Nadav Argaman, left, is congratulated by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office on May 8, as he takes over as head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service. In the centre is outgoing head Yoram Cohen, who had led the security service since 2011. Argaman became deputy head of the service in 2011. Prior to that, he was the chief of operations from 2003 to 2007 and, from 2007 to 2011, he was Shin Bet’s representative in the United States. (photo from Ashernet)
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump upset AIPAC organizers when he criticized President Barack Obama. (photo by David Zam)
There were clear signs of discord in Washington, D.C., as representatives of AIPAC publicly rebuked presidential hopeful Donald Trump after he harshly criticized the sitting president.
At the pro-Israel organization’s policy conference last month, in front of some 18,000 attendees, visibly upset AIPAC president Lillian Pinkus admonished Trump on stage for his remarks a day earlier.
“Whatever policy disagreements we may have, we must not condemn the sitting president on stage,” she said. “There are people in our AIPAC family who were deeply hurt last night and, for that, we are deeply sorry.”
Chairman of the board Robert A. Cohen said that booing and clapping speakers when they attack another person was unacceptable at the event, and that “AIPAC doesn’t pick sides.”
Trump, who was cheered wildly for noting that it was President Barack Obama’s last year in office, said that “Obama rewards our enemies” and “Hillary was a total disaster as secretary of state…. Obama and Hillary have been very bad to Israel. Obama may be the worst thing to happen to Israel.”
Every major party candidate for president spoke at the dais, except the senator from Vermont, Democrat Bernie Sanders, who is Jewish. All candidates who spoke placed heavy emphasis on Iran.
GOP frontrunner Trump didn’t mince words. He called the Iran deal brokered by the P5+1 – the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom plus Germany – “awful” and “bad for Israel, the Middle East and the world.”
The $150 billion channeled to Iran in the agreement, by his reckoning, was “unbelievable” with “nothing in return,” and that the Islamic Republic will have a nuclear bomb within several years.
As president, Trump said he would “stand up to Iran’s aggression” because “I know how to deal with aggression and that’s why I’ll win.”
The Middle East’s terror activity has Iran’s fingerprints all over it, he continued, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, reward money for Palestinian terrorists, and influence in at least two dozen other countries.
“I will dismantle Iran’s global terror network,” Trump said. “We will enforce this deal like you’ve never seen a contract enforced before.”
The New York billionaire mogul and reality TV host took aim at two other threats to Israel, the United Nations and Palestinian terror activity.
“The UN is incompetent and no friend of Israel,” he said. “A [peace] agreement imposed by the UN would be a total disaster. And the U.S. must use our veto, which I will use 100%.”
The Jewish state, he said, has always been willing to strike a deal with its neighbors, noting that prime minister Ehud Barak in 2000 offered nearly the entire West Bank as a Palestinian state, but the offer was dismissed by then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Other times, he said, “Palestinian leadership has rejected very good offers.”
Trump noted that, under his purview, the U.S. embassy would move “to the eternal capital of the Jewish state, Jerusalem.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, trailing a distant second to Trump in GOP delegates, began his speech, “America will stand with Israel and defeat Islamic terror.”
He spoke about his three trips to Israel as senator, including a visit to Israeli hospitals that treated Syrian refugees. He noted that he had proposed legislation to ban the Iranian ambassador to the UN from entering the United States since he was involved in the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. It passed in both the Senate and House.
Taking a jab at the Obama administration, he said it was “unjust” for them to impose a travel ban on Israel in the summer of 2014. He further called out Democrats for boycotting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech last year at AIPAC.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, was taken to task for saying that Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas because Gaza is tight for space. “Rather,” said Cruz, “it’s because Hamas are beasts who use human shields.”
As for the “fundamentally immoral” Iran deal, Cruz said he will “rip it to shreds on the first day,” since the Islamic Republic won’t follow it anyway.
“Hear my words Ayatollah Khomeini: If I am president and Iran launches a missile test, we will shoot that missile down,” said Cruz. “And, in January 2017, we will have a commander-in-chief who says under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons: either you will shut down your nuclear program or we will shut it down for you.”
