Ban Ki-moon Does Not Deserve a Prize

(Originally published on Israel Hayom)

Some things just do not make any sense, whichever way you look at them. Tel Aviv University’s award of ‎the George S. Wise Medal, its highest honor, to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is one of those things. ‎

When I first heard about it, I thought someone had come up with an excellent piece of satire, because ‎what could possibly make less sense than Israelis giving the U.N. chief, who presides over the most Israeli-‎bashing organization (granted, in close competition with the European Union), an honorary award? Perhaps if it were an honorary award for passing the most anti-Israeli ‎resolutions in any given year, while ignoring every tyranny and dictatorship in the world — sorry, not ‎ignoring, appointing them to important positions on the U.N. Human Rights Council.‎

There was a tragicomic undercurrent to Ban’s acceptance speech, in which he said that he ‎‎was accepting it “in the name of all the women and men of the United Nations working to advance peace, ‎development and human rights around the world and around the clock.” Never have the U.N.’s de facto goals ‎and efforts been more mischaracterized.‎

Never missing a chance to mischaracterize events on the ground in Israel as well, Ban encouraged ‎Israel to “not allow the extremists on either side to further fuel the conflict. Palestinian and Israeli leaders ‎must stand firm against terror, violence and incitement,” again giving credence to the lie that there is a ‎reciprocal “cycle of violence” instead of one-sided Palestinian Arab terrorism and PA incitement to kill Jews. ‎He also rehashed the old tropes about Israeli “occupation,” essentially repaying the honor Tel Aviv ‎University had bestowed on him with the customary insults that Israel has grown sadly used to when it ‎comes to the U.N. ‎

Ban concluded that “I strongly believe that members of the international community must ‎exercise their collective and individual influence to help reach the common destination: an end to the ‎occupation which will soon enter its 50th year, and the establishment of two states for two peoples living ‎side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.” He even spoke of “responsibility,” using the Hebrew ‎word, “achrayut.” ‎

Yet it is hard to imagine a less responsible actor than the U.N. and the international community. It is precisely ‎the collective effort of the international community, particularly the U.N. and the EU, that keeps the PA ‎incitement and terrorism alive by giving it credibility and treasure and ceaselessly singling out Israel for blame. ‎Without the international community, this conflict would have ended long ago. As is customary in all things ‎U.N., Ban had bleached out all references to PA-instigated terrorism — the murderous stabbings, ‎shootings and car ramming attacks on Israeli civilians — from his speech. Clearly, according to Ban, ‎there is complete moral equivalence between Israel and the PA. ‎

During his visit, Ban went to visit a school in Gaza, where he boldly stated that “the closure of ‎Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts. … It’s a collective ‎punishment for which there must be accountability.”

It is these kinds of manipulative and statements, falsely implying that there is a blockade of Gaza affecting civilians, which Ban apparently considers a “responsible” exercise of his high office for the purpose of resolving the conflict. His statements, after all, are reproduced by media and quoted as truth. His remark about “reconstruction efforts” is particularly heinous. As of November 2015, 25 million tons of construction materials had been brought in, 2,733 homes had been rebuilt, and 100,513 homes had been repaired or were in the process of being repaired. In addition, 241 international large-scale projects were under construction.

The blockade is for one purpose only: stopping Hamas from rebuilding its abilities to launch missiles and terror attacks against Israel, and as such, its de facto a weapons embargo. Israel has provided and continues to provide Gaza with millions of tons of humanitarian supplies, including food, medicine and water. What Ban said is factually untrue.

However, Ban also spoke in complete disregard of his own organization’s legal judgment: In a ‎report from 2011 in which the U.N. reviewed Israel’s response to the Turkish-based flotilla to Gaza in 2010, ‎the U.N. noted: “Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was ‎imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its ‎implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”

The blockade is legal under ‎international law. By pretending it is not and peddling the kind of false statements that he did in Gaza ‎the other day, the only thing Ban achieved was the further erosion of the rule of international law. ‎

The question that remains as a bad aftertaste is why an Israeli university, of all places, found it appropriate ‎to bestow on this man its highest honor.

The Hypocrisy of Brexit and the Rise of the Developing World

When the colonial powers gave up on their empire building schemes in Africa and the East, they transferred their physical control to one that was far more “humane,” economic control.  The Europeans decided that battling determined independence movements in Africa and the East just wasn’t worth it.  From the late 1940’s to the 1970’s Africa and the East gained their Independence from Britain and other European countries. However, neocolonial policies of economic servitude through corrupt local leadership continued into the present decade.  

Only now, with the rise of leaders like Modi in India, Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya, and Paul Kagame in Rwanda indigenous stability has grown to the point where Europe does not have carte blanche over these growing economies.

This is what is so hypocritical about the Brexit vote. Yes, the British regained their sovereign rights over their island, but it is in fact the British themselves that were some of the greatest offenders of controlling indigenous peoples around the world.  The Middle East and Africa are messed up due to the colonial aspirations of the British and their European counterparts. Israel, Kurdistan, and Arab tribes throughout the Middles East were played off each other and moved from one area to another in order to placate the need for control by the Europeans.

In Africa, boundaries were drawn in order to break strong tribes and when necessary these tribes were enslaved and deported to the new world. The Europeans created artificial states and instead of supporting indigenous peoples in these areas they encouraged migrations of Arabs and fundamentalist Muslims both into the Sub-Sahara in Africa and into the Levant and Northern Iraq.  The hypocrisy of the British disconnecting from Europe as these populations flow throughout the mainland, because they don’t want them entering their Kingdom is obvious. At the end of the day the end of the EU is due to the very same forces these powers applied to the colonial areas under their control.

Remember, chaos breeds the need for order. The neo-colonial powers of Europe and America desired to decimate locals in order to exert perpetual control.  Now their centuries’ old experiment of utilizing the Arab hordes for this work has finally caught up to them. It is true, the British might have slowed it down with Brexit, but until they come clean on the cause of all of this, slowing down will only defer the end result a little longer.  

The irony now is that Europe’s death spiral appears to be irreversible, while those former areas of colonial control such as the Sub-Sahara, Middle East, and Near East are coming of age.  With the pendulum swinging against their historical impediments Israel has become the central pillar in an emerging world order that resets the formerly subjugated into beacons of growth and development.  Unfortunately, the ravaging of these areas perpetuated by neocolonial policies of forced conversions (in the case of west Africa), slavery, and an eradication of indigenous cohesive cultures created a vacuum that has taken the developing world longer to rebound from.

Europe will break up and Britain too.  Yet, in the darkness of their cultural zenith the blame should remain close to home.

Egregious Ehud

(Originally published on Arutz Sheva)

Rather than an indictment of the ruling coalition, Barak’s recent “fire and brimstone” address was a harsh condemnation of the Israeli electorate for its infuriatingly stubborn refusal to disregard past experience.

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones –A proverb on prudence (or the lack thereof) and hypocrisy; origins traced back to Geoffrey Chaucer (1385)

Note to readers: I have taken a break from the multi-part critique (Imbecility Squared) of the so-called plan put forward by the organization that goes by the name of “Commanders for Israel’s Security” (CIS), to analyze and rebuff Ehud Barak’s outrageous attack on the intelligence of the Israeli people, which he delivered at the end of last week. I felt his unfair and unfounded onslaught could not go unanswered. I will continue with my analysis of the CIS proposal—which Barak seems to endorse—in coming weeks – MS

Evidence of how deluded the Israeli political discourse has become was starkly on display last week at the prestigious Herzliya Conference.

