Abbas Says No to Trump and Thats Good for Peace

The current row between the Trump administration and the PA over the White House’s rumored closure of the controversial PLO office in DC has reached new levels as PA President Abbas now has refused phone calls with President Trump’s team. Does this mean the peace process is dead?

In one word: No.

When looking at the moves the administration is backing in Saudi Arabia by endorsing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, it is obvious that the current situation involving the PA is being orchestrated by both by the US team and Israel in order to simply force the Palestinian leadership out.

Trump realized early on in his administration that as long as the PA is being led by dictators, murderers, and thieves there would be no chance to move forward towards a genuine peace. It is impossible to know the contours of the unfolding peace plan, but one thing is obvious at this point, whatever it is, it won’t be similar to the ones brought before.

Trump being a business man, seems to believe that the surest route to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs as well as the broader Sunni world is to make the Arabs clean house first.  By doing so real grassroots relations can take place. The old guard within the Sunni Arab world has been milking all sides of the conflict for a number of years and by doing so has pushed off any lasting peace and any outside of the box ideas.  Sweeping them to the side is key.

By forcing the Arab world to clean house, Trump has essentially begun the process of allowing alternate ideas to be able to take shape.

How long will this take? Real peace might take longer than this generation, but forcing Abbas to say no is a great first step!

The Ruinous Results of “Conflict Management”

“Conflict management has not countered successful Palestinian efforts…to change crucial strategic facts on the ground with deleterious long-term implications on Israel’s security”.

Israel’s present conflict management approach, which has succeeded in reducing Palestinian terrorism to manageable proportions, is an insufficient response to the dangers of Palestinian territorial expansionism…[M]anaging the conflict alone has also resulted in considerable costs not directly linked to acts of terrorism… Prof Hillel Frisch – of the newly established Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, October 31, 2017

For many the notion of “managing the conflict” has long been a seductive illusion and one I have warned repeatedly against submitting to – see for example: here;  here;  here; here & here.

Conflict management as (allegedly) the “least worst option”

Thus, in “Conflict management’: The collapse of a concept” I wrote: For several years now I have been warning against clear and present dangers inherent in conflict management—cautioning that it is little more than ‘kicking the can down the road’ into a even more risk-fraught future.  I expressed growing concern that by adopting a policy of avoiding confrontations, which Israel could win, the government  may well back the nation  into a confrontation so severe that it may not—or only do so at devastating cost.”

For several years, the staunchest support for the conflict management paradigm came from Bar Ilan Universty’s BESA Center for Strategic Studies. Indeed, just over a year ago, David Weinberg, the BESA director of public affairs published a synopsis of months of discussions that took place in the center’s seminar rooms and on its website regarding what Israel’s “West Bank” policy should be.

The essence of the consensus that emerged from these deliberations was succinctly conveyed in the sub-heading of Weinberg’s piece: “Conflict management is currently the least-worst option”. Weinberg sums up the rationale of the conflict management school of thought as: “It is wiser for Israel to defer action than to take steps that threaten to make a bad situation worse”.

Conflict management as kicking the can down the road

However, deferring action can, in itself, be a formula for making a bad situation worse—and indeed it has, on virtually every front.
Arguably, one of the most outspoken advocates for the idea of conflict management is Prof. Efraim Inbar, formerly BESA’s longstanding director, and currently the President of the newly established Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS).

According to Inbar: “Israel’s recent governments are left, willy-nilly, with a de facto conflict-management approach, without foreclosing any options.”

Although he conceded that: “there are costs to this wait-and- see approach”, he observed reassuringly “…this was the approach favored by David Ben-Gurion. He believed in buying time to build a stronger state and in hanging on until opponents yield their radical goals …” Elsewhere, in a 2014-paper, which he coauthored with another BESA scholar, Dr. Eitan Shamir, he set out the essence of this conflict management approach as it pertained to Hamas in Gaza: “…Israel is acting to severely punish Hamas for its aggressive behavior, and degrading its military capabilities…The use of force…is not intended to attain impossible political goals, but rather is a long-term strategy of attrition designed primarily to debilitate the enemy capabilities”.

Conflict management as a failed policy prescription

Clearly, this prescription has failed dismally both with regard to Gaza and the northern border. After all, neither Hamas nor Hezbollah, have had their capabilities “debilitated”, nor have they forgone their “radical goals”. Indeed, if anything, quite the opposite is true.

Now, a recently published paper, significantly from a declared supporter of the conflict management approach, Prof. Hillel Frisch, casts doubt on the efficacy of conflict management regarding the “West Bank” as well.

Frisch, formerly a senior BESA research associate, and now with the nascent JISS, claims that while “Israel’s present conflict management approach, has succeeded in reducing Palestinian terrorism to manageable proportions” he admits that it “is an insufficient response to the dangers of Palestinian territorial expansionism…”

He goes on to recount the dismaying significance of “Palestinian territorial expansion”.

While Israel has been busy “managing the conflict” and eschewing the attainment of “impossible political goals”, the Palestinians, with EU complicity, have been feverishly working to implant facts on the ground—by establishing sprawling Arab settlements both within the Jerusalem municipal borders (ostensibly under Israeli sovereignty) and within Area C (ostensibly under full Israeli civilian and military control).

Similar EU-supported illicit initiatives are ongoing along the Jerusalem-Jericho highway and in the southern Hebron Hills, on the approaches to the city of Beer Sheva.

Strategic impact of illicit Palestinian construction

According to Frisch, the Palestinian Authority (PA) “…(with the help of the European Union), has succeeded in housing 120,000 Palestinians in a space no larger than nine square kilometers [adjacent to Jerusalem]”.

Ominously, he points out: “This number is triple the number of inhabitants of Maaleh Adumim and the other Israeli localities in the area extending to Jericho…[W]hereas, it took Israel over thirty years to settle 40,000 inhabitants, the PA with European support, have managed to settle triple that number in the course of one decade alone”.

Frisch goes on to describe both the appalling conditions in these illicit, EU-abetted settlements and the strategic threat they comprise for Israel.   

In the “urban nightmare” that has sprung up in the environs of Jerusalem, access for emergency vehicles (such as fire-engines and ambulances) in case of disaster are impossible because of the congested, unplanned construction; while the burning of untreated garbage creates “devastating health effects on the inhabitants, and probably on the inhabitants of French Hill”, a nearby Jewish residential suburb of Jerusalem.

The unauthorized make-shift squatter sites along the Jerusalem-Jericho highway and in the Hebron Hills are bereft of sewage systems and organized garbage disposal”.

But beyond the inevitable human “time-bomb” these untenable conditions comprise, and to which the EU seems callously indifferent in its obsessive fervor to undermine Israeli authority, there are far-reaching and sinister strategic implications.

Strategic impact (cont.)

Thus, Frisch warns that the eastward expansion of ongoing Palestinian urban development adjacent to Jerusalem will soon render the settlement of E1 (the area that would create continuous Jewish settlement from Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem) impossible. Likewise, the unlawful building thrust towards the east and the south will choke the development of Maaleh Adumim—not only threatening its continuity with Jerusalem, but leaving its over 35,000 Jewish residents stranded in an isolated enclave, surrounded by an inimical Arab population.

In the Hebron Hills, he alerts that, “Israel is caving in to EU-sponsored Palestinian building that is severing strategically placed settlements in the area from the Beersheba hinterland”, while the illegal encampments are encroaching dangerously close to the Jerusalem-Jericho-Jordan Valley highway, potentially threatening the security of any traffic moving along it.

Accordingly, there can be little doubt as to the validity—and gravity—of Frisch’s critical assessment of the “conflict management” endeavor, which he asserts “has not countered successful Palestinian efforts…to change crucial strategic facts on the ground with deleterious long-term implications on Israel’s security”.

However, as apt as his diagnosis of the failings of the conflict management paradigm is, his remedial prescription still falls regrettably short of being an adequate corrective.

“Strategic building”: A chimera and red herring combined

According to Frisch: “The answer to the PA’s expansive building in strategic areas, its onslaught on Israel abroad, the inflammatory and inciting messages in the media sites and school system [it]controls, clearly lies in the renewal of Israeli strategic building of settlements.”  However, he limits this call for “strategic building” to “building in E1, the greater Jerusalem area, in the settlement blocs and in other areas in area C”.

As a remedy to the revealed lack of effectiveness of the conflict management approach, this prescription is flawed on several levels—both in principle and in practice.

At root, the underlying problem in his proposal can be traced to Frisch’s enduring affinity for the seminal tenet of conflict resolution—despite his awareness of its inadequacy – i.e. the need to hold fast and contain the conflict until a sufficiently amenable and authoritative Palestinian-Arab interlocutor emerges with whom some acceptable and enduring peace accord can be concluded.  This is, of course, a misleading chimera and red herring rolled into one.

