Sunday, July 27, 2014

It's not a Palestinian state Hamas wants. They want to claim they won. Even if they didnt. And won't.

As Hamas continues to send rockets into Israel after starting yet another war and the violence in Gaza rages,  it's important to remember that for more than five decades, the goal of the Palestinians was not to have their own state but to destroy Israel. It was never about creating but about destroying.

It was the Palestinians who violated international law in 1948  by rejecting the UN resolution that created the state of Israel and instead went to war with its allies to destroy it. They lost.

They  tried again in 1956,1967 and 1973. And again lost each war.  Then resorted to terrorism to try and achieve the same goal.  And, after some successes with terrorism, were thwarted at that too. It was only after all these attempts to destroy Israel failed, that their leadership decided to try and negotiate a peace arrangement which would give them their own state.

The problem is and has been they continue to make demands and insist on conditions under which they will accept a Palestinian state but it has to be on their terms and  most of those conditions are close to the same goals they tried to get but couldn't through war.

So instead of  negotiating for their own state from the position they are in,  instead of agreeing to peace proposals that are not what they hoped to get through war, the Palestinians have tried to achieve their goals through terrorism, or insist on making demands that would never be met refusing to accept or acknowlegdge any responsibility for starting wars they lost as if that has no consequences they think they should have to accept, all of which has led, not to a Palestinian state but the state they are and have been which are all of their own making.

One has to wonder what it is that makes Palestinian leadership think they are in a position to make demands in the first place. Their  leadership still refuses to accept that when you start five wars with the intention of destroying your neighbor and you lose every time, when you resort to terrorism to achieve the same goal and are eventually  thwarted there too,  when you refuse every peace proposal made for decades and instead resort to violence and lose,  it's not up to you to make the rules.  And you aren't in a position to make demands. As losers of the wars you start which had no moral or legal justification, you're not in a position to  insist on conditions that the other side, the winners, must accept in order to get what you want. Because it's the winners of wars, in this case Israel, who will just say no to demands it doesn't find acceptable. Which is what Israel has been doing for a long time. But doesn't seem to stop the Palestinians from making them. And Israel from continuing to say no. Which is why the Palestinians have stayed in the same rut for decades. 

Even now the violence in Gaza which was started by Hamas launching missiles, continues because Hamas insists on making demands it will never see and refusing to stop unless those demands are met.  Demands which include opening the border crossings into Israel which Israel closed because Hamas sent human bombers through those crossings into Israel to kill civilians.

It is these security measures caused by the Palestinians themselves in trying to kill Israelis that now chafe  and anger them and  that Hamas demands be lifted. As if Hamas werent the reason for the border closings in the first place.

That Hamas started this latest round of violence is beyond question even though Palestinian spokesman go on CNN and lie about it while Wolf Blitzer is happy to be their doormat. What has to be kept in mind is that Hamas is in Gaza because the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas to be their government by a  landslide margin. So they elect a virutally psychopathic group of terrorists to be their government who used the concrete Israel shipped to Gaza intended for building schools and homes to build terror tunnels, started another war, and now the Palestinians for the benefit of news cameras look at the Israeli offensive and yell "why"? 

Hamas has made clear for decades they have no interest in a two state solution but to defeat and destroy Israel. And every  Palestinian civilian in Gaza knew it when they elected Hamas. And now they try to blame Israel for what Hamas has brought to them and for which they are complicit. 

This is the biggest problem with Palestinians and their leadership. They refuse to take responsibility for a single act that has put them in the position they are in. They refuse to take responsibility for a single war they started and lost.  They refuse to take responsibility for a single act of terrorism. The Palestinians in Gaza refuse to take responsibility for having elected psychopaths and terrorists to act on their behalf and who has brought them what they are living through now, knowing full well what Hamas stood for. 

They chafe under the conditions in Gaza and cry "seige"  but refuse to take responsibility for the human bomber attacks that killed Israelis and entered Israel through the border crossings. Which, in a display of arrogance and stupidty Hamas thinks they can force Israel to reopen. As if Hamas can demand what another country does with it's borders which remains close because of the attacks Palestinians made on Israel.

