June 2011 Archives

Dore Gold: a brief history of the "land swap" idea

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"Land Swaps" and the 1967 Lines
Dore Gold - The Weekly Standard
June 20, 2011

When President Barack Obama first made his controversial reference to the 1967 lines as the basis for future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on May 19, 2011, he introduced one main caveat that stuck out: the idea that there would be "mutually agreed swaps" of land between the two sides. He added that both sides were entitled to "secure and recognized borders." But the inclusion of land swaps also raised many questions.

Several months after Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Six Day War, the U.N. Security Council defined the territorial terms of a future peace settlement in Resolution 242, which over the decades became the cornerstone for all Arab-Israeli diplomacy. At the time, the Soviets had tried to brand Israel as the aggressor in the war and force on it a full withdrawal, but Resolution 242 made clear that Israel was not expected to withdraw from all the territories that came into its possession, meaning that Israel was not required to withdraw from 100 percent of the West Bank. 

Given this background, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made clear in his last Knesset address in October 1995 that Israel would never withdraw to the 1967 lines. He stressed that Israel would have to retain control of the Jordan Valley, the great eastern, geographic barrier which provided for its security for decades since the Six Day War. He didn't say a word about land swaps. For neither Resolution 242 nor any subsequent signed agreements with the Palestinians stipulated that Israel would have to pay for any West Bank land it would retain by handing over its own sovereign land in exchange.

So where did the idea of land swaps come from?
And how has it evolved since then?  The answer is fascinating.  Two subsequent paragraphs, especially, stand out:

After the collapse of the Camp David talks, President Clinton tried to summarize Israeli and Palestinian positions and put forward a U.S. proposal that still featured the land swap. But to his credit, Clinton also stipulated: "These are my ideas. If they are not accepted, they are off the table, they go with me when I leave office." The Clinton team informed the incoming Bush administration about this point. Notably, land swaps were not part of the 2003 Roadmap for Peace or in the April 14, 2004 letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
But bad ideas, it seems, never go away.  Hence the question:

The land swap question points to a deeper dilemma in U.S.-Israel relations. What is the standing of ideas from failed negotiations in the past that appear in the diplomatic record? President Obama told AIPAC on May 22 that the 1967 lines with land swaps "has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations." Just because an idea was discussed in the past, does that make it part of the diplomatic agenda in the future, even if the idea was never part of any legally binding, signed agreements?
Typically penetrating and insightful analysis from Ambassador Gold.  Much more here.

Bottom of the barrel

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It's time for Dana Milbank to retire.  Seriously.

I am not and never have been a fan of Glenn Beck.  In fact, the less I hear and see of him, the better.  But nonetheless, here I am, compelled to rise, together with others of considerably greater merit, in his defense.  Thanks to Dana Milbank and his scurrilous slurs.

Beck can be accused of a great many things, but antisemitism is not one of them.  David Brog refutes the libel (Ron Kampeas's lame attempt at rebuttal notwithstanding ... he's counting on you not reading the source material).  And Barry Rubin clarifies the abundant irony and hypocrisy.

You don't have to like Glenn Beck to realize that his shtick (or pathology, if that's how you're inclined to see it) does not include a hatred of or inclination to blame the world's ills on the Jewish people.  Or Israel, for that matter.  To the contrary. 

Milbank, on the other hand, seems to have ultimately allowed his fanatical (and lucrative) crusade against Beck to overcome whatever was left of his journalistic integrity.

A great loss

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From the Jerusalem Post.

International Book Fair's Zev Birger dies at 86

By GREER FAY CASHMAN
06/09/2011 02:23

Survivor of Dachau arrived in Israel in 1947, served country in many capacities before taking over book fair in 1983.

Jerusalem has lost one of its most dedicated public figures. Zev Birger, who was for many years the director and later the chairman of the Jerusalem International Book Fair, died on Monday from injuries sustained when he was hit by a motorcycle 10 days earlier after emerging from a concert at the Jerusalem Theater.

Birger was almost killed in Dachau and was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust.

He arrived in Israel in 1947.

Birger and his late wife, Trudi, were of that caliber of Holocaust survivors who turned each day of their lives into a celebration, not only for themselves but for the people around them and particularly for the less fortunate.

Trudi Birger, who died in 2002 on her 75th birthday, had experienced the horrors of the Kovno Ghetto and the Stutthof death camp. A microbiologist by profession, her heart was with the poor who could not afford dental treatment for their children. She could identify with this need because as a child in a concentration camp, she had been beaten by a Nazi guard who had knocked out her teeth.

She founded the Dental Volunteers for Israel Clinic in the capital's Makor Haim neighborhood in 1980, where all children were treated free of charge after being referred by welfare authorities.

DVI was serviced by Jewish and non-Jewish dentists from many parts of the world.

Zev Birger was a longtime public servant before he became involved with the book fair. He had been the director of light industries at the Ministry for Industry and Trade, then deputy director of the ministry and after that executive director of the Economic Council on Printing and Publishing. He then became head of the Israel Film Center after which he moved to Paris for several years to head the office of International Creative Management and Film Marketing.

In 1983, he was persuaded by mayor Teddy Kollek to take on the directorship of the International Book Fair. Birger never regarded his role as a job, but rather as a labor of love.

He endeared himself tremendously to publishers, editors and writers - so much so that in the mid- 1990s German publishers finally persuaded him to publish his autobiography. An English hard-cover edition was later published in 1990 under the title of No Time for Patience [link added]. It depicts his idyllic boyhood in Kaunus/Kovno, Lithuania, the Zionist ideology in which he was raised, life in Kovno's Slobidka Ghetto, fruitless attempts to escape the Nazis, forced labor and the atrocities he experienced in the camp, liberation and the joy of being able to participate in the establishment of the State of Israel.

Birger had a finger in almost every major cultural pie in Jerusalem.

Even though he was 86 at the time of his death, before being hit by the motorcycle, he was agile and energetic, always looking for another challenge.

Jerusalem and the world of books are the poorer for his passing.

As indeed are his friends and family and everyone who knew him.  More here.

I don't care

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And I was out of the country for most of it.  But I think I'm with Kathleen Parker on this one.

Late update: maybe more serious after all.

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