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April 27, 2016: In the Midst of the Holiday

I am writing during Hol Hamoed – the semi-holiday, five days in duration, that falls between the two full holidays at either end of the Pesach week.  I want to touch a few bases here and will pick up again with postings next week.
Perhaps primary in my motivation for posting now is my desire to call your attention to San Remo Day, which fell on Monday, April 25th.  This day marks the passing of the San Remo Resolution at the San Remo Conference, attended by the allied victors of WWI. It set the stage for the Mandate for Palestine, subsequently passed by the League of Nations, which allocated to the Jewish people all of Palestine as a Jewish homeland. This provided the basis in international law for the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
Jews have forgotten this day, and we need to remember it, and our rights, once again.
Learn more:
Here you see a great cartoon strip by Shlomi Charka, commissioned by the Legal Grounds Campaign for this day.  Feel free to share it broadly.

San Remo

You can also see it larger scale, here:

In my last posting, I wrote that the PA’s Abbas was about to go to the UN to promote a resolution demanding that Israel withdraw from Judea and Samaria.  But he backtracked on this because on Thursday France announced that a conference would be convened on May 30 to plan ways to push Israel and the PA back to the negotiating table.  This would be a preliminary conference – hosted by France and attended by 20 nations but including neither Israel nor the PA – to prepare for an international summit in the second half of 2016 that would include Israel and the PA.
Obtrusive fools, one and all – but beginning with France.  Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who made the announcement, said (emphasis added):
There is no other solution to the conflict than establishing two states, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, living side by side in peace and safety with Jerusalem as a shared capital.

“We cannot do nothing.  We have to act before it is too late.

“In Israel, the government is more and more ambiguous on the issue of a two-state solution and the Palestinians are more and more divided. We have to explain to the Israelis that settlement activity is a dangerous process and that it puts their own security in danger.
“I am not naïve, I am perfectly sincere. There is no alternative – the other option is fatalism and I reject that.”
THEY have to explain to US what is in our best interest??  Were the French open to reason, and to an honest examination of our recent history, and not sucking up to the growing numbers of restive Muslims within their borders, I would suggest explaining to them that relinquishing Judea and Samaria is precisely what would be a “dangerous process.” 
But, as it is...
The fact of the matter is that there are a good number of other solutions, none of which has been adequately examined because the world is so set on giving the Palestinian Arabs a state. 
It is time for the international community to internalize the fact that we are not relinquishing half of Jerusalem either.  In any event, dividing the city – in which Jewish and Arab neighborhoods are intermeshed - absolutely would not work. 
“Dividing Jerusalem,” “two states living side by side in peace,” and all the rest of the facile phrases we hear repeated constantly are merely politically correct buzzwords that pass for diplomatic thought in a world that has abandoned reason.  Phooey. 
I’ll come back to examining some of these issues in greater length.
Abbas figured his best bet was to support the French endeavor and not work at cross purposes to it.  However, a reversal of his stated commitment to go to the Security Council brought him criticism in several Palestinian Arab quarters.  Many are reluctant to rely upon the French and eager to push ahead on their own.  What is more, Abbas’s turn-about,  accompanied by conflicting statements, was embarrassing to them.
See him here, bestowing upon French president Francois Hollande a look that seems akin to adoration: 

French President Francois Hollande and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas

Credit: Flash90
Abbas was in Germany last week, and during an interview with Der Spiegel, proclaimed:

"Our security forces are working very efficiently to prevent terror...Our security cooperation with Israel is functioning well. Hamas is trying to sabotage things, but we have the situation under control."  (Emphasis added),7340,L-4794690,00.html
What infuriates here is that the international community cuts him unending slack, and never calls him on his inconsistencies. No one points out that just days prior to this interview the PA was making statements about cutting all security cooperation with Israel, and denying Israel the right to even enter Area A for security purposes. Hey!  Whatever works for him, depending on the context, is just fine.  Right?
Needless to say, Hamas and other Palestinian Arab factions were less than pleased with this statement – which denies all PA association with the “resistance,” i.e., with the terrorism that has been unleashed on Israel (in good part by Abbas). 
At any rate, the whole issue of Israel no longer going into Area A, with all security cooperation with the PA terminated, seems to have fizzled out.
Recently, I suggested that I might soon be banging my head against the wall because of a reported proposal from the Israeli side that all security operations in Area A be turned over exclusively to the PA.
What seems painfully clear to me at this point is that this proposal was advanced by certain left-leaning members of the military (an anomaly for me) and not by the government – not by our prime minister nor the Cabinet.
Last Wednesday, Netanyahu, following a Cabinet meeting, stated (emphasis added) that the IDF would maintain the right to operate in Area A according to “operational needs.”

There is no other deal with the Palestinians.”

I have enough information to believe this is on the level.  It is possible to envision a situation in which we might go in less than we have been doing, depending on a variety of conditions. But there is no way in which we will relinquish the right to go in and instead rely exclusively on PA security.

Just a day before the Pesach holiday was to begin last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu took a lightning trip to Moscow to confer once more with Putin.  (Picture below is from a recent meeting.)
While the prime minister clarified to Putin the fact that withdrawal from the Golan Heights is a red line for Israel (a statement to which Putin reportedly did not respond), the major focus of this brief meeting was enhanced coordination so that no incident inadvertently evolves from Israeli defensive actions.

Said Netanyahu, following the meeting:

“I finished a very important meeting with President Putin - very important for the security of Israel.

“Putin suggested that the [Israeli] Air Force commander [Gen. Amir Eshel] and my military [advisor, Brigadier General Eliezer Toledano] meet with his defense minister, and they went out there and discussed constructive cooperation between our armies on several issues that were raised.

“...our freedom of operation is unharmed. But if you’re in a situation of friction, time after time after another time, you can find yourself in a situation in which things happen that afterwards harm the freedom of operation. There is no problem now, but the friction demands coordination; I acted so that we can continue to act as we have acted.”

It was only after this meeting that news broke regarding a potential incident that had developed when a Russian jet was scrambled in response to the presence at the Syrian border of an Israeli jet.
It would seem that at this point top Israeli military brass and the prime minister recognized that refinement of Israeli-Russian military coordination was in order.
Following this came a report that Putin has expressed an interest in participating in the development of Israel’s Leviathan gas reservoir.  Issues are enormously complex:
Before Pesach I reported on the major terror attack that blew up two buses.  It took time to make the determination, because there was difficulty in identifying the suspected terrorist, as he was unconscious.  But ultimately the victim who had been most seriously injured because of his proximity to the bomb – Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour - was positively identified as the terrorist who had wounded 15 people with a bomb loaded with shrapnel.  He himself has since died.
Abu Srour, 19, was from the village of Al-Aida adjacent to Bethlehem in Judea.  Hamas claimed him as one of theirs.
A few additional points about this situation are important to note here:
His family claimed innocence: they didn’t know a thing about his Hamas involvement. They persisted in declaring themselves innocent of what he planned to do, apparently with straight faces, even though his mother Um Ahmad – an Arabic teacher in a Bethlehem school – “released a picture of him wearing a Hamas scarf after the attack, saying he asked her to distribute the image after his death.” 
(I try my best to report the news.  I do not claim to make sense of it.)
His father said Israelis were responsible for what his son did, because “this generation has no future, no work.”  But his father also let it be known that theirs was a family of wealth, and his son had his own car. “You Jews need to understand something: Abd al-Hamid didn't come from a poor family. He came from a wealthy family, in a good economic situation, he had a car of his own. [It's a] family with properties and funds."
According to journalist Avi Issacharoff, the hometown of the bus bomber...”was filled with posters and pictures of the terrorist praising him as a ‘martyr.’ In the posters, he was seen pictured in an expensive Armani shirt.”
So it’s radical ideology, folks.  Not despair nor hopelessness. And it’s pervasive:  When Hamas claimed the terrorist as one of theirs, “hundreds of youths in Al-Aida took to the streets in cries of joy and a demonstration of support for Hamas, even as elderly women threw candies at them.”
“Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh even called Abu Srour's family from Gaza, and his words were broadcast live at the mourner's tent.”
None of this can be taken lightly. There are multiple lessons to be learned here.
We are grateful that – so far – the Pesach holiday has been quiet.  This is because of the diligence of our security forces, which foiled at least one major planned terror attack.  We pray that this quiet continues.  Israelis are out during this Hol Hamoed period by the tens of thousands – in Jerusalem’s Old City and at the Kotel, in parks and zoos, along streams and in woodlands, at the beaches, along the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret – hiking, camping, swimming and enjoying nature in Israeli fashion.  Sometimes hiking means hiking in the water (see picture) – great fun.

The Zaki trail goes from shallow water to deep pools

Credit: Israel travel secrets
When next I write, I want to look at the volatile situation on the Temple Mount in some detail.  It’s increasingly worrisome.
And there are, of course, a dozen other topics, at least, to look at.
Here I want to leave off... turning my attention once again to my family, and the celebration of Pesach.  It’s a very beautiful time here in Israel, with flowers, many fragrant, in great abundance.  May you all continue to enjoy your holiday.
At the end of the seder, we sing “LeShana Haba’a BeYerushalayim” – Next Year in Jerusalem - which I humbly suggest should be taken seriously by all Jews today. 
Here, sung by the late, great Shlomo Carlebach:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 07:29AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 20, 2016: Redemption!

That, in the end, is what Pesach – which begins Friday night - is about for the Jewish people.
We talk about Pesach as Chag Ha’matzot (the festival of matza) and Chag Ha’aviv (the spring festival); it is all of this, as well as being the festival of freedom (Zeman Heruteinu). But first it is about remembering that the Almighty took us out from Egypt with a strong hand. 
We were, without a question, freed of forced labor and of the burden of being in Egypt. But that is just the beginning. We were redeemed – which means brought back to God, who claimed us as His people, and gave us Torah.
And lastly, which is a part of the redemption, we were brought to the land that had been given to our ancestors as an inheritance.  Though some Jews try mightily to to do this today, there really is no way to separate spiritual redemption from Israel.
I write of this now because – in these terrible times - we so badly need to keep our eye on our redemption.  We are God’s people. We must believe it, and act as if it is so.
Our redemption is, of course, incomplete.  It is a process.  The hope is never to be abandoned, but rather, to be strengthened in every generation.
I think Pesach is also about the miraculous. Certainly our being brought out of Egypt was a miracle. 
Today, we can look around and know that the continued existence of Jews as a people is a miracle. Just as the founding of modern Israel – which persists and succeeds unbelievably – is a miracle.  If we but have eyes to see.
This is what Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz says about Pesach and redemption:

“Pesach - the Hebrew name for Passover-- comes from the Hebrew root PSH which means to skip over, to pass over. It appears first in the context of the ten plagues, in which God skipped over the homes of the Israelites while the rest of Egypt suffered.

“On a deeper, more fundamental level, the Passover festival is based on this idea of passing or skipping over the regular order of things. The Jews did not leave Egypt as part of an evolutionary process. Their departure was a leap, a shortcut. While the exodus was a move from slavery to freedom – a practical, political situation – it was also a transition from oppression to redemption. From beginning to end, the Passover redemption is a leap over an orderly, consistent historical course into a new, different and better state, and into a much higher level of existence.” (emphasis added)

Is not the leap over an orderly, consistent historical course a miracle?


Credit: Dr. Lidia Kozenitzky/ Wiki Commons
Being mindful of God’s redemption, and of the miracles and the promise of what is yet to come, gives us strength to continue.
We see injustices and inversions of truth and decency that, if we were to allow them to fill our hearts, would destroy us.  But they will not.
It is with incredible sadness that I recognize the growing alienation from Israel and traditional Jewish values of many young Jews in America, who see themselves as progressives who are able to read out Israel as a core value – and manage to convince themselves that doing this brings them to a higher moral plan, to boot. 
And it is with unending disgust that I see how many in the world respond to Israel:
Our prime minster let it be known this week that Israel will not relinquish the Golan Heights. Historically connected to the Jewish people, it is now an area - developed peacefully for almost 50 years - that is critical to Israeli security.  But world leaders - choosing to be oblivious both to the horrendous security implications of Israel surrendering the Heights and to the fact that there is no more Syria, but only a number of battling factions that would all like to claim the Heights - chastised Netanyahu, telling him this is not Israeli land. The EU led the way here.
On Monday, a terrorist in Jerusalem set two buses on fire by exploding an incendiary device – injuring over 20 people.  Just hours later, the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, addressed a JStreet Conference, saving his harshest criticism for Israel.  Lovely. Whatever we have done in the way of concessions, expressions of good will, has not been enough for him or for his boss, Obama, he told the crowd.  No surprise here.  He said that sometimes the Obama administration has “overwhelming frustration” with Israel’s leaders, who are taking Israel in “the wrong direction.” 
It never is enough: that is the lesson yet to be learned. 
As to that terrorist, Biden said he was “misguided.”
Misguided??  There are no words.     

Credit: zazzle
And the UN?  Its anti-Israel bias is so overwhelming that it is beyond beyond.
The latest outrageous move concerns UNESCO, which in a recent resolution referred to the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – only as Haram Al-Sharif, as the Muslims refer to it, thereby reading out the Jewish connection to the site.  The resolution referred to Jews who visit the Mount as “right wing extremists.”
A battle is growing over Jewish rights to the Mount. Jordan – which has day to day responsibility for the site - was supposed to install cameras to track violence there. But it has abandoned these plans in the face of objections by the Palestinian Arabs, who obviously do not wish to be exposed.  Netanyahu has said that Israel, in favor of transparency, still supports the use of those cameras.
So, we have our work cut out for us. Each and every one of us. On many of these topics I refer to here, I will be writing much more in days and weeks ahead.
The flip side of the above is the way that Israel continues to thrive, despite the problems.
The great majority of Israel’s citizen’s want to be here. In polls, they express a high degree of happiness, because they have a sense of purpose.  Of the 28 nations in the OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ), Israel has the lowest rate of suicide. 
We have the most moral army in the world, barring none. Do not ever be fooled that it otherwise.
And Jews here make babies – our ultimate expression of hope for the future – as Jews in galut (diaspora) do not. We embrace our children and celebrate them.
Hope is implicit, as well, in the marvels of Israel’s medical and technological advances. 
And in the way that little Israel rushes to help other nations in times of crisis, and offers assistance for their on-going struggles – whether with terrorism or drought or disease.  We truly are “Or l’goyim” – a light unto the nations, who more and more actually admit they need us and appreciate what we do (OK, not the US or the EU, but others). 
And in the shifting relationship we have with some Muslim/Arab countries.
Yes, miracles.
I often say in my postings that there is more going on than I can write about.  Nowhere, my friends, is this more true than with regard to our accomplishments and achievements and good deeds.
So we hold our heads high, and maintain proportion and the long view.  And fight like crazy on behalf of Israel. With contempt for the way the world behaves, but without discouragement.
And now, Pesach approaches and I turn my attention away from these postings for a bit.
Attention I routinely devote to my computer will be devoted instead to my family, and to my 12 grandchildren, sabras and Zionists all, who are my own greatest blessing.  I will post infrequently, if at all, over Pesach.
To each and every one I wish a Chag Pesach Kasher v’Sameach!  May you be uplifted and strengthened by the holiday. 