However it was towards the end of the event, with the closing address by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak that new pinnacles of Kafkaesque absurdity were reached.

Fire and brimstone rhetoric

Barak launched into a derogatory diatribe, viciously vilifying the current government, which was (inexplicably?) voted into power in the (annoyingly?) free and fair elections, conducted barely a year ago. As such, it was less an indictment of the ruling coalition, and far more a harsh condemnation of the Israeli electorate for its (infuriatingly?) stubborn refusal to disregard past experience and vote for parties, whose political credos, presumably similar to those that Barak professes to hold, have been proven—repeatedly and tragically—misguided.

With a torrent of fire-and brimstone-rhetoric, Barak warned ominously of what lay in store in the incumbent government if it was not replaced, or at least, if it was not coerced by popular pressure, to adopt the policies of its ideological adversaries, defeated not long ago at the polls.

In his tirade, he managed to invoke virtually every pejorative adjective in the Hebrew language to brutally berate the Netanyahu government, which he characterized as “weak, flaccid, raucous, devious, and extremist, that has failed again and again, to ensure security…It has undermined the fabric of Israeli democracy, failed in managing relations with the US and in shaping Israel’s image in the world; it repeatedly misses diplomatic opportunities, suffers from paralysis in effectively managing the conflict, even in the absence of any ‘partner’

The shortest term in history

Ironically—and for the purposes of this analysis, significantly—Barak’s tenure as prime minister (a mere year and 245 days) was in fact the shortest in Israel’s history, following which he was forced to resign and suffered a stinging defeat in the ensuing election, forced on him because of his dismal performance in almost every sphere, but particularly in security—his purported field of expertise.

Rather than invoke any sense of humility, this dubious “honor” did nothing to deter Barak from preaching, presumptuously, pretentiously and pompously, to the very person, who, in stark contrast to himself, has held the post of PM longer than any of his predecessors—apart from Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.

Full disclosure: I am not an uncritical advocate for either Netanyahu or his government. Quite the opposite. In the past I have expressed deep concern regarding many of his decisions, and grave misgivings as to his approach to numerous issues. But against the backdrop of Ehud Barak’s harsh words of censure, the spectacle of him presuming to don the mantle of some redeeming and sagacious oracle has a distinctly distasteful and disingenuous ring to it—falling somewhere between the delusional and the detestable.

Should occupants of glass houses be hurling rocks?

We are thus compelled to believe that Barak must be counting on severe memory loss on the part of the Israeli public, which, hopefully, will have erased all recollection in the minds of the populace of what transpired under his administration—when debacle followed hard on the heels of disaster.

Take, for example, his accusation that the government “has failed again and again, to ensure security”. It would, indeed, be difficult to conjure up in one’s mind a more archetypically illustrative example of an imprudent occupant of a fragile glass house hurling rocks at his neighbors.

After all, it was Barak who initiated and orchestrated the IDF’s hasty and undignified unilateral retreat (2000) from the Security Zone in South Lebanon, abandoning the area to Hezbollah, who promptly converted it into a fearsome arsenal—with almost 15,000 high-trajectory weapons aimed at civilian population centers throughout the country, and the well-armed forces of the Islamist terror organization deployed up to the very fences of Israel’s Northern border.

This highly volatile situation, created courtesy of Barak, who capitulated to Left-leaning civil-society pressure groups, such as Four Mothers, led inevitably to the Second Lebanon War in which scores of Israeli were killed and millions huddled in shelters for over a month, as many of the aforementioned 15,000 rockets and missiles rained down on them. Since then the enemy stockpile of armaments has grown almost ten-fold in quantity, and improved greatly in quality, precision, and destructive power—while recently a new peril has emerged: The specter of trans-border attack tunnels that give many residents of the North sleepless nights.

Way to go, Ehud!

Brazen impudence

But this was not the only security related fiasco to stain the brief Barak incumbency. After all, it was on his watch that the 2001 Second Intifada erupted. The ensuing violence lasted over five years, bringing dread and death to Israel’s streets, cafes and buses—and resulted in the murder of about 1000 Israelis and the maiming of nearly 10,000. (Significantly, some pundits attribute the start of the Second Intifada, at least in part, to perceived Israeli flaccidity, which Barak’s hurried evacuation from South Lebanon, barely a year previously, conveyed to the Palestinian-Arabs, emboldening them in their confrontation with Israeli security forces.)

Likewise, after he returned to politics, during the period in which he served as Defense Minister in the governments of Ehud Olmert (2007-2009) and (heaven forfend) Benjamin Netanyahu (2009-2013) the security situation in the South deteriorated so severely that the IDF was forced to act to restore calm to the area in two large military operations, “Cast Lead” and “Pillar of Defense”.

Regrettably, at the end of both campaigns, after weeks of combat, Hamas emerged defiantly undefeated, with its stature—despite the heavy damage inflicted on it—enhanced, and its military capabilities—after a relatively short time period—significantly upgraded.

Accordingly, in light of his disturbingly poor performance in the security field, it is difficult to avoid concluding that Barak’s caustic castigation of this government’s alleged ongoing failure to “ensure security” is nothing but brazen impudence, both shameless and baseless, as unfounded as it is unfair.

Dismal political performance

But of course Barak’s failures were not limited to security.  Debacles of similar magnitude characterized his performance in domestic politics as well.

Thus, in 2001 not only did he lose by a huge margin to Ariel Sharon in the then prevailing personal one-on-one election of prime minister, after which he chose to withdraw from politics, but his return, several years later, did not herald any stunning success.

In late 2004, Barak announced his return to Israeli politics, and began to run for leadership of the Labor Party, but, in light of his weak poll showings, dropped out of the race. However, in 2007 did regain leadership of the Labor Party—after a narrow victory in the intra-party primaries, which must be surely ascribed to the acute amnesia of its members who seemed to have totally forgotten the devastation he wrought on their faction a few years previously. Two years later in the 2009 polls, Barak led Labor to its worse electoral defeat ever, which left it as the fourth largest party in the Knesset, with only 13 seats to its credit.

Moreover, less than three years later Barak further eviscerated the party he was elected to lead, and formed a breakaway faction, called “Independence”, with four other Labor MKs. However, as the 2012 elections approached, and polls predicted that Barak’s new party would have little chance of winning enough votes to reach the minimum threshold level required for eligibility to the Knesset, Barak deserted his colleagues, abandoned his endeavor to be elected and returned to private business.

Not norms expected of a minister  

Apparently Barak does not have too much to boast about when it comes to personal ethics either.

After his return to political life, and with his appointment as Defense Minister in Ehud Olmert’s government, the then State Comptroller, Micha Lindenstrauss, was called upon to check whether there were any conflicts of interest between the duties of Barak’s newly assumed public position and his private business activities—which according to Barak, he transferred as a “gift” to his three daughters just prior to assuming the role of Defense Minister.

However, in a report published in 2011, the Comptroller asserted that the “transfer process was flawed and Barak’s actions were not consistent with the norms expected of a minister” (NRG website, May 17, 2011). In similar vein, the business daily, The Marker, wrote: “The report that the State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss published today [May 7, 2011] on the Minister of Defense…is an extremely serious public rebuke to Minister Barak.

The headlines in Globes, another business daily, proclaimed “Comptroller blasts Barak for violating public norms”, going on to quote the then Chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee, as declaring: “This is one of the most severe reports ever published against a minister in Israel…Ehud Barak’s attempt to defraud the public and to create the appearance of a mere technicality has collapsed in view of the ugly findings revealed by the State Comptroller.”

