In addition to my essay, as to commentary and clarifying comments in brackets [ ] only: © Mark Rosenblit
Published in Readers' Section of Jerusalem Post Internet Edition on Thursday, January 20, 2000
Relying Upon The Protection Of The Nations
Our Sages once said that, in the Future, the Jewish people would gaze upon the face of Evil and proclaim it, instead, to be that of Good. This moral confusion is exemplified by Michael Bar-Zohar's article extolling the conduct of Bulgaria during the Holocaust in saving 50,000 native Jews from the Nazis after having deported "... with the utmost cruelty ..." 12,000 foreign Jews from Macedonia and Thrace then under its jurisdiction to the death camps, based upon a moral conviction which "... viewed these [foreign] Jews as belonging to the Germans ...". Praising, as a savior, the ravenous beast which has deigned to devour only some of its hapless victim's limbs is a societal form of the Stockholm Syndrome. Furthermore, what is the moral justification for limiting such praise to the leadership of Bulgaria? After all, during the Holocaust, Hitler himself, y'mach sh'mo (cursed be his name), saved the lives of at least two Jews -- one his family doctor and the other his former business partner. Isn't there some basis then to praise Hitler for this small kindness? Obviously, just as Hitler is not any less the Architect of the Holocaust, so is Bulgaria not any less a willing Accomplice thereto. In fact, as Bar-Zohar's article clearly shows, just as Bulgaria was well able to protect its native Jews without any Nazi retribution, it surely would have been able to do the same for its foreign Jews had it but exerted the slightest effort toward that end.
The historical lesson to be re-learned yet again is that we dare not consign our fate to the whims of any gentile nation, be it Bulgaria or the United States. This lesson was first taught to our ancestors who, after entering Egypt as welcome guests of Pharaoh, gradually found themselves forced into abject slavery. It was later reinforced in Persia when King Ahasuerus first invited his Jewish subjects to a great feast, then (at the instigation of his advisor Haman) impulsively ordered their mass murder, and finally, in a stunning reversal (orchestrated by his wife Esther), once again became the friend and benefactor of his Jewish subjects. Finally, it was more than evident during the past two millennia of our Exile, most especially during the Holocaust.
Now, as the Third Commonwealth of Israel contemplates placing its security -- and, consequently, the very future of the Jewish people -- into the outstretched hands of the nations, our leadership ignores this historical lesson at its -- and our -- peril.
© Mark Rosenblit
[Note: Examples of the Folly in relying upon the international community to protect the Jewish people are discussed and analyzed in the following articles. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Civil Fights: The three monkeys do Lebanon
(Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2008) As my colleague Caroline Glick aptly noted two weeks ago, Russia's invasion of Georgia was an object lesson in the folly of relying on others to protect you. But lest anyone remain unconvinced, Claudio Graziano has kindly offered further proof.
Graziano, an Italian general, commands the expanded UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon] force stationed in Lebanon under Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War. On August 14, he gave a press conference on the resolution's implementation. His conclusions were simple: Israel, he said, is in "permanent violation," whereas Hizbullah is "one of [the] parties that agrees with 1701," and has cooperated fully.
The next day, outraged Israeli officials met with Graziano to point out the Hizbullah violations he had somehow overlooked. Graziano countered that Israel has provided no intelligence to support its allegations. That is conceivable, since his coziness with Hizbullah undoubtedly deters Israel from sharing sensitive intelligence with him. But since Hizbullah's most egregious violations have been conducted in full view and reported in major media outlets worldwide, classified intelligence is unnecessary. It is enough not to be blind and deaf.
FOR INSTANCE, 1701 repeatedly cites an earlier resolution, 1559, which demands that all Lebanese militias disarm. Indeed, it begins by "recalling previous resolutions... in particular 425 (1978), 426 (1978), 520 (1982), 1559 (2004)...," which is UN-speak for "we still want those resolutions implemented."
Next, operative paragraph three "emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004)... so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the government of Lebanon."
Operative paragraph eight calls for a "long-term solution" based on "full implementation... of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that... there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state."
Finally, operative paragraph 10 asks the secretary-general to develop "proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament..."
from disarming and accepting the elected government's authority, Hizbullah not only rearmed, but used its arms to stage a
coup against the government in May. The coup involved days of battles against
other Lebanese forces, which were extensively reported worldwide, even if Graziano somehow failed to notice them on the ground. But
about 10 days after the fighting ended, he and his spokesman, Milos Strugar, gave a joint interview in which Graziano declared Hizbullah in
full compliance with 1701, while Strugar termed it a
mere "social organization... that runs charitable associations."
The coup produced a unity government in which Hizbullah has veto power. And a week before Graziano's August 14 press conference, this government approved the following guidelines: "Lebanon, its army, its people and its resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] have the right to act to liberate lands that remain occupied at Shaba Farms... with all legitimate means possible." Then, lest anyone think the qualifier "legitimate" precludes violence, President Michel Suleiman announced that "all means," including military, are "legitimate to this end." In short, the government formally authorized Hizbullah to attack Israel whenever it pleases - which flatly contradicts 1701's demand for "no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state" (not to mention the UN's 2000 ruling that Shaba is not Lebanese). But Graziano, like the three monkeys, sees and hears no evil.
Finally, 1701 prohibits "sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government" (paragraph eight, and again in more detail in paragraphs 14 and 15). Just this Monday, the UN's own inspectors reported that smuggling is rife despite this provision. Yet Graziano denies its existence. Does he imagine the government authorized Hizbullah to acquire the arms used in its May coup?
THUS HIZBULLAH has grossly violated numerous key provisions of 1701, while Graziano turned a blind eye. Yet he persistently denounces three Israeli violations: its overflights of Lebanon, its continued presence in Ghajar and its failure to provide maps of unexploded cluster bombs in Lebanon.
The latter is never actually mentioned in 1701; the closest thing is paragraph eight's prescription for a long-term solution, which includes Israel handing over "all remaining maps of land mines" it possesses. This same paragraph explicitly requires Hizbullah's disarmament and an end to arms smuggling, yet Graziano deems Hizbullah in compliance. Nevertheless, since unexploded cluster bombs primarily harm civilians, Israel should provide additional maps if it has any.
The overflights and Ghajar, in contrast, undoubtedly violate the resolution's demands for "full respect" for the international border and a full Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. Yet both are defensive moves necessitated mainly by Graziano's whitewash of Hizbullah.
The overflights are aimed solely at gathering intelligence on the Hizbullah arms buildup whose existence Graziano denies, and would thus be unnecessary had his force either prevented it or collected and shared accurate intelligence on it. As for Ghajar, the international border runs right through this village. Thus the only way to defend southern Ghajar, meaning Israel, is either to sever the halves completely (which residents oppose) or to have a trustworthy force in northern Ghajar. And a force whose commander so blatantly ignores Hizbullah's hostile activities hardly qualifies.
By falsely declaring Hizbullah in compliance, Graziano has shielded it from international pressure that might impede its preparations for renewed hostilities. By denouncing Israeli violations, he has simultaneously sought to generate international pressure that would impede Israel's defensive efforts. And since no country with troops in UNIFIL has protested this double standard, they evidently deem appeasing Hizbullah to be in their interests.
And that is precisely why relying on others for protection is folly: Not only will no country ever consider another state's defense its top priority, but often, such defense will actively conflict with higher priorities.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has yet to learn this lesson; she still claims that UNIFIL bolsters Israel's security. One can only hope that other Israelis are better attuned to reality.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Fundamentally Freund: Payback time at the UN
(Jerusalem Post, September 10, 2008) The War in Lebanon may have ended two years ago, but that hasn't stopped the UN from exploiting the conflict to besmirch Israel. In a move that harks back to the bad old days of UN hypocrisy and double standards vis-a-vis the Jewish state, Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is reportedly set to demand that Israel reimburse Lebanon and Syria for damage caused during the war against Hizbullah.
Yes, you read that correctly. The UN wants Israel to pay for having the gall to defend itself. According to the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, Ban has prepared a report that he will present to the upcoming General Assembly in New York. Based on calculations made by the World Bank, he will insist that Israel cough up approximately $1 billion in "compensation" for material and environmental harm to Lebanese society and infrastructure.
In addition, Ban will purportedly highlight the bombing of the Jiyeh power plant 30 kilometers south of Beirut in mid-July 2006. As a result of the attack, thousands of barrels of oil are said to have spilled into the Mediterranean, polluting parts of the Lebanese and Syrian coastlines and causing ecological damage to marine life.
The report is a sequel, of sorts, to one issued last fall by Ban, in which he called on Israel "to take the necessary actions toward assuming responsibility for prompt and adequate compensation to the government of Lebanon." Since Israel rightly ignored that preposterous request, Ban has now apparently decided to turn up the heat in the hopes of pressing Jerusalem to pay.
Even for a body with such a long and remarkable record of anti-Israel hyperbole, the UN has outdone itself this time. Ban's insistence that Israel pay the aggressors for damage done during a war they provoked is both morally obscene and intellectually obtuse.
Israel's actions in Lebanon did not occur in a vacuum, and it requires a highly active imagination to overlook this basic fact.
Lebanese authorities allow their sovereign territory to be used as a launching
pad for attacks, as they did in the summer of 2006, they bear responsibility
for what ensues, including any damage caused as a result of Israel's actions
taken in self-defense.
You don't need to be a moral philosopher or international legal scholar to figure that one out.
Ban's error is that he focuses entirely on the consequences of an action while completely ignoring its context, as though the reason for a particular situation has no bearing on the nature of the outcome. This is patently absurd, and would be akin to the UN demanding that the US and its allies who invaded Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks reimburse Osama bin Laden and the Taliban for destroying the caves in which they hid.
Make no mistake. The UN's attempt to compel Israel to pay for bombing Lebanon has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with a political agenda, one that paints Israel as the unreasonable assailant rather than the innocent victim. It is nothing less than a shameful attempt to rewrite history, and it should not be allowed to stand.
BUT IF Ban nonetheless insists on pressing forward with the issue of compensation, I say: Bring it on. Let's have a real debate over the matter. We can start by working out compensation for the thousands of rockets, mortar shells and other projectiles that were fired at Israel from Lebanese territory during the war.
Let's add to that the loss in income from the drop in tourism, the calling up of reserve units and the displacement of thousands of families throughout northern Israel. Then there is the pain and suffering inflicted on soldiers and civilians who were wounded and killed, as well as the mental and psychological trauma endured by countless Israelis throughout the 33 days of conflict.
Why shouldn't Syria, Lebanon and Iran be made to pay for their sponsorship of Hizbullah and the damage it wrought? And while we're on the subject of liability, the UN might wish to consult its lawyers. After all, UNIFIL troops in southern Lebanon have lethargically presided over repeated Hizbullah arms buildups while doing little to stop them, despite the requirements of UN Security Council resolutions. Their hands aren't entirely clean when it comes to preventing the outbreak of conflict.
You can't have it both ways, Ban. You can't invoke principles of fairness and equity and then demand that Israel be made to pay while ignoring the other side's culpability.
As the late US Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once pointed out, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts."
Not even the secretary-general of the United Nations.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
Civil Fights: Just another bit of fish wrapping
(Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2008) Does anyone still remember [United States President] George W. Bush's April 2004 letter to [then Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon? At the time, it was touted as Israel's main quid pro quo for uprooting 25 settlements, expelling some 10,000 Israelis from their homes and withdrawing the army from Gaza. Yet today, it is never mentioned -- and for good reason: In the ensuing four years, the Bush and [present Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert administrations between them have systematically eviscerated every "achievement" it allegedly granted Israel.
Take, for instance, its pledge that "the United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt and others in the international community, to... prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means."
In reality, Palestinians have fired more than 6,000 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza since the August 2005 disengagement, more than triple the pre-pullout volume. The Palestinian Authority, which controlled Gaza until Hamas's June 2007 coup, made no effort to prevent this. Yet far from "leading the effort" against this threat, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice preferred to press Israel for more concessions, claiming that absent these, the PA could not be expected to fight terror.
Specifically, she demanded a "safe passage" between Gaza and the West Bank -- which would have enabled rocket technology to spread to the latter - and the reopening of the Israel-Gaza border, which would have eased terrorist procurement and infiltration. In November 2005, she bullied Sharon into signing an agreement that included both provisions, but Olmert, to his credit, froze it because of the ongoing rocket fire. Nevertheless, she continued pressing these demands, most recently in her May 2007 "benchmarks" plan.
