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December 31, 2014: We Must Hope

I comment every year at this time about the difference between the way the secular new year and the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) are celebrated.  In the Jewish tradition it is a time for prayer and introspection. 

This year in particular, I think, the difference is marked.  For the year 2014, in retrospect, does not leave much room for celebrating (except, of course, on a personal level).


Nor can we face the advent of 2015 filled with facile optimism.  I, myself, don’t see this as a time for fireworks and champagne – although I am sure there will be much in the way of fireworks and champagne in various venues.

This said, we are forbidden to despair. There is always room for hope. We SHOULD hope for better times, and resolve to do all possible to bring them to fruition.  And there is something about turning that calendar page, with a new year marked on it, that increases the sense of hope – makes hope feel more possible. 


And so, I extend to my dear readers my heartfelt wishes that at a personal level you should find the year 2015 a very good one. 

And for the larger world, I pray for the serious weakening of radical forces, (they should self-destruct) with strong and wise leadership in the democracies holding sway (I can dream).  A diminution of disease and poverty and hatred.  An increase in loving-kindness and acts of simple humanity, one to the other.

May we all be able to sleep easily and have much reason for laughter in the 12 months ahead.


If not for the incoming year, I would not have written again today.  For today is the Likud primary – a time when all those who are members of the party have the opportunity to select the candidates who will appear on the list for the elections.  We will not have results for a day or two. 

What we know, with almost a certainty, is that Binyamin Netanyahu will head the list, and is likely to emerge, once again, as prime minister. What also seems to be the case – we shall see - is that a number of right wing/nationalist candidates will be high up on the list, thus guaranteed seats in the Knesset.

Perhaps in the end, when the Israeli election is held, there will be cause for great hope. For Habayit Hayehudi seems to be growing stronger as well, while certain other parties, such as Livni’s, seem to be on the cusp of disappearing.

But right now, the political circus – when monitored carefully – tends to promote a headache.  Or a stomach ache.  I will examine some of the diverse parameters in an upcoming posting – at the same time that I report on the Likud primary results.  I confess, the situation has been so fluid and frequently unpleasant that I’ve been reluctant to report on it in any detail.  


What I will report on here are the results of the vote on a Palestinian state held last night in the Security Council: It did not pass – there were eight votes for, and not the required nine, so that the US did not have to veto.

But here too we see a situation that was very fluid.  At one point late yesterday, PA spokespersons said that they had the necessary majority of nine, as France – a big disappointment - and Luxembourg had decided they would vote in favor.  But at the very last moment, Nigeria had second thoughts and decided to abstain instead because a negotiated settlement is required.

Along with France and Luxembourg, China, Jordan, Russia, Argentina, Chad and Chile voted for the resolution, while the UK, South Korea, Rwanda, and Lithuania abstained.  The US and Australia voted against. 

What will happen next is anyone’s guess, as PA representatives are prone to making a variety of threats.


For the last post of 2014, a site that describes some of Israel’s innovations of the past year:

My favorite is the ReWalk, which is an “Israeli-developed exoskeleton system that enables the paralyzed to walk...Using computers and motion sensors for the heavy lifting, ReWalk allows independent, controlled walking similar to that of an able-bodied person. The system controls movement using subtle changes in the center of gravity, mimics a natural gait and provides functional walking speed, enabling even paraplegics to move independently.”

The ReWalk in action (Courtesy)


Amazing.  If things such as this are being done, there is definitely hope.

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


Posted on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 03:11PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 30, 2014: A Somber View

Very somber, my friends.  The situation in the world is not worrisome – it’s terrifying.  Consider:

In an interview with NPR, President Obama said that Iran could become a “very successful regional power” if it agrees to a nuclear deal.  He said things must move slowly but he wouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of opening a US embassy in Tehran before his term ran out.


