Posted tagged ‘Trump and Jerusalem’

O! Jerusalem

December 26, 2017

O! Jerusalem, Israel National News, Rabbi Berel Wein, December 26, 2017

The city of Jerusalem itself is thriving as perhaps never before in its long and turbulent history. The population is at an all-time high and every neighborhood in the city is experiencing new construction and refurbishment. The light rail system has proven to be a success and the good old green Egged buses are still plying their routes more or less in an orderly fashion and on a scheduled timeline. 

The city has enjoyed an economic upturn and its government has improved many of the services, quietly and without boastful fanfare. The Arab citizens of Jerusalem – they are a little more than 30% of the population here – enjoy a standard of living and opportunity unmatched anywhere else in the Middle East.

Yet, this means nothing regarding the attitude of much of the world as far as Israel and Jerusalem is concerned

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The Jewish people and the world generally were witness this past week to yet another fulfillment of a biblical prophecy. The prophet said that a day will come when all of the nations – or at least a sizable portion of them – will attack Jerusalem and attempt to dislodge the Jewish people from their capital city and its holy environs. 128 nations voted for a UN General Assembly resolution denying the right of Israel and the Jewish people to claim Jerusalem as its capital. 

Among the nations that voted for this resolution were the usual culprits – dictators, slaveholders, warmongers and many others of this ilk. And naturally the hypocritical democracies of Europe never have been able to overcome their anti-Jewish bias, developed over centuries of persecution and discrimination against Jews also supported this nefarious resolution.

There were countries, led by the United States of America, who voted against the resolution and spoke up about its bias and impracticality. In the long view of history those nations who defended Jewish rights eventually were blessed for their wisdom and kindness. The United States of America is the world’s leading democracy and with all of its warts and faults remains a shining beacon of fairness and opportunity for individuals all over the world. 

Supporting Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is just simply choosing right over wrong and realistic history over illusory plans and policies. The United States committed its error in supporting an anti-Israel resolution last year under the Obama administration. And it made good on its policy of long-standing to protect Israel from these continued efforts by the United Nations to undermine its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

There is no use arguing this matter logically or even realistically. It matters little to the world that Jerusalem, for the first time in many centuries, is free for worship to all faiths and peoples. It also matters little that Israel has all of its government offices located in Jerusalem and that Israel as a sovereign nation has long chosen Jerusalem to be its capital. None of this matters because it is not so much that the world wants Jerusalem – after all it was a wasteland and backwater location for many centuries whether under Christian or Moslem rule – it is simply that the world does not want the Jews to have Jerusalem.

There is absolutely no logical explanation for this position but there it is anyway. The terrible virus of anti-Semitism affects all attitudes and positions regarding the state of Israel and certainly regarding Jerusalem. I certainly agree that there are religious difficulties for both the Christian and Moslem worlds regarding the status of Jerusalem as being a Jewish city and the capital of the state of Israel. However just as portions of the Christian clergy and Moslem nations have learned to live with the reality of the existence of the state of Israel – itself a religious difficulty to the theology of these faiths – so too I am confident that they will be able to adjust to the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state. Reality eventually affects beliefs and previously held opinions, even those that were once represented as being sacred and immutable.

The city of Jerusalem itself is thriving as perhaps never before in its long and turbulent history. The population is at an all-time high and every neighborhood in the city is experiencing new construction and refurbishment. The light rail system has proven to be a success and the good old green Egged buses are still plying their routes more or less in an orderly fashion and on a scheduled timeline.

The city has enjoyed an economic upturn and its government has improved many of the services, quietly and without boastful fanfare. The Arab citizens of Jerusalem – they are a little more than 30% of the population here – enjoy a standard of living and opportunity unmatched anywhere else in the Middle East.

Yet, this means nothing regarding the attitude of much of the world as far as Israel and Jerusalem is concerned.

The United Nations resolution, shameful as it is, is nevertheless nonbinding and non-enforceable. It is another one of the paper propaganda victories that the Palestinian Authority revels in, which brings them no closer to a state of their own, which by now most of us suspect they really don’t want anyway.

Jerusalem was supposed to be a bargaining chip to extract greater concessions from Israel on any final agreement. Somehow that chip may now be lost and no longer in play.

