Current Postings

November 22, 2015: Beyond

It’s lovely to begin with some good news:  On Friday, Jonathan Pollard was released from the federal prison in Butner, N. Carolina on parole.  He wasn’t “freed,” as some reports had it.  He still must adhere to the rules of his parole, which has been granted at the end of 30 years of a life sentence. 
But he is out of prison, and with his wife, Esther.  And that is a great deal to be grateful for.  

Credit: Telegraph (UK)
Pollard served an inordinately (a ludicrously) long time for one count of having passed classified information to an ally of the US, “without intent to harm the United States.”  What is more, the information he passed was information that the government of Israel was entitled to receive from the US, according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding.
In the end, I cannot find any rationale for how he was treated other than anti-Semitism.  And now a hostile attitude seems to pervade the draconian terms of his parole, as well: He must check in regularly with his parole officer and cannot leave New York City (never mind come to Israel); he must wear an electronic bracelet so that he can be tracked, and is subject to unfettered surveillance of his computers (which will inhibit his ability to get a job).  All of this stringency is supposed to be to prevent him from passing classified information.  But he has had no access to classified information for 30 years, and anything he knew back then would be worthless now.  What sort of charade is this?
Pollard’s lawyers will be challenging these terms.  He is prepared to renounce US citizenship, if allowed to come to Israel; there is precedence for this. 
Journalists do get very foolish, sometimes, when seeking a line for a story.  “How does it feel to be out?” he was asked. Brilliant question.  How do these journalists think it feels?
My opinion is that we should leave him alone for some period of time.  Allow him to re-adjust.  Wish him many years ahead - years of reasonable health, and much contentment. 
When I wrote my “reluctant posting” on Thursday, immediately informing readers about the latest terror attacks, I did not yet have much information.  That information followed later.
I had written that one American Jew had been killed.  Now I can tell you that it was Ezra Schwartz, 18.  And what was he doing near the entrance to Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion when he was killed?  He was volunteering to hand out food to soldiers.
Say again: He was handing out food to soldiers. 
This is beyond our ability to comprehend.  


18-year-old Ezra Schwartz from Massachusetts, killed during a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Juntion, November 19, 2015 (Courtesy)

Ezra, who was from Sharon Massachusetts and had recently graduated from the Maimonides School in Brookline, was studying this year at Yeshivat Ashreinu in Beit Shemesh.
His body was brought home for burial.  May he rest in peace.
Also dying in that attack was Ya’akov Don of Alon Shvut, a father of four and a teacher who worked as an educational coordinator at the Derech Avot high school in Efrat.
Alon Shvut put out a statement: “He loved education and more than anything loved his students. A man of education and smiles.” 


Yaakov Don, killed during a terrorist attack at the Gush Etzion Juntion, November 19, 2015 (Courtesy)

Don’s wife is a teacher in a high school in Alon Shvut – as it happens, the high school from which my granddaughter graduated this past June.  And so she travelled to the funeral, and I was filled with an enormous sadness, that our young people – growing up so quickly – do this routinely. The outside world does not know, I thought.  Does not know.
At the funeral, his wife said, “I thank God for the 22 happy years we had together.  From heaven, please pray to God to give us strength.”
While his son said, “I don’t understand why and how you aren’t here anymore. How a person like you could be murdered because of this evil. Teach me how to be optimistic at times like these.”


You’ve heard me speak again and again about the extraordinary strength of the Israeli people.  And here you have it. 


And please note, not once do you hear a cry of surrender, a determination to leave this land and be done.  In the face of this ultimate hardship there is determination.




There is so much else I had intended to write about, but in the end decided it could all wait.  I would not be properly honoring those who died – and those who loved them - if I didn’t focus on them for just one posting: and perhaps helped people outside of Israel to understand.




© 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 Monday, November 23, 2015 at 06:41AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 19, 2015: A Reluctant Posting

This post is not only being done reluctantly, my friends.  It will be very brief.  No introductory good news, again.  No analysis.

I am holding on to an enormous amount of material, which I will most likely draw on after Shabbat.  How much there is to say about the sick and convoluted situation of the world takes my breath away.  

But so does this take my breath away:

After several days of quiet, we lost five Jews in terror attacks today, the largest number in one day since the attacks began.

There were two separate attacks.  The first took place in south Tel Aviv, in the Panorama office building (pictured), in a room utilized for prayer.  The afternoon prayer (minha) was in progress when he entered and stabbed two people with a knife, ultimately killing them.  Two others were wounded.

The terrorist was apprehended by passersby and then arrested by police.  He lives in Dura, an Arab village near Hevron, but had a permit to work in Israel: he worked in a Jaffa restaurant.

Scene of Tel Aviv stabbing

Credit: Yoni Kempinski


A bit later there was an attack in Gush Etzion, near the community of Alon Shvut, where two terrorists brandishing Uzis shot from their car, killing an American and a Palestinian Arab on the spot and wounding an Israeli Jew who later died in the hospital.  Each person shot was in his own car.

They then rammed their car into several others, injuring them.  They were shot and wounded, and then taken into custody.


In response to these attacks, Prime  Minister Netanyahu said:

Whoever condemned the attacks in France needs to condemn the attacks in Israel. It's the same terror. Whoever does not do this is a hypocrite and blind.",7340,L-4728304,00.html

He is correct, but, as you may have noticed, the world is overrun with blind hypocrites (some of whom I will write about in my next posting). 


I wrote this because I believe I have a responsibility to inform my readers.  This information is unlikely to make news outside of Israel. 


I close with a link to an album by singer Theodor Bikel z”l.  These are songs that are over 50 years old, classics from another time.  Hopefully they will bring you pleasure and a smile.  They remind us that, even as we grieve, we will be OK in the end.


Credit: Jewwatch


© 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, November 19, 2015 at 04:28PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 17, 2015: A Specific Focus

When last I posted, I wrote that – even though I chose to pass on writing about it in that particular post – there is always good news from Israel.  And indeed this is so.
THIS is good news, very good news, although of an usual sort – preceded as it is by tragedy:
“Sarah-Tehiya Litman 21, whose father and brother were murdered by terrorists on Friday, and who was supposed to get married to Ariel Bigel on Tuesday [today], has announced that the wedding will only be postponed by nine days –and that the entire nation of Israel is invited.  The wedding will be held at Binyahei Hauma in Jerusalem [a huge convention hall].

“The invitation-announcement is preceded by the phrase – ‘Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, for I have fallen but I have gotten up.’ (Micha 7:8)

“’This evening, instead of wearing the bridal dress, I will sit on the floor with a torn shirt,’ Sarah told the newspaper Yediot Aharonot Tuesday. ‘But very soon, we will marry in a large and happy wedding.  We will go on and be happy as Father and Netanel always were. We will not be crushed....Multitudes will come to make us happy.’”

Sarah-Tehiya Litman

Credit: Eliron Aharon
I wept when I read this.
What an extraordinary people we are!  How strong.  Facing down terror and tragedy with love and rejoicing and mitzvot (commandments).  I have seen it again and again, Jews who rise from tragedy to CHOOSE LIFE.  Where a wedding is concerned, there is a special import: weddings are not to be postponed, unless it is essential to do so.  For the creation of a new Jewish home should not be delayed.
And on the flip side, this is also good news:
The Security Cabinet has declared the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel – the more extreme branch of the Islamic Movement - an illegal organization. It has been headed by Sheikh Ra'ed Salah (pictured) of Umm el Fahm – a radical Arab town in the north. 

Arab Israeli Islamist leader Sheikh Raed Salah takes part in a large anti-government demonstration in Sakhnin, October 13, 2015 [AFP/JACK GUEZ]

Credit: AFP/Jack Guez
Defense Minister Ya’alon has signed a decree to this effect: any person or organization that offers services to the Movement will be operating in defiance of the law and will be jailed. The offices of 17 Islamic Movement-affiliated NGOs were shut down and several were searched.  Computers were seized and bank accounts frozen.
Said the Cabinet announcement:
“For years, the Northern Wing of the Islamic Movement has been leading a campaign of deception under the headline 'Al Aqsa is in danger,' which falsely accuses Israel of intending to damage the Al Aqsa mosque and break the status quo. Within this framework, the Northern Wing established an array of paid activists – the murabitun / murabitat – for the purpose of initiating provocations on the Temple Mount. This activity has led to a...escalation in tensions on the Temple Mount. Many of the terror attacks carried out recently were executed against the background of this incitement and propaganda."
This is one of those “Mazel Tov! What took so long?” moments.


With regard to the terror attacks in Paris, there is so much to say that it cannot possibly all be addressed in one posting.  I will undoubtedly be coming back to this again and again.

Today I wanted to offer a brief look at the situation from a particular perspective.

Shimon Samuels - who works from Paris as Director for International Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center - has an op-ed in today’s JPost that is particularly insightful and forthright.

Credit: snipview

In “What began with the Jews has crossed a new threshold for Europe” (emphasis added), Samuels writes:

”The Charlie Hebdo/Jewish supermarket attacks of January 2015 followed years of anti-Semitic terrorism in Europe and Israel which have now led over the edge of the abyss into general mayhem.

