Other

A View from the Arab Spring, towards the Following Summer

The phrase “Arab Spring” is a surprisingly appropriate description of current events in the

Arab world. It relates not only to the awakening of anger and to the desire for change by the

Arab masses, but also to the lack of understanding of the circumstances, by most European

and American observers. Winter in New York, London or Berlin is often accompanied by a

mild depression. It is a period when nothing blooms, very little remains green, sunshine is

rare and most birds are gone. And then comes the spring, when everything begins to blossom,

warmth returns, birds are chirping and life restarts. Alas, in most of the Arab world, winter is

a pleasant period relative to what comes next. The winter temperature is quite comfortable

and the sun often shines. When spring arrives, the heat returns, heralding an unbearable

summer, without one drop of water and a harsh and dry brown-yellow land. The little that

was partly green, during the winter, is gone. Indeed, “The Arab Spring” inevitably leads to a

difficult and unpleasant summer. The metaphor reflects not only what it purports to describe,

but also the mentality gap between its Western authors and the real situation.

 

Many of the demonstrators in the streets of Tunis, Cairo and Damascus were truly fed up

with the corrupt dictators, lack of democracy and absence of freedom. Indeed, democracy is

long overdue in the Arab world. But democracy and freedom are not trivial concepts.

Democracy is not removing the Shah of Iran and replacing him by a cruel Ayatollah regime.

Democracy is not removing the Russian Tsar and replacing him by Stalin and democracy is

not electing Hitler. Democracy is not even just an honest election, once every four years.

None of the above guarantee the rule of law, freedom of speech, free press, proper judicial

system, equality for women, fair treatment of minorities, freedom of religion, equal

opportunity and social mobility, to quote just a few basic ingredients of a real democracy.

 

Achieving any of the above in a society in which all significant organized forces are hostile

to each of these concepts, and in which the majority of women are illiterate, cannot happen

through street demonstrations. Successful protests in such countries are as good as pressing a

“restart” button on a machine which can be controlled, at present, only by one of three

previously existing forces. And, if all of these forces are hostile to every single element of

democracy, the Arab Spring will indeed lead to a long and harsh summer.

 

There are 22 Arab states from the west end of North Africa to the Gulf. They are as diverse

as the 27 member states of the European Union. Like the EU they have a dominant common

religion, coming in two major flavors, and numerous variants for each flavor. Like Europe,

they have substantial ethnic and religious minorities and many arbitrary national borders.

But, at the same time, all or most Arab states have many things in common. Not last among

these features is the total absence of democracy, by any definition that is even remotely

acceptable by Western standards.

 

At the risk of oversimplification, we might observe that, in every Arab country, in different

forms and at various levels, there are at most three major organized types of political forces:

First, “Royalty” of one sort or another, supported by the military-police-intelligence

complex; Second, fanatic political Islam, Sunni or Shiite; and third, tribal forces and rivalries

or organized ethnic minorities. In some Arab countries, one of these three types of forces is

partly missing. In others, one of the forces appears in more than one flavor (for instance, the

extremist Sunni and Shiite Islamic groups in Iraq or in Lebanon).

 

The first and, until the current “Spring”, the dominant organized force is the military,

coupled with the police, intelligence services and related bodies, supporting a ruler, who is

either a King (Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan), a Sultan (Oman), an Emir (Kuwait, Qatar,

UAE), or a “non-royal quasi-monarch” who is, in some sense, royalty without a crown

(Assad, Ghaddafi, Mubarak). In several cases, the ruling military-backed regime is also tribal

or sectarian, controlled by a well defined minority of the population (the Allawites in Syria,

the Bedouins in Jordan and the Sunnis in Bahrain).

 

The second force is the extreme political Islam, Sunni or Shiite. The Sunni version is usually

the Muslim Brothers or variations on its themes, and the Shiite version is largely inspired, if

not directly guided, by Iran’s Ayatollahs, who have an active hand in much of the tumult in

the Arab world. Iran and Turkey are, of course, Muslim but not Arab. However, both

interfere in a variety of ways in the upheaval of the “Arab Spring”. In a full analogy to a

kingdom, which has a king, a prime minister and an army, political Islam is often organized

in three layers: The “military wing”, which might be a strong organized force like the

revolutionary guard in Iran, or the Hizbullah in Lebanon; the “political wing”, which

pretends to be the real leadership but has only limited influence; and the “spiritual leader”

who is the actual dictatorial ruler, approximately equivalent to an absolute King, although he

is always pretending to play the role of a religious scholar and he never stands for election.

 

The third force is the old tribal structure, based on family or clan loyalty and surviving in the

21st century in a way of life not unlike that of several centuries ago. Somali, Yemen and, to a

large extent Libya, are countries in which such allegiances are extremely strong and tribal

forces must be reckoned with. In other countries various private armies may belong to

specific religious or ethnic groups, rather than to tribes. This is the case with the Druz in

Lebanon and the Kurds in Iraq.

 

Needless to say, not every Arab country has significant versions of all of these three forces.

Egypt’s dominant forces are, even now, the military and the Islamists, with no other visible

organized force, except for the Bedouin tribes in the Sinai. Bahrain has the Sunni Monarch

and the Iranian inspired Shiite majority. Iraq has Shiite Islamists and secular Shiites, Sunnis

of all flavors, Kurds of rival political factions and other smaller minorities. Saudi Arabia

exhibits an intricate cooperation of Sunni Islamists, royalty and the military, and, in addition,

an awakening Shiite minority, concentrated in the rich northeast oil area of the kingdom.

