Middle East 4:45 AM 3/7/2014
Inside Israel 12:16 AM 3/7/2014
Global Agenda 2:15 AM 3/7/2014
Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is http://tuviainil.blogspot.com He publishes 4-6 times a week on his blog. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.
Israel has been threatened. Israel’s Left is terrified. Should we follow their lead?
The European Union (EU) has told Israel that if current peace talks fail, Israel will be blamed. The EU will implement a boycott against Israel. Israel’s Left is terrified that this boycott will motivate others to gather against Israel.
Therefore, the Left argues, we must make ‘peace’ immediately. Otherwise, boycotts will destroy us.
Israel’s Left believes three things about this threat. First, it is real. The EU has been threatening Israel for some time. The boycott has teeth. If talks fail, the boycott begins.
The second thing Israel’s Left believes about this threat is that Israel cannot survive it. Israel’s economy depends on the EU. The EU does so much business with Israel (more than 29 billion dollars annually) that a boycott will destroy Israel’s economy.
The third thing Israel’s Left believes about this boycott is that the only way Israel can avoid it is to surrender to Abbas. Give Abbas what he wants, it says, and Israel will survive; otherwise, we’re doomed.
For these reasons, Israel’s Left demands peace. It is terrified by the boycott threat. Citing a Times of Israel article, William Jacobson has written how desperately Tzipi Livni fears this threat (legalinsurrectionblog, “Tzipi Livni’s Boycott panic is a dead-end because it presumes the alternative is peace”, January 26, 2014). Like all who are controlled by their fears, Livni sees one frightening thing and imagines a million more: Jacobson (above) quotes Livni as saying that peace is the only wall that separates Israel from a wave of International boycotts.
But Livni’s fear—and the hysteria of her Leftist peers—is baseless. It’s baseless for three reasons.
First, the threat is not as real as it seems. While many at EU headquarters may want a boycott, their boycott is no boycott (“The E.U.’s New Guidelines on Israel Are Not a Boycott”, The New York Times, July 19, 2014). It does not affect trade. It applies only to official EU-sanctioned activities. It does not apply to the 28 member-states of the EU—or to corporations within those states.
According to the New York Times (above), this boycott will have only minor impact on Israel-EU trade. Some projects and contracts will be cancelled. But the boycott is more symbolic than real.
The wave of boycotts that the Left fears is not a guaranteed event. But even if it happens, it will not be a tsunami.
In Europe, many companies do business with Israel knowing full well the political pressures Israel faces on the international stage. Many do not entirely accept the ‘Palestinian’ narrative of victimhood (see, “The EU's "covert" boycott of Israel starts to kick in”, the Commentator, 11 January, 2014). They do business with Israel because of technology and quality-of-product. Many will not alter those values.
European countries maintain science and technology ties with Israel. They have a desire to continue those ties. There is too much competition in the world to do otherwise. Israel is too important a source for world-class science and technology for European countries to boycott.
That so-called terrifying wave of international boycotts will come mainly from non-European countries, some of whom do little or no trade with Israel. The impact on Israel could be unimpressive.
Meanwhile, China has expressed no interest in a boycott (see the Commentator, above). China—along with India and Russia--could be delighted to buy the goods and technologies others boycott.
The boycott threat is more symbol than real. The Left, so terrified because a boycott means rejection, can’t see this distinction because its nightmare of rejection transforms every threat into disaster.
If the feared wave of boycotts is modelled after the EU approach, the boycotts would be ‘boycott’ in name only. Livni’s fears will have been baseless.
Third, surrender to Abbas is not the only way to survive. Because PA officials promote their hate so aggressively, Prime Minister Netanyahu can make a strong case that peace talks fail because of that hate.
For example, just this morning (January 27, 2014), PA Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat reiterated that there will be no Jews in the new ‘Palestine’ (“Erekat: There Will be No 'Settlers' in 'Palestine', Arutz Sheva, January 27, 2014).Netanyahu’s reaction was immediate—and suggestive: he called the PA’s ‘Juden-rein’ proposition, ethnic cleansing (“Israeli Official: Palestine Should Allow Settlers”, The New York Times, January 26, 2014).
