Martin Kramer The Forgotten Truth about the Balfour Declaration
The subject of Britain and Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust has been researched thoroughly. “Within the [Holocaust’s] greater circle of tragedy,” wrote one historian, “there was a smaller one”: namely, Britain’s determination to keep desperate Jewish refugees out of Palestine by every possible means. This must not be forgotten when Israel’s prime minister arrives in London to “mark” the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Yes, this will be a chance to strengthen bilateral relations. No, an apology is not demanded. But if the Balfour Declaration is now to be deemed a source of British pride, its revocation should be deemed a source of British shame.
And what of the other claim, that the Balfour Declaration disregarded the Palestinian Arabs? Balfour was not ignorant of objections to Zionism. Its critics, he said in a 1920 speech, invoked the principle of self-determination, claiming that if applied “logically and honestly, it is to the majority of the existing population of Palestine that the future destinies of Palestine should be committed.” Balfour thought there was a “technical ingenuity” to this claim.
But, looking back upon the history of the world, upon the history more particularly of all the most civilized portions of the world, I say that the case of Jewry in all countries is absolutely exceptional, falls outside all the ordinary rules and maxims, cannot be contained in a formula or explained in a sentence. The deep, underlying principle of self-determination points to a Zionist policy, however little in its strict technical interpretation it may seem to favor it.
This should be read as the codicil to the Balfour Declaration. The Cambon letter spoke of “justice” and “reparation,” Pope Benedict cited “providence,” the mandate preamble mentioned “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” These were all attempts to contain, in a formula, that which Balfour said no formula could contain. The poetic simplicity of the Balfour Declaration resides in its presumption that a home for the Jews in their land needs no justification. “How goodly are thy tents,” the declaration proclaims. A century later, it still does.
Aaron David Miller: These Myths About 1967’s Six-Day War Just Won’t Die
The 1967 war generated opportunities and a new, more pragmatic dynamic among the Arab states and Palestinians, which at least partially reversed the results of the war itself and transformed much of the Arab-Israeli arena. With this in mind, here are some myths about the war’s centrality and impact that need to be reexamined.
1. “The 1967 war was the most consequential and impactful of the conflicts between Israel and the Arabs.”
The 1948 conflict was more foundational, creating as it did the state of Israel, the Palestinian refugee problem, and a political revolution in Arab politics that would see various coups and revolutions.
2. “There were very real and missed opportunities for Arab-Israeli agreements in the wake of the war.”
Not really. There was a flurry of initiatives, statements, and U.S. and Russian maneuvering during the postwar period. And in November 1967, UN Security Council Resolution 242 established the guiding principles for Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. From my personal experience, I can attest that diplomats and would-be peacemakers often imagined openings and opportunities where there were none.
3. “The 1967 war was an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinians.”
The war would carry an unintended set of consequences that would redefine the Palestinian national movement. The discrediting of the Arab states, particularly the bankruptcy of Arab nationalism, would force Palestinians to strike out on their own. The Arab defeat reenergized Palestinian identity and put Palestinians on the political map.
4. “The 1967 war was a catastrophe for peacemaking.”
Not really. In strategic terms, the 1967 war created one new reality that could not be denied: Arab state weakness and the rapidly fading prospect of destroying Israel by force, even in phases. The growing alignment between Israel and the Sunni states, particularly in the Gulf, attests to a new pragmatism born of a common threat perception of a rising Iran and Sunni jihadis, and sheer Arab state fatigue with the Palestinian issue.
5. “Fifty years later, Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians are ready to solve the conflict.”
Don’t bet on it. The core of the impasse is a reality that shows no signs of changing: the gaps on the core issues-1967 borders, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state-are Grand Canyon-like. Without their narrowing, no matter how the new peace process starts, it is hard to imagine it ending well.
While Palestinian officials continue to threaten Israel with prosecution at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a leading Palestinian university recently chose not to debate Israelis there.
Last month, during the annual ICC Moot Court Competition, Birzeit University advanced to the quarterfinals, where it was to meet Hebrew University of Jerusalem. But the team from the Palestinian university, near Ramallah in the West Bank, decided to shun the Israeli competitors.
In a May 27 press release, Birzeit said its Faculty of Law and Public Administration withdrew from the competition after having debated 12 other groups from various other countries. “This was in line with the university’s commitment toward the Boycott and Divestment Sanctions Campaign (BDS),” Birzeit said in the press release, which was posted on the university’s website but later made unavailable.
“Birzeit Team is the first Arabian team to make it to the quarterfinals, and to win the oral pleading competition,” the statement continued.
