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WARNING : Don't you judge by reading one article. This site is not for you if you cannot see the otherness of others and sufferings of both sides of the party in the conflict. Security for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians are interdependent, one will not happen without the other. My view focuses on building cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. I hope and pray a sense of justice to prevail. Amen. Website www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com | Also Check Israel Palestine Confederation a pragmatic solution

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Peres leaves for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan

Perez to Azerbaijan

Peres leaves for Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan

Dialogue is the hallmark of civil societies, where they resolve the conflicts by sitting down with each other, face to face and lay things out on the table.

The Muslim Neocons (Necons are insecure extremists of all faith labels) in Azerbaijan seem to match with the Christian and Jewish Neocons who do not want to talk with their adversaries. Who do you make peace with if not the adversary? To be a peacemaker is to mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill.

I hope the majority of Azeri's see sense in building goodwill with other nations, and I sincerly hope the majority of Israelis ask their leaders to bring peace. It pays to resolve the issues and move on to live in peace and security. Let Hamas be a partner in the dialogue and start the process.

Mike Ghouse
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President Shimon Peres on Sunday embarked on what his office terms "historic visits" to the Muslim states of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

President Shimon Peres.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

SLIDESHOW: Israel & Region World The visit to Azerbaijan is the first official visit by a high-ranking Israeli dignitary.

Although Beit Hanassi put an embargo on publicizing the visits prior to his departure, reports that the visits were to take place began appearing in the media of both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan as well as media outlets in other countries more than a month ago.

Not everyone in Azerbaijan is happy about Peres's arrival. According to various Internet reports, some of the elders of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan have protested the visit.

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"We are against the visit of the leader of the criminal Zionist regime and we express our protest against the invitation, sent to him. We demand categorically that the Azeri leadership cancel this visit," says a statement, released by the Nardaran believers.

"The Israeli president's visit to Baku will damage Azerbaijan's international image as a Muslim state and will be an insult to the Islamic world," the statement continues. "Building ties with the Zionist regime, hostile to the Muslims, could damage Azerbaijan as part of the Islamic world. We urge the government to prevent the visit as a sign of respect for the Islamic religion."



Foreign Ministry officials in Baku attribute the statement to meddling by Iran.

According to the Pakistan Daily, Peres will be in Azerbaijan "to consolidate energy and military ties with Baku which began in 1992."

The visits by Peres are intended to upgrade Israel's relations with both countries, each of which prides itself on having treated its Jews well and as having served as a haven for other Jews during World War II.

Peres is scheduled to travel with a large entourage, including Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer; National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau; Science, Culture, and Sport Minister Daniel Herschkowitz and Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Buhris, along with several CEOs of Israel's defense industries and 60 heads of major companies.

In Kazakhstan, Peres is slated to be the guest of honor at the Third Congress of leaders of World and Traditional Religions, where he is to deliver the keynote address.

He is also scheduled to hold meetings with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whom he has met on previous occasions and whose singing voice, leadership and hearty personality he has publicly praised at various Kazakhstan functions in Israel. He is also expected to meet with other prominent Kazakhstan officials.

The businesspeople accompanying Peres plan to participate in a bilateral business forum in Astana. As part of the forum, cooperation agreements on peaceful space exploration and in areas of foreign policy, as well as on a Kazakhstan-Israel business forum, are expected to be signed.

Azerbaijan's priority fields for cooperation with Israel are agriculture, management of water resources, medical training and hi-tech. As in Kazakhstan, agreements are expected to be signed between the three ministers and their Azeri counterparts.

The visits to the two Muslim countries are a collaborative effort between Beit Hanassi, the Foreign Ministry, the Israel Export Institute, and the Israel Manufacturers Association.

In addition to the meetings with Azeri and Kazakh officials, Peres is expected to meet with members of the Jewish communities in both countries. In Kazakhstan - where Jews have lived for centuries - he is scheduled to attend the inauguration of a new synagogue.

He will also use the visits as a platform to make Israel's policies and aspirations for peace better known to that part of the world.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1245924942092&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Israel Won't Freeze Settlements

Men like Lieberman and Netanyahu on one side and Mashaal on the other are the real obstacles to peace in Middle East. They believe they can get away with their immense military power they have, but in the long run they are screwing the people of Israel with more insecurities and long term turmoil. No one will have peace if one keeps usurping the rights of the neighbors. The moderate majority of Israel, Jews and Palestinians need to wake up. - Mike Ghouse
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Published on Thursday, June 18, 2009 by Haaretz (Israel)
Lieberman to Clinton: Israel Won't Freeze Settlements
by Haaretz (Israel)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday that Israel could not accept the Obama administration's demand to "completely" halt activity in West Bank settlements.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) listens to Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (L) as he speaks at a joint news conference following their meeting at the State Department in Washington June 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas) "We have no intention to change the demographic balance in Judea and Samaria," Lieberman said during his talks with the secretary of state in Washington. "Everywhere people are born, people die, and we cannot accept a vision of stopping completely the settlements. We have to keep the natural growth."
Still, he said, Israel "ready for direct negotiations with the Palestinians."

Meanwhile, Clinton reiterated that the U.S. viewed a total settlement freeze as "important and essential" step toward achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

She said that special Mideast envoy George Mitchell would look at a "number of critical concerns" regarding settlements.

"There are a number of critical concerns, many of which overlap in their impact and significance, that will be explored in the coming weeks as Senator Mitchell engages more deeply into the specifics as to where the Israelis and the Palestinians are willing to go together."

Clinton also said that Israeli leaders have in the past shifted their stance on the issue, and expected the current government to evolve in the same fashion.

Israel maintains that it reached understandings with the Bush administration on settlement construction that would allow for continued building within existing communities on the West Bank. The Obama administration rejects this position.

Clinton cited a recent Washington Post op-ed piece by former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer.

In background discussions with journalists, former Bush administration officials said that no formal agreements exist which support Israel's contention that the U.S. approves of settlement construction to accomodate natural growth, Kurtzer wrote.

Meanwhile, Mitchell, who met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday, said that the U.S. seeks a "prompt resumption" of peace negotiations, and predicted preparations for the process could conclude within a matter of weeks.