Tunis was a secular dictatorship and Qatar is pursuing a veiled Muslim Brotherhood agenda,

while serving as a main American military base. Such are some of the paradoxes and

complexities of the Arab world. There are also Sunni Brothers supported by Shiite fanatics,

like the Hamas, which is the Palestinian version of the Muslim Brothers, strongly supported

and supplied by its Iranian sponsors.

 

But almost nowhere in the Arab world we can find any significant organized force, other than

the above three dominant flavors: The military based Monarchy (or quasi-monarchy), the

Islamic extremists and the tribal forces. In particular, there is nowhere in sight a substantial

organized force pushing for real democracy. There are individuals, active in weak political

parties or in street demonstrations, cheering for democracy. But, whenever one of the three

major traditional forces is toppled, its place is taken by another element of this unholy trinity,

or by a different version of the same type of force. No street demonstration, facebook driven

enterprise or democracy seeking educated youngsters, can change this fact. A formal election

day, in any such country, even if no irregularities are taking place, must inevitably lead to a

victory of one of the above, usually the Islamic option. The uneducated rural masses,

numerous illiterate voters and even educated, frustrated and hateful young adults are easily

incited and influenced by the preachers, and the mosques are the focal points of “guided

enlightenment”. Since the Islamic extremists are often the only counterforce to the cruel

dictator, they will usually be the winners, if one of the three dominant forces is to be replaced

by another.

 

Even before the “Arab Spring” the Islamists won the election in Algeria, only to be

undemocratically toppled by the military. Hamas won the Palestinian election in Gaza and

the municipal election in the Palestinian West Bank, and Tunis, a largely secular country

with a relatively liberal tradition, has now voted an Islamic party into power. It is clear that,

in Egypt, the only force that can replace the military are the Muslim Brothers and any other

option is a wishful unrealistic illusion. If the King of Bahrain is removed, an Iranian-inspired

theocracy will replace him and, after the American departure, a similar fate is probably

waiting for predominantly Shiite Iraq. The most likely replacement of Assad, if he ever

ceases to butcher his own citizens, is again an extreme Islamic Sunni group ruling

predominantly secular Syria.

 

On the other hand, in Libya and Yemen, and probably also in the Gulf States, the leading

counterweight to royalty and quasi-royalty are the tribal elements. It will be interesting to see

whether Libya will now fall in the hands of fanatic Islamists or into an inter-tribal civil war.

Neither alternative resembles a beautiful spring, and a third option does not seem to be in the

cards. Lebanon, created by the colonial powers as a Christian enclave, is already largely in

the hands of the Shiite Islamists and Qatar, an Emirate, is collaborating actively, willingly or

under duress, with the Muslim Brothers everywhere, using its Al Jazeera as an instrument of

propagating unrest.

 

Most European and American observers, those who think that spring is the beginning of a

good period, observe the Islamists through the distorted lenses of Western culture. There are

a few truths, which are not transparent to most of these commentators.

 

The first such truth, which is very clear to the extreme militant Islam, is that it is not

necessary to preach for anything in order to rise into power. In most Arab countries, the only

forces are the military-royal force and the extreme political Islam. All that is necessary is to

incite against the regime and collect the fruits. There are two ways to eat fresh fruits from a

tall tree: You may climb a ladder and pick the fruits actively, or you can lie under the tree in

the storm and wait for the fruits to fall into your hands, and they will reach you because there

is no one else around to enjoy them. Some of them might be rotten, but they will be yours.

Even though there are very few fruit trees in the desert, this last option is the one preferred by

the Islamic parties. They are always present in the street demonstrations, but they rarely take

the lead. They know that an angry demonstrator is a powerful weapon against a military or

dictatorial regime, and if the anger prevails, political Islam will win by default and will pick

the falling fruits. The Western TV viewer sees secular youth roaming the streets in

demonstrations in Cairo or Tunis, with no major visible Islamic influence, and suddenly the

first post-revolution election leads to an Islamic government.

 

The second truth is that, once an election is declared, the real movers and shakers, namely the

preachers, the Ayatollahs and the ”Spiritual Leaders”, will never run for office. They are

allegedly selected by God, not elected by people. It is their disciples, sometimes their

puppets, invariably wearing more moderate masks, who will run for office. In this way,

secular voters, educated women and others are coerced to vote for what will then become a

very ugly version of the religion. It is this façade that leads to amazing remarks in

Washington such as “the Muslim Brothers in Egypt are not of a uniform extreme nature”. But

when reality is unveiled, spiritually and literally, it is quite different.

 

The third truth is that, once in power, the private armies of the extreme Islam are not

conventional at all. They are not interested in planes or tanks. Their primary weapon is

ruthless terror against civilian populations, and the leading tools are car bombs, explosive

devices, suicide murders, rockets and, eventually, even hoping to acquire weapons of mass

destruction. We see it in Iraq, in Somali, in the Palestinian areas, and in the Muslim, non-

Arab, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The division of labor between the Iranian army and the

revolutionary guard, or between the Lebanese army and the Hizbullah, serve as models for

Hamas and future Muslim Brotherhood regimes.

 

The fourth and final truth is that an election of an extremist Islamic regime is not a victory

for democracy, even if a real majority voted for it. It is usually the first and last free election

in such a country, just as in the Fascist or Communist regimes, which are sometimes elected

democratically, for the first time, and perpetuate their totalitarian regime thereafter without

regard to any democratic principles or human rights.