Credit: dreamstime
I posted a beautiful version of Yehi She’amda recently and said I would repeat it before Pesach.  I do provide Yehi She’amda here, but yet another version, I think even more beautiful.  This one, as the other, is using the music and arrangement of Yonaton Razel.  Don’t miss this!  IDF Cantor Shai Abramson and Cantor Michael Azogui (who is new to me and fantastic here).
Vehi She’amada is from the Haggadah.  It offers us an eternal promise:
“And this is that which sustained our fathers and us.
“That is is not one alone that stood up against us to destroy us.
“But that in every generation there are those standing up against us to destroy us.
“But the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hand
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 04:35PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 14, 2016: Where Are We All Going, Part 2

Even as I prepare for Pesach, I want to continue reporting on some of the major issues that are confronting us.  “Some,” as the list of issues is overwhelming.  There is good news regarding Israeli defense capacity, and (at least in some quarters) determination to stand strong.
Every year, the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism  - established by Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz as an “expression of support for people who put Zionism into action” - is awarded to Israeli citizens who have addressed challenges facing modern Zionism in spheres such as education, research, settlement, culture and security.The annual prize totals $100,000.

The ceremony for the awards will be held on June 6, in a ceremony at Emek Tzurim National Park in Jerusalem. But the three recipients for 2016-5776 have already been announced, and these “Lions of Zion” most certainly merit mention:
Rabbi Benny Elon

Educator, former minister, a man of vision and deed who continues to strengthen Jewish settlement in and around united Jerusalem, and a trailblazer in garnering international diplomatic support for Israel


Credit: Ariel Jerozolimski
Yehuda Harel
Former Knesset member, the driving force behind settlement on the Golan Heights, who defended and preserved the integrity of the Golan as part of the State of Israel 

Credit: ArielZellman
Caroline Glick
Journalist, senior editor and columnist, founder of the satirical website Latma and active in public advocacy for Israel


Credit: savethewest
It is not only fitting that these three deserving individuals should be honored: The hope is that they will serve as inspiration for many others!
Inbal Kreiss, Deputy General Manager of the Israel Aircraft Industry’s Systems Missiles & Space Division, spoke on Saturday in Beersheva about Israeli defense capabilities.
We are developing some of the the most advanced systems designed to give the fullest and most hermetic protection possible,” she said. (Emphasis added)
As to Netanyahu’s concerns about a nuclear Iran, she said he can count to one before going to sleep each night.  It is the Iranians who “should be worried,” she suggested.
Kreiss, an engineer, heads the development of the Arrow Three, which is designed to “shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere, intercepting the weapons and their nuclear, biological or chemical warheads close to their launch sites.
“In December, Israel conducted its first successful test firing of the Arrow 3, in what the Defense Ministry called a ‘major milestone’ in Israeli missile defense technology.”

Credit: defense-update


A conference of Israeli Jordan Valley farmers was held last Wednesday, attended by a number of representatives of European parties. It was to them that head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council David Elhayani (pictured) spoke:

“They [the European Commission] are demanding that we [Israeli farmers of the region] label agricultural produce. I want to say to everyone who seeks to harm us: Your hope will not be realized….We have no intention of doing what you ask. We will not label our agricultural produce. We are determined to fight this phenomenon and to struggle against this unethical and discriminatory [demand] that has remnants of a dark time.” (Emphasis added)

Credit: Times of Israel



A diplomatic event that took place recently has created quite a stir here:

Just over a week ago, the Saudi king, Salmon, went to Cairo to confer with Egyptian President Sisi.  This meeting was the culmination of 11 years of meetings with regard to demarcation of the maritime boundary between the two states. 

Egyptian President and Saudi King meet in Cairo (Photo: Reuters) 

Credit: Reuters

Subsequently it was announced that the demarcation in the Straits of Tiran would put the islands of Tiran and Sanifir – at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba – in Saudi waters.

Tiran and Sanafir Islands

Credit: BESA Center

Originally, the two islands had belonged to the Saudis, but were transferred to Egypt in 1950.  When Egypt’s President Gamel Abdel Nasser, controlling the area via the islands, moved in 1967 to block the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, it became the casus belli of the Six Day War.  Movement of ships to and from Eilat, at the southern tip of Israel, was and is essential for Israeli commerce.  With victory in 1967, Israel took control of the islands – turning them back to Egypt with the 1979 peace treaty.  Now the islands will again be in Saudi hands.


Israel is formally at peace with Egypt, but this is not the case with Saudi Arabia – and more than a bit of anxiety was generated by the prospect of the Saudis blocking Israel once again in the Straits of Tiran. (See photo below.)  Needless to say, this situation has generated a flurry of news reports and analyses.

However, what became apparent, after the announcement about the maritime demarcation had been made, is that Israel had been notified in writing weeks before this announcement was public and had consented to this arrangement in writing.

What is more, the Saudis committed to honoring the terms of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty:

“Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in an interview that his country would honor the Israel-Egypt peace treaty’s terms as regards the islands. Saudi Arabia won’t negotiate with Israel about the islands, he said, since ‘the commitments that Egypt approved [in the peace treaty] we are also committed to, including the stationing of an international force on the islands. We looked into the matter and we know our legal position. We are committed to what Egypt committed to before the international community.’

“But according to Israeli Defense Minister Ya’alon, the coordination with Israel went further. Saudi Arabia agreed to ensure free shipping for all parties through the straits.”  (Emphasis added)

The Red Sea islands of Tiran, in the foreground, and Sanafir, in the background, sit at the the Strait of Tiran between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images, via JTA)

Credit: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images, via JTA


The Saudis are not yet in full and open diplomatic relations with Israel, and take pains to make this point. But they have moved light years from where they were, and are on the way. It goes without saying that quiet communication is on-going and that at a significant level there has been an Egyptian-Israeli-Saudi understanding that simply could not have happened a few years ago.

As Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman and Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum - in a BESA paper entitled, “Sailing Through the Straits” - observe, what is happening here is “a welcome ray of light, demonstrating the benefits of cooperation and coordination in a region beset by so much violence.”

Lerman and Teitelbaum further comment that:

“...the restoration of sovereignty [over the islands] serves to bolster the Saudi commitment to Egyptian stability – which goes a long way towards explaining the rage expressed by the Muslim Brotherhood at this breach of Egypt's ‘national rights.’ With the need to confront Iran high above all other considerations in the Saudi and Egyptian national security playbook – and in Israel’s – any major step that helps bring together the ‘camp of stability’ in the region under joint Egyptian-Saudi leadership will also serve Israel’s interests.”

Elsewhere it was noted that an infusion of Saudi funds into Egypt accompanied this deal, and this is one factor in stabilizing Egypt. 


The transfer of sovereignty is not immediate, but some years down the road.  Ultimately, it was agreed between Cairo and Riyadh, a long bridge would be built connecting Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai with the Arabian peninsula.


Last week it emerged that plans being cobbled together by the US, Russia and other major parties for a peace agreement in Syria was likely to specify that all of the Golan Heights is Syrian land.  This enraged the Israeli government.  Israel took two-thirds of the Golan in 1967, and in 1981 extended Israeli law to the area, which is tantamount to annexation (although that term is not used).  The prospect of elements in Syria, or the government of Assad, gaining control of the heights that overlook the Kinneret and the Galil is absolutely a recipe for disaster.

Netanyahu has already registered distress about this with Kerry and will be raising the issue with Putin shortly.


Yesterday Netanyahu convened a first-ever symbolic meeting of the Cabinet on the Heights – in the community of Ma’aleh Gamla, ”next to an archaeological site where Jewish rebels stood off against Roman soldiers nearly 2,000 years ago.”

The prime minister said he had told Kerry “that Israel does not oppose current efforts to reach a political agreement to end the Syrian civil war, but that Israel’s boundary line with the country will not change.”

“’I convened this celebratory meeting in the Golan Heights (see photo below) to send a clear message: The Golan will always remain in Israel’s hands. Israel will never withdraw from the Golan Heights.’

“The prime minister told the top US diplomat that Jerusalem would not oppose a peace agreement for Syria, ‘on the condition that it doesn’t come at the cost of Israel’s security...i.e. that at the end of the day, the forces of Iran, Hezbollah and Daesh will be removed from Syrian soil.’

“’In the stormy region around us, Israel is the stabilizing factor; Israel is the solution, not the problem.’” (All emphasis added)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu poses for a group picture with his government at the weekly cabinet meeting, held in the Golan Heights on April 17, 2016. (Effi Sharir/POOL)

Credit; Effi Sharir/POOL   

The prime minister also made reference to the fact that this was a Jewish area in ancient times, which the archeological remains of many synagogues attests to.


It is essential, of course, that our government make very clear what our position is with regard to retaining the Golan. But, having reported now on a possible “peace agreement” in Syria, I confess quite candidly that I not only see this as unlikely, I am not sure I even know what they are talking about.  There is a confusing array of factions to be dealt with.

Just three days ago, Jonathan Spyer, whom I consider to be a very astute observer of the situation in Syria, wrote, in “Ready for the Storm” (emphasis added):

The fragile cease-fire declared in Syria on February 27 between regime and rebel forces is in the process of crumbling. Assad’s forces have launched an offensive across southern Aleppo province. Fighting is also taking place in Homs and northwest Hama provinces and east of Damascus. There are reports of regime forces massing for an assault on rebel-controlled eastern Aleppo city.

The cease-fire, in any case, applied to only one of the many conflicts taking place in Syria. It did not extend to the war between Islamic State and the Western-supported, Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces. It did not include the fight between Islamic State and other rebel and Sunni Islamist groups. Nor did it apply to the intermittent fighting between the Kurdish YPG and the rebels, or the Kurds and the regime.”

“...At present, the map of clashing forces in this area is complex.

“In terms of who controls what, the non-Islamic State rebels control the greater part of the area immediately adjoining the Israeli-controlled Golan. But both the regime and Islamic State are also present in the area. Regime forces control a small enclave at the northern edge of the borderline around the town of Beit Jinn. Further south, regime-supporting forces control the Druse village of Khader, just east of Quneitra.“An Islamic State franchise, the Shuhada al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs’) Brigade, meanwhile, holds an area at the southern edge of the borderline, from the town of Tasil down to the Jordanian border.

“Further east, the regime late last year succeeded in cutting and holding a line between rebel forces in Deraa province, and this division of forces remains....”

From this, a peace agreement can be forged?


Spyer looks at Israel’s diligent attempts both to stay out of the war and to ensure that the war does not creep down across the border.  Among the three main groups of fighting forces – the Assad regime and Iranian elements; Islamic State associated forces; and rebel forces both Islamist and not – “Israel has no friends.”  But Israel prefers that the rebels remain dominant in the areas adjacent to the Golan. It is important that the Iranians not develop a platform in the area from which to attack northern Israeli communities.

“ additional consideration exists. The Iranians want to foment renewed insurgency in the West Bank against Israel. Achieving a capacity to transfer weapons to that area via Jordan forms an essential element of that strategy. In turn, controlling the area adjoining the Syrian-Jordanian border in Deraa province is crucial for the realization of this plan.”

It is a joint Jordanian-Israeli goal that a carefully selected and supported rebel presence remain at the Jordanian border as a buffer.

Concludes Spyer:

“Since the collapse of the cease-fire indicates that these storms appear nowhere close to exhaustion, the efforts [by Israel] to ensure their containment through both acknowledged and unacknowledged means are likely to continue.”


Spyer speaks of storms to our north and east but there are the winds of war blowing from Gaza as well. 

Just today, there was a report of a Hamas tunnel that was discovered some 35 meters underground and “tens of meters” inside of Israel.  “The newly found tunnel was a particularly large and complex one; its route stretched along the eastern sector of Gaza all the way to southern Gaza, and crossed onto the Israeli side.”  Information on the precise route of the tunnel – which according to one source opened up near a farming community - and the means used to neutralize it are both under gag order.

This is big news, not only because it is the first tunnel uncovered in Israel since the war in 2014, but because Netanyahu has announced that the discovery was possible because of “a global breakthrough in the ability to locate tunnels."

IDF machinery searching for tunnels

Credit: IDF Spokesperson

The working assumption is that there are others yet to be uncovered, in particular one very large one that the IDF had reported it had intelligence about many weeks ago.  One news broadcast today hinted that the equipment had other (non-specified) uses as well.


There have been multiple incidents reported over the past weeks and months of tunnel construction going on inside of Gaza, with work accidents and at least 11 major collapses that have killed workers – some 20 in all. 

Speculation is that Israel may be somehow sabotaging this work.  I cannot speak to this except to say that these accidents seem to be a new phenomenon.


At this point, Israel is blocking all construction materials that can be diverted to tunnel construction from entering Gaza.


Our preparations for war with Hamas – which is fairly inevitable, although we cannot predict when it will occur – continue with great diligence.  At least one analyst has speculated that it might come sooner than Hamas had planned, because if we have a way now to uncover their tunnels, they should use them when they still can.

What I am reading with some consistency are reports of our greatly enhanced intelligence in terms of what’s going on in Gaza, and our more focused preparations, based on the experiences of the 2014 war. 

But there are also drills, such as the large one that took place last week.

There have been, as well, a series of incursions by Israel some meters into the Gaza strip, with bulldozers, in order to level the land.  This makes surprise attacks less likely and I imagine would also facilitate speedy entry into Gaza with large numbers of military vehicles.

Credit: Ma’an


“A senior IDF officer told reporters [last] Thursday that Hamas is amassing fighters and materiel at a ‘surprisingly’ quick pace in Gaza but that the terror group does not appear to be prepared for renewed direct conflict with Israel in the near future.