After all, there is not a shred of evidence that the Palestinian-Arabs will morph into anything that they have not been for over a hundred years, nor that they are likely to do so within any foreseeable time horizon. Indeed as time progresses, such an outcome seems increasingly remote.

Accordingly, any policy paradigm based on the assumption that, somehow, they can be coaxed or coerced into doing just that, is just as fanciful and fraught with perils as any that it was designed to replace.

 “Strategic building” on its own is a fast lane to disaster

For while the call to bolster Jewish presence in disputed areas (i.e. strategic building) is in itself commendable, on its own it is unlikely to be effectual—and indeed, it is merely likely to exacerbate tensions. For without rolling back—i.e. by removing or radically reducing—the illegal Arab presence in these areas, this is only likely to increase the friction—and hence strife—between Jew and Arab.

In this regard “strategic building”, without a range of complementary measures to reduce existing Arab presence, is likely to be a fast lane to disaster.

Moreover, increased Jewish settlement should not be portrayed, as it is by Frisch, as a punitive measure in response to Palestinian malfeasance. For if this is so, what is to be their fate if and when such malfeasance is redressed?  

Instead, enhanced Jewish construction should be presented—in its own right—as a strategic imperative, a historic duty and a moral right.

Furthermore, as Areas A and B are made up of an array of disconnected enclaves and corridors, they clearly could never sustain a viable self-governing Palestinian-entity. It is, thus, inconceivable that any Palestinian leadership would consent to having the Palestinian entity limited to said enclaves and corridors.  

Consequently, even if such “strategic building” is confined to Area C, it can only be given any semblance of permanence if Israel intends to extend its sovereignty over the entire area of Judea-Samaria—since no alternative administration is likely to be found for Areas A and B.

Which of course leads us to the thorny question of what is to be the fate of the Arab residents of Judea-Samaria…

“Strategic building”: One bladed scissors

In many ways, Frisch’s “strategic building” program is similar to a one-bladed scissors –for it focuses solely on bolstering the Jewish presence in contested strategic areas (albeit only in response to Palestinian misbehavior)—but not on the already massive Arab presence in them.

True, he does attempt to portray his strategy as “twofold” by prescribingmore forceful… demolishing [of] illegal construction in area C around Jerusalem, next to important highways such as the roads from Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley, and in area C [and]   preventing the building of Palestinian infrastructure installations…near Israeli settlements”. However, this does nothing to address the issue of the Arab population within Judea-Samaria.

So one is left to ponder what outcome Frisch envisages that his “strategic building” paradigm would lead to while waiting for some yet-to-be-identified pliant peace-partner to emerge—or even more to the point, if no such partner emerges at all.  

Indeed, it is difficult to know what yet has to happen until the nation’s political and intellectual leadership rallies the courage and integrity to acknowledge that in order to endure as the nation-state of the Jewish people Israel must address two imperatives simultaneously: The Geographic and Demographic Imperatives. The former mandates Israeli sovereign control over all the territory from the River to the Sea; the latter mandates the drastic reduction of the Arab presence within the Jewish state’s sovereign territory.

“Strategic building”: Far too little far too late

The only manner in which this can be achieved without resort to large-scale violence is via a comprehensive system of material inducements comprising highly attractive incentives for leaving and equally daunting disincentives for staying – accompanied by a well-funded strategic public diplomacy offensive to convey why this is the most humane policy if it succeeds – and least inhumane if it does not.

Anything else is both pointless and perilous.

In this regard, Frisch’s “strategic building” proposal is far too little far too late.

Palestinian Authority Loses its Grip Over Hebron Upgrade

The Palestinian Authority’s reaction to the Hebron community’s municipal upgrade last week has become unhinged. Sensing the move essentially means that the Jewish residents of the city will not be removed from what is the Jewish people’s second most holiest city, Palestinian Arabs now understand that the coming parameters of a “peace deal” may not be to their liking.

“The order jeopardizes any political settlement in the area, which stands in contradiction with the peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian state,” Kamel Hamid the Palestinian Authority representative who also acts as their governor in the Hebron area said to the PA’s Wafa news agency.

More and more Israelis are recognizing that the blatant land theft as well as the continued twisting of history on the part of Arabs living in the area makes it near impossible to reach a final status agreement. In place of that, Israel has had no choice but to begin to extend its sovereignty to areas that have been historically Jewish since before the Arab population occupied them in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.

In 1929, the Arab population rioted and killed 68 Jews in the ancient Jewish community.  The rest of the community fled. The Jewish community existed there since ancient times with the main building known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs being built over the grave site of Israel’s Patriarchs and Matriarchs by King Herod more than 2000 years ago.

The Arab population has gone out of its way to erase Jewish history in the city.  The latest upgrade by Israel, essentially freezes the assumption that Hebron is on the negotiating table.  With this in mind, a two-state solution seems to be the farthest thing from reality.

More importantly Israel has finally begun to call the Palestinian Arab bluff and started to make moves to integrate important parts of its biblically significant homeland into pre-1967 Israel.  This movement to finally assert Jewish sovereignty over what was always been Jewish land means a weakening of the Palestinian Authority control over Judea and Samaria.

With Hebron now off the table and continued reclamation of Jewish property in Jerusalem continuing, the PA has little claim to the rest of Judea and Samaria.  Abbas and his clan may have grown rich off of siphoning money from Western investments into their political racket dubbed the Palestinian Authority, but they are losing their grip on what matters most.

Israel’s growing control over its historical homeland may appear slow-moving, but it is moving forward none-the-less. It is this movement at the end of the day which will determining the sovereign in Judea and Samaria.

The Taylor Force Act – Putting “Palestine” in perspective

The Palestinian population is not some hapless victim of the terror groups, but the very crucible from which they emerged

Congress is finally considering legislation to stop the Palestinian Authority from incentivizing violence…This has to stop, and the Taylor Force Act…attempts to do that. As it currently stands, the act would cut U.S. foreign assistance to the West Bank and Gaza in its entirety if the “payments for acts of terrorism against United States and Israeli citizens …do not stop…. There should definitely be no ‘pay to slay’, but…[b]eing smart counts for more than being right. And the smart approach is one that also recognizes that innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control. – David Makovsky et al“The Smart Way to End ‘Pay to Slay’”, Foreign Policy, August 2, 2017.

Lesley Stahl, on CBS’s 60 Minutes on the effects of US led sanctions against Iraq (May 12, 1996): We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Madelaine Albright, then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations , subsequently President Clinton’s Secretary of State: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.

Recently, three members of the well-known think-tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, posted an article on the new legislative initiative, named the Taylor Force Act after the West Point graduate and veteran, who was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel last year.

Appropriate and imperative

The proposed bill, which was recently passed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support, is designed to stop American financial aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA] until it ceases its generous payments to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of deceased terrorists.

Perversely, under the prevailing conditions, the more gruesome the act of terror and the longer the sentence imposed on the perpetrator, the greater the remuneration!

Indeed, as the Wall Street Journal points out, under existing circumstances, “U.S. aid becomes a transfer payment for terrorists”.

This is clearly an unconscionable situation and hence legislation to contend with it, and correct it, was not only appropriate, but imperative.

The need for a punitive response to the egregious “pay for slay” custom of the PA was conceded by the previously mentioned Washington Institute article, entitled “The Smart Way to End ‘Pay to Slay’”.  

Penned by David Makovsky,  distinguished fellow  and director of the project on the Middle East Peace Process, veteran diplomat Dennis Ross, distinguished fellow and counsellor on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship, and Lia Weiner, a research assistant, it clearly proclaims “There should definitely be no ‘pay to slay’… This has to stop.”

“…the ‘mistakes’ of a government they cannot control.

However, it cautions against an across-the-board cessation of US funds to the PA, calling for a more nuanced (read “watered-down”) application of the punitive cuts: “Threats of sweeping cuts to Palestinian aid may hurt the cause more than they help.” They warn that “To entirely defund U.S. aid to the West Bank and Gaza is…to halt economic and social progress there”, proposing instead an approach thatrecognizes that innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control”.

But making the innocent members of the population pay for the nefarious deeds of governments they “cannot control” has been the hall mark of American policy across the globe for years—even when those governments have been far more tyrannical than the PA.

Indeed, why should “innocent Palestinians” merit greater consideration than “innocents”   in a range of despotic regimes against which the US has imposed punishing, at times crippling, economic penalties—such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea?

