Posts Tagged ‘West Bank’

A Tale of Two Occupations

December 14, 2014

In June of 1967 the government of Israel had good reason to believe a war with its neighbors was imminent. Egypt’s leader Gamel Abdel Nasser had been making increasingly belligerent public statements calling for the destruction of Israel. Jordan and Israel had already clashed the previous year and tensions with Syria were increasing. In May of 1967 Nasser expelled the UN peacekeeping force from the Sinai Peninsula and began massing troops. On June 5, the Israelis made the somewhat controversial decision to launch a preëmptive strike against the Egyptian air force. This might seem to be an act of aggression, but Israel is a small country and cannot afford to lose much territory in the course of a war. In any event, the Egyptian air force was decimated and fighting broke out between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, with much of the Arab world supporting the war against Israel.

The war only lasted six days. By June 11 the Israelis had easily defeated the coalition against them and had occupied enemy territory, the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Since that time, Israel has annexed the Golan Heights in 1981 for strategic reasons, but has been willing to negotiate the status of the other occupied territories. Israel has returned the Sinai peninsula to Egypt following the Camp David Peace accords, even clearing out the Jewish settlers. The Israelis ended the military occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005, again removing the Jewish settlers, only to have Hamas take over and use the Gaza Strip as a base for war against Israeli civilians. Israel has been obliged to blockade the Gaza Strip, limiting the supply of goods into the region in order to protect the Israeli targets of Hamas’s rocket attacks. Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and has tried to negotiate some sort of settlement with the Palestinians. I think that the great majority of the people of Israel would prefer that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank end and that Israel have a peaceful, prosperous Palestine as a neighbor. The Palestinians have shown that they are not interested in anything but the destruction of the Zionist Entity, so Israel remains a state under siege.

After the fall of the Qing Dynasty in China in 1912, Tibet regained its independence, lost when the Chinese Empire invaded and conquered the country in the eighteenth century. This independence was short lived as the Communist government annexed Tibet in 1950, granting the country autonomous status and permitting the Dalai Lama to remain as the ruler. During the 1950’s Mao’s government began to export his Communist ideology to Tibet and the Tibetans rebelled in 1959. The People’s Liberation Army invaded and ruthlessly crushed the rebellion, driving the Dalai Lama into exile. During the Cultural Revolution,the Chinese government led by the fanatic Red Guards tried to destroy Tibet’s cultural heritage, vandalizing and destroying many monasteries. While conditions have improved in Tibet since China has begun to open up and embrace free markets, Chinese rule in Tibet has continued to be oppressive with the Tibetan language and culture marginalized. Ethnic Han Chinese are encouraged to emigrate to Tibet with the idea of making the native Tibetans a minority in their own country.

Tibet is a sparsely inhabited country with few natural resources and a harsh climate. It poses no conceivable threat to China’s security. The Chinese invasion of 1950 was entirely unprovoked and justified only by the notion that any territory in Asia that was ever part of any previous Chinese dynasty’s inheritance must be under the control of the People’s Republic of China, even if the people of that territory have a culture and nationality of their own.

Now, of these two occupations, which is routinely condemned by the United Nations and by the world’s media as well as Leftist groups everywhere, and which is largely ignored? Why is there no BDS movement against the Chinese government for its atrocious treatment against Tibet, and for that matter against its own people, for despite some reforms China remains a totalitarian dictatorship? Why is democratic Israel attacked for trying to keep its people safe while the aggression and oppression of Communist China is ignored? For that matter, why are the territories occupied by Israel of so much concern to the whole world while Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, the Western Sahara by Morocco, South Ossetia and Transnistria by Russia, and many others are ignored? What is it about Israel that makes its actions somehow uniquely obnoxious?

I could be wrong, but I get the impression that the critics of Israel may be motivated by something other than a desire for peace and justice in the Middle East, or why do they criticize the only democratic country in the region while ignoring the evils of the tyrants and terrorists who rule everywhere else, not to mention the worse human rights abuses in so many countries around the world.