The Hebrew University expressed disappointment over the Palestinian boycott, pointing to the academic nature of the competition.
The week of June 4-10, 2017 marks 50 years since the Six Day War. Israeli, Palestinian, and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been organizing events and campaigns, issuing statements, and intensifying their lobbying efforts to correspond with the anniversary.
Unsurprisingly, these groups utilize “50 years” rhetoric to support their international campaigns of demonization and delegitimization.
The events and campaigns compiled here are sampling of such NGO activity.
1. Breaking the Silence
Published a book titled Kingdom of Olives and Ash with Harper-Collins “to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, this anthology explores the human cost of the conflict as witnessed by…notable writers…in collaboration with Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence.”
Breaking the Silence led tours for several delegations of authors, including the volume’s editors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman.
Work on this project began in November 2014, and the book received significant media attention, including articles in the Washington Post, and the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Forward.
The book was published on May 30, 2017. Following publication, BtS led a six-city book tour, organized by HarperCollins and the New Israel Fund.
The book is part of Breaking the Silence’s campaign to create international pressure on Israel. As documented by NGO Monitor, instead of attempting to open the eyes of “Israeli society [which] continues to turn a blind eye” to the situation created by the occupation (as Breaking the Silence states), this NGO spends most of its resources on speaking tours abroad, or on foreign visitors to Israel.
Michael Oren is a former Israeli ambassador to the US and currently serves as Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office. He is also the author of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. In this interview with Fathom Contributing Editor Toby Greene, Oren discusses the legacy of the Six–Day War 50 years on.
Toby Greene: You’re a historian of the Six-Day War and now a diplomat, as well as an Israeli politician and Minister. If there is one thing you want British policy-makers or opinion-formers to understand about the events of the war itself, what would that be?
Michael Oren: In essence, don’t view the past though the lens of the present, in which Israel enjoys an incalculably better geo-strategic, military situation than it did in 1967. Israel was then at war with Egypt and Jordan plus the entire Sunni Arab world. We had hostile relations with China and India as well as with the Soviet Union and its 12 satellite states. Israel had a friendship with the US but not a strategic alliance; we had no international, great power ally (the French switched sides); and we had indefensible borders. All in all, a very different situation to today when Israel has excellent relations with China and India, and our relations with ex-Soviet bloc countries are some of our best in Europe. We have a strategic alliance with the US, which is probably the most multifaceted alliance Israel has had. Our borders are much more defensible. We have peace with Egypt, peace with Jordan and incomparably improved relations with the Sunni Arab world.
Nidal Foqaha is Director-General of the Palestinian Peace Coalition-Geneva Initiative in Ramallah. He served as an advisor at the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Secretariat General, and contributed to the establishment of several civil society organizations and initiatives, including the Freedom Forum Palestine, an organisation that promotes civil liberties in Palestine. He spoke to Fathom editorial assistant Jack May earlier this year about the legacies of the Six-Day War at 50.
Jack May: What are the legacies of the 1967 war for Palestinians today?
Nidal Foqaha: 1967 was a turning point in the history of the Palestinians and the whole Middle East in general. During the era when Palestine was under the British mandate, Palestine witnessed a significant socio-political movement, which unfortunately did not have the opportunity to turn into a Palestinian political entity due to the establishment of Israel. Yet, the 1967 war made such dream event far more, leaving more than 400,000 refugees, who mainly left to Jordan. This meant hundreds of Palestinian villages and small communities were evacuated, then destroyed. The 1967 war created a conflict which is still with us today, event after 50 years.
The June 1967 war is strongly connected to the 1948 war. After 1948 Israel definitely wanted to control the remaining territories of Palestine – the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip – which they managed to do in 1967. Between the year 1948 and the 1967 war, Israel was a strong and well established state, while the Palestinians were divided into two political systems – the West Bank and East Jerusalem under Jordan, and the Gaza Strip under Egyptian rule. The 1967 war affected negatively the social fabric of the Palestinian society by dividing it again; the East Jerusalemites under Israeli sovereignty, those in the occupied West Bank, and the millions living as refugees in the surrounding Arab countries.
1967’s significant stems from the fact that it left the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the Israeli occupation, the issue which deprived the Palestinians the dream to have an independent state of their own. Even more, the 1967 war paved the way for further wars and acts of hostility between Israel and neighbouring Arab countries as well as the Palestinians. Further, it contributed to prolonging conflict to last until today, and for thousands of Israeli and Palestinian to pay a heavy price of their lives, and the lives of their beloved ones.
