If on Tuesday officials in the Prime Minister’s Office were still trying to play down comments by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by saying he had not unequivocally placed the onus on Israel for the crisis in the peace talks with the Palestinians, on Wednesday the tone was different.
First it was a senior Prime Minister’s Office official who told The New York Times that Kerry’s statements “will both hurt the negotiations and harden Palestinian positions.”
Kerry, said the Prime Minister’s Office official, “knows that it was the Palestinians who said no to continued direct talks with Israel in November; who said no to his proposed framework for final status talks; who said no to even discussing recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people; who said no to a meeting with Kerry himself; and who said no to an extension of the talks.”
[…] “In the understandings reached prior to the talks, Israel did not commit to any limitation on construction. Therefore, the Palestinian claim …. is contrary to the facts. Both the American negotiating team and the Palestinians know full well that Israel made no such commitment.”
Netanyahu has thus far refrained from directly opposing Kerry’s position, but when he spoke on Wednesday at a conference of Likud activists about the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt ahead of the Passover holiday next week, it was difficult not to read between the lines.
“What is the significance of independence?” he asked the crowd. “It is the ability to stand for yourself, it is the ability to say yes and the ability to say no. A slave — cannot say no. But an independent person and an independent nation can stand up for themselves, and this is what we are doing. We are standing up for ourselves with determination and wisdom.”
Strategic Affairs and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) on Wednesday also addressed the matter at the 3rd Annual International Cyber Security Conference at Tel Aviv University.
Meanwhile, Kerry met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu) in Washington on Wednesday.
“I do not blame Israel for the negotiation crisis with the Palestinians,” he told Lieberman, “I only described the unfolding of events and the natural difficulties involved in managing such a complex and sensitive negotiation.”
Regardless, Israel has signaled that it will not come to terms with the recent Palestinian conduct
At IDF District Coordination and Liaison Headquarters soldiers prepared a “punishment package” as a possible response to the PA’s application to U.N. bodies. These measures, which have not yet been implemented, include restricting movement and revoking VIP documentation for senior PA officials, and freezing economic projects.
Another punitive Israeli step under consideration was to deduct up to $75 million in tax revenue transfers to the Palestinians and use it to repay debts to the Israel Electric Corporation, Delek Corporation and Israeli hospitals.
Habayit Hayehudi leader and Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett sent a letter to Netanyahu on Wednesday, calling on him to end talks with Abbas and to annex the settlement blocs.
And yet, the talks about the talks still go on! Anything to keep the Americans happy and off our backs I suppose.
Gil Troy in the JPost talks about the evil of the banality of blaming Israel, where he also addresses the New York Times hit job on Netanyahu-supporter, Jewish philanthropist Sheldon Adelson:
John Kerry’s peace process crusade has triggered moral vertigo in a region where false moral equivalence enables Palestinian extremism. Desperate to scare Israel into compromise, convinced that democratic Israel can be bullied more easily than the fractured, autocratic Palestinians, Kerry and company have targeted Israeli wariness more than Palestinian intransigence.
In that spirit, last week, The New York Times ran a cloying, overly-sentimentalized article about a freed Palestinian murderer trying to rebuild his life. This week, its foreign policy columnist Thomas Friedman outrageously compared Sheldon Adelson, a Republican billionaire who happens to disagree with Freidman, with Ali Khameini, the Iranian ayatollah who would happily kill Friedman. A half-century ago Hannah Arendt said Adolf Eichmann’s plodding, fill-in-the-dots bureaucratic amorality reflected the “banality of evil.”
Today we are seeing the evil of banality. Genuine bad follows when otherwise good people join the conventional pile-on that overly faults Israel while excusing Palestinians.
Despite being treated as a Palestinian “hero,” poor “Mr. Salah” reported of his crime: “I wasn’t planning it… I didn’t intend to kill him.”
Did the New York Times call Osama bin-Laden and his al-Qaida thugs people “demonized as terrorists by Americans and lionized as freedom fighters by Muslims?” Did any features follow poor “Mr. bin-Laden” on the lam, unable even to patronize his favorite hummus place?
While this Times article was morally obtuse, Thomas Friedman’s column was obscene. Called “Sheldon: Iran’s Best Friend,” its tagline was “How Sheldon Adelson and Iran are both trying to destroy Israel.”
Really? Adelson is “trying” to destroy Israel? Adelson, an American patriot exercising his right of free speech, is an “ally” of the Tehran terrorists who squelch free speech?
Similarly, I distinguish between the Boycott Israel crowd’s anti-Israel intent and the Blame Israel First crowd’s anti-Israel effects. The Boycotters diabolically mask harsh animus against the Jewish people with human rights rhetoric. Most Blame Israel Firsters are simply sloppily following a Western trend that excuses Palestinian sins.
Nevertheless, treating Israel as the problem is convenient albeit false, as PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s actions in sabotaging the peace process this week confirmed. But with his people cast as the innocent Jesus to the dastardly collective Jew, Abbas knows he can appear blameless.