 

 

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Black and White

July 24, 2014

There are some conflicts in which neither side is clearly in the right or wrong, in which there is not really a black or white but shades of gray. World War I might serve as an example. Despite propaganda by both the Allies and the Central Powers, neither side could be unambiguously seen as in the right or wrong and neither side was clearly the aggressor. World War II was quite different. The Germans and the Japanese had both begun wars of aggression against neighboring countries without legitimate cause. The Axis powers were ruled by abominable governments that committed atrocities against the people they conquered. The presence of the Soviet Union on the side of the allies might have complicated matters since the Communists were every bit as evil as the Nazis and had, in fact, been aggressors earlier in that war, before Hitler double-crossed them. All the same, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union and the efforts of the Russian people helped to end at least one great evil.

There are many who would like to believe that the current fighting in the Gaza Strip is one of the conflicts with no clear good or bad sides. If they cannot get away with blaming the whole affair on Israel and the Jews this time, they can at least adopt a position of moral equivalency. Both sides have committed wrongs. There is no black or white here. Such is the attitude of an article in the Christian Science Monitor I have just read.

There are two broad narratives about the current conflict between Hamasand Israel.

The first, presented by Israel and its allies, is that rocket-fire from the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other militants is an intolerable threat to the country, and that Israel is simply responding in self-defense. The second, presented by Hamas and its allies, is that the economic blockade of Gaza, the arrest of hundreds of Hamas members over the past month, and the heavy ordnance that has pounded the tiny enclave is intolerable, and they’re responding in self-defense.

Both sides are right. And both sides are wrong. They are right in that they are pursuing their interests with the tools that they’ve decided are best suited to the purpose – rockets and bombs. And that both sides would like the attacks from the other side to stop.

The article goes on at some length on the history of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and actually does do a good job of presenting the points of view of both sides fairly. The writer is wrong, all the same. There are  clear right and wrong sides in this conflict. Israel is in the right and Hamas is in the wrong.

I need not go into the entire history of how Israel’s neighbors have tried again and again to destroy the Jewish state or how Israel has been under siege since the day it was founded, nor do I need to to state how the Jews have taken a depopulated wasteland and turned it into a flourishing modern state while the Palestinians remain mired in poverty because their leaders care only for war against Israel. The simple fact of the matter is that if Hamas and the Fatah faction that controls the West Bank were to disarm and ask for peace, Israel would leave them alone. If they would grant that Israel has a right to exist and end their campaign to destroy Israel, Israel would make peace. On the other hand, if the Israelis were to disarm and ask only to live in peace, Israel would be quickly destroyed. One side wants peace. The other side wants genocide. There is no moral equivalence here and only the morally corrupt would suppose that there is.

What Hawking is Supporting

May 9, 2013

By participating in an academic boycott of Israel in support of the Palestinians, Stephen Hawking is sending an implied message of support to the Palestinian leadership, which in the Gaza Strip is composed of the terrorist group Hamas. It might be worthwhile for Professor Hawking to learn more about what sort of people he is siding with. First up is a report from Israel National News.

Hamas is lobbying for a stricter enforcement of Islamic law in Gaza – including provisions to cut off the hands of thieves, and execution of individuals who cheat on their spouses. A report in the Al-Hayat daily newspaper said that Hamas expects the new regulations to take effect in the coming months, after introduction of the legislation in the PA parliament.

Existing laws mete out the death penalty to individuals convicted of murder, spying, homosexuality, or selling land to Jews. The new legislation will expand the crimes for which individuals can be executed to include disloyalty to a spouse – having sexual relations outside the context of marriage. Other provisions of the law include chopping off the right hand of a thief (along with at least a seven year jail sentence), and lashes for a large number of “crimes,” including drinking alcoholic beverages and gambling. All the punishments are derived from sharia, Islamic law.

In addition, girls age 15 will be able to decide to marry on their own, without requiring permission from their parents. Individuals age ten and over are considered adults under the new legislation, and are subject to the full force of the law for offenses.