Palestinian claims to Jerusalem lose Saudi as well as US support

December 16, 2017

Palestinian claims to Jerusalem lose Saudi as well as US support, DEBKAfile, December 16, 2017

Abbas (Abu Mazen) paid an urgent visit to Riyadh to meet Prince Muhammed. Since then, a continuous stream of tidbits is emanating from their conversation. According to one report, the Saudi prince put before the Palestinian leader an American-Saudi blueprint. It proclaims Abu Dis, a village located on the fringes of east Jerusalem, as the capital of the future Palestinian state. That state would have limited sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, while all the Jewish communities would remain in place. East Jerusalem would not be declared its capital; and the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return” was dropped, as was mention of the pre-1967 boundaries.

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The Palestinians have three major grievances with the Trump administration on Jerusalem, but are most irked by Saudi backing for the Trump peace plan.

Palestine rage over President Donald Trump Jerusalem decisions was further fueled Friday, Dec. 17 by the comment from Washington: “We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel. But, as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement.”   It came with the announcement that Vice President Mike Pence will pay a visit to the Western Wall next Wednesday’ Dec. 20, during his Middle East tour.

Not too long ago, President Trump himself visited the Western wall on May 22. But then, American security officers excluded their Israeli counterparts from safeguarding the visit, claiming it took place outside Israeli territory. border. Eight months later, Trump has restored Israel’s sovereignty to the Western Wall, which encloses the hallowed compound of  the last Jewish Temple, in time for his vice president to pray there.

For the Palestinians, this is another Trump-administration shift in Israel’s favor and its consequent loss of credibility as an honest broker for the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah reiterated this position Saturday, after announcing a boycott of the Pence visit and severing contact with Washington – a position they can’t really afford to sustain for long.

But what is really irking them even more than the Trump administration’s pro-Israeli stance on Jerusalem is its endorsement by their longstanding champion, Riyadh. The impression gaining ground in recent weeks is that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has reached an understanding with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (MbS) on a new plan for resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict, which departs fundamentally from the traditional core issues that scuttled all past peace processes.

The first inkling of such a plan came on the pages of the The New York Times of Nov. 11, under the title “Trump Team Begins Drafting Middle East Peace Plan.” This plan was described as pushing ahead on the fast track due to three factors:

  1. Its support by the Saudi crown prince and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi.
  2. The uncertainty of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s future in the face of long-running police probes against him.
  3. The constant erosion of Mahmoud Abbas’ standing as Palestinian Authority Chairman, whose rapidly diminishing popularity, due to his advanced age of 82 and the corruption rife in Ramallah, is reflected in the latest Palestinian opinion poll on Dec. 7-10. (70 percent want him to retire: 84 percent on the West Bank and 26 percent in the Gaza Strip).

Washington has therefore chosen a moment of leadership weakness to push ahead with its plans to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

A week before the NYT report, Abbas (Abu Mazen) paid an urgent visit to Riyadh to meet Prince Muhammed. Since then, a continuous stream of tidbits is emanating from their conversation. According to one report, the Saudi prince put before the Palestinian leader an American-Saudi blueprint. It proclaims Abu Dis, a village located on the fringes of east Jerusalem, as the capital of the future Palestinian state. That state would have limited sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, while all the Jewish communities would remain in place. East Jerusalem would not be declared its capital; and the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return” was dropped, as was mention of the pre-1967 boundaries.

Notwithstanding flat Palestinian denials of all these reports, they continue to gain ground and credence. The picture emerging from the Saudi prince’s conversation with Abu Mazen is taking shape as underlining the following points:

  • The old Saudi-Arab League peace plan of 2003 is a dead letter;
  • Riyadh has dropped its demand that Israel accept a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital;
  • Since the original Saudi Peace proposal which the prince called Plan A was dead, it is necessary to move forward to Plan B.
  • Plan B is essentially as follows: The State of Palestine would be established in the Gaza Strip plus large tracts of territory to be annexed from northern Sinai. Egypt has agreed to this outline. This deal would essentially render irrelevant the Palestinian demand to restore the pre-1967 boundaries for their state.
  • When Abu Mazen asked what would happen to the West Bank, MbS reportedly replied: “We can continue to negotiate about this.”
  • And when he pressed further: What about Jerusalem, the settlements, Areas B and C, the answer was: “These will be issues for negotiation between two states, and we will help you.”

These reports are furiously denied by Palestinian officials and, although no other official source, including Prince Muhammad, has verified them, they continue to abound. The Palestinians now have three major grievances against the Trump administration for which they are cutting off ties with Washington in protest:  Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and, now, the declaration of the Western Wall as part of Israel in any political solution. This will be underlined by the Pence visit. Yet neither Washington nor Riyadh shows any sign of backtracking on their far-reaching plan which defies all former conventions.

