An explosion of Jew-hatred – or a coup?

It seems like every day brings a new anti-Jewish incident in the US. Journalists are harassed by anti-Jewish Twitter trolls, cemeteries are desecrated and Jewish organizations receive bomb threats. Of course it is not like Jew-hatred in France, where Jewish fingers are sawed off, but it is still shocking. People expect it in Europe, much of which agreed with Hitler that the Jews were the misfortune of the countries they lived in, but America since WWII has been the one place in the world other than Israel where a Jew could forget (most of the time) to watch his back.

The ADL and FBI maintain statistics on anti-Jewish acts. The FBI’s “hate crimes” numbers are available from 1996 to 2015, and show a steady decline in anti-Jewish crimes from over 1100 in 1996 to 664 in 2015. The ADL keeps track of “incidents” which may or may not be crimes, and statistics have been presented in annual “audits” since 1979. The recent trend is similar to the FBI statistics, although the numbers are somewhat higher (for example, they report 941 incidents in 2015). The peak year was 1994, in which the ADL reported 2,066 incidents, including 25 arsons, 10 attempted arsons, and a mass shooting in which one person was murdered (by a Lebanese immigrant as revenge for the Baruch Goldstein massacre). One of the changes over the years is an increasing number of incidents on college campuses, mostly on background of the Middle East conflict.

But with the 2016 presidential campaign, it seems as though there has been an explosion of Jew-hatred. Is this true? Who is responsible?

It seems to me that there are three kinds of perpetrators of anti-Jewish acts. First there are the organized neo-Nazis, skinheads, white supremacists, and so forth. Then there are anti-Israel “activists.” Finally, there is the kind of Jew-hatred that I remember from my childhood, ordinary people who express their dislike of Jews in the context of neighborhood disputes, teenage bullying, or petty crime.

Has there been a sudden increase in membership among neo-Nazi groups? I doubt it. And I think that the “ordinary people” category has been becoming smaller in recent years. On the other hand, anti-Israel activity, especially on campuses, has grown rapidly. Radical delegitimization of Israel in the alternative media (and even in the left-leaning segments of the mainstream media) has motivated and excused extremist activists to express themselves in anti-Jewish ways. It really doesn’t make sense to hate Israel and love Jews, as some suggest they do, and how better to support the Palestinian people than by drawing a swastika on someone’s door?

There is also a revival of traditional anti-Jewish attitudes on the Left, such as appeared in the Occupy Wall Street movement, which liked to talk about Jewish control of banks and media. And more recently, the Black Lives Matter movement’s “intersectional” embrace of the Palestinian movement has given impetus to already simmering black antisemitism.

But despite all this, the “explosion of Jew-hatred” associated with the election has been blamed on Trump and the Right.

In 2016 a very well-publicized anti-Jewish event occurred: Jewish journalists were harassed by thousands of hateful tweets. Interestingly, while they included the usual traditional memes (banks, Holocaust, media control, etc.) the most common subjects had to do with Zionism and Israel. The ADL’s analysis showed that 68% of some 20,000 anti-Jewish tweets directed at journalists came from only 1,600 Twitter accounts, illustrating the force-multiplier effect of social media. And since journalists were targeted, we were guaranteed to hear about it. Much of the activity could have been automated. We saw a technically similar (but far less vicious) phenomenon when Ron Paul ran for president in 2012, and online polls and website comments sections were inundated with pro-Paul material. A small group was able to have a disproportionally large effect.

The campaign against the Jewish journalists was related to the campaign of Donald Trump, both as a trigger (journalists who criticized him were targeted) and in content (anti-Jewish tweeters suggested that Trump was on their side). The tweeters were encouraged by white supremacist web sites, and it is clear that this element has adopted Trump as its champion. I don’t intend to try to analyze Trump’s thinking and motivations here, but I do not believe that he shares their ideology. And he definitely does not benefit from the association.

The public manifestation of Jew-hatred by white supremacists adds to the anti-Jewish signals coming from the pro-Palestinian Left. The fact that people now hear and see this stuff all the time legitimizes it and emphasizes it. Just as words can be said on television today that once were never heard at all in polite society, ideas that were considered too ugly to be expressed in public have become not just thinkable, but sayable. Many Americans have always held classically anti-Jewish beliefs (see Tuvia Tenenbom’s book The Lies they Tell), but the public expression of these ideas has always been socially unacceptable – at least until recently. This adds to the impression that Jew-hatred is at an all-time high.

