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The Czech Republic, which has the presidency of the EU, had the grace to greet the new Israeli government with an announcement that is a masterpiece of diplomacy.

The announcement must be read to be appreciated, so here it is:

EU Presidency Statement on the approval of the new Israeli government by the Knesset

The Presidency considers Israel to be an important partner in the Middle East and underlines its readiness to closely cooperate with the new Israeli government to advance this partnership on all levels of common interest.

We believe that one key issue of common interest is stability and security in the Middle East, which can only be achieved by putting an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Presidency therefore expects the new Israeli government to pursue a policy of peace and negotiation leading to a just solution of the conflict in accordance with the guidelines set out by the international community, especially the Middle East Quartet’s Roadmap.

This comprises in due course the resumption of peace talks on all outstanding final status issues to turn the vision of two states living in peace and security alongside each other into a reality. This also implies that all actions rendering such talks more difficult and prejudging their outcome should be stopped immediately. The new Israeli government has our full support in this respect.

* Zuzana Opletalova, Spokeswoman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
* Tel.: +420 224 182 052, GSM: +420 724 034 154, E-mail: press@mzv.cz

On the surface it is an innocuous, round, vacuous and neighborly announcement, that agrees with Israeli intentions of following the roadmap. However, there is the little matter of "actions rendering such talks more difficult and prejudging their outcome should be stopped immediately."

Translated into English such as the vulgar press might use, this announcement really says, "The EU warns the ultranationalist hawkish right wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu that it had better stick to the program or else. No deviations will be tolerated.

Diplomacy, as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman should bear in mind, is the art of telling people to go to hell in a nice way, and this announcement is an outstanding specimen of the art. Israel could learn a great deal from the Czechs in the matter of phrasing diplomatic announcements. On the other hand, considering their own history, our Czechs could learn something from Israel in the matter of defending our national rights and not caving in to demands for "flexibility" and taking actions "rendering such talks more difficult" in negotiations. But the Czechs learned diplomacy in a good school, and they learned well. Neville Chamberlain himself could not have framed a more masterly communique in 1938.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000675.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 9 Comments

Either I didn’t phrase my comment clearly enough or you may have misinterpreted it.
I did not state that I see an end to tolerating ethnic cleansing. You are absolutely correct when you point out that Hamas, Hizbollah and the mullas of Iran have made very clear their desire to ethnically cleanse the middle east and wipe Israel off the map. What I said was that “right now a new set of rules exists for countries that want to be a part of the developed civilized world…” and in that context ethnic cleansing is not tolerated. So if we look at the horrendous situation in Darfur for example, we see that Sudan is very far from being accepted by the developed world and that El Bashir is held responsible internationally for war crimes. All this does not mean that there aren’t exceptions and a great deal of hypocrisy
Now for the record, seeing that you have asked, I completely believe in the right of Jews for self determination in their own state and more than that: it is a basic right to demand to live in security and peace. And it is because of this, I believe we need to see the issues clearly in order to figure out the solutions.
So if we discuss for example what you say when you contend that the West Bank is not Arab territory: while technically it is occupied territory in dispute which of course makes it different to the analogy presented, in reality the West Bank has been de facto annexed by Israel. In the years following the Six-Day war Israel chose geography over demography. Yet you have stated correctly “Demography is destiny”.
Add to this persistent settlement in contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention which has not even made a dent on the demographics, has enraged Israel’s closest allies and turned Palestinian moderates into extremists and you land up with the mess you have today.

Israel was largely not criticized for protecting itself against the missiles from Gaza. The problem of international outrage and criticism occurred after the bodies started piling up in Gaza including many civilians, as the Cast Lead dragged on without seeing any strategic gain or solutions in site. That’s why I don’t agree with the suggestion that the EU presidency is threatening Israel. The EU is a partner for Israel and Israel needs work with that wisely.

