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September 27, 2016: Looking Up

The first and most important reason we are looking up is because Rosh Hashana starts Sunday night.  This is a time of reflection, and drawing closer to Heaven.  With intention and effort, we can become what we are meant to be.

As I will likely not post again before Rosh Hashana, I here wish each of you a year of blessings, health, inner peace and fulfillment. 

For the people of Israel collectively, I pray for strength, and the wisdom to remember who we are. 

May we hear the call of the shofar.


Credit: YouTube

And may the Almighty spread his shelter of peace over us all.


I think this is really neat:

The Conference of Education Ministers from the OECD countries is being held in Israel.  This alone is a good thing.  But there is more:  Education Minister Naftali Bennett (chair, Habayit Hayehudi) brought some of the ministers to the Hevron Yeshiva in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood of Jerusalem, where he taught them about the “havruta” method of studying with one partner.  This allows for dynamic interchange, enhances learning, and keeps students focused. 

Bennett brought them at the peak of the morning study session and there were some thousand young men studying in the huge study hall.  The ministers were fascinated and later said it was the peak of their visit to Israel.

The visit to Hevron yeshiva 

Credit: Education Minister spokesman


Several weeks ago, I attended a Shurat HaDin conference at which Bennett gave the closing talk – a very upbeat talk about all that we have to teach the world.  One of the things he mentioned is the secret of havruta study.  And here we are. 


A deal has been signed between the partners – including Noble Energy Inc. and Delek Drilling-LP - in Israel’s largest natural gas field, Leviathan, and Jordan’s Natural Electric Power Company.  Over 15 years, 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas will be exported to Jordan for a gross revenue of approximately $10 billion.

The deal “positions the Leviathan project in the center of the regional energy map,” declared Yossi Abu, chief executive officer of Delek Drilling.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, in New York on Sunday, met with both presidential candidates (about whom more below). 
Trump’s campaign reached out to him first, but before the offer was accepted, Netanyahu’s people contacted Hillary about a meeting.  An even-handed approach was essential.  During the hour-and-a-half private meeting with Trump, in his Trump Towers apartment, the Republican candidate said: during his presidency, the US would “finally accept the longstanding congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”

This thoroughly infuriated Saeb Erekat, who charged Trump with “ignoring international law.”


A senior military officer with the Southern Command has said that the barrier being built along the border with Gaza will be complete in a matter of months if funding comes through.  A wall is being constructed that reaches several meters upward and down into the ground as well, to block tunnel construction.  In some areas, there will be flooding, in addition.

Said the officer, the goal is to turn this into a “death trap” for Hamas. “We’re putting a lot of effort into that.”

Hamas officials, stymied by this prospect, cannot just keep their mouths shut, however.  Their responses are entertaining: Said Ismail Radwan, this project is a sign of Israel’s “failure to face the tunnels.”


I had hoped not to return to the matter of speeches given at the UN last week, yet I must.  Starting with Abbas.

In my last posting, I had focused on “the right of return,” because that is what Palestinian Arab media said he would be speaking about.  No harm done, to have set the record straight once more.  But he barely touched on this.

Instead, Abbas focused on number of other issues.  It would be impossible to respond to every one of his lies and misrepresentations, but in a couple of instances, it’s important to clarify matters:


He charges Israel with violating General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947. That’s the Partition Plan.  He even says that “Israeli forces seized more land than that allotted to Israel, constituting a grave breach” of UN charter articles regarding “breach of the peace” or “aggression.”

But wait!  As I explained last time with regard to the “right of return,” resolutions of the General Assembly are only recommendations and carry no weight in international law.  What is more, in this instance, it was the Arabs who rejected the plan!  Had they accepted, there would have been two states, for the Jews were willing.  But the Arabs would not countenance Jews having any land at all.  This is an old Palestinian Arab ploy, to attempt to go back now to 1947 and revert to that plan. 

The kicker here, the breathtaking chutzpah (shameless audacity), is his claim that Israeli forces “seized” more land than had been recommended by that resolution.  The Arabs – breaching UN articles regarding aggression - attacked Israel; it was in the course of that war, fought defensively by Israel, that more land was acquired. 


He also maintains that the PLO “made a historic and immense sacrifice” when it agreed “to establish the State of Palestine on the 4 June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Here it is imperative to set the record straight in several regards.  He is speaking of the Oslo Accords.  But be very very clear about this: a state on the 4 June 1967 borders (sic) – in actuality the 1949 armistice line – was NEVER promised in the Accords.  They have made this up, along with the claim that eastern Jerusalem was promised to them. This is one of those toxic claims that has been repeated so often that much of the world believes it. As a matter of fact, the Oslo Accords does not promise a state.  It refers to a final status agreement, but that status was not defined.  Rabin, in his last address to the Knesset, said that he envisioned something less than a full state.  

What is more, that final status was to be determined via negotiations.  Last I looked, they never happened. 


And then, as if all of this is insufficient, Abbas makes a total fool of himself: He attacks Great Britain for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which recognized Palestine as a Jewish homeland.  His demand is that Britain apologize to the “Palestinian people” and rectify “this historic catastrophe.”

Netanyahu, when it was his turn at the podium, mocked this for the ludicrous proposal that it is. 


As to Netanyahu’s speech, much of it was powerful and upbeat.  He chastised the UN for its unending bias against Israel, and documented this. (“The UN, which began as a moral force, has become a moral farce.”) But then he said (emphasis added):

“So when it comes to Israel, you probably think nothing will change, right?  Well think again. For everything will change, and a lot sooner than you think.  The change will happen in this hall, because back home, your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes to Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote at the UN.

More and more nations in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, more and more nations see Israel as a potent partner – a partner in fighting the terrorism of today, a partner in developing the technology of tomorrow...

“Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help protect their people, can help feed them, can help better their lives.” 

It is true, it is true.  He went on to speak about our growing relationship with African nations, and changes in attitude towards Israel in China, India, Russia and Japan.

“But now I’m going to surprise you even more.  You see, the biggest change in attitudes towards Israel is taking place elsewhere.  It’s taking place in the Arab world...They recognize that Israel is their ally...our common goals are security, prosperity, and peace.  I believe in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals, work together openly...

“Ladies and gentle, distinguished delegates from so many lands, I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms.  The war against Israel at the UN is over.


All of this said, I wish I didn’t have to point out the down sides to his talk.  But...

After effectively detailing hostile Palestinian Arab attitudes – the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the constant unremitting incitement of the children, etc. – he says, “I am ready to negotiate all final status issues but one thing I will never negotiate – our right to the one and only Jewish state...I know that many of you have given up on peace,  But I want you to know: I have not given up on peace. I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples...I’m ready to begin negotiations to achieve this today – not tomorrow, not next week, today.” (Emphasis added) And he then invited Abbas to address the Knesset.

Difficult to hear this my friends. It’s posturing, and I certainly would rather he said otherwise.

Even putting aside the enormous importance of declaring our legal rights to the land, there is this:  He made the case very effectively – with regard to the horrendous incitement of the young people and more – that we do not have, not remotely, a partner for peace negotiations.  At a bare minimum, at the very least, I wish he would have said that it would have been his choice to begin peace negotiations, but he knows this cannot happen now, and will not happen until there are some very major changes inside the Palestinian Authority.  But he skirted this honesty.

On this, I cut him some slack.  Because he met with Obama in New York, and who knows what was said behind those closed doors.  There is worry about Obama refusing to veto anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council.  And so, he plays it this way. 


With regard to the need to stop pretending a “two state solution” is a viable option, and a consideration of the outrageous pressure from the US that Israel has endured in its name, please see Caroline Glick’s important piece, “Ending the Palestinian exception”:


But there was one other matter that Netanyahu addressed in his speech on which I do not cut him slack.  Attempting to make the point that Israeli society has fanatics too, but that we are different in how we deal with them, he said (emphasis added):

“Take the tragic case of Ahmed Dawabsha. I'll never forget visiting Ahmed in the hospital just hours after he was attacked. A little boy, really a baby, he was badly burned. Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews. He lay bandaged and unconscious as Israeli doctors worked around the clock to save him. No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, ‘This is not our people. This is not our way.’ I then ordered extraordinary measures to bring Ahmed's assailants to justice and today the Jewish citizens of Israel accused of attacking the Dawabsha family are in jail awaiting trial.”

There is something wrong with this statement, because we don’t know that this act was committed by Jews. No Jew has been convicted of this crime. As it happens, Netanyahu is referring to an incident of arson in the Arab village of Duma, where serious doubts about the identity of the perpetrator of the crime have been raised: There is a clan feud in the village and there have been several instances of homes of members of one clan set on fire there by other Arab members of the village.  I would not – absolutely cannot - say with certainty that it was not a Jew who did it. That would put me in denial.  But neither do I have a sense of certainty that a Jew did it.

How I wish he had left this alone!

What I see here is a readiness to sacrifice principles of justice in order to show the world how tough we can be on our own people.  It should be that the accused is considered innocent until proven otherwise.  I wonder how fair a trial he can receive, now that the prime minister has made his statement.  Will there be unease on the part of the judges that they might be seen as letting a guilty Jew go, if they find for him?

I have seen this sort of thing before (with former Minister of Defense Ya’alon and the Hevron soldier Elor Azaria), and it disturbs me greatly.  Because far more than I care what the world thinks of us, I care about justice within Israeli society.


And lastly, my comments about the presidential debate last night (which I watched in the early morning hours here).

While some analysts see the debate as a tie that will determine nothing, there are a good number who think Clinton won by some margin.  Clinton was certainly well-rehearsed.  But what I saw is that she cited positions in a tone that sounded memorized.  She was also tough – in a nasty way.

Trump – for whom I was rooting all the way – was self-assured, but softer in his tone; he avoided the nasty accusations.  He certainly passed the test successfully regarding concerns about how appropriately he would handle himself.  Unfortunately, he let pass opportunities to challenge her – on Benghazi, for example, or the corruption of her involvement with the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state – that should have been visited with vigor. He needed to be tougher.


In the end, what I saw were two very different perceptions of how the US should be governed and how current serious problems might be rectified. It’s not a matter of who “won” the debate, in terms of style, etc.  It’s a question of listening carefully and making a decision as to who would be more capable of bringing America to a better place.  We’re looking at an America that is in incredible trouble.  

As I see it, Trump has it over Clinton overwhelmingly.  Clinton would continue failed policies, for which she already has responsibility.

Trump started from strength when he spoke about the US economic situation.  He addressed specifics: the fact, for example, that NAFTA – which was negotiated by Bill Clinton – is an horrendous agreement that puts the US at a fiscal disadvantage. He made enormous sense when he spoke about the core problem of corporations going overseas for cheap labor, thus increasing American unemployment.  And he advanced thoughts as to how to discourage this. 

One of the economic remedies (not the only one) he advanced was tax cuts at the upper bracket.  To Clinton this is ideologically anathema.  She would tax the rich heftily and cut taxes at the middle class.  But I see that she doesn’t get it: When taxes are cut at the upper bracket, it stimulates the economy and encourages investment in business. This in turn creates jobs and makes American grow.

Clinton was weak on specifics – Trump challenged her on this, saying she had no plan. She’s big on impassioned statements about how she’d make it “better,” but...?

I think Trump was enormously on the mark, as well, when he described the crisis in the inner cities, and spoke about the need to restore law and order.  It is blacks and Hispanics in those inner cities, he pointed out, who suffer the most.  But Hillary, who has a strong leftist orientation, is not a “law and order” person.  (I will have more to say about Trump’s approach to the inner city in a coming posting.)

Trump also challenged the Iran deal.  He spoke about the billions in cash that have been transferred to Iran, and the refusal of the Obama administration to link this deal to related issues.  Iranian fomenting of problems in Yemen, for example.  Or Iran’s cooperation with N. Korea.  She championed the deal as it is – saying it’s enough that we stopped Iran in its development of nuclear weapons. In fact this is not the case at all. 

It has long astounded me that the Obama administration maintains that the agreement achieved with Iran was the best that could be had, and that if other factors were added to the deal all would have been lost.  But no, there was the leverage of sanctions relief, and much more might have been achieved if Obama did not cave on every single demand.  Clinton is following in Obama’s path here, which is very worrisome.  Rings bells, actually.


And so it goes, with a great deal yet to be examined – hopefully in the next debates.  This is with regard to immigration, dealing with radical Islam and more.  The difference between the two candidates is striking, and we must not lose sight of this.

The polls in the next few days will give us a better indication of what, if anything, this debate accomplished.


I share here the Fountainhead’s “Dip the apple in the honey”:

Dipping an apple in honey is customary on the holiday.

Credit: Judaism.about   
As is honey on challah (at least for Ashkenazim).