WHAT?  There is nothing on the table in negotiations with Iran at the moment that is serious enough to prevent Iran’s nuclear advancement. The Iranians – a threat to the world – are running rings around an eager Obama.

In fact:

“A commander of Iran’s widely feared Basij paramilitary corps has inadvertently confessed that the Tehran regime aims to build up an arsenal of nuclear and chemical weapons.

“Abdul Reza Dashti, the head Basij commander in Bushehr – a city on Iran’s Persian Gulf coast that contains the Bushehr nuclear power plant, one of the regime’s key installations – had been addressing the fight against ‘foreign influences’ in Iran when he made the admission, according to a report by the official news agency IRNA.”

And see this article by Jonathan Tobin, editor of Commentary, on the Iranian situation:


Obama is worthless on this because of his own orientation, motivation. But where is everyone else? This is the stuff of nightmares.


Then, as if there isn’t enough with the Iranian situation to prevent peaceful sleep, there is the on-going situation at the UN Security Council. Not nearly as troubling as Iran, but, yes, troubling, on several scores because of diplomatic implications, not legal ones. 

Jordan has submitted a draft PA resolution to the Security Council.

Originally, Kerry had hedged on whether the US would veto such a proposal.  It was clear that he was looking for revisions that would soften its terms, so that he wouldn’t have to veto it.  But what has happened instead is that Jordan strengthened the terms, with the approval of the Arab League.

The current version calls for a complete end to Israel “occupation” within three years, with a Palestinian state to be established within the “June 1967 borders” (sic) and East” Jerusalem to be the Palestinian capital.


As for “East Jerusalem,” there is no such thing. There is one city of Jerusalem.  What is meant, in actuality, is all of Jerusalem past the Green Line, which includes northern and southern parts of the city as well as eastern. This is sometimes referred to as “Arab Jerusalem.”  It most certainly is not “Arab” today, as there are many Jewish neighborhoods in this part of the city. What is more, the Old City is in the eastern part of the city, as is the Jewish cemetery at Mt. of Olives – the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world, with 150,000 Jewish graves.


Demographic Map of Jerusalem

Credit: Keep Jerusalem

The division of the city came about at the end of the War of Independence in 1949, when Jordan (illegally) held part of the city, and an armistice line was drawn.  It is the only time in Jerusalem’s 3,000 year history that Jerusalem was divided, and it became “Arab” only because Jordan rendered it Judenrein. Prior to the Jordanian occupation, the heart of Jewish residency was to be found in this part of the city.  

Jerusalem will never be divided again. 


And as to “occupation,” my friends, they can use this loaded buzz word all they wish.  Israel is not an occupier in Judea and Samaria.  It is Israel that has legal rights there.  The corollary point to be made here is that the land in no way “belongs” to the Palestinian Arabs. There has never been a Palestinian state.


The behind the scenes politicking on this resolution issue are convoluted. 

At this point Kerry will veto if necessary (the “strengthening” of its terms made this more likely), but he prefers not to.  He had implored Abbas to wait to call a vote until after the Israeli elections on March 17. His reason is infuriating: a fear that what is happening in the UN will push the Israeli electorate to the right. 

Abbas said yesterday that the vote would be called in “a day or two.” And the most interesting questions have to do with why Abbas chose to ignore Kerry and move ahead anyway. It’s clear that he’s not afraid to figuratively bite the (US) hand that feeds him – this tells us a good deal about loss of American influence. 

I will suggest something that is counter-intuitive on the surface but is actually reflective of the way Abbas has consistently conducted himself: Abbas does not want to win here.  We must conclude this if he is willing to buck the US, secretary of state.  Had he waited, he might have said to Kerry, look, I did as you asked, now don’t veto. Abbas does not want a state, with the concomitant burdens it implies. Nor, I would imagine, does he think he could hold on to a state for more than a week or two before Hamas pushed him out.

Abbas wants to squeeze Israel and garner PR.  Part of that PR involves showing the world how the poor Palestinian Arabs suffer setbacks in their heart-wrenching efforts to achieve self-determination. 

