Friday, December 8, 2017
By Bret Stephens
If nothing else, Donald Trump’s decision on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital shows how disenthralled his administration is with traditional pieties about the Middle East. It’s about time.
One piety is that “Mideast peace” is all but synonymous with Arab-Israeli peace. Seven years of upheaval, repression, terrorism, refugee crises and mass murder in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Iraq and Syria have put paid to that notion.
Another piety is that only an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could reconcile the wider Arab world to the Jewish state. Yet relations between Jerusalem and Riyadh, Cairo, Abu Dhabi and Manama are flourishing as never before, even as the prospect of a Palestinian state is as remote as ever.
A third is that intensive mediation by the United States is essential to progress on the ground. Yet recent American involvement — whether at the Camp David summit in 2000 or John Kerry’s efforts in 2013 — has had mostly the opposite effect: diplomatic failure, followed by war.
Which brings us to Jerusalem, and the piety that pretending it isn’t what it is can be a formula for anything except continued self-delusion.
What Jerusalem is is the capital of Israel, both as the ancestral Jewish homeland and the modern nation-state. When Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit the country in 1974, he attended his state dinner in Jerusalem. It’s where President Anwar Sadat of Egypt spoke when he decided to make peace in 1977. It’s what Congress decided as a matter of law in 1995. When Barack Obama paid his own presidential visit to Israel in 2013, he too spent most of his time in Jerusalem.
So why maintain the fiction that Jerusalem isn’t the capital?
The original argument, from 1947, was that Jerusalem ought to be under international jurisdiction, in recognition of its religious importance. But Jews were not allowed to visit the Western Wall during the 19 years when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian occupation. Yasir Arafat denied that Solomon’s Temple was even in Jerusalem, reflecting an increasingly common Palestinian denial of history.
Would Jews be allowed to visit Jewish sites, and would those sites be respected, if the city were redivided? Doubtful, considering Palestinian attacks on such sites, which is one of the reasons why it shouldn’t be.
The next argument is that any effort by Washington to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would set the proverbial Arab street on fire and perhaps lead to another intifada.
But this misapprehends the nature of the street, which has typically been a propaganda tool of Arab leaders to channel domestic discontent and manipulate foreign opinion. And it also misrepresents the nature of the last intifada, which was a meticulously preplanned event waiting for a convenient pretext (Ariel Sharon’s September 2000 walk on the Temple Mount) to look like a spontaneous one.
Finally there’s the view that recognition is like giving your college freshman a graduation gift: a premature reward for an Israeli government that hasn’t yet done what’s needed to make a Palestinian state possible.
But this also gets a few things wrong. It will have no effect on whether or how a Palestinian state comes into being, whatever the current histrionics in Ramallah. And it’s not much of a bargaining chip, since most Israelis couldn’t care less where the embassy is ultimately located.
Then again, recognition does several genuinely useful things.
It belatedly aligns American words with deeds. It aligns word as well as deed with reality. And it aligns the United States with the country toward which we are constantly professing friendship even as we have spent seven decades stinting it of the most basic form of recognition.
Recognition also tells the Palestinians that they can no longer hold other parties hostage to their demands. East Jerusalem could have been the capital of a sovereign Palestinian state 17 years ago, if Arafat had simply accepted the terms at Camp David. He didn’t because he thought he could dictate terms to stronger powers. Nations pay a price for the foolhardiness of their leaders, as the Kurds recently found out.
Peace and a Palestinian state will come when Palestinians aspire to create a Middle Eastern Costa Rica — pacifist, progressive, neighborly and democratic — rather than another Yemen: by turns autocratic, anarchic, fanatical and tragic.
For the international community, that means helping Palestinians take steps to dismantle their current klepto-theocracy, rather than fueling a culture of perpetual grievance against Israel. Mahmoud Abbas is now approaching the 13th anniversary of his elected four-year term. Someone should point this out.