 

Western observers view much of the above with the naïve eyes of those who believe that

removing a dictator is a guarantee for freedom, that religious leaders cannot be murderous

and that a winning candidate in an election is indeed the real ruler. They also have the

illusion that public declarations bear a close relationship to true plans and views. None of

these are common practices in the struggle between the two leading undemocratic forces of

the Arab world: The ruthless kings and dictators and the even more ruthless extreme political

Islam.

 

The relation of Israel to the events in the Arab world is entirely asymmetric. Israel, its

conflict with the Palestinians and any actions it takes, are either totally irrelevant or have a

very minor impact on the events in the Arab world. But the scorching “Arab Summer” that

will probably follow the “Arab Spring” may create serious problems for Israel. It is entirely

clear that the protesters in Bahrain, Tunis and Yemen, and even those in Cairo and

Damascus, could not care less about the Palestinians and are not spending a minute thinking

about Israel. Only after the fall of Mubarak, the Egyptian Muslim Brothers tried to mobilize

the masses for “a march of a million” against Israel. The attendance was meager and the

great march fizzled. This was followed by a fierce attack on the Israeli Embassy, by a

relatively small group, with no great visible interest of the demonstrating masses. The

protests are entirely an internal affair of each Arab State, with no relation to the Israeli-

Palestinian dispute, and nothing that Israel might do, or avoid doing, would have the slightest

effect on them. On the other hand, any power grab by the Muslim Brothers, an organization

historically created with the active help of the Nazis, and committed to the annihilation not

only of Israel but of the entire Jewish people, will not be good news for Israel. This topic

requires a separate analysis, and we will not dwell on it here.

 

The American attitude of the Obama regime, during the evolving events in the Arab world, is

truly amazing and baffling. One might understand and applaud an idealistic American

attitude based on the principles of supporting freedom, justice and democracy everywhere.

One could also understand a less honorable, but very pragmatic, American policy of

supporting its friends in the Arab world, regardless of their own attitudes towards freedom

and democracy. But there is no explanation, either idealistic or pragmatic, for a policy which

works against dictatorial friends of America and does not oppose, in any significant way, all

dictatorial foes of America.

 

The Obama government gave a significant boost to Hizbullah during its first months in

office, by returning its ambassador to Syria in the midst of a tense and dramatic election

campaign in Lebanon. The U.S. did not utter a word in support of the serious antigovernment

street demonstrations in non-Arab Iran. The U.S. was extremely active in

removing Mubarak in Egypt, sending a shattering message to all its other Arab allies in the

region. It reprimanded the pro-American King of Bahrain, host to the main American naval

base in the Gulf, who was fighting against Iranian sponsored agitation of his Shiite citizens.

It helped to destroy the ruthless Ghadafi, a man who only a few years earlier was elected as

the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and presided over its frequent

condemnations of Israel, supported by many European nations and being a “born again”

friend of America and the West. America did not lift a finger against the murderous Assad. It

also did not utter a word when U.S. allies Turkey and Qatar started, immediately after the

election of President Obama (and never earlier), to support the terrorist Hamas, which is the

Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brothers. The complete American departure from Iraq is a

clear invitation to Iran to swallow this Shiite-dominated country, which cannot defend itself

against the Ayatollahs, and the Turkish-Iranian coalition seems to be making preparations for

marching into the oil rich Kurdish north of Iraq, with not one visible step taken by America

or Europe to prevent such a dangerous move.

 

The excitement about the “first democratic election of the Arab Spring” has already led to the

victory of the Islamists in secular Tunis, and that same Arab Spring is now well on its way to

a hot suffocating Islamic summer. But the Western world, and its leader, President Obama,

seem oblivious to the direction into which “the Arab Spring” is moving. Following the

American treatment of Mubarak, and the almost absent reaction to Assad, all friends of the

West in the Arab world, headed by the Saudi leaders, are now maneuvering in order to

distance themselves away from the U.S. administration.

 

Does the Obama government not understand what is happening in the region, or do they

understand and support it cheerfully? Both possibilities are mind boggling, and both

endanger the entire free world. It is indeed impossible to believe either of these two

hypotheses, but it is even more difficult to present a third alternative theory for the American

view of the evolving events. When and if the Muslim Brothers win the first “democratic”

election in Egypt, the largest Arab country, it is very likely that the “Arab Spring” will

officially move into a long and dangerous dry summer, with a significant thirst, hopefully not

for blood.

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Demography

Demographic optimism IN, demographic pessimism OUT

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
October 2, 2023

The suggestion that Israel should retreat from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is based, partly, on the assumption that the Jewish majority is exposed to an “Arab demographic time bomb,” which would explode if Israel were to apply its law to Judea and Samaria.

However, Israel’s Jewish majority is not vulnerable to an “Arab demographic time bomb,” but benefits from demographic momentum, fertility-wise and migration-wise.

Arab demography artificially inflated

This erroneous assumption is based on the official Palestinian numbers, which are embraced and reverberated by the global community – with no due-diligence auditing – ignoring a 1.6-million-person artificial inflation of the reported number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

For instance:

*The official Palestinian census includes 500,000 residents, who have been away for over a year, while international standards require their elimination from the census (until they return for, at least, 90 days).  This number was documented by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (325,000 in 1997), Election Commission (400,000 in 2005) and the Ministry of Interior, increasing systematically through births.

*The Palestinian census ignores the net-emigration of 390,000 since the first 1997 census, as documented by Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, which supervises Israel’s international passages.

