4:31 PM, Mar 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Elliott Abrams writes:
Last week’s meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama must have been tense. Two days before the meeting, the president publicly accused Israel of more “aggressive settlement construction . . . than we’ve seen in a very long time.” Only hours before the meeting, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) published a report that cited a massive increase in settlement construction during 2013.
But the president had his facts wrong, and a careful reading of the CBS data proves it. The pace is not “aggressive,” and almost all of the construction took place within the major settlement “blocs” — areas that past negotiations have recognized would remain part of Israel (to be compensated for with land swaps).
The figures are online for anyone to see (the Web site is in Hebrew). Israel built 2,534 housing units last year in the West Bank. Of these, about a quarter (694) were in two major blocs near Jerusalem, Giv’at Ze’ev and Betar Illit, and 537 were in two other major blocs, Modiin Illit and Ma’ale Adumim, also near Jerusalem. These four, which will remain part of Israel, account for half of last year’s construction. They are not isolated outposts but instead are towns with populations in the tens of thousands, near the Green Line, as the 1949 armistice line and 1967 border are known.
The critical figure to monitor is the number of Israeli houses built outside such blocs in areas intended for the future state of Palestine. What the CBS data tell us on that question is that only 908 units were built last year in Israeli townships of 10,000 residents or fewer. And most of those units were built in settlement towns that are part of the major blocs. Units built in areas that would become part of Palestine number in the hundreds — and likely in the low hundreds. Given that about 90,000 Israelis live in the West Bank outside the blocs, that is approximately the rate of natural growth. So much for the president’s claim of “aggressive construction.”
Whole thing here.
But blocked an Iranian information campaign.2:10 PM, Mar 11, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
If Israel believed that exposing an Iranian arms transfer to terrorists in Gaza was a public relations coup that might make the White House think twice about making a deal with the regime in Tehran over its nuclear weapons program, then Jerusalem has fundamentally misread the Obama administration. Perhaps just as ominously, it shows that the government of Israel doesn’t understand the new media environment.
For how many decades will we pursue this diplomatic dead end? Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By REUEL MARC GERECHT
To be outrageously iconoclastic among the Washington foreign-policy crowd is easy: Just suggest that the Israeli-Arab peace process is not merely pointless but actually damaging to America’s position in the Middle East and bad for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By LEE SMITH
From his place on the podium at AIPAC’s annual policy conference last week, Benjamin Netanyahu surveyed the Middle East. “On the one side stands Israel, animated by the values we cherish,” said the Israeli prime minister. And on the other side are Iran, Bashar al-Assad, and Hezbollah—“the forces of terror . . . steeped in blood and savagery.” There’s a “moral divide,” said Netanyahu, “that separates Israel from its enemies.”
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:45 PM, Mar 3, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with editor William Kristol on Ukraine, Israel, and the foreign policy crisis.
Obama's scary interview.
11:35 AM, Mar 3, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
On the eve of the Netanyahu visit to Washington, President Obama gave a lengthy interview to Jeffrey Goldberg that shows a chief executive who has learned next to nothing about the world in his five years in office.
Does Obama Care?10:53 AM, Mar 3, 2014 • By ARYEH TEPPER
In President Obama's blindside of an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, finely timed for Prime Minister Netanyahu's arrival in Washington and the opening of the AIPAC conference, Obama made the following, revealing remark, "I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist."
2:19 PM, Feb 20, 2014 • By MARK TOOLEY
A new Presbyterian study resource is being condemned by Jewish groups for its harsh anti-Israel rhetoric. But the controversy over the booklet could actually help defeat anti-Israel divestment, which the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly will consider once again in June, after defeating it in 2012 by only two votes.
Netanyahu at an IDF base on the Golan Heights treating Syrian civilians attacked by Assad.9:04 AM, Feb 19, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited an IDF base on the Golan Heights that treats wounded Syrian civilians who safely made their way across the border. Netanyahu visited the wounded and then later, surrounded by IDF doctors, nurses and soldiers, addressed the press in this Youtube video:
9:12 AM, Feb 14, 2014 • By EDWARD ALEXANDER
Laborare est orare: Work is worship. Once upon a time that Latin cry arose from scores of medieval monasteries. Their monks believed that—as Carlyle later put it--“all true Work is Religion: and whatsoever Religion is not work may go and dwell among the Brahmins, Spinning Dervishes, or where it will…One monster there is in the world: the idle man.” Nor were those old monks the first to believe in the religious nature of work, the blasphemous nature of idleness.
Talking to Matthew Levitt about his new book 'Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.'1:19 PM, Feb 13, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Six years ago Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated when the headrest in his car was detonated in Damascus. While Israeli intelligence neither denies nor confirms its involvement, the Mossad is generally believed to have been responsible for his death. And yet there is no shortage of Western as well as Arab intelligence services that wanted Mughniyeh dead—including the CIA, whose station chief William Buckley Hezbollah abducted, tortured and killed in 1985. Moreover, Mughniyeh was responsible for the April 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut that killed 17 Americans, and the Marines barracks bombing in October of that year that killed 244 American marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen. As founder and director of Hezbollah’s terrorism apparatus, Mughniyeh left a long wake of blood across the world. And even six years after his death, Mughniyeh’s legacy of terror lives on, as Hezbollah has recently plotted operations on several continents, including Europe, Asia and Africa.
11:08 AM, Feb 12, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Gossip in Jerusalem suggests that many Israelis misunderstand John Kerry’s obsession with the peace process: They believe that the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate is using Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as a platform to challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination. That’s not likely. Instead, it’s in comparing Kerry’s dogged efforts to that of his predecessor that Kerry’s real motives become clear. Clinton left a light footprint as secretary of state because she didn’t want anything sticking to her when campaign season rolls around.
6:44 AM, Feb 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
David Horovitz, writing for the Times of Israel:
US Secretary of State John Kerry may feel heartfelt concern about the growing campaign to delegitimize Israel and to boycott it. One of the least smart and least constructive ways to tackle the danger, however, is by issuing an anguished public prediction that this is what awaits Israel if his peace effort fails.
2:37 PM, Feb 3, 2014 • By ARYEH TEPPER
David Ignatius has been writing from Israel recently. His column from late last week included the following passage illustrating why Israeli-Palestinian peace might "still prove insoluble":