Current Postings

April 23, 2014: More on Freedom

Or lack thereof.

Before I get to the more current news, I want to back-track just a bit.  Stay with me: see where I am going.

As you may recall, at the end of March, we were expected to release a last group of terrorists, as per original arrangements to bring Abbas to the table.  But the voices raised in opposition to this here in Israel were strong.  And there was a very serious issue with regard to releasing Arabs who were Israeli citizens – the PA having been under the impression that we would because this is what Kerry told them, although Israel had not agreed.

Our government assessed the situation.  There were no direct negotiations going on.  And Abbas had let it be known that once he had those prisoners, he was going to walk out.  And so, Netanyahu, seeing no gain in such a move, cancelled that prisoner release, thereby eliciting rage from the Palestinian Arabs.

Enter the US, which attempted to “salvage” the situation.  Rumors abounded about a deal in which we would release all of the last group of prisoners, and another 400 to boot, and the US would release Jonathan Pollard.  Whatever its precise parameters, there was some sort of deal on the cusp of being completed. And then Abbas signed all of those applications for membership in international organizations and conventions, thereby quite deliberately scotching the deal.

At that point, Netanyahu declared that no prisoners would be released unless the applications to international agencies were voided.  And that is my point here. 


The applications were not voided and have in fact been accepted.  According to what Netanyahu had said, we might have thought that the issue of releasing prisoners was dead. 

Ah, but then we would not have reckoned sufficiently with Kerry’s determination to keep going at all costs, or with Netanyahu’s readiness, under duress, to help him achieve that goal.

Last Friday, Gil Hoffman, political analyst for the JPost, wrote an article about how Netanyahu had lost his majority in the cabinet for approving a deal that would see those prisoners released (apparently including the Israeli Arabs – who would have been banished from Israel), if Pollard were to be released, and the PA would stay at the table for an extended period of time.

The majority (of one) was lost because after the terror attack: Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beitenu) said he could not longer vote for a prisoner release since Abbas had not condemned it.

My point here is simple: Netanyahu, who said there would be no prisoner release if Abbas did not void international memberships, was prepared to waive that stipulation and go ahead anyway.

Not for a second do I make light of the enormous pressure that Kerry brings to bear.  And yet, and yet... A leader must stand on principle, adhere to his word.  Or else, where are we?  Floundering, is where.


A note about Jonathan Pollard, who has been pulled around like a marionette on a string – he’ll be released, he won’t, he will, he won’t. What the Americans have done in this regard is despicable and beneath contempt.

With it all, however, perhaps something that will benefit him has been accomplished.  It had been argued in certain quarters that he couldn’t be released because he represented a security risk.  Patent nonsense after all these years, even if it might have been true in the beginning.  But now it is demonstrably nonsense.  If it was OK to release him in the context of Israeli-PA relations, then, clearly, it is OK to release him.

I urge that efforts to release Pollard be intensified.


As to quickly changing events on the scene:

Last night, I wrote about meetings on unity between the PA (Fatah) and Hamas, indicating that Abbas’s approach to Hamas was one more ploy.  There was ample reason to think this.  But it appears that this was not the case after all:

According to Al Jazeera, a Fatah delegation headed by Azzam al-Ahmad met Hamas leaders, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (pictured below) and senior official Musa Abu Marzouk, in Gaza yesterday.  At the end of the meeting it was announced that a unity government would be established within five weeks.

Iran: nessun invito per Hamas a summit Paesi Non-Allineati
Credit: arabpress

Said Haniyeh, "the possibility for further separation between the two movements is no longer possible given the current circumstances."

From the Hamas perspective, anything that pulls Abbas away from Kerry’s incessant pressure to “negotiate” and into the “jihad” sphere is a good thing.  From the Fatah, perspective, Abbas is thumbing his nose at the West and removing himself from a no-win situation.

The deal includes the following:
A government (I believe of technocrats) to be established within five week.
Elections for the presidency and legislature within six months.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad join the PLO.
The matter of Hamas joining the PLO has huge significance. This is something that Hamas has sought for a long time, for it confers power.  Technically, Israel negotiates with the PLO, not the PA.  Consider the implications.


A few comments here:

The fact that the unity agreement was announced does not guarantee genuine success.  There have been multiple unity agreements that have fallen apart at one stage or another. Whether motivation is truly different now, because the situation is different, is something we’ll have to watch.

But, as much as there are inherent tensions between the two movements, there is also considerable affinity.  Their ideologies are not so different – as both Fatah and Hamas want Israel gone; only the methodologies vary.

As much as Abbas has been intransigent in dealings with Israel, so is Hamas intransigent in its demands of Fatah. What I have observed over the years is that Fatah contact with Hamas further radicalizes Fatah.  Do not for a fraction of a second be taken in by left-wing arguments that claim Fatah will “moderate” Hamas and bring it to the table for peace.


For the time being, this truly does seem to be the kiss of death for the “peace negotiations.”  When news of the meeting first surfaced, Netanyahu declared that Abbas could choose peace or Hamas but could not have both.  And, he added, rather pointlessly, even though Fatah had not chosen peace until now he hoped at this point it would.

After the formalization of the unity agreement was announced, Netanyahu observed that Abbas had chosen Hamas and not peace.

Here is a perfect case in point for what I discussed above.  We must be able to count on it – that this is Israel’s red line and that there will be no further negotiations if Fatah is in a unity arrangement with Hamas.  “Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other.” (Emphasis added)

It would seem to be a no-brainer.  But there is always that slight unease, that Kerry’s presence will again be felt, and a loophole will be found that permits Israeli talks with the “Fatah branch” of the new unity government – or some such double talk.

At any rate, talks scheduled for today were cancelled by Israel.  While Abbas is playing the “good partner,” acting as if he can do a reconciliation with Hamas and continue to pursue negotiations with Israel.  His people will be meeting with US representatives.

The official statement from Abbas’s office:
"There is no incompatibility between reconciliation and negotiations, especially as we are committed to a just peace based on a two-state solution in accordance with resolutions of international law.
"In the interest of the Palestinian people, it is necessary to preserve the unity of land and people...This approach, supported on the Arab and international levels, strengthen[s] the capacity of Palestinian negotiators to achieve the two-state solution.",7340,L-4512606,00.html


Does Kerry – who spoke about Abbas’s dedication to pursuing peace – feel the complete fool yet? 


© 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 23, 2014 at 03:48PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 22, 2014: Zeman Herutenu

The Time of our Freedom. Another term for the Pesach Holiday which is just completing (last night here in Israel, tonight outside of Israel).  As I picked up news over the holiday that gave me a knot of considerable dimensions in my stomach, I knew how I had to begin this first post-holiday post:

Herut.  Freedom.  It was supposed to be that the Jewish People, having reached Israel, would be free. 

Credit: Menachem Kahana/AFP

But what I see is that we are still enslaved.  Enslaved to a galut (diaspora) mentality: bowing still before international public opinion.  Worried about what “they” will say, or do.

When last I wrote, it was clear that the continuation of the “peace negotiations” was going to be a non-starter.  Or, at very least, if the two sides were to return to the table, it would come to absolutely nothing.  I had hoped to be done with writing about this, hoped that there would be nothing more to write in this regard.  But, alas, it was not to be.

Our prime minister – however ludicrous the situation and the demands of the PA – never says with finality, “Look guys, the current situation is obscene. We’ve given it our honest best, and we’ve had it.”  He prefers to play that game, so that the “failure” of the talks doesn’t appear to be our “fault,” all the while knowing it can go nowhere.


Just hours before the beginning of Pesach here, there was a terrorist attack:

Baruch Mizrachi, 46, was a chief superintendent in the National Police, in the intelligence unit.  With his wife Haddas and four of their five children, he was driving from Modi’in to Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hevron, for a Pesach seder with his in-laws, when terrorists fired on his car.  He was killed, and his wife and at least one of his kids were injured.


 Credit: JPost

Every Israeli death at the hands of a terrorist brings heartbreak, but this was one of the really tough ones.  On their way to a seder!  Haddas Mizrachi, pregnant. allowed to leave her hospital bed the day after yom tov (the first day of Pesach) to bury her husband.  “With a bullet’s whistle,” she said, “I lost you, the love of my life.”

She told about how Baruch had spotted the terrorist and pressed his foot on the gas pedal, so that the terrorist would not have clear aim.  In doing this, said his widow, he saved his family, although he took a fatal hit.


Credit: Reuters 
It is past time to say, ENOUGH!


What Prime Minister Netanyahu did say was that this attack was the result of PA incitement:

"The Palestinian Authority continues to constantly broadcast -- in its official media -- programs that incite against the existence of the State of Israel.”

He is absolutely correct.  The message given to the Palestinian Arabs is that attacking Jews is an acceptable, indeed, a praiseworthy thing to do.

But did he follow through and say that there can be no further “negotiations” with the PA until that incitement is halted?  That any entity that promotes murderous attacks on us cannot be considered a partner in such negotiations, theoretically aimed at achieving peace?  Of course not.


Then a flap ensued regarding the question of whether Abbas condemned the terror attack – with Netanyahu saying that talks about the talks could not continue unless Abbas did provide a condemnation. “The incitement of the Palestinian Authority continues in that it has yet to see fit to condemn this abominable and reprehensible act."

In any event, a condemnation, had it been offered to satisfy a demand, and not as an expression of spontaneous outrage, would have been worthless.  But I will tell you that even this did not happen: Abbas did not condemn the attack – not in terms that are meaningful.  But he’s a sly fox who knows that he can offer pretense, and that Israel will look away.