Who I am? Who are you or who is anyone here? We are permitted to use a user-name or as in your case an email which could belong to Jack Sprat. Who cares, as long as there is genuine discussion devoid of personal attacks. I’m not sure that’s going to be possible when the facilitator seems to prefer the latter.

jayzed, Friday, April 10th

Ami Isseroff
Hitherto, in the spirit of aiming for discourse at a reasonably elevated level I have refrained from making any personal remarks. Your comment now verifies the root problem I tried to point out. Your copious essays have some value but rather than engage on the issues you yourself raise, using a logical platform, you prefer to take an ad homonym approach. So you make personal remarks like “..doesn’t get it” or “evidently you have difficulty in reading” or that the comment is “silly and needlessly harmful” rather than try to back up your claims with sound logic. Now you write statements that literally try to put words in the mouth of your readers implying that this one thinks that Haniyeh who adopts a racist genocidal charter, is acceptable.

Deal with the issues: There is no logical or factual basis to suggest that the EU announcement is anything but an affirmation of policy already accepted and a mild attempt to convey to the new Israeli government to confirm that.

jayzed, Friday, April 10th

To Jayzed:

Your central point is mistaken, although I wish it weren’t. How could you possibly see an “end to tolerating ethnic cleansing”? Hamas, Hezbollah, and the mullahs of Iran openly state their desires to “wipe Israel off the map” – a phrase from the Iranian President’s own English-language website. The rulers of Iran actively seek nuclear weapons to achieve this goal. It’s no secret. They are proud of it. And yet they are embraced by so-called peace activists and progressives. “We are all Hamas” – no thanks.

Do you, or don’t you, believe that the Jewish People – like all the other Peoples in the world – have the right to self-determination, within secure borders in their own homeland? Yes, or no?

It’s not about where the borders should be, or whether there should be yet another Arab Muslim state in the Middle East – Israel and the U.S. already agreed to that. The central question is whether Jews have the right to self-determination and self-defense.

The only way this conflict will end is if one side gives up. Either Hamas, Hezbollah, and the mullahs of Iran win, in which case the Jews march into the sea – or are destroyed in a nuclear inferno; or the Jews have their own state, just like the French, the Poles, the Finns, and the Japanese. But that would mean that Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran must give up their goal of a judenrein (Jew-cleansed) Middle East. It’s already been achieved in Jordan, where Jews are forbidden by law from becoming citizens. It’s also been achieved in Saudi Arabia, where all non-Muslim religions are forbidden by law.

Imagine the reaction of the world if Israel passed similar laws, banning non-Jews from citizenship or the free practice of their religions.

Your analogy about “annex[ing] part of German territory occupied by a hostile population” is also incorrect, because the West Bank is not Arab territory. It’s disputed territory. Moreover, Sderot and Ashkelon, which received missiles from Gaza, are not part of either Gaza or the West Bank. Yet Israel receives constant criticism for trying to protect its own citizens in those cities.

It is this criticism that has convinced me that ethnic cleansing of Israel would be cheerfully tolerated by the international community. I remain opposed to it. And so should you.

By the way, who are you? You left no eMAIL link, nor a full name. Why?

Kevin Jon Williams, Wednesday, April 8th

Soo Haniyeh is not a racist genocidal reactionary? Jayzed still doesn't get it. Lieberman's remarks were silly and needlessly harmful, just as Jayzed's remarks are silly and needlessly harmful. That is Israeli culture I guess, though Lieberman is not quite an acculturated Israeli as we would ordinarily understand the term.

The EU succeeded in being far more pernicious with their seemingly vacuous and harmless statement.

Ami Isseroff, Wednesday, April 8th

To Kevin John Williams
An interesting point. I would like to mention a few things that may be relevant here;
1. Following WW2 quite a lot of ethnic cleansing took place. When one considers the particular events prior and during the war specifically regarding Czechoslovakia, it came as no surprise.
2. Some historians claim that ethnic cleansing was reportedly done to Palestinians back in ’48 also for existential reasons. Jews were also expelled from Jerusalem and from Arab countries at that time.
3. The problem in our Israeli situation is that following the Six-Day War ethnic importation of a Palestinian population hostile to Israel was done by virtue of Israel’s prolonged occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. As you have said “actions speak louder than words”. Now imagine if the Czechs were actually to annex part of German territory occupied by a hostile population long after the expulsion of the Sudetens thereby recreating the problem they had before. That would be illogical right? Welcome to the Middle East.
4. Right now a new set of rules exists for countries that want to be a part of the developed civilized world. The bombing of Serbia by NATO was the watershed that signaled an end to tolerating ethnic cleansing and the trial of Milosevic confirmed that.
5. It’s a changing world: my thoughts are that the Czech presidency is representing the EU in this announcement more than the Czechs trying to teach Israel a lesson in history.

jayzed, Tuesday, April 7th

Actions speak louder than words. How did the Czechs (and Slovaks) deal with a large, hostile, violent neighbor, Germany, that used the ethnic German population in the Sudetenland as an excuse to dismember Czechoslovakia?