In 2000 Bill Clinton convinced prime minister Ehud Barak to destroy his own political career by making concessions to the Palestinians that no other prime minister before or since has been willing to make in the name of a peace settlement that would have created a Palestinian state which included partitioning part of East Jerusalem for the capitol of a Palestinian state, something most Israelis opposed,  and withdrawing from the West Bank. Arafat rejected it and answered with the Infitada, terrorist attacks to kill more Israelis.  Had that proposal been accepted, the Palestinians would now be in the 14th year of their own state. 

It was reported  years later, that on his death bed Arafat admitted he made a mistake and should have taken the deal. Which recalls the statement by Shimon Peres that Arafat never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Arafat saying he made a mistake in rejecting the peace deal should be put on billboards all over the Palestinian territories and Gaza to remind the Palestinians of what they could have had and don't because of the obstinacy and rank  stupidity of their own leaders. That Arafat turned it down is no one's fault but the Palestinian leadership and those who supported them,  a responsibility Palestinian leadership even today still refuse to accept.

Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator and who was there in 2000 when the offer was made said as recently as this week in an interview on CNN amid the Israeli invasion of Gaza to destroy Hamas' ability to launch rockets into Israel,  that he wished Bill Clinton had been successful in 2000 in negotiating a peace settlement. This is the Palestinian reality and  obstinacy in refusing to accept responsibility for their own failures and by refusing 'to acknowledge that Bill Clinton was successful in negotiating a peace settlement. With  Ehud Barak and Israel. He twisted Barak's arm and got Barak to agree to concessions including the partioning of East Jerusalem  that no other prime minister before or since was willing to make. Or probably ever will. It was Arafat and the Palestinians and Erakat himself who was part of the negotiations at the time who rejected it then answered by launching the Infitada and more terrorist attacks. Something Erakat now refuses to face. What they do have to face is that in all probability no Israeli government will make the same concessions Barak was willing to make. It was an opportunity squandered by the Palestinians themselves  and it is up to them to acknowledge the opportunity they wasted, accept that it was their failure , accept that it is they who have to pay the price for their own failures and then maybe they will be more open to accepting what they can get now.

That Israel has been willing to negotiate at all is in and of itself a departure from what happens when a hostile entity starts wars and loses.  But Palestinian leadership is still trying to win by dictating demands, and insisting they be met before they will agree to a peace deal in which they will have the state they say they want. Just as Hamas says they will refuse to stop firing rockets unless Israel meets their demands, demands they have no moral standing to make or ability to enforce, to solve a problem of their own making.

After the Six Day War in which it was defeated, Egypt made a peace deal with Israel in return for Israel giving back the Sinai Peninsula which it captured during the war. The peace deal has held for 40 years. Egypt was able to do what the Palestinians have been incapable of doing.  Which, it seems,  they also want to blame on Israel.

People say the problem is complicated. It isn't. It's simple. If the Palestinians do exactly the opposite of what they've been doing for decades which has been to wage war and commit terrorist atrocities  they will achieve the opposite results.  Instead they make war, conduct acts of terror and then cloak themselves in victim hood when their demands are not met and Israel fights back.

Even now, its clear that  Hamas lives in a world of self delusion making demands they have no power, no leverage, no legitimacy and no moral standing to make. Every condition from which they say they demand relief is the result of Hamas and the Palestinians own making since every measure Israel has taken that angers them has been for security against their attacks against Israeli citizens. 

And even now Hamas continues to simply brazenly lie about the entire situation and does what they can to pile up as many Palestinian casualites as they can to use as propaganda that the news media eats up.

 Yet to those Palestinians, Hamas are heroes.  This is the lunacy of Palestinian leadership.

Its been the Palestinians who have rejected every peace proposal that's been offered because their "demands" are not being met.  Its not their idea of "winning".  Giving up their idea that a peace deal that doesn't include their demands is losing is the only way they can finally win. 

The Palestinians have only one legitimate grievance, the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. If  they agreed to every other condition most of which relates to security which is an issue solely because of Palestinian  past actions, and agree to it as long as the settlement expansion stops, Netanyahu would either have to agree or he would probably be replaced in the next election by a prime minister who would.

