Israel Archives

Political Cartoon: Enemies and Allies

From Michael Ramirez (click for a larger version):

Michael Ramirez

Treating your enemies better than your allies doesn’t seem to be working, for either our enemies or our allies. 

Looking For Your Keys Where the Light’s Better

The founder of Human Rights Watch, Robert Bernstein, has watched as his organization has lost its focus and come unmoored (to mix metaphors), and has written a piece in the NY Times about what he sees as the principal reason.

AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag — and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.

When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

He goes on to describe the disparity he sees in general among human rights organizations in the Middle East.

Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

You remember that old joke about the drunk who lost his keys at night, and is looking for them under a lamppost?  The passer-by offering assistance is told that the keys were lost farther down the block, but, explains the drunk, "the light’s better here."

Instead of doing the hard work of looking for human rights abuses where they’re not allowed to look, the most open and free of the countries in the Middle East is targeted instead.  Bernstein also notes that HRW doesn’t even seem to understand, anymore, the difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally."  No one’s saying Israel is perfect, but HRW and similar organizations are making it sound like Israel is the region’s worst offender.

Likely it isn’t, but that’s no longer the point, apparently.  These groups are going down the path of least resistance, which suggests that human rights aren’t really the top priority anymore.  Pick your reason; more publicity, perhaps leading to more money, or maybe even some anti-Semitism. 

But actual human rights seem to have slipped from the top spot.  They’re looking where the light’s better, not noticing that the country that they’re complaining most about is the one keeping the light on.  It’s time to take a flashlight to where the keys actually are, if you want to find something more useful.

Straining at a Gnat

And missing the larger threat.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei said Sunday that "Israel is number one threat to Middle East" with its nuclear arms, the official IRNA news agency reported.

At a joint press conference with Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran, ElBaradei brought Israel under spotlight and said that the Tel Aviv regime has refused to allow inspections into its nuclear installations for 30years, the report said.

"Israel is the number one threat to the Middle East given the nuclear arms it possesses," ElBaradei was quoted as saying.

Right, because Israel has said they want to wipe Iran off the map.


Can Diplomacy Fail?

The answer is "Yes", but when it does, this is not necessarily a failure of those trying to prevent conflict.  At times, this is simply a result of the motivations of the belligerent. 

In response to my post about the delusions of negotiating with Iran, commenter Dan Trabue responded with why negotiation and pressure should be able to convince Iran not to go nuclear, and if it didn’t then it was a failing on our part.  If we go to war, it is an admission of failure on our part "that we’ve failed to outsmart this particular unreasonable leader."

I disagree.  Let’s look at some major cases.

Saddam Hussein had been negotiated with for decades.  Not even the first Gulf War was enough to keep him back.  Iraq regularly fired at coalition planes enforcing the No-Fly zone after the liberation of Kuwait (a country, by the way, that we liberated even though they had been a close ally of the Soviets and were extremely anti-Israel).  The UN and most Western governments (and in the US, both Democrats and Republicans) believed that Hussein was hiding WMDs.  He hindered UN weapons inspectors.  The threat of war from the US didn’t even move him.  This was a madman bent on both personal power and funding anti-Semitism.  There was nothing to give him that would take away those desires. 

Let’s go back a little further…

Read the rest of this entry

An Historic Speech

Most of the coverage from last week’s meetings at the United Nations focused on leaders of rogue nations. But the most important speech was one given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s a tough speech and one worth watching. It’s also a speech that historians may look back upon years from now as very prophetic. Take time to watch it all.

Thought for the Day

From Ed Morrissey, posting at Hot Air:

If Jimmy Carter believes that the “overwhelming” portion of criticism towards Barack Obama is due to racism, does he also believe that the overwhelming portion of criticism towards Israel is anti-Semitic?  Wouldn’t that apply to a man who hangs out with people who target Israeli citizens for terrorist attacks?  After all, Hamas regularly issues anti-Semitic harangues and smears, and yet Carter has no problem cozying up to them and claiming that their criticism of Israel is legitimate.

The race card is a two-edged sword, to mix metaphors.  And when you use the term "overwhelmingly", you expose yourself as someone desperate to handwave away any and all criticism by labeling it, rather than considering it.  And Carter’s association with those who spew actual racist rhetoric is charmingly ironic.

Is 60% of America really racist?  Do you really believe that?  No, I don’t think Jimmy Carter really believes that.  Assuming intelligence on his part, it can only be cover that he giving to Obama to try to marginalize critics.  And it’s not working, as the numbers continue to drop for the One.

"Peace" Partners

This is what passes for a "Middle East peach partner" these days.

Palestinian militant Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five consecutive life sentences for the murders of five people in terror attacks, has been elected to serve on Fatah’s Central Committee, and that is sparking new calls by left-wing Israeli politicians for his release. Freeing Barghouti would bolster the “moderate” Fatah organization, left-wing Israelis say.

