Before I begin with the topics for today, I want to provide this announcement and ask that you forward it to anyone for whom it would be appropriate.
There has been a great deal of concern about the fact that J Street founder Jeremy Ben Ami will be speaking at the University of Pennsylvania Hillel in Philadelphia tomorrow — his talk is entitled “Call to Action” and will advance the J Street “pro-peace agenda.” While calling itself “pro-Israel,” the far left J Street, funded to a significant degree by Arab sources, in fact takes positions that are antithetical to Israel’s best interests, such as negotiations with Hamas; it supported the Goldstone Report. The more it is accepted within mainstream circles as representing Israel’s position, the more damage it can do.
I have now received a notice from Lori Lowenthal Marcus, co-founder of Z Street, a new and staunchly Zionist group — http://www.zstreet.org:80/. Z Street will be holding a program at the same time and in the same Hillel building as the J Street program. Featured speaker will be Dr. Mitchell Bard — author of “Myths and Facts” and director of the “Jewish Virtual Library” — who will expose the J Street plan for what it is.
Steinhardt Hall, University of Pennsylvania Campus, 39th and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, at 7:00 PM.
Now let’s talk about hypocrisy, as epitomized by PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, who addressed the 10th Herzliyah Conference yesterday. Fayyad, who is touted in the West as clean and moderate — the PA’s best hope for peace — is not exactly as he seems.
A brief background, because it’s important to know whom we’re dealing with:
 Before Fayyad worked with the PA, he lived in the US and was with the International Monetary Fund. In 2002, the EU requested that the Fund do an audit of PA books (because of monies donated to the PA by the EU). Fayyad was the Fund official who oversaw this audit and declared everything to be in order. The EU subsequently did its own review of PA books and found that something in excess of $250 million in PA funds had likely been transferred to terrorist organizations.
 Now as PA prime minister — functioning, you should note, after the Hamas coup in Gaza of June 2007 — Fayyad has been paying the salaries of 1,200 Hamas Executive Force members in Gaza. This is ostensibly because he is honoring a clause in the short-lived Mecca Fatah-Hamas unity agreement of early 2007 — even though the coup essentially subverted that agreement. (See Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari on this for the JCPA.)
Fayyad is now advancing his concept of a Palestinian state, and addressed the Herzliya Conference towards that end. According to Herb Keinon, reporting for the Post, Fayyad’s tone was “conciliatory,” which is tremendously heartwarming for those who care. But because it’s important to sort out truth from blatant distortion, I would like to look more closely at Fayyad’s words.
The Palestinian Arabs want to live alongside Israel in peace and security, Fayyad assured his listeners. However, continued construction in the “settlements” is causing some problems. In fact, construction in Judea and Samaria is eating up land that the Palestinian Arabs want for a state: “The Palestinian state is supposed to emerge precisely where settlements are expanding.”
There are serious problems with this statement.
First, it posits as a given that all the land on which Israeli communities are situated in Judea and Samaria would be part of a Palestinian state one day. That is Fayyad’s assumption, and Abbas’s, but it sure isn’t ours, and we’ve neither promised nor agreed to any such thing.
All of the land between the river and the sea is ours by tradition, as well as historical and legal rights. At a bare minimum, our communities in Judea and Samaria should be retained. To say, for example, that we shouldn’t build in Gush Etzion…or Maaleh Adumim…or Shilo…or Ariel…because it will someday belong to the Arabs is the height of nonsense.
Beyond this, there is the false accusation regarding expansion of communities, when in reality this is not what is happening at all. When our government argued with the Obama administration about the understanding we had established with President Bush concerning building in “settlements,” we made it clear that the agreement permitted no expansion of the perimeter of communities, but only building inside those communities. Even though Obama acknowledged no agreement, we have continued to adhere to this principle, building within existing boundaries.
The use of the term “expanding” by Fayyad was not a slip. Rather, it was intended to create an impression of Israel continually “usurping” land.
Fayyad’s next lament is that, since we’ve shown ourselves “unable” to completely stop construction now, there is doubt as to whether we would be able to implement any agreement that might be reached in the future. “The political question I have is how confident can we be that once relaunched, the political process is going to be able to deliver that which needs to be delivered on the permanent status issues, on the key question of ending the occupation.” Of course, the unspoken corollary here is that we must stop all construction to prove we can be depended upon.
The question, first, is whether we are “unable” to stop construction completely, or do not chose to do so because of our rights. But in any event, this is garbage. In the face of what the government (Sharon’s government) did with Gush Katif — which should never have happened — raising this issue is mere tactical manipulation.