Strangely (or not?) there was no tenacious follow up by the mainstream media. Image the frenzy had it been Netanyahu…

Like manna from heaven for Israel’s foes

In his unrestrained and unjustified harangue, Barak did not baulk even at inflicting severe harm on his country’s image and the government’s international credibility.  Indeed, several of his more fanciful allegations were undoubtedly gleefully embraced like manna from heaven by some of Israel’s worst detractors, who work tirelessly to demean, delegitimize and demonize the country in international forums.   After all, what more could they hope for when a former prime minister of Israel himself warns of signs of “budding fascism” appearing in the Israeli regime?

Of course, the very fact that such a severe indictment of the ruling government could be freely articulated without fear of retribution, and the wide prominence it was given in Israel’s unfettered main-stream media, make an utter mockery of the suggestion that any danger of fascism is at hand.  After all, such openness and tolerance of so blatant an effort to blacken and belittle the incumbent powers is hardly the defining hallmark of a country descending into impending fascism, now is it?

Of course, it is not difficult to imagine the massive media storm that would have erupted had it been Netanyahu, rather than Barak, who hurled such grave incriminations at his adversaries; it is not difficult to envision the horrified howls, protesting a policy of “hatred and division” that would have filled the airwaves, the social networks of cyberspace and emblazoned headlines across the front pages of mainstream dailies…

The man who proved he couldn’t

I could go on of course and repudiate almost every line of invective in this inappropriate and infuriating speech by one of the worst political leaders in the nation’s history, but there is after all, just so many mean-spirited falsehoods one can rebut in a single opinion column.  All that remains now it to hope that the Israeli public is savvy and sane enough not to be led astray by the ridiculous rants of a man who has demonstrated time and time again that, well, …he  couldn’t.

Nigeria as a Genocidal State

In spite of all apparent reality to the contrary, and for reasons just as varied as the people, there may be a few individuals and interest groups who still wish for the survival of the Nigerian state as it is presently constituted. Such well-wishers naturally are interested in seeing the country move forward in the positive direction. For some obvious reasons this much desired forward march has remained an impossible goal for about the entire span of the country’s history. Perhaps one of the most important first steps that is needed by the country to go forward in the desired direction is to find a way to unify the many divergent national, religious, ethnical and other aspiring groups which are the various strands that form the national fabric of the Nigerian country.
Involuntarily, the Igbo ethnical, national, religious and linguistic group is one of those major strands which were forced by colonial fiat to be parts of the national, etc. groups that constitute today’s Nigerian state. Within six years of Nigeria’s existence as a colonially united country crisis broke out in the new country and collectively the other groups as described above chose to attempt to exterminate the Igbo, claiming that the Igbo were responsible for the country’s many problems. Therefore, from 1966 to 1970 the new country – the government and its citizens pursued vigorously a national genocidal program of trying to totally wipe out Igbo people from the Earth as solution to Nigerian problems. At the end of the ordeal, though forced and patched up to rejoin the now badly frayed Nigerian union fabric, the Igbo emerged from this systematic crucible of hatred, shedding forever their Nigerian citizenship.  

Throughout history and in all regions of the world where there has been genuine and honest response to the crime of genocide, separation has always been the only sensible response. 

So, the best way to understand the Nigerian country and Igbo’s place in it is to look at it from this point of view: Nigeria as a genocidal state and its Igbo population as the victim of the crime. Genocide is the word to have in mind while responding to the question of whether the Igbo should continue to maintain their stake as partners in the colonial union known as Nigeria. Throughout history and in all regions of the world where there has been genuine and honest response to the crime of genocide, separation has always been the only sensible response. At the end of the crime, the victims are usually removed far away from the perpetrators. Separation is the only solution that permanently prevents future occurrences of the atrocities of genocide in any society (such as in Nigeria) where it has taken place.
While the international community is saying “Never Again” at the end of any genocide, it goes without saying that the only reliable guarantee that is capable of safeguarding such a promise is the shield and assurances that sovereign independent international boundaries provide for a persecuted people like the Igbo. The smart approach, as they say in Igbo, is that while anyone tries as much as possible to keep fires away from combustible gunpowder, they should also make as much effort in keeping the gunpowder away from fires.
Here following, let’s mention a few of these genocide victims (like the Igbo) who of necessity had to be separated from the perpetrators of their ordeal in order to ensure that the victims do not suffer the same fate in the future within the same place and from the same people. In Igbo tradition there are two traditional sayings which support this call for separation; 1. Igbo people believe that the cripple is not expected to die in a previously announced warfare. Due to their handicap, he or she is not expected to wait till the last minute to move away to a safer place. 2. The Igbo also believe that it is only a tree which is known to stay put and does not make efforts to escape the blows from the ax of the feller after it had been told the previous day that it would be cut down.
About two weeks ago, in the midst of threats from the Turkish government which perpetrated the crime, German legislators officially recognized the Armenian Genocide as such. Soon after the Turkish Ottoman Empire committed the genocide of the Armenians in 1915 with the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians, the Armenian people separated themselves from Turkey into an independent country of Armenia with administrative capital in Yerevan. After German Nazis committed the genocide of the Jews in Germany and the rest of Europe in which 6 million Jews were massacred, the victims had to separate themselves far away from the perpetrators. This Jewish Genocide is better known today as the Holocaust. The genocide ended in 1945 and the Jews established an independent state of Israel in the Middle East in 1948. It should also be remembered that it is the accusation of genocides that led to the breaking up of the united country of Yugoslavia into several different sovereign independent countries. The genocide of the East Pakistanis by the government of the West Pakistan led to the separation of the East from the West, where the East became an independent sovereign state of Bangladesh. The list goes on.
The genocide such as the one that took place in Nigeria against the Igbo is an institutional genocide. Most genocides are institutional crimes, anyway. In most cases it is only states that have the capacity to muster such elaborate machineries usually required to carry out such great massacres. The government as well as the other peoples of Nigeria committed the genocide of Biafrans between 1966 and 1970 in which 3.5 million Biafrans were killed. Igbo people alone made up 3.1 of the 3.5 million who died in that genocide.
The root cause of the Igbo Genocide in Nigeria is hatred. Therefore, the hatred that produced the act is institutional and not merely individuals hating their Igbo neighbors and friends. The Nigerian state as an institution is the primary source of the prevailing Nigerians’ hatred of the Igbo. Because its source resides in the institution of the federal republic of Nigeria, it will be near impossible to uproot this hatred from the Nigerian society. It will be near impossible to create a lasting atmosphere in the Nigerian society where the Igbo will be eventually accepted and allowed to exist side by side with the other Nigerians in the spirit of true brotherhood.
Institutions run as continuums therefore the established government policies, customs, norm and culture such as the society-wide hatred of the Igbo in Nigeria, run from one generation to the next. Agreements, armistices and promises such as “Never Again,” “No victors and no vanquished” and other similar lofty pledges, when they are genuinely made, can only hold for a short while in genocidal societies like Nigeria. Eventually there will always emerge the biblical Pharaoh who did not know Joseph and who sees no reason in honoring any pacts made by their predecessors. Once such Pharaohs arrive in power, the vicious cycle resumes and genocide repeats itself. Therefore, the only real solution that will permanently prevent any more future genocides of the Igbo in Nigeria is for the Igbo to embark on a Moses’ kind of exodus from the Nigerian Egypt into their own ancestral homeland in Igbo territory.

The Sin of the Spies in Every Generation

This week’s Torah portion is Shlakh Lekha.