Now we come to the latest manifestations of Jew-hatred in America, the bomb threat campaign in which at least 100 threats have been made against Jewish institutions in 5 waves (as of Wednesday), and the damaging of headstones in two Jewish cemeteries.

The bomb threat is one of the easiest and most inexpensive means imaginable to create chaos – and get media attention. In about 10 seconds of googling, I found countless websites that offered services and applications to make anonymous phone calls. Some bragged that they don’t log IP addresses and some were outside of the US. Some offered text-to-speech conversion, so the perpetrator doesn’t even have to disguise his or her voice. The use of a VPN with such a site would make it doubly hard to track down the caller (although there are ways…).

Something which in the past was risky – I remember “bomb scares” at my middle school in which the perpetrators were caught the next day and expelled, sent to what was called “reform school” – is now trivial and safe. Any 14-year old can do it and not get caught, at least for a while. All 100 calls could easily have been made by one or two persons. It is not indicative of a wave of Jew-hatred.

The cemetery vandalism has also been given publicity far beyond its importance. Cemetery vandalism happens all the time, including to Jewish cemeteries. Sometimes it’s anti-Jewish and sometimes not. According to a blog written by Emily Ford, who owns  a company that provides planning, maintenance, restoration and research services to cemeteries, there were 127 incidents of vandalism affecting “at least 1,811 individual markers … costing at least $488,000” in the US in 2016. And this is a conservative estimate, because much vandalism isn’t reported. Three Jewish cemeteries were among those hit last year, but so was a cemetery containing the graves of notable Confederate figures, which were tagged with “anti-racist” graffiti. “Vandalism is almost inevitable in any sparsely-staffed cemetery,” Ford writes. “If 2016’s data is any indicator, nobody should be shocked by cemetery vandalism.” Indeed, and normally it is not of interest to the media.

To summarize:

  • With the exception of certain highly publicized events, there are fewer anti-Jewish hate crimes and incidents than in the recent past.
  • Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are still around, but more and more of the Jew-hatred is coming from the pro-Palestinian extreme Left.
  • A smallish group of provocateurs was responsible for the massive anti-Jewish harassment of journalists on Twitter.
  • It has become more acceptable to publically express dislike or even hatred of Jews, but there’s no reason to think these attitudes have suddenly gotten stronger or more popular.
  • The bomb threat calls could have been made by one or two people and have no real significance as an indicator of a “spike” in Jew-hatred.
  • Cemetery vandalism is common. There is nothing out-of-the-ordinary in two Jewish cemeteries being vandalized, except the media attention. Usually it’s teenagers that knock down headstones.

So, should we just say “nothing to see here, move along?”

No, I don’t think so. The country is probably not becoming more anti-Jewish. There is not a real spike in anti-Jewish incidents or behavior. But there may be something else.

Trump has claimed that “the other side” is responsible for the bomb threats. Ha ha, that crazy narcissistic Trump. But what if he’s right? What if the tweets and bomb threats were part of a plan, a plan that may just be getting off the ground, to delegitimize him and destabilize his administration? What if the idea is to make it impossible for him to make appointments or to get congressional support for his initiatives? To build an increasingly numerous and vociferous group of protestors that won’t give him a moment’s rest?

Add to this the fabrications against Bannon and Gorka throughout liberal media. If it’s possible to tar Trump and his key people with the brush of antisemitism, it will go a long way toward destroying him.

They don’t need a complicated conspiracy. Just the ability to do a few simple dirty tricks and to use fortuitous events, perhaps like the cemetery vandalism, to amplify the effect. And a media “echo chamber.” Sound familiar?

I have no idea who “they” might be – his domestic opposition, people in the intelligence community, or even an international actor. Maybe I’m as hysterical as the rest, and there are no connections between events, just a few delinquent teenagers making sophisticated prank calls.

But if there is something to it, then – whatever you may think about Trump – it is one of the most profoundly anti-democratic maneuvers in American history.

Posted in American politics, American society, Jew Hatred | 1 Comment

The Sarsour gambit

Linda Sarsour speaks at Women's March on Washington in February 2017

Linda Sarsour speaks at Women’s March on Washington in February 2017

Sometimes you need to admire a good move, even when it’s your opponent that makes it.