Abbas and the Palestinians  could have their own state tomorrow if that's what they really wanted. All they would have to do is go to Netanyahu and ask what it will take to have their own state right now. Not next month or next year. Now. Then accept the best deal they can get after  decades of trying to destroy Israel and failing, negotiate an end to the settlements, raise their flag wherever they are able, and start to build.   

But for now, for the Palestinian leadership  having their own state doesn't seem to be enough. And its nothing Hamas wants. Instead Hamas wants to be able to say they won. And force Palestinians to continue to live in the current two state solution -- the state of Israel and the state the Palestinians are in.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

After Malaysian shoot down will the world finally get tough with Putin and the rebels?

The thugs,criminals and  terrorists supported by Russia who have been trying to commit an armed robbery of eastern Ukraine on behalf of  their Russian bosses and have already defined themselves as criminals long before,  are now officially mass murderers after shooting down a commerical airliner and killing 295 civilians including 80 children.

They, as well as Putin have now become world pariahs. And they have made it worse for themselves with their lies and denials, and their attempts at keeping world investigators away from the crash scene. 

The separtists have now become and will always remain criminals and be looked on with contempt.  Sergov, the Russian foreign minister has become a world laughing stock with his attempts to pin the downing of the plane on the Ukrainian government. And the Russian backed terrorists have been engaged in, along with denying access to the crash site, obstructing justice by tampering and destroying evidence, treating the dead with no respect, and continuing to act like the thugs they are,  and insuring their place as objects of world derision.

The question is, how much will the world continue to put up with it? With the separtists denying free access to the crash site only compounding their crime, the Netherlands, who lost 189 nationals have called the rebel behavior "disgusting". And have given Putin a warning that this is his last chance to force the rebels to stand down and allow access to the site. The EU will meet Tuesday to discuss further sanctions which so far have been laughed at by both Putin and the rebels. And a UN resolution has no chance of being anything but tepid since Russia has veto power over any resolution. If the separtists continue to refuse unfettered access to the crash site, the Netherlands should consider using force if necessary to get the free access to the site they deserve. They should be ready to ask Kiev for permission to send troops to dislodge the separtists, gain access to the site and anything else investigators need if that's what its going to take.

The Royal Netherlands army numbers 21,500 full time troops. That doesnt sound like much but it is more than the separatist fighters. They should be prepared to send those troops to Ukraine and then, with the Ukraine military, commence a joint operation to get rid of the rebels, wipe them out and remove their control of the crash site.

Ukraine cant do it alone. Not because they dont have the fire power -- they do. And Porschenko may be regretting a decision -- an understandable one at the time, to deal with the separtists who retreated to Donesk by not bombing the city and destroying infrustructure which eventually might become inevitable if that's what it takes to defeat the Russian proxy fighters. But the site of the crash is too sensitive a place for Ukraine to commence a military operation on its own to dislodge and destroy the Russian terrorists controlling the area. But the Netherlands has the moral authority to do just that. And would have the backing of the whole world. As would the Ukrainian military in helping them.

As long as the separtists refuse to allow unfettered access to the crash  site, refuse to preserve the site and the evidence, no one would or could reproach the Netherlands for taking military action, in conjunction with Ukraine to attack and remove the separistists who are both responsible for shooting down the plane and now obstructing access to the site. In fact they would be cheered on.

And what would Putin do? Declare war on the Netherlands? Assist the separatists and send weapons and fighters into Ukraine to fight the coalition force from Ukraine and the Royal Dutch Army at the crash site after being an accessory to murdering 295 civilians? And become even more of a world pariah?

 Putin would do nothing.  If he tried to aid the separtists in their attempts at denying full and free access to the site, the world would have no choice but impose sanctions that would cripple Russia.And they still might.  And a Russian attempt to aid the separtists militarily now  is  something Putin would not gamble on doing.

Its time the rest of the world got tough with the separtists acting as a proxy for Moscow,  label them for what they are, and get tough with Moscow while Ukraine gets tough with the separtists who are now officially mass murderers.

