Obama’s Conversion

By David Isaac

In “Weinberger’s Conversion,” (June 3, 1983), Shmuel Katz wondered at then-US Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger’s intriguing “metamorphosis” from someone who had publicly hectored and engaged in “outrageous behaviour towards Israel” to “a great admirer of Israel who cannot find a hard word to say about us.”

Of course, “Weinberger’s Conversion” wasn’t a conversion at all, but “transparently an expression of the new tactics of the administration as they have matured in the last couple of months.” After the failure of “the great Master Plan,” which was to see Israel bullied into negotiations to hand over Judea and Samaria, “it was no doubt a relief to be able at least to mend a fence with Mr. Begin,” Katz writes.

Has Obama converted to Zionism?

One can’t help draw similarities between “Weinberger’s Conversion” then and Obama’s “conversion” this week in his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Obama described the bond between the two countries as “unbreakable.” Unfortunately, Obama’s “conversion” is about as genuine as was Weinberger’s, in reality, simply old strategy clothed in new tactics.

Remember, it was only in March that the president unceremoniously ushered Netanyahu in through a back door, denied him a photo op, and then left in the middle of the meeting to go have dinner with his family – behavior that everyone agreed was unprecedented. It was also the president who demanded a “total settlement freeze” and sent his Secretary of State to harangue Israel’s prime minister, demanding a stop to all construction in Jewish neighborhoods built in Jerusalem after 1967.

The Obama administration’s change in attitude is partly motivated by election concerns. Not only did polls in Israel show that a very high percentage (75%) of Israeli Jews felt Obama’s behavior toward Israel was unjustified – making the possibility of forcing a change in Israel’s leadership unlikely – but also on the domestic front Jewish support was eroding.

As important as Netanyahu may have felt this meeting was in order to satisfy an electorate back home that feels dependent on U.S. support, Obama needed it far more in order to shore up American Jewish support for the mid-term elections.

Another, more worrisome, reason behind Obama’s new approach is Israeli weakening on key issues. In this sense, the meeting is a reward to Netanyahu for “seeing the light.” Weinberger’s “conversion” was also in part motivated by Israeli softening on key issues. We see the same sort of bending over by Israel today. Obama mentioned Gaza during the meeting, ‘commending’ Netanyahu for allowing more goods into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. We don’t yet know what other concessions Netanyahu might have made behind closed doors.

Remarkably, in an interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric the day after his meeting, Netanyahu vociferously defended Obama. Couric brought up the fact that “71% of the Jews in Israel surveyed said they dislike President Obama.” Netanyahu responded, “Well, maybe they don’t have the opportunity to have the kind of conversations that I had. And maybe they’re not aware also of the ongoing cooperation between Israel and the United States.”

So here we have an Israeli prime minister who has the people of Israel on his side, providing him with the sort of popular backing he needs to resist American pressure, and rather than take advantage of it, he undermines it and bolsters what is clearly the most anti-Israel administration yet.

The fact is, when it comes to brass tacks, or “tachlis” as they say in Israel, nothing fundamental has changed. Obama continues to call for “two states living side by side in peace and security” – a fantastical scenario which ignores the Arabs’ true, and oft-repeated, aim to wipe Israel off the map.

At the same time, we hear Netanyahu going on about how committed he is to peace, promising to push the “peace process” forward within weeks, adding for emphasis, “When I say the next few weeks, that’s what I mean.”

Reading Shmuel Katz’s writings, one is struck by a disturbing similarity between Benjamin Netanyahu and Menachem Begin. Shmuel says that Begin had convinced himself that he was the man who would bring Israel peace. In the end, he lost Israel the Sinai peninsula and paved the way for further withdrawals.

Whatever was going on in Begin’s mind seems to have also infected Netanyahu. He, too, has made peculiar sounds over the years to the effect that he is uniquely positioned to bring peace. His last such remark was two days after his meeting with the president while speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations. Netanyahu said he intended “to confound the skeptics and critics” when it comes to ‘negotiating a peace’.

Where Israel’s leaders are concerned there has been more than enough confounding. Honesty with the Israeli people and the courage to stand up to American pressure would be far more surprising… and appreciated.

The Right Kind of Unpopularity

By David Isaac

Shmuel Katz opens his book, “The Hollow Peace,” with a description of the days following Menachem Begin’s election in 1977. In a meeting with Begin, Shmuel describes being shocked by Begin’s decision to appoint Moshe Dayan as Foreign Minister.

I reacted forcefully. True, I had no official status in the Likud, but I had been active in the election campaign, and to my mind, a vast gulf yawned between the policy the Likud had promised the public and Mr. Dayan’s views … I expressed my misgivings regarding his probable deviations in his capacity as Foreign Minister. Begin soothingly explained … “You’ve nothing to worry about. I need Dayan because he is very popular abroad.” I did not accept this argument. “What we need as Foreign Minister now,” I said, “is not a popular person but somebody who is prepared to be unpopular.”

Popularity seeking Ambassador Michael Oren gives commencement speech at Brandeis University

The willingness to be unpopular was a quality Shmuel had in spades, and one which is sorely lacking among Israel’s politicos. A recent example is Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., who has been speechifying about the wonders of the Obama administration for months. As Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick writes, “Oren has acted as the Obama administration’s most energetic cheerleader to the U.S. Jewish community.”

It appeared finally that Oren had gone too far when he praised the U.S. administration in an interview with the Jerusalem Post last week, prompting the Netanyahu government to order him to cease and desist. At least that was one explanation given for the ambassador’s volte face during a foreign ministry briefing when he allegedly described U.S.-Israel relations as undergoing a “tectonic rift.”

Glick suggested hopefully that it might be the start of a new, saner strategy on the part of Israel’s government. That turns out to have been wishful thinking. Oren now denies ever having made the remark. In a Fox News interview today (July 2), Oren said he had been “grossly misquoted.” Pressed further on the state of the U.S.-Israel relationship he oozed platitudes about the “great and historic alliance” between the two countries, saying that he was confident of Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security.

