Israel, Zionism and the Media

Tag: Danny Ayalon

Look who doesn’t want two states for two peoples

The Israel bashers ubiquitously in the media and around the world keep telling us it is all Israel’s fault, they don’t want peace, the Palestinian Authority recognised Israel years ago, Israel this and Israel that.

But one of the PA’s leading lights, Prime Minister (no less) Salam (means peace) Fayyad has stormed out of meeting with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon because Mr Peace Fayyad refused to sign up to a summary of the meeting which recognises the need for two states for two peoples.
This was reported in yNet News here.
“I wanted that at the very least it will note two states for two peoples. I demanded to know what they meant. One Palestinian state and one bi-national state, or another Palestinian state?,” he told Ynet.
“I made it clear that we were out of the picture if the summary didn’t say two states for two peoples.
So what did Ayalon do wrong? Didn’t he just want to confirm what everyone, apart from Hamas and Hizbullah and Ahmadinejad are supposed to want? Isn’t that the basis for a settlement?
How are the Israel-haters going to spin this one?
In other words there is absolutely no shift in the Palestinians position since they decided they were a nation separate from Jordanians.
And then Mr Peace Fayyad has the ‘chutzpah’ to ask that Israel:
…further ease Palestinian movement in the West Bank, to which Ayalon replied: “We shall not gamble away Israel’s security and future. Everything depends on the security situation and a political solution based on consent.”
Too bloody right.
How can you negotiate with this? It’s a total farce and we all know who will be blamed, don’t we.
Israel will be blamed for not committing national suicide.

The practical absurdity of a Palestinian Right of Return

In the current round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority one of the sticking points will certainly be the Palestinian claim to a Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister argued today in the Jerusalem Post that no such Right existed:

The so-called Palestinian ‘right of return’ is legal fiction. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, the supposed source for this ‘right’ does not mention this term, is not legally binding and, like all other relevant United Nations resolutions uses the intentionally ambiguous term ‘refugees’ with no appellation.

This is also taken up on the Zionism and Israel Information Center website:

Palestinian advocates claim that the refugees of 1948 have a right guaranteed in international law to return to Israel. In fact, there is no such law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, often cited in this context, does not stipulate a right of return for refugees. UN Resolution 194, also cited as the basis for this “right” is a resolution of the UN General Assembly. Such resolutions are not binding in international law. No nation has the obligation to admit enemy belligerents. Moreover, Resolution 194 does not insist on a Right of Return. It says that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so.”

The refugees were not Israeli citizens. They did not want Israeli citizenship. Beyond the dry provisions of the law, in this case admission of several million refugees would soon create an Arab majority in Israel. The people who advocate “Right of Return” also favor abolishing the Israeli Law of Return that permits Jews to immigrate to Israel freely. Israel would cease to be the national home of the Jews, and the Jewish people would lose the right to self-determination. Clearly “Right of Return” cannot be implemented in any case if it contradicts a different fundamental right that is anchored in international law.

Here we are already beginning to explore the practical absurdity of any such Right.

As indicated above, allowing ‘refugees’ to return, assuming that were practical or even practicable would effectively destroy the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, and Israel would cease to be a guarantor of the safety of Jews worldwide, which was one of the major factors in its establishment. And I am not referring here to the Holocaust; any student of Jewish history can list a very long litany of Jewish persecution for the last 2000 years, and they could also reference the current growing antisemitism in Europe and around the world. The need for a state of the Jewish people is as urgent now as at any time in history.

But let’s assume there is a Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. Let’s assume that they can now return to the homes or villages across Israel where they or their forefathers once lived 62 years ago.

1. How would any individual Palestinian prove his/her claim to his/her ancestor’s residency in any particlualr home or village?

2. What would happen to the current residents of those properties? They may not all be Jews, of course.

3. We are assuming that the ‘refugees’ want to become Israelis? Why would they? Why would they want to become citizens of a country that their leaders, media and education system has taught to loathe and despise? Has anyone asked? If not,  what is the basis for the Palestinian Authority’s insistence that this is a non-negotiable agenda item?

