“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.
Main topics covered in this Publication:
- Bomb Attack and the Discovery of Tunnels
- Obama and Israel
- Celebrating Passover in Israel 5
- Selection of Articles
No need to panic
Hamas is in operational distress, and we, for some reason, are starting to panic about war. (…) It isn’t Hamas that’s going to war—it’s Hamas that’s at a loss. (…) It’s not surprising that Israel and Hamas have been exchanging mutually calming messages over the past few days. (…) Hamas’s arms race has not changed in recent days, just as Israel’s arms race against Gaza hasn’t changed. (…) In this race, the winning side will have more means, more technology and more manpower. (…) When we compare the factors pushing for a confrontation in Gaza to the factors encouraging restraint, the result isn’t balanced. The factors pushing for a conflict are the military wing of Hamas (…) and the fact that the Hamas leadership is failing both to rehabilitate Hamas’s standing in its area and also to physically rehabilitate Gaza. (…) On the other hand, (…) Hamas doesn’t currently have a patron in the Arab world. The Muslim Brotherhood is weak in the region: Jordan recently shut down their branches; they’re being chased out of Egypt; Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have outlawed them. (…) Simultaneously, Hamas has been careful not to join from Gaza any of the confrontations in the West Bank. (…) If it decides to break the rules tomorrow morning, it would be a crazy decision for them. But Hamas is a very calculating organization; it doesn’t intend to lose the assets that it has accumulated in one frenzied moment. The lessons of the last round of panicking should taken to heart. Such rounds, which aren’t backed up by facts and are fed mostly by anxiety, can lead to a real outbreak.
Alex Fishman, JED, 17.04.16
Beware an undesired escalation
(…) Military professionals disagree on whether this is a new tunnel or an old one, dug prior to Protective Edge and simply expanded. This argument may have serious ramifications: If this is an old passageway, then the claim that Hamas’ tunnel grid was destroyed in 2014 was false, and if this is a new tunnel, it proves Hamas is flouting Israel’s warning that digging border-breaching tunnels would be cause for another war. (…) Israel (…), when it comes to the Gaza Strip, Israel prefers to generate deterrence and avoid a new round of hostilities as much as possible. Hamas, for its part, seems to be on the same page. (…) If the Hamas concludes that it better hurry up and make the most of whatever time it has left before its tunnel grid is exposed and destroyed, then Israel should brace itself for a fresh round of violence. One must also remember that the situation in Judea and Samaria will also contribute to any development in Gaza. (…) If the investigation into Monday’s bus bombing in Jerusalem proves Hamas was behind the attack and Israel decides to embark on a wide-scale arrests operation across Judea and Samaria (…) then Hamas may decide to strike the south.
Yoav Limor, IHY, 19.04.16
Israeli security assessments are reality built on a lie
Were I a resident of one of the communities near the Gaza Strip border, I wouldn’t be able to sleep – having discovered once again that the government has lied to me. Now it’s selling me sensor technology that can detect tunnels and has placed an Iron Dome over my head. But that’s not what it promised me. The government explained that Operation Defensive Edge would rid Hamas of the least desire to make war against me. (…) And here we have it (…) Once again, the IDF brass is reciting the same assessments as before Operation Pillar of Defense, before Operation Defensive Edge, before the Second Lebanon War and before the lone-wolf intifada. (…) it is a reality built on a lie and held up by the scaffolding of delusion. Once they promised us that if we only took out the Hamas leadership, life would be wonderful, as if terror lives is independent, cut off from reality. As if (…) only we destroy Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and Yahya Ayyash, terror will disappear. (…) Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is presenting the greatest achievement of the high-tech country as the weapon of tomorrow against terror: A tunnel detector against a population under siege. Together with Iron Dome, this wonder is the security kit of Israel’s citizens. But at the western end of the tunnel is a hole, in which some two million frustrated people are crowded, unemployed, poor, with health and education services light years from what is accepted at the eastern end of the tunnel. Entire generations of people without a future. Amazingly, they are still submissive (…). But what (…) if one day a few tens of thousands, or maybe a few hundreds of thousands, decide to climb the fences, or hold a hunger strike next to it, like the Syrian refugees, who really have nothing more to lose. (…) What will the Israeli inventor-warrior do then? (…) If I lived in the communities near the Gaza Strip, this would be my main cause of concern.