THE LETTER also pledged that "Israel will retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organizations," if Gaza did prove "a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means" than diplomatic pressure. In reality, Washington pressed Olmert to avoid anything beyond ineffective, small-scale military operations. But there, it was pushing against an open door: Olmert wanted a major operation as little as Bush did.
Thus in theory, Bush's letter offered a multilayered security guarantee: Either the PA would provide security voluntarily, or the U.S. would "lead the effort" to force it to do so, or if all else failed, Israel would protect itself militarily. Instead, Palestinians launched daily attacks from Gaza without suffering any serious diplomatic or military consequences. And the world will now expect Israel to accept this as the model for future withdrawals as well.
Equally grave, however, is the evisceration of two key diplomatic achievements. One was the letter's pledge that the refugee issue must be resolved "through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel." The US has not reiterated this with the consistency and clarity necessary to convince the Palestinians that it is serious. But at least it never officially backtracked.
Olmert, however, single-handedly gutted this achievement by offering to absorb some 20,000 Palestinian refugees under any deal. And as everyone knows, the minute you concede the principle, the price is negotiable.
Predictably, therefore, the world is already pressuring Israel to raise the figure. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, for instance, declared earlier this month that not only must Tzipi Livni honor Olmert's offer, she might even have to increase it: "I don't know how many [refugees Israel must accept] -- 10,000 or 100,000, I don't know," he said.
The second achievement was the letter's promise that "in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."
THE BUSH administration began gutting this promise almost immediately, by objecting vociferously to Israeli construction in these "major population centers." Clearly, if the settlement blocs were to remain Israeli, there was no reason to oppose construction within them. Thus by declaring construction within the blocs no more legitimate than construction elsewhere in the West Bank, Washington signaled that in fact, it did not believe Israel should retain them.
Last month, however, it made its retraction explicit: Speaking to the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, US Consul in Jerusalem Jacob Walles said Rice had told both sides that negotiations must be based on withdrawal to the 1949 lines. The State Department subsequently issued a denial, but its denial said merely that "the US government has not taken a position on borders." In other words, Washington no longer considers a return to the 1949 lines "unrealistic"; at best, it has "no position" on borders.
Olmert, however, has gutted this provision no less thoroughly: Last month, he told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the territorial price of an agreement would be "very close to a formula of one for one." That means the border will basically be the 1949 lines: If the Palestinians must receive equivalent territory inside Israel for any West Bank territory Israel keeps, any adjustments to these lines will necessarily be minor. Olmert then repeated this in a Rosh Hashana interview with Yediot Aharonot, saying Israel "should withdraw from almost all of the territories, including in east Jerusalem," and compensate the Palestinians by "close to a 1:1 ratio" for any land it does retain.
CLEARLY, THE world will expect any future government to abide by this, since offers made during one round of negotiations are always the starting point for the next. Thus not only has Washington abrogated its 2004 promise, but Olmert has buried any possibility of resuscitating it.
Sharon claimed to have secured three American pledges in exchange for the disengagement: a free hand in fighting Palestinian terror post-withdrawal, opposition to resettling Palestinian refugees in Israel and support for retention of the settlement blocs. And most Israelis considered this trade-off worthwhile.
Four years later, however, all three have evaporated -- just as disengagement opponents warned that they would. And Bush's letter has become just another bit of fish wrapping.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Author Edwin Black reveals how respected American organizations, such as The Carnegie Institution for Science, The Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors and IBM, "created" Hitler (with the legal and moral imprimatur of the United States Supreme Court) and helped Nazi Germany to successfully initiate World War II and to systematize the near extermination of the Jewish people. There is no doubt that had Germany won the War, those iconic American organizations would have readily continued to provide their valuable services to the Nazi Occupation of the United States. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
The Nazi nexus
(Jerusalem Post, April 3, 2009) Adolf Hitler was completely responsible for the Holocaust. But Hitler had help. When zealous Nazis were motivated to wage war against an imaginary generation-to-generation Jewish conspiracy, when Nazis created ghastly extermination plans to help ensure their master race would rule the world, when the German military was enabled to smash across Europe with lightning speed in heavy Blitz trucks, bomb mercilessly from the air in advanced JU-88s and create carnage across the seas with deadly torpedoes, when Josef Mengele saw the scientific need to undertake heinous medical experiments on twins in Auschwitz, when the Reich was enabled to identify the Jews everywhere in Europe and then systematically pauperize and destroy them, when all these terrible things were done, the shape and scope of the horror was pivotally determined by major American industrial giants.
Now the dots can be connected. They create an undeniably Nazi nexus between iconic American corporations and the greatest crime of the 20th century: the Holocaust.
Who gave Hitler the initial basis for transmogrifying centuries of outgroup religious hatred into a new 20th-century political anti-Semitism? It was Henry Ford, acting directly through the Ford Motor Company. In 1920, the gullible but mercurial Ford acquired a forged typescript convincing him of an evil international Jewish cabal determined to subjugate the world through devious manipulation of the world's governments, newspapers and economic systems. The revelations were contained in the notorious and fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
To purvey this new brand of Jew hatred to the world, Ford purchased a failed newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, which serialized the Protocols for 91 weeks. His company then published the series as a book, The International Jew. Using the techniques of mass production, Ford was able to escalate the Protocols from a negligible, randomly circulated irritant to a national sensation of 500,000 copies. Devoting the national sales force and the assets of the Ford Motor Company to the task made Henry Ford the first to organize political anti-Semitism in America. Indeed, he was the hero of anti-Semites the world over.
In Germany, where Ford was venerated, The International Jew was translated and published in February 1921. It enjoyed six editions in two years with thousands of copies in print. Ford's book quickly became the bible of German anti-Semites and early incarnations of the Nazi party. Nazis shipped the work throughout the country "by the carload." Among the many Germans massively influenced by the book was Hitler. He read the work at least two years before Mein Kampf was written.
It shows. In Mein Kampf, chapter 11, Hitler wrote, "The whole existence of this people is based on a continuous lie [as] shown incomparably by the Protocols of the Elders of Zion... With positively terrifying certainty, they reveal the nature and activity of the Jewish people and... their ultimate final aims." Hitler described Ford as his hero. No wonder Ford received Hitler's German Eagle medal in a lavish Berlin ceremony. The medal was reserved for foreigners who rendered special service to the Reich.
Who gave Hitler the pseudoscientific medical rationales to justify a war to achieve a blond, blue-eyed master race with the duty to obliterate all other races deemed inferior? It was the Carnegie Institution, the philanthropic incarnation of America's greatest steel fortune, that propagated the deadly American race science of eugenics. Beginning in 1911, Carnegie Institution scientists argued successfully that millions worldwide who did not conform to a blond, blue-eyed Nordic stereotype were unworthy of existence.
AMERICAN EUGENICS believed such social traits as poverty, prostitution and laziness were genetic. The continuation of racially inferior bloodlines -- a broad swath encompassing some 90 percent of humanity -- was to be combated by various methods. These methods included organized identification, seizure of assets, marriage prohibition or nullification, forced surgical sterilization, segregation into camps and publicly operated gas chambers. Various eugenic notions were enacted into law in 27 states. Ultimately, some 60,000 people were forcibly sterilized, thousands more incarcerated in state camps, and untold numbers unmarried and in some cases subjected to organized lethal medical neglect.
US Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes enshrined these policies as the Law of the Land when he ruled such acts justified. "It is better for all the world," Holmes wrote, "if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind."
The Carnegie Institution and its sponsored movement spent millions to propagate American eugenic theories in post-World War I Germany, financing race science programs in universities and official institutions. These included the idea that Jews must be eliminated.
While in prison, Hitler closely studied American eugenics. In Mein Kampf, he insisted, "There is today one state, in which at least weak beginnings toward better conception... are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the United States." Hitler proudly told his comrades, "I have studied with great interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock." Hitler merely exchanged the American term "Nordic" for the Nazi term "Aryan" and then medicalized his preexisting virulent anti-Semitism and fascist nationalism, to formulate the concept of the blond, blue-eyed master race he deified in Mein Kampf.
Hitler was so steeped in American race science that he even wrote a fan letter to American eugenic leader Madison Grant, calling his writing "my bible." The Third Reich implemented all American eugenic principles with great ferocity and velocity backed up by a conquering army. "While we were pussyfooting around," fawned Leon Whitney, executive secretary of the American Eugenics Society, "the Germans were calling a spade a spade." As Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess insisted, "National Socialism is nothing but applied biology."
WHO GAVE Hitler's odious medical eugenic experimentation the wherewithal to commit unspeakable crimes against innocent twins? It was the Rockefeller Foundation, the philanthropic incarnation of Standard Oil. The foundation acted as a full partner with Carnegie in establishing eugenics across America and in Germany. In the quest to perfect the master race, millions of Depression-era dollars were transmitted by Rockefeller to Hitler's most anti-Jewish doctors. In this quest, one specimen was desired above all: twins.
Rockefeller funded Hitler's chief raceologist Otmar Verschuer and his insatiable twin experimentation programs. Twins, it was thought, held the secret to industrially multiplying the Aryan racial type, and quickly subtracting biological undesirables. Verschuer had an assistant, Josef Mengele. Rockefeller funding stopped during World War II. But by that time, Mengele had transferred into Auschwitz [Nazi Germany's most infamous death camp, located in Poland] to continue twin research in a monstrous fashion. Ever the eugenicist, he sent precise clinical reports weekly to Verschuer.
Who took Hitler off the horse and put his killing armies into trucks to wage Blitzkrieg or lightning war against Europe? It was General Motors which built the Blitz truck for the Blitzkrieg. As the Reich's largest car and truck maker, GM became an indispensable partner in Hitler's war. From the first weeks of the Third Reich, GM president Alfred Sloan committed the company and its German division, Opel, to motorizing a substantially horse-drawn Germany, preparing it for war. Prior to this, Germany had been a nation devoted to legendary automotive engineering, but only one vehicle at a time built by craftsmen. GM brought mass production to the Reich, converting it from a horse-drawn threat to a motorized powerhouse.
Sloan and GM knowingly prepared the Wehrmacht [Nazi Germany's armed forces] to wage war in Europe. Detroit even secretly moved massive stores of spare Blitz parts to the Polish border in the days just before the September 1, 1939, invasion to facilitate the Blitzkrieg [the name given to Nazi Germany's doctrine of conquest, typically initiated via a massive mechanized assault against a small section of the target nation's front lines].
Using a charade of interlocking boards and special executive committees, Sloan kept GM's role secret as long as possible. Where Opel lacked parts or foreign currency, Detroit ordered other internationalsubsidiaries to stealthily assist.
In addition to motorizing the military, Sloan launched massive reemployment programs to help revive the Nazi economy -- this at a time when the company declined to put Depression-racked Americans back to work. GM's success led to the need for the autobahn [the super highway constructed by Nazi Germany]. GM's chief executive in Germany James Mooney received the same medal Ford was awarded, for special service rendered to the Reich.
CUSTOM-designed and co-planned the Nazi solutions to Jewish existence? It was
International Business Machines, inventor of the Hollerith punch card,
precursor to the modern computer. IBM enjoyed a monopoly on information
technology. Under the micromanagement of its president, Thomas Watson, and
advertising itself as "a solutions company," IBM in 1933 reached out
to the new Hitler regime. It offered to organize and systemize any solution the
Reich desired, including solutions to the Jewish problem.
With IBM as a partner, the Hitler regime was able to substantially automate and accelerate all six phases of the 12-year Holocaust: identification, exclusion, confiscation, ghettoization, deportation and even extermination.
As it did with any other customer, IBM simply asked the Hitler regime what result was desired. Then company engineers devised custom-tailored punch card systems to deliver the results.
First, who was Jewish and where did the Jews live - exactly. IBM's solution: A customized racial and religious census was designed and tabulated by the company.
once identified, systematically expel Jews from all segments of society. IBM's
solution: Create databases cross-tabulating ordinary organizational and
community directories from association membership rosters to lists of
marriages, deaths and births.
Third, confiscate Jewish assets. IBM's solution: All banks and financial institutions were run by IBM cards which could be programmed to seek out the Jewish names and their accounts for seizure.
Fourth: ghettoize the Jews. IBM's solution: Cross-match families from their existing residences into crowded dilapidated slums so that in a single day, thousands of people could be efficiently transferred from point A to point B.
deport the Jews to camps. IBM's solution: Most of the railroads in Europe were
routed by IBM punch cards. Create special depots to ensure that trains with
cattle cars were made available to transport Jews to camps. Inbound, these
trains were crowded with helpless humans. Returning, they were empty.