”Despite the French government’s welcome measure of placing armed military personnel outside vulnerable Jewish targets, a cognitive disconnect has continued in media and political rejection of the features common to European and Israeli victimology.

”A London Metropolitan police official at September’s Counter-Terrorism Summit in Israel expressed his concern with Islamic State, al-Qaida and Boko Haram, but admitted that Hamas and Hezbollah did not reach his radar screen.

”Yet all jihadists view the Jew as a tactical target within a consortium of enemies...The strategic target is the delicate fabric of democracy itself.

”In the slum belts around French cities, twin cries in Arabic now resonate among native-born Islamists,fired up by jihadist imams and Internet sites: “Maut al Yahud” (Death to the Jews) and “Na’al Fransa” (Curse France).

”These young Europeans, recruited to IS in Syria/Iraq or Pakistani Koranic schools, are now returning home as trained murderers...

”These black-uniformed, suicide-belted, “Allahu Akbar” shrieking “martyrs,” crouched and swiveled their Kalashnikovs in 360 degree turns, for maximum carnage. Multiple locations for simultaneous assaults augmented general panic and confusion, especially for security and first responders.

These are the appurtenances of Middle East terrorism – honed over years against Israel – now transplanted to European soil.

Yet Europe appeases these forces of evil by supporting and endorsing the demonization subsets underpinning the terrorism against Israeli civilians: boycott, now called ‘labeling’ of Jewish export products; a defensive fence labeled ‘apartheid wall’; a ‘right to return’ campaign for the great-great grandchildren of refugees from 1948 British Mandate Palestine; their current leaders’ theft of Jewish heritage and the constant attrition of anti-Israel UN resolutions disproportionate to the condemnation of any other member state.
”Paris is only a way station as London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels and Rome take preventive measures. As Europe rebuilds its border fences, profile-sifting trained and potential jihadists among the current refugee wave, perhaps opinion will now bridge that cognitive synaptic association, that was so axiomatic for Simon Wiesenthal, ‘what starts with the Jews never ends with them!’ A maxim that can be paraphrased as: ‘The suicide bombings, intifadas, knife stabbings, car rammings that began in Israel do not end there!’ Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, anti-Israelism in Europe only serve the mutual enemies of both Israel and Europe.”
We heard Prime Minister Netanyahu saying after the Paris attacks that all terrorism is the same, that there are no “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists,” that he expects the concern of the world for our losses to terrorism as well.
But the world does not hear this, and somehow manages to rationalize the terror attacks against us as being “our fault” because we are “occupiers,” or whatever.  This is worst sort of libel, which manages to give terrorists here the impression that the world somehow “understands” them.
This is not only a grave injustice to Israel, it facilitates further terrorism.  And at its heart is anti-Semitism, in particular European anti-Semitism.
In the very same issue  of the JPost, there is a piece by Manfred Gerstenfeld, an expert in European anti-Semitism and emeritus chair of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Credit: Lisaswelt

In “Suggestions for the anti-Semitic slurs list,” Gerstenfeld speaks about the list the Simon Wiesenthal Center puts out at the end of the year of leading perpetrators of major anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs and incidents.
“This list,” writes Gerstenfeld, “serves as a principal address for identifying these perpetrators and to some extent bringing them to account.”
And what does he see as a foremost candidate for the list?   Why, the EU, of course.
“More than 40 percent of EU citizens of 16 and older agree with the statement that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.  This is not only a sign of Europe’s on-going moral degeneration, it is also partly the result of EU incitement against Israel...
A paradox then. I have been feeling that we here in Israel stand separate from the rest of the world.  Yet, at the same time, we are at the center of things.
More soon...
Here I want to end by honoring Sarah Litman and Ariel Bigel, who were supposed to marry tonight, by sharing a video of a bedeken, a traditional veiling ceremony.  Actually there are two ceremonies on this video clip (the second one starting at about 2:45).  Some of you may have participated in this traditional custom, for others it will be new. The veil is supposed to drawn over the bride by the groom so that, it is said, he is not – as our father Ya’akov was when he was given Leah instead of Rachel to marry – fooled into marrying the wrong woman.  The groom is accompanied by his friends and male relatives in a procession to his bride, who awaits him as a queen on her throne, surrounded by her friends and female relatives. 
This is the real stuff.  The music is classic, as is the boisterous sense of joy and celebration.  And there is something intimate and emotional about it.
© 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, November 17, 2015 at 05:12PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 15, 2015: Horrendous

I know my readers have become accustomed to seeing a good news piece or two at the beginning of a posting.  Not today.

Does not mean there is no good news – there always is.  But we must focus now on the horrendous news just past.


It began here in Israel, right before Shabbat, outside of Hevron.  Every single terrorist attack endured here is painful for the nation.  But some are harder because of unique circumstances.  And this was true on Friday. 

There is an Ashkenazi custom for a prospective groom (chatan, in Hebrew) to be called to the Torah on the Shabbat before his wedding.  The air is festive and there is traditionally rejoicing after the Torah reading.  This is Shabbat Chatan.

In Hevron this past Shabbat there was going to be a Shabbat Chatan, and Rabbi Ya’akov Litman was on his way – for this was the celebration for the man who was going to be his new son-in-law in a matter of days.  Outside of Hevron, at Otniel, terrorists shot at the Rabbi’s car.  He was killed as was his son, Netanel, 18.

Rabbi Ya'akov and Netanel Litman 

Courtesy: family
The prospective bride was not in the car, but other members of the family were wounded – including, I believe, her mother.  Her 16 year-old brother, shot in the leg, contacted security forces and directed them to the scene.


When the news came to me Friday at almost sundown, my thought was, How little the world understands of what we Israelis endure.  Nor does the world understand how strong we are. My mind flew to the Applebaums.  Twelve years ago, father, David, and daughter. Nava, met in the Jerusalem café Hillel for talk a day before her wedding, and were blown away.

And then, I lit my Shabbat candles, and went to synagogue, and sang at the Shabbat table. Because this is what we do.


The funeral – attended by hundreds and vastly emotional - was last night, in Jerusalem.  The young woman who was scheduled to be married this week is instead sitting shiva (observing a stringent one-week mourning period) for her father and brother.  Reports are that she was inconsolable, and who could blame her?

Friends and family attend the funeral of Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, 40, and his son Netanel, 18, in Jerusalem on November 14, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

President Ruby Rivlin spoke at the funeral, and he said (emphasis added):

“We are not afraid, we do not surrender and we do not retreat – even when our blood, the blood of fathers and sons is spilled, we remember that our roots are planted in the earth of this land.”

THAT, my friends, is how strong we are.


Security forces have the weapon that was used in the attack, and have located the car, which had been abandoned.  As the result of a massive manhunt, and a joint security operation, one of the terrorists has been apprehended. In the course of interrogation, he implicated himself.  Rest assured, his accomplices will also be apprehended.


There were reports that an ambulance of the Red Crescent, the Muslim version of the Red Cross, passed by the dead and wounded at Otniel, and declined to stop and lend assistance. Officials from the prime minister down are furious.  A campaign will be launched against Red Crescent by Israel: a complaint will be registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross, along with a demand for Red Crescent officials to explain themselves.

A foreign ministry official said, "Israel will enact all necessary sanctions against the Red Crescent."

What must be understood here is that this is routine practice for Red Crescent, despite ethical obligations to treat all casualties – as the Israeli Magen David Adom does.


And then, no sooner was Shabbat over then I received word of the ISIS jihadi attacks in Paris, which had occurred later Friday night and had huge dimensions.  While many of my readers may not have heard what went on here before Shabbat, I doubt there is anyone who has not heard about this.

At least 130 people have been killed and 352 more injured (99 critically).  This was not one attack, but a series of six timed and coordinated attacks in different locations in Paris, in the 11th and 12th arrondissements.  A very sophisticated, well-planned operation, it all occurred within 30 minutes, starting at 9:45 PM.  This strongly suggests a lack of adequate French intelligence, especially as France was on a high security alert even before the attack.

In the worst attack, at least 88 people were killed at a concert at the Bataclan night club/theater.  There is reason to believe that this club was chosen because of its Jewish ownership.

bataclan theater

Credit: Gatewaypundit

“French magazine Le Point says the Bataclan theater has for years been the target of anti-Zionist groups as its Jewish owners often put on pro-Israel events.”

In another hit, there was a double suicide bombing right outside the Stadium of France, where French President Hollande and the German foreign minister were watching an international soccer game.  Altogether too close...

Several select restaurants were also attacked.

France is now observing three days of mourning, with many shops closed, and people remaining at home.  Certainly all Jewish institutions in Paris are shut.


Heartfelt  condolences came from many quarters, including, of course, Israel.  Last night, Netanyahu said, “An attack on any one of use should be seen as an attack on  all of us...Terrorism is the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians .  It can never be justified.”

Additionally, Netanyahu said:

“You can’t fight terrorism selectively. You can’t say these are the good terrorists and these are the bad terrorists. All terrorists are bad.

Just as we have condemned murderous acts around the world, so too I expected condemnation to be issued against the murders that occurred yesterday, of Yaakov and Natanel Litman.”  (emphasis added)

Dearly do I wish the Western world would respond to this expectation.  I do not for a moment believe it will. 