And to get us into the mood of the High Holidays, lastly, Shlomo Carlebach z”l, doing prayers in the holiday nusach (style/melody):

We need to offer our prayers as if our lives depend upon this.  For they do.


© 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, September 27, 2016 at 02:13PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 22, 2016: As the World Turns

Credit: Galeri12
“As the world turns” was until recently the name of a very long-running soap opera.  And it is so appropriate as the title of this post, because, folks, we are living in a soap opera – another metaphor for our surreal situation. 
Of course, there are islands of lucidity, when we see people who actually know what they are talking about, in real time.  Such a moment came in the video I share here, of activist Dr. Joe Frager interviewing Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Ambassador John Bolton at a Hovevei Zion event in NYC.
Frager asked Shaked how to make the people of the US understand that Yehuda v’Shomron (Judea and Samaria) are an integral part of the Israel.
Her answer (emphasis added):
"We in the Jewish Home party (Habayit Hayehudi ) talk all the time about how Judea and Samaria are our homeland and they are part of Israel, so we are there to stay. Today there are 425,000 citizens in Judea and Samaria, the area is flourishing. I think the people of America just need to listen more to the ministers and MKs from Jewish Home."
Bolton, for his part, said (emphasis added):
“I think people in America need to understand that the two-state solution has failed and that continuing to pursue it won't do anything to bring stability to anywhere in the region as it falls into chaos. This discussion is important to help people here understand what the consequences can be.”
Bravo to both of them.
And sometimes there is something that has a “soap opera” feel to it, but gives us a laugh:
Before Rosh Hashana, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv sends out gift baskets to a number of Jewish organizations, including Peace Now.  Inadvertently, they included a bottle of wine from the Shomron (Samaria), which is actually a big wine-producing area. Oops.  Neither the US Embassy nor Peace Now thinks we should be there.

Credit: israeli-wine-org
Maybe they need to speak with Ayelet Shaked.
The legality of our presence in Judea and Samaria is enormously important now, as the world pushes for a “peace process” that would lead to a “two-state solution.”  And while I have taken the liberty of making a bit of fun, this is a most serious situation:
At the annual ministerial meeting at the UN on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared that France would be doing a major push to have that international Mid-East conference they’ve been talking about take place by the end of the year.  He’s been working to do mobilization this week, while many nations are gathered.
The tactic he is employing now – rather than using the threats of his predecessor – is the promise of perks.  If the two parties reached an agreement, there would be incentives offered them.  What he imagines those incentives would be is not clear.
We’ll track this as it goes.  I tend to doubt that Israel would attend the French-initiated conference at all.  It is my suspicion that Netanyahu agreed to a meeting in Russia with Abbas (time not yet set) in part to deflect the focus of the French initiative.
Meanwhile, we’ve got Kerry and Abbas, who met on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Monday to discuss “constructive ideas” for boosting the possibility of a “two state solution.”


Credit: endtimeheadlines
I rather doubt that Abbas – who’s playing it to the hilt now - would recognize a genuinely constructive idea if it hit him in the head. (More about him below.)  And I’m not real sure about Kerry, either. But the push is on.
The opening general debate session of the UN General Assembly is now in progress, and speakers are using that podium to turn up the heat on Israel as well:
For me, most reprehensible of all was the statement of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who spoke Tuesday (emphasis added): 

No injustice has spread more bitter fruit than the denial of a Palestinian state. I say: Peace is a conscious decision. Israel has to embrace peace or eventually be engulfed in a sea of hatred in a region of turmoil.”


I know that he is in something of a bind:

He fervently wants Israel at his border and not a Palestinian state, which would generate instability.  But the radicals in his country are nipping at his heels, so that he fears publicly acknowledging  even the discreet cooperative relationship he has with Israel. 

However, in light of various assistance that Israel has afforded Jordan (a year ago, for example, we gave Jordan 16 retired Cobra helicopters to fend off ISIS), I think that the vehemence of this statement is over-the-top inexcusable. It is vile.  And I’m not even going to deal here with his ludicrous charges against Israel regarding the Temple Mount.


Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who has praised Israeli-Egyptian security cooperation in other venues, at the UN podium spoke only about the importance of Palestinian Arab aspirations to establish an independent state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital; he said this is linked to comprehensive peace in the area.
In my book, he is one of the good guys.  He pumps for a “two-state solution” but without malice towards Israel. In the course of his speech, he stopped to deviate from his written words:
“I want to address the leaders and citizens of Israel.
“I call on the Israeli government and the Israeli people to find a solution to this problem. We have a real opportunity to write a new page in history of our region moving towards peace.”


Credit: dailynewsegypt
Ban Ki Moon, outgoing UN secretary-general, did not mention Palestinian Arab violence at all, instead saying (emphasis added):
“Ten years lost to illegal settlement expansion. Ten years lost to intra-Palestinian divide, growing polarization and hopelessness. This is madness...replacing a two-state solution with a one-state construct would spell doom.”
We would expect nothing different from the chief officer of the UN.  And I would say that I welcome his imminent departure, except for the fact that I don’t expect his successor to be any better.
Obama, in his farewell speech on Tuesday, didn’t refer to Palestinian Arab violence either. 

He mentioned incitement, saying “Surely Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement...”  He didn’t say they must reject it, and he didn’t predicate progress in the “peace process” on their doing so.  He simply segued into this: “Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.” (Emphasis added)
Precisely what “Palestinian land” he is referring to was not made not clear – although we can guess.  We know he was more than a tad confused when he spoke, because he also said, [We have] “resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy.”  He is seriously in need of a reality check.
There are still more speakers scheduled:
Netanyahu will be speaking about terrorism and the need for the world to unite in fighting it. I will follow through on this.  I expect him to share well thought-out advice that is likely to be ignored much as his advice on Iran was.  I anticipate that the world is not ready to confront with seriousness what he is likely to challenge them to deal with.  We’ll see.
Putin will be speaking. As he is playing a growing role on the world stage, happily flexing his muscles, we should pay careful attention to what his says – for whatever clues it provides as to his thinking and intentions.  
And then there is Mahmoud Abbas.  


Credit: al-akhbar
Writing about him in this context challenges my skills as a professional – so deep is my antipathy to him.  But, of course, that he is made welcome at the UN podium and treated with respect says as much about the UN as it does about him.  Holocaust-denying, inciting, lying, anti-Semite that he is.
According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, he will be appealing to the UN to consider the “great suffering” of the people under “occupation.” He will be seeking UN resolutions to redress “continuing Israeli crimes,” according to "moral and historical imperatives."  And, it is being said, he hopes to include “the right of return.”
Again, now, he wants to bring up the “right of return”?  I believe he sees himself as having a tactical advantage at the moment and wants to make the most of it.
And so, I will take a minute here to address the purported “right of return,” which allegedly is founded in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which was passed in December 1948.
In a nutshell, there is no such thing as “the right of return.”  The resolutions of the General Assembly are merely recommendations and carry no weight in international law.
What this resolution did was examine a variety of factors that had to be addressed in order achieve a truce as the War of Independence drew to a close.  In order to facilitate this, it established a Conciliation Commission. The resolution in its entirety deals with a number of relevant issues – demilitarization, road development, free access to holy places, etc. etc.
One of the issues to be dealt with was refugees.  And here, please note, it does not refer to “Arab” refugees, for there were Jewish refugees as well (although they were conveniently forgotten along the way).  This Commission was instructed to “facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees...”  Please note the inclusion of the option of resettlement for refugees.  “Repatriation” was only one possibility.
What the Arabs have done is to cite Clause 11 in isolation: “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date...”  Even this, taken by itself, is problematic.  “Wishing to return...and live at peace with their neighbors...”  At no point was Israel expected to take in Arabs who were hostile.  And what does “the earliest practicable date” mean?
The great irony here is that Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen all voted against this resolution because it implicitly recognized the existence of Israel.  Only in retrospect did they go back and draw upon what suited them.
One final word: The number of Arab refugees is routinely cited as four million by the Arabs and their supporters.  This is a gross misrepresentation, a fraud promoted and nurtured by UNRWA, the refugee agency that attends to the Arab refugees.  Incredibly, UNRWA says that all refugees retain refugee status even if they have found citizenship elsewhere – only “return” to their original homes in Israel eliminates that status.  But people living in third countries who have citizenship are not refugees.  What is more, UNRWA confers refugee status down through the generations – now the fourth generation.  This applies to no other refugee population.
It was difficult not to be somewhat uneasy about Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama yesterday, given the political climate.  Our prime minister has been talking about how we have to have gratitude to Obama for that MOU deal.  That rings bells.
The two spoke to the press before their meeting, exuding a warm atmosphere.  There was even banter about playing golf together and similar nonsense meant to convey a happy message: Israel and the US are the closest of friends, and the US watches out for Israel’s interests.

Image result for obama netanyahu sept. 2016

Credit: michigansthumb
Publicly, Obama referred to the need to “keep alive the possibility of a stable, secure Israel, at peace with its neighbors, and a Palestinian homeland that meets the aspirations of their people.”
Reports are that he came on tougher privately, speaking of “profound US concerns” that settlement-building was eroding prospects for peace.  But, I’m happy to say, those same reports indicate that Netanyahu advanced a counter-argument to Obama’s position.
But we’re not done yet.  What continues to be unsettling are the rumors that Obama might withdraw support for Israel at the UN after election.  This undoubtedly is what Abbas is playing towards.  It would be Obama’s last chance to sock it to us, when it no longer mattered to him politically.  Clifford May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has sounded such a warning. 
While former Mid-East negotiator Aaron David Miller suggests that the newly signed MOU might serve as a “trigger mechanism” for a fresh American push for “peace” during Obama’s lame-duck period.  Sort of a quid pro quo approach.
In response to this concern about the possibility of Obama opting not to veto a coercive Security Council resolution, 88 senators signed a letter sent to Obama urging him to:
“make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months. Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict.”  (Emphasis added)
The letter additionally recalled the statement by former US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice that “even well-intentioned initiatives” at the UN could “risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiation table and make the compromises necessary for peace.”
I’d like to say that this is a fantastic move, but I cannot.  It is certainly heartening in that it shows Congressional support for Israel in its attempt to forestall inappropriate action by Obama.  But in the end, what it says is that coercion won’t solve the problem of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict, only negotiations leading to a “two-state solution” will do that.
Oh. We’re back to that again?  What makes this even more problematic is that AIPAC (which most definitely is not what it once was) drafted that letter.
Two very pro-Israel Senators, Ted Cruz (R–TX) and Marco Rubio (R–FL), refused to sign the letter.  Cruz subsequently clarified that he supported the “spirit” of the letter but rejected the notion that “the two-state solution” was the “only” solution.  He objected to coercing Israel in this direction.  It is thought that Rubio has similar feelings on the matter.
And I suspect that some of the others who did not sign may have had similar thoughts.  Consider Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), for example, who has now said that the next president should renegotiate the MOU and give Israel better terms.


Credit: Wikipedia
Perhaps all those who did sign it should consider having a conversation with Ambassador Bolton, who, bless him, DOES understand that this paradigm has failed. 
We still have a whole lot of work ahead of us.
Let’s end with some good news.  This is big (emphasis added):
”By combining gene therapy with chemotherapy and delivering it to a primary tumor site, researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine have discovered in mice an ‘extremely effective way’ to prevent the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body...
“Two weeks after initiating cancer in the breasts of their mice, the researchers injected primary tumor sites with a hydrogel that contained naturally occurring RNAs to target the movement of cancer cells from primary to secondary sites.

“Two days after the treatment, the primary breast tumors were gone...
“’We realized we had stopped breast cancer metastasis in a mouse model, and that these results could be applicable to humans,’ [research team leader Noam] Shomron said. ‘There is a strong correlation between the effect on genes in mouse cells and the effect on those in human cells.’”
And this is a lovely reflection of Israel:
“During a raid on the house of a Hamas operative in the village of Jaba, near Jenin, in the early hours of Monday morning, security forces discovered a month-old fawn that was being held illegally and in conditions not suitable for wild animals.
“Border Police forces who conducted the raid transferred the fawn to the nature reserve section of the Civil Administration for treatment and rehabilitation.
“The Civil Administration said the fawn was being monitored by veterinarians at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem, while continued recovery will most likely be conducted at a petting zoo. Veterinarians think that due to the age of the animal and the amount of time it spent in captivity, there is little chance it could survive in the wild...”
Said Operations commander Yasser Assadi, “Even in operations where we detain wanted suspects, it is impossible to ignore the sight of a suffering animal being held in captivity.  This situation also involves saving life.” (Emphasis added),7340,L-4857004,00.html

Photo: Police Spokesperson (Photo: Police Spokesperson)

Credit: police spokesperson

Proclaim Freedom: Dror Yikra – a 10th century Yemenite Jewish song, rendered here by Yonatan Razel.  Traditionally a Shabbat song.
© 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, September 22, 2016 at 03:21PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 19, 2016: Our Mad, Mad World

Perhaps the best antidote to the insane events that seem normal fare these days is a focus on some of the good news that comes out of Israel.  Thank Heaven, there is a good deal of that, if we take the time to pay attention:

“In Prof. Amir Amedi’s world-renowned Lab for Brain and Multisensory Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, people with vision impairment can ‘see’ their environment with the aid of sensory substitution devices (SSDs) that provide visual information from sound and touch.