Pathetically, a group of MKs from the Meretz and Labor parties – all people who are definitely not free, and don’t seem to even know what freedom is – visited Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday.  They came away insisting that Abbas did condemn the terror attack.  That’s how Abbas does it, if at all – in English, and in a private room. 

It is so pathetic that MK Nitzan Howowitz (Meretz), according to the JPost, declared that Abbas “specifically emphasized his disgust from bloodshed.”

Now, I ask you... What sort of pretzel do you have to turn yourself into to believe/or tout an Abbas statement such as this?


The tenor of feelings in the PA regarding the terrorist attack is quite clear from this report:

“Endowments Minister Mahmoud El Habash told Israeli reporters in Ramallah earlier last week that he was ‘pained’ by the murder of 47-year-old Baruch Mizrahi.” Now there are demands that he be dismissed and put on trial.  On some Palestinian Arab FB pages threats about killing him have shown up.

What we must remember is that the only thing that matters is a public statement by Abbas in Arabic, so that he would be delivering a message to his own people regarding his stern disapproval of such behavior.  This he never provides.  He might, quite literally, find himself on the receiving end of some violence if he did.

According to PA spokesman Nabil Abu Ruaineh, Abbas did not condemn the attack, but, rather, simply said in that meeting that he “is committed to a total condemnation of violence...”

Double talk.  Did Abbas offer a condemnation of the attack to the MKs and then allow his spokesman to deny it?  Or did those MKs misinterpret and expand on what he actually said?


Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  No public condemnation was given in Arabic, and yet Israel, with a one day hiatus, continued those talks about the talks. Martin Indyk had returned, and things proceeded apace.  Which means nothing has been happening.

An unnamed Palestinian official has told AFP that Indyk, in meetings on Friday, “did not present any new proposals on how to salvage the talks.”  I laughed at this.  There is nothing, but nothing, that could be presented by Indyk that would generate a break-though, although an associate of mine thought maybe Indyk might bring a different kind of pizza to the table.


Next week we reach the deadline for the talks, and there is a great deal of unease as to what comes next.  PA officials are indulging in their typical dramatic statements and threats. 

Abbas has delivered his latest list of demands for returning to the table. I’ve lost track of how many times he’s set out “requirements,” each time varying the specifics.  I will not belabor them here, as what Abbas wants is far more than Israel will give: release of prisoners, total freeze of all building over the ‘67 line, including in Jerusalem, and agreement on borders for a Palestinian state within three months.
Israel has already rejected these terms.  A senior Israeli official has said that building will not be frozen, and borders will not be discussed separately from other issues – in fact, borders could not be determined until other issues were resolved.

The official further said: "The meaning of what Abbas said is that the Palestinians do not want peace. Because those who do [want peace] do not continue to make demands they know Israel cannot accept." This is apparent on the face of things for those who wish to see.

The most dramatic of Abbas’s threats right now involves a dismantling of the Palestinian Authority.  I see it as a ploy and no more.  Even Saeb Erekat says it won’t happen.  But I’ll come back to this as appropriate.  There are vast implications and complications, yet I am less unsettled by them than many seem to be.  Minister Naftali Bennett has challenged Abbas: You want to leave, so leave.  I would second that.


What does unsettle me greatly is the manner in which our sovereignty is being challenged, both on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) and Har Hazeitim (Mount of Olives), where we have been confronting increased – and horrendous - Arab violence.

To those who are watching this closely, it seems clear that we are not seeing disparate incidents that just happened to take place at the same time.  We are seeing a concerted campaign.  This I want to address in some detail. 


Oh! And there are renewed talks with Hamas regarding a unity agreement.

You can see details here:

This is just one more attempt to frighten Israel into making more concessions.


Last Thursday was “Palestinian Prisoners Day,” and the PA marked it by calling for the release of all 5,300 Palestinian Arabs in Israeli prisons.  Now that the “state of Palestine” has ratified the Geneva Conventions, PA leaders say, they are able to harness international law in applying pressure on Israel.  Keeping the Palestinian Arabs in prison is a “war crime,” they claim, for Israel is holding political prisoners who are fighting for their people’s freedom.

What an absolute crock this is.  International law (invoked inappropriately by various parties) does not recognize the deliberate killing of innocent civilians, including children, as a political act on behalf of freedom. 

This is what we are going to be subjected to, more and more. But we’re looking mostly at empty threats and what is important is to not be intimidated or manipulated. Said an Israeli official:

“According to the Geneva Conventions, the entire Palestinian leadership should be immediately indicted for the thousands of rockets that have been fired from Palestinian territories into Israel...” 

The Palestinians have actually increased their liability by signing the Conventions, by which they are now bound.


Here I recommend an important briefing for the JCPA by Alan Baker on PA attempts to be recognized as a state.  It addresses serious issues regarding international law:


© 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, April 22, 2014 at 04:43PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 13, 2014: Winding Down

Preparing for the Pesach holiday, just a day away now.  Beginning to turn away from everyday happenings, to focus on ultimate questions, family, and the ritual of Seder.   I will not be posting again before the holiday starts on Monday night.  And I do not know that I will have a chance to post in the course of the week-long holiday. 

I wish one and all a joyous and meaningful holiday:  Chag Pesach Kasher v’Sameach. 

Credit: fhdphotos

I read a commentary the other day, about how we were able to come out of Egypt, with the help of the Almighty, because we had courage to move on, chutzpah (nerviness), this commentator said. This is what our people here, and our leadership especially, require today.

It occurs to me, as well, that we were brought from Egypt to come to Sinai and the Torah, and then to enter the Land.  And now it is our task to hold fast to our inheritance.  Something to be remembered at this time especially.


There is no telling what the “peace process” situation will be by the time Pesach is over.  I had, foolishly, assumed that – while it would ultimately come back to haunt us – we had a reprieve that would last for a while.  But the “doctors” at the US State Department insist on trying to put the patient on a respirator.  In the course of those US efforts, rumor-based headlines are generated that occasionally give one a near heart attack.

Pure logic tells us that there cannot be a resumption of the talks now.  (Although pure logic is not exactly the best yardstick to use in assessing this situation.)  Netanyahu has said unequivocally that we would not come back to the table unless the PA withdraws its applications to international organizations, and Abbas has said, figuratively, that he’d rather die than do this.  In any event those applications have been accepted.

On Friday, Channel 10 News cited Israeli officials who declared that there was “zero chance that an agreement [that would bring the parties back to the table] will be reached in the coming weeks.”   

But then again, other sources hint that something might still happen.  Depends on which unnamed source is being cited and the political orientation of that source, as well as the political orientation of the media site doing the citing.  


What I’m seeing – at least now and please Heaven  may it continue – is that Netanyahu is standing strong, not caving to the US pressure for us to make additional concessions, or back off on our position.  Quite the contrary.  In spite of the disapproval registered by the US, Israel is taking actions against the PA.  

The Israeli action that has most rattled the PA is the decision to withhold some of the tax revenues (customs, etc.) that Israel by agreement collects for the PA and then turns over to Palestinian Arab officials.   We are not going to withhold all revenues – only the amount that Abbas pays to terrorists and their families:  Every Palestinian Arab in Israeli prison because of terror-related crimes receives a “salary.”  See on this – it’s eye-opening.

The money that is withheld will go to paying off debts that the PA has accrued with Israel.  The PA owes $400 million to Israel just for electricity that Israel supplies, per agreement.

So I think this will be splendid, if it really happens. What has galled me no end is that Israel – presumably fearing international condemnation – has not simply stopped supplying electricity to them.  (This is in spite of the fact that electric rates for Israelis were on the cusp of being increased to cover this default.)  My electricity would be cut off if I consistently reneged on paying my bill.

The idea of withholding money to pay these bills was advanced as a sort of “retribution” for the PA having filed with international agencies.  But it shouldn’t have been linked to other PA behaviors, or considered “retribution,” it should have been done because it is necessary and right.

Other actions, such as limiting transfers between Israeli and PA banks are also projected.


The PA – which diverts international donations to “pay” terrorists – is alarmed at the idea that their funds should be cut.  Abbas even made a statement about how this might cause the PA to collapse and there have been charges that what Israel is about to do is “illegal.”

What I observe is the pathological need the international community has to keep the PA afloat, even when evidence of misuse of funds donated abounds. 
According to Palestinian Media Watch, “monthly salaries to prisoners ( which goes to their families) range from 2,400 shekels [about $700] to 12,000 shekels [about $3,500]. The PA economic report listed the prisoners’ salaries as part of the PA general salary budget, which includes civil servants, military personnel and others.”  In other words, terrorists are doing the work of the PA.
There is a correlation between the amount paid per month and the length of the sentence – those who have committed more heinous crimes apparently meriting more monthly. Please, wrap your heads around this fact.  Those Palestinian Arabs in Israeli prisons for non-terror related crimes receive no “salary.”
Additionally, those prisoners who have been released as the part of the deal to bring the PA to the table have received from the PA $2,000 for every year served.  This amounts to tens of thousands per prisoner, because these were all convicted pre-Oslo – we’re looking at $40,000 plus per prisoner for over 70 prisoners or well over $2 million.

Yet, completely ignoring the need for PA fiscal accountability (and we haven’t even mentioned the incredible corruption that puts money in the pockets of PA leaders), State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was able to say on Friday that:

“...We believe that the regular transfer of the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been beneficial and is important to the well-being of the Palestinian economy.”

Please keep in mind that, per capita, the PA receives more money in international assistance than any other group or country. 