*375,000 Jerusalem Arabs and more than 150,000 (mostly) Judea and Samaria Arabs, who married Israeli Arabs are doubly-counted (by Israel and the Palestinian Authority). This number increases systematically through births.

*A September 2006 World Bank report documented a 32% artificial inflation of the number of births.  At the same time, death has been substantially underreported as evidenced by the 2007 Palestinian census, which included Arabs born in 1845….   

*The aforementioned data indicates an artificial inflation of 1.6 million in the Palestinian census of Judea and Samria Arabs: 1.4 million – not 3 million – Arabs.

Arab demography Westernized

Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, Arab demography has been westernized dramatically in recent years, from a fertility rate of 9 births per woman west of the Jordan River during the 1960s to 2.85 births in 2021 in pre-1967 Israel and 3.02 in Judea and Samaria.

The westernization of Arab demography has been a result of sweeping urbanization. From a 70%-rural-population in Judea and Samaria in 1967, to a 77%-urban-population in 2022.  In addition, almost all girls complete high school, resulting in the expanded integration of women in employment and academia, as well as an increase in wedding age (from 15 to 24-year-old).  Moreover, there has been an expansion of the use of contraceptives (70% of women in the Palestinian Authority) and a shorter fertility cycle (25 through 45 in 2022 compared to 16 through 55 during the 1960s).

Demographic westernization has occurred in the entire Moslem World, other than the Sub-Saharah countries: In 2022, Jordan – 2.9 births per woman, Iran – 1.9, Saudi Arabia – 1.9, Morocco – 2.27, Iraq – 3.17, Egypt 2.76, Yemen – 2.91, the UAE – 1.62, etc.

Jewish demographic momentum

Israel’s Jewish demography features a fertility momentum – especially in the secular sector – simultaneously with a moderate decline in the ultra-orthodox sector. In fact, Jewish fertility (3.13 births per woman) is higher than any Arab country, other than Iraq’s (3.17). The OECD’s average fertility rate is 1.61 births per woman.

In 2022, the number of Jewish births (137,566) was 71% higher than in 1995 (80,400), while the number of Arab births (43,417) was 19% higher than in 1995 (36,500).

Contrary to most global societies, Israel enjoys a positive correlation between the level of fertility, on the one hand, and the level of education, income, urbanization and (the rise of) wedding age on the other hand.

The growth of Jewish fertility reflects a high level of patriotism, optimism, attachment to roots, communal responsibility, frontier mentality, high regard for raising children and the decline in the number of abortions.

The Jewish population is growing younger, while the Arab population is growing older.

Until the 1990s, there was a demographic race between Arab births and Jewish immigration.  Since the 1990s, the race is between Jewish and Arab births, while net-migration provides a robust boost to Jewish demography.

The Jewish demographic momentum has been bolstered by an annual Aliyah (Jewish immigration) – which has been the most critical engine of Israel’s economic, educational, technological and military growth – simultaneously with the declining scope of annual emigration.  From an additional 14,200 emigrants in 1990 to 10,800 in 2020, while the overall population has doubled itself since 1990. A substantial decline in emigration has taken place since the 2007/2008 global economic meltdown, which has underscored the relative stability and growth of Israel’s economy.

In 2023, there has been an increase in Aliyah. This highlights a potential of 500,000 Olim (Jewish immigrants) in five years – from Europe, the former USSR, Latin and North America – should the Israeli government resurrect the pro-active Aliyah policy, which defined Israel from 1948-1992.

The bottom line

In 1897, upon convening the First Zionist Congress, there was a 9% Jewish minority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel.

In 1948, upon the establishment of the Jewish State, there was a 39% Jewish minority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel.

In 2022, there was a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel (7.5 million Jews, 2 million Arabs in pre-1967 Israel and 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria), benefiting from a tailwind of fertility and net-migration.

Those who claim that the Jewish majority – in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel – is threatened by an Arab demographic time bomb are either dramatically mistaken, or outrageously misleading.

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Iran

Diplomatic option toward Iran is self-destructive

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
December 19, 2023

*The US State Department’s diplomatic option has facilitated the transformation of Iran from “the American policeman of the Gulf” to “the largest anti-American venomous octopus in the world,” stretching its rogue arms from the Persian Gulf through Africa to Latin America and the US-Mexico border, which it perceives as the soft underbelly of the US.

*The diplomatic option – including a frail US response to sustained Iranian attacks on US installations in the Persian Gulf region – has aggravated Middle East instability, threatening the survival of every pro-US Arab regime, and is inducing anti-US global Islamic terrorism.  This is severely eroding US posture of deterrence, benefitting Russia, China and mostly Iran, while undermining US national and homeland security. 

*The diplomatic option has suspended most economic sanctions – without Congressional consent – surging Iran’s oil export from 500,000 barrels per day to 2-3 million barrels per day, increasing Iran’s national income by some $100bn, mostly dedicated to bolster Iran’s anti-US rogue operations, increasingly in Latin America, the US’ backyard.

*The diplomatic option has consistently overlooked the decisive power of the Ayatollahs’ imperialistic ideology, and its determination to export the anti-US Islamic Shiite Revolution. Consequently, the State Department has deluded itself into believing that an astounding financial and diplomatic bonanza would induce Iran’s Ayatollahs to accept peaceful coexistence with their pro-US Arab Sunni neighbors, become good-faith negotiators, and abandon their 1,400-year-old religious, fanatic vision, which is enshrined in their Constitution, K-12 school curriculum, Friday mosque sermons and official media.