“Now, two of the lab’s groundbreaking inventions are being readied for the mass market in Brainnovations, Israel Brain Technologies’ four-month accelerator program.

“EyeCane (pictured below), a flashlight-like orientation device, emits infrared rays to translate distance into auditory and tactile cues enabling the user to sense objects within an adjustable range of up to five meters. After brief training, EyeCane users can estimate distances, avoid obstacles and successfully navigate in simple environments.

Image result for eyecane


“EyeMusic is an app and mini camera system that conveys colors, shapes and location of objects by converting images into ‘soundscapes’ for the brain to interpret visually. Blind individuals can be trained to recognize the letters of the alphabet, ‘see’ pictures of animals, and even find an object or person in a complex visual landscape. A version of the app is available free on the Apple App Store and Google Play...”

A system that enables blind persons to interpret color visually astounds me.  See the link above for two videos demonstrating how these systems work.


Here’s something I can speak about first hand, and enthusiastically, having visited twice this summer with grandchildren, who loved it:

“Now there’s a permanent address for live music and music culture in the neighborhood: Kikar Hamusica (Music Square) on hip Yoel Moshe Salomon Street just off Zion Square.

“’We have created Kikar Hamusica right in the center of downtown Jerusalem to unify mankind through the happiness and spirituality that only comes from music,’ says Laurent Levy, the French immigrant behind the multifaceted project (below)....

Eldad Levy, director of the Hebrew Music Museum. Photo: courtesy


“Every visitor gets a tablet and headphones so they can learn more details, play games such as musical trivia, and hear each of 260 musical instruments displayed in exquisitely appointed rooms.

“The furnishings and décor were handcrafted by artisans...according to the aesthetic of the particular region: Morocco-Andalusia, Central Asia, Europe, the Balkans, Iraq/Syria, Israel, Yemen and Africa.

“’The collections are grouped geographically to display how Hebrew music evolved in the diaspora following the destruction of the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians 2,500 years ago,’ explains Yaniv Levy, the museum’s marketing manager.”

Cap musicmuseum-instruments: Some of the unusual authentic instruments at the Hebrew Music Museum in Jerusalem. Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman

Credit: Abigail Klein Leichman


“Turning now to some of the insanity we must deal with...insanity being a recurrent theme in my posts.

A recent statement made by Dennis Ross - while perhaps not surprising to those of us who know his history as an advisor to Bill Clinton - is none-the-less deeply infuriating.  He represents a seriously wrong-headed perspective embraced by many American liberals, including a good number of Jews.  Because he is a “diplomat,” what he says garners credibility.  And so, it calls for a retort.

Dennis Ross

Credit: Samsonblinded

At a panel discussion at Georgetown University, Ross said that if Hillary is elected, she should do a “backdoor initiative” to force Netanyahu to make changes in his policy. Force?

“Even though negotiations with the Palestinian Authority won’t work now” Netanyahu, said Ross, should be taking steps for “peace.”

Netanyahu, he said, “does not want to make the difficult choice between his domestic interests and what the international community expects.”

Excuse me?  Here we have the insufferable heart of his perspective.  Would he speak about any other nation this way?  When he refers to Netanyahu’s “domestic interests” – by which he means internal political concerns - he misses the point completely.  Israel is a sovereign state, and the head of that state has an obligation to protect the wellbeing of its citizens and to respond to the will of its citizenry.  There is less than no obligation to do what “the international community expects.” 

We can rest assured that the “international community,” such as it exists, is not concerned with the wellbeing of Israel or Israeli citizens.  We get in trouble when our leaders attempt to appease that “community.”

The expressed attitude of people such as Ross should serve our leaders as a reminder of exactly where we should not go.


There is yet more in Ross’s statement that I cannot let pass:

Insisting that we should make unilateral concessions, including a cessation of building beyond the security fence, he said this would be consistent with “the traditional Zionist way of shaping your own destiny.”

Is he really that obtuse or just pretending to be?  We ARE shaping our own destiny, we ARE making choices.  It’s just that Ross doesn’t like them:

Israelis need to realize, he declared, that “they can’t get [peace] on the cheap.” 

How he could imagine, after everything that has transpired, that we would get “peace” by making more concessions eludes me totally.  But wait! DOES he really imagine this?  Or is he simply opting to do what he recommends Israel do – bow to what the world expects?


A few days ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu did a video clip about the fact that a Palestinian Arab state would be Judenrein.

The term he used was “ethnic cleansing,” as no Jews would be permitted to remain within the borders of that state.  This is something Abbas has declared explicitly. 

See, for example: and .

Well, the world has gone a bit bananas about this. It is astonishing.

No one – with the exception of a handful of right wing columnists - addressed the issue of Abbas’s demand that there would be no Jews in the Palestinian Arab state.  No one addressed it even though Netanyahu is entirely correct: people who want ethnic cleansing are not peaceful.  He made the point that 20% of the Israeli population is Arab, because when Israel was founded Jewish leaders invited Arabs who lived within Israel’s borders to stay.

Instead, Abbas got a free pass, and everyone turned the argument around to the matter of “settlements.” Within hours, the State Department had declared Netanyahu’s statement as “inappropriate and unhelpful.”

And the UN’s Ban Ki Moon?  Well, what could we expect of him? He declared that Israeli settlements “are a violation of international law” and Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory “should be resolved as soon as possible through negotiations.”

For the record (for the thousandth time) “settlements” are not in violation of international law, and the area of Judea and Samaria is not “Palestinian territory.”  But in this mad world, facts don’t matter.


What must be specifically noted is the stance of Jonathan Greenblatt, who has replaced Abe Foxman as national director of ADL – which has a mandate to fight anti-Semitism.  Greenblatt, who worked for the Obama administration, came out against Netanyahu and sided instead with Obama. 

See Jonathan Tobin’s piece on this:  Exceedingly disturbing, and perhaps one more unfortunate prognosticator of where mainstream American Jewry is going.


I would not call the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) - on military aid for a ten year period beginning in 2019 - that has been signed between Israel and the US “insanity.”  But I do think it is disturbing and I regret that agreement was reached now with the Obama administration.  So much time had transpired that there was some reason to believe that Netanyahu might wait until after the elections.  I am not privy to what made him decide to seal the deal now. (There is suggestion from one source that it was Obama who was holding out, and not Netanyahu at all.)

Over the course of 10 years, $38 billion will be provided by the US. The deal is being touted as the biggest and most generous ever – one that will provide Israeli military with planning security. 

But the reality if far more complex than this. 

First, it must be understood that this $38 billion may not to be expended in Israel – it will all get turned back to the US.  This US “grant” to Israel keeps the US defense industry going.

Part of what is terribly problematic here is that in prior agreements 20% of the aid from the US could be expended inside Israel, invested in the Israel defense industry.  Now that has been cut out of the deal.  This means a weakening of Israel’s defense industry and a greater dependency on US weaponry, missiles, planes, etc.  That is not a happy scenario.  The US (read Obama) would like to see us more dependent, but we should strive for exactly the reverse


The US wants something else, as well: a bigger piece of the military defense industry market. If Israel’s military industry is crippled, to whatever degree, by lack of funds, it provides the US a better opportunity to market its military equipment. And so, when we speak about this aid package being the biggest ever, we have to deduct loss of income to Israel within the military equipment market.  That’s before we calculate what the dollar was worth ten years ago, as compared to what it will be worth in the ten years beginning in 2019.  The notion that two figures written on a piece of paper tell the whole story is erroneous.

As matters stand, US funds cannot even be used to provide fuel for Israeli military equipment, as has been the case in the past.


What is most significant, Congress has been cut out of the equation.  In past deals, a certain amount was granted by the administration in a MOU. But Israel still had the latitude to go to Congress for additional assistance in times of crisis.  It is, after all, Congress that allocates funds, and Congress that is Israel’s most reliable supporter.

The situation is being spun so that the need to go to Congress in times of crisis was a deficit in previous deals, as there was a lack of certainty as to what could be attained.  Now, it is being said, there is certainty – allowing for planning security.  Well, yes and no.  True, there is a certain degree of planning security. But the sum is locked in – there is no latitude.  That is not a plus.   

Israel has agreed not to ask Congress for funds unless there is a war.

Shoshanna Bryen, Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center, asks what determines a “war”:

“Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria still maintain a state of war with Israel, as does Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and sometimes the Palestinian Authority. Did the Obama Administration leave Israel a loophole for Congressional assistance? Or is it denying that Israel lives in a perpetual and evolving state of threat and often fights ‘wars’ that are essential to the protection of its population, but are not formally declared?” (Emphasis added)


Apparently, as well – and this does strike me as nuts – Israel has agreed, under pressure from Obama, to return to Congress any extra monies allocated by Congress above and beyond the MOU level over the next two years.

We were that hungry to strike this deal?  I feel as if we have not yet learned the full story here.


Senator Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) says Israel made a mistake signing with Obama. “They left money on the table,” he observed.

Credit: Wikipedia

“Graham, who chairs a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, said Congress isn't a party to the agreement and shouldn't be bound by the deal. He said he intended to test in the coming weeks a provision that restricts lawmakers from providing for more money than the deal mandates by pushing for a supplemental budget that would give Israel an additional $1.5 billion over what the administration has proposed.

The Obama administration is trying to ‘neuter’ Congress [by] undercutting its ability to appropriate money, according to Graham. ‘I will not stand for that,’ he said.

“Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, seemed to side with Graham on that point. Corker said in a statement Wednesday that the agreement ‘sends an important signal about our long-term commitment to Israel,’ but the amount of money ‘is ultimately up to Congress to decide.’" (Emphasis added here and above.)


Sen. Graham points out that lawmakers this year wanted to give Israel $600 million for missile defense — $100 million more than the agreement proposes to provide in 2019, when the need may be even greater.  This provides a perspective on that MOU, which is supposed to be so generous.  (I note that Obama – the president who “has Israel’s back” - has a history of trying to reduce funds for Israel’s missile defense.)

Bryen further quotes Graham (emphasis added):

“Over the next decade, [Israel] is going to need to spend more on domestic defense, research and development, because the IDF is going to be under more threat, not less. This MOU sends the wrong signal to the Ayatollahs. I am appalled that the administration would (give) the largest state sponsor of terrorism access to $150 billion in sanctions relief without any requirement that they change their behavior. Instead, it is nickeling and diming Israel, and… that’s the wrong ship to sail.”

So here we have it, once again: Obama making like he’s a friend to Israel (a posture the left-wing gullible gladly embrace), while in truth he’s nothing of the sort.


One last note here: Former prime minister Ehud Barak strongly criticized the MOU deal in an op-ed in the Washington Post last week.  This is reprehensible and smacks of politics. Such criticism belongs inside of Israel only.  You do not attack your prime minister abroad. 


If there is an up side here, it is the fact that this is a MOU and not a signed treaty. That means that the next president has the latitude to alter terms to Israel’s favor.

Attorney David Friedman, who is Trump’s key advisor on Middle East affairs, says Trump would not limit his assistance to Israel to this MOU.


Unfortunately, news has broken that Netanyahu, who will going to the US to address the UN on Thursday, will meet with Obama on Wednesday in New York.

Oh joy.


After a period of much appreciated quiet, the terrorism has started up again.  In the course of three days, there have been six attacks:

In the Hevron area; in the community of Efrat in Gush Etzion, where an infiltrator was quickly caught; at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem; and now outside Herod’s Gate in the Old City (pictured).  A car ramming, several stabbings.  Attacks resulted in either no injury or light injuries. Until today: At Herod’s Gate two police offices were knifed – one was injured moderately and one, who was stabbed in the neck, seriously. 


Herod's Gate, tb042403205

Credit: bibleprophecy

The terrorists were all shot and in some cases killed.

The reason given for the upswing is the coming of the Jewish holidays.  No reason is acceptable in the slightest.  IDF reinforcements are being brought in to the high risk areas.


A simple song, with an upbeat message. Feels right for this posting as counter to the bad stuff: John Denver. “Sunshine on my shoulders.”