“He stressed that the terrorist organization would not again drag Israel into a war, and that any future conflict would be one undertaken at the initiative of the Jewish state.”

Let us hope so!


As I progress in my Pesach preparations, I truly did not want to have to take time for banging my head against the wall.  It’s so exhausting. But, alas, you may yet hear the thumping of my head.  You may even feel inclined to bang your own heads against the wall. Consider (emphasis added):

An agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to cease security cooperation in Judea and Samaria’s Area A may be imminent, a senior security official revealed to Army Radio Sunday.

The deal, which would be sealed ahead of the PA’s visit to the UN to push anti-Israel draft resolutions, would see the IDF pull out of the region after decades of cooperation – and be seen as a major Palestinian victory.

Under the terms of the agreement, if the PA security forces fail to suppress terrorist elements within its jurisdiction, the IDF would not be able to help them battle the threat.

“Complaints have been voiced against Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Chief Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai for downplaying the significance of the agreement.

“‘Where the Palestinians operate more, we will operate less,’ Mordechai stated, during a tour of the region last week.

The PA, however, views the deal as a cessation of any and all security cooperation with Israel.” They have been threatening to cease all cooperation for years, although some say this cooperation is crucial to preventing further escalation of terrorist violence.

“Mordecai faces criticism, as well, for downplaying the IDF’s role in quashing the most recent terror wave, while glorifying the relatively minor role of PA security forces in the issue.

“The deal remains to be sealed, and it is unclear whether it will require a formal vote from Israel’s security cabinet..

Other security officials defended Mordechai. ‘The goal is to calm the area,’ the official said, on condition of anonymity. ‘We do not have a problem with it being seen as an achievement for [Abbas].

“...The official further implied that those speaking against Mordechai ‘would prefer that Israel drown in rivers of blood instead of seeing the terrorism subside.’”

Credit: Piscan


Actually, this report has contradictions inherent within it.  If this horrendous agreement were to be sealed it is not altogether clear whether the IDF would be able to go into Area A in active pursuit of a terrorist, or if there were critical intelligence about an attack being planned.

When rumors about this surfaced a number of weeks ago, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot stated clearly that we might let the PA do more, but we would never relinquish our right to enter Area A for security purposes.  And now in this report, Gen. Mordechai is quoted as saying pretty much the same thing.  But this report also indicates that Israel would NOT be able to go in, to help suppress terror elements – which would be a truly bad situation.

Would there not be – should there not be - clarity on this issue?


Allow me to share a few salient points:

The IDF is in Area A every day (actually usually at night) for security operations.  We go in, and come out again – we are not stationed there.  This practice began during the second intifada, when the PA was not combatting terrorism in this area, ostensibly under its civil and military control, and has been sustained of necessity. 

There is no way in the world that the PA security forces can do what we have been doing, if we are out of the picture.

More significantly still – there is no motivation on the part of PA security forces to do what we have been doing. This is not only because the PA lacks – to put it mildly - an enduring desire to protect Israel from terrorism.  The Palestinian Arab culture is hamula (clan)-based.  If someone in the PA forces has a member of the same hamula who is a terrorist, Hamas or otherwise, he will not go after him.  There is a show sometimes of PA actions against terrorists, including Hamas terrorists. But this is an on-again, off-again sort of behavior, depending on political circumstances.

It would not take Hamas long to do the PA in, just as Hamas defeated Fatah in Gaza with ease nine years ago.  The PA has relied on the IDF to protect it against Hamas takeover in Judea and Samaria.  Without an IDF presence, either Hamas would take over, or there would be some kind of temporary arrangement between the PA and Hamas.  It seems fairly likely that there would be a change of some sort in the political configuration of the area. 

If the PA were to be directly threatened by Hamas, it might call for the quick return of the IDF (and perhaps this is what we would see).  Or, it might be taken down by Hamas, in which case the Oslo Accords would truly be at an end, and we would have to battle Hamas more directly and without pretense.  This is speculative at present, but certainly well within the realm of the possible, should this deal go through.


Many of my readers will have already deduced the great likelihood of a link between Abbas’s plans to go to the Security Council and this prospective deal.  We might call this a quid pro quo – giving Abbas something that makes the PA look good in return for his not pressing the issue of “settlements” at the UN, or presenting a somewhat less unpalatable proposal. Or we might, with greater honesty, refer to this as appeasement.

I found the comment by the unnamed “security official” who spoke about those who prefer to see Israel drowning in a river of blood particularly noxious.  In case he hasn’t noticed: it was Abbas, whose PA is now theoretically supposed to act against terrorism, who incited the terrorism in the first place.  Abbas has in recent days been talking “peace,” because for the moment it suits him to do so. But he could turn on a dime again.

And no, the goal is not simply “to calm the area,” at any cost, and for a short interval.  The goal is to retain strength – to have the ability to take out terror and exhibit strong deterrence power.


At any rate, the Shin Bet – headed by Yoram Cohen, pictured – has come out against this proposal, saying that it would make controlling terrorism more difficult.

ISA chief Yoram Cohen

Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90

A statement from the prime minister’s office also seemed to indicate that the IDF would continue to operate as necessary.

Perhaps this plan is the brainchild of just a handful of high-placed IDF officers and will never see the light of day.


Here we are, my friends, at the end of a posting that I already knew was very long – because there is so much to share. 

I was about to close, when terror struck here in Jerusalem: As evening approached, a device planted on a bus in south Jerusalem exploded.  The bus – which went up in flames -was empty, but a second bus – Egged #12 – was passing by as the explosion occurred and took the hit, also catching fire.  At least 16 people have been injured – one report says 22, two in critical condition.

One of the buses on fire (Photo: Yarden Laytner)

Credit: Yarden Laytner

Police originally called this a terror attack, and then backed off, saying the investigation was not complete. What reportedly gave them pause was the fact that the bomb exploded on an empty bus.  But who knows – the timer of the explosive device might have been off; it might have been set with the expectation that there would be people on the bus when it detonated. Egged asks, “What else could this be?” Indeed.

What clinched it for me was the testimony of the director of the emergency care unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where some of the wounded were brought:

Some of the victims’ wounds, he explained, were “from nails and bolts that penetrated their bodies. It gives the impression of wounds from a terror attack."

Ah yes.  I know of this from previous attacks years gone by. Those who perpetrate such attacks are purely evil.


There are two immediate speculations  with regard to the timing of this attack.  One is that it is only days before Pesach, and often terror strikes then. The other is that it followed the announcement of the Hamas tunnel that was uncovered.  It will become clear in due course.

I want to put this out, and hopefully will write once more before Pesach.


Perhaps this fits now:

Rabbi Lazer Brody playing a very calming flute:

Just close your eyes and listen.


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


Posted on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at 01:33PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 14, 2016: Where Are We All Going?

It’s a huge question with no easy answers. But this posting is going to start with the good stuff, which we find in some considerable measure here in Israel.
You have read numerous times about the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube.  We have just put out an Interim Report, describing our exciting programs.  It has been sent to supporters, and thus some of you may have already seen it.  But if you have not, I encourage you to do so, here:
If you would like this report in an email format, for sharing with others (which I encourage!), or have questions, or want more information, please contact me directly.
The fact that we have legal rights in Judea and Samaria and an organization fighting for those rights is no small matter.  Stand with us in this work, please!


New Wave Research recently conducted a poll of 11th and 12th grade Israeli high school student for Israel Hayom.  The results are marvelously encouraging (emphasis added):

Some 85% said they loved Israel, and 89% said they saw their future in Israel. The popularity of the Israel Defense Force was also evident: 88% said they planned on enlisting, and more than 50% said they believed the IDF was the most moral military. Some 65% endorsed the saying, "It is good to die for our country," attributed to Zionist icon Joseph Trumpeldor. Almost 60% said they subscribed to right-wing views, with 23% saying they were centrists. Only about 13% said they considered themselves left-wing.

What is behind Israeli youngsters' great love of their homeland? The respondents said the best thing about our country was the sense that we are one big family and our tendency to close ranks in times of crisis.”
This is our future.
On Monday, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled the Drone Dome. This is a system designed to detect and neutralize hostile drones“used by terrorists to perform aerial attacks, collect intelligence, and other intimidating activities.”

“Drone Dome has 360-degree circular coverage and is designed to detect, track and neutralize drones classified as threats flying in no-fly zones.” It has a very fast response time.

Drone Dome 

Courtesy Rafael
Just one more addition to our ever-growing arsenal of defensive equipment.
This is neat: A secret wedding was performed on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) recently.  It would have caused the Wakf no end of apoplexy had it been known. See details here:

Temple Mount

Credit: Temple Institute
Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, spoke about Israel when addressing a Gatestone Institute gathering in New York recently:
“I don’t believe there can be a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel wants to live in peace, but what the Arabs want is its annihilation.”
Kemp, referring to the Jewish State as “an outpost of strength,” said that the IDF had a “unique morality,” and that “when Israel fights, it stands in isolation.”
The colonel believes that Israel “should initiate an offensive strike on Iran, whose nuclear program it has the capability of delaying.”

Col. Richard Kemp, addressing the Gatestone Institute. Photo: Raymond Hamlin.

Credit: Raymond Hamlin
I found disturbing, however, Kemp’s comment on Minister of Defense Ya’alon’s and Chief of Staff Eizenkot’s condemnation of the solder who shot dead a subdued terrorist before the facts were known:  Their condemnation came, he said, out of their awareness of the “continual and unjust international pressure on Israel, no matter what it does.”
In fairness, perhaps he felt obliged to support top Israeli military leaders.  But there is a contradiction inherent in what he said.  If we are attacked no matter what we do, we should not be attempting to appease the ever-judgmental international community.  It’s a no-win situation in which we risk weakening ourselves.  I worry about this state of mind in Israel’s putative leaders.
No one realizes what is going on better than the soldier who did the shooting himself.  Indicted for manslaughter now, he recently said:
“If he [the terrorist] actually had a bomb belt and he detonated, what would have happened?  How many would have been killed?...
"Only because they're afraid maybe of the papers and what the world will say [they act] to clean the hands of the IDF, [and say] that the soldier didn't act properly." (Emphasis added)
Turkey, under the Islamic stewardship of Prime Minister Recep Rayyip Erdogan, is no friend to Israel.   

Turkish President Recep Rayyip Erdogan. Photo: Wikipedia.

Credit: Wikipedia
The cordial diplomatic relationship that existed between Israel and Turkey in prior days is not going to be restored under current conditions.  And yet, each nation has motivation for trying to re-establish ties.  Whenever I read about negotiations taking place, I become uneasy, lest our government concede matters that should not be conceded, and fall into a situation that might come to no good. 
Last week, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that the two countries were “finalizing rapprochement,” and I thought, “Uh oh.”
But earlier this week, a spokesman for the prime minister declared that there would not be a final rapprochement until Israel lifted the maritime blockade of Gaza.
Well then, as this is not about to happen, perhaps there is no need for immediate concern...
Mahmoud Abbas – as I had indicated recently – has switched tactics, in several respects. All of a sudden, he’s against violence, presenting to the world the face of the “good guy.” He is also attempting the international route once again:
It has been confirmed that he has circulated a draft resolution which reportedly condemns Israel’s construction in the “settlements” to some members of the Security Council.  His ultimate intention, according to some reports, is to convince the Security Council to set a three-year timetable for Israeli withdrawal from those “settlements.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response was that this resolution would make peace less likely:
"The Palestinians teach their children everyday that the settlements are Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre," said Netanyahu. "Abu Mazen’s [Abbas’s] actions will push peace talks further away. The only way to advance peace is through direct talks and Abu Mazen is hiding from that."
Abbas is currently on tour – to Turkey, France, Russia, Germany and the US - attempting to garner support for his resolution.  He apparently plans to be in NY (ostensibly for another reasons) when a session of the Security Council is scheduled - Friday, April 22, the eve of Pesach.  At that time, as I understand it, he plans to deliver a speech, following which, he would circulate the proposal.


Credit: Telegraph (UK)
Key here, my friends, is the position of the Obama administration, which has the ability to veto this resolution in the Security Council.  Representatives of the government have been playing it close to the chest, offering little in the way of indication as to what Obama might decide to do. There are reports that he might decide to abstain on the vote, but we do not really know yet.
Apparently, one reason US government spokespersons are reticent to discuss the matter is because there is no clarity on precisely what the resolution will say – they have been refusing to discuss ‘hypothetical” proposals still in draft form.
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman sort of/kind of brought a bit of clarity to the matter today.  He said that the door is “firmly shut” against any resolution the US considers biased against Israel.
Oh.  Although this is being interpreted as meaning the US will veto, what Toner said is not exactly the same as saying the US is opposed to addressing the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict via the UN rather than negotiations.  Now we just have to speculate on what Obama and Kerry would consider a biased resolution.
Alan Baker, International lawyer and Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, had an op-ed in yesterday’s JPost, called “The indecisive and confusing state of the Palestinian leadership.”
Suffice it to say that Baker writes that everyone is utterly confused by the Palestinian [Arab] leadership because of the mixed messages it is sending out.  According to him, the draft to the Security Council under discussion calls for renewed negotiations.
Maybe it’s so convoluted that it refers to negotiations and enforced withdrawal both, which would really make no sense.
I do not advocate cutting Obama any slack here – by all means possible the message should be conveyed to him that it is essential to veto this resolution.
But it is comforting to know that Baker, in an in-house JCPA interview, said that the resolution would not be binding on Israel in any event.  Should the Obama administration decide not to veto it:
The resolution will have no basic effect...If the resolution isn’t mandatory according to the seventh chapter of the UN Charter – and no Middle Eastern resolutions have been adopted according to the seventh chapter – it can’t lead to sanctions.” (Emphasis added)

Amb. Alan Baker. Photo: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs/Screenshot.

