Abbas gives his final answer to Palestinian statehood
On Friday afternoon, Abbas said he was adamant about not recognizing Israel as the Jewish state.
"They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state," Abbas said in a meeting with some 200 senior representatives of the Palestinian community in the US, shortly before taking the podium and delivering a speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
What he denies to Israel will inevitably be denied to him
A veiled threat of a pre-emptive strike on Iran?
Excerpt from PM Netanyahu's speech to the UN. The reference to an Iranian winter suggests a nuclear winter and when it is followed by a statment that: "I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking", it seems rather clear that Israel is ready to use nuclear weapons to contain the Iranian threat
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.
But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.
Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland -- it was then that this was braided -- branded, rather -- shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn't praised; it was denounced! And it's here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It's singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel -- the one true democracy in the Middle East.
And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me -- and ladies and gentlemen, I don't want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here's what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you'll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.
Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel's prime minister, I didn't come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. (Cheers, applause.) The truth is -- the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through UN resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn't let that happen.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West. Since then the Cold War ended, great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber, hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty, countless more are poised to follow, and the remarkable thing is that so far this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully. Yet a malignancy is now growing between East and West that threatens the peace of all. It seeks not to liberate, but to enslave, not to build, but to destroy.
That malignancy is militant Islam. It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality. On September 11th it killed thousands of Americans, and it left the twin towers in smoldering ruins. Last night I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial. It was deeply moving. But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind: the outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday. He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy. Some of you left this hall. All of you should have. (Applause.)
Since 9/11, militant Islamists slaughtered countless other innocents -- in London and Madrid, in Baghdad and Mumbai, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in every part of Israel. I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons. And this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.
Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday -- can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons? The international community must stop Iran before it's too late. If Iran is not stopped, we will all face the specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab Spring could soon become an Iranian winter. That would be a tragedy. Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty, and no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.
This is my fervent hope. But as the prime minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking. Leaders must see reality as it is, not as it ought to be. We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.
It's an old story
Why shouldn't the United Nations recognize an Arab state of Palestine alongside the Jewish one called Israel? It wouldn't be the first time. On November 29, 1947, the UN's General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, to partition the disputed territory then called Palestine into two states whose people were going to live happily ever afterward.
Fat lot of good it did.
Riots erupted throughout the over-Promised Land as soon as the vote was recorded. The Arab Higher Committee for Palestine declared it would "fight for every inch" of old Palestine. The learned sages of Al-Azhar University in Cairo declared jihad against the infidels. (The term would become familiar to Americans after September 11, 2001).
Arab militias, aka gangs, began attacking Jewish settlements all across the Galilee. The British, who were supposed to keep the peace as the mandatory authority in Palestine, declared themselves unable to stop the assaults; they had all they could do to disarm the Jews. They wound up turning over their bases in the country to the Arab fighters streaming across the border from what was then Trans-Jordan. ("I will have the pleasure and honor to save Palestine." --King Abdullah I, April 26, 1948.) Suspected of making peace with the Jews, the king would be assassinated by the inevitable fanatic three years later. The UN, to no one's surprise, would prove as impotent then as it is now. It still passes plenty of resolutions; only resolve is lacking.
In 1947, the American president who was shifting back and forth on the Palestine question, now known as the Middle East conflict, was Harry Truman. He would wind up recognizing the Jewish state once it was declared. By then it was a presidential election year, and one of his political advisers (a then young Clark Clifford) kept urging Mr. Truman to support the idea of a Jewish state if he intended to carry New York in the fall.
In 2011, the American president shifting back and forth is Barack Obama. Appearing before the United Nations this past week, he was no longer emphasizing the need for Israel to negotiate on the basis of its vulnerable pre-1967 borders, which were essentially the 1949 armistice lines. Instead, he shifted his emphasis to urging direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, which the Israelis very much want to resume.