Hamas has a large majority in the PA parliament, with 74 of the 134 parliamentarians belonging to the Islamist party. Many of them belong to the fundamentalist Salafist movement, and they are behind the push for the new laws. While there is opposition in Hamas to the passage of the legislation at this point, it is expected to easily pass. Once it does, the laws will be extant in both Gaza and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, but it is not clear if they will be enforced there.

Selling land to Jews merits the death penalty. Who is the violator of human rights here? Next up is a report from ABC News.

A prominent Islamic scholar making a landmark visit to the Gaza Strip declared Thursday that Israel has no right to exist and voiced his support for rocket fire on Israel, giving a boost of legitimacy to the militant Islamist Hamas rulers of the Palestinian territory.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi is the latest of a few high profile figures visit Gaza, boosting the Hamas effort to break its international isolation. The U.S., EU and Israel brand Hamas a terror group, while the rival Fatah, which rules in the West Bank, enjoys Western backing.

Al-Qaradawi issued the strongest anti-Israel declarations of any of the visitors to date.

“This land has never once been a Jewish land. Palestine is for the Arab Islamic nation,” said al-Qaradawi, a Qatar-based cleric made famous by his popular TV show and widely respected in the Muslim world.

“The rockets made in Gaza are more powerful than the (Israeli) occupation’s rockets,” he added.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 following several days of fighting against the rival Palestinian faction Fatah. Since then, Hamas militants have launched thousands of rockets into Israeli towns. Israel carried out two punishing military offensives, one in the winter of 2008-2009 and another late last year which killed the chief of the Hamas military wing.

Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, but imposes a maritime blockade and controls the flow of goods coming from Israel into the territory. Gaza’s Hamas rulers and their backers still refer to Israel as “the occupation,” referring to Israel’s control of the West Bank and reflecting a belief that the presence of a Jewish state in the Middle East is an illegitimate occupation.

The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, which governs in the West Bank, condemned al-Qaradawi’s visit, saying his presence is cementing the rift between the two Palestinian factions.

Fatah and Hamas have tried to reconcile their differences in recent years but failed. Western leaders have demanded that a unified Fatah-Hamas government must recognize Israel and agree to enter peace negotiations. Hamas has refused.

How do you make peace with people who will not concede you have a right to exist? Please note that while the Fatah faction is not so openly calling for the destruction of Israel, that is their goal too. The difference between the two factions is that the leadership of Fatah has enough sense to downplay their genocidal ambitions, at least before Western audiences.

And finally here is a report from Palestinian Media Watch.

wo senior Palestinian Authority officials praised the use of violence against Israel last week.

Senior PA official Sultan Abu Al-Einein expressed his open support for the murderer who killed Evyatar Borovsky, an Israeli who was stabbed to death by Palestinian terrorist Salam Al-Zaghal while he was waiting for a ride.

Abu Al-Einein, who was until recently an advisor holding the rank of minister to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and who was subsequently appointed Head of the Palestinian Council for NGO Affairs by Abbas, honored the murderer:

“We salute the heroic fighter, the self-sacrificing Salam Al-Zaghal.”

Abu Al-Einein also praised the murderer and his killing with the words:

“He insisted on defending his honor, so he went against the settler and killed him. Blessings to the breast that nursed Salam Al-Zaghal.”

The audience applauded and whistled at this statement.

Last week, Palestinian Media Watch reported that only hours after the murder, the administrator of Fatah’s official Facebook page glorified Al-Zaghal as a “hero.”

Another senior PA official, Jibril Rajoub, also praised the use of violence against Israel. During an interview on a Lebanese TV channel, the host referred to “the negotiations game” with Israel, and Rajoub expressed the view that negotiations are held because the Palestinians lack military strength:

“I swear that if we had a nuke, we’d have used it this very morning.”

Jibril Rajoub is the Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee and Chairman of the PA Olympic Committee. The interview was broadcast on the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV channel and also published on Rajoub’s Facebook page on May 2, 2013.

Senior PA officials often state that avoiding violent confrontation or war with Israel is only temporarily, due to the PA’s inability to take on such a conflict. They claim that negotiations with Israel are the right course of action for now, because conditions are not right for violence.

Mahmoud Abbas himself has also said on several occasions that if the Arab nations would begin a war against Israel, “Palestine” would join them.