*However, as expected, the mega-billion-dollar bonanza yielded by the diplomatic option (e.g., the 2015 JCPOA and the current suspension of economic sanctions) has bolstered its global terroristic network, advancing its vision to topple all pro-US Sunni regimes, and bring the “infidel” West to submission, especially the “The Great American Satan,” while egregiously oppressing and suppressing Iranian women and religious and ethnic minorities.  

*The State Department’s diplomatic option was initiated in 1978/1979, stabbing in the back the pro-US Shah of Iran, and contending that Ayatollah Khomeini was anti-Communist and therefore potentially pro-Western and a stabilizing element geopolitically, “…holding a Gandhi-like positionpreoccupied with tractors, not tanks….”

*Has the diplomatic option dumped the Monroe Doctrine?! In 2023, Iran’s Ayatollahs invest mega billions of dollars in fueling civil wars, terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering throughout the Middle East, Africa and especially in Latin America. There, they collaborate – along with Hezbollah terrorists – with the drug cartels of Mexico, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, and train terror organizations. They cooperate with all anti-US governments (especially Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Bolivia), testing ballistic missiles, and supplying predator drones, attack boats, anti-ship missiles, and equipment for the construction of underground tunnels along the US-Mexico border, which smuggle drugs and illegal Middle East terrorists into the US.

*The bottom line is: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me!  After 44 years of being fooled by the Ayatollahs, critically undermining the strategic posture of the US and its allies, it is time to reassess the diplomatic option, and consider other options, such as regime-change and a credible military threat hovering above the head of the Ayatollahs.  

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Judea & Samaria

Secretary Blinken on settlements – vindicated by facts?

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
February 27, 2024

Secretary of State Antony Blinken represents conventional wisdom when claiming that “It’s been longstanding US policy… that new settlements are… inconsistent with international law.”

However, conventional wisdom is frequently demolished by the march of facts

For instance:

*According to Prof. Eugene Rostow, who was the co-author of the November 22, 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242, served as Undersecretary of State and was the Dean of Yale University Law School: “Jews have the same right to settle in the West Bank as they have in Haifa.”

*According to UN Resolution 242, Israel is required to withdraw from territories, not the territories, nor from all the territories, but some of the territories, which included Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.  Moreover, according to Prof. Rostow, “resolutions calling for withdrawal from all the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly…. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable [9-15 mile-wide] lines… but to secure and recognized boundaries, agreed to by the parties…. In making peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai… [which amounts to] more than 90% of the territories occupied in 1967….”

*Former President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, stated: “Between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967 (according to Article 52 of the UN Charter), on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has better title in the territory of what was [British Mandate] Palestine…. It follows that modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those States within former Palestinian territory are lawful…. [The 1967] Israeli conquest of territory was defensive rather than aggressive… [as] indicated by Egypt’s prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the amassing of [Egyptian] troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of the UN Emergency Force…[and] Jordan’s initiated hostilities against Israel…. The 1948 Arab invasion of the nascent State of Israel further demonstrated that Egypt’s seizure of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan’s seizure and subsequent annexation of the West Bank and the old city of Jerusalem, were unlawful….” 

*The legal status of Judea and Samaria is embedded in the following 4 authoritative, binding, internationally-ratified documents, which recognize the area for what it has been: the cradle of Jewish history, culture, language, aspirations and religion.

(I) The November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, issued by Britain, calling for “the establishment in Palestine (a synonym to the Land of Israel) of a national home for the Jewish people….”
(II) The April 24, 1920 resolution, by the post-First World War San Remo Peace Conference of the Allied Powers Supreme Council, entrusted both sides of the Jordan River to the British Mandate for Palestine, for the reestablishment of the Jewish Commonwealth: “the Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was one of over 20 Mandates (trusteeships) established following WW1, responsible for the boundaries of most Arab countries.
(III) The July 24, 1922 Mandate for Palestine was ratified by the Council of the League of Nations, entrusted Britain to establish a Jewish state in the entire area west of the Jordan River, as demonstrated by its 6th article: “[to] encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands….” The Mandate was dedicated exclusively to Jewish national rights, while guaranteeing the civic rights of all other religious and ethnic groups. On July 23, 1923, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which included the Mandate for Palestine.  
(IV) The October 24, 1945 Article 80 of the UN Charter incorporated the Mandate for Palestine into the UN Charter.  Accordingly, the UN or any other entity cannot transfer Jewish rights in Palestine – including immigration and settlement – to any other party. According to Article 80 of the UN Charter and the Mandate for Palestine, the 1967 war of self-defense returned Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to its legal owner, the Jewish state.  Legally and geo-strategically the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, since they are not “foreign territory,” and Jordan did not have a legitimate title over the West Bank.  Moreover, the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply in view of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty. The 1950-67 Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria violated international law and was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan.

*The 1949 4th Geneva Convention prohibits the forced transfer of populations to areas previously occupied by a legitimate sovereign power. However, Israel has not forced Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria, and Jordan’s sovereignty there was never legal.

*The November 29, 1947 UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 was a recommendation, lacking legal stature, superseded by the Mandate for Palestine. The 1949 Armistice (non-peace) Agreements between Israel and its neighbors delineated “non-territorial boundaries.”   

*The term “Palestine” was a Greek and then a Roman attempt (following the 135 CE Jewish rebellion) to eradicate Jews and Judaism from human memory. It substituted “Israel, Judea and Samaria” with “Palaestina,” a derivative of the Philistines, an arch enemy of the Jewish people, whose origin was not in Arabia, but in the Greek Aegian islands.    