I’m referring to Linda Sarsour’s wildly successful crowd-funding appeal to repair the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri damaged by vandals on February 20th. Although originally targeted at $20,000, it has so far collected $128,690 (as of 26 February). Sarsour and company may donate some excess funds to another Jewish cemetery in need of repair. The campaign was run on a Muslim-oriented site which hosts other projects to repair mosques, support Islamic education, help Syrian refugees, and so forth.

Sarsour, of Palestinian Arab descent, supports BDS, a movement whose goal is to replace Israel with an Arab state. On her Twitter feed and Facebook page, she has expressed the harshest criticism of Israel and Zionism, accuses Israel of massacring Palestinians and calls for an end to the “occupation” which she dates to 1948. She favors a “one-state solution” and a right of return for all the descendents of Arab refugees, which means one state with an Arab majority. There is a lot more that can be said of Sarsour and her anti-Israel positions and connections.

Some are wondering whether the Jewish cemetery should accept her contribution.

The situation reminds me of other similar, but not precisely analogous, cases. In 1952, Israel and West Germany signed a historic Reparations Agreement, in which the Germans agreed to compensate Israel for resettlement of Jews displaced by the war, and to compensate individual Jews who suffered in the Holocaust. The agreement triggered the most acrimonious debate in Israel’s history.

Israel had taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees from Europe and Arab nations, and more were arriving every day. The economic situation was dire, and the country struggled to feed, house and integrate them. Prime Minister Ben-Gurion favored the agreement for practical reasons and because he felt that justice demanded compensation for stolen Jewish property. Both the Right and the Left viciously attacked him, on the grounds that the agreement in effect absolved Germany of guilt.  Ben-Gurion had the power, so he prevailed. Many have not forgiven him even today.

Of course, Israel needed the German money, and St. Louis doesn’t need Sarsour’s. And Germany was responsible for the Holocaust, while Sarsour didn’t knock down the headstones in the St. Louis cemetery. Still, doesn’t taking Sarsour’s money – which isn’t even her own money – in some sense validate her anti-Israel position?

Here’s another, closer analogy. Almost exactly one month after 9/11, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal offered $10 million to New York City’s Twin Towers Fund. Mayor Rudy Giuliani refused to take the money, after Bin Talal suggested that American pro-Israel policies were in part responsible for the attack. Giuliani rejected the idea that there could be any excuse for such an outrageous attack, as well as the implication of moral equivalence between countries like the US and Israel, and terrorists.

So should the Jews of St. Louis take the money?

Some see no problem, and indeed think Sarsour’s gesture marks the beginning of better relations between Jews and Muslims in America. Many liberal Jews strongly oppose President Trump’s ban on immigration from certain Muslim countries, as do Muslims. Why shouldn’t American Jews and Muslims look past the conflicts in the Middle East and try to establish good relations based on their shared concerns about bigotry in the form of Jew-hatred and anti-Muslim attitudes? Rabbi Brigitte S. Rosenberg of St. Louis’ United Hebrew Congregation (Reform), said “It’s sad that it’s happening in the midst of tragedy, but it’s a beautiful gesture … Whatever your views of Israel, we can set those aside and recognize that we’re human.”

But ought American Jews to set the matter of Israel aside?

There is no such thing as a gift that doesn’t come with a corresponding obligation. And a person or institution that represents a larger group needs to feel the obligation more keenly than an individual. Just as the Prime Minister of Israel needs to be careful about accepting cigars from friends who are businessmen that might have dealings with the government, a Jewish organization needs to worry that accepting contributions might imply acceptance of a political program.

This is why Giuliani was right in not taking Bin Talal’s money on behalf of the City of New York.

Sarsour’s views are so extreme that they would be rejected by the vast majority of American Jews, including, I’m sure, Rabbi Rosenberg and her congregation. She is not just “a Muslim,” she is a Muslim that wants to see the Jewish state destroyed and has been very public about it. It’s impossible to see her as simply someone who wants to improve Jewish-Muslim relations.

Jews, especially liberal ones, have often stood up for other faiths, including Muslims, when they have been the victims of bigotry. They can continue to do this. But they don’t have to take gifts from someone like Sarsour.