Oren was then handed another golden opportunity by the interviewer, who asked about the plummeting of American Jewish support for Obama. Again, Oren dropped the ball. Here was a chance for him to say that while it’s not his place to comment on American domestic politics, American Jews are entitled to evaluate Obama’s policies and come to their own conclusions. The poll numbers suggest they are looking at those policies critically.

Instead, Oren shrugged off the question, saying he “couldn’t comment.” Oren hopes – no doubt with Netanyahu’s blessing – to gain Israel some popularity points with the Obama administration that will lead to short-term benefits. But those benefits will come at a cost of Israel’s long-term interests.

What makes the Israeli government’s weak-kneed strategy still more painful is that the political situation has shifted in its favor. As former Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger pointed out, “Tell me who initiates the meeting and who wants a photo opportunity, and I’ll tell you who has the inferior position. The upcoming meeting between Israel’s prime minister and the US president was initiated by Obama, who is concerned about the outcome of the November election and his declining support by Democrats and Independents.” The upshot is that Netanyahu is in a position to resist American pressure, but doesn’t take advantage of it.

The pursuit of “popular” policies has been tried before with devastating results. What were the Oslo Accords but an attempt to be popular? The Labor government came to power in 1992 promising to achieve peace within a year – an irrational promise motivated by a desire to be popular with the Israeli public and the world. In the near term, it made Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres popular enough to win the Nobel Peace Prize. But look where Israel is now in terms of its popularity. So the pursuit of popularity, in the long-term, is not only devastating to a country’s basic interests, but to its popularity as well.

Shmuel was prescient in seeing the looming dangers to which Israel has reacted in such counter-productive fashion. In 1982, he warned of an “even darker cloud that has been gathering for the last seven years and more; the campaign for the delegitimization of Israel as a nation and a state. This obscene project is reflected by the new wave of anti-Semitism unprecedented since the days of the Nazis, whose central target is now the sovereign State of Israel.”

“The purpose will surely be defeated,” Shmuel wrote, “but the battle has yet to be waged with steadfastness, and with skill.”

The Mea Culpa State

By David Isaac

Shmuel Katz (Jabotinsky poster in background)

On Yom Kippur, Jews say an “Al Chet” prayer – a confession of sins – ten times during the course of the services. Israel has managed to turn the annual “Al Chet” into a daily devotional, becoming a serial apologizer.

It wasn’t always thus. Think of Chaim Herzog as he tore up the “Zionism is Racism” resolution at the UN, a thoroughly appropriate response. When exactly the watershed occurred, and Israel reverted to a formerly ghetto mentality, is open to debate. The Sabra and Shatilla massacre is as good a starting point as any. Then, Israel apologized for a slaughter it didn’t commit.

Shmuel Katz, who boldly asserted Israel’s rights to the Land of Israel, would have been angered by the recent spate of apologetics spewing forth from the Netanyahu government, from freezing settlements – really an apology for being in Judea and Samaria at all – to falling over itself to apologize for building in its own capital.

Add to the list Israel’s collapse in the face of international criticism following the flotilla crisis. On July 14, Israel set up a commission of inquiry which, according to Netanyahu, “will make it clear to the entire world that the State of Israel acts according to the law, transparently, and with full responsibility.”

Naturally, this investigation will not satisfy the world which has already made up its mind despite overwhelming evidence that the flotilla was a set-up, with a gang of hoods lying in wait for the woefully unprepared Israeli seal team. Two foreign observers will participate in the investigation, a new intrusion on Israel’s freedom to run its own affairs. This sop to the world has been predictably dismissed as not enough by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who says Israel’s investigation lacks international “credibility”.

Again in an effort to subdue international pressure, the government on Sunday announced it would lift much of its land blockade on goods crossing the Gaza border. Even material that can (and will) be put to a military purpose will be allowed. Of course, the pressure continues unabated with the White House saying it wants “to explore additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza.”

Shmuel, who was a disciple of the great Zionist leader Vladimir “Ze’ev” Jabotinsky, would have likely trotted out an excellent piece by his mentor written in 1911 titled “Instead of Excessive Apology.”

“We (the Jews) constantly and very loudly apologize…. Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault… Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: ‘Go to Hell’?”

“Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over the entire people where the sentence is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. …”

“We do not have to account to anybody, we are not to sit for anybody’s examination and nobody is old enough to call on us to answer. We came before them and will leave after them. We are what we are, we are good for ourselves, we will not change and we do not want to.”

Words to live by.

Energy Game-Changer

By David Isaac

“The sense of ‘dependence’ on the United States has time and again sapped the will of Israeli leaders and dictated to them a retreat from positions long and sincerely held, an abandonment of tested national, and rational, axioms basic to Israel’s security,” wrote Shmuel Katz in “Purse String Tangles” (November 12, 1982).

Shmuel often wrote about the pernicious effects of Israel’s sense of dependence on the United States. He would have been delighted to hear about the recent natural gas discoveries off Israel’s coast, which are poised to make Israel energy independent.

Last month, an enormous natural gas field aptly named ‘Leviathan’ was discovered off the coast of Israel by an energy consortium led by an Israeli billionaire. The field contains an estimated 15 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The find follows closely the discovery of another field named ‘Tamar,’ one estimated at 8.4 trillion cubic feet. Uzi Landau, Minister of National Infrastructure said that field alone could “supply all our needs for the next 50 to 70 years.”

But it’s the Leviathan field, 6.5 times the size of Tel Aviv and double the size of the Tamar prospect, that has everyone talking and will position Israel as a gas exporter.

The sea gave Israel a great deal of trouble recently in the form of the Turkish-sponsored flotilla. Happily, the sea is making up for it. Until now, Israel was facing a looming energy crisis as its fast-growing population was putting pressure on its supply. Israel’s options were limited, with perhaps the best being a joint project to construct a subsea pipeline with Turkey. Chances for that sunk after the flotilla incident.

As Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, explains in a recent column, “This discovery may provide Israel with security in terms of its supply of electricity, turn it into an important natural gas exporter and provide a shot in the arm of some $300 billion over the life of the field – one-and-a-half times the national GDP – to the Israeli economy, already one of the most resilient in the world.”

Luft suggests that Israel could create an energy corridor linking Israel to the Indian sub-continent. “Ironically, the biggest casualty of such an energy corridor will be none other than Turkey, which now enjoys an unchallenged status as an energy bridge between East and West. Energy transit fees are an important source of income to the Turkish economy,” Luft writes.

This would have been music to Shmuel’s ears.

Fighting U.S. Pressure

By David Isaac

In his Jerusalem Post column “Surrendering to Pressure” (April 11, 1986), Shmuel Katz wrote: “Surrender on vital issues to pressure – or the fear of pressure – has been a central feature in the behaviour of Israeli governments, from Labour to Likud. The examples could fill a bulky doctorate thesis; and each surrender has been followed by the unabashed pretence that nothing important had been sacrificed.”

Shmuel Katz frequently observed that Israel’s leaders often showed themselves to be unworthy of the people they led, who were far more resilient in character. Unfortunately, two events last month – one large, one small – demonstrate that Israel’s leadership still hasn’t found its backbone.

In both cases, Israel’s government did the right thing at the start, only to buckle as pressure was brought to bear. The first example is Noam Chomsky. Israel quite rightly prevented this moral invertebrate from entering via Jordan.

As Edward Alexander and Paul Bogdanor document in their book, The Jewish Divide Over Israel, “The central theme of Chomsky’s anti-Zionist propaganda – the idee fixe that underlies all his books, articles, speeches, and interviews on the subject – is that the Jewish State must cease to exist.” Yet, Israel back-tracked the very next day, calling the decision to stop Chomsky an error.

The second example regards the far more serious flotilla. When Israel’s raid to stop a fleet of ships from running its Gaza blockade went awry, Israeli spokesmen defended Israel’s actions as necessary, well within its rights and in keeping with international law. Prime Minister Netanyahu, during his press conference, came up with the memorable sound-bite, “This was no love boat.”

It appeared that Israel, despite the mounting pressure – or more accurately, the unhinged and madly disproportionate reaction of the world – would hold firm. It took less than a week for the international pummeling to soften Israel up, as the Wall Street Journal revealed in its front page headline “Israel Explores Easing Its Blockade of Gaza” on June 4th, a mere four days after the event.

The Wall Street Journal article explained that under mounting pressure, and with news that a dual Turkish-American citizen was killed, Israeli officials were reviewing their Gaza policy and would look for ways to make it easier for humanitarian goods to enter Gaza.* Israel is also considering allowing foreign observers to sit in on its investigation panel. From the article, one is left with the impression that a big factor in Israel’s change was U.S. pressure.

“Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental governmental responsibility and one that we take very seriously,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted as saying. Never mind that the American citizen in question left the U.S. for Turkey when he was two-years-old and was probably as culturally American as a piece of baklava.

What would Shmuel say? One of the refreshing things about Shmuel’s writings is that he did more than just analyze a situation – he nearly always recommended a course of action. Given the dangerous penchant of this administration to pressure Israel, he likely would have offered the same prescription he did in “Surrendering to Pressure,” in which he called for the American Jewish community to put pressure on the U.S. government to ease up on the Jewish State.

Weakness of character in the Israeli government increases the responsibility of the American Jewish community to be supportive of Israel. Administration pressures can be countered. There is a tremendous body of support for Israel in the American political world. It stems from the perception that the U.S. and Israel share not only common values, but also common interests. …

Surely the role of the U.S. Jewish leaders is clearly indicated. … They must take direct issue with the administration on the subject of the bullying of Israel. They must assert their refusal to have their intelligence insulted, and to have their hands tied…

This demands a change in their policy – of pretending once Israel has given in, that “if Israel agrees, who are we to interfere?” If they recognize an obligation to stand up for the security of Israel, they should protest not only against the arms deal but also against Washington’s policy of “twisting Israel’s arm” to acquiesce in measures inimical to its security.

Such a bold move will also add heart to Israel’s political friends; and give direction to an all-too-often bewildered Jewish community.

That “administration pressures can be countered” has already been proven true with this administration. Jewish congressmen, feeling the heat from their constituents, recently sent a letter to the administration to ease up on its criticism of Israel, which led to a meeting with the president.

This pressure needs to be applied doubly by American Jewish organizations, whose responsibility is the Jewish community as a whole. This administration must be made to understand that its misguided Mideast policy is not only inimical to U.S. interests, but risks losing large Jewish financial and electoral support.

* Not only do these goods maintain Hamas in power, but Hamas is already getting all the aid it wants. The Gaza Strip is flooded with merchandise. As Jonathan D. Halevi reports, “Given the abundance of supply, the price of diesel fuel and gasoline, delivered to Gaza through pipes from Egypt, is half that of the price in Israel.”

How To Win The Information War

By David Isaac and Shmuel Katz z”l

Monday’s botched operation against the six-ship “aid” flotilla sent under Turkish auspices has become a public relations nightmare for Israel with the usual suspects coming together to condemn her for what one Associated Press headline terms a “bloody Israeli raid.”

The soldiers weren’t prepared for the violent greeting they received as they boarded one of the ships. Armed with paintball guns, they rappelled from the helicopter above to be greeted by “peace activists” on the deck, who beat them with metal bars, threw their commander to the deck below and fired on them. The Israeli commandos, slow on the uptake that these “peace activists” were nothing of the kind, yelled at one another not to shoot their sidearms – the only real weapons they had.

The Israeli commander, who was thrown down to the lower deck said from his hospital bed, “We thought we’d encounter passive resistance, perhaps verbal resistance – we didn’t expect this. Everyone wanted to kill us. We encountered terrorists who wanted to kill us and we did everything we could to prevent unnecessary injury.”