Hamas has run Gaza for a decade, during which it has spent more time building rockets and terror tunnels than hotels or hospitals. Someone should point this out, too. It is indicative of the disastrous political choices that help explain 70 years of Palestinian failure.
Meantime, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. For those who have lived in denial, it must be some sort of shock.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 11:50 PM
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Freedom is freedom to say that two plus two make four. Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is where appeasement of Islam ends.
Thank you. When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking.
We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches.
My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city, and so importantly, is Israel’s capital. This act passed congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. And was reaffirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.
Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in.
After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.
Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver.
Today, I am delivering. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.
Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. It was 70 years ago that the United States under President Truman recognized the state of Israel.
Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem, the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.
Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.
For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of State and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.
Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have by the a country where Jews, Muslims and Christians and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.
Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Muslims worship at Al Aqsa Mosque. However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.
But today we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.
That is why consistent with the Jerusalem embassy act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.
In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear. This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.
We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.
The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.
Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides. In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif. Above all, our greatest hope is for peace. The universal yearning in every human soul.
With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region. There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation. This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity.
Lifting our sights to what is possible, not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable.
Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach it.
So today we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts. I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year: The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit, and history. Its people are brilliant, proud and diverse. Vibrant and strong.
But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance and terror.
Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.
It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midsts. It is time for all civilized nations and people to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate, not violence. And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.
So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities.
And finally, I ask the leaders of the region political and religious, Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Christian and Muslim to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians and God bless the United States.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 11:01 AM
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
With regard to “Israel bans seven French pols over their pro-BDS activities” (November 14), Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni tweeted in response: “Clever! Now for sure they will be with us and understand that Israel is democratic.”
The lawmaker apparently does not seem to remember – or never knew – that during the Cold War, communists were not permitted into the US. A special waiver was needed for them because they were deemed dangerous.
So Israel is as democratic as the US in trying to prevent people who work to overthrow the government from entering the country. Perhaps Ms. Livni should start criticizing the US as undemocratic?
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 11:51 AM
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Today is Nov 7, 2017 and I cannot just ignore what happened 100 years ago on Nov 7, 1917
From The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression.
The following rough approximation, based on unofficial estimates, gives some sense of the scale and gravity of these crimes:
U.S.S.R.: 20 million deaths
China: 65 million deaths
Vietnam: 1 million deaths
Cambodia: 2 million deaths
Eastern Europe: 1million deaths
Latin America: 150,000 deaths
Africa: 1.7million deaths
Afghanistan: 1.5 million deaths
The international Communist movement and Communist parties not in power: about 10,000 deaths
The total approaches 100 million people killed.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 3:48 AM
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Both the WSJ editorial and Bret Stephens in the NYT are missing a crucial point that they cannot make because they are stuck in their political correctness. If Saipov’s parents had been Buddhists there would be nothing in Buddhism for him to be radicalized to. Had Saipov's parents been Buddhists there would never have been a problem in the first place .
The diversity program lottery became the Islamic roulette because Saipov was Muslim. With Muslims we should take special precaution. Why? Because Islam is also a political ideology. During the Cold War communists could not enter the United States except through a waiver, so since Islam is also a political ideology why are immigrants from Islamic countries not treated the same way communists were during the Cold War? Extra screening needs to be applied to differentiate between what Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls the “Mecca Muslims” (i.e., “Muslims who are loyal to the core creed and worship devoutly, but are not inclined to practice violence”) and the “Medina Muslims” (who “see the forcible imposition of Shari’a as their religious duty”)
As Ibn Warraq demonstrates in his book "The Islam in Islamic Terrorism: The Importance of Beliefs, Ideas, and Ideology" Islamic terrorism is jihad and jihad is a founding Islamic concept.
The New York Times
Bret Stephens NOV. 1, 2017
We heard what sounded like a crash and what might have been a gunshot, but it didn’t register at first. Lower Manhattan is loud at every hour with traffic and construction, and my wife and I have grown used to ignoring the ambient noise. Even when one police siren follows another. Even when it is followed by dozens more.