Cruz compared the Iran deal to the failed 1938 agreement between British prime minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler, which led to the Third Reich’s takeover of Czechoslovakia and allowed its continued military build-up.
If elected president, Cruz said he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, yank federal funds from schools that boycott Israel and veto any UN unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
Governor of Ohio John Kasich, running third in the GOP delegate count, noted his 35-year support for Israel and his role in helping erect a Holocaust monument in his state.
He called for the suspension of the Iranian nuclear deal, particularly after recent test missiles in contravention of international treaties. As president, he would “defeat ISIS and stop arms flows to Hezbollah.”
He also spoke out against the boycott, divestment and sanction movement, and antisemitism on campus. On Israel, he noted the “culture of death that the Palestinian leadership has promoted for decades,” and that “Palestinians cannot continue to promote hatred.” In sum, he called Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel.
When she took to the stage, Clinton noted that the “the ideological gap between the parties has increased, but there’s still common agreement on Israel.”
She took a three-pronged approach to global security: Iran’s aggression, the growing tide of extremism, and efforts to delegitimize Israel. “The deal with Iran is making the world safer, including Israel,” she said. “The supreme leader still calls all the shots in Iran, but we should support voices who want to bring change in Iran.”
Regarding other parts of the region, she said that “ISIS must not be contained; it must be defeated.”
On the issue of Israel, she noted that Palestinian leadership has to stop inciting violence. “Children should not be taught to hate in schools,” she said, adding that she would oppose any attempts to “push a [unilateral two-state] solution,” including in the UN. “Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their state,” she said, while adding that Israeli “settlements are not helpful to peace.”
She condemned BDS and said, “we have to fight against it” because “antisemitism has no place in American society.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden took a risk mentioning to the 18,000 attendees at the policy conference that Israeli “settlements are a barrier in the way of a two-state solution.” That risk was welcomed by a chorus of boos – despite attendees being cautioned by AIPAC leadership to not do so.
Biden insisted that, notwithstanding political differences, the United States is “united in our unwavering commitment to the Jewish state of Israel.”
However, “violent acts of retribution must stop,” he continued, “terror is terror is terror … and it must be stopped.”
The White House “stands with Israel against delegitimization” and believes that “Israel is stronger today because of the Obama-Biden administration,” he said.
Biden touted last year’s Iran deal as a “success,” explaining that many “Iranian facilities are dismantled and destroyed” and that “Iran is further away from the possibility of being nuclear. If Iran violates [the deal] there will be consequences.”
Speaking by video link from Israel, Netanyahu both criticized, and suggested salvaging, the U.S.-brokered Iranian nuclear deal.
“Those who worked for the deal and against the deal can work together to ensure that the deal is followed,” he insisted, noting that, in March, Iran tested a missile that posed a threat to Israel.
“The writing isn’t just on the wall; it’s on the missile,” said Netanyahu.
He said that Israel is singled out for condemnation at the UN and said he hopes the United States will continue its moral voting record at the Security Council.
With regard to Israel’s neighbors, he said Palestinian children are taught to hate, and showed a video of television broadcasts that illustrate his point.
“We cannot compromise with terror and must defeat it,” he said. “We need a two-state solution with a demilitarized Palestinian state.… We are ready for negotiations anywhere and anytime without preconditions.” But, he said, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, “isn’t ready or willing to come” to the negotiating table.
David Zam has covered political, cultural and historical events for Landmark Report, including the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march as White House-approved press, two AIPAC policy conferences and several other political conventions. He has degrees in history and law.
תצפית אל דרום הכנרת מהכביש היורד מיבניאל. (צילום: אלה פאוסט)
ג’סטין טרודו: מברך את העם היהודי לחג הפורים, מתקומם על החרם נגד ישראל, אך מתנגד להתנחלויות בשטחים
ראש ממשלת קנדה מטעם המפלגה הליברלית, ג’סטין טרודו, מביע לאחרונה את דעתו בפומבי בנושאים שקשורים ליהודים ולישראל. שלא כמו קודמו בתפקיד, סטיבן הרפר, טרודו לא עומד אוטומטית מאוחרי ישראל בכל עניין ועניין והוא אינו חבר של ראש ממשלת ישראל, בנימין נתניהו, אבל עדיין נחשב לידיד קרוב של ישראל.
