Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Full speech given by Prince William at the British Embassy garden reception

The following is the full speech given by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, at the British Embassy garden reception, Israel, Tel Aviv Tuesday evening.


Erev tov lekulam.

Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, I am afraid that that is the extent of my Hebrew. But I am delighted to be here in Israel.

This morning I went to Yad Vashem as my first official engagement. It was a profoundly moving experience.

It brought back powerful memories of the visit that my wife Catherine and I made last year to Stutthof concentration camp.

At Yad Vashem, I met survivors of the Holocaust who came to the UK on the Kindertransport, whose 80th anniversary we mark this year. I heard their stories of a new life made after the United Kingdom in Israel.

I will also visit the grave of my great-grandmother, Princess Alice, who was declared Righteous Among Nations for saving Jews during the Second World War.

Her story is a matter of great pride for my whole family – and the gift I received today from you, Prime Minister, of a copy of the medal presented in her honor by Israel is something my family will treasure – thank you.

As I wrote in my message at Yad Vashem, we must never forget what was perpetrated against the Jewish people in the Holocaust. I am well aware that the responsibility falls now to my generation to keep the memory alive of that great crime as the Holocaust generation passes on. And I commit myself to doing this.

Israel's remarkable story is partly one of remembering this terrible past but, also, looking forward to a much more hopeful future. There is – and I've seen it already – an essential vibrancy to this country.

From the early stories of the kibbutzim; to the revival of Hebrew as a living, modern language; to the hi-tech economies that we see around us here in Tel Aviv – the modern story of Israel is one of inventing, creating, innovating, and striding confidently into its future.

I saw part of this future this afternoon when I met boys and girls from different communities, brought together by their love of football.

And I got a flavor today of the unique character of Tel Aviv, its flair and diversity – and its beach. A beautiful city.

And tomorrow I will meet more young people from around the country, working on the environment, mental health and helping the less fortunate.

These young people are painting a bright future for Israel, bringing their own energy and creativity to the Start-Up Nation. These young people are also a reminder of how much we have in common – two open societies which thrive on innovation, diversity, talent and excellence.

The ties between our two countries have never been stronger, whether in our record levels of trade and investment, our cooperation in science and technology; or the work we do together to keep our people safe.

This region has a complicated and tragic history – in the past century the people of the Middle East have suffered great sadness and loss. Never has hope and reconciliation been more needed. I know I share a desire with all of you, and with your neighbors, for a just and lasting peace.

The United Kingdom stands with you, as we work together for a peaceful and prosperous future.

Thank you again for the warmth of your welcome. Enjoy your evening.

Toda raba.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Remembering Charles Krauthammer

Winston Churchill: The Indispensable Man   By Charles Krauthammer   

It is just a parlor game, but since it only plays once every 100 years, it is hard to resist. Person of the Century? Time magazine offered Albert Einstein, an interesting and solid choice. Unfortunately, it is wrong. The only possible answer is Winston Churchill.

Why? Because only Churchill carries that absolutely required criterion: indispensability. Without Churchill the world today would be unrecognizable — dark, impoverished, tortured.

Without Einstein? Einstein was certainly the best mind of the century. His 1905 trifecta — a total unknown publishing three papers (on Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect and the special theory of relativity) each of which revolutionized its field — is probably the single most concentrated display of genius since the invention of the axle. (The wheel was easy; the axle, hard.)

Einstein also had a deeply humane and philosophical soul. I would nominate him as most admirable man of the century. But most important? If Einstein hadn't lived, the ideas he produced might have been delayed. But they would certainly have arisen without him.

Indeed, by the time he'd published his paper on special relativity, Lorentz and Fitzgerald had already described how, at velocities approaching the speed of light, time dilates, length contracts and mass increases.

True, they misunderstood why. It took Einstein to draw the grand implications that constitute the special theory of relativity. But the groundwork was there.

And true, his general theory of relativity in 1916 is prodigiously original. But considering the concentration of genius in the physics community of the first half of the 20th century, it is hard to believe that the general theory would not have come in due course, too.

Take away Churchill in 1940, on the other hand, and Britain would have settled with Hitler — or worse. Nazism would have prevailed. Hitler would have achieved what no other tyrant, not even Napoleon, had ever achieved: mastery of Europe. Civilization would have descended into a darkness the likes of which it had never known.

The great movements that underlie history — the development of science, industry, culture, social and political structures — are undeniably powerful, almost determinant. Yet every once in a while, a single person arises without whom everything would be different. Such a man was Churchill.

After having single-handedly saved Western civilization from Nazi barbarism — Churchill was, of course, not sufficient in bringing victory, but he was uniquely necessary — he then immediately rose to warn prophetically against its sister barbarism, Soviet communism.

