Monday, March 19, 2018

Israeli Officials Blast Jewish Visits To Qatar

Israeli Officials Blast Jewish Visits To Qatar

What are we to make of Jewish leaders who visit Qatar as the guests of the emir?  I'm opposed to such visits as my March 8, 2018 column in the Jewish Press makes clear.

It’s the Jewish controversy that just won’t go away. Nor should it.

Fully six months after Jewish leaders first began trooping off to Qatar, the op-ed columns of American Jewish and Israeli publications are still filled with lively commentaries on the affair.
And well they should be. Because this sordid episode has laid bare patterns of behavior among some Jewish leaders that need changing.
* There needs to be accountability. The members of these Jewish organizations should have been allowed to vote on whether their leaders should hobnob with an emir who finances Hamas.
* There needs to be transparency. Who went? How many times? Who paid their expenses? Do any of the visitors have business interests in the Gulf?
* There needs to be an open and honest discussion. The Jewish officials who went to Qatar need to stop responding to their critics with such extreme defensiveness. Cut out the name-calling and mud-slinging and threats of lawsuits. Discuss the issues calmly and seriously.
And please stop telling us the Israeli government secretly approved of the visits.
Have you ever noticed how people who want to defend indefensible behavior always seem to claim that unnamed “Israeli officials” secretly authorized their actions? Sorry, friends, blaming Israel is not going to get you off the hook.
Way back in November, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, told Forbes magazine that Israel did not approve of Jewish leaders going to Qatar.
Subsequently, a spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in Washington told Haaretz “that anyone who says [the Jewish embrace of Qatar] has won the blessing of the ambassador is not telling the truth.”
Then The New York Times reported: “The parade to Doha grew so large that Itai Bar Dov, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, issued a scolding. ‘We do not approve of these visits by the Jewish organizations to Qatar,’ Mr. Dov said.”
If that’s not enough, consider what two other prominent Israeli officials have said in recent days.
Acting Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that the spectacle of “self-appointed members of the Jewish community running to Qatar is an exercise of pure ego.”
According to Hotovely, “They never checked with anyone in the Israeli government. Qatar is responsible for the funding of Hamas and other terrorist groups that target us and our children. We are baffled by this development.”
Major-General (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who formerly served as Israel’s national security adviser, likewise takes a dim view of the Qatar pilgrimages. “I think it is a huge mistake for American Jewish leaders to go over to Qatar,” Amidror has said. “They are using these Jews, and their tremendous egos, to gain international legitimacy. What chutzpah for them to think that they have the power to change [Qatar’s] deeply entrenched views.”
Amidror, who has also served as head of the Israeli Military Intelligence research department, said that Jewish officials should have insisted, as a prior condition to visiting Qatar, “that Qatar stops its financial and material support for Hamas and other terrorist groups” and “Al Jazeera’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views be totally changed…. Otherwise, Qatar is just using these Jews and their tremendous egos as a cover to gain international legitimacy.”
Six months have passed since the American Jewish leaders’ romance with Qatar began. Qatar is still financing the mass murderers of Hamas. Senior Hamas fugitives are still being sheltered in Qatar. The Qatar-sponsored media outlet Al Jazeera is still filling the airwaves with anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda.
And so the controversy will continue, until the Jews who allowed themselves to be used by Qatar publicly acknowledge that they were wrong, and apologize to the members of their organizations and to the entire Jewish community.

The Trump administration just doesn’t get Gaza

My JNS.ORG column-

The Trump administration just doesn’t get Gaza

The Trump administration’s conference on the situation in the Gaza Strip this week “focused on the need for the Palestinian Authority to take control over Gaza,” a White House official told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. If that report is accurate, it means that the United States still doesn’t understand the basic problem in Gaza—or how to solve it.

The idea that Hamas is the “bad guy” and the Palestinian Authority is the “good guy” is a fallacy that began with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and is still the mindset of too many people in Washington.

