No more Palestinian refugees

The writer is a PhD candidate at the War Studies Department of King’s College London and the program manager of the Argov Fellows program in leadership and diplomacy at IDC Herzliya.

This Time Kushner is Right

Ending Palestinian refugee status is good for Israel, good for the Palestinians and good for the refugees.

BY AVI JAGER  AUGUST 6, 2018 21:41

Recent reports quoting Palestinian officials indicate that US peace envoys seek to eliminate the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. UNRWA is a UN refugee agency exclusively responsible for Palestinian “refugees” worldwide. A few months after the Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in order to “take it off the negotiation table,” it seems that US peace envoys led by Jared Kushner are moving toward taking another core issue off the negotiation table: Palestinian refugees.

This time US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law is right: ending Palestinian refugee status will take a seemingly insurmountable issue off the negotiation table, allow for better treatment of the Palestinian refugees and promote the creation and stability of a future Palestinian state.

There are two refugee agencies in the United Nations. The first, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), established in 1950, is responsible for all the refugees in the world, which are estimated at 70 million. The second, UNRWA, established in 1949, is dedicated exclusively to supporting Palestinian refugees, which are estimated at seven million. UNRWA provides, among other things, “education, health care, relief and social services” to residents of Palestinian refugee camps spread across the Middle East. An additional responsibility of UNRWA is to keep track of the number of Palestinian refugees as well as their whereabouts.

The case of the Palestinian refugees is the only case in modern history where the status of refugee is automatically inherited, regardless of whether the Palestinians are still living in refugee camps or were granted national citizenship by another country.
Therefore, while the number of post-WWII refugees plummeted from 60 million to less than five million by 2018, the number of Palestinian refugees grew tenfold, from 700,000 in the 1950s to more than seven million in 2018.

While the great majority of the non-Palestinian refugees from the post-WWII period died from natural causes, were granted citizenship or both, Palestinian refugees transferred the refugee status to their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who as of now, are poised to pass it on as well.

With no foreseeable ending to the automatically inherited refugee status, the number of Palestinian refugees will continue to rise, and is expected to exceed 10 million by 2030. As the issue of Palestinian refugees constitutes a main reason that past negotiations failed, forcing it off the negotiation table could possibly contribute to the success of future negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. More importantly, it will benefit all parties involved.

Israel, for security reasons, cannot allow the “return” of seven million Palestinian refugees into the Palestinian Territories, nor into a future Palestinian state. Under no circumstances will Israel welcome a hostile and at times belligerent people into strategic areas that determine the overall security of the country and its society. In addition, in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Israel had to absorb approximately 700,000 Jewish refugees who fled or were expelled from Arab countries. These refugees were granted citizenship immediately upon their arrival and today they are an integral part of the Israeli society.

The Jewish refugees and their descendants, as well as large parts of Israeli society, are not likely to support any Israeli government, much less an international organization, which recognizes the suffering of the Palestinian refugees while ignoring theirs.

Surprisingly enough, the Palestinian leadership would secretly prefer for Kushner’s efforts to succeed, but they cannot express this, as they will lose the little legitimacy they still have. The emotional connection between the Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the Palestinians living in refugee camps across the Middle East has long been dissolved.

The precarious response of the Palestinian leadership when Syrian President Bashar Assad besieged, starved and butchered the residents of the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk reveals how little the Palestinian leadership cares for other Palestinians in the Middle East. Practically speaking, the Palestinian leadership knows that a newborn state with a population of four million people cannot possibly absorb seven million others from all across the Middle East. Forcing the topic off the negotiation table will finally allow the Palestinian negotiating team to abandon that demand and focus on more practical matters.

Palestinian refugees have long been neglected, abused and discriminated against by Arab countries. Other than Jordan, no other country in the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, has granted citizenship to the Palestinian refugees in their territories. In Lebanon, Palestinians are still denied access to major social and occupational institutions and are prohibited from working as doctors, lawyers or engineers. In Syria, Palestinians are attacked by both Shi’ite and Sunni militias, with no one to protect them. In Egypt, Palestinians suffer from travel restrictions and they are denied basic government services.

The source of the discrimination against Palestinians living in Arab countries is the misconception that they are living there only temporarily and will soon move to Israel or Palestine. Ending the refugee status will force the host countries to recognize that these residents living in their territories are not going anywhere and should be treated as if they were equal citizens.

