Browsing Posts published in April, 2011

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this evening referred to the anticipated agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas:

“The Palestinian Authority needs to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas.  Peace with both is impossible because Hamas aspires to destroy the State of Israel and says so openly.   It fires missiles at our cities; it fires anti-tank rockets at our children.

I think that the very idea of this reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and causes one to wonder if Hamas will seize control of Judea and Samaria like it seized control of the Gaza Strip.

I hope that the Palestinian Authority chooses correctly, i.e. that it chooses peace with Israel.  The choice is in its hands.”

The following is an excerpt from a piece originally published in the May/June 2011 edition of Foreign Policy by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael B. Oren.

What is the definition of an American ally? On an ideological level, an ally is a country that shares America’s values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people’s beliefs. Tactically, an ally stands with the United States through multiple conflicts and promotes its global vision. From its location at one strategic crossroads, an ally enhances American intelligence and defense capabilities, and provides ports and training for U.S. forces. Its army is formidable and unequivocally loyal to its democratic government. An ally helps secure America’s borders and assists in saving American lives on and off the battlefield. And an ally stimulates the U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation.

These benefits of the U.S.-Israel relationship are of incalculable value to the United States, far outweighing any price. Americans know that Israelis have always stood by them, ready to share technology, intelligence, and innovation — ready to aid them in conflict and to make the painful sacrifices for peace. Israel may be one of a handful of countries that fully fits the definition of ally, but its willingness to support the United States unwaveringly makes it the partner par excellence, America’s ultimate ally.

To read the full piece, click here.

By Ambassador of the State of Israel to the United States Dr. Michael B. Oren.

The Middle East, from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, is in the throes of historic upheaval. The populations that have long suffered under dictatorial and oppressive rulers are rising and demanding freedom. We, in Israel, are watching these events with a sense of awe and anticipation. We ardently hope that our neighbors will someday enjoy the same liberty that we have always cherished.  We have long been proud to say that we are the only democracy in the Middle East; we would be happier, still to say that we are one of many.

Fittingly, Passover is the holiday of freedom. As we celebrate this year, we should be mindful of the yearning of all peoples to live in dignity and enjoy inalienable rights. That is the message of the story of the Exodus, of the Jewish people’s hard-won passage from slavery to freedom. We learn that liberty is not to be taken for granted but, on the contrary, must often be achieved at considerable cost and sacrifice. This is true as much for our ancient ancestors escaping Egypt as it is for modern Egyptians today. Though Passover is a Jewish holiday, its meaning is universal.

Passover also teaches us that there is no true freedom without responsibility. Not insignificantly does the path from bondage in Egypt lead to the revelatory gathering at Mt. Sinai. There, the Jewish people accepted the responsibility of the Law. There they learned that respecting and heeding the Law was the pre-requisite for their survival as an independent, united people. They understood – and that understanding became integral to Jewish identity – that assuming responsibilities is essential to preserving a just and peaceful society.

While we indeed wish our neighbors success in their quest for democracy, so, too, do we expect them to forge societies that are open and tolerant. Unfortunately, we have seen how societies lacking in such qualities can swiftly revert to the worst kind of tyranny. We have seen how democratic movements in Lebanon, Iran, and Gaza were hijacked by extremists and transformed into terrorist strongholds. Therefore, it is crucial that the peoples of the Middle East adhere to the timeless message of the Exodus and that, in achieving freedom, they embrace the responsibility of peace.

This year, as always, Jews will recline at their Seder tables and give thanks for their manifold blessings. In Israel, we will take pride in our prodigious scientific accomplishments, our technological innovation, and the humanitarian assistance we’ve extended to disaster-wrought countries around the world. At the same time, however, we will be aware of the challenges still confronting our country, whether in the form of the thousands of terrorist rockets aimed at our homes or the nuclear ambitions of a radical regime sworn to wipe us off the map. But this Passover, unlike any other of recent memory, will be illuminated by the hope for the emergence of a very different Middle East in which people value not only their own rights but also those of others, a Middle East that respects not only the benefits of freedom but also its obligations. Tonight we will be asking, “Ma nishtana?” – What makes this night different than any other? This year, the night is further distinguished by the possibility that future nights will never be the same.

President Shimon Peres held a working meeting yesterday with Ambassadors from countries currently serving in the UN Security Council as well as other countries from the Middle East.  Ambassadors from the following countries attended: Russia, France, Britain, India, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Norway, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Portugal and the Palestinian Observer to the UN.