Sixth: the Jews were to be systematically and industrially murdered.
IBM's solution 1: Establish different codes for each classification of concentration camp prisoners. Prisoner Code 8 designated a Jew. Status Code 6 designated killed by gas chamber. In this way, the Reich always knew how many Jews it was killing. In extermination camps, almost all Jews were murdered upon arrival in an IBM-aided system that metered victims from ghettos to train to death camp in murderous synchrony.
IBM's solution 2: Create the "Extermination by
Labor" program using custom IBM punch card programs that matched the
skills of Jewish prisoners wherever they were to Reich labor needs wherever
they were. Once moved to the labor site, Jews were worked to death. There was
an IBM customer site in every concentration camp.
Had it not been for the continued conscious involvement of iconic American corporations in Hitler's war against the Jews, the speed, shape and statistics of the Holocaust as we know it would have been dramatically different. No one knows how different, but the astronomical dimensions could have never been achieved. For their part, American corporate collaborators have long tried to obscure or hide the details of their collusion using the well-known tools of corporate misinformation, financial contributions and bought and paid-for historian reviews. But in era when people no longer believe big corporations, the dots can be fully connected to unveil the outlines of an indispensable Nazi nexus.
The writer is The New York Times best-selling investigative author of IBM and the Holocaust, and the just released Nazi Nexus: America's Corporate Connections to Hitler's Holocaust (Dialog Press). He can be reached at .
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Switzerland was never really neutral during the Holocaust. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Morality in neutral
(Jerusalem Post, April 20, 2009) Switzerland is situated in the heart of Europe, surrounded by Germany, France, Austria and Italy. But unlike these EU-member countries, the Swiss are neutral in international affairs.
And under cover of neutrality, Swiss President Hans Rudolf Merz, who is both chief of state and head of government, was scheduled to meet [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last night over dinner in Geneva. The Iranian leader is in town to attend the Durban II "anti-racism conference," which opens today.
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Army Radio that the Merz-Ahmadinejad meeting "caught us by surprise." It shouldn't have.
The Swiss have their interests. Swiss businessmen with ties to Pakistan's A.Q. Khan have been implicated in selling, on the black market, blueprints for a compact nuclear weapon. The Swiss trading company EGL is doing billions of dollars' worth of (technically legal) business with Iran.
When [Swiss] Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey was granted an audience with Ahmadinejad last year, the feminist politician, eager not to offend, donned a head-scarf.
THE SWISS Foreign Ministry explains that Berne has a "long-term strategic rationale" for its actions. Some of that rationale was already on display during World War II, in Switzerland's erratic policies toward Jewish asylum seekers.
When it looked like Germany would win the war, Switzerland, for the most part, kept Jewish refugees out; but when it appeared the Allies might win, the Swiss reversed course. In the final weeks of the war, they even demanded that the Nazis stop deportations altogether.
Back in 1938, when Berlin was ascendant, the Swiss requested that Germany and Austria mark the passports of their Jewish citizens with a "J" so that Berne could distinguish between "genuine political refugees" and fleeing Jews. A Swiss police captain named Paul Gruninger who allowed thousands of Jews to cross the border illegally was thrown off the force.
But when it suited Swiss "rationale," Jews were allowed in -- from The Netherlands and Belgium in 1941; from Italy in 1943. And in 1944, 1,684 Jews were permitted to enter from Bergen Belson as part of the Rudolf Kastner-Adolf Eichmann deal.
All told, perhaps 30,000 Jews managed to reach Switzerland during the Shoah.
All along, Eduard Von Steiger, who was in charge of Switzerland's refugee policies, claimed that "the boat is full." He would later explain that had he known the Nazis were systematically slaughtering Europe's Jews on the other side of the Swiss border, "we might have widened the bound of what was possible."
That alibi has more holes than a piece of Emmental cheese. By May 1942, Swiss army intelligence had photos of Jews who had been asphyxiated by the Nazis at the Russian front.
In fact, the Swiss leadership knew exactly what the Nazis were doing -- from their own diplomats and businessmen, from the Brazilian ambassador and from German sources.
Hugo Remuad, of the Swiss Red Cross, argued that genocidal anti-Semitism was simply a consequence of there being too many Jews. Or as Swiss judge Eugen Von Hasler put it: "It is also in our own interest that the greatest thing of all [the destruction of Europe's Jews] is coming to pass, and our hearts beat as one with the young white men who, dog-tired, forge onward to the East as [defenders] of European culture."
Meanwhile, Swiss banks raked in their spoils both by collaborating with the Nazis over pilfered Jewish cash and gold, and -- later -- by retaining some 36,000 bank accounts, valued at $1 billion, belonging to murdered Jews. This wealth lay dormant until 2004, when a class-action suit (and the resultant Volker Committee) forced Swiss banks to begin returning the money to the estates of the murdered.
IN 1995, former Swiss president Kaspar Villiger apologized for his country's treatment of the Jews.
And yet his successor, Merz, was all set to parlay last night with Ahmadinejad even as the Iranian leader puts the finishing touches on his atom bomb, swears that the Holocaust never happened, and calls for the extermination of the "filthy [Zionist] bacteria."
While Swiss leaders shamelessly fete Ahmadinejad, we Israelis are heartened by the decision of the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Italy to boycott the Durban II circus, along with its various sideshows.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[Pressuring the Jewish State into trading portions of the Land of Israel for a piece of paper is hardly a new tactic for U.S. Presidents. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Obama and Eisenhower: Some parallels
By YOAV J. TENEMBAUM
(Jerusalem Post, July 13, 2009) Historical comparisons have to be drawn with caution. No two events are identical. The pitfalls of historical analogy are as numerous as its benefits. However, comparing events in history can clarify and sharpen our understanding of the phenomenon under discussion.
In this spirit, it's possible to draw a comparison between [United States] President Barack Obama's new policy toward Israel and that pursued by [former United States] President Dwight Eisenhower and his administration from 1953 until 1957, when it also changed the direction of US policy toward Israel.
The similarities are quite striking.
Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles devised a policy as lukewarm toward Israel as it was friendly toward the Muslim world.
Assuming the presidency in the midst of the Cold War, the new administration sought to build coalitions aimed at thwarting further advances by communism following the fall of Eastern Europe and China and the invasion of South Korea by North Korea.
By the early 1950s, decision-makers in the US and Britain feared that the [former] Soviet Union [the dominant component of which was Russia] would invade the Middle East, not to mention political infiltration, which they sought to prevent by forging alliances in the region.
Eisenhower and Dulles believed that a closer relationship with Arab and Muslim countries was necessary. To achieve that, a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict was deemed essential. Reaching a settlement would entail painful concessions by Israel. For Israel to agree to make those concessions, pressure would have to be exerted.
Furthermore, Israel's policy of retaliation against terrorist attacks emanating from Jordan and Egypt was seen as an obstacle to attaining such a settlement. Israel had to be persuaded, indeed pressured, to adopt a policy of restraint.
To be sure, Dulles confided that asking Israel to show restraint was not enough if no alternative was proposed for Israel to feel secure. Israel did not feel secure in the first half of the 1950s. Indeed, it felt very much in danger, cornered diplomatically and under attack militarily. Its neighbors were adamant in their refusal to recognize its existence, let alone negotiate peace with it. The policy pursued by the Eisenhower administration only served to render its sense of isolation more acute.
BY THE END of 1954, a peace plan was devised by the US and Britain. The so-called Alpha Plan called, among other things, for Israel to make territorial concessions in the Negev, agree to a territorial corridor on its sovereign territory to link Jordan with Egypt and accept some Arab refugees.
Israel strongly objected.
Following Israel's victory in the Sinai Campaign of 1956, Eisenhower considered imposing sanctions if it refused to withdraw from the recently captured Sinai Peninsula.
In the eyes of Eisenhower and Dulles, Israel's existence had to be reluctantly tolerated. Dulles said so, albeit in different words. Eisenhower himself stated that he didn't know whether he would have been in favor of the establishment of the state had he been president in 1948. However, now that it was a fact, the US had to deal with it.
The objective of his administration was clear: to elicit the support of the Arab and Muslim countries in order to face the communist threat. To achieve that, the US had to remove any obstacle in the way.
In the context of the Cold War, there was no need to curry favor with Israel. Its backing in any future conflict with the Soviet Union was taken for granted. Israel was not seen as an asset to be strengthened, but as an obstacle to be tempered.
British diplomats in the early 1950s were sometimes astonished at the hostile attitude of US officials toward Israel, even on minor matters that would not have meant much in the context of wider US interests in the Middle East.
Certainly, Israel today is a much stronger country than it was in the 1950s. Circumstances today are, in some respects, quite different than they were then. However, it is hard not to draw some parallels between the new policy adopted by the Obama administration and the new policy pursued back in the 1950s by the Eisenhower administration.
Incidentally, both Eisenhower and Obama followed presidents known for their different approach to the area and to Israel in particular: Harry Truman and George W. Bush. The parallels that can be drawn, then, go deeper than can be seen at first glance.
The writer lectures at the diplomacy program at Tel Aviv University.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
An Obama peace plan?
By BARRY RUBIN
The Region: Security guarantees, not land swaps, are what Israel must be wary of.
(Jerusalem Post, July 3, 2011) [United States] President Barack Obama’s State Department speech on Israel-Palestinian peacemaking continues to be misunderstood. Virtually all of the focus has been on the following passage: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
The problem of Israel returning to the 1967 borders has been widely discussed. But, Obama’s defenders say the statement provides for “mutually agreed swaps,” so what’s wrong with that? Other than the problem that the Palestinian Authority would continue to reject any exchanges, as it did in 2000, international and US pressure would be on Israel to accept ever-smaller “swaps” to get an agreement until, “for the sake of achieving peace,” it would disappear altogether.
But that passage is not the big problem. This one is: “The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.”
WHERE TO begin? First, this is precisely the formula from the Oslo agreement. The negotiators regarded it as foolproof, yet it failed, thousands of people are dead as a result, Israel became more delegitimized after making massive concessions, and its strategic position is far worse.
The false assumption on which the 1990s peace process was based is precisely the same as Obama’s flawed premise: The Palestinians are eager to get a state of their own; consequently they are willing to make concessions, they will live up to their commitments, and international security guarantees can be relied upon as a fail-safe. Let’s take these one at a time:
• Palestinians eager? They aren’t eager. Many Palestinian leaders frequently say that it is it’s worth decades of not getting a state and continuing to fight in order to get everything in the end. They also say the current generation has no right to close the door to total victory and Israel’s destruction by future generations. They mistakenly believe time is on their side; indeed, Obama tells them so.
• Consequently are they willing to make concessions? Neither Palestinian public opinion nor the political balance of forces allows for the more moderate sector of the leadership (which is very small) to make the needed concessions and compromises.
• They will live up to their commitments? Let’s look at the commitments: Systematically stopping and punishing terrorism? No. Preparing their people for peace? No. Ending incitement against Israel? No. Refraining from violence? No.
• International guarantees? Worthless. There is a long list of examples, including most recently the failure to stop Hezbollah’s return to southern Lebanon and the end to Syrian-Iranian arms smuggling to the group, as pledged by the US and UN after 2006. The Obama administration is particularly unreliable; in the last two years, it has abandoned the Bush administration promise of supporting Israel’s retention of settlement blocs, changed the US position on Gaza sanctions and pressuring the Hamas regime, defined the settlement freeze as only including the West Bank, demanded a second freeze after the first one failed, etc.
IN HIS speech, Obama said: “Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security.” But what will happen when terrorism continues, weapons are smuggled in, and cross-border attacks are launched in the new state of Palestine? Will the US condemn Palestine and come to Israel’s full aid? Will the UN condemn Palestine and authorize Israeli defensive measures? Will the world’s media endorse Israel’s actions? Of course not.
But that’s not all! In Obama’s plan, Israel gives up all of its cards – turning over the remainder of the West Bank (unless the PA agrees to border changes, which it won’t) – while getting what in return? Security guarantees on paper? Meanwhile, the issues of refugees, east Jerusalem, massive payments to Palestinians, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Palestinian demilitarization, and the end of the conflict remain undecided.
