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February 9, 2018

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, FEBRUARY 9, 2018 PAGE 5A a mira By Stephen M. Flatow (JNS)--Ever wonder why polls consistently show that a large portion of the Israeli public supports creating a Palestinian state? How can it be that despite the Palestinian Authority's support for terrorism, viola- tions of the Oslo Accords and non-stop anti-Israel incite- ment, so many Israelis seem to be in favor of establishing a Palestinian state next door? Could it be that the answer is found in the asking? Just last week, newspaper headlines announced that according to a new poll, 47 percent of Israeli Jews still support Palestinian state- hood. The poll was carried out by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, at Tel Aviv University. But as with most news about Israel, you need to dig behind the headlines to find out the real story. In this case, the real story is the wording that the Steinmetz Center used. The question that got the 47 percent fig- ure was loaded with false assumptions and completely unrealistic expectations. In other words, the poll offered a fantasy. The Steinmetz Center asked respondents if they sup- ported a "two-state solution" that would include: 1. It would be a"permanent settlement." In reality, of course, nobody can guarantee that any settlement would be "permanent." The Palestinian leader who signs an agree- ment could be overthrown the next day. Arab leaders are constantly being ousted and replaced by arch-rivals. 2. The agreement would include "demilitarization of the Palestinian state." This, despite the fact that every Palestinian leader has rejected the idea of de- militarization. Even if they signed an agreement saying it would be demilitarized, what's the likelihood they would abide by that? If a "demilitarized" Palestinian state started importing tanks that it claimed were needed for self-defense, Israel would face international condemna- tion and sanctions if it tried to intervene. 3. There would be "family unification in Israel of 100,000 Palestinian refugees." Notice the use of the sympathetic term "family unification." What cruel person would op- pose unifying families? More important, the PA's position has always been that millions of Palestinian "refugees"-- not a mere 100,000--must be allowed to settle in Israel. The 100,000 figure is an illusion that Jewish supporters of the Palestinians trot out to try to sell their imaginary deal. 4. "The Palestinian state will fight terror against Is- raelis."What a joke. The heart and soul of the Oslo Accords was that the PA would stamp out terrorist groups. Yet here we are, 25 years later, and the PA has never disarmed or outlawed any of the terrorist groups, never extradited any terrorists to Israel, never even expelled terror factions from the PLO. But now, when they have a state, they will suddenly "fight terror"? So there you have it: The "Palestinian state" that 47 percent of Israeli Jews would favor is a creature of the Steinmetz Center's imagina- tion. A permanently peaceful, totally demilitarized, terror- fighting Palestinian state that won't insist on flooding Israel with "refugees." Who wouldn't want such a neigh- bor? Frankly, I'm surprised only 47 percent of Israeli Jews voiced their support. It's not hard to understand why advocates of the Palestin- ian cause are so enamored of the Steinmetz Center. The center's website reports that its polls of Israeli public opinion are undertaken "with funding from the European Union and the Netherlands Representative Office in Ra- mallah." I guess the EU and the Dutch government, both of which are passionately pro- Palestinian, see the center's work as helpful to the Pales- tinian cause. You can bet the EU and the Dutch would be mighty unhappy if the Steinmetz Center asked questions that included factual statements about Palestinian statehood. How about questions such as these: 1. If a Palestinian state is established, Israelwill be nine miles wide at its midsection. Is that a risk you are willing to take? 2. If a Palestinian state is established, a terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, standing inside the borders of "Palestine," will be able to shoot down a plane taking off from Ben Gurion Airport. Do you believe the PA can be relied upon to stop such attacks? 3. The PA has never hon- ored its Osio obligations to disarm or outlaw terrorist groups. Do you believe that a Palestinian state would take those actions? Any chance of the Stein- metz Center ever asking such questions? I'm not holding my breath, and you shouldn't either. Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestin- ian terrorist attack in ]995. By Jonathan Feldstein This past week Israel com- memorated the 70th anniver- sary of one of its most heroic, sad, and yet pivotal battles in its early struggle for inde- pendence, among ongoing battles to defend itself until today. I was reminded of the anniversary when I drove by a pristine Judean mountain location known as "Battle Hill." But had I forgotten that it was the anniversary, I'd have been reminded with the weekend newspapers re- counting the story of heroism then, and reminding us today how pivotal the battle was 70 years earlier. In reading the newspaper, I was proud and excited to see that my 12-year-old son rec- ognized the picture of Danny Mass, the commander of that battle, while standing next to me looking at the paper upside down. It was a yet another reminder of what a blessing it is to raise my children in the Land not just of our biblical forefathers, but of brave and inspirational heroes in the modern era who paved the way for us to be here today. Making this battle all the more poignant for us is that we live in Gush Etzion, the Judean mountain region in which battle took place, where the brave Jewish soldiers fought and lost their lives. We have them to thank for the fact that the Jewish communities of this region were able to hold on as long as they did defend- ing themselves then, and as a southern line Of defense to prevent Jordanian and other Arab forces from entering Jerusalem in 1947-48. Underscoring the signifi- cance of this battle, every year Israeli teens from