4. How would Israel accommodate several million new citizens?

5. As Israel has never been compensated for the 900,000 Jewish refugees who were forced out of, or fled, Arab lands after 1948, why should Israel now have to foot the bill for several million people who need homes, schools, hospitals, sanitation, water, food?

5. How can Israel be expected to accept within its borders millions of people with an historic grudge against the state who have demonstrated for several decades that they are willing to shoot, bomb, attack and sabotage Israelis and Israeli infrastructure with the ultimate aim of destroying the very state they are now asking to become citizens of?

Is it not patently obvious that the Palestinian so-called Right of Return is nothing but the expression of an on-going desire to destroy Israel and remove the Zionist entity?

As Danny Ayalon puts it in the article cited above:

Before 1948 there were nearly 900,000 Jews in Arab lands while only a few thousand remain. Where is the international outrage, the conferences, the proclamations for redress and compensation? While the Palestinian refugee issue has become a political weapon to beat Israel, the Arab League has ordered its member states not to provide their Palestinian population with citizenship; Israel absorbed all of its refugees, whether fleeing the Holocaust or persecution and expulsion from Arab lands.

Can Mahmoud Abbas really be a genuine believer in a two-state solution when one of the most cherished and immoveable pillars of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and the PLO is the Right of Return?

How can a peace settlement be based on the negation and denial of the rights of one side?

A limited return based on humanitarian grounds such as the reunification of families might be a possibility.

Beyond that, the Right is and always has been an instrument of delegitimisation and an excuse for scuppering peace.

I would not be at all surprised if it were again.

Back to Ayalon:

EVEN THOUGH the number of Jewish refugees [from Arab lands] and their assets are larger than that of the Palestinians, the international community only appears to be aware of the latter’s plight.

There are numerous major international organizations devoted to the Palestinian refugees. There is an annual conference held at the United Nations and a refugee agency was created just for the Palestinian refugees. While all the world’s refugees have one agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Palestinians fall under the auspices of another agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

UNWRA’s budget for 2010 is almost half of UNHCR’s budget.

Equally impressive is the fact that UNHCR prides itself on having found “durable solutions” for “tens of millions” of refugees since 1951, the year of its establishment. However, UNRWA does not even claim to have found “durable solutions” for anyone.

What is also impressive is the Palestinians’ and their supporters’ success in completely obliterating the story of the fate of Jews from Arab lands whilst perpetuating their own refugees for more than six decades.

What constantly surprises me is why the practical absurdity of the Palestinian Right of Return has rarely, if ever, been examined and no comprehensive survey of Palestinian ‘refugees’ intentions has ever taken place.

Israeli politicians denied freedom of speech

Two recent incidents, one at Oxford University and one at the University of California, Irvine demonstrate a trend amongst pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel activists to silence the voice of Israel on University campuses.

In the UK a recent case sought to issue an arrest warrant for war crimes against Tzipi Livni, Foreign Minister of Israel during Operation Cast Lead, in expectation of her visiting the UK. The visit never materialised and the Israeli government issued a strong condemnation of the law which allows such warrants to be issued. The UK government then gave Israel assurances that the law would be changed (which it hasn’t) and that it would ensure Israeli politicians could come to the UK without fear of arrest.

Whilst a lot of Human Rights people  and Muslim organisations became agitated that the UK government was interfering in the judiciary to provide cover for ‘war criminals’, it was revealed that Hamas was behind the warrants

Hamas admitted to masterminding the campaign to pursue war crimes cases against Israeli politicians and military officials in Britain and other European countries.

The group, considered to be a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom and the European Union, says it has been working with lawyers to get the Israelis charged with war crimes in connection with Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.

This fact doesn’t seem to bother the anti-Israel, pro-Human Rights interests. It’s rather like Hitler trying to get Churchill prosecuted at Nuremburg for bombing Dresden.

But this is just one way of trying to silence Israeli politicians.

Meanwhile back at the Uni’s.