Zvi Bar´el, HAA, 19.04.16
An underground breakthrough
(…) It is believed that once Hamas realizes the IDF discovered one of its tunnels, it will stop using it. Still, one of the concerns is that just as the Brussels terrorists feared an imminent discovery and attacked the Belgian capital – even though their original targets were in Paris – Hamas will try and use the tunnels (…). This likely wasn’t the only tunnel, but so far there’s no proof of a tunnel penetrating into the ground beneath an Israeli town. (…) Attacking Israeli towns is a tertiary priority for it, but it exists nonetheless, and the very idea of Hamas tunneling into our territory hurts the Gaza border residents’ sense of security. (…) The level of protection provided by the new systems is not yet the equivalent to that of the Iron Dome missile defense system, but you can compare the achievements they’ve had so far to the first successful trial runs of Iron Dome. (…) we are not quite there yet, but we are quite close. We can only hope that those capable of developing groundbreaking technology will double their efforts and that the government will provide them with all the financial resources and necessary conditions to expedite technological development and implement it in facilities and in the field. (…) Intercepting mortars is no less important than intercepting tunnels. In my opinion, it is even more so.
Ron Ben-Yishai, JED, 18.04.16
Tunnel exposure shows next Hamas war is a case of ‘when,’ not ‘if’
(…) The nightmare of 2014, when troops discovered and destroyed some three dozen cross-border attack tunnels in the midst of a bitter war, is far from over. (…) the question of the next round of conflict with Hamas in Gaza (…) is not one of “if,” but rather, simply, of “when.” (…) Israel has three times found itself dragged into conflict with Hamas in the less than a decade since the Islamist terror group seized control of the Strip. And in none of those wars and mini-wars has Israel been able to achieve a decisive victory or even a prolonged period of subsequent calm. (…) Despite the best efforts of Israel’s best military minds, Hamas still rules Gaza (…). With the cessation of hostilities (…) Hamas went back to concerted tunneling and rocket manufacture. (…) Israel has been making gains of its own in this relentless battle of wills. (…) can Israel really be confident that it will determine the timing and nature of the next round of conflict with the brutal Islamists? Hamas, which insists on continuing its efforts to destroy Israel, (…) may feel that, fully ready or not, now is the time to attack. (…)
David Horovitz, TOI, 18.04.16
A return to the bad old days?
(…) It could have been much worse, with major loss of life. But the body count isn’t as important as the psychological effect. No matter how many knifings or rammings took place in the last few months, there was still a sense of security – we have fences, walls, barriers and checkpoints. Buses don’t blow up anymore. (…) that illusion was shattered. Whether this was a one-time aberration or a hint of things to come, one thing is for certain. When we get on our bus (…), we’ll have something new to think about.
David Brinn, JPO, 18.04.16
Time for new strategies
(…) Hamas’ primary goal is the eradication of the State of Israel. (…) Operation Protective Edge saw Israel take great care not to topple Hamas’ regime. The main concern behind this decision was that a more radical regime, led by perhaps the Islamic State group, would take its place. (…) This policy also produced relative normalcy for the communities adjacent to the Gaza border, not to mention spared the lives that could have been lost in war. Nevertheless, one must remember that Hamas is hardly dragging its feet, and not only when it comes to digging tunnels. (…) The concern over the rise of an even more radical regime in Gaza is misleading. Even if, for example, Islamic State were to take control of the enclave, it is highly unlikely it would pursue different policies, and it would not necessarily pose a greater threat. On the other hand, this scenario would prove to the world that the Palestinian struggle is a radical religious one at heart — similar to the war Islamic State is fighting against the West (…), this scenario could breed a legitimate infrastructure for creative solutions, such as coordinated moves led by Israel, the West and the moderate Arab states, such as Egypt and Jordan, to topple the Islamist regime in Gaza. This could lead to devising a solution to the “Palestinian problem,” for example, by revisiting the Egyptian proposal from 2014 to establish a Palestinian state in Sinai. (…) Israel must continue with its counterterrorism efforts and not be tempted to rely solely on defensive measures. Sitting on the fence is not an option, especially when you realize a tunnel has been dug underneath it.
