Barry Rubin z"l


The "new" Arab Peace Initiative

Barry Rubin asks:

... [T]here is a curious lack of mention over the demand, enshrined in the previous "Arab Peace Initiative," about what is called the "right of return." Namely, to satisfy PA demands Israel would have to accept the immigration of hundreds of thousands of passionately anti-Israel Palestinians who had lived in the country 60 years ago (or their descendants) and who have been fighting all that time to wipe Israel off the map.

Is the "right of return" as a condition for making peace still in the small print? I don't see that anyone else has asked that rather important question. Presumably it is still there. Consequently, what is in fact a suicidal offer to Israel is made, by selective reporting, to make it sound like an attractive offer. But if the demand for a massive immigration of hostile Palestinians is indeed dropped that in fact is the real news. Of course, the PA would passionately denounce such a step and since it has said nothing on the point one might assume that this demand still stands.

Really important question and the first one that came to mind when I saw the announcement of this old "new" proposal.  But Rubin raises a lot of other questions, too, that make this one seem almost a moot point.  Read it all.

BDSers at it again

Once again, they're going after TIAA-CREF, and once again TIAA-CREF is fighting back.

TIAA-CREF officials are asking the SEC to allow it to take no action on a shareholder proposal by activist group Jewish Voice for Peace that would require it to consider divesting from companies that contribute to violations of human rights, including companies whose business supports Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

Jewish Voice of Peace filed a shareholder proposal with the College Retirement Equities Fund on Feb. 8 that was signed by 200 investors, requesting that shareholders be allowed to vote on the issue at CREF's July annual meeting. The date and location of the meeting have not yet been set.

CREF officials in a March letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission requested that they be allowed to take no action on the proposal, said a company source, who asked for anonymity.

The SEC has not yet responded.  In 2011, the SEC responded favorably to a similar request by TIAA-CREF for permission to take no action on an earlier divestment resolution put forward by JV4P.  But the "peace"-bots think they have that licked this time.

Sydney Levy, a spokesman for Jewish Voice for Peace, said the shareholder proposal was rewritten this year not to require divesture of a specific company.

Really?  See the text of the proposal here.


Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel Law Center said in an interview that the Jewish Voice for Peace resolution was "anti-Semitic" and "anti-Israel."

Ms. Darshan-Leitner said her organization would sue TIAA-CREF if the shareholder proposal was enacted to ensure the enforcement of state and federal anti-discrimination and anti-boycott laws and to ensure that Israeli companies and businesses are not harmed.

I'm not sure how helpful this approach is, given that it appears TIAA-CREF is and has been making every effort to stop these offensive attempts to subvert their shareholder meetings to the nefarious purposes of the BDS crowd.  But their overall message is an important and effective one.

More on this BDS offensive and the response of the Israel Law Center (Shurat HaDin) here, and here.

Top five reasons to confirm Hagel

In the spirit of the day after Purim (or in some places, the day of) ...

Here are my top five reasons why Chuck Hagel should be confirmed as Secretary of Defense by the U.S. Senate:

#5  Military experience!!!!!

#4  What Obama wants, Obama gets.  Or else.

#3  He'll keep those uppity neocons Jews in their place.

#2  What difference at this point does it make if Iran gets the bomb?

And the #1 reason ...

...  Every country needs a SecDef who perpetually looks like he's just been dragged out of bed after a long night of heavy partying.

On a more serious note, everyone should read Barry Rubin's column "Why It's in Everyone's Interests that the Hagel Nomination be Defeated."  It most definitely is.  And it most certainly won't be.  A pity.

The return of Soccer Dad!

William Jacobson welcomes David Gerstman (formerly a/k/a Soccer Dad) to Legal Insurrection!

It's a really good day for the blogosphere.  While I've greatly appreciated David's Mideast Media Samplers for the past few years it's going to be great to have him back on a blog.

A great light extinguished

I refuse to indulge in traditional conciliatory phrases of comfort.  He was my teacher and I revered him as such.  Nobody who studied with him came away unchanged.  All were uplifted.  May his memory and his teachings continue as a great blessing for all of us.

Snow in Jerusalem

A beautiful sight, though the weather has caused a lot of hardship and damage.  And then there's this:

Some worshipers outside the Dome of the Rock, with its now white-capped golden dome, built a replica of an artillery rocket. At Damsacus Gate, I witnessed a fairly vicious gang of Palestinian youths hurling snowballs at passersby.

They pelted a young ultra-Orthodox boy, maybe 13 years old, with real violence, hitting him so hard he fell and lost his hat. Then they set on him, smashing him with snow, then with their fists. He eventually managed to get away. There were no police or border patrol officers to be seen.

Video of what appears to be a similar incident here. (via IMRA).

Update (1-20-12):

Police arrested nine Arabs from east Jerusalem over the past week in connection with a snowball attack against two haredim during the snowstorm a week and a half ago.

