Nov 18, 2010

A Short History Of U.S. Guarantees

Pres. Obama seems surprised that Bibi is so insistent on dotting the i's and crossing the t's in his letter of guarantees in order to extend the building moratorium for another 90 days. It’s hard to see why he is surprised.
      One of the first things he did when becoming president was to declare that the letter of guarantees which Pres. George Bush gave to Arik Sharon did not bind him or the U.S. So who can believe that any letter of guarantees he gives now will be any more binding than that?
      Furthermore he will certainly give a counter letter of guarantees to the Palestinians, essentially promising them the opposite of whatever he promises Bibi.
      He also supposedly promises (cross his heart and hope to die) that he won’t ask for any further extension after 90 days. If anyone believes that, I have a Brooklyn Bridge in fairly good condition to sell to him. I don’t own it, but why should that matter?
      The history of American guarantees to Israel is not a happy one. In 1956-7, in order to get Israel to withdraw from Sinai, the U.S. guaranteed that if Egypt would ever again close the Straits of Tiran to Israel bound shipping, the U.S. would open them.
      In May 1967 when Nasser expelled the UN from Sinai and closed the Straits, Abba Eban, Israel’s Foreign Minister, rushed to Washington to ask them to fulfill their guarantee. In the State Department they searched high and low and ransacked all the cupboards, but they couldn’t find the guarantee!
      After the Americans made some half-hearted efforts to put together an international flotilla to open the straits, Israel rescued the U.S. from its embarrassment by winning the Six Day War and opening the straits by itself.
      Let’s fast forward to the summer of 1970 at the height of the War of Attrition. In order to get Israel to agree to cease fire, the U.S. promised that Egypt would not move its Soviet SAM 3 missiles from Cairo to the Suez Canal. They assured the Israel government that American satellites could detect any such movement in real time, so there was no danger.
      As soon as the cease fire went into effect, Egypt began to move its missiles to the Canal and the American satellites went blind. For three days the Israelis desperately tried to convince the Americans of what was happening, but the U.S. couldn’t see it. Finally after three days, and after the Egyptians had emplaced SAM 3 missiles all along the Suez Canal, the U.S. satellites regained their sight. Then the Americans said to Israel, “Do you really want to resume the war over this?” The SAM 3 missiles took a terrible toll of Israeli air force planes in the early days of the Yom Kippur war.
      Today we should ask, “Do we really want to rely on U.S. guarantees after that record?”

Oct 4, 2010

How To Negotiate With The Syrians

  1. The Syrians have informed the U.S. that they are ready to enter peace negotiations with Israel, but only if we agree in advance that the Golan belongs to them, because it is holy Syrian soil.
  2. This is an opportunity for Israel to announce that we are ready to enter peace negotiations with Syria, but only if they agree in advance that the Golan belongs to us, because it is holy Israeli-Jewish soil.
  3. Then we can enter negotiations (or not) on an equal basis.
  4. If Israel is foolish enough to start by conceding that any part of the Golan belongs to the Syrians, then no negotiations can ever succeed.
  5. The sages of the Babylonian Talmud understood this basic rule of negotiations thousands of years ago. The first page of Tractate “Baba Metziya” begins:
                  Two people are holding a garment. Each one says, I found it. Each one       says it’s all mine. Each one swears, I have possession of not less than one half.         The decision: To divide it equally between them.
                  If one says it’s all mine and the other (a nice guy) says half is mine and       half is his. Decision: to give three quarters to the one who says it’s all mine and             one quarter to the one who says half and half.
                  How does the Talmud explain this strange result? Since each of them          agrees that one half belongs to one of them, the argument is only about the other      half, so we divide that between them equally.
  1. Jabotinsky recognized this extremely important lesson in negotiations. You must claim it all if you want to get at least half. If you are a nice guy and say let’s divide it equally, you end up with only a quarter while the bad guy gets three quarters.
                       It is amazing that the Israeli Prime Minister and government have still not internalized this basic rule of negotiations. If the Arabs say it’s all theirs and the Israeli’s say half and half, then we have lost before we start.
      In order to give any negotiations a chance (if indeed they have one at all), when the Arabs say “It’s all ours”, we must say, “It’s all ours”. From that point negotiations can start.
  1. The basis of all our claims is our G-d given right, as set forth in Rashi on the first page of the Bible. Genesis (Bereshith) 1:1
"In the beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth".
Rabbi Yitzhak said, one of the Rabbis quoted by Rashi said, “It was not necessary to commence the Torah before the first commandment, which is the book of Exodus. Why then did the Torah begin with Genesis? To show that everything belongs to G-d the creator". If the nations of the world will say to Israel, "You are robbers who conquered the lands of seven nations”, Israel can answer them, "All of the world belongs to G-d. He created it and gave it to those He wanted. By His will He gave it to them and by His will he took it from them and gave it to us".