Israeli commandos sitting dazed on a deck spitting blood, not knowing what hit them, is a terrible image, but one that captures all too acutely the cluelessness of Israel’s leadership, and what Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick calls “a cognitive failure of our leaders to understand the nature of the war being waged against us.”

That war, as Shmuel Katz repeatedly pointed out, is an “incessant propaganda campaign being waged throughout the world against Israel… This propaganda is a powerful auxiliary to the aim of the physical elimination of Israel. It provides the infrastructure of justification in the mind of a brain-washed public for the launching of a future war to achieve that unchanging annihilatory purpose.”

The flotilla episode is further evidence, if such was needed, that Israel’s enemies have had the informational field of battle to themselves. Former Azure editor, David Hazony notes that the office of PA spokesman Saab Erekat had sent out a press release prepared well in advance, that activists on the boat were live streaming the event and even Tweeting on Twitter. The Israeli government was, Hazony observes, “wildly outmaneuvered by the Palestinian media commandos.”

How can we win the information war? Shmuel would urge nothing less than the creation of a Ministry of Information, one formidable enough – second only to the Department of Defense in size – to provide Israel the wherewithal to “cope with the gigantic challenge posed by the Arab and pro-Arab anti-Israel and anti-Semitic worldwide propaganda onslaught.”

Menachem Begin promised Shmuel that he would lead such a ministry. Though Begin reneged on that promise, Shmuel never stopped beating the drums for its necessity. “I had prepared a detailed plan for the structures and operation of such a ministry,” Shmuel wrote. “One of them predicated a high measure of cooperation, at predicated levels, with the Jewish organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere. Another element of the plan was its low cost despite its projected wide field of activity.”

Bloggers and columnists, like Caroline Glick, David Hazony and others, have focused on Israel’s informational failures in this latest debacle. Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Information and Diaspora Affairs – a ministry without a meaningful budget and hardly the kind Shmuel envisioned – has called for an improvement of “hasbara” communications between Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

That the problem is being discussed is promising. Unfortunately, such calls for action have been going on for a long time. Yet, there has been no change in the situation. What Shmuel wrote in his article, “Countering Propaganda” (Sept. 26, 1984) proves that this is a decades-long failure.

SOON THEREAFTER came the war in Lebanon – accompanied by the horrendous campaign of lies and incitement waged against Israel by large sections of the Western media – most effectively on television. That campaign engendered a voluminous literature of refutation and protest against the media in the U.S.

The articles and pamphlets – and a video film demonstrating visually the distortion and mendacities in the coverage of the war by one of the television networks – undoubtedly did much to reassure those friends of Israel who had been shaken and confused during the war.

Most of this counteraction, however, was the fruit of independent initiative by concerned Americans, writers like Norman Podhoretz, Martin Peretz or Joshua Muravchik or (as in the case of the film) of a pro-Israel organization – Americans for a Safe Israel; and almost all of it naturally came only after the war was over.

Never were the inadequacies of Israel’s organs of response more rudely exposed then during the war in Lebanon. Never were the friends of Israel, confronted daily by the vicious fabrications of journalists “on the spot,” rendered so helpless by the absence of ammunition for instant rebuttal.

Last year, at the annual “Dialogue” in Jerusalem, organized by the American Jewish Congress, a heartrending vision of that helplessness emerged from the description given by A.J.C. president, Howard Squadron, who was willy-nilly compelled to point to the glaring shortcomings of Israel’s information services. His colleague, Carl Spielvogel (a leading public relations expert in the U.S.) propounded the inescapable conclusion:

“I would urge the creation of a cabinet post dedicated exclusively to the communication and interpretation of Israeli policy. The appropriate minister would have to be supported by a staff of Israeli professionals, trained in the contemporary skills of communication. It is no longer enough to be right. You must explain why you are right.

“Almost everyone accepts the need for war colleges. Would it not make sense to have a similar college in Israel dedicated to training public affairs specialists who would develop what-if strategies and scenarios for a wide range of contingencies?”

Mr. Spielvogel thus touched on the crux of the problem – the evident failure of successive Israeli governments to grasp the simple theme: that Israel is confronted in the West not just by hostile criticism but by a many-faceted propaganda-war machine with long-range objectives, operating at every level of society.

Shmuel’s words, with little change, could have been written today. The failure is one of leadership and with each passing year it becomes harder to undo the damage wrought by the Arabs’ successful propaganda war. But Shmuel, who was an optimist, would say that even at this late date the tide can be turned. We have allies, Jewish organizations, an army of volunteers who would rush to Israel’s defense if they had the guidance, and most importantly, we have the truth.

A Road Map By Any Other Name

By David Isaac and Shmuel Katz z”l

As discussed in our last blog entry, Israel must escape the clutches of the Quartet, which will attempt to squeeze Israel in an International Mideast Conference proposed for the fall. The Obama administration has put forth this conference as a means to push through a Mideast deal should direct talks between the Arabs and Israelis fail. The not-so-hidden message: Make a deal, or we’ll make one for you.

The nature of that deal is clear. Israel will be bullied into accepting the “two-state solution” – meaning a retreat to the ’49 Armistice lines (with some slight modifications), the expulsion of all Jews from Judea and Samaria and the division of Israel’s ancient capital.

Essentially the deal will be the final outcome described by the “road map,” the plan concocted by the Quartet – the U.S., UN, European Union and Russia – which calls for “a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Only it’s a road map with a difference – this time the Quartet will skip the first two “phases” which demanded something of the Arabs and jump to the third, and final, phase, which gives the Arabs a state.

Obama and the Quartet, in a remake of Bush and the Quartet at Annapolis only with a different president in the starring role, are jettisoning the conditions the Palestinian Arabs were required to meet under the original plan, with only Israel required to fulfill the demands placed upon it.

The original road map was presented to the two sides on May 1, 2003 with a “final and comprehensive settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict by 2005.” No less.