As the Hebrew Nation mobilized to liberate the Land of Israel from Canaanite rule, Moshe dispatched a team of twelve tribal chiefs – each the spiritual leader of his tribe – to spy out the country in preparation for the assault. Ten of those spies returned with a misleading report meant to demoralize the nation and prevent the conquest from taking place. The other two, Yehoshua and Kalev, courageously challenged the ten in a noble attempt to save Israel from sin. The masses, however, followed the majority opinion and in doing so brought about a national catastrophe.

The spies who brought their people a demoralizing report were ostensibly demonstrating a rationalist approach to the situation. They saw and were concerned over the difficulties their people would be forced to confront when fighting to conquer their land.

“The people that dwells in the land are powerful, the cities are fortified and very great, and we also saw the giant’s descendants there… We cannot ascend against those people for they are too strong for us (mimenu).” (BAMIDBAR 13:28, 31)

Because the word mimenu can be translated as either “for us” or “for him” Rashi comments that it was as though they were speaking about HaShem, claiming that those Canaanite nations were even stronger than the Kadosh Barukh Hu.

The ten tribal chiefs weakened Israel’s resolve, leading the people to come forth with such complaints as “Why is HaShem bringing us to this land to die by the sword? Our wives and young children will be taken captive! Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?” (BAMIDBAR 14:3)

Most of Israel sided with the defeatist spies and perished in the desert over a period of forty years. The conquest of Eretz Yisrael was delayed until a new generation could arise that would be psychologically capable of fighting for their country. It was ultimately Yehoshua and Kalev – representing the minority opinion – who emerged victorious decades later, leading their people in the liberation of the homeland from foreign rule.

The ten spies that led the Hebrew Nation to catastrophe were essentially putting forth two basic arguments. The first was that preserving life overrides the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, claiming that if taking possession of the land appears to be dangerous, the people are not required to do so.

The second opinion expressed by these tribal chiefs was that it is possible and permissible to live true Torah lives outside the Land of Israel; that the Nation of Israel need not be in its borders to be loyal to HaShem or to live by His Torah. But this claim in and of itself negates Torah Law. The spies – giants of Israel and leaders of the Sanhedrin – rebelled against HaShem in refusing His directive to conquer Eretz Yisrael. Their treason revealed a terrible lack of faith and was a transgression far worse than that of the golden calf. For the sin of the calf, only three thousand were punished but for the sin of the spies, all male adults aside from Yehoshua and Kalev perished in the desert before ascending to their homeland.

The Sages teach (Tanḥuma, Sanhedrin 104b, Taanit 29a) that the sin of the spies took place on the ninth day of Av and was the foundation for the destructions of both the first and second Temples (both occurring on the same date in future years).

Rabbi Moshe Ḥaim Lutzatto explains in Mesillat Yesharim (chapter 11) that the tribal chiefs “feared a lessening of their honor, lest, upon entering the land, they would no longer be princes of Israel, and others would be appointed in their place.”

It is a regrettable truth that this transgression has repeated itself many times over throughout Israel’s history. Spiritual leaders often refrain from educating their followers that living in the Land of Israel is not merely a commendable personal choice but actually an underlying basis for the entire Torah. But if this error has infected even great scholars, we must question how so many otherwise righteous and learned giants could miss something so vital to the Torah’s full expression. The Gaon of Vilna offers an explanation in Kol HaTor (the Gaon’s teachings on the process of redemption):

“The Sin of the Spies… hovers over the Nation of Israel in every generation… How strong is the power of the Sitra Aḥra that it succeeds in hiding from the eyes of our holy fathers the dangers of the klipot; from the eyes of Avraham our father, the klipah of exile… and in the time of the Messiah, the Sitra Aḥra attacks the guardians of Torah with blinders… Many of the sinners in this great sin of, ‘They despised the cherished land,’ and also many of the guardians of Torah, will not know or understand that they are caught in the Sin of the Spies, that they have been sucked into the Sin of the Spies in many false ideas and empty claims, and they cover their ideas with the already proven fallacy that the mitzvah of the settlement of Israel no longer applies in our day, an opinion which has already been disproven by the giants of the world, the Rishonim and Aḥronim.” (KolHaTor chapter 5)

In his supplement to the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot, the Ramban teaches that it is a Torah commandment for every generation to take control of and inhabit the entire Land of Israel.

“This (a war to liberate Eretz Yisrael) is what our Sages call milḥemet mitzvah (obligatory war). In the Talmud (Sotah 44b) Rava said, ‘Yehoshua’s war of liberation was an obligatory duty according to all opinions.’ And do not err and say that this precept is the commandment to vanquish the seven nations… this is not so. We were commanded to destroy those nations when they fought against us and had they wished to make peace we could have done so under specific conditions. Yet we cannot leave the land in their control or in the control of any other nation in any generation… Behold, we are commanded with conquest in every generation… this is a positive commandment which applies for all time… And the proof that this is a commandment is this: ‘They were told to go up in the matter of the spies: ‘Go up and conquer as HaShem, G-D of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear and do not be discouraged.’ And it further says: ‘And when HaShem sent you from Kadesh Barnea saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you.’ And when they did not go up, the Torah says: ‘And you rebelled against the Word of G-D, and you did not listen to this command.’” (Positive Commandment 4 of the Ramban’s supplement to the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot)

The Ramban asserts that the conquest of Eretz Yisrael is a mitzvah for Israel in every generation and that we are forbidden from allowing any part of our country to fall into – or remain under – gentile control. It is found in the Shulḥan Arukh that all of the arbitrators of Torah Law (Rishonim and Aḥronim) agree with the Ramban concerning this issue.

“All of the Poskim, both Rishonim and Aḥronim, decide the Law in this fashion on the basis of the Ramban.” (Shulḥan Arukh, Even HaEzer section 75, Pitḥei Tshuva 6)

As for the spies’ claim that preserving life overrides the commandment to liberate the Land of Israel, it is clear that conquering territory from another people is naturally an act that involves physical danger. While the Torah commands Israel in most cases to preserve Hebrew life even at the expense of Torah Law, this cannot be applied to a Divine commandment that is, in its very essence, life threatening. Because the Torah obligates the Jewish people to fight for the liberation of Eretz Yisrael, the notion of Pikuaḥ Nefesh (preserving life) is not considered. Rather, a war of liberation requires greatMesirut Nefesh (self-sacrifice).

“The mitzvot of the Torah are not based on the occurrence of miracles. The mitzvah to wage war is given to us despite the fact that in the natural course of events both sides suffer casualties in the heat of battle. Evidently the mitzvah applies even though there is inherent danger…” (Minḥat Ḥinukh commentary to Sefer HaḤinukh 425)

The Gaon of Vilna writes in his introduction to Paat HaShulḥan that “all of the wisdoms of the world are for the sake of the Torah and are included within It.”

As the national expression of HaShem’s Ideal in this world, Israel must develop a holistic perspective of Torah that recognizes the deep inner unity of everything that exists within time and space. The fragmented perspective that caused the spies to see themselves as grasshoppers in comparison to the giants of Ḥevron is the same fragmented view – dimmed by nearly two thousand years of humiliating exile – that causes contemporary Jewish leaders to miss the significance of the time period we are currently living in and to relate to themselves as insignificant when compared to the leaders of foreign nations. This unhealthy perspective must be replaced by one that views HaShem as the Source of all, guiding world history towards an ultimate goal of universal perfection. Only by attaining this greater perspective can Israel begin to appreciate our true national mission and the purpose of Torah as the blueprint for all Creation.