JCPA screenshot
If the above item is worrisome, the following is stomach-turning:
The Palestinian commission for Prisoners, the Palestinian Prisoners Club, and member of the Palestinian Legislature are launching a “world-wide campaign” to nominate Marwan Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Barghouti is a terrorist – a Fatah terrorist, it should be noted, from the Tanzim, Fatah’s so-called militant wing - who is sitting in Israeli prison, serving out five life sentences for terrorist murders.  And that’s just the acts they were able to nail him on – he orchestrated many more terror attacks and was a key instigator of the second intifada.
The Nobel Peace Prize??
Of course, Arafat, who was also a terrorist, received the prize, but that was ostensibly because he turned “peaceful” when he signed on to Oslo.  On what basis are they suggesting this low life should be nominated?  A massive campaign is said to be in the works, with the involvement of international media.
As I understand it, there is hope that if Barghouti’s release can be secured, the release of other terrorist murderers in Israeli prisons would not be far behind.  Apparently we’re holding a bunch of really great people in our prisons.
Avi Issacaroff, writing in the Times of Israel, presents a more troubling scenario regarding Barghouti:
A small group of people close to Marwan Barghouti has reached an agreement with Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership regarding a “comprehensive plan” to jointly campaign against the Israeli “occupation.”
“The plan includes unprecedented steps within the framework of what is dubbed ‘nonviolent resistance’...The goal is to force Israel out of all areas beyond the pre-1967 lines via a nonviolent intifada coordinated by a unified Palestinian leadership under Barghouti...”
Secret meetings have been held in recent months in which in which four “Fatah officials” - all considered senior members of the Tanzim during the 90s and three of whom are known to be personal friends of Barghouti – participated.  They have met with Hamas officials, including Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas politburo in Doha, Qatar.
The intention is to institute this plan after Abbas has left the scene: Barghouti would run for the PA presidency and everything would proceed under his leadership.  The Oslo Accords and all cooperation with Israel (notably security cooperation) would be cancelled.  There would then be only a “peaceful resistance” via such acts as blocking all roads in Judea and Samaria or destroying infrastructure in the communities of Judea and Samaria.  (This is peaceful?)


Marwan Barghouti never goes away. This is not the first time it has been proposed that he run for the PA presidency from his prison cell. What happens is that he is represented as a “hero” who has suffered at the hands of the Israelis while fighting the “occupation.” Black becomes white and white, black. It works because the international community is ready to accept that black is white, and white is black.

See here a picture of a mural that existed (I don’t believe it is there now) outside of Ramallah, representing Barghouti as the “Palestinian’s Mandela”:

File: A Palestinian child stands in front of a mural of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem. (Kobi Gideon/Flash 90)

Credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90

The assumption that Barghouti would win a PA presidential election (which might indeed be the case) perhaps tells us everything we need to know about the Palestinian Arab electorate. They have been conditioned by the PA leadership – first Arafat and now Abbas – to venerate terrorists, after all. 

I report this not to cause undue anxiety but rather to promote watchfulness.  We are reminded once again about Palestinian Arab deviousness, and, yes, ingenuity. Anything but a sincere effort to build a productive and genuinely peaceful state. 

This “plan” is full of holes, starting with the fact that it is predicated upon interparty cooperation – which historically never holds up. Sooner or later they are at each other.  We know that within Fatah itself there is dissention and division, and as it is, only four Fatah members have participated in the meetings. There are prominent members of Fatah who are eager to succeed Abbas.

In addition, there is some foolish assumption that the hands of Israeli security would be tied because the protests would be “peaceful.”  But if they imagine we would sit still while the infrastructure of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria was uprooted, they had best think again.


I have long been troubled by the fact that Barghouti has had too much prominence from within his prison cell.  He has given interviews to the media via his attorney, and at one point – do not believe that this is still permitted to him – used a cell phone.

What is required here is enormous stringency on the part of the Israeli government in terms of how this man is handled.  Bottom line: he is a murderer many times over, and sits in prison because he has been sentenced by a court; he should  never be released.


Reports are that terrorism is way down, and where terrorist acts are concerned, this is the case.  But I must mention that there are regular reports of planned attacked that were prevented or blocked because of good intelligence or swift action.  Today, two terror attacks – a knifing in Judea and an axing in the Old City of Jerusalem – were thwarted within minutes of each other.


We’ve looked at enough regarding “where we are all going” for one posting. The news does not stop, and the head begins to spin.

I close with this amusing item from an astute Elder of Ziyon:

“Hewlett Packard is one of the companies always targeted by Israel-haters, because it does business in Israel and for the IDF.

”In a new video showing off their high-tech military skills, masked Fatah terrorists are seen in a room using HP laptops.
“So what do self-respecting BDSers do when they find out that their freedom fighters are using the equipment that they demand everyone to boycott?”

Credit: Elder of Ziyon
Sim Shalom, with IDF Cantor Shai Abramson:
What better a prayer that the Almighty will establish peace, goodness, blessing, life, grace and mercy.


© 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, April 14, 2016 at 03:07PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 6, 2016: Fighting the Good Fight

When I placed the Legal Grounds cartoon in my last posting, I said I would be sharing more about the EU.  The cartoon was aimed at the distorted perspective of the EU, and it is just the beginning.
EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen consistently makes statements about the “fact” that, according to “international law,” Israel has no rights in Judea and Samaria.  Thus has Legal Grounds decided to invite him to participate in a debate with prestigious international lawyer Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, a member of our Legal Advisory Board, on the issue of Israel’s legal rights.  The invitation has been sent and we are waiting for the ambassador’s response.  

Lars Faaborg-Andersen

Credit: Yoni Kempinski
See more about the issues and what he has said, here:
I had written last, as well, about a drop in the incidence of terrorism here in Israel, and with the latest statistics out, the news is even better:
In March there was a total of six terrorism incidents (including shootings, stabbings, and vehicle rammings), compared to 56 in February.
According to an announcement by the Bank of Israel, Israel last year recorded stable economic growth of 2.5 percent and its lowest unemployment rate in three decades...”
Pictured is Governor of the Bank of Israel, Karnit Flug, at a press conference days ago.

Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem on March 31, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90
If the above is fairly amazing, in light of all that’s going on, what follows is perhaps even more so (emphasis added):
According to a Tourism Ministry official, last year saw no dip in tourism.  Uri Steinberg, the North American Israeli tourism commissioner, said that “2015 was the best year ever for tourism to Israel from North America and the first quarter of 2016 is up over 2015.”
Folks, if you haven’t visited Israel yet, you might think about scheduling a trip soon!
“[Ministry of Tourism Director-General Amir] Halevi also noted additional sources of growing tourism: China and India. In 2015, tourism from China to Israel grew 43 percent — to 50,000 visitors. The Tourism Ministry expects that number to double by 2018. Indian tourism rose 13 percent, with 40,000 tourists in 2015. The ministry foresees 80,000-100,000 Indian tourists visiting the country in 2018.”
A surprising and welcome turn of events, as well, near the border with Gaza, according to a JPost analysis:
”Once battered by Gazan rockets and shells, the southern border region is experiencing its quietest period in many years.

”Beneath the surface, the IDF is taking many steps, most of them covert, to prepare for any surprises Hamas may attempt to spring on the South. It appears as if these steps are contributing to the current calm, for now, by deterring Hamas from risking a massive Israeli response...
”On the civilian front, a blossoming is under way. The area has seen record numbers of new residents moving to villages and kibbutzim that were once considered war zones. Farmers work their lands right up to the Gaza border under the watchful eye of the IDF, and a recent festival in the area drew over 100,000 revelers...

”The IDF tries not to disrupt this normality with too heavy a presence, but it stealthily inserts its forces into areas that allow it to call upon speedy firepower in incidents.

”Nestled between trees in the birch forests of the area, Merkava tanks could lay in wait, out of view but not out of the minds of Hamas, which likely suspects their hidden presence, though not their precise locations. Further back, artillery lies ready to go into action at any time.

”On the border, Combat Intelligence units gather information 24 hours a day, feeding it to control centers. Radars and cameras feed the control rooms.

”The Northern Brigade maintains a large quantity of firepower at the ready, and often shifts them around to keep its cards close to its chest...
“The IDF remain on high, discreet alert, investigating every suspicious activity it detects, multiple times a day...”
How long this state of affairs will last is very difficult to predict, but it is certainly a blessing now.
French Minister of Health Marisol Touraine visited Israel last week to learn from Israeli medical expertise on treating victims of terror attacks.

Credit: lelynx
“Touraine also expressed her desire for greater cooperation between France and Israel, so that France can “’learn from the Israeli experience.’”
Last week, the Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington DC.
The subject under discussion – a very frightening one – was nuclear terrorism.  What this involves is most likely not a terror group stealing a nuclear weapon but rather acquiring radioactive material and using it in a terror attack:
Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister of Energy explained that many of the injuries from such an attack would result from crowd panic, and that it was important for world leaders to think proactively about how to minimize panic, and also to develop strong cyber defense for nuclear reactors. 
The concern is “radioactive materials stolen from nuclear reactors or from hospitals or from factories. Then if you take that and scatter it you can cause some serious harm. Israel is preparing for that scenario.”
Explained Steinitz, “Israel is one of the countries most prepared for scenarios of nuclear terrorism...On the whole we can sleep soundly, relatively speaking, definitely when compared to other nations."  (Emphasis added)

He told the security summit that Israel is prepared to help prevent the smuggling of radioactive materials to any state in the Middle East, even if that state does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz attends a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on July 27, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

I watched this process and found it maddening, but follow this story to the end for some tentatively good results (which surprised me):
In all, the PA (in part via the PA-controlled Jerusalem District Electricity Company) owes Israel some 1.7 billion shekel (about $450 million) for electricity supplied.  And there has been no genuine effort on the part of the vastly corrupt PA – which pays salaries to terrorists - to honor this debt.
Last week it was announced that starting Thursday, there would be a partial power cut to the PA city of Jericho, by the Israel Electric Company (IEC) with a warning that cuts to other cities would likely follow.
On Sunday came reports that full power had been restored to Jericho – actually within hours of when it had been cut off. The restoration of power was accompanied by a warning that cuts could happen again at any time.
This was pretty much my response:

Then came a report that there were IEC plans to cut power in “various districts” in Judea and Samaria over the next two weeks. On Monday it was Bethlehem.  Following that, Hevron, briefly.
That still felt inadequate. Brief outages, with power promptly restored, it seemed to me, would not secure debt satisfaction.  What seemed to me to make sense at some point is activation of a more basic rule of “no pay/no power.”  But of course there would be enormous international outrage against Israel for what would be called “collective punishment” and making poor Arabs in need suffer. Putting the onus on Israel and not the PA, as is the norm.  That is the bottom line here on why we walk carefully on issues such as this.  For my response simply see the illustration above.
But today some unexpected news broke:
The Israel Electric Company reached an agreement with the PA this morning.  The PA has agreed to pay 20 million shekels (roughly $5.3 million), a small percentage of the money due, now, in exchange for a cessation of the outages for a period of one week.  During that week, negotiators would work towards reaching a settlement on the rest of the money owed.  A settlement might mean a plan for paying it out, but it also might mean that a percentage of the debt would be forgiven with the remainder paid.  If no agreement is reached in a week, then power outages will resume.
This is interesting from a couple of perspectives.  First, the IEC has indicated that it can no longer absorb the debt, which tells us it was this contingency that motivated the series of power outages: The IEC did not go after the PA money until it had to.  Saying it can no longer “absorb” the debt means until now everyone who is paying for electricity has been carrying the PA, does it not? 
Then there is the fact that when pushed to the wall, the PA finds itself able to come up with some funds, funds which it never bothered to advance as a good faith effort to pay down its debt.  It takes advantage of the situation, and Israel’s reluctance to be tough, to the maximum.  Undoubtedly the PA was aware that the current situation had rendered the IEC more serious about demanding payment.
There is little more that needs to be said here, except to ponder whether anything has been learned.
Last Thursday, Mahmoud Abbas of the PA was interviewed by Ilana Dayan on Israel’s channel 2.  It was, all in all, an interview that was so disingenuous as to be nauseating.  Abbas has no trouble at all posturing and lying.  Having been directly accused by Netanyahu and others of being an inciter of terrorism - which he most certainly is, big time – he decided to suddenly play the role of peacemaker:
“I do not like to see Palestinian children take knives and stab Israelis,” he saddens me greatly. It is unacceptable...You cannot kill a human being, never. Human blood must not be spilled for any reason. I object to that, I want peace…”
This is the same man who said just months ago, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah.” (Emphasis added)
Perhaps the single most significant, albeit also disingenuous, statement of his interview – attempting to place the onus on our prime minster - was this:
“I still reach out to Mr. Netanyahu because I believe in peace. I believe that the Israeli people want peace and the Palestinian people want peace.”  If invited by Netanyahu to a meeting, he said, he would meet him “anytime and anyplace.”
Well, that was just too easy.  Said Netanyahu to reporters on Tuesday:
“A few days ago, on Israeli television, I heard president (sic) Abbas say that if I invite him to meet, he’ll come.  I’m inviting him again.  I’ve cleared my schedule this week. Any day he can come, I’ll be here.”
And now we have the PA backtrack (emphasis added):

“Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and Secretary General of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told ‘Voice of Palestine’ Radio that the Palestinians reject the notion of restarting the peace talks with Israel unconditionally...

’In case the meeting is held, Netanyahu should first announce an end of settlement, release prisoners arrested before signing Oslo peace accords in 1993 and recognize all the signed peace treaties between the two sides,’ said Erekat.

“He insisted that ‘If Netanyahu doesn't do this, there will be no resumption of negotiations...’”


I trust no one is surprised by this. 

Netanyahu was responding to a statement by Abbas, he was not suggesting formal peace negotiations begin.  What he did say is that the first item on the agenda would be ceasing Palestinian incitement against Israel. 


A brief note about calling Abbas “president”:  His term ran out in January of 2009 and no elections have been called since.  I refuse to call him by his expired title.
I will write about Duma as many times as it seems appropriate to do so.  Every time I write, I see yet another layer in this complex story.  There is, it seems to me, far more under the surface that we don’t know, than what is presented publicly – a scenario in which a “Jewish extremist” allegedly is responsible for the arson that killed three people in an Arab family in this village.
The latest news:
In a nighttime raid in the village of Duma on Sunday, the Shin Bet arrested Wissam Dawabsheh (alternately spelled Dawabsha), the brother of the woman who died in the arson.  He is suspected of having Hamas associations.
Do I know how this fits into this complex tale?  I do not. But I sure would like to.
For a variety of reasons, I have refrained from writing about the young soldier who shot dead a terrorist who had already been wounded and was lying on the ground.  That is, until now. 
You may well have read about him.  He insists he saw the terrorist, who was wearing a heavy coat on a warm day, move his hand, and believed he might have been about to detonate an explosive belt.  There are those who were present who corroborate this impression, and others who refute it.
The news today reveals that “an IDF platoon commander present at the scene of the Hebron shooting expressed concern that [the terrorist], though wounded, might have been wearing an explosives vest.”
This was major news because an IDF Appeals Court has ruled that the accused does not have to remain in prison, as demanded by the prosecution, but could be released to open detention on his base.   