I’m not sure why anyone would still regard the New York Times as anything other than a source of bad fiction.
Michael Lumish at Jews Down Under hits the nail on the head when he says “Kerry blames Israel, right on schedule”:
Months ago I made the following predictions and hard-posted them on the upper-right side of Israel Thrives under the name Non-Peace Process:
1) The US and the EU demand negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
2) The parties agree to talk and then the PA, the US, and the EU demand various concessions from Israel for the great privilege of sitting down with the PA’s foremost undertaker.
3) Israel fails to meet all the concessions, thus causing the PA to flee negotiations, which they never had any intention of concluding to begin with.
4) The PA and the EU and the Obama administration place the blame for failure at Jewish feet.
5) The EU and various European countries announce additional sanctions, thereby essentially joining the anti-Semitic anti-Zionist BDS movement.
6) Arabs seek to murder Jews.
We are now in stage four of the process, which if it unfolds as predicted, will lead to significant violence against Israeli Jews by Israeli and local Arabs.
… it was at the moment that Jews were enduring serious violence against us that western “liberals” chose to affirm their moral narcissism, and righteous superiority, by blaming us for that violence.
What we are witnessing are the relatively early stages of the Obama administration’s process of blaming Israel for the failure of negotiations. It was obvious, given the history of the regional Arabs, and the inherent anti-Jewish racism embedded within Islam, that they would never agree to Jewish autonomy on historically Jewish land.
So, now, as predicted, Kerry is blaming the failure of talks primarily on Israeli Jews. He does so because his boss does so for ideological reasons and they are both now sending an inevitable message to the Europeans – if not explicitly, then implicitly – to get on with BDS.
Both Gil Troy and Michael Lumish talk about the centrality of BDS to the Palestinian cause. An interesting item in Honest Reporting quotes Larry Derfner, the extreme leftist journalist who was fired from the Jerusalem Post, who admits that the whole point of BDS is to act as a war of attrition against Israel rather than cause any actual boycotts:
Writing in the left-wing Internet magazine +972, [sorry, I won’t link it here. You can find the link in the original article. -Ed.] Derfner includes the text of an email he wrote to a supporter who was lamenting the improbability of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank due to the entrenchment of the “right wing and settlers.”
“I think that if it’s going to happen, it’s going to follow the S. African precedent – years of build-up of pressure until the Israeli public says enough,” he wrote. Adding later, “I think this is going to take a good few years of softening up Israelis until they’re ready.”
Derfner calls it “The BDS Long Game.” The message is consistent with an earlier piece [ditto re the link -Ed.] he wrote for the same publication describing the impact of BDS as a psychological war against Israel.
The boycott doesn’t have to bring the Israeli economy to its knees, or anything close, for the Israeli body politic – the public, the opinion-makers and the decision-makers – to decide to end the occupation. All the boycott has to do is keep growing, drop by drop – yes, like Chinese water torture – for it to succeed. Because finally, the boycott is not an economic war against Israel, it’s a psychological war.
Derfner’s Long Game is really a war of attrition against the Israeli people. That message was reinforced this week by another critic of Israel, Harriet Sherwood, who used to cover Israel for the Guardian.
Israel frequently proclaims itself to be the only true democracy in the Middle East. Should its citizens demand an end to policies that have brought them economic pain, isolation and global opprobrium, their government will surely be forced to take notice.
Unfortunately Israel’s own home-grown BDS bigots are well-entrenched in influential places like academia. For example, although Ariel University is a recognized university, it was left off the invitation list to a conference of Israeli University heads:
Ariel University representatives were notably absent from the invitation list to Sunday evening’s Committee of University Heads conference on the future of higher education in Israel.
In response, Ariel University issued a statement saying,”The Committee of University Heads has not yet internalized nor accepted [the need] to act in accordance with the Council for Higher Education and the government of Israel.”
Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, opened the conference, saying, “Because of the increase in the number of colleges, we have reached a point where 50 percent of the relevant age cohort is studying at various institutions for higher education, creating a sad result for the universities. There are pressures from the other institutions to be allowed to grant doctorates.”
Addressing the requests from colleges to become universities, he said that “there is no room for another university.”
For a person who was appointed to solve Israeli economic and social justice woes Prof. Trajtenberg seems remarkably ignorant. Has he never heard of the forces of the free market?
The icing on the cake however must go to the last speaker mentioned:
Ben-Gurion University President Rivka Carmi spoke about the academic boycott of Israel, saying, “We are still not affected on a macro-level, but I hear from faculty members that it is not yet a thing of the past. We cannot ignore it.”
Carmi’s chutzpah is quite breath-taking. As an extreme leftist and an ardent proponent of the boycott of settlements, she is the last person to complain about the possibility of an academic boycott. She must learn to understand that “first they came for the settlers, and then they came for the Israeli academics”. Like all “good” antisemites, the BDS bigots make no difference between the two parts of Israeli society, and Israel’s leftists must understand this.