Jewish Leaders Praise Amb. Rice for Pro-Israel Leadership at UN

— by Jason Berger

JTA’s Ron Kampeas provided a roundup of what Jewish leaders are saying about Ambassador Susan Rice, who could be nominated as Hillary Clinton’s successor for Secretary of State.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman stated:

She has proven herself as an ardent defender of major Israeli positions in an unfriendly forum… And I’m more comfortable with the person I know than the person I don’t know. She is close to the president and that’s important in that position if you have someone you can relate to and understands us.

Foxman was also “furious” at the recent attacks on Rice’s record:

People may differ about the effectiveness of certain tactics or, as we have often done, even seriously question whether bodies like the U.N. Human Rights Council will ever give Israel a fair hearing… But no one should use the U.N.’s anti-Israel record to cast aspersions on Ambassador Rice. She has earned her reputation as a fighter for Israel’s equality in a hostile forum where an automatic majority reflexively expresses its bias against Israel.

JTA quoted B’nai Brith International Executive Vice President Daniel Mariaschin:

‘One thing important to point out is that the votes have reflected administration policy.’ More specifically, in regards to Rice’s ‘no’ vote last week when the General Assembly elevated the Palestinians to non-member state status, Mariaschin exclaimed his approval. He stated, ‘There are ways of explaining your vote and ways of explaining your vote … She made kind of a good end to an otherwise disappointing day.’

In her vote explanation, Rice said, ‘Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade, and the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.’

Veteran pro-Israel activist Steve Sheffey recounted Rice’s many pro-Israel accomplishments in his most recent piece for the Times of Israel. Last January, Rice said that defending Israel’s legitimacy at the UN is a “daily concern” for herself and America’s delegation. Rice’s work at the United Nations earned her the National Service Award from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in December 2011.  

Provocations: What Was Bibi Thinking?

— by Steve Wenick

“Israel has the right to respond to provocative Palestinian Authority moves.”Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

That was Bibi’s response to the UN General Assembly’s vote to give the Palestinians a non-member observer state status. But having the ‘right’ does not obligate nor does it necessitate exercising that right.

More after the jump.
True enough; a response was warranted but like ‘change’ there are good responses and bad responses. Bibi’s was the latter.  To paraphrase the great bard, to respond or not to respond that is the question. Or perhaps it is only a part of the question. More to the point is the question of how to respond.

My initial reaction to his response to the ‘provocation’ was that he was acting like an immature brat playing the old schoolyard game of tit for tat. Of course if Bibi had not responded at all, at least publically, it still would have constituted a response, albeit a silent one. But sometimes they are the ones which speak the loudest and most effectively.

But respond he did and as a consequence he gave the Palestinian Authority exactly what it wanted, a reaction from Bibi that would only serve to further alienate Israel from even its closest allies. He made three mistakes, all of which were unnecessary.

  • First of all, there was the timing. It probably was planned but appeared precipitous. It had the look of a thoughtless and reckless reaction rather than a thoughtfully planned course of action.
  • Second, it was pointless; he could have chosen a number of other more diplomatic ways to communicate his disapproval of the vote to his diminishing cadre of friends in the international community.
  • Third, it smacked of spite work; never a very pretty piece of work. He purposely pulled an ‘in your face’ tantrum which was a totally over the top reaction not becoming of a head of state. To resort to bluster, bombast and bravado, which oft characterizes the theatrics of Israel’s enemies, has been and continues to be the last resort of those who have nothing to say. Bibi should not have adopted tactics which were tantamount to slaps in the faces of friends.

So the question that begs an answer is, “What was Bibi thinking?”  The answer may be as simple as — he wasn’t.

New York Times and Ha’aretz Get An F In E-1 Geography

With Israel’s announcement that it plans to proceed with construction in Area E-1, east of Jerusalem, earlier falsehoods about that land reemerge. Thus, Ha’aretz reports that construction in E-1

would effectively bisect the West Bank and sever the physical link between the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem.

Similarly, the New York Times reports:

Construction in E1, in West Bank territory that Israel captured in the 1967 war, would connect the large Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem, dividing the West Bank in two. The Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem would be cut off from the capital, making the contiguous Palestinian state endorsed by the United Nations last week virtually impossible.