Obama’s plan would put a now-sovereign Palestinian state in possession of the West Bank, saying: “Okay, now let’s talk about giving us all of east Jerusalem and letting all refugees and their offspring come live in Israel.” And what international, political and material leverage would Israel have in those negotiations? None at all.
In other words, after giving up the rest of the West Bank (or almost all of it) and accepting an internationally recognized Palestinian state that can allow in unlimited weapons, terrorists and money, Israel will be worse off than it is now. It would be turning over the material possession (land), and the most valuable political treasure (sovereignty) in exchange for nothing except promises by a party that doesn’t keep its promises guaranteed by a party that doesn’t keep its guarantees.
And that’s also why, in part, administration critics play into its hands by focusing on the 1967 borders issue – on which Obama has plausible deniability – rather than all of the other problems with his plan and his view of the situation.
Nations, if they expect to continue to exist, cannot pin their existence on such fragile reeds.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center. http://www.gloria-center.org.
(©) The Jerusalem Post
[The more things change, the more things stay the same. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Another Tack: Memo to kibitzers
By SARAH HONIG
Almost every demonizing and delegitimizing canard to which we have by now grown so inured had already manifested itself back in 1958.
(Jerusalem Post, July 8, 2011) Israel’s ambassador to Washington is the guest at a prestigious nationally televised interview series, but is soon set upon by his particularly pugnacious host. The strikingly prosecutorial interviewer homes in on “the charge that Israel threatens world peace with a policy of territorial expansion.”
He quotes “a major Arab spokesman” who asserts that “the area of the territories held by Israel today exceeds by about 40 percent the area of the territories given Israel by the United Nations. Most of this added area... was taken by force, and should therefore be relinquished by Israel.”
Ho hum. So what’s the big deal? Aren’t we habitually painted as insatiable gobblers of Arab land, and aren’t we just as routinely required to cede our “ill-gotten” gains?
True, this could all have been a colossal bore, were it not for the date of the above face-off. It took place on April 12, 1958, shortly before Israel’s 10th birthday. And that makes Abba Eban’s appearance on The Mike Wallace Interview program supremely important.
Almost every demonizing and delegitimizing canard to which we have by now grown so inured had already manifested itself back then. It’s almost as if nothing has changed except incidental names of protagonists and the fact that Eban’s suave wit and unflappable poise are no more. Otherwise, what was thrown at Eban by Wallace (born Myron Leon Wallechinsky to Jewish parents) sounds garden-variety familiar more than 53 years later.
But most of our opinion-molders prefer we not develop a sense of historical continuity. They have a vested interest in keeping us from recognizing our travails as a single ongoing saga. Chopping our past into small, disconnected segments helps distort the big picture and warp it to fit political agendas.
This can work because we’re a peculiar folk. We’re a nation of inveterate kibitzers (meddlesome dispensers of unsolicited and often irrelevant advice). We’re a nation doggedly hankering after indistinct idealized times-that-were. We’re a nation of chronic bellyachers, forever bemoaning the present and bully-ragging whoever we put in charge (but who, obviously, has less sense than the least among us does).
We’re experts at being argumentative and contrary, which is perhaps why we already gave our first leader – Moses – such a hard time, why we could never (thankfully) kowtow to a dictator, or even unite behind a cohesive religious authority. Any scholarly rabbinical viewpoint invariably sparks raging debate.
Given our idiosyncratic predilections, it’s no wonder our national pastime is kvetching about how much better things used to be.
FOR [Opposition leader] TZIPI Livni, happy days were relatively recent -- just before her nemesis Binyamin Netanyahu defeated her. With verbal hocus-pocus, it’s easy to erase the bad memories of Ehud Olmert’s failed premiership, in which she played a starring role.
Further to her left, the good times ended on June 4, 1967, before we won the Six Day War. Israel’s angst-filled peaceniks yearn for that tiny, imperiled, hemmed-in Israel, which they tell us was universally loved and admired. Why? Because we were diminutive, not an ogre empire, not an interloping conquistador, not an oppressive occupier. As such, nobody could resist our untainted, wholesome charms.
This is seductive. We all wax nostalgic, which is why we can all fall for the fable. Hence it’s imperative that we consider whether we were ever – even as a renascent pioneering people – the darlings of the civilized world.
Once we make allowances for cumulative historical processes and the propaganda-amplifying potential of new technologies (like the World Wide Web), it becomes obvious that the differences we perceive are mostly in detail rather than substance. The bare essence was uncannily the same back in the day.
Just get a load of Wallace’s opening salvo: “In its 10 years as a state, Israel has been involved in repeated violence, major border incidents and two open wars.” The subtext is that there’s something unsavory and belligerent about Israel, that it’s a troublemaker.
But then Wallace pulled out bigger guns – the Arab refugees: “Such men as historian Arnold Toynbee have said this: ‘The evil deeds committed by the Zionist Jews against the Arabs are comparable to crimes committed against the Jews by the Nazis.’”
Are we shocked? What can be more perversely prevalent in our existence than Nazi epithets hurled at the country that resisted annihilation merely three years after the Holocaust?
But perhaps we should all memorize Eban’s timeless retort. He accused Toynbee of “monstrous blasphemy. Here he takes the massacre of millions of our men, women and children, and compares it to the plight of Arab refugees alive, on their kindred soil, suffering certain anguish, but of course possessed of the supreme gift of life. The refugee problem is the result of an Arab policy which created the problem by the invasion of Israel, which perpetuates it... and which refuses to solve the problem which they have the full capacity to solve.”
Just as worthy of recall is Eban’s comment about Israel’s alleged expansionism. He advised everyone “not to lose any sleep at night worrying about whether the State of Israel is too big. Really there is nothing more grotesque or eccentric in the international life of our times than the doctrine that little Israel, 8,000 square miles in area, should become even smaller in order that the vast Arab Empire should still further expand.”
Wallace escalated his provocation: “Mr. Ambassador, do you... foresee further territorial expansion by Israel?” In gentlemanly tones Eban objected: “I don’t like the word ‘further,’ Mr. Wallace... I wonder whether the issue isn’t one of Arab expansion.”
Wallace wouldn’t let go: “Israel benefited territorially from a war, from armed violence.”
Eban was unfazed: “Yes, I’m glad to say that I hope that whenever countries wage a war of aggression, as the Arab States did, they should be the losers.”
Unswayed, Wallace pressed on: “As a member of the Judaic faith, which cherishes social justice and morality, do you believe that any country should profit territorially from violence?” The entire exchange reveals the pervasiveness of anti-Israel mainstream-media bias long before the Six Day War. Although the Arabs controlled all the territories which Palestinians currently claim for their state, Israel was portrayed, already then, as an occupier – because it successfully fended off a concerted attack by seven Arab armies on the day of its birth.
EBAN, IT needs stressing, was an out-and-out dove. Yet it was he who on November 5, 1969, told Der Spiegel: “We have openly said that the map will never again be the same as on June 4, 1967. For us, this is a matter of security and of principles. The June map is for us equivalent to insecurity and danger. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has for us something of a memory of Auschwitz. We shudder when we think of what would have awaited us in the circumstances of June 1967, if we had been defeated… This is a situation which will never be repeated in history.”
What was true then remains true still.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2011 The Jerusalem Post
The Region: The nightmare of international guarantees
By BARRY RUBIN
History has taught us that on security matters we can only trust ourselves.
(Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2011) Israel is constantly urged to put its trust in the international community – an idea that hasn’t worked out too well in the past. Now the UN special envoy for Lebanon has given another reason Israel shouldn’t take risks based on the hope of support from international guarantees.
While he did about the best he could given his situation, Michael Williams, the British diplomat who holds this job, has said the UN-sponsored cease-fire that ended the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006 is holding up “very well.”
Technically, this is quite true. There hasn’t been a new war or cross-border attacks. But that’s merely because Hezbollah has been too busy taking over Lebanon and preparing for the next war. As Williams admits, arms have flowed to Hezbollah -- from Syria, though he doesn’t say that. He only says that Lebanon’s borders are “porous” -- a wonderful diplomatic euphemism for state-sponsored arms smuggling.
The Gaza Strip’s borders with Egypt, by the way, have recently become ‘porous’ in the same way.
Hezbollah has also moved back into southern Lebanon -- something the UN was supposed to prevent -- and has rebuilt its system of tunnels and military strongholds. In five years, the UN force has never interfered with such Hezbollah activities -- not once.
NOW IMAGINE, if you will, how UN and international guarantees would work with a Palestinian state.
Would the General Assembly vote to condemn Palestine for breaking its commitments? Would any foreign force that was there as part of a peace deal ever act to stop weapons or terrorists from crossing the border into Palestine? Would they fight to stop terrorists from crossing the border from Palestine into Israel? Of course not. Yet that point is not taken into account by any Western government, academic study or mass media. But it is taken into account by Israel.
Otherwise we will someday read about the UN special envoy for Israel-Palestine peacekeeping talking about how well things are going while incitement, terrorism and violations of the agreement take place daily.
But here’s an example of what can be expected: When you arrive at the “Palestine in the Eyes of the Children of Martyrs (Shahids) Summer Camp”, you are assigned to one of four groups, as Palestinian Media Watch reports, translating the story from a PA-connected newspaper -- a Dalal Mughrabi group (In 1978 she led the most lethal terror attack in Israel’s history, in which 37 civilians were killed, 12 of them children).
A Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) group (He was the head of the Black September terror group. He planned many terror attacks, including the murder of two American diplomats in Sudan, as well as the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics.) An Abu Ali Mustafa group: (General secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, he planned numerous terror attacks against Israeli civilians.) A Yasser Arafat group (He was the boss of all of the others.) This was not done by Hamas, but by the Palestinian Authority, and not just by the PA, but under the sponsorship of everyone’s favorite Palestinian moderate, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who visited the camp to participate in the closing ceremonies, which he also sponsored.
NOW, DO keep in mind that the PA could easily name these groups after, say, Palestinian doctors and educators, or even politicians who weren’t directly involved in anti-civilian terrorism. Arafat is a name much used (though he was a disaster for the Palestinians, as even many PA people admit privately), but Mughrabi has become Fatah’s iconic terrorist and hero. The real message being sent to Palestinians is not, “We can get an independent state and raise living standards,” but rather, “We can kill more Israelis than Hamas can.”
Good news, though. If the PA is admitted to the UN as a member, it can join UNICEF and receive UN money for sending kids to summer camp.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center (www.gloria-center.org).
He is also a featured columnist at PJM (http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin) and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2011 The Jerusalem Post
By JPOST EDITORIAL
(Jerusalem Post, November 26, 2011) The international community cannot credibly feign ignorance of the incontestable evidence of turbulence brewing in Lebanon.
Anyone familiar with the Arabian Nights tales knows they
depict a reality comprised of layer upon shadowy layer, one concealed behind
another. Nothing is what it seems. Life is an interminable complex of nefarious
conspiracies in which truth isn’t only immaterial; it’s frequently downright
The latest flip-flops concern the reported explosion in a Hezbollah munitions depot at one of its South Lebanon strongholds. The incident is now being denied outrightly by the terrorist organization. This despite reliable independent reports of a massive blast.
No sooner did the booms rock the cache’s vicinity than accusations were hurled blaming Israel for the explosion. Tall tales were spun about an Israeli drone that Hezbollah claimed it downed two weeks earlier and which allegedly tipped IDF intelligence to the rocket-supply base’s location.
None of that, however, mattered much a mere one day later, when the fanciful stories were replaced by an equally implausible denial that anything at all had occurred. An official Hezbollah communiqué now contends there was no explosion whatever. Nevertheless, Hezbollah cordoned off the area in which the incident was first pinpointed, preventing Lebanese security forces from getting within a kilometer of the blast.
But there’s more. The spot in question is well within an area that is supposed to be controlled by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Hezbollah arsenals in South Lebanon are in clear contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. Hence rocket arsenals under UNIFIL noses constitute a stinging mockery of the UN’s presumption and professed trustworthiness.
For Israel this further calls into the question the value
of even the ragtag remnants of Resolution 1701, adopted to end the 2006 Second
Lebanon War and regarded as the only quasi-achievement salvaged from that
Whereas for a while official Israel pro forma continued to take comfort from the fact that both UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army are deployed in South Lebanon, in reality it has long been abundantly evident that UNIFIL has failed abysmally in its task of preventing Hezbollah from regrouping, rearming and reinforcing.