At the University of California, Irvine, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren was prevented from completing his address about progress in the Middle East. Having been invited by the Jewish Federation of Orange County the event was open to all students. A number of students, many clearly Muslim, stood up one after another to interrupt in a co-ordinated and very effective, and it should be said, peaceable demonstration. Each was escorted out of the building but Oren eventually gave up the losing battle.  Oren was accused, inter alia, of being a killer. The students were not available to comment on Hamas’s or Fatah’s track record.

Now this does bring up an interesting problem for democracies and Free Speech; lets say this was David Irving or Robert Mugabe. Would I object to attempts to stop him speaking? Ahmadinejad was heckled in New York, for example. Just because we don’t agree with a heckler or an orchestrated demonstration doesn’t mean that the demonstrators have no right to do so.  What are the limits for such demonstrations? When Ahmadinejad has been heckled in the West he has never been stopped; the protesters made their point and were arrested or made to leave.

In Irvine, according to Press TV, an Iranian-funded TV network, ‘at least eleven students have been arrested’ as a result of this protest for disturbing a public event. The students could also be disciplined and suspended or worse. Is it right that students should lose their University places and opportunity for education because of their political beliefs? Surely it’s for the law to decide if there was a misdemeanour. However objectionable I or other supporters of Israel feel their actions were, they were not violent, there were no anti-Semitic slogans.

The issue is: does everyone have a right to free speech and what are the limits of protest? Each country will have an answer to these questions. Iran has an answer and we know what that is. The irony is that these protestors prevented free speech from someone of a country where free speech is alive and kicking, but the countries these same protestors would, presumably, support, have no such freedoms. If you do not even want to hear what your opponent has to say and you want to stifle debate then it surely means that you have little confidence in your own arguments.

Debate is at the very heart of the Oxford Union.  This week Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel, Danny Ayalon, was invited to speak. What then took place went beyond protest.  As Ayalon began to speak various members of the audience began to shout at him. The whole sad story is related by his press office:

On Monday night, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was invited by the Oxford Union to speak at an event at the university. During the speech one student shouted extreme abuse at the Deputy Foreign Minister including Itbach Al-Yahud (Slaughter the Jews). The event was caught on camera and subsequently shown on Israeli television Channel Ten. The Deputy Foreign Minister is looking into the possibility of pressing charges against the student for what is tantamount to a call for genocide.

“This demonstrates our new policy on hatred and racism and we will have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, something that should have happened a long time ago,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon.

Another protestor carrying a Palestinian flag started walking towards Ayalon before security intervened and he was ejected from the hall. Another student shouted at the Deputy Foreign Minister that “we will do to you what we did to Milosevic”. Other students shouted, both inside and outside the hall, “Palestine will be free, from the River to the Sea”, which by its meaning, calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. After the event several students attempted to physically assault the Deputy Foreign Minister but were prevented from doing so by security.

Speaking to the students, Ayalon was able to relate Israel’s point of view on many issues that many felt had rarely been heard in such a setting. Ayalon received applause at the end after taking extremely hostile and abusive questions and patiently dissecting and answering them one by one. After the event, several students approached the Deputy Foreign Minister and thanked him for giving a narrative that they felt they had never heard before.

Ayalon corrected many students’ assertions on history, international law and United Nations resolutions and told them that: “If I manage to convince you to go and learn the truth from the history books then this will have been a successful event.” During his speech, Ayalon called for historic reconciliation between all of the peoples in the Middle East.

It is interesting that some students would thank Ayalon for explaining a point of view they had not heard before. That says a lot about the way the Israeli point of view is being stifled and misrepresented in the UK media and the disgraceful demonstrators are part of that attempt to suppress Israel’s point of view and spit hatred.

How different from Irvine. In the UK any Israeli politician has to be subject to blatant anti-Semitism and calls for genocide of the Israelis (Jews only, of course) from those accusing them of the very crimes they wish to perpetrate themselves.

And now these accusations of war crimes are fuelled by the egregious Goldstone Report which is a badly flawed and thoroughly scurrilous document which over time will be dissected, rebutted and discredited. But as it is out there and carries what passes for the authority of the UN itself, it can now be used by the Israel delegitimisers to throw rocks at Israeli politicians and provide cover for the suppression of free speech and calls for genocide.