© 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, September 21, 2016 at 02:40AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 9, 2016: The Good, the Bad, and the Totally Crazy

So, we start with the good.
More exciting archeological news:
There is a project called the Temple Mount sifting project.  It was founded in 2004, by archaeologists Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira in response to the horrendous removal of tons of earth from the Temple Mount by the Islamic Waqf in 1999.  The Arabs who dumped this earth assumed, without a doubt, that they had disposed of much archeological evidence about the Temple. 
But something very different happened. In the years since the earth was dumped, volunteer and professional sifters have have painstakingly gone through it, uncovering thousands of artifacts.
The most recent announcement came this week when segments of tile were reconstructed into a pattern that is believed to be from the Courtyard floor of the Temple in Herodian times.  

Second Temple Mount courtyard floor? (Photo: Temple Mount Sifting Project)

Credit: Temple Mount sifting project

The tiles, prestigious and sophisticated, were composed of a variety of imported polished stones. “It enables us to get an idea of the Temple's incredible splendor," said Dr. Barkay.,7340,L-4851227,00.html
What impresses me as much as anything else is the meticulous devotion of those who are doing this sorting and restoration work. 
See a short video here:
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes we can win.  And the lesson to be learned here, I think, is that it’s always worth trying:
Recently, the “Palestinian ambassador” to the Czech Republic registered a complaint about an atlas used in the Czech school system that identified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  The Czech minister of education informed the publisher of that book that a change had to be made, listing Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, or his books would no longer be accredited as official school books.
Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat (pictured immediately below), on learning of this, wrote an impassioned letter to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. 

Israel Allies Caucus Co-Chairs Congratulate Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

Credit: israelallies
The letter said, in part:
”The friendship between our peoples has deep historical roots. After Jerusalem’s destruction, Jews made Prague the Jerusalem of Europe – a center of Jewish thought, history, and culture. Prague shaped Jewish life, and Jewish thinkers, writers, and artists shaped Prague...
“Future generations of Czech students deserve nothing less than the truth: Jerusalem’s rightful place as the capital of Israel, and the heart and soul of the Jewish people, cannot and should not, be denied.”
Great letter.  It made an impression upon PM Sobotka, who – much to his credit - has reversed the decision.

In a statement to Czech Radio, Education Minister Katerina Valachova’s said that Jerusalem would not be removed from the textbooks.  “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital from the viewpoint of the declaration of the country to which this relates, which means Israel,” Valachova said.
“Jerusalem is on the map!” exulted Barket, while praising the Czech government for not caving to Palestinian Arab pressure.
The decision to remove Jerusalem was particularly disturbing, because the Czechs have been our friends.  But in the end I think it is the fact that they are that allowed them to stand against the pressure.

Let’s see how long this holds. For now it is indeed good news:
”A new procedure set in place on Tuesday will make it harder for the civil administration to remove illegal settler structures.

”"Until now, the civil administration had the sole authority to remove unauthorized modular homes and structures within 60 days of their construction...
For the last decade, the civil administration has often moved fairly quickly to remove new illegal settler construction within those first 60 days.”

And I will note, with no little shame, that “settler” construction has been taken down with greater alacrity than illegal Arab construction, that is back by the clout of the EU.
”The procedure has now been changed, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) handing the purview of such activity over to the Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi).

“Ben-Dahan has spoken out against such demolitions, and it is expected that his involvement in the matter will slow down the rate of the demolitions.

”On Tuesday, Ben-Dahan wrote a letter to the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to explain the new regulations, and to underscore that he must approve such activity before it occurs.

”He issued his directive after the civil administration destroyed an encampment of some 10 families on an otherwise empty hilltop in the Kiryat Arba settlement.”
“The Knesset Land of Israel Caucus, led by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), welcome the new procedure...”
When Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Holland, he was snubbed by a Dutch member of Parliament – Muslim, Turkish-born – who refused to shake his hand. But I rather like our prime minister’s response:
“We again saw today a clear example of who wants peace and who doesn’t. I will continue to represent Israel’s position with pride throughout the world and to strengthen its international standing. As [the late Likud] Prime Minister Menachem Begin once said, ‘he who snubs his nose will remain with a snubbed nose.’”
He handles himself with aplomb in situations like this.
On the flip side, Netanyahu was greeted most enthusiastically by a group of Christian Zionists. Even blowing of a shofar. See the video here:
Are we surprised?  A PA court has ruled that the elections scheduled for October must be postponed because of disputes about the lists.  Hamas is furious.
”Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed ‘in principle’ to meet in Moscow.”
For your information only. 
A group called Jewish Democrats for Trump has organized and is starting to do publicity, warning against the dangers of Hillary.
Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 19 points — 55 percent to 36 percent — among voters who are currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. military, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll.
I would suggest there are solid reasons for this.  On Wednesday, Trump unveiled his “Peace Through Strength” plan – he says that the US cannot be safe without a strong military:
We want to defer, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength" That means “rethinking the failed policies of the past.”  (emphasis added)
I would say he’s absolutely right.  Obama gutted the military, firing some of the best commanders and cutting back across the board.  Trump wants to end the sequester, increase the number of active-duty military personnel and develop a state of the art missile defense system.
Here’s a bit of insight into Hillary’s thinking, from the Washington Times:
“Glossing over the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four U.S. diplomats, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night claimed that ‘we did not lose a single American’ due to military intervention in Libya.

“No Americans were lost in the military intervention itself, but the aftermath was a far different story. Four Americans were killed when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2012, and Mrs. Clinton has come under intense fire for not taking greater security precautions for her diplomats.

“Mrs. Clinton’s opponent in the 2016 presidential race, Republican Donald Trump, said the Obama administration badly mishandled the aftermath of the Libyan military intervention.

“’They complicated the mistake, once they bombed the you-know-what out of Gadhafi. They made a terrible mistake on Libya.’”

Commentator Daniel Greenfield calls Hillary’s insistence that no Americans died in the action in Libya “staggering in its shamelessness.”


The same must be said, and much more, about what Barack Hussein Obama has done – it is so staggering, it could knock us down altogether.  Every revelation is followed by one even worse.

I’m waiting for America to notice.

[] You likely know the story of the $400 million in cash that was sent secretly to Iran by Obama as ransom money for American hostages that Iran was holding.  That was confirmed by the State Department by the third week of August.

[] Then came a report from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) confirming that the US provided secret exemptions for Iran from the first day of the deal.

[] A couple of days ago, the information broke that there were three shipments of cash sent by the US to Iran, because “immediate” payment was demanded.  The total of these cash payments to Iran was $1.7 billion.  And Democratic senators who were queried said they had not been informed before the fact.

Omri Ceren writes: ”the $1.7 billion is not the first time the administration has facilitated the transfer of billions of dollars to's likely that Iran has secretly been getting additional cash payments over the last two years, as part of the administration's diplomacy.” 

Unraveling all of this is difficult, but there are Financial Services hearings into this: “Iran may have gotten tens of billions more in secret cash.”
Wrap your heads around this if you can. 
And think really hard about what you want next for America.


Shabbat is coming. Here you have the Maccabeats doing Lecha Dodi, traditionally sung as we welcome in Shabbat.  Shabbat is greeted as a bride.


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Posted on Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 07:25AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 6, 2016: Malice by Any Other Name

Before I get to the malice, which sure stares us in the face, let’s start with some good news, which sets matters into a very broad context.

This week, the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem unveiled an enormously exciting new exhibit – “In the Valley of David and Goliath” - that features 3,000 year-old artifacts recovered from Khirbet Qeiyafa, which overlooks the Elah Valley southwest of Jerusalem. Archaeologists believe this ancient fortified city could be the biblical city of Sha'arayim (“Two Gates”) mentioned in the story of the battle of David and the Philistine giant, Goliath. Finds from the excavation have been carbon-dated back to the 11th Century BCE.

The western gate of Khirbet Qeiyafais

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Professor Yosef Garfinkel, Yigal Yardin Chair of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who supervised the excavations, described them as a “Biblical Pompeii.”  Evidence exists for this being a Judean stronghold at the edge of the Philistine area: there are no pig bones in the remains, and more significantly, there was a pottery jar with an inscription in Canaanite script, which is believed to be the earliest known example of Hebrew writing.


It is always exciting when a Biblical account and archeological evidence converge.  We are provided here with very likely evidence of an Israelite Kingdom dating back 3,000 years. 

Take note world: we were here.  (And be very clear on this: Whatever may be claimed to the contrary, the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians today have less than nothing to do with the Philistines of millennia ago.)


The very astute historian and political analyst Prof. Efraim Karsh, who is about to assume the position of director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center), has done a comprehensive study of the Oslo Accords, very aptly referring to it as the “Oslo Disaster” (emphasis added):
“...the Oslo ‘peace process’ has substantially worsened the position of both parties and made the prospects for peace and reconciliation ever more remote.

The process has led to establishment of an ineradicable terror entity on Israel’s doorstep, deepened Israel’s internal cleavages, destabilized its political system, and weakened its international standing.

“It has been a disaster for West Bank and Gaza Palestinians too.  It has brought about subjugation to corrupt and repressive PLO and Hamas regimes...

This abject failure is a direct result of the Palestinian leadership’s perception of the process as a pathway not to a two-state solution – meaning Israel alongside a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza – but to the subversion of the State of Israel.  They view Oslo not as a path to nation-building and state creation, but to the formation of a repressive terror entity that perpetuates conflict with Israel, while keeping its hapless constituents in constant and bewildered awe as Palestinian leaders line their pockets from the proceeds of this misery...

“Politically and diplomatically...Oslo instantaneously transformed the PLO (and, to a lesser extent, Hamas) into an internationally accepted political actor while upholding its commitment to Israel’s destruction, edging toward fully fledged statehood outside the Oslo framework, and steadily undermining Israel’s international standing...


Karsh is exceedingly pessimistic about the chances that this situation will change:

“There has been no real reckoning by the Oslo architects and their erstwhile ‘peace camp’ successors, both in Israel and abroad, of the worst blunder in Israel’s history, and no rethinking of its disastrously misconceived assumptions – let alone any public admission of guilt or show of remorse for its horrific costs.

Instead, they continue to willfully ignore the Palestinian leadership’s total lack of interest in the two-state solution and serial violation of contractual obligations. They continue to whitewash ongoing Palestinian violence, belittle the extent of Israeli suffering, and blame Jerusalem for the stalled process despite the public endorsement of the two-state solution by five successive Israeli prime ministers, Peres, Barak, Sharon, Olmert, and Netanyahu.

“Not only has the same terror-tainted Palestinian leadership come to be universally viewed as the prospective government of a future Palestinian state, but its goal of having this state established without negotiating with Israel, or even recognizing its right to exist, seems to be gaining ever wider currency...

“Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation, so it will only be when Palestinian society undergoes a real ‘spring’ that the century-long conflict between Arabs and Jews can at long last be resolved...This requires sweeping the corrupt and oppressive PLO and Hamas rulers from power, eliminating endemic violence from political and social life, and teaching the virtues of coexistence with Israeli neighbors.

Sadly, the possibility of a Palestinian spring...has been destroyed for the foreseeable future by the Oslo ‘peace process’.”

Credit: spme


This is an important piece that I encourage you to share broadly.

I will cut those who continue to support a “two-state solution” just a tiny bit of slack: There are some among them – albeit a decreasing number - with their heads in the sand, so very eager for things to be good that they hold on to the “two-state” vision as a panacea for problems here in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

But – really! - those who are simply blindly optimistic are a very small minority.  In the main, what we are seeing is malice, disguised as desire for “peace.”  It is with intent that Israel is being pressured and weakened.  Do not delude yourselves that it is otherwise. The nations of the world cut the PLO slack as they do for no other entity.  In many cases, it doesn’t matter what the PLO’s real intentions are or what they have failed to do or how they are using their money (donated by those same nations).

For this reason, anything other than a very strong stance by the government of Israel is a huge mistake.  There is no way for us to win by showing a conciliatory stance, and it’s time to face this.  Concessions only make matters worse for us.  It’s important to speak truth to the world’s falsehoods.


Conflicting predictions re what will happen with the PA elections next month persist, with various reports as to how Fatah and Hamas are playing the game.  Most recently, four Fatah lists in different regions of Gaza have been disqualified.  We will continue to watch this as the implications are serious.


Julie Bishop, Australian Foreign Minister, who has been more than not a friend of Israel, has just completed a warm visit here. 


She says that both sides have responsibility for the impasse on negotiations.  The PA, with regard to violence and unilateral actions towards statehood, and Israel because of settlement construction.  Such is the political climate that this even-handed position is welcomed by Jerusalem.

Bishop extended to Prime Minister Netanyahu an invitation to visit Australia early in 2017.  He accepted gladly; his visit will be the first to Australia by a sitting Israeli prime minister.