IDF Hebron

Credit: Noam Amir
Appeals Court Judge Brig.-Gen. Doron Filis, wrote, “Even if the soldier made a mistake, a mistake regarding which he should have acted differently – to alert his commanders – to warn in a more accelerated fashion those nearby that they should move [rather than shooting the terrorist]...However the level of criminality of his actions would be much lower than how the prosecution has defined them.”
Filis is not the judge who will hear the case if the IDF prosecution charges the soldier with manslaughter, as expected. But his statement may, as the JPost indicates, “foreshadow” how the court that will hear the case might rule. 
What particularly enraged me, in the midst of all of this, was a statement made yesterday by Defense Minister Ya’alon: “Those who back the soldier don’t back our laws and values.”
Was he there? Does he know what happened?  Why does he not wait for the determination of the military court before making judgment? 
What particularly concerns me is that soldiers who are at risk may hesitate for fear of prosecution, and thus lose their lives. 
What I want to do here is share an incisive and deeply feeling article on the issue, “Soldiering on through tears,” by Ruthie Blum. 
“The soldier,” she writes, “is now serving as a symbol for all sides of the dilemma that our boys and girls must face as soon as they don the uniform.
She ends with, “Whatever the outcome of the soldier’s trial, which the facts of the case – not public opinion or political posturing – will determine, I will shed no tears for the dead terrorist and many for the soldier who put an end to his life.”
Her piece is well worth reading in its entirety.  It addresses the moral dilemmas faced by our young soldiers and the stringencies placed upon them by regulations: 

Credit: JPost
And I close, most appropriately, with the prayer for the soldiers of the IDF, with IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson and choir.
We must never forget that these are our young children and grandchildren we are speaking about in the IDF, who at a tender age put their lives on the line to keep us safe.
© 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, April 7, 2016 at 10:06AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 1, 2016: Help This Go Viral



The cartoon you see above is from the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube.  I ask please that you put this on your Facebook pages and on your websites, and send this out to everyone you can.  We are eager to have this go viral! 

The cartoon can also be seen on our Facebook page:

The issue is clear: Far too much attention is being paid by the EU to the issue of Israeli “settlements” when terrorism should have absolute precedence.  I will be following with more on EU positions on Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria, with which Legal Grounds takes serious exception.
We need good news sooo badly.  Let’s start with this video.  As grim as the situation is, it provides a bit of hope:
The day after the terror attack in Brussels, “people gathered in Place de La Bourse and lit candles amid spontaneous singing and guitar...Locals and foreigners filled part of the square with candles and flags from dozens of countries.

Amid the display of national and international unity, a few people went out of their way to exclude Israel...
”In an incident Sunday around noon, locals intervened. A crowd confronted a man who, after praying in Arabic, shouted “Palestine” and anti-Israel slogans — calling Israel a “terrorist state.” The incident was caught on video.

”The white-haired man, wearing a head covering favored by North African Muslims, stepped on other flags and candles in an effort to reach an Israeli flag located near the center of the memorial site. Dozens of Belgians began booing him.

”Several shouted in Flemish and French: ‘Shameful!’ Others shouted in French: ‘Everyone!’ in a call for others to join the booing.

”When the man grabbed the Israeli flag, another man shoved him to the ground and wrestled it from his hands amid applause from onlookers. Two police officers made their way to the scene, and after a short exchange, escorted the shouting man away from the memorial. When the man again shouted in Arabic, one of the officers shoved him.”

See it happen here:
When Israel named Dani Dayan as ambassador to Brazil, the Brazilian government balked because of his “settlement” ties (he had been head of the Yesha Council).  For many weeks, the Israeli government held tight on that appointment.  But now there has been a reversal, and the outcome is most welcome: Dayan will become the Consul General in New York this summer.

Dani Dayan (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Credit: Gil Yonhanan
At an anti-BDS conference on Monday, Dayan said, “Those who don't want me in Brasilia, will get me in the capital of the world and to me that is a victory.  I believe I can revolutionize Israeli public relations in the US, whose beating heart is in New York." (Emphasis added),7340,L-4784038,00.html
More power to him!
Before his posting had been announced, Dayan referred to JStreet as “un-Jewish.”  Now he concedes that this was not a “diplomatic” comment, but he did not, I notice, say his assessment was in error.  JStreet is somewhat less than pleased with his appointment.
A senior 80-person delegation from China, including Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong (pictured below), has been visiting here in Israel.  On Tuesday, the vice premier signed an agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu instituting a 10-year, multi-visit visa that will facilitate business and tourist travel.  This is one of several agreements to be signed.
Explained Hagai Shagrir, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Northeast Asia department, “When a Chinese tourist or businessman looks [at] where to travel, he looks for two things: where it is easiest in terms of visas, and if there are direct flights with a Chinese airline,”  El Al currently runs three direct flights each week to Beijing, and now China’s Hainan Airlines is about to do the same.
In 2015, there was over $9 billion in trade with China, and this amount is expected to grow.
Shagrir noted that, “The Chinese see Israel as a partner who can help in innovation.”
One of the agreements to be signed involves “establishment of Israeli innovation centers in China in the spheres of agriculture, public health, education and entrepreneurship. The value added for Israel as a result of these centers is that they will expose the Chinese working in these fields to Israeli technology and know-how that they otherwise might not have known about.”

Israel China

Credit: Reuters
Talks on free trade with China have now begun.
At the same time that commercial agreements with China were being signed, another agreement - this one in India - regarding defense, was signed between Israel and India:
”Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. signed a cooperation agreement with India’s Reliance Defense Systems Ltd. on Tuesday that will encompass future deals worth $10 billion, the companies announced in Goa, where the 2016 Defexpo exhibition is taking place.

”The agreement covers cooperation in the production, development and supply of air defense systems, air-to-air missiles and surveillance balloons, Rafael said.” (Emphasis added)
Also visiting here, as guests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a delegation of senior Indonesian journalists.  Netanyahu is hoping that their week-long visit will pave the way for a new, enhanced relationship with Indonesia, the largest Muslim country. It is time for full diplomatic ties, he told them, as “the reasons that prevented that in the past are no longer relevant..” 

israel indonesia

Credit: Haim Zach/GPO
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely recently acknowledged that Israel already has unofficial ties with Jakarta, and that the two countries are in “continuous contact.” 
“Despite the lack of diplomatic ties, in 2015 the two countries did some $150 million in trade...”


”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Monday night to halt the return of the bodies of terrorists to the Palestinians until further notice.

“The reasoning behind the decision was to prevent opportunities for the Palestinians to have welcoming processions that provide platforms for incitement against Israel.”
It’s about time.  Remember the hullabaloo about this a few weeks ago, with Security Minister Erdan refusing to return bodies held by Israel within the Green Line and Defense Minister Ya’alon, as head of the Civil Administration, permitting return in Judea and Samaria?  A schizoid situation.
I have no idea why Netanyahu decided to intervene at this particular point in time.  But please note carefully the fact that he CAN intervene.  As long as Ya’alon was permitting return of bodies, it meant he was receiving a nod from the prime minister. 
President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk:

Credit: trumanlibrary
Truman was prepared to take responsibility, and it is a principle that should not be forgotten.
Let’s hope Netanyahu does not reverse his decision.
Most of my readers will undoubtedly remember the whole Duma incident last July, with arson in that village that cost the lives of three members of the Dawabsheh family. At that point there was indication of a long-standing feud between the Dawabsheh clan and another clan in the village, but the possibility of the arson having been part of the feud was never seriously investigated. The clamor both internationally and within certain circles here in Israel was with regard to “Jewish terrorists.”  People pointed to the Hebrew graffiti written on the wall of the Dawabsha home as evidence (never mind that there were graphologists who thought it looked like it was written by an Arab).

After an intensive Shin Bet investigation of hilltop youth, which yielded no evidence with regard to the Duma arson, a handful of young Jewish suspects were placed in administrative detention.  Ultimately one, Amiram Ben-Uliel, who confessed under extreme duress, was charged with the crime and arrested.


Now there has been another instance of arson in the village of Duma (not the first since the Dawabsheh deaths, either, I would note).  The home of another member of the Dawabsheh clan went up in flames.  This man, Ibrahim, was reportedly the sole witness in the case against Ben-Uliel (although I have read that what he claims he saw differs from details of the charges against Ben-Uliel).

A Palestinian police member inspects the damage inside a burned-out house belonging to a key witness to an arson attack last year by Jewish extremists that killed a Palestinian family, in the West Bank village of Duma, after fire broke out in the home in the early hours of March 20, 2016. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

A Palestinian police member inspects the damage inside a burned-out house belonging to a key witness to an arson attack last year by Jewish extremists that killed a Palestinian family, in the West Bank village of Duma, after fire broke out in the home in the early hours of March 20, 2016. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Credit: AFP

However, “the Israel Police and Shin Bet, in a joint statement Sunday night, said mounting evidence indicated it was not a nationalistic attack. ‘The findings thus far at the scene are not consistent with the characteristics of a deliberate arson attack by Jews,’ it said.”


And wait, there is more:

“A Palestinian who claimed to be the victim of a hate crime, reporting earlier this month that Jewish settlers had torched his West Bank home, was found to have fabricated the story, police said Tuesday.

“Military prosecutors have opened an investigation into the report filed by the man, who now faces charges of obstruction of justice, making false claims to authorities and violating public order, according to a statement from police.

“...the man, a resident of the Bethlehem-area town of al-Khader, told Israeli authorities that Jewish settlers had graffitied ‘Death to Arabs’ [in Hebrew] on a wall near his family’s home before setting fire to their property.”

The man’s claim that five Jewish youths were involved was backed-up by his father.  Police took this quite seriously, but discovered “no forensic evidence at the scene to corroborate the man’s claims” and found “substantial” discrepancies between the man’s account and eyewitness testimonies.

How about that!  And there was Hebrew written at this site too.  What a surprise: it seems Arabs can do this.   

What would it take for investigators and prosecutors in the Ben-Uliel case to decide to take a hard second look at what they are dealing with?


A variety of anti-terrorist techniques are having an effect on levels of terrorism in Jerusalem, according to a senior police official.

A lull in major attacks is attributed by Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld to “hyper-vigilance, preemptive tactics and extensive intelligence coordination.”

Explained Rosenfeld, “Of course, the strategy is having police units at the right place at the right time, so we have mapped out the different areas where terror attacks could or have taken place.

“Multiple units are carrying out security measures in those areas – constantly guarding and patrolling them by car, motorcycle and foot, with undercover officers on site at all times.”

There are more than 3,500 police officers working together to make this happen, and a Tactical Intelligence Assessment Units keeps all units connected. 

Areas being most diligently monitored are the Old City (especially the Damascus Gate, pictured below), the light rail, the Central Bus Station, and all malls and shopping areas.

“...police units are deeply involved in tracking social media sites where potential terrorists are making contact with one another and transferring information.”

Credit: Ronen Zvulun/ Reuters


I have covered above, in the main, good news, or news that has a potential for something good. But the bad news is mind-blowing.  Worse than bad. Unendingly unendurable – except that we have to endure, and persist, and reach to make it better.  No choice.

See, for example, the article “War and Madness,” by the very savvy Jonathan Spyer.  A long but very informative piece that begins with this (emphasis added):

The cold numbers are the first thing that hit you. Figures telling of a human catastrophe on a scale hard to compute. Suffering on a level to which any rational response seems inadequate – 470,000 people killed, according to the latest estimates; 11.5 percent of the population injured; 45 percent of a country of 22 million made homeless; 4 million refugees and 6.36 million internally displaced persons. Life expectancy is down from 70.5 years in 2010 to an estimated 55.4 years in 2015. Welcome to the Syrian civil war.

“For those of us who have covered the war closely, these are not just numbers in black and white. They have behind them searing images and memories impossible to erase.”

And ends with this (emphasis again added):

“We are left with the bare facts behind all this – facts with which the policymaking echelon in the West has only just begun to grapple. The prison-house states are broken to pieces. The forces released from their ruins are swirling and clashing across the region and heading beyond it. Syria has become one of the hinges upon which regional and global events turn. The reputations of great powers, global and regional, are being made and broken among its ruins. It is war, and madness. And it is far from over.”


While over at the UN we have this report from Anne Bayefsky (emphasis added):

”According to the United Nations, the most evil country in the world today is Israel.

“On March 24, 2016, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) wrapped up its annual meeting in New York by condemning only one country for violating women’s rights anywhere on the planet – Israel, for violating the rights of Palestinian women.

“On the same day, the UN Human Rights Council concluded its month-long session in Geneva by condemning Israel five times more than any other of the 192 UN member states.

“There were five Council resolutions on Israel. One each on the likes of hellish Syria, North Korea and Iran. Libya got an offer of “technical assistance.” And countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and China were among the 95% of states that were never mentioned.

“No slander is deemed too vile for the UN rights bodies that routinely listen to highly orchestrated Palestinian versions of the ancient blood libel against the Jews.”

Says Anne, “You can’t make it up.”.


For an impassioned and on-the-mark critique of the UN’s focus on Israel, see this video with Alan Dershowitz (emphasis added):

“Where are the liberals, the progressives? Where are the people who claim to be speaking in the name of decency? Why are they choosing the enemies of decency?”

“...Can the whole world be wrong? When it comes to Jews, yes!”

There is a right and wrong in this world, and there is a morally correct thing to do.”

Share this call for broad support for Israel, please!


“Terrorists from the so-called Islamic State have advanced plans to murder Jewish children in Turkey, targeting kindergartens, schools and youth centres, Sky News can reveal.

“Information on what intelligence officials are describing as an ‘imminent’ attack was obtained from six operatives from the ‘Caliphate’ who were arrested in the southern [Turkish] city of Gaziantep over the last week..

“The most likely target of an attack is Istanbul's synagogue in Beyoglu, which also has a community centre and a school attached to it...

“’In light of these circumstances, extraordinary security measures are being taken above and beyond the high alert level already in place by the Turkish police, as well as vigilance within the Jewish community,’ an intelligence source told Sky News.

"’This is a more than credible threat. This is an active plot,’ the source added.”


And so my friends... I have a great deal of emunah (faith), and I often have a smile on my face.  I am grateful for all of the blessings of my life, and reach for what is good.  But the truth?  I walk around with tears buried in my heart, in mourning for the sorry sorry state of this world.