Netanyahu must be aggressive: the PA case for statehood demands that the UN sanctions a war crime called, ethnic cleansing.
Netanyahu must also argue that ethnic cleansing is racist because ‘Jew-free’ makes a racist state. Racist states are Apartheid. The PA demands a racist, Apartheid State.
That ‘wave’ of international boycotts is not inevitable. Boycotts with teeth are not inevitable.
Israel’s Left is wrong. They base their case on fear, not peace.
Never follow those who are terrified.
Israel’s opposition leader and Labour Party head Yitzchak Herzog continues his battle to get Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority (PA) (“Labor chief doubts Netanyahu’s ‘guts’ in peace talks”, 01/21/14, Times of Israel). Apparently, Herzog has given up arguing a rational case. For this Times of Israel article, Herzog adopts a new approach: he gets personal. He wonders aloud if Netanyahu ‘has the guts’ to make peace with the ‘Palestinians.’
Herzog is wrong. He doesn’t understand courage.
It does not take ‘guts’ to cave in to pressure from an 800-pound gorilla (the US). It does not take ‘guts’ to yield before threats of a massive boycott (from the European Union). ‘Courage’ is not what motivates you when you want ‘peace’ because you fear you will be ‘isolated on steroids’ (at the United Nations). In fact, caving into pressure and yielding to threats have never been called, ‘having guts’.
Such behaviours have another name: cowardice.
Why does Herzog twist the definition of cowardice into ‘guts’?
Put another way, why is Herzog trying to put lipstick (guts) onto a pig (cowardice)?
You can call caving in and yielding to threats ‘guts’ all day long. But most of us learned long ago that when you put lipstick on a pig, you still end up with a pig.
As every Jew knows, pigs aren’t kosher. What’s Herzog doing?
Herzog’s using a personal attack (to question Netanyahu’s ‘guts’) is interesting. The use of an ad hominum argument (dropping the subject of discussion to begin a personal attack on your opponent) often suggests failure—of the attacker. In formal debate, the goal is to present the best factual case—to make the most compelling argument. The personal-attack tactic often comes into play when a debater knows he is losing. A personal attack is designed to panic an opponent into forgetting the debate topic in order to defend himself.
A skilled debater can start a personal attack, then revert to the subject. He will score points for returning to topic. But if his attack is successful, his opponent, now flustered, will lose points because he cannot remain focused.
It’s a ‘dirty trick.’ But it’s legal (I think). If you want a crude example of how this tactic works, try an experiment the next time you’re arguing with someone over politics, sports or religion: in the most heated moment, shout, ‘you’re an idiot!’
Watch how your ‘opponent’ reacts. He will probably not stay on topic.
(Be careful how you use this tactic. You don’t want to lose a friend).
When you read the article above, you notice that Herzog doesn’t argue that peace will be good for Israel. He doesn’t support his case for peace with examples of positive peace dividends (a non-boycott is not a positive peace dividend; it’s a sword held to your neck to sign-or-else which will remain nearby after you sign). Instead, Herzog gets personal: he questions Netanyahu’s ‘guts’.
Calling cowardice ‘guts’ is not a rational proposition. It makes no sense. Does becoming non-sensicle suggest that Herzog’s entire ‘peace’ argument is nonsense?
You tell me.
There is a second concern with this interview. This Times of Israel article is not the result of a Herzog speech. It is not the result of an interview with Israeli journalists. It was the result of a Herzog interview with foreign journalists.
In addition, this article was not written by a staff member of the Times of Israel. It is a story from the Associated Press (AP) that happens to have been printed by the Times of Israel for its audience; news vendors often do this to show what others say about topics of interest.
It’s a fair and accepted practice, especially, we note, when the Times of Israel clearly identified the story as coming from the AP.