For example the US-led UN sanctions against Saddam Hussein-controlled Iraq inflicted wide-spread suffering (see introductory excerpt) on innocent Iraqis—including women, infants and the elderly—who, arguably, had much less chance of influencing the actions of their government than do the “innocent Palestinians” with regard to Abbas’s PA.


A government reflecting popular preferences

Indeed, while it is true that they “have not been able to vote in an election for more than a decade”, and to a large measure cannot “control” the current PA government, they certainly did empower it.  In fact, it is in many ways, a government of their making—and theirs alone.

After all, in the last elections held in 2006, the Islamist terror organization Hamas and PA president Abbas’s Fatah won just over 90% of the vote—with the former winning 74 and the later 45 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Interestingly, the third largest party was a faction representing the radical hardline Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group founded by the infamous George Habash and headed today by Ahmed Saadat, currently in an Israeli prison for his part in planning the 2001 assassination of Israeli minister, Rehavam Zeevi .

Moreover, parties focusing on socio-economic reforms and human rights fared extremely poorly. Thus, the “Third Way” headed by former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad and a former PA Minister, the well-known Hanan Ashrawi, won a paltry 2 seats, while the National Coalition for Justice and Democracy,  headed by prominent physician and human rights activist  Eyad El-Sarraj won, well…none


“Palestine”: What the polls predict

However, not only did the last elections show a vast endorsement of rejectionist views (both Fatah and Hamas –and the PFLP–vehemently reject any recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews), but recent public opinion polls provide little cause for optimism that this is likely to change.

Indeed, should Abbas leave his post, the most popular candidates are Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti, currently serving multiple life sentences in Israel for a myriad of lethal acts of terror, and Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh.

Moreover, findings for legislatives elections show that almost 70% would vote for either Fatah or Hamas, 10% for all other parties, with over 20% being undecided.

Thus, there is little reason to believe that—were new elections to be held—they would produce a sea-change for the better in the composition of the PA, or its policy.  In fact, there is considerable room for concern that the very opposite might well be true.

But perhaps most damaging to Makovsky, Ross and Weiner’s contention that “innocent Palestinians…should not be forced to pay for the mistakes of a government they cannot control” is the finding that there is near unanimous public endorsement  for the very financial support that the Taylor Force Act is intended to terminate.  


Pay to Slay” & Vox Populi

Stunningly (or not), a July 2017 survey by Palestinian Center of Policy and Survey Research, headed by the well-known Palestinian pollster, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, found thatan almost total consensus rejects pressure on the PA to terminate payments to Palestinian security prisoners” and   91% are opposed to the suspension of PA payments to Palestinian security prisoners [i.e. jailed terrorists- MS] in Israeli jails; only 7% support such measure”.  

This is precisely the reality mirrored in an article that appeared in Tablet Magazine this week by Alex Kane, according to whichthe prisoner payment program is one of the most popular PA programs, and it would be political suicide for the PA to halt it.

So, in stark contradiction to the impression conveyed by Makovsky, Ross and Weiner, the “pay to slay” policy is not something foisted on a reluctant peace-seeking  “innocent” Palestinian population , but is, in fact enthusiastically embraced by it—reflecting nothing more (or less) than vox populi.  

Indeed, it is more than a little disturbing to see such “luminaries” as Makovsky and Ross propagating views demonstrably detached from reality, in what appears to be  a misplaced endeavor to create the false impression that, overall, the Palestinians,  share their  worldview—when, in fact,  they clearly seem to have a very different one…


Self-contradictory, self-obstructive “rationale”

But beyond the fact that their contentions sit uneasily with the empirical evidence, they appear to have additional disconcerting implications. Thus, they endorse the view that “although a tough message [should be] sent to the PA about the consequences of incentivizing violence”, they recommend that measures undertaken should “prevent any deterioration in the quality of life for Palestinians lest that lead to greater radicalization”.

This appears to reflect a curious rationale which suggests that if one is punished for bad behavior, then one’s behavior will become…worse???

This never was a consideration in, say, Serbia, where markets, hospitals, buses, bridges and old age facilities—to name but a few civilian targets that were hit in high altitude bombing sorties in the US-led NATO attacks in the Balkans War of the 1990s.

Indeed, the claim that harsh punitive measures against an authoritarian regime will only make the regime –or the population under its control—more recalcitrant flies in the face of the most basic elements of deterrence theory. After all, if the threat of harsh measures cannot coerce the regime to modify its behavior, why should measures less harsh do the trick?

Moreover, if the collective is not forced to feel the consequences of actions carried out in its name- there is clearly no reason for these actions to cease.  This is particularly true in the case of the “pay to slay” practice, which, while it may be implemented by an authoritarian regime, is widely endorsed by the general public. In this context, the rationale advanced by Makovsky, Ross et al appears to be at once both self-contradictory and self-obstructive.


Clash of collectives

It is of course somewhat discomforting to see such well-placed and well-connected pundits misread the lay-of-the-land so profoundly. For such gross misperception can only help perpetuate the conflict and its attendant suffering.

Firstly, these misperceptions nourish the false premise that privation drives radicalization, which is clearly disproven by the radicalization of many seemingly well-integrated Muslim youth in Europe, and the fact that in several Arab countries the greatest animosity towards Israel is harbored by the professional, well-to-do echelons of society.   

Secondly, they obscure the real nature of the Israel-Arab conflict and hence, hamper the efforts to bring it to an end—diverting efforts toward bogus “causes”.

In this regard, then-defense minister Moshe-“Bogey” Yaalon, in a November 2015 address, correctly diagnosed the conflict as a clash of collectives i.e.  “…predominantly a war of wills, of two societies with conflicting wills”.

But, if the clash is essentially one between collectives, surely victory will require one collective breaking the will of the rival collective. Accordingly, ensuring that said rival can maintain its daily routine hardly seems the most promising stratagem to adopt in an effort to break its will and achieve victory.

Indeed, if anything, it would seem the exigencies for a collective victory over an adversarial collective would dictate the diametrically opposite endeavor – disrupt the daily routine of the adversary. After all, misdeeds perpetrated in the name of the Palestinian collective must carry a price, which the collective pays – for if not, it will have no incentive to curb them.

Implacable enemy not prospective peace partner

The Palestinian population is thus not some hapless victim of the terror groups, as some might suggest but the very crucible from which such groups have emerged. It has by its own hand, by its deeds and declarations, made it clear that it will not—except on some temporary, tactical basis –brook any manifestation of Jewish political independence/national sovereignty) “between the River and the Sea”.

At the end of the day, the clash between Jew and Arab over the Holy Land is a clash between two collectives. For the Jewish collective, the Palestinian collective is—and must be treated as it sees itself: An implacable enemy, not a prospective peace partner.

Accordingly, the conflict, as one between collectives cannot be individualized .One collective must emerge victorious, the other vanquished. Only then, after victory/defeat, can the issue of personal misfortune be addressed.

This, then, is the perspective in which Palestinian society must be placed—and the perspective from which the formulation of the Taylor Force Act be addressed.  

A Port in Gaza: Preposterous & Perilous Proposal

Hamas are not burrowing tunnels because Gaza has no port. They are burrowing them despite the fact it does not have one.

Israel’s intelligence and transport minister has long pushed the idea of an artificial island off the coast of the Gaza Strip, with plans for a port, cargo terminal and even an airport to boost the territory’s economy and connect it to the world.A New Island in the Mediterranean… Just Off Gaza Reuters June 29, 2017.  

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

Attributed to Albert Einstein.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a column harshly criticizing the proposal for the construction of a port of any sort for Gaza, particularly one to be located on a detachable artificial island, to be built 3-4 km off the Gazan coast. What I wrote then is just as pertinent today.

Harebrained and hazardous

The opening paragraph of the column was this: “Just when you thought that you could not possibly hear anything more preposterous on how to help resolve the  conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs, somehow someone always manages to prove you wrong—and comes out with a policy proposal so glaringly absurd that it transcends what you  mistakenly believed was the pinnacle of imbecility”. I continued: “Disturbingly, precisely such a hopelessly hare-brained scheme is now being repeatedly bandied about by Israelis in positions of influence.

Sadly these caustic remarks are still as relevant today—as unbelievable as that may seem.

For as harebrained, hazardous—indeed, hallucinatory—the idea is, it remains stubbornly on the agenda, refusing to fade into the distant realms of fantasy, where it clearly deserved to disappear.

Thus, in recent months Israel Katz, who holds the transport and intelligence portfolios, has been raising it incessantly and insistently, reportedly winning significant support from some of his fellow ministers, with only the opposition of Defense Minister Liberman, preventing a government decision to proceed with this preposterous and perilous plan.