Dr. Ephraim Herrera, IHY, 20.04.16
When the cons outweigh the pros
(…) There are two scenarios by which Iran could decide to take the nuclear leap: The first is an immediate threat to the Iranian regime, most likely from an American strike, and the second is an international crisis that will divert U.S. diplomatic and intelligence attention away from Iran. These are both extreme scenarios whose chances of realization are slim, so the nuclear deal’s main achievement — extending the breakthrough window — is likely to remain theoretical. (…) Promoting any change in the Iranian regime would require the U.S. find a response to Iran’s nuclear program (…). Should the second scenario become reality, it is hard to see how extending the breakthrough window to one year could allow the global community to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear thresholds. Having a year to respond is undeniably better than having just a few months, but potential tensions between world powers could hinder detecting a shift in Iranian policy and the attempts to stop it from becoming a nuclear power, either by imposing international sanctions or launching a military strike. An analysis of the situation illustrates how the main achievements of the nuclear deal with Iran are primarily theoretical, and it is highly doubtful they could become tangible. (…) U.S. President Barack Obama (…) has to use the remainder of his term in office to ensure Iran upholds it end of the deal and, together with America’s allies, put in place an alternative punitive mechanism, which must include credible military options, in case Iran moves towards a bomb. (…)
Avner Golov, IHY, 24.04.16
Obama, Netanyahu, and selective outrage
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last year about the Iran nuclear deal was viewed by U.S. President Barack Obama as an outrageous intervention in what should have been an Americans-only internal decision. (…) We have a Congress whose speaker invited Netanyahu to speak about an issue of major national security concern to us and even greater import to his country. (…) Now Obama goes to the U.K. to speak about an issue that affects our country far less than Iranian nuclear weapons affect Israel, and he adds threats to his arguments, and that’s supposed to be fine? (…) Obama’s defenders will say: British Prime Minister David Cameron invited him. To which I would answer, that is a fine defense of his visit to London (…). But it is not a defense of his outrage when Netanyahu entered our debate at the invitation of the speaker of the House. Congress is a separate branch of government, unlike the British Parliament. It is simply unpersuasive to argue that in Washington, the party in power in the White House can ask foreign leaders to weigh in on a domestic debate but the party in power in Congress cannot; and it is fine for our president to intervene in referenda abroad, but for a foreign leader to express views about our own decisions is absolutely out, even when Congress invites him to do so. (…) Perhaps this kind of foreign leader’s intervention is a bad idea and has little positive impact, and Netanyahu should have stayed home. Perhaps, and if so, Obama should have stayed home too.
Elliott Abrams, IHY, 24.04.16
Obama’s heavy-handed heavy-water deal
(…) The issue of heavy-water production at the Arak nuclear facility had been one of the major sticking points in the over two-year negotiating process with Iran. The agreement explicitly limits the amount to 130 metric tons. According to the International Atomic Energy Administration, Iran exceeded that amount in February and would have had to ship it out to satisfy compliance. However, it failed to do so. (…) So rather than insisting that the details of the deal be complied with, we are enabling the Iranians to achieve their lethal goals.(…) Iran remains the single largest state sponsor of terrorism and money laundering. And it is using American taxpayers’ dollars to fund its terrorist networks and proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and the Gaza Strip. (…) When the Iranians conducted their recent missile tests, with the words “Israel must be wiped out” printed on the missiles in both Hebrew and Farsi, they broadcast to the entire world their true intentions regarding this deal. (…) the Obama administration is afraid that the Iranians are going to call off the entire wedding. So once again, the U.S. under President Barack Obama has not only caved, but it is encouraging other international actors to cave as well.