As I write, Netanyahu is in the Netherlands, which he last visited in 2012.  This is not a place enormously receptive to Israel: a former prime minister and Palestinian Arab activist, Dries van Agt, is calling for his arrest for “war crimes.”  In meetings with Dutch leaders – including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and King Willem-Alexander, who are expected to be welcoming – Netanyahu will emphasize Israel’s role in fighting international terrorism.

This role that Israel is able to play may be a game-changer in certain diplomatic circumstances.  I’ve alluded to this before: the world needs us.


Meanwhile, Putin – eager to usurp the US role - is getting into the “peace negotiations” scene.  On Monday, Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East, met with Netanyahu for a discussion about a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas in Moscow hosted by Putin.  The prime minister subsequently indicated he was considering the possibility of such a meeting, and is always ready to meet with Abbas “without preconditions.”

The response from Abbas is ambiguous. Some reports indicated he was willing, while a source close to him declared that certain conditions – cessation of all building over the Green Line, etc. - would have to be met first. If Netanyahu insists on no preconditions, then Abbas’s saying yes, with conditions, is effectively saying no, while attempting to put the onus on Israel.

We’ve witnessed this game-playing before.  It all comes to nothing.


Uzi Dayan, Major General in the IDF (ret.), and former National Security Advisor, in an interview this week, said that time is on our side.  Israel’s greatest challenges, he said are effectively combatting terrorism, and dealing with the nuclearization of Iran (what he calls “unfinished business”).

To properly confront these threats, says Dayan, we need internal (i.e., national) unity, Jerusalem, and defensible borders.

Jerusalem is not just the capital of Israel, but of the Jewish people.  Defensible borders include the Jordan River as the border to the east, to secure strategic depth.

Dayan does not delude himself that there is a “partner for peace.”  And what the Palestinians see now more and more is that many Arab nations are devoted to issues more critical than theirs.

Credit: 1bp.blogspot


Avi Dichter, former head of Shin Bet and currently chair of the Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, who gave a briefing at the Israel Project offices in Jerusalem this week, pinpoints Iran – which he refers to as “recently empowered” - and its proxy terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, as the greatest existential threats to Israel.

0609 - Avi Dichter

Credit: MaozIsrael

Dichter said Hamas head Khaled Mashaal is poised to take over from the PA’s Abbas.

”If you listen very carefully to [Mashaal’s] speeches, in English he speaks in a way that you can understand that he supports a solution on the ‘67 lines.  I recommend you listen to his speeches in Arabic.”  In Arabic Mashaal talks about taking a whole lot more.

Dichter also addressed the terror situation in Jerusalem which has improved considerably:

“Nothing happens in one day, but you can see that when the philosophy of war is used against [terrorists] by the army, police, and Shin Bet, attacks go down.” (emphasis added here and above)

Please note, he did not say terrorism was reduced via incentives and perks and gestures.


Both Dichter and Dayan, above, refer to the primacy of a “recently empowered,” “nuclearized” Iran as existential threat to Israel.  And precisely whom do we have to thank for this?


Credit: thepostemail
None other than the arrogant, conniving president of the US, of course.   The very same man who, while claiming to be Israel’s friend, is filled with malice towards the Jewish state.

Please consider the following article very carefully (emphasis added):

Dr. Emily Landau, head of the Arms Control Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, in discussion with the JPost on Monday, indicated that Iran is systematically testing the boundaries of the JCPOA nuclear deal, with the Obama administration repeatedly sweeping this under the carpet, and acting as “Iran’s lawyers.”
This hardly comes as surprise to many of us – who have long asked which side Obama is on, but here you have it from an expert. 

Among the concerns that Landau referred to is a report published last week by the Institute for Science and International Security, headed by former IAEA inspector David Albright.  It cites information that Iran received a number of exemptions from Washington ahead of the implementation of the JCPOA in January

So, not only is the JCPOA horrendously inadequate, Obama ensured that the terms by which Iran had to abide were even more slack than would be indicated on paper.  One exemption Iran received was that enriched uranium that had been converted into other chemical forms would not be counted in its enriched uranium supplies, thus permitting Iran to surpass its cap of low enriched uranium.

The JPost article elaborates:
The upcoming elections in the US represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue with the next administration to formulate a response to Iran, Landau argued. While the US has stated that Iran is implementing its side of the deal, ‘Israel can’t be satisfied with that,’ Landau said, due to a host of ‘worrying dynamics and other issues’ that Washington is ignoring, as well as the fact that ‘the JCPOA is tremendously flawed.’”

Recent developments will help create a new reality a decade from now, in which Iran will be ‘much stronger vis-à-vis world powers.  Then, no one will be willing and able to stand up to Iran during the crunch time’...

The radical ayatollahs are set to keep their hold on power in Iran...’They, together with the Revolutionary Guards, have the real hold on power.  There is no basis, right now, for dreams of moderation.  Yet the US is acting as if we are on the road to a changed Iran.’”


Please!  wrap your heads around this.  Obama – in a betrayal of his own country, of Israel, and of the Western world – has created a situation in which a radical Islamist Iran will be able to threaten the world with nuclear power in the not so distant future
I am aghast that there are Americans, particularly presumably intelligent and sophisticated American Jews, who do not perceive this.


Most significant is the fact that it may be possible yet to change the dynamic.  We’re coming close, but it is not yet too late: 

“The upcoming elections in the US represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue with the next administration to formulate a response to Iran.”
I can think of dozens of reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton, but this reason is most significant of all.  This is what the former secretary of state said at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, just a year ago, as the Senate began debate on the deal:
...the US faces a choice to either “move forward on a path to diplomacy or turn down [a] more dangerous path leading to a far less certain and riskier future.”

...the deal “blocks every pathway for Iran to get a bomb” was “unrealistic” to [try to] get a better deal, as some opponents claimed was possible.

Well, it is crystal clear that the deal does not block every pathway for Iran to get a bomb, and almost any deal would have been better than the one Obama negotiated.

This said, it is obvious that Hillary in the White House will not represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue regarding a response to Iran.


Donald Trump, on the other hand, has expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the Iran deal and calls for imposition of new sanctions and renegotiation of the deal.  With him, there is opportunity for Israel to have a new dialogue regarding a response to Iran.

I point out that the Obama administration has blocked Israeli moves to attack Iran, and has refused to provide Israel with the bunker busters that would allow an Israeli attack to take out Iran’s nuclear equipment. 

I speak a great deal, and with great conviction, about having visions of a better future.  But sometimes it’s not enough to be “visionary.” Sometimes it’s essential to act to bring those good things about. 

When there is a real and present danger, no one gets a free pass.

© 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, September 6, 2016 at 02:21PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 1, 2016: Striking a Balance

When last I wrote, I spoke about light behind the shadows and looking ahead to what is possible - what good may be on the way.  I meant every word, and will continue to seek the light.

However, I am not a Pollyanna and I don’t for a moment intend to suggest that what’s coming is all good.   Only someone thoroughly deluded and obtuse could imagine that today. 

In terms of what we envision, we have to strike a balance between two poles .

Bad Balance Good Quotes

Credit: Quotesgram


I continue to see news articles and opinion pieces that provide the same take I had in my last posting with regard to Defense Minister Lieberman: that the message he is delivering to our enemies is different – tougher! - and that the situation has shifted in some potentially significant ways. 

Credit: ME-Confidential

I will add here a comment I saw regarding the fact that Lieberman is said to be demonstrating his trademark capacity for decisiveness. Let’s hope.  If he is able to make up his mind without vacillating and stand strong on what he has decided this is not only very positive, it is badly needed.  We’ve seen too much from our prime minister, who is known for a certain indecisiveness.  Not infrequently, he talks tough, only to back off later.  Adversaries need to know we mean what we say. 


Two weeks ago, Lieberman unveiled a new “carrot and stick” policy for dealing with the Palestinian Arabs (emphasis added):

“We will implement a differential policy in Judea and Samaria. Its purpose is to continue to give benefits to those who desire co-existence with us and make life difficult for those who seek to harm Jews...anyone who is prepared for co-existence will prosper, while those who opt for terrorism will lose.”

According to this new plan, the map of Judea and Samaria has been divided into areas from which no terrorists have come, and those – mainly in southern Judea, from Hevron southward – from which terrorists have emerged.

The terror-free areas will receive a hospital (Beit Sahur), an industrial zone (Nablus), and a soccer field (Kafr Bidia).  Other infrastructure development is planned for the no-terror areas as well.

For the areas from which terror emanates, there will be increased IDF activity; home demolitions; increased arrests; raids on terrorists’ homes; confiscation of terrorism funds and property; cancellation of VIP permits for senior Palestinian Authority officials taking part in incitement; increased vehicle searches at the Kalandiya refugee camp; and more.

Lieberman says that Netanyahu is on board with this in full measure.


At first, criticism for this plan came from some sources on the right concerned that the “good” Palestinian Arab villages in Judea and Samaria would actually be given a latitude with regard to development that is not being provided to Jews living in these areas.  This would be a troubling prospect.

But what I see here is something that has the potential to be enormously positive:  Lieberman is interested in dealing with individuals and specific towns, not with the PA proper.  This is a good move, which undercuts the influence and the power of the exceedingly corrupt and malign PA. 

The biggest mistake that was made by the Israeli government at the time of the Oslo Accords was arranging in 1994 for Arafat and his cronies to come into Judea and Samaria from Tunisia as the official representatives of the Palestinian Arabs.  It was somehow imagined that this was necessary, as they headed the PLO – self-designated as the voice and official representative of the Palestinian Arabs – and that there could be no effective negotiations without them. 

Prior to this, dealings had been with local Arabs.  Once Arafat and his entourage entered the scene, they supported terrorism from within (while previously he promoted it from outside), taught hatred of Jews and Israel, and incited incessantly.  Arafat’s protégé and successor Mahmoud Abbas (about which more below) has followed this model.

Many Israeli Jews are witness to the better relations that existed with local Palestinian Arabs before the advent of “peace.”


This past Monday, at a press conference, Lieberman spoke out on behalf of IDF soldiers who are intimidated by media:

“I would expect the Israeli press to work hard to strengthen the Israeli deterrent capability against our enemies — not to deter Israeli soldiers from fighting terrorists and fighting terror. 

“I want a free press, not a press that deters IDF soldiers.

“I want to remind you that people are fighting terror on a daily basis, fighting terrorists. They can’t go out to a mission with a lawyer at their side, and therefore sometimes [their] thought process will be correct and sometimes it won’t.”

Lieberman had two specific cases in mind – most specifically that of soldier Elor Azaria, whose trial for manslaughter for killing a terrorist who had already been wounded is still on-going. This is refreshing after Moshe Ya’alon, Lieberman’s predecessor, spoke out inappropriately and prejudicially on this case.


Israel National News, citing the Palestinian Arab news agency Ma’an, reports that the body of terrorist who committed a stabbing in October has been turned over to the PA.  The deal with the family, according to the report, was that no more than 25 people would attend the funeral; the family was said to have put up a bond of 25,000 shekels.

What concerns me here is not simply the issue of whether bodies of terrorists should be turned over to families – it is a matter of consistency.  When the terrorism was bad, the security cabinet declared that a separate cemetery for terrorists would be established, so that bodies could be buried (which, truth to tell, is appropriate), but that there would be a policy of not handing them back.  And now? 

I have no information on whether Lieberman was involved here.


The situation with regard to the PA is shifting with some considerable speed.  

There is, first of all, the matter of the local elections, which are supposed to be held on October 8. in PA areas in Judea and Samaria.  Some analysts surmised at the time the elections were announced that Abbas was attempting to show the Western world – upon whose largesse he depends – that the PA had democratic process.  A joke, but never mind.

Then Hamas changed the dynamic by announcing not only intention to participate by backing candidates in Judea and Samaria municipalities, but also readiness to permit elections to be held in Gaza.  Ooops.  Not a good scenario for Abbas, as there are reliable predictions that Hamas will show very well in these elections.  Shades of what happened in Gaza in 2006, when Hamas won and subsequently took over Gaza in a coup.

Now analysts are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why Abbas, who is facing a losing proposition, does not find an excuse for cancelling those elections.


Credit: qudsn


Not so many weeks ago, it made news here that the IDF (or, more accurately, some upper level IDF officers) were recommending that the PA be given more security responsibility to show the Palestinian Arabs how valuable Abbas is, so that he would garner more votes and hopefully prevent a Hamas win in the elections.  Not a great idea, to understate the matter.

But now we see Lieberman undercutting Abbas by dealing directing with people and villages.  The scenario has shifted dramatically.      

