They Voted You In Because You're Black.
We're Voting You Out Because You're Useless.
Caroline Glick is never shy about expressing her thoughts (See 1 below.)
Always whining. (See 2 below.)
Come November, Jews at the crossroad! Which one will they take? (See 3 and 3a below.)
Telling it like it is but no one is listening. Maybe they will when the sound of bombs go off in Iran. (See 4 below.)
1)War with Egypt approaches
By Caroline Glick
One of the achievements of his government that Prime Minister Netanyahu took pride in during a recent speech was the tall fence we're building along the 220KM border with Egypt. Only problem is that from the video below, it is pretty clear that we might want to have a clear path to the Sinai so that we can preempt the millions of Egyptians that are planning on marching to Jerusalem.
I have said for years that our defensive strategy has got to stop being based on defensive military systems.
Our enemies are on the march. We must embrace the only military doctrine that has ever really worked -- preempt them by initiating the war on their territory.
We need at least another full active duty division - preferably mechanized infantry -- in the Southern Command. Stop spending money on defense. We need tanks, APCs, MLRS battalions, the works. We can't afford to be taken by surprise.
There are two obvious lessons from what is happening in Egypt. First, the land for peace formula is crazy. We gave land for peace and now that they have decided to destroy the peace, they get to keep the land. In the clip below they say their path to invasion goes through Gaza. So here too, they show that all the people who said that Gaza had no value to Israel were wrong twice. As the daily shelling from Gaza into Israel shows, our presence in Gaza prevented attacks on southern Israel. And as their declarations make clear, our presence in Gaza blocked a convergence of Palestinian and Egyptian forces in the Sinai which -- with its 220 km border with Israel, is now the preferred launching point for attacks.
The second lesson is of course that all the enthusiasm over "Arab democracy" by Westerners, and particularly by conservatives desperate for a way to make war seem like a redemptive experience or something was irresponsible to the point of maliciousness.
We warned you over and over again that this would turn out badly. But you said we were wrong and indeed, somehow immoral to prefer Mubarak to "the people." Now I just have a little request for all of you brilliant ones who lobbied Obama to dump Mubarak. No, I don't expect you to apologize. All I ask is that next time you hug your kids, think about the Israeli children whose lives you placed in danger with your irresponsible pontifications.
The clip below is from a campaign rally for the (moderate) Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for Egypt's presidency Muhammad Mursi. Oh, and the Obama administration just transferred another $1.5 billion in US taxpayer funds to Egypt. Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi: Muslim Brotherhood...
2)It's Not About Your Name, Mr. President
By Peter Wehner
In his appearance on ABC's "The View," President Obama was asked how tight
he thinks the campaign against Mitt Romney will be. To which the president
responded, "When your name is Barack Obama, it's always tight."
Actually, that's not true.
Barack Obama's victory in 2008 was the most sweeping since 1980. He became
the first Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson 44 years earlier to
garner more than 50.1 percent of the vote. In the process, he took seven
states that had twice voted for George W. Bush, including two (Indiana and
Virginia) that had not gone Democratic since 1964.
The implication of Obama's statement is that there's residual hostility to
him based on his race and background. But if that were the case, how does
one explain his smashing victory four years ago?
The reason Obama is struggling this time around is sheer incompetence. He's
not up to the job of being president. Much of the public knows it. And his
name has nothing to do with it.
The president's comments were simply the most recent in a string of
never-ending excuses. His problems are never his responsibility; they always
lie with something or someone else - whether it's with the Arab Spring, the
Japanese tsunami, Europe, his predecessor, the GOP Congress, the Tea Party,
Super PACs, the Supreme Court, Wall Street, millionaires, billionaires, the
Chamber of Commerce, Fox News, ATMs, conservative talk radio, or, now, his
Obama is in a nearly constant state of whining. That's an unattractive
quality in any individual, but especially in an American president.
He would do himself and all of us a favor if he took at least a pause from
the blame game.
3)What the Evangelicals Give the Jews
By Michael Medved, COMMENTARY — May 2012
Many Jewish voters this November will find themselves at a crossroads: Will they accept their deep disappointment with Barack Obama and vote for his reelection, or will they overcome their own discomfort with Christian evangelicals and vote for the Republican candidate? The irrepressible argument about the appropriate relationship between the Jewish community and Christian conservatives has returned with a vengeance, forcing a fresh response to a fundamental question: Should Jews view our born-again fellow citizens as natural allies or inevitable adversaries?