Abu Mazen is in a jam. Even if he tries to distance himself from Washington, he cannot possibly divorce the Palestinians from the two leading Arab nations, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which would lop off the branches of the Arab tree on which they sit. Doing so might well thrust Ramallah on the path of the anti-West Turkish-Iranian-Hizballah axis and its extremist ideology. There are early signs that his rivals in Gaza, the radical Hamas, may be adopting this path. After Friday prayers in the mosques of Gaza, on Dec. 15, some of the demonstrators at the Israel border force were seen for the first time holding aloft huge placards with depictions of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Qods. If Iran can gain solid inroads into the Palestinian community at large, its dispute with Israel would assume an entirely new dimension.

White House ‘cannot envision situation’ where Western Wall is not part of Israel

December 15, 2017

White House ‘cannot envision situation’ where Western Wall is not part of Israel, Times of Israel,  Eric Cortellessa, December 15, 2017

US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall, May 22, 2017, in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Friday’s statements marked an abrupt shift from US comments ahead of Trump’s visit to the Wall, when a US official was reported to have angrily rejected a request that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompany the president, and then sniped at his Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall is “not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank.”

The Western Wall, part of the retaining walls of the Second Temple compound, is the closest point of prayer for Jews to the site of the Temple itself and thus the Jewish people’s holiest place of prayer. It was captured along with the rest of the Old City and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, and annexed by Israel as part of its united capital — a move not recognized internationally.

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WASHINGTON — A senior administration official told reporters on Friday that the White House “envisions” the Western Wall will remain part of Israel under any accord with the Palestinians.

The comments follow US President Donald Trump’s December 6 declaration that recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They are certain to delight Israeli leaders — the Western Wall is the holiest place where Jews are allowed to pray — and infuriate the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem, including the Old City, as the capital of their intended independent state.

“We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel,” the official said, speaking ahead of US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel next week.

“But as the president said [in his speech last week on Jerusalem], the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement,” the official said.

Furthermore, the official added, “We note that we cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn’t include the Western Wall.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the remarks and there was no immediate reaction from the Palestinians.

Pence is due to arrive in Israel on Wednesday. His trip was delayed so that he could help push a tax reform bill through Congress that Trump heavily supports.

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks as he attends a Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the UN vote calling for ‘the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel,’ at Queens Museum on November 28, 2017 in New York. (AFP/Timothy A. Clary)

While in Israel for three days, Pence will speak at the Knesset, visit Yad Vashem, and is slated to light a menorah at the Western Wall, which stands adjacent to the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism and site of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine.

Pence is likely to visit the Western Wall without accompanying Israeli officials, just as Trump did in May. Trump, who became the first ever serving president to go to the Wall, said that part of his trip to Israel was a private visit.

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (L) watches as US President Donald Trump visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Friday’s statements marked an abrupt shift from US comments ahead of Trump’s visit to the Wall, when a US official was reported to have angrily rejected a request that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompany the president, and then sniped at his Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall is “not your territory. It’s part of the West Bank.”

The Western Wall, part of the retaining walls of the Second Temple compound, is the closest point of prayer for Jews to the site of the Temple itself and thus the Jewish people’s holiest place of prayer. It was captured along with the rest of the Old City and East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, and annexed by Israel as part of its united capital — a move not recognized internationally.

Ivanka Trump, the daughter of US President Donald Trump, visits the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 22, 2017. (AFP/Pool/Ronen Zvulun)

Before Trump’s visit to the Wall, no serving US president had ever visited the Western Wall, because US policy has been that the final status of Jerusalem has yet to be resolved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Pence will not meet with  Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas or Palestinian officials on his visit — since they refused to see him in protest over Trump’s recent decision.

In his address from the White House last week, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his move as a “recognition of reality” — based on Jerusalem’s status as the seat of Israel’s government.

His declaration, welcomed by Netanyahu and Israeli leaders across most of the political spectrum, prompted widespread violent protests in the region; four Palestinians died on Friday during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza, including one who was shot after stabbing an Israeli Border Police officer.

Amid these developments, the White House also announced on Friday that it would deploy its top peace envoy Jason Greenblatt to the region next week to try and advance the administration’s peace efforts.

“As we have said since the Jerusalem announcement, we anticipated reactions like the ones going on in the region but are going to remain hard at work on our peace plan,” a senior administration official told The Times of Israel.