[ ... ]

But the innocent snowball fight got out of hand when two haredim tried to leave Damascus Gate and were accosted by approximately 20 Arabs. The Arabs threw snowballs at them from less than a meter away and tried to steal one of their hats, while shouting obscenities.

A video taken of the incident went viral on Facebook with tens of thousands of people expressing disgust.

On Wednesday, police arrested three suspects and on Sunday night arrested six people from the Old City in connection with the attack. Both minors and adults were taken into custody.

More here.

CNN bias? Nah ...

In a truly nauseating segment this morning, filled with much dithering and hand wringing over the suffering of the people of Gaza, CNN's Carol Costello announced opined:

Gaza has basically been under siege by Israel for the past several years. Israel controls the goods that come in to Gaza, come out of Gaza. So, I'm just curious, where does Hamas get most of its weapons?
Is she kidding?  Does Carol Costello know what a siege is?  Apparently not. 

Here is a typical monthly report from Israel's COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories), summarizing its civil and humanitarian activity in the Gaza Strip for January, 2011.  These detailed reports go back to early 2009 and beyond.  Does that sound like a "siege?"

Does this sound like a siege?

18 Nov 2012

Israel is making a major effort to maintain the fabric of civilian life in Gaza, despite the situation of current hostilities.


1. Israel is making a major effort to maintain the fabric of civilian life
in Gaza, despite the situation of current hostilities. The IDF today (18
Nov) opened the Keren Shalom crossing for movement of food, medicine and
other goods from Israel despite the ongoing rocket attacks on the Israeli
population and previous attacks on the crossing.

2. The Erez crossing was open today, as on every other day of Operation
Pillar of Defense. Seventy foreign journalists entered Gaza today by way of
Erez. Twenty Gazans entered Israel for medical treatment, and twenty-three
foreign nationals, representing NGOs who until now had been prevented by
Hamas from leaving the Gaza Strip, departed.

Food and Housing Security

1. Gaza is not experiencing food scarcity. Israel is not blocking entrance
of goods into Gaza, except for weaponry and dual-use materials. Construction
materials can be imported to Gaza under the supervision of international

2. Israel is continuing the yearly supply of five million cubic meters
(1,320,860,250 gallons) of water to Gaza, despite the rocket attacks on
Israeli cities and towns.

3. UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency) reports (17 Nov 2012) that despite
some displacement of families due to hostilities, "there hasn't been any
need to provide emergency humanitarian assistance or to open UNRWA
facilities as emergency shelters."

Medical Care

1. Between January-October 2012, approximately 14,500 patients and their
accompanying chaperones entered Israel from Gaza for medical treatment. 99%
of the medical requests by Palestinian residents of Gaza were approved by

2. The World Health Organization has reported a ten-day slowdown in referral
process for Gaza patients due to disagreements between the Ramallah and Gaza
Health Ministries.

3. Gaza hospitals are currently operating at 80% capacity (17 Nov), slightly
higher than routine periods.

4. Israel is not blocking entrance of medical supplies into Gaza. Requests
submitted by the international community are answered within 24-72 hours of
submission, almost always positively, and Israel has opened the Kerem Shalom
passage for transit of medical materials and other goods, despite the danger
to personnel at the crossing.

5. At present, there is a shortage of some medical supplies in Gaza due to
disagreements between Hamas and the PA, and budgetary difficulties of the
Palestinian Authority.

6. UNRWA reports that all of its 21 health centers are open and functioning.
Of UNRWA's 12,000 staff members in Gaza, only one person has sustained
injuries in the hostilities, and those are minor.


1. Israel is supplying 125 megawatts of electricity to the Gaza Strip from
the power station in Ashkelon despite the rocket attacks on Israel's
population, and on Ashkelon itself.

2. Gaza continues to suffer from power outages due to a deliberate policy of
Hamas, which opposes import of fuel from Israel. As a result, the Gaza power
station is operating at 20% capacity.
Last but certainly not least, let's not forget Gaza's open border with Egypt, now controlled by a Hamas ally, over which Israel has no control whatsoever.  That is, of course,  the all too obvious answer to Ms. Costello's clueless question.

The "news" according to CNN (and other media outlets) is sounding more and more these day like a mere regurgitation of terrorist talking points.

Dershowitz & Co. - pwned

Early this afternoon, Mahmoud Abbas gave a vicious, defamatory speech at the United Nations General Assembly, loaded with lies, false accusations and vitriol.  It was, in fact, among the nastiest, least conciliatory speeches Abbas has ever made (for Western consumption, anyway).  And it did not include any expression whatsoever of sensitivity to Jewish claims to the Land of Israel.

Wait.  Why should that be surprising?

This past Monday, ten "Jewish leaders" met with Mahmoud Abbas in New York and tried to give away the store.  The original Ha'aretz story is now locked behind its pay wall but is well summarized in this article at The Times of Israel (among other places).

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly demonstrated a willingness to restart talks with Israel, telling Jewish leaders that his UN speech on Thursday would include a greater display of sensitivity to Jewish claims to Israel.
And yet, shockingly, it did not.