Sarah N. Stern, IHY, 26.04.16
Obama’s Saudi lesson
(…) The special relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has always been the cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf region, and to an extent in the Middle East as a whole (…). Obama also sought to (…) rally Saudi support for the war against Islamic State (…). The Saudis, however, were not interested in playing ball, and to an extent they even tried to undermine Obama’s efforts. (…) Indeed, U.S.-Saudi relations are experiencing a serious slump. With the U.S. no longer dependent on Saudi oil as it used to be, it is possible Obama believes Iran is a more attractive partner with which to hammer out Middle East affairs, especially issues pertaining to the futures of Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. This might explain Obama’s criticism of the Saudis in his recent interview with The Atlantic magazine, in which he essentially blamed Saudi Arabia for stirring up tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, which all but implied Riyadh was somehow responsible for the flames engulfing the region from Iraq to Syria. (…) While Obama was in Saudi Arabia, senior lawmakers continued to push an investigation to determine the involvement of Saudi officials in the 9/11 attacks. (…) The Saudis are no angels, but it is hard to believe anyone in the kingdom knew, let alone encouraged, the horrific 2001 attacks. Nevertheless, it is also clear the years of massive investments in preaching Wahhabi ideology worldwide contributed greatly to the Islamic radicalization that bred al-Qaida’s nefarious plan 15 years ago, and currently fuels Islamic State’s rampage across the Middle East. Still, if the Americans have come to believe Iran is the better alternative, they are in for a rude awakening. (…) should Washington turn its back on Riyadh it would send a dangerous message to the Sunnis in the region and to U.S. allies worldwide. (…)
Prof. Eyal Zisser, IHY, 26.04.16
Time for an Israeli strategy for the next American administration
The Palestinians have a strategy that is working. They see they don’t have to make any concessions or even gestures towards Israel, as time is on their side (…) the United States, is slowly moving each day toward diplomatically isolating Israel. (…) American support of Israel is NOT inevitable. Israel must begin to think differently, actively show that it is trying to be the partner for peace, and demonstrate that it will manage the situation instead just playing defense. (…) not only did Secretary of State John Kerry attend the J Street national conference, but Vice President Biden, who was the administration speaker at AIPAC, also graced the J Street stage. No clearer snub or moral equivalence could have been telegraphed to the Israeli government and people. (…) Two years from now, with a President Trump or President Clinton, we may miss Valerie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Robert Malley and Obama, who all believe that Israel is a liability worth sidelining to help strengthen Iran against the Sunni world. (…) It could be worse – a lot worse. (…) Israel can and must do something about it. (…) Bibi’s rhetorical skills will not win the day, as he has lost touch with for the need for a more effective American hasbara. (…) put some plans down on the table as soon as there is a new administration, work with them, and then actively manage the situation and expectations. (…) The goal is to change the dynamic going forward, putting Israel on the diplomatic offensive to blunt the pro-BDS movement, and create a situation for an improved relationship with the American people, who do not understand why Israel is building in communities in the West Bank. (…) A Democratic or Republican administration in 2017 will remain tilted to the Israeli perspective with reasonable offers to the Palestinians even if unreciprocated, especially if the PA remains as stubborn, undemocratic and unwilling to accept any Jewish state as they are today.