At least one EU official - European Parliament Budget Committee Chairman Michael Theurer - has finally seen the light with regard PA funding by the EU, the PA’s largest donor.  Writing in the Wall Street Journal last week, he said (emphasis added):

“In its report, issued in December, the European Court of Auditors revealed major dysfunctions in the management of EU financial support to the Palestinian Authority, and called for a serious overhaul of the funding mechanism...

"...the Palestinian Authority is the only body that receives EU funds regardless of its human rights record or economic performance."

Theurer is disturbed by the fact that EU funds are utilized in “paying the salaries of Palestinian Authority officials living in the Gaza Strip, who in fact do not work at all and have not for years since the Hamas takeover in 2007.” He also notes that the salaries paid to the terrorists are five times the average paid by the PA to workers in Judea and Samaria.


Please, my friends, the myth of the poor suffering Palestinians, who are deprived because of the Israeli “occupation,” persists.  Utilize this information about PA funds broadly in setting the record straight. Share with others, do talk-backs, write letters to the editor, etc.


According to the Times of Israel:
“... unnamed senior Israeli official, quoted by Channel 2 on Friday night, asserted that it was Kerry who was to blame for the breakdown [in talks]. ‘He’s responsible for the crisis,’ the official reportedly said. This was because Kerry inaccurately told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would be willing to release Israeli Arabs in the fourth group of prisoners, when Israel had not agreed to do so. There was also a difference between the sides about how many prisoners would go free. The secretary had months to try to resolve the discrepancies but failed to do so, the report said.” (Emphasis added)

It is crystal clear why Kerry proceeded in this fashion: he gave the PA what it demanded, assuming that in due course he would be able to pressure Israel to agree.  Bravo for us that we didn’t.


According to the Washington Free Beacon, the Obama administration waged a “secret media war” against Israel after talks fell apart.  They “sought to lay the groundwork for Israel to take the blame for talks collapsing by peddling a narrative to the Israeli press claiming that the Palestinians were outraged over Israeli settlements...This paved the way for Secretary of State John Kerry to go before Congress...and publicly blame Israel for tanking the talks.

“...The primary source of these multiple reports has been identified as Middle East envoy Martin Indyk and his staff...” (Emphasis added)

This should comes as no surprise – anyone who has been following the situation over the years knows full well that Indyk is no friend to Israel. Nor should we think that this is an isolated incident.  The name of the “negotiations” game is pressuring Israel in one way or another.

I knew that the PA has been refusing to sit directly with Israel in negotiations. But I have just learned that it has been thus since November – that’s more than half the allotted time for these talks.  Their negotiators insist on dealing with US officials only.  A farce.  Kerry cannot be truly hopeful that anything good can result from such a situation.  It’s all a matter of appearances.

Indyk has now returned home for the week of Pesach.  (It’s painful for me to acknowledge that he is a Jew.) 

I begin our holiday grateful that no catastrophe has ensued, and yet am careful not to be naïve about what may yet happen. To our prime minister, I can only say Chazak!  Chazak!  Be strong, be ever strong!


I mention here only in passing that, not unexpectedly, this “negotiations” situation has placed some strains on the coalition.  This is both with regard to Naftali Bennett (head of Bayit Hayehudi) threating to leave if Israel releases Israeli Arab prisoners, and parties on the left making similar threats if “peace negotiations” are not advanced. Avigdor Lieberman (head of Yisrael Beitenu) is making noises about separating from the Likud in due course and aiming for the position of prime minister down the road.

What I hope to be able to do after Pesach is focus on other issues. Too much time and too many words have been devoted to the “negotiations” nonsense.  Around us, chaos abounds and the dangers increase.

Nothing, but nothing, is more serious than the matter of the negotiations the P5+1 are holding with Iran: Appeasement rules the day.  Poison gas has been used in Syria again, with each side accusing the others.  Rockets have come now and again from Gaza and the situation in Egypt is unsettled, to put it mildly.  All these situations require attention in my writing. 


Among the dangers that I see is an erosion of genuine democracy in the US. 

Shame of major proportions accrues to Brandeis University in the instance I address here.  Brandeis was scheduled to give an honorary degree at commencement time to Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, best-selling author and human rights activist, now living in the US.  
Ayaan Hirsi Ali condemns AAP proposal to "nick" Muslim girls

Credit: FreedomsPhoenix
But under pressure from groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Students Association, the offer was withdrawn. Both groups, reports Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, have documented roots in the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Hirsi Ali, born and raised into a Muslim family, renounced her faith and chronicled her reasons why in two best-selling books. She has been targeted for death by radical Islamists, including in a note pinned onto the body of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh after he was shot and stabbed to death on an Amsterdam street.

“The two collaborated on a short film, ‘Submission,’ which was critical of the way women are treated in Islam. Hirsi Ali has made many statements critical of the religion, and her foundation works to protect women from physical abuse like honor violence, genital mutilation and forced marriage.

“Such a life, such a dedication to improving women's lives, is deserving of an honor like the one Brandeis planned. But the school reneged, issuing a statement which said it could not fulfill its promise due to ‘certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values.’"

So much for free speech in America, when that speech is critical of Islam. 


What makes this more horrendous is that Brandeis gave the same award to radical leftist anti-Israel playwright Tony Kushner (NO relation).  When Kushner’s political views were called into question, the response of then-president of Brandeis Yehuda Reinhartz was that:

“Mr. Kushner is not being honored...for his political opinions. Brandeis is honoring him for his extraordinary achievements as one of this generation's foremost playwrights, whose work is recognized in the arts and also addresses Brandeis's commitment to social justice.”

And Hirsi Ali did not deserve recognition for her extraordinary commitment to social justice??


With the holiday of Pesach approaching, and its themes of freedom, this feels all the more distressing and reprehensible.


Is there good news? Sure enough.

Pesach is upon us, with it messages of hope and redemption.


A very special song for Pesach – my very favorite - is this rendition of V’hi She’amda, arranged by Yonaton Razel and sung by Razel and Ya’akov Shwekey:


The words are from the Pesach Haggadah: “This is what has stood by our fathers and us: For not just one alone has arisen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One blessed be He, saves us from their hand!”

Lazer Brody ( calls this the Eternal Promise. “It conveys a very timely message for the Jewish people: He who stood by our forefathers stands by us to deliver us from the hands of our enemies in every generation.”


On a lighter note, but carrying the same theme, is this neat Pesach song video by a group of young boys:


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


Posted on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 01:48PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 9, 2014: Crossing Lines

Has our government finally learned?  No matter what efforts we make, no matter the concessions – in the end it is Israel that faces accusations when things go wrong.  The lesson here is that we should stop trying and refrain from further concessions.

What I am referring to is the tone, as well as content, of testimony given by Kerry yesterday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Tovah Lazaroff, providing an analysis in the JPost, wrote:

“It wasn’t what Secretary of State John Kerry was how he said it....

“It was a narrative exclamation, and pause, strong enough to be heard round the world.

“It fell, like a slow drumbeat...”

Kerry’s accusation: that an announcement by Israel about building over the ‘67 line is what killed the chance to revive the “peace negotiations”


Lazaroff describes the progression of events that Kerry presented.  I want to review it quickly here because Kerry’s misrepresentations require correction.   No one should take him at his word.

Israel - which had committed to the release of 106 pre-Oslo prisoners, in four stages, in order to get the PA to the table for nine months – announced towards the end of March that the final group of prisoners would not be released as scheduled because of evidence that this painful (and, many would say, horribly inappropriate) concession was not achieving its intended results.  The Palestinian Authority had stopped participating in direct negotiations – there was only separate contact by each party with US negotiators.  What is more, there was solid evidence that once Abbas secured the release of that last group of prisoners, he was intending to call a halt to “talks.”  He had been hanging in at a minimal level only to achieve the victory of the release of terrorists. 

Israel said that the final group of prisoners would be released only if the PA committed to another nine months at the table after April 29th. A predictable furor followed, with the PA saying that it was entitled to the final prisoner release without having to make any further commitment. 

At this point the US, seeking to salvage the process, intervened, and the news was full of talk about Pollard possibly being let out of prison (to “motivate” members of the Israeli government to agree to further concessions), and Israel agreeing both to the release of that final group of prisoners plus another 400 and, to boot, a partial freeze in construction in Judea and Samaria (NOT including Jerusalem and exempting building for which tenders were already out).  All so the PA would stay at the table for another nine months.

Enough to give a nationalist Zionist a heart attack, even with the tentative talk about Pollard’s release (a cruel manipulation).  But from the US perspective there should have been acknowledgement that Netanyahu was really trying.


Before this grand new deal could be finalized, Abbas announced that he had signed applications for membership in 15 international organizations. This was precisely what he was not supposed to do, as long as there were negotiations. And this was the final blow.  Kerry cancelled plans to fly to Ramallah to finalize the expanded deal, the US announced that it was no longer considering the release of Pollard, and Israel said all offers were off the table.

At the time this happened, I was astounded, that Abbas could very likely have secured the release of some 420 prisoners, and yet opted to go a different route instead. To me it was obvious that he was tired of the negotiations charade and was prepared to move to the next step – one that was well planned and bound to come sooner or later.  Abbas blew it, willfully and defiantly.


At the same time all of this was transpiring, an announcement was made by Israel regarding the construction of 700 new housing units in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem.  The tenders for this construction had been put out prior to this.  It was not something new.

Kerry, however, has now chosen to point his finger at Israel, saying that this announcement about construction is what destroyed the possibility of salvaging the process.