Unfortunately, the familiar grounds of this debate rely for the most part on inaccurate assumptions and proceed inexorably to illogical conclusions.
Advocates of cooperation and coalition-building—call them Collaborationists—cite Christian evangelicals as an indispensable source of support for Israel, without whom U.S. policy in the Middle East could easily tilt toward the Palestinians and Arab nations more generally. According to the Collaborationist argument, Jews and evangelicals should ignore profound differences in their core values and put aside sharp disagreements on American domestic issues in order to make common cause against the existential threat of Islamofascism.
Meanwhile, skeptics who seek to maintain the traditional Jewish wariness toward fervent Christian believers—let’s designate them Rejectionists—insist that the ardent evangelical embrace of the Zionist project only encourages the most intransigent and fanatical elements in Israel, thereby undermining chances for a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians. The doubters, moreover, question the theological sources of Christian Zionism, insisting that sunny proclamations of brotherhood actually mask dark intentions of mass conversion, married to apocalyptic visions that inevitably include the unappetizing prospect of large nuclear explosions in the vicinity of Jerusalem. As if that weren’t enough, Christian conservatives (or, in the preferred locution of their leftist critics, “the American Taliban”) stand accused by the Rejectionists of seeking to impose the sort of ruthless theocratic rule that would make life intolerable for all religious minorities.
The clashing narratives of both friends and foes of the tentative Jewish-evangelical alliance require considerable correction, or at least corrective context.
Collaborationists make their first mistake in assuming that conservative Christians’ support for Israel separates them significantly from their non-evangelical neighbors. David Frum examined public opinion surveys in 2000 and 2004 from the Annenberg Foundation, American National Election studies, and the National Jewish Democratic Council, and he found a “surprisingly small gap in the attitudes [toward Israel] of evangelical Christians as compared [with] other non-Jews.” His conclusion: “Yes, Evangelicals are a little more positive. But only a little.”
Given the overwhelming support for Israel by the public at large, that’s hardly surprising; in fact, Gallup’s most recent survey on the subject (February 2011) showed sympathy for the Jewish state at a “near record-high….All major U.S. population subgroups show greater sympathy for the Israelis than for the Palestinians.” The biggest differences in attitudes toward Israel involved political rather than religious orientation: 80 percent of Republicans backed Israel over the Palestinians, compared with 57 percent of both Democrats and Independents.
Wide-ranging American identification with Israel’s struggle against Islamist terrorism (notably more intense, according to the polls, since the terrorist attacks of September 11) works against Collaborationist claims that evangelical support is so indispensable that American Jews must subordinate their disagreements on core principles in order to maintain an alliance of necessity.
The much larger problem with this line of thought is that the supposedly fundamental splits on basic core values between Jews and Christians do not actually exist. In which areas, exactly, can committed Jews identify irreconcilable differences with serious Christians when it comes to most significant questions of morals, ethics, and righteous behavior? Does anyone suppose that our Baptist neighbors cherish the centrality of the family less passionately than we do, or display a weaker commitment to acts of compassion for the poor, or express a more feeble determination to repair a broken world in the tradition of tikkun olam? Anyone who honestly believes that born-again believers neglect their obligation to “love your neighbor as yourself” hasn’t visited their churches and schools and service organizations to witness the prodigious acts of loving kindness that sometimes put our communal efforts to shame. Aside from such impressionistic evidence, there’s a wealth of data in Arthur C. Brooks’s indispensable 2006 book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, which shows that evangelicals honor the great Jewish tradition of tzedakah at least as well as we do.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Christian conservatives share the common attitudes of the Upper West Side on explosive social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, or gun control, but it would be difficult to claim that those purportedly enlightened approaches are somehow inherently and authentically Jewish. Talmudic law may take a slightly less restrictive view of abortion (particularly when preserving the life of the mother) than do some of the more unbending Christian interpretations, but long-standing Jewish religious tradition still lines up with National Right to Life far more closely than it does with Planned Parenthood.
When it comes to same-sex marriage, leaders of Reform Judaism (and, increasingly, Conservative Judaism as well) may insist that conscience impels their support, but this ethical position derives from a contemporary liberal worldview more than any scriptural outlook that counts as Biblical or Rabbinic. Concerning gun rights, the majority of Jews (who reliably align with the Democratic Party) may believe there’s something disturbingly goyishe about the Second Amendment and the NRA, but our normally voluble sages were eerily silent over the centuries on defining an authentic Jewish position on private ownership of firearms.