Given its stupendous failure, the road map should be a dead letter. But like the Oslo process, which in spite of its nightmarish results continues on under other names – “Hebron Protocol,” “Wye River Memorandum,” “Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David,” “disengagement” – the road map trundles on as well, if under a different name.

A dead letter in name, but not yet in deed – the road map is worth a brief look. It was divided into three phases.

Phase I

In the plan’s words, “the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence.”

Has this condition been met?

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site details the 1,000s of Israelis who have been killed and wounded by Arab terrorist attack since 2003. Those who would make excuses for the Arabs claim that they can’t be expected to succeed at stopping all terror attacks. It’s a false argument. Not only does the so-called moderate Palestinian Authority (never mind Hamas), continue to incite its population and brainwash its children, but its own Fatah forces proudly takes credit for terror attacks. To add insult to injury, they credit American training with their success.

According to the New York Sun (August 21, 2007):

“I do not think that the operations of the Palestinian resistance would have been so successful and would have killed more than one thousand Israelis since 2000 and defeated the Israelis in Gaza without these [American] trainings,” a senior officer of President Abbas’s Force 17 Presidential Guard unit, Abu Yousuf, said.”

Phase I also stated that: “Palestinians undertake comprehensive political reform in preparation for statehood, including drafting a Palestinian constitution, and free, fair and open elections upon the basis of those measures.” They did have free, fair and open elections in Gaza. The result? Hamas.

Phase II

The second phase focuses on “creating an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty.” The plan, however, goes on to note that, “this goal can be achieved when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror, willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty.” Phase II is therefore moot. The Palestinian leadership has not fulfilled their end of the bargain as described above and specified in Phase I. In any other contract, this would put an end to it.

Phase III

This calls for a “second international conference” which will “endorse agreement reached on an independent Palestinian state with provisional borders and formally to launch a process with the active, sustained, and operational support of the Quartet, leading to a final, permanent status resolution in 2005, including on borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements…”

Thus, by floating the idea of an International Mideast Conference, the Obama administration shows a complete disregard for Palestinian Arab failures and goes directly to the final phase; implementing the road map while conveniently ignoring the requirements the plan itself set forth as necessary for continuing it.

What would Shmuel say to all this?

The Arab side’s failure to live up to its end of the bargain gives Israel abundant reason to exit a negotiating framework that it should not have entered in the first place, as the road map ignores Jewish rights – i.e., calling for a ‘settlement freeze’ in Phase I – accepts the Palestinian Arab narrative and is based on the false premise that the Arabs want peace. The road map’s phased plan only helps accomplish the PLO’s “phased plan” for Israel’s destruction.

We quote his article, “Flawed to the Core” (May 5, 2003) in full:

It is wrong, it is demeaning, it is pure folly for the Israeli government to discuss the so-called road map with its perpetrators. Its fancy name does not lend charm to the obnoxious fact that it is a diktat – such as is handed by a triumphant victor to his enemy defeated in war.

Israel has not been defeated in war and yet the road map contains the terms for its surrender. Condoleezza Rice, the US National Security chief, described it as ‘not subject to negotiation.’

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the most active public promoter of this essentially anti-Israel document, said loftily that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ‘evidently does not understand that there is no room for discussion.’

Already, while the war in Iraq was in progress, Blair was proclaiming passionately that implementing the road map was just as important as winning the war in Iraq. No less.

For Mr. Blair this may well be true. His support for the US going to war, and Britain’s participation on the battlefield were opposed from the outset by an evidently large majority of his fellow countrymen. He consequently may have been risking a vote of no confidence in parliament.

A move on his part, therefore, which would hamper, hurt or cripple Israel would counteract that charge, and, in the climate of anti-Semitism prevailing in Britain today, surely win much commendation.

Moreover, nobody can deny the permanence of at least a soupcon of vengefulness toward Israel in the British establishment – ever since our tiny state was born, in defiance of the repressive Attlee-Bevin government in 1948.

No wonder the Palestinian Authority, undoubtedly briefed by the Saudis – who contributed to the contents of the ‘map’ – jumped for joy at its coming, and at the prospect of a silenced Israel being ordered to submit unconditionally to a program which contains what are essentially the Arab demands.

The euphoria was enhanced by the Palestinians’ realization that all their crimes, the murder of hundreds of Jews, and the thousands maimed for life, was to be repaid by landing them a great historic victory over Israel.

The PA, in celebrating, at once issued a threat of violence to Israel if it did not accept the complete road map. Rice’s remarks in particular (speaking on behalf of the Quartet) bore an eerie sense of deja vu: It emerges that Israel has been given precisely the same treatment as Czechoslovakia at Munich on September 29, 1938.

While the deliberations were going on among the four statesmen who made the Munich Pact, which was to decide Czechoslovakia’s future, the Czech diplomats, headed by Hubert Masarik, waited in an anteroom.

Finally, they were called in and told that the four statesmen had decided on Czechoslovakia’s future. They were also told (as later reported by Masarik) that no response or declaration was required from them; and, in fact, that the four statesmen ‘regarded the agreement as accepted.’

As for the contents of the road map, far from heralding a new vision it will be found that its core is exactly the same as that of its predecessors – among them the Rogers Plan, the Kissinger strategies, the Carter campaign, the Reagan notes, James Baker’s Madrid agenda, the Clinton timetable, and the Mitchell Plan.

Indeed, from a waggish source has come the Yiddish comment on the road map: the same yenta, only with a different veil.

ALL THESE plans are flawed to the core. They are founded in a gigantic hoax, perhaps the hoax of the 20th century.

The Arabs do not want or intend to make peace with Israel. They could have had peace and a state – instantly – in 1947. That is what the UN offered them. They refused it.

At any time between 1947 and 1967, when the areas in question – Judea, Samaria and Gaza – were actually in Arab hands, cooperation among the Arab states could have brought about a state, and peace, had they wanted it.