Indeed, towards the end of last month, Reuters reported that “Israel’s intelligence and transport minister… Israel Katz, has released a slick, high-production video setting out his proposal in more detail, complete with a dramatic, English-speaking narration, colorful graphics and stirring music”.

Puzzling conundrums

The grandiose “vision” would include the construction of vast infrastructure facilities, including cargo and passenger ports, a marina, gas and electricity terminals, a desalination plant and, potentially, a future airport.

Of course, this leaves one to struggle with the trenchant question why it would be more feasible to build these ambitious installations on a detachable, multi-billion dollar, floating island rather than on dryland, just a few kilometers away, and where, despite decades of massive international aid, nothing even remotely similar has ever emerged.

Perhaps even more perplexing is the rationale given for the project. According to the previously mentioned promotional video, providing a port to Gaza will help Israel deal with the negative international perception that Gaza’s current unenviable condition is due to the fact that it is under siege by Israel: “Today, Israel continues to be perceived as being responsible for the Gaza Strip and is to a large extent the only lifeline to it, even though it withdrew from the strip over a decade ago“.

The narrator suggests that “Construction of an artificial island with a port and civilian infrastructure installations off the coast of Gaza will provide the Palestinians a humanitarian, economic and transportation gate to the world” adding reassuringly “without endangering Israel’s security”.

So, to put worried minds in Israel at rest, the video stipulates: “…in order to ensure that security threats are addressed, Israel will remain in control of security in the sea around the island and of security inspection in the port”.

Even more puzzling

So here’s the kicker: If Israel is to maintain its power to police what goes in and out of the port, and inspect what goes on inside it, how does that in anyway diminish its status as effectively controlling the fate of Gaza? And why would its control over the flow of goods into Gaza via a seaport be any less onerous than its control over that flow through the existing land routes into Gaza?

But that’s not all.  For then comes the following staggering suggestion:  “An international policing force will be responsible for security and public order for the island and for a checkpoint on the bridge which will connect the island to the coast”.

An international policing force? Really? Gee, what a good idea! Especially since that idea has failed so spectacularly in Bosnia and Somalia and Lebanon and Rwanda and ….  

And are the port proponents seriously advocating that some international force will adequately man and manage a checkpoint on the narrow bridge between the Gaza mainland and the island, when it is precisely the IDF’s maintenance of such land-based checkpoints that has brought international condemnation of unjustified “humiliation of the Palestinians”.

Even more to the point, do they really believe—especially given past precedents—that after a single suicide attack by Islamist extremist, the international policing force will have the resolve and commitment to persist with its mission and not vacate the island—leaving Israel with the thorny dilemma of ether abandoning the island, port and all, to the Hamas (or some more radical successor) or taking over the island itself, negating the very rationale for its construction in the first place!!!

Reinforcing the rationale for terror

Moreover, the very rationale for the port is damaging, playing directly into the hands of Israel’s detractors.

After all, to suggest that by alleviating economic hardship in Gaza, Israel could diminish the motivation for terror is, in effect, not only inverting the causal relationship between the two, but it also implies that the victims of terror are to blame for their attackers’ aggression. Little could be more counterproductive—and misleading—for Israel.

Indeed, the dire situation in Gaza is not the cause of the terror that emanates from it.

It is the consequence of that terror.

Clearly, the onerous measures that Israel is compelled to undertake to ensure the safety of its citizens is not the reason for, but the result of that terror.  Equally if the latter were eliminated, there would be no need for the former—and far more rational solutions than a multi-billion dollar artificial island could be found to facilitate the flow of goods and people to and from Gaza.

This prosperity-prevents-terror thesis is wrong on virtually every level. Firstly, it is risible to believe that Hamas, who has deliberately put its own civilians in harm’s way, gives a hoot about their economic well-being. After all, if it has scant regard for their lives, why should their livelihood be of greater concern?

Port no panacea for poverty

Sadly then, the case presented for providing Gaza a port strongly reinforces the rationale justifying terror, implying that it is largely economic privation which is the primary cause of the Judeocidal terror emanating from Gaza, and if the residents of that ill-fated strip were afforded greater prosperity, this would operate to stifle the motivation to perpetrate acts of terror.

However, it is far more likely that, if the general economic situation were to improve, Hamas would coercively appropriate much of this new found wealth for its own belligerent needs–with prosperity thus making it more potent—not more pacific.

Accordingly, no great analytical acumen should be required to swiftly bring us to the conclusion that a port in Gaza will never be a panacea for the poverty of the population—and that Hamas, and its other terrorist cohorts, are not burrowing tunnels because Gaza has no port. They are burrowing them despite the fact it does not have one.

After all, in effect, Gaza already has a modern port at its disposal, under Israeli supervision, barely 35 km. north of it, far closer to it than many locations in Israel: The port of Ashdod.

Obviously, under conditions of peace (or even credible non-belligerency) Ashdod can supply all Gaza’s supervised civilian needs–without squandering billions on a fanciful floating island port.

However, under conditions of on-going belligerency, even under the strictest Israeli supervision, there is no way—short of taking control of Gaza—to ensure that dual purpose material such as cement, fertilizer and steel will not be used for belligerent purposes.

Detachable port detached from reality

The severity of this problem—and the futility of a Gaza port as a means of solving—or even alleviating—it, was vividly underscored  by  a report from last year’s UN World Humanitarian Summit, which revealed that Hamas had been siphoning off 95% of the cement transferred into the Gaza Strip to rebuild homes, using it instead for military purposes/tunnel construction.

So, even if the island port were to be placed under tight inspection, how could Israel ensure that the building materials that went to construct the labyrinth of tunnels underlying Gaza would be used for more benign purposes? How could it ensure that steel was not being used to fabricate missiles and the means to launch them? Or fertilizers being diverted for the manufacture of explosives?

Furthermore, how is Israeli supervision to be maintained, and the safety of the Israeli personnel together—with the international forces—be ensured in the isolated off-shore port, should they—as is far from implausible—be set upon by a local bloodthirsty mob?

There are also likely to be unknown environmental consequences, with serious concern being raised as to the detrimental effect such a large off-shore construction would have on Israel’s beaches to the north, which are likely to be severely eroded as they are deprived of sand deposits carried today by the northbound currents which would be disrupted by the artificial island.

These—along with numerous other questions clearly underscore how demonstrably detrimental and detached from reality the notion of a detachable port for Gaza really is.

Liberman’s disturbing ambivalence

Defense Minister Liberman is, of course, to be commended for his rejection of the ill-conceived initiative.  However, disturbingly, he is on record not so long ago, supporting it—true, basically on condition that Hamas would un-Hamas itself.

Thus, in February this year Liberman proposed an initiative for transforming Gaza “into the Singapore of the Middle East”,  which included building a seaport and an airport and by creating an industrial zone that would help produce 40,000 jobs in the strip, if Hamas agreed to demilitarization and to dismantling the tunnel and rocket systems it has built.

The Hamas response was quick to come. It was highly instructive and should have dispelled any illusions as to the efficacy of proposing a port as a means for providing any impetus for peace. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas official, dismissed it derisively: “If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore, we would have done it ourselves. We do not need favors from anyone.

This tart retort prompted a stark comment from Gatestone scholar, Bassam Tawil :Why did Hamas reject an offer for a seaport, airport and tens of thousands of jobs for Palestinians? Because Hamas does not see its conflict with Israel as an economic issue. The dispute is not about improving the living conditions of Palestinians, as far as Hamas is concerned. Instead, it is about the very existence of Israel.”

He added caustically: “Hamas deserves credit for one thing: its honesty concerning its intentions to destroy Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Hamas does not want 40,000 new jobs for the poor unemployed Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It would rather see these unemployed Palestinians join its ranks and become soldiers in its quest to replace Israel with an Islamic empire.”

Only one way to ensure who rules Gaza…and who doesn’t

Clearly then, the grave economic situation that plagues Gaza will not be alleviated by providing it with access to port facilities, which, in principle, it already has.

As noted, Israeli restrictions on the flow of goods are not the cause of Arab enmity, but the consequence thereof. The crippling unemployment, reportedly above 40%, will not be alleviated by transferring Israeli supervision from Ashdod and the Gaza border crossings to an off-shore islet.

There is soaring unemployment because any creative energies that might exist, are not channeled by those who rule Gaza toward productive/constructive goals, but into fomenting violence against the hated “Zionist entity.” A port will not change those realities.

Indeed, it may well exacerbate them.

The penury of the enclave is not due to lack of resources, but to the preferences and priorities of the brigands who govern it. Accordingly, as past events show, Israel can only determine who governs Gaza – and who does not – if it governs it itself.


