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December 18, 2014: Very Briefly

I am currently preparing for the arrival of family, and so have only a brief moment to write.  The next three days I will be devoting myself to Chanukah (and Shabbat) and family – which is, quite frankly, a double lifesaver for me.
Simply wanted to update my readers, with much more, including analysis, to follow next week.
Last night Jordan did submit a proposal to the Security Council on behalf of the PA.  At present I only know that it calls for “peace” between Israel and the PA to be completed in a year, with Israel’s “occupation” of Judea and Samaria to finish by the end of 2017, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.  What clowns they are!  But, of course, if they specify all of the terms of negotiations up front, there are not many matters left to discuss, are there?
There are several ways this might play out:
Sometimes a vote on a proposal submitted to the Council is delayed, or never even happens.  The US might push for this option. PA officials say they’re in no rush to see it come to a vote, as there are consultations still to be done.  In this regard, they are still making threats (maybe they’ll cancel security cooperation with Israel after all, etc.). They may envision this proposal to be a threat that drives us back to the table without their ever needing to call a vote.
Or, the US might decide to veto this.
Or, the US might draft and submit a different proposal, with or without consultation with Israel.
The only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that Israel is not going to complete negotiations with the PA in a year, and is not going to pull back in Judea and Samaria. How this will be handled diplomatically and legally will be explored as it goes. There are several legal/diplomatic problems with this proposal, of course.
Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz (Likud) calls this proposal “an act of war,” not an act of peace.  He recommends a very harsh response to the PA.
Let it be!
I have read that Kerry tried to delay this proposal until after Israeli elections, because it’s not right to interfere in the election process.  That’s good for a laugh.  No interfering in elections, if the interference wouldn’t have the result he desires, is what he means.  His concern, very obviously, is that such a proposal would push a furious Israeli electorate to the right.
Well, the proposal was submitted, and that is exactly what may happen.  Let us hope so.  Israelis do not like being pushed around this way.  We need a very strong, very determined government to deal with all of this.
The EU court decision, which removed Hamas from its list of terror organizations, was based on the premise that there had been no information on Hamas’s status provided by EU states or persons.  EU officials tried to suggest yesterday that such information would be coming soon, so that Hamas would be quickly re-instated on the list.  Well... maybe, and maybe not.
Please, see the Elder of Ziyon for a more complete analysis of this.
What is most significant here is that:
“...since the EU was founded in 1993, despite spending tens of thousands of man-hours and untold millions of euros on Middle East topics and on the ground in Israel and the territories, no effort has been made to document Arab terrorism. (Emphasis in the original)

”Think about it. The EU wants to be a part of the peace process - it is part of the Quartet - and it has given lots of money to anti-Israel NGOs. It has no problem criticizing Israeli actions and parsing the statements of Israeli ministers to find evidence of anything offensive.

“Yet in all that time, no EU official has felt it was important to research and report on Arab terrorism! Not one bothered to visit the site of suicide bombings and read official Hamas statements taking credit for them. Not one bothered to follow up on Hamas incitement, on Hamas anti-Semitism, or on Hamas' public statements declaring all of Israel ‘occupied’ and all Israelis to be targets for attack.

“Not one.

Apparently, the entire EU presence in the Middle East is meant to document Israeli building in the territories and to ferret out ‘price tag’ attacks. Thousands of pages are written about whether Israeli products that are manufactured on one side of the Green Line but packaged on the other side are considered contraband in Europe. But not one official report has been written that says that Hamas took credit for a terror attack. (Emphasis added)

”There is a huge blind spot in the most studied place on the planet, and yet in 21 years the EU has not been able to write up a single report on Palestinian terrorism.

”Is there any more evidence needed of EU bias against Israel than this?”
Yesterday Hamas held its biggest military exercise since the end of the war this summer. Israeli residents near Gaza reported hearing explosions and shooting over night.
Anything that buoys Hamas’s sense that the international community may be with them is reprehensible in the extreme.
Yesterday, as well, there was a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Accord, in Geneva, of course.  It was one more exercise in Israel-bashing, and I will examine the issues when time allows.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 03:53PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 17, 2014: This Way and That

Some news a tad encouraging, and other news that’s nothing short of infuriating. Sometimes it’s hard to determine whether we have, on average, broken even.  Doesn’t look so here.


But let’s put that aside from a moment, and attend to first things first.  It is Chanukah, and I want to share a video that is absolutely beautiful, in terms of tying together Chanukah and an understanding of who we are.

Charlie Harary is an inspirational speaker, whose videos are frequently used by Aish.  But never before have I seen one that is as brilliant and inspiring as this one. If you attend to nothing else in this posting, please do see this.  He touches on an essential truth of our uniqueness:


Credit: Chabad


As to news that is possibly good in some respects and most decidedly not in others:

According to the reports late yesterday, Kerry had told Palestinian Arab negotiator Saeb Erekat and other world leaders that the US would veto the PA proposal on Israeli withdrawal to the ‘67 lines, which was to be submitted to the Security Council.  Kerry was opposed to the draft of the proposal approved by the Arab League.,7340,L-4604469,00.html

That was tentatively good news.  But that was yesterday. Today, the word is that a PA version and a French version of a proposed resolution have been combined.  The only definitive information I have on this at present is that in order for the Palestinian Arabs to agree to merge versions, the French had to remove reference to a Jewish state. 

And now the question is whether Kerry will veto this, or will see it as a “compromise” that the US can live with.


And one other word about Kerry.  Yesterday I had alluded to his perspective of moral equivalency, when alluding to a “cycle of violence.” Here we have more of the same, and worse.

In speaking to reporters in London, he said:

“...ongoing unrest of the last weeks has brought new tensions to all sides…Earlier this month, two Israelis were stabbed as they shopped for groceries in the West Bank. Two more were axed to death while praying. And we were all devastated and shocked by the acid attack against an Israeli family last week. Palestinians have mourned the death of a Palestinian official, Ziad Abu Ein, and they have suffered indefensible price tag attacks, so-called price tag attacks, including the recent burning of a mosque near Ramallah.”


There were not two Israelis axed to death while praying, there were four, plus a fifth who came to protect them. And mentioning Abu Ein in this context is ludicrous.  It is playing to the PA, pure and simple.  Plus, and most significantly, what he refers to as a “price tag attack,” meaning done by Jews against Arabs, has been shown to have been the result of a faulty heater, with no evidence of arson.


Yesterday, as well, the EU decided not to advance a resolution that would have urged all members to recognize a Palestinian state.  A good sign, one might think.

But today, the EU voted on a “compromise” resolution instead.  It supported, "recognition of Palestinian statehood in principle" - but as part of a two-state solution with Israel. The “two state solution”?  It would be based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem shared.
Wow!  What a compromise.

But this is not the worst of it.  Today the General Court of the EU in Luxembourg annulled, “on procedural grounds,” the 2001 listing of Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations.  The argument was that it was a procedural matter because what it reviewed was the original decision-making process. The original decision to include Hamas on the list, said the court, did not include the considered opinion of competent authorities, but instead relied on press and Internet reports.,7340,L-4604665,00.html

The way I understand the problem, it’s not a question of information having been culled from the press – rather, information on Hamas came from the US and Israel, and not directly from European sources, which the court demands.


The court decision is going to be appealed, and all measures on the books against Hamas will be maintained until those appeals are complete or for a period of three months.

EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Anderson said that the EU still considers Hamas a terror organization and will do everything it can to get it back on the list.

Sorry, not good enough.  Not by a long shot. 


Hamas, needless to say, is very pleased with the court finding.  Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq declared, "This is the correction of an error and an injustice that was caused to Hamas, which is a national liberation movement."

According to the Algemeiner, there are concerns that Hamas “will exploit any legal ambiguities over its present status to rebuild its organizational and fundraising network within Europe.”

Jonathan Schanzer, Vice-President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on Hamas, voiced other concerns as well:

The Council of the EU first designated Hamas’s so-called military wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, as terrorist, in 2001, with the designation of the entire organization following two years later.  That bifurcation – distinguishing between the military and political wings of Hamas - is erroneous; there is one Hamas organization. If the EU court refers back to this distinction, it could potentially legitimize Hamas’s political activity in Europe.


Prime Minister Netanyahu went ballistic over this ruling.

“It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing,” he said.