In a spirit of solidarity with Paris, the walls of the Old City in Jerusalem were lit up in the colors of the French flag.


Credit: Perry Mandelbaum


Three teams of ISIS- affiliated attackers acting in unison carried out the terrorist operation.  All the attackers carried assault rifles and wore suicide vests. The coordinator of the entire attack is still at large, as is the bomb-maker and apparently a member of one of the terrorist teams.

While some French nationals were involved – Belgian authorities say two of the French nationals were living in Belgium - there were also at least two attackers who came into France as Syrian “refugees.” 

“Syrian passport found by police at the scene of the mass shooting in a Paris concert hall belonged to an asylum seeker who registered on a Greek island in October, a Greek minister said Saturday.
“’We confirm that the Syrian passport holder came through the Greek island of Leros on October 3 where he was registered under EU rules,’ said a statement issued by Nikos Toskas, the minister for citizen protection.
“’The most logical assumption is that it’s the same person, sent on a mission to Europe,’ said a European security expert speaking on condition of anonymity.”

“Second Suspected Paris Attacker Likely Passed Through Greece as Refugee
“Holder of Syrian passport found near gunman's body arrived in Europe with 69 refugees in island of Leros in October, Greek official says...”


This entire matter of jihadists posing as “refugees” is of enormous import for all of Europe, which has been welcoming those coming from Syria with open arms.  Of course not every person who claims refugee status is a jihadist, but analysts – yours truly among them – have been warning that the signs of a dangerous situation have been clear for all to see.

The unrest and anxiety this now causes in Europe is tremendous; already Poland has indicated a reluctance to take future refugees according to an allotment spelled out by the EU.

Whatever the reluctance now to take more refugees, the fact remains that thousands who are militants are likely already inside Europe’s borders.  That is, Europe has a humungous problem which we’ve seen coming down the road.


President Hollande has declared:

“It is an act of war that was committed by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, Daesh [ISIS], against France. It is an act of war that was prepared, organized and planned from abroad, with complicity from the inside, which the investigation will help establish.”

He is planning to call out the army in strength; Paris, which he expects will remain under a state of emergency for three months, will be patrolled by the military.

France, said Hollande, will “be unforgiving with the barbarians from Daesh,” Acting within the law, France would respond with “all the necessary means, and on all terrains, inside and outside, in coordination with our allies.”

There are reports of French planes flying over ISIS strongholds in Libya, and there is an investigation already begun, to determine precisely who each of the terrorists was, and how it all came together.  But beyond this, there is no clarity on what Hollande intends.

I will be returning to this.


Ana Bekoach is an ancient kabbalistic poem set to music.  A prayer.  It allegedly has great mystical power and meaning.  What I know is that I love it, and think it appropriate for ending this posting.  We need to reach for the mystical powers.

“We beg thee, with the strength and greatest of Thy right arm,
Untangle our twisted fate.

“Accept your peope’s song, elevate and purify us...

“Accept our cries, and hear our screams,
oh knower of mysteries.”


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



Posted on Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 04:09PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 10, 2016: And Now?

One of Israel’s many significant medical developments:
Assistant Professor Dr. Daphne Weihs, of the Technion in Haifa, has developed a unique biomechanical method for the early detection of metastatic (secondary) cancer - a cancer that has already spread.  It can also identify where the cancer has spread to and enable early treatment.

Credit: Technion
In a year, a full twenty-five percent of all of the blood donated to Magen David Adom (“MADA” – national emergency health service) comes from soldiers.  “You officers and soldiers are an example for pure and significant giving,” said MDA blood services director Prof. Eilat Shinar.
Bloomberg media outlet has just done a ranking of countries for health, based on a number of parameters such as life expectancy and rate of vaccination.  Israel is ranked sixth in the world.  The US is 33rd.
And now?
What happened at the much touted Netanyahu-Obama meeting at the White House, which took place yesterday?
Well, not a whole lot, really.  At least as far as we know.  It was a virtual love fest, compared to some of the former meetings between the two heads of state.  They were trying to generate a friendly atmosphere, complete with appropriate body language; this serves the interests of both parties, each for his own reasons.  

Credit: AFP/Saul Loeb
It should be noted that there was no press conference after the meeting – with a declaration of issues resolved or commitments made  - and no official photo op.  Journalists were invited into the Oval Office before the meeting began, to hear informal statements and take pictures.
Netanyahu, for his part, declared that he still had hope of seeing “two states for two peoples.”  I wince every time he says this, but understand that it is part of what he believes he has to do now (more on this below). 
Obama had previously said that he recognized that there would not be peace achieved before the end of his term; he even said he doubted that the two parties would even come to the table during this time.  And so, Netanyahu knew demands on him would be less than on other occasions.  And the prime minister did qualify his support for two states by speaking of “a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes a Jewish state.”  He knows full well that these conditions will be rejected out of hand by the PA.
As for the PA, I was happy to know that Obama “condemned in the strongest terms Palestinian violence against innocent Israeli citizens.”   
It is key is that Obama declared that “the security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities. And that’s expressed itself not only in words, but in deeds.” (Emphasis added.)
If Obama were truly concerned about Israel’s security, he would not have negotiated the deal with Iran that he did. And so, one is inclined to tell him, “Get real!”  But of course Bibi did nothing of the sort.  He instead expressed gratitude, speaking of “shared values, buttressed by shared interests.”
The most must be made of Obama’s declaration of commitment to Israel’s security. 
But anyone who is truly familiar with the situation knows that it is often the Pentagon and Congress who push for concern for Israel to be expressed in real actions. Some of the best friends we have in the US are military people in the Pentagon, who truly understand our situation.  Obama has been considerably less forthcoming, and has on occasion been a stumbling block to military assistance.  But he’s not adverse to taking full credit for military and intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel.
Right now, Israel’s position is that the deal with Iran mitigates increased military assistance to Israel, to offset increased risks that have been generated.  This is not just with regard to the threat of Iran’s  nuclear capacity, but increased terrorism to our north because of lifting of sanctions on Iran.
But when Obama says, as he did, that both nations stand together in their commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it is beyond laughable. 
While in principle it seems Obama has agreed to an increase in security assistance for Israel, no specifics were mentioned, nor was it at all clear that Bibi will get everything he is asking for.
The current security arrangements between the US and Israel expire in 2017.  It was agreed that a US team will come to Israel in December to assess needs and begin to negotiate a new deal, which could take months to complete.
There was no statement made by Obama regarding “settlements” – he left that to his press secretary (following).  Nor did Obama speak to the press about US readiness to support Israel by vetoing Security Council motions that the PA might promote – via a member of the SC such as France – to recognize a “Palestinian state.”
And I remind my readers that we do not know what was said between the two during the meeting.  We don’t know if Obama demanded a quid pro quo – some sort of so-called “good faith gestures” to the PA, for example – for increased military assistance or for support in the UN.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest held a briefing as the talks in the oval office were winding down. 

Credit: The Blaze
He said that he did not see Netanyahu’s stated commitment to “two-states” as hollow, but indicated that the best way to measure the prime minister’s sincerity was to “see the degree to which his administration is willing to follow through on those comments.

“That is certainly what the Obama Administration will be doing..."

Clarifying, Earnest indicated that “settlement building” has been harmful to attempts to resume talks.  “Continued Israeli settlement construction is counter-productive to that process.”  This is hardly a new American position.
However, Earnest also added that disagreements over the peace process or Iran, “have not effected the commitment of this administration to Israel’s security."
I would like to hope not.
Present at the Obama-Netanyahu meeting were Ron Dermer, Israeli Ambassador to the US (pictured), Dan Shapiro, US Ambassador to Israel, Vice President Biden, and US national security advisor Susan Rice.