IRAN RISING: Will Israel and the Arab World Finally Make Peace to Stave Off Persian Aggression?


A few months ago, a Saudi delegation led by Maj.Gen. (ret.) Anwar Eshki, chairman of Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, visited Israel. He was photographed with Israeli politicians. These pictures sparked a debate within the Saudi kingdom and Eshki was harshly criticised for his visit by the Saudi Foreign Ministry who declared, “people like Anwar Eshki do not represent us, have no ties to any governmental elements, and do not reflect the positions of the Saudi government.” (Al-Hayat (London), July 27, 2016.)

Despite the harsh public backlash at such an attempt to normalise relations with Israel, many Saudi newspapers ran articles criticising the anti-Semitic views held by many in the Muslim world.

Saudi columnist Siham Al-Qahtani wrote in Al-Jazirah in July of 2016 that the Koranic depiction of the Jews applied only to certain Jews at certain times and cannot be applied to all Jews; “The [collective] memory of Arab culture continues to preserve the stereotypical image of Jews to this day. Some see this stereotype as the product of Koranic texts, [which depict the Jews] as killers of prophets, infidels, warmongers, and usurers. [However,] it is improper to blame the Koran for the creation of Jewish stereotypes. When the Koran depicts a certain people, it does so in accordance with [this people’s] behavior and thought during a specific time period. This description is valid in the context of [those particular] circumstances and [that particular] behavior, and does not refer to a unique and permanent trait.” 

Yasser Hijazi wrote in Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), July 30, 2016, that hatred of the Jews must be abandoned; “We must eradicate the remnants of racism and religious ethnic struggles embedded in our cultural, religious, and institutional discourse. This will be a step on the path towards coexistence with the world, and will close a massive loophole that is exploited by Western extremism [against us]. Our only response to this [extremism] should be to distance ourselves from [this discourse] and instead export an official pluralistic civilized discourse; one that accepts the world, both in its interpretation of texts and its actions on the ground.”  

Hijazi wrote in a different  article “…in order to eventually create a different discourse based on the principles of international relations and human rights… which will lead to a creative and professional discourse that speaks of the other/the Jew in a way that is devoid of racism; a way that respects his humanity and right to live without becoming a symbol of betrayal, evil, and deception. This is a step on the way to the coexistence we desire; a step [on the way] to drying out the sources of terrorism, if we so desire…” 

In a similar vein, in an April 9, 2016 article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa, Kuwaiti media personality Yousuf ‘Abd Al-Karim Al-Zinkawi called on all Arab and Muslim states to recognize Israel, openly and without delay, and to stop calling it “the Zionist Entity” or “the Israeli occupation.” He argued that by sitting alongside Israel in UN institutions these states already effectively recognize it, and they should take a lesson from countries like Qatar and Oman that take a pragmatic approach to Israel and maintain ties with it openly. He wondered why certain Arab and Muslim countries take a more hardline approach to Israel than the Palestinian Authority itself, which does maintain ties with it. 

Particularly in Kuwait there are calls for normalisation of  relations with Israel. Saleh Al-Shayeji, journalist for Al-Anba, The Kuwaiti Government Daily, writes; “Whose enemy is Israel? Is it the enemy of all Arab countries? The Palestinians have a right to be hostile to Israel, for they believe it has occupied some of their lands. By their lights, they are justified in their hostility, and we support, help and assist them as much as we can, [but] that is all the Arab countries are required to do – nothing more…

“Who is our real enemy? Do all the Arab states have the same enemy? Or does each country or group of countries have a [different] enemy, who is actually an ally or even a close friend of some other [Arab] country?

“The first step towards Arab reform is discarding the idea of pan-Arabism or of [a single Arab] nation, which reality has proven false and invalid, and the indications of its invalidity are [much] more numerous than the illusionary [proof] of its validity… Let’s take our own country, Kuwait, as an example. Is Israel an enemy [of Kuwait]? Has it [ever] invaded it, fought it, or killed its citizens? The answer to all these questions is no!! So why does Kuwait regard Israel as an enemy, while it regards Iraq – which did invade and occupy it – as a friend, an ally, a [good] neighbour and a sister!? I don’t mean [to say] that Kuwait [should have] remained an enemy of Iraq. On the contrary, it made the right decision [in reconciling with it], because enmity is not a permanent [reality] but a dynamic one, especially in the world of politics, [where] yesterday’s enemy is today’s friend, and today’s friend may be tomorrow’s enemy. That is a fact and no illusion of mine.

“In sum, Israel is not the Arab’s enemy, and the Arabs must all free themselves of the pan-Arab complex and take their own independent steps and decisions, far from the delusion of the single [pan-Arab] nation!!”

In another Kuwaiti government daily Abdallah Al-Hadlaq writes; “To all those who think the Persian state (Iran), and the regime of the Rule of the Imprudent [namely] the dictatorial fascist Persian regime which controls it, is a friendly country, whereas Israel is an enemy country, I say that a prudent enemy is better than an imprudent one. The state of Israel and its various governments have waged more than five wars with the Arabs, yet never in the course of these wars did Israel think to use its nuclear weapons against its Arab enemies. Conversely, if the Persian state, with its stupid, rash and fascist regime that hides behind a religious guise, ever develops nuclear weapons, it will not hesitate to use nuclear bombs against the Arab Gulf states in the first conflict that arises.

“Israel is a friendly state that does not endanger us in the Arab Gulf region and we have nothing to fear from it. The one who threatens us, carries out acts of terror and destruction against us, and aspires to occupy us is the arrogant Persian enemy, represented by the regime of the Persian state (Iran), which is the incubator and supportive environment for global terror.”

Furthermore, on the website Tareq Baddar, a Kuwaiti writer and film producer wrote an article on May 24, 2016 calling for an end to the incitement against Jews in mosques. (

Often, a running theme in these articles is a call for an acknowledgment of the real enemy, Iran, as opposed to Israel.

In the words of Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh: “The Persian enemy is Enemy No. 1, and the Zionist enemy is [only] Enemy No. 2. We must present this truth directly, flattering no one, to all those [who try] to extort us with the tale that Israel is the Arabs’ Enemy No. 1 and that Iran supports us on the Palestinian issue. This tale could still be true vis-à-vis the Arabs to the north [of the Arabian Peninsula], and in Egypt, because Israel threatens [Egypt] and its security and stability. But as for the [Saudi] kingdom and the Gulf states, it is Iran, not Israel, that tops the list of the enemies and the dangers that lie in wait for us, face us and threaten us. Iran is exploiting the issue of the Palestinians and the liberation [of Palestine] as a pretext for infiltrating deep into the Arab [world], shredding its Arab fabric, and dragging Arab [society] into supporting its expansionary plan…”

“Moreover, let me say this bluntly: Any citizen of any of the five Gulf states who prioritizes the Israeli danger over that of the Persian enemy, whether from a pan-Arab or an Islamist perspective, is sacrificing his homeland, its security, its stability and perhaps its very existence for his neighbor’s cause. By any national standard, this is absolute treason.

“This issue has to do with our very existence, and there is no bargaining over it or dismissing or neglecting it. It is a matter on which the Gulf residents, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, agree equally…”

These words sum up a major reason, if not the most predominant reason, for Gulf States relations thawing towards Israel; Iran is a major threat to the Arab-Sunni world as they seek to export globally, but to the Sunni world first, Shiite Islam. Sunni Islam’s bastion is in the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, and they are neighbours with Iran, acting as a buffer to the rest of the world, a challenge and competition to Iran’s Shiite Islam. In order to spread Shiite’ism, these countries must be neutralised and preferably converted to Shiite countries. This means Iran must be militarily superior, strengthening and spreading Shiite Islam within these countries. The Gulf States know this and are acutely aware and alarmed that Iran developing a nuclear bomb spells the end of their countries. Israel is the strongest power in the region and has the capability of challenging Iran’s growing might and is even able to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. Therefore, naturally Israel would be the ones to turn to and to start warming up to, in order to counter this threat.  This is particularly evident when we take into account that Israel was the one to daringly face Iraq, totally detroying their nuclear program in 1981 without any casualties.  The dictum of ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is no truer here than ever before, as it has made deadly sworn enemies into collaborative friends. The Gulf States may not have wanted to make peace with Israel but perhaps now they will out of necessity.