The concern is, the world press does not typically support Israel. The AP does not typically print stories that present Israel in a positive light. Many in the world already see Israel as a brutal occupier—illegal, inhumane, criminal. Now, the AP gets to showcase to its world clients (the outlets to which it sells its stories) the voice of a prominent Israeli politician suggesting that this brutal, inhumane nation may indeed be led by someone who doesn’t have the guts to sign for peace.
Herzog’s words hurt Israel. Worse, his words help Israel’s enemies. Through this interview, Herzog gives Israel-haters a new word to use in their attacks: coward.
That’s not working for ‘peace’. That’s empowering Israel’s enemies.
Whose side is Herzog on?
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Israel for an official state visit. Yesterday, he spoke to Israel's parliament—the Knesset. There, he declared that “any comparison between the Jewish state and apartheid South Africa was sickening".
It was not a passing reference. “Think about the twisted logic and outright malice,” he said. “It is nothing short of sickening…this is the face of the new anti-Semitism."
He spoke strongly in favour of Israel. But when he slammed those who called Israel, ‘Apartheid’, two Arab MKs heckled him, then walked out of the Knesset Chamber (“Harper: Support for Israel is morally and strategically right” Times of Israel, January 20, 2014). Reuters news service reported they had ‘stormed out’ (“Canadian PM draws applause and anger at Israeli parliament”, Reuters, January 20, 2014).
The message of these Arab MKs was clear: Israel is an Apartheid state. No self-respecting human would remain in the same room with any head-of-state who said otherwise.
It’s a harsh message. Apartheid is evil. Anyone who practices it should be denounced.
But these two elected Arab Members of the Israeli Knesset create a problem for anyone who calls Israel the ‘Apartheid State’. You see, if Israel is Apartheid, why are these two Arabs serving as elected Members of Knesset—the national parliament?
In an Apartheid state, disenfranchisement is the keystone that supports the entire structure. Apartheid is racial segregation legislated into law. Law creates the Apartheid reality. Disenfranchisement then protects that law because its victims can’t vote to change the law.
Therefore, the disenfranchised victims of Apartheid cannot vote. They cannot serve in a Parliament or Congress or Knesset. They have no voice. They have no power. They have no elected representation.
So if Israel is Apartheid, how can Arabs get elected to the Knesset? Ever think of that?
In Israel, Arabs who have become Israeli citizens have the right to vote. They have a voice. They have representation. They have the right to elect their own, Arab, Members of Knesset.
For that reason alone, Israel is not Apartheid.
It is pure hate that drives Arabs to call Israel, ‘Apartheid’. Indeed, in the Middle East, Israel is the only State that does not practice Apartheid.
Apartheid is the rule in the Arab Middle East, not the exception. Jews know this because they are the main—but not the only—victim of Apartheid policies.
In the Arab Middle East, you will find one or more—or all—of the following Apartheid policies: Jews cannot own land. Jews cannot vote. Jews cannot run for national office. Jews cannot serve in national parliament. Jews cannot be High Court Justices. Jews cannot get graduate degrees in local Universities. Jews cannot become Medical professionals.
In Israel, Israeli Arabs can do all of these things—all of them.
For these reasons, Israel is not Apartheid.
Every Arab in Israel who has travelled to an Arab country knows this. This is why, in poll after poll, Israeli Arabs indicate they prefer to stay in Israel over moving to an Arab country.
Writing for Stonegate Institute, Ramzi Abu Hadid ( “Apartheid State”, March 1, 2012) puts this preference a different way. He states that Arabs from Gaza and Bethlehem “have moved to live in Israel because they feel safer in the ‘Apartheid State’ than they do among their Muslim ‘brothers’”.
Israeli Arabs are not stupid. They know what real Apartheid looks like. They see it in every Arab regime they travel to. They understand that if they want to avoid that Apartheid, they should stay in Israel: Arabs have more rights, freedom and safety in Israel-- and they know it.
