Friend of FLAME:
As supporters of Israel and FLAME---and as readers of the FLAME
Hotline---you know better than anyone that when it comes to the
Israel-Palestinian conflict, as much as anything we are fighting a
public relations war.
I'm sure that you, like I, talk to people who still naively think
the key to Middle East peace is for the leaders of Israel and the
Palestinians simply to "compromise"---to stop being so hard headed.
This notion of moral equivalency---or worse the idea that the Palestinians
are oppressed---is the greatest enemy of Israel and its supporters.
At first blush, a public relations war may seem like a petty matter---after
all, Israel is battling for its very existence, for the tiny
patch of Holy Land it calls home.
But the public relations war has very real consequences for Israel:
There is no doubt that, as much as guns and missiles, world
opinion---and especially U.S. public opinion---will determine
the future of the Jewish state.
Currently the Palestinians are fighting with considerable success
to convince the world that Israel---represented by Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu--- is obstructing peace. The focal
point of the Palestinian PR effort is the "settlements"---Israeli
residential developments in Jerusalem and contiguous areas in Judea
and Samaria (disputed territories in the West Bank).
As you know, the Palestinians, who have never owned or controlled
these territories, now claim sovereignty over them (even though they
are not nor have ever been a sovereign entity). The Western media,
especially in Europe, frequently portray the Palestinians as a frustrated,
victimized, besieged people who only want a fair shake from their
Despite the fact that Mr. Netanyahu has recently agreed to curtail
further developments in the territories as a reflection of Israel's
desire to re-engage in a peace process, Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas has scorned this overture and in an astounding display
of chutzpah, actually blames Netanyahu for the Palestinians'
On the other hand, this week's Hotline article, by Israel's
U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren, points out how generous and ground-breaking
Netanyahu's offer is, as well as the tremendous risks Netanyahu has
taken within the Israeli political world to make it.
My friends, it is up to us to make sure Israel's true story is told.
While Israel makes compromises and holds out a hand of peace, the
Palestinians hold out ever more impossible demands---because their
real goal is the absolute defeat of Israel and expulsion of Jews from
the Holy Land. The article below gives you the facts about Israel's
desire for peace.
Despite the obstacles facing us, may peace come soon to the people
of Israel . . . and may it dwell in your home this holiday season.
Have you seen the
latest FLAME hasbarah message? Here's a preview: It's
A Light Unto the Nations---Those who demonize Israel are either
misinformed or malevolent." This piece tells the truth about
the Jewish nation---that it is an exemplary free and democratic
society, one that deserves to be praised and emulated. I hope
you'll review it, especially since we're entering the season
of hateful rallies on university campuses claiming that Israel
is an "apartheid state" (of course nothing could be farther
from the truth). To help set the record straight, this editorial
piece has just started to run in national media delivering more
than five million impressions, including to college students
and all U.S. Senators and Representatives. If you agree
that FLAME's outspoken brand of public relations on Israel's
behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. I hope as this
year comes to a close and the joyous holy days are upon us,
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 http://www.factsandlogic.org/make_a_donation.html.
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.
||President Obama has asked for input from U.S. citizens
on his Middle East policies. To give him your opinion about
the need to stop pressuring Israel for concessions and start focusing
on the higher-priority issue of Iran's development of nuclear
weapons, please write
Freeze: Prime Minister Netanyahu has broken with his party to restart
the peace process.
By Michael Oren, The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2009
Distracted by the crucial debate over Afghanistan, many Americans
may have missed a pivotal event in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
On Nov. 25, Israel's government announced a 10-month construction
freeze in Judea and Samaria—the areas generally known as the
West Bank. Though some projects already begun will be completed and
essential public buildings like medical clinics and schools will be
approved, no new housing permits will be issued.
"We hope that this decision will help launch meaningful peace
negotiations," declared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
"and finally end the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel."
The Obama administration praised the decision and recognized its significance.
Special Envoy George Mitchell hailed the decision as "substantial,"
and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called it "unprecedented."
By contrast, Palestinian leaders rejected Israel's gesture
as grossly inefficient. Without an indefinite cessation of
all Jewish building in the West Bank and Jerusalem, they say, peace
talks cannot resume.
What Mr. Mitchell and Mrs. Clinton understand, but what the Palestinians
miss, is that Mr. Netanyahu has shown more flexibility on this issue
than any previous head of his Likud Party, which is staunchly pro-settlement.
Indeed, he has gone further than any prime minister in limiting a
right that many Israelis consider incontestable and a vital component
of their national security.
Twice—in 1948 and 1967—the West Bank served as the staging
ground for large-scale attacks against Israel. While defending itself,
Israel captured the territory and reunited with its ancestral homeland:
Haifa is not in the Bible, but Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jericho decidedly
are. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushed to resettle their tribal
These communities widened Israel's borders, which at points are a
mere eight miles wide. American policy makers recognized Israel's
need for defensible borders and, in November 1967, they supported
U.N. Resolution 242, which called for withdrawals from "territories"
captured in the war, but not from "all the territories"
or even "the territories."
All successive Israeli governments supported the settlements.
Only with the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords did then-Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin agree to restrain construction in outlying communities
that he considered unnecessary for Israel's defense. But the settlements
continued to expand. Meanwhile the peace process progressed. The Palestinians
never made a construction freeze in Jerusalem and the settlements
a precondition for talks—until earlier this year.
Mr. Netanyahu initially responded that Jews, like all people, can
build legally in Jerusalem, and that it's unreasonable to disallow
settlers from building even an extra room for a newborn. Still, he
promised not to establish new settlements, not to appropriate additional
land for existing ones, nor even to induce Israelis to move to them.
Yet the Palestinians balked. The peace process was moribund, awaiting
an intrepid stroke.
Mr. Netanyahu has now taken that initiative. By suspending new Israeli
construction in all of the West Bank, the prime minister has done
what none of his predecessors, including Rabin, ever suggested.
At home, Mr. Netanyahu's decision has been fiercely criticized, even
by some members of his own party. The Knesset has considered a vote
of no-confidence in his leadership. And the most recent poll shows
that more Israelis oppose the freeze than support it.
The prime minister has nevertheless persisted—his
coalition is among the strongest and most representative in Israel's
history—but the opportunity generated by his action will not
endure indefinitely. Together with the Obama administration, which
has repeatedly asserted its commitment to restarting talks without
preconditions and to achieving a permanent two-state solution, Israelis
hope that Palestinians will once again join them in talks.
By taking risks and accomplishing the unprecedented, Mr. Netanyahu
has demonstrated his commitment to peace. Now the Palestinians must
match that dedication and seize this propitious moment.