This is how Lazaroff describes Kerry’s testimony (emphasis added):

“But while Kerry said the 15 applications were not helpful, he didn’t pause in that part of the narrative, nor did he state that this was the point of no return.

“He described matter-of-factly what happened after the March 29 release was delayed as both sides tried to conclude a deal to keep the talks going for another nine-months.

“’Unfortunately the prisoners weren’t released on Saturday, when they were suppose to be released,’ Kerry said.

“’A day went by. Day two went by. Day three went by,’ Kerry said. He moved his arms to underscore his words.

’And then in the afternoon, when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof,’ Kerry said as he spread his arms wide and paused. It was a move that accentuated the drama.

Kerry then finished his sentence: ‘That was sort of the moment,’ he said as he brought his hands down.’”

Poof?  Kerry has sunk to a new low, even for him.


I want to make several points here:

First, Israel had not committed to freezing building under the terms of the current negotiations, nor is there anything in the Oslo Accords that would prohibit this.  Israel was in the process of offering a partial freeze when things fell apart, but had already clarified that the partial freeze would not include Jerusalem.

Gilo is over the ‘67 line, but it stands on what had been Jewishly owned property even prior to 1967. 


Credit: JerusalemShots

The Arabs refer to it as being in “East” Jerusalem, but in point of fact it is in Jerusalem’s south (or more accurately south west). 

Credit: Crethiplethi

Sometimes Gilo is referred to as a “settlement” – which is what Kerry just did: it’s more dramatic than talking about a part of Jerusalem.  Gilo, however, is solidly within the municipal borders of Jerusalem.  It is a Jewish neighborhood with over 40,000 residents that no one believes would ever become part of a Palestinian state even if one were – Heaven forbid – to be established.

The furor over this is nothing but posturing.


Jonathan Tobin, editor of Commentary, responded similarly to Kerry’s “poof” statement.  “Why did Kerry lie about Israeli blame?” he asks.   And then proceeds to answer the question (emphasis added):

“ blame the collapse on the decision to build apartments in, to put it mildly, a mendacious effort to shift blame away from the side that seized the first pretext to flee talks onto the one that has made concessions in order to get the Palestinians to sit at the table. But why would Kerry utter such a blatant falsehood about the process he has championed?
“The answer is simple. Kerry doesn’t want to blame the Palestinians for walking out because to do so would be a tacit admission that his critics were right when they suggested last year that he was embarking on a fool’s errand...

“Since Kerry hopes to entice the Palestinians back to the talks at some point, blaming Israel also gives him leverage to demand more concessions from the Jewish state to bribe Abbas to negotiate. Being honest about the Palestinian stance would not only undermine the basis for the talks but also make it harder to justify the administration’s continued insistence on pressuring the Israelis rather than seek to force Abbas to alter his intransigent positions.

“Seen in that light, Kerry probably thinks no harm can come from blaming the Israelis who have always been the convenient whipping boys of the peace process no matter what the circumstances. But he’s wrong about that too. Just as the Clinton administration did inestimable damage to the credibility of the peace process and set the stage for another round of violence by whitewashing Yasir Arafat’s support for terrorism and incitement to hatred in the 1990s, so, too, do Kerry’s efforts to portray Abbas as the victim rather than the author of this fiasco undermine his efforts for peace.”

It is said sometimes that trying to make peace cannot hurt.  But we see that it can, when the effort is mismanaged.

Tobin’s assumption that Kerry hopes to entice the Palestinians back at some point is probably correct.  Until today I have avoided posting about the interminable haggling about the end of this process.  It has been unbearable to witness. 

I do think it’s come to an end, for now, even though Kerry is still talking about what the next few days may bring.  Imagine, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying, "Gaps remain, but both sides are committed to narrow[ing] the gaps."

Prime Minister Netanyahu, for his part, has instructed ministers to cut off high-level contacts with the Palestinian Authority on non-security related issues (Tzipi Livni excepted).

Some are speaking about scaling down expectations. Thus did Shlomo Avineri, a former director general of the Israeli foreign ministry say, “The gap between the most moderate position in Israel and the most moderate position in the Palestinian leadership is too [wide] right now. It's time for the U.S. to think of a contingency plan —treating this as a conflict-management situation."
Perhaps a short term compromise, of sorts. What I see, however, is that Israel is trapped by Oslo, as these accords call for negotiations to resolve final issues.  Thus will the process of negotiations come back to haunt us again and again, in various formulations, until there is the courage in the government to declare Oslo failed, and null and void because the PLO has abrogated its terms. 


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If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 03:33PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 4, 2014: Finished

The “peace process” is dead, but Kerry refuses to sign the death certificate.  Pathetically, he hovers over the diplomatic corpse as if he can invigorate it with new life.  He’s pushed on before when the situation seemed grim from his perspective. But this time I believe the situation is irrevocable. 


At the request of US “peace” envoy Martin Indyk, Wednesday night our chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, accompanied by Netanyahu’s envoy, lawyer Yitzhak Molcho, met with the PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who was accompanied by the head of Palestinian Intelligence Majid Faraj. 

Livni?  She’s pro-peace and conciliatory, and has consistently made statements about trying hard for “peace” that are infuriating.  But in this instance, she was pushed beyond patience.  When Erekat refused to consider withdrawing the applications to international agencies, she said this was an abrogation of understandings and announced the final release of 26 prisoners cancelled. Thank Heaven!


This was the way Ma’an, an independent Palestinian news agency, described the meeting:

”The [Palestinian Arab] sources described the meeting as a ‘fierce political battle’, with Martin Indyk struggling to control heated exchanges between both sides.

“Erekat reportedly told the Israeli side that ‘we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a
Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel.’

“Israeli negotiators responded by threatening to put ‘endless’ sanctions on the Palestinians, the sources said.

“During the heated exchanges, US special envoy Martin Indyk reiterated his support for Israel's security.

Majid Faraj responded by stressing that the Palestinians were there for ‘political, not security’ talks and to negotiate about Jerusalem as the future capital of an independent Palestinian state. (emphasis added)

“Erekat responded to Israeli threats of sanctions by saying the PLO would go after Israeli officials.”


I want to look for a moment at the comment by Faraj about being there for political and not security talks.  Exactly.  And this was Netanyahu’s error from the get-go.  He relied on security issues (which I do not denigrate and which are real enough) to the exclusion of political issues, because he considered it a less – what? – controversial and combative way to proceed. No forthright challenging PA claims about land, just a counterclaim that, look, we need to hold on to some of that land to be safe.

Now it’s time for Israel to stand up unhesitatingly with the legal claims regarding our rights.

A brief explanation here. Legally, with regard to certain international actions, a state (and the PLO is NOT a state but is trying to pretend it is) must be a signatory to a treaty or convention before it can be involved in making certain charges or claims.  This is part of what the PLO imagines it is about, as it makes these various applications: now it can come after Israel with international backing. 

But it is most definitely not that simple. For once the PLO has signed on, it is committed to the strictures, requirements, etc. of that treaty or convention: that is, legally, it has now pledged to behave in a certain fashion and can be held responsible if it does not. With all of the talk about “getting” Israel, they are playing with a double-edged sword. Since the PLO has vast liability in several quarters, they may come out the worse for it.

Most significant in this regard is the International Criminal Court in the Hague, to which the PLO has not yet made application – and which, in spite of its bravado, it may have reservations about applying to. You will keep reading that the Palestinian Arabs are going to have Israeli leaders charged as “war criminals.” This would be via that court. But imagine how Abbas and his cohorts could be charged with war crimes.


This is what Minister Naftali Bennett, head of Bayit Hayehudi, had in mind when he spoke to a faction gathering last night (emphasis added):

Observing that Abbas has developed a way of getting what he wants, Bennett pointed out that Abbas says, “If you don't give me things, I will stop talking to you; I will go to the UN.”

Retorted Bennett: "From here we say: go to the UN – I will buy you a plane ticket. But what will make things difficult for you at the UN is a personal lawsuit for war crimes.” (Note, this is a rhetorical statement for that prosecution would not be at the UN, but the International Criminal Court.)

Explained Bennett: “[Abbas] finances terrorist activity from Gaza every month, with money from PA taxes. He finances pensions for Palestinian murderers. He talks about going to the Hague [court]. A man who has terrorist butter on his head should not go out in 100-degree weather, because it will explode in his face.

"Right now we are working to create a package and a coalition of actions and organizations, so that if [Abbas's UN] bid is not cancelled, on top of all of the sanctions, in the international field, too, the entire PA leadership will be in Israel's international, legal and diplomatic crosshairs.”

Precisely how our government must respond – not with exaggerated fear, and not with conciliation.


After Abbas was informed of Livni’s demand regarding rescinding the applications to international organizations, he replied that he would “rather be a martyr” – i.e., die fighting for the “cause.”

He then announced the new PLO terms for coming back to the table, which include:

[] Recognition of the 1967 line as the border of the Palestinian state, and of eastern Jerusalem as its capital (with Netanyahu signing a paper in this regard)

[] Release of 1,200 prisoners, including three senior terrorists: Marwan Barghouti, Ahmed Sa’adat and Fuad Shobaki

[] Complete cessation of all building in Judea and Samaria, as well as a halt to all Israeli operations in PA controlled areas (note: these are in pursuit of terrorists)

[] Sharing control of Area C (the Israeli area of Judea and Samaria) with the PA

[] “Reunion” permits for 15,000 families to come into Israel

[] Lifting the blockade of Gaza

There’s more, but this is sufficient.  As I said, negotiations are finished.