Two of our three children had been out shopping for Halloween. Then our 12-year-old son came home. He told us he had seen a truck smashed on our corner; that there had been a shooting; that he’d seen what looked like blood on the windshield. He said the police were swarming the neighborhood and helicopters were flying overhead and our building was locked down. He was composed as he told us all of this. He must have missed the attack by a few minutes at most.
Where was our teenager? We experienced a moment of parental panic until she answered her phone and came home. I checked the news and saw something about bodies strewn along the bike path along the Hudson. I must have said “terrorism.” Our 8-year-old started to cry. “We’re safe up here,” my wife assured her. “No, we’re not,” she replied, not unreasonably.
I went downstairs to try to see things for myself, just as I had when I lived in Jerusalem during the second intifada and similar events were an almost weekly occurrence. The day was clear and crisp. There were fire trucks and gurneys outside Stuyvesant High School, the elite public school that anchors the northern end of our neighborhood. I tried to get to the bike path, but stern-looking police officers waved me off at every corner. A woman pushing an infant in a stroller was sobbing; I heard her say that she had been outside when the crash took place. I stopped a paramedic to ask what he knew about the number of casualties. “A lot,” he said.
It was clear that terrorism had returned to Manhattan, barely a year after a bomb went off on 23rd Street and injured more than 30 people. Within an hour it became clear that it was the act of another jihadist, most likely a self-starter inspired by what he had seen on TV of similar attacks in Barcelona and Nice. Ted Cruz and other right-wing populists sometimes deride Manhattan as a liberal La-La Land of privileged people living far from the real world. But on Tuesday there was only the stark reality of multiple homicides outside our home and grim-faced emergency medical workers racing to the scene.
Disasters that strike close to home inevitably affect us differently from those we observe at a distance. I cross the bike path near the spot where the terrorist crashed his truck every day. My kids learned to ride their bikes on the same path that became Tuesday’s scene of carnage. We celebrated our older daughter’s bat mitzvah at a restaurant just off that path. My son went to soccer camp at Pier 40, where the rampage began. “There but for the grace of God go I” may be the world’s most shopworn phrase, but it’s one you feel keenly after an event like this.
Disasters at close range also have a way of making ideological pronouncements seem remote, feckless and wretched. Donald Trump promised in a tweet to “step up our already Extreme Vetting Program.” Then he blasted Chuck Schumer, New York’s Democratic senior senator, for the diversity visa lottery under which the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, supposedly arrived in the United States from Uzbekistan.
Yet the notable fact is that even if the administration’s signature multination travel ban had been in place for decades, it would not have kept Saipov from entering the country legally and obtaining a green card before going on his killing spree. And getting a visa through a “diversity program” does not mean that he wasn’t vetted by the United States before his arrival or that he couldn’t have been denied entry on security grounds.
Determined fanatics will usually outwit the Department of Homeland Security’s games of whack-a-mole. A heavy-handed immigration policy will never be an effective counterterrorism strategy.
In the meantime, the responses that are meaningful, and for which one feels actual gratitude, are all local: Ryan Nash, the officer who shot the suspect as he waved what seemed to be two guns (toys, as it turned out) in the middle of West Street; the parents and teachers at P.S. 89 for sheltering the kids just as they were being let out for the day; the police and fire departments and emergency medical services for turning the world’s most vulnerable city into one of the safest and most welcoming.
This is real America. Most of the people who live or work nearby, from the Goldman bankers to the Stuyvesant whiz kids, are strivers who came from other places and started with a lot less. We feel intense pride in our city and country, though we don’t feel the compulsion constantly to profess that pride as proof of our patriotism or as an expression of a cultural resentment.