Eric R. Mandel, JPO, 30.04.16
The war against Passover
(…) At the heart of the anti-Zionist assault is the notion that the Jews aren’t a people but only a faith. (…) The Jewish year cycle tells a different story. (…) The Passover seder (…) ritual is the retelling of the exodus (…) and the message is: There is no Judaism without the Jewish people and its story. (…) The centrality of peoplehood in Jewish identity explains the strange anomaly of the Jewish atheist. Christians or Muslims who reject religious doctrine are no longer a part of their faith community; there is no such thing as a Christian or a Muslim atheist. (…) Paradoxically, peoplehood is given primacy over faith for the sake of the faith itself: The Jewish people is the carrier of Judaism. And so peoplehood is an essential religious category. (…) Judaism was never intended to be a universal faith, only the faith of a specific people – whose purpose is to be a spiritual avant garde within humanity for its eventual redemption. Judaism is a particularist strategy for a universalist goal. (…) as Jews around the world prepare for Passover, the war against Jewish peoplehood – against Passover itself – took a particularly ugly turn. A UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem denied any Jewish attachment to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall – the Wall was identified with quotation marks, unlike its Muslim term, Al Buraq. (…) the UNESCO resolution erases us from our own story. (…) Of all the attempts to destroy us throughout our history, the campaign against history itself is the most devious. Passover suggests this definition of the Jews: We are a story we tell ourselves about who we think we are. The current assault on the Jewish story is so dangerous precisely because it strikes at the core of Passover. If we lose the story, our sense of the basic justness of our narrative, we will lose the essence of our being.
Yossi Klein Halevi, TOI, 19.04.16
Not ‘letting go’ — but trying to: A Pesach paradox
“Letting Go,” a refrain my yoga teacher and rabbi often like to say, doesn’t always resonate. (…) And, on Pesach eve when we are commanded to retell the story of the Jewish People becoming a free nation, an integral part of being Jewish, I would suggest, is not letting go, but rather remembering the past as it helps to form our identity as a Nation. (…) Jews don’t let go. (…) I believe we need to try.(…) No matter what happened last week, regardless of any past traumas, there is hope for the coming week (…) I would posit that Pesach and the human condition engages the paradox of concomitantly remembering the past and moving forward. Of accepting the past and seeking new vistas for the future. (…) As we usher in the Pesach holiday, we tell an ancient story as we create a new reality. We live in an independent Jewish polity, with all its flaws, because Jews held onto the past for centuries, but then let go of past traumas and dreams in order to build something new. (…)
Meir Charash, TOI, 22.04.16
The most important question for Israelis this Passover
(…) The B’Tselem video showing the shooting of a dying Palestinian man in Hebron last month shows (…) how the rescue personnel from Hatzalah Yehuda & Shomron not only refrained from providing treatment, but even shouted abuse at the wounded man. This is how we discover the deeper reason for Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot’s struggle to keep rabbis from exerting any moral influence on the army. (…) A few hours had elapsed – in which the IDF conducted its investigation, and (…) Azaria’s version of events changed: He (…) shot because he feared that the dying man was wearing an explosive belt. (…) In thousands of prior suicide terror attacks worldwide, no person wearing a suicide belt ever tried to first stab someone at point-blank range, and only then to blow himself up. Never before did an assailant wait to be shot and only then try and blow himself up. (…) But this lack of reasoning didn’t hinder the promoting of the idea to the wider public (…) that shooting a dying man in the head was for the sake of security. (…) the B’Tselem video and what came afterward confirmed (…) what is going on in the territories – (…) the general public is sold the security lie and fear, which have no connection to the real reason. That is what the real debate and struggle should be about. (…) the question of what kind of Israel we want to live in. That of Eisenkot and Yitzhak Rabin? Or a racist and messianic like that of Rabbis Lior and Eliyahu? On this Passover, there is no question more important.
Sefi Rachlevsky, HAA, 25.04.16
On Passover, peoplehood and pursuit of the enemy
According to an in-depth survey published recently, Israeli youth believe deeply and optimistically in the future of this country. (…) My sense is that just about everybody in this country feels part of a grand meta-historic journey; a journey based on a shared narrative and a moral heritage that has sustained the Jewish people for thousands of years and returned it to the Land of Israel. (…) Isn’t that why we all participate in the Passover Seder; because it encapsulates our faith in Jewish history and destiny? (…) Regardless of how or whether they adhere to religious ritual, Israelis understand themselves as holding a moral bond, and as being chosen – yes, chosen! – for a task. They feel a responsibility for advancing Jewish civilization, which the Bible roots in building an exceptional polity in Zion. And thus, Israelis will fight unflaggingly for their freedom. (…) It’s no accident that the core Haggada text (…) grounds Jewish peoplehood in grand values, and anchors Jewish history in Divine providence. It then explicitly acknowledges the enemy (…); recommits to fighting that enemy with G-d’s help (…); and tasks Israel with shaping an idealized future (…).
