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There Is No Palestinian State

The Daily Beast, Prof. Efraim Karsh, 9.6.11, https://www.thedailybeast.com/there-is-no-palestinian-state

As the United Nations prepares to vote next week on the issue of Palestinian statehood, it might be worth bearing in mind that whatever the outcome, the result will certainly not be the creation of an actual Palestinian state, any more than the November 1947 partition resolution spelled the inevitable creation of a Jewish one.

In 1948, Israel came into being due to the extraordinary cohesion of Palestine’s Jewish community (the Yishuv). Armed with an unwavering sense of purpose and an extensive network of institutions, the Yishuv managed to surmount a bevy of international obstacles and fend off a pan-Arab attempt to destroy it. Likewise, it was the total lack of communal solidarity—the willingness to subordinate personal interest to the collective good—that accounted for the collapse and dispersion of Palestinian Arab society as its leaders tried to subvert partition.
Sixty-four years later, Palestinian society seems no better prepared for statehood. And the U.N. would be doing the Palestinians a great disservice by accepting the corrupt and dysfunctional Palestinian Authority as its newest member. While this would hardly be the first failed state to be delivered by the world organization, the unique circumstances of its possible birth make failure a foregone conclusion, and the consequences are too dire to contemplate.

The building of the Jewish state began in the Swiss town of Basel in 1889 at the First Zionist Congress, which defined Zionism’s goal as “the creation of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine to be secured by public law,” and established institutions to promote it. By the time the League of Nations appointed Britain as the mandatory for Palestine 23 years later, the Yishuv had been transformed into a cohesive and organized national community that provided most of Palestine’s Jewry with work, trade union protection as well as with education, health care, and defense.

By contrast, it was the tragedy of the Palestinians that the two leaders who determined their national development during the 20th century—Hajj Amin Husseini and Yasser Arafat—were far more interested in destroying the Jewish national cause than leading their own people. As far back as 1978, Arafat told his close friend and collaborator, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the traditions, unity, and discipline to have a successful state. Once given control of parts of the West Bank and Gaza, this prognosis became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as his regime quickly became oppressive and corrupt. Later it helped launch the second intifada, the bloodiest and most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war. In the process, he destroyed the fragile civil society and relatively productive economy that had developed during the previous decade.

Paradoxically, it was Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the June 1967 war that laid the groundwork for Palestinian civil society. Not only did it bring the issue of Palestinian independence to the forefront of the international agenda, but it also produced dramatic improvements in the Palestinians’ quality of life. During the occupation, the territories became the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world—ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. From 1967 to 2000, life expectancy rose from 48 to 72, while infant mortality fell from 60 per 1,000 live births in 1968 to 15 per 1,000 births in 2000. And while there was not a single university that existed in the West Bank or Gaza before Israeli rule, by the mid-1990s, there were seven such institutions, boasting more than 16,000 students.

All of these achievements were steadily undone after Oslo, as Arafat’s regime took control over parts of the territories. In September of 1993, conditions in the West Bank and Gaza were still better than those in most neighboring Arab states—and this despite the economic decline caused by the first intifada. Within six months of Arafat’s arrival in Gaza, the standard of living in the strip fell by 25 percent, and more than half of the area’s residents claimed to have been happier under Israeli rule. The launch of the second intifada six years later dealt the death blow to the economic and institutional gains that Israel bequeathed.

In an apparent departure from this destructive path, in the summer of 2007, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad embarked on the first true state-building effort in Palestinian history. And he has had some modest successes, most notably a sustained economic recovery that has nearly restored the West Bank’s pre-intifada levels of performance. Yet Fayyad has created no new institutions, and the PA remains a corrupt and wholly dysfunctional organization. The Palestinian prime minister may claim to have laid the groundwork for a democratic Palestine, but the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, and by extension his own position, are totally unconstitutional. Not only did Abbas defy Hamas’s landslide victory in the January 2006 parliamentary election, but Abbas’s presidency expired more than two years ago.

No less important, the two factions dominating Palestinian life, the Hamas and Fatah, remain armed groups, and active practitioners of terrorism—an assured recipe for a failed state. The Oslo Accords charged the PA to dismantle all armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza, but Arafat never complied; David Ben-Gurion, by contrast, dissolved all Jewish underground movements within a fortnight from Israel’s independence, incorporating them into the newly established Israeli Defense Forces. Following statehood, even if Abbas were to make a genuine commitment to reform, Hamas would continue to defy his tenuous authority; not only does the group rule the Gaza Strip, which it has transformed into an Islamist micro-state, but it also wields considerable power in the West Bank.

Small wonder that recent surveys show that more Palestinians in east Jerusalem, who are entitled to Israeli social benefits and are free to travel across Israel’s pre-1967 borders, would rather become citizens of the Jewish state than citizens of a new Palestinian one. Two thirds of them believe that a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence backed by the U.N. would have no positive effect. And they’re right. Unfortunately the ramifications—increased conflict with Israel and a deepening rift in an already divided Palestinian society—are manifold. Once again, the Palestinian leadership is leading its people astray.

Efraim Karsh is research professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London, director of the Middle East Forum (Philadelphia) and author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed.

 

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Demography

2024 artificially inflated Palestinian demography

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
March 25, 2024

Palestinian demographic numbers are highly-inflated, as documented by a study, which has audited the Palestinian data since 2004.  For example:

*500,000 Arabs, who have been away for over a year, are included in the census, contrary to international regulations. 325,000 were included in the 1997 census, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and 400,000 in 2005, according to the Palestinian Election Commission. The number grows steadily due to births.

*350,000 East Jerusalem Arabs are doubly-counted – by Israel and by the Palestinian Authority. The number grows steadily due to births.