Churchill is now disparaged for not sharing our multicultural late 20th century sensibilities. His disrespect for the suffrage movement, his disdain for Gandhi, his resistance to decolonization are undeniable. But that kind of criticism is akin to dethroning Lincoln as the greatest of 19th century Americans because he shared many of his era's appalling prejudices about black people.

In essence, the rap on Churchill is that he was a 19th century man parachuted into the 20th.

But is that not precisely to the point? It took a 19th century man to save the 20th century from itself. The story of the 20th century is a story of revolution wrought by thoroughly modern men: Hitler, Stalin, Mao and, above all, Lenin, indispensable inventor of totalitarianism out of Marx's cryptic and inchoate communism (and thus runner-up to Churchill).

And it is the story of the modern intellectual, from Ezra Pound to Jean-Paul Sartre, seduced by these modern men of politics and, grotesquely, serving them.

The uniqueness of the 20th century lies not in its science but in its politics. The 20th century was no more scientifically gifted than the19th, with its Gauss, Darwin, Pasteur, Maxwell and Mendel — all plowing, by the way, less-broken scientific ground than the 20th.

No. The originality of the 20th surely lay in its politics. It invented the police state and the command economy, mass mobilization and mass propaganda, mechanized murder and routinized terror — a breathtaking catalog of criminal and delusional political creativity.

And the 20th is a single story because history saw fit to lodge the entire episode in a single century. Totalitarianism turned out to be a cul-de-sac. It came and went. It has a beginning and an end, 1917 and 1991, a run of 75 years neatly nestled into this century. That is our story.

And who is the hero of that story? Who slew the dragon? Yes, it was the ordinary manthe taxpayer, the grunt who fought and won thewars. Yes, it was America and its allies. Yes, it was the great leaders: FDR, de Gaulle, Adenauer, Truman, John Paul II, Thatcher, Reagan. But above all, victory required one indispensable man without whom the fight would have been lost at the beginning. It required Winston Churchill.

The Washington Post Writers Group

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Embracing death foils M.A.D.

“Iran Isn’t North Korea” (June 15) misses a key point. The most fundamental difference between North Korea and Iran is that the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine still works with North Korea, but it would not work with Iran.

As Bernard Lewis points out, “In this context, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, namely M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction), would have no meaning. At the End of Time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter is the final destination of the dead – hell for the infidels and the delights of heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an inducement...”


Thursday, June 14, 2018

The UN General Assembly Vote of Shame

Vote Name: Item 5 Draft resolution A/ES-10/L.23 Protection of the Palestinian civilian population 

When Winston Churchill and FDR met at Placenta Bay in August 1941, they issued a joint declaration called The Atlantic Charter in which they affirmed "certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they based their hopes for a better future for the world.

I have no doubt that the two leaders did not intend that the United Nations formed on these common principals to 77 years later turn out to be protecting people whose organization is called Islamic Jihad and who are waging jihad while waving flags with swastikas and flying terror kites with swastikas.

The UN has become an abomination and a disgrace and should be abolished. 

The vote. In red are the countries which should be particularly ashamed.

120 Yes:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,  Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti , Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s  Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia,  South Africa, SpainSri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste,  Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


45 Abstained:

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Fiji, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Malawi, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, South Sudan, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, Vanuatu. 

8 No:

Australia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Solomon Islands, Togo, United States.


20 Did not vote:

Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, eSwatini , Gabon , Haiti, Kiribati, Libya, Madagascar, Mongolia, Myanmar, Palau, Republic of Moldova, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe,  Seychelles, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Ukraine           

Sunday, June 3, 2018


So long as Gaza continues to be governed by Hamas’s rule of the jungle, no Palestinian civil society, let alone a viable state, can develop.


No cliché has dominated the discourse on the Gaza situation more than the perception of Palestinian violence as a corollary of the Strip’s dire economic condition. No sooner had Hamas and Israel been locked in yet another armed confrontation over the past weeks than the media, foreign policy experts and politicians throughout the world urged the immediate rehabilitation of Gaza as panacea to its endemic propensity for violence. Even senior members of the Israel Defense Forces opined that a “nonmilitary process” of humanitarian aid could produce a major change in the Gaza situation.
While there is no denying the argument’s widespread appeal, there is also no way around the fact that it is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. For it is not Gaza’s economic malaise that has precipitated Palestinian violence; rather, it is the endemic violence that has caused the Strip’s humanitarian crisis.
For one thing, countless nations and groups in today’s world endure far harsher socioeconomic or political conditions than the Palestinians, yet none have embraced violence and terrorism against their neighbors with such alacrity and on such a massive scale.