טרודו פרסם בשבוע שעבר אגרת ברכה לאזרחים היהודים בקנדה לקראת חג הפורים. בברכה נאמר: “חג הפורים מציין את סיפורה של אסתר המלכה והדוד שלה מרדכי, אשר הצילו את העם היהודי בתקופת פרס העתיקה. אירוע זה מזכיר לנו שוב את כוחו ועוצמתו של העם היהודי, אשר שרד וגבר על הרדיפה הבלתי הנתפסת הזו. בזמן שאנו קוראים את מגילת אסתר אנו מאשרים מחדש את המחויבות הקיימת שלנו לנקוט פעולה ולעמוד נגד האנטישמיות, נגד ביטויים אחרים של שנאה ואפליה בקנדה ומחוצה לה”.
רק לפני כחודש חזר טרודו על הבטחתו מקמפיין הבחירות שלו להתנגד לכל חרם על ישראל. טרודו ומרבית חברי המפלגה הליברלית שבראשותו תמכו ב-22 בפרואר בהצעת המפלגה הקונסרבטיבית מהאופוזיציה, לגנות את כל מי שמחרים את ישראל. הפרלמנט הקנדי אישר את ההחלטה הזו ברוב גדול של 229 מול 51 מתנגדים. לפי הצעת הקונסרבטיבים על הממשלה הקנדית לגנות כל ניסיון לקדם את תנועת החרם והסנקציות נגד ישראל בקנדה ומחוצה לה. עוד נאמר בהחלטה כי תנועת החרם הבינלאומית של ‘הבי.די.אס’ פועלת לעשות דה-לגיטימציה ודמוניזציה של מדינת ישראל. שר החוץ הקנדי, סטפן דיון, אמר מספר ימים קודם לכן בצורה ברורה כי העולם לא ירוויח דבר מהחרמת ישראל ויש להילחם באינטישמיות על כל צורותיה השונות.
לעומת כל זאת טרודו לא מהסס להעביר ביקורת פומבית של מדיניותה של ישראל בשטחים. הוא אמר לאחרונה כי ישראל עושה דברים מזיקים כמו למשל ההתנחלויות הבלתי חוקיות. טרודו: “יש זמנים שאנחנו לא מסכימים עם בעלי הברית שלנו, ואנחנו לא נהסס לומרת זאת בקול רם. זהו עניין שחברים צריכים לדעת לעשות. כמו למשל ההתנחלויות שהן בלתי חוקיות”. שר החוץ דיון אמר באותו נושא קודם לכן את הדברים הבאים: “ההתנחלויות פוגעות ביכולת להגיע לפתרון צודק באזור”.
בנושא טרודו והרפר כתב ניצן הורביץ בעיתון ‘הארץ’ בין היתר: “ראש הממשלה החדש הוא איש פתוח, מתקדם ובעל חוש הומור. תשע השנים הרפר היו די והותר לקנדים. הם הבינו שהמדיניות התקציבית המרסנת שלו וההסתמכות העיוורת על חברות אנרגיה הביאו אותם אל עברי פי פחת. לעומת זאת טרודו נמצא בצד הנכון של ההיסטוריה. הוא כבר הציג ממשלה שווה של נשים וגברים”.
האם פיצה גנובה טעימה יותר: שישה שליחי פיצה נשדדו בססקטון לאחרונה
שישה נהגים שמובילים פיצות בריכבם נשדדו החל מסוף פברואר ובמהלך מרץ בעיר ססקטון. באחד מסופי השבוע נשדדו ארבעה שליחים ולאחר מכן נשדדו עוד שניים. המשטרה המקומית מאמינה שיש קשר בין כל ששת המקרים בהם משתתפים שני שודדים. המשטרה קוראת לנהגים להגביר את הזהירות ואמצעי האבטחה. עדיין לא ידועה זהות השודדים שכנראה גם מכורים למגשי פיצות חמות וטריות.