In 1967, after Israel’s stunning victory, Israel made the no less stunning offer to hand back the captured territories in return for peace. This too was refused.

After the Arabs had waged two major wars against Israel and blazoned to the world the message that their war aim was the ‘annihilation’ of the Jewish state – what possible reason was left for the nations of the world to assume that, of all things, the Arabs were longing for peace with living Israel?

Since then, and never more fiercely than today, what is the Arab-Muslim message, coming out of every Arab radio station, every Arab television channel, booming out of every Muslim mosque, and, most significantly, every Arab school textbook?

The claim of the Arabs that the whole Land, ‘from the river to the sea’ belongs to them, and that Israel took it from them and introduced its settlers has led to the demonization of the settlers.

The Jews who have settled in Judea, Samaria and in the Gaza district are utterly and immaculately legal. They are legal in the strictest interpretation of international law, and they are legitimate by the strictest test of historical right – not to mention their civic residential rights.

Any attempt from outside to move them would be a threefold crime, first of all against the Jewish people. The end of the road map chapter should thus be: President George W. Bush breaks off the unholy liaison with his ugly bedfellows, persuades Blair to cool down the passion of British anti- Semitism, and orders Colin Powell to think afresh.

The road map itself can be left by the roadside.

Shmuel to Bibi: Fight back!

By David Isaac and Shmuel Katz z”l

What would Shmuel say to the Obama administration’s plan to convene an international conference on achieving Mideast peace should direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs fail to reach a breakthrough by the fall?

In “The Looming Danger of Annapolis,” (November 22, 2007) written a year-and-a-half before his death, Katz wrote, “The Jewish state is in greater danger than anytime since the 1948 War of Independence.” The danger wasn’t Arab violence, but the Annapolis conference, “conceived and promoted with almost frenetic enthusiasm by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.”

Katz described the lopsidedness of the approaching conference, where on one side stood delegates from the Arab states, the Palestinian Authority, and the Mideast Quartet – the U.S., UN, European Union and Russia – all “committed to the diminution of Israel and some, frankly, to her consequent extinction” – and on the other side, an Israeli delegation led by the irresponsible and incompetent Ehud Olmert.

Fortunately, the Annapolis conference did not live up to its hype and ended more as news brief than banner headline. But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and the Obama administration has revived the idea of an international summit, and it is likely to do a better job applying pressure against Israel than did the Bush administration, if for no other reason than that this president believes more in the cause.

According to Haaretz, “The officials said the conference would be run by the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers – the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia – in a bid to forge a united global front for creating a Palestinian state.”

And so the trap is set.

If Netanyahu permits it, Israel will find itself engaged in direct talks with the PA’s Mahmoud Abbas for a “two-state solution.” These talks will fail. Israel will not agree to forfeit all of Judea, Samaria, Gaza and East Jerusalem while allowing an influx of millions of Arab “refugees”. Abbas will agree to nothing less. What incentive has he to do so? Were he agree to less, he would be subject to violent attacks from Hamas. By simply waiting, he’ll gain what he wants anyway, with the “world” handing it to him a few months later – and offering him additional cover against attacks from his rivals (If the proposals fall short, he can easily distance himelf from them by saying they’re the summit’s proposals and not his own).

As for Israel? Should it go along with these negotiations and wind up at that international conference, it will find the entire world arrayed against it – and unlike Iran which has China and Russia to run interference – there will be no one to take her side. Internationally isolated, divided from within, Israel will sit in a trap from which it will not easily break out.

What would Shmuel say? “Bring the phony negotiations to an end. Prevent the conference from happening.” Though the situation appears bleak, there is hope. First, Israel must change its behavior. It has been given many opportunities to exit the talks, none of which it seized upon. Only last week, Israel complained of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad lobbying the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) against admitting Israel into the organization, accusing it of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead. This is incitement, an activity the PA was explicitly censored from doing by President Obama. Here, Israel could have said the PA is clearly not serious. It can’t fulfill even the miminal demands placed upon it and so we are putting a stop to talks. Israel would explain why the entire peace process is, and always has been, a fraud. Netanyahu has the eloquence, even the underlying conviction. Let him use it on Israel’s behalf.

But turning the tide of world opinion is not a job for one man. Shmuel was a tremendous advocate for a program of information to present Israel’s case to the world. (In our video section you can see an interview of Shmuel discussing his idea for a Ministry of Information.) Imagine how much better off Israel would be were it not sunk continuously in a defensive posture, but, instead, capable of boldly answering the continual lies of its enemies.

As Shmuel wrote in “Countering Propaganda” (Sept. 26, 1984):

Israel is confronted in the West not just by hostile criticism but by a many-faceted propaganda-war machine with long-range objectives, operating at every level of society.

Israeli governments have evidently not come to grips also with the nature of the war. It is not designed to achieve a change in this or the other policy of the Israeli government. Its aim is to put an end to the Zionist entity, to delegitimize Israel – by the assertion, endlessly repeated, that the Jewish people has no right to Palestine, and the Jewish State has no right to exist at all, that the land is Arab territory usurped by the Zionists with the aid of the imperialists.

This propaganda is a powerful auxiliary to the aim of the physical elimination of Israel. It provides the infrastructure of justification in the mind of a brain-washed public for the launching of a future war to achieve that unchanging annihilatory purpose.

The answer is for Israel to have a propaganda machine of her own. In “A Crying Need” (Aug. 6, 1982), he wrote:

HAD ISRAEL such a ministry, the first drastic change would be the presence at the cabinet table of the minister absolutely dedicated to the task of information. His battles would never end as long as newspapers and T.V. and radio stations chatter on around the world. The minister, absorbed in the conduct of that war in all his waking hours, must examine every subject put on the cabinet table with an eye to the hasbara challenges and tasks that may be involved. He will see to it his ministry should take action accordingly.