President Shimon Peres received the news about a rocket striking a bus carrying children in the Shaar Hanegev regional council during the meeting with the Ambassadors. The President, who was discussing the security threats from Gaza immediately updated the Ambassadors and said:  “I was just informed that an Israeli bus carrying schoolchildren home from school was hit with a mortar fired from Gaza.  There are reports of injured.  This is a real life example that Gaza has become a terrorist state.  Can the United Nations guarantee that terror attacks will not happen again?  None of you would give up on the safety and security of your citizens just as Israel will stand in its own defense.”  The President pointed out to the Ambassadors that “hundreds of thousands of mothers and their children in Southern Israel cannot sleep at night as a result of the rocket attacks from Gaza.”

The President also commented on the proliferation of flotillas traveling to Gaza and said: “Behind every flotilla is a provocation and a desire for newspaper headlines.  Whoever wants to help Gaza should insist that Gazans stop firing on Israel.”

Regarding the Iranian situation, President Peres told the Ambassadors:  “Israel is not willing to accept that there is a member in the United Nations, Iran, headed by a President who threatens to destroy another member nation of the UN, Israel.  Why do you permit him to do this while allowing him to continue to be a member?  He appears here and calls for destruction and hate.  There is a double standard when it comes to Iran.”

President Peres continued and referred to the Goldstone Report: “It is the same thing with the Goldstone Report –   Israel conducted an investigation into Cast Lead.  We investigated ourselves – not because we were accused of something but rather because the Israeli army is not just based on guns but values as well.  The investigative committee checked 400 incidents and in three cases there was suspicion of wrong doing.  Those soldiers in those three cases stood trial.  Everyone who fights terror – and it makes no difference if he is American, Russian or French knows how complicated it is.”  He added: “I read that Goldstone expressed regret about the report he wrote. Unfortunately fictions exist longer than denials.”

With respect to Israel’s position in the United Nations President Peres said: “We see ourselves as a responsible member of the UN and we want to be a contributing nation but we don’t want to be a victim in the UN because we are a minority.  We can never benefit from a majority.  The blocs in the UN are based on being anti-Israel and we don’t have an opportunity for justice.  In spite of this we will continue to struggle for our defense and fight for peace.  Today, the top priority is the desire to achieve a responsible peace with the Palestinians so that that can achieve independence and we can have security.  If you want to help the Middle East, put an end to conflict as soon as possible.”

Later this morning, Friday, April 8, President Peres plans to meet the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon.   The President will discuss in detail the Goldstone Report, the apologetic op-ed of Judge Goldstone, and the President’s demand to retract and repudiate the report.  The two will also discuss the situation in Gaza, weapons smuggling in the region, and ways to advance the peace process between Israel and its neighbors.

On Thursday, Hamas launched an anti-tank missile at a school bus in Israel, injuring two including a child who remains in critical condition. Thankfully, the bus was not carrying any more children, though the terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip could not have known that when it targeted innocent civilians.

The 16-year-old boy was airlifted to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where he is currently being treated for severe trauma. The driver was lightly wounded. The teenager had been visiting his grandmother for a few days, and went for a ride with the bus driver, who is a friend of the family.

President Shimon Peres said in response to the attacks that “This is another incident which proves the Gaza Strip has turned into a terrorist zone. No one would give up the safety of his country’s citizens and Israel stands firm on the right to defend itself.  Hundreds of thousands of mothers and children in southern Israel cannot sleep at night as a result of rocket-fire from the Gaza Strip.”The IDF reports that 45 rockets and mortars were fired at the Israeli home front from the Gaza Strip within three hours on Thursday afternoon.

Just a few hours later, Israel’s state-of-the-art anti-missile defense system, “Iron Dome,” marked its first successful run when it shot down two missiles which were on their way to the Israeli city of Ashkelon. This marks the first time in history anyone has been able to shoot down short-ranged missiles. In layman’s terms, this is basically shooting a bullet with another bullet, with everything from range, trajectory, wind and speeds being calculated in just a few seconds.

Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that “‘Iron Dome’ intercepted two projectiles successfully” while meeting with Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas in Prague.

The “Iron Dome” system is still in an evaluation period, but it was deployed for combat following the recent increase in terror attacks by Hamas.