Unlike Ben-Gurion’s Israel, the cemetery doesn’t need the money. The day after the incident, the local Jewish Federation opened a “Jewish Cemetery Restoration and Security Fund” which had over $100,000 in it within two days. The fund is intended both for fixing the cemetery and meeting “the growing security needs of the Jewish community.” The cemetery itself also accepted donations. Almost all of the damage has already been repaired.

As an Israeli, I tend to be cynical. And I see Sarsour’s gesture as cynical as well. The cemetery – and by extension, the American Jewish community – can take the money, and thereby legitimize Sarsour and place themselves in her debt. Or they can reject it, and allow themselves to appear not only ungrateful, but bigoted themselves.

This was a masterful bit of guerrilla PR by Sarsour. At absolutely zero cost to herself, she has already placed her name in the headlines and gained a reputation as a champion of tolerance, although her position about Israel is anything but tolerant! At the same time, she’s put the liberal Jewish community in an unpleasant bind.

We won’t win this one, but we can do damage control. The best public response by the Cemetery Society would be something like this:

Dear Ms Sarsour,

We appreciate your gesture to help repair our cemetery. We understand that both Jews and Muslims in America suffer from religious and racial hatred. But the Jewish state of Israel is also our homeland, and our people there also suffer from religious and racial hatred, to a far greater degree than in America.

Your public support for the BDS movement is a direct attack on our state. BDS is primarily a strategy to delegitimize the Jewish state of Israel in order to make it easier to destroy. Just as you would not accept a gift from someone who advocated “transfer” of all the Palestinian Arabs out of what they consider their homeland, we must respectfully decline your gift.

Please understand that this has nothing to do with your Muslim faith, but everything to do with your public position toward Israel.

Sincerely,
The Jews of St. Louis

Posted in American Jews, American society | 2 Comments

The “Soldier who Shot” is sentenced

On Tuesday, a military court pronounced sentence on Sgt. Elor Azaria, called in Israel’s media “the soldier who shot in Hevron.”

Azaria was convicted of manslaughter after he put a bullet into the head of an Arab terrorist who had been wounded after he stabbed and injured an IDF soldier in March of last year. The incident was filmed by a Palestinian working for the left-wing NGO B’tselem. The video was shown on Israeli television and a massive media/political circus ensued. Even before the IDF investigation was finished, the army Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister made public statements accusing Azaria of misconduct in the harshest terms.

The rules of engagement forbid harming a terrorist who has been “neutralized,” and unless it could be shown that Azaria could have reasonably believed that the terrorist sprawled on the ground was still a threat, shooting him would be a serious violation of protocol. Depending on his intention, it could also be manslaughter or even murder.

During the trial, Azaria’s defense team tried to establish that the shooting was justified. He testified that he feared that the terrorist might be wearing an explosive belt, or that he might reach for a knife nearby. His lawyers even called a witness to argue that it was not Azaria’s bullet that killed the terrorist.

The defense’s arguments were unconvincing, and Azaria’s testimony was at times contradictory. There was testimony from another soldier in his unit that after the shooting Azaria said “He tried to stab a friend of mine and he deserves to die.” The trial continued for several months and numerous witnesses and experts were heard. It was accompanied by heavy media attention and public demonstrations for and against the accused.

The court – three military judges – rejected all of the defense contentions in a very unsympathetic decision that took more than an hour to read, and rendered a verdict of manslaughter. The judges then took up the question of punishment. Azaria could have received as many as 20 years imprisonment, but the prosecution asked for a sentence of three to five years. Tuesday, he was sentenced to 18 months in military prison, 12 months probation, and reduction in rank to private. The contrast between the court’s harsh decision and the very lenient sentence was striking.

Reactions to the sentence illuminated the chasms that exist in Israeli society. Azaria’s family and supporters joined arms and sang “Hatikva” in the courtroom after the sentence was pronounced, and called for him to be pardoned. His father hugged him and said “Elor, you are a hero!” His lawyers promised to appeal the verdict. There were demonstrations in the street outside in his favor, as there were during the trial itself.

But some thought that the verdict was far too lenient. Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg wrote on her Facebook page that “They sentenced [Azaria] to just a year and a half in prison. Azaria needed to be punished, and seriously.” Most public officials have been very uncomfortable with everything having to do with the incident and want to put it behind them.