Western and Israeli officials said this week that while the United States wants Israel to impose a moratorium on new tenders for building in settlements, it was nevertheless considering allowances that could permit some projects already under way to proceed.

U.S. President Barack Obama's blunt and public call for Israel to halt all settlement activity in the West Bank has opened a rare rift between the close allies. But both sides say they are eager to work out their differences.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet Mitchell in Europe next week to try to hammer out an agreement, Israeli officials said.

"That's our goal but we're not there yet," a senior Israeli official said.

Mitchell has said a key element has been trying to pin down exactly what Israel means by the "natural growth" of settlements that Netanyahu has said he will defend. In principle, Netanyahu says he wants growing families to be able to accommodate their children in the towns that Israelis have built.

While firm in demanding a ban on new tenders as part of an overall settlement freeze, Western and Israeli officials said the Obama administration was assessing in which cases continued building could be permitted.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said allowances for continued building could be made if, for example, a project in a settlement was nearing completion or for cases in which money has been invested in a project and cannot be reimbursed.

"There's room for some flexibility in defining what's acceptable in terms of a settlement freeze. Where do you draw the line?" the official said of deliberations within the Obama administration.

The officials said the Obama administration has yet to agree to any exceptions, and stressed that Washington's stated goal of a total freeze in settlement activity, including building in existing blocs to accommodate growing settler families, known as "natural growth", would not change.

Mitchell said in Washington on Tuesday of his meetings with Israeli and other officials: "There are almost as many definitions (of natural growth) as there are people speaking."

He added: "Different people have different interpretations of different phrases ... and we're trying to reach an agreement and understanding that helps us move the process forward."

Netanyahu has asserted that his government does not have the legal authority to stop building in cases in which tenders for new structures have already been awarded or when homes under construction have already been purchased.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected any loopholes that would allow any building.

Yariv Oppenheimer of the anti-settlement watchdog group Peace Now said Israel was likely to use any U.S. flexibility to ramp up building in the West Bank.

"In the past, every time there was an understanding, the outcome was Israel doubled the number of settlers in the West Bank," he said.

Some half a million Jews live among nearly three million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories which were captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.

© 2009 Haaretz

Time for a Common Vision?

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Islamists and the West: Time for a Common Vision?

If you are a moderate Israeli or Palestinian, Jew or a Muslim, you will find value in this piece by Ahmed Yousef.

The real enemies of Peace in the Middle East are the right wingers on both sides of the issue. They are the ones who believe in annihilation of the other to achieve peace, dialogue is not part of their brain system. Sadly, we the Americans are duped by our media to see only one point of view without questioning it, some of us have lost to see another point of view at all.

The right wingers on either side of the issue may not like this piece as they may never had an opportunity to extricate themselves from the massive doses of propaganda they may have inhaled.

The goal should be peace – Hope for Palestinians to live a normal human life and Security for Israelis who can live a normal daily life.

Two critical things emerge in this commentary;

i) “The Palestinian cause lives in the hearts and minds of 1.5 billion Muslims spread over five continents. It is the pivotal factor in matters of war, peace, as well as other complex problems in the Middle East. Thus, a just resolution of the Palestinian case is vital for achieving stability, security, and prosperity in what is called the Middle East arc of crisis.” Indeed, this issue is the epicenter of a whole lot of problems, the Muslims have been talking about it, writing about it, but American Media had no inclination to pick on this.

ii) “Thus Hamas (both as a movement and as a government) fell victim to the misguided policies of the George W. Bush administration not only toward the Palestinian people and their national cause but also toward the peoples of the Arab and Islamic regions more broadly." And I would add, toward the people of Israel. The Neocons have done more harm to Israel's security than Hamas could ever dream of.

While Hamas Charter calls for annihilation of Israel, the Israeli leaders have called for the elimination of the Palestinians, both are wrong and both really don’t mean it, but use it to dig in their heels and literally impose their thoughts on to the common Israelis and Palestinians.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, Terrorism, India, Islam, Peace and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and several Blogs listed on his personal website http://www.mikeghouse.net/

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Islamists and the West: Time for a Common Vision?
Ahmed Yousef

http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=23279&prog=zgp&proj=zme

The Palestinian cause lives in the hearts and minds of 1.5 billion Muslims spread over five continents. It is the pivotal factor in matters of war, peace, as well as other complex problems in the Middle East. Thus, a just resolution of the Palestinian case is vital for achieving stability, security, and prosperity in what is called the Middle East arc of crisis. A just solution should enable the Palestinian people to set up their own independent state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. It should provide the base for a vision that gives more than 6 million refugees their right to return to their land.

The Palestinian cause serves as a gauge of Arabs’ and Muslims’ feelings toward the West, in particular toward the United States. Seriously addressing the issue in an impartial manner is thus at the core of building a new and mutually respectful relationship with the West. To this end, Islamists have called for serious dialogue, not only to address points of religious and political disagreement, but also to prepare both sides to work together in a way that does not disregard Muslim feelings, but rather reinforces a culture of tolerance, cooperation, and coexistence.
A just solution should enable the Palestinian people to set up their own independent state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. It should provide the base for a vision that gives more than 6 million refugees their right to return to their land.
Relations With the West: Understanding not Confrontation

Since its founding, Hamas has adopted a flexible and moderate religious stance and called for mutual understanding with the West to avoid conflict and confrontation. Islamists in Palestine welcomed and were encouraged by Western calls for democracy and the protection of human rights and opposed views that considered the West as an enemy or considered it to be a monolithic entity. Hamas’ position is that Western countries should be judged on the basis of their policies and positions, rather than on the basis of sweeping generalizations.

Palestinian Islamists hoped that the West would reciprocate and interact with them in the same spirit, rather than on the basis of stereotypes and preconceived judgments. Unfortunately, Islamists have been instead put on trial and treated with hostility by the West. The United States has accused Hamas of extremism and terrorism, mobilized the entire world against it, and looked at Hamas’ 2006 election victory as a painful blow to both its “war on terror” and its plan to encourage democratization in the Middle East. Thus Hamas (both as a movement and as a government) fell victim to the misguided policies of the George W. Bush administration not only toward the Palestinian people and their national cause but also toward the peoples of the Arab and Islamic regions more broadly.