Fatah’s recently-concluded congress in Bethlehem, its first in 20 years, elected Barghouti to fill one of 18 available places on its top decision-making body. Provisional results show that he received the third highest number of votes cast by delegates.

Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, is the Palestinian faction backed by the U.S. as a potential Mideast peace partner. It is engaged in a continuing feud with Islamist rival Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Despite the rift, Hamas has been demanding freedom for Barghouti along with hundreds of other prisoners in exchange for releasing Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier abducted by Hamas more than three years ago. He is still being held in Gaza.

Barghouti was a leader of the Tanzim and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, factions within Fatah which have been linked to – and in many cases claimed responsibility for – lethal attacks including suicide bombings. American citizens were among their victims.

The Fatah congress last week endorsed the Al-Aqsa Brigade as an official Fatah organ.

If this was something Israel was doing, the UN would be all over them with 8 Security Council resolutions.  But Fatah gets so many passes it’s amazing.

And the irony is, Israel will still be papered in UN resolutions.

Political Cartoon: Not Exactly Singing the Same Tune

From Michael Ramirez:

(Click on the cartoon for a larger version.)

Until Hamas is willing to alter their charter, calling for the destruction of Israel, is there any reason to think they’re negotiating in good faith?

Do They Love Us For Our Diplomacy?

First off, Robert Gates says that the extended hand of friendship is being rebuffed by the Iranians.

He said Tuesday that so far, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s response to the US outreach has been "not very encouraging."

"We’re not willing to pull the hand back yet because we think there’s still some opportunity," Gates said. "But I think concerns out there of some kind of a grand bargain developed in secret are completely unrealistic."

He was referring to speculation in the Middle East that the Obama administration was trying to forge a grand Middle East peace settlement with Iran whereby the US would press Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians, perhaps a Palestinian state, in exchange for Teheran rolling back its nuclear program.

"Not encouraging."  Who’d have thought?  (Well, lots of people, actually.)  We attempt to give them what we think they want, and they turn it down.  Perhaps what we think they want isn’t what they really want.  Maybe wiping Israel "off the map" really is part of their foreign policy. 

OK, but we’re trying, aren’t we?  I mean, that must count for something in the Middle East, where Obama is trying to repair our standing among the Arabs, right?

Washington’s efforts to start a dialogue with Iran have sent ripples of alarm through the capitals of America’s closest Arab allies, who accuse Teheran of playing a destabilizing role in the Middle East.

The concerns being raised by Arab leaders sound strikingly like those coming from the mouths of Israeli officials.

"We hope that any dialogue between countries will not come at our expense," said a statement Tuesday by the six oil-rich nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, who have long relied on US protection in the region.

Oh, well, so much for that.  Extend a hand to an enemy, alarm our allies.  Perhaps they just need to get used to the idea that making Iran a friend is in their best interest.

Or perhaps they know something we don’t know about Iranian foreign policy.

Israel Moves to the Right

The election in Israel, the outcome of which makes parliamentary government very entertaining to watch, gave more votes to right-leaning parties than to left-leaning ones.  Meryl Yourish with the analysis:

The vote in Israel shows that a majority of Israelis voted for right-leaning parties. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, loathed by many for issues like wanting Arab Israelis to swear a loyalty oath, won fifteen seats in the Knesset. Labor, the party that gave us the worst Defense Minister ever (but the best Stalin lookalike, Amir Peretz) won only thirteen. The “peace” parties—the parties that the world most expected to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians—were shoved aside. Why is that? Why is Labor doomed to the opposition, and Meretz even more marginalized than before?

Her answer is basically that the rockets voted. That’s actually a phrase I read in an opinion piece in the Atlantic, though it does convey her meaning. 

But the thing is, the rocket fire hasn’t traumatized the Israelis so much as it has woken them up.

Israelis want peace. But the policies of the last decade have failed. So Israelis are voting for the strong horse, as they say, but only just. The right-leaning parties have a bare majority in a 120-seat Knesset. The majority of Israelis no longer trust the peace process, because they’ve tried it for decades, and every time Israel gives up land, in return, they get terror.

The Gaza Strip was not blockaded when Israel first pulled out. Instead of working on building Gaza up economically, Gazans destroyed every last vestige of Israel, including the greenhouses, and then installed Hamas firmly into the government. The message to Israel was clear: We’re still going to destroy you. The thousands of missiles carried that message to southern Israel on a regular basis. Even now, Hamas refuses to stop the rockets, refuses to put aside “resistance,” and still calls for an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Israelis aren’t stupid. They were hopeful. They were optimistic. They were willing to believe that the Palestinians wanted peace just as much as they did.

They were wrong.

And that’s why the Israeli vote went to the right. Not because of the drivel that you read in the AP that says Israelis have a “self image as a besieged nation surrounded by enemies.” Not because “many Israelis are still traumatized by the Palestinian uprising.”

Sorry, John Lennon.  They gave peace a chance, for decades, frankly, and through the barrage of thousands of terrorist attacks in just the last 7 years.  Every effort and concession has been made and still their adversaries will simply not abide by their agreements. 