Apartheid means not only the use of law to deny rights to a homogeneous group, it means also institutionalized denial and dehumanization of that group. Look at how South African laws isolated and denied blacks and black rights. Look at how South African media dehumanized blacks. Look at how important churches in South Africa demonized blacks.
Compare Arab institutionalized Jew-hate with an almost complete absence of dehumanization (of the Arab) in Israeli media and synagogue. The official Arab position in virtually every Arab regime is to incite against Jews and to dehumanize and demonize both Jews and Israel.
Israel has no such institutionalized Apartheid policy.
Every Western nation has the ability to google-search how Apartheid worked in South Africa—and to compare that with official Arab Jew-hate. Every nation has the ability to study how the regimes of Israel’s so-called ‘peace partners’, Hamas and Fatah, promote Apartheid policies towards both Jews and Arabs.
It is pure hypocrisy for nations to speak out against Apartheid—and then ignore Apartheid Arab policies. It is pure hypocrisy for nations to dismiss real, truly vicious Arab Apartheid policies in order to support ‘Apartheid’ accusations against Israel.
Canada’s Prime Minister Harper is correct: such behaviour is not only sickening. It’s the new anti-Semitism.
What must the G-d of Israel think of those who enable and ennoble Apartheid Arab regimes?
Here are some headlines you may have missed. They--and the commentary below—are for January 15-17, 2014.
-IDF Legend: Ya'alon Is Right, This is Absurd (01/15/14, Arutz Sheva)…
-Abandoning Jordan Valley Means Abandoning Security" (01/15/14, Arutz Sheva)
- Israel Advocacy Group 'Spells it Out' for Kerry (01/16/14, Arutz Sheva)
- ZOA: US Anger At Ya'alon A Double Standard (01/17/14, Arutz Sheva)
-Amidror: US Cannot Force Dangerous Deal On Us (01/15/14, Arutz Sheva)
- Report: Yaalon Outburst Provoked by Kerry-led Pressure Campaign (01/16/14, Arutz Sheva)
-Netanyahu slams EU 'Hypocrisy' on New Building (01/16/14, Arutz Sheva)
- Netanyahu: Israel is standing firm on its security interests (01/15/14, Jerusalem Post)
The news during this three-day cycle in Israel turned out to be upbeat. For the first time in recent memory, the Prime Minister has ‘dropped the gloves’. That’s a good sign.
Right now, Israel needs a fighting Prime Minister.
Last week did not start with an ‘up’. It began instead with a blunder: someone in the Israeli government (guess who) made Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon apologize for negative remarks he had made about US Secretary of State John Kerry. The apology made Israel look weak.
The problem here is, who defends Israel? To paraphrase the Jewish Ethics of the Fathers, if we don’t defend ourselves, who will?
The short answer is, nobody. The Yaalon apology looked bad because it seemed to tell the world that, given the choice, Israel will bow to the powerful instead of standing firm.
Yaalon had ‘called out’ Kerry. Then he backed down.
We should be careful about Kerry. In a sense, he is not at this moment Israel’s real problem. Israel’s real problem is the new one-two punch combo called, the EU and the PA (Palestinian Authority).
Kerry is not our enemy—at least, not yet. Abbas of the PA is our enemy; and Catherine Ashton of the EU is doing a really good imitation of ‘enemy of Israel’.
If Israel is to survive the PA and the EU, it cannot be weak.
Here’s a lesson to remember: if we don’t defend ourselves when attacked, our silence validates the attack. If we validate an attack, we strengthen the enemy.
At the moment, the peace talks strengthen Abbas. Each week, it becomes clearer and clearer: these talks are not about peace. They are about how badly Israel gets demonized, delegitimized and sanctioned after the talks fail.
The talks are designed to fail. Our enemy Abbas predetermined that. He has adamantly repeated that he will negotiate nothing. He keeps saying there will be no peace unless he gets all of his demands.
These talks put Israel into a spotlight—and Abbas grows stronger each time Israel looks weak, cowed or without a defense. He lays an ambush for Israel—and the EU can’t wait to spring it.