In an Op-Ed published in today’s Washington Times, Israel’ Vice Premier and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon wrote:

“The public renunciation of the Goldstone Report by its primary author represents an important victory for intellectual honesty. Indeed, as John F. Kennedy observed in “Profiles in Courage,” “A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.” Having invested his personal credibility in a process that has since become synonymous with his name, Justice Goldstone now must be commended for his willingness to acknowledge the significant shortcomings of his United Nations assignment.”

He goes on to say that “The international system has been infected by a dangerous virus. Good is called evil and evil is repackaged as good. In this corrupt state of affairs, it is more vital than ever that the principled voice of the United States be heard. America must lead the charge to have the Goldstone Report withdrawn from the global stage. Its legacy – which handicaps all democratic nations in their struggle against non-state actors that scorn international law – must not stand.”

To read the full piece, click here.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama met with President Shimon Peres at the White House, where the two discussed everything from the “Arab Spring” and the Peace Process to the global threat of Iran’s nuclear program.

The following is the U.S. President’s full comments on the meeting during a Q&A with reporters

“President Peres is, I think, an extraordinary statesman. We had a extensive discussion about what’s happened in the Middle East.

I think he and I both share a belief that this is both a challenge and an opportunity; that with the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and he has some very interesting ideas around those issues.

He also recognizes the fact that in a country like Egypt, not only do we need to be nurturing democracy, but we also have to make sure that economic opportunity is growing there. And so we explored some ideas about how we can provide some help and make sure that young people there see a brighter future.

And that’s something that Secretary (of State Hillary Rodham) Clinton, during her trip in Egypt, spoke extensively about and will probably be rolling out some additional plans on that front.”

Said Peres, “We don’t want to be in controversy with the Muslim world. We want to make friends with them. We want to have peace.”

President Peres graciously invited President Obama to come to Israel in June for the Israeli Presidential Conference. President Obama first visited Israel as a Senator, but this would be his first official visit to Israel as President.

On Friday’s edition of The Washington Post, a remarkable, yet long overdue admission came from South Awifrican jurist Richard Goldstone, author of the wildly inaccurate and inflammatory “Goldstone Report.” In the Op-Ed, Goldstone says that in hindsight, his report to the UN should not have reached the conclusions it did as far as Israel is concerned. Goldstone wrote, “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”

Since the report was released in September of 2009, Israel’s enemies have gone to the Goldstone Report, almost as a reflex, as “proof” that Israel targets civilians. Israel has always known that claim to be false, but the Goldstone Report did not wait for Israel’s investigations into its actions during Operation Cast Lead before releasing a bias, and factually outrageous narrative of Israel’s efforts to stop the launching of terror attacks by Hamas. In his Op-Ed, Goldstone stated that, had they had this evidence then, “it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes” on the part of Israel.

Another lie that has been debunked since the Goldstone Report was published were the actual number of civilian casualties. The Goldstone Report, relying on bias Palestinian sources and again, not waiting for Israel as a democratic state to take the time necessary to produce its objective findings, exaggerated the amount of civilian deaths. In reality, as admitted by Richard Goldstone himself, “Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas,” i.e. the majority of casualties were indeed combatants.

While Goldstone himself admits that “our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding,” the inaccuracy of the Goldstone Report has hampered Israel’s ability to defend its citizens and caused its reputation among the democratic world to be unfairly tarnished.

Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted saying, “Everything we said has proven to be true: Israel did not intentionally harm civilians, its institutions and investigative bodies are worthy, while Hamas intentionally fired upon innocent civilians and did not examine anything. The fact that Goldstone backtracked must lead to the shelving of this report once and for all.”

Israel’s ambassador to the US Michael Oren stressed this evening that Judge Goldstone’s Washington Post article reconfirms Israel’s right of self defense against Hamas terror out from Gaza.

In this article, Judge Goldstone contrasts the deliberate targeting of civilians by Hamas and its refusal to investigate its own war crimes with Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties and to fully investigate charges of IDF misconduct. Unfortunately, Judge Goldstone reached these conclusions only now, after his report seriously impaired the ability of Israel–and of all democratic states– to defend themselves, and furnished a major victory for terror.

The recent spate of terror attacks, including the massacre of the Fogel family in Itamar, must, even as Judge Goldstone now insists, be condemned in the strongest of terms by all international organizations. These include the UN Human Right Council which, as
Judge Goldstone only belatedly admits, is deeply biased against Israel. As Israel and the democratic world continue to face terrorist threats from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, the Goldstone Report must be utterly discredited.