*The aforementioned march of facts demonstrates that Secretary Blinken’s conventional wisdom on the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is based on gross misperceptions and misrepresentations, which fuels infidelity to law, undermining the pursuit of peace.

*More on the legality of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria in this article by George Mason University Law School Prof. Eugene Kontrovich.

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Jerusalem

United Jerusalem – a shared US-Israel legacy and interest

US departure from the recognition of a United Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of the Jewish State, and the site of the US Embassy to Israel, would be consistent with the track record of the State Department, which has been systematically wrong on Middle East issues, such as its opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State; stabbing the back of the pro-US Shah of Iran and Mubarak of Egypt, and pressuring the pro-US Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while courting the anti-US Ayatollahs of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Arafat, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Houthis of Yemen; transforming Libya into a platform of global Islamic terrorism and civil wars; etc..

However, such departure would violate US law, defy a 3,000 year old reality – documented by a litany of archeological sites and a multitude of documents from Biblical time until today – spurn US history and geography, and undermine US national and homeland security.

United Jerusalem and the US law

Establishing a US Consulate General in Jerusalem – which would be a de facto US Embassy to the Palestinian Authority – would violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which became US law on November 8, 1995 with substantially more than a veto-override majority on Capitol Hill.

According to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which enjoys massive support among the US population and, therefore, in both chambers of Congress:

“Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….

“Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem….

“In 1990, Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that Congress ‘strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….’

“In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113… to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming Congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city….

“In 1996, the state of Israel will celebrate the 3,000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David’s entry….

“The term ‘United States Embassy’ means the offices of the United States diplomatic mission and the residence of the United States chief of mission.”

United Jerusalem and the legacy of the Founding Fathers

The US Early Pilgrims and Founding Fathers were inspired – in their unification of the 13 colonies – by King David’s unification of the 12 Jewish tribes into a united political entity, and establishing Jerusalem as the capital city, which did not belong to any of the tribes (hence, Washington, DC does not belong to any state). King David entered Jerusalem 3,000 years before modern day US presidents entered the White House and 2,755 years before the US gained its independence.

The impact of Jerusalem on the US founders of the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist system and overall civic life is reflected by the existence, in the US, of 18 Jerusalems (4 in Maryland; 2 in Vermont, Georgia and New York; and 1 in Ohio, Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Utah, Rhode Island and Tennessee), 32 Salems (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem) and many Zions (a Biblical synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel).  Moreover, in the US there are thousands of cities, towns, mountains, cliffs, deserts, national parks and streets bearing Biblical names.

The Jerusalem reality and US interests

Recognizing the Jerusalem reality and adherence to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – and the subsequent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the site of the US Embassy to Israel – bolstered the US posture of deterrence in defiance of Arab/Islamic pressure and threats.

Contrary to the doomsday assessments by the State Department and the “elite” US media – which have been wrong on most Middle East issues – the May 2018 implementation of the 1995 law did not intensify Palestinian, Arab and Islamic terrorism. State Department “wise men” were equally wrong when they warned that Israel’s 1967 reunification of Jerusalem would ignite a worldwide anti-Israel and anti-US Islamic volcanic eruption.

Adherence to the 1995 law distinguishes the US President, Congress and most Americans from the state of mind of rogue regimes and terror organizations, the anti-US UN, the vacillating Europe, and the cosmopolitan worldview of the State Department, which has systematically played-down the US’ unilateral, independent and (sometimes) defiant national security action.

On the other hand, US procrastination on the implementation of the 1995 law – by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – eroded the US posture of deterrence, since it was rightly perceived by the world as appeasement in the face of pressure and threats from Arab/Muslim regimes and terrorists.  As expected, it radicalized Arab expectations and demands, failed to advance the cause of Israel-Arab peace, fueled Islamic terrorism, and severely undermined US national and homeland security. For example, blowing up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and murdering 224 persons in August 1998; blowing up the USS Cole destroyer in the port of Aden and murdering 17 US sailors in October 2000; the 9/11 Twin Towers massacre, etc.

Jerusalem and Israel’s defiance of US pressure

In 1949, President Truman followed Secretary of State Marshall’s policy, pressuring Israel to refrain from annexing West Jerusalem and to accept the internationalization of the ancient capital of the Jewish people.

in 1950, in defiance of brutal US and global pressure to internationalize Jerusalem, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion reacted constructively by proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State, relocating government agencies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and settling tens of thousands of Olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) in Jerusalem. He upgraded the transportation infrastructure to Jerusalem, erected new Jewish neighborhoods along the 1949 cease fire lines in Jerusalem, and provided the city land reserves for long-term growth.

In 1953, Ben Gurion rebuffed President Eisenhower’s pressure – inspired by Secretary of State Dulles – to refrain from relocating Israel’s Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In 1967, President Johnson followed the advice of Secretary of State Rusk – who opposed Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence – highlighting the international status of Jerusalem, and warned Israel against the reunification of Jerusalem and construction in its eastern section. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol adopted Ben Gurion’s statesmanship, fended off the US pressure, reunited Jerusalem, built the first Jerusalem neighborhood beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines, Ramat Eshkol, in addition to the first wave of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.