Few of us may go to church or own a gun, and hardly any of us voted for the president. But we are good friends to our neighbors, look out for their children and feel nothing but gratitude for the people who protect us. And we choose to live in a place that we know is a target for fanatics because fanatics will always target the things we prize most: openness, diversity, sky-high ambition and the belief that we are more than simply our racial or religious identities.
Something unreal, as people say, happened in my neighborhood on Tuesday. But we stayed real, and trick-or-treating proceeded on schedule.
The Wall Street Journal
The diversity visa program is far from the main terror threat.
By The Editorial Board
Law enforcement continues to investigate Tuesday’s terror attack in which a 29-year-old from Uzbekistan used a truck to murder eight pedestrians in lower Manhattan. So it’s unfortunate and counterproductive that President Trump’s first instinct has been to politicize the tragedy by blaming—what else?—immigration.
The President apparently got a scoop early Wednesday that the alleged terrorist Sayfullo Saipov was admitted to the U.S. in 2010 under the State Department’s diversity visa lottery. He then shot off a barrage of tweets blasting the lottery, which he called a “Chuck Schumer beauty,” singling out the Senate Democratic leader. “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems. We must get MUCH tougher (and smarter),” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Later in the day he again attacked the visa program, and in an aside lashed chained migration that benefits relatives of U.S. citizens and green card holders. While we’re all for better vetting of immigrants, and monitoring of terror risks, the sad reality is that a radicalized U.S. citizen could also have committed the attack.
Congress established the diversity lottery as part of the Immigration Act of 1990—which Mr. Schumer co-sponsored along with several Republicans—to diversify the pool of immigrants. Chained family migration favors countries in Latin America while a disproportionate number of Chinese and Indians have immigrated on employer-sponsored visas.
Each year, 50,000 visas are awarded at random to immigrants from countries whose admissions totalled fewer than 50,000 over the preceding five years. Lottery winners make up less than 5% of the total legal immigrants. Applicants must have graduated from high school or have at least two years of formal training in an occupation. Initially, most visas went to European countries, but Africa has lately been soaking up the most.
While it would make sense to substitute the diversity lottery for more guest-worker visas, restrictionists aren’t interested in this trade. The Gang of Eight bill that passed the Senate in 2013 would have replaced the diversity lottery with more employer-sponsored visas, but the bill stood no chance in the House. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has proposed eliminating the lottery as part of a bill to shrink legal immigration by half.
In any event, reducing immigration or improving background checks wouldn’t have prevented the New York attack or many of the other two dozen or so Islamist-motivated attacks since 2001. Testimony from Mr. Saipov’s former acquaintances suggested that he didn’t come to the U.S. radicalized and that he became emotionally disturbed over time.
The Tsarnaev brothers who bombed the Boston marathon immigrated as kids from Kyrgyzstan after their parents received political asylum. The security guard Omar Mateen who shot up a night club in Orlando was American-born. So was San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, though his wife and collaborator was a legal immigrant.
Police have found evidence that Mr. Saipov had some allegiance to Islamic State, and his truck rampage followed the ISIS playbook. Yet John Miller, the New York Police Department’s counterrorism chief, says Mr. Saipov hadn’t been investigated by his department or the FBI. Mr. Miller has often told us that his nightmare cases are self-radicalized individuals who only appear as a threat when they attack.
More than an immigration crackdown, the Saipov case might call for better monitoring of terror websites and groups that are more likely to be radicalized. We’re also with Mr. Trump—and Senator John McCain —in suggesting that Mr. Saipov should have been interrogated at length before he was read his Miranda rights. The first priority is preventing future attacks and breaking any terror networks.
Perhaps we will learn that Uzbekistan is a terror breeding ground from which immigrants need special vetting. But the Commander in Chief in particular should wait for answers before jumping to policy conclusions or exploiting immigration fears.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 2:32 PM
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Now that President Trump has decertified the Iran deal, I was reminded of the Cambridge Union debate on nuclear Iran from Feb 2012 in which Douglas Murray was brilliant.
Posted by Mladen Andrijasevic at 2:45 PM