In fact, not long ago, Lieberman leveled a direct charge against Abbas (emphasis added):

"We've met dozens of economists and businessmen from the Palestinian Authority, and when you ask what's most important for the Palestinian economy, they all reply that the most important thing is to get rid of Abu Mazen [Abbas]...He has imposed a reign of corruption that encompasses everything. He has people in every economic sector - in real estate, the fuel market, the communications market. Abbas' people take a tithe from every deal, and aside from the people in the inner circle, the PA leadership doesn't allow anyone there to develop economically. That's why it's so important for him to go. As long as Abbas is there, nothing will happen."


For more on this issue, see Caroline Glick in “The end of Mahmoud Abbas” (emphasis added):

Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist.

PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s US-trained Palestinian security forces have lost control over the Palestinians cities in Judea and Samaria. His EU- and US-funded bureaucracies are about to lose control over the local governments to Hamas. And his Fatah militias have turned against him.
“Palestinian affairs experts Pinchas Inbari of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Khaled Abu Toameh of the Gatestone Institute have in recent weeks reported in detail about the insurrection of Fatah militias and tribal leaders against Abbas’s PA.
“In Hebron, tribal leaders, more or less dormant for the past 20 years, are regenerating a tribal alliance as a means of bypassing the PA, which no longer represents them. Their first major action to date was to send a delegation of tribal leaders to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan.

”Even in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’s power, the PA is losing ground to EU-funded NGOs that seek to limit the PA’s economic control over the groups and their operations.”

Credit: Wikipedia



Glick says that the Hamas takeover of Palestinian Arab areas of Judea and Samaria will be swift, just as was the case in Gaza.  The big question she raises is what Israel intends to do about this.

As it plays out, it may mean war.  And that may be cleaner than pretending there is a “partner for peace” with Abbas.  Our purported deal was with the PLO/PA and not with Hamas, after all.

But I share here a number of thoughts:  First is Glick’s allusion to “tribal leaders.”  Within Arab Judea and Samaria there are clans, each of which controls an area.  It has long been the contention of Dr. Mordecai Kedar that the resolution of the situation – the way to a state of peace – is via dealing with these clans and allocating to each an area of autonomy.  Now I wonder whether this scenario might play into the situation.

Image result 


And then there is the allusion to Jordan.  For all King Abdullah’s excessively hostile remarks about Israel for public consumption, it is Israel he wants controlling Judea and Samaria right up to his border.  Is he, might he be, a factor now, surreptitiously?  Surreptitiously, because radicals threaten his throne.


Lastly, I just read a comment about how it is obviously the case that were Hamas to be in charge instead of the PA, the world would understand that a “peace” deal is no longer viable.  I would like to think so, but I do not.  I have expected on numerous occasions – such as when Fatah and Hamas were negotiating a unity government – that the world would understand that Israel had no genuine partner for negotiations.  But always there were those who rationalized the situation away.

Thus would I expect it to be the same in some quarters were there to be a Hamas takeover.  In spite of the fact that our deal, such as it is, is with with the PA and not Hamas.  They’ve moderated, we’d be told.  Negotiations are still important.  And so on.  I am vastly cynical where these matters are concerned.  Or perhaps just realistic with regard to world views.


We can see this distorted and sick thinking now.  The PA is falling apart. Abbas is hated by his own people and losing control.  Would you not think that the international leaders would lament what they had hoped would be, but concede that chances for a “two state solution” were just about non-existent?

But no.  We still are criticized for doing things that “endanger” that non-existent solution.  This is not about genuine hope for two-states. This is about attempts to weaken Israel.

This week we have UN envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, who has blasted “Israeli settlement expansion.”

Said Mladenov (emphasis added):

“No legal acrobatics can change the fact that all outposts, whether legalized by Israeli law or not, whether located on state land or absentee land or private Palestinian land - just like all settlements in Area C and East Jerusalem - remain illegal under international law.”


What an outrage this statement is, and what a total distortion of truth.  The UN, as do other bodies, agencies and governments, willfully makes the assumption that everything past the 1949 armistice line “belongs” to a “Palestinian state.”

But there is no “East Jerusalem.” There is only one unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. 

As to Area C, the Oslo Accords give Israel full control in Area C, including the right to build there.  Mladenov’s position subverts Oslo, which provides the underpinning for the “two-state solution” he claims to be seeking.  But that’s small potatoes.  The bottom line is that Area C, along with Areas A and B, are Mandate land.  The borders of Israel, according to customary international law, are the borders of the Mandate, the internationally recognized administrative area that preceded it.

The “huge” amount of building that so upset the UN envoy:
A 234-unit retirement home in Elkana; 30 private houses in Beit Aryeh; and 20 units in the town of Givat Ze’ev. In addition, 179 existing housing units in Ofarim were retroactively approved.

For the record: Area C is about 60% of Judea and Samaria, but all Jewish housing and communities in Judea and Samaria constitute less than 5% of the land area. 


Prime Minister Netanyahu responded appropriately, as far as he went:

“Jews have lived in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the attempt to incessantly deny the relationship of Jews to their historical land and the stubborn refusal to acknowledge that they are not foreigners there.
“The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris are illegal. The Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing of Jews in its future state is horrifying, and the UN should be condemning it instead of adopting it.”

What I would wish from the prime minister is a more definitive statement regarding the fact that, according to international law, we are not illegal.

And then we have a statement from the US yesterday:

Hours after Israel’s Civil Administration gave approval to 463 housing units in Samaria, the Obama administration condemned the decision, saying that Israel risked undermining “the prospects for a two-state solution.”

How ludicrous this all is.  “Prospects for a two-state solution” indeed.


Please see this piece – “The ‘Other’ Palestinians” by Khaled Abu Toameh, which is very much to the point (emphasis added):

“Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since 2011.  But because these Palestinians were killed by Arabs, and not Israelis, this fact is not news in the mainstream media or of interest to ‘human rights’ forums.
“How many Western journalists have cared to inquire about the thirsty Palestinians of Yarmouk refugee camp, in Syria? Does anyone know that this camp has been without water supply for more than 720 days, and without electricity for the past three years?...
When Western journalists lavish time on Palestinians delayed at Israeli checkpoints, and ignore bombs dropped by the Syrian military on residential areas, one might begin to wonder what they are really about.”


An ongoing libel against Israel is being sustained with regard to the so-called Arab village of Susiya, in the Hevron Hills.  See what Honest Reporting has to say about this:


A musical flashmob from the city of Ariel, which is in Samaria and is not going anywhere. With thanks to my friend Chana G.


© 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, September 1, 2016 at 10:30AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 26, 2016: To Be Visionaries

It is almost two weeks now since we observed Tisha B’Av, marking the destruction of the Temples and a number of other tragedies that have befallen our people at this time on the calendar. We did the mourning: fasting... reading Eicha (Lamentations) while sitting on the floor...chanting of Kinot (dirges, sad poems). 

I am circling back to this now because of a talk delivered in my synagogue that Shabbat by Rabbi Sam Shore.  What he spoke about was the ability to look beyond tragedies, past and current, to see what good may yet be in the future.  This is the ability to be visionary. 

His message is exceedingly important for us these days, when we are struggling with so much.  He addressed this theme in some detail, focusing on incidents in our history and our Torah text that I will not recount here. 

But one thing he said was so powerful as metaphor that I did want to share it.

Remember, he said, when you see shadows, there is also light. 

Credit: Pexels

I call it “good news” in my postings.  But what I am doing is looking for the light.  Sometimes it’s hard to see, and sometimes I let my focus slide.  But I keep trying.


Let’s start with Defense Minister Lieberman, who is providing some indication of a new policy of strength with regard to external security issues. 

(Next posting we’ll look at his stated policy regarding the Palestinian Arabs, which is mixed.) 


Credit: cloudfront

On Saturday night, a rocket was fired from Gaza into Sderot; it landed between two buildings and no one was injured.  The Israeli response at first seemed to be no different from what Lieberman’s predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, typically did.  The Air Force would attack a target or two in Gaza (sometimes nothing more than a launching field) and stop. 

But Sunday night, the situation shifted with the largest scale attack into Gaza that had been seen since the war in 2014:  In total, some 50 targets were hit, with indications that some of the targets were of more significance to Hamas operationally than what the Air Force had typically been hitting.  In other words, this was not merely a token show.  Reportedly, the explosions could be heard throughout Gaza; the message was that any and all rocket fire would be met with a strong response.

How different from those times when what was called a “drizzle” of rocket fire was met with a very tepid response.  Let’s hope it lasts.


And there’s more.  While touring the Havat Hashomer IDF base in the north on Tuesday, the Defense Minister said that Israel will not “stand by” as Hamas rearms itself in Gaza.

Well, truth be told, it’s a bit late, as Hamas has been rearming since the last war two years ago. But here again is an attitudinal shift from the policy of Ya’alon – which was basically “quiet for quiet”: we didn’t interfere with what Hamas was doing as long as they didn’t launch rockets at us.  Lieberman is now discussing the fact that it is unacceptable for Hamas to be allowed to siphon off funds intended for rehabilitation in order to develop its weaponry instead.  He wants Israeli assistance for rehabilitation to be predicated upon the demilitarization of Hamas.

This comment, of course, falls short of a genuine policy.  In the almost certain event that Hamas will not be demilitarizing, but will continue to draw from all sorts of funds intended for the civilian population – for which it cares not at all - to underwrite weaponry, further clarification will be necessary with regard to precisely how Israel would take action, so as to not be “standing by.”  

But I mention this here because I do sense a shift of thinking that might play out dynamically over time.  What we do know is that Hamas is decidedly unhappy with Lieberman, which I think is a good sign.  And there is significant indication that when we do go to war against Hamas again – whenever this should be – if Lieberman is in charge, he will fight to win, not just to achieve a few years of deterrence.  


On June 27, normalization of the relationship between Israel and Turkey was finalized.  The reconciliation deal will involve full diplomatic ties and a host of other cooperative efforts in the spheres of military, intelligence, economy and energy.  The possibility of developing a natural gas pipeline between Israel and Turkey that would lead to gas sales in Europe was clearly high on Netanyahu’s list of priorities in signing off on this deal.
However, I, along with many others, was underwhelmed by this.  Turkey maintains an orientation that is Islamist; Turkish president Erdogan is hostile to Israel and protective of Hamas. 

Credit: Wikipedia

Israel had wanted Hamas out of Turkey as part of the arrangements, but that did not happen.  Instead, Turkey is supposed to ensure that Hamas does not plan terror attacks from Turkish soil. 

And precisely who is to monitor this?


Now, just a bit over a month after the reconciliation deal was finalized, Turkey’s foreign ministry released a statement about Israel’s actions in Gaza:

“Normalizing ties with Israel does not mean that we will keep silent in the face of attacks against the Palestinian people."

To which Israel’s foreign ministry responded:

"The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations...Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others."
It’s going to be a cold, cold reconciliation.


On the other hand, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (pictured) – who was recently the first Egyptian foreign minister to visit Israel in nine years – told a group of students at the Egyptian foreign ministry that Israel’s actions against Palestinians do not constitute terrorism. 

Credit: wikipedia

Israel’s history, he said, has made it very sensitive to security issues. 
This enraged a Hamas representative. 

According to an Egyptian diplomatic official, the Egyptian government realizes that Israel “is not the enemy” and is more willing to say so publicly.

That certain Egyptian officials are coming forward with more positive attitudes towards Israel is hardly indication, however, that this is the thinking across the board.  It made considerable press recently when Egyptian judoka Islam el-Shehaby – in a serious breach of judo etiquette - refused to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent, Ori Sasson, at the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.  Sasson  - who had defeated el-Shehaby – said that before the match he heard him say “Alahu Akbar”: “It reminded me of what happens in Israel before terrorist attacks, with those shouts."


Credit: humansofjudaism

Might we hope that Shoukry’s way of thinking represents the future? 


In a series of positive moves, we see on-going outreach by Israel to a number of nations, Asian and African:

Last month, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold went to Chad – a nation in Central Africa that is majority Muslim with a sizeable Christian minority – where he met with President Idriss Déby in his palace in the heart of the Saharan desert.

Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold (left) meets with the president of Chad, Idriss Déby (right), in the presidential palace in the city of Fada, in the heart of the Sahara desert, July 14, 2016. (Courtesy Foreign Ministry)

Credit: Foreign Ministry

While formal diplomatic relations have not yet been reestablished, the meeting signaled a step in that direction.


Imangali Nurgaliuly Tasmagametov, defense minister of Kazakhstan – a Muslim majority nation that is concerned about terror attacks - was here this week to strengthen the security relationship between the two countries. 

Credit: Wikipedia

Prime Minister Netanyahu – who will become the first Israeli sitting prime minister to travel to central Asia - is scheduled to visit the country in four months, immediately prior to Kazakhstan’s assumption of a two-year rotating seat on the UN Security Council. 