In 1970, President Nixon collaborated with Secretary of State Rogers, attempting to repartition Jerusalem, pressuring Israel to relinquish control of Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, and to stop Israel’s plans to construct additional neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.  However, Prime Minister Golda Meir refused to rescind the reunification of Jerusalem, and proceeded to lay the foundation for additional Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines: Gilo, Ramot Alon, French Hill and Neve’ Yaakov, currently home to 150,000 people.

In 1977-1992, Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir defied US and global pressure, expanding construction in Jerusalem, sending a clear message: “Jerusalem is the exclusive and non-negotiable capital of Israel!”

“[In 1978], at the very end of [Prime Minister Begin’s] successful Camp David talks with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar Sadat, literally minutes before the signing ceremony, the American president had approached [Begin] with ‘Just one final formal item.’ Sadat, said the president, was asking that Begin put his signature to a simple letter committing him to place Jerusalem on the negotiating table of the final peace accord.  ‘I refused to accept the letter, let alone sign it,’ rumbled Begin. ‘If I forgot thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,’ said [Begin] to the president of the United States of America, ‘and may my tongue cleave to my mouth’ (The Prime Ministers – An Intimate Portrait of Leaders of Israel, 2010)”

In 2021, Prime Minister Bennett should follow in the footsteps of Israel’s Founding Father, Ben Gurion, who stated: “Jerusalem is equal to the whole of the Land of Israel. Jerusalem is not just a central Jewish settlement. Jerusalem is an invaluable global historical symbol. The Jewish People and the entire world shall judge us in accordance with our steadfastness on Jerusalem (“We and Our Neighbors,” p. 175. 1929).”

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Jewish Holidays

Chanukah guide for the perplexed, 2023

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
November 29, 2023

More on Jewish holidays: SmashwordsAmazon

1. According to Israel’s Founding Father, David Ben Gurion: Chanukah commemorates “the struggle of the Maccabees, which was one of the most dramatic clashes of civilizations in human history, not merely a political-military struggle against foreign oppression…. Unlike many peoples, the meager Jewish people did not assimilate.  The Jewish people prevailed, won, sustained and enhanced their independence and unique civilization…. It was the spirit of the people, rather than the failed spirit of the establishment, which enabled the Hasmoneans to overcome one of the most magnificent spiritual, political and military challenges in Jewish history….” (Uniqueness and Destiny, pp 20-22, David Ben Gurion, IDF Publishing, 1953).

2. A Jewish national liberation holiday.  Chanukah (evening of December 7 – December 15, 2023) is the only Jewish holiday that commemorates an ancient national liberation struggle in the Land of Israel, unlike the national liberation holidays, Passover, Sukkot/Tabernacles and Shavu’ot/Pentecost, which commemorate the liberation from slavery in Egypt to independence in the land of Israel, and unlike Purim, which commemorates liberation from a Persian attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.

3. Chanukah and the Land of Israel.  When ordered by Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid region to end the Jewish “occupation” of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Gezer and Akron, Shimon the Maccabee responded: “We have not occupied a foreign land…. We have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation (Book of Maccabees A: 15:33).”

Chanukah highlights the centrality of the Land of Israel in the formation of Jewish history, religion, culture and language. The mountain ridges of Judea and Southern Samaria (the West Bank) were the platform for the Maccabean military battles: Mitzpah (the burial site of the Prophet Samuel, overlooking Jerusalem), Beth El (the site of the Ark of the Covenant and Judah the Maccabee’s initial headquarters), Beth Horon (Judah’s victory over Seron), Hadashah (Judah’s victory over Nicanor), Beth Zur (Judah’s victory over Lysias), Ma’aleh Levona (Judah’s victory over Apolonius), Adora’yim (a Maccabean fortress), Eleazar (named after Mattityahu’s youngest Maccabee son), Beit Zachariya (Judah’s first defeat), Ba’al Hatzor (where Judah was defeated and killed), Te’qoah, Mikhmash and Gophnah (bases of Shimon and Yonatan), the Judean Desert, etc.

4. Historical context  Chanukah is narrated in the four Books of the MaccabeesThe Scroll of Antiochus and The Wars of the Jews.

In 323 BCE, following the death of Alexander the Great (Alexander III) who held Judaism in high esteem, the Greek Empire was split into three independent and rival mini-empires: Greece, Seleucid/Syria and Ptolemaic/Egypt.

In 175 BCE, the Seleucid/Syrian Emperor Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes claimed the Land of Israel. He suspected that the Jews were allies of his Ptolemaic/Egyptian enemy.  The Seleucid emperor was known for eccentric behavior, hence his name, Epiphanes, which means “divine manifestation.”  He aimed to exterminate Judaism and convert Jews to Hellenism. In 169 BCE, he devastated Jerusalem, attempting to decimate the Jewish population, and outlaw the practice of Judaism.

In 166/7 BCE, a Jewish rebellion was led by the non-establishment Hasmonean (Maccabee) family from the rural town of Modi’in, half-way between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean.  The rebellion was headed by Mattityahu, the priest, and his five sons, Yochanan, Judah, Shimon, Yonatan and Eleazar, who fought the Seleucid occupier and restored Jewish independence.  The Hasmonean dynasty was replete with external and internal wars and lasted until 37 BCE, when Herod the Great (a proxy of Rome) defeated Antigonus II Mattathias.

5. The reputation of Jews as superb warriors was reaffirmed by the success of the Maccabees on the battlefield. In fact, they were frequently hired as mercenaries by Egypt, Syria, Carthage, Rome and other global and regional powers.

6. The significance of Chanukah. Chanukah celebrates the Maccabean-led national liberation by conducting in-house family education and lighting candles for 8 days in commemoration of the re-inauguration of Jerusalem’s Jewish Temple and its Menorah (candelabra).