David M. Weinberg, JPO, 27.04.16
Freedom and enslavement on Passover
Passover originates from a pagan holiday celebrating the coming of spring. The Jewish people gave it an additional meaning: Freedom. (…) Our return to our homeland was tied to the idea of breaking from the shackles of banishment from Israel and a return to nature. But the nature to which we returned is an enslaving one. It was not the nature of hunter-gatherers, but that of farmers who are dependent on their land and rooted to it – to regime of plowing, sowing, and reaping, and to the scheduled milking of cows. (…) Sowing and crying. (…) The farmer (…) works under the limitations of reality, is rooted to the ground, the dirt in which he steps is stuck to his shoes. (…) a nice metaphor for freedom that is tied to willful enslavement, and if you will – it can be seen as the essence of the Zionist story. This story has two dimensions: An aspiration for human freedom, which is universal, and the freedom of a nation, which is the singular case of the Jewish people. (…) in those early days of settling the land, at least some of the more clear-minded and sensitive members of the first-generation did attempt to settle the grating contradiction between the cruelty of our national liberation movement and the knowledge of the disaster it was causing for local Arab residents. (…) The problem with this unburdening is that it involves enslavement, and this is where we come back to Passover. I searched for a statement that would define freedom, and found one in the writings of Pyotr Kropotkin, an anarchist thinker from the 19th century. He wrote that (…) he himself only felt he would be free when all people, men and women, would be free as he was. The freedom of others (…), he wrote, (…) is a necessary assumption for it (…). Simply put: As long as we don’t bring freedom to the Palestinian people and keep them under our boots, we ourselves will never be free either.
Yaron London, JED, 29.04.16
A victory for the rule of law
(…) Behaving justly adds to the country’s moral strength. Appearing just grants it a diplomatic advantage in an age when anti-Semites from inside the state and abroad are hurling abuse (…). The rule of law’s ability to handle right-wing criminals, as the nation’s heart fills with rage over Palestinian terrorism, has been put to the test since the days of the Jewish Underground terrorist group in the 1980s. (…) There is no doubt that the Shin Bet security agency and the police would prefer to reach the criminals using moderate, restrained means that completely respect the suspects’ rights. But reality proves yet again — in this wave of arrests that began with the arson at a Palestinian home in Duma — that sometimes, there is no choice but to employ sleep deprivation, to prevent meetings with lawyers and even to push suspects around or restrain them. (…) Obviously, if they are innocent or it cannot be proven that they committed the crime attributed to them, it’s better to set them free than imprison them without proof. But this cannot be done using regular methods, and Israel is paying the price for the use of “moderate physical force” on terror suspects, regardless of the political support they receive from the extreme Right. (…) The latest group to be arrested (…) proves that the rule of law is not deterred by the suspects’ political lobby and that the use of extraordinary measures is not reserved for Palestinian terrorists alone. And it is up to the Foreign Ministry to let the world know.
Dan Margalit, IHY, 21.04.16
What happens when you let the Shin Bet do its work
For years, the Shin Bet demanded that it be given the tools to handle Jewish terrorism in Israel. (…) But we had to experience the tragedy of the Dawabsheh family being burned alive in Duma, in July 2015, in order for our political and legal ranks to sober up, shake off the pressure exerted by the settler lobby, and internalize the fact that these were not hilltop punks, but Jewish terrorists who pose a danger to the state of Israel. The result has been the fact that, since December 2015 (…) there have been nearly no reported incidents of violent riots and attacks by Jews n Arabs in the territories. (…) Those who used to say that they couldn’t handle Jewish terrorism unless their hands were untied now seem justified. (…) No doubt, defining the Jewish terror squads as illegal organizations following the Duma affair was a watershed moment. This definition enabled the Shin Bet to interrogate the suspects as they would Palestinian suspects, and to establish well-based indictments. Despite the criticism over the issues of administrative orders and prevention of attorney consultations for ten days following the arrest, these steps have proven themselves in action. The Nahliel terror cell is not the last, but the defense forces’ sense in the field is that the Shin Bet’s Jewish Division has an ability to deter violent Jewish anarchists these days. Take your foot off of them for a minute, though, and they’ll raise their venomous heads once more.