Jerusalem, Israel’s Capital: Watch the Masks Fall

December 15, 2017

Jerusalem, Israel’s Capital: Watch the Masks Fall, Gatestone InstituteNajat AlSaied, December 15, 2017

(Please see also, Kredo: State Department using ‘pretzel logic’ in defiance of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel capital. — DM)

Even with all this controversy and a complete change in Arab attitudes on social media towards the Palestinian cause, both Western and traditional Arab media still keep regurgitating the same anti-Israel slogans and rhetoric, and pumping out the same Palestinian propaganda. Most comments on social media have come from intellectuals, assuring the general public that the main reason for this never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a corrupt Palestinian Authority, run by Fatah and Hamas. The Palestinian Authority, they seem to believe, has traded on the Palestinian cause, which has garnered them millions, but none of that is ever discussed in the mainstream media.

The world has followed a course that has gotten this peace process nowhere. The fact that this conflict has been ongoing for 70 years demonstrates that there is something at fault. The main reasons for this stalled progress are a lack of transparency, hypocritical opportunists with hidden personal agendas, a biased mainstream media and ineffective diplomatic missions. It is not an exaggeration to say that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is the best decision that has been taken by any American President because it lays bare a rotten reality. This is exactly what is needed to galvanize the peace process toward a two-state solution. It will also put pressure on the corrupt Palestinian Authority either to reform or change its leadership. Who knows, it might even stop opportunists from perpetuating this conflict for their own ends.

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When the actual announcement came, nothing happened. Those who were exploiting sensitivities related to Jerusalem — especially political Islamists, such as Hamas and Hezbollah — come mainly from the axis of resistance, led by Iran.

While mainstream media shows the oppressor to be Israel and the oppressed to be the Palestinians, the polls tell a different story.

The US Department of State is no less culpable than the mainstream media in failing to play a more vital role in revealing these realities, which could also mitigate the anger and hatred felt towards the US. This Department needs to be reformed from top to bottom to ensure that all diplomats are truly working for US interests. I am sure that it is the Department of State itself that will be the most reluctant to move its embassy to Jerusalem. It is not an exaggeration to say that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is the best decision that has been taken by any American President because it lays bare a rotten reality.

Many analysts say that US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a campaign promise to evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters, but there is another way of looking at it. Trump’s recognition might be a golden opportunity for two-faced opportunists to be unmasked — a shot of reality that might eventually help the peace process and solve this long-lasting conflict.

Since the declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, many Arab observers, intellectuals and academics have started to question the veracity of those jihadists who claim they are sacrificing themselves to defend Jerusalem, because when the actual announcement came — nothing happened. Those who were exploiting sensitivities related to Jerusalem — especially political Islamists, such as Hamas and Hezbollah — come mainly from the axis of resistance, led by Iran.

Other opportunists are the two-faced countries in the region, such as Qatar and Turkey. While publicly hostile towards Israel, behind closed doors they support it. Further opportunists are the Western and Arab media, who for decades have been promoting the idea that the problem is the Israeli occupation, but never mention the Palestinian Authority corruption.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has also revealed the shortcomings of the US Department of State. It has not played any role in clarifying the above-mentioned points and, by this negativity and bureaucracy, only generated further hatred towards the US.

Trump’s recognition has exposed the hypocrisy of the armed militia Hezbollah which always claims it will never disarm because of its fight against Israel. Now after the recognition of Jerusalem, many Arabs are questioning Hezbollah’s motivations regarding Israel. Lebanese and other Arabs are questioning why Hezbollah has not sent its armed militia to fight in Israel as it did in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Dr. Hadi El Amine, a Lebanese researcher in political science and governmental studies, tweeted, “The axis of resistance’s words are aimed against Israel, but their missiles are pointed at the Arabs.”

Adhwan Alahmari, a Saudi journalist based in London for Asharq al-Awsat also tweeted:

“The soldiers, rockets and suicide bombers of Hezbollah are at Israel’s borders yet they did not support Jerusalem after Trump’s declaration, instead supporting the Wilayat al-Faqih [Iranian Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist] to fight in Syria to displace and annihilate its people to protect the shrine.”

Yet another opportunist is Hamas and its supporters who have succeeded in turning Arabs against the Palestinians. This time, the Palestinians’ anger was not turned only towards Israel and the US, but mainly at Saudi Arabia. Hamas and its followers attacked the Saudi flag and insulted King Salman of Saudi Arabia. These Palestinians seem to think that Trump did not make this announcement without a wink of approval from Saudi Arabia. Their reaction has angered countless Saudis, who consider this attack a demonstration of ingratitude from the unappreciative Palestinians, to whom they have given billions of dollars.