The biggest misconception about a negotiable solution for the issue of the Palestinian refugees is that the solution would involve either compensation or a return of the refugees to Israel or a future Palestine. In fact, the real options are either to agree upon compensation or keep futilely negotiating a Palestinian state for another 50 years. Under no circumstances will Israel allow the flow of millions of Palestinian refugees to a future Palestine, much less to Israel, and under no circumstances will the Palestinian negotiating teams waive the right of the refugees to return (even though they secretly despise the idea).

Since the Israelis and Palestinians have already agreed on the other two core issues that come up in every negotiation – security arrangements and borders – ending Palestinian refugee status will dramatically increase the likelihood of successful negotiations in the future. As all parties will benefit from ending Palestinian refugee status, it seems that this time, the son-in-law got it right, and Kushner’s initiative should be taken seriously.

The writer is a PhD candidate at the War Studies Department of King’s College London and the program manager of the Argov Fellows program in leadership and diplomacy at IDC Herzliya.

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Israel was always Jewish State


There’s Nothing Wrong with a Jewish State

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet
meeting at his office in Jerusalem, July 15, 2018. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Israel’s new law changes almost nothing. As before, charges of ‘apartheid’ are off base.

Considering the enormous fuss it created within Israel and abroad, you’d have thought the law passed this week by Israel’s Knesset fundamentally changed the nature of the state. But although some of the country’s critics as well as Israelis and Jews who oppose the decision to enact a “nation state” law are acting as if it has created earth-shaking change, that isn’t the case.

The law changes virtually nothing about life in Israel because Israel has, from the moment it was born, been a Jewish state. Indeed, when David Ben-Gurion, the country’s first prime minister, read the country’s Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, he said that those assembled to ratify the document “hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel, to be known as the state of Israel.”

The problem is that, 70 years after its founding, the fundamental principles that led to Israel’s creation are still controversial among those who oppose its existence. Even some Israelis and Diaspora Jews opposed the passage of the law, not so much because they disagreed with anything in it but because they fear that articulating these principles in this fashion will further alienate Palestinians, the Arab minority inside Israel, the international community, and even young Jews in the United States who are wavering in their support for Israel.

Those critics are probably right that the law will put some more wind in the sails of anti-Zionists who continue to spread the smear that Israel is an “apartheid state.” But the problem with this argument is that the charges made against Israel as a racist state were already being spread before this bill was signed into law. Those who have a problem with an avowedly Jewish state didn’t need this law to be against Israel’s existence.

Regardless of whether the law needed to be passed now or, as is the case, its enactment had more to do with the internal politics of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s center-right governing coalition, the charges of racism or apartheid are still false. Unlike every other nation in the region, Israel remains a democracy, in which all of its citizens have equal rights under the law. These include voting rights and representation in the country’s parliament, the Knesset. Many Arabs and minorities serve in government, particularly in judicial and diplomatic posts.

The idea of a country that is the patrimony of an ethno-religious community strikes some in the West as inherently racist. But Israel is hardly alone in seeing in seeing itself as a nation whose primary purpose is to allow one people to express their national identity.

While the country’s founding document and other basic laws guarantee equal rights for all, the purpose for which Israel was created was to give expression to the right of the Jews to self-determination in their ancient homeland. In that sense, Jews have group rights in Israel while non-Jewish minorities for the most part have only individual rights.

As in other countries where large national minority communities exist, that creates difficulties —  in this case, for the 20 percent of the country that is not Jewish. Like all other countries, including democracies, Israel isn’t perfect. But the tension that stems from this situation has been exacerbated by, more than anything else, the fact that their Arab and Muslim neighbors have been seeking to destroy Israel since the day of its birth. In seven decades, Israel has grown from being an impoverished Third World state struggling to house Holocaust survivors and those Jews who were forced to flee their homes in the Arab world. Israel is now a regional superpower with a “start-up nation” First World economy. Nonetheless, it has been at war every day of its existence.

The constitutions of many other countries make clear that they exist as vehicles for a national idea in this same manner. Spain is one such example. Spanish nationality is given priority over that of ethnic minorities such as the Basques or the Catalans. The same is true of the Baltic states, all of which have substantial Russian minorities who must accept that Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian language and culture are the keystones of national identity. Israel is no more an apartheid state than any of those countries.

There is nothing inherently repulsive about, or redolent of apartheid in, a law that establishes national symbols: a flag with a blue Star of David, and a national anthem, “Hatikva,” which speaks of the 2,000-year-old “hope” of the Jews to “to be a free people” in “the land of Zion and Jerusalem.” Nor is it apartheid to use the Hebrew calendar or to state the nation’s interest in ensuring the safety of Jews throughout the world.