Despite all the wrongs, aggression, and plotting by the Bush White House, however, the Islamists do not hold the entire West responsible for those policies and still look forward to positive, balanced relations with the Obama administration and also with other Western countries, especially the European Union member states.
What has become increasingly evident is that a misconception of Palestinian Islamism exists.
What has become increasingly evident is that a misconception of Palestinian Islamism exists. The accusations made are far removed from Hamas’s vision and political plan. Hamas is treated like an extremist movement with goals similar to those of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Hamas leaders have defined the organization clearly as both a Palestinian national liberation movement and as a civil-political movement. It is important to lay out what Hamas’s relationship is to religion, democracy, and resistance in order to understand its vision and goals. Hamas draws its concepts and values from Islam and works to liberate Palestinian lands from Israeli occupation using all legitimate means and serving the Palestinian people wherever they may be as circumstances permit. Hamas is not a clerical religious movement as some try to portray it, nor is it a fundamentalist movement in the Western sense―meaning extremist and narrow-mindedly bigoted. Rather, Hamas follows the moderate, centrist approach and does not see anyone as an enemy, except for the occupiers who have stolen the land of the Palestinian people. Both Jews and Christians are “People of the Book,” and Muslims respect their traditions and keep their promises towards them.

Hamas is also a civil movement that has adopted a consultative approach and uses democratic means for the internal succession of power. Hamas believes in the peaceful succession of power in Palestine, partnership on the basis of citizenship, and in cultural diversity and political pluralism. It also regards respect for human rights and relevant international conventions to be a part of Islamic teaching, and considers human dignity to be the highest goal of human existence.

Hamas also prefers that Palestine by liberated by peaceful means, and calls upon the world to implement UN resolutions related to the Palestinian cause, particularly Resolution 194, ensuring the right of refugees to return, as well as resolutions demanding that Israel withdraw from occupied Arab territories.

Hamas adopts resistance in all its forms as a reaction to the occupation but does not deliberately attack civilians. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin launched an initiative calling on the international community and the occupation government to agree to spare civilians. This offer still stands, but Israel has rejected it. The movement also agreed to a comprehensive truce, which Israel declined. For more than two and a half years, Hamas has been calling for a prisoner exchange, but Israel continues to procrastinate and place obstacles in the way.

Hamas believes that the battleground is within occupied Palestine, and thus does not attack Israeli targets outside of Palestine. It looks forward to making a positive contribution to a peaceful and secure world free of violence, calls for the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders, and demands the return of Palestinian refugees to their land and homes. Hamas also believes in dialogue with the West and wants a partnership with the Western world on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Hamas also believes in dialogue with the West and wants a partnership with the Western world on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
This is certainly different from the stereotype of Hamas portrayed by Israel. That country has tried to demonize Hamas, brand it as extremist and terrorist in order to distort its image, and rally the Western world against it in order to justify its own crimes against humanity committed in Palestine, the latest of which was its sweeping attack on the Gaza Strip that began on December 27, 2008.

Dealing with Hamas: The Crisis and the Key to the Solution

Many have wondered about the point of the Western sanctions imposed on the Hamas government in the wake of its sweeping victory in the January 2006 legislative elections. Reports have proven that the sanctions are illogical and misguided, sustained only by the excessive pressure exerted by the U.S. administration on the international community to punish the Palestinian people for exercising their democratic rights. Unfortunately, the Quartet spearheaded the sanctions campaign against Hamas, strengthening U.S. and Israeli efforts to delegitimize the organization and deprive it of its right to lead the Palestinian people, who had elected it in free and fair elections, as certified by the international observers who monitored the voting process.

Many cunning and deceitful methods have been used―at home and abroad―to undermine the work of the Hamas-led government. This includes destabilizing the already shaky foundations of the Palestinian political system by kidnapping more than 44 Hamas MPs in the West Bank as well as several cabinet ministers.

The Bush administration expected the Hamas-led government to fall within two or three months. When this did not happen, Washington worked to recruit members of the Fatah movement to overthrow the government of Ismail Haniya and create conditions suitable for reinstalling Fatah or its supporters. Hamas had faced myriad obstacles during its time in power. They included the restrictions on freedom of movement of MPs and government ministers imposed by the West and some regional powers. Other obstacles were a series of strikes and political-administrative harassment from Fatah, which dominated most of the government’s security and administrative bodies.

During its rule, Hamas sought to avoid internal conflict and bloodshed. It was aided in this regard by the active role played by the Egyptian security delegation residing in the Gaza Strip, which coordinated with the Palestinian organizations and created an atmosphere of cooperation. Unfortunately, however, all of Hamas’ serious attempts to avoid conflict ran up against the iron wall of international sanctions and local acts of instigation.

Hostility toward Hamas and refusal to recognize the election victory was not universal within Fatah. Some Fatah members recognized the legitimacy and right to rule of the Hamas government, believing it would enhance the Palestinian democratic process and allow the achievement of higher national goals.
Policies designed to isolate or marginalize Hamas (the movement and the government) will only pave the road for extremism and terrorism.
There have been attempts in the West, particularly in Europe, to lift the sanctions against the Palestinian people and promote communication with the Hamas movement and government, seeking to integrate them into the political process. Those who have done so are fully aware of Hamas’s importance as a fundamental player that cannot be ignored, and they also realize that there will be no political solution without the consent or blessing of Hamas. Many in the West, politicians and others, and including many international organizations, also recognize the need to positively engage Hamas in the political process.

These conclusions were not reached in a vacuum, but were the fruit of many behind-the-scenes meetings with a number of European organizations, which became familiar with Hamas’s ideology and political vision in talks with the movement’s most prominent leaders at home and abroad. These meetings have shown that the West can deal with Hamas.

Hamas is an integral part of the Palestinian political map. It is a moderate Islamist movement that has repeatedly stressed its commitment to democratic principles. It has also stressed its desire to strengthen the political partnership between itself and other Palestinian movements. Since Hamas has such deep roots within all sectors of Palestinian society, isolating it is hardly a viable option.