In response, the Saudis started several hashtags on Twitter such as #hellwithyouand your issue, and #Saudis are angry for their king. Many Saudis behind these hashtags regret every penny that has been given to defend the Palestinians, especially after they saw these Palestinian traitors, as they put it, insulting Saudi Arabia, which has enriched them and channeled exorbitant financing into Palestinian development projects. Salman Al-Ansari, a Saudi writer and political commentator based in Washington DC, tweeted:

“We want to make everyone aware that the salaries of Palestinian diplomats around the world come from Riyadh-Saudi Arabia; salaries which are 30% higher than that of Saudi diplomats. What did Doha and Ankara do for them other than offer empty slogans and stab Jerusalem in the back?”

If you now ask the Saudis, the one of their main supporters and funders, about this conflict, the majority will say, “It is none of our business”. The Saudis would rather, it seems, focus on their own internal affairs and save their money rather than pay ungrateful Palestinians.

A large numbers of Saudis additionally seem surprised by the attitude of Palestinians, who support Qatar and Turkey, countries which have diplomatic relationships with Israel. As a result, many Saudis think the Palestinians are not serious about defending their cause.

The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after Trump’s declaration, tweeted that he will turn the whole Muslim world against Washington. This kind of posturing does not influence the Arab public or intellectuals any more. As Yousef Al Kowaileet, a Saudi deputy editor-in-chief of the newspaper Al Riyadh put it in a tweet, “Most Muslim countries have ties with Israel. People are not stupid and they know that these interests supersede any creed.”

Arab people cannot even believe Erdoğan’s tweets, when they see that the day after his outburst on Twitter, Turkey, amid political turmoil, signed a deal worth 18.6 million euros with Israel.

Arabs also shared pictures of Turkish Cultural Day celebrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Several Saudi intellectuals responded to Erdoğan’s rhetoric against Israel by saying, “If you are honest, the Muslim world wants you to cut diplomatic relations and stop military cooperation with Israel.”

Qatar is playing the same two-faced role as the Turks, but with more of a focus on attacking Saudi Arabia. Qatar, through its news outlet Al Jazeera, apparently now wants to galvanize the Muslim world into embarrassing Saudi Arabia because of its relationship with Trump since his announcement.

Ostensibly this response is to defend the Palestinian cause, but its real objective seems rather to pressure Saudi Arabia into ending its relationship with the US administration. Qatar will never stop dreaming of Trump’s impeachment; the rulers doubtless think that a Democratic President, like Obama, would again support Qatar in its Muslim Brotherhood project. Mohamed Krishan, a news anchor on Al Jazeera, tweeted:

“Jerusalem is the first of the two Qibla [the direction faced during salahprayers] and the third of the two Holy Mosques that is given to the Israelis as their capital by Trump after he got billions from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”

Ahmad Al-Faraj, a Saudi academic and researcher, tweeted back to him:

“If you leave your television channel of intelligence #Al Jazeera and go to your house in Doha, you will see on your right the Israeli representative building 600 meters from your house. People there… will tell you about the role of your channel in the betrayals and conspiracies that destroyed the Arab world and they will tell you who sold Jerusalem.”

Saudis have also started to tweet interviews with Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former foreign minister of Qatar, and Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar, about supporting Israel, to reveal their hypocrisy to the wider public. In the interview with Hamad bin Jassim on Qatar’s Al Jazeera television on October 25, 2017, he mentioned that close Qatari-Israeli relations were to get closer to America so that Israel could open doors for Qatar in America.

Qatar is also trying to gain favor in the US through Saudi dissidents, such as Jamal Khashoggi. He previously held a number of positions in several newspapers in Saudi Arabia, served as a political adviser, and now, entirely backed by Qatar, is a columnist for The New York Times and based in Washington DC. Nowadays, Khashoggi takes every opportunity to attack Saudi Arabia in different US and European newspapers.

Anyone who can read Arabic can tell you Twitter account of Jamal Khashoggi is full of anti-Semitic tweets and retweets; it looks as if the New York Times allows him to write in its newspaper only because he attacks Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi tweeted:

“Feel angry and shout out even if you do so among your own people and inside your frightened houses, it’s #Jerusalem. Allah suffices me, for He is the best disposer of affairs. I feel distressed.”

Saudis recognize that his real intention was not to defend Jerusalem or the Palestinians, but to galvanize people on the streets of Saudi Arabia to rise up against their own government. Ahmad Al-Faraj tweeted:

“If you feel that angry, why do you not leave this damned country of America, whose President is moving its embassy to Jerusalem?”