Adding to this is the relative side-lining of the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is collapsing and does not even have full control of its own city headquarters. Gun battles on the streets of Nablus occur often between the PA security forces and other militant factions, such as Fatah. There are parts of the city where PA security forces cannot enter or risk being fired upon by those who control those areas. This is happening in many parts of the West Bank, where many areas are now independent of the PA and are run day to day by the tribal leaders, such as the Hebron region. Some areas have descended into absolute anarchy and are ruled by armed gangs and factions. The Palestinian elections have been postponed by Mahmud Abbas as he fears losing to his rivals.

The “Arab Quartet”, made up of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, have held up their monthly donation to the Palestinian Authority of $20 million for seven months. This amounts to a third of the P.A. budget. Although there are claims that this is merely a logistical matter, many are reading between the lines that it is an attempt to force Abbas to make peace as they dictate. They have reached out to Fatah as they are also concerned with Abbas recent visit to Iran and want to ensure that Abbas does not get too close. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) support for the Palestinians is now more tactical than anything else and the GCC business leaders have been tacitly expressing their frustration for a while regarding the corruption within the Palestinian Authority.

Others are also beginning to get frustrated and this was made evident when a Saudi editorial took the Palestinian Authority to task for not accepting Netanyahu’s offer to Abbas to speak at the Kenneset.

All of the above has made the Palestinian issue relatively secondary to Iran as they are increasingly viewed by many as a burden, and are unable to behave in a befitting manner.

Another reason that has caused a shift in opinion towards Israel is the Arab Spring.

Hopes of democracy and liberalism were crushed by the Islamists taking over most of the revolutions, steering those countries in to oblivion, specifically in Syria. Numerous atrocities were commited and there are those in the Arab world who have now rethought the whole view point of prevalent within the Arab world, including how they view Israel.

In an interview on the 19 March 2014 with Syrian Orient News TV channel, Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani stated, “Today, it is our huge Syrian Arab army that is attacking us. Hizbullah is attacking us, while Israel treats the wounded. The equation has changed today. Who is our friend, and who is our foe? The things that have happened have completely changed the notions. Who is our enemy? Is our enemy the Lebanese who is fighting us, or the Israeli who live in Jerusalem? I’m just asking. Our Iraqi “brother” who has come to slaughter us in Yabroud – is he our friend or foe? Is he really a brother to us? There are many new questions. Dogmatic thinking is pointless.” 

Dr Kamal’s plan for peace in Syria included making peace with Israel and even relinquishing Syrian rights to the Golan Heights in exchange for Israel’s help in toppling the Assad regime.  He further stated, “I do not want to condemn anyone. I myself worked hard to rid myself of the prevailing dogma that is passed down from generation to generation, and is elevated to the level of sanctity and taboo – a dogma that calls to perpetuate conflicts, as opposed to burying them…”

Although Al-Labwani’s plan drew harsh criticism from many fellow rebel leaders, nevertheless, his thinking is a break from the norm and could be a sign that others also think like him.

This disenchantment with the Arab narrative and willingness to blame Israel for inter-Arab wars was lambasted by Dr. ‘Ali Sa’d Al-Moussa who wrote on the 22 August 2016 in the Saudi daily Al-Watan: 

“[The world outside] the blood-soaked region between Mosul, [Syria] and Sirt, [Libya], and between Idlib, [Syria] and ‘Aden, [Yemen], does not see even a tenth of the strife [that goes on in that region]… not even between the two Koreas or between the Hutu and the Tutsi in Africa. This proves that the world could have been a safer and quieter place had the Middle East not been in its midst. And I ask that none of you place the blame for this on Israel, for that is [just] a shallow excuse. Israel has nothing to do with the struggle between ISIS and [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, or with what is happening between ‘Afash [a nickname for former Yemeni president ‘Ali Abdullah Saleh], [‘Abd Al-Malik] Al-Houthi [head of the Houthi Ansar Allah group in Yemen] and the Yemeni government, and has nothing to do with the ideological war that is raging in the distant deserts of Libya.

“We in this blood-red region on the world map are born [carrying] the gene of an unknown virus in our body, which soon awakens and multiplies, [triggering] destruction and war, hatred, exclusion and the despicable categorizing [of people]. In the last five years of internecine [fighting], we have killed tens of times more people from our own ranks than were killed in 50 years of historical wars with Israel….”

As the saying goes “war makes strange bed fellows”, and there is no stranger bed fellow when Syrian rebels post on twitter saying; “Well done Israeli heroes.” – (account has currently been shut down.)

Syrian opposition figure Omar Alzoubi-Daraa, wrote on Twitter. “Thank you Israel” and “Terrorist Samir Kuntar and other terrorist Hezbollah leaders have been killed by Israeli raids. What a beautiful job”.

This was posted after the death of Samir Kuntar, who was a Hezbollah terrorist who had committed terror attacks against Israel whilst being member of the Palestine Liberation Front. He had been treated by Hezbollah as a hero upon his releases by Israel in a prisoner exchange in 2008. He was deployed by Hezbollah in Syria to rally the Druze community to their cause. He was killed in Damascus in December 2015 supposedly by an Israeli air strike, although the Free Syrian Army took credit for his death. The fact that Syrian rebels have reached a point of hatred for Hezbollah and  call Israel “heroes” shows how the Arab Spring has changed the opinions of many.

This enthusiastic praise for Israel may be partly generated by Syrian’s knowledge that they can find medical treatment in Israel, their supposedly sworn enemy. With hundreds of Syrians having been treated in Israeli hospitals, opinions are bound to start changing when Israel kills such a member of Hezbollah.

Globalisation is playing a big part in this shift. As the world gets smaller because of the internet, specifically due to social media, regular people are able to communicate to the world what is really happening, as opposed to an official media outlet controlled by a tyrannical regime. This also means that extremely graphic and violent material is posted and shared online. A lot of material like this from the Syrian civil war has been shared and these images and videos have sent shock waves throughout the Muslim world and have provoked many to call for liberalism and true adoption for Western democratic values. This call has gotten louder and is seen as the only cure for the Arab world’s downward spiral into a violent abyss. These views call for the changing of Arab mentalities including how Israel and Jews are viewed.

This includes many old doctrines that have been part of the Arab world for almost 100 years, such as pan-Arabism. As was  concluded by Saleh Al-Shayeji,  in the Kuwaiti government daily Al-Anba, November 23, 2015:  

“In sum, Israel is not the Arab’s enemy, and the Arabs must all free themselves of the pan-Arab complex and take their own independent steps and decisions, far from the delusion of the single [pan-Arab] nation!!”

There are differing views on globalization within the Arab World. Generally, it is viewed negatively; as a Western attack on their religious and cultural identity, atempting to control the Arabs and their resources. However, there are those who have embraced the Western ideals and these have seeped in to the Arab discourse and call for more of these values to be part of Arab society. Khaled Montaser, an Egyptian doctor, wrote on September 12 2016 in the daily Al-Watan;  “There is no escape from joining the world while preserving [our] cultural uniqueness. There is no escape from merging and interacting [with the world] without losing [our] identity… We must discard the obsession, the delusion, and the lie of the two camps [perception] and not live as prisoners [of the view] that we are the best, greatest, and most moral… [This view] blinds our eyes from seeing ourselves in the mirror, keeps us from coping [with reality] in times of true danger, and paralyzes us when we are called to participate in the circle of culture and play a constructive role in it [instead of] withdrawing and isolating ourselves, wallowing in our problems and sorrow and reminiscing [about the past], and manufacturing explosive belts in the caves of Tora Bora and the forests of Somalia…” he ended by  saying “…those who refuse to participate, or think they are the only ones with the right to hold a stake, belong outside the camp where there is thunder, lightning, scorpions, snakes, thirst, and hunger – in the desert of isolation without mercy, salvation, or protection.” (
In conclusion, the combined factors of the Iran danger, the sidelining of the Palestinians as well as the Arab Spring  together with globalization, are creating the possibility of a new Middle East where Arabs and Jews will get along and co-operate together to build a stable Middle East. If Israel and others tread carefully this may become the reality.


Israel has the opportunity to reclaim its nation.

Palestine is many things. A Roman name and a Cold War lie. Mostly it’s a justification for killing Jews.

Palestine was an old Saudi-Soviet scam which invented a fake nationality for the Arab clans who had invaded and colonized Israel. This big lie transformed the leftist and Islamist terrorists run by them into the liberators of an imaginary nation. Suddenly the efforts of the Muslim bloc and the Soviet bloc to destroy the Jewish State became an undertaking of sympathetically murderous underdogs.

But the Palestine lie is past its sell by date.

What we think of as “Palestinian” terrorism was a low-level conflict pursued by the Arab Socialist states in between their invasions of Israel. After several lost wars, the terrorism was all that remained. Egypt, Syria and the USSR threw in the towel on actually destroying Israel with tanks and jets, but funding terrorism was cheap and low-risk. And the rewards were disproportionate to the cost.