Friends of Israel have noticed the glaring failure of Israel’s public relations. Columnist Ralph Peters (New York Post, May 17) remarks, “Israel needs to rediscover public relations. With the global media rabidly pro-Palestinian, Israel had better get back in the information fight.”

Even were such a ministry started today, it would be many months before it became effective. Netanyahu can start the process now by speaking the truth about the fraudulent peace process and the true aims of the Arabs. Such a step would go a long way to energizing Israel’s allies, from the powerful evangelical base frustrated at Israel’s passive response to constant attack to Jewish Democrats grown uncomfortable with Obama’s high-handed tactics against Israel.

Obama’s position is not as strong as it would seem. Already there are cracks in the wall. Last month, Jewish senators led by Chuck Schumer sent a letter to the president, criticizing his treatment of Israel. Jewish Democratic donors have also expressed their dissatisfaction. And there are reports of rifts developing in the administration, as well. “There is the first sign of a schism in administration policy over the Middle East,” Steven Rosen, a director at the Middle East Forum, said in a recent news report.

Israel must exploit the situation without delay. As Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick recently wrote:

“By using support for Israel as a wedge issue in the upcoming elections, Republicans will do more than simply constrain Obama’s ability to harm the Jewish state. They will be setting a course for a Democratic return to strategic sanity in the years to come. And nothing will guarantee the return of bipartisan support for Israel more effectively and securely than that.”

Preventing the international summit – that must be the paramount goal of Netanyahu, however uncomfortable it makes Israel-U.S. relations in the short term. Social security is considered the third rail of domestic politics. With any luck, the political fallout will be such that solving the Arab-Israel conflict will become the third rail of foreign politics, a subject so politically volatile that Obama will not want to touch it again.

A Sense of Dependence

By David Isaac and Shmuel Katz z”l

In his article “Surrender to Washington” (May 20, 1983), Shmuel Katz wrote:

There are serious psychological reasons for Israel’s repeated defeats in the diplomatic field, more specifically in relations with the U.S. They deserve special examination. What is more apparent is the “economic” reason; the perceived “dependence” of Israel on the U.S.

It is not true that Israel is “dependent” on the U.S. There exists, in fact, a state of mutuality – but Israel’s benefits are immediate and visible, while its contributions are long-term and less tangible.

There exists, however, among many Americans, a conviction of Israeli dependence. What is worse, many Israelis have a sense of dependence; worst of all, it is a sense that exists also among Israeli leaders.

This sense of dependence was on display on the Sunday, April 4th edition of CNN’s weekly “State of the Union,” when host Candy Crowley asked Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren to describe, in one word, the current state of Israel-U.S. relations.

“Great!” Michael Oren said.

Of all the words in the English lexicon that Oren might have chosen, “Great!” would not be the first to spring to mind to any sane observer of Mideast affairs.

Barely a week before, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was left to stew, unfed, in the White House after President Obama walked out in the middle of their meeting to enjoy dinner with his family – behavior on the part of the president that everyone agrees was unprecedented.

Obama wanted Netanyahu to affix his signature to a written concession on settlements. “I’m still around. Let me know if there is anything new,” Mr Obama was quoted as saying as he walked out.

The president’s remarks were reminiscent of those made by Secretary of State James Baker in 1990. Baker expressed his displeasure at Shamir’s government by saying in House testimony: “Everybody over there should know that the telephone number [of the White House] is 1-202-456-1414. When you’re serious about peace, call us.”

Shmuel Katz would have been quick to point out the parallel. A theme he often repeated was that, regardless of the administration, U.S. policy toward Israel hewed to the same line. In “It’s Time to Start Fighting Back” (April 3, 1992), Katz wrote:

In fairness to Mr. Bush, it must be said that every American administration since 1967 has in effect brushed off Arab aggressions and genocidal threats and articulated the unchanging purpose of an Israeli surrender – given a few meters one way or another – of Judea, Samaria, the Golan, Gaza and (usually) Jerusalem. The essence of all the “plans” of successive presidents – such as the “Rogers plan” of 1969 and the “Reagan plan” of 1981 – was precisely that surrender.

And in “Lessons of History,” (June 21, 1985), Katz’s remarks sound as if they could have been written today.

These undignified maneuvers by Washington tend unfortunately to divert the attention of many people, including Israelis, from the crucial fact: that the conflict derives from Arab determination to deprive the Jewish people of its only homeland; that every suggestion requiring Israeli surrender of territory is designed to reduce it as a first step, to the indefensible borders of 1949 (once described by Abba Eban as a “death trap”).

Instead of pointing out this simple truth, Israel’s leaders insist America is a close friend and proclaim that all is “Great!” The truth is Mr. Oren knows it’s not. Three weeks before his remarks to Candy Crowley, he said as much in a conference call to Israeli consuls general. The ambassador “sounded extremely tense and pessimistic. Oren was quoted as saying that ‘the crisis was very serious and we are facing a very difficult period,’” said consuls who discussed the call with Haaretz.

Oren’s volte-face no doubt was at the direction of Mr. Netanyahu, who wishes to play down the crisis, which really stems from the Obama administration’s desire to make political hay out of Israel’s ill-timed announcement of new construction in Jerusalem. This modus operandi was bluntly enunciated by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel as “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

Unfortunately, the manufactured crisis does represent a deeper one. It reflects the behavior and attitudes of what columnist Ralph Peters rightly describes as America’s “first anti-Israeli president.” It’s clear that Obama, who stated before the UN General Assembly, that “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” accepts holus-bolus the monstrous fiction of the Palestinian Arab narrative.

The failure of Israel to call the president out on his outrageous remarks, and the ease with which it is manipulated into humiliating situations, after which it pretends, like a battered housewife, that the relationship is a healthy one, puts its sense of dependence out for all to see.

This reaction, naturally, only encourages more of the same. The more dependent Israel acts, the freer the Administration feels to treat it like a wet rag. America can safely expect no negative repercussions as Israel has shown time and again that it won’t risk anything that will rock the boat.

