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March 3, 2010: Fighting Back

May 27, 2010

Our ability to fight back against the multiple lies and growing number of libels with which we are confronted is extremely important.  And the fact that indeed we are starting to fight back gives hope.
 
See the StandWithUS response to Israel Apartheid Week via this link (with thanks to Andrew B. for calling it to my attention):
 
http://campaign.constantcontact.com:80/render?v=001p_xH-twv5vUP2EkhFE4GGUU_C1SgkrUz4EAAVuzylwGuSNN6C08vWPSCzNM88gLBK6LcwchWVV4CngJv5kfno2WfJ74QfRYzfuvTmqKpDImLlKnJMBONiA%3D%3D
 
Yes, there sure is apartheid out there, but it isn’t in Israeli society  — it’s built into many Arab societies.  Societies where non-Muslims are unwelcome and women have vastly inferior status and are sometimes victims of such horrendous acts as “honor killings” (murder of a woman by family members because she “compromised” the family’s honor by engaging in sex while single, consorted with “undesirable” men, or otherwise rejected Islamic mores).
 
If you have the stomach, see further important information here:
 
http://www.islam-watch.org/SyedKamranMirza/honor_killing.htm
 
Among the nations and areas where honor killings are practiced:
 
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Sudan, the Gaza strip and the Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria, Gaza, Jordan, Turkey, and Iran. In Jordan alone, says Islam-Watch, every two weeks a woman is killed in the name of family honor.
 
Of course, where there are Muslim populations in other nations, honor killing occasionally occurs as well.  Every so often there is such a case among the Israeli Arab population here.  In 2007, a Muslim father in Canada strangled his daughter because she wouldn’t wear her hijab.  In 2008, an Egyptian in Texas shot his two daughters because he was upset with their adoption of Western life style, including dating of non-Muslim boys. In 2009 there was the notorious case of a Muslim man in Buffalo NY who had succeeded professionally in TV but ended up beheading his wife.
 
Such horrific acts are made possible because of a culture that says that the woman is subjugated to the control of the men in her life — father, brother, husband.  
 
An article in Middle East Quarterly explains that such honor killings are not just domestic violence:
 
http://www.meforum.org/2067/are-honor-killings-simply-domestic-violence
 
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You may remember:  I wrote at the time of the Jerusalem Conference that Netanyahu advisor Ron Dermer said we must fight back this way — via a massive offensive campaign that tells it like it is, and helps “pro-Palestinian” liberals and progressives understand what an affront to the values they hold dear — equality for women, free speech, freedom of religion, etc. — many of the Muslim societies truly represent.
 
This is no time for political correctness.  It’s time to fight back by simply exposing the truth.
 
From Women Against Shariah (http://womenagainstshariah.com) :
 
“It is our position that shariah [Islamic] law imposes second class status on women and is incompatible with the standards of liberal Western societies and the basic principles of human rights that include equality under the law and the protection of individual freedoms. The shariah code mandates the complete authority of men over women, including the control of their movement, education, marital options, clothing, bodies, place of residence and all other aspects of their existence. Further, it calls for the beating, punishment, and murder of women who don’t comply with shariah requirements.”
 
Apartheid, is it?  Please, share this information broadly.
 
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It’s good, also, I think, to be able to laugh (when laughing is possible). Some of the material that comes out of the Arab world is so ludicrous that it lends itself to lightheartedness.  I’d already seen this piece — from Egyptian TV, provided, with translation, by MEMRI — but after Purim it seemed worth sharing (with thanks to Phil B. for re-calling it to my attention).  It is all of 3.5 minutes long; you’ll get to the “punch line” after less than a minute and a half, but keep watching:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii-1doS842g
 
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I believe that the addition of the Machpelah and Kever Rachel to the list of Israel’s heritage sites also represents a way — a different way– of fighting back. Yes, Prime Minister Netanyahu had to be “nudged” into doing this by right wing members of the government and Knesset.  Whether he knew it was the correct thing to do, but lacked the backbone to do it until he received encouragement (these sites were added at the last moment), or whether he did it reluctantly for political reasons, I cannot be sure.  I tend to think he knew.
 