For less than the price of a single jet fighter, Islamic terrorists could strike deep inside Israel while isolating the Jewish State internationally with demands for “negotiations” and “statehood.”

After the Cold War ended, Russia was low on cash and the PLO’s Muslim sugar daddies were tired of paying for Arafat’s wife’s shoe collection and his keffiyah dry cleaning bills.

The terror group was on its last legs. “Palestine” was a dying delusion that didn’t have much of a future.

That’s when Bill Clinton and the flailing left-wing Israeli Labor Party which, unlike its British counterpart, had failed to adapt to the new economic boom, decided to rescue Arafat and create ”Palestine”.

The resulting terrorist disaster killed thousands, scarred two generations of Israelis, isolated the country and allowed Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other major cities to come under fire for the first time since the major wars. No matter how often Israeli concessions were met with Islamic terrorism, nothing seemed able to shake loose the two-state solution monkey on Israel’s back. Destroying Israel, instantaneously or incrementally, had always been a small price to pay for maintaining the international order.

The same economic forces that were transforming the world after the Cold War had salvaged “Palestine”. Arafat had lost his sponsors in Moscow, but his new sugar daddy’s name was “Globalism”.

The Cold War had been the focus of international affairs. What replaced it was the conviction that a new world tied together by international commerce, the internet and international law would be born.

The demands of a clan in Hebron used to be able to hijack the attention of the world because the scope of the clash between Capitalism and Communism could globalize any local conflict. Globalization was just as insistent on taking local conflicts and making them the world’s business through its insistence that every place was connected. The terrorist blowing up an Israeli pizzeria affected stock prices in New York, the expansion prospects of a company in China and the risk of another terrorist attack in Paris. And interconnectedness, from airplane hijacking to plugging into the international’s left alliance of global protest movements, had become the  best weapon of Islamic terrorists.

But now globalization is dying. And its death may just take “Palestine” with it.

A new generation of leaders is rising who are actively hostile to globalization. Trump and Brexit were the most vocal rebukes to transnationalism. But polls suggest that they will not be the only ones. The US and the UK, once the vanguards of the international order, now have governments that are competitively seeking national advantages rather than relying on the ordered rules of the transnational safety net.

These governments will not just toss aside their commitment to a Palestinian state. Not when the Saudis, Qataris and countless other rich and powerful Muslim countries bring it up at every session.

But they will be less committed to it.

45% of Americans support the creation of a PLO state. 42% are opposed. That’s a near split. These historical numbers have to be viewed within the context of the larger changes sweeping the country.

The transnationalists actively believed that it was their job to solve the problems of other countries. Nationalists are concerned with how the problems of other countries directly impinge on them without resorting to the mystical interconnectedness of everything, from climate change to global justice, that is at the core of the transnational worldview.

More intense competition by Western nations may make it easier for Islamic agendas to gain influence through the old game of divide and conquer. Nations facing terrorism will still find that the economic influence of Islamic oil power will rally the Western trading partners of Islam against them.

But without the transnational order, such efforts will often amount to little more than lip service.

Nationalist governments will find Israel’s struggle against the Islamic invaders inconvenient because it threatens their business interests, but they will also be less willing to rubber stamp the terror agenda the way that transnationalist governments were willing to do. The elimination of the transnational safety net will also cause nationalist governments to look harder at consequences and results.

Endlessly pouring fortunes into a Palestinian state that will never exist just to keep Muslim oil tyrants happy is not unimaginable behavior even for a nationalist government. Japan has been doing just that.

But it will be a less popular approach for countries that don’t suffer from Japan’s energy insecurity.

Transnationalists are ideologically incapable of viewing a problem as unsolvable. Their faith in human progress through international law made it impossible for them to give up on the two-state solution.

Nationalist governments have a colder and harder view of human nature. They will not endlessly pour efforts and resources into a diplomatic black hole. They will eventually take “No” for an answer.

This won’t mean instantaneous smooth sailing for Israel. It will however mean that the exit is there.

For two decades, pledging allegiance to the two-state solution and its intent to create a deadly Islamic terror state inside Israel has been the price demanded of the Jewish State for its participation in the international community. That price will not immediately vanish. But it will become easier to negotiate.

The real change will be on the “Palestinian” side where a terrorist kleptoracy feeds off human misery in its mansions downwind of Ramallah. That terror state, conceived insincerely by the enemies of the West during the Cold War and sincerely brought into being by Western transnationalists after the Cold War ended, is a creature of that transnational order.

The “Palestinian Authority”, a shell company of the PLO which is a shell company of the Fatah terrorists, has no economy worth speaking of. It has foreign aid. Its diplomatic achievements are achieved for it by the transnational network of foreign diplomats, the UN, the media and assorted international NGOs. During the last round of “negotiations”, Secretary of State John Kerry even attempted to do the negotiating on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in the talks with Israel.

Take away the transnational order and the Palestinian Authority will need a new sugar daddy. The Saudis are better at promising money than actually delivering it. Russia may decide to take on the job. But it isn’t about to put in the money and resources that the PA has grown used to receiving from us.

Without significant American support, the Palestinian Authority will perish. And the farce will end.

It won’t happen overnight. But Israel now has the ability to make it happen if it is willing to take the risk of transforming a corrosive status quo into a conflict that will be more explosive in the short term, but more manageable in the long term.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, in stark contrast to rivals on the left like Peres and on the right like Sharon, is not a gambler. The peace process was a big gamble. As was the withdrawal from Lebanon and the expulsion from Gaza. These gambles failed and left behind scars and enduring crises.

Unlike the prime ministers before and after him, Netanyahu has made no big moves. Instead he serves as a sensible steward of a rising economy and a growing nation. He has stayed in office for so long because Israelis know that he won’t do anything crazy. That sensible stewardship, which infuriated Obama who accused him of refusing to take risks, has made him one of the longest serving leaders in Israeli history.

Netanyahu is also a former commando who participated in the rescue of a hijacked airplane. He doesn’t believe in taking foolish risks until he has his shot all lined up. But the time is coming when not taking a risk will be a bigger risk than taking a risk. Eventually he will have to roll the dice.

The new nationalist wave may not hold. The transnational order may return. Or the new wave may prove darker and more unpredictable. It’s even possible that something else may take its place.

The status quo, a weak Islamist-Socialist terror state in Ramallah supported by the United States, a rising Muslim Brotherhood terror state in Gaza backed by Qatar and Turkey, and an Israel using technological brilliance to manage the threat from both, is already unstable. It may collapse in a matter of years.

The PLO has inflicted a great deal of diplomatic damage on Israel and Hamas has terrorized its major cities. Together they form an existential threat that Israel has allowed to grow under the guise of managing it. The next few years may leave Israel with a deadlier and less predictable struggle.

“Palestine” is dying. Israel didn’t kill it. The fall of the transnational order did. The question is what will take its place. As the nationalist wave sweeps the West, Israel has the opportunity to reclaim its nation.

Originally Published in FrontPageMag.


Time to Eliminate the Palestinian Authority Terrorist Mafia

News reports recently emerged that FORMER(!!) President Obama attempted to transfer $221 million to the Palestinian Authority in the last hours of his presidency. (Important reminder: HE’S NO LONGER PRESIDENT!!). These funds had been held back by the Republican-controlled Congress until Obama acted last Friday. Efforts are now underway by President Trump’s Administration to recover the funds before they end up in the terrorist coffers.

With this ridiculous incident in mind, I thought it time to address a larger issue: the catastrophic continued existence of the Palestinian Authority at all. 

Last week someone casually asked me: “What’s the first major thing you would do if you were Prime Minister of Israel?”

My answer: Eliminate the Palestinian Authority (PA) – IMMEDIATELY. Arrest the leadership, confiscate all the weapons, restore order. (of course, I would also authorize tons of building in Judea, Samaria and all of Jerusalem.) There are roles for leadership within the arab society, the PA is not fit to filling any of them!

In short, I’d end their mafia-style rule. The intimidation and violence of the PA stretches throughout the entire land and it must be stopped!

The big question commonly being asked of the “right-wing” these days is: what do they propsose to do with the arab inhabitants of Judea and Samaria. The problem is that in order to have a plan of action, we need to know what those arabs want  – both collectively and individually. Person by person. Village by village. Who wants to sell and leave? Who wants to become a citizen? Who wants to become a resident? Who wants to resist violently? (bad move)

These questions cannot be honestly answered as long as the PA still exists. As long as all-encompassing fear of retribution pervades the arab society in Israel, we can never know how realistic it is to implement any relevant policies. All the polls of the arab population are wrong, all interviews with arabs are meaningless, and of course any elections are more than quite questionable.

