Sunday, 23 June 2019

Palestinians missing their final opportunity.

As a first step in the new initiative to facilitate the divorce between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, the U.S. Administration and Bahrain announced that they would host an economic workshop entitled “Peace to Prosperity” in the Bahraini capital of Manama on June 25 and 26, 2019.
This is to bring together governments, global institutions, business leaders, to share idea, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for economic investments and initiatives to make a peace agreement possible.
“Peace to Prosperity” more accurately described as prosperity for peace, plans to construct an ambitious framework for a prosperous future for Palestinian Arabs. If implemented, it will have the potential to open up a whole new future to them.
Sadly, expectedly, the Palestinian Authority have pre-empted this initiative by rejecting the notion of any peace with Israel. After decades of complaints, they have, yet again, showed their unwillingness to compromise on their political and theocratic dogmas that have held back peace and a better future for their people.
As the cliché goes, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Mismanagement, poverty, waste, rampant corruption, and a pursuit of anti-Semitic violence and terror by the dual Palestinian governing kleptocracies have left their people destitute.
Channeling money into building terror infrastructures and rewarding murderers with their “Pay to Slay” policy takes preference over normalization and peace with Israel.
This is a serious violation of international law, as well as United Nations declarations calling for states and regimes to refrain from financing terror activities.
Given the dire economic situations in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas one would assume that logic would dictate a more receptive approach to a permanent global solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. But this is not the case, on the Palestinian side.
The Palestinian leadership decided to boycott the Bahrain summit. Instead, they lapsed back into their usual rejectionist narrative and insults against those who are gathering in an attempt to help them to a brighter future.
Saeb Erekat, the chief PLO negotiator, said, “We do not mandate anyone to negotiate on our behalf. Palestine’s full economic potential can only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation…”
What did he think this economic conference was setting out to do? Hand him the whole of Israel on a plate?
In another show of utter negativity, Palestinian official, Nabil Sha’ath, said, “The Manama meeting is one phase in a larger effort to undermine Palestinian rights and normalize Israeli violations, while promoting Israel-Arab normalization.”
It is normalization with Israel that has always been at the heart of Palestinian rejectionism for a century, See my video “100 Years of Palestinian History.” It is what is keeping them as a thorn in the Middle East that is frustrating not only to Israel but to their once friendly Arab neighbors.
This attitude belatedly raises serious concerns about the ability and capability of the Palestinian leadership to deliver any hope for peace, and to raise the prospects of their people to a better future.
All past agreements demand of the Palestinians to commit to a peaceful resolution to the conflict allowing all outstanding issues to be resolved through negotiations. This is something that the split Palestinian political divide have stubbornly refused to do for decades. Neither the PLO-Fatah led PA not Hamas-Islamic Jihad are speaking to each other, and both sides of that divide hate the notion of living in peace alongside the Jewish State.
This truth can clearly be seen in the September 1993 letter in which Yasser Arafat agreed that “upon signed the Declaration of Principles, the PLO encourages and calls upon the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to take part in steps leading to the normalization of life, rejecting violence and terrorism, contributing to peace and stability and participating actively in shaping reconstruction, economic development and cooperation.”
Arafat signed that the Palestinians would recognize Israel’s “legitimate and political rights, and is committed to strive to live in peaceful coexistence and mutual dignity and security and achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historical reconciliation through the agreed political process.”
Instead of progressing peace with Israel, Arafat called the Oslo Accord document, signed on the White House lawn in front of an international gathering, his Treaty of Hudaibiya, referring to the truce deceptively signed by Mohammad with the Banu Quraish Jewish tribe of Mecca in a moment of weakness as he prepared to return and exterminate them.
The Oslo Accord has been torn up daily by the murderous actions, the deceptive diplomacy and the self-proclaimed refusals to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state from both Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.  
There was a clear obligation on the part of the Palestinian leadership, both in Ramallah and in Gaza, to commit to the peace process for the sake of the development and prosperity of their own people as much as for the security of Israelis. At the end of the day, it will be the Palestinian Arabs that would benefit and gain economically more than Israelis who, despite the ongoing conflict, have built a remarkable advanced nation in such a short time and against all odds.
By boycotting the Bahrain Peace to Prosperity Conference the Palestinian leadership have once again hit out against Israel, the United States, and insulted their Arab neighbors.
Worse of all, they have, again, badly let down their own people.
As Ambassador Alan Baker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs wrote, “It is a sad reflection on a misguided and irresponsible leadership that prefers conflict, incitement, and hostility, rather than the hope for peace and economic improvement for the Palestinian people.”
The Palestinians still see themselves as the spearhead of the Arab war against the Jews. You can see this in their founding charters and hear it on a daily basis in their public incitement against “the Jews and their filthy feet” and the holy imperative not to spare “one drop of blood” in cleansing Palestine of the Jews, a Palestine “from the river to the sea.” This, from the Palestinian Authority, our designated “peace partner” with their “Kill a Jew” reward system, and from their mortal enemy, Hamas.
While appreciating the Trump initiative, no peace is remotely possible with such an implacable enemy.
This was summed up neatly by Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s Middle East envoy, who tweeted, “The PA is calling for demonstrations against the Bahrain workshop. Tells you everything you need to know about their priorities and intentions. Their leadership is happy with the status quo and would rather Palestinians suffer than at least explore a different path to a better future.”
Actually, Mr. Greenblatt, the history of the Palestinian Arabs tells you all you need to know about them. 
Jewish Palestinians gladly compromised in 1947 and accepted the UN resolution that granted them a Jewish state in truncated territory. Building a national home for the benefit of its people was always a priority for Israel. Not so the Palestinian Arabs. Not then and not now.
In the same year, India and Pakistan dropped territorial claims in favor of peace and independence. No so the Palestinian Arabs. It was all or nothing for them. No compromise.
In 2000, Israel was prepared to accept full Palestinian statehood on 92% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip. This offer was rejected.
A year later, at Taba, Israel increased the offer to 97% of the West Bank as part of a comprehensive peace proposal. This too was rejected by the Palestinians.
Israelis gasped in shock when they learned  in 2008 that Prime Minister Olmert had offered Mahmoud Abbas almost all the territory up to the 1967 armistice lines, but they were shocked further when the Palestinian leader rejected even this. 
A year later, when Israel agreed to a ten-month freeze on settlement building in Judea & Samaria as a pre-condition to restart negotiations, Israelis were no longer surprised when Mahmoud Abbas refused to come to the table to talk. 
Is it any wonder that Israelis were no longer surprised when the Palestinians insulted the recent attempts to kick-start a peace process that includes a record-breaking economic package to turn a rejectionist and split regime into a functioning and prosperous modern state, 
Israel’s foremost diplomat, Abba Eban, once famously said, back in 1973, that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. 
By turning off both the United States and their willing Arab neighbors, this is likely to be the last opportunity for the Palestinian Authority to deliver a better future for their people.
By rejecting Bahrain, they are leading themselves, their people, and the region into a darker, more uncertain, place.
The world will slowly realise that it is the current hybrid Palestinian leadership, both Fatah-PLO in Ramallah and Hamas-Islamic Jihad in Gaza that are the exclusive obstacle to peace, and that no peace is possible with this status quo.
Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies and the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism.’