For another thing, there is no causal relationship between economic hardship and mass violence. On the contrary, in the modern world it is not the poor and the oppressed who have carried out the worst acts of terrorism and violence but, rather, the militant vanguards from among the better educated and more moneyed circles of society, be they homegrown terrorist groups in the West or their Middle Eastern counterparts.

Yasser Arafat, for instance, was an engineer, and his fellow arch terrorist George Habash – the pioneer of aircraft hijacking – a physician. Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was a schoolteacher, while his erstwhile successor, Sayyid Qutb, whose zealous brand of Islam fired generations of terrorists, including the group behind the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, was a literary critic and essayist. The 9/11 terrorists, let alone their multimillionaire paymaster, Osama bin Laden, as well as the terrorists who massacred their British compatriots in July 2005 and those slaughtering their coreligionists in Algeria and Iraq, were not impoverished peasants or workers driven by hopelessness and desperation but educated fanatics motivated by hatred and extreme religious and political ideals.

Nor has Hamas been an exception to this rule. Not only has its leadership been highly educated, but it has gone to great lengths to educate its followers, notably through the takeover of the Islamic University in Gaza and its transformation into a hothouse for indoctrinating generations of militants and terrorists. Hamas founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, studied at the al-Azhar University in Cairo, probably the Islamic world’s most prestigious institution of higher religious learning, while his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, was a physician, as is Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Zahar. The group’s current leader, Ismail Haniyeh, and Muhammad Def, head of Hamas’s military wing, are graduates of the Islamic University of Gaza, while Khaled Mashaal studied physics in Kuwait, where he resided until 1990. Hardly the products of deprivation and despair.

This propensity for violence among the educated and moneyed classes of Palestinian society was starkly reflected in the identity of the 156 men and eight women who detonated themselves in Israel’s towns and cities during the first five years of the “al-Aqsa Intifada,” murdering 525 people, the overwhelming majority of them civilians. A mere 9% of the perpetrators had basic education, while 22% were university graduates and 34% were high school graduates. Likewise, a comprehensive study of Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide terrorists from the late 1980s to 2003 found that only 13% came from a poor background, compared with 32% of the Palestinian population in general. More than half of suicide bombers had entered further education, compared with just 15% of the general population.

By contrast, successive public opinion polls among the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the 1990s revealed far stronger support for the nascent peace process with Israel, and opposition to terrorism, among the poorer and less educated parts of society – representing the vast majority of the population. Thus, for example, 82% of people with a low education supported the Interim Agreement of September 1995, providing for Israel’s withdrawal from the populated Palestinian areas of the West Bank, and 80% opposed terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, compared to 55% and 65%, respectively, among university graduates.

In short, it is not socioeconomic despair but the total rejection of Israel’s right to exist, inculcated by the PLO and Hamas in their hapless West Bank and Gaza subjects over the past 25 years, which underlies the relentless anti-Israel violence emanating from these territories and its attendant economic stagnation and decline.

At the time of the September 1993 signing of the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles, conditions in the territories were far better than in most Arab states – despite the steep economic decline caused by the intifada of 1987-93. But within six months of Arafat’s arrival in Gaza (in July 1994), the standard of living in the Strip fell by 25%, and more than half of the area’s residents claimed to have been happier under Israel. Even so, at the time Arafat launched his war of terrorism in September 2000, Palestinian income per capita was nearly double Syria’s, more than four times Yemen’s, and 10% higher than Jordan’s – one of the better-off Arab states. Only the oilrich Gulf states and Lebanon were more affluent.

By the time of Arafat’s death, in November 2004, his terrorism war had slashed this income to a fraction of its earlier levels, with real GDP per capita some 35% below the pre-September 2000 level, unemployment more than doubling, and numerous Palestinians reduced to poverty and despondency. And while Israel’s suppression of the terrorism war generated a steady recovery, with the years 2007-11 even recording an average yearly growth above 8%, by mid-2014 a fully blown recession had taken hold, especially in the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, apart from reflecting the West Bank’s basic socioeconomic superiority vis-à-vis Gaza, the widening gap between the two areas during the Oslo years (the difference in per capita income shot up from 14% to 141%) was a direct corollary of Hamas’s transformation of the Strip into an unreconstructed terrorism entity, in contrast to the West Bank’s relative tranquility in the post-al-Aqsa Intifada years.

This, in turn, means that so long as Gaza continues to be governed by Hamas’s rule of the jungle, no Palestinian civil society, let alone a viable state, can develop. Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation, so, too, it is only when the local population sweeps its oppressive rulers from power, eradicates the endemic violence from political and social life, and teaches the virtues of coexistence with Israel that Gaza can look forward to a better future.

The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King’s College London, and editor of the Middle East Quarterly.