The attempts to distinguish between the “moderate” P.A. and the “extremist” Hamas always foundered on the reality that the P.A. regards Hamas as its brother, not its enemy. Brothers may quarrel from time to time—they may get into a scuffle now and then, or even try to kill each other—but they remain brothers.

The P.A. leadership promised, as part of Oslo, to disband all terrorist groups, seize their weapons and outlaw them—in short, to put them out of business. But here we are, 25 years later, and Hamas still has active terrorist cells throughout the P.A.-controlled parts of Judea and Samaria.

There’s no doubt that the P.A. has the means to eliminate Hamas in the territories; it has one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world. Yet it has never even outlawed Hamas. It has never made a real effort to capture its members or confiscate its weapons. It has not extradited a single Hamas terrorist to Israel, even though the Oslo agreement obligates it to do so.

Even The New York Times, a longtime cheerleader for the P.A., has occasionally conceded that Hamas and other terrorists roam free in P.A.-run cities. On March 23, 2014, the Times reported that Israeli troops were forced to enter the Jenin refugee camp in pursuit of terrorists because although Jenin is under the “full control” of the Palestinian Authority, “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.”

When the P.A.’s newspapers, television and radio glorify terrorists as “martyrs” and “heroes,” they don’t talk about only Fatah terrorists. They glorify Hamas murderers, too.

When the P.A. pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of dead terrorists, they don’t give out the payments only to Fatah members. They pay Hamas murderers and their families, too.

So there’s no reason for surprise that the P.A. boycotted this week’s conference on Gaza in Washington. No matter how hard the State Department crowd wishes it, the P.A. is not going to fight Hamas for control of Gaza. In fact, it’s not going to fight Hamas at all.

The solution to Gaza’s various ills is not to pump more international money into the region. That has been tried for decades, and it hasn’t worked. The solution is regime change. But a change from Hamas to the P.A. —even if it were possible and even if the P.A. were amenable to that— would not represent genuine change. It would mean replacing one corrupt, violent Palestinian dictatorship with another corrupt, violent Palestinian dictatorship.

Not every group of people with a grievance deserves, or is ready for, self-rule. Some have too little experience with the culture of democracy to establish and run a free society; the last thing the world needs is more dictatorships. Some are too violent to live in peace with their neighbors; that is the danger Israel faces.

For years, advocates of Palestinian statehood urged Israel to grant self-rule to the Arabs in Gaza. They claimed that if the Gazans were allowed to rule themselves, they would become peaceful neighbors since surely they wouldn’t want to risk losing their self-rule. It would be an experiment to see if giving them a fully sovereign state could succeed. Yitzhak Rabin took that risk (my family paid a high price for it) and then Ariel Sharon decided to take that risk.

The tens of thousands of rockets fired from Gaza at Israel over the years have demonstrated that the experiment was an abject failure. Gaza proves that the Palestinian Arabs are not yet ready for self-rule. Neither conferences in Washington nor handouts from the international community will change that.