The prime minister of the Netherlands has vowed that those who brought down the plane would be punished. There's no reason not to start right now.

NOTE: It's being reported that Ukraine has launched a major military offensive to retake the Donesk region where the rebels have been controlling checkpoints and the crash site. It is a smart move since undoubtedly the world will support it and Putin is now in no positon to do a thing to help the rebels either with fighters or equipment.

ADDITIONAL NOTE(7/25): It seems Putin thinks he is in a position to do something about it, continuing to send more heavy weapons to the rebels in Ukraine. But both Austrailia and the Netherlands have announced they are going to send armed police, 200 by Austrailia, 50 by the Netherlands to secure the crash site so investigators who still havent had unfettered access can do their work. It's not too late but it may be too little. Reports are that the rebels are getting "impatient" with the process. If they reach a point where they refuse access to investigators, then 250 armed police may not be enough and it will be time those countries who had victims aboard MH-17,  to send as many armed troops as neccessary with whatever weapons are neccessary to deal with the rebels.  And see what Putin decides to do about that.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How Obama lost Israel and the Palestinians before he was even elected.

With the relentless rocket fire continuing to come from Hamas in their futile but continuing attempt to cause mass casualites in Israel, and Israeli self defense forces using air strikes and a ground invasion to take out the capability of Hamas to fire them, John Kerry as Obama's representative has been virutally useless in getting a cease fire just as the Obama administration has been a vitual non-entity in getting anything accomplished in the Middle East fsince Obama's election.

The fault does not lie with Kerry. It goes back to even before Obama was elected and Obama's say anything at any time to whomever you have to say it to, no matter how reckless and irresponsible as long as there is some percieved political advantage for him.   And the consequences of that are,  even now,despite Kerry's shuttling, that  the United States has little or no credibility or influence on anyone in the  events currently unfolding in Israel and Gaza, or before.

But this didnt happen overnight. It happened in 2008, while Obama was running for president and became hoisted on his own petard over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,  and in the process destroyed his credibility as a peace broker  with both for all time.

It happened in 2008 when Obama gave a campaign speech to AIPAC - - the American -Israel Public Affairs Committee, in Washington D.C.  That speech and it's most controversial statement, designed purely for political purposes to gain the votes he believed he needed to win an election,  had serious consequence at the time, and even more now,  highlighted again  by the events raging in Israel and Gaza.

Though it had been 8 years earlier, Florida in the 2000 presidential election with it's  hanging chads and hand counted ballots which ultimately gave the presidency to George W. Bush it was something still fresh in the minds of most Democrats in 2008 and the conventional wisdom was that Florida again could be decisive in winning or losing the presidency in 2008.

Mindful of Florida's importance and its significant  Jewish population, Obama scheduled a campaign speech to be made to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee  in Washington in June of 2008.

Obama spoke to a packed house, and in that speech Obama declared his unequivocal support for a single, undivided, unified Jerusalem to be now and always,  the capital of Israel. He stated that any agreement with the Palestinians " must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognizable and defensive borders, and Jerusalem will remain the capitol of Israel and it must remain undivided".

With Jerusalem being the most contentious issue in peace negotiations, with all of Jerusalem being the current capitol of Israel, including East Jerusalem captured during the Six Day War, and with Palestinians claiming East Jerusalem as a future capitol for a Palestinian state, Obama's statement gave him what he wanted. A standing ovation from the 7,000 +  Jewish-American attendees in the audience and the prospect of winning the all important Jewish vote in all important Florida.

But Obama also got something he didn't bargain for. But should have.  The following day, when the Palestinian leadership and the Arab world heard about his speech they went predictably ballistic.

Because in the long and tortuous road to trying to find an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, the issue of  the final status of Jerusalem and East Jerusalem was the single most contentious, divisive, and controversial of all the issues to be resolved.

Because of this, every negotiator or team of negotiators in every administration over the last 50 years attempting to forge a peace deal, even those who privately supported a unified Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel,  insisted that the final status of Jerusalem be saved for last.

