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Facts and Logic About
the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159
(415) 356-7801


October 13, 2010  

Why won't the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state?
Why do they insist on no new settlements, even on Jewish land?

Because they still think they're going to push the Jews out of the Holy Land.

Dear Friend of FLAME:

Since the building moratorium imposed by Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu more than 10 months ago, there's been plenty of building in Judea and Samaria (sometimes called the West Bank). That ceaseless building of residences---and even a new city---has been carried out by the Palestinians.

The whole idea of the moratorium on Israeli building, which was forcefully urged upon Israel by President Obama, was to appease the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority doesn't want Israel to change the facts on the ground---by "usurping" land that could or should become part of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians, however, feel free to build in strategic locations, like the new city of Rawabi, in order to (as PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad admits) "change the status" of Judea and Samaria.

There's one set of rights and rules for the Palestinians and another set of rights and rules for Israel. Get it?

Forget the fact that Jews want to build on land legitimately owned by Jews. Forget the fact that the land on which Jews want to build would almost certainly be part of Israel as a condition of any peace agreement. Forget reason: If the Jews build, the Palestinians will walk out of the peace talks.

This week, Prime Minister Netanyahu offered to continue the Israeli building moratorium if the Palestinians would recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians turned him down flat. President Abbas called the notion that Israel should be Jewish "racist"---even though the Palestinian charter calls for Palestine to be Muslim!

The nub of the issue: The Palestinians know that the moment they acknowledge the half-century-established fact of Israel as the Jewish homeland, they give up their right to settle in Israel hundreds of thousands of descendents of refugees whose ancestors fled Israel in 1948.

This week's FLAME Hotline, by Dr. Daniel Gordis, gives us a concise and pointed analysis of the farce that is the controversy of Israeli building around its eastern borders. Gordis is a rabbi, senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem and a frequent contributor to the Jerusalem Post.

Take a minute to review Dr. Gordis's article, then please pass it along to your friends and correspondents using the "Forward to a Friend" button at the bottom of the article.

Thanks for your continued support of FLAME and Israel!

Best Regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Director, FLAME


As President Obama continues unrelenting pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to resume the building moratorium, it's important to express our passionate support of the Jewish state. We have to remind President Obama that Israel is our strongest, most valuable Middle East ally. Please take a minute to let the President know that the absolute first step to peace is Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. It's again time to stand up . . . and speak up for Israel. Please use this link to write the President immediately.


How many times have you heard someone complain that "Israel just doesn't have good public relations"? Maybe you've even said the same yourself. But have you seen FLAME's latest hasbarah---our ad on "The Unrelenting and Virulent Hatred of the Arabs: Will peace ever be possible under those conditions?"---which has appeared in publications nationwide, including college newspapers, with circulation in excess of 5 million? Please take a look at it, and if you agree that FLAME's brand of outspoken public relations on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.

To build or not to build: Why it is the question?
by Daniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post, October 9, 2010

The freeze is a metaphor for the legitimacy of the idea of this state as the home of the Jews

Summarizing the stalemate in the Israeli- Palestinian talks, a CNN anchor reported earlier this week that as soon as the settlement building freeze ended, "Israel sent in bulldozers to renew the building."

The claim is patently false, of course, for "Israel" did no such thing. Groups of people, most of them living in the settlements, did begin building again, as the law permitted them to. So why did CNN portray the story that way? Most reasonable people understand that any eventual peace settlement will involve the creation of a Palestinian state on some significant portion of the West Bank. Some Israelis are in favor, some are desperately opposed and others are pained by the prospective loss of that land but have resigned themselves to the fact that there will be no alternative.

So why are the Palestinians (in whose footsteps CNN is following) so focused on settlement building? After all, in the disengagement from Gaza, citizens were moved, homes and synagogues were bulldozed, entire towns and small cities were leveled. Regardless of what any of us thinks of what happened in the summer of 2005, the disengagement did at least prove that when Israeli governments decide to cede land, the presence of towns or citizens on that land is not an insurmountable impediment.

Why, therefore, does Mahmoud Abbas not simply say to himself, "I'll make a deal, I'll get a state and that land will be ours eventually, anyway"?

So let the Israelis waste their time and money on roads and buildings in the West Bank. They'll bulldoze them, or I'll inherit them. Either way, I win."

Abbas's weakness and his desire to avoid real compromise are only part of the picture. More important is the fact that he understands, infinitely better than do many Jews, that the fundamental impetus at the core of Israeli society is building. More than a country, the Jewish state is a project - of nation-building, of ingathering, of Jewish revitalization. Absent those, this enterprise has no point.

This is the state of the "watchtower and stockade," those desperate attempts to build small outposts that were the beginnings of Jewish resettlement of the Land of Israel. This is the country of the defiant immigrants who braved their way past British soldiers patrolling the shores, seeking refuge when no other country would provide it.

Operation Flying Carpet, which saved the Jews of Yemen, and Operation Solomon, which whisked the Jews of Ethiopia out of a war zone and back to their homeland, were all part of this. These historical moments sound like romantic evocations of the past, but they are not.

They are a reminder of what this country still is at its core. As I was in synagogue on Simhat Torah last week and listened as the verses of Ata Horeita Lada'at were assigned and sung aloud, I was reminded of this once again. The last five or six verses, each sung by a different person, were a perfect collage of who we are. There was an elderly sabra. The next person sang with a distinctly French accent, another was American, one was clearly Russian and one was from somewhere in North Africa.

I turned to my son, who was also listening to all this, and said to him, "Did you hear all those different accents? It's the perfect reminder that at the end of the day, the ingathering of the exiles, is what this place is all about."

In our national narrative, building towns and rebuilding a people are virtually synonymous. Israelis are divided as to the wisdom of building in the settlements, of course. But those who "get it" understand that specific policies at this moment aside, building and rebuilding are the very oxygen of this society. End the ethos of rebuilding, and you have rendered this country devoid of its fundamental purpose.

Unlike many Jews, the Palestinians understand this perfectly. That is why Abbas has said, even recently and in no uncertain terms, that he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The fact that the Palestinian Charter declares that Palestine will be a Muslim state doesn't bother him. For Abbas is motivated not by shame, but by strategy.

Deny Israel the right to call itself a Jewish state, and there's no justification for the Law of Return. Deny the Jewishness of this country, and there's no morally justifiable basis for not admitting tens of thousands - or many more - Palestinian refugees from Lebanon, ultimately making Jews a minority here. Make Israel a Hebrew-speaking but ethnically neutral country, and you have eviscerated it. There would be no point to the state, no power to its narratives, no passion left to sustain those of us committed to (re)building it.

Abbas's insistence on the freeze, even in places like Gush Etzion, Ariel and other blocs which are clearly not going to be returned, is not about roads or houses, but is but the first shot across the bow. The freeze is a metaphor for the legitimacy of the idea of this as the home of the Jews. The issue, he knows, is not borders, or even security. Most of us know approximately how those will eventually be settled.

The real issue is whether the world will acknowledge, almost a century after the Balfour Declaration, that the Jews, like other peoples, have a right to a homeland. Sadly, on that issue, there is much less international consensus than there used to be. We are in much worse shape than we were a decade or two ago. And given the direction in which matters are moving, time is not on our side.

Abbas, the Palestinians and even CNN get all of this. The question that matters, however, is whether we do - and what we will do to ensure that Jews, and others across the world who might sympathize with us, come to understand what is truly at stake.

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