Or at least there is nothing offensive unless you happen to think the Jews deserve to be denied basic rights of settlement, sovereignty, and self-defense in their own country — rights that no one would think of denying to anyone else. That is why such anti-Zionist bias is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism.

Nor is the law’s recognition of the right to Jewish settlement a barrier to peace, since the purpose of Zionism has always been to defend the right of Jews to resettle their ancient homeland, to enable the “ingathering of the exiles” mentioned in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. That right was also in the terms of the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine, in which Britain’s obligation to encourage “close settlement” of the country by Jews was clearly specified.

The desire of so many to deny Israel the right to express its Jewish identity is exactly why a majority of the Knesset felt it necessary to remind the world that their country is and will always remain the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The State of Israel in fact already treated all these items as both custom and law before the recent bill was passed. But they remain points of contention because the country’s foes — including a BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) movement dedicated to its destruction — continue to argue against the existence of a Jewish state. That opposition against its existence was the point of the “marches of return” staged by Hamas in Gaza this past spring.

Israel could have gotten along very well without a Jewish-state law and remained every bit as Jewish as it will be now. The internal political wrangling of Netanyahu’s coalition notwithstanding, the reason why so many Israelis believed that such a law was necessary has more to do with the refusal of the Palestinians and so many of their foreign enablers to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter how its borders were drawn as a condition of peace.

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Media thrives on blaming Israel

The ugly trade in Palestinian pain

Israel and Palestine

The ugly trade in Palestinian pain

Western liberals bear some responsibility for the violence in Gaza.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is unique among modern wars.  No, not because Israel is an unnaturally wicked state, as its many critics across the West, and in the Middle East of course, would have us believe. And not because this conflict has been a long one. Or because it is a sometimes asymmetrical one, pitting a well-armed state against protesters armed with catapults and attitude. Many wars have been long and imbalanced.

No, this war is different because of who shapes it. Who impacts on it. Who contributes to it, usually unwittingly. This war is unique because very often its distant observers, those who watch and comment and hand-wring from afar, play a role in intensifying it and making it bloodier than it already is – without even realising they are doing so.

This should be the central lesson of the terrible events at the Gaza-Israel border last week: that much of what happens in the Israel-Palestine conflict is now largely a performance, a piece of bloody theatre, staged for the benefit of outsiders, especially for myopically anti-Israel Western activists and observers.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Hamas pushes Gaza’s people into harm’s way because it knows their suffering will strike a chord across the West. Because it knows images of their hardship will be shared widely, wept over, and held up as proof of the allegedly uniquely barbarous nature of the Jewish State. Hamas knows there is a hunger among the West’s so-called progressives for evidence of Palestinian pain, and by extension of Israeli evil, and it is more than willing to feed this hunger.

The clashes at the Gaza border, in which more than 60 Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured, cannot be viewed in isolation from Western liberals’ peculiar and disproportionate obsession with Israel. It now seems undeniable that this was no instinctive, grassroots protest, but rather one that was carefully orchestrated by Hamas. As a New York Times reporter described it, after midday prayers clerics and leaders of Hamas ‘urged thousands of worshippers to join the protests’. And Hamas’s urging was littered with false claims. It told people ‘the fence had already been breached’ and Palestinians were ‘flooding into Israel’. This was a lie. A Washington Post reporter details how Hamas’s leaders told people to keep attacking the border fence because ‘Israeli soldiers [are] fleeing their positions’. In truth, as Hamas knew only too well, the IDF was reinforcing its positions.

Israel had made clear, including in an airdrop of leaflets, that anyone who sought to dismantle the fence in Gaza, the de facto border between this part of Palestine and Israel, risked coming to harm. And still Hamas encouraged the protesters to strike at the fence. Still it sought to swell the angry ranks by pleading with people to go from their mosques to the border. Why would it do this? Why would the governing party of a territory knowingly put that territory’s citizens into serious danger?

This is the rub. This is the central question. And the answer is a disturbing one: Hamas does this because it knows it will benefit politically and morally if Palestinians suffer. It knows there is a market for stories of Palestinian pain, and it is happy to flood that market.

Writing in the New York Times last week, Matti Friedman, a former AP desk editor in Jerusalem, touched upon this trade in Palestinian horror. He said that during his years reporting from the Middle East he even developed a certain respect for Hamas’s ‘keen ability to tell a story’. Hamas’s great insight was to recognise that the vast majority of the Western media wanted ‘a simple story about villains and victims’, says Friedman. Most Western reporters and commentators weren’t interested in nuance and certainly not in any reading of events that might seek to understand the Israeli position. No, they wanted stories of ‘dead human beings’, made dead by ‘unwarranted Israeli slaughter’, says Friedman.