Yet those sages most certainly spoke out on the dignity of commerce and the value of wealth creation. And that is worth remembering at a time when the free-market convictions of conservative Christians are likewise held to be in opposition to basic Jewish values. In point of fact, business ethics are one of the principal concerns of Jewish law from the Torah onward, shaping a culture known for millennia for its enterprise and industry in the marketplace.
This heritage may come as news to Jewish activists, graduate students, and museum curators, for whom the romance of ancient Jewish tradition almost exclusively involves bearded immigrant agitators, labor organizers, and embattled leftist intellectuals. But there is no denying that the history of Jewish radicalism in Europe and the United States played out over the course of only 250 years—a brief (if colorful) interlude in a historical panorama of honorable, unstoppable money-making that goes back at least 10 times as far.
In terms of the distinctly American experience, the role of socialist ideals and institutions has been vastly exaggerated in the popular imagination, obscuring the dominant impact of business on the rise of the Jewish population into the middle class (and beyond) within two generations of Ellis Island. Even in the heyday of leftist, Yiddish-speaking New York, Jews aspired to bourgeois respectability far more than they longed to establish an American Workers’ Paradise. In 1904, Eugene Debs ran as the Socialist Party candidate and drew an impressive 3 percent of the national popular vote, but he failed badly in his efforts to carry Jewish New York. In the famous Eighth Assembly District of the Lower East Side, Democrat Alton B. Parker crushed Socialist Debs by nearly 3 to 1, but the “all-American” Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, beat them both and easily swept the neighborhood. After World War II, the ability of millions of Jewish Americans to move to the suburbs (and, ultimately, to provide Ivy League educations for their kids) owed little to Marxist pamphleteers, union bosses, or New Deal bureaucrats and everything to the dynamism of small business.
The long-standing, undeniable connection between Jewish-American progress and the free-market system means that Jews in no way betray their own past by accepting (or, better yet, embracing) the pro-business attitudes of conservative Christians. Like the Puritans in both England and Massachusetts that they claim as inspiration, today’s evangelicals feel unembarrassed by making money and tend to see the process of getting rich as a sign of God’s blessing rather than proof of Satanic corruption. Many privileged, prosperous American Jews may never share the limited-government, free-market inclinations of evangelicals, but it’s absurd to view such attitudes as alien to the Jewish experience.
Contrary to the Collaborationist paradigm, working together for Israel won’t force Jews and Christian conservatives to set aside the values that keep them apart; it’s far more likely that making common cause for Israel will lead them to recognize the shared values that should bring them together.
For Rejectionists, any talk of such cooperation on behalf of Israel or other causes amounts to a betrayal of the very essence of Jewish identity—providing aid and comfort to a potentially lethal enemy of the pluralism that allows unpopular religious minorities to thrive in the United States. For a half century, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has been warning of evangelical efforts to “Christianize America”—as if the nation hadn’t already been thoroughly “Christianized” since its founding (by patriots almost entirely Christian)—and suggesting that emphasis on that proud religious heritage amounts to “defamation” of someone else. Alan Dershowitz, one of Israel’s most effective and impassioned defenders in public debate, wrote a 2007 book called Blasphemy: How the Religious Right Is Hijacking Our Declaration of Independence. Note the possessive adjective “our” in the subtitle—as though the “religious right” represents some outside force attempting to swipe a treasure that belongs to us, and to which they hold no legitimate claim.
While accusing born-again Christians of stealing items of our national heritage, Rejectionists also charge them with supporting Israel for the most dangerous imaginable reason: a sense of religious imperative. This indictment rests upon the highly questionable assumption that allies who join your cause out of political calculation count as more reliable and honorable than those who defend your interests because they believe God commanded them to do so.
Nevertheless, skeptics explain their well-developed fear of Christian Zionism by citing the apocalyptic visions occasionally promoted by some of its leading advocates—prominent among them Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel, the most important Christian Zionist group. It’s only natural to feel uncomfortable with impassioned exhortations to speed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its Temple in order to hasten the imminent vaporization of Zion (and the rest of the world) as part of an especially gruesome series of end-times expectations.