Policies designed to isolate or marginalize Hamas (the movement and the government) will only pave the road for extremism and terrorism. Recognizing the election results and allowing Hamas to proceed with its reform program, on the other hand, would contribute to the emergence of realistic views and foster political maturity, while expanding a culture of tolerance, respect for pluralism, and the peaceful succession of power. The West must ask itself: Does it want to support moderation and pragmatism, or open the door for extremism to the extent that that everyone ends up riding the wheels of terrorism and the clash of civilizations?

Dr. Ahmad Yousef is Palestinian deputy foreign minister in Gaza and former political advisor to Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.


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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Uri Avnery on Obama Speech

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ONE MAN spoke to the world, and the world listened.

I am pleased to share the article by Mr. Uri Avnery, a shining example of a Jewish man who would stand for justice. He is not alone, the moderate majority of Jews want justice and fairness, but have not been able to speak up against the mighty bulldozer of the extremist Jews.

Continue: http://mikeghouseforamerica.blogspot.com/2009/06/obama-uri-avnery-on-cairo-speech.html

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Friday, June 5, 2009

OBAMA: Chomsky's Opinion

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I have come to admire Noam Chomsky for he is one of the rare public figures who represents the essence of his faith well. He is a true Jew by definition; some one who stands for the truth and follows the commandments. Sadly the Neocon (extremists) Jews have outcasted him, as he would stand between their greed and the truth. The time for the good people among Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and others is coming to bring about a postive change for the wellbeing of all. Well being of all is a sentence, the Necons hate.

You shall not kill.
Respect For Life
You shall not steal.
Justice (Honesty)
You shall not bear false witness.
Truth - A dedication to what is real and true, even if that reality is against our interests.
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.

Personally, I believe Obama is the right man on this earth at the right time. He will probably be one of the most honest, fair and truthful presidents America had. He will do the right thing to protect the interest of Israel while not cheating the Palestinians, a difficult task, but he is determined.

I am not sure if I would subscribe to his belief that Obama will follow the same o same o neocon agenda. Obama is all about inclusion and pluralism

Mike Ghouse
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What Obama Didn't Say in His Cairo Address
Speaks Volumes About His Mideast Policy

By Noam Chomsky

A CNN headline, reporting Obama's plans for his June 4 address in Cairo, Egypt, reads "Obama looks to reach the soul of the Muslim world." Perhaps that captures his intent, but more significant is the content hidden in the rhetorical stance, or more accurately, omitted.

Keeping just to Israel-Palestine -- there was nothing substantive about anything else -- Obama called on Arabs and Israelis not to "point fingers" at each other or to "see this conflict only from one side or the other."

There is, however, a third side, that of the United States, which has played a decisive role in sustaining the current conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change or even be considered.

Those familiar with the history will rationally conclude, then, that Obama will continue in the path of unilateral U.S. rejectionism.

Obama once again praised the Arab Peace Initiative, saying only that Arabs should see it as "an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities." How should the Obama administration see it?

Obama and his advisers are surely aware that the initiative reiterates the longstanding international consensus calling for a two-state settlement on the international (pre-June 1967) border, perhaps with "minor and mutual modifications," to borrow U.S. government usage before it departed sharply from world opinion in the 1970s. That's when the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution backed by the Arab "confrontation states" (Egypt, Iran, Syria), and tacitly by the PLO, with the same essential content as the Arab Peace Initiative, except that the latter goes beyond by calling on Arab states to normalize relations with Israel in the context of this political deal.

Obama has called on the Arab states to proceed with normalization, studiously ignoring, however, the crucial political settlement that is its precondition. The initiative cannot be a "beginning" if the U.S. continues to refuse to accept its core principles, even to acknowledge them.

In the background is the Obama administration's goal, enunciated most clearly by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to forge an alliance of Israel and the "moderate" Arab states against Iran. The term "moderate" has nothing to do with the character of the state, but rather signals its willingness to conform to U.S. demands.

What is Israel to do in return for Arab steps to normalize relations? The strongest position so far enunciated by the Obama administration is that Israel should conform to Phase I of the 2003 Road Map, which states: "Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)." All sides claim to accept the Road Map, overlooking the fact that Israel instantly added 14 reservations that render it inoperable.

Overlooked in the debate over settlements is that even if Israel were to accept Phase I of the Road Map, that would leave in place the entire settlement project that has already been developed, with decisive U.S. support, to ensure that Israel will take over the valuable land within the illegal "separation wall" (including the primary water supplies of the region), as well as the Jordan Valley, thus imprisoning what is left, which is being broken up into cantons by settlement/infrastructure salients extending far to the east.

Unmentioned as well is that Israel is taking over Greater Jerusalem, the site of its major current development programs, displacing many Arabs, so that what remains to Palestinians will be separated from the center of their cultural, economic and sociopolitical life.

Also unmentioned is that all of this is in violation of international law, as conceded by the government of Israel after the 1967 conquest, and reaffirmed by Security Council resolutions and the International Court of Justice. Also unmentioned are Israel's successful operations since 1991 to separate the West Bank from Gaza, since turned into a prison where survival is barely possible, further undermining the hopes for a viable Palestinian state.

It is worth remembering that there has been one break in U.S.-Israeli rejectionism. President Clinton recognized that the terms he had offered at the failed 2000 Camp David meetings were not acceptable to any Palestinians, and in December, proposed his "parameters," vague but more forthcoming. He then announced that both sides had accepted the parameters, although both had reservations.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Taba, Egypt, to iron out the differences, and made considerable progress. A full resolution could have been reached in a few more days, they announced in their final joint press conference. But Israel called off the negotiations prematurely, and they have not been formally resumed. The single exception indicates that if an American president is willing to tolerate a meaningful diplomatic settlement, it can very likely be reached.

It is also worth remembering that the George W. Bush administration went a bit beyond words in objecting to illegal Israeli settlement projects, namely, by withholding U.S. economic support for them. In contrast, Obama administration officials stated that such measures are "not under discussion," and that any pressures on Israel to conform to the Road Map will be "largely symbolic," the New York Times reported (Helene Cooper, June 1).