Just a month ago, Israel re-established diplomatic ties with Guinea – also a Muslim majority nation.  And this week Israeli Foreign Minister Director General Dore Gold travelled there to meet with Guinean President Alpha Conde (pictured) and 10 of his ministers. 

Credit: leverificateur

Gold was in West Africa for three days. His ministry would not reveal the identity of all of the countries he visited, but there are reports that Gold paid a clandestine visit to a country that does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Just as Prime Minister Netanyahu met with leaders from seven nations primarily from East Africa (Zambia, in the south being the exception) at a counterterrorism summit in July, so is he eager to now meet with nations of West Africa.

The plan is participation in an annual summit of the 15 nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) scheduled to meet in Nigeria by the end of the year. When Marcel Alain de Souza, the commissioner of ECOWAS, was in Israel recently he invited Netanyahu to attend.  But as it turns out, approval for Netanyahu’s participation must be unanimous and Nigeria has not signed off on this yet.

Some analysts find this bewildering, as a major focus of Israel’s meetings with African nations is terrorism and the ways to combat it. While the infamous terrorist group Boko Haram is headquartered in Nigeria.  There seems more here than meets the eye. Stay tuned.


And then, lastly, there is this story about Saudi Arabia (emphasis added):

“Saudi Arabia has launched a media campaign to combat anti-Semitism, paving the way for public opinion to accept the kingdom’s burgeoning ties with Israel.

“Ehud Yaari, a senior analyst from Israel’s Channel 2 television station, said that a litany of recent articles by Saudi columnists and reporters demonstrate a shift in attitudes towards the Jewish state and Jews in general.”

No, the Saudis have not suddenly decided they love Jews. Their approach is pragmatic, because of a shared concern about Iran.

None the less, we are less and less a pariah nation and instead one greatly sought because of our expertise and our strength.


Last Thursday, NJ Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that prohibits the state’s public worker pension fund from investing in companies that engage in the boycott of Israel.  

Following this lead, the California legislature passed an even more extensive bill that forbids all state bodies, including universities, from maintaining ties with organizations that support anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions activities.

Right on!


An Israeli team of researchers - headed by Dr. Carmit Levy of the human molecular genetics and biochemistry department at the Tackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University – has unraveled the metastatic mechanism of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.

As the researchers have also found chemical substances that can stop the process, it is hoped that the cancer will become “nonthreatening and easily treatable.”

This is a very big Right on!


No Hurray! here. Not yet, because it’s all very tentative. But it seems worth reporting nonetheless:

”The IDF gave a nod in the direction of new Jewish building in Hebron when it gave the settlers there permission to plan infrastructure for permanent housing in a small compound near the city’s yeshiva.

”Six families now live in caravans in the ‘Metkanim’ compound, that is also used by the military...

“The possibility of building a 28-unit apartment project at the site, was raised in May 2014 by the Ministry of Construction and Housing...
“The land in question was formerly owned by Jewish residents of the city who fled after the 1929 massacre, explained former MK Orit Struck of the Bayit Yehudi party, who is a resident of Hebron.”

I think we need a bit of visionary thinking by the government and the Civil Administration.  Especially is this the case because the State Department, as is their invariable practice, has already expressed “deep concern” about the plans, which they say represent “settlement expansion” inconsistent with a desire for a “two state solution.”



Let’s stop for an abbreviated but critical background on Hevron and the small Jewish community there.

Hevron is the second holiest city to the Jewish people, after Jerusalem. 

It is home of the Machpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs.  Our father Avraham purchased the field that contained the cave of Machpela as a burial place for Sara.  This was at Mamre, which is associated with Hevron.  Avraham would not accept a gift – he insisted on paying for the land, 400 shekels of silver.  See Breishit (Genesis) 23. 

Credit: Jewishvirtuallibrary

For the first seven years of his reign, King David ruled from Hevron, before moving to Jerusalem.


Jumping ahead: For the 700 years during which the Ottomans controlled Hevron, Jews were not permitted into the Machpela.  They were allowed no farther than the infamous “seventh step” leading up on the side of the structure.

Nonetheless, Jews lived in Hevron.  In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Jewish development took place, with establishment of yeshivas, synagogues, and homes.  Great rabbis were associated with this place, as well.  By way of example: Abraham Azulai, a kabbalistic author; Malkiel Ashkenazi, respected authority on Jewish law who founded the Avraham Avinu Synagogue; Eliyahu de Vidas, a disciple of Isaac Luria who wrote on Kabbalah.

In the 20th century, there was further revitalization under the British Mandate after WWI ended – until the horrendous Arab massacre in Hevron in 1929, which destroyed the community there.

After the War of Independence, the Jordanians occupied Hevron, along with the rest of Judea and Samaria.  As was their pattern, they attempted to obliterate evidence of the Jewish community there.  The ancient Avraham Aveinu synagogue, for example, was turned into a goat pen. 

The situation changed with the victory of 1967, when Hevron came into Israeli hands.  Revitalization, reconstruction, of what had long been a Jewish area was slow however, spearheaded by a very determined group of activists.  The government permitted them to live in a portion of a building that housed the military administration.  A yeshiva was established again, and some commercial enterprises, such as a carpentry shop, were opened. Ultimately a few additional buildings were put up as housing.  And one step at a time the old Jewish neighborhoods were reestablished: the Avraham Aveinu synagogue was reconstructed, and Beit Hadassah – which had been a Hadassah clinic before 1929. The Tel Rumeida neighborhood was brought back.  Chabad established a considerable presence. And a short walk from the ancient heart of Hevron, Kiryat Arba, which is today a thriving area, was established as a Jewish community adjacent to and having close ties with Hevron.


The situation changed again with the advent of the Oslo Accords. As a spin-off of the Interim Agreement of the Accords, which gave the PA control over Palestinian Arab cities, came the Hebron Agreement of 1997.  Hevron was divided: 80% was to be placed under control of the PA, and 20% under control of Israel.  The IDF redeployed.


Credit: Wikipedia

This is where we are today.  The Israeli area of Hevron contains the Machpela (maroon on the map above, very close to Kiryat Arba), which is under Israeli control, with a system of shared use by Jews and Arabs in place.

Still today, the Israeli government is reluctant to approve additional housing for Jews in the area of H2.  Not infrequently, court battles are involved, with organizations such as Peace Now standing on the wrong side.

Beit Hashalom (House of Peace) shown below is an example of a building that Jews secured only after legal battle.


Credit: Wikipedia

The brave people who live in the Jewish enclave of H2 – numbering only hundreds - are very clear about their mission. They know that if they were to be gone, Jewish access to the Machpela would again be denied, whatever might be written into an agreement. (There are painful historical precedents for this.)

They are the guardians of an ancient holy site of our people, and I applaud them. The conditions under which they live are difficult, and they have been subject to frequent terror attacks.

Thus do I find the “concerns” of the US government particularly galling. They refer to “settlement expansion” which is a huge joke.  If the US government or anyone else thinks that Israel will withdraw from Hevron and leave it to the Arabs as part of a “peace” deal, they can think again. The projected housing compound that is under discussion now is within the Israeli part of Hevron.  What “expansion”?


I think this is exquisitely appropriate: Chief IDF Cantor Shai Abramson and IDF Choir singing in front of the Machpela.  (Tehilim) Psalm 27.

“May the All-present have mercy upon [the whole house of Israel] and bring them forth from trouble to enlargement, from darkness to light.”

© 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 Friday, August 26, 2016 at 09:29AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 19, 2016: Truth Sacrificed

The sacrifice is on the alter of politically correct left-wing politics.  And that is all I wish to deal with today in the limited time available to me before Shabbat.  It is a top-flight priority.

I waited, during the course of this past week, for Defense Minister Lieberman’s final decision with regard to demolishing the illegal Arab village of Susiya.   


The High Court, which is involved here, wanted to know what the position of the State was on the matter.  The State’s position is always factored into the decision.

The answer to the Court is still indecisive.  A request was made that the State be given additional time.  According to one version, time until the end of October was requested. Another version says Israel is seeking to delay this until after the US elections.  In due course I will have further information on this, but I consider it imperative that I proceed now, in order to make critical points.
What is clear is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided to become involved, because of the political hullabaloo surrounding this issue. There is the possibility that he will ultimately seek a “compromise” that would involve legalization retroactively of the village or some part thereof. 
This is terribly troubling, because caving to world pressure – when the facts and the law are with you - is not the way for a sovereign state to go.
My best information is that it would be Lieberman’s choice to demolish the village. 

Credit: Matzav
There is also talk, about which I likely will have more to say in time, about demolishing only those structures put up since 2013, when there had been a specific order by the High Court freezing further building.  In continuing to build, the Arabs had acted in direct defiance of the court order.


That the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters misrepresent the truth is hardly surprising. They do it every day, so why not with regard to Susiya? 

What is deeply troubling for those of us in touch with the situation is that so many in the media are happy to accept those misrepresentations and run them as “facts,” without taking the time to thoroughly investigate what is being said.  Truth sacrificed.

It is astounding what a major issue has been made internationally of the fate of this one little illegal Arab village called Susiya.  We’re talking about squatters.  Yet this has become the flagship for fighting for Palestinian Arab rights.  And it seems that anything goes in this fight – as long as it advances the cause of Arab rights to the land and weakens the international image of Israel.

It is precisely for this reason that the Israeli government must not cave to pressure. 


I want to devote the remainder of this posting to refuting the major misrepresentations with regard to this issue.

Please, dear friends, I need you to join this fight. 

First, share this posting with others – friends, family, associates, lists - as broadly as possible.

Put it up on Facebook and invite sharing there.

Write letters to the editor of publications that are running distorted articles on the issue. Short letters that simply refute basic misinformation.  Do talkbacks to articles on the Internet in the same manner.


One of the claims being made is that the land on which the Arabs have put up their illegal buildings is “Palestinian agricultural land.”  But this is factually inaccurate

The Arabs’ claim is predicated on an 1881 Ottoman Empire Land grant document, which has never been produced in court.

But even if it had been, it would be insufficient. For Ottoman law said that land given for agriculture purposes had to be cultivated, and the taxes paid.  If a period of three years elapsed during which time the person to whom the land deed had been given failed to pay taxes and did not cultivate the land, it reverted back to the governing authority.

Aerial photos make it clear that there was nothing – with the possible exception of 3 or 4 structures - on this land prior to 2000.  It certainly was not under continuous cultivation by those now claiming it.

In point of fact, the land is Israeli State land


Another claim is that the 300 or so Arab residents of the village would be homeless if it were demolished.  This is a typical ploy, demonstrating how the Arabs suffer and how cruel Israel is to them.

Never mentioned is the fact that the majority of those 300 have homes in the village of Yatta in Area A. This is documented by population registries maintained by the Civil Administration.  Most of those living in Yatta who claim to be residents of Susiya are members of the Najawa clan. 

Homeless?  Give me a break.


I also want to mention the fact that the State of Israel offered the so-called residents of Susiya an alternate plot of land in Area C near Yatta, on which to relocate. This was done - in order to demonstrate concern for all those involved – with knowledge that most of the residents actually lived in Yatta, 

The residents rejected the offer.  Had they accepted it, there would be no way now for them to claim that they were being evicted, and left homeless.  Instead the residents appealed to the Court to legalize the current village of Susiya and to permit enlargement.  The Court rejected this appeal, accepting the position of the State that because of planning considerations the current location could not be authorized for construction.  Please remember that this illegal village is in a sensitive area, adjacent to land that has been declared a protected archeological site.

We are looking at an illegal land grab that the Arabs hope they can pull off by enlisting international support.


The legal situation here involves many court decisions over time, for the squatters and those representing them have entered one petition and appeal after another. That is why the issue is still pending after so much time. While I am not in a position to review each court ruling, what I wish to emphasize is that - according to my best information - although the issue has been revisited and revisited, at no point in time has any Israeli court found with the squatters and declared that they have rights to the land and can legally build there.


© 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 Friday, August 19, 2016 at 08:01AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 12, 2016: Outrage

I’m talking about steam-coming-out-of-my-ears outrage. 

The subject is the allegedly ancient Arab village of Susiya.  The issue is Israel’s rights as a sovereign state operating under rules of law.


The background, briefly:

In the Hebron Hills of Judea there are the remains of an ancient Jewish city known as Susiya, which flourished in the Talmudic era. It is estimated that about 3,000 people – all Jews, observing a religious life – lived there at its height.  Archeological remains, including a synagogue, that have been excavated can be visited today.

Credit: Susiya Tourist Center
Still retained within the synagogue is an ancient mosaic floor:


Credit: mfa


Not far from this archeological site, there is a modern Jewish town of Susiya.