השודדים כנראה ממוצא אינדיאני (בגילאי 18-20) לבושים בשחור ופניהם מכוסות במסכות, פועלים בשעות הבוקר המוקדמות וחמושים בשלל של כלים מאיימים: צמידים מברזל, מפתח צינורות, מוטות מברזל וסכינים. צמד השודדים מאיים על הנהגים המופתעים וגונב את הכסף שבידם עם חלק מהפיצות שברכבם.
Does Palestine exist? A blogger on the often-provocative website JewsNews doesn’t think so. A package of dates marked “Palestine” must be “magic,” he says, since there’s no such country. And this echoes Moshe Arens’ trotting out of the old canard that Palestine doesn’t exist, but Jordan – the real Palestinian state – already does.
There are at least two issues at stake for Israelis: legitimacy and security. Yet a closer look reveals that neither concern is quite what it seems.
Part of the reason that many Jews have been allergic to the word Palestine is that it has long been used to negate the legitimacy of Israel. In this view, the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (or west of that, to the Green Line, depending on one’s view) is like a blue and white transparent film revealing a red, white and green film, containing a different narrative beneath. Since time is linear and space is finite, there seems to be room for only one people and one narrative on that tiny slice of Middle East territory. One cannot reverse the flow of the sands of time. Israel exists, so Palestine, the logic goes, cannot.
But, surprise! Those who would wish to roll back history and replace Israel with Palestine, as the Palestinian national movement claimed to want to do for decades, have now indicated – at least via their official leaders – that they will be satisfied with a mere 22 percent of the land they originally claimed as theirs. A state of Palestine, in other words, need no longer negate the symbolic right of Israel to exist.
Complicating all of this, though, is the one little word one often hears from Israeli officials, and which every state and all people deserve: security. For example, Bibi Netanyahu, in a video posted Dec. 27 to the Prime Minister of Israel’s Facebook page, contained an address to an enthusiastically nodding U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.
In the span of a few seconds, Bibi managed to call out Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat’s rhetorical hyperbole (Erekat’s comparison of ISIS’s Islamic state desires with Bibi’s Jewish state utterances), while associating the Palestinian negotiator’s “incitement” with the throwing of a firebomb on an Israeli girl in the West Bank. The kicker: the folly of the Palestinians seeking to bring to the United Nations Security Council a proposal – a “diktat” Bibi calls it – containing provisions that “seek to undermine our security.”
The trouble with the security discourse is that, just as stating “there is no Palestine” (or “there is, but it’s in Jordan”), it tends to serve as a rhetorical trump card. We all deserve security but we also know that full and total security is ultimately elusive. Where security threats were traditionally measured solely in terms of territory, now security experts also think in terms of environmental safety, immigration and contagious diseases. There are always new threats on the horizon. All the while, we must recall that conventional security threats never really disappear – for anyone.
On top of all this we must ask whether the little girl who was tragically burned by the act of terrorism in the West Bank was in fact more secure by Israel holding onto that territory and moving its population there. Counterfactual reasoning is never foolproof, but one could certainly make the argument that occupying a hostile population for decades on end is itself a security liability, rather than a security guarantee.
Many have indeed made this argument. More than 100 retired Israeli generals, other high-ranking officers, Mossad officers and police chiefs have even told their prime minister as much, writing a letter last November urging him to “adopt the political-regional approach and begin negotiations with moderate Arab states and with the Palestinians (in the West Bank and in Gaza, too), based on the Saudi-Arab Peace Initiative.”
Obviously Israel wants security. So do the Palestinians. When it comes to the nasty world of international politics, there are no absolute security guarantees – but there are calculable risks. For starters, peace treaties tend to hold better than wishing that an occupied people will sit on their hands for decades. With 59 internal checkpoints in the West Bank, not counting the 40 near the entry to Israel at B’Tselem’s last count, I would even suggest that hoping that your own civilian population can move freely and safely within the occupied territory where an enemy population resides is where the magical thinking really lies.
So, as for that blogger and those dates, I would advise him to take a bite out of the dried fruit. I doubt that those dates are magical, but there is indeed a sweet spot that reveals the best chance for peace between two peoples vying for security and independence. And it doesn’t involve keeping the status quo going, unhappily ever after.
Mira Sucharov is an associate professor of political science at Carleton University. She blogs at Haaretz and the Jewish Daily Forward. A version of this article was originally published on haartez.com.