That is, they want a morality tale, in which all complexity is chased out in favour of providing readers with a binary story of good guys and bad guys, and providing themselves with the moral kick of feeling like the exposers of simplistic terrible horrors – all executed by Israel, of course. Friedman says ‘the willingness of reporters to cooperate with that script’ gave Hamas ‘the incentive to keep using it’. In other words, Western observers’ receptiveness to stories of villains and victims encouraged Hamas to keep providing such stories. And also, logically, to create situations in which such stories might actually, physically unfold: tense protests, for example, featuring heavily armed Israelis on one side – the villains – and Palestinians on the other: the victims.

What we are witnessing is the development of an almost symbiotic relationship between Westerners’ need for stories of Israeli evil and Hamas’s ‘keen’ desire to tell and possibly even assist in the creation of such stories. A key dynamic here is the growth of Western leftists’ myopic loathing for Israel. Israel has become the state it is positively fashionable to hate. It is boycotted by the right-on in a way no other nation is, including nations with worse track records of militarism (like the US) or which are more repressive than Israel (like China). Its military actions are protested against more passionately than any other state’s military actions. So Turkey killed hundreds of Kurdish people in Syria in recent months, and people in London and Paris and Washington did not take to the streets to complain. But as soon as Israel gets embroiled in conflict, out came the protesters, fuming, burning the Israeli flag.

Hating Israel has become a kind of negative moral framework through which many in the West now advertise their virtue. Being anti-Israel has become the baseline requirement for membership of the dinner-party circle. It’s one of the key ways liberals and progressives demonstrate their decency. This is why they must clog up their Twitterfeeds with images of Palestinian suffering and hashtags condemning Israel. This is why they must take to the streets over Israel in a way they never do over Turkish or Saudi militarism. This is why they will refuse to buy Israeli fruit or watch Israeli plays or movies. Because that’s how you show you are a clean, moral person: by being Israel-free, and Israel-hating.

And in order to sustain this simplistic moral framework, this framework through which many Westerners now make sense of their own morality and political outlook, proof of Palestinian suffering is frequently required. And in steps Hamas to provide it. On one side, Western moralists almost addicted to stories of Israeli nastiness, and on the other their dealers: Hamas.

Westerners’ obsession with this conflict, and with an infantile reading of it as evil vs innocence, has helped to warp the conflict itself. It has twisted its dynamic, helped to deepen it, and created a situation where Palestinian leaders know there is one surefire way to garner international sympathy for themselves and hatred for Israel: let Palestinians go into harm’s way.

Virtue-signalling on domestic issues might be irritating – in the international realm it becomes positively dangerous. The Western progressives currently crying ‘Why must Palestinians die like this?’ should take a look in the mirror every now and then, because this is the terrible truth: they are partly dying for your moral and political gratification.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked. Find him on Instagram: @burntoakboy


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Israel Defends Itself from Terror

Gaza violence launched by Hamas to attack Israel

Reprinted from Daily Alert

May 17, 2018

  • Israel Defends Itself Against Palestinian Attackers from Gaza – Editorial
    Those killed and wounded by Israeli border-defense troops weren’t singing and chanting peacefully. They were planting explosives, firing guns and launching Molotov cocktails and kites carrying burning fuel into Israeli territory to set farm fields aflame.
    Hamas officials told them their mission was to “liberate Palestine.” They even encouraged demonstrators to burst through the fences by falsely telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions in fear. In the most cynical turn, Hamas ordered rioters to set fire to the main crossing for commercial goods and humanitarian aid into Gaza.
    In short, Israel successfully defended a violent attack by an enemy openly calling for its destruction. Any other country would do the same, and rightly so. (New York Post)
  • Hamas Are Manipulating Gaza Citizens – Lee Harpin
    Stephen Crabb, the Conservative Friends of Israel chair in Parliament, said Monday: “Hamas are manipulating the citizens of Gaza into the kind of actions we have been seeing and they are blatantly encouraging acts of terror and are seeking to bring chaos and terror and death onto Israeli soil….We recognize the responsibility the Israeli government has to defends its own citizens, the legitimacy of the right to defend itself.”
    “Every single time there is an attack on Israel…the international community is very quick to demand that the Israeli government demonstrates it’s taking all steps possible to avoid human suffering.”  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • We Stand with Israel on Gaza Violence – David Harris
    We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel at this difficult time on the Gaza border. There should be total clarity. The latest round of violence was triggered by Hamas, a terrorist organization as designated by both the U.S. and EU, whose charter and rhetoric are nothing less than genocidal in their stated aims regarding Israel and the Jewish people.
    Critics of Israel have sought to portray this situation as “peaceful protests by Gazans,” but the protests are not peaceful. The goal is to breach an internationally-recognized border between Israel and Gaza, to penetrate Israel, and, as Hamas spokesmen have repeatedly declared, to slaughter Jews.
    What choice does Israel have if a variety of non-lethal means fails to stop the demonstrators from trying to enter Israel and wreak havoc? What exactly would other countries do in a similar situation? To its credit, the U.S. has stood firmly by Israel’s side throughout these weeks of escalating violence, defending Israel’s absolute right to protect its citizens. We thank Washington for this moral clarity, when too many others suffer from moral fog. The writer is CEO of the American Jewish Committee. (PR Newswire)