*Over 150,000 Arabs, who married Israeli Arabs are similarly doubly counted. The number expands steadily due to births.   

*A 413,000 net-emigration (since the 1997 first Palestinian census) is ignored by the Palestinian census, overlooking the annual net-emigration since 1950. A 23,445 net-emigration in 2022 and a 20,000 annual average in recent years have been documented by Israel’s Population and Migration Authority in all international passages.  

*A 32% artificial inflation of Palestinian births was documented by the World Bank (page 8, item 6) in a 2006 audit.

*The Judea & Samaria Arab fertility rate has been westernized: from 9 births per woman in the 1960s to 2.9 births in 2022 (In Jordan – similar to Judea & Samaria), reflecting the sweeping urbanization, a growing female enrollment in higher education, rising marriage age and the rising use of contraceptives.

*The number of deaths is under-reported for political and financial reasons.

*The aforementioned artificial inflation of 1.7 million documents a population of 1.55 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria, not the official 3.25 million. In 2024: a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel, benefitting from a tailwind of fertility and net-immigration, while Arab demography is westernized. In 1947 and 1897: a 39% and 9% Jewish minority.
No Arab demographic time bomb; but, a Jewish demographic momentum. More data in these articles and this short video.

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Iran

FBI Director Chris Wray: Iranian terrorism on US soil

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
April 10, 2024

The State Department has adhered to the diplomatic option toward Iran, rewarding the Ayatollahs with a financial and diplomatic bonanza, waiving and softening economic sanctions. However, FBI Director Chris Wray has concluded that Iran and its Islamic terrorist proxies are set to hit the US mainland. Iran is leveraging its cooperation with US criminal organizations and with Latin American drug cartels in the areas of terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking and money laundering.

Addressing cadets at the West Point US Military Academy, Wray stated: “The ongoing war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans inside the US to a whole another level…. Although we cannot discount the possibility of another coordinated 9/11-style attack by a foreign terrorist organization, our most immediate concern has been that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home….”

In his testimony at the House Committee on Homeland Security, Director Wray stated: “As the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranians [who collaborate with all Latin American drug cartels] have directly, or by hiring criminals, mounted assassination attempts against dissidents and high ranking current and former US officials, including right here on American soil…. Hezbollah, Iran’s primary strategic partner, has tried to seed operatives, establish infrastructure and engage in spying here domestically… planning future operations in the US….

“In a year when the terrorism threat was already elevated, the ongoing [Israel-Hamas] war has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the US to a whole other level…. Since October 7, we’ve seen a rogue gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies. Hezbollah [which trains Latin American drug traffickers in the areas of car bombing and IEDs] threatened to attack US interests in the Middle East. Al-Qaeda issued its most specific call to attack the US….

“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…. We cannot discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks here, on our own soil….”

In his testimony at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Wray highlighted the central role of Iran’s Ayatollahs in the intensified anti-US Islamic terrorism: “Nations such as the PRC, Russia and Iran are becoming more aggressive and more capable than ever before. These nations seek to undermine our core democratic, economic and scientific institutions….[They] conduct sophisticated intelligence operations using coercion, subversion, malign influence, cyber and economic espionage, traditional spying and non-traditional human intelligence collection.  They pose a continuous threat to US national security and our economy by targeting strategic technologies, industries, sectors and critical infrastructure…. [Iran’s collaboration with US criminal organizations] should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with both the scope of Iran’s penetration of the Western hemisphere and its association with TCOs (Transnational Criminal Organizations) at every level.  Understanding both the nature of this new combination requires some knowledge of TCOs, the security apparatus of the Iranian state and their links….”

Col. (ret.) Robert Killebrew of the Center for a New American Security sheds light on the connection between Iran’s Ayatollahs, Hezbollah and Latin American anti-US terrorism and drug trafficking: “That Iran has relationships with TCOs [e.g., MS-13] with deep ties inside the US is a fact…. Hostility toward the US is fundamental to the ideological outlook of Iran’s ruling theocracy, which considers itself at war with the US…. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas [aimed to undermine the US posture in Latin America], which includes states like Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, has forged close military ties with Iran…. Along with senior members of the Venezuelan government, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard is involved in the illicit narcotics trade… training of local forces and in illicit drug trade that weakens the US at home….

“Reports of Iranian activity in South and Central America continue to roll in, along with Hezbollah’s hefty fund-raising and training activities in South America…. The coordinated US response to the growing presence of Iranian agents in Central and South America has been tepid at best…. Despite the presence of the armed forces of a hostile state (Iran) to our south, and clear evidence that those forces will use TCOs to attack targets inside the US, the possibility of converted action against the cartels and, by implication, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, remains elusive….”

The bottom line:

*There is a direct connection between the US homeland security, on the one hand, and Iran’s Ayatollahs’ anti-US fanatic and imperialistic ideology, their oppression of women and ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, and their role as the leading regional and global epicenter of anti-US terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and proliferation of advance weaponry, on the other hand.

*As documented since their February 1979 rise to power, Iran’s Ayatollahs’ fanatic, religious and imperialistic vision – which aims to bring “The Great American Satan” to submission – transcends any financial and diplomatic bonanza extended by the US.

*While Hamas and Hezbollah constitute a threat to all pro-US Arab regimes, intensify the volcanic nature of the Middle East, and undermine the national and homeland security of the US, it is Iran which is the generator of these terror organizations. Disabling the Iranian generator is a prerequisite for minimizing the wrath of Islamic terrorism.

*The 45-year-old track record of the US diplomatic option toward Iran’s Ayatollahs – which has bolstered the anti-US capabilities of the Ayatollahs, while undermining US interests – requires a reassessment and a shift to the regime-change option.

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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

FBI Director Chris Wray: Iranian terrorism on US soil