Abbas not interested in peace

Waiting for the Palestinian Godot


Why are we repeatedly surprised every time Mahmoud Abbas fails to sign a peace agreement with Israel?…It’s a complicated game – squeezing more and more compromises out of the Israelis, without the Palestinians granting a single real, compromise of their own.

By Ari Shavit – April 24, 2014, Haaretz

There are some moments a journalist will never forget. In early 1997, Yossi Beilin decided to trust me and show me the document that proved that peace was within reach. The then-prominent and creative politician from the Labor movement opened up a safe, took out a stack of printed pages and laid them down on the table like a player with a winning poker hand.

Rumors were rife about the Beilin-Abu Mazen agreement, but only a few had the opportunity to see the document with their own eyes or hold it in their hands. I was one of those few. With mouth agape I read the comprehensive outline for peace that had been formulated 18 months earlier by two brilliant champions of peace — one, Israeli, and one, Palestinian. The document left nothing to chance: Mahmoud Abbas is ready to sign a permanent agreement. The refugee from Safed had overcome the ghosts of the past and the ideas of the past and was willing to build a joint Israeli-Palestinian future, based on coexistence. If we could only get out from under the Likud’s thumb, and get Benjamin Netanyahu out of office, he will join us, hand in hand, walking toward the two-state solution. Abbas is a serious partner for true peace, the one with whom we can make a historic breakthrough toward reconciliation.

We understood. We did what was necessary. In 1999, we ousted the Likud and Netanyahu. In 2000, we went to the peace summit at Camp David. Whoops, surprise: Abbas didn’t bring the Beilin-Abu Mazen plan to Camp David, or any other draft of a peace proposal. The opposite was true: He was one of the staunchest objectors, and his demand for a right of return prevented any progress.

But don’t believe we’d give up so quickly. During the fall of 2003, as the Geneva Accord was being formulated, it was clear to us that there were no more excuses, and that now, Abbas would sign the new peace agreement and adopt its principles. Whoops, surprise: Abu Mazen sent Yasser Abed Rabbo (a former Palestinian Authority minister) instead, while he stayed in his comfy Ramallah office. No signature, no accord.

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Jerusalem is the capital of Israel

An Enduring Fiction About Jerusalem

What concerns me is the widespread assumption that a U.S. decision to state openly that Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center is located in Israel could lead to a collapse of the already-collapsing peace process or, worse, bloodshed across the Middle East.

2 Apr 23, 2014 2:19 PM EDT

By Jeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg

In 2002, at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, an American citizen named Naomi Zivotofsky gave birth to another American citizen, Menachem Zivotofsky.

It is the strong belief of both Naomi and her husband, Menachem’s father, Ari, that the Shaare Zedek Medical Center is located in the state of Israel. It was fairly easy for the Zivotofskys to discern that Shaare Zedek is located in the state of Israel. Maps — neutral maps, not maps produced by the Perfidious Zionist Entity — clearly show it to be in the state of Israel. When you walk outside Shaare Zedek, you are quite obviously in the state of Israel. Israel’s principal Holocaust memorial is half a mile away. Its main military cemetery is close as well. Israel’s parliament sits two miles away, as does the office of its prime minister. Since the rebirth of the Jewish state, in 1948, the land under Shaare Zedek has been part of Israel.

So when the Zivotofskys received Menachem’s U.S. passport, they were disturbed to see that his birthplace was listed as simply “Jerusalem,” not “Jerusalem, Israel.” This was not a clerical error. It is the belief of the executive branch of the U.S. government that Israel’s claim of sovereignty to any part of Jerusalem is in dispute. The long-held view is that Jerusalem’s final disposition will have to await the outcome of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Zivotofskys disagree with this view, and so does Congress, which in 2002 enacted a law that demanded that the executive branch record the births of such Americans as Menachem Zivotofsky as taking place in “Jerusalem, Israel,” should the parents ask for this designation. But the State Department has refused to respect this demand.

The Zivotofskys sued, and, after years of litigation, the Supreme Court has decided to hear their case. The court will be ruling on whether Congress has the power to override the executive branch’s foreign-policy decisions. This is a fascinating, and possibly momentous, question, but it is not my question today.