There is more to say, but it does not relieve the grim picture that Obama has been painting, with a few extra touches in his widely heralded address to the Muslim World in Cairo on June 4.

© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/140462/

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Moderates support Obama

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It is good to see the moderate majority speaking up, otherwise the radicals will reign in, their ideas have not worked and have no chance of making it work as they miss out the concept of justice and co-existence. Here are a few comments;

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pursuing the two-State Solution

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Leadership is not cowering down to the pressures of "me me" groups, leadership is rather taking bold steps and creating new pathways, where no one has taken before.

The self-proclaimed defenders of Israel are the real enemies of Israel, their policies of chaos, destruction and revenge will extend the suffering of the people of Israel and Palestine for another 60 years, if the righteous ones don't stand up to them. It is time for the silent majority of Israelis and the Jewish diaspora around the world not played around by the AIPAC and do what is right; talk and act peace.

God has sent a Mini Messaih in Obama to bring peace in the Middle East and most certainly the Necons, the AIPAC, the extreme Zionists and the Extreme Islamist combined will make every effort to blow the real chance for peace. I pray the goodness to win.

Mike Ghouse
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Obama: I'll Personally Pursue Two-State Solution
by Haaretz Service

In his long-anticipated Cairo address to the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed Washington's strong backing for a Palestinian state, highlighting his administration's commitment to follow through on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

American and European activists demonstrate for peace in the Gaza Strip, in front of Cairo University. Obama sought a "new beginning" between the United States and the Muslim world on Thursday but offered no new initiative to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, an omission likely to disappoint many. (REUTERS/Tarek Mostafa)While reaffirming Washington's "unbreakable bond" with Israel, Obama said that there can be no denying of the right of Palestine to exist, and that he would "personally pursue" the realization of a Palestinian state "with all the patience that the task requires."

"Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's," Obama said.

The president also issued a blunt repudiation of Israel's settlement enterprise in the West Bank, an issue that has strained Washington's ties with Jerusalem.

"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," Obama said. "This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

"The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear," Obama said, referring to the multi-stage peace plan agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians during the Bush presidency. "For peace to come, it is time for them - and all of us - to live up to our responsibilities."

"If we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth," Obama said. "The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security."

"That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest," the president said.

In addressing the Iranian nuclear program, Obama acknowledged longstanding Muslim accusations of Washington's double standard in objecting to Tehran's drive for nuclear weapons while tolerating Israel's alleged possession of atomic bombs.

The president reiterated his desire to see a world free of nuclear weapons.

"I understand those who protest that some countries have [nuclear] weapons that others do not," Obama said. "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons."

Obama conceded that Iran has rights to nuclear energy "if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Obama said his government will close the gap between public pronouncements and difficult truths that are often acknowledged behind closed doors in the halls of power throughout the Middle East.

"America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs," Obama said.

Obama urged Muslims around the world to acknowledge Jewish suffering and to repudiate Holocaust denial. The Arab and Muslim world ought to reconcile with the existence of Israel, the president said.

"Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve," Obama said.

The president also noted the plight of the Palestinians, who "have suffered in pursuit of a homeland" and who "endure daily humiliations ... that come with occupation."

"Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead," Obama said. "So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."

The president urged the Palestinians to draw upon the example of African slaves in the United States, arguing that a "peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding" had led to their gaining civil rights.

"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed," Obama said. "For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights."

Obama said the Palestinians "must focus on what they can build." He urged Hamas to accept the Quartet's preconditions for international recognition - recognition of past signed agreements with Israel, recognition of Israel's right to exist, and a renunciation of violence.

"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said.

Obama offered the Arabic greeting of assalaamu alaykum, or "peace be unto you", in the early part of his speech. He also quoted a passage from the Koran and cited his father's Muslim background in a bid to highlight his sensitivity to Islamic grievances against the West.

"America is not and never will be at war with Islam," Obama said. "We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security."

"The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars," Obama said. "Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims."

"Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President," Obama said. "But my personal story is not so unique."

Obama is delivering his long-anticipated speech seeking to turn a new page in Washington's relations with the Arab and Muslim world.

Obama arrived in Egypt hours before giving long-promised speech in Cairo, the ancient seat of Islamic learning and culture.

The U.S. president is hoping to usher in a new era in the United States'
relationship with the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Aides say Obama will blend hopeful words about mutual understanding with blunt talk about the need for Muslims to embrace democracy, women's rights and economic opportunity.

Obama met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key American ally, at his palace in the capital.

"We discussed how to move forward in a constructive way to bring peace and prosperity to people in the region," Obama told reporters after talks with Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981 and kept a tight lid on opposition.

"I emphasized to him that the U.S. is committed to working in partnership with countries in the region so all people can meet their aspirations," he said before heading to a mosque in a quarter of Cairo that is full of Islamic architectural gems.

The mosque is a 600-year-old center of Islamic worship and study called the Sultan Hassan mosque. Obama will then tour the Great Pyramids of Giza on the capital's outskirts.

Obama arrived in Egypt from Saudi Arabia, where he stayed overnight at King Abdullah's horse farm in the desert outside Riyadh.

In his Cairo address Thursday, Obama called on Israel and the Arab states to change their approach to the Middle East peace process.

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Obama's "interference" in Israeli politics

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Obama's "interference" in Israeli politics

I critiqued Mr. Pipes on June 3rd in response to his article, the link is given below and glad to see the Salon Magazine has a similar taking on it:

The enemies of Israel are not Palestinians or the Arabs; it is the leadership of Israel and a few American Neocons who are messing it up.