across the country gather to reenact the overnight march from the valley below to the site of the battle dozens of kilometers away. My five oldest children have done this and understand the bravery and the challenges of carrying supplies weighing 70 kg up a rocky mountainous terrain in the cold and some- times rainy January night. Long before the 1947 parti- tion plan where the UN voted to create a Jewish and Arab state in the Land of Israel, early pioneers established four thriving Jewish communities. The communities lived by in large at peace with neighbors in the Arab villages nearby, conductingbusiness together, and even invited one another to their community celebra- tions. After the Holocaust, many survivors joined these communities. Yet in 1947, following the Arab rejection of any Jewish state in the Land of Israel, Arab armies invaded, and local Arab tribes were rallied into rudimentary combat forces to fight against their Jewish neighbors. Where weeks earlier Jews were inviting Arabs to share in community celebrations, suddenly Arab neighbors were galvanized by anti-Semitic incitement and profound hate, and the Arabs with whom the Jews once had cordial relations willingly joined the battle against the Jews, under promise of the opportunity to loot the Jewish communities following their destruction. Because of the siege that prevented the delivery of weapons to defend them- selves and basic food to sustain themselves, a valiant operation was undertaken in January 1948 to provide reinforcements. Thirty-five young men among the most elite of Israel's early combat forces, set out in the middle of the night for a hike under cover of darkness carrying bags with weapons, plasma, and other supplies that were critically needed. At daylight they were spotted by two Arab women gathering wood who ran to the nearest Arab village galvanizing a massive military response. The 35 men sought high ground to defend themselves. The 35 on page 15A By Ami Eden (JTA)--Donald Trump is just the man to get an Israeli- Palestinian peace deal done. Just ask Benjamin Netan- yahu. The Israeli prime minister was gushing last week about Trump's negotiating team, which is led by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. "The thing the people don't realize is that these people have made their mark in the markets, in real estate," Netanyahu said in an inter- view in Davos, Switzerland, with CNN's Fareed Zakariah. "Now this is not only a real estate deal, it's fundamentally not a real estate deal but a problem recognizing Israel's existence, the problem of not recognizing a Jewish state in any boundary. But it also has its real estate elements and they are, I have to say, very creative." Odds are you're snicker- ing--because you think Trump's recent decision to move the embassy to Jeru- salem shows the president is only interested in doing right by Israel, not getting the Israeli-Palestinian negotia- tions back on track. The only question is if you think that's a good thing or a bad thing. Just one problem: Donald Trump and Team Kushner sure sound like they want to get a deal done. At his joint news conference with Netanyahu in Davos, Trump made clear that the embassy decision was not a freebie but an advance payment for future Israeli concessions. "Youwin one point," Trump said to Netanyahu. "And you'll give up some points later on in the negotiation if it ever takes place. I don't know that it ever will take place." Trump coupled that com- ment with a promise to slash U.S. aid to the Palestinians unless they come back to the negotiating table. The president isn't looking to kill the peace process; he's looking to get the negotiations started. And that shouldn't be surprising. When he showed up for the Republican Jewish Coalition's candidate forum in December 2015, Trump could have hit a grand slam by sticking to bash-Obama talking points, declaring Jerusalem the eter- nal, undivided capital of Israel and telling the Palestinians to take a hike. But he demurred when askedabout Jerusalem's status and stressed the need for the United States to be seen as evenhanded. And he talked about his desire to get a deal done. "The hardest deal in history to put together," he said. "If I can do that, it would make me so happy" Since then, Trump has got- ten in step with key constitu- encies (like Jewish Republi- can donors and evangelical Christian voters) by dropping the neutral talk in favor of unabashedly pro-Israel talk- ing points. But he hasn't backed off the push for Israeli- Palestinian negotiations and a final deal. In fact, he signaled just how important it is to him by put- ting Kushner in charge and adding Trump Organization lawyer Jason Greenblatt to the team. Sources on all sides have praised Greenblatt for his tireless efforts andwiUingness to listen Just days before Trump's Jerusalem announcement in December, Kushner--who almost never speaks public- ly--appeared at the Brookings Institution's Saban Forum in Washington, D.C. His mes- sage: "If we're going to try and create more stability in the region as awhole, you have to solve [the Israeli-Palestinianl issue." As Kushner acknowledged, none of this means a deal is close, or even possible. These days, Mahmoud Abbas would throw shade on the idea that Trump is serious about getting a deal done The Palestinian leader says he's had it with U.S.-led talks, claiming Trump's embassy decision proves Washington is incapable of serving as an honest broker. But blaming Trump's Je- rusalem move for the lack of Israeli-Palestinian talks is like saying today's rainstorm is responsible for the ocean. Abbas has been signaling for years that he thinks his best play is to sidestep U.S.- sponsored bilateral talks with Israel in favor of some sort of international forum. He halted direct, public negotia- tions with Israel since 2014, back when Barack Obama was in the White House and Trump was still on "The Ap- prentice." Whatever you think of the embassy decision, it doesn't mean Trump is trying to fire the Palestinians. You could just as easily point to signs that he's still itching to host a Mideast version of "Let's Make a Deal." Ami Eden is the CEO and executive editor of 70 Faces Media, the parent company of JTA. SCARY IRISH LEPRECHAUNS