UN Makes World Peace With Yoga

(Originally published on Israel Hayom)

Tuesday was International Yoga Day, an initiative of the United Nations. Irina Bokova, the UNESCO director general, gave a speech on the occasion to those who had been waiting in breathless anticipation. “This is a day of peace and harmony, with ourselves, with others and with the planet that is our home,” Bokova said, completely straight-faced.

Nothing less. I am sure this came as a bit of a surprise to the Yazidis, the Kurds, the Biafrans and the millions of persecuted Christians in the world. But Bokova probably did not have them in mind as her primary audience.

Bokova continued to list the beneficial geopolitical benefits of the ancient practice, saying yoga builds “mutual bridges of dialogue, mutual respect and understanding between cultures and peoples. … Yoga is a transformative force that can provide us with the strength and vision we need for more just and harmonious societies. Societies of solidarity, societies in balance with nature.” Impressively, she kept a straight face throughout, but then she has probably done this sort of thing before.

She continued undeterred: “This resonates powerfully with UNESCO’s core message … to deepen the moral and intellectual solidarity of humanity through mutual respect and understanding as the basis for lasting peace.”

She must have been alluding to UNESCO’s erasing of 4,000 years of Jewish culture and history on the Temple Mount in April this year, when UNESCO’s Executive Board adopted a resolution referring to the Temple Mount area solely as Al-Aqsa mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif, except for two references to the Western Wall plaza that were put in parenthesis. The text also referred to the plaza area by the Western Wall as al-Buraq Plaza. That was indeed an exquisite example of intellectual and moral solidarity with the Jewish people and an expression of deep respect and understanding, which truly only the United Nations could have pulled off.

Last, but not least, Bokova did not fail to mention the primary threat to the world today: No, not Islamic and state-sponsored terrorism — climate change. Apparently, yoga even has the power to solve that.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also chimed in with a statement on the global benefits of yoga: “Yoga is a sport that can contribute to development and peace. Yoga can even help people in emergency situations to find relief from stress.”

If only Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and all the rest would engage in a class or two of vinyasa or hatha yoga and get their breathing techniques right. The Head to Knee Forward Bend combined with the Cobra pose should do the trick.

I am the last to dispute the beneficial mental and physical effects of yoga. However, as I listened to Bokova’s truly extraordinary speech, it dawned on me that only the U.N., specifically UNESCO, could have come up with such a genius idea (well, to be fair, I think that the U.N. Human Rights Council might also have come up with it, given its extraordinary record). If only the U.N. would extend International Yoga Day to the remaining 364 days of the year and then every day would be “a day of peace and harmony with ourselves, with others and with the planet that is our home.” What a beautiful and noble thought and a brilliantly holistic and organic shortcut to that elusive goal of world peace.

Meanwhile, in the real world, especially in those parts where people less fortunate than well-fed and over-privileged U.N. bureaucrats are too busy fighting for their own and their children’s most basic survival to engage in the luxuries of Yoga Day, people are still being tortured, raped, beheaded and murdered, just for existing.

Unctuous U.N. bureaucrats wax lyrical about peace, humanity and other terms that this corrupt organization has rendered completely meaningless through its deliberate disregard for the most basic principles of international law. These thousands and thousands of bureaucrats are squandering taxpayer dollars on ridiculous self-congratulatory initiatives that serve no purpose whatsoever.

The U.N. continues to fraternize with the worst human rights violators in the world, while it singles out one country — guess which one — on every single one of its agendas, stubbornly pretending that it is the root cause of evil. And still this institution has the Orwellian audacity to lecture humanity on principles of “mutual understanding and respect.”

Imagine there’s no U.N.

It’s easy if you try

No UNESCO below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today … .

It is a vain but noble hope.

Being Igbo in Israel, A Conversation with Chief Hiben Daniel

It is not often when you get to sit with a truly special person.  I first met Chief Rabbi Hiben Daniel on my way to the Kotel last year.  He informed me that he was the head of the Igbo in both Israel and Nigeria. At that time I was more interested in business relationships with pro Israel Africans than taking up the cause of the Igbo, but the Almighty tends to push one where he or she is needed.

The Igbo are bit of an enigma to most Jews, but more and more there is a recognition that at some point in history they were in the Land of Israel.  There are a few hypotheses on how they got to what is called Biafra, the southeastern area of Nigeria.  Some believe they are the descendants of Judeans that fled to Egypt with the prophet Yirmiyahu. Others say they are Gad and came well before.  Of course no one should discount the fact that the Mali empire was filled with Jews and upon its collapse many fled south to the Guinea coast, Biafra being the furthest east.

The Igbo are circumcised on the eighth day as commanded in the Torah.  They do not eat unclean animals or mix meat and milk.  Furthermore they are married under a chupa, a Jewish wedding canopy. There are many other correlations.

So what happened?  Essentially, the British imposed Christianity on the southern areas of Nigeria. The Yoruba, mainly in the western part of Nigeria became Christian fairly easily, but the Igbo strangely enough blended both identities together. Only now, with the return of Israel to its homeland, the Igbo are waking up and realizing that they must return to their roots.  There are still millions of Igbo practicing Christianity with a twist in worshiping on Shabbat, but this is do to forced missionizing by Europeans.  When shown the truth, many begin to drop the ways of the original colonists.  

Now, over a year after our first meeting Rav Hiben Daniel and I were able to discuss himself and the Igbo.

Hi, Rav Daniel.  Thank you for sitting with me to discuss some of these issues.  I know much if this information is not widely distributed to the broader Jewish world. So it is an honor to discuss these things with you.

When did you arrive in Israel?

I arrived Israel on the 5th of May 1993.


How did you grow up?  What Jewish customs do you recall?

I grew up with my parents who were hiding to reveal to us that we are Jews for fear that we might leave them for Israel. I recall that we, good or bad must circumcise every male issue on the 8th day. The only time it’s extended is when the child is sick. Again, my father may he rest in peace had to wash his hands and pray every morning before talking to us.

There were other things as well like:

  • The separation of beds which we didn’t know why till I got married.
  • We never cooked meat and fish together.
  • Marriage rites must involve the paying of money.
  • During divorce the amount paid for the wife is returned to free her. Marriage is done also through yibum where the late husband has male issue and if she refuses, the halisa rite is performed to free her.
  • Barmitzva called Iwa Akwa.
  • Respect to the dead,1st 7 dys, 30 dys and 11 months of morning
  • Kibud ve aknasat orchim.


Do you believe Igbos are Jewish? Do they have to convert?

Yes Igbos are Jews. I don’t believe we have to convert but who am I to challenge HaMaran Ovadia zatzal, who told me why it’s good. So I started before others. According to the Ashkenazi rabbis like Rav Yehuda Frank  we don’t have to., although he recommended to go to a mikveh.


How did the Igbo get to Nigeria?  Why is there no written Torah?


The Igbos got to Nigeria through Egypt and some came and later left again, though few remained.

King Solomon who saw his minister Yerovam as a threat didn’t allow them come back from Egypt and the Kingdom divided.

The group who continued with Moshe May his name be blessed, came through Beersheva after helping to conquer Jordan.

Many from the tribe of Gad did not enter and scattered before coming to Land and went to Africa.

There was no Torah with them, rather Tanach. This same reason lead to their formation of the 4 market days called Nkwo, Eke, Orie, Afor which was a generally accepted tradition until they had Torah and those who didn’t have continued till today. Everything was primitive of course.

They had Torah and Synagogues till the foreign invaders came in from Portugal, Germany, Britain, etc. with missionary works and introduced their foreign gods and destroyed our Torah and Synagogues.


