Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recalling A Begin Idea

A Begin opponent, blogging at Haaretz, recalls:
Under the plan, "If an Arab from Shehem (Nablus) wants to become a citizen of the state of Israel, he's entitled," the minister says. "We want a Jewish state with a large Arab minority. So what do we need to do? First of all, we're capable of keeping a Jewish majority. "Of course, if that majority were to break down, our situation would be a bitter one. We are not South Africa, nor Rhodesia," he declared. "The Jewish minority will not rule over Arabs.

The date is August 20, 1967. The minister is Menachem Begin. The minutes of the cabinet meeting are classified Top Secret and kept under wraps for 44 years. There is something fitting about the timing of the release of the transcripts, declassified in recent weeks at the request of former senior Begin aide Prof. Aryeh Naor for a book he is completing about the late prime minister.

...Admittedly, across the political spectrum, the citizenship concept is much easier to dismiss than to seriously consider, as are other alternatives, such as a Palestinian-Israeli confederation, possibly including Jordan as well. ...When Begin addressed the cabinet in 1967, he outlined the concept of a "bi-ethnic" state, allowing both Jews and Arabs to develop as culturally distinctive peoples, and ruled by the majority, rather than a bi-national state with power shared equally, regardless of the numerical majority or minority.

In contrast with a bi-national state, "We have never ruled out a bi-ethnic state, and the difference is crucial," Begin said. "Zionism, as I have known it, has never viewed the state as mono-ethnic."


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gallup Poll of Egyptians on the: Peace Treaty with Israel

Gallup poll of Egyptians: Peace treaty with Israel better for Egypt than close Egyptian relations with US
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA March 23, 2012

While 48% of Egyptians think the current peace treaty with Israel is a good thing for the country only 28% think that close relations with the U.S. are a good thing for Egypt

- hat tip=IMRA]

Gallup poll: face-to-face interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, and conducted in Jan. 31-Feb 7, 2012, in Egypt. Statistical error +/-3.4
percentage points.

The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. Earlier surveys are based on face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in Egypt. For results based on the total sample of national adults in these surveys, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error ranges from ±3.1 to ±3.5 percentage

Are close relations with the U.S. a good thing or bad thing for Egypt?
Good 28% Bad 56%

Are close relations with Turkey a good thing or bad thing for Egypt?
Good 60% Bad 19%

Are close relations with Iran a good thing or bad thing for Egypt?
Good 41% Bad 38%

Do you approve of disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the U.S.?
Approve 19% Disapprove 65%

Do you approve of disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of Turkey?
Approve 37% Disapprove 44%

Do you approve of disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of Iran?
Approve 21% Disapprove 58%

Do you think the current peace treaty with Israel is a good thing or a bad thing for the country?
Good 48% Bad 42%

[The poll found that supporters of Islamist parties are no more likely than others to oppose the peace treaty with Israel.]

In your opinion, will Egypt’s status in the world improve, decline, or stay the same as a result of President Mubarak’s resignation?
Improve 79% Decline 12%

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On the Jerusalem in Islam Conference

From the Jerusalem Post report:

Panel: J'lem of incidental importance in Islam by OREN KESSLER

Jerusalem is of incidental significance to Islam, its importance varying through history according to political circumstances – that was the message scholars delivered Wednesday at a panel discussion in the capital on the city’s significance to Muslim tradition and faith.

The event, titled “Jerusalem: How Important is it to Muslims?” was organized by the Middle East Forum and held at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.

Daniel Pipes, the founder and director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, opened the panel by outlining Jerusalem’s centrality to Judaism – it is mentioned in the Bible more than 800 times as well as in prayer services, daily blessings and wedding services.

Since the Temple’s destruction in 70 CE and the subsequent exile of Jews from the Land of Israel, Jerusalem has been the focus of Jewish spiritual longing.

In Islam, Jerusalem plays a far more subordinate role, Pipes said.

“It is not prayed to, not mentioned once in the Koran; there are no events in Muhammad’s life directly connected to it; it is not a capital and it is sometimes even seen as a place rejected by God,” he said.

After emigrating from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, Muhammad enacted religious laws allowing Muslim men to eat Jewish-prepared food and marry Jewish women, and encouraged them to pray in the direction of Jerusalem.

Pipes said that by 624, once it was clear that the Jews had rejected Muhammad’s claim to prophethood, he changed the direction of prayer to Mecca.

“This set a precedent of Muslims raising or lowering Jerusalem’s importance in accordance with political concerns,” said Pipes, who holds a doctorate in medieval Islamic history from Harvard University and is a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Jerusalem’s importance in Islam was temporarily heightened by the Umayyads, the caliphs who transferred their seat of power from Mecca to Damascus in 661. To bolster their legitimacy, the Umayyads deemphasized Muslim sites associated with Muhammad and his successors in Mecca and Medina in favor of pre-Islamic holy sites in Syria – an area in which they included Jerusalem, Pipes said....“The Umayyads built a mosque and called it ‘al-masjid al-aksa,’” Pipes said. “Seventy years after Muhammad, the revelation became a mosque.”