Credit:  abcnews
The Russians have announced that after years of delay, Russian and Iran have signed a deal paving the way for delivery to Iran of the Russian S-300 missile defense system.  One of the most sophisticated anti-aircraft systems in the world, it is a source of real concern to Israel.
Undated photo of a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP, File)
Credit: AP file
For this reason, increased military assistance to Israel takes on a new dimension. The F-35 is the only aircraft able to counter the S-300 surface-to-air missile system. Israel is slated to receive 33 of these American planes, which have been ordered, in 2016.  It might be that more of them will be sought, along with V-22 Ospreys and other weapons systems .
Let’s take a quick look at what’s happening with the Palestinian Authority as its officials continue to demonstrate their moderation, their readiness for compromise, and their love of peace:
On November 3, after Israel had returned the bodies of terrorists to the PA, PA representative to the UN,  Riyad Mansour, wrote a letter to the president of the UN Security Council claiming that:
Matthew Rycroft, president of the U.N. Security Council
Read more at Reuters
“...following medical examinations, it has been reported that the bodies were returned with missing corneas and other organs, further confirming past reports about organ harvesting by the occupying power...”
This is classic blood libel and Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, has registered protest.
The standard PA line is that Judea and Samaria are “occupied” by Israel and constitute what should be the “Palestinian state.”  Many people buy this line.
But now and again – and it seems to be happening more frequently of late, perhaps because the PA is bolder – the truth slips out: They see ALL of the land between the river and the sea as “occupied,” and belonging to their state.
Abbas slipped in his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 30, when he said, "Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, haven't you wondered: For how long will this protracted Israeli occupation of our land last? After 67 years, how long?”  The State of Israel was founded 67 years ago.
Shortly after, two posts on the Facebook page of the PA Security Forces referred to the Israeli cities of Haifa and Acre as “occupied.”
This is important because the truth of the PA must be exposed.
Abbas continues with his standard, varied threats: to cut off from cooperation with Israel, to bring charges against Israel in the ICC, etc.  On Sunday, he visited Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi and asked him to use his influence with international parties to pressure Israel to stop “provocations and assaults” against the Aksa mosque.
Very recently, the current Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, who was appointed by Abbas, made the claim that there have never been Jewish temples on the Temple Mount: A mosque has been on the Mount “since the creation of the world,” he said.  It was built by angels in Adam’s time.
Go argue with this.  There is a strain of a-historical Muslim religious thinking that maintains there was Islam before Islam was founded.
My friends, this is an intolerable situation that cannot go on – and yet which IS going on:
Sunday morning, at Tapuah Junction in Samaria, a terrorist drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians – one a pregnant woman; four were injured, including one seriously.  The driver was shot dead by Border Police.
Scene of attack at Tapuah junction
Credit: YNet
Two hours later, a security guard was injured in a stabbing attack outside of Beitar Illit in Gush Etzion.  The terrorist was shot and wounded.
Please see the startling video of the terrorist, a woman of apparently innocent appearance, as she suddenly pulls out her knife:
Just shortly after that, a man was stabbed and seriously wounded when he was attacked by two terrorists in Nabi Ilyas; it is situated near a busy road - not far from the community of Alfei Menashe in Samaria - and many Jews stop to shop at stalls there.  
Binyamin Ya’akobowitz, a Border Police officer critically wounded in a car terror attack last week died of his injuries.  He was 19.
Binyamin Ya'akobovitz
Credit: Israel police
Sergeant Orel Azuri had a story similar to that of Binyamin, but hers thankfully had a happy ending: A terrorist rammed into her with a car and sent her flying; she was then brought to the hospital in critical condition and lay unconscious for 13 days, “sedated and ventilated, teetering between life and death.”  And then she says, about the fact that she woke up, “A miracle happened to me.”,7340,L-4722473,00.html
Sergeant Orel Azuri in the hospital. (Photo: Dana Kopel)
Credit: Dana Kopel
On Monday morning a terrorist was shot dead after attempting a stabbing at Eliyahu Crossing near Alfei Menashe (very close to where a man was stabbed on Sunday). 
Now today, there has been terror here in Jerusalem again.  A security guard was stabbed on the light rail, at a station in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood.
While near the Damascus Gate of the Old City, an attempt was made to stab a police officer and the terrorist was shot dead. 
But as we’re speaking of Jerusalem, a smile:
The elephants at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo are Asian elephants - from Thailand, actually, accompanied by Thai trainers/keepers. 

Credit: Wikipedia
Now the Zoo has presented Thailand’s Ambassador to Israel, Angsana Sihapitak, with $1,500 raised via small donations, for an elephant hospital in Lampang, Thailand.  The check was delivered to the ambassador by an elephant named Tamar, who handed it to him with her trunk.
Love it!  But then, I love elephants.
Something neat, and different, to end today:  Israeli cantor/entertainer Dudu Fisher, singing “Jerusalem is mine.”

Credit: kumah
The visual you see in the video is a dynamic sand painting – really remarkable.
© 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, November 10, 2015 at 09:43AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 8, 2015: Facing the World

There is so much that is positive going on here.  Today I start with an interesting piece about Israeli technology. 
The Israeli firm DeepOptics is developing a revolutionary liquid crystal alternative to the multi-focal lens.  It will utilize a pixelated dynamic focal lens that “constantly changes its optical power to adjust viewing distance based on data processed right in the frame from two hidden sensors tracking the wearer’s line of sight.”

Omnifocals could change the way we view the world. Photo by


Credit: Shutterstock
And this light-hearted item:
A rare songbird – the blue-cheeked bee-eater – that had not been seen in the Negev for 50 years, has been spotted, amidst much excitement.  In October a flock of 30 – 40 of them suddenly showed up.  As you can see, they nest in the sand.  Neat.  Israelis are nature lovers. 

Blue-cheeked bee-eaters nest in sandy banks. Photo by Nehama Baruch

Credit: Nehama Baruch
I count this as “semi” good news:
According to US officials, Obama has made a “realistic assessment” that a peace agreement between Israel and the PA will not be possible before he leaves office.
The fact that it wasn’t realistic never stopped him before, but this time – in the face of the current violence – he has apparently come to terms with the fact that he’d look even more inept than usual if he tried to push “peace” now.
So there will be a bit less pressure on Netanyahu for the time being.
But only “a bit less,” because:
“White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told Israeli reporters that the president would want to hear from Netanyahu...ways in which the prime minister will seek to keep a two-state solution viable even in the absence of direct negotiations. Rhodes said Obama regards a two-state solution as urgent, and reiterated the US stance that settlement building undermines faith in the diplomatic process and delays such a solution.”
That again?  Settlements are not the stumbling block to peace. Deep-seated Muslim Arab animosity towards Israel is. An animosity that incorporates a total unwillingness to accept the presence of the Jewish state in the Middle East, and is expressed today not just in acts of violence but in attempts to delegitimize Israel internationally.  Oh, and a total unwillingness to compromise on demands.
We must ask (rhetorically) whether Obama will be discussing with the officials of the PA the multiple ways in which their behavior undermines “faith in the diplomatic process”? It’s all very one-sided.
This entire issue is particularly pertinent now, as Netanyahu is on his way to Washington for a Monday meeting with the president, for the first time in over a year.

Credit: Algemeiner
Aside from discussing the issue of keeping “peace” with the Palestinian Arabs viable, a main topic on the table will be Iran.  Now that the non-existent nuclear deal with Iran has been completed – something Obama urgently seeks to represent as a major diplomatic success – he is looking to ensure that Netanyahu does not undercut it.  The two will be discussing Israel’s security needs in light of the current situation, and Obama might just be receptive to an increase in US military aid to Israel.
Please understand the irony here. When Obama was promoting the Iran deal, he insisted that it was a good deal for Israel too.  Now he faces the reality (hardly a secret) that lifting of sanctions will enable Iran to assist its proxies – Assad in Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon – with greatly increased levels of funding.  He may at one and the same time be eager to show a “concern” for Israel’s security, and attempt to buy Netanyahu’s acquiescence with regard to the deal.
There had been a “sort of” understanding that there would be compensation for the Iran deal.  On August 19th, Obama wrote a letter to Congressman Gerald Nadler (D-NY) that said(emphasis added):
“My administration is prepared to enhance the already intensive joint efforts underway to identify and counter the range of shared threats we face in the region, as well as increase missile defense funding...”
“[While Israel has] unparalleled access to some of the most advanced military equipment in the world, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (pictured), which will be delivered in 2016, all of the options available to the United States - including the military option - will remain available through the life of the deal and beyond." (Not sure what this means, especially as the US will not sell Israel the 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator bunker buster.)


Credit: US Air Force
While the contents of this letter were more than a bit non-specific, it seemed to imply intent.  Seemed. This was two days before Nadler announced in support of the deal and was clearly aimed at bringing him on-board, not at providing assurances to Israel.  None-the-less, the impression that there would be compensation was sustained.
I could hardly be accused of being overly cynical if I were to suggest that there just might be a connection in Obama’s mind now between Netanyahu’s willingness to keep the “peace plan” viable and his willingness to assist Israel.
What I would hope is that Bibi might secure the maximum possible from Obama – because our security needs truly are increasing – without surrendering our latitude in speaking out or acting as it is our right or in our interest.  A tall order – a balancing act - in the hands of the prime minister and his advisors. 
Actually, I am picking up contradictory reports on what might be expected from that Obama-Netanyahu meeting:
On Friday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the US and Israel, as well as the unprecedented security cooperation, including our close consultations to further enhance Israel’s security.

But, also on Friday, the NYTimes cites “White House sources” as saying that Netanyahu would not be getting what he wants out of his trip: Israel would not get an increased “compensation” package from the US.

Leaked reports from inside of Israel indicated that Netanyahu was seeking a ten year package at $5 billion per year.


On the topic of Iran, I provide an update, following my last posting:
There has been a surge in cyberattacks on US officials, journalists and activists working on Iran.  It is believed that these attacks – some of which were successful - were launched using the computer of American citizen Siamak Namazi, who was arrested in Iran last month.  Namazi’s laptop had been confiscated by the Revolutionary Guard Corps.  Apparently some Obama administration personnel have had their computers hacked.

Anti-American vitriol was elevated this past week because of the anniversary of the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran, with the taking of hostages, 36 years ago.  This is an event that is “celebrated” annually, and is marked with cries of “Death to America” and burning of American flags. 