Another possible motivation for Abbas: this may give him the excuse to go to the International Criminal Court, something he’s been threatening to do. This remains to be seen – as that too may be just a ploy.  


With this, there is one other factor at play.  The Security Council consists of 15 members: five permanent - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States -and 10 others who rotate every two years.  Only the permanent members can veto a resolution.  For a resolution to pass, nine votes are required.  Right now, Abbas does not have those nine votes.

But here is the catch: The terms of the temporary members is up at the end of the year. As it happens, nations not supportive of this resolution – such as Lithuania and South Korea - will be replaced by nations hostile to Israel – such as Malaysia and Venezuela.  Then the chances of getting nine votes in favor would be greater.  It has been suggested that this would strengthen Abbas’s position – he would be able to say that most of the Security Council is with him because his cause is just even if the US is not.

But Abbas seems bent on not waiting for this transition in membership.  Again, we must ask why.

Since Abbas does not want to win anyway, this may be a way to allow Kerry to save face: he will not have to veto if there are not nine votes in favor.

Commentator Michael Freund, however, has another idea.  He refers to what is going on in the UN as “a diplomatic terror attack.”  No, he agrees, they don’t want to win: What they want is a rationale for “resistance,” since they can say they’ve tried diplomacy and it doesn’t work.


I hope all my readers are still with me.


Before closing I want to share a couple of painful, but hardly surprising, insights into the true nature of the Palestinian Arabs:

Last year, two Palestinian Arab terrorists who were involved in throwing rocks that killed Asher Palmer and his infant son Jonathan (when the rocks made Asher lose control of his car) were convicted of murder.  This was a much welcome landmark decision.  It was followed recently by a court decision requiring one of the terrorists, Ali Saada, to pay a hefty fine as compensation to the Asher family.

Now Issa Karake, a PA Minister in charge of “prisoner affairs” has complained about this, saying that this delegitimizes “the national resistance against the occupation.” (Emphasis added)

In other words, he approves of killing innocent babies.


Last Thursday evening, Avner Shapira and his daughter, Ayala, 11, were driving in the Shomron, when a firebomb was tossed at their car.  Avner yelled at his daughter to get out of the car. Had she not, she would have been killed, as it went up in flames.  As it was, she was very seriously injured – with third degree burns over more than half of her body and damage to her respiratory system.

Ayala Shapira

Where does it end?  My thoughts when this happened were murderous, I confess.  This child, whom her mother described as very intelligent in a special way, was on her way home from a special math class. 

Her father, who was mildly injured, protested that such attacks are not criminal in nature, but acts of war, and should be treated as such:

We have an enemy who is trying to annihilate us and states this day and night. It’s not the IDF’s fault, rather [it’s the fault of] the security establishment which treats these acts as criminal. Criminals that need to be caught and made to stand trial as if you can stand trial during a is a case of us or them; they want to kick us out of here.” (Emphasis added)
Ayala, who was burned in the face, has before her the prospects of months of hospitalization and many surgeries to do reconstruction.


Within a day or two, the firebomb perpetrators were picked up by the Shin Bet in the Arab village of Azzoun in Samaria.  They are both teenagers, and one, at 16, is under age. They told of hiding in the bushes at the side of the road, waiting for a car to approach, throwing the firebomb and then running back to their village.,7340,L-4608327,00.html

They will not be handled with sufficient severity, I am afraid – although I always wait to be surprised. It is not clear which of the two actually tossed the bomb.


Let us circle around for a moment: if Freund is correct about diplomatic terrorism, then the PA loss in the Security Council will be used to strengthen the rationale for the sort of horrors I’ve just described. 


And yet at a bare minimum, Kerry – who will oppose certain UN gambits by Abbas - thinks we should negotiate with the PA, never mind how violent the nature they’ve exposed is. In fact, I believe if he does veto, he’ll then come to Netanyahu and say we have an obligation to sit at the table with Abbas to negotiate since he “saved” us. 