David Keyes, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told MSNBC on Tuesday:


  • “Hamas’ interior minister said that ‘children and women make the best human shields.’ That’s not my words. It’s an exact quote from Fathi Hamad, Hamas’ interior minister….What kind of people send women and children into the frontlines, hoping that they die?”
  • “The same group which has been helping organize this march – Hamas…openly calls not just for the death of every Israeli soldier, but for the death of every Jew, and not just every Jew – every American.”
  • “This is what we’re up against and it’s a tragedy because instead of investing in their own people, they’re actually telling their children to go and wage war against Israel. It’s insanity.”
  • “There are people who stayed very far away from Israel’s border and didn’t try to infiltrate into Israel, and they can protest as much as they want. But when we saw masses of people gathering, with the express aim of infiltrating into Israel, in order to kill women and children, we did what any state in the world would have done, which is protect our people.”
  • “Iran not only fired 20 missiles just a few days ago at Israel. It also funded and armed Hizbullah and Hamas, who have launched tens of thousands of missiles at Israel. It’s blown up Jews around the world. It’s openly calling for our annihilation.”
  • “Those are acts of war which Israel has been the recipient of for far too long….Iran’s aim is very clear – the total annihilation of Israel. We cannot let that happen, and we will not let that happen.”
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Hamas seeks media attention

Protests on Gaza border are ‘play for media attention,’ says ex-ambassador

 By Julia Manchester

Protests on Gaza border are 'play for media attention,' says ex-ambassador
© Getty Images

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren called Palestinian protests on the Gaza border “a play for media attention” on Monday.

At least 37 people have reportedly been killed and 1,000 wounded as waves of Palestinians in Gaza have sought to cross into Israel as the U.S. opens its embassy in Jerusalem.

“Palestinians, stirred on by Hamas, burned down their own crossing, burned their own energy lines so they can cry humanitarian crisis to the world and have the world blame us. I hope that this time it won’t work. I hope someday the Palestinians in Gaza, like those in Judea and Samaria and the West Bank, will come to the negotiating table,” Oren told CNN’s Erica Hill on “New Day.”



“No. You have to make your decision what should be covered, but it is certainly a play for media attention, and it is working stunningly. It works every week,” Oren responded.

 “As we are speaking now the Syrian army is attacking the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, they’re killing hundreds, maybe thousands of Palestinians. Has CNN covered it? Has anybody covered it?” Oren asked.

“Does anybody care when Syrians kill Palestinians? It’s only when there’s conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and Hamas knows this. And it knows if it sends kids to the border to break through the border Israeli soldiers have to defend that border that’s going to get media attention. It works very well,” he continued.

The new embassy’s opening is a fulfillment of one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpOregon governor to face state rep in November Ashford, Eastman neck and neck in Nebraska Dem primary Progressive pick Wild wins Dem primary for Pa. House seat MORE‘s campaign promises and a major break from the international community.

While Israel sees Jerusalem as its capital, Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent state. Most other countries do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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World quick to criticize Israel

Hamas attacks Israel — and the world condemns Israel

Lawrence Haas

April 11, 2018, The Hill

Hamas attacks Israel — and the world condemns Israel
© Getty Images

The world “should wait for our great move,” said a top Hamas leader, speaking to Palestinian protestors during violent clashes with Israeli forces along the Gaza border, “when we breach the borders and pray at al Aqsa.”

With hundreds around him chanting, “We are going to Jerusalem, millions of martyrs,” and with 20,000 Palestinians protesting along the border — some burning tires, others throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks — Yahya Sinwar declared during April protests that Hamas was “following in the path of martyr Yasser Arafat in resisting the enemy” and “if we explode we will explode in [Israel’s] face.”