I would most respectfully differ with my prime minster on this.  It is not a matter of whether Europeans have learned the lessons they need to learn.  It is more a question of what matters to them.  I would suggest that the leaders of those nations where six million were slaughtered, and those nations who turned over their Jews to the Nazis, have nothing to say to Israel about how we conduct ourselves today.

And it would seem that Caroline Glick, author, columnist and political analyst, agrees.  Last week the Jerusalem Post held a Diplomatic Conference here in Jerusalem.  See here her heated response to a comment by Danish Ambassador Jesper Vahr, in the course of a panel discussion.

Credit: Monsters and Critics

When you finish cheering, remember to share this link broadly. She is boldly and incisively on the mark.
Yesterday, the Taliban entered a school in Pakistan and went from room to room shooting; in the end 132 children and nine staff members were dead. 
Where is the horror and outrage of the world?  Why is everyone not focused on the reality of what is going on?  How is it that the Western world has not grasped – deep in the gut – the nature of Islamic Jihadis, whether Taliban, or Hamas?

We live in a very sick world.  The Jihadis would return us to the dark ages. While others, devoid of a moral compass, are so busy equivocating and playing political games that they don’t quite notice. The Palestinian Authority is not the Taliban.  No. But the PA supports and funds terrorists.  Make no mistake about it. 

But, oh, the Europeans are terribly worried about the “rights” of the Palestinian Arabs to a state and they have a court very concerned about who testified as to the terrorist nature of Hamas.  While Obama and Kerry are not far behind.

And so, perhaps we here in Israel stand alone among the nations – not the people! - of the world.  But I thank Heaven that we know how to defend with a sword and fight with light.  We will do what we need to do for ourselves, while moving ever closer to what we are meant to be: a light unto the nations. 

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 04:05PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 16, 2014: Light the Lights

Tonight we light the first light in the eight day Festival of Chanukah. A time for joy and hope.  

Credit: ebay

Actually, there are two stories of Chanukah: One has to do with the miracle of the oil, which burned in the Temple for eight days although there was only enough oil for one day.  In commemoration of this, we eat foods associated with oil – potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (donuts).

Credit: ourtastytravels


Credit: Jerusaleminsiders

In truth, if we are going to talk about miracles: the existence of modern Israel is a miracle. We should be ever mindful of this, and ever grateful.


Then there is the historical Chanukah story of the Maccabees battle against the Greeks - which enabled them to regain and rededicate the Temple after it had been defiled.  There are lessons here in terms of determination and bravery (for the war was very long and bitter) and dedication to our traditional practices and our faith.  All very much lessons for today.


A particular determination is required right now.  For these are very tough times, no matter how you cut it.

I held off posting yesterday to see what would evolve with regard to the UN Security Council and anti-Israel resolutions to be brought forward.  But there is nothing definitive to report yet. 

Prime Minster Netanyahu, who met with Secretary of State Kerry yesterday, seems to be holding tough.  He says he will not agree to any UN coercion.

Kerry himself is waffling, and this is very unsettling.  Netanyahu put on a good front before meeting with Kerry, saying that there was no reason to believe that the US would diverge from its traditional position of vetoing Security Council measures that are anti-Israel.  But that is not really the case.  We know what a lame duck Obama is capable of.


At a press conference today, Kerry said that the parties themselves must resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict – it cannot be done from the outside. 

Nu?  That means it cannot be resolved via UN attempts to force Israel to move back to the ‘67 line.  No?

But in that same press conference he offered no assurances about his readiness to veto what might yet be proposed.


Of course, it is possible that the Kerry “indecision” is a tactic aimed at getting Netanyahu to cave on agreeing to negotiate. So far I have no indication that Netanyahu has agreed to anything.

One of the things I picked up today was a reference by Kerry about “the cycle of violence,” which invariably infuriates me. This is a false moral equivalency. There is no cycle of violence, only Arab terrorism and Israeli response.


The PA may bring forward a proposal this week that would require Israel to return to its situation prior to the 1967 war by February 2016; it would acknowledge eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, and would make provision for the “Palestinian refugees.”  There is no precise wording of this proposal available in its entirety yet.

The French are working on a different proposal that would, as I understand it, require that negotiations between Israel and the PA be completed in two years.  Somewhat less horrendous than the PA version, but neither viable nor acceptable.

Please, dear readers, do not panic about any of this.  It’s a long way from a PA-proposed resolution in the Security Council, which has not yet materialized, to a real shift in Israel’s situation.   


Relevant to this, I believe, is the announcement by the PA that they would not be cancelling security cooperation with Israel over the death of Abi Ein, as had been threatened. A PA official now admits that they never intended to follow-through with the threats.  They rely on Israel, said this official.

Hey, no surprise there.  Abbas wouldn’t last a week if not for Israel’s control of Hamas in Judea and Samaria.

What we see then is that the PA leadership makes threats that it doesn’t necessarily intend to act upon.  And that Israel has some leverage over the PA.

So...stay tuned.


The PA says that if its proposal does not pass in the Security Council it will go to the International Criminal Court and level charges of war crimes against Israeli leaders.  This may be yet another threat.  Abbas has already been warned by our leaders that this path would work two ways. In any event, there is no guarantee that the ICC would accept “a Palestinian state” as a member.

But see what one very wonderful legal warrior in Israel, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat Ha-Din - the Israel Law Center, is doing: filing claims in the ICC against Abbas and Hamas leaders.  She is taking the offensive and hopes to make Abbas think twice.


Credit: Wikipedia


Let me turn here, then, to a brief update on the political circus:

Eli Yishai has made it official. He has broken with the Shas party and is forming a new party, Yahad – Together.  It is being watched very closely, for it appears that it will not be just a duplicate of the haredi party, Shas, but will bring in national religious elements as well.  It aims to be a party that, indeed, unifies people in their concern for religious values and political nationalism.  Although it is early to make predictions, it carries genuine promise.

What we know so far is that Yoni Chetboun, who just left Habayit Hayehudi because of some deep discontents, will be joining Yishai. And now all eyes are on the relationship between Uri Ariel and Naftali Bennett.  If Uriel walks out of Habyit Hayehudi with his Tekuma faction, he would very likely join Yishai.

There are very early predictions that when the dust settles this new party might bring in as much as seven mandates.  Aryeh Deri, who now heads Shas, is having conniptions. But on Aryeh Deri, who is not exactly the model of an upright politician, it looks good.  Apparently Yishai – who was pretty much shafted by Deri - will take a fair amount of support with him and has already received the endorsement of some significant rabbis.


Finally...Chanukah, songs.  First a medley of some traditional songs with a pleasing twist:  (Yes, it should be a “new” level, but the singing is nice.)

And then, a very lovely new version of the classic Maoz Tzur, by much-loved Israeli entertainer and cantor Dudu Fisher:
Enjoy, and Chag Chanukah Sameach!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
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Posted on Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 02:55PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 14, 2014: Tight Position

Things are never easy for Israel, but matters do seem to be getting tougher, day by day, with regard to the international community.  To begin with, the parliament of one European nation after another has adopted a non-binding resolution of some sort regarding recognition of a “Palestinian state”:

On Friday, the Portuguese parliament passed a resolution recommending that the government recognize “Palestine.” Just days before, the Irish and French parliaments, in symbolic votes, did likewise and Denmark was gearing up towards a similar effort.  Back in October, the parliaments of the UK and then Spain passed non-binding resolutions in support of recognition of “Palestine,” while at the end of October, the Swedish government actually did vote to recognize “Palestine.”

A vote by the EU parliament on the issue, which had originally been scheduled for late November, was postponed because of disagreement within the EU and strong lobbying by Israel.  It is due to come around soon.


I emphasize again that the key issue here is not legal.  “Palestine” does not fulfill the criteria for a state, and the votes of various European parliaments and governments does not change this essential fact.  Especially is this the case because the “Palestine” that the European nations seek to recognize is within borders that the PA does not control.

What these votes – even if symbolic – do is set a tone that is anti-Israel, encouraging the BDS movement and similar actions again Israel.

There is no way to avoid the perception that what is taking place here, with regard to all of these resolutions and votes, is more anti-Israel than truly pro-Palestinian Arab. The Palestinian Arabs simply do not merit the attention they receive, except for the fact that they impinge upon and challenge Israeli rights.