So now, Israel has spoken, and softly at that.  This was not an overwhelming change in political power, but it was significant.  Israel’s attackers have been put on notice.  Once more.

Political Cartoon: Missile Platform

From Gordon Campbell:

Hamas Childcare

As low as the IDF can make them, civilian casualties are guaranteed when you store and launch your missiles from civilian area.  Hamas gets a win-win situation for terrorism when it gets world sympathy for casualties as a result of this stationing, and it gets Palestinian sympathy when it kills Jews.  You cannot negotiate with terrorists; you can only defeat them.

United Nations: "Hamas? Who Are They?"

In its continuing slide into irrelevancy, the United Nations Security Council called for a ceasefire in Gaza and never once used the H-word.  Now that could mean that they don’t thing Hamas has anything to do with what’s going on in Gaza, or they realize that asking Hamas to honor a ceasefire is pretty much pointless given their history.

Then again, there’s always the third option; they’re just blaming Israel, like they always do.  That would be the safe bet.

The Gaza War and the "Anti-War" Left

"There have been approximately 7,200 rockets (Grads, Qassams) and mortars launched at Israel since 2005", according to  There are more stats at the link, but let that one sink in for a moment (especially after reading this headline).

Now consider that when Israel finally defends itself, and launches a counter-attack, with the goal, not of revenge, not of tit-for-tat, but to stop the attacks aimed at it’s civilians by targeting Hamas’ military, then and only then does the "anti-war" Left spring into action.  I really must put "anti-war" in scare quotes because, as much as their rhetoric is anti-all-war, they only get their dander up when their particular political ox is being gored.  They dredge up their celebrities, who have been chirping with the crickets for years regarding Hamas’ continual barrage, and get them to feign outrage for the media.

Israel made the extremely difficult decision to evict its own people out of their homes to make Gaza available to the Palestinians.  But with respect to international relations, the only thing that did was give Hamas a closer base of operations to fire rockets into southern Israel.  And as this short video production notes, distance is only a matter of time.  Unless Hamas’ ability to launch is severely curtailed or stopped, major population centers are on their list. 

But nary a word from the "anti-war" Left, hardly a bare nod to what Hamas terrorists have been inflicting on Israel for years.  There’s a word for this: Disingenuous. 

I’d like to re-link something that Mark O. noted before.  This post at Chicago Boyz notes that terrorism, historically, cannot be negotiated with.  Any concessions simply bolster their cause for more terrorism.  Israel, after decades of pressure, gave up land for peace.  They did the former, but they never got the latter.  And if all they do is make concessions, they never will.  (Remember this when discussing "root causes" of 9/11, by the way.)

I’ll leave you with this post from; 15 New Commandments for gradual self-destruction.  See what the liberal mindset hath wrought.  (And bookmark "".  Their analysis of the media coverage of the Gaza war has been fantastic.)

A Modest Proposal for Palestine

The world has long awaited and long needed, a final realistic solution to the Palestinian/Israeli Middle East problem. And at long last, I’ll offer it to y’all for free. Just because … I’m that kind of guy.

The problem itself goes back some years, generations in fact. To the creation of Israel. The UN in either its folly or its evil intent, depending on your point of view on that matter, created this whole disaster by its intentional act. In the movement of Israel to a free Jewish state they moved the Palestinians out. Where? Into “permanent refugee camps”. Now in the rest of the world, and in saner moments of reflection, it will occur to any rational observer that the words “permanent” and “refugee camp” should not be connected in any way shape or form. Refugee camps, well suck just a little less than the terror of war, famine, or other disaster from which the refugee is fleeing. The slogan might be, “refugee camps, where life sucks just a little less than being dead.” The purpose of such camps is to either wait the short time until the disaster has passed to return home, or in case of civil war and the possibilities of return are not realistic … a place to survive until one can make oneself a way to find a home elsewhere.

Well, guess what. The time for waiting for Israel to be returned to the Palestinian people has passed its time. It’s well overripe. The refugees need to find a home … outside of that refugee camp. The time for the Palestinian diaspora is now. These people need to be integrated into society. Those people need to be bussed out of those camps, split up, separated and integrated into legal stable societies all over the world. They need jobs, they need a quiet surrounding filled with law abiding people to raise their children in, they a fresh start.

Decades ago if not sooner.

(one final remark, note the title, “A Modest Proposal” … you all know what that means right?)

What was that about “Peace on Earth”?

President-elect Obama, the One, is less than a month to his inauguration and he’s already getting tested.

From CNN, At least 155 killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Israeli Maj. Avital Leibovich told CNN the military began the attacks “in order to preserve the security situation in Israel.”

“We are prepared for any type of scenario right now. We have our own operation and assessments as we go along, and we are ready to continue this operation as long as it takes,” Leibovich said by phone from Tel Aviv.

The campaign is over, Barack.

Pray for Barack Obama, and his cabinet.

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