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New view of myelin

Finding turns neuroanatomy on its head: Researchers present new view of myelin

Date: Reprinted from Science Daily

April 18, 2014

Source: Science Daily

Harvard University


Neuroscientists have made a discovery that turns 160 years of neuroanatomy on its head. Myelin, the electrical insulating material long known to be essential for the fast transmission of impulses along the axons of nerve cells, is not as ubiquitous as thought, according to a new work. "The fact that it is the most evolved neurons, the ones that have expanded dramatically in humans, suggests that what we’re seeing might be the "future." As neuronal diversity increases and the brain needs to process more and more complex information, neurons change the way they use myelin to "achieve" more," says the main researcher.

This is a computer image of three neurons showing differences in myelin.

Credit: Daniel Berger and Giulio Tomassy/Harvard University

Harvard neuroscientists have made a discovery that turns 160 years of neuroanatomy on its head.

Myelin, the electrical insulating material long known to be essential for the fast transmission of impulses along the axons of nerve cells, is not as ubiquitous as thought, according to a new work lead by Professor Paola Arlotta of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and the University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, in collaboration with Professor Jeff Lichtman, of Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

"Myelin is a relatively recent invention during evolution," says Arlotta. "It’s thought that myelin allowed the brain to communicate really fast to the far reaches of the body, and that it has endowed the brain with the capacity to compute higher level functions." In fact, loss of myelin is a feature of a number of devastating diseases, including multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia.

But the new research shows that despite myelin essential roles in the brain, "some of the most evolved, most complex neurons of the nervous system have less myelin than older, more ancestral ones" Arlotta, co-director of the HSCI neuroscience program, says.

What this means, Arlotta says, is that the higher in the cerebral cortex one looks — the closer to the top of the brain, which is its most evolved region — the less myelin one finds. Not only that, but "neurons in this part of the brain display a brand new way of positioning myelin along their axons that has not been previously seen. They have ‘intermittent myelin’ with long axon tracts that lack myelin interspersed among myelin-rich segments.

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Ayatollah presents gift to Bahais

Senior Anglican leaders praise "significance" and "courage" of Iranian ayatollah’s gift to Baha’is

"Ayatollah Tehrani’s kind gesture to the Baha’i community is particularly welcome at a time when the community is being actively targeted and vilified by the Iranian regime," said Mervyn Thomas, CSW’s chief executive.

15 April 2014

Bahai News Service

LONDON — Two senior leaders of the Church of England have praised the ground-breaking action of an Iranian ayatollah who last week called for religious "coexistence" by dedicating to the Baha’is of the world, and particularly the Baha’is of Iran, an illuminated calligraphic rendering of a passage from their sacred texts.

Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth, the former archbishop of Canterbury, said the gift of Ayatollah Abdol-Hamid Masoumi-Tehrani was of "immense significance".

"It represents not only a personally gracious gesture but also a strand within the Islamic world at its best and most creative which is deeply appreciative of all that helps human beings to respond to God’s will for peace and understanding," said Dr. Williams.

"Along with many others of all faiths, I shall pray that this marks a turning point in Iran’s attitudes to the Baha’i community, and I give thanks for the courage and generosity which have motivated this gift."

Earlier, Christopher Cocksworth, the bishop of Coventry, said he was "heartened to learn" of Ayatollah Tehrani’s gift to Baha’is.

"Given the systemic and long standing suffering experienced by the Baha’i community in Iran, this is an imaginatively courageous step by a senior Iranian Islamic scholar," said Dr. Cocksworth on 9 April.


    • Dr. Christopher Cocksworth, bishop of Conventry, Anglican Church. Bishop Cocksworth called Ayatollah Tehrani’s gift to the Baha’is a "courageous step". (Photo… »

    Ayatollah Tehrani’s "action reminds us all that despite the dehumanising nature of many of today’s conflicts, religious leaders have a shared responsibility to encourage freedom of religion and belief and to foster a deeper respect for human dignity," said Bishop Cocksworth, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop in the Lords on foreign policy.