In the Six-Day War, the Jewish state established itself as the preeminent military power in the Middle East. Michael Mandelbaum argues that by doing so, Israel proved indispensable to Washington’s grand strategy, which required maintaining a balance of power in the region:
Unlike in Europe and East Asia, to maintain an acceptable balance of power the United States did not need to station American forces on the territory of its allies. Israeli military supremacy helped to make a major American military presence on the ground unnecessary, and thus reduced the cost of American foreign policy. Indeed, Israel was and remains the only democratic ally of the United States that does not seek direct American military protection. In the Middle East, America could, therefore, act as what the British historically preferred to be in Europe: an “offshore balancer.” . . .
The role of Israel’s post-1967 military supremacy in keeping at bay would-be challengers to the status quo of the Middle East has received less notice than it deserves, in no small part because of its very nature: it has usually operated invisibly, deterring attacks rather than repulsing them. There have been exceptions to this pattern. The explicit threat of Israeli military intervention in September 1970 helped to stop a Syrian assault on an important Arab ally of the United States, the Kingdom of Jordan. For the most part, however, Israeli military prowess worked to America’s advantage by suppressing initiatives that Middle Eastern countries hostile to both Israel and the United States might otherwise have taken.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the five-decades-long Israeli occupation has imposed a “heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people” and “fueled recurring cycles of violence and retribution.”
The UN chief expressed his concerns regarding the prospects for regional peace in the Middle East in a statement released Monday, as Israel marks 50 years since it won the Six Day War in which it reunited Jerusalem.
According to Guterres, the perpetuation of the occupation is also sending “an unmistakable message to generations of Palestinians that their dream of statehood is destined to remain just that, a dream; and to Israelis that their desire for peace, security and regional recognition remains unattainable.”
Ending the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome, is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace, the secretary-general stressed.
“It’s the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” he added. “Generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow-up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”
Legal Insurrection: 50th Anniversary of Six-Day War: The Eve of War
This post is a prelude to our daily re-created coverage of the Six Day War. Starting Monday, June 5, we will cover each night the war as the events happened in 1967.
The Six-Day War, the fiftieth anniversary of which takes places tomorrow on June 5, 2017, is “one of history’s most brilliant—and controversial campaigns.” In a mere six days, from June 5 through June 10, 1967, the state of Israel routed a numerically and materially superior Arab war coalition, decisively defeating the surrounding Arab armies in a pre-emptive act of self-defense.
As the editors of a special Summer 2017 issue of Middle East Quarterly put it:
On June 4, 1967, the ecstatic Arab leaders were prophesying Israel’s imminent destruction and promising their subjects the spoils of victory; a week later, they were reconciling themselves to a staggering military defeat, the loss of vast territories, and sharp international humiliation.”
To commemorate this significant moment in Jewish history and Israel’s “monumental victory” a half-century ago, in the upcoming week we’ll be running a series of posts covering Israel’s stunning 1967 feat of arms.
The posts will provide a day-by-day review of the action on the battlefields, the decision-making in the war room, and the ways in which Israelis coped on the home front. We’ll be referencing and hyperlinking to seminal studies, newly published analyses and opinion editorials, and recently unsealed secret transcripts of the highly classified Israeli government committee that managed the country’s military affairs and basically “ran the Six-Day War.”
Legal Insurrection: Six-Day War Day 1 – War Begins
In the early morning hours of June 5, Israel launched an aerial strike on Egyptian air force bases.
The attack was in response to the huge dangers that the country has faced in recent weeks—at least 200,000 Arab troops and some 1,000 tanks massed at its border—and the Soviet-backed Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser’s ongoing provocations.
Israel has finally come to terms with Egypt’s threat to destroy it.
But, despite best efforts to keep Syria, Jordan and other Arab countries out of the war, they’ve foolishly joined Nasser’s bandwagon. Israel has now been drawn into a war on three fronts and faces the combined forces of five armies.
Best we can tell from the first day of this war: Israel appears to be scoring heavily over its enemies—especially in the battle for control of the skies.
Israel’s government finally authorizes the IDF to break the noose surrounding the country
For weeks Israel’s government and its military commanders have debated, agonized, and hesitated as they’ve struggled to make sense of the unfolding events in Egypt and Syria.
There was deep anxiety and ambivalence over this waiting around—some military commanders were convinced it was eroding Israel’s war-fighting capacity. The public was also growing increasingly impatient with the indecision, but Israel’s leaders were resigned to give diplomacy a chance to work.
