Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What Annapolis Accomplished For Israel

Today the world press is full of pundits declaring the failure of Annapolis and the probability that nothing will come of the peace conference. Voices in the Arab press, the Israeli press, the American press all seem to share this view. At least we can all agree on this much even if we don't agree on who to blame. All sarcasm aside, I do share this view in the near term, at least as far as any practical accomplishments are concerned. Having said that, Prime Minister Olmert and President Bush did accomplish something important at Annapolis.

For the first time since the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948 all of the Arab countries sat around a table with Israel and talked about peace. They all acknowledged peace between the Palestinians and Israel as a goal to achieve. This is a far cry from the aftermath of the Six Day War and the statement of the Arab League summit in Khartoum in 1967 with it's famous three no's: "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it". By attending the Annapolis conference the entire Arab world did give tacit, though not official, recognition of Israel and the fact that Israel is likely to exist for the foreseeable future. They also endorsed continued negotiation and a final outcome of peace.

Israel has been at war with at least some of it's Arab neighbors for nearly 60 years now. The Jewish people in British controlled Palestine were attacked by and forced to fight the Palestinian Arabs for nearly 30 years before that. Change in the Middle East comes slowly among people with long memories and histories. It took 30 years for Egypt to decide to negotiate with Israel and reach a peace agreement. Another 15 years passed before Jordan made peace with Israel.

Every step, no matter how minute, is cumulative. The Arab nations cannot change the fact that they sat down at the table with Prime Minister Olmert. President Bush, no matter what the eventual outcome, can take credit for helping to make that happen. It may be a small step, a tiny accomplishment. I do not expect a peace agreement next year as called for at Annapolis. Still, the small step taken at the conference in the long run may be seen as very important indeed.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Different Sort of UN Conference

Tomorrow, Sunday, November 18, 2007, there will be a different sort of U.N. Conference. No, it's not another conference by the U.N., but rather one about the goings on at the United Nations and it's constant discrimination and bias against Israel. I received an e-mail from Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN (excellent website, highly recommended) about tomorrow's conference taking place between 9 AM and 6 PM tomorrow at Millennium UN Plaza Hotel (44th and 1st Ave., New York City).

A couple of relevant quotes:

A first-ever conference on UN discrimination against Israel has been organized across the street from UN Headquarters to coincide with the General Assembly's annual adoption of more than 20 resolutions condemning Israel and not one critical of Sudan and its ongoing campaign of genocide in Darfur.

“The discrimination against Israel at the UN has long been an outrage and must no longer go directly unchallenged," said conference organizer Anne Bayefsky, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Director of the Touro Human Rights Institute. "Under the banner of a UN Charter that requires the equality of men and women, as well as member states large and small, the Jewish state and Jewish non-governmental organizations are constantly subject to different treatment than all others."

Highlights will include addresses from John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) (Chairman, House Republican Policy Committee); Ambassador Max Kampelman (Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient); and Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN).

Yep, for the U.N. genocide in Sudan is barely worth a mention. Israel is forever condemned for occupation of the Palestinian territories while China never is condemned for human rights violations or it's ongoing occupation and colonization of Tibet. Israel is under daily rocket fire from Gaza but that's just fine with the U.N. I guess human rights don't apply to people in Sderot, do they?

It's about time a conference like this happens, but I fully expect most of the media, especially the left leaning media, to thoroughly ignore this conference. It was just two weeks ago that CNN, for example, decided to rerun of G-d's Jewish Warriors", their two hour attack on Israel and American Jews. They didn't even bother with the other religions (Islam and Christianity) this time. Don't we all know that there is a far greater threat to the world from Jewish extremists than Islamic terrorists? CNN seems to think so. Their bias and the perpetual bias at the U.N. go hand in hand.

So... it's up to us, the bloggers, to spread the word.

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A Reminder of Why I Want To Make Aliya

Last weekend I went to the local mall with a good friend. It's that time of year again and non-stop Christmas music was playing. I understand that most Americans are at least nominally Christian and I certainly don't begrudge them their music or their holiday. It's all fine -- just not for me.

I'm Jewish. I was raised Jewish and raised a Zionist. I would like to live in a place where Jewish holidays are the dominant paradigm, where "holiday season" refers to Jewish holidays, where my religion and culture are taken for granted, not the odd exception. There is only one place on the earth where that is the case: Israel.

I know that if I had young children and I wouldn't want them to face pressures to fit into what is essentially a Christian society the pull of aliya would be stronger still. Regardless, 2008 will, barring unforeseen circumstances, should be the year for me.

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