Barry Rubin is one of the most trenchant and on-target commentators about the Middle East. His latest post is no exception. Read the entire piece but take time to chew on one important observation he makes about the PA statehood bid:
“..countries are lining up to vote in favor of this proposal. It’s the ultimate embodiment of “social justice” and endless entitlements. The Palestinians “deserve” a state and don’t have to do anything at all to obtain one except to demand it.”
So statehood is an expression of the Left’s redistributionist tendencies and it’s belief that once everyone and everything is equal and fair, we will all live in peace and harmony. Which explains why anti-Zionist Jews can claim they actually love Israel.
Here’s Professor Rubin’s entire post:
Here is a great discussion of the accomplice to the kidnapping by Gerald Steinberg of the international community. Feelings about the release and prisoner exchange are mixed in Israel but then again when dealing with thugs clear moral dividing lines are rare:
Israel has more embassies and consulates than ever before. Our reoriented foreign policy is opening doors and we are ensuring greater global integration.
During the past few months, Israel’s purported growing isolation has been the subject of much discussion. It is far from the truth, and it is ironic that this debate has taken place during an effective Israeli challenge to the long-standing paradigm of the Palestinians using the United Nations as a “rubber stamp” for its capricious policies.
For decades at the United Nations, Palestinian demands, regardless of how spurious or provocative, were granted by a near wall-to-wall majority in most forums. Recently and almost without precedent, Palestinian officials have been hearing strong messages of disapproval and even rejection.
The fact that Palestinian officials, backed by all the resources of the powerful Arab and Islamic world, are travelling around the world pleading for, and not receiving, complete acquiescence for their unilateral declaration of statehood is almost unparalleled and should not go unnoticed.
However, regardless of the outcome of provocative Palestinian unilateralism, Israel’s relations and cooperation in the international arena have rarely been more wide-ranging and comprehensive.
Under the reins of the current political leadership in the Foreign Ministry, Israel has more embassies and consulates than ever before (many reopened after being closed under previous administrations), with more nations requesting Israeli representation our current budget simply cannot cover.
The number of invitations received by Israeli officials to visit nations across the globe is increasing. More nations than ever before understand our reoriented foreign policy is opening up more doors, and we are ensuring greater integration than previously.
Whereas recent governments ignored vast swathes of the globe, focusing on a few areas that were felt to have sole strategic importance, our new policy, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, is to make inroads into areas of great importance long ignored by former Israeli foreign ministers.
We have heard too many leaders in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa say they were until recently frustrated by being unduly ignored by Israel.
Many claimed that only when it came to an issue of central importance to Israel did they hear from our officials. To be successful in international relations you have to put in constant and consistent work and effort.
Unfortunately, in many areas we are still playing catch-up for those years of neglect.
However, even despite these challenges, we are achieving successes in the international arena, beyond issues relating to the conflict.
Two notable examples are Israel’s recent acceptance into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
The increase in our trilateral cooperation with partner countries like Germany, Canada and Italy working with nations in the developing world is reaping benefits for the people of those regions and has helped reframe Israel as a significant partner in such global issues as combating desertification, water management and modern agricultural techniques.
In 2009, we held the widely acclaimed and well-attended Watec Conference. A few months ago we hosted the International Women Leaders’ Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation which was attended by women leaders from across the globe, including United Nations Deputy Secretary- General Asha-Rose Migiro and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
Moreover, over the past few years Israel has promoted UN resolutions completely unconnected to either the conflict or the Holocaust. Our agricultural and technological know-how, and readiness to help humanity, are heavily supported in the UN and other international agencies.
However, the true proof of Israel’s growing inclusion, integration and partnership are our growing diplomatic ties with numerous nations.
Government-to-government dialogues, where a large number of government ministers from Israel and another nation meet to discuss matters of mutual interest and promote a strengthening of bilateral relations, have been significantly increased with an unprecedented amount of these meetings taking place in the last few years.
Economic relations have also been solidified, trade volume has grown, and many agreements of economic cooperation have been signed in the fields of taxation, investments protection, Free Trade Zones and the exchange of economic delegations.
This has assisted in the securing of a strong and stable economy that has seen Israel cope very well with the international recession.
While we face many challenges with some of our neighbors, most recent events are the result of changes completely unrelated to Israel or our conflict with the Palestinians.