Yesterday the newly installed unity government at last came to the realization that the country was in too grave a danger. It could no longer wait for a dithering and feckless international community to reign in the Arab state aggressors.
The Story of the Six Day War
The centrepiece of the BBC News website’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War was published in the ‘Features’ section of its Middle East page on June 5th. That article by the corporation’s Middle East editor is titled “1967 war: Six days that changed the Middle East” and it runs to a remarkably lengthy 6,181 words and – as Jeremy Bowen’s Twitter followers later learned – is based on a book he originally had published 14 years ago.
The article includes numerous factual inaccuracies or inadequately clarified statements. For example, the person named by Bowen as “Ray Rothberg” was actually Roi Rotberg from Nahal Oz. What Bowen repeatedly describes as “disputed territory” along Israel’s border with Syria was in fact the demilitarised zones defined as such in the 1949 Armistice Agreement between the two countries, while his reference to “Syria’s attempts to divert the River Jordan away from Israel’s national water grid” fails to adequately clarify that the Headwater Diversion Plan was actually conceived by the Arab League in 1964. The article also makes use of B’tselem’s inaccurate and partisan map that has been seen in numerous other BBC reports.
Interestingly, readers of this article discover that the BBC’s Middle East editor is entirely aware of factors such as Soviet disinformation, Nasser’s demand to expel UN peacekeepers from Sinai and his closure of the Straits of Tiran that were crucial in causing the war but yet curiously are so often omitted from BBC portrayals of the topic.
However, the most important aspect of Bowen’s tome is its promotion of a narrative composed of two parts.
Completely absent from this backgrounder is any mention of the crucial events which preceded Israel’s preemptive strike on June 5th 1967: the massing of Egyptian troops in Sinai, the UN’s removal of peacekeeping forces from Sinai at Nasser’s demand, the closure of the Straits of Tiran by Egypt, the massing of troops by other Arab countries on Israel’s borders or Israel’s concerted diplomatic efforts to avoid the conflict.
Neither is any mention made of the message conveyed by the Israeli prime minister to the King of Jordan on the morning of June 5th, telling him that “we shall not engage ourselves in any action against Jordan, unless Jordan attacks us”. Likewise, Syrian attacks on Israeli communities both before and during the war are completely eliminated from the BBC’s account.
Once again we see that the BBC is not in the least committed to providing its audiences with the full range of accurate and impartial information that would enhance their knowledge and understanding of an event it so vigorously promotes.
On June 4th three videos appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.
Six Day War Israeli veteran: ‘Occupation risked suffocation’
“An Israeli veteran of the 1967 Six Day War, Meir Shalev, says holding the West Bank cannot be sustained.”
Six Day War Israeli veteran: ‘I saw a miracle’
“An Israeli veteran of the 1967 Six Day War, Yoel Ben [sic] Nun, says his country’s victory was “a miracle”.”
Six Day War: ‘We were completely defeated’
“Palestinian Azzam Abu Saud, who fought with the Jordanian army in the 1967 Six Day War, recalls being “defeated completely” by Israel.”
As well as appearing as stand-alone items, those three videos were also embedded in a report by Tom Bateman that appeared in the Middle East page’s ‘Features’ section on the same day under the title “How the Six Day War brought elation and despair“.
In that report, Bateman paraphrases both Israeli interviewees, again spelling Rabbi Dr Yoel Bin Nun’s name wrong and reinforcing the take away message that (as the titling of the videos indicates) audiences are intended to take away from the video featuring Meir Shalev.
The last words of the final sentence (“Palestinians have little control”) not only sums up the Economist argument on the specific topic of Palestinian economic performance, but also arguably represents the broader assumption by which their series is based. Their claim concerning the putatively injurious economic impact of the Israeli security barrier suggests that Palestinians had “little control” over the suicide bombing campaign in the early 2000s which necessitated its construction. It’s as if the Economist sees no connection between economic disparities between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors and the choices Palestinians make – in the case of Hamas run Gaza, to prioritize weapons and other instruments of war (reportedly $100 million a year, representing up to 20% of their total budget) to attack Israel over investment in jobs, education and civilian infrastructure.
The situation in the Palestinian Authority is more complex. The Economist’s claim that “Palestinian products struggle to get out” is not supported by the facts. In fact, Palestinian sales to Israel have accounted for more than three-quarters of total Palestinian exports (based on 2012 figures from The Bank of Israel). However, to the degree that their economy is stifled, Economist editors fail to take into consideration the $138 million each year the PA reportedly spends on salaries to terrorists and their families – representing up to 10% of the government’s annual budget.