I am a bit reluctant to share the commentary on this situation by Ron Ben-Yisai, because I believe he comes to absolutely the wrong conclusions (about how we have to be nice and bring the PA back to the table). But he has a couple of observations about Palestinian Arab intransigent behavior now that are instructive, and so I will (emphasis added):

One reason for their toughened stance, he says, has to do with internal PA politics.: “The popularity of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party has been on the wane recently, not only in comparison to arch-rivals Hamas, but also as Fatah's former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan and his supporters attempt to gnaw away at Abbas' base, presenting Dahlan as a viable alternative for the Palestinian leadership. The crisis in talks with Israel was a chance for Abbas and Fatah to display some ideological resolve, flex their muscles, and regain popularity almost overnight.”

What we need to be reminded of here is that intransigence and toughness are what win the day with the Palestinian Arab street, not conciliatory gestures that will bring peace.  Makes notions of “peace” with the “Palestinian people” look rather naïve and foolish.

“But the third reason for Abbas and the Palestinian leadership's newfound inflexibility is also the most important, and that is power, or, more accurately, being drunk with power. Ramallah saw how shaken Benjamin Netanyahu and the US administration were after Abbas signed more than a dozen international conventions. The Palestinians came to some conclusions, and 25 hours later submitted a long list of radical demands. It is also safe to assume that the fact that Israel had dispatched its chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, to talk to her Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat also contributed to this radicalization.”

This is precisely what I have been saying: being afraid of what the PA will do is counterproductive. It is imperative to show strength and exhibit confidence in Israel’s rights.  We cannot allow them to have the impression that they are in charge.  We must grab the initiative.  This is a psychological war and a war of perceptions, as much as anything.,7340,L-4506751,00.html


Maj. Nadav Abargil, Nitzan Combat Intelligence Collection Battalion, gave a rare interview to the JPost yesterday. Its timing is not a coincidence: this is a warning to the PA especially in light of demands that the IDF no longer operate in PA controlled areas:

“Should peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail and result in an elevated level of violence, the battalion’s members and their ghost-like presence throughout the West Bank will direct the army to the location of terrorist suspects. That is what the battalion, under the IDF Central Command, has been doing until now, and its members say they are ready to deal with any future threats.” (Emphasis added)


The Shin Bet reports that terror attacks and resultant fatalities have enormously increased in the past year. My observations is that this is what happens when there are “peace negotiations” – it motivates Palestinian Arabs negatively as their sense of empowerment increases. It is important to understand the Arab mindset, which sees conciliation as weakness. They are into power.  (This is something the Western mind has trouble with.)  Another reason to say good riddance to the “peace process.”           

“In 2013, there were some 1,271 attacks in Judea and Samaria, as opposed to 578 in 2012, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said. Of these attacks, 1,042 took place in Judea...The Shin Bet said that 78 percent of the injuries in 2013 were caused in rock-throwing or firebombing incidents.”


There are reports now about concern in Washington that the secretary of state is wasting too much time on this issue, and thus neglecting other matters. There is a push for him to admit failure and pull back.


On this note, I say SHABBAT SHALOM.


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


Posted on Friday, April 4, 2014 at 10:21AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 3, 2014: Recap

I have no intention here of reviewing matters in the sort of detail I offered yesterday.  It is not necessary, in any event. 

I’m seeing much the same as I did yesterday: Inherently contradictory comments from Kerry regarding his continued faith in the “peace process” that prompts him to declare that he will continue “no matter what,” coupled with a resignation that “you can facilitate, you can push, you can nudge, but the parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions and compromises."
This is a very conflicted man, I would say: he sees the end but cannot admit the failure.

John Kerry

Credit: DaledAmos

And PA leaders?  Playing games.  Commented one senior political leader in Israel, "Every time it gets to the point of making a decision, [Abbas] runs away."

Top Fatah official Mohammed Shtayyeh was a member of the PA negotiating team until he resigned in November.  Yesterday, speaking to Sky News Arabic, he said the PA was willing to keep talking in April.  Challenging Israel to present a map based on the 1967 line, he declared that discussion “will be on the border only.”


It is at this point, of course, that Netanyahu should say, so sorry, but we reject discussions based on that line, as it was only a temporary armistice line. 

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) has the right idea (emphasis added):

The time has come to stop being the go-to sucker of the Middle East. I call on the prime minister and Minister Livni to end the entire negotiation process so long as Abbas doesn’t withdraw his request from the United Nations, and [to] unilaterally implement the many measures Israel has in order to convince the Palestinian leadership that it doesn’t pay for them to fight us in the international arena.”

So does Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi):

"The Palestinians turning to the U.N. breaks down all the [negotiation efforts], and we should respond in kind and work to strike down the Oslo Accords.”

We are not nearly where we need to be yet. But I take heart when I see members of the government speak as these two did.


Understand what has happened: The PA could have had 400 more prisoners released in a deal that would have been sweetened by the US, and that required only that they stay at the table.  The Israelis are saying Abbas “torpedoed” it. 

Not an accident, not simply the result of enormous anger at Israel.  I would say this was a planned tactic, that had simply awaited the proper timing. These guys are masters at manipulation and effective PR. 

(Arafat had thoroughly planned the second intifada, and then he waited. When Sharon went up on the Temple Mount, Arafat said this created so much anger there was a “spontaneous” uprising “caused” by the Israelis.)

Now they claim to be ready to continue negotiations but put a major stumbling block in the way of Israel with demands that only the border at the ‘67 line be discussed. Shatayyeh followed his demand for discussion only of the border with a telling statement:

Should the talks fail, the PA will move to join 63 international organizations including the International Criminal Court.

Of course the talks are going to fail!  The trick, from their perspective, is to make it Israel’s fault that they failed.  This gives us a bit of understanding into why Netanyahu behaves as he does.  There is another way, however, and it’s the approach of Elkin and Ariel.  It means taking the offensive.

This route that the PA is now embarking on was inevitable.  It was only a matter of time, and being forever conciliatory in order to placate the Palestinian Arabs means simply delaying that inevitability.


There is considerable concern on the part of some of my readers regarding the implications of what the PA is planning now.  In due course I will deal with the various issues. But I want to do so with seriousness, and I hope to be consulting with one or more attorneys I rely upon before writing.  The fact that we are heading towards Pesach does slow matters down.

What I will say here is that the situation can be managed, if the Israeli approach is one of strength and self-confidence.  What we are facing in good part are international perceptions, and not matters of international law.  In any event, the UN cannot “create” a state.

See what Alan Baker – international lawyer and Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs - said when the PA went to the UN just a little over a year ago (emphasis added):

The UN upgrade resolution has neither created a Palestinian state, nor did it grant any kind of statehood to the Palestinians. General Assembly resolutions, including the Palestinian upgrade resolution, can neither determine nor dictate international law or practice.
“...After the Palestinian upgrade resolution, neither the status of Israel in the territories, nor that of the Palestinians, has changed in any way. The new claim voiced by the Palestinian leadership that Israel became, overnight, an occupant of Palestinian sovereign territory is without any basis.
The internationally accepted requirements for statehood include, among other things, a unified territorial unit and responsible governance of its people, and capability of fulfilling international commitments and responsibilities. Furthermore, the UN Charter requires that a state seeking membership in the UN be ‘a peace-loving state’ that accepts and is willing and capable of carrying out the obligations of the UN Charter.”


Robbie Sabel, Professor of International Law at Hebrew University, is quoted by Times of Israel as saying (emphasis added:

“...even if ‘Palestine’ were admitted [to all 15 treaties and conventions] it would have no direct practical implications for Israel...

“It gives them a feeling of satisfaction and it strengthens their feeling of getting international recognition of their state, but [it has] no practical importance whatsoever.”

I will close here – hopefully to pick up again after Shabbat – with this good news story:

The Tiferet Israel synagogue was one of the most prominent synagogues in Jerusalem before the War of Independence, but it was destroyed – along with all of the other synagogues of eastern Jerusalem – in 1948 when Jordan occupied this part of the city.

In 2012, plans were first mentioned for restoring this synagogue (just as the Hurva Synagogue has been restored).  Now, Elder of Ziyon tells us, the plans for its restoration have been approved.

The Arabs are in an uproar over this and say it will threaten the stability of the Al Aqsa Mosque (everything we do apparently threatens the Mosque) and will “judaize” the city.

The Arabs object to all major Jewish building in eastern Jerusalem, but the restoration of this synagogue will present a particular problem: Mosques and other Muslim religious buildings are supposed to be the tallest in a given area.  But Tiferet Israel, because of its location in the Jewish Quarter, which is on a hill, will be higher than the Dome of the Rock. 

Here is a pre-1948 picture of the synagogue, which is the building on the upper left, as seen from the Temple Mount.


The full story can be seen here:


© 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 3, 2014 at 03:17PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 2, 2013: The Insanity Deepens

The current situation regarding “peace negotiations” has evolved into one beyond imagining.  I do not use the term “evolved” to suggest progress to a higher state, I assure you. 

What is more, everything is in almost hour-to-hour flux.  And so, while I hope to send this out today, I advise my readers that within hours of your reading this, the situation may have again shifted.  In point of fact, I had written an extensive posting yesterday, and before I transmitted it, news broke that so changed the situation that I had to table it.


In the last posting I sent out, I had touched upon a number of rumors – explaining that media reports on this situation were so conflicting that it was impossible to determine what was accurate and what not.  Now, we have a considerably clearer – but still muddled - picture.

The genesis of the current tangled situation was a major disagreement between Israel and the PA with regard to the release of that last group of 26 pre-Oslo prisoners. 