See the article below that describes Abbas’s refusal to cooperate with the US last March in an arrangement that would have pressured Israel and moved a “deal” forward.

This look at Abbas’s perennial insistence on failure reinforces the speculation that he also wants to fail now in the UN. 

But it leaves us pondering what Kerry’s game is, since he KNOWS that Abbas is not truly on board for a two-state deal.  I will leave speculation aside here, but none of this is reassuring in the slightest.


The good news - this is who we are:

Israel has made the world's largest per-capita contribution to halt the spread of Ebola in West Africa, Part of the $8.75 million pledge is committed to UNICEF, for care of children stricken with the disease.  In addition, Israel has sent into West Africa fully equipped clinics and medical specialists.

The IDF recently saved the life of a Palestinian Arab baby with heart problems, who collapsed while on the way to Jordan for medical treatment. A medical helicopter airlifted him to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, thereby saving his life.,7340,L-4608295,00.html

Sometimes it’s not hard to wonder if we are nuts. But I have concluded we most certainly are not.  We can stand proud.


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

Posted on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 03:03PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 24, 2014: Back to Work

The Chanukah week, which is now closing, was a blessing.  Now, invigorated, I see that it is time to return to the serious and painful matters that face us.
This posting will be brief because I’ve spent hours today working on the plans for the Legal Grounds Campaign, which will up and running in a short while. Those of us who are working on it are excited about what is in the planning.  My readers will be kept informed, as we progress.    
Here I would like to focus on Hamas, as signs of trouble down the road with this group are strong.
My position when the recent war ended was that it would not have been prudent for the IDF to assume the task of fully taking out Hamas – a position with which some certainly disagreed .  I have continued to maintain this position, because had we become enmeshed in a lengthy and exhausting battle inside of Gaza that might have depleted our ability to take on Hezbollah or other radicals at the Syrian border.  (With those other elements more likely to move on us, if they were aware that we were distracted elsewhere.) Were Hamas the only radical jihadist element we had to deal with, the assessment might have been different.
But I felt then, and believe this to be the case even more strongly now, that more could have been done to weaken Hamas before a ceasefire was declared. 
And I would expect that if it becomes necessary for us to take on Hamas again before long, we would then be inclined to finish them.  In fact, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz addressed this very matter today, saying that by threatening Israel’s security situation at the border with Israel (see below), Hamas risks a “comprehensive military operation that will involve full demolition of its military and government infrastructure alike.”
Please, see the briefing on the subject of Hamas – “Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood have their sites on the West Bank and Jordan” - done by journalist Pinchas Inbari for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
“Hamas is now directly threatening Fatah that it will take over the West Bank. Senior Gaza-based Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar declared on Dec. 14: ‘Just as we liberated Gaza, just as we established a real national government in it...we will make the same effort in the West Bank as we prepare to extend our presence to all of Palestine.’
“...The failure of the reconciliation talks with the PA in Ramallah stems from Hamas's insistence on being a Muslim Brotherhood movement and not a national Palestinian one.
“Hamas is in a tight bind. Egypt is systematically destroying the tunnels from Sinai into Gaza and is planning to build a moat that will flood the tunnels to finally seal off Gaza from Egypt. Economically, Gaza has lost its oxygen supply from Sinai.
“So Hamas has decided to export its crisis from Gaza to the West Bank. Hamas seeks to replace the window to the Arab world that Sinai provided with another window - in the direction of Jordan. (Emphasis added)
“PA sources in Ramallah suspect that the Hamas delegation that recently visited Tehran was seeking Iran's help for carrying out a takeover of the West Bank.”
This situation makes clear, once again, the necessity for a strong IDF presence in all of Judea and Samaria.  This is, first and foremost, for the sake of Israel’s security.  But this is something that is important for Jordan (which has been arresting Brotherhood people), as well – whether Jordan publicly acknowledges this or not.
And it makes a mockery of the threats by Abbas to cut off security cooperation with Israel.  Without that security cooperation, Fatah would be finished in the blink of an eye.
Yesterday, there was a statement by Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, indicating that Hamas was rebuilding what he refers to as “defensive” tunnels.  By this he means tunnels being constructed inside of Gaza, which allow terrorist fighters to move about in a safe underground environment, transfer weapons from one location to another, etc.
With all due respect to Minister Ya’alon, the purpose of these tunnels is not precisely “defensive.”  Their construction is in anticipation of a war that Hamas would generate, so that its fighters would be able to operate more effectively.  He uses the term to different between these tunnels and clearly “offensive” tunnels built under the south of Israel – for purposes of direct attack.
So far, there is no sign of “offensive” tunnels being built, but the danger of this happening persists.  If a “defensive” tunnel is excavated near the border with Israel, it doesn’t take much to move into Israeli territory. And, in fact, residents in the south of Israel are concerned about signs of excavation right adjacent to the border:
Among the many questions to be asked here is where the concrete for these tunnels is coming from.  Building materials have been let in for “civilian” purposes, but it is all a mockery, as the monitoring simply is not in place to ensure that Hamas doesn’t co-opt this material for its own purposes.
Talk is so very cheap. All the talk at the end of the war about a “demilitarized” Hamas, and careful monitoring, and...
A rocket was launched from Gaza into the Eshkol region of Israel on Friday; it caused no damage.  Israel retaliated with a hit on a cement factory in Khan Yunis in the south of Gaza.
This morning there was sniper fire across the border from Gaza into Israel that seriously wounded one IDF soldier – a member of the Bedouin Reconnaissance Battalion.  Return fire by Israel succeeded in taking down Tayseer al-Ismary, head of the surveillance unit in Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades and wounding two other members of Hamas.
There are assessments that the two attacks, described here, were by “renegade” elements not connected with Hamas.  But that can be carried only so far.
Netanyahu today said that "We will respond forcefully every time there is an attempt to break the quiet...”
I will return to discuss the political circus and other matters in my next posting.
Here, as Christmas eve approaches, I wish my Christian friends a meaningful and joyous holiday.