Have you experienced racism here in Israel?  If so, please elaborate and explain what we can do about it?

Racism? In black and white. Mostly from those who are not religious. To curb it, the government has to accept all Jews with open arms. Government offices and Knesset members should comprise black and white.

A committee, I mean trusted ones should be set up by Prime Minister Netanyahu to investigate this issue and enforce a law on this. You heard about the Ethiopians; how they were removed from school because they are black? How they never allowed them to buy houses to places of their choice? How my brothers and sisters after the conversion approved by Maran Ovadia (may he rest in peace) in 2007 were deported? The judges arrested together with me and the rabbis that were teaching us? It was on news on all media. Did the government do anything? Are there no Israelis in Igboland? Lots of them practicing with the Igbo Jews, yet we are tortured in our own land [Israel].


One last question.  What do you envision as your role here in Israel and in connection to the Igbo in Nigeria?  Where do you want to take it?

My vision, and role here in Israel? You can see for yourself. I left everything, went to Yeshiva and carefully studied for almost 12 years in different places just to help my poor Jews who are eager to come back to our old tradition of Judaism.

It is my dream to have a Yeshiva there in [Nigeria/Biafra]. I believe that the G-d of my fathers is Omnipresent. Rabbenu Nachman is one of the big scholars and was buried abroad. There is a reason for that. All we should know is that kindness is a language, which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. Judaism without chesed is avoda zara [idol worship]. I wish you well.

Today I am blessed with a wife, Ariella Nkechi Daniel and my princess daughter, Bat-El Adaeze Chinaecherem Daniel. This is my 3rd marriage. The first two was destroyed by the interior ministry ( I know the culprits ) whose main aim was to frustrate me being the leader of my people.

Now my questions to the Israeli government:

  1. Why has the government not done anything to bring back our brothers who were deported after their formal conversions since the Supreme Court of Israel approved the conversions done by a recognized Beit Din? I have the list of their names.
  1. I have names of some non religious Israelis teaching some of our poor citizens who want to come back to their religion the opposite of what we learn here. They are teaching women to tie Tefillin and talit. They are using the advantage of the weak to raise money in the name of trumah.  Yet we are not Jews? I have a message to all G-d fearing Jews; The hour has come. The Chief Rabbi of Israel HaMaran Yitzchak Yosef will no doubt be like his father who was there for us.

We are not fighting for aliyah, money, house ,etc. I beg with tears that the chief rabbi recognize us, help us with sifrei Torah and more Halachaic books and finally send us a beit din to go cleanse my people from their tuma [impurity] by ritual immersion and acceptance of the yoke of heaven, not teudat zeut. To this there will be a complete peace in the land of Israel. If you are current, you can see that a king from the Jewish land of Africa has emerged. This is not by accident, there is a reason for this. Those who communicate well with the King of Kings may know why. Remain blessed.

The ‘New Normal’?

(Originally published on Israel Hayom)

In Michel Houellebecq’s dystopian novel, “Submission” (2015), which takes place in an imaginary France ‎in 2022, when the Muslim Brotherhood has won elections and rules the country in alliance with the Socialists, the non-Jewish protagonist, a professor at the Sorbonne, tells his Jewish student, who is escaping to Israel with her family, that there ‎can be “no Israel for me.” This is one of the most poignant observations in the book.‎

Another is the protagonist’s reflection that the increasing violence, even the gunshots in the streets of Paris as a ‎civil war threatens to explode during the run-up to the elections, has become the ‎new normal: something that everyone is resigned to as an inevitable fact, barely reported in the ‎media and treated as unremarkable by his fellow lecturers. Even after the Muslim Brotherhood wins the ‎elections, and the Sorbonne is turned into an Islamic university, with all that this entails, his colleagues treat ‎this development as nothing out of the ordinary. Houllebecq’s indictment against the silence and ‎complicity of his fellow intellectuals in the face of the Islamist encroachments on French society is ‎scathing. As a matter of course, in the new France, where freedom of speech comes at a prohibitive ‎price, Houllebecq now has to live under 24-hour police protection. “Submission,” by the way, was published on the day of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.‎

The resignation and the precarious pretense that everything is normal in the face of rapidly deteriorating ‎circumstances, is a predictable human reaction, testimony to the sometimes practical but lamentable human capacity for adaptation to most circumstances, whatever they may be. ‎Historically, Jews have excelled in this discipline, simply because they had no choice. Just like Houllebecq’s ‎protagonist, they had nowhere else to go. However, whereas there “can be no Israel” for the lost ‎professor, today, unlike the last time Jews were threatened on a large scale in Europe, there is an Israel ‎for the Jews. Uniquely among all the peoples of Europe, the Jews have a welcoming place to go. ‎Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Western European Jews choose to stay put in Europe.‎

In 2015, 30,000 Jews made aliyah from all over the world. Almost 22,000 of these arrivals were from ‎France, Russia and Ukraine, and approximately 3,700 new immigrants made aliyah from the United States and ‎Canada. Other countries included Argentina and Venezuela, but Western Europe, outside of France, only ‎accounted for the tiniest contribution to these figures.‎

From the Netherlands, home to an estimated 50,000 Jews, only 96 Jews made aliyah in ‎‎2015, still the highest figure recorded in a decade. In Belgium, which saw an Islamic terrorist attack on the ‎Jewish museum in 2014, only 287 Jews made aliyah last year out of an estimated Jewish population of ‎‎40,000. Aliyah from the Scandinavian countries was equally negligible in 2015, despite a terrorist attack on ‎the synagogue in Copenhagen in 2015 and a growing anti-circumcision lobby in all the Scandinavian ‎countries, threatening to literally make a continued Jewish presence in those countries untenable. In ‎‎2014, kosher slaughter was made illegal in Denmark. In Sweden and Norway it was already outlawed. ‎

In the Netherlands, the beginning of 2016 saw an extraordinarily savage anti-Semitic attack on a Jewish ‎octogenarian couple in Amsterdam, who were robbed and beaten nearly to death while the Muslims ‎who perpetrated the attack called them “dirty Jews.” The couple had to be confined to an old-age home, ‎having sustained permanent injuries. Incredibly, the Dutch media, aided by the prosecution, upon reporting ‎the crime, chose not to mention the strong anti-Semitic element of the hate crime. Anti-Semitism was ‎also reported to be on the rise in Dutch schools, a dire foreboding for the future. ‎

The situation all over the European continent is depressingly similar with the occasional fluctuations in the ‎rise and fall of anti-Semitic incidents, but with a clear and persistent anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli ‎sentiment that makes itself felt in everyday life. Recently, the president of the Jewish society at the ‎London School of Oriental and African Studies explained that “we are too scared to go anywhere ‎so we walk in a group to the station. People come up to me and say, ‘I heard you hate Palestinians.'”‎

Jews are particularly at risk from the rise of jihad on the continent, but they are also existentially ‎threatened by the anti-Semitic campaigns against circumcision and kosher slaughter, which often have a broad ‎popular base that defies any categorization of left and right. The Social Democratic government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt brought about the prohibition against kosher slaughter in Denmark in 2014.‎

Added to this is the threat from far-right groups, which is sometimes exaggerated yet ‎nevertheless very much there. In the Netherlands, for instance, a Jewish organization, the Center for ‎Information and Documentation on Israel, was pressing charges in May against supporters of the ‎Dutch soccer champion PSV Eindhoven. A video was posted of PSV fans singing, “My dad was in the ‎commandos, my mother in the SS. Together they burned Jews, for Jews burn the best.” A PSV ‎spokesperson expressed his horror at the video. ‎

Nevertheless, Dutch high school graduates at a graduation party this month at Elde College in the ‎town of Schijndel, 60 miles southeast of Amsterdam, broke out in a song with almost the same lyrics. As ‎they approached the party, several graduates sang, “Together we’ll burn Jews, because Jews burn the ‎best.”

Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, whose home in Amersfoort has been attacked five times in recent years, says ‎that the frequency of anti-Semitic chants and other hate crimes “means Dutch Jews are less inclined to ‎report hate crimes, when they occur around them all the time.” In other words, hate crimes have become ‎the new normal, just as in Houllebecq’s dystopia, the violent riots in the streets of Paris and the ‎incremental Islamization of France became the new and accepted normal. The status quo ‎gradually transforms itself from what is first seen as unbelievable and deeply shocking to something that is considered quite ordinary. “Only six years ago, we were profoundly shocked ‎when two young men screamed ‘Heil Hitler’ during a commemoration ceremony at Vught,” said Jacobs, ‎‎”But today, this wouldn’t be so shocking anymore. It is happening all the time in the Netherlands.” ‎

This is perhaps inevitable, a function of the plasticity of human nature and its ability to adapt to even that ‎which is most abhorrent, but it is also truly lamentable. Unlike Houllebecq’s professor, these Jews have a ‎place to go, no matter how imperfect and difficult they consider Israel to be compared to their often materially ‎comfortable lives in Western Europe. ‎

The questions inevitably arise: Why put up with the miseries of the European continent and the constant ‎and incremental assaults on Jewish freedom there, whether they come in the form of jihad or “native” ‎European anti-Semitism? Why suffer the indignity of hiding their identities for fear of verbal or ‎physical attacks when they can be open and free in Israel? 

Defeating Foggy Bottom in Israel

History will mark Israel’s election last year as a watershed moment.  Whether the country fully identifies and supports Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu really doesn’t matter. As Minister Zeev Elkin said yesterday, “Likud’s victory saved Israel.”

The State Department dispatched countless operatives to insidiously inject themselves into last year’s election campaign on behalf of the Zionist Union, in an operation that can only be described as meddling and string pulling. The Israeli electorate rebuffed these actions by handing Likud an enormous victory.

With the revelation of a secret deal between Herzog and Abbas now publicized, the V15 and Foggy Bottom’s strategy becomes even more gross.  Essentially, the State Department under directives from the Obama administration sought to unseat and defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu. By doing so their aim was to place a puppet government in charge of Israel in order to sign a final status agreement with the Arab Palestinians.  This agreement would have divided Jerusalem and created a sovereign terror entity in most of Judea and Samaria.

“In my contacts with the Palestinian Authority chief during 2014 I made efforts with the goal of reaching an understanding that would have prevented the wave of terror which I saw coming,” Herzog responded to the report.

The idea that any agreement, especially one that is a product of Western covert force would have prevented the current wave of terror is ludicrous. The Palestinian Authority has no ability to stop the terror as it is.  Placing Abbas and his Western supported mafia in charge of even more land would have spelled complete destruction for the State of Israel.

By voting for Likud last year the Israeli populace was sending a message to the American government. “Stay Out!” It is true, billions of dollars in US aid flows into Israel annually and although many in Israel rightly claim, we no longer need it, the fact is even when we take the money the US gets a tremendous return on it.  Unlike other countries that actually survive solely because they are being propped up by American aid, Israel provides the American military with forward intelligence and details from multiple fronts in the Middle East it cannot collect on its own. This intelligence sharing comes at a price and that is military aid.

This aid has gotten to Foggy Bottom’s brain and instead of respecting the relationship, they have repeatedly abused it.  The Israeli voter used last year to move on and proved ready to redraw the relationship if needed.  Last year was not an expression of love for Bibi, but a rejection of American neo-colonial influence, along with those politicians in Israel willing to play the puppet to a foreign puppeteer.

Imbecility Squared – Part 2

(Originally published on Arutz Sheva)

A comprehensive Israeli policy declaration accepting, in principle, the Arab Peace Initiative (API), with requisite adjustments to accommodate Israel’s security and demographic needs, as a basis for negotiation.

Key political measure in plan entitled “Security First”, proposed by “Commanders for Israel’s Security”, which claims to “Improve Israel’s Security and International Standing”.

The Arab Peace Initiative does not need changing or adjusting, it is on the table as is…Why should we change the Arab Peace Initiative? I believe that the argument the Arab Peace Initiative needs to be watered down in order to accommodate the Israelis is not the right approach. – Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Paris, June 3, 2016.

Last week I began a critical analysis of a plan put forward by a group calling itself “Commanders for Israel’s Security” (CIS) comprised of over 200 former senior officers/officials from the IDF and other security services.

To recap briefly:

I argued that the plan, which purports to offer a formula “to extricate Israel from the current dead end and to improve its security situation and international standing”, is a deeply flawed policy prescription, both in terms of the political principles on which it is based and the practical details which it presents.  As such, it is highly unlikely to achieve the objectives it sets itself. Indeed, it is far more likely to precipitate precisely the opposite outcomes, exacerbating the very dangers it claims it will attenuate.

To recap briefly, the major political components which comprise the plan call for Israel to:

(a)  Proclaim, unilaterally, that it forgoes any claim to sovereignty beyond the yet-to-be completed security barrier, which, in large measure, coincides with the pre-1967 “Green Line”, adjusted to include several major settlement blocks adjacent to those lines; but,

(b)   Leave the IDF deployed there—until some “acceptable alternative security arrangement” is found – presumably the emergence of a yet-to-be located pliant Palestinian-Arab, who will pledge to recognize Israel as the Jewish nation-state; and

(c)    Embrace the Saudi Peace Plan–a.k.a. Arab Peace Initiative (API), subject to certain—but significantly, unspecified—changes which the Arabs/Saudis recently resolutely refused to consider.

Learning lesson of Gaza; ignoring lesson of South Lebanon

CIS claims (pp.28-29) that it has learnt the lesson of the unilateral Gaza disengagement, when the IDF evacuated the territory, allowing the Islamist Hamas to take over. Accordingly, their plan “calls for the IDF to remain in the West Bank and retain complete security control until a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians ushers in alternative concrete, sustainable security arrangements.”

So while CIS may indeed have learnt the lesson of Gaza 2005, it seems to have forgotten the lesson of Lebanon 2000.

Indeed, as I underscored last week, the combination of the first two elements—the forswearing of claims to sovereignty over Judea-Samaria, on the one hand; and the continued deployment of the IDF in that territory, on the other—replicate precisely the same conditions that prevailed in South Lebanon until the hasty retreat by the IDF in 2000.  This unbecoming flight was orchestrated by then-PM, former IDF chief of staff and Israel’s most decorated soldier, Ehud Barak, under intense pressure from Left-leaning civil society groups such as “Four Mothers”, to extricate the IDF from the “Lebanese mud” and “bring our boys back home”.  Thus abandoned to the control of Hezbollah, the area was swiftly converted into a formidable arsenal, bristling with weaponry capable of hitting almost all major Israeli cities.

Unsustainable political configuration

Today, after the poorly conducted military campaign by the mighty IDF against a lightly armed militia, left defiantly undefeated after five weeks of fighting, this arsenal has reportedly swelled almost ten-fold in quantity and improved immensely in terms of quality/precision.  Indeed, were not Hezbollah mercifully distracted by the need to support its erstwhile benefactor, the beleaguered Bashar Assad, it is far from implausible that this terrible stockpile would have already been unleashed against Israel.