It's a familiar pattern: The closer a presidential election year gets, the closer an American president gets to the Israeli position. Especially if the president's party has just lost a congressional election in a largely Jewish district of New York, as Barack Obama's just did. It would be unfair to say that this president puts his vaguely leftish ideology first when it comes to making important decisions. It's clear, as in this case, that he puts winning re-election first. I'm not sure which is worse.
Who's Your Daddy?
For millions of folks, the federal government is now their sugar daddy. According to The Wall Street Journal, 47 percent of people in this country, both citizens and non-citizens, are receiving one or more federal benefits payments. That is the highest entitlement percentage in U.S. history.
And that's just the way some in the Democratic Party want it. Get the folks hooked on government benefits, and you'll have their votes for life because those mean Republicans are so full of self-reliance that they'll always oppose federal largesse.
From 2007 to 2010, the Democratic-controlled Congress added $5.3 trillion to America's already astronomical debt -- a record spending spree over a three-year period of time. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led the wild ride, with Presidents Bush and Obama signing off on the binge.
Now, the USA is approaching bankruptcy, and the Democrats still don't want to rein in spending. They fight cuts every step of the way, offering up phony "take the rich" mantras to deceive the voting public into believing that increasing revenue will dig America out of its well of red ink.
Liberal Americans like to think of themselves as compassionate, championing a vast flow of public money to those who have not. But what is compassionate about wrecking an entire economy?
America's economic status was downgraded because our government has failed to deal aggressively with deficit spending. The dollar is being hammered because confidence in it is flagging all over the world. While countries like Switzerland and Germany retain healthy balance sheets, the USA is following the philosophy of Zorba the Greek: dancing all day long rather than confronting the reality of irresponsible behavior.
Simply put: The federal government cannot continue fiddling while the economy burns. It must begin implementing aggressive spending cuts across the board.
If that were to happen, we finally could look at revenue enhancement in a fair and effective way.
But it's a lot easier to trot out Warren Buffett in the role of the ancient mariner. My secretary pays more income tax than I do, he whines. Well, Warren, you could write a monstrous check to the Treasury anytime you wish in order to right that wrong. But demanding the feds raise the capital gains tax will assure a long winter for the stock market. Would it not?
President Obama will not win re-election on the class warfare ticket, but it seems he is determined to try. By all means, close up loopholes that allow corporations like General Electric to avoid paying taxes. Yes, dial back lavish deductions that fat cats use to dodge responsible tax payment. But let's knock off the "fair share" myth, OK? Affluent Americans have been paying a disproportionate amount of income tax for decades, and still the nation remains deeply in debt.
Punishing achievement is not the road to fiscal solvency, Mr. President. Just ask the Swiss.
Look What We've Made in Taiwan
As I write this column, my plane is taking off from Taiwan's Taoyuan Airport to bring me back home. It was a special visit to Taiwan -- one that helped put so many earlier visits into a larger perspective.
My first visit to Taiwan occurred 40 years ago. The changes since then have been remarkable.
When I first visited, U.S. foreign aid was still a mainstay of the Taiwan development pattern. Today Taiwan provides assistance to other nations. Back then, products made in Taiwan were certainly not high-quality -- the label "made in Taiwan" was something of a joke.
Today workers there build components for the most sophisticated consumer electronics and high-tech industries around. "Made in Taiwan" is now a label of quality and a badge of pride.
On the political front, Taiwan has long since shed its martial-law past and has evolved into a full-fledged democracy. In January 2012, elections for the legislature and the presidency will take place. The two primary candidates for president are running neck and neck, and the people of Taiwan are paying attention to real policy questions.
The Americans who participated in the first policy roundtable discussion -- liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats -- have served in various presidential administrations over the years, but all of us share a single commitment. We've seen how Taiwan has developed as a democracy with free institutions. We've seen it become home to a thriving, market-based economy and a carefully constructed rule of law. And we're determined to highlight the fact that these principles can indeed work in the Chinese context.
It's important for other leaders throughout Asia to recognize this. It's also a moment for us to take pride that we have stood by the people of Taiwan through some difficult times and worked with them in developing a free and prosperous society.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)