Abbas works to guarantee that the talks fail. The EU waits to spring a massive boycott against Israel if the talks fail.
It’s a one-two punch. Israel will be cornered, boycotted and then ‘isolated on steroids’. Kerry has already said as much.
The talks, in other words, look increasingly like a set-up.
Israel’s battle is not to get a workable peace treaty. The battle is to avoid the post-talks ‘hit’. That battle plays out now-here-today.
Israel must fight for itself--now. If Israel waits until after the talks fail, it will be too late.
With this background, we can see that as ugly as Yaalon’s apology seemed, the fight to defend Israel may have finally begun. The apology set off a storm. Israeli editorials and op-ed essays came to Yaalon’s defense. Each editorial and every op-ed essay hammered out the reasons Yaalon was diplomatically correct, if politically incorrect.
There were at least six defences within three days. Every defense repeated the Israeli position: it would not be cornered into a militarily indefensible ‘peace’.
It was the best PR Israel could have given its citizens. You couldn’t avoid seeing Israel standing up for itself. If you missed one essay, there were three others to catch your attention.
Then a report surfaced to suggest exactly why Yaalon had spoken out in the first place (”Report: Yaalon Outburst Provoked by Kerry-led Pressure Campaign”). Kerry, it seems, had crossed a diplomatic line.
Do you remember the 2012 US Presidential elections? Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was attacked in the US for ‘interfering’ with that campaign by appearing to favour Republican Mitt Romney (“Senator slams Netanyahu for interfering in US elections,” Jerusalem Post, September 14, 2014). Anti-Israel forces in the US had a field day bashing both Netanyahu and Israel: how dare you Jews try to manipulate us?
Well, Kerry has done the same thing, except he didn’t do it in public. He did it privately. He did it when no one could see him.
He is reported to have searched out Israel Defense Force (IDF) ‘friends of America’ and lobbied—or pressured--them to support the American plan. The result was a number of articles in Israel’s press showcasing IDF support for Kerry’s peace.
If Netanyahu’s behaviour during the 2012 US elections was considered ‘interference’, Kerry’s secret lobbying was ‘interference on steroids’. It was far worse. It was an attempt to manipulate significant Israeli national decision-making by manipulating Israel’s military to manipulate Israel’s press.
Now, the US is getting hammered in Israel’s press for its over-reaching. Now, Israelis are listening a lot more to what’s at stake than they had before.
This is good for Israel—if it continues.
The reason Israel needs to defend itself now is that Israel has to influence decision-makers who can help off-set Abbas’ machinations and that EU boycott (above). The decision-makers Israel needs to influence are not the leaders we see in the news. They are instead individuals who will—or will not—carry out what their leaders demand.
The advertised leaders for this drama are Catherine Ashton of the EU and Obama/Kerry of the US. They appear to have already decided what will happen to Israel if the talks fail.
The people Israel needs to influence are lower-ranked officials in the US and the EU—the unadvertised specials, if you will. For example, in the EU, there are member countries which, even now, are sceptical about Israel’s responsibility for ‘no-peace’. Some may well be very sceptical indeed about the morality of punishing only Israel for peace talk failure.
These influential officials need to see a vigorous defense by Israel. They need to see Israel fight. They will not help Israel if Israel won’t stand up for itself.
In the US, meanwhile, members of Congress are overwhelmingly pro-Israel. Many do not see Israel as the bad guy in the Arab-Israel conflict. Many are ready to support Israel—if Israel shows that it deserves that support.
That’s the goal Israel needs to pursue with the US Congress and EU member-states: it needs to make sure VIPs understand that Israel deserves their support.
Is Israel finally ready to do that?
Israel’s news vendors have a problem. They exist only to react—and to get a reaction from you.
They are passive. They train you to be passive—to wait for the next news report.
Passivity and reaction: that’s what the news business is all about. Wait for me to tell you what has happened. Isn’t this exciting? Isn’t it worth your time?