Other Saudi writers and others simply ridiculed him. “Go and drink a glass of wine to calm down”, wrote Hani Al Dahri, a Saudi journalist, inserting Kashoggi’s tweet above along a photograph of him celebrating Thanksgiving in the US with bottles of wine on the table:

Even with all this controversy and a complete change in Arab attitudes on social media towards the Palestinian cause, both Western and traditional Arab media still keep regurgitating the same anti-Israel slogans and rhetoric, and pumping out the same Palestinian propaganda. Most comments on social media have come from intellectuals, assuring the general public that the main reason for this never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a corrupt Palestinian Authority, run by Fatah and Hamas. The Palestinian Authority, they seem to believe, has traded on the Palestinian cause, which has garnered them millions, but none of that is ever discussed in the mainstream media.

While the mainstream media still shows the oppressor to be Israel and the oppressed to be the Palestinians, Palestinian polls tell a different story[1]:

  • In a June 2015 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion (based in Beit Sahour, the West Bank), 52% of Palestinians living in Israeli-ruled East Jerusalem said they would prefer to be citizens of Israel with equal rights, compared to just 42% who would choose to be citizens of a Palestinian state.
  • More Palestinians in Jerusalem seek Israeli citizenship.
  • According to polls conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 14 and 16 September, 2017, the majority of Palestinians are unhappy with President Mahmoud Abbas’s performance. 67% of the public want him to resign while 27% want him to remain in office. The demand for Abbas’s resignation stands at 60% in the West Bank and 80% in the Gaza Strip.
  • If new legislative elections were held today, 63% of the Palestinians surveyedsaid they would vote. Of those who would participate, 29% said they would vote for Hamas; 36% said they would vote for Fatah; 10% would vote for all other parties combined, and 25% were undecided.
  • Only 38% of the Palestinian public polled said West Bankers could criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) without fear of reprisal; 59% said that people could not freely criticize the PA. Half of the public (50%) viewed the PA as a burden on the Palestinians. 77% perceived the PA as corrupt.
  • Most of Hamas leaders, who portray themselves as jihadists against Israel, are millionaires. A senior official in Hamas, for example, Khaled Mashaal, who is worth US $2.6 billion according to global estimates, while Arab commentators put his worth at between US $2 and $5 billion, saying he “invested in Egyptian banks and Gulf countries, some in real estate projects.” Next on the list is Ismail Haniyeh, who, until the recent signing of a unity deal between Hamas and Fatah, was the Prime Minister of Gaza. “His fortune is estimated at US $4 million, and most of his assets in the Strip are registered in the name of his son-in-law Nabil, and a dozen children of his and other less well-known Hamas officials. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank appears no less corrupt than leaders in Gaza. Abbas and other leaders in the PLO have stolen millions of dollars from international funding meant for the Palestinian people. This corruption is the mistake of international donors who never hold these leaders to account.

Why is all this data absent from the mainstream media, which shows images of burning flags and other displays of anger only from the point of view of the Palestinian Authority and its supporters?

The US Department of State is no less culpable than the mainstream media in failing to play a more vital role in revealing these realities. Exposing this corruption would go a long way to mitigating the anger and hatred felt towards the US. The Department of State is always passive and bureaucratic, functioning mostly like a third-world country governmental body.

The Harry S Truman Building in Washington, DC, headquarters of the US Department of State. (Image source: Loren/Wikimedia Commons)

During my time working in the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, I met some diplomats who do not hold the US Government’s views. On the contrary, some of them held political views that were totally different to those of their administration, and some were even anti-Semitic. In addition, the expertise of the diplomats was not of the high standard that you would expect from a powerful country such as the US. A lot of these diplomats are sent to Arab countries like Saudi Arabia with no knowledge of the Arabic language and not much more of the region — in sharp contrast to diplomats in the British Embassy. I was surprised to work with a diplomat who, instead of supporting his country in liberating Iraq from the most brutal dictatorship in history, was calling it “an invasion” to Saudi intellectuals and academics. He was also against the peace process. He insisted on calling Israel an “occupier” and complained that I was reading “right-wing websites” such as the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The organization mainly translates material meticulously from the Arabic, but the diplomat calls it pro-Israel.

So, I was hoping that after Trump became President, the Department of State might be reformed to avoid the same mistakes made under George Bush – mainly that he did not confront the US Department of State about its incompetence. President Trump should be firm and alert avoid the same mistake. Currently, it is ineffective.