Not so fast.

What happened was symptomatic of the difficulty a liberal democracy has in dealing with opponents that wage asymmetric warfare against it. It also illustrates the role of the cognitive/psychological war that is raging alongside the terrorism and violence that gets most of the attention.

The incident happened during a time that stabbings and car-rammings against Jews – including women and girls, small children, elderly people, soldiers, policemen and civilians – were at a peak. Almost every day there was another report of a vicious attack, and many of the reports were tragic. Encouraged by the official Palestinian Authority TV and radio, and by social media, PA residents and even some Arab citizens of Israel went on a murder spree. Even Israelis that remember the bombings of the Second Intifada were shocked by the cold, implacable hatred. What kind of creature could go up to a pregnant woman on the street and plunge a knife into her neck?

Israelis saw their soldiers (“everybody’s children”) forced to make life-and-death decisions in difficult circumstances. They saw that Jews are expected to follow the rules, but that for Arabs there are no rules; that Jews are expected to behave according to European standards of civilization, while Arabs are free to compete with each other to be the most barbarous killers.

Many people believe that no terrorist should be allowed to survive his act, but the rules say that once a terrorist is no longer a danger, he should be arrested, not killed. The rules say that a terrorist wounded while trying (or succeeding) to kill Jews should receive medical care. At one point, a directive was even issued that care should be prioritized only by the severity of wounds, and not depend on who is the attacker and who the victim!

Israelis noted how the families of terrorists in Israeli jails are paid salaries by the Palestinian Authority (with money it gets from the US and Europe). The longer the sentence, the higher the wages, so the worst get the most. Those who are killed in the act are glorified as martyrs in the official media, and the ones that survive are often released in “prisoner exchanges” like the 2011 deal in which 1027 terrorists, including numerous multiple murderers, were exchanged for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.

And – very importantly – they knew that Israel does not apply the death penalty for terrorist murder, so killers would ultimately be able to go on with their lives after serving their sentences (or after being traded for kidnap victims or body parts).

Elor Azaria was asked to do his job in these circumstances. He was 19 at the time. After a terrorist tried to kill his friend, he did what any normal person would be tempted to do. He broke the rules, violated protocol, and gave the terrorist what, in a moral if not legal sense, he deserved.

What should have happened then was an administrative hearing in which he would have been punished for breaking the rules, not a media and political circus and not a conviction for manslaughter.

But it was not an accident that it played out the way it did. Everything that the IDF does is scrutinized by organizations that claim to work to protect human rights, but whose real purpose is to delegitimize Israel.

Much like the way the communities around Gaza are undermined by Hamas tunnels, Israeli society and media are subverted by anti-state non-governmental organizations, of which B’tselem is a prime example. B’tselem received almost US$ 6 million between 2012 and 2016 from foreign governmental bodies (and more from other anti-Israel sources) for legal, diplomatic, political and propaganda warfare – there is no other way to describe it – against the state of Israel, the IDF and its soldiers. This money paid the operative that recorded the video that was used to blow this incident up into a national  affair, and bought him his camera.

The Azaria prosecution was a propaganda blow against the IDF, which Israel’s enemies want to portray as arbitrarily murdering innocent Arabs. It was damaging to the morale of the soldiers who risk their lives to protect us, and who believe that Azaria’s officers and almost the entire military hierarchy abandoned him (they did). And if it results in more terrorists surviving their encounters with the IDF, then in my opinion that will be unfortunate.

One lesson from the affair is that Israel should apply the death penalty to terrorist murderers. Perhaps some of the frustration felt by our soldiers and police would be alleviated if they knew that an arrested murderer was likely to be executed rather than sent to a relatively (by world standards) comfortable prison where he will draw a salary and await the next prisoner exchange or political deal.

Another lesson is that the massive “human rights” industry in Israel, which is paid for by some of our worst enemies, needs to have its foreign funding cut off. No other country in the world would permit its enemies to pay for a massive subversive enterprise inside its own borders.

I would like to see Azaria pardoned. He’s been punished adequately since the incident. I would like to see our soldiers and police continue to act aggressively to stop terrorists, and know that their superiors will go to bat for them. And let’s think seriously about the death penalty for terrorist murder.