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    Beware of Palestinian State

    Palestinians Need More Than Borders

    Tom Wilson | @TomJamesWilson, Commentary

    Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas has said that he wants the next round of negotiations to focus on the borders of a Palestinian state. Of course, Israel always has to be concerned about maintaining defensible borders, but the precise geographical parameters of a Palestinian state must be of less concern to everyone than the matter of the internal nature of that state. Indeed, if we could all be confident that a future Palestinian state would have the national characteristics of, say, Switzerland, then the question of the defensibility of Israel’s borders might be somewhat less critical. But because there is good reason to suspect that a future Palestinian state in the West Bank, like the Palestinian polity in Gaza, would have more in common with Afghanistan, the exact positioning of its borders should hardly be our most pressing concern.

    The unpalatable reality is that the Palestinian Authority’s “practice state” in the West Bank has been a disaster. This nascent country in waiting has been the model of what a failed state looks like and it only remains in existence today because of phenomenal levels of international aid coupled with the IDF presence throughout the West Bank. Were it not for the Israeli military, Abbas and his governing Fatah movement would likely have been swept away long ago, just as Fatah was in Gaza–indeed, just as despots throughout the Arab world have faced overthrow by Islamist opponents. Yet, even in the absence of a takeover by Islamic militants, life for Palestinians living under the PA is hardly pleasant. All those demanding the imminent creation of a Palestinian state, while also parading themselves as champions of Palestinian rights, should stop to ask themselves precisely what kind of state they would be helping to create.

    Since the retirement of Salam Fayyad as Palestinian prime minister, the Palestinians seem to have abandoned even trying to maintain the façade of reform. The corrupt Palestinian Authority finds itself beset by dire financial prospects and crippled by internal rivalry and mismanagement. In open breach of its obligations mandated under the very peace accords that not only brought the PA into existence but that trained and armed its fighting force, the Palestinian Authority has ceased to police many of the deprived neighborhoods that are now strongholds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, while at the same time using funds from the U.S. and Europe to run a media and education system that incites its population against Jews and the Jewish state.

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    Kerry should learn from the experts

    8 Emirates for the Palestinian Clans – That’s the Answer

    The solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is neither two states nor one – but eight.

    From Dr. Mordechai Kedar, April 18, 2014

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has several religious and cultural causes:

    According to Islam, Judaism ceased to exist when Christianity came to be, and Christianity ceased to exist when Islam came into the world to replace both.

    Judaism is the "Din Al-Batel," the false religion, while Islam is the "Din Al-Haq", the religion of truth. So according to the Islamic approach, there can be no Jewish state.

    According to the Arab view, the Jews are not a people. A Jew from Poland is Polish, from an ethnic point of view, and of Mosaic faith, from a religious point of view, and therefore his place is in his homeland Poland.

    Therefore, all Jews in Israel must return to the countries from which they or their ancestors came. Judaism has no ethnic basis and it was Zionism that invented the Jewish people.

    According to the Arab narrative, the Jews who came to Israel from Europe aren’t descendants of Jews who were exiled from the Land of Israel 2000 years ago, but descendants of Khazars, who converted to Judaism in the Middle Ages. Therefore, there is no connection between today’s Jews and the country in which there once may have been other Jews. The Jews are convinced that they are the descendants of the Judean exiles that the Romans exiled in the first century AD, that they wandered among the nations, and returned to their country with the approval of the Ottomans.

    According to Islam, each country has a "one-way ticket" to enter Islam, but cannot leave. Thus, Palestine was conquered by the Muslims in the 7th century and is an Islamic land from the sea to the Jordan forever, and no one in the world has the right to take it and to establish a state that is not Islamic.

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    Stop blaming Israel

    Standing Firm –To Blame Israel

    by Elliott Abrams
    April 11, 2014, Council on Foreign Relations

    Several well-known members of America’s foreign policy establishment have just published an open letter to Secretary of State Kerry, entitled “Stand Firm, John Kerry.” And firm they are, in blaming Israel for every problem in the peace negotiations.

    Criticism of Israel and of the policies of the Netanyahu government is certainly fair, whether from the left or the right. But the criticisms adduced here are not. Why not?