Israel had information that it was the intention of the PA to celebrate the release of this last group and then walk out on negotiations and head to the UN and international tribunals:

“Erekat himself stated last month that Abbas was staying in talks solely for the sake of the terrorist releases.”


Thus did Netanyahu call a halt, saying that there had to be a quid pro quo before he would approve that release.  What he appeared to be looking for was a commitment by the PA to stay at the table past the April 29th deadline, thereby keeping the PA from its “international” path. That he may have had other motives as well is altogether possible.


The PA leadership, on the other hand, was firm in its conviction that Israel committed to the release of 104 prisoners, no matter what, and that the last group had to be released with no further commitment from their side.  News reports were that they were very angry.  Furious.  They referred to the Israeli conditions as “blackmail.”

On the Palestinian Arab street, securing the release of prisoners is a huge matter.  Support for Abbas’s administration is affected by what he can accomplish in this regard: for him to fail to secure release of prisoners as promised weakens his base.


Thus was there a “stalemate” – if you can call a hitch in a process that was going nowhere a stalemate.  And thus did John Kerry fly into the area once again on Monday, this time from Paris, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney, to “narrow the gaps and get things moving forward.”  (Continue reading after you’ve stopped laughing.)

Kerry did not meet with Abbas because of scheduling conflicts.  At least that is what we were told.  But it is possible that Abbas simply said that Kerry knew his terms and there was nothing to discuss: For, Monday night, PA officials gave Kerry 24 hours to resolve the prisoner dispute.  If it wasn’t resolved by Tuesday, they said, they would turn to UN agencies for recognition.

US envoy Martin Indyk (no friend of Israel) and a considerable US “negotiating team” were on the scene speaking to both sides before the secretary of state arrived.  And then, Kerry did meet with chief PA negotiation Saeb Erekat, although there was no word on what was discussed. 

Kerry met with Netanyahu late Monday night and again Tuesday morning.  It seemed that the second meeting followed some communication with the PA, but this is where it all got fuzzy, with the rumors and unofficial reports flying.


The PA wanted the 26 prisoners (including Arab Israeli citizens) released with no conditions attached. Then, if they were to remain at the table (this is metaphorically speaking only, because there haven’t been direct talks between the parties for months), they wanted additional concessions from Israel.

Media sources have been reporting various demands and various things that Netanyahu presumably agreed to. Now that the air has cleared a bit, it is possible to pinpoint several exaggerations. But concessions there were:

In the last posting I sent out, I had expressed doubt about the veracity of reports that our prime minister had agreed to release an additional 400 prisoners, suggesting that his coalition would crumble were he to attempt to do this.  It turns out that, indeed, he did agree – and possibly to 420.  

Originally, Israel said that only prisoners with no blood on their hands would be chosen.  But then the PA insisted on the right to participate in selection, which sets off bells.  On some media sites I have seen reports that Barghouti would be included. But today I checked with someone who has first hand information from inside the government, and I’ve been told this is not so.


The big news was that there had become a real possibility that Jonathan Pollard might be released in mid-April in return for this.  As “incentive.”

Credit: AP

There are US sources who were confirming this possibility, but there was no official statement from the American government. Jay Carney, White House press secretary, said that the president had not decided yet. Obama was weighing his options and whether this would bring political gain.  He’s been hostile to the concept of releasing Pollard from the beginning of his presidency.

What this would do is shift the dynamic and make it more likely that Netanyahu would be able to release more Arab prisoners without bringing down his coalition.   

Was this a good thing?  No, it is a vile and immoral situation

Jonathan Pollard deserves to be released because his continued incarceration is unjust and inhumane. Released, period.  Not in exchange for the release of more terrorists. 

Please see the case made today by Alan Dershowitz and Irwin Cotler regarding Pollard’s right to be released:

To offer his release in the fashion proposed is extortion.  Even among those enormously eager to see Pollard brought home to Israel, there are those who oppose such a deal.


To complicate matters further, there were conflicting reports regarding whether Pollard would cooperate in such a trade-off.  Pollard refused a parole hearing yesterday, which many read as a sign that he would not cooperate.  As well, there are those who have spoken to him over time, or are in touch with those who are, who say Pollard wants no part of such a deal:

Others – such as the JPost’s Gil Hoffman - insist that Pollard would cooperate.  Pollard’s health is poor and, whatever his distaste for the situation, this may be his only chance for an improvement in his living conditions that would sustain or prolong his life:
There are senior Congressional people who are opposed to the Pollard release:

And obviously, there are serious objections to this deal here in Israel:  Much of Bayit Yehudi is negative; as is Danny Danon (Likud), fiercely so; and Yair Shamir, Uzi Landau, and Israel Katz (all Yisrael Beitenu).  I’ve heard that Ze’ev Elkin may object, and Foreign Minister Lieberman (head of Yisrael Beitenu) has said he would.  So it was not a sure thing that this deal would pass muster in the government.

And now... add to this the fact that there is another way in which Netanyahu caved. Reportedly he agreed to institute an eight-month partial de facto freeze in Judea and Samaria, as well.
Unbelievable?  Believe it.  Unbearable?  Absolutely.  Incomprehensible?  That too.

And what would the PA give in return for all of this? They would continue at the table into 2015. 


But wait!  This is not the end of the saga.  Kerry, who had to fly out to other locales on Monday afternoon, was due back yesterday to meet with PA officials in Ramallah and secure their final agreement on these new terms.

But Abbas dropped a bombshell:  He announced that – with full PLO approval - he had signed applications to 15 international agencies, thereby abrogating the understanding that was the linchpin for all of these Israeli concessions. 

Kerry cancelled plans for going to Ramallah, and for a brief time I thought the issue was dead.  In fact, I figured this was the perfect scenario for Netanyahu: See, he would be able to announce, we were willing to go that extra mile (kilometer), we wanted to cooperate. But look, Abbas has not cooperated, and now Israel must call a halt.  The PA has sabotaged “talks.”

Foolish me: Subsequently, both the Americans and the Israelis hedged the issue, saying that the Palestinian Arabs were only playing hardball in order to get even more concessions and besides, Abbas hadn’t mailed the applications yet and maybe he wouldn’t, and in addition to this, he was not actually applying to any UN agencies, just other international agencies.

That is, they were saying that in spite of what Abbas announced, plans for extended negotiations could continue.

This is what Kerry said:

“What is important to say about the Middle East right now is it is completely premature tonight to draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment, about today’s events and where things are.”
It was at this point that I felt the impulse to run my head into the wall.

Is the fear of what Abbas might do so great, is the hunger to keep him on board so overwhelming, that this penny-ante terrorist in a suit, who has no real political base, and whose term of office ran out years ago, is permitted complete latitude and excused everything???

Abbas, for his part, was playing both ends against the middle – saying that he was only doing what the PA had every right to do, but that this did not mean he wasn’t for negotiations.
“This [appealing to international agencies] is our fundamental right and we will not give it up...

"We are interested in peace and in an independent Palestinian state that will be established in peace beside Israel, but we keep facing delays -- more and more delays. So the Palestinian leadership unanimously decided to join international organizations and institutions. We are not closing the door and we have hope for the peace process.”


Ashraf Khatib, a communications adviser for the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department, put it this way“
"These treaties and conventions will help to protect and promote basic rights of the Palestinian people and will enable the State of Palestine to be a responsible actor on the international stage. These treaties are vital to continued Palestinian institutional building, good governance and the upholding of human rights, all of which form the basis for an independent and sovereign State of Palestine.”

“good governance and the upholding of human rights...”  Unmitigated nonsense where the PA is concerned.  But for the uninitiated, the naïve and those eager to believe, he makes a convincing case.

It is important to note that, despite what Kerry said to minimize the issue, agencies Abbas applied to were, indeed, connected to the UN, and at this point the applications have been delivered.  Some were handed to UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry .


It is broadly understood that if Obama and Kerry were ready to consider releasing Pollard, then they were desperate.  But this gambit is nothing if not cruel.  First, of course, for Pollard.  But it’s also a heartbreak for many here, to so badly want to see Jonathan Pollard released, and yet to know that the price demanded is exceedingly detrimental to the state of Israel.

My own guess is that this will fall apart.  In his recent statements Kerry shows signs of stepping back:

“A senior American official told The [Washington] Post that Kerry has ‘gone as far as he can as mediator’ and that the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, seen as a bargaining chip, would no longer be on table unless the Palestinians and Israelis made ‘significant moves forward.’  (Emphasis added)

It was now up to the two parties to work things out, Kerry is reported as saying.

Never mind that he continues to babble in public about how there’s still hope for peace.


As to Netanyahu, even now – and in the face of claims to the contrary – I do not believe his goal is the facilitation of a Palestinian state. Had that been the case, there would have been much he might have done a la Olmert to make territorial concessions during the last eight months.

No, I think that our prime minister is under extreme pressure from a ruthless Kerry. But I do not excuse him because of this.  Not at all.  He shows himself to be spineless and ever eager to please and appear the good guy.  In the process he makes Israel weak.

Then there is, of course, this irrational fear he harbors that we will suffer severe damage if the PA goes to the UN and other international forums.  This is undoubtedly a piece of the picture.


As my readers know, with Jeff Daube, I co-chair Legal Grounds: The Campaign for Israel’s Rights.  Just today we met to discuss our approach in coming weeks and months.

That fear of Abbas and the UN comes from a lack of Israeli confidence about our legitimate rights and a reluctance to speak out on this issue.

Changing this is what we are about, and there will be much to say about this in the time ahead.   