So is it true that construction in E-1 would bisect the West Bank, and severing Palestinian contiguity, and cutting off Palestinian areas from Jerusalem? The answer is no. As CAMERA pointed out in 2005 (The Contiguity Double Standard):

Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank would be no more cut off with the so-called E-1 corridor than would Israeli contiguity if Israel were to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, even with slight modifications.

Here’s why. First, take a look at this map of the region.

More after the jump.
As CAMERA earlier explained:

The black X marks the approximate location of the new neighborhood near Ma’aleh Adumim. To the west of the X is Jerusalem. The red line surrounding the X is the planned route of the security barrier, which will encircle Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.

Those who charge that Israeli building in Ma’aleh Adumim severs north-south contiguity disregard the fact that Palestinian-controlled areas would be connected by land east of Ma’aleh Adumim (marked on the map) that is at its narrowest point ~15 km wide.

Moreover, Israel proposes to build tunnels or overpasses to obviate the need for Palestinians to detour to the east through the corridor.

Ironically, many of those who argue for greater contiguity between Palestinian areas, at the same time promote Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 boundaries, which (even with minor modifications) would confine Israel to a far less contiguous territory than that of the West Bank. As shown on the map above, there is a roughly 15 km wide strip of land separating the Green Line (and the Security Fence) from the Mediterranean Sea (near Herzliya). Also shown is the circuitous route necessary to travel via this corridor between northern and southern Israel. (e.g. from Arad to Beit Shean.)

Nor is it true that the construction would cut off Palestinian areas from Jerusalem. Access to Jerusalem through Abu Dis, Eizariya, Hizma and Anata is not prevented by the proposed neighborhood, nor would it be precluded by a string of neighborhoods connecting Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

The UN, Susan Rice & Stevie Wonder

— by Steve Sheffey

The UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine to the status of non-member observer state. As a result of the 138-9 vote (with 41 abstentions), “Palestine” now has the same status as the Vatican at the UN. Click here for the text of the resolution.  

Abba Eban said many years ago that “If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.” Sadly, he wasn’t that far off.

  • The UN vote to upgrade Palestine’s status dealt a blow to the peace process. Abbas must negotiate with Israel, not the UN. No viable solution can be imposed by outside parties. The question now is how to move forward toward a two-state solution given this unfortunate and counterproductive action.
  • President Obama again stood firmly with Israel, and the US was one of the few countries to vote with Israel.
  • UN Ambassador Susan Rice is pro-Israel and is qualified to be Secretary of State.
  • Stevie Wonder bowed to anti-Israel pressure and backed out of a commitment to perform at a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces event. It’s his right to make a statement. It’s our right to make a statement by not supporting artists who don’t support Israel.

Details follow the jump.  
UN Ambassador Susan Rice is pro-Israel. Rice would, in Jeffrey Goldberg’s words, stand “a decent chance of being very good in the job” of Secretary of State. On Thursday, Anne Bayefsky and Michael Mukasey wrote an error-ridden screed against Rice in the Wall Street Journal. You can read my response to Bayefsky and Mukasey in Friday’s Times of Israel.

The Republicans are also criticizing Rice for having modest stakes in companies that did business in Iran. Turns out that John McCain invests in some of those same companies.

The problem with the resolution is that it does not require the Palestinians to protect Israel’s security, recognize Israel, and end the conflict with Israel once and for all. As Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said in his address:

None of these vital interests, these vital interests of peace, none of them appear in the resolution that will be put forward before the General Assembly today and that is why Israel cannot accept it.  The only way to achieve peace is through agreements that are reached by the parties and not through UN resolutions that completely ignore Israel’s vital security and national interests.  And because this resolution is so one-sided, it doesn’t advance peace, it pushes it backwards…

The People of Israel wait for a Palestinian leader that is willing to follow in the path of President Sadat. The world waits for President Abbas to speak the truth that peace can only be achieved through negotiations by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. It waits for him to tell them that peace must also address Israel’s security needs and end the conflict once and for all.

For as long as President Abbas prefers symbolism over reality, as long as he prefers to travel to New York for UN resolutions, rather than travel to Jerusalem for genuine dialogue, any hope of peace will be out of reach.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blasted the vote as “unfortunate and counterproductive.”