As was typical of Obama’s time in office, his final move was entirely counterproductive to anything good. It was basically a microcosm of all eight years. If Trump can fix this, there is hope he can fix all eight years!

By continuing to bankroll the terrorist/mafia-style PA, the international community lessons the chances of peace and prosperity for all. The greatest sin of the Oslo Accords was the creation of the PA. Eliminating the PA is the first step on the path to actual peace.

BREAKING: Trump’s State Department Will Now Review Obama’s $221m Transfer to Palestinians

With the outrage growing against Barack Obama’s last minute transferring of $221m to the Palestinian Authority just five days before leaving office, Trump’s State Department announced Tuesday that it will review the last-minute decision which was done over the objections of congressional Republicans.

The purpose of the review is to look at the payment and make possible changes to ensure it complies with the priorities of the Trump administration.

Kerry formally notified Congress that State would release the money Friday morning, just hours before President Trump took the oath of office.

The Congress had initially given approval for the Palestinian funding in the 2015/2016 budget, but Ed Royce (R) of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger (R) of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — put a hold on the transfer as a response to moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations. Although congressional holds are not legally binding they are generally respected by the executive branch.

Granger released a statement Tuesday saying, “I am deeply disappointed that President Obama defied congressional oversight and released $221 million to the Palestinian territories.”

She added: “I worked to make sure that no American taxpayer dollars would fund the Palestinian Authority unless very strict conditions were met. While none of these funds will go to the Palestinian Authority because of those conditions, they will go to programs in the Palestinian territories that were still under review by Congress. The Obama Administration’s decision to release these funds was inappropriate.”


It’s time to end the “Palestinian” hijacking of the US-Israel relationship.

Ten years ago, a guy from Queens made a trip out during a snowstorm to pay a condolence call to a guy on Long Island on the passing of a Rabbi who was also his father. The guy from Queens is now President-elect and the man he was visiting became his close adviser and his choice for ambassador to Israel.

Last week, Trump gave his pro-Israel Jewish supporters an early Chanukah gift. He picked an ambassador who actually likes the Jewish State and hates Islamic terrorists.

It’s supposed to be the other way around.

Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Obama’s emissary to the country he hated almost as much as America, had denounced Israel on the day that a Jewish mother of six who died protecting her children from an Islamic terrorist encouraged to kill Jews by the Palestinian Authority, was being buried.

Shapiro has warned that our backing for Israel is contingent on Israel’s support for a PA-Hamas Islamic terror state inside its own borders and that Netanyahu’s lack of enthusiasm for that terror state “raises questions about Israel’s real intentions.”

But Trump has decided to go with David Friedman, a friend of Israel, instead of an enemy. And the enemies of the Jewish State are united in their fury against Ambassador David Friedman.

“J Street is vehemently opposed to the nomination of David Friedman to be Ambassador to Israel.” the Soros funded anti-Israel group declared. Friedman has been a longtime critic of the hate group, comparing its support for Islamic terror against Israel to its key funder’s Nazi collaborating past.

The head of J Street is so upset that he appears to have found religion. “Lord help friends of Israel if someone like David Friedman is making US policy on Israel rather than John Kerry,” Jeremy ben Ami whined.

The Lord just might be helping Israel by sending Kerry back to Nantucket and David Friedman to Jerusalem. The anti-Israel media was already sputtering early this month when Friedman skipped Kerry’s rant against Israel to attend an event for the Israeli town of Beit El (Bethel or House of God) where Judah Maccabee had his command center in the battle against Antiochus IV that gave us Chanukah.

Our next ambassador chose the House of God and the Maccabees over John Forbes Kerry.

Trump had personally donated to a Jewish school in Beit El. “If I would have known he would be elected president, I would have saved the check,” the town’s co-founder said.

This infuriates the left which believes that the House of God ought to be turned over to Muslim terrorists to become the House of Allah, Jihad and of Kassam rockets falling on Israeli cities.

Letty Cottin Pogrebin of Peace Now, who has charged Israel with apartheid, claimed that it blows up Palestinian babies and praised the “positive consequences” of the racist Muslim terror intifada against the Jews, was most unhappy.

“This man will dismantle everything … State Department policy on the settlements, two states … It’s beyond comprehension,” she sputtered.

To which the only rational response can be… good.

There is no Two State Solution. And there never was. The Islamic terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank want one Islamic state just as much as ISIS does. They stopped even pretending to negotiate years ago. The term “Two State Solution” is an excuse for funding Islamic terrorists inside Israel on the pretext that after decades of rejecting peace and co-existence, they will one day change their minds and play nice.

As long as Israel offers them enough land to build their terror state on.

The “settlements”, a bigoted reference to Jews living in parts of Israel conquered by Muslim invaders in 1948 and liberated by Israelis in 1967, is their excuse for why Muslim terrorists still haven’t made peace.

You can’t expect the Palestinian Authority, funded by US taxpayers, to stop stabbing Israeli mothers as long as there are Jews living in parts of Jerusalem that they want to incorporate into their terror state.

Ambassador David Friedman wants to toss these Goebbelsian lies about Israel aside. He doesn’t believe that a Two State Solution in which an Islamic terror state cuts Israel in half will solve anything except the problem of Israel’s existence.

He knows that the lack of peace isn’t caused by Jews living in Jerusalem, but by Muslim terror.

The Two State Solution allowed Muslim terrorists in Israel to take the US-Israel relationship hostage. These Islamic terrorists of the Palestinian Authority got veto power even over the location of our embassy in Jerusalem. Trump and Friedman want to free our relationship with Israel from the terrorists.

But much of the establishment wants to keep the Palestinian Authority hostage crisis going by appointing hostile hacks to poison the relationship and keep the terrorists in charge. The Foggy Bottom hacks we dispatch to Israel and around the world aren’t supposed to like Israel. Despising the Jewish State is a basic qualification for the job.

Our man in Tel Aviv, in a bizarrely out of touch embassy located more than half the country’s width away from its center of government, must ceaselessly lecture the Israelis on the evils of Jews living in Jerusalem while warning them that our support is based entirely on Israel’s to efforts to create an Islamic terror state inside its borders. Meanwhile the Jerusalem consulate will focus on outreach to the Islamic terror state while refusing to even admit that there are Jews in Jerusalem.

That’s why the establishment is madder at Friedman than a wet cat soaked in a barrel of gasoline.

David Friedman is a “hard-liner” and “right-wing”. David Remnick at the New Yorker fumes that Friedman is a bankruptcy lawyer from Long Island. He probably doesn’t even get invited to any of Remnick’s cocktail parties. But the President of the United States wasn’t supposed to be a guy from Queens who went to Wharton, but a Yale or Harvard type. And the ambassador to Israel is supposed to be a career Foreign Service Officer who has been around the region since the invention of syphilis.

Not a guy from Long Island who doesn’t know enough to bemoan Israel’s “rightward” drift with the best of them at a Georgetown bar. Like so much else, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

The media whines that David Friedman is unfit because he isn’t a professional diplomat. It didn’t have a thing to say when Obama handed out ambassadorships to the UK, Canada, Italy, Germany and France to anyone who raised over six figures for his dirty campaigns.

Obama gave John Kerry’s cousin, married to the heiress of the Jack Daniel’s liquor empire, the ambassadorships of Sweden and the United Kingdom after raising millions for him. Not only isn’t anyone involved in this disgusting affair ashamed of it, but the “ambassador’s” official bio on the embassy site boasts that he was “among the first to join Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee”.

Obama made a soap opera producer who raised over $500K, the ambassador to Hungary and the producer of Dr. Dolittle 2, who raised millions for him, the ambassador to Denmark.

When the media lectures on Friedman’s unfitness, remember what they and their boss consider “fit”.

Behind all that outrage about Friedman is the fear that the Big Lie which has fed Islamic terrorism in Israel, America and around the world is about to come toppling down. Trump is threatening to drain the swamp of Foggy Bottom where the State Department has long sabotaged our relationship with Israel.

And the Two State Solution, the Palestinian Authority with its hundreds of millions in stolen taxpayer money, the professional critics of Israel who blame a thousand years of Muslim anti-Semitism on a Jewish family living in Jerusalem, and all of Foggy Bottom are a swamp that badly needs draining.

A decade ago, a guy from Queens visited a guy from Long Island to pay his respects. Next year the two men may transform our foreign policy toward Israel and drain the swamp of the Two State Solution.

Originally Posted on FrontpageMag.