But there is more:  Switzerland has invited the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to attend a conference in Geneva on December 17.  The Fourth Geneva Convention on the Rules of War was adopted in 1949 in an effort to ensure that the horrific behavior of the Nazis with regard to the occupation of Europe would never be repeated.  This Convention is utilized as a weapon against Israel – as it is said that the Convention makes Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria an illegal occupation.

See what international lawyer Alan Baker, writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, had to say about this:

“...both the text of that convention, and the post-World War II circumstances under which it was drafted, clearly indicate that it was never intended to refer to situations like Israel’s settlements. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC], Article 49 relates to situations where populations are coerced into being transferred. There is nothing to link such circumstances to Israel’s settlement policy...(see more below)

“The continued reliance by the international community on the Geneva Convention as the basis for determining the illegality of Israel’s settlements fails to take into account the unique nature of the history, legal framework, and negotiating circumstances regarding the West Bank.”
For more:

Switzerland – as the depository of the Accords - is supposed to behave in a neutral and apolitical manner. Yet, when the PA joined the Convention, and then requested that the conference be held, Switzerland acceded. Needless to say, Israel is furious and will boycott the conference.  The US, Canada and Australia are expected to boycott as well.

What we can expect is condemnation of Israel for “illegal occupation” in Judea and Samaria.

Since 1949, the High Contracting Parties have met only twice: in 1999 and 2001, both times in order to discuss Israel.

It is important to note here that the ICRC, the official arbiter of the Geneva Conventions, finds that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to Israel, i.e., that Israel is an occupier.  But I should note here as well, that officially the International Committee of the Red Cross is associated with the Red Cross and the Red Crescent [the equivalent of the Red Cross in Muslim countries.].


My readers know that I have mentioned the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube, several times now.  But you what you’ve heard to date is just the beginning: Jeff and I, seeing the threats leveled against Israel, understand the major importance of promoting Israeli leadership prepared to speak out strongly on our rights.


With everything else, Mahmoud Abbas of the PA is threatening to go to the Security Council by the end of this year, submitting a draft resolution for Israel’s withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem within two to three years.

The US could simply veto this. But Kerry is trying a different – more worrisome - approach.  Said the Secretary of State:

“There are a lot of different folks pushing in different directions out there, and the question is can we all pull in the same direction...We're trying to figure out a way to help defuse the tensions and reduce the potential for more conflict, and we're exploring various possibilities to that end,”
To that end, Kerry is meeting Prime Minister Netanyahu in Rome on Monday.


Credit: ibtimes


All pulling in the same direction?

This is what I envision Kerry saying to Netanyahu:  “Bibi, old buddy, we’ve got to present a united front here.  If we are going to keep Abbas from the UN we have to show the world that you are on board for negotiating a Palestinian state...then I can make the case that Abbas should hold off.”

The picture I provide above is simply one that I consider illustrative of how our prime minister may be feeling tomorrow – never mind that in Rome he’ll probably be all smiles for the cameras.


At the beginning of the Cabinet meeting today, Netanyahu made this statement:

“Tomorrow I will leave for Rome to meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and US Secretary of State John Kerry.  I will tell them that Israel, to a large degree, stands as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism that are washing over the entire Middle East.

“Until  now we have successfully withstood and repelled these attacks and now we also stand against the possibility of a diplomatic assault, i.e., an attempt to compel us – by means of UN decisions – to withdraw to the 1967 lines within two years. This will lead to Islamic extremists [coming] to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem.

“We will not allow this.  We will strongly and responsibly rebuff this. Let there be no doubt, this will be rejected.”

Well...there some nice words here, but they don’t satisfy me, for they sound like rhetoric.  What does “We will strongly and responsibly rebuff this” mean?

Netanyahu speaks about the possible UN demands.  But he says nothing about what he will or won’t agree to in consultation with Kerry.

Stay tuned.


What perhaps grieves me the most – and is for me the most incomprehensible – is the attitude on the Israeli left, which is that we should go back to the negotiating table, and should try harder to please the world.  (The anti-Semitic world, that is, but why quibble.)

Even centrists such as Michael Oren (about whom more below), who is a “two-state” man, says there is no one to negotiate with now. And yet, the delusion persists amongst such people as Livni and Herzog.


This leads me to a very brief review of the ever-changing political circus:

Right wing activists have decided to form a party to the right of Habayit Hayehudi, which will be called Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) and headed by Michael Ben-Ari - a former MK (with the National Union) – who will be working with Itamar Ben- Gvir and Baruch Marzel.

Former MK Michael Ben Ari in 2012 (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash 90

They will not run with Habayit Hayehudi, but if there is a breakoff from Habayit Heyehudi (with Uri Ariel – who is to the right) they might join with that. 

They might also join with the Eli Yishai (pictured), who looks like he is going to break off from Shas because of tensions with Arieh Deri.  I’ll have more on this.


Credit: Lior Mizrachi

Or the three might run together.

What’s important with these small parties is passing the electoral threshold for getting into the Knesset. That threshold is now 3.25 percent of the vote, which translates to a minimum of four seats.


As to Habayit Hayehudi itself, former Yesha Council chair Dani Dayon (not to be confused with Danny Dannon of Likud!) has joined their ranks.

Credit: TOT

Here is a man very clear on the legality of Israel’s communities in Judea and Samaria.


There are very strong rumors that Michael Oren, immediate past Israeli ambassador to the US, will be joining the Kulanu party of Kahlon. 

Lieberman continues to be all over the place.  The only thing that seems clear is that Lieberman’s first concern is Avigdor Lieberman.


And the good news:

The Israeli Embassy in Senegal has established a farm utilizing Israeli-innovated slow drip irrigation, ideal for a region of drought.  Water is saved and the produce is superior.,7340,L-4603023,00.html

This is just one example of the outreach Israel does to help impoverished communities in Africa.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

Posted on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 03:01PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 11, 2014: Turmoil

Tumult can be identified on several fronts right now, starting with the issue of the death of PA official and terrorist Zaid Abu Ein yesterday.
I had hoped that the autopsy, once it was done, would firmly put to rest the charge by the PA that we “killed” this man because our soldiers beat him with a rifle butt, etc.  What actually happened after the autopsy, which was attended last night by an Israeli pathologist as well as Jordanian and Palestinian Arab medical personnel – and done under Jordanian auspices – was a bit more convoluted:
Reports earlier today seemed to indicate that the Israeli doctor, who said the cause of death was clearly a heart attack, was at odds with the Jordanian and Palestinian Arab officials who continued to maintain that Abu Ein had died from being struck, inhaling tear gas and not receiving prompt medical attention. But that assessment apparently came from one Palestinian official who shared this perspective with Reuters.
Now, it seems the various  assessments are not so far apart.  Abu Ein died of a heart attack.  Not from a beating or being strangled or the like.  That the heart attack was brought on by stress is a possibility.
This is the statement from the Israeli Ministry of Health:
Abu Ein’s death “was caused by a blockage of the coronary artery (one of the arteries that supplies blood to the heart) due to hemorrhaging underneath a layer of atherosclerotic plaque. The bleeding could have been caused by stress...
“Indications of light hemorrhaging and localized pressure were found in his neck. The deceased suffered from ischemic heart disease; blood vessels in his heart were found to be over 80% blocked by plaque. Old scars indicating that he suffered from previous myocardial infarctions were also found.

“The poor condition of the deceased’s heart caused him to be more sensitive to stress. It is necessary to wait for the medical treatment report before determining more incisive explanations on this matter.”
The report on medical treatment is important because what is described as light hemorrhaging may have been caused not by anything IDF soldiers did, but rather by attempts by Arab medical personnel to resuscitate him.
I would like to make two other points here, and would hope then, to turn to other matters.  My guess is that in the end, after all the requisite grandstanding, the PA will not break off security cooperation with Israel in spite of threats to do so. Quite simply: the PA will suffer if it does so.
IDF soldiers have made it clear (Algemeiner source cited above) that they acted “moderately” and within the “official rules of engagement” when dealing with Abu Ein.  I make the point again here that this was a hostile man, prone to violence. Abu Ein and his group of protesters had been told that they could not advance beyond a certain point, but they attempted to advance anyway and had to be stopped.  According to the report of one officer, the protesters were attempting to move towards an IDF jeep, with intent of hanging a Palestinian flag on it.
The rules of engagement would have required the soldiers to fire on the protesters, at their legs.  But the officers instead acted with restraint and did not fire – just pushing them back instead.
Lastly, I would like to call my readers’ attention to something I learned after I wrote last night.  I had indicated that an Israeli medic had offered medical assistance on the scene – assistance that might have saved him.  But, according to reports, Abu Ein refused this assistance, requesting that he be taken to Ramallah instead.
As it turns out, it appears that it was not Abu Ein who made the decision to reject the assistance of the Israeli medic – it was the decision of his “associates” – those who were surrounding him.
See the video below.  About 9 or 10 seconds into it, you see Abu Ein being lifted up by those around him and carried away. In that moment, there is a glimpse of someone with a blue glove. That is the Israel medic, who was standing right there, prepared to lend assistance.  The actions of the Arabs surrounding Abu Ein, who had just had the heart attack, may have sealed his death. The charge of “lack of medical care” points the finger in the wrong direction.
(My thanks to Winkie and Barbara O. on this.)