What would Shmuel say? Three things – he would call for: 1) Israel to state boldly that there is no answer to the Arab-Israel conflict so long as the Arabs are intent on Israel’s destruction 2) the establishment of a Ministry of Information capable of carrying out a global mission of countering the massive amounts of anti-Israel propaganda, and 3) a national belt-tightening campaign.

In his 1983 article, “Surrender to Washington,” Katz concluded:

The moral health of the people of Israel requires in any case that they live within their means and that they reduce and finally cease their requests for American handouts.

A drastic change in Israeli economic policy is urgent – along the lines tried by Yigal Hurvitz [Minister of Finance] three years ago – both for that moral health and as a vital corrective to the way Israel has been handling its relations with the U.S.

Confronting American Pressure

By David Isaac and Shmuel Katz z”l

In a 1983 article, “Washington’s ‘Arab mistake,’” Shmuel Katz writes, “The ignorance displayed by today’s world statesmen about elementary, often crucial, facts – particularly in foreign affairs – has lost the power to astonish. The Middle East, about which they all pontificate so readily, is a specially fertile field for their fatuities. Most important here inevitably are the pronouncements of American spokesmen, directly involved as they are in its problems.”

Katz was referring to statements by Former Secretaries of State Alexander Haig and George Shultz and Former President Jimmy Carter. But he would have said the same thing of Vice President Joe Biden, who stated at a press conference with the PA President, that:

“Our administration is fully committed to the Palestinian people and to achieving a Palestinian state that is independent, viable, and contiguous. … Everyone should know by now, that there is no viable alternative to a two-state solution, which must be an integral part of any comprehensive peace plan.”

This outrageous plan, which, if put into effect, would mean stripping Israel of its historic heartland in Judea and Samaria, robbing it of its strategic depth and returning it to the 1949 Armistice lines – what even the noted pacifist Abba Eban described as “Auschwitz borders.” On top of which, no one seems bothered by the fact that a “contiguous” Palestinian State means cutting the Jewish State in two.

To add insult to injury, Biden condemned an announcement by Israel’s interior ministry that same day to build 1,600 new homes in “East Jerusalem.” “The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now,” Biden said. To show his disapproval, he arrived 90 minutes late to a dinner, snubbing Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Shmuel would say, as he had many times before, that this should finally put to rest the dangerous notion that America is, or ever was, an “honest broker.” What emerges from an examination of American-Israel relations is that regardless of whether the U.S. administration is friendly toward Israel (George W. Bush), or hostile (Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama),  each one accepts the same false premise that a two-state solution – which returns Israel to the dangerously vulnerable borders of 1949 – is the answer.

What Shmuel wrote in a 1983 article “Lessons for Reagan” is equally applicable now:

“American policy hitherto has taken no account of the fact that for 19 years (1948 to 1967) Judea and Samaria were in the hands of the Arabs, illegally annexed and ruled by Jordan.

“Yet nobody (not even the PLO) then even hinted that here was the home of a “Palestinian people,” thirsting for self-determination. Nor do the American policy-makers remember that precisely the control of the territory by Jordan made attractive the idea of war on tiny Israel.

“The absence of Jews from Judea and Samaria after 1948 did not bring peace. It brought war – in 1967.

“For an American president to persist in the demand that Jews refrain from making their homes in Judea and Samaria because it is not helpful to the peace process is not only to perpetuate one of the great hoaxes of the century, and an attack on the national rights of the Jewish people in its homeland; it is an insult to the intelligence.”

As destructive as American pressure is, worse is Israel’s repeated collapse in the face of such pressure, which merely invites more. Take the reaction of Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai to Biden’s criticism of the planned construction:

“We had no intention, no desire, to offend or taunt an important man like the vice president during his visit,” Yishai told Israel Radio. “I am very sorry for the embarrassment. We need to remember that approvals are done according to law even if the timing was wrong. … Next time we need to take timing into account.”

And Netanyahu, after being kept waiting 90 minutes by a sulking Vice President, reportedly apologized for the timing of the announcement, too, which he said also took him off guard, and assured Biden that he had no intention of sabotaging his visit, nor did he have any plans to begin construction soon.

That this is how sovereign leaders of a supposedly nationalist government should react after being told that they can’t build homes in their own capital beggars belief. Whatever the reason, whether Israel’s leaders don’t feel they can stand up to America, or fear losing economic assistance – that the “tap might be turned off” – the truth is that their weak-kneed response betrays the real, broad American support they have.

As poll after poll demonstrates – most recently one by Gallup on Feb. 26 showing 63% of Americans favor Israel over Palestinian Arabs in the conflict – America is squarely in Israel’s camp. It’s American policy crafted by the State Department that favors the Arabs. The State Department is not America. It can be faced, and with the help of the American people, defeated.

Only the day before Biden’s visit, Netanyahu addressed a summit of Christian Zionists in Jerusalem. He told them to stay the course in their defense of Israel. No doubt, his words boosted their morale. But wouldn’t it boost it still more to lead by example?

Biden’s visit was a missed opportunity in a long line of missed opportunities to put the lie to the scam that is the two-state solution. Netanyahu should have explained that the two-state solution is nothing more than the two-phase solution for Israel’s destruction. Indeed, in his conversation with Vice President Biden, the prime minister could have quoted nearly verbatim from Shmuel Katz:

“If the United States wishes to avoid further embarrassing debacles it must make up its mind first of all that at this moment there is no “solution” to the Arab-Israeli dispute; and that if it wishes to help bring about a solution in the course of time it must insist that the Arab nation give up its purpose of annihilating the Jewish state; that it content itself with its own 22 component states, and that the Arabs of Palestine content themselves with their one state in eastern Palestine, called Jordan.”

“Holding out such a prospect is purely more closely in keeping with the American ethic than its present promotion of Arab doctrines and policies which, it so happens, aim at the destruction of the State of Israel and the attempted dispersal or genocide of its people.”