Four Lessons From An Israeli Raid

Four Lessons From An Israeli Raid

My column in the Jewish Press-
Israeli security authorities revealed last week that members of two Islamic Jihad terrorist cells operating in the Bethlehem region have been arrested. The terrorists had carried out “shooting attacks against Jewish civilians and IDF soldiers” in the area and were planning to murder Israel’s defense minister.
It was one of those announcements that will not make the Washington Post or Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room” program on CNN. But it should. Because we can all learn some very important lessons from this seemingly routine incident.
Lesson 1: Israel can’t count on the PA security forces.
The Palestinian Authority leadership promised, in the Oslo accords, to disband all terrorist groups, seize their weapons, and outlaw them – in short, to put them out of business. How can it be that, 23 years after the PA took over sole control of Bethlehem, Islamic Jihad still has active terrorist cells in and around the city?
There’s no doubt the PA has the means to do the job. The PA has one of the largest per-capita security forces in the world. Yet the PA never outlawed Islamic Jihad. It has never made a serious effort to capture its members or seize its weapons. The PA treats the terrorists in the areas under its control like brothers and allows them to operate freely.
Even The New York Times, longtime cheerleader for the PA, has occasionally conceded that terrorists roam free in PA cities. On March 23, 2014, the Times reported that Israeli troops were forced to enter the Jenin refugee camp in pursuit of terrorists because although Jenin is under the “full control” of the PA, “the Palestinian [security forces] did not generally operate in refugee camps.”
Lesson 2: Terrorists who are released tend to return to terrorism.
The leaders of both Islamic Jihad cells were previously imprisoned by Israel but then released. Awad al-Askara had been behind bars from 2015 to 2017. Mahmoud Ali al-Askara “had been imprisoned twice for Islamic Jihad activity and involvement in preparing an IED and planning an attack against IDF forces,” the announcement revealed.
Israeli security officials were recently quoted in the press as saying that 420 of the 1,027 terrorists – more than 40 percent of them – who were set free in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal have already returned to terrorism. That’s just the ones they know about so far, and it doesn’t include those who have taken a few years off but will resume their terrorism later. So the actual final number is likely to be even higher.
Lesson 3: The PA’s payments incentivize terrorism.
Israeli authorities revealed that “one of the motives for the activity of one cell member, similar to other young people in the Bethlehem area, was to be arrested in order to receive prisoner payments from Islamic Jihad.”
Not only will the terrorists receive payments from Islamic Jihad, they will also receive payments from the Palestinian Authority itself, since the PA distributes financial rewards to all imprisoned terrorists, regardless of which faction they belong to.
An Arab who is imprisoned for attacking, but not killing, Jews (and thus is sentenced to between one and three years in jail) receives a monthly salary of $400 from the PA. A terrorist who succeeds in killing a Jew, and therefore is sentenced to 30 or more years in prison, receives a monthly salary of $3,400.
The financial rewards don’t stop there. After he completes his sentence, the terrorist who was imprisoned for one to three years receives an additional grant of $1,500. The size of the grant increases according to the length of his sentence. Let’s say a terrorist murders someone, is sentenced to life in prison, but then gets out in a prisoner exchange. The PA gives him a grant of $25,000.
And terrorists can rest assured that if they are killed while trying to murder Jews, their families will be rewarded by the PA. The family of an unmarried terrorist who is killed receives $100 monthly. The widow of a terrorist receives $250 each month, for life.
Lesson 4: The experiment in Palestinian self-rule has failed.
The Bethlehem terrorists were connected to terror groups in Gaza and expected to receive financial and other assistance from their Gaza colleagues, Israeli authorities said. According to the announcement, this reflects “the recent and increasing efforts of Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip to intensify operations in Judea and Samaria…. [There is a] growing trend by terrorists in Judea and Samaria to acquire financing, war materiel, guidance and sponsorship from sources outside Judea and Samaria.”
For years, advocates of Palestinian statehood urged Israel to grant self-rule to the Arabs in Gaza. They claimed that if the Gazans were allowed to rule themselves, they would become peaceful neighbors since, surely, they would not want to risk losing their self-rule. It would be an experiment to see if giving them a fully sovereign state could succeed.
The tens of thousands of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza at Israel over the years should have been enough to demonstrate that the experiment was a colossal mistake. But if anybody still needs convincing, here’s more proof. Instead of living quietly and peacefully under their own regime, the Gazans are busy trying to organize the murder of Jews in Judea and Samaria. It’s time to admit the experiment has failed. Palestinian self-rule is an active threat to the lives of Israelis, and Palestinian statehood would constitute a threat to Israel’s very existence.
Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, February 5, 2018