Credit: CAMERA
This next item would be quite funny, if it weren’t so grim.  Black humor?
“President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have voiced hopes that the Iran nuclear agreement reached in July could spur greater cooperation between Washington and Tehran on regional issues...”
Obama personally intervened with the Saudis to allow Iran to take part in international talks on Syria.
Comments Omri Ceren of TIP: “The Iranian cyber-offensive - plus the arrest of Namazi, plus Iran's arrest last month of U.S. resident Nizar Zakka, plus the new joint Iranian-Russian military offensive in Syria, plus Iran's recent launch of a ballistic missile in violation of UNSC resolution 1929, plus this week's widespread Death to America celebrations throughout Iran risks making the administration look naive.”
“Naïve”?  Ceren’s understatement.  How about demented?  Or purposefully self-destructive?
Please see an informative analysis of a new and exceedingly complex situation, written by Australian-Israeli columnist Isi Leibler (pictured below) - “Israel and Putin’s Russia: A tenuous relationship” (emphasis added):
“For over 30 years, my principle public occupation in the global Jewish arena was to promote the struggle for liberation of Soviet Jewry.

”This brought me into direct contact with Soviet ministers, officials and apparatchiks, enabling me to appreciate firsthand the obsessive anti-Semitism underlying the Kremlin’s policy toward Israel and the Jews.

This contrasts starkly with current Russian President Vladimir Putin’s positive attitude to Jews in general, despite the fact that he was a former officer of the Soviet secret police agency, the KGB, a body notorious for its anti-Semitism.
“It is also astonishing that, despite his strategic involvement and alliance with the Syrians and Iranians, Putin has determinedly kept the channels to Israel open, making a point to personally visit Israel. In fact, in June 2012, Israel was the first country he visited after his election. He frequently speaks warmly about the Jewish state, expressing pride that it contains the largest diaspora of former Russian citizens. At the Western Wall, accompanied by Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, he donned a kippa, which undoubtedly made his Bolshevik predecessors turn in their graves. He also seemed quite indifferent to the rage this created among his Arab allies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has deftly steered a delicate diplomatic course, seeking to retain a good relationship with the Russians without antagonizing the Americans in relation to both Ukraine and Georgia....
”...due to US President Barack Obama’s incredible mismanagement, Putin’s major geopolitical breakthrough has transformed Russia overnight into a dominant power in the Middle East with greater influence in the region than even at its peak during the Cold War...

”In contrast to a bumbling Obama, he emerged as a shrewd and tough strategist who can be relied upon to stand by his allies and confront his enemies.

”As a consequence, the situation has become immensely more complicated for Israel and there are logical grounds for concern that Russia’s ongoing confrontation with the US will override Putin’s emotional philo-Semitism. His recent meeting in which he expressed solidarity with Assad in Moscow was hardly reassuring.

”But the situation remains far from black and white. Immediately after announcing Russia’s intervention, Putin agreed to a three-hour summit meeting with Netanyahu, who flew to Moscow where parameters were drawn up in order to minimize any possible military overlap and try to protect some of Israel’s security concerns.

Coordination has been maintained at the very highest military levels between both countries, with Russia operating a direct hotline with Yossi Cohen, Israel’s national security adviser, informing him in advance of Russia bombing targets in Syria.

”Furthermore, according to Ehud Ya’ari of Channel 2, the Russians have allocated a future role for Israel in their area of influence by offering to buy a substantial chunk of Israel’s newly discovered gas fields and provide military guarantees against Hezbollah attacks on the offshore locations. It is also proposing to export this gas to Europe...
Profoundly conscious of the Iranian regime’s messianic aspirations to wipe Israel off the face of the planet, optimists consider the possibility that the Russians will inhibit the Iranians from directly attacking Israel. They argue that Shi’ite fundamentalists like the Iranians also pose long-term threats to the Kremlin...
The Netanyahu government is to be commended for its efforts to isolate itself from the conflict. But the situation is volatile and could unravel in the course of intensified superpower confrontations in this region. Israel is also cognizant of potential confrontations with the Russians should they continue to intervene when Iranians seek to transfer advanced missiles to Hezbollah.

”However, it is a consolation that all things being even, Putin would prefer not to confront Israel and does not aspire to bring about its destruction, as did the Bolsheviks....”


Credit: JPost
After Netanyahu met with Putin in September, he indicated that an agreement had been reached with the Russians whereby they will not stop Israel from entering Syrian air space for purposes of stopping transfer of weapons to Hezbollah.  My best understanding is that this is indeed likely the case.
Just a little over a week ago, there were reports in international media (Israel never reports directly on this) that Israel had entered Syrian airspace, hitting near the Lebanese border, presumably to intercept a weapons convoy. 
Last week, Defense Minister Ya’alon indicated that Israel will respond with zero tolerance to...weapons trafficking to terrorists, and the distribution of chemical weapons to terrorists.
My friends, the terror has not stopped:
On Friday a man received serious stabbing wounds outside of a Rami Levy store in Sha’ar Binyamin, north of Jerusalem.
Friday night, two teenagers on their way to prayers at the Machpela (Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hevron were shot, apparently by a sniper from a Muslim neighborhood overlooking the site.  It was a special Shabbat in Hevron, as the Torah portion, Chayei Sara, speaks of the death of Sara, for whom Avraham bought the cave in order to bury her. 


Credit: Bibleplaces
Thousands of Jews come to Hevron every year on this Shabbat.  All Arab presence was banned from the area of the Machpela, and security was huge.  But that did not stop the sniper.
Some two hours later, an Israeli was shot and seriously wounded at Beit Einun junction north of Hebron.
Another attack in Gush Etzion was averted, as a Palestinian Arab woman of 72 who was attempting to run over a soldier was shot dead by security. There were Arab claims that she was was “executed” without reason, but they ring hollow.  A commando knife was found in the car, her husband had been a terrorist, and Friday night Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh paid a call to her daughter.,7340,L-4721867,00.html
Jerusalem born Yitzhak Navon, who served as Israel’s fifth president, has passed away at 94. 


Credit: Times of Israel
In a statement released last night, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
”As David Ben-Gurion's secretary, Minister of Education and President, Navon was a full partner in shaping the State of Israel as a free, Jewish and democratic state. I was always impressed by the depth of his education, his openness to everyone and his deep love for the people of Israel and its heritage."

“Kol ha’olam kulo, gesher tsar me’od,” goes the song.  All the world is a very narrow bridge...And the important thing (ha-ikar”) is to never be afraid.
A lesson for all of us now.  This version was done for the IDF, and it’s beautiful.  It speaks to each of us.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 07:20AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 5, 2015: The Big Stuff

As has become my practice now, I start with some good news.
As to this first item, it’s possible that the jury is still out on whether we are certifiable, or whether we simply have a higher moral standard than the rest of the world.  I go with the second option, and believe we must continue in our efforts to let the world know who we are (emphasis added):
While the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrians by the Assad regime and a raft of regional Islamic terror organizations shows no sign of ending, an unheralded Israeli humanitarian mission recently marked the treatment of 2,000 Syrian patients.

“Although the two countries remain sworn enemies, advocates of Israel's program caring for badly wounded Syrians highlight the Jewish imperative to save life whenever possible. Despite endangering the lives of Israeli soldiers and medical personnel, it has enabled critically injured Syrians, with no one else to turn to for lifesaving treatment, to cross the border to an Israeli field hospital...

One of the most senior IDF officials involved in the program described it:

“’This [pointing across the valley to the Syrian warzone from a high vantage point] is the main area of the fighting...Many wounded people come from this area.

’All of the doctors in this area were probably killed.  Most of the people that are left are the poor and the most vulnerable.  The [Syrian refugees] who go to Europe are the people with thousands of Euros who are fit enough for the journey.  Any time the rebels occupy one of the villages the regime places it under siege, stopping electricity, water [and food]. This has been going on for about three years...

"’As an orthopedic surgeon I can tell you this is the most horrible thing that I have ever seen. Blast injuries, shrapnel, amputations, head injuries. In my orthopedic department we say the people aren't dead because they haven't read the record of their trauma...’"

Members of the Israeli army medical staff tend to a Syrian man who was wounded in the ongoing violence in Syria, in a military hospital located in the Golan Heights near the border with Syria on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. Since the Syrian conflict erupted almost three years ago hundreds of Syrians have received treatment in Israeli hospitals. (AP Photo/Menahem Kahana, Pool)

Members of the Israeli army medical staff tend to a Syrian man who was wounded in the ongoing violence in Syria, in a military hospital located in the Golan Heights near the border with Syria on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. Since the Syrian conflict erupted almost three years ago hundreds of Syrians have received treatment in Israeli hospitals. (AP Photo/Menahem Kahana, Pool)

Credit: AP/Menahem Kahana
Another, “Mazel Tov! It’s about time.” 
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has given instructions that Foreign Ministry cadets [diplomatic trainees] will now also tour settlements and study about their legality.
What? you may say on reading this.  Until now people moved into the world as representatives of Israel without solid knowledge about our rights in Judea and Samaria?  You’ve got it. The diplomatic corps has a reputation for tilting left, which has been one of our problems.
So I say, “Hurray for Tzipi,” who observed:
“It is important that ambassadors be able to deal with the challenge of the boycott of Israel and the delegitimization of our right to self-defense that is linked to the fundamental issues of the connection of the Jewish people to its land.”