Briefly, now, I want to do a turn about and look at the political circus, which is filled with its own sort of ferment. Please understand that three months is a very long time in an Israeli campaign.  Polls leaning in one direction may reflect something else in a matter of weeks.  Thus, I prefer at this point to only paint a political picture in broad strokes.

The Likud Central Committee has approved Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposal to move up the date of the primaries – which determine the order of candidates on the party list -until December 31. This is considered a major victory for Netanyahu.  It is presumed that he sought this change in the primary date so that potential candidates who would challenge him as head of the list would not have time to put their campaigns in order. 

“Potential candidates” = Gideon Sa’ar.  And what do you know?  Sa’ar has just announced he would not be running in the Likud primary after all.  At least not this time around.

The scuttlebutt of the last few days has been that Netanyahu has gotten weak and is losing control in Likud.  But this victory goes a long way to dispelling that impression.  All the more is this so, as the proposal that has been approved also permits the chair of the party to select the candidates for the 11th and 24th spots on the Knesset list.

Binyamin Netanyahu at the Likud Conference

Credit: Flash 90

Danny Danon – who has been locking horns with Netanyahu for some time - will be challenging him in the primary. Danon has his eye on the premiership, certainly, but I do not believe that he or anyone else seriously considers that he will achieve the number one spot on the list now.  


On the left, Yitzhak “Bujie” Herzog (Labor) and Tzipi Livni (Hatenua) have decided to join forces and combine their lists, in order to successfully challenge Netanyahu. And right now the polls are looking good for them.  From where I sit, this is the stuff of nightmares.  They say they would take turns serving as prime minister.

Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni announce the merger of their parties at a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2014. They said they would rotate the prime ministership if they win elections next March. (Photo credit: FLASH90)

Credit: Flash 90


The big story, in the end, may rest with those parties that are relatively centrist, as they might swing in either direction.

There are rumors of all sorts of cooperative efforts or list mergers among the parties of Lapid (Yesh Atid – “there is a future”), Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu – “Israel our home”), and Kahlon (the brand new Kulanu – “all of us”).

They deny these rumors, and I do not trust their denials. Anything is possible. 

I expect nothing of Lapid and wish he would disappear from the political map with this election.

Kahlon, originally from Likud, seems to have a solid following, but he makes me mighty uneasy.  He calls himself “centrist-right,” but declares that he knows when to give up land and is for negotiations with the PA.  Centrist-right?

And Lieberman? His self-serving game-playing is a huge disappointment.  Remember that he had a combined list with Likud the last time around. There is the possibility that he won’t go along with Lapid and Kahlon, but is lending the impression that he might in order to be better able to name his political price when going with Likud.


It seems a reasonable certainty that the Ultra-Orthodox parties (Shas, Sephardi, and United Torah, Ashkenazi) will figure in the next coalition.  Right now there is considerable tension within Shas itself, between Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai. Something else to track.


And today’s good news:

An Israeli start-up company called White Innovation has developed a machine – the “Genie” - that prepares food in pods that have a shelf life of up two years.  We’re talking about healthy meals, without preservatives added.  There are savory dishes and sweet; breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, gluten-free meals and other specialties – all of which are reconstituted by the “Genie.”  A launch is planned for mid-January.

Hungry? Pop a pod into the machine.

Credit: Israel21C


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 04:26PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 10, 2014: Always Something

It seems there is always something to contend with, a “crisis du jour,” so to speak.  I am moved to address this current “crisis” – which is really small potatoes – because the PA and the world at large are already building it into something that it is not.  As you may be exposed to distorted versions of the occurrence, I want to share the facts as I have been able to acquire them:
Zaid Abu Ein, a Palestinian Arab who was formerly a minister, today led a protest march of some 300 Palestinian Arabs in the Arab village of village of Turmus Ayya – near Shilo, in the Binyamin region of Samaria.  What they were protesting was the presence of the nearby Jewish village of Adei Ad.  There had been considerable tensions between the residents of the two villages, and this demonstration was less than peaceful: According to reports there was rioting, and the IDF used a relatively small amount of tear gas to settle things down.  
Subsequently, a large group of Arabs led by Abu Ein attempted to continue their march, which was intended to go all the way into the Jewish village.  A contingent of IDF soldiers blocked their way and they tried to push past the IDF troops; this led to an altercation, with shoving back and forth.
Abu Ein then walked away and sat down on the ground.  At that point he was showing signs of distress, and apparent pains in his chest.  An IDF medic offered him medical assistance but he refused it and said he wanted to go to the hospital in Ramallah.  On the way to the hospital, he died.
The IDF believes he died of a heart attack.  Reportedly this was a man who had diabetes and high blood pressure.
The Arabs, however, are letting it be known that we killed him.  They never miss a chance to make Israel look vicious and to represent themselves as “martyrs.”  As we might expect in such a situation, there are various accounts of what transpired.
Arabs are saying that soldiers rammed Abu Ein in the chest with their rifle butts.  An Israeli observer said this never happened and Israel National News reports that there is no video footage indicating that he had been attacked or beaten. 
(There is some Arab footage, which was clearly edited. See:,7340,L-4602043,00.html . Had there been footage of soldiers attacking or beating Abu Ein, it would have been distributed big time.)

Abbas is referring to "the brutal assault that led to the martyrdom [of Abu Ein].”  He called the incident "a barbaric act that cannot be tolerated or accepted."

PA Minister Riyad al-Maliki says “Israel will pay for his death.”
There are reports from some PA sources that the PA will now discontinue all security cooperation with Israel, but I do not believe Abbas himself has said this.  There was one comment about PA intention to “now” – i.e., in light of this event – renew pursuit of unilateral efforts to secure recognition as a state.  Abbas has been doing this all along,  But it becomes oh so convenient to claim that their intention was to negotiate but Israel’s behavior makes this impossible.
The IDF has announced that an autopsy will be done by a Jordanian team, with an Israeli pathologist present. The PA agreed to this, and subsequently I read that a Palestinian Arab doctor would also be present.
The IDF also proposed that the PA participate into a joint investigation of the occurrence, but there has been no word as to whether that will happen.
The funeral will be Thursday, and the IDF has stationed additional troops in the area in anticipation of violence.  That there will be violence is almost a certainty.
It is, in several regards, enlightening to know a bit more about who this Abu Ein was:
Palestinian sources have identified him as a member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah; this is also known as the Abu Nidal Organization - a recognized terrorist organization. In 1979, he planted explosives that killed two Israelis in Tiveria, and then fled to Chicago.  Successfully extradited, he was tried and sentenced to life in prison in 1982. But a mere three years later he was part of a prisoner exchange – referred to as the Ahmed Jabril prisoner swap - done to secure the release of three soldiers.
In 2006, he gave an interview on TV in which he praised the Oslo Accords. Please read this carefully. Talk about it being instructive!  (When he refers to “resistance,” he means violence.)
“The Oslo Accords are not the dream of the Palestinian people.  However, there would never have been resistance in Palestine without Oslo.
Oslo is the effective and potent greenhouse which embraced the Palestinian resistance...
In all the occupied territories, we could not move a single pistol from place to place.  Without Oslo, and being armed through Oslo, and with the Palestinian Authority’s ‘A’ areas, without the training, the camps, the protection afforded by Oslo, and without the freeing of thousands of Palestinian prisoners through Oslo – we and this Palestinian resistance would not have been able to create this great Palestinian Intifada.” (Emphasis added)
Clearly, Abu Ein was directly involved in the second intifada.  Marwan Barghouti, who is in Israeli prison serving five life sentences, was a leader of that intifada.  Barghouti hid in Abu Ein’s house before his capture.
Subsequently, he served in various positions in the PA. First as deputy minister of prisoner affairs, where he was involved in the task of getting money to convicted terrorists serving in Israeli prisons.  He charged that Israeli prison conditions for Arabs were worse than what Jews suffered under the Nazis.
Most recently he served as head of the PA Committee against the Separation Wall and Settlements.
The fact that Abu Ein was a man of violence, who embraced terrorism, does not provide proof of how he died. 
But in light of all of the above, I would make two comments. The first is that he was clearly a trouble maker, and it seems very likely indeed that the IDF found it necessary to push him back and confront him today. This was not a gentle man of peace.
But more importantly: please consider what it tells us, that the Palestinian Authority selected such a man to assume official positions, including as a deputy minister.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 02:35PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 9, 2014: The World Keeps Turning