Mr. Pipes writes “with a series of tough American demands” why is it tough? That is the rightful and lawful thing to do that was the call of the UN Resolutions and a requirement for peace.“The Israeli governing coalition chairman pointed out the mistake of prior "American dictates," – Heck no, It is not the dictates, it is the thing that will bring Israel out of virtual insecurity the leaders have committed to, further more, we shell out billions of dollars a year – and we don’t have a right to ask the right thing to do? And it does not benefit the United States, it benefits Israeli citizens who can live in peace once the conflicts are resolved; Security to Israelis and hope for the Palestinians is the right thing to do. Settlements are an impediment in bringing peace and security to Israelis and must be stopped.

http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2009/06/harsh-turn-against-israel.html

Mike Ghouse
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http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/06/03/israel/index.html

Glenn Greenwald
Wednesday June 3, 2009 05:04 EDT
Obama's "interference" in Israeli politics
(updated below)

Both Likud Party members in Israel as well as their Americans supporters – including members of both parties in the U.S. Congress – are beginning to complain that the Obama administration is unduly "interfering" in Israeli politics by insisting on a full cessation of settlement growth. The Jerusalem Post today reports: "US President Barack Obama's administration's criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's policies has crossed the line into interfering in Israeli politics, top Likud ministers and MKs said Tuesday." Yesterday, Politico's Ben Smith similarly documented that "the administration’s escalating pressure on Israel to freeze all growth of its settlements on Palestinian land has begun to stir concern among Israel’s numerous allies in both parties on Capitol Hill."

Smith quotes several Israel-protective Democrats warning that Obama is either close to broaching -- or has already broached -- what one of them, Rep. Anthony Weiner, calls the "line between articulating U.S. policy and seeming to be pressuring a democracy on what are their domestic policies." Other than a handful of Democrats on civil liberties issues, there has been almost no public criticism of Obama from Congressional Democrats; all it took was some light pressure exerted on Israel for that to happen.

There are several points highlighted by these growing complaints about Obama's actions:

(1) This first point applies equally to those complaining that the Obama administration is unduly "interfering" in private companies seeking government bailouts as it does to those complaining of Obama’s "interference" with Israeli settlement policies. A country, a company or an individual has every right to remain free of "interference" from others as long as they remain independent of the party seeking to "interfere." But if one chooses instead to become dependent on someone else or seeks help and aid from them, then complying with the demands of those providing the aid is an inevitable price that must be paid – and justifiably so.

This is a basic lesson which most people learn in adolescence or young adulthood. Teenagers who tell their parents that they are not compelled to comply with parental dictates are typically met with the response that this is so only if they want nothing from their parents, but as long as they seek financial support, then the parents have the right to demand certain actions in return.

Similarly, businesses are free to make whatever decisions they want about how they are to be run -- as long as they remain independent. But if they go to a bank – or the federal government -- and plead for a loan, then the lender is perfectly justified in imposing all sorts of conditions ("we’ll lend to you only if you spend more responsibly, refrain from paying your executives more than X, not use the funds for Y," etc.). If banks and other companies want to be free of what conservatives and libertarians complain is undue influence from the federal government, then they shouldn’t seek loans and bailouts from the federal government.

Identically, if Israel wants to be free of what it and some of its U.S. supporters call "interference" from the Obama administration, that’s very easy to achieve: Israel can stop asking for tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayer money, huge amounts of military and weapons supplies for its various wars, and unyielding American diplomatic protection at the U.N. But as long as Israel remains dependent on the U.S. in countless ways, then Obama not only has the right -- but he has the obligation -- to demand that Israel cease activities which harm U.S. interests.

Continuing settlement expansions that the entire world recognizes as illegal – what Time’s Joe Klein accurately calls "taking territory that the rest of the world, without exception, considers Palestinian" -- clearly harms U.S. interests in all sorts of ways, as Obama himself has concluded. He would be abdicating one of his primary responsibilities in foreign policy -- maximizing U.S. national security rather than those of other countries -- if he failed to demand that Israel cease this activity and if he failed to use U.S. leverage to compel compliance with those demands.

(2) While hypocrisy and double standards are far too common in our political discourse to highlight every time they appear, the notion being pushed by Likudniks in Israel and the U.S. -- that it is wrong for one country to "interfere" in the politics of another democracy -- is far too ironic to ignore. Does anyone remember what the U.S. did -- and continues to do -- in order to punish the Palestinians for electing the wrong party (in elections that we demanded) and to bring down their democratically elected government:

Under new guidelines issued April 12 by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control, U.S. citizens and organizations must cease all transactions with the Palestinian government, its ministries and institutions operating under their control.

The Treasury directive noted that Hamas is classified as a terrorist entity, and it ordered U.S. citizens to conclude all contacts with the Palestinian Authority by Friday, unless specifically permitted to continue.

"U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the Palestinian Authority unless authorized, and may not transfer, pay, withdraw, export or otherwise deal in any assets in which the Palestinian Authority has an interest unless authorized," the document said.

The order does not apply to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of the Fatah party, or non-Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Today’s article from The Jerusalem Post notes that Kadima officials are worried that a perception by Israelis of undue interference from Obama -- whether the perception is justified or not -- will strengthen Netanyahu’s government due to resentment by Israeli voters. We might want to remember that lesson when it comes to Palestinians specifically and other countries generally: citizens in other countries tend not to like it when we try to dictate to them who should govern them and who shouldn't, and the attempt often emboldens support for the very people we oppose.

That said, American aid to all countries -- including Israel -- is accompanied by an obligation on the part of American officials to ensure that the aid recipients aren't acting contrary to U.S. interests. Independent, for those who purport to care about Israeli interests: just as few things helped Israeli security more than Jimmy Carter’s Camp David peace treaty with Egypt, does anyone actually doubt that few things would advance Israeli interests more than a cessation of settlement activity and a peace agreement with the Palestinians?

(3) How serious Obama is about applying real pressure to Israel remains to be seen, but it’s hard to deny that these initial steps are encouraging. When is the last time there were public rifts of this sort between the American and Israeli governments? Obviously, Israelis are taking Obama’s pressure quite seriously, as are many of his Israel-centric supporters in the U.S. Those who want Obama to continue to depart from the Bush administration’s blind support for Israeli actions should continue to make themselves heard, since those who desire a continuation of that blind Israeli support certainly intend to. As Politico’s Smith reported:

The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC last week got the signatures of 329 members of Congress, including key figures in both parties, on a letter calling on the administration to work "closely and privately" with Israel — in contrast to the current public pressure.