    The authors’ (Zbigniew Brzezinki, Carla Hills, Lee Hamilton, Thomas Pickering, Frank Carlucci, and Henry Siegman) first point is that the “enlargement” of Israeli settlements is the central problem in getting to peace. They propose stopping all negotiations until settlement “enlargement” ends. One problem with this approach is that it is the Palestinians, after all, who want to change the current situation, end the occupation, and get a sovereign state, so halting all diplomatic activity would seem to punish the party the authors’ wish to help. But there’s a deeper problem: there is no “enlargement” of Israeli settlements. There is population growth, especially in the major blocs that Israeli will obviously keep in any final agreement. But enlargement, which logically means physical expansion, is not the problem and is rare in the West Bank settlements. The authors don’t seem to know this.

    Their second point deals with “Palestinian incitement,” a term long used by American officials to describe anti-Semitic statements and actions that glorify terror and terrorists—naming schools and parks after them for example. But the authors’ say nothing about this; they do not mention Palestinian anti-Semitism or the glorification of terror. They say instead that Israel sees “various Palestinian claims to all of historic Palestine constitute incitement.” This is plain wrong. Here’s what Palestinian “incitement” means, as described by David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

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    Guide to Passove 2014

    Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2014

    By: Yoram Ettinger

    Published: April 13th, 2014, The Jewish Press

    A Jewish child walks beside a stream near Jerusalem. The water from the stream is used to make matzo for Pesach.
    A Jewish child walks beside a stream near Jerusalem. The water from the stream is used to make matzo for Pesach.
    Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

    1. The Passover legacy constitutes the foundation of Judaism, and is therefore included in most Jewish blessings (“in memory of the Exodus”).  Passover symbolizes the rejuvenation of nature and mankind, spiritually and physically, individually and collectively/nationally.  Passover stipulates that human rejuvenation – just like the rejuvenation of nature – must be driven by memory/history/roots.   Therefore, parents are instructed to educate their children about the lessons of Passover. Passover was an early – and much more successful – edition of the (19th century) Spring of Nations. It is celebrated in the spring, the bud of nature.  The biblical scroll of Song of Songs, which highlights spring, is read during Passover.  Spring, Aviv in Hebrew (אביב) consists of two Hebrew words: Father – אב – of 12 – יב – months/tribes.  Spring is mentioned 3 times in the Torah, all in reference to the Exodus.  Passover – which commemorates the creation of the Jewish nation – lasts seven days, just like the creation of the universe.
    2.  Passover is the oldest Jewish national liberation holiday, highlighting the comprehensive nature of Judaism: religion, nationality, culture/morality, language and history.  Passover underlines the centrality of spiritual, physical, individual and national liberty and optimism, playing a critical role in preserving Judaism, Jews and the yearning to reconstruct the Jewish Homeland during the super-challenging 40 years in the desert and the 2,500 years of exiles, destruction, pogroms, the Holocaust, wars and terrorism.
    Passover – the role model of faith, education, morality, responsibility and governance driven liberty – interacts with Shavou’ot/Pentecost – the role model of morality. Liberty and morality are mutually-inclusive.  The interdependence of liberty and morality distinguishes Western democracies from rogue regimes – a clash of civilizations.
    The Hebrew word for “responsibility”אחריות – encompasses the word “liberty” – חירות.  It begins with the leading letter in the Hebrew alphabet, א, and ends with the last letter of the alphabet, ת – encompassing the total responsibility of leadership.
    The Exodus is mentioned 50 times in the Torah, equal to the 50 years of the Jubilee, a time of liberation. 50 days following the Exodus, Moses received the Torah (the Pentecost Holiday), which includes – according to Jewish tradition – 50 gates of Wisdom.  What does that mean for the 50 States in the USA, whose Hebrew name is ארצות הברית – the States of the Covenant?!
    According to Heinrich Heine, the 19th century German poet, “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.”
    3. Passover, and especially the Exodus/Liberty, were the pillars of fire guiding the twelve tribes of Israel, and the thirteen American colonies, from subjugation to sovereignty. The Passover legacy comprises a critical part of the American story. Moses, the US Founding Fathers and Israel’s Founding Father, Ben Gurion, were challenged by the “loyalists,” who were intimidated by the price/sacrifice of liberty, preferring subjugation to Egypt, the British King and the British Mandate. They featured in prior editions of the clash of civilizations against Pharaoh, the British monarchy and church and the Arab/Muslim world.  The latter still rejects non-Muslim (“infidel”) sovereignty in any area considered – by Muslims – to be the abode of Islam (e.g., Spain and Portugal, southern France, Israel, etc.).

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