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September 13, 2011 10:26 pm

CFR President: Radical Palestinian State Possible

avatar by Maxine Dovere

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Richard Haas, scholar, author, advisor to presidents, discussed the responsibilities of statehood and the challenge of the Arab Spring. Commissioner Ray Kelly is to his left. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

The Jewish community in New York and the world Jewish community awaits the Holiday season with happy anticipation – and a heightened awareness of the measures that must be taken to assure a safe and incident free celebration. At its annual gathering to discuss local safety precautions, Rabbis and lay leaders were told of the multiple measures being taken by the NYPD to maintain a safe holiday season. Commissioner Ray Kelly assured “Some you will see, and some you will not.” The Commissioner assured the audience that every avenue to pursue safety was being taken.

Taking the podium just prior to the commissioner, Mayor Bloomberg noting that he was in the midst of his personal preparation for the high holidays, asked that New Yorkers “recognize what we have in common.”  He reviewed the wide range of work done by the New York Police Department to maintain public safety. The NYPD, assured the Mayor, meets any threats head on so that New Yorkers can go about their business.”

An active and integrated working relationship has developed between the New York Police Department and the Jewish community.  In addition to police and security matters, the 2011 pre-holiday meeting included presentations by Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Mort Zuckerman, the publisher of the New York Daily News.

Haass’s analysis of current trends in international relations, while focused on the Middle East, stressed that global awareness is needed. The world is witnessing “the rise of new giants that will change the shape of 21st century history,” including challenges and financial developments” new to America, and is a world of “non impermeable” borders. In this context, he noted the Middle East “does not exist in a vacuum.” He categorized the region as the least successful part of the world, compared to other regions, one that has “tremendous potential – for better or worse.”

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The former diplomat considers the “most dramatic issues,” to be the challenge of Iran and the so-called “Arab Spring,” an “upheaval still going on.” He cautioned that no quick resolution should be expected, and that the end results “may not be as positive and beautiful as spring.” He noted that the nature of the revamped governments or how those administrations will treat their own peoples remains uncertain.

Events in the Arab world, said Haass “were not triggered by the Arab-Israeli dispute, yet there may be significant consequences for Israel. He cited the increasingly “strained environment, especially between Israeli and Egypt.  “Israel is experiencing an extraordinary difficult and dangerous time. Her strategic environment has deteriorated … Going forward, Israel faces both traditional and complex contemporary challenges. …The next phase will be more complex and more challenging.”

Commissioner Ray Kelly assured the Jewish Community of the New York City Police Department's heightened awareness and additional security precautions. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Mort Zuckerman, acknowledging his gratitude to the NYPD and the work it does “to make the city a safe place” discussed the rise of 21st century anti-Semitism, defining it as the anti-Zionist, anti-Israel version of 20th century anti-Jewish hatred. “Anti- Zionism is directed against the Jewish collective, the modern state of Israel, and would “deny the state of Israel the right to live as an equal member of the family of nations.”  “Arab terrorists are inspiring more sympathy than their victims,” he noted, even as verbal violence across Europe has given way to physical violence against Jews, and a culture of hatred “with an intensity equal or more than that of  Nazi Germany.” Zuckerman cited the United Nations as a bastion of “international hostility.”

Speaking of the virulent growth of anti-Semitism in Europe, Zuckerman said “Before the Holocaust (anti-Semites) “said Jews into Palestine. Now, it’s Jews out of Palestine. Don’t be here and don’t be there.  In other words, don’t be.”

The former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations strongly stressed the positive atmosphere prevalent in America where there is “no official or state religion, no obsession with religion….The United States is a meritocracy where Jews have become a model of what an ethnic community can accomplish in the face of freedom.”

At a brief “Q&A” following their presentations, Richard Haass, who has advised several presidents, agreed with President Obama’s assessment of the anticipated Palestinian Unilateral Declaration of Independence at the UN as a “distraction” which “will not change basic realities.” With actual statehood he said, “come advantages and obligations.  The ‘two state solution’ is good not only for Palestine but also for Israel” but must be achieved through direct negotiation.

Asked by the Algemeiner what guarantees could be expected that a “State of Palestine” would not become yet another Iranian influenced puppet regime, Haass responded that there is “a question of competition between Fatah and Hamas that remains an open question.” He noted that a responsible state is “not a forgone conclusion,” but made reference to the “quiet growth” of the Palestinian economy as “quite a success.” “The future of Palestine is not necessarily to be run by an Islamist’s group….It is not in the interest of Palestine that Hamas should have real political  power.”

Asked what he anticipated the status of Jerusalem might be, Haass called said this is “one of those things that has to be on the diplomatic agenda – Jerusalem cannot become a divided city.” It could “remain a flexible territorial entity,” a determination that would be “part of the discussion of the question of borders.” He concluded that there is “limited capacity for compromise on Jerusalem,” and all resolution must come “only by direct negotiations.”

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly greets publisher Mort Zuckerman at the annual Pre High Holiday Security Briefing at 1 Police Plaza. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

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