But the Armageddon element has been vastly overplayed as an explanatory factor in the deep, broad evangelical support for Israel. In fact, American Christians endorsed Jewish return to the Holy Land long before the development of Theodor Herzl’s modern Zionist movement—or the birth of nuclear weapons. In his fascinating 2007 book Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, Michael B. Oren (now Israel’s ambassador to the United States) sketches vivid portraits of Christian dreamers and doers who committed themselves to restoring the Jews to their ancestral home more than a century before the reborn Israel joined the family of nations. In 1844, Warder Cresson became America’s official consul in Jerusalem; he held the stalwart conviction that God had created the United States specifically to facilitate the restoration of a Jewish homeland and that the American eagle would “overshadow the land with its wings” in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
In the same year, an influential Biblical scholar and professor at New York University authored The Valley of Vision; or, the Dry Bones of Israel Revived. In that book, George Bush (a very distant relation to the two future presidents of that name) called for “elevating” the Jewish people “to a rank of honorable repute among the nations of the earth” through “the literal return of the Jews to the land of their fathers.” Bush, meanwhile, took a decidedly dim view of the many celebrated preachers and teachers among his Christian contemporaries who anticipated Christ’s “second coming” as imminent or predictable—he denounced their calculations as “one of the most baseless of all the extravaganzas of prophetic hallucination.”
For critics of evangelical involvement with Israel, the obsession with Biblical prophecy in any form counts as not only distasteful but dangerous, serving to encourage the most intransigent segments of the settler movement and other right-wing forces in the Israeli polity. Zev Chafets, who spent 33 years in politics and journalism in Jerusalem (including service as chief press spokesman for Prime Minister Menachem Begin) sets the record straight in his 2007 book A Match Made in Heaven. “The evangelical-Israeli alliance is not a pact between Christian and Israeli religious nuts,” he writes. “It is a well-established relationship between the leaders of evangelical American Christianity and mainstream Israel. Every prime minister since Begin has relied on the support of the Christian right.” Chafets goes on to point out that Ehud Barak, the last prime minister from the Labor Party, authorizes his name to appear as part of the faculty at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
One of the reasons for this close working relationship between evangelical activists and Israeli leaders of every stripe involves the key difference between Christian Zionists and their American Jewish counterparts: Christian conservatives feel no compulsion to tell Israelis how to run their country. Unlike leaders of major Jewish organizations, the born-again brigades provide the elected leaders of Israel with virtually unconditional support, even when they may harbor deep doubts about certain policies. In 2005, Ehud Olmert (then deputy prime minister) arranged an off-the-record meeting with skeptical leaders of the conservative Christian community in order to make the case for the then pending “disengagement” from Gaza. The participants not only provided a respectful reception for Olmert’s message but even suggested a kosher caterer for the extended meeting—a gesture that the visiting Israeli dismissed as unnecessary.
It’s not only the leadership class in Jerusalem that embraces the alliance with evangelicals but also ordinary citizens of all religious and political perspectives. “The dislike and contempt for evangelical Christians that is so integral to American Jewish cultural and political thinking is almost wholly absent in Israel,” writes Chafets. “The average Israeli—even the average anticlerical secular Israeli like me—appreciates evangelical support.”
American Rejectionists naturally respond that it’s easy for people in Tel Aviv to pocket tourist dollars and relish warm sentiments from Christian conservatives because they face scant personal jeopardy from evangelical schemes to impose rigid theocratic rule on the United States. To highlight the purported dangers facing the Jewish community and other non-Christians in America, alarmists (such as journalist Michelle Goldberg in her 2006 book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism) focus breathlessly on colorful, crackpot, fringe operations to suggest that their radical views characterize all or most of the nation’s 50 million evangelicals.
Fortunately, the hysteria over looming theocracy has receded significantly since George W. Bush went home to Texas. We hear far less today of bold, secularist Paul Reveres riding through the countryside to warn the populace, “The Christians are coming! The Christians are coming!” The obvious problem with the demonization of evangelicals is that their agenda involves no radical transformation of the long-standing status quo or any decisive break with American tradition. In high-profile battles over public expressions of religiosity, it’s almost always the antireligious who seek to eliminate some faith-friendly legacy from prior generations—removing Ten Commandments memorials from police stations, blocking student-led prayers before football games, or making sure that Christmas decorations give no hint as to the New Testament origins of the winter festival.
For those who fear the dreaded Christian right, the most legitimate nightmares involve a chilling return to the 1950s, with tough legal restrictions on abortion, nonsectarian prayers in public schools, universal acceptance of the death penalty, no government sponsorship for same-sex marriage, cultural disapproval of out-of-wedlock birth, and less graphic sex, violence, and language in popular entertainment. Twenty-first century sophisticates may shudder at the recollection of such horrors, but they hardly characterize an alien, dystopian dictatorship. Nothing in the mainstream evangelical agenda seeks to refashion America in a way that would make it unrecognizable to someone with memories (or knowledge) of pre-1960s society. If we accept the claim that Christian conservatives aim to impose an un-American theocracy, then that means accepting the idea that Dwight Eisenhower presided over an un-American theocracy.