Look at headlines. They don’t just inform. They exist to attract your attention. They try to excite. They want a reaction from you.
That’s a problem for Israel because Israel cannot afford to be passive. Israel cannot afford to react to other’s actions. We did that in October 1973—and got a devastating Yom Kippur War.
We can’t afford to do that again.
But the news trains us. It hammers a message at us: Wait. Listen. Read.
It’s all passive. If we were surrounded by friends, such behaviour would be acceptable. But as that 1973 War proved, passivity in war is not good—and that’s a real problem here in Israel: we are at war.
Passivity in war is bad. It leads to being attacked. Is that what we want?
This news-induced habit of ‘react, wait, react’ came to mind today with the morning headlines: pro-Israel supporters react to an anti-Israel remark by US Senator Diane Feinstein; news analysts and politicians continue to react to an anti-Kerry remark made by Israel Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon; the Israel Air Force (IAF) has reacted to mortars fired from Gaza.
We seem obsessed with watching others demonize, delegitimize—and attack--us. We wait for the next attack. How will we react to tomorrow’s news?
Here’s a suggestion: forget Feinstein. Forget Yaalon. Forget Kerry. We are at war. Stop waiting. If you want win, keep a very pro-active eye on your enemy.
To paraphrase an old political saying, keep your news close, but keep your enemy’s news closer.
Our enemy’s news is not about Feinstein, Yaalon or Kerry. Our enemy doesn’t care about these individuals. Our enemy is concerned about himself. If we were smart, we’d watch that concern. Then, we’d learn from that concern. Then, we would know how to act first instead of waiting for them to act.
Our enemy is Hamas-Fatah. As described recently by an Arab essayist writing on the Palestinian Authority (PA) news site, these two organizations represent the two halves of the Arab War against Israel. Hamas is the religious half. Fatah (PLO) is the secular half.
Right now, Hamas and Fatah are not friends. But they recognize that they want the same goal—to destroy Israel. So they talk (yet again) about reconciliation.
While Feinstein-Yaalon-Kerry fascinate us, Hamas news focuses on Egypt and Fatah. Fatah, meanwhile, focuses on Hamas and corruption.
We would be wise to watch these stories.
Hamas is concerned about Egypt because Egypt has just announced that the next target for the Arab Spring will be Hamas—and Egypt will help to replace it. Understandably, Hamas officials aren’t happy about this. Hamas is also concerned that Fatah has no right to talk peace with Israel until a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah has been completed—because, Hamas declares, most Palestinians reject those peace talks.
We should watch these comments closely. They impact on Israel’s negotiation position. How can Israel sign a ‘peace’ with only half of its ‘partners’? How can there be peace if a majority of ‘Palestinians’ truly reject peace with Israel?
Of course, the West will say that our only peace partner is Fatah. Our reaction to that should be, really? Has anyone asked Hamas about that?
Fatah is concerned about Hamas. Hamas says it wants reconciliation—and talks about it on its news site. But at the same moment that Hamas writes about ‘reconciliation’ Fatah worries that Hamas hasn’t responded to Fatah. “We hear contradictory statements by a swarm of Hamas spokespeople,” Fatah officials say, “but we cannot consider that a real response…If Hamas leaders want reconciliation, they should live up to their promises” and tell us. ”Otherwise, that would be considered closing the door for reconciliation.”
How does ‘reconciliation’ affect peace negotiations? Think about it: Israel signs peace with Fatah. Fatah reconciles with Hamas. Hamas rejects peace with Israel. Will this be good for Israel?
Fatah is also concerned about corruption. Corruption is rampant in the Palestinian Authority. They admit having trouble controlling it.
Can Israel sign a peace with corrupt people? Would you buy a used car from a corrupt dealer?
Israel is at war. Talking about what politicians said in speeches or private conversations might be entertaining, but those comments are irrelevant. What our enemies are doing, however—and saying about each other—is very relevant.
Enjoy Israel’s news. But keep your enemy’s news closer.