The following is an excerpt of senior PA official Sultan Abu Al-Einein’s interview, in which he praises a murderer as a “heroic fighter”:

“Praise Allah who honored us and designated us to be in Ribat (religious war defending or liberating “Islamic” land) until Judgment Day, until the dawn of freedom and national independence will shine [on us]… On behalf of all those who fell as Martyrs or were wounded, we salute the heroic fighter, the self-sacrificing Salam Al-Zaghal from the Tulkarem District, whose honor and pride would not let him remain silent, consenting to the settlers’ aggression against him in his vehicle. He insisted on defending his honor, so he went against the settler and killed him. Blessings to the breast that nursed Salam Al-Zaghal.”
[Palestine Live TV, May 2, 2013]

The following is the translation of senior PA official Jibril Rajoub’s interview, in which he swears that the PA would use nuclear weapons against Israel, if it possessed them:

Lebanese TV host: “The American [John Kerry] came to the PA. They are talking about reviving negotiations, about getting back to the table with the Israelis… Will you go back to the negotiations game?”
Jibril Rajoub: “There is no going back to negotiations unless the source of authority is the international resolutions, with a time frame and with the freezing of all unilateral Israeli steps: Jerusalem, the fence, settlements and prisoners.”
Host: “You’ve heard Israel’s refusal.”
Jibril Rajoub: “That doesn’t matter. Listen. We as yet don’t have a nuke, but I swear that if we had a nuke, we’d have used it this very morning.”
It surely must be obvious to any disinterested observer that the Palestinians do not want peace with Israel. The only way that they will agree to peace with Israel is if they are convinced that they cannot win by violent means. When well meaning but idiotic Westerners support them and condemn Israel, the Palestinians are encouraged to believe that they will prevail. The Palestinians will never bargain in good faith if they think they can destroy Israel. By supporting an academic boycott of Israel, Stephen Hawking is encouraging terrorists to keep up their campaign of terror and is costing the lives of people on both sides of the struggle.
All of the above links came courtesy of Jihad Watch, a website Stephen Hawking ought to read. There is a lot more there.

 

Palestinians Submit Bid for Statehood to the UN

September 23, 2011

This is not going to end well, I am afraid

Defying U.S. and Israeli opposition, Palestinians asked the United Nations on Friday to accept them as a member state, sidestepping nearly two decades of failed negotiations in the hope this dramatic move on the world stage would reenergize their quest for an independent homeland.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was greeted by sustained applause and appreciative whistles from the delegations in the General Assembly hall as outlined his people’s hopes and dreams of becoming a full member of the United Nations. Some members of the Israeli delegation, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, left the hall as Abbas approached the podium.

In a scathing denunciation of Israel’s settlement policy, Abbas declared that negotiations with Israel “will be meaningless” as long as it continues building on lands the Palestinians claim for that state. Invoking what would be a nightmare for Israel, he went so far as to warn that his government could collapse if the construction persists.

“This policy is responsible for the continued failure of the successive international attempts to salvage the peace process,” said Abbas, who has refused to negotiate until the construction stops. “This settlement policy threatens to also undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence.”

To another round of applause, he held up a copy of the formal membership application and said he had asked U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to expedite deliberation of his request to have the United Nations recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

Abbas neglected to mention certain aspects of recent history.

The speech papered over any Palestinian culpability for the negotiations stalemate, deadly violence against Israel, spurned peace offers and the internal rift that has produced dueling governments in the West Bank and Gaza. It also ignored Jewish links to the Holy Land.

Abbas seemed to hold out an olive branch to Israel.

“We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking,” Abbas said. “Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints and walls of separation, and build cooperative relations based on parity and equity between two neighboring states — Palestine and Israel — instead of policies of occupation, settlement, war and eliminating the other,” he said.

I seem to have some trouble believing he is sincere. I am not sure why.

This will not result in a state for Palestine, since the US will veto the bid as soon as it comes before the Security Council. I suspect that that is not the point. Rather this is intended to be a propaganda coup to put pressure on Israel and bolster Abbas’s domestic position.