© 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 2, 2014 at 05:12PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 30, 2014: Total Confusion

I had intended to write last night – the night when that last batch of Palestinian Arab terrorists was scheduled for release – to say that we had a temporary reprieve.  It was clear even before last night that they were not going to be released on schedule, because the process required public announcement of their names 48 hours before their release (not counting Shabbat), and that deadline had come and gone without announcement.

I wanted to say, “Pheww...” at least for now they’re not out.

45 Palestinian prisoners won’t back home

Credit: Allvoices

But when I began to check news sources with regard to the release, I found that the situation was in such disarray, with so many conflicting reports, that writing coherently seemed close to impossible.

There appeared to be a reasonable consensus within the Israeli government that Abbas was hedging matters too much to “justify” a further release of prisoners (not that this could ever really be justified).  It’s sort of a “why are we bothering” feeling that has developed, as Abbas stonewalls and refuses all concessions. 

PA officials this past week had said Abbas might agree to continue negotiations after the April 29 deadline if Israel goes through with the prisoner release.  Israeli officials are concerned about the possibility that Abbas would welcome the prisoner released, call it a victory, and then balk at further negotiations.  (More on further negotiations below.)

In a talk, also this past week, chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said that “The key to the prison where the Palestinian prisoners are being held” is in Abbas’s hands...
”There was never an “automatic commitment to release prisoners unrelated to making progress in negotiations.”

Now she is denying she made a link between progress in negotiations and the prisoner release.
Yesterday, al-Hayat (London), citing PA sources said that Kerry had told Abbas that Netanyahu had shared concerns that his government might fall if more prisoners were released. That it might is true enough.  Kerry prevailed upon Abbas to accept a postponement in the release of those prisoners, and to move on in the meantime.

Ha! Abbas, of course, will agree to nothing of the sort.

Meanwhile, today, in the JPost an Israeli official is cited as denying that Netanyahu ever made any such claim.
The truth of the matter – both here and in other related situations – is impossible to discern.
Last night, the Times of Israel carried an exclusive.  Citing Palestinian sources, the Times reported that:
”Israel has offered to release a new group of 400 Palestinian security prisoners, in addition to the fourth and final group of longtime terrorism convicts who were set to go free this weekend, if the Palestinian Authority agrees to extend peace talks for another six months. The US, anxious to arrange for the continuation of the talks, backed the offer.”

A huge shock, if true. What must be kept in mind that this information comes only from Palestinian sources, not known for reliability.  It is counter-intuitive, given the furor in this country about releasing 26 prisoners. 

Whether Netanyahu did or did not tell Kerry the release of more prisoners would risk his coalition, it is almost a sure thing that the coalition would disintegrate in the face of the release of 400. Already, Naftali Bennett has said that this will not happen.  That is, the Cabinet and Knesset would not stand for it.


Today, Netanyahu has said that the issue will be resolved “in days.” It “will be closed or it will blow up.”

“In any case, there won’t be any deal without receiving something of clear value [in return],” Netanyahu declared. (Emphasis added.)


That’s a bit amorphous, as it depends on a judgment about what would be “of clear value.”

It’s important to understand that the Israeli government has an objective beyond theoretically achieving a “two-state solution”:

The PA is threatening to go to international tribunals and the UN if it does not get satisfaction in its dealings with Israel.  This means – among other things - securing UN recognition of a Palestinian state.  The US told the Washington Post yesterday that it could not stop the PA from going to the UN if talks failed.

(In point of fact, it is my understanding that, according to international law, the UN does not have jurisdiction to declare a state.  I will revisit this in more detail if this appears about to happen.)

Israel is seeking to avoid this scenario. Keeping the PA at the negotiating table means it is committed, for the duration, to not going to the UN or international tribunals. 

It still seems to me, however, that in using this tactic we are simply delaying the inevitable.  We are never going to give the Palestinian Arabs want they want – there is not going to be a Palestinian state comprised of all the land past the Green Line (the 1949 armistice line) with Jerusalem as its capital, and return of “refugees.”  Ultimately the PA will seek recourse in exactly what they threaten now.

It is time, I suggest, for a new, more offensive approach on this front. 

Thus am I encouraged by what I see as a tentative sign of progress.  Netanyahu is no longer reflexively jumping to show – at ridiculous cost to us - that we are the “cooperative party,” so that the international community will not censure us. The government is ready to buck a Kerry demand, even if tentatively, because acceding is perceived to be detrimental to us.  Perhaps (is this wishful thinking?) we are on the verge of declaring that the emperor indeed is without clothes.  Perhaps a majority of the government and the Knesset will finally show itself to be sick of this whole charade.


Remember that there is still the entire issue of the release of Israeli Arab prisoners along with the others – something we say we are not committed to, and that the PA says we are.  Before these prisoners can be released, there would have to be a special Cabinet vote, and there is serious doubt as to whether it would pass.


Lastly, before turning to other matters, there is this particular outrage:

The JPost reported last week a charge by MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) that while the US was pressing Netanyahu to release prisoners, American officials had requested that no terrorists who have killed Americans be among those released.

I contacted MK Feiglin directly, and he confirmed that he had information on this.


Let me turn, briefly, then, to other issues, starting with this statement from our “peace partner”:

“The Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash and the former Chief Justice of the PA's Religious Court both recently declared that the PA's Islamic belief and political position is that Jews are prohibited from praying at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount...
”Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi, former Chief Justice of PA Religious Court:

‘Allah decreed that the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque is Islamic and belongs to Muslims alone... It is part of the religious belief of a billion and a half Muslims, and the Jews have no right to it. No party, no matter how much power and international support it has, can change this established fact by giving the Jews any right to it, or the right to pray in any part of it. The Al-Aqsa Mosque includes all its courtyards... and specifically, its western wall.’"

At one point the suggestion – itself totally unacceptable! - was that the Arabs have the Mount and the Jews have the Western Wall.  These guys are getting more audacious in their effort to squeeze us out entirely.  And we need to take note of this.  There is no compromise possible here.


Another attempt to squeeze us out was put forth recently by Saeb Erekat, who claimed that, “I am the proud son of the Canaanites who were there 5,500 years before Joshua bin Nun burned down the town of Jericho.”  His intent was to establish that the Palestinian Arabs are the true indigenous people, here long before the Jews.  Never mind that Joshua never burned down Jericho, but merely brought its walls down – his claim is ludicrous.

Alan Baker, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has set the record straight, and effectively so:

“Saeb Erekat’s family is Bedouin. According to Bedouin genealogy, the family is part of the Huweitat clan which originated in the Hejaz area of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Palestine from the south of Jordan, and settled in the village of Abu Dis in the early twentieth century...
“Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, has already established an international reputation for stretching the truth. Many Israelis recall during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 when Erekat went on CNN to assert that Israel had killed ‘more than 500 people’ in Jenin in a “real massacre,’ adding that 300 Palestinians were being buried in mass graves. It soon became clear that in combat operations at the time, the Palestinian death toll in Jenin was 52: 34 of whom (65 percent) were known military operatives of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or Fatah-Tanzim. Now Erekat’s wild assertions have moved into the field of history as part of a Palestinian battle over the narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“Chief  Palestinian negotiator”: go negotiate with people like this.


In the midst of all of this, I want to end on an upbeat note, with Pharrell Williams’ Happy Jerusalem Video. What fun:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.



Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 12:23PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 26, 2014: Counting Down

We are almost to that day [March 29th, late at night] when either the final batch of pre-Oslo Arab prisoners will be released, or our government will announce that they are not being released... 
There is a reasonable chance that the latter situation will prevail.  And, in any event, as there is little stomach for this here and no official government commitment to do so, the Israeli Arab terrorists would likely not be among those released.
There was a demonstration outside the prime minister’s residence tonight imploring him not to release terrorists.

Credit: Arutz Sheva
Many of the demonstrators were people who had lost family members to terrorists.  Among them was Rabbi Yehuda Ben-Yishai, whose daughter, Ruth Fogel, her husband, and three of their children - including their three-month-old baby girl - were massacred by Arab terrorists in Itamar three years ago. 
Every terrorist attack is a horror, but this one was particularly horrendous.  I could not bring myself to write about this when it happened – it was too fresh, too raw, but I had received information that the baby was not only killed, she was mutilated. Words fly away in the face of this.  Yet the world needs to know with what we are dealing.

Said the good rabbi tonight (emphasis added):

"Murderers walk free while the rest of us mourn our loved ones.

"We are certain that anyone with a Jewish heart inside of him will oppose this thing, and we have come to tell the Prime Minister: Do what you know you must do; according to the truth, and according to what the people feel.

"You have the mandate to refuse those who wish to subjugate us. You have the mandate to stand up for the truth and say to those who consider themselves our friends [the US, which is pressuring us to do it] that we will not free murderers."


Amir Fuchs, in “An Insult to the Justice System,” speaks about “the irreparable damage that such releases, whether they are conducted as part of prisoner release deals or as part of diplomatic negotiations, do to the rule of law in general and to the goals of the criminal justice system in particular.”