As Andrew Sullivan said about this: “What Obama faces in the Middle East, if he is to move the peace process forward, is a very powerful force against him. It's called AIPAC."

Even the mildest pressure on Israel by Obama will be met with extreme political attacks – as Bush 41 and Jim Baker learned many years ago when they were bowled over by bipartisan outrage at their attempt merely to condition American loan guarantees to Israel on a cessation of settlement growth. Read this 1991 New York Times article by then-reporter Tom Friedman to see how the same dance has been going on for decades regardless of which party is in control:

A bitter political fight took shape today in Washington as Israel and some of its Congressional supporters ignored President Bush's appeal to delay a request for $10 billion in loan guarantees to help settle Soviet Jews and made clear that they would push for quick Congressional approval. . . . In addition, the Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and a broad coalition of Jewish organizations in the United States, made clear that they too would fight the President on the issue.

AIPAC is now even issuing veiled threats of a primary challenge to the superb freshman Rep. Donna Edwards for alleged insufficient devotion to Israel.

Whatever Obama’s ultimate intentions are, the early change in tenor, the recent actions of the last several weeks, and his reliance on George Mitchell (praised by Jimmy Carter, J Street and even Noam Chomsky) as his envoy all signal that he is serious at least about making the public case that Israeli settlement expansions are wrong and counter-productive. If he is to do more of that, he will need political support at least as vigorous and vocal as the opposition already emerging from the bipartisan AIPAC faction that has dictated U.S. actions in this area for decades.

UPDATE: The Atlantic's Chris Good has an interesting report today about the gradually growing influence of J Street at the expense of AIPAC in Congress.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Israel could learn from Sorry Day

Israel could learn from Sorry Day
Yakov Rabkin
May 29, 2009

THE Sorry Day marks an important change in public and official attitudes to the indigenous population in Australia. Years of activism have finally borne fruit. On a visit to the Australian Museum in Sydney I learned about an anti-discrimination bus ride to the north organised by Charles Perkins, an Aborigine, and Jim Spigelman, a Jew.

There was a picture and a biography of Perkins in the museum but nothing, except the name, about Spigelman. Nor could museum staff tell me who he was. A Google search revealed he has become the Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor of NSW. This fact alone represents for me, a visitor from Canada, the acceptance and respect that struggle for equality has gained in Australia.

It also confirms that Jews have taken active part in this kind of struggle all over the world, working for desegregation in the US or opposing apartheid in South Africa. They do so fighting for the rights of others while they themselves could have stayed in the comfort of their homes, quietly enjoying these rights that are no longer denied to them.

This activism reflects the values of social justice that permeate the Jewish tradition. I was not surprised when, on a recent visit to the Koorie Heritage Trust in Melbourne, I was told that the main private supporter of the centre is a Jew. The Hebrew Bible mentions the prohibition to oppress a stranger 36 times, more than any other injunction, and often adds, "because you were slaves in the land of Egypt".

On Sorry Day 2009, I shared the podium with Henry Reynolds, eminent scholar of Australia's colonial history, in a one-day symposium about the Promised Lands, organised at La Trobe University. There are nteresting similarities between the British images of this country and the Zionist perceptions of Palestine during the respective periods of active colonisation.

These similarities contrast with striking differences that characterise today's attitudes to this recent history in Australia and Israel.

While this country, by instituting the Sorry Day, has acknowledged the many injustices inflicted on local inhabitants, the state of Israel and its society continue to deny any wrongdoing with respect to the Palestinians.

Moreover, while Australians commemorated Sorry Day 2009, the Israeli parliament was debating a bill, proposed by the party of Israel's Foreign Minister, that would make it punishable by three years in prison to commemorate Nakba, the dispossession and expulsion of the local population that lie at the root of the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

The proposed bill would also oblige those Palestinians who remained in their country and are now citizens of Israel to swear allegiance to the state of Israel as "the state of the Jewish people". This would compare with threatening the Aborigines with forfeiting Australian citizenship unless they recognised the principle of "White Australia".

Israel's treatment of the country's Arab citizens has embarrassed Jews in Israel and other countries for many decades. Since Israel promotes itself as the representative of the Jews, and most Jewish leaders enthusiastically support this claim, the state of Israel is often associated with Jews everywhere. Some Jews outside Israel are thus put in a difficult situation of defending the morally indefensible, of bending their ethical standards to justify Israel's actions.

Conceptual disparities between Israel and the Jewish communities around the world become more pronounced since the countries with sizeable Jewish communities have all adopted a liberal system of social and political values.

It is quite common in Israel to talk in anti-liberal, anti-democratic terms; for example, there are open discussions about building Jewish neighbourhoods so Arab citizens do not outnumber their Jewish compatriots in Jerusalem or Galilee. Israeli official documents routinely identify the bearer as a Jew or a non-Jew. The principle of separate development of Jews is deeply ingrained in the Zionist structure of Israel. So is occupational discrimination, all of which is justified by the denomination of Israel as a state for the Jews.

However, in the context of Western societies it would be inconceivable to practise ethnic or religious discrimination in such a manner. One could imagine an outcry a project of a public housing development designated solely for white Australians would cause.

Israel's discriminatory practices, while often opposed by the country's Supreme Court, conflict with the liberal values that underpin the stability and welfare of Jewish communities around the world. It is only a matter of time before Jewish leaders, at least those who overtly identify with the state of Israel, will face the challenge of explaining their obvious double standard.

Unconditional support for any state is a dangerous belief to hold. A few decades after the genocide Jews remember what happens when the raison d'etat becomes a transcendental principle that supersedes individual morality. It may be illusory and even dangerous to confuse the profane centrality of Israel with the sacred centrality of the land.

It is also important to realise that the paths of Australia and Israel radically diverge when it comes to recognition of injustices that colonisation has brought to the indigenous population. The fact that there is no Sorry Day in Israel also explains the violence that continues to plague the Holy Land to this day.

Yakov Rabkin, professor of history at the University of Montreal, is a visiting scholar at La Trobe University. His recent book is A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism.