The deterioration in relations with Turkey began long before this government took office. Its most obvious manifestation was the public humiliation of President Shimon Peres by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Davos at the beginning of 2009, during one of the most dovish governments in Israeli history.
Turkey’s new foreign policy has led them into disagreements with many of its neighbors and Israel stands with Greece, Cyprus, Armenia and the European Union as having being recently rebuked by the Turkish Government.
The so-called “Arab Spring” which is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa has no connection to either Israel or our conflict with the Palestinians. It is hard to predict the outcome, but if it does lead to greater freedom, democracy and development then the region will only benefit as a whole.
Regardless, Israel will remain true to its principles, despite the changes around us. The security and interests of Israel and its people are second to none on our list of priorities. This is nonnegotiable and we should not apologize for this, even if it leads to misunderstandings, including among allies and friends. Israel should not be asked to accept any less than any other sovereign nation would in a similar situation.
We still face many challenges, but by any measurements our successes far outweigh any perceived failures and we are on a path to even further integration.
Israel is a member of more international forums, participates in a larger number of important international events, signs and implements more bilateral agreements and has further integrated into the global agenda than ever before.
This holistic approach to foreign policy may not make the headlines, but is the fundamental basis for the strengthening of our current international standing.
The writer is Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs.
It is a longer than a usual blog but I urge all of you to read it the entire speech given by my son Zach, who made aliyah and serves in the IDF.
Rabbi Marcus, Dr. Bielory and fellow congregants:
Thank for the opportunity to speak to you on Yom Kippur, the solemn day when Jews around the world come together as one to yearn and pray for redemption, prosperity and the well-being of the Jewish nation.
Ladies and gentleman, I will make no attempt to sugar coat anything here: Dark days lay ahead for Israel and millions of our Jewish brethren. To the north Hezbollah’s missile arsenal, which rivals that of many other nation states, is ready to do Syria’s bidding and attack Israel a last ditch attempt to stay in power. In Gaza we have Hamas, Iran’s surrogate, who takes it’s marching orders from the Ayatollah’s in Tehran. Hamas is continuously being armed to the teeth with advanced weaponry provided by hundreds of millions of dollars of Iranian aid, and from of thousands of missiles from terrorist offshoots in Libya.
These two major threats are buttressed by our Islamist albeit ‘moderate’ and ‘peace loving friends in Egypt who most recently ransacked the Israeli embassy, called for the abrogation of the Camp David Accords, and who are slowly pushing into power a party whose spokesman was quoted as saying “Every night when I go to bed, I pray to wake up the next day to see Israel is wiped off the map.”
I however didn’t come here to give a defense and strategic studies lecture on Israel’s security situation. Rather I’m here to underscore one enduring and simple fact: Since it’s founding, whatever the threat, wherever it exists:
Israel is always there for us Jews, and we Jews must always be there for Israel.
As ironic as it may sound, it took me quite some time to comprehend this existential connection. For most of life I never gave it much thought even when I decided potentially sacrifice my own life and join the IDF in 2007.
See, I like many of you, I traveled almost every year to one of the Israeli resorts in Herzliya during Pesach. I looked forward to basking in the sun on the beach, enjoying the Mediterranean food and culture, as well as escaping two seders and three day yom tovs.
I went to Yeshiva all of my life. But I never really felt the connection nor shed tears upon arriving to Eretez Yisrael.
For me, Israel was ‘nice’, a great place to unwind and clear my head a bit, but nothing more than that.
In High School, I was determined to proceed straight my dream college, George Washington University where I wanted to pursue a degree in government, and serve the country I then considered my true home: the United States.
As senior year drew to a close most of my friends began receiving acceptance letters to the various Israeli yeshiva’s they had applied to. They way they described it, it would be a a year off to relax and learn before entering the stress and turmoil of ‘the real world.’
So I decided to go to Israel for the year too through a program called Year Course. But what began as a year of ‘hanging out’ turned into one of the most meaningful years of my life. I not only discovered a lot about myself. I had discovered what I had missed out on my entire life: my love of the Jewish people and it’s eternal bond with the land of Israel.
The year I spent in Israel volunteering in an Israeli high school, meeting Israelis from all sectors of society who treated me like family of their own — rather than the interloper I thought I would be —– led me to leave behind my scholarship and my college plans in America.