We cannot afford to subject ourselves to the vagaries of our neighbors’ official versions, which, with unimaginable ease, turn events into non-events and vice versa. We know that Hezbollah maintains huge rocket-storing facilities in impudent proximity to UNIFIL installations. We know that UNIFIL knows this and we know that UNIFIL prefers to turn a blind eye. Denying the truth is preferable to putting up an honorable fight.
Sadly, there is nothing new in this additional confirmation of UNIFIL’s perfidy. We still remember the premeditated sniping ambush across the border into Israel by none other than the Lebanese Army in August 2010. All the while, UNIFIL personnel shouted at Lebanese marksmen to stop, but their verbal efforts were ignored. Though called “peacekeepers,” they never so much as raised a weapon to foil what was obviously outright aggression.
Once again, UNIFIL demonstrated that it is useless, if all its troops could do to prevent gunfire was to yell. This was emblematic of the job UNIFIL does.
But the ineffectiveness of the international force, which is patently reluctant to carry out its duty, takes on a more sinister aspect when we consider the restlessness in the region and in particular the soaring instability in Syria that directly affects the Lebanese equation.
Lebanon’s status as a Syrian vassal makes it especially sensitive to aftershocks from the turmoil striking at the foundations of Damascus’s Assad regime.
Already there is widespread talk in Beirut that a Hezbollah coup attempt is likely in the event that Bashar Assad is toppled from power. Hezbollah has been edgier than usual ever since the Arab League abandoned Assad, giving fresh impetus to speculation that Hezbollah is poised to wrest control of Lebanon.
The picture turns graver when we factor into it the realization that Lebanon’s military is increasingly Shi’ite (including the command of the South Region) and outrightly sympathetic to Hezbollah, if not in active cahoots with it.
The international community cannot credibly feign ignorance of the incontestable evidence of turbulence brewing in Lebanon. We in Israel must stay especially wary.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2011 The Jerusalem Post
[Relying upon the assumed good will of, or assumed good relations with, the nations is as dangerous and delusional as relying upon the promised protection of the nations. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Into the Fray: Surrendering sovereignty
By MARTIN SHERMAN
(Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2011) By adopting a policy to avoid confrontations in which it can prevail, Israel may eventually find itself forced into one in which it cannot.
“Our hope – a hope 2,000 years old – will not be lost: To be a free people in our Land, the Land of Zion and Jerusalem” – from “Hatikva” (“The Hope”), Israel’s national anthem
Supreme power or authority; the authority of a state to govern itself; complete power to govern a country; the state of being a country with freedom to govern itself; Definition of Sovereignty – The Oxford Dictionary
Something is distinctly rotten in the State of Israel. The decision this week to delay – apparently indefinitely – the demolition and the replacement of the hazardous Mughrabi Bridge, linking the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, is a deeply disturbing sign. It is easy to downplay the significance of the decision; to present it as giving precedence to prudence over pride.
That would be a mistake.
For it is yet another symptom of the insidious spread of a malaise, gnawing away at the foundations of the Jewish national ethos. It is a malaise that if not soon confronted, will have perilously corrosive consequences.
Success beyond wildest dreams
True, Israel abounds with remarkable achievements in science and technology, in medicine and agriculture. There is impressive economic development; there are cutting-edge industrial advances, there is vibrant artistic creativity and a myriad of acclaimed cultural activities.
Moreover, despite recent – largely choreographed – protests, overall living standards have soared; for large segments of the population, lifestyles have become increasingly sophisticated, polished and leisure-oriented.
The once-horrific Palestinian terror has faded into a faint memory; tourism is at record levels; the much heralded “political tsunami” of the unilateral statehood bid at the UN seems to have dissipated into a harmless ripple. Surreptitious computer worms and mysterious explosions appear to have disrupted – at least to some degree – the Iranian nuclear program.
Indeed, the realities of today would constitute undreamed of success for anyone living under the rugged austerity that prevailed during the first decade of the state.
Then, basic foodstuffs were rationed by government decree; waves of immigrants were housed in tents and tin shacks without running water or electricity; gnawing doubts exited as to whether the new, poorly equipped, largely untested IDF could meet the daunting challenges it faced.
In these forbidding circumstances of chronic scarcity and acute insecurity no one could have pictured that within a few decades, Israel would be traversed by multi-lane highways, that household kitchens would be equipped with modern accessories, that foreign travel would be would be a commonplace experience, that consumerism would rival levels in many developed countries.
Something has gone awry
In many ways, Israel can be considered an awe-inspiring tribute to the strength of the human spirit, a stirring testament to the triumph of resolve and endurance over impossible odds.
Yet for all the trapping of success, for all the material accomplishment, and all the physical achievements, something has gone awry at the most basic, most existential, level of national consciousness.
It seems that in many ways the scale of these successes has blurred our national vision, dulled our sense of national mission, confounded the coherence of our national endeavor. This has filtered through to the leadership, which has become distracted and side-tracked; it has taken its “eye off the ball” and lost sight of the essence of the Zionist enterprise. It has become enamored with the tangible byproducts of Zionism rather than with the conditions for securing its long-term objective.
The results of Israel’s existence seem to have trumped the reasons for its existence; the consequences of its establishment have eclipsed the causes that spurred its establishment; the products of Jewish independence have superseded the purpose of that independence: “Free” – not “flourishing,” not “fashionable.”
To decipher this perhaps abstruse accusation, let’s go back to basics – to the national anthem, which encapsulates the essence of Jewish national aspirations and the 2,000 years of national yearning: “To be a free people in our land.”
Free, not flourishing or fashionable
The fundamental goal, the dream, the hope was political in nature: national sovereignty, not technological advancement; not economic prosperity; not international acclaim.
The primary purpose of Zionism was not to establish a mega-hi-tech conglomerate, or a cutting edge medical laboratory, or an avant-garde workshop for artistic activity, but to facilitate the exercise of Jewish political sovereignty. Jews have been have been at the forefront of many fields of human endeavor – before the state’s establishment, and outside of Israel, after its establishment – but they were always subject to alien sovereignties.
The whole point of Israel was to create a framework in which such endeavor could take place under Jewish national sovereignty, a place (“the land of Zion”) where Jews could be masters of their collective destiny (“be a free people”).
When means supersede ends
To be sure industrial might and technological capabilities are crucial means for preserving national sovereignty, but means – however crucial – should not be confused with the objective. In terms of Jewish national endeavor, if certain levels of development and prosperity can only be maintained by subservience to external dictates, then such maintenance becomes counterproductive, self-obstructive and ultimately, self-destructive.
This is not a call for impervious, self-defeating intransigence.
Diplomatic give and take, political “bobbing and weaving” are often required to navigate towards strategic goals.
But there is a qualitative difference between perceiving diplomacy as a means to achieve strategic goals, on the one hand, and letting diplomatic difficulties/pressures determine those goals, on the other.
Sadly it seems that it is the latter perspective that has long dominated government conduct, which has consistently condoned foreign sovereignties curtailing its own sovereign decisions and discretion.
A bad month for sovereignty
November was a bad month for Jewish national sovereignty.
Barely a week ago, the government perversely obstructed legislative initiatives designed to hinder the ability of foreign governments to undermine, impede or delay policy decisions of the democratically elected executive and legislative branches.
By effectively upholding the right of unhindered access of alien entities to the Supreme Court through approval of their unhindered funding of their NGO-proxies, which lodge petitions against Israeli executive decisions or legislative proposals, the government renounced important elements of its sovereign status. For all practical purposes, its actions (or rather lack thereof) reflect acquiescence to the use of Israeli institutions for the pursuit of foreign interests and at the expense of Israeli ones.
(As this column goes to print, however, there are welcome signs that national resolve may be stiffening with the emergence of new proposals which may win government backing.) But in many respects, the decision to capitulate on the matter of the Mughrabi Bridge was even graver. For it was – or at least can interpreted as – a catastrophic breach of sovereign will, a display of weakness that can be expected to generate more – and more vociferous – demands for more – and more far-reaching – surrender of sovereignty.
The bridge, always meant to be a temporary structure, was deemed by Jerusalem’s chief engineer as in danger of collapse and as a fire hazard. The decision to put off the demolition was taken in response to demands/requests from Amman and Cairo, where fears were expressed that it might ignite unrest in Jordan, and could be exploited by Islamist radicals, spreading far-fetched fabrications, to whip up anti-Israel sentiments in the Egyptian elections.
By deferring to these appeals/threats Israel has empowered Muslim extremists with the micro-management of municipal maintenance in its capital – or at least with veto power with regard to that maintenance.
But worse it has effectively allowed itself to be burdened with all the responsibility – but none of the authority – for the preservation of law and order in Arab regimes. By its inaction the government has in effect conferred the status of force majeure on Muslim rage, as an inevitable force of nature which can only be avoided by Israeli capitulation, thereby exonerating the local authorities of any accountability for events in their jurisdictions.
A recent editorial in this paper summed up matters aptly: “An absurd situation has been created in which some irrational Muslim leaders, intoxicated by their own lies... have intimidated Israel into inaction.
Israel must not cave in to the insanity of Muslim extremism.”
The decision to demolish the Mughrabi Bridge may well have resulted in rage and riots. That does not mean it would be the wrong decision. For it is difficult to overstate the gravity of this ongoing corrosion of the will to exercise Jewish sovereignty.
An inevitable ‘doomsday syndrome?’
An “ethos of expectation” has been created in which continual Israeli concessions have become the norm – and when such concessions, no matter how absurd, are not forthcoming, Israel is blamed for the consequences no matter who produces them.
While such concessions have inevitably been greeted with international approval and hailed as a sign of mature, far-sighted, pragmatic statesmanship, this is is likely to prove to be dangerously deceptive.
Indeed the accumulated effect of these concessions could well turn out to be not only highly detrimental – but deadly.
It is detrimental because a growing perception of enduring and unrequited appeasement is beginning to have a debilitating effect on growing numbers of Israel’s advocates, sowing despair, disappointment and disillusionment among its most devoted supporters – at home and abroad. For time and time again they see Israel adopt a certain position, ask their support for that position, which they enthusiastically give, only to find that after a while Israel abandons the position it asked them to support and adopts one it previously asked them to oppose.
It is potentially deadly because none of the massive concessions Israel has made over the last four decades has removed the potential for conflict. Indeed they have, at best, delayed it – but at the same time have created the potential for a more devastating and lethal one in the future.
By adopting a policy of continually trying to avoid confrontations in which it can prevail, Israel may eventually find itself forced to engage in a confrontation in which it cannot. The ramifications of this chilling prospect will be the subject of an upcoming column.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2011 The Jerusalem Post
Another Tack: Lessons from the floating coffin
By SARAH HONIG
(Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2012)
The world's apathy-cum-enmity toward Jews hasn’t disappeared, it has simply mutated.
Exactly 70 years ago – on February 24, 1942 – 19-year-old David Stoliar terrifyingly clung to bobbing debris in the Black Sea. At first he heard screams in the frigid waters but the voices died down. It eventually emerged that Stoliar was the sole survivor of the Struma, an un-seaworthy vessel chuck-full of frantic Jewish refugees.
World War II was already in fever pitch. Against the enormity of the then-unfolding Holocaust, the loss at sea of 768 Jewish lives (103 of them babies and children) was at most blithely overlooked as a marginal annotation.
Moreover, although these Jews fled the Nazis, in the pedantic literal sense they weren’t executed by Third Reich henchmen.
This atrocity was the coldblooded handiwork of Great Britain (committed while it combated the Germans but remarkably without compassion for their Jewish victims), supposedly neutral Turkey (whose so-called nonalignment didn’t extend to outcast Jewish refugees), by the Arabs (who were openly and unreservedly Nazism’s avid collaborators and who pressured London into denying endangered Jews asylum in the Jewish homeland) and, finally, by the Russians (who targeted the immobilized sardine can that carried Jews to whom nobody would allow a toehold on terra firma).
The entire world seemed united in signaling Jews how utterly unwanted they were anywhere.
Such apathy-cum-enmity hasn’t disappeared.
Only its form and context had mutated but the essence is still ultra-relevant to the Jewish state.
We’re still threatened with annihilation. Nonetheless, unmistakable harangues from Tehran notwithstanding, the international community worries about an Israeli preemptive strike – not a genocidal strike against Israel.
To put it plainly, our fate today interests other nations just about as much as the fate of the Struma’s Jews did back then, which (to resort to understatement) was hardly much.
Today’s disingenuous post-Holocaust lip-service is invariably accompanied by hand-wringing about lack of foreknowledge of Germany’s fiendish plot to systematically exterminate the defenseless Jewish people (unmistakable harangues from Berlin notwithstanding).