But within the area of the archeological remains there is also an Arab squatters’ village. It consists today of some 60+ constructions of concrete, tin and canvas.  They call this village Susiya as well.  And those squatting on the land claim that their village has been there for a very long time.




The facts tell a very different story:

There is no evidence of an old Arab village there.  Aerial photos indicate that with the exception of four building constructed in the 90s, there was nothing on the site until after 2000.  In fact, when the surveys conducted by the British mandatory powers in 1945 - which mention all of the villages in the area - are examined, no mention of a village named Susiya is found. 
The site had been used seasonally by Bedouin shepherds, who found shelter in the caves in the region.  But in 1986, 277 dunams (about 68 acres) of land in the area, including this location, were declared to be an archeological site, at which time the caves were no longer available to the Bedouin.

Most of the buildings went up between 2011 and 2013 in defiance of a court order forbidding the building.


Now here it gets really interesting:

When the population registry of the Civil Administration was examined, it was found that most of the people claiming to live in Susiya had homes in the nearby town of Yatta (which is in Area A under PA jurisdiction).

How about that!  They move between their real homes in Yatta and the hovels in Susiya as it serves their political purpose – they come out when an entourage of left wing activists or a cadre of journalists (also most likely left wing) is due to visit.  When I was there, on a Regavim tour, the place was empty.


What we are in fact seeing here is a land grab by the Palestinian Arab Nawajah family of Yatta, which has built illegally and in blatant violation of Israeli court orders.

Two facts must be emphasized.  One is that this matter has been thoroughly adjudicated.  That is, the courts – with due process and over a period of time – fully and fairly considered the issues.  The courts determined that the claims of the squatters were without basis, that they had been operating in contempt of court, and that the buildings that had been erected must be demolished.  This was not a determination arrived at lightly: the buildings had to come down.

And then, even though these were squatters without legal rights to the land, an offer was made to them regarding an allocation of land, in area C beyond the archeological site, near Yatta, to which they might move. But they refused and applied for legalization of their current site – which was rejected by the Court.  Aside from everything else, a village was not about to be legalized in a designated archeological area, which requires protection.

Further details can be seen here:

After multiple delays, the time now draws near for the demolition of many of the structures in illegal Arab Susiya.  It was last month that the Court ruled on this yet again.


But nothing is ever simple here in Israel, where the Western world seems to think it has a right to a say about everything we do.  This is the outrage: that others think they can tell a sovereign state that operates according to the rule of law what to do.  The interference is breathtakingly offensive.  We are forced to wonder if they would imagine interfering in the internal affairs of any other state in this fashion.

The imminent demolition of buildings in Arab Susiya has become a cause célèbre in left wing circles.  “Susiya 4ever!” they say, as if this is some noble cause.



Even a Senator – Dianne Feinstein – imagined she had a right to say something about what Israel was doing. And several NGOs have been involved. 

Rabbis for Human Rights has now actually approached the High Court and asked that the demolition orders be shelved.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will be going to the Court on Monday to present the State’s case on this.  If the State were to recommend that the demolition be shelved, the Court would likely accept this – there would be no reason not to. 
Word is that Lieberman will tell the Court we must go ahead.

But the pressure on our government is unreal. With all of the hullabaloo, the worst that has happened in recent days is that the State Department has weighed in. On July 16th, State Department spokesman John Kirby let it be known that the US was “closely following developments.”

We need them to monitor what we are doing?  There is a warning implicit in this.

At a press briefing he said (emphasis added):

We strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village. Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes, would be harmful and provocative...”

Elsewhere it has been reported that the US is putting great pressure on Israel with regard to this matter, and has indicated that if the demolition proceeds “the US response would be extremely severe.”


I hope and trust that steam is now coming out of your ears as well. 

It is imperative that the Israeli government stand strong in the face of this.  Otherwise our legal system is degraded and our state is demeaned. If the US finds it can push us around here, what comes next?

Please, share this broadly, so that others can know the truth of this situation.


I promise to return to other issues very very soon.

My wishes for a Shabbat Shalom. 

And then, immediately following – for those who observe – an easy fast.  On Saturday night and Sunday Tisha B’Av will be observed - a day of mourning for the destruction of our Temples and other evils that have befallen us at this time.


© 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 Friday, August 12, 2016 at 06:40AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 10, 2016: Making Our Way

I hope and trust that my readers will understand: my postings are less frequent and possibly shorter because I am giving priority to my work on the Legal Grounds Campaign.  Once again, I invite anyone who would like to know more to contact me. 


There is no way I can do justice in my posts to all that is going on in the US now, though it grieves me greatly.  I see a once great nation spiraling down, down. 

It’s not “just” that Obama has paid ransom to Iran for the release of US hostages - and there is no doubt that he did.  It is that the American electorate is not screaming like crazy about the way in which their president shamed the nation.

There is an apathy that is lethal to a democracy.  A readiness to be oblivious to what stares us in the face – with regard, for example, to Hillary’s absolutely compulsive lying.  (See this re: Hillary’s lying: and think about the implications for American security.)

I can only touch one base and another as I write, sharing links to relevant articles and videos as I go...


Today I share a video of an interview with a Gold Star mother, Karen Vaughn. Pro-Trump, she says she found him to be “an extraordinarily warm, kind, soft-spoken, gentle man” in the course of a meeting he had with Gold Star parents. 

This alternate perspective is important.  I urge you to hear her full statement and then consider sharing it:


Twitter @forourson


Following are a handful of reports that fall under the rubric “it’s about time!”  Every step towards sanity and self-preservation that emerges is welcome.  The good news is that we seem to be getting smarter for ourselves, and less worried about what the world will say.

“This week, the cabinet decided to establish an inter-ministerial task force charged with locating tourists who come to Israel to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and other forms of delegitimization. The decision comes after a considerable period in which various groups have sent radical members to Israel, disguised as tourists, to document ‘human rights violations’ and contribute to the anti-Israel campaign.”

I had written recently about a single instance in which such an “activist” was banned from entry into Israel, and had expressed the hope that that action might be signaling a new policy.


On Tuesday, five illegal Arab structures in the Hevron Hills region of Area C were demolished by the IDF.  Three of them were funded by the EU – you may be able to see the blue label of the EU in the picture.

west bank demolition

Credit: COGAT

This is being celebrated as an important move by Israel – acting against this illegality, which is designed to weaken Israel’s control in Judea and Samaria.  And yes, I too celebrate it.  But understand that this – while perhaps having huge symbolic significance – is actually the merest drop in that proverbial bucket.  If you were to go out to the various areas where the EU-funded illegal building is taking place – in the E1 area outside of Maaleh Adumim, for example - you would be astounded at how much there is.

See Regavim’s report on this for further information:

And so, while I celebrate, I hope to see a great deal more action on this front.  It all must be done with a deaf ear turned to the harsh criticism from the likes of the US State Department.
“The Ministry of Defense has issued tenders to several companies to build a concrete barrier extending several stories below ground to mitigate the threat of terror tunnels; the barriers will have sensors to detect digging, and will completely encircle Gaza...

“The barrier is supposed to end the tunnel threat once and for all...”,7340,L-4836808,00.html

Mazel tov!  Let the work begin, and may the barrier go deep enough to thoroughly do the job.


A screening process is going to be put in place in Israeli prisons that will prevent members of Hamas from making phone calls.  It was discovered that these terrorists were smuggling in phones and using them to plan attacks from inside the the prison.


Actually, Hamas is in the news quite a bit these days:

It has been revealed that Muhammad Halabi, who worked as manager of operations for World Vision in Gaza, was arrested in a joint Shin Bet-IDF-Israel Police operation at the Erez Crossing on June 15.  The Shin Bet, after thorough investigation, charges that he siphoned off to Hamas tens of millions of dollars of the charity’s money. World Vision is an international NGO located in the US. 
Halabi, a long-time member of Hamas, was hand-picked in 2005 to infiltrate the organization and steal funds.  He was indicted in a Beersheva court on a number of charges this past week. 

Muhammad Halabi, a member of Hamas and manager of the World Vision charity's operations in the Gaza Strip, was indicted on August 4, 2016, for diverting the charity's funds to the terrorist organization. (Shin Bet)

Credit: Shin Bet

The Shin Bet says a full 60% of World Vision’s budget for Gaza – some $7.6 million per year - went to Hamas. 

Halabi accomplished this by creating dummy projects, in which a good percentage of the funds allocated to it was actually turned over to Hamas.  In addition, the dummy projects allowed cover for Hamas in other ways.  For example, there was a greenhouse construction project that provided an opportunity to check out sites for tunnels. 

The money taken went for the military use of Hamas; naturally some was diverted for the “personal needs” of Hamas leaders.

An incredibly complex scheme all in all.  World Vision is denying this would have been possible, but the Shin Bet has details, and Halabi has confessed.

Nor is this the end of the story:

Following another Shin Bet investigation, Israel has charged Wahid Abd Allah Borsh, an engineer in the UN Development Program, of funneling funds to Hamas as well.  He was arrested at the Erez crossing.  Borsh has also confessed, saying that in 2014, he was directed by Hamas to “focus on his work in the UNDP in a way that would allow Hamas to extract the greatest possible benefit from him.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has now said, “we must increase the oversight of the monies that flow to human rights organizations, which are repeatedly used to transfer money to terrorist groups.”
Comes the dawn.


Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin Bet and now a Likud MK chairing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, says that the world is “hideously naïve” about the diversion of charity funds to Hamas.  He charges that just about 100% of UN relief workers in Gaza are Hamas.


Credit: Wikipedia

And another note on Hamas, in a different vein:

In June, Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, announced that municipal elections (for selection of local councils in Palestinian Arab cities, towns and villages) would take place in Palestinian Arab areas of Judea and Samaria (which they refer to as the West Bank) on October 8. 

Credit: Wikipedia

At the time, it was assumed that the elections would not be held in Gaza, as Hamas would not permit it, and that Hamas would not be participating in those elections.  There is speculation that the PA decided to hold these elections to demonstrate to the world that it is committed to democratic process. 

These elections will not affect anything beyond the local situation.  (Abbas was elected president for a four-year term that ran out in 2009, and which he extended for one more year.  There has been no presidential election since January 2005, and he’s not about to declare one now.)

However, the situation has now shifted, as Hamas has declared its intention to fully participate.

The dynamics of this situation bear watching.  Islamic Jihad has declared it will not participate in elections, as “resistance” is more effective. 


In anticipation of those elections, Hamas has now put out a video showing how good things are in Gaza because of its work.  The signs people are holding express gratitude to Hamas.  Amazing:


Veteran journalist Pinchas Inbari says that the PA is crumbling. It has already lost control of some districts and stands to lose more.

“In Hebron, for instance, the large clans of Mount Hebron have linked up with each other, reestablished the Tribal Council of Mount Hebron, and sent a delegation to Amman to express loyalty to the king of Jordan under the Jordanian flag...

“Nablus, for its part, has gone into a tailspin of total anarchy. It is under the rule of gangs, with exchanges of gunfire in the heart of the city and attempts at political assassinations.

Mark this down as just one more reason – as if we need additional reasons – why the notion of Israel negotiating with the PA is idiocy.  It is a mark of the breakdown of reason and sanity in the Western world that this is still actively promoted.
Right on!

“A European member of parliament is forming the first official caucus group that will support building homes in Judea and Samaria, and promote free trade with imports made and labeled from these areas in Israel.

“’I see Israel as a friend and also as an important ally of Europe, in defense and in the fight against terrorism and for this purpose and to promote these common values, I have decided to put together . . . a group of friends of Judea and Samaria,’ Petr Mach, a Czech Republic member of the European parliament said...”

European MP Petr Mach is forming the first official caucus group that will support building homes in Judea and Samaria. Photo: Martin Kozák via Wikimedia Commons.

European MP Petr Mach is forming the first official caucus group that will support building homes in Judea and Samaria. Photo: Martin Kozák via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons


Ending today with a report that reflects upon who we are, and we they are:

In the immediate aftermath to the horrendous attack that ended with the death of Rabbi Micki Mark and injury to members of his family, two Palestinian Arabs came to help.  One of them, a doctor, subsequently lost his job because he helped Jews. 

Now members of the Hevron Regional Council are attempting to assist these Arabs by securing Israeli work permits for them.

Said Yochai Damri, head of the Regional Council:

” is reasonable that in instances like these we are obligated, as the Jewish people, to express our gratitude to the people who behave like human beings as is expected from them in these instances.

“Now, of all time, is the time to strengthen the positive elements and send a clear message that normal and positive conduct will be rewarded in kind,”,7340,L-4839005,00.html

© 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, August 10, 2016 at 06:37AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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