Instead in November 2007, after four months on a kibbutz in the Southern Negev, I join the IDF in November 2007.
Even then, I still did not fully realize what I would learn what serving the State of Israel truly means. Upon being drafted as an infantry-man in Battalion 932 of the Nachal Combat Division, I met my fellow platoon comrades. They all asked the same question over and over and particularly on those cold agonizing nights of guard duty in the dead of winter: “What the heck are you doing here??
Or as an Israeli would say it, ‘What did you leave here?’
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t quite sure how to answer that question at the time. And finding an answer proved only more difficult as I sunk deeper into the miseries of daily life as a Chayal. Whether it was endless nights of forced marches in the unforgivably cold nights of the Negev or picking the gauntlet of thorns I would extract from my tuchus after a long day of crawling and rolling in the field the answer eluded me.
Nor did I find it during the Battalion-Wide week long exercises which pushed me to the point of exhaustion: Instead of answers, I was hallucinating and talking to stones.
The appeal of the IDF was fading fast. Yeah sure, serving Israel was important, but instead of barging into buildings ‘Rambo-style’ with two machine guns in hand blasting my enemies to smithereens, I was doing kitchen duty for 18 hours a day. All I wanted to do was cry all the way back to Mama in America.
A number of my fellow lone foreign volunteers began expressing the same feelings. A few of them even made a run for it, went AWOL, and subsequently hopped on the first plane out of Tel Aviv without even looking back.
I remember one despondent phone conversation I had with my dad as I waiting for the bus to take me back to base for another 21 day grind. He heard the depression in my voice. And told me I could always come home too.
That wasn’t me however. I couldn’t allow myself to be like the others. I knew I hadn’t really for Hollywood theatrics; I came to fulfill a sense of purpose.
What that purpose was however didn’t crystallize in my mind until one cold winter day in the Golan Heights.
This however wasn’t your ordinary soldierly-like day of sitting around in static guard duty posts, smoking cigarettes and drinking chocolate milk.
Several days earlier I had received the shock of my life when I returned to our outpost in the Chermon mountains from a weekend leave, to find all our equipment and weapons sprawled out on blankets in the center of the base. I quickly joined other soldiers who were actively preparing check lists, counting bullets, and cleaning machine guns.
“What’s going on?” I asked my officer. “Listen Zach we don’t have much time, the reservists are coming to replace us in a few hours and we’re heading down to a staging area in preparation for battle.”
Operation Cast Lead had begun. And we were being told to gear up for war.
I was supposed to be discharged from the army in just two days. But that would have to wait.
I immediately filled out a form extending my service for another month, and went to prepare my ammunition and equipment for my M-240 machine gun.
Before disembarking the base and leaving for our staging area, the commander of our Battalion called the troops together: There was solid intelligence that Hezbollah would stir up violence along the northern border as well as launch missiles at our outpost to alleviate the growing military pressure on Hamas.
We had to pack up quick, as we anticipated mortar barrages raining down on us within the hour. Geared up in flak jackets and helmets, we anxiously packed up our trucks and moved down to our temporary base at Elforan in the Golan.
Upon unpacking all our gear, our Company Captain told us that given the word, we have 30 minutes to be either on Black-Hawk Helicopters en route to Gaza, or loaded up in APC’s to fend off any threat to the northern border.
It’s weird, because as a soldier you go through all the training and motions of preparing yourself for combat, yet never expect it ever coming to fruition. Only then did our unit feel the suspense in anticipation of war.
After two days of preparatory exercises the anxiety began to fade and we soon began to doubt whether we would ever get that ‘call’ to gear up.
We went back to being restless and bored; laying on our mattresses reading books, listening to music, and playing sheish-beish to pass the time until we had to head back to the Chermon.
I was outside in the middle of fixing myself a chocolate spread sandwich when I saw our Vice-Captain striding through the camp in full gear. He was yelling “Hakpatzah! Hakpatzah! Everyone in full gear to the APC’s!”
We were told there was shooting directed at Israeli settlements along the Golan from either the Syrian or Lebanese border. The entire company woke up from its slumber and raced in every direction to fetch equipment and prepare ammunition.
Our captain took me and several other soldiers to one of the ammo dumps where we quickly began divvying out fragmentation grenades.