Meeting Monday evening with about 10 Jewish leaders, Abbas endorsed Alan Dershowitz's formula for returning to talks with Israel, participants said.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the Center for Middle East Peace. Top Jewish organizational leaders declined attendance, reportedly at the request of the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has discouraged Jewish meetings with Abbas until the Palestinians leader gives up demanding a settlement freeze as a precondition for returning to talks.

So who are these ten "leaders?" Who do they speak for?  Why did they find it appropriate to snub the Israeli Prime Minister's admonition and undercut his government's declared policies and what, exactly, is the "Dershowitz formula?"  Are they embarrassed to have been so badly pwned (internet slang: to be taken in, played, hoodwinked, bamboozled)?

The Times reports:

Among those in attendance were Dershowitz, the Harvard legal scholar and a leading defender of Israel; Robert Wexler, the CMEP director and a top Jewish surrogate for President Obama; and Peter Joseph, who heads the Israel Policy Forum.
So that gives us a hint as to who they speak for and why they chose to attend the meeting. But the kicker is that the formula this group proposed requires a settlement freeze, not exactly as a "precondition," but as a necessary quid pro quo for returning to talks (a distinction without a significant difference).

Here's a summary of the "Dershowitz formula," according to the Ha'aretz article,

[t]he formula states that "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should now offer a conditional freeze: Israel will stop all settlement building in the West Bank as soon as the Palestinian Authority sits down at the bargaining table, and the freeze will continue as long as the talks continue in good faith."
The details are spelled out in this earlier Ha'aretz article (still publicly available at this time).  In a nutshell, though, it proposes that Israel should offer Abbas an indefinite freeze on Jewish construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as long as he can keep up the pretense of talking.  Having reportedly won Abbas over, Dershowitz allegedly (again according to Ha'aretz) said he would try to sell the idea to Bibi this week.  Bibi has already made his position crystal clear on settlement freezes and preconditions, in whatever guise, so good luck with that.

Meanwhile, so far no response by the ten fools to Abbas's betrayal.  You can bet he'll be laughing all the way back to Ramallah.

Romney vs. Mackey's revisionist history

The Sunday edition of DG's Mideast Media Sampler (an indispensible resource that I can't recommend highly enough) analyzed several serious flaws in Robert Mackey's obnoxiously opportunistic manipulation of the uproar over Mitt Romney's extremely reasonable assessment of the Middle East "peace process" at that over-publicized fundraiser last spring in Boca Raton.  (Yes, that sentence is unwieldy to say the least but I need to move on ...).  The serious flaws being too numerous to count, however, here's yet another.

Mackey sez:

Mr. Romney's frank remarks, which undercut even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public endorsement of "a solution of two states for two peoples: a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state," seemed to break from decades of official American foreign policy. Since before the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, Republican and Democratic presidents have thrown their weight behind the effort to secure Israel's future as a democratic state with a Jewish majority by creating a second state for up 2.5 million Palestinians who have lived under Israeli military rule for more than four decades.
"Decades of official American foreign policy?"  For those of us who were sentient and paying attention "before the Oslo Accords," that sort of reeked of wrongness.  So I took a look.

The very first Democratic Party Platform to advocate palestinian statehood was that of the 2004 convention, and it was equivocal.

We support the creation of a democratic Palestinian state dedicated to living in peace and security side by side with the Jewish State of Israel. The creation of a Palestinian state should resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees by allowing them to settle there, rather than in Israel. Furthermore, all understand that it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. And we understand that all final status negotiations must be mutually agreed.
In 1988, the Republican Party Platform still expressly opposed it.

We believe the establishment of a Palestinian State on the West Bank would be destabilizing and harmful to the peace process.
and didn't mention it again until, also in 2004, for the first time, they offered a highly qualified endorsement.

If Palestinians embrace democracy and the rule of law, confront corruption, and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Ok, the party platform doesn't always reflect administration policy.  But it's common knowledge that G.W. Bush, in his first term (2001-2005), was the first president to explicitly advocate a palestinian state while in office and then both parties' platforms rushed to catch up.  Clinton's presidential endorsement was, at best, implied, and then only ... when?  I think we can trust Glenn Kessler to put the best possible face on it.

That is because Clinton already laid the groundwork in the last months of his presidency by trying to achieve a peace deal that would have resulted in a Palestinian state. In a speech on Jan. 7, 2001, two weeks before he left office, Clinton said he believed the conflict could not be resolved without creating "a sovereign, viable Palestinian state."
Neither George H.W. Bush (POTUS 1989-1993) nor any of his Republican predecessors ever so much as hinted at acceptance let alone advocacy of palestinian statehood.  W.J. Clinton (POTUS 1993-2001) danced around it and gave provisional lip service in the last weeks of his second term. 

So.  Does Mackey's assertion -- that since before October 1993, Republican and Democratic presidents have thrown their weight behind the creation of a palestinian state -- hold water?  It does not.  It looks like Mackey got this badly wrong.  Surprise.

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