This Department needs to be reformed from top to bottom to ensure that all diplomats are truly working for US interests. I am sure that it is the Department of State itself that will be the most reluctant to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

The world has followed a course that has gotten this peace process nowhere. The fact that this conflict has been ongoing for 70 years demonstrates that there is something at fault. The main reasons for this stalled progress are a lack of transparency, hypocritical opportunists with hidden personal agendas, a biased mainstream media and ineffective diplomatic missions. It is not an exaggeration to say that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem is the best decision that has been taken by any American President because it lays bare a rotten reality. This is exactly what is needed to galvanize the peace process toward a two-state solution. It will also put pressure on the corrupt Palestinian Authority either to reform or change its leadership. Who knows, it might even stop opportunists from perpetuating this conflict for their own ends.

Najat AlSaied is a Saudi American academic and the author of “Screens of Influence: Arab Satellite Television & Social Development”. She is an Assistant Professor at Zayed University in the College of Communication and Media Sciences in Dubai-UAE.


[1] Polling data were all kindly provided by Dr. Michael Sharnoff, Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at Daniel Morgan Graduate School

Kredo: State Department using ‘pretzel logic’ in defiance of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel capital

December 14, 2017

Kredo: State Department using ‘pretzel logic’ in defiance of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel capital, Washington Free Beacon via YouTube, December 14, 2017

(Please see also, ‘Slow, Unexplained Erosion’ at State Dept. Putting U.S. at Risk, Argues Top Senator.  According to the linked article, many at the State Dept. are unhappy with Trump’s policies, including those related to Israel.  Many —  probably Obama hold-overs and other Deep Staters — are leaving but not being replaced. Most of the comments appended to the article generally agree that they should go and be replaced by others who support Trump’s policies.– DM)

Hamas rockets are onset of anti-Israel war of attrition ordered by Iran’s Gen. Soleimani

December 14, 2017

Hamas rockets are onset of anti-Israel war of attrition ordered by Iran’s Gen. Soleimani, DEBKAfile, December 13, 2017

Tehran and the Lebanese Hizballah are eager to see Israel trapped in a rising spiral of military tension – and not just from its border with the Gaza Strip, but also at some point, emanating from new war fronts in Lebanon and Syria. At present, they are not looking for a comprehensive conflagration, but rather to subject Israel to a creeping war of attrition, like the couple of rockets which the Palestinians are firing night after night from the Gaza Strip. Like Chinese drip torture, this campaign is intended to torment Israel while gradually escalating. It doesn’t matter if they are inaccurate and fail to cause Israel casualties of damage. Indeed, one of the rockets fired Wednesday night exploded in an UNWRA school at Beit Hanoun inside the northern Gaza Strip, wrecking a schoolroom.

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The Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza Wednesday night, Dec. 13, were the 12th and 13th since US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem decision on Dec.6.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the daily rocket assault from Gaza is turning into a war of attrition declared by three Palestinian extremist groups, Hamas, the Jihad Islami and the Popular Resistance Committees, on the orders of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Qods external terrorist arm, and supreme commander of Iranian forces in the region. Our sources reveal that the order was given Monday in a phone conversation Soleimani held with Marwan Issa, commander of the Hamas armed wing, the Ezz e-din al-Qassam. It was the first direct, phone conversation between a high-ranking Iranian general and the Hamas commander and it was deliberately overt. The Iranians wanted the Israeli and Egyptian intelligence agencies eavesdropping on incoming and outgoing phone calls to and from Gaza to hear Soleimani pledge full Iranian support for any military action conducted against Israel.

Tehran and the Lebanese Hizballah are eager to see Israel trapped in a rising spiral of military tension – and not just from its border with the Gaza Strip, but also at some point, emanating from new war fronts in Lebanon and Syria. At present, they are not looking for a comprehensive conflagration, but rather to subject Israel to a creeping war of attrition, like the couple of rockets which the Palestinians are firing night after night from the Gaza Strip. Like Chinese drip torture, this campaign is intended to torment Israel while gradually escalating. It doesn’t matter if they are inaccurate and fail to cause Israel casualties of damage. Indeed, one of the rockets fired Wednesday night exploded in an UNWRA school at Beit Hanoun inside the northern Gaza Strip, wrecking a schoolroom.

The threat by Israel generals Wednesday night of painful retaliation if the rocket fire continues is therefore ineffective. Hamas and the Jihad Islami are fully prepared for a major war escalation, in the certainty that Iran and Hizballah have their backs.