Tzipi Hotovely

Credit: Flash 90

“Dry Bones” cartoonist Ya’akov Kirschen is also fighting BDS and delegitimization of Israel.  For many years he has done a sterling job of presenting Israel’s positions in his cartoons.  But now, understanding the importance of fighting media bias, he has a Dry Bones Academy that will train “an army of cartoon activists” to fight anti-Israel media-bias.
Bravo, Ya’akov, and much luck in moving forward with this!
Please see this major JPost feature about his new venture below and spread the word:

Credit: Courtesy

Now, “the big stuff”:  Not terror attacks, not the incitement of Abbas.  I’m talking Iran, the dangers of which trump all the rest.  In any event, terror attacks are fomented and funded by Iran and its proxies – so the issues are intertwined.
Because I’ve been focusing more on immediate domestic issues, I’ve not addressed the Iran situation for a while, and the fact is that it is horrendous and grows more so daily. 
Item one:
In late September, Reuters conveyed Iranian media reports establishing that the Iranians recently took their own environmental samples at their Parchin military facility, where they conducted tests relevant to the detonation of nuclear warheads, in lieu of having IAEA inspectors take the samples
Item two:
In mid-October, Omri Ceren of TIP wrote, “Iranian media reported that Tehran recently tested a new precision-guided long-range ballistic missile, the Emad (show below), which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The test is a black-letter violation of United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2231, in which ‘Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology’ for the next eight years.” 


Credit: Telegraph (UK)
However, the Obama administration and its allies “insist that the nuclear deal does not ban Iran from developing nuclear missiles.”
Wrote Ceren regarding this: “[The situation] is a fairly damning indictment of how badly American negotiators got rolled in Vienna, but the immediate question is much more straightforward: the Iranians have definitely advanced their ballistic missile program and have definitely violated a binding United Nations Security Council resolution in the process, and what is the Obama administration going to do about that?
To the best of my knowledge Obama is going to do nothing, whatever the ferment within Congress.  Obama espouses this position in spite of the fact that ”from the earliest days of Iran negotiations, White House officials promised Congress that they would bring home a deal limiting Iran's ballistic missile program.”
Please, absorb the full import of this. 
Item three:
Also in mid-October, the Iranians arrested Siamak Namazi an Iranian-American businessman, with dual citizenship, who operated from Dubai and was in Iran to visit a friend.

According to the NYTimes, he is “head of strategic planning at Crescent Petroleum... also alleged to have ties with people in the National Iranian American Council."
Namazi was reportedly picked up by Iranian intelligence officials and taken to the Evin torture prison; according to the Wall Street Journal, friends say Iranian intelligence agents ransacked his family home in Tehran and confiscated his computer.
A Daily Beast article suggests that he was central in assisting the White House in pushing the Iran deal (which would fit with ties to the National Iranian American Council).  The implications here are huge, regarding who is running Iran and what hardline backlash we may be seeing against those who promoted the nuclear deal. 
Another theory suggests that Iran is deliberately trying to provoke the US.
These scenarios are all bad news with regard to Iran’s relationship with the US, particularly in the context of the nuclear deal.  Iran was already holding four Americans prior to this incident and since has arrested Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese with permanent US residency. 
In some quarters it’s being said that for Iran it’s open season on Americans. 
There was a bit of a firestorm over these incidents in Congress, with demands to know what the US government was going to do about the situation.
On Tuesday, State Department press office director Elizabeth Trudeau held a briefing and was asked about the issue of the arrests. 
After saying a couple of times that of course the government is concerned and of course those arrested should be home, she was asked about consequences [for Iran].
Her answer: “Consequences. You know, on this, this is something that we continue to have dialogue on. You know, this is something we will continue to discuss.”
There you have it, my friends:  Dialogue.  The Obama panacea.
You can access the briefing here:
Lastly, but possibly most importantly, I refer to a briefing by Yigal Carmon, president and co-founder of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), “The Emperor Has No Clothes.” (Emphasis has been added)

“What is mistakenly perceived as an agreement under the title of ‘Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’ (JCPOA) neither a contract nor even a real agreement between Iran and the P5+1. It is a set of understandings and disputes compiled into a single document.

“For example, the JCPOA states that in the event of Iranian violations, sanctions will be re-imposed (snapback). However, the Iranian position, which rejects all sanctions, is incorporated in the same document...This is not merely an Iranian reservation expressed outside of the negotiating room. It is incorporated into the text of this selfsame document – and one that completely contradicts preceding provisions that stipulate otherwise...

"The JCPOA is best characterized by bangs and whimpers – by bold prohibitions on Iran that peter out in qualifying terms such as 'unless,' 'except if,' and the like.

“The JCPOA includes a timetable and obligations applying to both sides. Within this time frame, both parties had 90 days from July 14 to secure approval for the agreement from their respective national institutions. By ‘Adoption Day,’ set for October 19...agreement was meant to have been approved by both sides. The EU was to have announced the lifting of its sanctions, while President Obama, on behalf of the U.S., was to have announced the lifting of the U.S. executive branch's sanctions, along with waivers on sanctions imposed by the U.S. legislative branch...


“The Western side showed its consent long before October 19...

In Iran, however, following discussion in both its Majlis [legislative body] and its Guardian Council, the JCPOA as concluded and announced on July 14 was not approved. The Majlis ratified something else – a set of recommendations to the government of Iran regarding how it should execute the JCPOA...The Guardian Council, for its part, approved what the Majlis had done...

Was this a fulfillment of what Iran was obligated to do under the JCPOA? No! Did the U.S. administration insist that Iran approve the JCPOA, as concluded and announced in Vienna on July 14? No! Does the U.S. realize that Iran's ultimate authority to approve laws rests with Supreme Leader Khamenei, and that he has not yet approved the JCPOA? NO! Nevertheless, the U.S. and Europe have chosen to regard what Iran has done as approval – so that the peace process will not be halted.

“The U.S. and Europe then proceeded to the first post-Adoption Day phase in the JCPOA timetable: The EU announced that its sanctions would be terminated. President Obama announced that the U.S.'s executive sanctions would be lifted and its legislative sanctions waived; this announcement was not for immediate execution, but in fact advance notice that these measures would come into effect by December 15 – provided that the IAEA would report that Iran has fulfilled its obligations under the JCPOA.

“What are these obligations that Iran has to fulfill between Adoption Day and December 15 in order to merit this sanctions relief?”
[A list follows: reducing and storing centrifuges, reducing the stockpile of uranium, etc.]
Did Iran hasten to meet these obligations? No!...
“At this stage, events have taken an absurd turn. Iran has started dragging its feet...No one wanted to budge without explicit permission from Supreme Leader Khamenei.”
In an interview this week, Carmon declared, “Not one centrifuge has been removed.” 
In this report, he writes: “Now the big secret is out. Khamenei has not approved the JCPOA.”
Explains Carmon, once Khamenei knew that President Obama was “either unwilling or unable to capitulate any further, Khamenei broke his silence. Stepping in in the final act, Khamenei...dictated, in a letter to President Rohani, nine new conditions for the JCPOA, and declared that if these were not met Iran would stop the agreement.”
Carmon says that a key demand of Khamenei is the full lifting of sanctions, whereas where the Congressional sanctions are concerned, Obama, cannot override them; he can only issue a suspension via waiver.  “Politically too, it might be too far for him to go to break his promise of the JCPOA's built-in security mechanism – snapback of the sanctions. Obviously, snapback is possible only if the sanctions remain in place under suspension.”
Carmon believes it would be impossible for the AIEA to provide confirmation that Iran has complied with required stipulations because “the Iranians themselves are declaring loudly that they are not going to do it.
With every passing day, Iran is more and more in violation of the JCPOA. But neither the Republicans nor the Democrats, nor the media, nor anyone else will acknowledge this, for the implications are too devastating. The agreement is no longer in effect. Its clock has stopped.”



Credit: Flikr
A great deal to assimilate, I know. But this cannot be ignored.
Yesterday, in the Hevron area, a young Border Police officer was critically wounded in a car attack. The terrorist was shot dead.
Yehoram Gaon is one of my very favorite Israeli singers.  And so I was pleased at comments he made this week about our situation (emphasis added):
"I've been here long enough to look back and say honestly that there were attempts to establish genuine peace. There were enough prime ministers who tried. There have been enough negotiations...
“We have been living for years with the feeling that if we return these territories or others, a tremendous peace will be established here and we'll drink coffee in Damascus. But in light of recent events, I've begun to realize that it's much more complex, deep, rooted and most importantly - not a story of territory.
"I lived in Jerusalem before the IDF's conquest of the city, and I remember well the families slaughtered in the Jewish Corridor, before there was a dispute over territories...
"These latest events make me think, in fact, that the other side's will is we simply not be here at all, no matter what we do."

All right then!  I close with a song by Yehoram Gaon.  A classic celebrating Israel, “Shalom Lach Eretz Nehederet” – Shalom to you, glorious land.
© 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, November 5, 2015 at 07:45AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 3, 2015: If Only...

If only there would be a preponderance of positive news.  But that is wishful thinking, of course.  And yet, there is positive news, and news that carries within it a glint of encouraging possibilities.  I’m going to begin today with some of these items, so that we may be buoyed and have a broader perspective:

Sheikh Ali Halabi, a senior Jordanian Salafi sheikh, has issued a fatwa (religious ruling) against killing Jews.  You are reading this correctly.