As soon as Germany was defeated in World War II, the Czechs (and Slovaks) forcibly expelled about 90% of their ethnic Germans, except for a few who could prove their loyalty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expulsion_of_Germans_from_Czechoslovakia_after_World_War_II). Germans had been almost a quarter of the country’s population. The Czechs (and Slovaks) reduced them to a few percent. The Sudetenland was then re-populated, mostly by Czechs – settlements, if you will (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudetenland).

In 1992, when Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, no territory went to their former German inhabitants. Demography is destiny, and they were gone. No right of return. The entire land remained Slavic.

In other words, when faced with an existential threat, the Czechs sought “stability and security … which can only be achieved by putting an end to the … conflict”. But they did not “pursue a policy of peace and negotiation”. They chose ethnic cleansing.

The hypocrisy now in their advice to Israel is breathtaking.

Kevin Jon Williams, Tuesday, April 7th

Maybe you could learn something from your own criteria in this website’s comments policy. A critique of the reading skills of those who take time to review the postings and respond does not help in promoting “constructive comments”.
Exasperating as it may be to deal with the issues in real debate, unlike in the never-never world where everyone thinks the same thing, it may be helpful to focus on the issues rather than brand intellectual thought as illiteracy.
Now for the matter at hand: When you interpret the EU president’s remarks meaning Israel must be “flexible” as an example of an unreasonable demand parallel to those of Lieberman, it must surely be evident that this in itself is an unreasonable statement. The EU announcement comes not from a hard-line anti-Israel source, but from a highly respected very powerful international body who have underwritten the roadmap and who are legitimately concerned as to whether Israel’s government will live up to its responsibilities in this respect. To spell this out in simple terms, it is my considered opinion that there is a flaw in this logic which would bring us to conclusions that are incorrect.
Likewise, to swing the baseball bat of WW2 paranoia at every troubling announcement which may criticize Israel is trite and abuses the relevance of historical events themselves.
This is a pretty good website with a great deal of valuable resources however one of the main detracting features is that it seems that it’s a show of proselytizing to the converted lacking a wider body of contributors. Add to this, the need to insult a commenter who differs in opinion, and you have wondered into an intellectual cul-de-sac. If the battle for hears and minds is strategic, this is not helping.

jayzed, Tuesday, April 7th

Evidently you have difficulty reading. That is not my fault. The announcement of the EU is clear enough - Israel must be "flexible"
As I wrote, Lieberman could learn from the EU how to couch unreasonable demands in better language.

Ami Isseroff, Monday, April 6th

It’s really sad to see how a friendly, impartial and relatively benign announcement from the EU president winds up on this site as Chamberlain-paranoia and “look what happened to the Czechs”. It is of course very important to be aware of the lessons of history but to be walled so deep inside the historical box so as never to be able to think outside of it for creative solutions, does not bode well.
Yet one is consoled by the fact that a solid majority of Israelis now sit together in denial, cramped into that tiny little thought-box, sincerely believing there is no chance for two state solution, all Palestinians are terrorists and the anti-Semites are waiting behind every tree to impose Peace dressed in sheep’s clothing.
No worry – we can teach those Czechs a thing or two with our Israeli 20/20 hindsight super-vision of history and build another settlement or two.
Soooo… Lieberman is not an ultra-nationalist, he is a wise politician in a moderate government especially gifted in honoring Israel’s neighbors such as Egypt and is by no means denies the obligations of the joint declaration at Annapolis of the 27th November 2007. Interesting. Now I wonder what Obama was doing talking about that non binding idea again in Turkey today?

jayzed, Monday, April 6th

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