What sets the Struma apart and imbues it with extraordinary significance is that from December 16, 1941, until the afternoon of February 23, 1942, its ordeal was played out before the entire watching but unfeeling world. No country could deny awareness of the impending calamity and yet all countries let it happen in full view.
The Struma, then a 115-year-old Danube cattle barge, was a pitiful peanut-shell of a boat packed with nearly 800 refugees from Romania. Bound for the Land of Israel, they desperately fled Hitler’s hell and the horrors of Bucharest’s fascist regime.
Pogroms and ghastly atrocities had already sullied cities like Iasi, where thousands of Jews were assembled in the market square and mowed down with machine guns. Venerable old rabbis and Jewish community leaders were impaled on meat hooks in town centers.
THE STRUMA wasn’t struck suddenly. It was slowly tortured, accentuating with demonic deliberation how disposable Jews were, just when genocide’s monstrous machinery was switched into high gear. This 75-day shipboard melodrama underscored the total helplessness and humiliation of Jews without power.
Struma passengers gathered in the Romanian port of Constanza on December 8, 1941. For four days, Romanian customs officials “examined” their belongings. In fact, they pilfered all they saw – clothing, underwear, jewelry and most important, food. The immigrants left on the perilous journey bereft of provisions and medications. But the Struma did carry 30 doctors, 10 engineers and 15 lawyers.
On December 12, the rickety vessel chugged out to sea. After four hair-raising days (instead of the routine 14 hours) the Struma unsteadily dragged itself into Istanbul Harbor. It couldn’t continue. Its makeshift motor had sputtered its last. There was no fuel, food or water.
Several passengers held valid entry visas into pre-independent Israel. All others were “illegals.”
The hope, though, was that once in Turkey, they’d all be allowed to proceed to their destination.
After all, with Europe in the throes of war, thousands of Jewish immigration certificates (British Mandate permits) remained unutilized.
But the British authorities refused unequivocally.
The Arabs raged and rallied against giving haven to Jewish refugees. Eager to appease pro- Nazi Arab opinion, Britain chillingly declared that under no circumstance could the Struma’s human cargo set foot in Eretz Yisrael.
Furthermore, Britain pressured Turkey not to let anyone off the crippled boat at its end either.
Obligingly, the Turkish premier argued that “Turkey cannot be expected to serve as a refuge or surrogate homeland for people unwanted anywhere else.”
Thus hundreds were imprisoned in narrow, unventilated confines. A sign saying “Help!” was suspended over the Struma’s side. One of the visa-holders, who after weeks was allowed ashore, described the boat as a “floating coffin.”
The freezing hull below reeked, but there wasn’t sufficient room on deck. Refugees took turns to climb up for a breath of air. There was no sleeping space for all, no infirmary, no galley, no bathing or sanitary facilities. Minimal food rations, provided by local Jews, were smuggled aboard after enough Turkish palms were greased.
An official Jewish Agency appeal, forwarded to the British on January 19, 1942, stressed that the Struma transported refugees escaping the most tangible threat of massacre. The Mandatory authorities didn’t even dignify the Jewish Agency with a reply.
On the next day, the Struma’s 35th in Istanbul, the Wannsee Conference opened in suburban Berlin to formally decide on “the final solution for the Jewish problem.” Hitler surely hadn’t overlooked this latest demonstration of utter callousness toward hapless Jews.
The British didn’t bother to answer ensuing emotional Jewish Agency entreaties on January 30 and February 10. Then they acquiesced to the entry of four visa-holders, who only at this point were permitted to disembark. More news of the dreadful conditions on the Struma now came out.
The new British line was that the Struma’s refugees were suspect Nazi agents because they came from enemy territory. The assertion that the Germans’ most hideously persecuted victims were their tormenters’ spies was labeled “Satanic” in embryonic Israel.
In a very long February 13 communication to the Mandatory government, the Agency noted that Britain was helping with much fanfare to resettle in the Mideast thousands of non-Jews – Greeks, Yugoslavs, Poles and Czechs – all of whom came from German-controlled areas.
More than any of them, Jews had reason to be loyal to the Allies.
On February 15, the British announced they’d make an exception in the case of Struma children aged 11 to 16. Wartime rationing was cited as the pretext for barring younger or older kids.
The Jewish Agency guaranteed maintenance for all 103 underage Struma captives. In the end no child was freed.
Meanwhile, Turkey, egged on and emboldened by Britain, threatened to tow the floundering deathtrap beyond its territorial waters.
The Jewish Agency warned that “the boat is in total state of disrepair and without life-saving equipment. Any sea-journey for this vessel cannot but end in disaster.”
The Turkish government, however, pitilessly ordered the condemned Struma tugged out to the Black Sea. Hundreds of truncheon-wielding Turkish policemen were dispatched to the Struma on February 23. They viciously clubbed passengers below deck. Despite resistance from the refugees, the anchor was cut, the Struma was towed out and was left paralyzed, to drift precariously without supplies or a drop of fuel.
On February 24, an explosion ripped it apart.
A Soviet submarine, Shchuka-213, patrolled northeast of the Bosporus. Stalking Axis craft, it torpedoed the wobbly barge, which sank in minutes. It’s estimated that as many as 500 were killed outright by the blast. The rest flapped feebly in the waves, till they expired of wounds, fatigue and hypothermia. Stoliar alone hung on, semi-conscious.
In pre-state Israel there was shock and grief.
Demonstrations were mounted. For one day all work and commerce were halted and the population imposed a voluntary protest curfew on itself. Posters appeared on exterior walls everywhere bearing British High Commissioner Harold MacMichael’s photo and announcing that he was “Wanted for Murder.”
The Struma’s heartrending end marked the effective end to most attempts to break Britain’s anti-Jewish blockade until the conclusion of WWII. A few fishing and sporting sailboats briefly tried to ferry handfuls of refugees. Some of them were sunk. Europe’s Jews had no escape left. Embattled Britain took time out from the war to make sure of it.
Stoliar was imprisoned by the Turks for six weeks for the crime of not drowning. He was finally allowed into Mandated Palestine despite MacMichael’s warnings that “this would open the floodgates” and “completely undermine our whole policy regarding illegal immigrants.”
Today, to most Israelis, Struma is a curious street name in a few towns. Israeli school children barely encounter its esoteric story. Politically correct authors and trendy leftwing filmmakers shun the subject, preferring postmodern portrayals of Arab terrorists as Zionism’s prey.
Oblivion is perhaps the greatest sin against the Struma but also against ourselves. If we forget the Struma, we forget why this country exists, why we struggle for its survival. We forget the justice of our cause.
Dimmed memory and self-destructive perverse morality hinder our ability to protect ourselves from the offspring and torchbearers of the very Arabs who doomed the Struma. They haven’t amended their hostile agenda. We just don’t care to be reminded.
The State that the Jews created is threatened with destruction and its population with obliteration.
Yet there’s negligible sympathy for Israel and even less practical support to avert tragedy. The Struma’s story is seminal in understanding why the Holocaust was possible and why a second Holocaust cannot be ruled out. More than anything, the Struma powerfully illustrates what happens when Jews rely on others’ goodwill.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2012 The Jerusalem Post
[Note: Despite how much Israel’s leadership wants to believe that the nations of the “enlightened” West are its faithful allies, the Truth is that Israel cannot afford to place its faith in the “benevolence” of those nations. Read on! -- Mark Rosenblit]
Dreamy foreign policies
By CAROLINE B. GLICK
(Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2012) Since the establishment of the State of Israel, many of Israel’s elite have aspired to be embraced by Europe.
With her unbridled hostility towards Israel, the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton provides us with an abject lesson in what happens when a government places its emotional aspirations above its national interests.
Since the establishment of the State of Israel, many of Israel’s elite have aspired to be embraced by Europe. In recent years, nearly every government has voiced the hope of one day seeing Israel join the EU.
To a significant degree, Israel’s decision to recognize the PLO in 1993 and negotiate with Yasser Arafat and his deputies was an attempt by Israel’s political class to win acceptance from the likes of Ashton and her continental comrades. For years the EU had criticized Israel for refusing to recognize the PLO.
Until 1993, Israel’s leaders defied Europe because they could tell the difference between a national interest and an emotional aspiration and preferred the former over the latter. And now, Israel’s reward for preferring European love to our national interest and embracing our sworn enemy is Catherine Ashton.
To put it mildly, Ashton is not a friend of Israel. Indeed, she is so ill-disposed against Israel that she seems unable to focus for long on anything other than bashing it. Her obsession was prominently displayed in March when she was unable to give an unqualified condemnation of the massacre of French Jewish children by a French Muslim. Ashton simply had to use her condemnation as yet another opportunity to bash Israel.
Her preoccupation with Israel was again on display on Tuesday. During a boilerplate, vacuous speech about President Bashar Assad’s slaughter of his fellow Syrians, apropos of nothing the baroness launched into an unhinged, impassioned, and deeply dishonest frontal assault against Israel.
The woman US President Barack Obama has empowered to lead the West’s negotiations with Iran regarding its illicit nuclear weapons program stood at the podium in the European Parliament and threw an anti-Israel temper tantrum.
The same woman who couldn’t be bothered to finish her speech about Assad’s massacre of children, the same woman who is so excited about her Iranian negotiating partners’ body language that she doesn’t think it is necessary to give them an ultimatum about ending their quest for a nuclear bomb, seemed to lack a sufficiently harsh vocabulary to express her revulsion with Jewish “settlers.”
As she put it, “We are also seriously concerned by recent and increasing incidents of settler violence which we all condemn.”
It’s not clear what “recent and increasing incidents of settler violence” she was referring to. But in all likelihood, she didn’t have a specific incident in mind. She probably just figured that those sneaky Jews are always up to no good.
ASIDE FROM condemning imaginary Israeli crimes more emphatically than real Syrian crimes, Ashton’s speech involved a presentation of the EU’s policy on Israel and the Palestinians.
That policy is based on three premises: The EU falsely claims that all Israeli communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines are illegal.
It rejects Israel’s legal right to assert its authority over Area C – the area of Judea and Samaria that is empty of Palestinian population centers.
And it will only soften its anti-Israel positions if the Palestinians do so first.
Aside from its jaw-dropping animosity towards Israel, what is notable about the EU’s position is that it is actually far more hostile to Israel than the Palestinians’ position towards Israel as that position was revealed in the agreements that the Palestinians signed with Israel in the past. In those agreements, the Palestinians accepted continued sole Israeli control over Area C. They did not require Israel to end the construction of Jewish communities outside the 1949 armistice lines. The peace process ended when the Palestinians moved closer to the EU’s position.
The EU’s antipathy towards Israel as personified in Ashton’s behavior teaches us two important lessons. First, it is often hard to tell our friends from our foes. Israelis – particularly those born to families that emigrated from Europe – have traditionally viewed Europe as the last word in enlightened democracy and sophistication and style. We wanted to be like them. We wanted to be accepted by them.Indeed we were so swept away by the thought that they might one day love us back that we adopted policies that were inimical to our national interest and so weakened us tremendously.
It never occurred to us that the fact that Europe insisted that we adopt policies that undercut our national survival meant that the Europeans wished us ill.
They seemed so nice.
The second thing we learn from Ashton’s anti-Israel mania is that when we engage in foreign policy, we need to base our judgments about our ability to influence the behavior of our foreign counterparts on a sober-minded assessment of two separate things: our interlocutor’s ideology and his interests. In Ashton’s case, both parameters make clear that there is no way to win her over to Israel’s side. She is ideologically opposed to Israel. And the citizens of Europe are becoming more and more hostile to Israel and to Jews.
These twin parameters for judging foreign leaders and representatives came to mind on Wednesday with the publication of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s critical report on the government’s handling of the Turkish-government supported, pro-Hamas flotilla in May 2010. Perhaps the most remarkable revelation in the report is that up until a week before the flotilla set sail, led by the infamous Mavi Marmara, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was under the impression that he had reached a deal with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Netanyahu believed that through third parties, including the US government and then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, he had convinced Erdogan to cancel the flotilla. He had a deal.
The fact that Netanyahu thought he had a deal with Erdogan is startling and unnerving. It means that Netanyahu was willing to ignore the basic facts of Erdogan’s nature and the way that Erdogan perceives his interests, in favor of a fiction.
