September 2012 Archives

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.

Bottom line

From Mitt Romney's press conference yesterday:

ROMNEY: I spoke out when the key fact that I referred to was known, which was that the Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles. That was a mistake. And I believe that when a mistake is made of that significance, you speak out.
Regardless of the timeline or what preceded or followed what, isn't that the point?

That new, improved DNC platform

As Barry Rubin pointed out yesterday before the language about Jerusalem (and about God) was reinserted, the "Middle East" section of the Democrats' platform had two paragraphs about Israel what Obama has done for Israel and only one sentence (given its own paragraph) about all the Middle East countries other than Israel. 

That hasn't changed.  (See more from Prof. Rubin on this important point here.)

Curiously, the reinserted Jerusalem language was added back, not to the paragraphs that address Israel but rather to the end of this one (my emphasis):

Elsewhere in the region, President Obama is committed to maintaining robust security cooperation with Gulf Cooperation Council states and our other partners aimed at deterring aggression, checking Iran's destabilizing activities, ensuring the free flow of commerce essential to the global economy, and building a regional security architecture to counter terrorism, proliferation, ballistic missiles, piracy, and other common threats. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.
At least that's the way it reads right now.  This could well be just another sloppy mistake that will be "fixed" later. 

Platform reversal ... not over by a long shot

Too little, too late, too ... badly botched?

Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Wednesday denied any "discord" over the Democratic Party's decision to return "God" and "Jerusalem" to the party platform, and said the move "absolutely" received the two-thirds delegate vote required.

"Well, really, it was essentially a technical oversight," Wasserman Schultz, referring to the reversal, said on CNN. "And President Obama, because he personally believes that Jerusalem is and always should remain the capital of Israel, he made sure that we amended the platform to reflect his personal view as well as reflect the language that we had in the platform in 2008."

But after the delegates voted by voice, there was some dispute over whether the amendment passed by two-thirds. Some delegates booed the measure, but Wasserman Schultz denied that there was a rift in the convention hall.
Baloney.  On all counts. 

"Some" delegates booed?  If you haven't already seen it, watch the video.  And the reaction to the video.  Expect to see a lot more of it in the next 61 days.

End of Dem support for Israel as we know it?

The Democrats will serve a heaping helping this week of disaster scenarios that would result from a GOP victory in November.  In short, the end of ... just about everything ... "as we know it."

But what about that fabled unshakeable support for Israel that's always been given at least lip service by the Democrats in the past?  Are we seeing the end of that support as we know it?  The Weekly Standard reports that in this year's party platform, it's been watered down beyond recognition.  Judge for yourself:

In the 2008 Democratic party platform, there was this language on Jerusalem, Israel:

Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.

This year, however, that language has been removed. Indeed, there is no mention of Jerusalem in the 2012 party platform adopted by Democrats.

Since 1968, with the sole exception of the rather odd platform (more like a manifesto) adopted in 1988, every Democratic party platform has included language similar to that quoted above from 2008.  Note that recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a point to which every Democratic (or Republican) administration has refused to acquiesce once safely in office, was always explicitly acknowledged.  In fact, the Democratic platforms for the years 1972 through 1984 all included this language as well:

As a symbol of this stand, the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

And Jimmy Carter's 1980 platform actually contained this statement:

We oppose creation of an independent Palestinian state.

As a very old cigarette ad used to say ... you've come a long way, baby.

And it's not only on the issue of Jerusalem that this plank of the platform has been diluted.  It focuses much more on (you guessed it) Obama and his alleged accomplishments than it does on the relationship between the U.S. and Israel.  In fact, this platform is unique in that it makes no mention of Israel as an "ally" nor of the "special relationship" between our countries.  You have to go back to 1980 to find a platform that doesn't use at least one (usually both) of those terms.

Daniel Pipes has a piece today at NRO entitled "What the 2012 Election Means for Israel" in which he concludes that "[i]f elected, Romney will be staunchly loyal, but Obama's coldness will turn glacial."  I think it's somewhat overwrought in places, but his warnings about the waning support for Israel among Democrats obviously merit consideration.

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