Jews may be killed only during war, he said:

“Someone who protects you, gives you water and electricity, transfers you money, and you work for him and gives you money – would you betray him, even if he was a Jew?...

Our brothers in Palestine tell us that the Jews do not attack anyone who does not attack them.” (Emphasis added)

Now, his statement was a bit qualified. He certainly does not represent the mainstream of Muslim religious leaders, and took a great deal of flack for saying this.  But it suggests to me at least the possibility of a shift.

What has occurred to me (and yes, this may be wishful thinking) is that it has to get very bad, beyond just “bad,” before we begin to see a reaction.


Please note the sentence above that I have emphasized. This puts the lie to Abbas’s consistent and outrageous claim that we “execute” innocent Palestinian Arabs in the street.  This statement can and should be used broadly.

You can see the MEMRI video of the Sheikh making these statements here:


And just today there was acknowledgement by a US official, reported by Reuters, that Israeli pilots and Jordanian pilots trained together in an exercise in the US this summer.  A first.  And, I would suggest, harbinger of a new day, however quietly and slowly it is coming to us.


Then we have the occasion – also a first – of Egypt voting with Israel at the UN.  Granted, Egypt also qualified its action, and the vote concerned a non- political issue: Israel’s membership on the United Nations space committee.  But not so long ago, even this would not have been possible.


Additionally, there is the extraordinary Egyptian journalist, activist and blogger Ahmed Meligy, who is speaking out about violence being perpetrated against Israeli civilians and the outrageous bias in the media against Israel.

Credit: JPost

He feels so strongly about it, he says, that he, a devoted Egyptian, is prepared to put the Israeli flag next to his beloved Egyptian flag.

You can see his amazing video here:


Glimmers, just glimmers, in a sea of vile happenings. But don’t lose sight of them.


Also encouraging are Israeli actions that are strong in behalf of our interests.  Often there is the feeling that the decision to act took altogether too long.  But the actions are most welcome none-the-less.

We have been seeing that a preponderance of the Palestinian Arab violence has taken place in the Hevron region.  Thus it should not come as a surprise that the Al-Huriya  radio station, which broadcast in the Hevron area, had been openly advocating stabbings.  Now Israel has shut down the station: the station’s offices were raided and broadcast equipment was seized.  You want to say: “Mazel tov.  What took you so long??”


I confess, I didn’t know he was going to be this tough, but now that Danny Danon has assumed the position of Israeli Ambassador to the UN, he is speaking out unequivocally, defending Israel with strength.  We need this.


Credit: Times of Israel

“We demand that hypocrisy and hostility towards Israel be rooted out from the UN organizations," he told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.


A new law regarding tougher sentences for rock-throwers has been ratified by the Knesset.  Those found guilty of throwing rocks will now receive a minimum sentence of three years, which cannot be suspended except in special circumstances.  (Have no idea what they might be.) Penalties will also be levied with regard to cancellation of national insurance benefits – where minors are concerned, the parents will suffer the penalty.  Rocks have now been defined as weapons under the law.  


Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is promoting legislation that would require transparency of NGOs that receive the majority of their funds foreign governments: they would be required to make the fact of this funding public and declare the sources.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

Credit: Yonaton Sindel/Flash 90

This is an issue of huge importance as foreign governments have long attempted to influence the workings of our government inappropriately from within.  Here I want simply to mention this, as the process for passing it into law has just begun; there have been other versions of this law that have not succeeded.

The law would apply to all NGOs, whether on the left or right, but the harsh reality is that the vast bulk of foreign government money that comes to Israeli NGOs, is from European governments seeking to advance their agenda via left-leaning NGOs. As time allows, I would like to visit this issue in further detail.


And now that I’ve shared good news, and news that is potentially hopeful, I hope you are sufficiently strengthened to receive the bad new and the ugly news.

The terrorist attacks by Palestinian Arabs here in Israel have increased in number once again.  Yesterday was not a good day.  More accurately, a bad day – although we “only” had serious injuries and not deaths. 

One attack was in Rishon Lezion, near the coast, south of Tel Aviv. Three people were stabbed, two seriously, before the terrorist fled through the streets and into a store.  Alert locals on the street gave chase and surrounded him.  Had police not rescued him, he might well have been lynched.  This terrorist was a 19 year old man from Hevron.  One of those seriously wounded was an 80 year old woman. Paramedics found her lying on the sidewalk with an open stab wound to her upper body.  This did not go down well with those who saw what happened.


In the other incident, a 22 year old Palestinian Arab from Tulkarem, in Samaria, badly stabbed a 71 year old man.  Once again bystanders gave chase. This time when police entered the scene, he charged them, yelling “Allahu Akbar.”  They shot and seriously wounded him, and took him into custody.


This is not going to be the end, of course.  Sunday three Israelis were injured when an Arab rammed his car into them.  Following this there was an attempt to stab a soldier.

Today an attack at the Gilboa checkpoint near Jenin in Samaria was thwarted, when knives and explosives were found on a suspect. 

Israeli security forces stand guard at the Gilboa/Jalama checkpoint, located north of the West Bank town of Jenin on October 24, 2015. (AFP/JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)


The checkpoint has been closed. 


If you read that police came after a teenage boy for brandishing a ruler, you might have some serious questions about the way Israeli police handle Arab teenagers.  And so, to clarify the issue, I want to share this picture of the ruler, which had been filed to a lethal point:


Credit: Police
This provides an idea of what we are coping with. (With thanks to Rebecca M.)


I will table a great deal more until the next posting.  The entire ghastly issue of Iran is one I want to visit at some point very soon, and with it the matter of Netanyahu’s up-coming visit to the White House.

But I do want to mention a couple of follow-up items here:

First, the Temple Mount and the video cameras. My guess at present is that in spite of all the hoopla about the ability of the cameras to calm things down on the Mount, they will never be placed.  Last I wrote, the Jordanian Wakf was accusing Israel of blocking the placement of cameras, and the Prime Minister’s Office responded that the placement was supposed to be coordinated by technicians, but the Wakf was attempting to act unilaterally.

Since then, the PA got into the act, even though it was not part of the signed agreement.  The Palestinian Arabs are clearly very reluctant to be filmed in the course of their violence against non-Muslims, and their stockpiling of weapons in the mosque.  It appears as if the Wakf will bow to the Palestinian intransigence on this matter, for as far as I know, nothing is happening.

Lesson: nothing is a “given” here.


Then the return of bodies of terrorists to the PA.  The latest I have is that there is division on this within the Security Cabinet, even though the decision had been made not to return them.  It was Defense Minister Ya’alon who moved to return the bodies. This is something he could not have done without a nod from the prime minster, however.  My understanding is that Netanyahu was opposed to the return of terrorist bodies, but allowed Ya’alon considerable latitude in how to handle the matter.

All very convoluted and unsatisfactory.  Reportedly, a sheikh in Hevron told Ya’alon that there would be more terror attacks if bodies were not returned, and so Ya’alon agreed, with the proviso that the situation had to be quiet.  But I have not observed a whole lot of quiet, and it is my impression that Ya’alon will continue down the same path.


As some of my readers undoubtedly know, the Beslover Chassidim here in Israel promote song and happiness.  I thought the following video was special.  It shows IDF soldiers a year ago, preparing to go into battle in Gaza. You can see the Beslovers on the right, up on their van, leading the singing.

We are special in all the world – though the world does not us.  Not hatred, not brandishing of weapons. Singing songs of faith, with joy. 

This is why we will win in the end.


© 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, November 3, 2015 at 01:21PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

October 31, 2015: Abnormal "Normal"

Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat)
I had a beautiful Shabbat.  Rich with the laughter of my grandchildren, and with the incredibly perceptive and sensitive things they said. 
It’s difficult, after that, to turn around and focus on events mostly painful.  It should not be, that these painful events – the incitement and terror attacks - have become a routine part of life here in Israel.  And yet, it seems that they are, at least now, so that what is “normal” for us is really a very abnormal, and ultimately unacceptable situation.
One reason I have decided to write this, then, is because I want to be certain that my readers continue to understand our situation.  I will not focus in coming posts on terror attacks, in great detail – I want to look at other matters. But I will not leave off mentioning them, until there is nothing to mention.
An incomplete rundown of recent terror events:
On Wednesday, a woman was stabbed outside a Rami Levy food store at the Gush Etzion Junction, which is a huge shopping area.  She was brought to the hospital with the knife still in her, and required complicated surgery to have the knife removed from her spinal column. The terrorist was arrested. 

Woman stabbed at Gush Etzion's Rami Levy

Credit: Yonaton Sindel/Flash 90
On Thursday, a soldier was stabbed on the road between Hevron and Kiryat Arba; the terrorist was shot.
On Friday, a woman Border Police officer took out two terrorists as they sought to attack fellow officers at the Tapuach Junction, not far from Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria.
Also yesterday, two men were attacked by a terrorist with a knife at the light rail stop at Ammunition Hill; the terrorist was shot.
Today, in the course of a riot of some 100 Palestinian Arabs in the Hevron area – a riot near an army position accompanied by throwing of Molotov cocktails, burning of tires, throwing rocks and hurling marbles from slingshots – ten rioting Arabs were shot by the IDF.  Ruger rounds were fired at their legs.
What caused this riot?  Funerals held in the Hevron area for terrorists who had been killed, which thousands attended.