This was now the ‘real deal.
Within minutes we were assembled next to our APC’s waiting to move out.
“Ellie, do I have time to grab a book of tehilim from the shul?” My friend Baruch asked our officer. “You have sixty seconds! Hurry!” Baruch quickly took off in direction of the synagogue while the rest of us positioned ourselves on the backbreaking metal benches of the APC.
I was heavy machine gunner of our unit. I was carrying 70 pounds of ammo and artillery and I barely fit inside the carrier.
I was so nervous I began to stutter. “If I get hit I’m going to be stuck out there. I can barely walk with all this stuff as it is.”
My friend Yogev responded: “Achee, don’t you worry now. I will come down there myself and throw you over my shoulders and get you out of there.”
It was only then after Yogev spoke, when the APC doors finally closed and we slowly moved out did it hit me why I decided to join the IDF.
It all began to make sense as I looked around the cluttered benches. To my right was the sharpshooter, an Ethiopian by the name of Redit Mullah. His parents were thrown onto Israeli chartered planes and saved from rife political instability and war in the 1991 Solomon Operation, when Israel rescued and integrated thousands of Ethiopian Jews into its growing populace.
To my left was my friend Avichai Galilee, of Yemenite descent, whose grandparents were similarly rescued from persecution and vehement Arab violence by a massive and unprecedented Air-Evac operation known as ‘Operation Magic Carpet’ in 1950.
In back of me were two soldiers, of Russian and Iraqi descent. They both shared the same legacy of being rescued and welcomed by the Jewish state when they had no place else to live as Jews. It did not matter that the Israeli economy was anemic at the time and that we had few resources to spare. We did it anyways.
It then finally made sense to me: The state of Israel is there for us, and so should we be there for the state of Israel. Riding away in our APC’s it was us who was thanking Israel and paying a debt of gratitude for all it had done for us.
Unlike some “States” who leave their refugee populations in impoverishment as a ruse in advancing their own ideological interests, the State of Israel has always been there for every Jew. It is important that the distinction between Jew and Israeli not be drawn, because we in Israel do not recognize such a dividing line.
We take the plight of the Jews around the world as our own and work to safeguard their lives and carry out justice when needed.
Nothing underscores this notion more than the 1976 Entebbe Rescue operation where after separating hostages between ‘Jews’ and ‘Non-Jews’, Palestinian terrorists released all the non-Jews and threatened to execute all the Jews unless their demands were met. It did not matter that many of those on board that plane did not carry Israeli Citizenship, they were Jews none the less who lives were at stake. By pulling off one the most renowned and daring Commando raids in history, Israel proved to the world that if you mess with the Jew’s, you mess with Israel.
Such a trend continued in 2008 when Israel assassinated Imad Mugniyeh, a top Hezbollah leader and mastermind of the 1994 Argentinean Jewish Center bombing which killed 85 people, serving justice to those that think Jewish blood comes cheap.
Ladies and Gentleman, I’m not expecting or demanding any of you to make the same difficult decision I made and pick up a rifle and fight. That however in no way absolves each and every one of us from the responsibility we have to safeguard and protect the Jewish state whether its through Israel advocacy campaigns, letter’s to congressman, or investments and the purchase of Israeli bonds.
In doing so, you are not only safeguarding Israel, you’re safeguarding yourself and taking collective responsibility for the Jewish people as a whole.
Now I could talk for another 15 minutes about the economic incentives and benefits of investing in Israel. How Israel’s economy is vibrant and growing. Or how Israel’s credit rating was just raised higher than America’s.
This however pales in importance to what I ask all of us to invest in now and forever. A vision of Israel conceived at Sinai and secured by us all. It is a promise set forth by Menachem Begin following the 1976 Entebbe Raid:
“We are no empire. We are but a small nation… but after all that has befallen our nation throughout all the generations-and not least the generation of the holocaust- we declare that if there be anyone anywhere who is persecuted, or humiliated, or threatened or abducted or is in any way endangered simply because he or she is a Jew, then let the whole world know that we, Israel, The Jewish state, shall marshal all our strength to come to their aid and bring them to the safe haven of our homeland.”
Today I ask you to marshal your strength, to stand together , so that the safe haven I discovered and defends will endure forever.
Am Yisroel Chai!