Why Polls on a Palestinian State are a Mirage

Why Polls on a Palestinian State are a Mirage

My Jewish Press Column

How can it be that despite the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) support for terrorism, violations of the Oslo Accords and non-stop anti-Israel incitement, so many Israelis seem to be in favor of establishing a Palestinian state next door? Could it be that the answer is found in the asking?
Just last week, newspaper headlines announced that according to a new poll, 47 percent of Israeli Jews still support Palestinian statehood. The poll was carried out by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, at Tel Aviv University.
But as with most news about Israel, you need to dig behind the headlines to find out the real story. In this case, the real story is the wording that the Steinmetz Center used. The question which got that 47 percent figure was loaded with false assumptions and completely unrealistic expectations. In other words, the poll offered a fantasy.
The Steinmetz Center asked respondents if they supported a “two-state solution” that would include:
  1. It would be a “permanent settlement.” In reality, of course, nobody can guarantee that any settlement would be “permanent.” The Palestinian leader who signs an agreement could be overthrown the next day. Arab leaders are constantly being ousted and replaced by arch-rivals.
  2. The agreement would include “demilitarization of the Palestinian state.” This, despite the fact that every Palestinian leader has rejected the idea of demilitarization. Even if they signed an agreement saying it would be demilitarized, what’s the likelihood they would abide by that? If a “demilitarized” Palestinian state started importing tanks that it claimed were needed for self-defense, Israel would face international condemnation and sanctions if it tried to intervene.
  3. There would be “family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees.” Notice the use of the sympathetic term “family unification.” What cruel person would oppose unifying families? More important, the PA’s position has always been that millions of Palestinian “refugees”—not a mere 100,000—must be allowed to settle in Israel. The 100,000 figure is an illusion that Jewish supporters of the Palestinians trot out to try to sell their imaginary deal.
  4. “The Palestinian state will fight terror against Israelis.” What a joke. The heart and soul of the Oslo Accords was that the PA would stamp out terrorist groups. Yet here we are, 25 years later, and the PA has never disarmed or outlawed any of the terrorist groups, never extradited any terrorists to Israel, never even expelled terror factions from the PLO. But now, when they have a state, they will suddenly “fight terror?”
So there you have it: The “Palestinian state” that 47 percent of Israeli Jews would favor is a creature of the Steinmetz Center’s imagination. A permanently peaceful, totally demilitarized, terror-fighting Palestinian state that won’t insist on flooding Israel with “refugees.” Who wouldn’t want such a neighbor? Frankly, I’m surprised only 47 percent of Israeli Jews voiced their support.
It’s not hard to understand why advocates of the Palestinian cause are so enamored of the Steinmetz Center. The center’s website reports that its polls of Israeli public opinion are undertaken “with funding from the European Union and the Netherlands Representative Office in Ramallah.” I guess the EU and the Dutch government, both of which are passionately pro-Palestinian, see the center’s work as helpful to the Palestinian cause.
You can bet the EU and the Dutch would be mighty unhappy if the Steinmetz Center asked questions that included factual statements about Palestinian statehood. How about questions such as these:
  1. If a Palestinian state is established, Israel will be nine miles wide at its midsection. Is that a risk you are willing to take?
  2. If a Palestinian state is established, a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, standing inside the borders of “Palestine,” will be able to shoot down a plane taking off from Ben Gurion Airport. Do you believe the PA can be relied upon to stop such attacks?
  3. The PA has never honored its Oslo obligations to disarm our outlaw terrorist groups. Do you believe that a Palestinian state would take those actions?
Any chance of the Steinmetz Center ever asking such questions? I’m not holding my breath, and you shouldn’t either.
Well, that's what I think.  Feel free to share.
Stephen M. Flatow

Monday, January 29, 2018

Group formed to support UK victims of terrorist attacks

Survivors Against Terror launched.

Who does a terror victim turn to to give voice to their dead child, parent, sibling? Unfortunately, sympathy abounds but it doesn't get you action.

In Great Britain, a new organization has been formed, Survivors Against Terror, that aims to be the voice of British victims of terror.

As reported by the London-based The Independent:
Survivors of terrorist atrocities committed on British soil and elsewhere will launch a new group to lobby the Government on counter-terror policies and improved support for victims.
The Survivors Against Terror group, which is being founded by survivors and bereaved relatives of victims of Islamist bombings, IRA attacks and far-right extremist murders, has urged others to join as it begins on Monday.
The group aims to campaign for more effective policies to combat terror and identify gaps in support for victims and the bereaved, as well as help the public tackle hate speech and the terror threat.

Good for them!

Read the full article here.