The sentiments of Caroline Glick’s Latma video song “One Day,” done for Rosh Hashana, resonated with me so thoroughly that I decided to start my post with it:
One day, there will sanity in the world. In the meantime, be strong, don’t cave, know that we are watched from Above.
And then let me share a most optimistic demographic report from Yoram Ettinger (emphasis in his original):
On the eve of the 5772nd Jewish New Year, September 2011, the Jewish fertility rate – 2.97 births per woman and trending upward – exceeds the fertility rates in most Arab countries.
In defiance of conventional wisdom, Israeli Jewish demography has been robust – primarily due to a surge in secular Jewish birth rate…
Since the 1940s, Israel’ demographic establishment has maintained that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and that it is incumbent upon the Jewish State to concede Jewish geography (Judea and Samaria) in order to secure Jewish demography…
However, all demographic prophecies of doom have been crashed upon the rocks of reality…
From 80,400 births in 1995, the number of Jewish births surged by 56% to 125,500 in 2010, while the annual number of Israeli Arab births has stabilized due to their successful integration into Israel’s infrastructures of health, education, employment, finance, medicine, politics, sports and the arts. Israel’s Jewish-Arab fertility gap was reduced from 6 births per woman in 1969 to 0.5 in 2011, trending toward a convergence at three births per woman.
You might want to save this information, or the URL, in order to respond when you see arguments — still advanced regularly today — regarding the “need” to give up Judea and Samaria because of the demographic time bomb. Even Obama has used this argument.
The good news for me — in addition to that regarding Judea and Samaria — is what it says about Jewish Israelis. To have increasing numbers of children is to express a certain optimism about the future, a certain faith. All in all, I think we’re doing very OK.
Not OK at all is a statement recently made by former president Bill Clinton. (Referred to in Israel as “Beel” during his presidency, when he was friends with Yitzhak Rabin.)
Disgusted as I was with what he said, I was going to let it pass. But Martin Sherman has written an incisive response to good old Bill that I would like to share.
“During a roundtable with bloggers on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York just before the UN debate on the Palestinians unilateral bid for statehood, the former US president unequivocally laid the blame for the failure of the Mideast peace process on Netanyahu.
“Clinton’s allegations are as lamentable as they are ludicrous. However, it seems that Bibi-baiting has become such a socially bon-ton imperative that even someone of his international standing feels he cannot abstain from it.
“A brief look at Clinton’s jaw-dropping accusations will leave any moderately well-informed reader aghast. They are so wildly inaccurate that one is forced to conclude that he is either woefully misinformed as to Mideast realities or willfully misleading the public as to those realities…”
Sherman mentions at the end of his piece that just as he was about to submit for publication, there were reports that the State Department, headed by Bill’s spouse Hillary, was distancing itself from his remarks.
However, before Hillary is applauded for having a more fair-minded approach than Bill, I note this:
In a total reversal of the position she took as Senator, the Secretary of State has now filed a brief with the Supreme Court in the Zivotofsky case. It alleges that any American action that “symbolically or concretely” recognizes Jerusalem being in Israel would “critically compromise the ability of the United States to work with Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region to further the peace process.”
This is with regard to the case to be heard in the Supreme Court in November, in which Menachem Zivotofsky, an American citizen born in Jerusalem in 2002, wants his passport to record his birthplace as Israel, rather than “Jerusalem” with no nation noted. A law mandating that Israel be mentioned on request was passed when Clinton was a senator but both presidents Bush and Obama have claimed that doing so infringes on their prerogatives with regard to foreign affairs. Zivotofsky challenges this position.
It should be noted that Menachem Zivotofsky was born in a hospital in western Jerusalem, the sovereignty of which should be solidly recognized as Israeli. The Palestinian Arabs are only claiming “east Jerusalem” as theirs. Right?
Wrong. Anyone who pays close attention to their words realizes they want all of the Jewish holy city.
What Clinton is doing here — by claiming that recognition of western Jerusalem as Israeli threatens the “peace process” — is giving credence to the possibility entertained by the PA that it might someday have sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. A matter of negotiations, she says. Not for the US to decide.
A lovely position for a putative ally to take. One day, one day, there will be sanity in this world. But not today.
Rick Richmond, the author of the article in the Sun on this issue, notes that the US position is one of absolute neutrality: “American policy is to remain neutral over all sovereignty issues, leaving them to negotiations…[and so] the question will arise as to whether it will also scrub the references to the ‘Palestinian’ territories.”
Hmm…there is no evidence yet that US policy has been adjusted so that all references in official statements and documents to the “Palestinian” territories are to be removed. What does this tell us?
I turn now to the entire — ever-in-flux — issue of Palestinian statehood, the UN and negotiations.
Before Rosh Hashana began, Netanyahu had consulted with his Inner Cabinet and come out, in spite of hesitations, in favor of the Quartet proposal for negotiations to be picked up again soon, with no prior conditions (but with a ludicrously short time frame).
At the same time, the PA, was skirting on the edge of saying no — qualifying somewhat but making statements about insufficient parameters and the impossibility of coming to the table as long as Israel was building in Judea and Samaria. I don’t think it’s necessary to belabor every statement made by every PA official. But the sense I had was that the essential message was that international law was totally on the PA side, and unless the Quartet got its act together and made clear statements with regard to this law and forced Israel to bow to it, there would be no negotiations.