When the caliphate passed from the Umayyads to the Baghdad-based Abbasids six years later, Jerusalem again fell into obscurity, Pipes said. The idea of Jerusalem as the third holiest city in Islam came about centuries later in response to the Crusades, he said.

“Jerusalem became important to Islam when someone else wanted it,” said Moshe Sharon, an Islamic history scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an Arab affairs adviser to prime minister Menachem Begin...“Jerusalem was never a capital under Islam. When the Muslims came here, they created a new capital – Ramle, not Jerusalem.”

Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University said Islam has historically viewed itself as superseding or completing all religions that preceded it. To orthodox Muslims, therefore, the revival of Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel is first and foremost a theological predicament...

Wednesday’s discussion was notable for its absence of dissenting voices – all its speakers were Jewish, and all but Pipes live in Israel. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on the sidelines of the conference, Pipes delivered the same unvarnished message that typified the evening’s remarks.

“I’ve done a fair amount of research on this topic, and I can’t say I’ve encountered anything by Muslims on this subject that is real scholarship,” he said. “I hope one day there will be.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On The Contemporary Employment of the Begin Doctrine

Bibi, the Begin Doctrine, and the U.S.

...Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech on Monday at the AIPAC conference reinforcing the Begin Doctrine — the preemptive-military-strike doctrine of Israel’s government since the early 1980s. This week marks the 20th anniversary of the death of former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin. His administration declared that Israel’s “determination to prevent confrontation states . . . from gaining access to nuclear weapons” will be applied to hostile countries seeking to develop nuclear arms.

Bibi Netanyahu said Israel cannot “accept a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs.” With those words Netanyahu issued the 2012 version of the Begin doctrine. In short, in light of the Holocaust and the lethal anti-Semitism of the clerical regime in Tehran, Israel cannot tolerate the toxic combination of weapons of mass destruction with a regime determined to “wipe Israel off the map.”

The Begin Doctrine has been implemented twice in the young history of the Jewish state. In June 1981, Israel launched Operation Opera, sending eight F-16 fighter jets to destroy the Osirak nuclear reactor outside Baghdad. After two minutes of precision bombing, the reactor was reduced to a pile of rubble. In September 2007, Israeli jets launched Operation Orchard, targeting Syria’s secret nuclear facility at al-Kibar.

Unlike Syria and Iraq, the Iranians have scattered multiple nuclear-weapons installations across their territory.

...It is not likely that Bibi will deviate from the goal of the Begin Doctrine. The open question is, will President Obama really have “Israel’s back”? Given that President Obama announced after his meeting with Bibi that the meaning of having “Israel’s back” does not imply a military doctrine, Israel should be justifiably worried about whether it can rely on its most important Western ally...


Friday, March 2, 2012

Menachem Begin and the Ideological Secular Right

The dilemma of the secular Right
Emily Amrousy

“People develop orthopedic problems trying to find the kippah on my head,” MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) told me this week prior to a panel discussion at the Jerusalem Conference on the secular right in Israel. Eldad is the Right’s fig leaf. If he were to become religious, it would constitute a huge loss for his political camp. Twenty years after the death of Menachem Begin, the questions persist: Can there be an ideological basis for a nationalist, secular right? Is hawkishness on security affairs sufficient? Can one be faithful to the “Greater Israel” ideology without being religious?

“A true secular Right and true religious Left are statistical anomalies,” Professor Asher Cohen, an expert on Israeli society told me. What about former Knesset member Geulah Cohen, journalist Amnon Lord, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, MK Yariv Levin (Likud), Yair Stern (of the Stern Gang), Ze’ev Jabotinsky, politician Uzi Dayan, activist Elyakim Haetzni, MK Danny Danon (Likud), singer-songwriter Naomi Shemer and National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beitenu)? What about Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin (Likud)? Or Eldad (National Union)? Or Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud)? “I grew up in a home where my father never once let me say I was secular,” Livnat said at the conference. “We were definitely not religious. But we weren’t secular either. We were just Jews.”

And there you have the solution to the mystery. You can’t hold on to outlying territories without relying on the Rock of Israel (God) as well as the Bible as your title to the land. Political consultant Arthur Finkelstein has found that the Left consistently identifies itself with “Israeliness” while the Right identifies with “Jewishness.” The Israeli Right felt so strongly about Menachem Begin not because he tended to sprinkle his conversation with turns of phrase like “God willing,” but because of his deep connection to the Bible. Almost all secular rightists are ultimately people of faith, or at least serious Bibliophiles. “A Jew who does not live in Israel because of the Bible is either here due to an accident or is a thief,” Eldad said.