Posted in Israeli Society, Terrorism | 1 Comment

Sherman’s principles

With all the talk about whether or not the US is continuing to insist on a “2-state solution” there are still two basic principles that have to be taken into account when considering changes in the status of Judea and Samaria:

  1. Israel must retain security control of the high ground on both sides of the central hilly region and the passes through it. Otherwise the country can’t be defended against terrorism from the territories or attack from the east. No guarantees from the US, UN or the Arab nations can change this.
  2. Israel can’t absorb any more Arabs. Although there would continue to be a Jewish majority even if all of Judea and Samaria were annexed, the large Arab population would be destabilizing, from political, security and economic standpoints.

In the cauldron of violence and instability that is the Middle East, Israel cannot allow herself to be weakened, either territorially or demographically. But it is also true that the present situation, while not “unsustainable” as is often said, is definitely sub-optimal. The heavily populated Arab areas constitute a reservoir of hostility which expresses itself in frequent deadly terrorist attacks against the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as somewhat less frequent – but still deadly – ones west of the Green Line.

American and European “peace processing” has generally centered on denying principle 1) above, proposing security guarantees involving establishing a friendly Palestinian or Palestinian/Jordanian regime or putting foreign troops in the territories. Nobody in their right mind believes that any of these ideas is worth two minutes of discussion. Only Israel can defend herself, and she can only do so with adequate strategic depth and consideration of topographic reality. A sovereign Palestinian state in the territories would mean the end of the Jewish state.

But annexation of all  of Judea and Samaria, along with the 1.7 million hostile Arabs it contains (this number is in dispute, but the dispute is irrelevant to this discussion), would make Israel into an ungovernable, violent third-world society.

The Israeli Left plays down the threat implicit in denying 1), and insists that it’s necessary to give up territory to save us from the consequences of 2). The right wing, on the other hand, prefers to emphasize the military threat and deemphasize the demographic one.

For some time, Dr. Martin Sherman of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies has been arguing (see more from him here) that both principles are true, and violation of either will bring disaster. Further, he believes that proposals for annexing only parts of the land (the parts with few Arabs) like those of Naftali Bennett (video) and Mordechai Kedar are unworkable, because “partial annexation and limited autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs, concentrated in disconnected mini-enclaves will result in wildly torturous [sic] and contorted borders, virtually impossible to demarcate  and secure, thus emptying  ‘sovereignty’ in the annexed areas of any meaningful content.”

Sherman believes that any successful outcome would require full annexation of the territories, along with emigration of much of the Arab population. He envisions a “humanitarian approach,” which would involve “generous funding for the relocation and rehabilitation of the Palestinian Arabs resident in Judea/Samaria (and eventually Gaza) in third-party countries of their choice.” His arguments that such a program of relocation grants to individual families would be less expensive than the establishment of a Palestinian State or the continuance of UNRWA and the PA, and much better for the families are very persuasive.

Sherman provides answers to the questions that naturally come up. How much would it cost, who would pay, what would happen to UNRWA, where would Palestinians go, how would we prevent extremists from murdering anyone that chose to accept a grant, and more. But no matter how good his plan may be, it’s impossible to imagine that it would be implemented.

The problem is that almost the entire world is committed to Palestinian sovereignty in the territories (at least), whether or not that is good for individual Palestinians or consistent with the continued existence of a Jewish state. While Sherman’s plan actually is a solution which could theoretically end the misery of the Palestinians (including the refugees in various countries), it is close to politically impossible. His ideas are almost universally rejected, or rather, ignored. He is a Cassandra that almost nobody listens to and few even bother to argue with.

No Palestinian leader, whose bread and butter is the alienation of the “Palestinian people” from their “homeland,” could possibly support an idea which would put them out of a job. No academic in love with the post-colonial paradigm could accept anything other than full self-determination for this “oppressed people.” No Arab, European, or American State Department employee whose heart’s desire is to see Israel reduced to an indefensible fragment which will soon disappear entirely, could agree with Sherman. And those who have no trouble calling for the mass expulsion of Jews from their homes against their will as a legitimate act in the name of “peace,” recoil in horror from the idea of paying Arabs to relocate, calling it “ethnic cleansing.”

Nevertheless, Sherman’s logic is unassailable and his conclusion unavoidable, even if his solution is not taken seriously.