The Hebrew words Chanukah (חנוכה), inauguration (חנוכ) and education ((חנוך possess the same root.

7. As was prophesized by the Prophet Hagai in 520 BCE, the re-inauguration of the Temple took place on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which is the month of miracles, such as the post-flood appearance of Noah’s rainbow, the completion of the construction of the Holy Ark by Moses, the laying of the foundations of the Second Temple by Nehemiah, etc.

In 1777, Chanukah candles were lit during the most critical battle at Valley Forge, which solidified the victory of George Washington’s Continental Army over the British monarchy.

The 25th Hebrew word in Genesis is “light,” and the 25th stop during the Exodus was Hashmona (the same Hebrew spelling as Hasmonean-Maccabees).

The first day of Chanukah is celebrated when daylight hours are equal to darkness hours – and when moonlight is hardly noticed – ushering in brighter days.

8. Chanukah highlights the defeat of darkness, disbelief, forgetfulness and pessimism by the spirit of light, faith, commemoration and optimism over.

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Golan

Secretary Blinken on settlements – vindicated by facts?

Islamic Terrorism

US and Israel facing the mutual threat of Islamic terrorism

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
February 21, 2024

*FBI Director Christopher A. Wray visited Israel on February 14, 2024, during the Israel-Hamas and Israel-Hezbollah wars, meeting with leaders of the Mossad, Israel’s Secret Service, and Israel’s National Police in order to benefit from Israel’s unique urban and tunnel warfare experience and battle tactics in the war against Islamic terrorists, who are advancing the vision of Iran’s Ayatollahs and the Moslem Brotherhood.

*Director Wray considers Israel’s as the most effective battle-tested laboratory of the US armed forces, law enforcement agencies and defense industries.

*Director Wray is aware of the Ayatollahs’ and Hezbollas’ growing entrenchment in Mexico, along the US-Mexico border and throughout Latin America. In fact, since the early 1980s, Iran’s Ayatollahs and Hezbollah have entrenched themselves in Latin America, bolstering collaboration with the drug cartels of Mexico, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, all Latin American terror organizations, and each anti-US Latin American government. They supply the drug cartels underground tunnel construction equipment, and train them in the areas of car bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices. In addition, they have leveraged the convoys of illegal aliens from Guatemala to the US-Mexico border, smuggling terrorists and drug traffickers into the US.

*Islamic terrorism has targeted the US since the early 19th century irrespective of US policy and independent of the identity of the US President.  Thus, Islamic terrorism afflicted the US during the presidencies of both Trump and Obama, G.W. Bush and Clinton, Reagan and Carter.

*Hamas is a branch of the Moslem Brotherhood – the largest Sunni terror organization with religious, educational and welfare branches – whose charter aims to topple all national Islamic regimes, establish a universal Islamic society, bring the Western “infidel” – and especially the USA – to submission, and establish Islam as the only legitimate and divinely-ordained religion.

*Hamas and Hezbollah are proxies of Iran’s Ayatollahs, whose Constitution highlights a megalomaniacal vision, which stipulates the toppling of all “apostate” (Sunni) regimes, asserting itself globally – beyond the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, all the way to Latin America – and bringing the “infidel” West, and especially “The Great American Satan” to submission.

*Since February 1979, when it toppled the Shah of Iran, the Ayatollahs’ regime has transformed Iran from “The American Policeman of the Gulf” to the leading anti-US epicenter of global terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and the proliferation of advanced military systems.

*Israel’s war against Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism has bolstered the US’ defense against Islamic terrorism.

*On November 15, 2023, Director Christopher Wray testified at the House Committee on Homeland Security:

“The war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the US to a whole other level…. Since October 7th, we’ve seen a rogue gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies. Hezbollah threatened to attack US interests in the Middle East. Al-Qaida issued specific calls to attack the US. Al-Qaida called on jihadists to attack Americans and Jewish people everywhere. ISIS urged its followers to target Jewish communities in the US and Europe.

“Our most immediate concern is that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home. That includes homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization and domestic violent extremists…. We cannot discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks on our own soil…. But it’s not just Hamas. As the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran has directly, or by hiring criminals, mounted assassination attempts against dissidents and high-ranking current and former U.S. officials, including right here on American soil. Hezbollah, Iran’s primary strategic partner, has a history of raising money and seeking to obtain weapons here in the US…. Hezbollah has tried to seed operatives, establish infrastructure, and engage in spying here domestically, raising our concern that there may be contingency planning for future operations in the United States….”

*The bottom line is that FBI Director, Christopher Wray, is driven by Middle East reality, not by alternative, less frustrating, but self-destructive reality. Therefore, he does not subscribe to the diplomatic option in the battle against Islamic terrorism, and does not propose to negotiate with – and make financial and diplomatic concessions to – terrorists. He does not expect Iran to accept peaceful coexistence with its pro-US Sunni Arab regimes, conduct good faith negotiation, or abandon its 1,400-year-old fanatic vision. Director Wray attempts to defeat Iran-controlled Islamic terrorists. He does not expect Israel to slow down its war on Hamas, which is a proxy of Iran. Just like Saudi Arabia and all other pro-US Arab countries, Director Wray is aware that the obliteration of Hamas, militarily, politically and educationally, will bolster the posture of deterrence of both Israel and the USA, reducing terror assaults on pro-US Arab countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco) and in the US mainland.

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