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Tag: Oslo Peace Accords

How Long will the Delay Game Continue?

bibi obama abbasA few days ago we saw the much anticipated tripartite meeting between Mahmoud Abbas, PM Netanyahu, and President Obama, in that usual stance where Israeli and Palestinian leader are clasping hands and the US leader is in the middle, hands outstretched, in that sort of “I know, deep down, you really do love each other,” type of body language.

rabin clinton arafatLet’s take a quick analysis of this picture, comparing it to the old one back in 1993. First of all, Obama looks a lot less happy then Clinton. Oh, but wait a minute: So does Abbas, and Bibi for that matter. They all look fairly miffed, like nobody really wants to be there, or they’re all constipated and need some fiber capsules. It’s hard to tell.

What’s really interesting, though, is that Israel is on the same side of the picture as she was in 1993. The left side. Abbas is on the right, as Arafat was. What is the significance of this? Take a look at any popular book on body language. What it will tell you is that to show the palm of your hand is an expression of capitulation, whereas to show the back of your hand is an expression of power and domination. When Bibi is on the left side of the picture, shaking Abbas’ hand with his right, he shows the back of his hand in the photograph. Abbas is left open-palmed and helpless.

I solute Bibi on this move, whether or not he did it accidentally.

But then again, it doesn’t really matter all that much. Nobody wanted to be in that picture in the first place anyway. And back home, everybody is griping about it. Following the meeting, Minister Without Portfolio (AKA Minister of Absolutely Nothing – there are a few of those in Bibi’s government) Benny Begin (son of the late PM Menachem Begin) called the chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat a “wild beast of a man” quoting the Bible in describing Ishmael.

Senior PA officials who came along with Abbas to New York called it something of a “complete failure,” in that Obama is reportedly no longer demanding a total settlement freeze from Israel. Further, Bibi and Abbas reportedly came back from the meeting with totally different conclusions, Bibi’s being that negotiations will proceed without preconditions, and Abbas’ being that negotiations will only resume after a total settlement freeze. At least they both came away with conclusions at all.

MK Danny Danon, a Likud lawmaker, said that now that Obama failed to obtain any concessions from Arab countries, Netanyahu must restart unlimited building in Judea and Samaria. That’s the right. And on the left…

Even Yossi Beilin, architect of the Oslo Accords and former Meretz chairman, is all hot and bothered. In his words, “It was clear that the participants were not enthusiastic about the meeting. It wasn’t a meeting of people who want to make peace.”

What would give you that idea? Could it be the looks on their faces? So I repeat the question posed in the title of this article. How long will this game of picture-taking and delay go on until somebody makes a move, somewhere, on some sort of principled stance involving any kind of conviction?

Could be a while. I wouldn’t count on anybody currently in office moving anywhere significant.

Does Huckabee Represent the New Approach to Middle East Peace?

Mike HuckabeeThere’s a storm afoot. I can feel it. It’s just now starting to churn, and the waters of the peace process are getting a bit choppier. I refer not to any coming wars, of which there are sure to be plenty, but to a new trend. The world is getting tired of the ongoing Oslo Peace Process, as it was originally designed to solve everything in 3 months (so said Yitzhak Rabin), and now, 16 years later, we’re still at Square One. What I am referring to is a growing post-Oslo phenomenon, a political approach that, instead of trying to find a way to “jumpstart the peace process,” just isn’t interested in having a peace process in the first place. I’m talking about Republican Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee.

Listed among the top contenders for the Republican throne in 2012, Huckabee’s approach to Israel would be fundamentally different than any president has taken since 1967. He came to Israel last week and said some sound bites that you wouldn’t believe. “The closest thing we [in America] ever had to that”– namely the demand that Jewish settlers leave their homes located on what most of the world believes is Palestinian land–“was the days of segregation, racially, where there were white neighborhoods and there were black neighborhoods.”
Also, “To say that Jews can’t live in Jerusalem is the equivalent of telling the Boston Red Sox they can’t play in Fenway Park. Obviously, that would never go over very well on Beacon Hill.”

The following is a paragraph from Shmuel Rosner’s article published in the New Republic analyzing Huckabee and his approach.

