Monday, November 15, 2010

Obama Offers Not to Sell Out Israel in Exchange for False Hope

Obama is pushing ahead with his attempts to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table with Israel. It looks like Israel is going to accept his proposal for Freeze II. Israel will once again stop construction for 90 days in the West Bank in exchange for some military equipment and a promise not to sell out Israel on the world stage (for now). Plenty has already been written on how Obama's hands on diplomacy has made a bigger mess than he started with. The best articles on the Obama approach to peace talks are here and here.

In an effort to restart Peace talks, at the end of last year the Israeli government agreed to a settlement freeze for 10 months. Politicians promissed it would show the world that Israel is serious about reaching an agreement and the Palestinians would have only one shot. As expected the opposite happened. The Palestinians waited 9 months to join the negotiating table and made it clear they would walk without an extension. Instead of commending Israel for their efforts the world decided that the Palestinians must be appeased and Obama flexed is Presidential powers to make it happened.

If there is going to be another Freeze there needs to be at least some chance of success. Instead of hoping the Palestinians will return to the negotiating table it should be a condition of Israel accepting the freeze. Another condition should be that the moment the Palestinians walk away from the table the freeze is automatically over. It is the only scenario that doesn't result in a repeat of the original diplomatic failure.

Obama has mistakenly made settlements the #1 obstacle to peace. What is going to happen come January? He will have to choose between honouring his commitment to Israel or continuing to spar with Israel over settlement construction.

Monday, November 1, 2010

UNESCO to Declare Mosque of the Nativity, Palestinian Holy Site?

The most effective political weapon being used the Palestinians is the use of the political arena. The aim is to create the perception that the Jewish people have no connection to the land of Israel and to instigate scenarios that make Israel look bad in the eyes of the world. The United Nations has been a key tool to this goal. Palestinian leadership can call on the Arab world to pass any condemnation of Israel they wish.

This week UNESCO passed 5 resolutions condemning Israel. Sadly, most of them could be dismissed as just another example of intentional ignorance of the facts on the ground. One resolution was particularily disturbing by it's implications. UNESCO demanded Israel remove Me'arat HaMachpela (Tomb of the Patriarchs) and Kever Rochel (Rachel's Tomb) from the Israel's list of heritage sites. They consider these mosques to be integral part of the Palestinian identity and Israel has no right to control them.

Me'arat HaMachepela is the burial place of the founders of the Jewish people. Avraham and Sarah; Issac and Rifka; Yaakov and Leah are buried there. As descendants of Avraham the Arabs claim the spot as there own holy spot. For centuries Jews were only able to approach the outside of the building but never enter.

Under Israeli control a compromise has been put in place recognizing the importance to both Jews and Muslims. The building is split in half with seperate entrances. 10 days a year, the entire building is open exclusivly to Jews and 10 days the entire building is open exclusivley to Muslims. When the dates conflict priority is given to the Muslim calendar. The Muslim side has undergone renovations over the years, while the Waqf has refused to allow any major renovations on the Jewish side. The United Nations condemning a solution that mostly works, comes as no surprise.

Kever Rochel is the burial place of Rochel the other Jewish Matriarch. Through the centuries it was an important place for Jews to pray. She is completely irrelevant to Muslim tradition Elder of Ziyon has documented that it was not until after the Oslo Accords that this important Jewish site was started to be referred to as an ancient holy mosque.

The goal of the condemnation is to disconnect the Jewish people from their founders and further discredit, the history of their presence on the land. Kever Rochel has extra meaning because Jewish tradition teaches it was in her merit that the God promised her the Jews would return from exile. It is the reason that when Jews make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) the song Shavu Banim (Her Children have returned to their borders) is sung in shul.

Kever Rochel is no more an anicient Muslim holy site than; the Mosque of the Nativity, Mosque of the Holy Sepulcher, or the Mosque being built at the World Trade Centre.

The United States is the only country to vote against the 5 resolutions, with a dozen or so choosing to take a knee and abstain. Rewriting history for political means, is a disgrace to UNESCO who has as it's goal to preserve culture and education. The countries that choose to remain silent and watch should be embarrassed for not being brave enough to stand up for the truth.