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice explained why the US voted against the resolution:

Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it.

The backers of today’s resolution say they seek a functioning, independent Palestinian state at peace with Israel. So do we.

But we have long been clear that the only way to establish such a Palestinian state and resolve all permanent-status issues is through the crucial, if painful, work of direct negotiations between the parties. This is not just a bedrock commitment of the United States. Israel and the Palestinians have repeatedly affirmed their own obligations under existing agreements to resolve all issues through direct negotiations, which have been endorsed frequently by the international community. The United States agrees–strongly.

Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded…

We will continue to oppose firmly any and all unilateral actions in international bodies or treaties that circumvent or prejudge the very outcomes that can only be negotiated, including Palestinian statehood. And, we will continue to stand up to every effort that seeks to delegitimize Israel or undermine its security.

Progress toward a just and lasting two-state solution cannot be made by pressing a green voting button here in this hall. Nor does passing any resolution create a state where none indeed exists or change the reality on the ground.

For this reason, today’s vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting eligibility for UN membership. It does not. This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state.

The National Jewish Democratic Council

“shares the Obama Administration’s and Israeli government’s views that actions through the Israel-obsessed UN are no substitute for direct negotiations and are ultimately counterproductive to the peace process. While the result of today’s vote proved inevitable, tremendous credit is due to the Obama Administration for making a clear case against the resolution and reiterating that the path to peace runs through direct negotiations.”

AIPAC called for a “full review” of the US relationship with the PLO. Congress probably will consider legislation that could cut aid to the Palestinian Authority or close their office in Washington depending on what happens next.

The Palestinians proved that they are more interested in theatrics than a state. Abbas should have been talking to Israel, not the UN. Only Israel and the Palestinians can resolve the differences that divide them. But the temptation to penalize the Palestinians must be tempered with the realization that a strong Palestinian Authority remains Israel’s best (albeit far from perfect) partner for peace. Now is not the time for the US to make hasty decisions.

The pro-Israel case for a two-state solution is not based on justice for the Palestinians, whatever that means. It is based on Israel’s need to separate from the Palestinian majority on the West Bank so that Israel can remain Jewish and democratic. Any proposed action or legislation should be judged on whether it will move us closer to a two-state solution, not on whether it satisfies our legitimate anger about Palestinian intransigence. It’s too bad the UN resolution passed, but it did. We cannot let it derail our efforts to end the conflict. Instead, American and Israeli leadership must find a way to capitalize on it and move forward toward a two-state solution.

Ha’aretz argues that “a recognized Palestinian state will give Israel a responsible partner with international backing — one that will represent the entire Palestinian people and be able to make decisions in its name.” But the Jerusalem Post says that “The PLO’s UN bid is misguided and wrongheaded and will do nothing but add to the long list of historic mistakes made by Palestinian leadership which date back at least to November 29, 1947 when Palestinians failed to grab their chance for nationhood and self-determination.” I urge you to read both editorials.

More on Gaza. Michael Oren’s “Falling for Hamas’s media manipulation” is a must-read.  

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik writes that

I hope that those who have spent the past few months using Israel as a wedge issue between Jews and Democrats and vilifying the President as, to put it benignly, “no friend of Israel,” took note of the clear and unconditional support that all members of the Obama administration offered for Israel throughout the [Gaza] campaign. There was no evidence of Mr. Obama acting in any way other than we would want a steadfast ally to act. The President did and said exactly what Israel needed and wanted him to. In light of his having had to endure the most egregious and gratuitous lashon harah as regards his Middle East policy, I would suggest that not only did the President pass this test, but he passed it graciously and courageously, and with flying colors. Thank you for that support, Mr. President.

It was certainly gratifying as well to have such solid support within the halls of Congress. Given how many new members of Congress there are these days, and how much turnover of seats and of elected representatives who have been among Israel’s staunchest supporters, Congress also responded magnificently. We would all be remiss were we to fail to acknowledge the incredibly effective work of AIPAC in this regard.

Stevie Wonder backed out of a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces fundraiser. Wonder pulled out of a major FIDF benefit. He joins Elvis Costello and Carlos Santana among artists who have bowed to anti-Israel pressure. It’s their right to make a statement. But it’s our right to make a statement too, by not supporting artists who do not support Israel.