“Huckabee is becoming one of the loudest voices in a small (but growing) chorus of people who aren’t just tired of trying to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or pessimistic when it comes to the prospects of achieving such peace any time soon. These people–among them right-wing hacks and former generals, messianic radicals and cold-calculating strategists, populist politicians and idealistic dreamers–think that the whole paradigm of peace as we know it should be eliminated from the books. The reigning world vision of an Israeli-Palestinian peace is, they believe, so ’90s, and should boldly be replaced by new paradigms. Huckabee is the best hope that settlers and their supporters can entertain of turning this relatively marginal viewpoint into a legitimate position.”

Huckabee now has a hit show on Foxnews and is serious contender for the Republican nomination, so we’ll see how far he can get with his rhetoric.

The only problem is, what is Huckabee’s serious alternative? Meaning, there is a status quo here that can’t exactly be maintained for much longer, and peace process or not, it has to be changed. The good thing is, that’s not Huckabee’s business as to exactly how. All he can do is support whatever ideas we in Israel come up with. It’s up to Israel’s leaders to think it up and do it. The problem here is, there’s no one in power right now that is. Thinking it up on the sidelines, there are plenty. The question is, will they break into the mainstream?

The storm is brewing. Time will tell. And something tells me, it won’t really be that long before time does finally tell and the stalemate is broken. While time is busy ticking, here’s a nice video of Huckabee in the previous presidential campaign.

OneJerusalem Exclusive: Vice Premier Bogey Ya’alon Meets with Moshe Feiglin & Followers

YaalonThe calm of the event and how normal it felt belied how unprecedented it actually was. The place was packed from front to back. There weren’t even enough chairs for everyone in attendance. Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon, Minister of Strategic Affairs and Vice PM, took time out of his day to sit down with a fringe group of Feiglinites working inside the Likud, and speak with them about his vision. Bogey showed guts in sitting down with Feiglin and his supporters since his boss, PM Netanyahu, is known to loathe this man, and fears him like the plague. To be caught sitting with Feiglin – you’ll take quite a media beating if you get caught. This may be why Feiglin sent no official word to the media about the event. Bogey’s lambasting of the Israeli media during his 40 minute speech to the group could have been another factor.

He spoke about Zionist history, about days past where hope was prevalent, about what he perceived as the failure of the Oslo Process, about how Israel thought that by giving up land she could get peace, about how there is no one to talk to on the other side and therefore negotiations are impossible for the time being. Basically, the standard Likud talk, agree with it or not. Though, with all due respect to Bogey, a true patriot and hero of the State of Israel who fought in every war since Yom Kippur of ’73, there was something missing. The frustration in the room was palpable. It was a frustration that I understood immediately: Moshe Ya’alon does not really understand who Feiglin is, why his following is growing, what he really stands for, or what he is trying to do. Like so many others, he thinks Moshe Feiglin is just another right winger in Likud with a big support base – a base he wants to get in with and win over, so repeating the standard Likud refrains will make them happy.

Moshe FeiglinKeep in mind that Moshe Feiglin is probably the strangest politician in Israel. He is quiet, doesn’t talk much, he’s always smiling for some reason, an almost eerie ambience of calm constantly surrounds him as his rail-thin body slowly sways through a room, and he just won’t leave the Likud no matter how hard his enemies attack him. The man operates, and has always operated on the fringe. His house sits at the very end of his block, at the edge of a hill. When he walks into his Synagogue on Shabbat mornings, he sits at the end of the row. And aside from people constantly approaching him and starting conversations, asking questions and the like, he doesn’t hang around to schmooze up the crowd after services. Instead, he heads straight home, a quiet introvert, back to his house at the very end of the block, back to his wife and children.

At the meeting, Bogey spoke about how peace is impossible for now, since the other side has not recognized Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. What he seemed to miss, however, is that to Feiglin, this is completely irrelevant. Whether the other side is ready for peace, willing to make compromises or anything else, plays no role in Feiglin’s thought. “Peace is not my objective,” he replied to Bogey. He continued, “There is no country on the entire planet, except us, that has peace as its national objective. The minute that peace is your national objective, you lose it.” The Zionism of old doesn’t interest him either. “Zionism has reached the end of its road,” he says. “It is time for the next level – the one based on faith and the God of Israel. If we don’t build the second level, we will lose the whole thing.”

