed … is plain, common decency. That’s all. Plain, common decency, but with the main emphasis on truthfulness. Does that sound naïve, unrealistic, silly?
Well think about it – throughout history it has usually been the opposite of truthfulness; it has been half-truths, lies and other forms of deception that bungling, inept leaders, scoundrels and tyrants have used in order to gain and keep power and to wreak havoc and bring boundless misery into the world. And this has always been made possible through the gullibility and indifference of people everywhere.
So, how do we prevent man-made calamity and war? How do we resolve the Israel-Arab conflict? And how … will we avoid a global doomsday situation? Armageddon! Well, if it is usually falsehood that enables the wrongdoing and evil to be done, then the logical answer is … truthfulness in the sense of being honest about what we’re saying. Actually, this is humanity’s most important and precious value. And indeed, it is truthfulness and the earnest practise of it among more and more people everywhere that will enable our survival as a species.
And that’s what my talk is all about.
I’ll be happy to speak anywhere and to any group on this crucially important subject. You can reach me through my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you.
There are a lot of very sensible voices coming out of Israel nowadays – perhaps more than ever before because of the growing gang-up against this beleaguered country by foes growing in number, military capacity and wrath. Even our friends seem to be mostly fair-weather friends. Israel’s struggle to survive has led to a concept known in Hebrew as “hasbara.” Translated directly, “hasbara” means “explanation.” But in the context of Israel’s stand, it means much more than that. It’s a requirement that is unique to Israel in order to combat the enormous amount of falsehood spread about this ancient nation by the neighboring peoples, leaders, politicians and public figures around the world, the media, as well as many Jews and Israelis whose criticism often slips into downright disloyalty and betrayal
All this has aroused a large number of very gifted writers, trying to set the record straight in various ways – through newspaper articles, television interviews, video clips on YouTube, and the use of other social media tools. Many of these people have been highly successful in other careers. Now they devote a lot of their time to “hasbara.”
In this blog we are featuring Sherwin Pomerantz, president of Atid EDI Ltd., a Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm, and a prolific writer and lecturer. He has been sending out a daily blog which presents a countdown towards the upcoming United Nations General Assembly debate on Palestinian statehood. His blog appearing here is “22 days to go” in which he says, “I Agree – Glenn Beck Gets It!” You can read all his other blogs at: http://israelstreet.blogspot.com/
22 Days to Go –
I Agree – Glenn Beck Gets It!
By SHERWIN POMERANTZ
On September 13th at 3 pm Eastern Daylight Time in New York the 66th Regular Session of the UN General Assembly will convene … just 22 days from today. Will the leaders assembled there understand what the real issues are that face humanity at this critical time in world history? I’m not sure.
Glenn Beck, the Mormon commentator who has now allied himself with the Christian Evangelical Movement is in Israel this week for three events associated with his “Restoring Courage” project aimed at making the world aware of the perils that face humanity if support for Israel fails. Should we feel good about that or is he just another charlatan pouncing on a hot topic to grab headlines? As for me, I’m happy he is here and grateful for his support.
You can say what you will about his motives, his carelessness with certain words and his sometimes lack of critical research but, in the words of Barry Rubin, Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Beck “gets it.”
In an op-ed in today’s Jerusalem Post Rubin says that Beck’s common sense, courage, knowing the difference between right and wrong, a willingness to learn and a readiness to admit when one has been wrong has allowed Beck to understand the real truths present in this region and what must be done to address the dangers we must engage. And what does Beck get right? 10 specific points:
1. The main threat in the Middle East is revolutionary Islamism, and the United States must combat it.
2. The problem is not Islam as a religion but revolutionary Islamism as a political ideology that draws on normative Islam to product its own plausible interpretation.
3. The revolutionary Islamist side is winning.
4. The “Arab Spring” contains many dangers.
5. Israel just happens to be largely right and deserves support.
6. One man’s terrorist…is still a terrorist.
7. The Obama administration has messed up the Middle East to a phenomenal extent.
8. One should be fearless in facing intimidation and politically motivated ridicule.
9. We must re-evaluate friends and enemies in this new era of revolutionary Islamism and post-Marxist leftism.
10. Whatever mistakes the United States has made, it is a good country and the hope of the world.
Rubin concludes with the words:
Any criticism one can make of Beck pales in comparison to all of the above points, on which he is quite correct. But then, as Jews, and Israelis most of all, should know, to be falsely reviled in not proof of being wrong or evil.
So, in spite of earlier criticism of Beck by respected members of the American Jewish Community such as ADL National Director Abraham Foxman and this morning’s diatribe against Beck in the Jerusalem Post by Likud right-winger Moshe Feiglin, because Beck “gets it” and he is prepared to put his money where his mouth is, I, for one, welcome his support.