The decades since Ike’s retirement certainly brought dramatic advancement for the cause of secularism, but it’s far less clear that all the changes served to advance the cause of Judaism. The intermarriage rate, for instance, generally seen as a crucial indicator of communal coherence and vitality, skyrocketed from 10 percent a half century ago to a current estimate of half of all Jews who marry. In part, this reflects a welcome reduction in anti-Semitic attitudes; as the late Irving Kristol famously quipped: “The biggest problem with Christians used to be that they wanted to kill our children. Now it’s that they want to marry them.” But in addition to the decline of bigotry, the surge in intermarriage also stems from an increase in secularism in both the Jewish and Christian communities. Two unaffiliated, agnostic young people from contrasting religious backgrounds will be far more likely to commit their lives to each another than would, say, a Sabbath-observing, kosher-keeping modern Orthodox Jew and a church-going, Bible-studying, born-again Christian.
Religiously committed people on both sides are more apt to require conversion as a precondition of making a life together, which raises another visceral fear on the part of those who decry Judeo-evangelical cooperation: Christian conservatives will use any partnerships with Jewish organizations or individuals as a means to satisfy their “Great Commission” to win increased acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. For suspicious Jewish Americans, the apparent attraction that evangelicals feel toward Jews is actually the attraction of predator to prey. “Sure, they look at us fondly,” says one of my good friends, who lives in Manhattan and works on network TV. “The same way Michael Moore looks fondly at a cheeseburger.”
Oh? A fascinating 2009 paper by Tom W. Smith of the American Jewish Committee highlighted “Religious Switching Among American Jews” based on 26 surveys by the National Opinion Research Center between 1972 and 2006. The numbers showed that those identified as Jewish at birth were slightly more likely to remain Jewish than born Catholics were to remain Catholic (76.3 percent to 72.6 percent), and slightly less likely than born Protestants (80.8 percent) to keep their religious affiliation. But when it comes to the destination of the religious switchers leaving their faith community, Jews stood out, with the overwhelming majority of departures (59.6 percent) to the religious affiliation known as “none,” rather than to any other organized religion. Less than half of 1 percent of the Jews in the survey altered their religious identity to join a Protestant denomination commonly counted as “evangelical” (such as Southern Baptist).
What’s more, the “gains” to the Jewish population through conversion into the faith (9.1 percent) actually made up a bigger portion of the current community than the percentage of converts among either Protestants or Catholics. And although departing Jews shifted mostly to the unaffiliated/atheist/agnostic categories, the great bulk of those converting to Judaism came from one of the recognized Christian denominations (71.5 percent). In other words, Jews gain far more from Christians becoming Jews than we lose from Jews becoming Christians—with an especially insignificant loss to Christian evangelicals. The interaction with the unaffiliated or the disengaged—the 15 percent of contemporary Americans who affirm no religious commitment at all—shows an opposite impact on Jewish numbers, with losses to Jews four times greater than gains.
As these figures strongly suggest, rampaging secularism represents a far greater threat to Jewish identity than does intensifying Christianity. As Dov Fischer, a California rabbi, trenchantly observed some three decades ago, we have less to fear from “Jews for Jesus” than we do from “Jews for Nothing.”1 This means that Jewish leadership made a disastrously bad bet some 50 years ago when it aligned the community with ardent secularists and militant separationists in pushing for a less distinctively Christian America, as if moving the nation in that direction would facilitate greater Jewish pride and affirmation. The fatuous illogic of this approach becomes apparent at the end of every year with the public agonizing over the “December Dilemma.”
Most Jewish leaders seek two clearly contradictory goals—agitating for the treatment of Christmas as a purely secular celebration at the same time that they try to discourage their fellow Jews from abandoning their distinctive identity and embracing Christmas traditions. It’s far easier to install a Christmas tree (or “Hanukkah Bush”) in a Jewish home if that seasonal symbol has been denuded of all religious meaning. As a celebration of the Resurrection, Easter has been far harder to secularize than Christmas, so, not surprisingly, relatively few Jews feel impelled to give up their Passover seders in order to attend sunrise services or Easter egg hunts. In fact, no one worries over an “April dilemma,” because all serious Christians observe the inescapably religious commemorations of Holy Week and Easter, and even nonserious Jews find their way to festive meals with matzo, wine, and bitter herbs.