Unless there is a prisoner release that conforms to Abbas’s demands (which, indeed, are interminable), he is likely to declare the negotiations failed and take himself to the UN.  If this is what does transpire, he will waste no time letting the world know that the problem was Israel – for he was very willing to pursue peace.
Kerry, who was in Italy, cut his visit short in order to hurry to Jordan today for a dinner meeting with Abbas tonight.  This was a last minute attempt to salvage the talks, but I just loved the official description – as it provided a bit of unintended humor: The secretary of state, said his spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, was going in order to “continue to narrow the gaps between the parties.”
Does no one ever advise these people how foolish they look when they make such statements?
While Kerry did meet with King Abdullah of Jordan, there are apparently no plans for him to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu.  The two are scheduled to talk by phone and video-conferencing.
As to the meeting with Abbas, nothing came of it – nor should it have been expected that anything would have. Abbas’s position was that he wouldn’t even consider Kerry’s framework proposal until he sees what happens with the prisoner release.
If Abbas was obstinate about not making any concessions before, he is strengthened in that resolve now: The closing statement of the Arab League, which just completed its meetings in Kuwait, included a statement that: “We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state.”  (Emphasis added)
On Monday, a new condition was apparently added by the PA officials.  At a forum in Jerusalem, Muhammad Al-Madani, chief coordinator with Israeli society for Abbas, declared;
“Israel cannot claim that it aspires to reach peace with its Arab neighbors at a time it continues to suppress its Palestinian citizens and treats them as if they are third- or fourth-class citizens.”

I mention this outrage only because it requires a rebuttal: Legally, all Israeli citizens are treated alike. There are no “third or fourth class” citizens.  They, as individual citizens, have equal rights under the law.  They receive the same unemployment and other social welfare benefits. have access to the same universities, have the same right to vote and sit in the Knesset, and on, and on.
Abbas, for his part, speaking before the Arab League, revealed that he objects to dividing visiting time and area on the Temple Mount between Jews and Muslims,7340,L-4503282,00.html
This is a paradigm for how the Arabs conduct themselves and it should be noted well by everyone who imagines that rational sharing and compromise with them is possible. They are seeking to co-opt control of the Mount, while our government dallies in asserting our rights there. A situation designed to raise blood pressure.
There have been a spate of suggestions for ways to circumvent the current impasse, none of which will work. 
The most dramatic rumor involved the suggestion that the US might, finally, release Pollard in exchange for Israel’s agreement to release the Israeli Arab terrorists.  There was an enormous focus on this in the media for a short while.  It is unlikely that anyone in the Cabinet would have voted against this, no matter how painful this equation would have been. But Washington has announced that there’s nothing doing.  In addition to which, Pollard himself has balked at being used this way.
A handful of left-leaning politicians in Israel suggested to Netanyahu that he freeze building in Judea and Samaria as a substitute for release of prisoners, because the freeze can always be undone in a way that a prisoner releases cannot. But the PA would never relinquish their demand for prisoners, and here in Israel there is a “been there, done that” feeling about the futility of a freeze.
And so it goes...
Speaking in Beit El today, Minister of Interior Gideon Sa’ar (Likud), who is close to the prime minister, said:
“There's no more room for one-sided concessions. We paid painful prices in the past, and there's no place today for more withdrawals and more freeze just so that the Palestinians would do us the favor of continuing talks with us,  We have reached a point where in order to extend the peace talks, the Palestinians are demanding more and more one-sided concessions."


Gideon Saar in Beit El

Credit: Hillel Meir

I think he reflects a growing weariness in this country with the whole charade.  Let’s hope, and pray, he reflects a predominant government position.
The fact of the matter is that this process, whatever one calls it, is not going to lead to anything remotely resembling “peace.”  The confrontation might be delayed for some months, or a year, but a confrontation there will finally be.  (And it may begin with the Temple Mount.)
Actually, I believe that Obama and Kerry’s “peace initiative” has merely exacerbated tensions.
© 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 26, 2014 at 05:01PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 22, 2014: Bad Scene on Several Fronts

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

Where to start?  Last Tuesday, four IDF soldiers on the Golan Heights were injured – one severely – by an explosion near the border.  The IDF, convinced that Assad’s forces and not rebels were responsible, retaliated with several “strategic” hits on Syrian army sites – reportedly attacking the headquarters of the 68th and 90th Divisions of the Syrian army in Quneitra, as well as other locations.

Subsequently, Hezbollah (which operates in support of Assad’s army in Syria) took responsibility for the attack on the four soldiers, saying that it was “ready for war.”  The attack, Hezbollah leadership is reported to have said, was in retaliation for Israel’s alleged attack last month designed to take out high-end ballistic missiles designated for Hezbollah.

The expectation from our side is that their saber-rattling talk about being ready for war aside, Hezbollah, stretched thin, is not truly contemplating “war.”  At this time, at any rate.


On Thursday morning, there were media reports about “intense” Israeli activity over southern Lebanon.  It was said that Israeli jets performed mock raids, and a drone was involved.  Additionally, a huge Israeli air balloon carrying surveillance equipment was launched over Lebanon.  (See URL above.)


Last night, a joint force made up of the IDF, Shin Bet, and the Border Police's elite Counter-Terrorism Unit entered Jenin to arrest much sought-after Hamas member Hamza Abu Aleija – the son of Jamal Abu Aleija, a head of Hamas's military in Judea and Samaria (note: Judea and Samaria, not Gaza!) who is serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison for acts of terrorism.
Intelligence had revealed that Hamza Abu Aleija was about to begin a campaign of attacks on a community and on army positions in Judea and Samaria.

Abu Aleija's campaign was being orchestrated by Hamas in Gaza.  “Hamas members released in the Gilad Schalit prisoner release deal played a role in the terror plot, according to intelligence gathered by security forces.” (Emphasis added)  The implications here could not be more obvious.

The sort of operation described here is routine – many people don’t realize that this is what guards Israel from major attacks by terrorists.  In this instance, because Abu Aleija was on the verge of acting, it was considered “an immediate terror alert."

Many times, a terror suspect is apprehended without incident. Although sometimes there is a furor, as local Palestinian Arab residents of the area attempt to protect the suspect.

On this occasion, “the suspect barricaded himself in his home and refused to surrender himself, the IDF said. After ignoring calls to end the stand off peacefully, the suspect, armed with an M-16, opened fire on security forces, injuring two soldiers lightly, and attempted to escape.
“Soldiers returned fire, killing the armed suspect.

“Soon afterwards, a violent disturbance broke out, in which armed Palestinian rioters fired on security forces, and hurled explosives, firebombs, and rocks.” The army considers this a most serious incident.  Two SWAT team members were injured in the confrontation.

“Security forces returned fire, killing two rioters, and injuring six others. Three Palestinians were arrested during the disturbance.”


Following this incident, the army released a brief statement: “The IDF will continue to act to defend Israeli civilians."  This is exactly what should be said, and done.

Border Police Commander, Major General Amos Ya'akov, visited the two injured SWAT team members on Saturday night, giving them encouragement and congratulations.

"’You have manifested courage, professionalism and extraordinary determination  This operation joins many others which have prevented terrorist organizations from getting what they want - and have proven that the long arm of Israeli security will catch up with them. The entire people of Israel owe their lives to the unit and its fighters, who risk their lives every day.’" (Emphasis added)

And Amen to this comment.  Everyone should understand what these brave fighters do, day in and day out.


See how the PLO news agency WAFA, reporting from Ramallah, described the above situation:

”Spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, condemned Saturday the ongoing Israeli escalation of targeting Palestinians...

”...Abu Rudeineh said that Israel is pursuing a systematic policy of murder against the Palestinian people that is meant to cause the destruction of everything.

“Abu Rudeineh held the Israeli government fully responsible for this escalation and called upon the US Administration to ‘act quickly to prevent the collapse of everything.’”


Speaking of Ramallah, Abbas returned there on Thursday, after his visit to the White House, behaving as if he had secured great things. He pledged to the crowd that greeted him that he would not surrender their rights, i.e., he would not compromise on anything no matter what Obama said.  “Be assured, we will be victorious.”

The JPost on Friday cited an Israeli government source as saying that Abbas’s behavior was “reminiscent of the return from Camp David in 2000, when it appeared that the Palestinians were celebrating the failure of the peace talks.  The second intifada broke out shortly thereafter.”

At a Fatah emergency meeting today, Abbas told those assembled that nothing less than a fully sovereign state with east Jerusalem as its capital is acceptable.


According to news reports, one of the things Abbas asked of Obama during their meeting is that he intervene with Israel for the release of Marwan Barghouti - who was instrumental in the launching of the second intifada and is serving five life sentences for his role in multiple terror attacks – and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmad Saadat – who orchestrated the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.

He can ask, but these releases are not going to happen.

In fact, the release of Israeli Arabs from our prisons, at the behest of the PA, is looking as if it, too, is not going to happen.  It had better not. 

For some while, we had been seeing conflicting reports in the media regarding Israel’s commitment to let out Israeli Arabs.  What now appears to be the case is that the Americans promised the PA that these releases would take place when Israel had not agreed to them.  (This is what can happen when the two parties speak separately to the US, and are not speaking directly to each other.)

Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA has tracked the fascinating sequence of events, for which Kerry is directly responsible:


But with all of this, it is the beginning of a new week, and we should seek what is uplifting, as well.

Yesterday, Jerusalem pretty much shut down, in order to make way – with great fanfare and sense of fun – for the Jerusalem Marathon.  The weather was fantastic; the colors of the official shirts of the participants were eye-catching.  People came out to cheer the runners – over 25,000 in all, some 2,500 of whom hailed from close to 55 different countries.

The winner was Ronald Kimeli Kurgat from Kenya, who completed the course in two hours and sixteen minutes, the fastest time yet for this Marathon.

Athletes participate in the fourth international Jerusalem marathon March 21, 2014.

Athletes participate in the fourth international Jerusalem marathon March 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters

© 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, March 22, 2014 at 06:48PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint
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