It’s official.  Last night the Knesset voted – 93 in favor, no votes against and no abstentions - to disband itself.  We are in a campaign period.  A huge amount of jockeying is now taking place with regard to possible mergers of parties, timing of the Likud primary (which Netanyahu hopes to push up to forestall challenges), and more.

But today I want to back away from the political circus and look at some of the issues that are paramount.  Sometimes it feels as if everything not connected to Israeli politics fades into the background during an election period.  But of course that is not the case: Things happen. Threats loom. Opportunities arise.  


A very good place to start is with the issue of Area C.   This area, as you will recall, was accorded full Israel administrative control – civil and security – under the Oslo Accords, with Area A under full PA control and Area B under PA civilian control and Israeli security control.  


Credit:Israel street

All Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are in Area C, and Oslo did not restrict development by Israel in that area.  There are about 400,000 Jews in this area, and about 90,000 Arabs.

What is happening under our very noses is that illegal Arab construction is encroaching on this area.  In 2014, according to testimony given recently to the Subcommittee for Judea and Samaria of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, 16 times as many homes were erected illegally in the area by Arabs than by Jews, based per capita.

As Regavim explains it:

“...building initiatives specifically in Area C...[are done] with the intent of chipping away at this area bit by bit, and thus creating a strip of territory between the area of Hebron, Samaria, and Jericho. This strip would endanger the security of the State of Israel and its ability to defend itself within defensible borders.”
The Palestinian Authority has been advancing this illegal building “unilaterally since 2009, as part of its strategic plan to create a Palestinian state de facto, while avoiding the need for negotiations with Israel.” (Emphasis added)
This is a matter of considerable concern.  In part, we have responsibility for what is going on, for the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, which is under the umbrella of the Ministry of Defense, has not acted forcefully in responding to this threat.

But there is another major factor involved:  The European Union has been blatantly underwriting this illegal building.

Now Regavim has released a position paper that is “the product of meticulous research, documentation and mapping of hundreds of residential structures which the European Union has built in a series of outposts in the Adumim area—the eastern corridor leading to Jerusalem from the Jordan demonstrates clearly the purposeful change in the conduct of the European Union, as appears in their official documents, and analyses the significance of these illegal initiatives in the area.

“Between the lines, the hypocrisy of the European Union is exposed, blaming Israel for taking unilateral steps, whilst simultaneously being directly, deeply and heavily involved in illegal and unilateral activity to the benefit of the Palestinian Authority.” (Emphasis added)


For some time now, Minister Naftali Bennett (chair, Habayit Hayehudi) has been promoting a plan for the annexation of Area C of Judea and Samaria.  Under this plan, the Arabs in area C would be offered full citizenship.  All those beyond Area C would be given autonomy – an opportunity to control their own lives with regard to civil matters, which means running their own schools, electing their own mayors in their cities, etc. They would not have sovereignty – would not be given a full state.


Just days ago, the Saban Forum was held in Washington DC. Run by the Saban Center for Near East Policy of the Brookings Institute.  Bennett traveled to participate in the Forum in order to promote his Area C plan.

Before I speak further about what he said at the Forum, I want to take a short detour: The Brookings Institute is one of a handful of very influential Washington DC non-governmental think tanks that has taken foreign money without reporting it. Taking the money is not illegal, but failing to report it very well may be. 


It has been revealed that Qatar gave Brookings $14 million, at a time when Martin Indyk was vice president and director of foreign policy for Brookings. He was, during that time, also serving as US envoy to Israel, presumably able to take a fair or neutral stance in dealings Israel has with Palestinian Arabs.  But, as Jan Sokolovsky, author of the article cited here, wrote:   

“To assume that the researchers and the think tanks are not influenced by the agenda of their donors belies common sense.”
This is important information to have in any event – lest inquiring individuals who are not privy to these facts take information coming from Brookings as “unbiased” research.
But here it is particularly relevant.  For Bennett spoke for 80 minutes at the Saban Forum, during which time it was Indyk who interviewed him extensively and then moderated a question and answer segment.  Professing great devotion to Israel, he is thoroughly and totally untrustworthy.  This is a man who would throw us under the bus gladly.


Credit: Brookings

Bennett’s full statement can be found here:
It is instructive, spirited and encouraging.  Several times, he comes back at Indyk with strength. I recommend taking the time to see it.

At the very least, see this four minute segment that has some marvelous retorts to Indyk.


There have not been any ghastly terror events in the last several days, thank Heaven. But this, of course, does not mean that terror is a thing of the past.  Knifings and other sorts of attacks that have not resulted in fatalities have taken a back seat to other news.  Yet I feel it is important to mention here what continues to go on.

Less than a week ago, there two Israelis were stabbed in a supermarket in Mishor Adumim, just outside of Jerusalem.  The attacker was shot dead.

Today, two terrorists - wanted by security forces because of reported intention to carry out attacks - were apprehended outside of Tekoa.  One of those apprehended, Muhammed Abu Eisha, is the nephew of one of the terrorists believed to have kidnapped and then killed the three students this summer. We see again that terror often is a family affair.

Most hair-raising, however, was the report less than two weeks ago of an extensive Hamas terror plot that involved several locations. The largest intended site was Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem’s main stadium.

Fans at Teddy Stadium watch Israel play England in 2013 (photo credit: Josh Kalman)

Credit: Josh Kalman

Over thirty terrorists were arrested; the network, which operated in Judea and Samaria, was directed by Hamas leadership that set up a command center in Turkey.

Not only is constant vigilance necessary.  The fact of such a plot teaches us once again that our security personnel absolutely must have the freedom to operate across Judea and Samaria.


Briefly here, I turn from the horrors of Hamas to the horrors of Fatah, as embodied by Mahmoud Abbas.

Two days ago he made the declaration once again that he cannot recognize Israel as a Jewish state because it would undermine the “national interests” of Arabs who are Israeli citizens, and would prevent “Palestinian refugees” from returning to their homes.  “We cannot close the door to those who wish to return.”

Oh yes we can.  He’s talking about six million “refugees,” and his logic is, in and of itself, a sufficient argument for passing the Jewish law legislation.

I mention here, as well, that Israeli Arabs don’t have “national” rights – only individual human and civil rights.  What Abbas said was:
“We cannot recognize a Jewish state. We will stand against this enterprise, not out of obstinacy, but because it contradicts our interests. The first to suffer from this law would be the 1.5 million Arabs who would no longer belong to Israel, due to their religion.”
Absolute and unmitigated nonsense.  The status of Arabs would not be affected by this legislation. 

Abbas prefers to represent himself as a “refugee” now.  But he’s on record as saying that his family left S’fat voluntarily:


He is making a great deal of his intentions to secure statehood unilaterally, via the Security Council, or to take one sort of drastic action or another if that fails.


We close with a good news item:

The design for the National Library of Israel – done by the firm Herzog and de Meuron - has been revealed:

Israel Stadium by Herzog and de Meuron

Credit: Dezeen

It will be built within the complex that houses the Israel Museum; construction is scheduled to begin in 2016. Four of the buildings six stories will be underground. It will encompass, in addition to the library itself, research laboratories and offices, educational facilities, a visitor center, a multipurpose hall and a climate-controlled archive.