Moreover, this specific effort to avoid holding the PA and Hamas responsible for their economic problems is indicative of the Economist’s broader narrative – seen throughout this Six Day War series – painting Palestinians as victims merely since 1967. Absent from their reporting and analysis is any acknowledgement of the bad choices Palestinians leaders have consistently made – to reject peace offers, incite hatred and violence, and to fail to nurture even the most rudimentary building blocks of responsible self-governance. As The New York Times’ then public editor, Margaret Sullivan, implored the paper’s journalists and editors in a 2014 article responding to criticism of their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: “Palestinians are more than just victims, and their beliefs and governance deserve coverage and scrutiny.”
We can only hope that Economist editors will one day engage in a similar degree of self-reflection on their coverage of the region, and begin to critically scrutinize Palestinians with a rigor that’s currently almost entirely reserved for Israelis.
The lessons here for would-be international peacemakers are not clear-cut. It is not obvious what one does with the realization that when well-meaning foreigners step out of the room, the tug-of-war becomes one of mutually exclusive identity, not land. But perhaps one lesson might be that any hope for peace between warring legitimacies, between competing theories of the meaning of each side’s history, backed in both cases by the still-living memory of generations-long suffering, fear and exile, lies in first acknowledging the depth of the divide. The world has tried to rein in Israel, assuming that but for settlements, Palestinian politics would be magnanimous and peace-loving. And it has tried to buy off Palestinian political factions with money and honorifics, assuming that this frees said factions from the grip of the deeper war, or convinces Israelis something fundamental has changed. In the end, it is the deeper conflict that must be resolved. The anxieties it generates on both sides, the maneuvering for legitimacy and recognition, the competing demands of a land made holy by ancient custom and yearning, are as deafening today as in the past.
One obvious example: How can the Jews surrender the Temple Mount, the tether at the heart of their miraculous return, their awakening, their unification from scattered, vulnerable exile, their salvation, in other words, that their lived experience tells them could not have happened anywhere other than in this ancient sacred homeland anchored by that holy mountain? And how can Palestinians give up the 14-century-old shrine at the heart of their long-trampled identity, and on which their place of honor in all the vast realms of Islam depends? These concerns are too powerful and real to the Jews and Palestinians actually engaged in this conflict to be glossed over by the diplomatic remonstrances of the frustrated John Kerrys and Madeleine Albrights of the world.
The lesson, put simply, is this: No peace can be reached merely on paper. There must be recognition. Without deep-seated trust, no withdrawal of the IDF or dismantling of the Israeli military governorship in the West Bank assures either peace or actual independence for the Palestinians. More importantly, without validation of the other side’s anxieties and sense of self, none of the delicate policy work of any diplomatic or security agreement will survive its first contact with the first pious patriot who is asked to surrender his or her sacred story to make room for the impostor’s fabricated one.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday implored right-wing leaders to unify behind him in future peace efforts, promising that he would not bring a “tragedy” upon the settlements and that not a single settler would be uprooted as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians.
In his remarks in the Knesset, during an event marking 50 years of the settlement enterprise and the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, Netanyahu also hinted that US President Donald Trump was sticking to traditional peace-making formulas, influenced by “50 years of propaganda.”
During the election campaign, right-wing leaders had touted Trump as more supportive of the settlements than any of predecessors, buoyed by his campaign pledge to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem and the reluctance by his fledgling White House administration to condemn West Bank building. However, those hopes have largely been dashed in the months since, as Trump has repeatedly expressed the desire to cut the “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians and reportedly sought some curbs on settlement building.
Seeking to reassure the settler leaders, whom he referred to as “my friends” and “the pioneers of our generation,” Netanyahu pledged he would always protect the settlements.
The US Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Monday that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Co-sponsored by 17 senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D), the text calls on the legislative body to recognize the half a century landmark since Israel captured the eastern part of the city during the 1967 Six Day War.
“Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected,” the resolution states, adding that “there has been a continuous Jewish presence in Jerusalem for 3 millennia.”
It also says that “Jerusalem is a holy city and the home for people of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths.”
Furthermore, the text advocates a two-state outcome based on direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
The bill’s passage was “applauded” by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and embraced the liberal advocacy group J Street.
J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams tweeted that the resolution affirmed “long-held US policy that Jerusalem’s status is to be decided by the parties in 2-state negotiations.”