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


Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 04:14PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 18, 2014: Very Briefly

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

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

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

“Not one.

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

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

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


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

December 17, 2014: This Way and That

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


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

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


Credit: Chabad


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

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

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

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


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

In speaking to reporters in London, he said:

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Prime Minister Netanyahu went ballistic over this ruling.

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

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

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

Credit: Monsters and Critics

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

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

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

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

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
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Posted on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 04:05PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 16, 2014: Light the Lights

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

Credit: ebay

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

Credit: ourtastytravels


Credit: Jerusaleminsiders

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

So...stay tuned.


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

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


Credit: Wikipedia


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

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

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

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


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

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

December 14, 2014: Tight Position

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


Credit: ibtimes


All pulling in the same direction?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned.


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

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


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

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

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

Credit: Uri Lenz/Flash 90

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

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


Credit: Lior Mizrachi

Or the three might run together.

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


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

Credit: TOT

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


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

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


And the good news:

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

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


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

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

December 11, 2014: Turmoil

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

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

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

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

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

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

Binyamin Netanyahu at the Likud Conference

Credit: Flash 90

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


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

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

Credit: Flash 90


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


And today’s good news:

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

Hungry? Pop a pod into the machine.

Credit: Israel21C


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


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

December 10, 2014: Always Something

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

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

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


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

December 9, 2014: The World Keeps Turning

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

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


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


Credit:Israel street

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

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

As Regavim explains it:

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


Credit: Brookings

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Josh Kalman

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


We close with a good news item:

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

Israel Stadium by Herzog and de Meuron

Credit: Dezeen

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

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


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