Abbas’ jubilant mood was matched by the exuberant celebration of thousands of Palestinians who thronged around outdoor screens in town squares across the West Bank on Friday to see their president submit his historic request for recognition of a state of Palestine to the United Nations.

“I am with the president,” said Muayad Taha, a 36-year-old physician, who brought his two children, ages 7 and 10, to witness the moment. “After the failure of all other methods (to win independence) we reached a stage of desperation. This is a good attempt to put the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people on the map. Everyone is here to stand behind the leadership.”

Yet by seeking approval at a world forum overwhelmingly sympathetic to their quest, Palestinians hope to make it harder for Israel to resist already heavy global pressure to negotiate the borders of a future Palestine based on lines Israel held before capturing the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967.

I have no idea what is going to happen next in that region but I am not optimistic.

Bizarro World

September 19, 2011

I think that I must have entered Bizarro World.

 

You know, the strange planet in the Superman comics where they do everything the opposite the way it’s done on Earth. I get the impression from reading this article from USA Today.

WASHINGTON — The Palestine Liberation Organization‘s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews.

“After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated,” Maen Areikat, the PLO ambassador, said during a meeting with reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. He was responding to a question about the rights of minorities in a Palestine of the future.

Such a state would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews, said Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. National Security Council official.

And yet, somehow it is Israel that is the evil apartheid state, even though some 20% of Israel’s population are Arabs who have all the same rights as Israel’s Jewish population. And, the Palestinian Authority is somehow on the side of the angels, even though they are notoriously corrupt and undemocratic as this report from Freedom House makes clear.

Corruption remains a major problem in the West Bank, though Abbas has overseen some improvements. Prime Minister Salam Fayad, appointed by Abbas in 2007, is highly regarded for his commitment to transparent government, and has been credited with significantly reducing corruption at the higher levels of the PA.
The media are not free in the West Bank. Under a 1995 PA press law, journalists may be fined and jailed, and newspapers closed, for publishing “secret information” on PA security forces or news that might harm national unityor incite violence. Several small media outlets are routinely pressured to provide favorable coverage of the PA and Fatah. Journalists who criticize the PA or Fatah face arbitrary arrests, threats, and physical abuse. Since 2007, both the PA and Israeli forces have shut down Hamas-affiliated radio and television stations in the West Bank. In February 2010, a PA military court sentenced Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa television correspondent Tareq Abu Zaid to a year and a half in prison for “transferring information and money,” despite a Palestinian Supreme Court ruling calling for his release. In July, the PA Ministry of Communications issued notices to 19 radio and 25 television stations to stop broadcasting for one month and “correct their positions” or face permanent closure, according to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA). International press freedom groups regularly criticize Israel for blocking journalists’ access to conflict zones, harming and sometimes killing reporters during battles, and harassing Palestinian journalists. Israel insists that reporters risk getting caught in crossfire but are not targeted deliberately. Both Palestinian and Israeli security forces were accused of assaulting and arbitrarily detaining several journalists in 2010.
The PA generally respects freedom of religion, though no law specifically protects religious expression. The Basic Law declares Islam to be the official religion of Palestine and also states that “respect and sanctity of all other heavenly religions (Judaism and Christianity) shall be maintained.” Personal status law, which governs marriage and divorce, is based on religious law; for Muslims it is derived from Sharia (Islamic law), and for Christians it is governed by ecclesiastical courts. Some Palestinian Christians have experienced intimidation and harassment by radical Islamist groups and PA officials. In late October, blogger Waleed Hasayin was arrested on charges of defaming Islam and the Koran and violating the PA’s blasphemy laws; Hasayin was still being detained at year’s end while the PA investigated the allegations.
While Palestinian women are underrepresented in most professions and encounter discrimination in employment, they have full access to universities and to many professions. Palestinian laws and societal norms, derived in part from Sharia, put women at a disadvantage in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Rape, domestic abuse, and “honor killings,” in which women are murdered by relatives for perceived sexual or moral transgressions, are not uncommon. These murders often go unpunished.
So, how do I get back to a world that is rational?

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