Senators advanced this measure just after US President Donald Trump formally deferred — at least for now — his campaign pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize the city as Israel’s capital.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jordanian Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, compared the fate of Palestinians who have attacked Israel repeatedly and refused to acknowledge the existence of a Jewish state with the genocidal extermination of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. The comparison was made in his remarks at the opening of the 35th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 6, 2017. Although Hussein noted in his speech that some would respond “that the experiences of the two peoples are not equivalent, how could I mention them in one breath? Indeed, I agree,” he nevertheless proceeded to do so.
In his words:
“Fifty years ago, this was the day I first heard the sound of war. I was three and a half years old and, while fragmentary, I still remember military men milling around our home in Amman, an armoured car stationed nearby and later, planes that flew overhead. It was a war that shaped my life, and forged my later desire to understand the depths of Palestinian suffering but not only that, Jewish suffering too – the latter spanning over two millennia, and which culminated in that colossal crime, the Holocaust.
I grew up not far from the massive Palestinian refugee camp in al-Baqa’a. I worked across the street from the al-Wihdat refugee camp. In the past thirty years, I have been to Auschwitz-Birkenau, visited Dachau, seen Buchenwald. I have studied in depth the trials at Nuremburg and elsewhere, the long and painful history of anti-Semitism in Europe, Russia and later, Arab countries – which remains still present in far too many places around the world.
Some will respond, mechanically almost, that the experiences of the two peoples are not equivalent, how could I mention them in one breath? Indeed, I agree – the Holocaust was so monstrous and so mathematically planned and executed it has no parallel, no modern equal.
Yet it is also undeniable that today, the Palestinian people mark a half-century of deep suffering under an occupation imposed by military force.”
The United States could the leave the United Nations Human Rights Council, warned its Ambassador to the UN in New York Nikki Haley as she spoke at the opening of its 35th session in New York.
“As you know, the United States is looking carefully at this Council and our participation in it,” Haley said as she took issue with its treatment of Israel.
“It is essential that this council address is chronic anti-Israel bias if it is to have any credibility,” said Haley, whose next stop is Israel.
“In this session of the Council, it is crucial to adopt the strongest possible resolutions on the critical human rights situations in Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Belarus, and Ukraine, and that it follow up to prevent further human rights violations and abuses in those countries,” said Haley.
There is no room here for cultural relativism. This Human Rights Council must adopt strong resolutions condemning violence and discrimination against women and it must take decisive action to eliminate trafficking.
I’m proud that the United States is hosting a side-event on the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Venezuela today. I’ll be there – and I hope you’ll be with me – to hear first-hand about the serious human rights violations there.
The Council must address this issue. If Venezuela cannot, it should voluntarily step down from its seat on the Human Rights Council until it can get its own house in order. Being a member of this council is a privilege, and no country who is a human rights violator should be allowed a seat at the table.
Finally, it’s hard to accept that this Council has never considered a resolution on Venezuela, and yet it adopted five biased resolutions in March against a single country, Israel. It is essential that this Council address its chronic anti-Israel bias, if it is to have any credibility.
Thank you again, and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible this afternoon at the Graduate Institute.
Nikki Haley blasts “chronic anti-Israel bias” at the U.N. Human Rights Council
The United Nations wants to spend $373,200 from the UN’s regular budget on a newly created “Office of Counter-Terrorism,” despite having no definition of the terrorism it is supposed to counter. The UN has been unable to define terrorism because Arab and Muslim states argue that any definition of terrorism must exclude “armed struggle” for “liberation and self-determination”, thereby legitimizing attacks against certain civilians.
A draft resolution in the General Assembly to create the new office was submitted by the President of the General Assembly on May 1, 2017 and has yet to be scheduled for a vote. On June 2, 2017, the General Assembly’s Budget Committee determined that the new office would require $373,200 in funds from the UN’s regular budget. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres first put forward the proposal to create the new office in February.
Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — a man at the center of the alleged Russian ties to the Trump campaign — is being eyed for a new job, with a high-level United Nations official telling Breitbart News it is “very likely” he will soon be named the senior official in charge of counterterrorism at the United Nations.
Secretary-General António Guterres has proposed a restructuring of the U.N.’s counterterrorism efforts, including a new office to be headed by a new Under-Secretary-General — one of the highest ranks in the international body.
Sources within the U.N. told Breitbart News that Russia would almost certainly be choosing the candidate, and while one official cautioned that it is far from clear that Kislyak would be the man chosen by Russia for the post, a high-level official told Breitbart that it is “widely believed” in U.N. circles that Kislyak has gotten the nod from Moscow, and that Guterres would agree to make the recommendation to the General Assembly.