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 04:20PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 6, 2014: A Political Circus

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
It wouldn’t do, I suppose, for the political situation to have clarity for too long. Or for the news to simply be promising.  We’ve now entered the circus arena: the rumors are flying, predictions are contradictory, and some surprising alliances are being suggested as possible. All of this defeats clarity and considerably dampens optimism.
I will offer here only an overview, with a promise of more to come when it’s possible to make better sense of how matters will evolve.  In the few days since my last posting - announcing the firing of Livni and Lapid and the advent of elections – there have been news stories and opinion pieces about all of the following:
Caroline Glick, in her piece, “Lapid’s Political Crackup,” two days ago, explained why, in her assessment, the forthcoming election is very necessary.  “The up to NIS 1.2 billion that taxpayers will have to pay to finance the vote scheduled for March 17 is money well spent...
“In 2013, Lapid ran as a centrist...
“Lapid and his ministers from Yesh Atid exchanged their capitalist platform for socialist policies immediately upon taking office. In so doing they put Israel on a path to recession and social upheaval.
“[His policies have] already damaged Israel’s international credit rating.”
Let me add  here that Netanyahu was a superb finance minister in his time, and set the nation on a strong fiscal path.  He would readily perceive and be greatly distressed by what Glick describes here.
Wrote Glick, “....according to polls, Netanyahu has no rivals for the job. It is not merely that nearly three times as many people think that Netanyahu is the best person to serve as prime minister when compared to his closest contender, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. It’s also that the polls show right-wing parties picking up seats, while Lapid’s party is likely to lose more than half it seats in the Knesset.” (Emphasis added)
But JPost political commentator Gil Hoffman wrote two days ago about a Panels Research Poll done for the JPost and its sister Hebrew paper just one day before”: “It asked respondents whether they want Netanyahu to remain prime minister after the vote. Sixty percent said no...”  (Emphasis added)
That was a bit of a shocker when it made headlines.  But making sense of this, while a bit difficult, is certainly not impossible if you read the description of the questions carefully.
Glick was referring to a race between Netanyahu as head of Likud vs. Herzog as head the Labor party, leading the opposition.  But Hoffman was describing a choice between Netanyahu as head of Likud as vs. someone else – such as Gideon Sa’ar - within the Likud party itself.  That’s another matter all together. 
People, it seems, feel it is time for new blood in Likud. But have very little doubt about whether Likud should lead the next coalition. Every poll indicates that Likud would command the most mandates (although precise figures vary).
The real battle then, if there is one, may be within Likud itself. 
There are rumors that Gideon Sa’ar, who left politics just months ago, is mulling the idea of challenging Netanyahu in the primaries.


Then we have Israel Hayom - a staunch Netanyahu supporter, I note – citing a New Wave Research poll that indicated that the right wing bloc would come out ahead on elections. What is more, when asked "who is most qualified to serve as prime minister?" a larger percentage selected Netanyahu than any of the other party heads.
As far as the significant lead by a right wing bloc of parties, there are a couple of factors to be kept in mind:
One is the assumption that Yisrael Beitenu (Israel – Our House), headed by Avigdor Lieberman, is a right wing party.  A reasonable enough assumption.  But there were rumors – probably (hopefully!) no more than rumors – that Lieberman might join forces with Lapid.   That would truly be shocking if so.  Yisrael Beitenu ran on a joint list with Likud the last time around.
But the fact that it was presented as something that conceivably might happen is an indication of how much Lieberman is seen to vacillate.
Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman

Credit: presstv

Then you have Moshe Kahlon.  He is supposed to be forming a new party, which is not yet fully registered – with no name or slate announced.  While there is some indication that he intends to focus on social issues, there is enormous speculation as to where he will stand within the line-up of parties.  He is generally counted as part of the right wing when the poll results are presented. But that is not a sure thing.
Former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Credit: Miriam Alster/ Flash 90
Kahlon, who was with Likud, and served as Minister of Communications before his resignation from politics in 2012, was a popular figure. The guessing is that he will pull down a very respectable number of votes.
At the same time that we’re considering all of the above, there is also the jockeying on the left to consider.  We have heard that Livni and Lapid might join forces, but alternately, that Livni is considering an offer from Labor.
Just about every poll I’ve seen shows Lapid’s Yesh Atid way down in mandates; the only way he has any hope at all of making an impact is if he joins forces. Even then it is all fairly dubious.
Ah, and then there’s Shaul Mofaz, currently head of the almost defunct Kadima, who is said to be working out a deal to join Labor as well.
What seems fairly certain is that Kadima will be history, as well it should be, with Livni’s party not far behind.
All of this is without mention of the stories that Eli Yishai of Shas may be mulling a break from the party to start something new.
One other factor that I want to mention here is the specter of attempts by Obama to influence our election results.  As I last reported, Kerry declared right after the announcement of elections that he hoped the new government would resume “peace negotiations.” 
He may have been blowing in the wind. But it is more Obama’s style to do what he can to promote the election of a coalition that will support negotiations. It is no secret in any case that he despises Netanyahu.
I’ve picked up two sorts of rumors:
[] that he is considering levying sanctions against Israel because of our building (at the same time that he is attempting to block sanctions against Iran) and
[] that he is thinking of withholding the US veto against anti-Israel measures in the Security Council. 
The idea would be that the Israeli electorate would realize that Netanyahu had damaged Israel’s relationship with the US and thus vote for his opponents.
There are concerned readers warning me about these possibilities.
I most certainly recognize that Obama is a snake in the grass.  But for pragmatic reasons I am not yet ready to become too distressed about these possibilities.  That is, first, because the Congress is solidly with us. 
And then, my own understanding is that the Israeli electorate is so anti-Obama that, were the president to act against Israel’s interests, they would support Netanyahu with even further strength.  Caroline Glick has written that Obama is aware of this possibility, and hesitant to act, less his gambit backfire.
In my next posting I would like to turn to issues other than the elections. The very serious problems we are facing are not about to go away.
Here I end with a quote I rather liked, attributed to Yuval Steinitz, who, as a very competent Finance Minister, shepherded us successfully through a very difficult fiscal time:
“It’s a problem when the best thing the finance minister has going for him is a good head of hair.”  That’s pretty boy Yair Lapid all over!
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 06:36PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 3, 2014: Looking Good

It’s a long time since I have had a positive – even tentatively positive – sense of the political scene here in Israel. But here we are now, in a time of real turmoil, which nonetheless has within it the promise of something better than the unfortunate situation we’ve been struggling with.

As surely almost everyone one of my readers already knows, we are headed for elections.  Not an opportune time for elections, with all that is going on around us. But better – far better – to see an adjustment in the situation than to continue with the status quo.


Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu made a startling decisive move.

Credit: Getty

He didn’t simply start the process of initiating elections, he fired Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Chair, Hatenua) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Chair, Yesh Atid).

Tzipi Livni
Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90 

Israeli Challenger: TV personality-turned-politician Yair Lapid launched his campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a call to restart peace talks.              
Credit: Getty

This was very welcome news to many of us. It left me smiling.

Netanyahu had attempted to meet with both faction heads before making his decision.  In neither case was the result constructive; as I understand it, the meeting with Lapid was particularly fractious.

The prime minister made it clear, in subsequent statements, that, while he preferred not to go to elections, he was not willing to continue to deal with members of his coalition who constantly and publicly challenged him.  Even worse, by today he indicated that Lapid and Livni were attempted a putsch, maneuvering to take over the coalition.


Both Livni and Lapid reacted with anger, denying his accusations and making countercharges at Netanyahu regarding his incompetency.  Naturally. 

The other ministers in Yesh Atid resigned with alacrity:  Shai Piron, Minister of Education; Yaakov Perry, Minister of Science; Yael German, Minister of Health; Meir Cohen, Minister of Social Services.

Lapid said Netanyahu lives in an aquarium.

Livni moaned that, “Now the crazies can run amok.”  She fancies herself, in her own words, the gatekeeper of democracy. 



In a brief statement to the public last night, Netanyahu said that he did not take this action for narrow personal reasons, but for the good of the country – because it was impossible to lead under current conditions.  He asked that the public vote Likud in the coming elections so that the most stable government possible might be formed.

He disbanded the government, and called party heads together for a decision on a date for elections. They will be held on March 17; from the time a Knesset is dissolved until the election is held, a period of three months, at a minimum, is required.