Zev Chafets, who was former Prime Minister Menahem Begin’s Press Secretary writes in today’s Washington Post that in those days Israel was seeing the very beginning of Christian Evangelical support and did not really know how to deal with it. But Chafets recalls that:
“Begin asked his staff how many of these evangelicals there were in the United States. The answer was upward of 20 million. And that settled that. American Jewish leaders, virtually all of whom were (and are) liberal Democrats, were (and remain) scandalized. They argued that evangelical Christians believe that Jews don’t go to heaven and that they will die in some end-of-the-world scenario. Begin – and every subsequent Israeli prime minister of both the left and the right – preferred to let God sort out eternity. Here on Earth, actions speak louder than words.”
I agree with that and in this world, where Israel struggles every day to find supporters I am happy to take the support of the now 50 million Evangelical Christians and even the likes of Glen Beck, who proudly proclaim that they not only love Israel they love the Jewish people. As Pastor John Hagee often says, someday he and his Jewish friends will be walking the streets of the old city of Jerusalem and the Messiah will be coming the other way. At that point in time one of them will need to change their theology. Until then we need to be grateful for their support and bless them for it.
NOT ON THE SAME PAGE
This article by Morton Klein, president of ZOA, was syndicated by the JTA and offers a sober look at the US president and his attitude to Israel.
August 16, 2011
It’s high time to face an unpleasant fact: President Obama and Israel are not on the same page.
This has been true ever since Obama took office in January 2009, but it was most recently apparent this May when the president ambushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with an adversarial speech the day before Netanyahu’s U.S. visit by advocating that Israel return to the pre-1967 armistice lines (with mutually agreed swaps).
Obama’s speech meant that Israel cannot keep the Jewish neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall or the major settlement blocs without Palestinian Authority approval. No previous U.S. president ever took this position.
Neither has any previous president ever suggested, as Obama has, that the issues of “territory and security” should be agreed upon first, and only then should the issues of Arab refugees and Jerusalem’s status be decided. Thus in Obama’s view, Israel should establish a Palestinian state and give away virtually all the disputed territory, thereby eliminating its negotiating leverage, before negotiating over Jerusalem and refugees from a weakened position.
An anonymous Israeli official interviewed in early August by Reuters denied recent reports that Netanyahu now accepts the pre-1967 lines as a basis for negotiations, and two senior Israeli officials recently told me the same.
It’s also shocking that Obama made these demands of Israel only two weeks after Fatah, the faction that leads the Palestinian Authority, signed a unity agreement with Hamas, the terrorist organization that calls in its charter for the murder of Jews.
Netanyahu has been clear: He won’t negotiate with a Hamas-linked Palestinian Authority. Yet Obama has refused to make diplomatic or financial support for the Palestinian Authority conditional on its abrogating its unity agreement with Hamas.
Obama’s first major Middle East speech in Cairo in June 2009, made clear his tenuous commitment to Israel. He ignored the legal, historical and religious basis of the Jewish claim to Israel, instead writing it off as a reward for enduring the Holocaust.
Obama also claimed that the Palestinians have been suffering in trying to establish their state for 60 years, but he ignored the fact that they turned down offers of statehood in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008. He spoke about the Arabs being “displaced” by Israel’s founding, ignoring the fact that if there had been no Arab war against Israel, there would have been no refugees.
Most egregiously, the president strongly implied that Palestinian suffering was equivalent to Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. And by framing his call for Palestinians to practice only nonviolent resistance by pointing to the experience of U.S. blacks during slavery and black Africans during South African apartheid, Obama effectively lumped in Israeli Jews with history’s oppressors.
In a January 2010 TV interview, Obama’s Middle East envoy George Mitchell — who has since left his post — told PBS’s Charlie Rose that “full implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative is the objective set forth by the president.” The so-called Arab Peace Initiative demands that Israel retreat to the pre-1967 lines, set up a Palestinian state and accept the right of millions of Arab refugees to move into Israel. That would end Israel as a Jewish state.
And let’s not forget Obama’s September 2009 UN speech, in which he spoke of the need to couple “unwavering commitment to Israel” with calls for Israel to “respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians.” Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton called this “the most radical anti-Israel speech I can recall any president making.”
Even former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who campaigned for Obama, recently wrote in the Huffington Post, “I weep as I witness outrageous verbal attacks on Israel” that “are being orchestrated by President Obama.” Koch suggested that Obama is “throwing Israel under the bus.”
Perhaps Israel’s deepest concern is the existential threat posed by the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. Obama needlessly delayed congressional sanctions against Iran for a year while he tried to get multilateral, U.N.-backed sanctions enacted first. Now that sanctions have become U.S. law, Obama has not implemented them in a serious way.
Obama also sent Vice President Joe Biden to Israel to warn Netanyahu not to launch any military strikes against Iran without U.S. approval.
One of my most revealing experiences was a meeting I attended, along with 40 other Jewish leaders, with President Obama at the White House in March. The president told us, according to my notes: “You must speak to your Israeli friends and relatives and search your souls to determine how badly do you really want peace. Israelis think this peace business is overrated; their life is good, their economy is good, and things are quiet.”
Several times he emphasized that “the PA is sincere in wanting a peaceful settlement” and that “Israel has not sufficiently tried to make an acceptable offer.” He asked, “Is the Netanyahu government serious about territorial concessions?”
Things may get better or worse — more likely the latter — but one thing is clear: Obama and Israel are not of one mind, or anywhere close to being so.
What if Jews had followed
the Palestinian Path?
By Ralph Dobrin
Author of “How to Avoid Armageddon”
To order the book click: www.amazon.com type: how to avoid Armageddon
The Wall Street Journal ran a fascinating article by Warren Kozak on June 20th 2011. He posits a comparison between Jewish attitudes and the generations’-long Arab perpetuation of their largely self-inflicted refugee tragedy (self-inflicted because they had initiated the war in 1947-49 with the purpose of destroying the Jewish entity in Palestine).
Kozak, who is the author of “LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay” (Regnery, 2009), writes that there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors living in refugee camps throughout Europe after the Second World War in 1945. Jewish and international relief organizations worked to rehabilitate them. Many made their way to Palestine where they built up their lives and contributed greatly to their new country. They were supported by Jews all over the world. Kozak points out that had the Jewish people acted in the same petulant, blame-everyone-else way that the Arabs of the world have, everything would look very different today.
He writes: “To begin with, the Jews would all still be living in these DP (displaced persons) camps, only now the camps would have become squalid ghettos throughout Europe. The refugees would continue to be fed and clothed by a committee similar to UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (paid for mostly by the United States since 1948). Blessed with one of the world’s highest birth rates, they would now number in the many millions. And 66 years later, new generations, fed on a mixture of hate and lies against the Europeans, would now seethe with anger.
Sometime in the early 1960s, the Jewish leadership of these refugee camps, having been trained in Moscow to wreak havoc on the West (as Yasser Arafat was) would have started to employ terrorism to shake down governments. Airplane hijackings in the 1970s would have been followed by passenger killings. There would have been attacks on high- profile targets as well – say, the German or Polish Olympic teams.
By the 1990s, the real mayhem would have begun. Raised on victimhood and used as cannon fodder by corrupt leaders, a generation of younger Jews would be blowing up buses and restaurants. Moreover, the billions of dollars extorted from various governments would not have gone to the inhabitants of the refugee camps. Most of the money would be in the Swiss bank accounts of the refugees’ famous and flamboyant leaders and their lackies.
So now it’s 2011, generations after the end of World War II, and there seems to be no end to the terrible, festering Jewish refugee problem throughout Europe. One awful aspect of this story would be the wasted lives of millions of human beings in the camps – entailing inventions not invented, illnesses not cured, high-tech startups not started up, symphonies and books not written – a real cultural and spiritual desert.
But … of course, none of this happened.
Instead, the Jewish refugees returned to their ancestral homeland. They left everything they had in Europe and turned their backs on the Continent – no “right of return” to their former homes requested from anyone. They simply returned to their ancient homeland and were welcomed by the 650,000 Jewish residents of Israel.
An additional 700,000 Jewish refugees flooded into the new state from Arab lands after they were summarily evicted. Again losing everything after generations in one place; again welcomed in their new home.
In Israel, they did it all the hard way. They built a new country from scratch with roads, housing and schools. They created agricultural collectives to feed their people. They created a successful economy – without any oil resources like the Arabs – and they built one of the world’s most vibrant democracies in a region sadly devoid of free thought.
Yes, the Israelis did all this with the financial assistance of Jews around the world and others who helped get them on their feet so they could take care of themselves. [It was simply the decent thing to do]. The erstwhile Jewish refugees weren’t ignored, or demeaned, or used as pawns for venal, cynical political schemes – as the Arab nations have so uniquely and shamefully done with their Palestinian brethren.
I imagine the argument will be made that while the Jews may have achieved all this, they did not have their land stolen from them. This is, of course, a canard, another blatant lie, as there had never been an independent Palestine ruled and run by Palestinian Arabs. Ever! Jews and Arabs lived in this area controlled first by the Turks and then by the British. The U.N. offered the two-state solution that we hear so much about in 1947. The problem then, and now, is that it was accepted by only one party, Israel. No doubt, the situation of Arab residents of the Middle East back then may have been difficult, but it is incomprehensible that their lot was worse than that of the Jews at the end of World War II.
We don’t hear about any of this because giving human beings hope and purpose doesn’t make great newspaper copy. Squalor, victimhood and terror are always look more fascinating in all forms of media. Perhaps in the end, the greatest Jews’ crime was that they quietly created something from nothing. And in the process, they transformed themselves.”
There’s a vital lesson here for the nations of the world and the Arabs everywhere. Especially the Arabs!