That Sinwar and other Hamas leaders made clear that their “March of Return” is only the latest tactic in their efforts to destroy Israel, however, hasn’t convinced much of the global community, the West, or the media to abandon its comfortable narrative – of a peace-loving Palestinian people in Gaza, driven to violence by an iron-fisted Israel.

Such is life as the world’s only Jewish state — with Hamas and other terrorist groups across its border in Gaza; with the more dangerous Hezbollah across its northern border in Lebanon; with terrorists roaming the Sinai; and with Hezbollah and Shi’a militias implanted amid the chaos of Syria.

However carefully it responds to violent efforts to breach its borders and attack its people, Israel finds itself falsely portrayed, second-guessed, and ultimately condemned. Thus, the current turmoil along Israel’s border with Gaza is playing out along predictable lines in the court of public opinion.

Hamas, which seeks Israel’s destruction and has run Gaza since ousting the Palestinian Authority in a violent coup in 2007, launched the “March of Return” on March 30 to remove the “transient border” between Israel and Gaza and fulfill the “right of return” of all seven million descendants of the Palestinians who fled their homes when Arab nations launched the 1948 war against the new Jewish state. (With such a full “right of return,” Palestinians would outnumber Jews in Israel, upending a state that emerged from the Holocaust and marked a people’s return to their historic homeland.)

The second such “march” came on Friday, April 6, and Hamas vows to mount one each Friday until “Nakba Day,” the annual day when Palestinians mark the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation in May of 1948. For that day, the group promises a “march” that will include at least a million participants.

But these weekly “marches” aren’t marches at all. Like the rockets that Hamas launches into southern Israel or the tunnels it uses to infiltrate underground, these marches are violent efforts to breach Israel’s border — and they’ve left about 30 dead at the hands of Israeli forces that say all 30 were engaged in violent activity.

“Palestine and Jerusalem belong to us,” top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared this week. In an Orwellian twist, he termed the “March of Return” a “peaceful, civilized, and popular march.”

But Hamas is not only orchestrating the violence on Israel’s border; it’s incentivizing it. The group is paying $3,000 for the family of a “martyr” who dies in a confrontation with Israeli forces, $500 to protestors who are seriously wounded, and $200 to those who are moderately wounded. It’s also reportedly jailing bus drivers who refuse to take Gazans to the border to protest.

With Hamas laying bare its strategy, much of the world has nevertheless found it easier to blame Israel for the chaos.

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, warned both Israel and Hamas that each could be committing crimes — as if a terror group using violence to breach a border and a nation defending itself are equivalent.

The European Union’s High Representative Federica Mogherini called for an investigation of Israel’s use of “live ammunition,” said its force should be “proportionate,” and urged a “full opening of the crossing points.”

Maybe Israel’s critics don’t realize that with their one-sided condemnations, they’re emboldening Hamas. Or maybe they do.

Lawrence J. Haas is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. He served as a former senior White House official and as senior communications director for Vice President Al Gore

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Palestinians want to live in Israel

Actually, Palestinians Are Doing Pretty Well Under Israeli Rule

 Jonah Cohen, March 20, 2018

Correction, 3/20/18: The piece originally stated that at the end of the Six-Day War in 1967, “Israel took over the Palestinian territories.” During the Six-Day War, the territories in question belonged to Jordan, not “Palestine.” The piece has been updated accordingly.

* * *
Of the various complaints made against Israelis, the worst has been the charge that the country is committing genocide. To wit: Nobel laureate José Saramago not long ago claimed that “what is happening in Palestine is a crime we can put on the same plane as what happened at Auschwitz.” While not every critic of Israel takes this line, enough influential academics and journalists have made similar claims, so that world opinion now judges Israel to be scarcely better than North Korea.

But “genocide” isn’t merely a matter of opinion; it’s measurable. Massive empirical data about life in Israel and the Palestinian territories has been compiled by distinguished Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini and his recently translated 2014 book Industry of Lies shows just how ludicrous the genocide charge is.

Begin with life expectancy. At the end of the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel took over the territories from Jordan, the average Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza expected to live just 49 years, according to a U.N. report. In 1975, Palestinian life expectancy rose to 56; by 1984, it climbed to 66. Yemini notes that this is “a rise of almost seventeen years in longevity within seventeen years of Israeli rule.” Since 1984, Palestinians have lived an average of 75 years. That’s not only higher than the global average, but longer than the life expectancy in many Arab and South American countries—and even in some European countries. Israeli Arabs, meanwhile, have the highest life expectancy in the Muslim world.