This, for example was from Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee: “The Quartet committee statement is not acceptable. It is not clear and it holds the stick in the middle and divides responsibility between the two sides.
“The Quartet committee should either be a credible and responsible international institution [or] say ‘we cannot compel Israel to respect international law.'”
The “international law” to which these PA officials refer (such as the fact that all land beyond the ’67 line belongs to the Palestinian Arabs) is totally a figment of their imagination, of course. But nothing new in this regard. They sort of wing it as they go, and people believe they are speaking authoritatively.
In light of what seemed to be the situation, Netanyahu expressed a certain tone of exultation. His attitude, at least as reflected by the media, was one of “they’ve backed themselves into a corner now, and we’re going to come out looking good.” Even as I read of this, I wanted to tell him, no, Bibi, keep a poker face and play it cool. Not only is the PA slippery, the international community is not on Israel’s side. We’ve not yet reached that “one day,” when foreign leaders will say, “Wow! Israel is cooperating and the PA isn’t.” Logic and fairness play no part here.
And so, right now, we are seeing a PA that is hedging a bit– not giving a final refusal and finding some good points in the plan — although they’d still have to climb down from that tree they’re in, in order to come to the table.
While Netanyahu has been the recipient of some disgruntled phones calls placed by international leaders with regard to our plans to build in Gilo. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for example, said this “raises doubts” about whether Israel really wants serious negotiations. In fact, the plans for 1,100 new housing units in Jerusalem’s southeastern neighborhood might “threaten” the Quartet’s efforts to restart talks.
Vastly infuriating, and absolutely typical. It comes back to being our fault. Netanyahu had said we were not freezing construction. This should not be a surprise. Besides which, as Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev made clear, Gilo is not a settlement, and every single peace plan that has been advanced since Clinton has envisioned Gilo, which is near the heart of Jerusalem, as being retained by Israel.
In other words, What the hell is the big deal? The “big deal” is what the PA will make of this, and the fear that the international community has with regard to the Palestinian Arabs’ obstinacy. In other words, they’re not reasonable, but we should cave to keep them quiet and allow them to have a “victory.”
This is the final shot from Merkel with regard to having doubts about Israel’s sincerity: “What now counted was to dispel such doubts.” Back off, Mr. Prime Minister. Cancel that Gilo construction.
Heaven forbid. There has been no word that it will be cancelled, but one statement generates unease:
According to The Israel Project, which tends to hew to the government line, what Regev also pointed out was that there was no construction going on in the heart of Jerusalem. Rather, new plans are being “discussed” by the municipality, and there are still 50 days left in which there can be debate before decisions are finalized.
Uh oh. It wasn’t just the municipality that was “discussing” plans — Eli Yeshai, Minister of the Interior, approved the construction. It was passed by the Ministry’s District Planning Committee in late September, and the public was then given 60 days in which to object before the municipality gave final approval. The public. As I read this, it has to do with providing an opportunity to register concerns, such as the fact that more traffic might be generated by the new housing, or that sufficient classroom space might not be available for new families… Not political concerns, such as needing to appease Merkel.
When the announcement was made, Netanyahu said he would not interfere. Let him now be true to his word.
Today Netanyahu made Israeli acceptance of the Quartet plan official. Israel does have reservations, he said, which will be raised during the negotiations.
Said a spokesman for the prime minister, “The prime minister is completely aligned with President Obama, the US administration and Israel’s many friends in Europe and the world.”
Ouch. This is how he’s playing it. Let’s see if he backs the PA into a corner.
It is very likely that for all their bluster the PA leadership will not accept. Nabil Sha’ath is saying among other things that they won’t accept “lengthy” negotiations. Lengthy? Guess he means that the world should dictate terms to Israel so the papers can be signed in a couple of weeks.
I’m picking up reports regarding Congress having blocked $200 million in aid to the PA because of its bid at the UN. How much this is non-binding resolution, and to what degree specific allocation processes have been frozen is not entirely clear here. What is clear is that Congress is furious with Abbas for spitting in the face of the US, and that this body stands with Israel to an extraordinary degree.
Obama is adamantly opposed to blocking PA allocations, however, and it is likely that at some point Congress will open those allocations channels again.
More to follow.
On Friday, the Security Council’s standing committee on admitting new members met and agreed unanimously to continue meeting at the “expert” level. Experts will be asked to determine if the PA request “meets the criteria of the [UN] Charter.” That charter requires that applicants be “peace-loving” and accept its provisions. Other technical issues will be examined, as well.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, I remain bewildered as to what there is to discuss with regard to whether a Palestinian state will meet specific criteria, as a state has not been declared and the UN is not empowered to create one.
If these experts play it straight, Obama won’t have to worry about a veto. It will all go nowhere.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has instructed legal experts in the ministry to draft a report on why the PA is not ready for statehood (e.g., they don’t hold elections on schedule), and this is going to be submitted to the SC.
Abbas Zaki, a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee has given an interview in Arabic to Al-Jazeera TV, which was picked up and translated by MEMRI. Among the things he said:
“If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall, what will become of Israel? It will come to an end.
“Who is nervous, upset and angry now? Netanyahu, Lieberman, and Obama… All those scumbags. Why even get into this? We should be happy to see Israel upset.
“If we say that we want to wipe Israel out… C’mon, it’s too difficult. It’s not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don’t say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.”
Israel National News carries a video from MEMRI with translation here:
This is one of those items that should be shared very broadly. People need to know.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.