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Zionism is Jewish intersectionality and progressivism

Zionism is Jewish intersectionality, the diversity of the incoming, the answer to three millennium of Jewish victimhood.
It is where left and right, black, white and brown, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, religious and secular, intersect, come together in defense of our self preservation, to celebrate our Judaism in whatever form it takes, to struggle to create a better world for ourselves and for others, while protecting those within our community not of the tribe.
As such, Zionism is the most progressive movement in a repressive and violent region.
Zionism knows from experience we do not live in a perfect world. It is a world that still seeks to victimize us. Never again means never again.
But Zionism is a welcoming host to those who extend their hand in peace and friendship.
Zionism always gives back more than it receives. This is the true expression of Tikun Olam, Repair the World. To give to others more than you expect to receive from them. And to do unto others more than you would have them do unto you.
Zionism is a Jewish justice achieved by sacrifice only in the last century after wandering in a cruel and unwelcoming world for far too long.
Our tiny nation has progressed more than any other regime in a desperate Middle East. We have become a shining light to the region, and to the world, in such a short space of time.
To earn ourselves a small barren corner, to nurture it, to develop it and defend it with courage and determination.
That is our fate. That is our future.
Barry Shaw, International Public Diplomacy Director, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Israel does NOT get more US military aid than other countries. Far from it.