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Harsh Turn against Israel


Mike Ghouse comments on the article by Mr. Pipes below
A Rapid and Harsh Turn against Israel

The enemies of Israel are not Palestinians or the Arabs; it is the leadership of Israel, the Israel Lobby, and a few American Neocons who are messing up the peace and security of Israel.

Mr. Pipes and his likes have not done much towards reconciliation and mitigating the conflicts, instead they are master aggravators. I hope they reconsider their approach towards peace; they may become actual contributors towards the peace and I would welcome it and the people of Israel would love them for it.

If the Netanyahu’s, the Pipes and their likes can think of the safety and security of Israel for generations to come, they would act smart. Security comes when the Israelis don’t have to think twice about going to shopping or the kids going to schools, it is dropping all the guards and living a life of freedom. The Israeli leadership like the Palestinian leadership has screwed their people over the last sixty years, and they want to continue with what has not worked? You simply cannot have peace and feel secure when you deny the same to others around you.

Mr. Pipes writes “with a series of tough American demands” why is it tough? That is the rightful and lawful thing to do that was the call of the UN Resolutions and a requirement for peace.
“The Israeli governing coalition chairman pointed out the mistake of prior "American dictates," – Heck no, It is not the dictates, it is the thing that will bring Israel out of virtual insecurity the leaders have committed to, further more, we shell out billions of dollars a year – and we don’t have a right to ask the right thing to do? And it does not benefit the United States, it benefits Israeli citizens who can live in peace once the conflicts are resolved; Security to Israelis and hope for the Palestinians is the right thing to do. Settlements are an impediment in bringing peace and security to Israelis and must be stopped.

“Obama has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions,”... it is a good fantasy, it is the aspiration of every people who were dislodged from their homes and that was indeed the fantasy of the Jewish diaspora for thousands of years; to have place to call their home.

Mr. Pipes adds “If Washington continues on its present course, the result may well be spectacular policy failure that manages both to weaken America's only strategic ally in the Middle East even as it worsens Arab-Israeli tensions.” The Israeli people deserve security and peace and for the first time in history, Washington is doing what is right for the Israeli people – to bring security and peace of mind to them. You guys are going to mess it up. I do hope the Jews and the Israelis would muster the guts to speak up and do the right thing.

The words and actions of Netanyahu and their likes will guarantee the conflict for another decade. Do the Israeli Citizens deserve these rascals?

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer on Pluralism, interfaith, terrorism, peace, Islam, Israel and India. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website http://www.mikeghouse.net/. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

A Rapid and Harsh Turn against Israel
http://www.meforum.org/pipes/6389/rapid-and-harsh-turn-against-israel

by Daniel Pipes
Jerusalem Post
June 4, 2009

The much-anticipated meeting between Barack Obama and Binyamin Netanyahu on May 18 went off smoothly, if a bit tensely, as predicted. Everyone was on best behavior and the event excited so little attention that the New York Times reported it on page 12.

As expected, however, the gloves came off immediately thereafter, with a series of tough American demands, especially U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's insistence on May 27 that the Netanyahu government end residential building for Israelis in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. This prompted a defiant response. The Israeli governing coalition chairman pointed out the mistake of prior "American dictates," a minister compared Obama to pharaoh, and the government press office director cheekily mock-admired "the residents of Iroquois territory for assuming that they have a right to determine where Jews should live in Jerusalem."

If the specifics of who-lives-where have little strategic import, the Obama administration's rapid and harsh turn against Israel has potentially great significance. Not only did the administration end George W. Bush's focus on changes on the Palestinian side but it even disregarded oral understandings Bush had reached with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert.

Yasir Arafat smiles as Barack Obama meets Mahmoud Abbas in July 2008.

An article by Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post captures this shift most vividly. Diehl notes, based on an interview with Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, that by publicly and repeatedly stressing the need for a without-exception freeze of Israeli building on the West Bank, Obama has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. "The Americans are the leaders of the world. … They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, 'You have to comply with the conditions'."

Of course, telling the Israelis is one thing and getting their compliance quite another. To this, Abbas also has an answer. Expecting that Netanyahu's agreeing to a complete freeze on building would bring down his coalition, Diehl explains that Abbas plans "to sit back and watch while U.S. pressure slowly squeezes the Israeli prime minister from office." One Palestinian Authority official predicted this would happen within "a couple of years" – exactly when Obama is said to expect a Palestinian state in place.

Meanwhile, Abbas plans to sit tight. Diehl explains his thinking:

Abbas rejects the notion that he should make any comparable concession—such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which would imply renunciation of any large-scale resettlement of refugees. Instead, he says, he will remain passive. … "I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements," he said. "Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

Abbas's idea of "normal life," one should add, is also largely provided by Washington and its allies; West Bank Palestinians enjoy by far the highest per-capita foreign aid of any group in the world; at just one "donors' conference" in December 2007, for example, Abbas won pledges for over US$1,800 per West Banker per year.

As Diehl tersely concludes, "In the Obama administration, so far, it's easy being Palestinian."
Even if one ignores the folly of focusing on Jerusalemites adding recreation rooms to their houses rather than Iranians adding centrifuges to their nuclear infrastructure and even if one overlooks the obvious counter productivity of letting Abbas off the hook – the new U.S. approach is doomed.

First, Netanyahu's governing coalition should prove impervious to U.S. pressure. When he formed the government in March 2009, it included 69 parliamentarians out of the Knesset's 120 members, well over the 61 minimum. Even if the U.S. government succeeded in splitting off the two parties least committed to Netanyahu's goals, Labor and Shas, he could replace them with right-wing and religious parties to retain a solid majority.

Second, the record shows that Jerusalem takes "risks for peace" only when trusting its American ally. An administration that undermines this fragile trust will likely confront a wary and reluctant Israeli leadership.

If Washington continues on its present course, the result may well be spectacular policy failure that manages both to weaken America's only strategic ally in the Middle East even as it worsens Arab-Israeli tensions.

Related Topics: Arab-Israel conflict & diplomacy, US policy Daniel Pipes RECEIVE THE LATEST BY EMAIL: SUBSCRIBE TO THE FREE MEF MAILING LIST This text may be reposted so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.

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