Deep State Resisters at State Dept. Defy Jerusalem Directive

December 12, 2017

Deep State Resisters at State Dept. Defy Jerusalem Directive, FrontPage MagazineAri Lieberman, December 12, 2017

(Please see also, US must include “sovereignty” in Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act and U.S. Still Won’t List Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital on Official Docs, Passports, Maps. — DM)

It appears that the State Department, staffed with a cadre of career civil servants and employees of the diplomatic corps, is conducting its own foreign policy, one that deviates from the goals of the White House and undermines its objectives. This group is perhaps more fanatical in its opposition to the president’s historic declaration than some Arab leaders.

While the State Department can obstruct, impede and delay, it is ultimately Trump who has the final say. He must demand progress reports from the State Department to ensure that those entrusted with the embassy move are taking the necessary steps to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in expeditious fashion. As for the passport issue, Trump can easily remedy this area of discord by issuing a clear and unambiguous directive to his secretary of state to permit U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on official documents.

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Following President Trump’s historic declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, West Bank and Gazan Arabs took to the streets in rage. They burned U.S. and Israeli flags. They cursed America, Israel and the Yahuds (Jews). Their imams cited verses from the Koran and the Hadiths about the usurpers and interlopers and the “descendants of apes and pigs.” In other words, it was business as usual for the Palestinians. Nothing had changed.

At the State Department too, it was business as usual. In a transparent effort to placate the Arab bloc, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the process of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would take several years. Tillerson is said to have counseled Trump against recognition.  

Then, at a Washington DC press briefing on December 7, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield was evasive when asked by AP journalist Matt Lee, “what country is Jerusalem in.” Satterfield acknowledged that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel but paradoxically could not say definitively that Jerusalem was located in Israel. Satterfield went on to note that consistent with current State Department policy, U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem would not be able to state their place of birth as “Israel” on their passports. The only options currently available to U.S citizens born in Jerusalem are to note either “Jerusalem” as their place of birth or if born prior to 1948, “Palestine.”

This then is the absurdity that the White House must contend with. It appears that the State Department, staffed with a cadre of career civil servants and employees of the diplomatic corps, is conducting its own foreign policy, one that deviates from the goals of the White House and undermines its objectives. This group is perhaps more fanatical in its opposition to the president’s historic declaration than some Arab leaders.

Their resistance is motivated by a myriad of reasons. Some simply hate Trump and this offers an opportunity to engage in obstructionism. Some are deeply anti-Semitic and their sympathies lie squarely in the Arab camp. Others view change and bold action as a threat and prefer the status quo. Whatever their motivations, they are working in concert to delay and obstruct the president’s bold new policy initiatives aimed at supporting a loyal ally and acknowledging reality while at the same time breaking the deadlock and reviving an anemic peace process based on a foundation of truth.

This isn’t the first time that the White House was confronted with such obstructionism from the State Department. In 1948, Secretary of State George C. Marshall vehemently opposed U.S. recognition of the nascent state of Israel and attempted to subvert President Harry Truman’s desire to extend diplomatic recognition. He told Truman that if Truman extended recognition, he would not be able to vote for him in the next presidential election. A statement like that represents a direct challenge to the president and is tantamount to a threat to resign. Ultimately, Truman took the morally correct path, disregarded Marshall’s protestations and extended de-facto recognition (de-jure recognition was extended in 1949) while Marshall continued to serve as Secretary of State.

The State Department’s current position as enumerated by Satterfield is also inconsistent with the will of Congress. In 2002, Congress passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act. Section 214(d) of the FRAA states in relevant part “For purposes of the registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary shall, upon the request of the citizen or the citizen’s legal guardian, record the place of birth as Israel.”

In 2015, a divided Supreme Court struck down the law stating that Congress had overstepped its bounds when it passed the bill. Justice Kennedy, who issued the majority decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, stated that the power to recognize foreign nations rests with the executive branch of government and the ability to determine what a passport says is part of this power.

The Supreme Court’s ruling put the matter to rest temporarily but Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital revives the issue. The State Department will be hard pressed to defend its position in light of the new political reality.

While the State Department can obstruct, impede and delay, it is ultimately Trump who has the final say. He must demand progress reports from the State Department to ensure that those entrusted with the embassy move are taking the necessary steps to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in expeditious fashion. As for the passport issue, Trump can easily remedy this area of discord by issuing a clear and unambiguous directive to his secretary of state to permit U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birthplace on official documents.