But wait!  Such funerals are known to create uprisings and promote violence, and the Israeli government had decided not to return the bodies of terrorists.  But yesterday there were five bodies returned to the PA in Hevron – the bodies of those buried today.
“Explaining the government’s actions, Defense Minister Yaalon told Israel Channel 2 that the government returned the bodies on the condition that the PA not hold any large funerals.

“Ya’alon was apparently surprised the PA would break their agreement.”

I wish this were a joke – a parody – but it is not.

And the PA is reporting that an additional nine bodies were returned today.
Please, do not write to me telling me Israel must be more consistently strong.  I know it already: I am livid.
I consider this good news, very good news:
The 13 year old boy who was critically injured in a terror attack on October 13 has been released from the hospital -  although he clearly has much recuperation still ahead of him.  I have no name or picture, because his parents have, wisely, withheld all information
This is big, because he was clinically dead on arrival in the hospital, after having been knifed in the throat by cousins Ahmed and Hassan Manasra.
You may remember Ahmed Manasra, the 13 year old Arab boy who was recovering in the hospital while Abbas was announcing that Israel had executed him for no reason.  

Thirteen-year-old Ahmed Manasra (pictured) was indicted Friday for attempting to murder two Israelis in an Oct. 12 stabbing attack. Credit: GPO.

Credit: GPO
Ahmed, who confessed, and then “unconfessed,” has now been indicted – although there will be difficulties in prosecution because of his age.   If his case makes good press, it might serve a purpose whatever a court decides.
And this, too, is good news. The doctor who operated on the badly injured boy, head of General Surgery at Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, is Prof. Ahmed Eid.

Prof. Ahmed Eid of Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus. (Courtesy Hadassah)

Courtesy: Hadassah
Soon, please Heaven, a posting that focuses on other events.
As this is Motzei Shabbat, I decided to end this short posting with a video of the late, great Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach, whose music is greatly loved here in Israel.  He refers here to Motzei Shabbat, and I assume he sang this at a Melave Malka, an informal ceremony or gathering to escort out Shabbat, prolonging it just a bit in the process.
“Al tireh avdi Ya’akov,” Do not fear, my servant Ya’akov, begins the song, with words from Jeremiah.  It ends with:
“May your strength not stray...Go forward...for the land shall rise now for you and your seed!”
And then, “Yahad” – together. For this is the only way we will find our strength.  (Find the core of “yahad” at 1:48)
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 09:24AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

October 27, 2015: Dysfunctional

Pretty much describes the state of affairs here and elsewhere.  I was going to use the Hebrew term “balagan,” which means a state of confusion, a muddle. But that is much too benign.  “Dysfunctional” suggests impairment, and that is much closer to the mark.
Let us return to the issue of video cameras on the Temple Mount.   

Credit: cbn
Seems such cameras probably will go up, PA objections – which I noted in my last posting - notwithstanding.  The agreement, which was apparently signed, was between the US, Israel, and the Jordanians.
However, yesterday there was this news item:
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office denied Monday allegations from the Jordanian Wakf Muslim Authority that Israel has prevented security cameras from being placed on the Temple Mount, in accordance with an agreement signed between Israel, Jordan and the US.
“Final arrangements for the manner and locations of the cameras on the Temple Mount, which was agreed upon between Israel, Jordan and the United States, were supposed to be coordinated at the professional level.
“...Israel has already expressed its consent to start the process as soon as possible.”


Why would the Jordanian Wakf make this accusation?  We have an answer here:
It was the Wakf that was playing games, attempting to unilaterally install cameras, without the coordination of technical teams, which had not yet met.  The prime minister’s office has cited Kerry’s statement from Saturday on this:
“I expect Jordanian and Israeli technical teams will meet soon to discuss the implementation of this idea.”
I am very pleased that Israeli security stopped the Wakf from proceeding unilaterally.  This is a demonstration of sovereignty, at some level.  And where did the Wakf try to install cameras? At the Mughrabi gate, the only gate through which Jews and other non-Muslims can enter.  Ah ha...
What I have learned since last I wrote about the situation is that Israel already has cameras on the Mount – at least 100 and possibly as many as 300 – that are used for Israeli security.  According to Israeli officials, the feed from the cameras now to be installed will go to the Wakf and also Israeli police. This too is good, if it happens.
But wait: the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammed Ahmad Hussein said on Sunday – which is after Kerry had made his announcement about the agreement – that the Wakf had not decided whether to go along with the cameras.
This is how it is here.

Ya’akov Kirschen has perhaps the last word on precisely how dysfunctional the situation is, although he graciously calls it “Looney Times”:

Dry Bones cartoon: Kirschen, terrorism, terror, PLO,Palestinians,Islamism, Jews.youth,prayer, peace, Temple Mount,

Boy is it the truth!


The Joint Committee of Temple Organizations -  which is comprised of 30 organizations working for Jewish rights on the Mount – has released a statement declaring that “the prime minister is not entitled to prevent Jews from praying on the Temple Mount...”  This stance, says the Committee, contravenes Israel’s Basic Law: Jerusalem, and Israel’s Law of the Holy Places.  Indeed.

Basic Law: Jerusalem, section 3, reads, “The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and...anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings towards those places.”

Protection of the Holy Places Law, reads very similarly: “The Holy Places shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the members of the different religions to the places sacred to them or their feelings with regard to those places.”


What we are seeing, then, is an eagerness by the Israeli government to scrupulously safeguard the religious rights and freedoms of diverse groups within Israel – Christian, Muslim, Bahia, etc. etc., while at the same time permitting deprivation of the rights and freedoms of Jews when it comes to the holiest of Jewish sites.

Dysfunctional, for sure.


Yesterday the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was marked.



Because of his association with Oslo, Rabin has been seen over the years as someone who enthusiastically embraced “the two-state solution.”  Or, I might better put it, came to be seen thus, as his memory was co-opted by those eager to promote that “solution.”  To this day, there are those who promote this distorted vision of Rabin as rationale for pursuing negotiations. 

The reality is far more complex.

On October 5, 1995, Rabin brought to the Knesset the Interim Agreement for ratification.  Note the following that he proposed (emphasis added):

[] No sovereign Palestinian state. 

“[The] State of Israel...will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state...”

[] United Jerusalem.

”First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev.”
So what Rabin envisioned for Jerusalem 20 years ago, the Arabs are stills screaming about, with regard to building in E1, between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem.

[] No return to ‘67 borders (sic).

The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

“Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the ‘Green Line,’ prior to the Six Day War.

The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.”

[] Settlements.

"I want to remind you: we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth."
And then there is this, additional, regarding our relationship with the PA. Said Rabin to the Knesset (emphasis added):
We are aware of the fact that the Palestinian Authority has not -- up until now -- honored its commitment to change the Palestinian Covenant, and that all of the promises on this matter have not been kept. I would like to bring it to the attention of the members of the house that I view these changes as a supreme test of the Palestinian Authority's willingness and ability, and the changes required will be an important and serious touchstone vis-à-vis the continued implementation of the agreement as a whole.”
My friends, this was 20 years ago, and to this day the necessary changes in the Palestinian Covenant have not been made – essentially what was required was removal of clauses that called for Israel’s destruction.
We must ask, even now, what pressures were brought to bear on Rabin: why he felt the need to continue with the Oslo process, which, it seems, had already become something of a runaway diplomatic train.  If he viewed the PA’s changing of its Covenant as the supreme test of its seriousness, why did he not demand those changes before implementing the next stage of Oslo? 
We see here the unfolding of a very unfortunate pattern, and I would suggest that at his core, Rabin seemed to know better.
I did not lead off with news about terror attacks today.  But this does not mean they have ceased. They have diminished in frequency, but have not halted.  Security officials are warning us the attacks may continue for some while yet.
Yesterday morning, a terrorist seriously wounded a soldier in Kiryat Arba, right outside Hevron. He was then shot dead.
In the afternoon, a terrorist at the Machpela was thwarted in his attempt to knife a soldier.
In Jerusalem, thank Heaven, it has been quiet for a couple of days.
Speaking of Jerusalem, at the Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said something about looking into revoking Jerusalem residency for whole Arab neighborhoods, which would mean some 80,000 or more people. This is different from from revoking it for those who commit or attempt to commit terror acts, and for their families.  While the latter is a very good move, moving on the larger proposal would be highly problematic.
While at first blush it might seem good, there is reason to be wary with regard to removing residency permits for whole neighborhoods. Right wing members of the government reacted with alarm, fearing that what Netanyahu intended was to lop off these neighborhood and say they were now part of the PA – a dangerous process that would be the beginning of dividing Jerusalem.
I do not expect that what Netanyahu casually mentioned will come to pass, but I wanted to mention it here.  My speculation: Could he have floated this as a warning to those Arab residents who still entertain thoughts of committing terrorist acts?
In light of the current quiet in Jerusalem – may it continue! – I have decided to run “Jerusalem of Gold” – “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav”: my very favorite version with the late, great Ofra Haza. English subtitles and scenes of Yerushalayim included.
© 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, October 27, 2015 at 03:25PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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