At any rate, he did it.  So that we’ve made public announcement regarding our heritage and what we treasure. 
 
The backlash has been enormous and does a great deal to expose the true nature of the Palestinian Arabs (not to mention left wing non-Arabs).  It’s worth looking at this a bit more closely.
 
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There are two aspects to this fight. 
 
One, quite simply is with regard to what the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters assume (erroneously) would be the final borders of Israel were negotiations for “peace” to be successfully completed.  The assumption is that we would retreat behind the 1967 lines, which were essentially temporary armistice lines. Now there is great alarm that (Baruch Hashem!) this is not going to happen.  We’ve had the audacity to declare a significant attachment to sites beyond that line.
 
But there is another side to this, that relates very much to the entire “apartheid” theme.  In particular is it the case with the Machpelah in Hevron.  The Machpelah contains the tombs of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, with the exception of Rachel — these Matriarchs and Patriarchs are sacred to Muslims as well as Jews.  (Or, technically, at least Abraham, who fathered Ishmael, said to be the ancestor of the Arabs.) And, indeed, although the site is under Israeli control, it contains an area for Muslim worship as well as for Jewish worship.  We share.
 
This sort of sharing runs contrary to the mindset of the Muslims. They are absolutist in their need for control — what Bernard Lewis calls triumphalist.  We say that the good people of all faiths have a place in the world to come. Muslims say it’s Islam or nothing.  Thus, there would be no room in an Muslim-controlled Machpelah for Jewish prayer. (As was the case for 700 years when the Machpelah was under Muslim control.) 
 
Given a different mindset, it could have been so simple:  The Palestinian Arabs, instead of turning violent, might have said, “Look, we expect this to be within our state some day — your attachment to this doesn’t change that expectation.  But don’t worry, we know this is a sacred site for you and we’ll be sure you have access.”
 
But the Muslim mind does not work this way.  If there is Jewish attachment to the site, for them it automatically compromises their control.  When so many are screaming that Israel is apartheid, this truth, too must be exposed.
 
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What I’m seeing (is it wishful thinking?) is that some tentative steps are being taken to undo some of the enormous damage that has been done since Oslo, with regard to always appeasing the Arabs, always seeing their side with fear of asserting our positions.  This is spurring some very necessary debate within our own society.
 
Speaking at the Knesset today, Netanyahu said:
 
“These sites are part of our heritage. How is it possible to leave them out?…”We are not here by chance. We are here because we have a deep, basic connection to the land, which has continued for almost 4,000 years.”
 
At some level it is perhaps irrelevant what motivated this statement — internal politics or deeply held conviction.  The fact is that he said it, and it has been heard. 
 
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One of the people I’ve admired as having courage with regard to taking stands is Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat.  If you insist that I take down a Jewish residential building in Silwan, he told legal authorities, then I will also take down dozens of Arab homes in the area that were illegally built.  This was a hot potato that no one wanted to touch until now.
 
Barkat developed a plan for the area of Silwan known as Gan Hamelech  (King’s Garden or, in Arabic, Al Bustan), which was never zoned for housing. Residents would be relocated in new apartment buildings and the area where their illegal homes had been would be turned into a national park, complete with shops, galleries and a community center at its periphery.
 
You can see the municipal development plan for the area here:
 
http://www.jerusalem.muni.il:80/jer_main/TopSiteJerueng.asp?newstr=2&src=/jer_sys/muni/messages/item_news_en.asp?msg_id=10075+cat=37+sec_id=77&cont=1288
 
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Barkat was to initiate this plan at a press conference yesterday.  But only hours before, Prime Minister Netanyahu called and asked him to hold off and spend more time getting all residents of the illegal housing on board before proceeding. Barkat had little choice but to agree, but declared confidence that it would all work out in the end.
 