Infant mortality is another marker of genocide and happily it’s been declining in Palestinian life, having shown dramatic improvement since 1967. Also a happy statistic: the high birth and low death rates of Palestinians in Gaza put the territory near the top of the world in population growth. It is a strange kind of “genocide” that creates the conditions for a population of people to flourish.

But it isn’t just the Palestinian people who have flourished. Infrastructure has also meaningfully improved—most notably, Palestinian access to clean drinking water. Under Jordanian occupation, only 4 out of 708 Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank had modern water supply systems and running water.

Five years after Israel took over, the network of fresh water sources grew by 50 percent and continued to expand: By 2004, 641 Palestinian communities—accounting for 96 percent of the population—had running water, even in seasons of low rainfall. True, Hamas’s reckless sewage management and over-pumping from Gaza’s aquifer are aggravating regional challenges; but pioneering Israeli conservation tactics and technologies (such as drip irrigation and desalination plants) offer hope for the whole area. “One of the driest countries on Earth now makes more freshwater than it needs,” cheered Scientific American.

With improvements in physical well-being have come advances in culture. Palestinian literacy is impressive indeed: an astonishing 91 percent adult literacy rate. That makes the Palestinians the most educated population in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to a 2006 World Bank report.

Israeli Arabs are also doing quite well academically, especially Arab Christians—who outperform Jews in matriculation certificates. “Christian Arabs do better than the Israeli Jewish population at large,” Yemini writes. “If the charge of significant [anti-Arab] discrimination were true, it is hard to imagine such an outcome.”

And if voting with their feet is any indication, a majority of Israeli Arabs prefer to live in Israel rather than other countries, as suggested in various polls. Many even favor Israeli-ruled East Jerusalem over Palestinian citizenship in the territories.

But what about all the bloodshed? Isn’t the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among the worst the world has ever seen? You wouldn’t use a word like “genocide” if it wasn’t, would you? As Yemini underscores: This is a big “no.” Over the last 70 years, 5 million lives have been lost in wars across the Middle East and North Africa; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accounts for less than one percent of the death toll.

And even the larger Arab-Israeli conflict is way down the list of the world’s most lethal wars. Consider one comparison: In the Algerian War, France killed more Muslims in eight years than all the people killed in the entire 100 years of the Arab-Israeli conflict. About ten times more. And during those eight years, the French killed far more Algerians—nearly 30 times more—than Israelis killed Palestinians since 1948. “Relative to population size,” Yemini says, “more Palestinians have died in traffic accidents than in violent clashes with Israel.”

Given the extensive media coverage of this minor conflict, you would think academics and journalists might provide the public with more of these relevant comparisons. But comparative analysis is rarely how they explore the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Like advertisers selling a product, they single out and sensationalize. Professors such as Harvard’s Stephen Walt and University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer admitted as much in their scorched-earth attack on the Jewish state: “Our focus will be primarily on Israeli behavior,” the professors confessed in The Israel Lobby, “and no attempt will be made to compare it with the actions of other states in the region or in other parts of the world.”

Virtually anything can be made to look ugly when you isolate it and put it under a microscope: People are people and they often behave in ugly ways. This fact is part of the human condition, and not unique to Israelis or Palestinians or anyone else. And if what you’re looking to confirm is your own biases, there will always be anecdata you can find to support your case.

Israelis and Palestinians certainly have imperfections. Their shared home isn’t yet the land of milk and honey, but nor is it the hellhole often depicted by intellectuals and the media. To understand this truth, all you have to do is look at the objective data.

Next time a commentator starts to catastrophize about Israel, cheer them up with truths of increasing Palestinian life expectancy, declining infant mortality, growing populations, improved water conditions, amazing literacy, comparatively low casualty rates, and much of the other good news in Yemini’s level-headed book.

Jonah Cohen is the communications director for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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Netanyahu investigation is tainted

The “Faudalization” of Police Enforcement in Israel

By Ron Jager, February 26, 2018

The never ending legal saga with its daily thundering headlines against the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has in recent days begin to resemble a scene out of Israel’s new hit series “Fauda”. The series is about an undercover elite Israeli unit that operates in the ‘West Bank’, is named for the Arabic word for chaos, often used by IDF soldiers to describe operational activities in the ‘West Bank’, and by Palestinian Arabs to depict their daily lives.