That right has been recognized over the years, e.g., the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate, the U.N General Assembly decision of 1947. However, even if none of those documents had ever existed, it would not reduce our rights by one whit. Thus, to base any claims on the authority of those documents is, I think, doomed to failure.
Rights which human groups recognize at various times, they can also unrecognize, which is what is happening now.

In conclusion, I believe that our negotiating position must be based on the statement and belief that it is all ours. Only in this way can we enter into any negotiations with the Arabs on an equal footing.
If we start out conceding half to them, we are putting ourselves into a vise and ensuring that no negotiations can ever succeed.

Sep 29, 2010

Ehud Olmert, Arik Sharon and The Ethrog

Ehud Olmert has suggested that Israel propose an international trusteeship for the Western Wall and Temple Mount. We have a lot of experience with such international supervision. During the British Mandate, Jewish worship at the Wall was restricted according to Arab sensitivities. Even blowing the Shofar at the end of the Yom Kippur service was forbidden. Brave young Jewish men blew the shofar and went to jail for it, year after year.
      From 1948 until 1967, when the Jordanians controlled the old city of Jerusalem, no Jew was allowed to set foot at the Wall. Such a right was included in the Armistice Agreement, but the Jordanian Arabs just ignored it and no one did anything about it.
      Only since 1967 under Israeli control have the Western Wall and the Temple Mount been freely available to all.
      Doesn’t Ehud Olmert know this? Of course he does. He is accused of being corrupt, not stupid. Then why is he pushing such a plan and insisting that Israel should propose it? Because he wants to stay out of jail.
      He looks back and sees that Arik Sharon faced a similar problem. He also wanted to stay out of jail for corruption, so he came up with the disengagement plan in Gaza. So long as he pushed for that, he had the full support of the Israeli left wing press and media, which means virtually all the Israeli press and media.
      As the famous journalist Amnon Abramovitch put it, the media wrapped Arik in cotton wool, the way we protect an Ethrog during the Sukkoth Holiday, as long as he pressed for disengagement. Nothing could stop Arik and his media supporters until the disengagement was forced down the throats of the Israeli public.
      Many of those forced out of their homes in 21 settlements are still homeless refugees in their own country, and Israeli Negev towns are in constant danger of rockets from Gaza, but Arik achieved his purpose of staying out of jail. (The proof that this was no idle threat is that Arik’s son did go to jail, but for Arik all went well until his stroke.)
      Flash forward to Ehud Olmert. What did he learn from Arik and the disengagement? As long as he espouses far left-wing programs the Israeli press and media will protect him and wrap him around like an ethrog. The further left, the greater the ‘ethrogization”. He hopes this will help him stay out of jail on his corruption charges.
      The damage it will do to Israel and the Jewish People is not a main consideration for him.

Sep 12, 2010

Come Play Let’s Pretend

1.      Let’s assume that an agreement is signed between Israel and the Palestinians, just as the Israeli leftists would like to see it, complete with a signing extravaganza on the White House lawn just as Obama wishes.
2.      Let’s assume that a few months later there are free democratic elections in Palestine supervised by international observers headed by Jimmy Carter or Tony Blair.
3.      Hamas will win those elections and will take over the government of Palestine, including command of the Palestine security “police” who have been so well trained by the Americans.  This is not “pretend”; this is what will happen, based on the democratic elections in Gaza and Iraq.
4.      How long will it take before kassams, mortars and missiles are fired from Hamas Palestine into Israel, just as they are from Gaza?  Their potential targets will include Ben Gurion Airport.  Again this is not “pretend”.  This is what will happen.
5.      What will the Israel government let our armed forces do about it?  Not very much, based on experience.  Just about what they do in Gaza.
6.      This situation will continue until it becomes unbearable and a major war breaks out, in which the IDF reoccupies Palestine at an enormous cost in blood and treasure.
7.      This will be the inevitable result of the agreement the Israeli leftists and Obama want.  Anyone who refuses to see this is still playing let’s pretend.