Later in the day, a vote was held in the Knesset regarding dissolving the Knesset.  It passed by 84 votes. This was the first of three readings, with the second and third to take place on Monday.  A “caretaker” government will be in place until the election.      

Outstanding items on the Knesset agenda of particular note are the budget – with the one Finance Minister Lapid had proposed not having been well accepted, and the legislation on Israel as a Jewish State, which has caused enormous turmoil.


Here I simply want to take a quick look at how we got to where we are now, and why there is at least some modicum of hope that we will be seeing improvements in the overall situation.

The current situation was wrought by animosity, mistrust, ego, and poor political judgment.  Going into the last election, which was held in January of 2013, there was enmity between Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, who was up and coming with his nationalist HaBayit HaYehudi party.  At one time Bennett worked as an aide to Netanyahu and there had been a falling out.  But whatever ever else triggered the mutual ill will, it seemed clear that there was also unease on Netanyahu’s part because he saw Bennett as a challenger – with reason.

Netanyahu began to attack the HaBayit HaYehudi party, assuming that he (i.e,. Likud) would be the beneficiary of votes that HaBayit HaYehudi lost. But the gambit – which demonstrated poor judgment from the start – backfired.  Lapid’s Yesh Atid garnered the votes instead, coming in way ahead of what the polls had predicted for him. Yesh Atid, with 19 mandates, was second only to a combined Likud-Yisrael Beitenu list, that had 31 mandates.  While Bennett’s HaBayit HaYehudi straggled in with only 12, Lapid, a TV personality with charisma and absolutely no political expertise, felt like a big man all of a sudden.  Lapid is not a modest man, by any stretch of the imagination.  Nor a deep thinker.

At that point, Netanyahu had no choice but to include Lapid in his coalition.  But Lapid refused to sit in a government with the two ultra-Orthodox parties, who traditionally had a place in a coalition – now they were left out.    

Bennett, fearing that he might also be left out of the government, forged a strange, “one for all, all for one, we are brothers” relationship with Lapid.  They informed Netanyahu that he had to take both of them or would get neither.

Minister of Finance Yair Lapid and Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett, in happier times. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90.
Credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90

And so, grudgingly, Netanyahu made Bennett Minister of the Economy.

Over time, the Lapid-Bennett love-fest totally dissipated.  They were a very odd couple ideologically.


Politics truly does make strange bedfellows and is one very convoluted business. I hope and trust that this brief explanation has provided some clarity.

Where do we go now?  There have been expressions of regret and self-recrimination on the part of both Bennett and Netanyahu.  The two have said they will work closely now, without tensions. And Bennett has said that his brief connection with Lapid was a mistake.  Just possibly these people have learned something.

Polls are indicating that combined right wing-nationalist parties may bring in as many as 79 mandates.  This is encouraging, and there is talk by various MKs about joining together for the sake of issues of mutual concern. This is precisely the way it must be in these incredibly difficult and dangerous times.

The ultra-Orthodox parties are expected to be part of the next coalition.

Yisrael Beitenu, which ran with Likud in the last election, will run separately now.  The joint list proved not to be a success.  While this party is counted in the tally of right wing parties, faction head Avigdor Lieberman, currently Foreign Minister, has not demonstrated very much consistency in his positions. He is impossible to read and causes considerable unease in some quarters.

Livni’s party just might sink into oblivion. And Lapid, who turned out to not be very popular with the electorate (in part because of his positions on finance), is not expected to do well. 

Moshe Kahlon, a former Likud minister, is forming a new party (Israel needs new parties, yes?) that seems to be focusing on social welfare issues – the role he will play is not yet clear.


All things being equal, it is assumed that Likud will garner the most mandates in the election and that Binyamin Netanyahu will continue in his position of prime minister.

The biggest winner in this scenario, however, is probably Naftali Bennett.  He has made it his business to be very visible for some time now, and has taken some very strong positions on nationalist and security issues that have resonated solidly with the public.  He is expected to have considerable influence in the next government.

There were murmurings of dissension within his party, with Uri Ariel, but matters have been smoothed over.

It is, of course, too soon to predict with any certainty, but it is being said that Bennett may be in line for appointment as Defense Minister.  Or, barring this, may have enormous influence with regard to security matters.  This is something I find reassuring precisely because his positions have been unapologetically tough.

Naftali Bennett, head of the Israeli hardline national religious party, Jewish Home, speaks during the first high-tech conference for Israel's Haredi Sector, on Jan. 15, 2013, in Jerusalem.

Credit: Getty


Oh, and the most important item: Kerry has said that he hopes the next Israeli government will be ready to negotiate.  Mr. Kerry should not hold his breath.

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 04:55PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 30, 2014: Jewish (and Other) Rights in the Land Today

Let us begin today by looking briefly at the historical situation that immediately followed Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the subsequent War of Independence.  At the end of the war, in 1949, armistice lines (ceasefire lines) were established.  They were similar to, but not exactly the same, as the lines within which the Jews had declared a state in 1948: Israel had gained a bit of territory.  Most significantly, Israel had secured the western part of Jerusalem.  (In the original UN proposal, Jerusalem was to be internationalized.)



 Credit: English-online

These armistice lines – referred to as the Green Line - were the lines within which Israel remained until 1967. Egypt had taken Gaza, and Jordan had taken the remainder of Mandate Palestine – Judea and Samaria, dubbed “the West Bank” by Jordan.  Jordan, I will note, occupied this land illegally, for it was acquired in a war of aggression.

This Green Line, my friends, is the so-called border behind which Mahmoud Abbas of the PA is always insisting Israel must retreat.  He speaks of it as if it had been Israel’s official “border,” and much of the world has adopted this skewed perspective.  But it was NOT a border, it was a temporary armistice line.  Israel had an armistice agreement with Jordan; it specified that the armistice line was temporary and that a final border would be negotiated (something that never happened). 

And note this well: not only was that line not Israel’s border, it was Jordan that Israel was going to negotiate with regarding a final border.  There was no mention of Palestinian Arabs; there was no suggestion that a Palestinian state would be on the other side of the border.


The situation changed in 1967 during the Six Day War, which Israel fought defensively, in the process acquiring Judea and Samaria.  What Israel acquired then was Mandate land.  Unclaimed Mandate land, to be sure, but according to international law still Mandate land. 

There are claims – oi, are there claims! - that Israel is an “occupier” in Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank), that Israel is there illegally, that Israel has no right to build there.

But how can Israel be an “occupier”?  This is land that the Mandate – which has never been superseded - had determined was a Homeland for the Jews.  A people cannot be an “occupier” in its own land.  How can it be “illegal” for Israel to build in this land, when the Mandate called for “close settlement” by the Jews?

I would add here that the fact that the land was acquired in a defensive war gives an added layer of legitimacy to Israel’s acquisition of it.


And there is one other point of enormous significance here:  Judea and Samaria – the western part of Mandate Palestine promised to the Jews – was stateless when Israel acquired it.  No legal sovereignty had been applied to it.  That is, Jordan’s presence in the land was illegal.  Israel did not usurp the land from another state that had it legally. 

According to international law, “occupation” can only take place when one state has taken control of land over which another state already had sovereignty.  And remember what I wrote yesterday: There has NEVER been a sovereign Arab state (never mind a “Palestinian Arab” state) in Palestine.

Israel did not “take” the land from any state and thus cannot be an “occupier,” no matter what claims are made to the contrary.  Of course, the myth that is promulgated is that Israel “took” the land away from the Palestinian Arabs.


Following the Six Day War, Israel did not annex Judea and Samaria – something that many, myself included, deeply regret.  It would have precluded a host of problems, had Israel claimed her full rights to the land once she had control of it.  The thinking at that time was that there might be a trade of that land, or some part of it, for peace – a prospect that turned out to be greatly unrealistic.

And so Judea and Samaria remained unclaimed Mandate land, to which Israel had inarguably, the very best claim.  Certainly the fact that Israel did not annex the land did not deny her the right to build there.


I will mention here only very briefly the Oslo Accords – which many, again including myself – have viewed as a huge mistake.  Today the Accords float somewhere in legal limbo, not having been formally renounced by Israel, but – breached repeatedly by the PA - not viable by any meaningful standard. 

Two points should be made here with regard to Oslo.