Ambassador Rice Rejects PA Status At UN

Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Following UN General Assembly Vote on Palestinian Observer State Status Resolution

For decades, the United States has worked to help achieve a comprehensive end to the long and tragic Arab-Israeli conflict. We have always been clear that only through direct negotiations between the parties can the Palestinians and Israelis achieve the peace that both deserve: two states for two peoples, with a sovereign, viable and independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish and democratic Israel.

That remains our goal, and we therefore measure any proposed action against that clear yardstick: will it bring the parties closer to peace or push them further apart? Will it help Israelis and Palestinians return to negotiations or hinder their efforts to reach a mutually acceptable agreement? Today’s unfortunate and counterproductive resolution places further obstacles in the path to peace. That is why the United States voted against it.

More after the jump.
The backers of today’s resolution say they seek a functioning, independent Palestinian state at peace with Israel. So do we.

But we have long been clear that the only way to establish such a Palestinian state and resolve all permanent-status issues is through the crucial, if painful, work of direct negotiations between the parties. This is not just a bedrock commitment of the United States. Israel and the Palestinians have repeatedly affirmed their own obligations under existing agreements to resolve all issues through direct negotiations, which have been endorsed frequently by the international community. The United States agrees-strongly.

Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.

The United States therefore calls upon both the parties to resume direct talks without preconditions on all the issues that divide them. And we pledge that the United States will be there to support the parties vigorously in such efforts.

The United States will continue to urge all parties to avoid any further provocative actions-in the region, in New York, or elsewhere.

We will continue to oppose firmly any and all unilateral actions in international bodies or treaties that circumvent or prejudge the very outcomes that can only be negotiated, including Palestinian statehood. And, we will continue to stand up to every effort that seeks to delegitimize Israel or undermine its security.

Progress toward a just and lasting two-state solution cannot be made by pressing a green voting button here in this hall. Nor does passing any resolution create a state where none indeed exists or change the reality on the ground.

For this reason, today’s vote should not be misconstrued by any as constituting eligibility for U.N. membership. It does not. This resolution does not establish that Palestine is a state.

The United States believes the current resolution should not and cannot be read as establishing terms of reference. In many respects, the resolution prejudges the very issues it says are to be resolved through negotiation, particularly with respect to territory. At the same time, it virtually ignores other core questions such as security, which must be solved for any viable agreement to be achieved.

President Obama has been clear in stating what the United States believes is a realistic basis for successful negotiations, and we will continue to base our efforts on that approach.

The recent conflict in Gaza is just the latest reminder that the absence of peace risks the presence of war. We urge those who share our hopes for peace between a sovereign Palestine and a secure Israel to join us in supporting negotiations, not encouraging further distractions. There simply are no short cuts.

Long after the votes have been cast, long after the speeches have been forgotten, it is the Palestinians and the Israelis who must still talk to each other-and listen to each other-and find a way to live side by side in the land they share.

U.S.-Israel Relations After Obama’s Reelection

— by David Streeter

Ever since President Barack Obama was reelected last week, a number of people have speculated-and fear mongered-about the future of U.S.-Israel relations. In response, veteran pro-Israel activist Steve Sheffey dedicated this week’s edition of the Chicagoland Pro-Israel Political Update to debunking the fear mongering, which can be read here.

But beyond Sheffey’s analysis, some key items have occurred in the past few days that indicate the U.S.-Israel relationship will remain strong and healthy during President Obama’s second term:

  • Israeli leaders congratulated the President on his victory. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the “strategic alliance between Israel and the U.S. is stronger than ever” and told the President his election was “a vote of confidence in your leadership.”
  • On Sunday, President Obama urged the Palestinians to stop circumventing negotiations and give up their plans to pursue a state unilaterally through the United Nations.
  • On Monday, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon continued the ongoing strategic dialogue with Israel by meeting his Israeli counterpart for talks regarding Iran, Syria, and the other regional challenges facing Israel.

Quite simply, the distortions and wild speculation from the past few days do not match the actions coming from the President and his Administration-not to mention the words of Israel’s leaders.  