Contrary to popular belief, religious vitality isn’t a zero-sum game: A more vibrant and engaged Christian community in no way undermines Jewish commitment. By raising significant religious questions within the society at large, conservative Christians urge Americans of all ancestries and outlooks to conduct their own explorations. If your Jewish family lives in a community where the great majority of your neighbors attend church on Sunday, you are probably more—not less—likely to consider venturing into synagogue on Saturday. In his 2006 book A Jew Among the Evangelicals: A Guide for the Perplexed, Mark Pinsky, religion reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, described how the Christian community he covered as a reporter led him to stronger identification with his own religious heritage. Even though he describes himself as a “Daily Show Democrat, voting for the furthest left candidate on the ballot,” he found that his interaction with deeply religious Christians (particularly the late Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ) led him to deeper involvement in his local Reform temple and to his wife’s conversion to Judaism after 24 years of marriage. “It’s made me a more committed Jew,” he told the New Jersey Jewish News.
If conservative Christians raise serious issues of faith and morality in the public square, and normalize activities such as communal worship and Bible study, they will strengthen rather than suppress the healthy impulse of unaffiliated Jews to reconnect with their own traditions. Vivid memories of church-based Jew hatred in Europe led too many American Jews to the mistaken assumption that we would benefit from a society that dismissed religious enthusiasm and in which faith in general played a less potent role. For Rejectionists, the continued commitment to this demonstrably dysfunctional assumption has produced the instinctive allergy to any alignment with evangelicals.
Nearly all Jews feel an urgent impulse to connect in some way with the values of our revered forebears, and for the assimilated and irreligious this instinct produces a powerful urge to reassert the two cherished family traditions that still remain: distrusting Christianity and voting Democratic. Both ancestral imperatives serve to make any cooperation with fervently religious Christians feel like the worst sort of apostasy. On the other hand, Jews who practice Judaism in some form can find better ways to honor their memories of Bubbe and Zayde. In that sense, working with evangelicals facilitates greater Jewish religiosity, and greater religiosity facilitates comfortable collaboration with evangelicals.
Collaborationists who have put their ideas into practice universally suggest that associating with Christian conservatives has made them more Jewish, not less. In that context, it’s no longer necessary to promote the idea that Jewish Americans must overcome their horror at Christian influence for the sake of Israel’s security. The stronger argument insists that evangelical Christians deserve our friendship and cooperation because they aren’t just good for Israel; they’re good for America.
And even more unexpectedly, they’re good for American Jews.
The End of the Jewish Left
Political theorist Michael Walzer and others argue about the death of the century-long Jewish-Leftist alliance
Supporters of Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich
listen at a Republican Jewish Coalition rally Jan. 27, 2012,
in Delray Beach, Fla. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)
You can preview that film at http://www.unmemovie.com/
By Haskel Lookstein
Thank you, Madame President.
Let me begin by thanking you, personally, for your outstanding leadership of the Security Council this month. Churchill once said, "In the time that it takes a lie to get halfway around the world, the truth is still getting its pants on."
In the barren deserts of the Middle East, myths find fertile ground to grow wild. Facts often remain buried in the sand. The myths forged in our region travel abroad - and can surprisingly find their way into these halls.
I would like to use today's debate as an opportunity to address just a few of the myths that have become a permanent hindrance to our discussion of the Middle East here at the United Nations.
Myth number one: the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is the central conflict in the Middle East. If you solve that conflict, you solve all the other conflicts in the region.
Make no mistake: it is important for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve our longstanding conflict for its own merits. Yet, the truth is that conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, and many other parts of the Middle East have absolutely nothing to do with Israel.
It is obvious that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict won't stop the persecution of minorities across the region, end the subjugation of women, or heal the sectarian divides. Obsessing over Israel has not stopped Assad's tanks from flattening entire communities. On the contrary, it has only distracted attention from his crimes.
This debate - even this morning - has lost any sense of proportion. Thousands are being killed in Syria, hundreds in Yemen, dozens in Iraq - and yet, this debate again repeatedly is focusing on the legitimate actions of the government of the only democracy in the Middle East.
And dedicating the majority of this debate to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, month after month after month, has not stopped the Iranian regime's centrifuges from spinning. Iran's ambitions for nuclear weapons are the single greatest threat to the Middle East, and the entire world.