1) The first is that the land of Judea and Samaria was divided by the Accord into three sections. Section C is land over which Israel has both civil and military control.  And in this Area, the Accords do not restrict Israel’s right to build.  (Israel voluntarily restricted her own right to build in Areas A and B, and this would change were Oslo renounced.)  ALL Jewish communities (aka “settlements”) in Judea and Samaria are in Area C.

2) It should also be noted that there is nothing in the Accords about a sovereign Palestinian state. This is an idea that morphed over time.  Even Yitzhak Rabin, who was prime minister at the time of the Accords, made it very clear that he envisioned the “final status” (which is what the Accord refers to) as something in the nature of an autonomy that is less than a full state.


There will be many reasons to refer back to this history over the coming days and weeks. Now I’d like to take a look at some current happenings, considered in the light of this history:

Prime Minister Netanyahu is pushing hard for passage of Basic Law legislation that will declare unambiguously that Israel is a Jewish state.  And the furor that is on-going with regard to this is incredible.  He is accused of being “undemocratic,” which is patently nonsense.

The Elder of Ziyon blogspot has put up the full draft version of this legislation. This is the draft Netanyahu prefers, although it may change.  It says that its goal is:

“Defining the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, and anchoring the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.”
It declares that:
The State of Israel is democratic, based on the foundations of freedom, justice and peace in light of the visions of the prophets of Israel, and upholds the individual rights of all its citizens according to law.”
And that:
The State will act to enable all residents of Israel, regardless of religion, race or nationality, to preserve their culture, heritage, language and identity.”
And that:

“...members of recognized faiths shall be entitled to rest on their Sabbaths and holidays.”

So what do Netanyahu’s critic’s object to?  It says that Israel is the national home of the Jewish People, in which the Jewish People realizes it right to self-determination.  It identifies Hatikva as the national anthem, says the flag has a Star of David on it, recognizes all Jews as having the right to immigrate.

And this, say the complainers, makes non-Jews “second class citizens.”

But wait!  The Mandate described Palestine as the Homeland of the Jews, and acknowledged national rights of self-determination only for the Jewish people, with non-Jews having equal protection with regard to individual civil and religious rights only. This is not new.

And if we look at the Resolution 181 of the General Assembly that recommended a partition of Palestine: one state was to be a Jewish state.  Have they not noticed this?


What’s going on now is political, an attempt by Netanyahu’s critics inside of Israel to play to the Arabs and the greater world:  “See? See how liberal and fair I am! See how I protect the Arab minority in Israel. See, you can trust me to get along with you.”

Of course, there is the chorus of criticism from outside of Israel by members of the EU and others.  But, while we don’t expect much from the EU, we have a right to expect better from Israeli politicians.


There are those who ponder why Netanyahu is making quite the fuss over this that he is.  He is furious with both Tzipi Livni (head of Hatenua) and Yair Lapid (head of Yesh Atid), who are members of the coalition but have publicly crossed the prime minister on this issue.  He says he cannot govern with members of the coalition defying coalition discipline and behaving as if they are in the opposition.

Thus there has been serious talk about his dissolving the Knesset and bringing early elections (perhaps by March).  He has been courting the Ultra Orthodox parties vigorously, for he would hope to bring them into a new coalition in place of Yesh Atid and Hatenua.

Last week I would have put my money on early elections. Today I’m not so sure.  Netanyahu is delaying calling for a vote on the legislation and is seeking wording that would be agreeable to all. 


His reason for persisting on this?  There are suggestions that what he is doing is political: That he sees the public support for his party, Likud, slipping in the polls, while Naftali Bennett’s party, Habayit Hayehudi, is garnering greater support.  And that he is therefore making an all out effort to take a stand sure to be pleasing to the right wing that is favoring Bennett.  What is more, goes this thinking, he is provoking a coalition crisis that will lead to new elections, because he thinks he’ll do better in elections now than he would some months from now.

I know full well that Binyamin Netanyahu is a political animal, and there may be some modest truth in what is being said.  I, however, read a great deal more into this.  I believe he knows what international efforts are afoot to delegitimize Israel and so believes that it is essential to codify our nature as a state unambiguously and up front.


Please, see what Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor, has to say about this situation (emphasis added):

“In the debate on the proposed ‘Jewish state law,’ much of the criticism erases the context that brought this issue to the political center at this time. Claims of  ‘racism’ and ‘discrimination’ that have echoed through the media and in the Knesset reduce an important and complex issue to simplistic and misleading slogans...
This initiative cannot be understood without considering the ongoing campaigns to erode and eventually erase the essential Jewish framework of Zionism. For a number of years, anti-Zionist political groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have sought to reverse the definition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and replace it by a state ‘of all of its citizens.’

“ that a Jewish state is somehow racist or a theocracy ignore the fact that the 28 members of the European Union (plus Norway and Switzerland) are Christian societies, with symbols, flags, calendars, and, as in Britain, an established Church. Similarly, there are over 55 countries that define themselves as Islamic, and a number are, in fact, theocracies. Thus, the attempts to single out Israel for criticism are themselves highly discriminatory.

“For all of these reasons, the political agenda reflects the importance of reinforcing Israel’s fundamental Jewish and Zionist identity, based on the 1948 Declaration of Independence, which defines Israel clearly and repeatedly as ‘the Jewish state.’ And while different formulae exist in order to reach this objective, opponents who resort to false slogans such as ‘racism’ are contributing to the problem.”
Two days ago, in an emergency session of the Arab League in Cairo, Abbas declared:

We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.”  He accused Israel of setting up an apartheid state.

So there you have it.  It is in response to this sort of thinking that Netanyahu seems determined to take his stand.
I would like to close with good news – evidence of the democratic spirit with which Israel relates to its non-Jewish citizens:

On Thursday, MK Danny Danon (Likud) announced that he was going to attempt to secure an addendum to the “Jewish state” bill calling for affirmative action for minority communities that take active part in defending the state.  That would be the Druse and Circassian communities, which take part in mandatory military service.

Now the prime minister has announced he will be submitting a plan to the government for “significant investment” in the Druse and Circassian communities – in the areas of education, employment and infrastructure.


The parents and the widow of Zidan Saif, the Druse police officer who died protecting Jews in the Har Nof massacre, visited the Har Nof synagogue and met with members of the congregation in an emotional meeting.


Credit: Dudi Vaaknin

Said Rinael Saif, Zidan’s widow, to the widows of the four rabbis who had been slain, “There is no way to make this easier, no words that can offer comfort, I feel your sorrow.”  The families held a joint prayer service.


“Lost in the uproar over the proposed Israeli Nationality Bill has been the historic recognition of Arameans as a separate nationality in Israel. Israel is the first country in the world to recognize the Arameans. And this historic recognition has empowered and emboldened Arameans to seek better treatment in other countries they live in.

“On Wednesday, November 26, the World Council of Arameans (WCA) will be addressing the Seventh Session of the Forum on Minority Issues at the United Nations in Geneva. Shadi Halul, an Aramean from Gush Halav in the Galilee, will be traveling to Geneva in order to address the assembly. His two year old child was the first person to be registered  under the new identity in Israel, one month ago...

“Part of his statement will read as follows: ‘We, Aramean Christian Israelis, want all the nations of the world to see the historic democratic move of Israel in recognizing the nationality of “Aramean” within the Christian citizens of the Jewish and democratic Israel...

’The only safe haven for our people in the entire region is Israel,’ Jahn Zaknoun, spokesperson of the Christian Aramaic Society in Israel told Tazpit News Agency. ‘It is the only place we are demographically growing in the entire region. In 1948 there were between 50,000 and 70,000 Arameans in the countryl, and today there are 130,000 Arameans.’

“”We want our people to be a useful and productive part of the country, to serve in the army, as anyone who loves this country as it is would do,’ Zaknoun added. ‘Israel is the only country in the region where everyone who comes here is integrated into society. Anyone who cherishes freedom, of life and of speech, loves Israel.’”

What a source of pride for all Israelis!  Share this, share this, share this.

The Aramean Christians are one of the most ancient Christian churches, originating in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They are brutally persecuted today outside of Israel.


I end today with a video of the Circassian community in Israel, a Muslim community that is “proud to be Israeli.”  This community cannot return to its native Caucasus and is grateful to the Israeli government for its assistance to Muslim leaders in the land.  In Arab lands they cannot raise the Circassian flag – in Israel they can.

(Thanks to Danny Seaman.)

Share this, as well, please!


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 05:39PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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