Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Elephant in the Room

by: Michael D. Evans
The Elephant in the RoomBenjamin Netanyahu has again challenged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for his failure to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. During a Likud meeting earlier this week, the prime minister said: "The chairman of the PA was quoted today as saying he is not prepared to recognize the Jewish state. And this comes with him knowing there will not be an agreement without recognition of the nation state of the Jews."  Netanyahu also called “absurd” the idea that Israel would acquiesce to a Palestinian state without the reciprocity of the PA recognizing the Jewish state. Abbas’ failure to acknowledge the Jewish state has become the proverbial elephant in the room during peace negotiations.
Netanyahu further warned, “Now we will see if those same international actors, who until now have solely put pressure on Israel, will make clear to the Palestinian Authority what exactly will happen to the Palestinians if there will not be an agreement. Because, unless the Palestinians understand they will pay a price for the failure of peace talks, they will prefer not to continue the talks."
The prime minister’s comments followed a warning from US Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel faces the risk of losing its legal status and of additional embargoes should the current situation continue without a breakthrough in the so-called peace process. Netanyahu pledged that outside pressures will not force him to take chances with the safety and security of the citizens of the nation of Israel.
Minister of Economics Naftali Bennett took exception to Kerry’s threat of boycotts against Israel. He responded, "The Jewish people are stronger than the threats. We won't give in to scare tactics. They're trying to crush our spirit, but we'll win. How? By telling the truth over and over again.”
Bennett scorned statements by Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat who declared that the Palestinians had resided in the region longer than the Jews. Said Bennett, “The Land of Israel has been the inheritance of the Jewish People for 3,800 years. In the same Bible that all Muslims and Christians – and of course Jews – believe, it says G-d gave the Land to the Jewish Nation. This is written in Hebrew and addressed to the Jews. Israel was the Jewish homeland thousands of years before there were Palestinians.”
In 2005, a movement of divestment, sanctions and boycotts against the Jewish state was launched. The BDS group had called for international economic pressure against Israel. The targets included such widely known brands as Pampers, Victoria's Secret, Volvo, Intel, Israeli hummus, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Starbucks, McDonald's, and SodaStream, among others.
SodaStream spokesperson and actress Scarlett Johansson revealed in a Huffington Post blog interview that she is "proud of the...quality of their product and work environment." She touted the West Bank factory where Palestinians and Israelis work side-by-side.
While Johansson’s comments were ridiculed by some, they were supported by an unsolicited and comparable reaction from some of the Palestinians employed at the plant.
One young man from the Palestinian village of Jaba confirmed: "I'm happy. We're like family. We have fun. We are Jews and Muslims here. We are here peacefully. We have no problems. Everyone is complaining about settlements here and everywhere, but SodaStream is different.''
Those employed related that their take-home pay is approximately $1,200 per month. This is a princely sum compared to what they would take home in wages from comparable jobs within the Palestinian Authority territory. SodaStream also provides benefits to its workers in the form of medical insurance and a pension plan. Although pressured to resign from her representation of SodaStream, Ms. Johansson resigned from the organization applying that pressure—Oxfam, the non-profit and anti-poverty human rights organization that has operated in the West Bank for years on behalf of the Palestinians.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat backed Mr. Netanyahu while speaking at the 11th Jerusalem Conference. He reiterated that “for more than four billion people in the world, [Jerusalem] is the center of the world, for all the tribes and all the sectors." According to the mayor, he appreciates the prime minister’s desire to stand firm against attempts to divide the Holy City.
Dr. Michael Evans is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. His latest fiction book, Born Again: 1948 is available at

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