The reasoning was simple --  if negotiations between both sides could get to the point where all  other issues had been resolved and compromises made and the final issue to be resolved, the last hurdle, was the final status of Jerusalem and East Jerusalem in particular, both sides would be more inclined to make whatever compromises might be necessary to seal a deal and make the elusive two state solution a reality rather than see all the concessions, compromises, hard work and agreements previously made fall by the wayside.

So for Obama to essentially render negotiations useless from the very beginning as far as the Palestinians were concerned and to publicly proclaim before even being elected much less before a single negotiating session was scheduled, that the Palestinians had no chance of gaining even a sliver of East Jerusalem as the capitol of a Palestinian state, not only infuriated and enraged the Palestinians and the Arab world, but  by any measure,considering the seriousness and importance of that single issue, how contentious and emotionally charged it is for both sides, and vital to a peace deal,  Obama's speech could rightly be called, incompetent,  reckless, self serving, negligent, irresponsible, even stupid. It was said purely for his own political gain which showed how unqualified he really was for the office he was seeking.

For Obama or any presidential candidate to have made such a public declaration even if he believed it privately, and do it in a campaign speech over such a contentious issue, one that had bedeviled so many for so long,  especially since the United States needed to be seen as an honest broker between the parties even in light of its alliance with Israel, betrayed an incompetence and lack of an ability to grasp the seriousness of a major foreign policy issue left everyone in disbelief.  Even if that proved in the end to be the final status of Jerusalem, he couldnt have said anything to undermine the United States role in the peace process that any more incompetent.

Yet Obama managed to make things worse.

Less than 24 hours later, after Obama learned of  the Palestinian reaction which should have been no surprise, Obama tried to do what he has done many times before and since and has become famous for --  he reversed himself and backed away from his statement in a way that he thought would allow him to save face,  reverse course,  do damage control or undo the damage he did,  and hope others would swallow his explanation.

Obama claimed that everyone, the news media, the Israelis, the Palestinians, everyone,  simply misunderstood him.   He claimed that when he said he supported a unified single undivided Jerusalem,  he didn't mean a single Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel after all. Instead he claimed he meant  " a Jerusalem with no barbed wire".Which once again proved that Obama believed in nothing and his words are only designed to get whatever personal advantage he thinks his words might bring at the time. 

As everyone knew there hadn't been any barbed wire in Jerusalem since 1967 when East Jerusalem was captured by the Israelis in the Six Day War. So Obama trying to claim that he only meant that he was supporting something that had already been a reality for 41 years was met with more disbelief and even derision than his original statement. And mocked.

And made matters even worse. 

Obama's backtracking infuriated many Jews in the United States and Israelis and even before his election soured his future relationship with Netanyahu for all time which continues to this day. He also soured his relationship with Abbas.  And as a result of alienating both sides  it's understandable that Obama has had less influence over the Israeli-Palestinian issue than any president before him. He began with no credibility with either side even before he was elected and he still has no credibility. It was also the beginning of the end of Obama's credibility in the Middle East on any level  and, as the world has seen, eliminated any chance to broker a peace deal.

Obama's two faced approach was even more solidfied when, as recently as Sept. 2012 the State Department refused to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel in a complete about face from Obama's 2008 speech,  and stated that "the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians". 

With Hamas firing hundreds of rockets a day into Israel and Israel retailiating by destroying Hamas' ability to make war, Obama, almost feebly, claimed he was ready to broker a peace deal. It was, predictably ignored by everyone, including Netanyahu, Abbas, even leaders of other countries since it was accepted reality that Obama had no leverage and no credibility with anyone. And if anyone needs more proof that Obama himself knows he has no leverage, its how conspicuoulsy absent he is from both any negotiations and any public statements leaving it all up to Kerry.

If  Obama accomplished anything in that 2008 speech, it's that he did manage to do something that no other president has been able to do and it has continued throughout his presidency.  And that is, he united the Israelis and the Palestinians on one important issue.  Their mutual contempt for him. And distrust.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Does the NSA have your baby pictures?

With new disclosures courtesy of Edward Snowden, revealing the extent to which the NSA has gathered personal private information about innocent American citizens suspected of nothing, it should be clear to almost anyone that the government has no right to do any of it and never did.