The Iranian nuclear program continues to advance at the speed of an express train. The international community's efforts to stop them are moving at the pace of the local train, pausing at every stop for some nations to get on and off. The danger of inaction is clear. We cannot allow the diplomatic channel to provide another avenue for the Iranian regime to stall for more time, as they inch closer and closer to a nuclear weapon.
Myth number two: there is a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
In fact, numerous international organizations have said clearly that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the Deputy Head of the Red Cross Office in the area.
Gaza's real GDP grew by more than 25 percent during the first three quarters of 2011. Exports are expanding. International humanitarian projects are moving forward at a rapid pace.
There is not a single civilian good that cannot enter Gaza today. Yet, as aid flows into the area, missiles fly out. This is the crisis in Gaza. And that is what keeps Gaza from realizing its real potential.
It is a simple equation. If it is calm in Israel, it will be calm in Gaza. But the people of Gaza will face hardship as long as terrorists use them as human shields to rain rockets down on Israeli cities.
Each rocket in Gaza is armed with a warhead capable of causing a political earthquake that would extend well beyond Israel's borders. It will only take one rocket that lands in the wrong place at the wrong time to change the equation on the ground. If that happens, Israel's leaders would be forced to respond in a completely different manner.
It is time for all in this Chamber to finally wake up to that dangerous reality. The Security Council has not condemned a single rocket attack from Gaza. History's lessons are clear. Today's silence is tomorrow's tragedy.
Myth number three: settlements are the primary obstacle to peace.
How many times have we heard that argument in this chamber? Just this month, the Human Rights Council proposed yet another "fact-finding" mission to Israel. It will explore...surprise, surprise...Israeli settlements.
Today, I'd like to save the Human Rights Council and the international community some time and energy. The facts have already been found. They are plain for all to see. The fact is that from 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza was part of Egypt. The Arab World did nothing - it did not lift a finger - to create a Palestinian state. And it sought Israel's annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza.
The fact is that in 2005, when I was the Director-General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, we took every settlement out of Gaza and only got rockets on our cities in return.
The fact is that this Israeli Government put in place an unprecedented ten-month moratorium on settlements. The Palestinian leadership used the gesture as an opportunity to take Israel and the international community on another ride to nowhere. For nine out of those ten months, they rejected the moratorium as insufficient - and then demanded that we extend it. As former U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell said "what had been less than worthless a few months earlier became indispensable to continue negotiations...[for the Palestinians]."
The primary obstacle to peace is not settlements. The primary obstacle to peace is the so-called "claim of return" - and the Palestinian's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
You will never hear Palestinian leaders say "two states for two peoples". You won't hear them say "two states for two peoples" because today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state. This would mean the destruction of Israel.
Some of you might say, "Oh Ambassador, but the Palestinians know that they will have to give up this claim, that's what they whisper quietly at the negotiating table."
Ladies and Gentleman - the Palestinian leadership has never, ever said publicly that they will give up the so-called "claim of return" - neither to the Palestinian people, nor to the Arab World, nor to the international community, or to anyone else.
Since the Palestinian leadership refuses to tell the Palestinian people the truth, the international community has the responsibility and duty to tell them the truth. You have a duty to stand up and say that the so-called "claim of return" is a non-starter.
Instead of telling the Palestinian people the truth, much of the international community stands idle as the Arab World tries to erase the Jewish people's historical connection to the Land of Israel.
Across the Arab World - and even at this table - you hear claims that Israel is "Judaizing Jerusalem". These accusations come about 3,000 years too late. It's like accusing the NBA of Americanizing basketball.
Like many nations around this table, the Jewish people have a proud legacy of age-old kings and queens. It's just that our tradition goes back a few years earlier. Since King David laid the cornerstone for his palace in the 10th Century BC, Jerusalem has served as the heart of our faith. In debate after debate, speakers sit in the Security Council and say that Israel is committing "ethnic cleansing" in Jerusalem, even though the percentage of Arab residents in the city has grown from 26% to 35% since 1967.
The holiest sites in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, were closed only to Jews from 1948 until 1967. Everyone could come to these sites except Jews. There was absolutely no freedom of worship. The world did not say a word about the situation in Jerusalem at that time.
Since Israel unified the city, it has thrived under the values of tolerance and freedom. For the first time in centuries, sacred places that were once sealed off along religious lines are now permanently open for worship by all peoples. This is a principle grounded in our values, our actions and our laws.