Alex Fishman, JED, 23.04.16
Not every Arab is an enemy
(…) The terrorists failed both in the street and in its overarching purpose to tear at the fabric of the day-to-day lives of both Jews and Arabs (…). During even the bloodiest days of violence, we saw Jews and Arabs continuing to live their lives, working amongst and with each other. (…) Take into consideration the call for separation in hospitals; does this not play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, whose goal is to tear Jerusalem and other Arab areas away from Israel? Just as separation between Jews and Arabs isn’t a religious obligation, it also isn’t a national ambition. (…) Jewish and Arab doctors, nurses and management: This is what the peace that everyone talks about looks like. (…) Even after the outbreak of the First Intifada, Arab officials gave practical advice to Israeli decision makers on how to end the riots, yet no one wanted to listen. That is, until Oslo came and put Fatah in power. But all of a sudden, these voices were silenced. (…) Even today during arguments with Arabs, when I accuse them of incitement and terror, they step back and ask me: And who exactly brought in Arafat and his terrorists? Us or you? And who put them in charge over us? We have Arab enemies, but not all Arabs are enemies. The “small difference” is a moral imperative and national one.
Elyakim Haetzni, JED, 16.04.16
Another low on the Golan Heights
(…) Israel may decide for itself that possession of the Golan Heights is better than peace without the Golan (…). However, international efforts to end the civil war in Syria show that the expiration date is approaching on the world’s patience when it comes to the conquest and annexation of the Golan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understood 20 years ago that the fate of the Golan Heights is not solely in Israel’s hands. And so, (…) when he came to power he also held talks with Damascus and was prepared for far-reaching concessions. (…) As the all-out war in Syria became longer and more complicated, the illusion that Israel would not have to withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace dissipated recently. It is clear that the principle of Syrian sovereignty over Syrian lands also applies to land captured from it 49 years ago. The argument that decades of occupation grant possession of a territory for all eternity is not accepted anywhere in the world. According to this principle, all colonial countries would have an inherent right to their colonies – and even the Jewish state wouldn’t have had the right to establish its independence. (…) Netanyahu was defeated on the nuclear agreement of the world powers with Iran. If an accepted and responsible regime is found in Damascus to negotiate for peace, Netanyahu’s wall of words will not protect the Golan Heights.
Editorial, HAA, 19.04.16
Vote against terrorism
(…) A Palestinian draft would have the UNSC state its opposition to Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank. The Paris-led initiative would have the UNSC force on Israel the parameters of a two-state solution. Both are counterproductive to peace, because they place the blame for perpetuation of the conflict on Israel while ignoring Palestinian aggression, and they undermine the principle that only through open dialogue and negotiations – not unilateral actions by outsiders – can Israelis and Palestinians hope to resolve their differences. (…) there is growing concern that the US will permit one or both to pass if they come up for a vote. (…) Since 2014, the makeup of the UNSC has changed in the Palestinians’ favor. The US thus remains the only member that could potentially bury the resolutions. (…) we wonder whether members of the Obama administration have taken into consideration the negative ramifications of yet another lopsided UNSC resolution singling out Israel for special condemnation. Such as move would only further strengthen Palestinian intransigence. If the UNSC and international pressure can be mobilized against the Jewish state, why should the Palestinians agree to enter into negotiations that would require Palestinian concessions? Passage of resolutions that ignore Palestinian terrorism (…) would encourage even more terrorism. Indeed, the implication is that Palestinian terrorism is justified in the face of Israel’s continued settlement activity. At the very least, Palestinians rest assured they will pay no price in the international community for continuing to resort to violence. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 19.04.16
HAA = Haaretz
JED = JediothAhronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: May 2016
Dr. Werner Puschra,
Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel