My friends, it is the middle of Sukkot – what we call Chol Hamoed, a semi-holiday. I am bent on doing the good stuff – being with family, going into the Old City, etc. I do not have time for a full “regular” posting, which takes hours beyond counting.
But following the debate last night, I wanted to put out a short posting that addresses a critical issue of the campaign. From the get-go I have been disturbed to the point of distraction about certain policy positions Hillary has advanced. I love America and grieve for what the nation is becoming. I see horrible destruction that would follow in the wake of a Hillary victory. From here in Israel I am watching Europe implode under the weight of Muslim immigrants, some of whom are terrorists, and most of whom have no desire or intent to absorb into European society. I do not want to see America go this route.
This said, I am distraught over the erroneous perception that both candidates are equally bad for America, for it simply is not so. Whatever Trumps faults (and they are many), he advances policies that would keep America strong, while Hillary’s policies would do just the opposite. I have come across an explanation of this issue – with regard to Muslim immigrants - that clarifies it superbly, and I want to share it here. This is from Dick Morris, in “The Tipping Point is Here.” I want to ask you to think with great seriousness about what he says, and to share it as broadly as possible. All emphasis has been added:
Morris speaks about irreversible things that will happen if Hillary wins. One of them is that:
“...about 500,000 to a million immigrants, refugees and immigrants from terror-sponsoring countries, like Iraq and Syria, will come into the United States, creating here a domestic body of potential terrorists equivalent to that which has basically destroyed France and Belgium and is coming very close to destroying Germany, Scandinavia and Britain. And we didn't have that base of terrorists here before, but they're coming in.
“(Obama just announced that next year he's admitting -- and it's his right as president -- 110,000 new refugees from Iraq and from Syria.)
“And when we talk about extreme vetting [regarding these refugees], what the hell does that mean? We're going to call their high school guidance counselor? We're going to look at their academic records? We're going to investigate their college admission files? These are countries where we don't even have an embassy, and we certainly have no capacity to gather intelligence. And to be sure of their intentions, we're going to say, ‘Are you really, really, really, really not going to blow us up?’
“Now, [in the vice presidential debate]...the vice presidential candidate for the Democrats said that typing immigrants based on country of origin, as opposed to the content of their character, was un-American and unconstitutional. Oh, really? Ever since the Immigration Act of 1926, the entire immigration system of the United States has been based on quotas that vary from nation to nation to nation. That's been how we do it. We don't just say the first million people, and then blow a whistle. We say India can have 33,000. Pakistan can have 27,000. Brazil can have 18,000. And picking and choosing who we want to come to the United States is the core of the immigration policy of the last 100 years.
“And during the Clinton administration, and before that the Bush and Reagan administrations, there was a list of countries that are terrorist sponsors. There was a list of countries that sponsor terrorism, about five or six or seven of them -- North Korea; Cuba; Libya, at the time; Iraq; Iran -- and then a list of about 20 countries that harbor terrorists -- Saudi Arabia and various other countries -- Egypt and a variety of them. And we had special immigration restrictions on those categories of countries.
“Now, when Trump said originally that he wanted to keep Muslim immigrants out of the United States; that was unconstitutional. We can't have a religious test. But we can damn well have a geographic one, and that is what Trump is proposing. That is what Hillary will not do. And we would then have a seedbed of potential jihadists throughout this country that we will never get rid of.”
There is much more to explore, including Hillary’s professed aspiration of having “open borders.” Perhaps there will be time after the holiday.
© 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.
While I have a number of good news items to report, unfortunately I must begin with a low. Sadly, first matters first.
On Sunday, with the holy day of Yom Kippur drawing near, a terrorist took two lives in Jerusalem.
Credit: police spokesman
One victim was Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, a grandmother of six. Retired from the Knesset in 2010, after 30 years of devoted work there, she was very warmly eulogized by Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.
“The shock, and the anger, are intense.
“In these days of judgment and mercy, in the capital of Israel, a murderer’s bullet found you. That evil person did this with the hatred spurred on by incitement blinding his eyes. You were slaughtered today just for being Jewish, for being Israeli. This murder, this atrocity, is part of our painful historic struggle for our basic right to exist.
“Terrorism cannot beat us. It seeks to disrupt the pulse of life. But the Jewish heart, the pulse of Israel and Jerusalem, will continue to beat here, and all over this country! Because the Zionist ideal is greater than any lowly terrorist. And the history of the State of Israel will outlast any crisis.” (Emphasis added)
The other was First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, an officer with an elite police reconnaissance unit. Married only five months, he lived in Mevasseret Zion.
“He fearlessly pursued the terrorist in order to neutralize him and prevent further harm to innocent bystanders,” the police statement said. Less than a year ago, Kirma had received a commendation for pursuing a terrorist.
At the funeral his commander declared that "the attack will be seared in the hearts of the policemen of the unit...Yossi was made of the stuff of the heroes of Israel. Now we salute you for the final time.”
His wife, his bride, cried, “My heart is breaking into pieces. We had so many plans.”
The terrorist has been identified as Musbah Abu Sbeih, 39, of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. He had association with Hamas, which has claimed credit for the attack. Abu Sbeih was well known to the police, had spent time in prison, and was due to report for further prison time. See Caroline Glick for a more complete – and painful – look at how it happened that he was wandering free instead of being behind bars; the part about Abu Sbeih is more than half-way down in a broader piece on our responsibilities.
On the day of the attack, the terrorist drove his car to the light rail station in Ammunition Hill and started shooting from inside the car. He then drove a bit further and shot Levona Malihi, who was in her car, critically wounding her.
After this, he attempted to escape, driving his car into the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. There he stopped and got out of the car. In the ensuing shoot-out with the Special Patrol unit that had been pursuing him on motorcycle, he killed Yossi Kirma and wounded a second officer. A Border Police office shot him dead.
In all, six people were wounded, three lightly and three moderately.
It comes as no surprise that from the Palestinian Arab side there was gladness at these terrorist murders. That is fairly routine.
Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas, in two posts on its Facebook page, celebrated the terrorist as a “martyr,” a shahid. Additionally, Voice of Palestine Radio reported that the Jerusalem branch of Fatah had announced a day of mourning and calls for a general strike “due to the death of the Shahid Abu Sbeih.”
It should be pointed out that these are the people with whom the world thinks we are supposed to be negotiating.
In addition, individual Arabs celebrated. See an accounting of one such celebration at Hebrew University here:
I am pleased to report, however, that Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) responded to this situation with alacrity:
In accordance with his orders, “police acted throughout Jerusalem and arrested Arabs who handed out candies, prevented the establishment of a mourning tent near the home of the terrorist in Silwan, arrested Arabs who demanded that stores be closed in solidarity with the terrorist and arrested Arabs who filmed the attack while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar."
“Erdan has instructed the police to prosecute and take action against any act or demonstration of support for the shooting attack.”
This is a new stringency, and exactly as it should be.
It was revealed right before Yom Kippur that the Shin Bet had arrested a Hamas operative who had planned multiple attacks. Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani, a resident of Shuafat in Jerusalem, revealed that he had discussed with his handlers a variety of different possibilities, including some intended to cause mass casualties at places such as the Central Bus Station; many were ruled out because of high security. In the end it was decided that he would do a bus bombing in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood of Jerusalem, and was in process of building the bomb when he was arrested.
“The Shin Bet said that the plot bears witness to Hamas’s unceasing efforts to initiate terrorist attacks in Israel and the West Bank by enlisting operatives who are residents of Israel like Julani.” Actually, one of the sites that had been considered was a store in Jerusalem where he used to work.
During Yom Kippur, which began Tuesday at sundown, there was Arab rioting in the Silwan area of Jerusalem, as well as two other Arab areas. One young man, only about an hour after the start of the holiday, threw a petrol bomb at close range at the border police who were attempting to control the mob. Directly endangered, they shot him, and he subsequently died.
Rioting over his death is still going on as I write. This is all so sadly familiar.
On a much brighter note...
Former prime minister of Portugal Antonio Guterres has been named Secretary-General designate of the UN, to replace Ban Ki Moon in January 2017, for a five-year term.
He has been identified as a friend of Israel. A left-wing friend, most certainly, as he is a Socialist, but a friend. As Israeli Ambassador to Israel Danny Danon put it:
“...the State of Israel hopes, and expects, that the UN under his leadership will act in the spirit of its founding principles as a fair body able to differentiate between good and evil and will end its obsession with Israel.
"I hope that this change in leadership will bring an end to the organization’s hostility towards the Jewish state.”
But here we are on a roller coaster, slipping down to one more UN low: The Executive Board of the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has now voted on a resolution that recognizes the Temple Mount and the Kotel as exclusively a Muslim site.
Twenty-six countries abstained, 24 countries supported the initiative and six voted against it. The six against were: US, UK, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Estonia, and Germany. This is shameful. Where is the rest of Europe? France was actually going to vote for it, until convinced not to (see next article).
The resolution is totally outrageous, and ludicrous. But another headache.
The World Heritage Committee is scheduled to consider a similar resolution during a meeting in Paris later this month.
In advance of the UNESCO vote, “Israel’s Mission to UNESCO in Paris, has given board members and international diplomats a brochure detailing the deep historical connections Judaism has to those sites, which are also holy to Christians and Muslims.
“’These facts and evidence will leave no doubt, and without undermining other connection of other religions to the holy places in Jerusalem, of the deepest and longest Jewish presence in Jerusalem since ancient times,’ Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen wrote.
“’Every attempt to distort the history and harm the above-mentioned relations of the Jewish people and Jerusalem is an attempt to rewrite history in a dangerous, unfair and one-sided manner,’ he said.”
I consider it very good news that in the face of increased Obama pressure (about which more below) we are exhibiting resilience. In fact, I have observed, not for the first time, that when foreign entities, in this case the US, push on us unreasonably and with vehemence, it stiffens the backs of our leaders.
Please see this video, put out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It makes our case for having been on the land for 3,000 years during the course of multiple occupations. Right on!
Word is just out that Dore Gold is resigning from his position as director-general of the Foreign Ministry. Netanyahu has appointed Yuval Rotem, who heads the Public Diplomacy Directorate and was previous Israeli ambassador to Australia, to take his place.
News this week, additionally, indicated that the settlement arm of the WZO (World Zionist Organization) is likely to be reactivated (it is not formally finalized yet, as I understand the situation). This is in response to a proposal by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi), which would give the WZO a new legal foundation.
“According to the proposal, the government will regulate the settlement division such as to allow it to function in full capacity all over Israel, including in Judea and Samaria.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), at a conference in memory of Hanan Porat, said just a week ago that (emphasis added):
“On the matter of the Land of Israel, we have to move from holding action to a decision. We have to mark the dream, and the dream is that Judea and Samaria will be part of the sovereign State of Israel. We have to act today, and we must give our lives. We can't keep marking the Land of Israel as a tactical target and a Palestinian state as the strategic target."
“Like Hanan said, we have no right to divide the land. Not with words, not with actions, not by silent acquiescence, not with quiet excuses. Not by politicians and not by jurists...
"The path of concessions, the path of dividing [the land], has failed."
I salute Bennett’s forthright attitude. He subsequently explained that he meant we should devote our lives to this goal, not die.
It is at this point, after considering what Bennett said, that I would like to clarify my own position: I am opposed to increasing building after a terrorist attack – something that is frequently suggested. This implies that we are building as retribution, not because of our rights. It sends the wrong message, however sincere the intent. To say “enough with these two-state proposals, they have failed and it’s high time we spoke out forthrightly about our rights to the land,” is something else.
I also want to make mention here of one particular group of pro-Israel activists in the US who are taking the time, and expending the effort, to make a difference. Located in the Philadelphia region, these dedicated individuals have established a website - www.factsonisrael.com – to help in fighting the good fight. Visit it, use it as you can.
And lastly this, which is perhaps the best news of all with regard to our long term future. Elsewhere in the world, young people tend to be more liberal/left wing than their seniors. But this turns out to not be the case in Israel, where “there is a clear trend that the younger generation is more religious and more right wing than previous generations.”
“A Smith poll published by the Jerusalem Post on July 17, 2016, found among the 18-29 demographic only 35% supported the principle of ‘two states for two nations’ as a solution to the Arab Israeli conflict compared to 53% against. The youngest voters were the least supportive of the two-state solution.”
A “flotilla” vessel called the Zaytouna-Olivia, which had left its starting point in Barcelona many days before, by last week was approaching its destination in Gaza; its declared goal was to break the perfectly legal Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza or at least to call international attention to an attempt to do so. This time there was no pretense of carrying “humanitarian aid.” The intent was stated up-front. All 13 people on board - passengers and crew - were women. The Zaytouna’s captain was retired US army colonel Ann Wright, who served with the State Department diplomatic corps at one time.
Israel handled it very well, bursting the bubble of the protestors. When the sailing boat ignored calls to redirect and go to Ashkelon, the Israeli navy approached the boat in international waters and boarded it; the boat was then towed to Ashkelon. Amongst the combat soldiers who boarded were women. Great move.
Two journalists on board were immediately deported. The others were held for questioning and then given deportation orders and told they would not be welcome in Israel, should they attempt to return.
captain is retired US Army Colonel Ann Wright, who served in the State Dept. diplomatic corps
The action, referred to by Israel as “uneventful,” was a huge disappointment to those on the boat. Their hope was to represent Israeli forces as acting both illegally and violently. They put out an advance notice saying they were expecting the same sort of violence that had occurred on the Mavi Marmara.
Those involved with the effort are still attempting to gain some PR that works to their advantage. Lawyers speaking for them claimed that Israeli’s takeover of the boat was “piracy.” Subsequently, they said the passengers brought to Ashkelon were “kidnapped,” and then that the deportation was illegal.
Let us return here to the increasing pressure by Obama:
In my last posting, I mentioned the condemnation of Israel by the White House and the State Department because of an Israeli announcement about some apartments to be constructed in Shilo. Language was extraordinarily tough and it is widely thought that we’re in for some difficult times between election day in November and when Obama turns over the keys to the White House in January. Focus is on the Security Council of the UN, which might consider one of a number of different resolutions regarding such matters as “settlements,” and borders for a final deal with the Palestinian Arabs – and which resolution Obama, breaking with the traditional US position, might decline to veto.
Caroline Glick believes Obama’s hostility and distorted vision were on view for all to see in Obama’s eulogy for Peres, even before the announcement about the building. See:
With regard to the announcement and the subsequent American anger I have several comments.
While not backing down, Netanyahu did make attempts to mitigate the wildly disproportionate US anger. First, it was said that we were building a new settlement (something Obama, charging that we were not acting the way friends should, says we promised not to do). And so the US was offered an explanation regarding the building being a new neighborhood in an existing “settlement”:
"This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shilo and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint,” read a Foreign Ministry statement that had been cleared with Netanyahu.
And then there is a another factor, which is the situation for the community of Amona, which is on a hill overlooking Ofra within the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council of Samaria. While no Arab owners of the land with proper legal documentation have been identified - and those who established the community did so in good faith - because the charge arose that Amona was built in 1995 on “Arab land,” the High Court has ordered its demolition by the end of the year. The residents of Amona reject the validity of this charge; the left-wing, pro-Arab organization Yesh Din was involved in identifying Arabs from a nearby village who said it was their land.
Netanyahu has explained to Kerry that the projected housing in Shilo would serve as alternate homes for the evacuated families.
But this is a complex and problematic situation that has been going on for some years. We have not seen the end of it yet; the government has been wrestling with solutions. The residents of Amona are angry, as their community was established in the first place with funds from the Housing and Construction Ministry. “The government brought us here, and if they made a mistake we should not have to pay for it by losing our homes,” Amona spokesman Avichay Buaron said recently. Residents maintain that they are not going anywhere, and demand that the government legalize their community.
Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, both of Habayit Hayehudi, have been at the forefront of the fight for Amona, and had threatened a coalition crisis if there was no response from the prime minister. Today, as I write, reports are that Netanyahu has met with them, as well as with Avigdor Leiberman, Minister of Defense; Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit; and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) chief Yoav Mordechai, and has now agreed to appeal to the High Court for a six-month delay in the order for demolition. This would provide time for arriving at solutions (invoking the absentee owner law being one possibility). I will keep my readers informed on this.
But leaving aside all these matters, the fact is that the fuss the US government has made about our construction plans is morally obscene.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has said it very well: “The Middle East is burning, and the people of Syria are being slaughtered daily. I think the United States should concern itself with saving civilians in Syria and not with issuing harsh statements about a few housing units.”
I have not done justice in my writing to what is happening to our north, because so many issues pull at me for attention in my postings. But here I want to cite Dr. Mordechai Kedar, who – in “The Angel of Death in Aleppo” – summarizes the situation with accuracy:
“The state of Syria is taking its last gasping breaths, but there are those in Russia and Syria who feel that since some of the anti-Assad rebels have chosen the eastern sectors of Aleppo as their headquarters, the city's close to a quarter of a million men, women and children do not deserve to live. Putin and Assad believe that the lives of 250,000 citizens are less important than the elimination of a few hundred rebels, and much less important than the rule of Assad in Aleppo.” (Emphasis added)
There are commentators who believe that precisely because Obama knows he has failed so abysmally in Syria – as elsewhere in the Middle East – he feels increasingly driven to achieve a diplomatic “success” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the sake of his legacy. If so, we’ll simply have to tough it out.
And we must point a finger of condemnation as well at the bleeding-heart “flotilla” organizers who are interested only in calling attention to the “horrors” that the people of Gaza endure at the hands of “evil” Israelis, while ignoring the profound suffering of Syrian civilians.
Such is the perverse and amoral way of the world. May the Almighty give us the strength and wisdom to conduct ourselves as we should.
With this all said, we are going now into the week-long festival of Sukkot, which is known as our season of gladness. May it be a week of quiet, and of sunshine.
How I love this holiday.
To all, I wish Chag Sukkot Sameach – a joyous holiday of Sukkot.
On Sukkot, as on other festivals and specified times of celebration, we sing Hallel, a series of psalms of praise to the Almighty. Here I offer just a taste – the most effective short video I managed to find, again with Shlomo Carlebach - that reflects the joy (and yes, even in the face of horrors, we are bidden to reflect that joy):
© 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.
I’m going to begin with some inspiring words that go beyond my normal “good news.” This is extracted from commentary by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in the Koren Rosh Hashana Machzor [Prayer book] with my emphasis added:
“There is mystery at the heart of Jewish existence, and it is written into the first syllables of our recorded time.
“The first words of God to Abraham were ‘ Leave your land...And I will make you a great nation...
“Early on in the story...we read that Abraham ‘was very wealthy in livestock and silver and gold.’ His first words to God were ‘O Lord God, what will You give me if I remain childless?’ The first recorded words of man to God in the history of the covenant are a plea for there to be a future generation. The first Jew feared he would be the last.
“Then Abraham has a child, Ishmael, born to Sarah’s handmaiden Hagar. But God tells him: he is not the one....Abraham has to part company with him...Another son is promised and Sarah will bear him. This is a biological impossibility. Sarah is already post-menopausal. Yet, against possibility, Isaac is born...
“Then in words that over the centuries have not lost their power to shock, we hear God’s call to Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice...Then a voice is hard from heaven: ‘Do not reach out your hand against the boy.’ The trial is over. Isaac lives.
“The enigma is almost overpowering. On the one hand, the promises, on the other, the years of childlessness – then the child who was sent away, then the child who could not be born, then the trial countermanded at the last moment. What is the Torah telling us, not for that time but for all time?
“The story of Jewish continuity is a mystery. According to the Torah, had nature taken its course, Sarah would not have had a child and there would be no Jewish people. If Abraham had his way and been content with Ishmael, there would have been no Jewish people. If Isaac had been born but the word from heaven telling Abraham to stay his hand had been delayed, there would have been no Jewish people. On such slender avoidance of the probable does Jewish continuity rest.
“It is as if from the beginning a message was woven into our being. To move from one generation to the next requires a series of miracles...We are Jews today by virtue of miracles. How do we survive?”
This is a powerful message of comfort. A reminder for all time. Let it be our theme, as we struggle with the tough stuff during this new year, 5777.
Rabbi Sacks makes another point, as well:
“No people have cared more for their children, invested more energy in them and shaped the whole of their religious life in order to hand on to them what they find precious. Abraham and Sarah had a child because they so nearly did not have a child. Other cultures take children for granted. Judaism has never taken its children for granted, because Jews know what it is like to be an Abraham or Sarah...
“...We have lost too many Jewish children. What meaning will our lives or the lives of our ancestors have if they are not lent immortality by our continuity? If we would only remember the many miracles it took to bring us to this hour, we would willingly do our duty to ensure that the next generation stays Jewish...Jewish continuity is the greatest gift we can bring to the future and the past.”
Israeli society is a child-oriented society. Israeli Jews have the highest birth rate of Jews anywhere in the world. Is it any wonder? A statement of commitment and of hope, drawn from our very essence.
There will time enough in the days ahead to cover a host of news stories. Here, I wish to write only about one subject: Shimon Peres. His passing at 93 last Wednesday, and his funeral last Friday morning, so fraught with complexities and broad implications. At first, I thought I would avoid this subject. Best to allow the deceased to lie in peace. But I have since thought better of the silence. It does not sit well when there is so much to say.
I think commentator Martin Sherman has it right, when he asks: “Which Shimon Peres do we mourn?”
Peres, a protégé of Ben Gurion, was the last of the founding fathers of the State of Israel and held just about every major position in Israel during his long career. He served twice as Prime Minister (in non-consecutive terms); as Director General of the Ministry of Defense and subsequently as Minister of Defense; and finally as President. He headed a number of other ministries over time, as well, such as the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Ministry of Communications. Elected to the Knesset in 1959 he remained a member of the Knesset almost continuously until he became President in 2007.
Most significantly, during the first part of his career, Peres was deeply involved in Israel’s defense in a variety of critical roles: He strengthened the IDF and established Israel’s electronic aircraft industry. He is credited with promoting Israel’s nuclear development, as well. He acquired advanced combat aircraft from France, and reportedly had a major hand in the Entebbe rescue
Sherman reports, as well, that in his 1978 book, Tomorrow is Now, Peres “negated the validity of the land-for-peace doctrine, the desirability of a Palestinian state... it strongly endorse[d] Jewish settlements across the pre-1967 Green Line, including Judea-Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Golan.”
These enormous and critical contributions to the wellbeing of the State of Israel cannot be ignored. And so, it is highly appropriate that the State of Israel – in remembrance and gratitude - honored him on his passing.
And yet...and yet....
As Sherman put it, Peres did a “breathtaking volte face [abrupt reversal] in his professed political credo.” He cites Anshel Pfeffer, who recently wrote, “If Peres had resigned from frontline politics at the age of 54…he would be remembered as one of Israel’s most legendary security ‘hawks.’”
And then suddenly there was Peres the dove, who embraced policies that Peres the hawk had warned against. Shifting left, he worked behind the back of Prime Minister Rabin to promote “land for peace” and “the two state solution,” the quest for which was ultimately embodied in the disastrous Oslo Accords. We are still entangled in these Accords, which have weakened us, while strengthening the terrorists of the PLO.
There are many attempts to explain the rationale behind this about-face. But I am not going to go there. I will simply note what happened.
Peres spoke a great deal about “dreams.” Many people admired him for this, and indeed all Zionist leaders have been dreamers in a sense. But Peres’s dreams became “pie-in-the-sky,” totally disconnected from what was happening on the ground. Thus dangerous.
He referred to those Israeli Jews killed by terrorists post-Oslo as “sacrifices for peace.” A horrendous conceptualization. So taken was he by his dream, that he apparently never stopped to ask why it should be that just when the Palestinian Arabs were offered new hope via Oslo, they should double-down on killing Jews.
Embracing modern technology as a panacea for the world’s troubles, he said, “It is a great mistake to learn from history. There is nothing to learn from history...Israeli children should be taught to look to the future, not live in the past. I would rather teach them to imagine than to remember.” Painfully shortsighted. Apparently he had never internalized the well-known aphorism that, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
What is of enormous significance is that Peres, as he shifted left, became an internationalist. His message was not for Israel, but for the Western world, as he spoke of his vision of a “new Middle East.”
And here we come to Peres’s funeral.
It was astounding by any account. Those in attendance included more than 20 presidents, 10 prime ministers, more than 20 foreign ministers, five defense ministers, a Spanish king, and a British prince, in total representing more than one-third of the nations in the world (more than 70 nations).
The ceremony was tasteful and according to Jewish tradition.
Obama was there, and spoke, as did Bill Clinton. Also in attendance: Prince Charles of Britain (sporting a unique kippa), Tony Blair, French President Francois Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck. And on, and on.
I know of at least one rabbi who called this a “kiddush Hashem,” an honor to the name of the Almighty - that heads of so many states came to Israel.
I respect this rabbi, and understand what he is thinking. We can find Biblical prophecy for this – all the world coming to Israel. But I respectfully disagree with his perspective in this instance.
For the leaders of the world did not come to Israel to do honor to Israel. They came to honor the memory of Shimon Peres in his leftist incarnation. Peres the dreamer - who in his later career promoted failed policies that were detrimental to Israel’s wellbeing. It is this Peres who spoke most clearly for them. And it was the loss of this voice that they mourned.
You can rest assured that they did not come to honor the Peres who had worked to make Israel strong because they care about a genuinely safe and secure Israel. For these world leaders it is Shimon the “two-state” promoter who embodied tomorrow’s truth.
Obama gave the most political address at the funeral, speaking of “the unfinished business of peace...Shimon never saw his dream fulfilled...Now his work is in the hands of Israel’s next generation.” (Emphasis added)
Since that address, Obama has made additional comments directed towards Israel regarding the need to renew efforts for peace in Shimon’s memory.
Just yesterday, Mark Toner, Deputy State Department Spokesman put out a press release chastising Israel for new building in the “settlements” – in a neighborhood in Shilo, actually. The release said, in part (emphasis added):
“...it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and leaders from the U.S. and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for the two state solution that he so passionately supported.”
Shame on us for doing what Peres would not have approved. Something else to hit us over the head with.
(The release also attempted to hit us over the head with the MOU just signed, but I won’t go there now, as it would be a bit of a digression.)
As to the “new Middle East” that Peres envisioned, there was precious little sign of it at his funeral. It is disappointing that neither King Abdullah II of Jordan nor President Sisi of Egypt saw fit to make the short trip to Jerusalem. Each, as I understand it, sent underlings. But there was a statement implicit in their absence – the people of these countries would not have approve their attendance. Sisi most disappoints me. Abdullah, I expect little of: he is forever watching the radicals eager to push him from his throne. Although, as Herb Keinon of the JPost pointed out, Abdullah’s father, King Hussein, had a close relationship with Peres.
Heads of other Arabs states stayed away, as well. I do not believe any sent underlings.
”...the public can look at who came to the funeral and be awed by the respect the country could garner if it pursues Peres’s path.
”But, on the other, it can also look and see who among the country’s neighbors did not come and ask themselves a simple question: What’s the use?”
True enough. But I would add yet another thought: Even with the “respect” we might garner from the international community were we to follow Peres’s path, there would be no reason to believe we could count on that community, either, were we to find ourselves threatened and in trouble. It is only ourselves we must look to, without thought of currying international favor.
In a surprise turn of events, Mahmoud Abbas did come to the funeral, with an entourage that included PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat. I read this as nothing more than a PR gesture designed to put Abbas in the good graces of the world and show how he is for “peace.”
Abbas was greeted warmly by Israeli officials – something that Naftali Bennett later criticized. I understand his honest response: why give this terrorist bum the time of day? Indeed!
But I also understand the need at official government levels to be certain that Abbas did not “one-up” Israel: no one was going to be able to say that, see, Abbas made that difficult gesture, and look how the Israelis treated him. Thus do we have Sara Netanyahu, in one video, saying, “We hope we can welcome you to our home.” (Ouch.)
There was a backlash among the Palestinian Arabs because of Abbas’s presence at the funeral, which was broadly referred to as a betrayal. Rebuke came from Palestinian Arab media and from social media across the Arab world. Not surprisingly, Hamas called his attendance “traitorous.”
On the day after Peres died, Fatah, the party of Abbas, ran a cartoon on its Facebook page showing Peres being questioned by the Grim Reaper before being sentenced to hell.
More problematic (and perhaps less expected) was the response of the Joint List of Arab parties represented by 13 members in the Knesset. As a group, they opted not to issue a statement of condolence and not to attend the funeral.
“Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh told Army Radio on Thursday that the party...was choosing to remain silent ‘out of respect.’
“’I can tell you that it is complicated. It is not simple.’
“On his Twitter account, Odeh wrote in Hebrew that ‘Peres’s memory in the Arab community is different from the narrative that has been spoken about over the past few days and I understand that it is difficult to hear such complicated messages in the moments after his death.’”
What occurs to me is that, even if the Joint List, in retrospect, severely disapproved of the “’hawkish” positions of the younger Peres, he had in fact subsequently become someone whom they should have gladly embraced. Yet there was no “forgiveness” – if this is the right word – for him, no gladness that he had “seen the light.” No respect expressed for the man who, more than any other, made the founding of the Palestinian Authority possible. The anger that they held on to, which prevented them from attending the funeral, does not augur well for peace.
But let us close on an upbeat and hopeful note with this lovely Jerusalem medley sung by Cantors Michael Azogui, Shai Abramson of the IDF, and Colin Schachat:
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
The first and most important reason we are looking up is because Rosh Hashana starts Sunday night. This is a time of reflection, and drawing closer to Heaven. With intention and effort, we can become what we are meant to be.
As I will likely not post again before Rosh Hashana, I here wish each of you a year of blessings, health, inner peace and fulfillment.
For the people of Israel collectively, I pray for strength, and the wisdom to remember who we are.
May we hear the call of the shofar.
And may the Almighty spread his shelter of peace over us all.
I think this is really neat:
The Conference of Education Ministers from the OECD countries is being held in Israel. This alone is a good thing. But there is more: Education Minister Naftali Bennett (chair, Habayit Hayehudi) brought some of the ministers to the Hevron Yeshiva in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood of Jerusalem, where he taught them about the “havruta” method of studying with one partner. This allows for dynamic interchange, enhances learning, and keeps students focused.
Bennett brought them at the peak of the morning study session and there were some thousand young men studying in the huge study hall. The ministers were fascinated and later said it was the peak of their visit to Israel.
Credit: Education Minister spokesman
Several weeks ago, I attended a Shurat HaDin conference at which Bennett gave the closing talk – a very upbeat talk about all that we have to teach the world. One of the things he mentioned is the secret of havruta study. And here we are.
A deal has been signed between the partners – including Noble Energy Inc. and Delek Drilling-LP - in Israel’s largest natural gas field, Leviathan, and Jordan’s Natural Electric Power Company. Over 15 years, 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas will be exported to Jordan for a gross revenue of approximately $10 billion.
The deal “positions the Leviathan project in the center of the regional energy map,” declared Yossi Abu, chief executive officer of Delek Drilling.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, in New York on Sunday, met with both presidential candidates (about whom more below).
Trump’s campaign reached out to him first, but before the offer was accepted, Netanyahu’s people contacted Hillary about a meeting. An even-handed approach was essential. During the hour-and-a-half private meeting with Trump, in his Trump Towers apartment, the Republican candidate said: during his presidency, the US would “finally accept the longstanding congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.”
This thoroughly infuriated Saeb Erekat, who charged Trump with “ignoring international law.”
A senior military officer with the Southern Command has said that the barrier being built along the border with Gaza will be complete in a matter of months if funding comes through. A wall is being constructed that reaches several meters upward and down into the ground as well, to block tunnel construction. In some areas, there will be flooding, in addition.
Said the officer, the goal is to turn this into a “death trap” for Hamas. “We’re putting a lot of effort into that.”
Hamas officials, stymied by this prospect, cannot just keep their mouths shut, however. Their responses are entertaining: Said Ismail Radwan, this project is a sign of Israel’s “failure to face the tunnels.”
I had hoped not to return to the matter of speeches given at the UN last week, yet I must. Starting with Abbas.
In my last posting, I had focused on “the right of return,” because that is what Palestinian Arab media said he would be speaking about. No harm done, to have set the record straight once more. But he barely touched on this.
Instead, Abbas focused on number of other issues. It would be impossible to respond to every one of his lies and misrepresentations, but in a couple of instances, it’s important to clarify matters:
He charges Israel with violating General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947. That’s the Partition Plan. He even says that “Israeli forces seized more land than that allotted to Israel, constituting a grave breach” of UN charter articles regarding “breach of the peace” or “aggression.”
But wait! As I explained last time with regard to the “right of return,” resolutions of the General Assembly are only recommendations and carry no weight in international law. What is more, in this instance, it was the Arabs who rejected the plan! Had they accepted, there would have been two states, for the Jews were willing. But the Arabs would not countenance Jews having any land at all. This is an old Palestinian Arab ploy, to attempt to go back now to 1947 and revert to that plan.
The kicker here, the breathtaking chutzpah (shameless audacity), is his claim that Israeli forces “seized” more land than had been recommended by that resolution. The Arabs – breaching UN articles regarding aggression - attacked Israel; it was in the course of that war, fought defensively by Israel, that more land was acquired.
He also maintains that the PLO “made a historic and immense sacrifice” when it agreed “to establish the State of Palestine on the 4 June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Here it is imperative to set the record straight in several regards. He is speaking of the Oslo Accords. But be very very clear about this: a state on the 4 June 1967 borders (sic) – in actuality the 1949 armistice line – was NEVER promised in the Accords. They have made this up, along with the claim that eastern Jerusalem was promised to them. This is one of those toxic claims that has been repeated so often that much of the world believes it. As a matter of fact, the Oslo Accords does not promise a state. It refers to a final status agreement, but that status was not defined. Rabin, in his last address to the Knesset, said that he envisioned something less than a full state.
What is more, that final status was to be determined via negotiations. Last I looked, they never happened.
And then, as if all of this is insufficient, Abbas makes a total fool of himself: He attacks Great Britain for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which recognized Palestine as a Jewish homeland. His demand is that Britain apologize to the “Palestinian people” and rectify “this historic catastrophe.”
Netanyahu, when it was his turn at the podium, mocked this for the ludicrous proposal that it is.
As to Netanyahu’s speech, much of it was powerful and upbeat. He chastised the UN for its unending bias against Israel, and documented this. (“The UN, which began as a moral force, has become a moral farce.”) But then he said (emphasis added):
“So when it comes to Israel, you probably think nothing will change, right? Well think again. For everything will change, and a lot sooner than you think. The change will happen in this hall, because back home, your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes to Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote at the UN.
More and more nations in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, more and more nations see Israel as a potent partner – a partner in fighting the terrorism of today, a partner in developing the technology of tomorrow...
“Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help protect their people, can help feed them, can help better their lives.”
It is true, it is true. He went on to speak about our growing relationship with African nations, and changes in attitude towards Israel in China, India, Russia and Japan.
“But now I’m going to surprise you even more. You see, the biggest change in attitudes towards Israel is taking place elsewhere. It’s taking place in the Arab world...They recognize that Israel is their ally...our common goals are security, prosperity, and peace. I believe in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals, work together openly...
“Ladies and gentle, distinguished delegates from so many lands, I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms. The war against Israel at the UN is over.”
All of this said, I wish I didn’t have to point out the down sides to his talk. But...
After effectively detailing hostile Palestinian Arab attitudes – the refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the constant unremitting incitement of the children, etc. – he says, “I am ready to negotiate all final status issues but one thing I will never negotiate – our right to the one and only Jewish state...I know that many of you have given up on peace, But I want you to know: I have not given up on peace. I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples...I’m ready to begin negotiations to achieve this today – not tomorrow, not next week, today.” (Emphasis added) And he then invited Abbas to address the Knesset.
Difficult to hear this my friends. It’s posturing, and I certainly would rather he said otherwise.
Even putting aside the enormous importance of declaring our legal rights to the land, there is this: He made the case very effectively – with regard to the horrendous incitement of the young people and more – that we do not have, not remotely, a partner for peace negotiations. At a bare minimum, at the very least, I wish he would have said that it would have been his choice to begin peace negotiations, but he knows this cannot happen now, and will not happen until there are some very major changes inside the Palestinian Authority. But he skirted this honesty.
On this, I cut him some slack. Because he met with Obama in New York, and who knows what was said behind those closed doors. There is worry about Obama refusing to veto anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council. And so, he plays it this way.
With regard to the need to stop pretending a “two state solution” is a viable option, and a consideration of the outrageous pressure from the US that Israel has endured in its name, please see Caroline Glick’s important piece, “Ending the Palestinian exception”:
But there was one other matter that Netanyahu addressed in his speech on which I do not cut him slack. Attempting to make the point that Israeli society has fanatics too, but that we are different in how we deal with them, he said (emphasis added):
“Take the tragic case of Ahmed Dawabsha. I'll never forget visiting Ahmed in the hospital just hours after he was attacked. A little boy, really a baby, he was badly burned. Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews. He lay bandaged and unconscious as Israeli doctors worked around the clock to save him. No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, ‘This is not our people. This is not our way.’ I then ordered extraordinary measures to bring Ahmed's assailants to justice and today the Jewish citizens of Israel accused of attacking the Dawabsha family are in jail awaiting trial.”
There is something wrong with this statement, because we don’t know that this act was committed by Jews. No Jew has been convicted of this crime. As it happens, Netanyahu is referring to an incident of arson in the Arab village of Duma, where serious doubts about the identity of the perpetrator of the crime have been raised: There is a clan feud in the village and there have been several instances of homes of members of one clan set on fire there by other Arab members of the village. I would not – absolutely cannot - say with certainty that it was not a Jew who did it. That would put me in denial. But neither do I have a sense of certainty that a Jew did it.
How I wish he had left this alone!
What I see here is a readiness to sacrifice principles of justice in order to show the world how tough we can be on our own people. It should be that the accused is considered innocent until proven otherwise. I wonder how fair a trial he can receive, now that the prime minister has made his statement. Will there be unease on the part of the judges that they might be seen as letting a guilty Jew go, if they find for him?
I have seen this sort of thing before (with former Minister of Defense Ya’alon and the Hevron soldier Elor Azaria), and it disturbs me greatly. Because far more than I care what the world thinks of us, I care about justice within Israeli society.
And lastly, my comments about the presidential debate last night (which I watched in the early morning hours here).
While some analysts see the debate as a tie that will determine nothing, there are a good number who think Clinton won by some margin. Clinton was certainly well-rehearsed. But what I saw is that she cited positions in a tone that sounded memorized. She was also tough – in a nasty way.