There is another great truth that this organization has completely overlooked for the past 64 years. In all of the pages that the UN has written about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in all of its reports and fact-finding commissions, and in all of the hours dedicated to debate about the Middle East, there is one great untold story. Or - to be more specific - there are more than 850,000 untold stories.
More than 850,000 Jews have been uprooted from their homes in Arab countries during the past 64 years. These were vibrant communities dating back 2,500 years. On the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Babylonian Jewry produced many of Judaism's holiest books - and thrived for two millennia. In the great synagogues and libraries of Cairo, Jews preserved the intellectual and scientific treasures of antiquity into the Renaissance. From Aleppo to Aden to Alexandria, Jews stood out as some of the greatest artists, musicians, businessmen, and writers.
All of these communities were wiped out. Age-old family businesses and properties were confiscated. Jewish quarters were destroyed. Pogroms left synagogues looted, graveyards desecrated and thousands dead. The pages that the UN has written about the Palestinian refugees could fill up soccer stadiums, but not a drop of ink has been spilled about the Jewish refugees. Out of over 1088 UN resolutions on the Middle East, you will not find a single syllable regarding the displacement of Jewish refugees. There have been more than 172 resolutions exclusively devoted to Palestinian refugees, but not one dedicated to Jewish refugees. The Palestinian refugees have their own UN agency, their own information program, and their own department within the United Nations. None exist for the Jewish refugees. The word "double-standard" does not even begin to describe this gap. This discrepancy is very convenient for some in this Chamber, but it's not right. The time has come for the UN to end its complicity in trying to erase the stories of 850,000 people from history.
The time has also come to speak openly in these halls about the Arab World's role in maintaining the Palestinians as refugees for more than six decades. Jews from Arab countries came to refugee camps in Israel, which eventually gave birth to thriving towns and cities. Refugee camps in Arab Countries gave birth to more Palestinian refugees. Israel welcomed its Jewish refugees with citizenship and unlocked their vast potential. As they rose to the highest levels of society, our refugees lifted the State of Israel to new heights. Imagine if Arab countries had done the same with their Palestinian refugees. Instead, they have cynically perpetuated their status as refugees, for generation after generation. Across the Arab World, Palestinians have been denied citizenship, rights and opportunities.
All of these are facts that must be neither forgotten nor overlooked, as we look to move forward on the path to peace.
I've saved the most obvious myth for last: the myth that peace can somehow be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians by bypassing direct negotiations. History has shown that peace and negotiations are inseparable. Direct negotiations are the only tool, the only way and the only path to create two-states for two peoples. Last January, Israel offered a clear proposal in Amman for restarting direct negotiations. We presented the Palestinian delegation with negotiating positions on every major issue separating the parties. That proposal - filled with Israel's vision for peace - continues to gather dust, as Palestinian leaders continue to pile up new pre-conditions for sitting with Israel. They are everywhere except the negotiating table. It is time for them to give up unilateral efforts to internationalize the conflict and take up the real path to peace.
This week we will observe the two most significant public holidays in Israel - our day of remembrance and our day of independence. On Wednesday, sirens will sound across Israel. For two minutes, everything will come to a halt. People will stop in their tracks, cars will pull over to the side of highways, and the entire country will pause to remember the more than 22,000 Israelis who have been killed by wars and terrorism in our nation's short history. On Thursday, we will celebrate the rebirth of the Jewish nation - and our 64th year as a free people in our ancient homeland. Against persistent threats and overwhelming odds, Israel has not only survived, but thrived.
I walk the halls of this organization tall and proud of my extraordinary nation - a nation of just 7 million that has produced 10 Nobel prizes; a nation that sends satellites into space, puts electric cars on the road, and develops the technology to power everything from cell phones to solar panels to medical devices.
We intentionally commemorate these two days one after another. As the Israeli people celebrate our independence, we carry the heavy weight of great suffering and sacrifice. The lesson we take from these days is clear. We can never turn a blind eye to the dangers around us. We cannot pretend that we live in a stable region filled with Jeffersonian democracies. But there is another lesson that will fill the hearts of Israelis this week. We can never, ever give up hope for lasting peace. The price of conflict is too high. The evil of war is too great. That is the fundamental truth which guides our leaders.
In the dangerous uncertainty of a turbulent Middle East, the Security Council has never had a greater responsibility to separate myth from truth, and fact from fiction. The clarity of candor has never been more valuable. The need for honest discourse has never been clearer. It is time for this Council to sweep out the cobwebs of old illusions - and plant the seeds for a truly "open" debate on the Middle East. The challenges before us demand nothing less.