A traditional Hebrew song, so appropriate today: Sisu et Yerushalayim

Rejoice with Jerusalem, be glad about her, be glad all you that love her, all who love her.

On your walls, Oh city of David. I have stationed watchmen, all day and night.


Do not fear, my servant Jacob, for your enemies shall be scattered before you.


Look about you and behold; see all as they are all gathering and coming unto you.


And your people are all holy and forever shall inherit the 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 Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 02:10PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 28, 2016: Precisely What Are They Thinking?

The good news, my friends, is that in the midst of neighboring mayhem and chaos, Israel managed to celebrate Purim late last week without mishap. This was not a sure thing, by any means, and should not be taken lightly.

Credit: itraveljerusalem

Credit: jbuzz

Credit: Corinna Kern/Flash 90

Three Megillot – scrolls of the Book of Esther, which are read on Purim - were recently found in a hidden synagogue at the former Warsaw Ghetto site after a wall in an old building in the ghetto collapsed.  These particular scrolls – pictured below is an example - were obviously used during the Holocaust.

Researchers from the Shem Olam Institute in Kfar Haroeh discovered them.

Rabbi Avraham Krieger, head of Shem Olam, said, “The more we investigate the life of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, [the more] we discover the courage and mental strength the Jews exhibited to keep the faith alive despite the grief and the threat of death that surrounded them from all directions.”  (Emphasis added)



As to what “they” are thinking, I am referring to western Europeans generally, and the Belgians most specifically.

I doubt that there is anyone reading this who does not know about the two-pronged attack that took place in Brussels, Belgium last Tuesday.  It happened after I had written my last posting and I think it is important to examine it here, not simply because of the horror, but more significantly, because of the implications.

Two suicide bombers struck just seconds apart, at 8:00 in the morning, in the departure hall at Brussels’ Zaventem airport, blowing out part of the roof.

Credit: Daily Mail (UK)

Just an hour later, another suicide bomber struck near at Molenbeek metro station, just a few hundred meters from the main European Union offices and many diplomatic missions.  This attack ripped apart a train.


Credit: Telegraph (UK)

In all, at least 31 people were killed and some 300 wounded – 61 critically.  Because of the location of the attack at the heart of the EU, 41 different nationalities are among the dead and wounded.

Utilizing fingerprint and DNA evidence, the authorities have identified the two suicide bombers from the airport: Belgian national Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Moroccan-born Najim Laachraoui, said to be a top ISIS bomb-maker.  Bakraoui’s younger brother Khalid El Bakraoui was identified as the metro bomber. Security cameras suggest that there was a third airport bomber and a second Metro bomber, both of whom got away.

A number of other suspected accomplices have been arrested in the days since the attacks.


What is quite clear is that the recent attack in Paris and this Brussels attack are connected – we are looking at a widespread, international terror network.  There was, for example, DNA evidence linking Laahraoui to the Paris attack. 

But perhaps most significant is the fact that just four days before the terrorists hit in Brussels, Belgian-born Frenchman Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the Paris attacks, had been arrested in Belgium after four months of running. Now there are multiple sources saying the attack in Brussels may have been revenge for Abdeslam’s arrest. 

But hey! This is not just in hindsight: I read at the time of the arrest that Belgian intelligence was looking at the possibility of such a revenge attack. 

Professor Anthony Glees, Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, says that the attack in Brussels was not a surprise given the arrest of Abdeslam (emphasis added):
"What is surprising is that one would have expected that at this time there would have been very strong armed police and soldiers at the airport and in the vicinity of the European Union.”

Surprising indeed.

Said Pini Schiff, formerly the security chief at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport (emphasis added):  "Two terrorists who enter the terminal area with explosive devices, this is undoubtedly a colossal failure."

Actually, Israeli security officials who were charged with assessing security measures at international airports operating flights to Tel Aviv had found “significant shortcomings” at Zaventem Airport.  Weeks ago the Israelis had warned Belgian authorities about the security lapses.

And it has now been revealed that Turkey had detained Ibrahim El Bakraoui last year and then deported him back to Europe.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Belgian authorities released him despite warnings from Ankara’s that he was “a foreign fighter.”

So, it is reasonable to ask, What the hell are they thinking?  Or perhaps, a better question is, ARE they thinking?  The answer to the latter question is, not a whole lot.  There is a great deal of denial (more on this below). 

There are a number of critiques regarding how Belgium operates with regard to risk from Islamists.  The Molenbeek section of Brussels is widely recognized as a hotbed of jihadist activity.  The Washington Post calls it “one of the world’s main breeding grounds of violent Islamist extremists.”

As one commentator observed, “The absurdity of the situation is that Molenbeek is in a short driving distance from the headquarters of NATO and the European Commission.”

Literally, the capital of Europe is out of control.  I’ve encountered a great deal about the cumbersome bureaucracy of Belgium and the failure of various agencies to properly communicate for effective cooperation.  And then there are the various regulations and rules that hinder effective security operations.  No houses may be searched at night  Racial profiling is, of course, forbidden.  There is an open border policy.

It goes without saying that we have not seen the last of jihadist attacks in Europe.

The Islamic State group has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks, deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris with orders to choose the time, place and method for maximum carnage, The Associated Press has learned.”  (Emphasis added)

The fighters in some instances are recruited inside of Europe, in places such as Molenbeek. But there is also the phenomenon of Europeans going to fight with ISIS in Syria and Iraq and then returning.  According to CNN, at least 500 men and women have left Belgium, alone, for Syria since 2012 – Belgium has the highest rate per capita in Europe of people going to fight with ISIS. More than 100 have returned. There is indication that some returnees  are arrested; but it is also the case that throughout Europe there are returnees who have re-entered freely.

Said Dutch MP Geert Wilders:

Returned Syria fighters are a huge threat... It is absolutely unbelievable that our governments allow them to return... Every government in the West, which refuses to do so [lock them up], is a moral accessory if one of these monsters commits an atrocity.” (Emphasis added, Gatestone source provided below.)

Soeren Kern, writing in Gatestone on the issue jihadists in the EU, quotes a US intelligence official who said (emphasis added):

"Even with the EU in general, there's an infiltration of jihadists that's been happening for two decades. And now they're just starting to work on this. When we have to contact these people or send our guys over to talk to them, we're essentially talking with people who are — I'm just going to put it bluntly — children. These are not pro-active, they don't know what's going on. They're in such denial. It's such a frightening thing to admit their country is being taken over."

And the 40,000 Jews of Belgium – do they feel safe?  A rhetorical question, actually.  How could they?  Jews interviewed recently by the JPost refer repeatedly to the incompetence of the Belgian government.  They recognize, and appreciate, efforts being made to protect the Jewish population, but, as one resident of Antwerp’s Jewish neighborhood said, “When the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, the soldiers might as well be cardboard.”

The Brussels police requested of the Jewish community that all large Purim celebrations be cancelled. Thus, a large megillah (scroll of Esther) reading that would have been attended by some thousand people at the Great Synagogue was not held and instead there were small gatherings in homes. 

“The police said that they are unable to protect the event while the city is in a state of war," explained Rabbi Menachem Margolin.,7340,L-4782174,00.html

Belgian aliyah has increased significantly in recent years.


And speaking of aliyah...

There was an ancient Jewish community in Kaifeng, China, dating back more than 1,000 years; the Jews were traders who had come from Persia or India.  Over the years that community dissipated. Here we see young women, descendants of those Jews, who identify as Jews today and have come to Israel to formally convert and acquire Israeli citizenship.

Heartwarming, and rather amazing.  Truly a testament to the tenacity of Jewish identity.  The man speaking in the video is Michael Freund, who founded the organization Shavei Yisrael, to help lost Jews come home.


Jews had an ancient community in Yemen, dating back at least 1,000 years and very possibly twice as long at this; Yemenite Jews, who in the main were quite pious, had a good many unique traditions.  Most of that community, which had sustained itself in the face of persecution, was airlifted to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet, 1949 – 1950; 50,000 Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel.  Among the best known of Yemenite Israelis is the late Ofra Haza. 

A small remnant of that community remained in Yemen. But this past week, 19 Yemenite Jews were secretly airlifted into Israel by the Jewish Agency as part of an operation that took two years.  (Actually, 17 were brought in at one time, and two had come a bit earlier.) Secrecy was necessary because the Jews lived in an area today controlled by hostile Houthi rebels who had to be bribed.

The tension was greater because a 500 year old Yemenite Torah scroll was brought out with them.  The Iranian-backed Houthis claim that this scroll was part of their heritage and has been stolen from them. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds an 500 hundred-year-old Torah scroll as he poses for a picture with some of the Yemenite Jews who were brought to Israel as part of a secret rescue operation, at the Knesset on March 21, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Credit: Haim Zach/GPO

Some 50 Jews – who opted not to leave – remain in Yemen, but the Jewish Agency has now declared the rescue and aliyah of the Yemenite Jews ended  One of the Jews who remained behind, and helped the others get out, has been arrested, along with a Muslim, because of their involvement in helping to smuggle the Torah scroll out.

Some members of the Dahari family, which came to Israel now, had come earlier, a few at a time, over a period of ten years. This was true especially for the children, who were pulled out from a difficult situation.  When he learned about the Houthi claims to the Torah scroll, Manny Dehari, now 22, wrote on Facebook: “The Torah scroll has been in my family for hundreds of years and we will never give it up for anything or anyone.” 

Read more:


We close with Ofra Haza in a medley of traditional Yemenite songs:


© 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, March 28, 2016 at 11:59AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 22, 2016: Remembering 

This past Shabbat, the Shabbat before Purim, was Shabbat Zahor, which means “remember.”
Everyone is obligated to come to synagogue to hear the Torah reading, which ends with Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19:
You shall remember what Amalek did to you. How he happened upon you on the way and cut off all the stragglers at your rear, when you were faint and weary, and he did not fear God.
“ shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens. You shall not forget!”

Credit: dreamstime
Obliterate the remembrance? But not forget?
We are taught that Amalek – the Amalekites – were to be destroyed. But we are to remember always what our enemies are capable of and guard against them.
The Amalekites are no more.  But their prototypes – those of consummate evil, intent on destroying us – exist in every generation.  We are well aware of this.
At Pesach we read:
In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us but the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hands.”
This then, is the good news: in spite of Iran and ISIS and Hamas and Fatah, we will not be destroyed.  We have not forgotten. We never will.
One who truly never forgot was Meir Dagan, who succumbed to his battle with cancer last Thursday, at age 71.


Credit: infostormer
Dagan throughout his life remembered that his grandfather was murdered in the Holocaust, and lived with determination that there would never be another Holocaust.  To that end, he fiercely devoted his life to defending Israel and fighting terror:
As an officer in the Paratroopers Brigade in the Six-Day War. he fought in battles in the Sinai, and, then – flown north with his troops by helicopter – took part in the capture of the Golan.  Subsequently, Ariel Sharon, who was at that time GOC Southern Command, assigned to Dagan the task of creating the top secret anti-terrorist Rimon unit, which operated daringly, under cover.  During his service in that unit, he injured both legs when his jeep ran over a mine; but also won the Medal of Courage when he jumped on a terrorist about to toss a grenade at the Gaza patrol unit he headed.
In 2002, then Prime Minister Sharon appointed Dagan as head of the Mossad.  In his office Dagan had a picture of his grandfather, wrapped in his tallit (prayer shawl), kneeling before the Nazis just before they shot him.
Dagan served in this role for eight years, focused primarily on the threat of Iran and terrorism outside of Israel. While, of course, no acknowledgement of these deeds is ever forthcoming, he has been credited with many stunning successes during his Mossad tenure, such as the assassination of Hezbollah's military chief, Imad Mughniyeh and the sabotaging of Iranian nuclear development.,7340,L-4780458,00.html
At his funeral, he was eulogized by President Rivlin, who said: "Meir was one of the greatest of the brave, creative and devout warriors that the Jewish people ever had. His devotion to the State of Israel was absolute."
While Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "I was always impressed by his love of the State, and his Zionist patriotism...A great warrior has died.”
Former President Peres credited him with making the Mossad, “the best organization in the world.”
New Mossad head, Yossi Cohen, explained: “Meir taught us, the people of the Mossad, to combine daring with cunning, bravery with ruses, to take big chances and to act at the same time with responsibility and sound judgment. He taught us one important thing in particular: to act with optimism and self-confidence.”  (All emphasis added)

Funeral of Meir Dagan

Credit: Kobi Gidon/GPO
With head held high, I want to share a special video about Israel, with thanks to those who shared it with me.  In turn, please pass it along to others.  Make it go viral  This is how you can help:


A suicide bomber blew himself up in Istanbul on Saturday - in an area of consulates, shops and restaurants much frequented by tourists - killing five people and wounding 36 others.  Among those killed were three Israelis, while 10 Israelis were among those wounded.  

At the time Netanyahu declared that there was no indication that Israelis were specifically targeted.

That assessment seems to have been reversed now:

“According the latest Turkish reports, the terrorist...had waited outside the restaurant where the group of Israelis had dined on Saturday morning, detonating himself moments after they exited the establishment, in very close proximity to them.

“Turkey's Haberturk newspaper said police had been examining closed-circuit TV footage from the scene, which appeared to corroborate the report that the suicide bomber had followed the group of Israeli tourists for several kilometers from their hotel and then waited outside the restaurant where they ate breakfast.

“The report, which also appeared on the Turkish T24 website, suggested that the suicide bomber recognized that the Israelis were speaking Hebrew and that is why he decided to target them.”  (All emphasis added)

The terrorist has been identified as Mehmet Ozturk, a member of the Islamic State from the city of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border. Several other persons have been arrested in connection with the attack and according to Turkish papers, there are three Islamic State members planning additional suicide attacks.

I will add that, as of today, Netanyahu is still saying that it is not certain the the Israelis were targeted and that Israeli intelligence is investigating this possibility.


Those Israelis who were lightly wounded were brought back to Israel on a Magen David Adom plane Saturday night.  An IAF plane brought home the more seriously wounded, and those who were killed on Sunday.  The dead have been identified as:

Simcha Damri, 60; Avraham Goldman, 69; Yonatan Shor, 40

The spouses of all three were among the wounded. Shor was in Turkey with his wife celebrating his birthday.

Shor and Goldman also had US citizenship


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to President Rivlin expressing “deepest condolences” to the Israeli people and to the families of those who were killed in Istanbul.  He was, he wrote, “very sorry” to learn that Israelis were involved.