Does the government have the right to peek in through your windows, bug your home and put surveillence cameras on you and your family without probable cause or a warrant? Obviously they do not. And they do not have the right to use other electronic means to gather information on you and your family without a warrant showing probable cause either.

Unfortunately there are politicians who disagree and think the government does have that right. And Democrats are among them, including Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi who along with Feinstein called Edward Snowden a traitor,  and a Democratic president who the ACLU said has a record on civil liberties that is "disgusting".

The new data revealed by the Washington Post thanks to Snowden, showed that 9 out of 10 conversations, emails and other data gathered by the NSA came from innocent Americans suspected of nothing and who were not the direct targets of surveillence but simply caught up in the surveillence. 

According to the Post article, the NSA now has baby pictures, sexually explicit web cam encounters, selfies, sexual photos, personal email exchanges and private medical records of hundreds of thousands of innocent American citizens not targets of any investigation despite Obama's previous statements that they did not. And, as Snowden has now proved, he personally had access to these files (and presumably many others do too) despite claims by Obama and people like General Alexander and James Clapper that he did not.

The Post looked at 160,000 email messages, instant messages, photos, and documents provided by Snowden , 90% of which were taken from American citizens who were entirely innocent and were not even suspects.  They also report that all of these NSA collected documents spanned  the years 2009 to 2012, Obama's first term where the bulk gathering increased far beyond those of the Bush years. Proving again that Obama's greatest talent is for reneging on promises and he will roll over and cave in to whomever he thinks he can't stand up to, whether its Wall Street, the health insurance lobby, Republicans, or the brass at the NSA. And as it's been reported, Obama has prosecuted more people ( or tried to) under the Espionage Act (including journalists) than all previous presidents combined.  This clearly did not come from some inner conviction about national security since many of the prosecutions were more persecution than prosecution, some were used as harassment and then dropped. Obama ran on precisely the opposite position.

( Hillary Clinton made a significant statement about Snowden a few days ago which typically went completely over the heads of mainstream journalists when she was asked in an interview what she would do about Snowden. Clinton said she believed he should be allowed to come back to the United States and get a fair trial. The significance of that is there is no possibility of a fair trial under the Espionage Act. The defendant is not allowed to introduce evidence in his defense, can't call witnesses,  is not entitled to discovery and there is no defense, not whistleblowing, not revealing criminality, nothing. There is only one question to be answered -- did someone charged under the Espionage Act commit the actions the government claims they did -- yes or no. In Snowden's case the charge is, did he unlawfully take the documents, yes or no.  That is the only issue to be decided in an Espionage Act prosecution of Snowden. Clinton's answer reveals that unlike Obama,  she would not charge Snowden under the Espionage Act but under another statute that would allow for a defense.) 

Brianna Keilar, who continued the kowtowing of CNN and others in the media to people in power and who save their shock, outrage and courage for things like Anthony Weiner's sex chats,  characterized the new revelations by saying, "let's be clear -- some of the intelligence gathered is valuable -- and some of it isnt ".

Well no, not exactly.  What the Post and Snowden's documents revealed is that some of the intelligence gathered is in fact valuable -  but 90% of it isnt.  Not some of it isnt, most of  it isn't. And it's gathered at the expense of the constitutional rights of American citizens. And what's even worse is that the NSA  is storing  that irrelevant 90% in a data base where it can be accessed instead of destroying it. All this in spite of the fact that as a candidate in 2008 Obama promised to curtail the Bush secret surveillence, promised as recently as a few months ago there was no personal or identifiable data about Americans being gathered or stored, and promised no one had access to any Americans' private information. All of that is untrue. He also promised more transparency to the entire process including the secret decisions made by the FISA court.

The great irony of the NSA data collection of Americans who are not targets of surveillence,  is that Obama himself is referenced in these same NSA files without using his name, instead using the term, "minimized U.S. president" 1,227 times to refer to Obama. Which at least confirms that what the NSA does is based on intelligence. And is about the only thing related to Obama that can be called transparent.