Netanyahu, according to a release from his office, declared that he had no intention of interfering with municipal affairs, but was concerned that “interested parties” were eager to stir up a controversy, and present a “distorted” picture of the situation.  Translation:  I’ve got my hands full with the rioting because of the Heritage sites, let’s not give the Arabs and their supporters another excuse for violence, with claims that we are pushing Arab residents of Silwan out of their homes.
 
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For the record:  Silwan, in eastern Jerusalem, is outside the walls of the Old City, along the Kidron Valley and on a slope opposite the City of David.

silwan, east jerusalem by Rankin Mike.

 
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Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for Hudsonny.org, has expressed the opinion that a new wave of Palestinian Arab violence is growing more likely.  He, however, addresses reasons for this that I had not:

“The Palestinian Authority is once again trying to divert attention from its problems at home, and the best way to do this is being escalating tensions with Israel – the Palestinian Authority’s policy since its inception after signing the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993.

“To distract attention from charges of financial corruption and embarrassing sexual scandals, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has stepped up its anti-Israel rhetoric. Allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘destruction and desecration of Islamic religious sites,’ ‘apartheid,’ ‘racism,’ ‘land theft’ and ‘conducting medical experiments on Palestinian prisoners’ are directed every day toward Israel by Abbas and his top officials and spokesmen.

“These charges are often backed up by threats to launch a ‘third intifada’ or to resume suicide bombings against Israel.”

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Speaking of Abbas…he has just been given a way to climb down from that tall tree where he found himself stuck.  His problem was that — confident that Obama would support him — he had insisted that his people would not sit at the negotiating table with Israel until all building past the Green Line was frozen, including in Jerusalem.  But Obama ended up accepting a partial freeze and there was Abbas, floating in the breeze.

But now, enter the Arab League, which has just met in Cairo. They have given Abbas the go-ahead for four months of indirect negotiations with Israel — with the US doing the shuttle diplomacy (“proximity talks” it’s being called).  This gives Abbas his needed cover — especially as no one expects anything to come of this.  It’s an attempt to make Abbas appear no longer obstructionist, with the onus on Israel.

All in all, this smells very bad indeed: an attempt to trap Israel, as I see it. 

It was made clear that this would not be an open-ended process.  But even with the best of intentions, what could be accomplished in just four months?  And the League made it clear that these four months of indirect talks could not become direct talks unless Israel first froze all “settlement” construction.  

From the statement read by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa: “Despite the lack of conviction in the seriousness of the Israeli side, the committee sees that it would give the indirect talks the chance as a last attempt and to facilitate the US role…”

Aren’t they great guys, giving the negotiations a chance, and trying to help Obama, in spite of the (metaphorical) roadblocks Israel continues to erect?

Moussa indicated the expectation that even the indirect negotiations would fail if building wasn’t stopped.  Why that would be (other than because of Arab obstinacy) is not clear.  If those talks did fail, the Arabs would then call for an emergency Security Council meeting to address the Arab-Israeli conflict and would ask Washington not to use its veto.  A threat?  Precisely what would the Security Council be asked to do?

A watch and see situation of the first order.

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Of course these talks will fail. First because — as you’ve undoubtedly read a thousand times already — the minimum the Arabs will accept far exceeds the maximum Israel will give. And then, because Abbas doesn’t want a deal in any event.

This is how Abu Toameh put it:

“…Abbas is no fool. He knows that even if he were to sign a peace agreement with Israel, he would never be able to sell it to the Palestinians, let alone implement it when Hamas won’t even allow him to return to his home in the Gaza Strip.

“…Abbas is currently searching for ways to avoid the pressure from home so that he will be able to hold on to power for as long as possible. And he has clearly discovered that the best way to survive is by directing the heat toward Israel.”

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http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2010/5/27/march-3-2010-fighting-back.html

 

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