Argentina Meets With Iran In Troubling Renewal of Relationship

It is deeply troubling to see Argentine officials meeting with Iranian leaders for the second time this month in what could be a short-circuiting of justice, to discuss the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded 300.  

More after the jump.
The first meeting took place at the United Nations in New York; the Oct. 29 meeting at the United Nations in Geneva.

Iran, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror, is widely acknowledged to be behind the AMIA attack. Officials from the top levels of the government were named by an Argentine prosecutor’s report as being responsible for the bombing. Interpol issued arrest warrants for the attack, but no arrests have been made.

At the time of the first meeting, we noted it was clear Tehran was using the encounter to advance its own interests in the region.

After the first meeting, Argentina stated it would negotiate with Iran to find a solution acceptable to both parties in the AMIA case. But such a political negotiation could violate Argentina’s own constitution, which calls for the extradition of those accused in the attack. Accordingly, no political negotiation can be done while there is a judicial investigation.

It has been 18 years, and still no one has ever been brought to justice in the gruesome attack. These meetings will only serve to bury any investigation in negotiations that are unlikely to result in any justice.

Iran has steadily infiltrated Latin America, creating strong and dangerous ties with Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador. These meetings Argentina is holding give undue legitimacy to a terror-sponsoring regime.

If Tehran were truly interested in aiding the investigation, it would surrender to Interpol or Argentine officials those named as responsible for the AMIA attack.

B’nai B’rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization.  For 169 years, since 1843, B’nai B’rith International has worked for Jewish unity, security, continuity and tolerance.  Visit www.bnaibrith.org.

UN Rapporteur’s Call For Boycotts

In a report to the U.N. General Assembly, Falk alleged that such major businesses as Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Motorola and Volvo have violated international law through perceived complicity in Israeli policies of which he stridently disapproves. These include efforts to protect Israeli communities in Palestinian-claimed territories. Falk “calls on civil society to vigorously pursue initiatives to boycott, divest and sanction” those companies and added that “further investigations… may lead to additional attention” directed at other companies.

“All reasonable people should reject Falk’s newest acts of division and discrimination,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Once again, his aim is to unfairly single out Israel and to undercut both its security and those who are engaged constructively with it. In turn, he poses a threat to progress and to peace.”

More after the jump.
Falk’s latest report follows a history of outrageous statements and actions, including suggestions that the U.S. government may have had involvement in the 9/11 attacks and his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon on his blog. In recent posts, he has written that “Israeli insistence upon treating Hamas as ‘a terrorist organization’ has blocked a political solution” and that the governing process in the United States is under a “threefold bondage to Wall Street, the Pentagon and Israel.”

“Falk has a track record of baseless, vile attacks on Israel, so his latest attempt to harm and isolate the Jewish state isn’t a surprise,” Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “What is especially disturbing is that he still has a platform to do so. It is disgraceful that he is allowed to present his ‘recommendations’ to the U.N.”

Falk’s biased mandate at the United Nations, and his exploitation of it to malign and delegitimize Israel, remain a tragic but accurate reflection of the Human Rights Council’s record in the Middle East. The council, situated in Geneva, has provided for Falk’s continuing role at the world body.

B’nai B’rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, is the oldest and most widely known Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization.  For 169 years, B’nai B’rith International has worked for Jewish unity, security, continuity and tolerance.  Visit www.bnaibrith.org

Amb. Shapiro: US Prepared To Use Force Against Iran

Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before the U.N. General Assembly, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told the Times of Israel that the U.S. has made “necessary preparations” for the use of force against Iran, saying, “We made it very clear that we’re going to do everything we need to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That includes having a military option on the table.” Regarding Netanyahu and President Obama’s respective speeches at the U.N., Shapiro said the “overlap” between the two speeches demonstrates that the U.S. and Israel are “absolutely committed to the same goal” of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.    

Israel PM Netanyahu’s Address to the UN on Iran and Radical Islam

According to a Senior State Department Official, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu met one-on-one for 75 minutes. They had an in-depth discussion on Iran, and reaffirmed that the United States and Israel share the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. They agreed that we will continue our close consultation and cooperation toward achieving that goal.  They discussed regional developments and the peace process.  It was an open, wide-ranging constructive conversation.

Dry Bones cartoon courtesy of Yaakov Kirschen follows the jump.