Fauda” focuses on undercover operations in the area hunting down members of Hamas, using all means at their disposal. There is, naturally, an absence of due process, personal civil rights and legal recourse because this is a fight against the terrorists who want to murder Israeli civilians.. The goal in this life-and-death case justifies the means, and the result is expected to be nothing less than the complete elimination of the target. The missions operate within a subtext of total immunity, and are judged by their success in carrying out their missions.

One cannot escape the connection between the style and scope this past year of the police investigations against an elected Prime Minister, his associates, and essentially anyone in close contact with Benjamin Netanyahu, and the mindset of the current police commissioner, a former 30 year veteran and deputy head of the Shabak, Israel’s version of the FBI, anti-terror forces, and internal homeland security all rolled up into one; a very powerful, and largely secret organization.

It seems as if the police forces have undergone a transformation, a kind of “Faudalization” within their organizational behavior code and have mobilized all means at their disposal to politically dispose of the elected Prime Minister of the State of Israel. It seems as if the current police investigation against the Prime Minister has been meticulous in coordinating and manipulating accusations and state witnesses to create an atmosphere magnified by the printed, broadcasted, and social media platforms which are desperately hungry for any information that can advance the liberal-left, progressive political agenda to replace Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the “Fauda” television series, which one must remember is not a documentary, operatives are portrayed as thorough in giving only lawful orders and refraining from obeying blatantly illegal orders, without diminishing neither the shoot-to-kill objectives nor the pressure to get kills. The plot allows the viewers to experience the personal perspective of real terrorists with blood on their hands, Palestinian terrorists who are wanted by the Israeli army for years, and the Israeli Shabak hunting them down. At the same time, there are scenes where undercover agents meet with terrorists in which they hug and kiss, they sit together to eat and drink, in a camaraderie that seems to transcend the inevitable tragedy that awaits them. Scenes of interrogations and imprisonment are typified by behavior impervious to judicial oversight.

    This week’s revelation of collusion by a judge and an Israel Securities Authority (ISA) public prosecutor in one of the corruption investigations, the so-called Case 4000, and the fact that both were not immediately arresting for blatant criminal behavior, is an eye opener and not only because of the the two people involved. The shocking fact is that the Police investigators did not immediately confiscate their cell phones and personal computers to examine whether the suspected collusion didn’t extend to other cases against the Prime Minister, including additional police investigators, judges, prosecutors who are all at the forefront of the legal and investigative witch hunt against Benjamin Netanyahu.

These unelected civil servants, the judiciary, and the police force who were supposed to be Israel’s democratic gatekeepers, have in one giant exposure done more damage to the public’s trust than any of the allegations against the Prime Minister. They seem to be operating within a subtext of total immunity, and are judged by their success in carrying out their mission to force Benjamin Netanyahu out of office.

The correspondence exposed by Channel 10, in which Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Ronit Poznansky-Katz and Eran Shacham-Shavit, the deputy council of the ISA’s investigative department, discussed and coordinated remand periods for some of the suspects in text messages prior to the hearings, will likely damage the current police investigation into Case 4000 and even throw off balance other corruption probes against Netanyahu.

“It is shocking to see the cover-up attempts by the heads of the justice system,” wrote Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) in a Facebook post, noting that “if it turns out that civilians were sent to detention in a tainted procedure, in which the decision was made even before a hearing, it is a criminal offense of the harshest degree.”

As events unfold at a mesmerizing pace, one cannot easily dismiss the demand that the lengthy investigations into alleged corruption against Benjamin Netanyahu be dismissed since the judicial process has been undeniably tainted. A legal foundation in all Democratic judicial processes deals with the concept of the “fruit of the poisonous tree” This is a legal metaphor used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally. The logic of the terminology is that if the source (the “tree”) of the evidence or evidence itself is tainted, then anything gained (the “fruit”) from it is tainted as well.

Evidence that has been admitted in court yet obtained by illegal police or judiciary representatives is not admissible.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended himself against allegations by pointing his finger at the apparent collusion between the media, judiciary, and investigative police officers. He has accused them of masterminding a deep-state conspiracy against him. He has labeled negative reporting of him as “fake news” and said that the media is engaged in “an obsessive witch hunt against me and my family with the goal of achieving a coup against the government.”

The prime minister has cast aspersions on the integrity of Commissioner Roni Alsheich. He said police were doing all they could to bring him down, accusing the force of “slander and lies.” This newest expose is bearing him out. And we have barely touched on the judiciary in this article.

The “Faudalization” of Israel’s police and judicial systems is transpiring before our very eyes, stay tuned for the next episode.


The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer. Prior to retiring in 2005, served as the Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psycho education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Ron is a former strategic advisor at the Office of the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria To contact: or visit:

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