Israel’s enemies like to say that the Zionists want the land but not the people. They are right, too. Israel’s security can’t be guaranteed without control of the land, and there is no possibility of absorbing the people.

This was not always the case, and need not have been the case; but that is the point we have reached today, thanks to failures of leadership on both sides. Thanks, for example, to Amin al-Husseini, the father of Palestinian nationalism, Jew-hater, pogromist and Nazi. Thanks also to his disciple, Yasser Arafat and his heir Mahmoud Abbas, who created the narrative and fed (and continue to feed) the hatred. And thanks especially to Israelis like Yossi Beilin and Shimon Peres who brought the poisonous Arafat back from exile and injected his evil potion directly into our heart.

But today it’s 2017, not 1967 or 1993. We can’t undo the past.

Sherman’s plan would be an optimal solution for Israelis and Palestinians, but whether or not it can be implemented, the logic that led him to it still stands. Any outcome to the conflict that will include a Jewish state will have to take into account the two propositions at the start of this post.

The questions we need to be asking today are not how we can live alongside a sovereign Palestinian state (we can’t), nor how we can absorb the Arabs of Judea and Samaria and remain a Jewish state (we can’t), nor how we can annex the patchwork of the territories that is necessary for our survival while isolating the hostile population in enclaves (we can’t do that either).

The only question to ask today is this one: how can we reduce the Arab population between the river and the sea?

Posted in 'Peace' Process, Israel and Palestinian Arabs | 3 Comments

Domestic distractions vs. serious business

Wednesday, February 15. Prime Minister Netanyahu is in Washington, and will meet President Trump later today. At the same time, the American media is hyperventilating after the forced resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, over something to do with his contacts with Russia. I say this, because right now, nothing is clear – not what Flynn actually did and not why Trump fired him. All options, from Flynn truly conspiring with the Kremlin, to this being the beginning of a putsch against Trump orchestrated by the CIA and/or former Obama Administration officials, are open.

Poor Bibi, who would really like to talk about Iran, Syria and the Palestinians! Trump’s mind will not be on the Middle East if he thinks that his presidency is in danger (which in my opinion it is).

Bibi should understand Trump’s position quite well, since he himself is the object of a prolonged and vicious media and legal witch hunt, which I discussed in this column last week. This is apparently the fashion in modern “democratic” politics today: when you have a leader that powerful elites dislike but who is also so popular with the average voter that he can’t be defeated at the polls, then tie him up with a firehose-stream of accusations and scandals. If you can get him entangled in sticky legal spider-webs, so much the better (this is harder to do in the US, where an American president has much more power than an Israeli Prime Minister).

Personally, I believe Bibi when he says, “they won’t find anything because there is nothing.” But I also believe that he could be indicted for “nothing.” At least he is safe in the US for a few days, even if Trump gives him an expensive cigar or two.

The parallels between the precarious situations of Trump and Netanyahu are interesting, even though they are personally so different – and although Trump has been in office for less than a month, compared to Netanyahu’s multiple terms as Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister.

Both were elected in fair elections in which they defeated lackluster opponents. Nevertheless, both enjoy strong support from their bases and appealed enough to independent voters to win. Both are strongly, even viciously, opposed by a majority of media outlets and personalities, and by academic and artistic elites in their home countries; and both are considered enemies by the international Left. The previous American administration even tried to intervene in Israel’s recent elections against Netanyahu, and some of the same people may be involved in the effort to damage Trump.

Trump’s and Bibi’s opposition became used to wielding power, and did not give up the taste for it (although they have certainly had enough time to do so in Israel), and will use any means they can get away with to get it back from the leader that they view as an illegitimate usurper.

But now is a particularly inconvenient time for these two nations to be tied up by internal strife. It’s a cliché, but it’s true that the world is at a historical inflection point. America is the only power strong enough to stand up to the forces of darkness that are threatening to overtake Western civilization; and Israel is on the front line of this struggle.

Iran/Hezbollah, North Korea, Da’esh, the Muslim Brotherhood – these are the real threats. Putin might be one too. It is vitally important that the leaders of our nations focus on them, rather than on domestic insurrections by spoiled elites.

Could you give them a chance to do so, please? I promise that you can have another go in the next election.

Posted in American politics, Israeli Politics | Comments Off on Domestic distractions vs. serious business