“It is not definite, but very likely,” the official said.
Monday’s sudden decision by Saudi Arabia and its allies to sever ties with Qatar was reportedly prompted in part by a billion-dollar ransom payment made by Doha to Iran and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.
The other Gulf states were said to have been infuriated by the ransom paid in April to secure the release of a hunting party that included members of the Qatari royal family, who had been kidnapped in southern Iraq.
“The ransom payments are the straw that broke the camel’s back,” an unnamed expert told the Financial Times on Monday.
Regional government officials told the Financial Times that Qatar paid $700 million to Iran and Shiite militias supported by the regime. An additional sum of between $200 million and $300 million was paid to Syria, most of it to al-Qaeda-affiliated group Tahrir al-Sham, the paper said.
“So, if you add that up to the other $700 million they paid to Iran and its proxies, that means Qatar actually spent about a billion dollars on this crazy deal,” an unnamed official said.
US President Donald Trump threw his weight behind efforts to isolate Qatar on Tuesday, backing Saudi Arabia and its allies after they cut ties with Doha over claims it supports extremism.
In a surprise move against a key US ally, Trump suggested Qatar — home to the largest American airbase in the Middle East — was funding extremism as he tacitly backed the diplomatic blockade of the emirate.
“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” Trump said in a morning tweet, in reference to his trip to Riyadh last month.
“They said they would take a hard line on funding… extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!”
The fighting between Israel and Gaza in the summer of 2014 was officially a war – at least, according to a Los Angeles judge.
The ruling came in relation to USA Network’s TV show Dig – an FBI thriller set in Jerusalem – which has been the center of an ongoing legal battle for at least a year.
The TV series, which was canceled after one season, was shot, at least partly, in Israel in June 2014. As tensions began to heighten in what would eventually become a deadly, 50-day ground operation, the production crew decided to leave Israel and finish filming in Croatia and New Mexico.
NBCUniversal, USA’s parent company, filed a $6.9 million insurance claim with its Atlantic Insurance Company to cover the unexpected costs. The show’s policy offered full coverage in case of terrorism, but not in the case of war. NBC argued that the crew was forced to relocate due to Hamas terrorism, while Atlantic said it was a war, though the Israeli government never declared it as such.
A special parole board has determined that Yusuf Abu al-Hir, a convicted terrorist who was released as part of a 1983 prisoner exchange deal and expelled from Israel, will serve out the rest of his sentence after violating the terms of his release by trying to return to Israel illegally.
Abu al-Hir, originally from Acre, was jailed in 1969 for a series of security offenses. He was found guilty of planting explosives in various places and facilities, causing the death of two people and wounding many others. A military court sentenced him to 15 life sentences plus 20 years in prison and another 10 years, set to be served concurrently.
In 1983 Abu al-Hir was released as part of the first Jibril Agreement, when Israel released 4,765 security prisoners in exchange for six Nahal soldiers captured during the First Lebanon War.
One of the conditions for the deal was that the released prisoners would have to leave Israel, never to return.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, during closed talks with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and other senior Israeli officials in Ramallah last week, praised Israel for preventing a security escalation across the West Bank, Israel Hayom learned Monday.
According to sources familiar with the issue, Hamdallah said Israel’s decision to employ a policy of containment during the wave of Palestinian terrorism that began in October 2015 prevented the outbreak of a third intifada. Hamdallah said that Israel’s decision to distinguish between Palestinian attackers and the general population and avoid collective punishment measures was a key factor in preventing an escalation.
According to the sources, Hamdallah said the Palestinian Authority had been surprised by Israel’s measured conduct on the matter.
Kahlon reportedly met with Hamdallah to discuss several economic proposals that could be used as confidence-building measures. It was the first time an Israeli cabinet minister has held an official meeting in Ramallah since 2014, the year U.S.-brokered peace talks broke down.
In their meeting, Hamdallah also praised the Palestinian security mechanisms for their work to defuse tensions on the ground.
Grim records mark the 10th anniversary of Hamas rule in Gaza — the longest-ever daily electricity and water cuts, 60 percent youth unemployment, and a rising backlog of thousands waiting for a rare chance to exit the blockaded territory.
Unable to offer a remedy, the Islamic group has been doubling down on oppression. It has jailed the few who dare complain publicly, including the young organizers of a street protest against power cuts and an author who wrote on Facebook that “life is only pleasant for Hamas leaders.”