Among the many fallacies told about Israel is the one claiming that Israel is the largest recipient of US military aid than any other country.
The United States has contracted to provide Israel with $38 billion in military aid over a ten-year period in a new Memorandum of Understanding. That averages $3.8 billion annually. This is perceived as making Israel the largest recipient of US military aid in the world.
What is wrong with this perception is that it is solely based on the supply of American military equipment to their allies. But this is just the tip of the US military aid budget. The largest part of US military expenditure abroad is hidden below the surface.
According to the research undertaken by Anthropology Professor David Vine of the American University, when factors such as the stationing of US troops abroad is included in the cost of US military aid the emerging picture is radically different.
Vine aggressively opposes US military involvement in foreign lands. It’s part of his personal DNA. But, by using his figures, we get an insight into where the bulk of the US military aid goes when “boots on the ground” are factored into the US military cost nation by nation.
Using Vine’s statistics, based on 2017 figures of 150,500 American troops stationed in seventy countries, boots on the ground cost US taxpayers between $85-$100 billion annually. This figure does not include military goods and equipment to allied nations.
Vance averaged the annual cost of each thousand soldiers to represent $665 million of aid to the country in which they are stationed.
Taking this equation into consideration, one can extrapolate the benefit to individual countries protected by the presence of US troops and the cost per country to the US military budget.
So which are the countries enjoying US military aid based on costs to the US tax-payer? For that we need Professor Vine’s statistics.
Professor Vine reported his findings in 2017 when Israel was receiving an annual $3.1 billion as US military aid for military equipment and supporting services. US fighting troops on the ground in Israel was, and is, non-existent.
Surprisingly perhaps, according to the professor, Japan is the largest recipient of US military aid. With just under 49,000 American military personnel stationed in Japan, the aid cost to America equates to over $27 billion. In other words, Japan’s US military aid package was nine times greater than Israel at the end of 2017!
There were almost 38,000 American troops stationed in Germany at the end of 2017. This cost the US $21 billion, seven times greater than Israel.
South Korea had over 27,5000 US troops on its soil at the end of 2017. It is certain that figure is greater in 2019 due to tensions between the United States and North Korea but, based on 2017 figures, South Korea received over $15 billion in US aid, almost five times more than Israel.
As a final comparison, compare Israel’s $3.1 billion to that of Italy. The cost of stationing US troops on Italian soil came to $6 billion, almost twice as much aid as Israel received.
Another factor must be tossed into the pot. The cost of stationing US troops in foreign lands does not include the additional and considerable cost of numerous sea and air patrols undertaken as part of the US mission to defend their allies. Neither does it include joint ground, air and naval exercises conducted with the armies of host countries.
No US plane flies to protect Israeli airspace. No US navy ship patrols Israel’s coast. No US military personnel are put in danger protecting Israeli citizens.
The fact that Israel receives nine times less aid than Japan is a direct reflection in the relative power that Israel possesses in the Middle East and its vast potential to independently protect US vital security interests in the region compared to the massive force required to ensure US, Japanese and South Korean interests against China and North Korea.
7,000 US servicemen are deployed to Saudi Arabia and the UAE countries, including Bahrain and Kuwait. The cost equates to $4.6 billion. This does not include the enormous cost in maintain major air and naval bases. The US 5th fleet is based in Bahrain.  On May 29, 2019, the United States directed an additional 1,500 troops to the Middle East to be based in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
One final point must be made. In the past, the military aid package of US weapons, equipment and services was conditional on Israel spending 74% on US manufactured military goods. This condition did not apply to any other nation.  
In October 2018, a new Memorandum of Understanding was signed giving Israel $38 billion in military financing to be spent over ten years, averaging $3.8 billion annually. But a condition was imposed that Israel must spend the total amount purchasing US manufactured military equipment and armaments. In other words, it became a total subsidy to the American military industry, ensuring the employment of thousands of American workers in their defense industries.
An additional benefit to the United States is that Israel, an advanced nation in innovation, hi-tech, cyber and human resources in warfare and conflict zones, contributes valuable research and development for American-made, innovations products gained from Israeli soldiers and airmen fighting in real time conflicts and battle field conditions, thereby improving American manufactured military equipment.
The United States military industry, and therefore their own military, benefit greatly from the improved designs to the central control panel in the cockpit of their F35 stealth bombers, the upgraded technology in the helmets of pilots and navigators in their fighter jets and helicopters, in the improved defensive capabilities of their armored personnel carriers, resulting from the battle requirements of the IDF.
This vital military cooperation between Israel and the United States cannot be estimated in the cold figures and the statistics of US military aid to an ally.
Needless to say, the United States gets a lot more bangs for its bucks from Israel than from any of its other allies, or even from all of them combined.  
Barry Shaw is the International Public Affairs Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.


Saturday, 1 June 2019

Why should we Israeli tax-payers cover the maintenance of Palestinian terrorists in our jails while they get rich?

As of April 2019, there were 5152 Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails. In other words, killers or Palestinians captured attempting to murder Israelis.
There were a further 555 Palestinian criminal offenders (non terrorists).
Reports say that the Palestinian Authority pay an annual $350 Million to their killers or families of dead terrorists. The PA 'Pay to Slay' policy reward Palestinian killers by the number of Israelis they have murdered.
But, while these terrorist killers linger in Israeli jails, it is the Israeli tax payer that has to cover the cost of their incarceration including their food, entertainment including TV, lectures, libraries, movies, clothing, educational courses, as well as the cost of maintaining the jails and salaries of their jailers. Why?
Why do we Israelis have to forgo a part of our own social needs in order to cover the cost of keeping Palestinian killers?
Why should we Israeli tax-payers cover the cost of maintaining Palestinian terrorists in our jails while they get rich?
The Israeli government must deduct the cost of maintaining Palestinian killers from monthly payments made to the PA?
Israel's elderly, infirm, and children need that money more than Palestinian terrorists.
The Israeli government have stopped payments to the PA to the amount they pay to their terrorists as a reward for their murders, but it is not the PA that is paying for the heavy costs of maintaining their terrorist killers in Israeli jails, it is the Israeli tax-payer.
If it was right that we tax-payers stopped funding their 'Pay to Slay' policy, it is equally right that we insist the terrorist masters pay for their incarceration.
This has to stop! The Israeli government must go further by imposing the cost of maintaining Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails by deducting this cost from the money they hand over to the Palestinian Authority each month.
That would leave us more money to improve the lives of the vulnerable members of our own society and put the cost of caring for Palestinian terrorists onto those that incited and sent them on their deadly attacks.

Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the author of 'Fighting Hamas, BDS, and Anti-Semitism.'