By May 2010 it was abundantly clear that Erdogan was not a friend of Israel. He had been in power for eight years. He had already ended Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. In 2006, Erdogan was the first major international leader and NATO member to host Hamas terror chief Ismail Haniyeh. His embrace of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood made clear that he was Israel’s enemy. It is a simple fact that you cannot be allied with Israel and with the Muslim Brotherhood at the same time. The same year he allowed Iran to use Turkish territory to transfer weaponry to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War.
In 2008, Erdogan openly sided with Hamas against Israel in Operation Cast Lead. In 2009, he called President Shimon Peres a murderer to his face.
By the time the flotilla was organized, Erdogan had used Turkey’s position as a NATO member to effectively end the US-led alliance’s cooperative relationship with Israel, by refusing to participate in military exercises with Israel.
THE NATURE OF the flotilla organizers was also known in the months ahead of its departure for Gaza. The IHH’s ties to al-Qaida had been documented. Netanyahu’s staff knew that the IHH was so extreme that the previous Turkish government had barred its operatives from participating in humanitarian relief efforts after the devastating 1999 earthquake. They feared the group would use its relief efforts to radicalize the local population.
In and of itself, the fact that Erdogan was openly supporting IHH’s leading role in the flotilla told Israel everything it needed to know about the Turkish leader’s intentions. And yet, up until a week before the flotilla set sail, Netanyahu was operating under the impression that he had struck a deal with Erdogan.
It is likely that Netanyahu was led to believe that a deal had been crafted by the Americans.
Obama is not the only American leader that has been seduced into believing that Erdogan and his Islamist AKP Party are trustworthy strategic partners for the US. Many key members of Congress share this delusional view.
According to a senior congressional source, Turkey’s success in winning over the US Congress is the result of a massive Turkish lobbying effort. Through two or three front groups, the Turkish government has become one of the most active lobbying bodies in Washington. It brings US lawmakers and their aides on luxury trips to Turkey and hosts glittering, glamorous receptions and parties in Washington on a regular basis. And these efforts have paid off.
Turkey’s bellicosity towards Israel as well as Greece and Cyprus has caused it no harm in Washington. Its request to purchase a hundred F-35 Joint Strike Fighters faced little serious opposition. The US continues to bow to its demands to disinvite Israel from international forum after international forum – most recently the upcoming US-hosted counter-terrorism summit in Istanbul.
Certainly Turkey’s strategic transformation under Erdogan’s leadership from a pro-Western democracy into an anti-Western Islamist police state has dire implications for American national interests. And the Americans would be well-served to look beyond the silken invitations to Turkish formal events at five-star hotels and see what is actually happening in the sole Muslim NATO member-state. But whether the US comes to its senses or not is its business.
Israel had no business buying into the fiction in 2010 that Erdogan could be reasoned with.
True, today no one in Israel operates under that delusion anymore. But the basic phenomenon of our leaders failing to distinguish between what they want to happen and what can happen continues to exist.
Ours is a dangerous world and an even more dangerous neighborhood. Everywhere we look we see cauldrons of radicalism and sophisticated weaponry waiting to explode. The threat environment Israel faces today is unprecedented.
At this time we cannot afford to be seduced by our dreams that things were different than they are. They are what they are.
We do have options in this contest. To maximize those options we need to ground our actions and assessments in clear-headed analyses and judgments of the people we are faced with. Their actions will be determined by their beliefs and their perception of their interests – not by our pretty face.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2012 The Jerusalem Post.
A history of appeasing aggression
By SHUKY BLASS
Israel must not forget that it cannot allow its wellbeing to be decided by others and it cannot trust international peace guarantees.
(Jerusalem Post, September 29, 2013) Forty years ago, on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Israel was attacked by the armies of Syria and Egypt, both preoccupied nowadays with killing their own people. The protocol of a British cabinet meeting held on October 13, 1973, discussing the American proposal for a cease-fire resolution, teaches us that when Israel faces acute danger, it can and should rely only on itself.
BRITAIN’S POST-MANDATE policy toward Israel had gone through changes, depending on its varying interests and on the relative dominance of the Foreign Office and Defense Ministry. Since its involvement in the 1956 Suez Crisis, Britain was no longer a dominant power in the Middle East, but still had vested interests in the region such as oil, arms sales and free passage through the Suez Canal.
At the time of the Yom Kippur War, Conservative party leader Edward Heath was prime minister in Britain, however the British policy of avoiding public association with Israel was implemented by Heath’s predecessor, Harold Wilson of the Labor party. Thus, one should not attribute British policy in 1973 solely to an anti-Israeli agenda on the part of the Conservatives. Furthermore, on the vote for an arms embargo on the Middle East, which would clearly hurt Israel, 15 Labor MPs voted with the Conservatives in favor, while 17 Conservative MPs voted against their own party’s decision.
At the time the cabinet meeting in question took place, Israel was on the defensive. It had barely managed to force the Syrians back to the armistice line, while its counterattack against the Egyptians failed.
All members of the cabinet discussing the American proposal for a UK-sponsored cease-fire resolution saw the current situation as a great challenge for Israel. Two main scenarios were offered, one in which Israel won the war in spite of everything, and the second in which the Arabs continued their successes and were able to stabilize the situation. The foreign secretary was of the opinion that Israel would eventually “crush the Arabs,” a prospect the prime minister said he was beginning to doubt.
In the first scenario, namely a successful Israeli counterattack, the threat as far as the cabinet saw it was the implementation of the Arab Oil Weapon.
The military assessments were that it all depended on the Syrian front – if Israel managed to beat the Syrians and get reinforcements from the Americans, it could drive back the Egyptians. The undersecretary asserted that “it would be irresponsible of the Americans to pour in reinforcements to allow the Israelis to drive back the Egyptians.” At the same time it was said that the British “could not tell the Russians not to re-supply the Arabs.”
One must remember that in addition to Egypt and Syria, other Arab countries such as Iraq and Libya that were involved in the war also received arms from Britain’s ally, France. Hence, if it had been up to the British government, the Israelis would be fighting two armies backed by other Arab armies and supplied by great powers, while Israel remained on its own.
The only danger the British saw in an Israeli defeat, on the other hand, seemed to be what they called the “Zionist pressure to do something and rescue Israel.” One cannot avoid hearing the voice of classical anti-Semitism in the claim that powerful Jewish, or Zionist, pressure might push others, non-Jews, to fight the Jews’ war. For other speakers the “Jewish Lobby” was the sole factor that presented a problem with regard to giving in to Arab aggression.
WHAT OUTCOME was the British cabinet hoping for? The following approach might have derived from the aftermath of the Six Day War, when the humiliated Arab leaders blamed Britain for conspiring with Israel to achieve such a clear victory. Permanent undersecretary of state for foreign affairs Sir Denis Greenhill said that the plain fact was that “a handsome victory by the Israelis might be a disaster.”
The prime minister said that he absolutely agreed.
An NOP poll conducted in Britain on the day of the meeting – October 13 – showed that 47 percent of the British who favored one of the sides supported Israel, whereas only 5 percent supported the Arabs. Thus, support of Israel wasn’t limited to British Jews or to a “Zionist lobby” but rather represented a widespread moral stance.
Compare this with the editorial in the London Times on the second day of the 1967 Six Day War, which stated the following: “There are no circumstances in which a total Arab victory could be allowed without the Western powers being forced to intervene.... It needs no saying that such action to defend Israel would go against Britain’s commercial and political interests, but it would have to be undertaken because no decent man could accept the second massacre of the Jewish nation in one lifetime.”
It is common knowledge that among the considerations influencing foreign policy are commercial and political interests, as the Times noted. The British cabinet session proves that in 1973, as far as the British leadership was concerned, the moral stance was not a consideration at all; even Arab aggression was mentioned only as a factor that would expose British policy to be one of appeasement. It was not rejected as being morally wrong. The fact that Egypt and Syria ganged up to attack Israel on its holiest day was not even mentioned.
In light of the Syria chemical weapons deal and the continuing threat from Iran, Israel must not forget that it cannot allow its wellbeing to be decided by others and it cannot trust international peace guarantees, especially not from those who in Israel’s time of greatest need showed themselves to be concerned only with their own short-term interests – and thus chose appeasement in the face of acknowledged Arab aggression.
The writer is a PhD student in history at the Hebrew University.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2013 The Jerusalem Post.
By JPost Editorial
05/03/2014 [March 3, 2014]
When the USSR [Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, dominated by Russia] broke up, some of its former republics, such as Ukraine, ended up with massive nuclear stockpiles.
Ultra-popular in cyberspace these days is a cartoon showing [Russian President] Vladimir Putin as a shrewd strategist executing moves on a chessboard, while a laid-back [United States President] Barack Obama incongruously plays a single checkers piece and yells “Bingo!” We may agree or disagree with this depiction but such is the widespread perception of the Ukrainian crisis and the invasion of Crimea. The Russian leader is regarded as having handily outmaneuvered the American president and with him the entire West.
For Israelis, though, this is no laughing matter. The implications for our own predicaments are compelling and inescapable.
From our vantage point there are no saints in this scenario. Ukrainians are recalled in Jewish history as the second-greatest-ever mass murderers of Jews – directly after the Germans (with whom many Ukrainians avidly collaborated during the darkest days of the Holocaust).
And yet there is a key element in the current Ukrainian travails that is particularly pertinent to the complexities and pressures that Israel faces.
When the USSR broke up, some of its former republics, such as Ukraine, ended up with massive nuclear stockpiles.
The West, justifiably anxious, sought to convince the newly independent Ukraine to disarm. These efforts reached fruition in 1994 and Ukraine’s reward was that America and Britain guaranteed its security and territorial integrity. In other words, they undertook to come to Ukraine’s aid, should anyone threaten it. That anyone could be no other than Russia.
This was no trivial guarantee. Any novice should have understood what the Kremlin’s residual vital interests were. They foremost meant keeping both Ukraine and Belarus under Russia’s aegis and away from any alliance with the West and especially NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization, dominated by the United States]. The same went for Russian interests in the Caucuses, which resulted in Moscow’s aggression against Georgia.
Thus pledges made to Ukraine should have been considered with exceptional gravity in Washington rather than be treated as inconsequential lip service. The country’s violent internal upheavals – with their communal/ linguistic/ethnic undercurrents – should not have been cheered on as another hip street-happening, much as the misnamed Arab Spring was.
It should have been clear from the outset that Kiev’s unrest could at the very least produce troublesome ramifications vis-à-vis Crimea, which is hardly part and parcel of the Ukraine. It was awarded to Ukraine in 1954 by the then-USSR chief Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian.
As long as Ukraine was an integral component of the Soviet Union this scarcely mattered. Afterwards it mattered hugely.
The amateurish misunderstanding of crucial complexities in the Russian sphere mirrors the Americans’ and Europeans’ systemic misreading of exasperating situations elsewhere – from Israel’s existential woes to Iran and North Korea. Disconcerting enough in itself, ineffectual crisis management is bound to lead to fiascoes.
But it gets worse, because the chronic inability to gauge geopolitical realities emboldens the Americans and the Europeans to dispense promises that they do not keep.
This cannot but corrode America’s deterrence, especially when the US military is being shriveled to its pre-World War II size.
The immediate victims are those who trusted American assurances – such as, in this case, the Ukrainians.
Of course, they are not the only ones left with guarantees not worth the paper they were printed on. Many of America’s loyal allies were abandoned in the Arab Spring.
Obama backtracked from the redline he drew for Damascus despot Bashar Assad, leaving Putin and the Tehran axis with yet another victory. Redlines regarding Iranian nuclear ambitions were just as blithely ditched.
Israel is now being coerced to divest itself of all its strategic assets in Judea and Samaria and expose its soft underbelly – its frightfully narrow and heavily populated Central region – to terrorist predations.
Israel’s sole safeguard is to be guarantees disturbingly similar to those supplied the Ukrainians. What unfolds in the Crimea should serve as a thunderous warning against placing ourselves at the mercy of supposed allies.
Here, but for the grace of God, go we.
All rights reserved © 1995 - 2014 The Jerusalem Post.
Another tack: That 'new Balfour Declaration'
By SARAH HONIG
Many among the dysfunctional family of nations would still rather have us out of their sight than see us where we are, sovereign in our own Land.
(Jerusalem Post, April 23, 2014) Strangely, to gauge the depth of the family of nations’ predisposition against the family of Israel, we should embark on a detour to faraway Guyana, or as it was once known – British Guiana. The forgotten "New Balfour Declaration," that earmarked that crown colony as an alternative to the Jewish National Home in this country, is particularly relevant on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It encapsulated all the “goodwill” that the family of nations could once muster toward the beleaguered Jewish people. Things are still no better.
Yesteryear’s Guiana unexpectedly contextualizes the ongoing unique bias towards the Jewish state today and its depiction as an outlaw occupier (even in tiny stretches of its own homeland, directly contiguous to its own miniature independent domain).
Indeed, the bias that preceded the very founding of the Jewish state pretty much foreshadowed the antagonism it would arouse decades later.
That antagonism doesn’t derive from aversion to Israel’s supposed strength (i.e. our so far insufferably successful self defense). It fulminated most shamefully when the Jewish people couldn’t conceivably have been more helpless – on the eve of the Holocaust. Worse yet – this antagonism wasn’t merely rife in the Third Reich. It also thrived among the democracies, even if in a sinisterly duplicitous guise.
In Germany, anyone who read Hitler’s Mein Kampf was in no doubt about what’s in store down the line. Concentration camps already operated; Jewish heads were busted in the streets; Jewish businesses were vandalized; Jewish property was robbed; Jewish books were burned; Jewish children were kicked out of school; all Jews had to don yellow-star patches and add either Sara or Israel to their Germanized given names.
Nonetheless, this didn’t really change churlish attitudes towards Jews in democratic societies, though it annoyingly ramped up the discomfiture quotient. Jews were attempting to escape and the free world resented them for knocking at its gates. The British Foreign office, in rare candor, referred to them as “unwanted Jews.”
Fiendishly mocking western hypocrisy, Hitler tauntingly invited the flustered democracies to shelter his Jews, if they were so fretful about them. He knew that for all their feigned piety, these countries wouldn’t take his provocative dare.
In July 1938 their put-upon representatives conferred in Evian-les-Bains, on Lake Geneva’s French shore, to deliberate what to do about refugees whom they pointedly refrained from calling Jews, so as not to offend the fuehrer. But, to Hitler’s unconcealed delight, it all turned into an unabashed contest to find the most remote and inhospitable exile for Nazism’s desperate outcasts – no improvement to speak of on Hitler’s initial intent to banish the Jews to Madagascar.
Britain resentfully refused to allow Jews into the land mandated to it as the Jewish National Home. The Nazi-sympathizing forebears of today’s Arab/Palestinian terrorists made sure that vulnerable Jews wouldn’t be rescued. His Majesty’s appeasement-minded government willingly acquiesced.
Jews were likewise excluded from the immense unpopulated spaces of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. American benevolence notwithstanding, Jewish refugees weren’t wanted in the Land of the Free either (i.e. the St. Louis episode).
In the spirit of Uncle Sam’s effusive kindness, though, FDR proposed dumping German Jews in Ethiopia or Central Africa. Others suggested that the Siberian arctic might be a preferable hardship to the rigors of the tropics for urbane Jews.
But when Evian’s aimless pseudo-humanitarian travesty adjourned, Britain was left with the hot potato because it kept on vigorously preventing Jews from finding refuge in their own historic homeland. As such, Britain appeared to shoulder a greater onus than other indifferent nations.
That was when British Guiana suddenly loomed as an irresistibly alluring alternative. In February 1939 – shortly before the May publication of the White Paper that drastically further limited already restricted Jewish immigration into Eretz Yisrael – London dispatched to Guiana members of an international investigating committee under the sponsorship of the Evian-initiated Inter-Governmental Commission on Refugees.
Its task was to explore the feasibility of the Neville Chamberlain government’s idea to designate Guiana’s hinterland as a new destination for Jewish immigration and settlement. In other words, rather than honor its Balfour Declaration commitment, Whitehall sought exotic substitutes for it. Rather than support the already vibrant Jewish National Home, it plotted to replace it bizarrely. For that purpose, His Majesty’s officials homed in on the rain forests and swamps of Guiana’s interior. Habitable coastal terrains were out-of-bounds for Jews.
Chamberlain hyped this as the incarnation of generosity, but conveniently omitted mention that only a few years earlier the very same area was decreed unsuitable for other refugees. A notion of settling nearly 20,000 persecuted Iraqi Assyrians in that very spot was nixed in 1935 by both an international commission and by London.
But what wasn’t fit for Iraqis was judged as good enough for Berlin Jews in 1939. Thus the Evian Commission recommended a two-year trial period during which a vanguard of 3,000–5,000 refugees would be shipped off to Guiana ahead of larger-scale Jewish resettlement.
The US Ambassador to the Court of St. James, one Joseph Kennedy (not renowned for his love of Jews), was especially active in promoting this scheme. He estimated it might eventually remove to Guiana some 10,000-20,000 Jewish families.
Yet even this hardly compassionate contrivance wasn’t expedited. British bureaucracy was in no rush. Chamberlain himself admitted on November 21, 1938 (during a parliamentary debate on “the question of minorities in Europe”) that development of the virgin Guianese tracts under consideration “has hitherto been prevented by unfavourable conditions and lack of communications. It would, therefore, be essential that careful surveys by experts should be made…
“Provided that the results of the surveys are satisfactory, His Majesty's Government would contemplate the lease of large areas of land on generous terms under conditions to be settled hereafter.”
In the interim, the Brits staunchly refused to let Jewish refugees disembark in British Guiana, British Honduras or Trinidad. Their anti-Jewish injunctions spanned the globe, extending far beyond the shores of the embryonic Jewish state.
By May 12, 1939 the Guianese Jewish resettlement ploy hadn’t been advanced one bit except for Chamberlain’s announcement in the House of Commons that London would help its colony absorb Jews “insofar as that may be practicable,” pending a successful two-year trial colonization which was many months away from even starting. Much preparatory work still needed to be undertaken since “opening up an undeveloped country is a long and expensive business.”
Foot-dragging and abundant excuses moved the Earl of Selborne to issue his prophetic warning: “Don’t wait until a plan is found and agreed upon by all the Governments and parliaments of the empire… The Jews will be all dead by then.”
Millions had indeed been exterminated by December 30, 1942 when David Ben-Gurion delivered a scathing address to the Assembly of Representatives (Israel’s proto-Knesset). The British Mandatory censor, however, forbade the publication in print of much of that milestone speech, which inter alia constituted a passionate epilogue to the Guianese alternative to the Zionist endeavor in the Land of Israel.
The original typed text was belatedly discovered in the IDF Archives and released in digitalized form last year, replete with numerous blue-pencil erasures and stamped: “Passed and Corrected by Censor.”
Calling for the establishment of a Jewish army (as distinct from the auxiliary Jewish Brigade), Ben-Gurion warned the British that “as long as our land's gates are shut to Israel's refugees, your hands will be soaked in Jewish blood, spilled in the Nazi inferno."
The slaughter of “hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of victims,” he asserted, is “the product of bias against the Jewish nation… a nation which has no country and no independence. We demand repair of this inequity: an equal national status, a country and independence for the Jewish people.”
“…Not the Nazis, but you, civilized nations, impinge on our honor when you impinge on our right as a nation… We want to fight Hitler as a Jewish army. All Jews who aren't subject to conscription in another military force, all free Jews demand their human right. We demand the right of our national honor to enlist in a Jewish army, under a Jewish flag, as an equal ally among all the Allies."
All this culminated in the punch line:"And we demand not only our right to fight as Jews, we demand the right that every nation in world has, be it big or small, the right to an independent homeland.”
In a sense we still do. Our struggle to this day is for the same rights.
In our own eyes we had realized our dream. We have our independence, buttressed by the Israel Defense Forces. But what‘s obvious to us isn’t necessarily accepted by others.
It’s scarcely astonishing that the Arab world, which avidly and actively collaborated with Hitler, rejects rights that to us are inalienable. This is what Ramallah’s refusal to recognize the very legitimacy of a Jewish state is ultimately all about.
But the bias that pervaded the world’s democracies when they conspired to unload “unwanted Jews” in British Guiana still pervades them 75-years later. That persistent bias continues to cast doubts in seemingly friendly societies about the justice of our case.
That’s why the “New Balfour Declaration” and “the alternative homeland” remain relevant for our perspective. Cynical promises still dispensed by members of the family of nations to us in the Jewish state are as disingenuous as the promise of a haven in the inaccessible jungle proved to be for stateless Jews sentenced to die because they were Jews.
Under one pretext or another many among the dysfunctional family of nations would still rather have us out of their sight – dispatched somehow to some God-forsaken somewhere – than see us where we are, sovereign in our own Land.
To them we should speak in Ben-Gurion’s forthright words to the “civilized nations”: “As long as the bias against the Jewish people continues, we will not believe the sincerity of your pronouncements about justice, freedom and truth.”
Debunking the Bull, Sarah Honig’s book, was recently published by Gefen.
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[Even Israel’s closest ally, the United States, employs the Art of Hypocrisy with respect to Israel’s existential concerns. Read on!]
Dershowitz: Obama’s double standard toward Netanyahu
By ALAN DERSHOWITZ
The US president owes the American people, and Benjamin Netanyahu, an explanation for his apparent hypocrisy and inconsistency.
(Jerusalem Post, April 26, 2016) As US President Barack Obama winds up his farewell tour of Europe, it is appropriate to consider the broader implications of the brouhaha he created in Great Britain. At a joint press conference with Britain Prime Minister, David Cameron, President Obama defended his intrusion into British politics in taking sides on the controversial and divisive Brexit debate. In an op-ed, Obama came down squarely on the side of Britain remaining in the European Union – a decision I tend to agree with on its merits. But he was much criticized by the British media and British politicians for intruding into a debate about the future of Europe and Britain’s role in it.
Obama defended his actions by suggesting that in a democracy, friends should be able to speak their minds, even when they are visiting another country: “If one of our best friends is in an organization that enhances their influence and enhances their power and enhances their economy, then I want them to stay in. Or at least I want to be able to tell them ‘I think this makes you guys bigger players.’” Nor did he stop at merely giving the British voters unsolicited advice, he also issued a not so veiled threat. He said that “The UK is going to be in the back of the queue” on trade agreements if they exit the EU.
President Obama must either have a short memory or must adhere to Emerson’s dictum that “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Recall how outraged the same President Obama was when the Prime Minister of a friendly country, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke his mind about the Iran [Nuclear] Deal.
There are, of course, differences: first, Israel has a far greater stake in the Iran deal than the United States has in whatever decision the British voters make about Brexit: and second, Benjamin Netanyahu was representing the nearly unanimous view of his countrymen, whereas there is little evidence of whether Americans favor or oppose Brexit in large numbers.
Another difference, of course, is that Obama was invited to speak by Cameron, whereas, Netanyahu was essentially disinvited by Obama. But under our tripartite system of government – which is different than Britain’s Unitary Parliamentary system -- that fact is monumentally irrelevant. Netanyahu was invited by a co-equal branch of the government, namely Congress, which has equal authority over foreign policy with the president and equal authority to invite a friendly leader. Moreover, not only are the British voters divided over Brexit, but the conservative party itself is deeply divided. Indeed, the leading political figure in opposition to Britain remaining in the European Union is a potential successor to Cameron as leader of the Conservative party. So these differences certainly don’t explain the inconsistency between Obama’s interference in British affairs and his criticism of Netanyahu for accepting an invitation from Congress to express his country’s views on an issue directly affecting its national security.
So what is it Mr. President? Should friends speak their minds about controversial issues when visiting another country, or should they keep their views to themselves? Or is your answer that friends should speak their minds only when they agree with other friends, but not when they disagree? Such a view would skew the market place of ideas beyond recognition. If friends should speak about such issues, it is even more important to do so when they disagree.
A wit once observed that “hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.” It is also the currency of diplomacy and politics. That doesn’t make it right.
The president owes the American people, and Benjamin Netanyahu, an explanation for his apparent hypocrisy and inconsistency. Let there be one rule that covers all friends – not one for those with whom you agree and another for those with whom you disagree. For me the better rule is open dialogue among friends on all issues of mutual importance. Under this rule, which President Obama now seems to accept, he should have welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s advocacy before Congress, instead of condemning it. He owes Prime Minister Netanyahu an apology, and so do those Democratic members of Congress who rudely stayed away from Netanyahu’s informative address to Congress.
A shorter version of this op-ed was published on Fox online.
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In addition to my essay, as to commentary and clarifying comments in brackets [ ] only: © Mark Rosenblit