Polls show almost half the people would leave altogether if they could, but that support for the group, despite three short, devastating wars with Israel, is steady at around a third. With potential opponents crushed, there is no obvious path to regime change.
Meanwhile, for most of Gaza’s 2 million people, life is bound to get worse.
At the conclusion of President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the Saudis issued a joint statement outlining shared positions. The last article in their statement addressed Lebanon and stressed “the importance of supporting the Lebanese state,” specifically in pursuit of “enforcing its sovereignty on all of its territory, disarm terrorist organizations such as Hizballah, and bring all weapons under the legitimate supervision of the Lebanese army.”
Unfortunately, the goals of strengthening the Lebanese state and disarming Hezbollah are at odds with each other. Hezbollah has completed its takeover of the Lebanese state, including and especially its political institutions and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), along with other security agencies. Strengthening the Lebanese state today means strengthening Hezbollah.
Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon ensures that counting on the “Lebanese state” to disarm Hezbollah is a non-starter. The function of the Lebanese government is to defend Hezbollah, and to align its policies with the preferences of the group and of its patrons in Tehran.
Accordingly, Beirut rejected both the U.S.-Saudi declaration and the final statement of the Arab Islamic American Summit (“Riyadh Summit” for short), which separately condemned Iran’s regional subversion and its support for terrorism. Lebanon’s Hezbollah-allied President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who attended the summit, said that the final communique was formulated after leaders had left, implying that Lebanon would have objected to it.
Russia is closing in on a deal with Turkey to supply its latest S-400 air-defense system to Ankara, Moscow said Saturday, in the latest sign of restored ties.
“Moscow and Ankara have almost finished discussing the technical side of the contract for S-400,” Russian state giant Rostec said in a statement.
The firm said the finance ministries from the two countries were “discussing the possibility of providing Ankara a loan for the purchase.”
Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov said he did not know the outcome of the financial negotiations and refused to give any more details on the sale as the “contract is not yet signed.”
The potential sale of the hi-tech system by Russia to NATO-member Turkey marks the latest step in a dramatic turnaround in relations since the two fell out after Ankara downed a Russian warplane on the Syrian border in 2015.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Iran nuclear deal on Monday evening at a gala dinner in San Francisco for the Ploughshares Fund, a George Soros-backed group that was part of President Barack Obama’s “echo chamber” to sell the agreement to the public.
Kerry called the Iran deal’s monitoring processes a “system that’s working,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, and criticized President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress for pushing for new sanctions against the Iranian regime.
“It doesn’t make sense, folks, to risk a step that gets us nothing,” Kerry said of proposed new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, according to the Chronicle.
Kerry also blasted the Trump administration for withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords, the Obama administration’s other major foreign policy legacy. He reportedly defended his 2014 remark that climate change was a “weapon of mass destruction” and a threat to national security. “Scientists, people whose life is invested in this are telling you, ‘This is growing in instability, and the threat is that whole parts of the ice sheet will break off.’,” Kerry said, according to the Chronicle.
As Breitbart News’ Aaron Klein reported a year ago, the Ploughshares Fund has been sponsoring national security coverage at National Public Radio (NPR) since 2005, as well as several think tanks that supported the Iran deal. It is also, Klein reported, funded in turn by George Soros’s Open Society Foundations.
Journalists and editors of new operations covering the Middle East have begun to prepare for the eventuality of a nuclear-armed Iran hostile to Israel, and for the eventuality of reporting on an atomic weapons strike against the Jewish State in a way that downplays any negative effects of the attack and portrays any retaliatory or even preventive action by Israel as unjustified and disproportionate.
In keeping with reporting trends governing stories about Israeli military matters, if Iran attacks Israel with nuclear weapons, the majority of mainstream media organizations plan to adhere to the same line they have adopted through successive rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas, to the effect that Palestinian offensive capabilities are dismissed in news reports as consisting of crude, homemade rockets, implying minimal impact on Israel, when in fact a large number of such missiles are manufactured in Iran or China and smuggled into the Gaza Strip. In the case of Iran, the reportage will describe Iran’s ballistic-missile-delivered weapon of mass destruction in the same terms.
“Technically, since Iran is trying to develop the nuclear weapons and delivery technology domestically, we can use the word ‘homemade,’” explained Jeremy Bowen of the British Broadcasting Corporation. “And the scale of destruction of such a device means precision targeting is hardly relevant, so we can also use the word ‘crude.’ As anyone engaged in this industry for any length of time knows, terminology is used differently regarding Israel as compared to its use about anyone else.”
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