Home truths from abroad – Danny Ayalon at the Council of Europe

Danny Ayalon at the Council of Europe / Jaques Denier

Danny Ayalon at the Council of Europe / Jaques Denier

On Jan 26, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon attended a debate in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe on the Middle East situation. The debate was also attended by Mohammed Ashtiyeh, the Palestinian Minister of Public Works and Housing.

Ayalon, as reported by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wanted to stress that Israeli has been willing to negotiate for some time but the Palestinians won’t come to the table:

We have been alone sitting at the negotiating table for nine months, since the creation of this government, but we are still waiting for the Palestinians to take their seat,” Ayalon continued. “There is absolutely no reason to place more obstacles than were placed before, we once again reiterate our call for the Palestinians to meet with us without preconditions from either side.

The PA has been consistent in demanding all settlement activity including East Jerusalem cease before it comes to the table. It should be noted, however, that the settlements as an excuse for not negotiating can be placed fairly and squarely at the door of President Obama. If he hadn’t insisted that Israel stop activity as part of his personal outreach programme to the Muslim world then the PA would not had fastened on to it as a prerequisite. It should be noted that in all the previous negotiations settlements were never a prerequisite.

Ayalon went on to remind the Council and Mr Ashtiyeh that previous Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert had both offered the Palestinians over 95% of the West Bank and Gaza but these offers had been rejected.

We are only here participating in this debate because these overly generous offers were rejected, concessions are required of both sides

In 2000 Yasser Arafat rejected the offer without a counter offer and walked out much to the consternation of the Saudi intermediary, So what did Mr Ashtiyeh have to say? All he could come up with is that the Palestinians are foregoing 78% of historic Palestine but as Minister Ayalon pointed out:

there has never been a Palestinian state in history and the word Palestine is Roman in origin and not Arabic. The purpose of giving this name was to erase the connection between the Jewish People and their land

This is the crux of the Palestinian tragedy: in 1947 the Arab League tried to destroy the nascent Israel, legally constituted by vote of the same UN that the same Arabs including the Palestinians now want to use to accuse Israel of war crimes in Gaza. They didn’t accept the Jewish presence then and they still don’t over 60 years later. They avoid negotiation or walk out even when they get more than 95% of what they are asking for because they don’t actually want a solution that will accept Israel and define permanent borders. What they want, both the PA/Fatah and Hamas is the total destruction of Israel. Whereas Hamas has a more Islamist, ideological reason (they hate Jews, basically and consider all of Israel occupied Palestine) the PA pretend that they want to negotiate but ultimately they too want to destroy Israel and this has never changed.

You can criticise Israel’s policies all you want, but if for the Palestinians ‘peace’ means the destruction of Israel then how to you go about negotiating? How do you trust?

One of Israel’s tactics is to pretend that the PA doesn’t want to destroy Israel; they co-operate on security matters, they remove two-thirds of all roadblocks that were and remain such a burden on normalcy in the West Bank. There is technological and medical co-operation. There is a kind of political stasis on the West Bank which suits the PA. Life is improving, the economy is booming, violence is reduced, the Israeli presence is reduced. There are tensions with settlers, there is still fear on both sides but it’s a whole lot better than it once was. Meanwhile the PA continues to use incitement in its schools and seeks to deny and obliterate Jews and Jewish history and its associations with the Land in its schools and in its media. This is their road to peace. They are prepared for the long haul. A hundred years or so and counting.

Danny Ayalon, like Tony Blair in London this week, seems to have gone to Strasbourg with a particular message and warning about Iran.

Ayalon also noted that he was addressing the plenum the day before the international community commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz 65 years ago on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “Tomorrow, decent people will commemorate this day. However, certain nations like Iran will not commemorate this occasion and will continue to deny the Holocaust while seeking to the means to perpetuate another one. We must remove the Iranian threat. Just as Hamas and Hizbullah can reach all of Israel with their rockets, so Iran can reach into the heart of Europe with theirs,”

Israel’s strategy vis-a-vis Iran is becoming clear: they don’t want to go it alone. They want to alert the West to the Iranian threat and for the US and Europe to take the initiative in removing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.