It is too soon to call yet, but there is speculation that the cooperation that was necessary between Turkish and Israeli officials as a result of the attack, and a sense of working together against terrorism, may serve to repair the ruptured relationship between the two nations.

On Sunday, Foreign Ministry director general Dore Gold flew to Turkey and met with his counterpart, Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridan Sinirlioglu.


Ruthie Blum, who has been putting out some great stuff, has an article in yesterday’s JPost,  “Israel and the UN-PA complicity.”:

In it, she writes about the statement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon regarding the imperative to “strengthen Palestinian institutions, economic and security prospects.”

Responds Blum, “So many billions of dollars, euros and shekels have been spent on this endeavor that everyone has lost count by now. Yet nothing has changed other than the methods employed by Arafat’s successor, PA President (sic) Mahmoud Abbas to remain at the helm, while working towards the destruction of the Jewish state through a war of attrition in the street and international arenas.”  (Emphasis added)

Please see her article in full for examples of how the PA functions, as provided by a new MEMRI report on “Incitement to Terrorism by Palestinian Civil Society Organizations that Receive Foreign Funding.”  Among the organizations named are the Palestinian Bar Association, the Popular Art Centre, and the Shabab Al-Balad Youth Forum.

This is critical information that most Americans are oblivious to.


I read a news report the other day that said that the PA insists it has never permitted IDF operations in Area A and has declared it never will. 

This is a joke – an attempt by the PA to appear independent – when in fact the IDF does security operations inside of Area A on a daily basis.

Now there is Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writing in Gatestone about “More Palestinian Empty Threats” (emphasis added):

“For Abbas, security coordination with Israel is indeed ‘sacred’: it keeps him in power and stops Hamas from taking over the West Bank.

“Abbas cannot tell his people that security coordination with Israel is keeping him on the throne. That is a topic for Israeli ears only.

So what are the threats to end security cooperation about? Money. Here is Abbas's take-home to the world: ‘Send more money or we will cut off security cooperation with Israel.’

"Halting security coordination with Israel would spell both his end and that of the PA in the West Bank. The international community is simply hearing a new version of the old bid for yet more political concessions and yet more cash.”

This brings us full circle, does it not, to Ban’s call for more support for the PA?


My friends, I wish I did not have to share this, but I believe I must. It is a brief video clip of anti-Israel demonstrators outside the AIPAC convention, vilely cursing at, pursuing, and beating up Jewish members of AIPAC attempting to enter the premises.
I wept as I watched this, and if you love America, you will weep too.
Tomorrow is Tanit Esther – the Fast of Esther.  It is a fast day that precedes Purim, celebrated on Thursday (except for Shushan Purim, on Friday, celebrated by Jerusalem, which was a walled city).
On Purim we rejoice over the defeat of Haman – who was indeed an Amalakite and planned to destroy the Jews of the ancient Persian empire: We hear the story in the Megillat Esther, the Scroll of Esther. We give money to the poor, share gifts of food with friends, dress in costumes, and sit together for a festive meal.

In fact, we are called on to be happy.  And so I wish all who will be celebrating, a Purim Sameach.  It takes strength and courage, strong belief in who we are, and, most of all, emunah, faith, to celebrate today.

There are no “great” Purim songs. Most of the traditional ones are kiddie songs. Thus I’ve decided to end with the Maccabeats doing a (non-traditional) Purim song.  The silliness of it fits the mood of the day.  “Queen Esther” is adorable.


© 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, March 22, 2016 at 10:10AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 17, 2016: In Memoriam

It is with sadness that I note the passing on Tuesday of Salomon Benzimra of Toronto. 
Originally from Morocco – what was then the International Zone of Tangiers - he was able to trace his family back to Spain prior to the Inquisition. When it became necessary they had escaped across the Straits of Gibraltar. He was fluent in Spanish and French, as well as English.
Trained as a chemical engineer, Salomon developed a passion for the issue of Israel’s legal rights more than a decade ago. With Goldi Steiner, he co-founded Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, and wrote an authoritative book on the subject:The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel, available on Amazon in Kindle format. 
Salomon and Goldi were in Israel for meetings; my Legal Grounds co-chair, Jeff Daube, and I had sat with them on Monday. Salomon passed while on his return to Toronto the next day.
May his memory be for a blessing and may his work continue to inform many.
I would like to further elaborate on the theme of Muslim Arab citizens who are loyal to Israel.  I had mentioned the Zoabi clan as Zionistic, and have here two videos to share:
The first is of Sarah Zoabi.  I had first seen this particular video clip – with subtitles - some time ago.  She was entering a cooking contest and had to speak about herself. You can see how surprised/impressed the judges are.  She speaks about the right of the Jewish people to have the land of Israel, the holy land.  It’s a Gan Eden, a paradise, she says, compared to all the Arab lands.  In Israel she is 100% safe.  When will Arabs in Israel wake up and realize this?

 Sara Zoabi

Credit: Kesher Network
And then her son Muhammad, who speaks in English, and is nothing short of extraordinary.  A brave boy who received Muslim Arab threats for his position as a proud Israeli.


Credit: Times of Israel
Please note that both mother and son talk freely about Israel as a Jewish state. They don’t protest that it must also be a Muslim state to be fair to them. They know they receive civil and human rights in Israel – rights they would not receive anywhere else in the Middle East, and they are more than content to live within a Jewish Israel.  This is enormously important.
Those who wish to destroy Israel as a Jewish state protest that an injustice is done to the Muslim citizens because there is a Jewish star on the flag, and Hatikva speaks of the Jewish soul, etc. Nonsense. Never be taken in by this.
It is also encouraging that 13% more Arab Israeli youth participated in National Service in 2015, which suggests a readiness to be a constructive part of Israeli society.  National Service (Sherut Leumi) is an alternative to serving in the army for religious Jewish young women and some few young Jewish men who will not be serving in the army.  For Jews, service of one sort or another is mandatory, for the Arabs, it is strictly voluntary.  There is a huge selection of ways in which the service can be done.
The young Arabs reported enduring intimidation within their communities with regard to their decision to “take the ultimate leap” and become “agents of the state.”  But they did it anyway.
Fighting the terrorism of the “knife intifada,” which is also a shooting and car ramming intifada.  (Please! do not send me your suggestions.  I am not in touch with the prime minister and fear being overwhelmed by more emails in my inbox than I can cope with.)


Credit: UnitedwithIsrael
There are several respects in which this months-long bout of terrorism differs from prior periods of violence visited upon the Jewish people by Arabs in recent years – all of which may impinge upon how the terrorism can be dealt with:
[] The attacks come not just from Palestinian Arabs, but sometimes from Israeli Arabs and Arabs with residency permits living in Jerusalem.  That this generates problems is obvious on the face of it.  In numerous instances, although not always, the terrorists emerge from amongst us.
[] The attackers are identified as “lone wolves” – persons acting alone without membership in a terrorist cell or according to specific instructions provided by a terrorist leader – it is said they act on their own initiative.  This identification is only accurate in part. Sometimes teams of two or three go out together.  And while they do not have specific instructions regarding the attacks they perpetrate, they are guided in the general sense of having been exposed to virulent incitement at official PA levels.  That is, the attacks are not simply “spontaneous.” This said, however, it is far more difficult to anticipate a given terror attack than it would be if intelligence were able to track a pattern of planning within a cell.
[] The age of the attackers is lower, with many in their teens, even early teens.  There is considerable discussion regarding the families of these teens – do they encourage and condone what the kids do? Are the kids out of control?
Actually, this discussion of family involvement applies even when the terrorist is not a teenager.  I think for example of the Tel Aviv terrorist, who was no kid.  Ultimately members of his family, from a village in the north, were arrested as possible accomplices.
[] The method of attack is different – with the very frequent use of knives, which are ubiquitous and easy to acquire as well as easy to hide. Although in the main we’re talking about daggers and not the average kitten paring knife. And sometimes axes are used. 


Credit: Israel police
On occasion, guns, even submachine guns, have been used, resulting in killing and wounding of a larger number of victims.  When the guns are used, predictions are made regarding escalation of the intifada.
Has everything that might be done to stop the terrorism been put into place?  Absolutely not. I hear accusations that Netanyahu has done nothing against the terror, and I think that is an unfair charge.  But what he has done to date is not yet everything he might do. 
There have been no compunctions about shooting terrorists in the midst of attack – shooting to kill, even if the terrorist is a teenager.  Although there are discussions about when it may be inappropriate to kill – as when the terrorist is already disarmed and down.  Outrage emanates from some quarters when occasionally a rabbi - relying on the Talmudic injunction that “If someone comes to kill you, rise up, and kill him first” – pronounces it an obligation to kill terrorists.  There are official sanctions against continuing to shoot a terrorist in excess of what is necessary (however that is defined).
This said, acting with full force in all venues requires nerves of steel and iron determination. Netanyahu knows that the world is watching. The slippery Abbas plays it very smart, although I should point out that he plays to an international audience often all too eager to find Israel at fault. 
He frequently paints the terrorists as innocents who are gunned down by Israeli assassins, which is manifestly ridiculous. Or he claims that it’s the “occupation” causing the violence, which is another patent falsehood. While he makes these declarations to the larger world in English, his own people hear him, in Arabic, as he decries “defilement” of the Temple Mount by Jews, and heaps great praise on terrorists as “martyrs.”  The message to young people – and Abbas’s culpability - is clear.

Credit: Telegraph (UK)
As the clamor for the government to do something more effective to stop the attacks grows louder, more decisions are enacted.  I have found myself asking, on more than one occasion: if it’s good to do this, why wasn’t it done sooner?
One of the things I know the government wrestles with is the question of whether very stringent measures applied to an entire group will be effective as deterrent or cause resentment that increases the violence.  Stringent measures such as blocking Arab workers from entering an area for their jobs.
What we are seeing now:
Two days ago there was a demonstration by hundreds of Jews who live in Judea, marching along route 60 demanding closure of the road to Arabs during and after an attack.  

Photo: Daniel Elior

Credit: Daniel Elior
I am not sure how temporary closure serves as a deterrent, but the entire issue of allowing Arabs to use roads that Jews use, in areas where there have been frequent attacks, such as Gush Etzion, is one under discussion.
There is discussion as well about expelling terrorists’ families.  
According to the new attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, this is only possible under certain circumstances.  The family had to have known about the attack prior to its having taken place, and they can only be expelled to ( Palestinian Authority areas of) Judea and Samaria, and not to Gaza or Syria, as some legislators had wanted.  He says such a move would violate international law and could be used to sue Israel in the International Court of Justice.

Netanyahu and Mandelblit

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

This, then, is one restriction that Netanyahu faces – rulings of the courts and the judgment of appointed legal advisors, within a legal system that tends to tilt left. I will say that Mandelblit appears to be a measure better than his predecessor had been. 
I do know that there have been instances of revocation of rights of Jerusalem residents who are family members of a terrorist – although this is certainly not a policy being followed in all instances.  
One of the reasons there is a problem with Arabs who possess Jerusalem residency permits is because there had been a policy of “family reunification.”  If an Arab from a PA area married an Arab with Jerusalem residency, he or she received a permit to live in Jerusalem.  This has been a source of trouble on numerous occasions, as those who were doing the “reuniting” were not necessarily desirables.
In recent years legislation has been in place blocking further automatic family reunification.
There is talk about restricting worker permits for those who live in PA areas and come into Jewish areas to work.  Certainly, Netanyahu wants to revoke work permits for families of terrorists.
Beyond this, and more seriously, is the problem of Arabs from PA areas who are working in Jewish areas illegally. After the terror attack in Jaffa, which was committed by someone who was in Israel illegally, a roundup of some 250 Palestinian Arabs who were illegals took place.,7340,L-4776893,00.html
There is going to be a clamping down on the employers who hire the illegals, as part of the approach to mitigating this situation. My sense of it, however, from informal queries, is that there is a dependence upon these workers in the construction industry, which means we have a problem.
There is supposed to be demolition of houses of families of terrorists, but this seems to be happening only sporadically.  To date, the houses of only 12 terrorists have been demolished, with another seven scheduled for demolition.
In one of his first recommendations in his new position, Attorney General Mandelblit advised that families who turned in terrorists should not have their homes demolished.
This position was ultimately accepted.  It seems imminently sensible to me – and may even encourage families to hand over terrorists.
There is the issue I wrote about previously regarding returning of bodies of terrorists to their families – with confused guidelines and some bodies being returned.
Netanyahu has declared intention to complete construction of the security barrier, begun in 2002, in the area around Jerusalem.  Although it would likely have some impact, it does not seem to be a major solution to the problem – as some of the terrorists emanate from inside of Israel. Then there is the objection to the barrier based on concerns that this creates a de facto border for Israel.  
Sometimes a terrorist’s village is closed for a matter of some days following an attack. Here, too, I am not clear on how something so temporary can be see as an effective deterrent. It is, I assume, being done as a warning of what will happen if other residents of that village attack – with the hope this will cause people to think twice.
What I see as the single biggest problem - the incitement coming from the PA - is not being addressed.  There have been calls for shutting down the bandwidths on which the PA broadcasts. But this – which would require iron will because of the international furor that would ensue - has not been done.
There has been one instance of a Palestinian Arab station shut down – but this was a station belonging to Islamic Jihad, not the PA: "Palestine Alyoum" broadcasting from Ramallah.  A closure order was issued just a week ago, transmitters and technical equipment were seized. But, according to Israel National News, the station was broadcasting as normal the next day.  This is a screen shot of the Friday broadcast: 

Palestine Alyoum broadcast Friday morning

There is very little to say about this although you may hear the sound of my head banging against the wall.
I have heard nothing about restrictions being placed on Abbas in any sense whatsoever, to dissuade him from some of his behaviors.
As I reflect on this situation, I have just a few comments. 
Opposition leader Bugie Herzog has been telling everyone who will listen that the solution is “separation,” by which he means unilateral withdrawal from at least parts of Judea and Samaria.  

Labor Party chairman MK Isaac Herzog leads a party meeting in the Knesset on February 03, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Credit: Flash90
This is a horrendous suggestion from a perspective of our legal rights and with regard to security.
But in any event, it would not solve this problem.  As I read over the various issues and suggested measures, what stands out as clear is that there is a great deal of interlocking between Jewish Israelis and Arabs, whether Israeli or Palestinian.  We cannot draw a line and “separate.” Some live here amongst us legally, either as citizens or with resident permits.  And they would continue to be exposed to PA incitement even if a fence separated us from PA areas. Many are relied upon as needed labor. 
If there is a to be a meaningful long term solution, it seems to me that it will have to be in the opposite direction.  It is past time to declare Oslo a failure.  But that is not going to happen right now – because of the implications within the international community: UN Security Council resolutions, boycotts and the rest. And, perhaps even more significantly, because it means that all at once all the Arabs in the PA areas would be Israel’s responsibility.
Perhaps the Palestinian Authority will do us a favor and finally implode on its own.  Or maybe Israel will find it necessary to take this step some time not so far down the road. 
The education system in the PA area has to be revamped. The incitement has to cease.  Streets with the names of terrorists have to be-renamed.
It is not incidental to consider the positive impact that might be generated if Palestinian Arabs were freed of their infuriating and strangling confinement within a system that is unendingly corrupt and provides them with scant human rights, pathetic services and meager economic opportunity.  I have no intention of addressing here questions of whether [with the banishment of terrorist elements] they would be provided with an autonomy short of a state or citizenship within Israel, if they pledged loyalty.  Rather, I am looking at the constructive turn-around that might follow over time.
Whatever the polls show, this I know: when there was talk of dividing Jerusalem, those Arabs living in the part of the city that would have been turned over to the PA hurried to move to areas that would have been retained by Israel.  For all the talk of their wanting “a state,” this is not what we saw.
For now, however, this is only wishful thinking.  And so I close with something unusual, a total change of mood: the late Ofra Haza, who returns here to her Yemenite roots and sings a 17th century traditional Yemenite song,  An explanation and translation of the lyrics is included if you scroll down.
© 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, March 17, 2016 at 04:49PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 16, 2016: Where to Begin?

I frequently feel overwhelmed by the number of critical issues I would like to share with my readers: I must chose among events competing for attention. That said, I begin with the good news, which is of considerable importance.  (But I ask you please to continue reading past the good news for important matters requiring attention and action.)
“An Israeli researcher at Ariel University in Samaria has discovered a revolutionary new method to stop the uncontrolled bleeding common in victims of stab wounds...
“Israeli scientist Moshe Rogosnitzky has discovered that gallium, a biometal currently used to stop bone loss in cancer patients, can, in liquid form, known as galluim nitrate, rapidly halt bleeding from deep wounds without causing blood clots.” 

Credit: lndscience
There is promise here for many lives to be saved, in Israel and across the world.  Rogosnitzky says this discovery has the potential to “dramatically increase the survival rates of victims of stabbings and accidents.”  He is anxious to get this from the lab to the clinic as quickly as possible.  In addition to stopping bleeding, the gallium is a powerful anti-infective and speeds healing. 
“Electronics melded with living tissues have been used by Tel Aviv University researchers to create a self-regulating ‘cyborg cardiac patch’ to  save lives of people with diseased hearts.”
The number of donor hearts for transplants is limited, and more than 25% of those Americans waiting for transplants will die before receiving a new heart.  The patch, which was invented by Prof. Tal Dvir (pictured below) and doctoral student Ron Feiner, has capabilities that actually surpass those of human tissue alone: it contacts and expands like human heart tissue but regulates itself like a machine.


Credit: TAU
This is an innovation that – while still in development - is at the cutting edge of new age science.  What is envisioned is the possibility of remote monitoring of this patch to ensure sound functioning. Ultimately, it should be possible  to release drugs from the patch directly into the heart: “if it senses inflammation, it will release an anti-inflammatory drug,” etc. Researchers are also considering possibility for applying this concept to neurological conditions.
Nael Zoabi, an Arab-Israeli school principal in the north, has given an extensive interview to Makor Rishon (Hebrew) in which he criticizes the Arab Israeli MKs for investing their energy in Palestinian Arab nationalism rather than addressing issues within their own community.  


Credit: Mida
Zoabi insisted that “many, if not most, Arabs in the Jewish state would like to work on peaceful coexistence and in bettering their societal standing. But, he asserted harshly, ‘Their voices are stolen from them’ by their own Knesset representatives.”
In the interview, he said, “I meet with Arab and Jewish youth, religious and secular; I speak at home gatherings. Jews from the Diaspora come to visit me, and I introduce them to our people. I raise the issue of coexistence at every opportunity at the school, and write op-eds for Israeli papers like Israel Hayom and Haaretz. I came to educate the kids at the school to be good people and citizens, and not just any citizens, but effective ones. We don’t have another state or country — not us and not you...
“There are serious problems in our sector – relating to education, housing, employment, academic studies, violence and other issues...Who is addressing this? Nobody. The only issues our leaders concern themselves with are anti-Israel ones.” (All emphasis added)
I share this last item because it offers hope for Israel. 
I am not inside the Arab community, and I do not know what “the majority” of Israeli Arabs think.  What I do know is that – while there is a body of Arabs that functions peacefully and productively within the country - there has been a radicalization of many, with the process promoted by a covert Hamas influence and aided and abetted by the stance of Arab MKs.  The terrorism we are dealing with now comes in part from Israeli Arabs, and even if they and their sympathizers represent a minority, perhaps a small minority, of the Arabs - who constitute 20% of Israel’s population - we cannot tolerate a fifth column within our society. 
I’ve watched the process over the years, as Arabs who are citizens of Israel are encouraged by Palestinian Arabs who are anti-Israel to identify as “Palestinians” rather than “Israelis.”  They challenge the self-identity and loyalty of Israeli Arabs.  I know Arab Israeli citizens who call themselves “Arab Israelis” and others who say they are “Palestinian Israelis.” This last has always seemed to me a contradiction in terms, because I see “Palestinian” as a political identification and not an ethnic one – it reflects confusion.  I’ve seen Arabs here who have switched how they identify (in both directions) in response to changing times.
Part of the problem, as we struggle to deal with the situation, is knowing who is pro-Israel and who anti-Israel.  Who can be trusted and who not. An exceedingly painful and difficult problem today.  A morally complex situation. But maybe – let us pray! - there remains hope for the long run. 
Collective punishment (or, rather, inconvenience) is inevitable at some level because we must protect Jewish life.  And so, for example, both Arabs who are pro-Israel and those who are anti-Israel may have to go through checkpoints and endure delays at various times.  I have a “tough” attitude towards those who complain.
But what Zoabi’s statement comes to remind us is that we must also do our best to embrace those who sincerely stand with us.  The key is Arabs who are citizens feeling truly part of our country.
Nael is part of a large Zoabi clan, which – ironically – includes the horrendously anti-Israel Hanin Zoabi who sits in the Knesset. I have heard marvelously pro-Zionist statements from other members of this clan and perhaps I’ll return to some of them.  I salute them all. 
You may recall postings I’ve written in the past devoted to the outrage of EU funding of illegal Palestinian Arab housing in Area C (which is under full Israeli jurisdiction according to the Oslo Accords), with the goal of co-opting parts of this Area for a de facto Palestinian state
The EU, which persists in claiming (erroneously) that Israel is working in defiance of “international law,” has no trouble being disrespectful of Israeli law – which requires permits before building can take place.
Now there is another, even more outrageous element to the story, as the EU claims to be above the law.  The NGO Regavim - - which fights for Israel’s rights to the land, primarily via the courts, is attempting to utilize the courts to require demolition of those illegal EU-funded buildings.  But the EU delegation in Israel is claiming diplomatic immunity that means it cannot be taken to court.
The Daily Mail (UK), having uncovered documents regarding this situation, has now done an exclusive exposé of the situation.
I ask, first, that you see it:

The EU is claiming diplomatic immunity after using [British] taxpayers' money to build unauthorised settlements and roads on Israeli parts of the West Bank, MailOnline can reveal.

An Israeli NGO launched legal action after photographing EU flags flying above buildings on land placed under Israeli jurisdiction by the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is a signatory. EU bureaucrats are avoiding court by citing diplomatic rules.

The buildings, which are given to Palestinians, are intended to ‘pave the way’ for more land to be brought under Palestinian control, according to official EU papers. Many are bulldozed by Israel only for the EU to repeatedly rebuild them, generating more costs for the taxpayer.

Leaded documents obtained by MailOnline show the that EU – which receives £350 million per week from Britain – is using diplomatic rules to place officials above the law, foiling attempts to hold bureaucrats accountable...

“MPs have expressed outrage that the EU is using aid money to ‘meddle’ in a foreign territorial dispute, and branded its actions ‘dodgy.’

“’It is deeply concerning that the EU falls back on diplomatic immunity after breaking planning regulations, Jacob Reed-Mogg MP told MailOnline. ‘The UK Government would take a very dim view of a friendly state doing that to us.

’Diplomatic immunity is there to protect envoys from unjust treatment, not to protect the high-handed behaviour of arrogant bureaucracies.’

“He added: The EU maintains that it is based on fundamental principles of rule of law and support for democracy. But when this clashes with its bureaucratic bungling, neither rule of law nor democracy seem important.’” (Emphasis added)

The Daily Mail expose includes a letter written to the Foreign Ministry of Israel by the Delegation of the EU to the State of Israel, which documents the EU position.


You can see here a picture, supplied by Regavim, of illegal buildings in Area C, with stickers on each bearing the blue EU symbol:


And another with the sticker more visible: 


Credit: Jonathan Shaul

What I then ask of each of you is to broadly share the link to this Daily Mail article.  The information about the audacity of EU actions must be put out extensively.  The fact that the critique of the EU comes from an EU nation makes it all the more powerful.
There was a minor moment of panic in certain quarters here in Israel, last night and today, because of a report that was leaked.  On closer examination, it appears that the matter is complex, with context not quite as simple or nearly as alarming as seemed at first blush.
The report first appeared via Haaretz, which clearly has it own bias. What was said was that there had been secret talks between Israel and the PA, with Israel offering to halt all military operations in Ramallah and Jericho and rely on PA security operations instead, with a readiness to apply this agreement to other PA cities if matters go well. 
The PA, it was said, refused the offer because it was insufficient – its demand was that Israel stop operations in every PA city.  It was further reported that the PA said it was considering halting all security cooperation with Israel if its demand was not met.
As part of the Oslo agreement, the IDF had pulled back from PA-controlled Area A. That is, until 2002, when Defensive Shield was put into operation because of horrendous terror attacks that emanated from this area.  Since then the IDF has operated in all PA cities of Judea and Samaria, seeking out terrorists, cells planning attacks, arms caches, arms factories, etc.  There is no standing Israeli army presence in these cities – there are only operations, mostly at night, in which the IDF moves into an area for a specific purpose and then moves out again.
A primary target of IDF operations in the PA areas is Hamas; it is broadly recognized that without Israeli military assistance, the PA would be overthrown by Hamas in the blink of an eye, just as Fatah was roundly defeated by Hamas in Gaza.
In speaking to knowledgeable individuals, I have encountered a dubiousness as to whether Israel truly would have offered what the report says was offered. 
We are again struggling with a surge in terrorism, and could not – would not – relinquish our ability to go after terrorists in PA cities. According to Arutz Sheva, an Israeli official has said the talks addressed security arrangements with the PA, but that Israel always reserves the right to enter any place according to its operational needs. (See further confirmation of this below.)
The US has weighed in on this, saying that it had no information on such an offer, and that, because of close American involvement, would have been informed by Israel:
“State Department spokesman John Kirby says that the US has no knowledge of such discussions...”
He did not believe that there were such organized efforts.  “Otherwise we would know something like this was happening.”
Another US official was cited as saying he believed this was just “spin.”
“Diplomatic officials (presumably Israeli) told Arutz Sheva...that the report referred to ideas that arose in the security establishment, but have not been brought up in actual discussion. They added that there was no intention to implement them in practice.”  (Emphasis added)
As to the PA collapsing without security assistance from Israel, there are PA officials declaring that they’d rather collapse than be beholden to Israel.  This has the feel of grandstanding, or an attempt to make Israel look intransigent.  I wish I had ten shekels for every time some PA official has said the PA will be dissolved. 
But who knows?  There are reports that the PA may be close to imploding in any event.
The obligation we have, unquestionably, is to monitor such reported situations and speak out against what seems bad for Israel.  In the event that this was a trial balloon that had been floated by whomever – testing the political reception – it is important to make it clear precisely what the response to such a move would be.
Two in the government who have spoken out strongly are Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Minister of Immigration Ze’ev Elkin (Likud).
In response to the press reports on the subject, Chief of Staff Eisenkot offered an explanation (emphasis added):
The talks being alluded to, he said, were among commanders on the ground and not at a political level. (Translation: the government is not talking about relinquishing parts of Judea and Samaria.)
“The goal of the discussions is to strengthen the effectiveness of regional security while examining the possibility of decreasing the number of IDF incursions into Area A, Eisenkot told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. ‘These discussions were preliminary...The IDF will preserve its full ability to act in Area A.
“Eisenkot also said Military Intelligence issued a strategic warning at the beginning of 2015 regarding the possibility of instability in West Bank. ‘In accordance with this warning, we have assessed that the IDF has an operational and intelligence advantage and works without limitations....’”,7340,L-4778924,00.html 

Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Photo: Moti Kimchi

Credit: Moti Kimchi
Next posting, finally, I hope to look at some of the measures (not yet adequate, but making headway) that the government is adopting to combat the terrorism.
When the current “knife intifada” began, I said that I would continue to report on all attacks, so that no one would think they had stopped. Sadly, this has not been possible, as there are too many attacks and attempted attacks – knifings, shootings, vehicle attacks - over a period of days.  According to the Israel Policy Center, the IDF reports that from September through mid-March there have been 130 stabbings, 47 shootings, and 25 car rammings.
The last item for this posting is a marvelous short video put out by Regavim Regavim Advocacy Project. 
In it, State Department spokesman John Kirby seems to be confusing the Negev with Judea and Samaria (what he would call the West Bank).  In his rush to look at his notes to quote the phrases that are considered just right, he forgot to get the question right.  When asked about demolitions of illegal housing for Bedouins in the Negev, which is southern Israel, he speaks about leaving "Palestinians" homeless and actions that are disruptive to a two-state solution.  (With thanks to Yisrael Medad.)
See this not only because it’s a blooper that is good for a laugh, but also because Regavim provides commentary to set the record straight.  It counters fallacious charges with facts.  We need the laugh, and we need the facts.
The song is over 55 years old, from the 1960 version of the film Exodus. “This Land is Mine.”  Some might think it dated.  But it feels right for today, especially with the overlay of pictures.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 08:19AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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