Then what is Feiglin trying to do? He wants nothing less than a total revolution at the core of Israel’s consciousness, to redefine the purpose of her existence, to change everything at the very core, and he wants to do this by winning the Likud leadership, and then the leadership of Israel. The objective of peace, according to him, demonstrates that Israel’s current leaders want her to be a nation among nations, to simply be left alone to her own development, to live without having to launch a defense war every 3 years. Feiglin’s idea is much more basic than an absence of conflict. It is to be a uniquely Jewish nation through a national Jewish revival. Not a religious revival, as he is against coercive religious legislation and is actually a proponent of civil marriage, for example. He even wants to see the end of religious parties entirely and the entire National Camp in the Likud.

Jewish revival, for him, begins with the most basic common denominator – Jewish identity. With the sectoral mentality prevalent among pretty much every Israeli today, this type of unity is impossible. This is why operating within the Likud is much more than just a simple tactic for him and his followers. It is, rather, a statement of taking responsibility for the leadership and future of the country and the Jewish people, rather than the leadership of a sectoral party and the funding of your sector’s economic welfare.

Whether Feiglin will succeed in taking over the Likud is anyone’s guess. He began with 3% of the Likud vote in 2002, 12% in 2005, and 24% in 2007. He is constantly recruiting new Likud members for this purpose, swelling his support base in the party. If he actually does it, then whether the country as a whole is ready for someone like him is a totally open question. But his fight and doggedness in not backing down despite any challenge, fair or unfair from Netanyahu and the Likud leadership, reminds me of a quote from the movie the Terminator.

“He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever.”

This is something his political rivals should take to heart, and Bogey’s arrival at Feiglin headquarters just brought him one step closer to his objective. So if you want the status quo to keep stable, if you don’t want things to change too radically too quickly, then Feiglin is the man to fear. And what happened last night should be cause for alarm, because if history has proven anything, it has proven this. Revolutionary leadership – it always begins on the fringe.

Where is he now?

arafat yasserEver since the demise of the PLO’s long time standard bearer and first Palestinian Chairman or “President” Yasser Arafat, many people might be speculating what might be happening to him in the after-life, known to Jews as the Olam ha Bah. During his “illustrious” career, Yasser Arafat had many “accomplishments” he could be proud of, including the murder of several thousand of his avowed “Yahud” enemies by acts of terror (most of which he personally authorized or provided funds for), those cherished moments when he almost became legitimate while shaking hands with a former “Zionist” enemy, Yitzhak Rabin, on the White House Lawn; accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Norway (the same city which gave its name to the now defunct Oslo Peace Accords); and, his most notable accomplishment of all, providing his widow Suha with a ‘king’s ransom’ of an endowment, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Yes, the Chairman does have a lot to be proud of; including turning his beloved Palestinian Authority into such a mess that it will be a long time (if ever) before it can eventually be worthy of being part of the “two state solution” that the new American President, Barack Obama, is so much in favor of. But perhaps one of Arafat’s greatest achievements was sending so many of own countrymen and women to their deaths in what is known in the Muslim World as Holy Martyrdom or shaheedim . Long before groups known as Hamas or Islamic Jihad came into being, Chairman Arafat, or Comrade Arafat as he was known then, encouraged young Palestinians and international terror associates (Baader Meinhoff, Japanese Red Army, Carlos the Jackal, etc) to wreak death and personal suffering on as many of “the enemy” as could be shot, stabbed, clubbed, or blown up, often with sensational media coverage. A few of these were the slaughter of people at Ben Gurion Airport in May, 1972, by
Members of the Japanense Red Army, the Savoy Hotel terror attack in Tel Aviv, the attack on Jewish school children in Qiryat Shmona, the Egged Bus attack on the Coastal Road in February 1978, and the attack in the coastal town of Nahariya, not long afterwards.

But perhaps his most sensational terror accomplishment was the attack on the Israeli athletes at the summer Olympic Games of August 1972, carried off by members of the Palestinian Black September faction, who had direct ties to Arafat’s Fatah organization. 11 Israeli athletes and coaches lost their lives in an episode that is still being talked about to this day.

Chairman Arafat finally went to his “heavenly reward” in November 2004, after complications from a medical condition which some say was caused by AIDS, and others by some form of poison. He must have been looking forward to meeting up with some of those 72 virgins (the sex of them open to speculation) as is the reward to all those who did holy deeds on behalf of his religion (he was still a devout Muslim, despite his political leanings).

But in Yasser’s case, did he actually meet up with them, or with something else altogether? All of us on the receiving end of his “good deeds” can only hope he received “something else altogether”.

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