It’s quite clear where this is going, with a “conciliatory tone”: These are all efforts to appear quite reasonable with regard to demands being made, and thus to squeeze us into a complete construction freeze (which is what Abbas needs to save face).
And, of course, there’s more:
It’s time, he said, for IDF incursions into Palestinian areas to come to an end.
The myth that’s being promulgated is that the PA security forces are being so well trained by Gen. Dayton, and have improved so much, that they can handle security without the IDF. I shared a citation yesterday by someone who had worked in PA Intelligence, who says this is not so. The simple fact is that the IDF does nightly operations in PA areas in order to combat the terrorists.
Here I would like to explain in a bit more depth why the PA security forces are not going to do the job by themselves in a manner that can be relied upon. Very simply, a Palestinian state is not the first priority for these forces — even though there are quotes from General Dayton regarding how the troops have been trained in loyalty to the Palestinian flag, etc. etc.
When doing research on the training of PA forces last year, I posed this issue to Maj. Gen. (res) Yaakov Amidror, who was once Director of the Research Division for IDF Intelligence. His succinct answer:
“You cannot train people to be loyal to what they don’t believe in.”
For many of these people, immersed in a traditional society, the clan (hamula) claims first loyalty, not some notion of a state. And sometimes there are members of Hamas in the clan.
When my question was posed to Dr. Mordecai Kedar, Arabic-speaking research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University, he replied that, yes, the troops can be loyal to the PA now.
“However, when (not if) there will be domestic problems in the PA/Palestinian State these people will be loyal primarily to their clan rather than to the state, since they will never shoot their brothers or cousins…”
And a prominent Palestinian Arab journalist I met with told me:
“This is Arab society. You can’t erase a centuries-old tradition — can’t tamper with culture. It will never work. You can’t impose a solution on anyone.”
But never mind all that, Fayyad wants the PA security forces to take over, moving even into areas where there is currently no PA jurisdiction.
And let us not forget eastern Jerusalem. This, says Fayyad, was no less occupied in 1967 than Gaza or the West Bank. In his dreams, I say: Jerusalem, undivided, is ours.
Yet, it should be noted that we didn’t take eastern Jerusalem from the “Palestinians,” but, rather, from the Jordanians. So it’s anybody’s guess how Fayyad figures it’s his now.
Oh, and one last issue: Gaza. Fayyad’s statements in this regard were strange. We should lift the blockade, he said, because it would enable the PA to reassert control in Gaza more quickly.
Frankly, this logic eludes me. It should be noted that the charges of a stringent blockade are much exaggerated. Not only are humanitarian supplies allowed in, so are many commercial goods. What is being blocked are items — such as fertilizer and concrete and iron — that might be used by Hamas for building explosives or rockets or bunkers. Should these things be allowed in, it would only strengthen Hamas.
And so, my friends, please, contact Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Remind him that he said there would be no more concessions, that it was the PA’s turn now. Implore him not to cave on this for any reason.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898)
A third barrel containing explosives was found on a beach — this time at Palmachim, which is between Tel Aviv and Ashdod. Reports are that there are more out there. The Navy is on high alert.
But let us turn to items of a more upbeat nature:
The Lobby for Greater Israel came together for the first time in a crowded meeting room in the Knesset yesterday. There are 39 MKs in the Lobby, including 12 from Likud, as well as members of Yisrael Beitenu, Shas, Habayit Hayehudi, Ehud Leumi, United Torah Judaism and even Kadima. The Lobby is co-chaired by Arieh Eldad (Ehud Leumi) and Ze’ev Elkin (Likud).
Ministers cannot be part of the Lobby, but six Likud ministers — Gideon Sa’ar, Yisrael Katz, Limor Livnat, Silvan Shalom, Moshe Ya’alon and Yuli Edelstein sent the Lobby letters of support. Additionally, Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin and Minister Bennie Begin attended the meeting.
The Lobby’s stated concern at this point is protecting all communities in Judea and Samaria. But some members said they want to hold on to all of Judea and Samaria.
Returning briefly to the issue of Israeli help for Haitian orphans: The scope of the tragedy is overwhelming, with many thousands of kids suddenly without parents — and, I may add, potentially at the mercy of human traffickers who might try to smuggle them out of the country.
Here in Israel, 200 couples have offered to adopt children from Haiti. MK Danny Danon, who chairs the Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child, has said he doesn’t think more than 50 of these orphans should be brought in because it has to be done with exquisite care. They are traumatized, and the right conditions would have to be in place for them. Meanwhile clearance is being done regarding the qualifications of those couples who have expressed a desire to adopt, although no formal application has been made to Haiti (in part, as I understand it, because there is no functioning government).