For anyone with a modicum of foresight, it should be clear that CIS’s prescription of deploying the IDF for an indeterminate period in territory over which it lays no sovereign claim—and hence, by implication, acknowledges that others have such claims to it—creates an unsustainable political configuration, which sooner or later will generate irresistible pressure on Israel to evacuate it—leaving the country exposed to the very dangers the IDF deployment was intended to obviate.

Indeed, as pointed out last week, if implemented, CIS’s proposal would, in a stroke, convert Judea-Samaria from “disputed territory” to “occupied territory” and IDF from a “defense force” to an “occupying force”. Worse, it would do so by explicit admission from Israel itself.

Formula for open-ended occupation

Moreover, by conditioning the end of IDF deployment on the emergence of “a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians [which] ushers in alternative concrete, sustainable security arrangements”, what CIS is in fact promoting is a formula for open-ended occupation, whose duration is totally dependent on the Palestinian-Arabs.

After all, according to CIS’s plan “the IDF [is] to remain in the West Bank and retain complete security control”, until some suitable Palestinian  interlocutor appears, sufficiently pliant to satisfy Israel’s demands for said “permanent status agreement and concrete sustainable security arrangements”, but sufficiently robust to resist more radical domestic rivals, who oppose any such agreement/arrangements.

And what if such an interlocutor fails to emerge? Clearly, CIS’s plan prescribes persisting with the Israeli military presence in the territory because, as CIS itself concedes: “The situation on the West Bank require …continued deployment of the IDF until satisfactory security arrangements are put into place within the framework of a permanent status agreement”.

Therefore all the Palestinian-Arabs need to do to ensnare the IDF in what will inevitably become the “West Bank mud”, an easy target for guerilla attacks by a recalcitrant population backed by armed Palestinian internal security services, is…well, nothing.  All they need to do is wait until mounting IDF casualties in a “foreign land” create increasing domestic pressure to “bring our boys back home”, and mounting international  impatience with open-ended “occupation” create growing external pressure, which make continued IDF deployment no longer tenable—and withdrawal becomes inevitable, without any “permanent settlement” or “concrete sustainable security arrangements”.

Renege or replace?

But even in the unlikely event that some Palestinian partner could be located, who agrees, in good faith, to conclude a permanent status agreement and implement acceptable security arrangements that allows the IDF to evacuate Judea-Samaria, how could Israel ensure this agreement will be honored and these arrangements maintained over time? Clearly it could not!

Once the IDF withdraws, Israel has no way of preventing its Palestinian co-signatories to any accord from reneging on their commitments—whether of their own volition, due to a change of heart, or under duress from extremist adversaries. Even more to the point, barring intimate involvement in intra-Palestinian politics, Israel has no way to ensure that their pliant peace-partner will not be replaced—whether by bullet or ballot—by far more inimical successors, probably  generously supported by foreign regimes, who repudiate their predecessors pledges. Indeed, it is more than likely that it would be precisely the “perfidious” deal struck with the “nefarious Zionist entity” that would be invoked as justification for the regime-change.

But whichever of these outcomes emerges in practice, Israel is likely to be confronted with a situation where it no longer has security control in Judea-Samaria and a hostile regime perched on the hills overlooking the runways of Ben-Gurion airport, adjacent to the trans-Israel highway, and within mortar range of the nation’s capital.

It would be intriguing, indeed, to learn how CIS members, given theircumulative 6,000 years of experience in Israel’s various security agencies, see this situation as one that would  achieve their plan’s principle goal: “to enhance personal and national security.”

Resisting attrition; not repulsing invasion

To be fair, CIS do assure us that: The IDF [as] by far the most potent military force in the region… can provide effective security and address all challenges within … any future borderline as agreed-to by our government and endorsed by our people…”

But of course, the question is not only whether the IDF can secure the borders, but at what cost in terms of both resources and casualties (both military and civilian).

It is of course true that, for over four decades, Israel has not faced a tangible threat of large-scale invasion by conventional Arab forces. However, today, with the changing pattern of Arab enmity, the major challenge to Israel’s existence as the Jewish nation-state is no longer repulsing invasion, but resisting attrition.

The Arab stratagem is no longer the cataclysmic annihilation of the Jewish state, but the ongoing erosion of Jewish will to maintain the Jewish state, by making Jewish life in it unbearable – both physically and psychologically.

Attrition vs Invasion (cont.)

Of course, the looming specter of a nuclear Iran may, on the one hand, reinstate the cataclysmic approach; on the other, it may “merely” provide a protective umbrella under which attrition can continue with greater intensity – and impunity.

Indeed, one of the most explicit expressions of this attrition-oriented intent came from Yasser Arafat in Stockholm, in an address to Arab diplomats, barely a year after being awarded the Noble Peace Prize: “The PLO will now concentrate on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps…We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare… I have no use for Jews. They are and remain Jews…”  This overt admission of malice, echoed repeatedly elsewhere by other Palestinian-Arab spokespersons, should have removed any doubt as to what lay ahead.

Now, imagine if after forgoing sovereignty beyond the security barrier as per  CIS’s prescription, the IDF pulled out of Judea-Samaria –whether pursuant to some accord or a combination of domestic pressure and international chagrin. Imagine, if in the absence of any agreement or despite prior agreements, this territory falls—as it almost inevitably will—to the control of some radical regime with no commitment to any understandings—implicit or explicit—with the “Zionist entity” Imagine how much more ominous and onerous that attrition would be along the almost 800 km frontier, abutting Israel’s heavily populated coastal plain  and from the heights commanding its urban and commercial centers.

Capitulation masquerading as “initiative”

No less disturbing is CIS’s embrace of what is perversely called the “Arab Peace Initiative” (API), which prescribes: (a) Complete withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines including the Golan Heights (b) a “just solution” to the problem of Palestinian refugees, a clear allusion to the “Right of Return”; (c) the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state on “the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital”.

Alarmingly, on its website, CIS declares: “We believe that the government of Israel can and should formulate a regional initiative based on an appropriate response to the positive potential encapsulated in the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Sadly, the growing acceptance of the API does not, as CIS would have it, reflect faith in military strength but rather psychological weakness. It is not a sign of confidence but a symptom of resignation, even desperation. Indeed, its acceptance is driven by the fact that the API is the only thing that the Arabs do not reject. Thus, to reject the API is to admit the unpalatable truth that there exists no path to a mutually agreed resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Indeed, for all intents and purposes, the API is a document of capitulation. It reflects acquiescence to virtually all Arab demands that successive governments, over a decade and a half, have rejected as unacceptably hazardous. It forgoes virtually all the gains of the 1967 Six Day War, and imperils some of those of the 1948 War of Independence. Willingness to agree to it, even as a basis for negotiations, is a clear signal that every Israeli “No,” however emphatic initially, is in effect a “Maybe” and a potential “Yes” in the future.

Reservations rejected.

Apparently aware that, as currently formulated, the API is too pernicious to be approved by the Israeli public, CIS tries to preempt criticisms of its acceptance of the so called “peace initiative” by adding a proviso that it should be adjusted “to accommodate Israel’s security and demographic needs, as a basis for negotiation”.

But suggestions that “adjustments” might be made were rapidly and resolutely rejected by both the Saudis, who authored the initiative and theArab League, who endorsed it. And why wouldn’t they? For as CIS’s proposal clearly shows, continued Arab intransigence is sure to engender further Israeli compliance …

To be continued.