Trump – for whom I was rooting all the way – was self-assured, but softer in his tone; he avoided the nasty accusations. He certainly passed the test successfully regarding concerns about how appropriately he would handle himself. Unfortunately, he let pass opportunities to challenge her – on Benghazi, for example, or the corruption of her involvement with the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state – that should have been visited with vigor. He needed to be tougher.
In the end, what I saw were two very different perceptions of how the US should be governed and how current serious problems might be rectified. It’s not a matter of who “won” the debate, in terms of style, etc. It’s a question of listening carefully and making a decision as to who would be more capable of bringing America to a better place. We’re looking at an America that is in incredible trouble.
As I see it, Trump has it over Clinton overwhelmingly. Clinton would continue failed policies, for which she already has responsibility.
Trump started from strength when he spoke about the US economic situation. He addressed specifics: the fact, for example, that NAFTA – which was negotiated by Bill Clinton – is an horrendous agreement that puts the US at a fiscal disadvantage. He made enormous sense when he spoke about the core problem of corporations going overseas for cheap labor, thus increasing American unemployment. And he advanced thoughts as to how to discourage this.
One of the economic remedies (not the only one) he advanced was tax cuts at the upper bracket. To Clinton this is ideologically anathema. She would tax the rich heftily and cut taxes at the middle class. But I see that she doesn’t get it: When taxes are cut at the upper bracket, it stimulates the economy and encourages investment in business. This in turn creates jobs and makes American grow.
Clinton was weak on specifics – Trump challenged her on this, saying she had no plan. She’s big on impassioned statements about how she’d make it “better,” but...?
I think Trump was enormously on the mark, as well, when he described the crisis in the inner cities, and spoke about the need to restore law and order. It is blacks and Hispanics in those inner cities, he pointed out, who suffer the most. But Hillary, who has a strong leftist orientation, is not a “law and order” person. (I will have more to say about Trump’s approach to the inner city in a coming posting.)
Trump also challenged the Iran deal. He spoke about the billions in cash that have been transferred to Iran, and the refusal of the Obama administration to link this deal to related issues. Iranian fomenting of problems in Yemen, for example. Or Iran’s cooperation with N. Korea. She championed the deal as it is – saying it’s enough that we stopped Iran in its development of nuclear weapons. In fact this is not the case at all.
It has long astounded me that the Obama administration maintains that the agreement achieved with Iran was the best that could be had, and that if other factors were added to the deal all would have been lost. But no, there was the leverage of sanctions relief, and much more might have been achieved if Obama did not cave on every single demand. Clinton is following in Obama’s path here, which is very worrisome. Rings bells, actually.
And so it goes, with a great deal yet to be examined – hopefully in the next debates. This is with regard to immigration, dealing with radical Islam and more. The difference between the two candidates is striking, and we must not lose sight of this.
The polls in the next few days will give us a better indication of what, if anything, this debate accomplished.
I share here the Fountainhead’s “Dip the apple in the honey”:
Dipping an apple in honey is customary on the holiday.
As is honey on challah (at least for Ashkenazim).
And to get us into the mood of the High Holidays, lastly, Shlomo Carlebach z”l, doing prayers in the holiday nusach (style/melody):
We need to offer our prayers as if our lives depend upon this. For they do.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
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“As the world turns” was until recently the name of a very long-running soap opera. And it is so appropriate as the title of this post, because, folks, we are living in a soap opera – another metaphor for our surreal situation.
Of course, there are islands of lucidity, when we see people who actually know what they are talking about, in real time. Such a moment came in the video I share here, of activist Dr. Joe Frager interviewing Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Ambassador John Bolton at a Hovevei Zion event in NYC.
Frager asked Shaked how to make the people of the US understand that Yehuda v’Shomron (Judea and Samaria) are an integral part of the Israel.
Her answer (emphasis added):
"We in the Jewish Home party (Habayit Hayehudi ) talk all the time about how Judea and Samaria are our homeland and they are part of Israel, so we are there to stay. Today there are 425,000 citizens in Judea and Samaria, the area is flourishing. I think the people of America just need to listen more to the ministers and MKs from Jewish Home."
Bolton, for his part, said (emphasis added):
“I think people in America need to understand that the two-state solution has failed and that continuing to pursue it won't do anything to bring stability to anywhere in the region as it falls into chaos. This discussion is important to help people here understand what the consequences can be.”
Bravo to both of them.
And sometimes there is something that has a “soap opera” feel to it, but gives us a laugh:
Before Rosh Hashana, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv sends out gift baskets to a number of Jewish organizations, including Peace Now. Inadvertently, they included a bottle of wine from the Shomron (Samaria), which is actually a big wine-producing area. Oops. Neither the US Embassy nor Peace Now thinks we should be there.
Maybe they need to speak with Ayelet Shaked.
The legality of our presence in Judea and Samaria is enormously important now, as the world pushes for a “peace process” that would lead to a “two-state solution.” And while I have taken the liberty of making a bit of fun, this is a most serious situation:
At the annual ministerial meeting at the UN on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared that France would be doing a major push to have that international Mid-East conference they’ve been talking about take place by the end of the year. He’s been working to do mobilization this week, while many nations are gathered.
The tactic he is employing now – rather than using the threats of his predecessor – is the promise of perks. If the two parties reached an agreement, there would be incentives offered them. What he imagines those incentives would be is not clear.
We’ll track this as it goes. I tend to doubt that Israel would attend the French-initiated conference at all. It is my suspicion that Netanyahu agreed to a meeting in Russia with Abbas (time not yet set) in part to deflect the focus of the French initiative.
Meanwhile, we’ve got Kerry and Abbas, who met on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Monday to discuss “constructive ideas” for boosting the possibility of a “two state solution.”
I rather doubt that Abbas – who’s playing it to the hilt now - would recognize a genuinely constructive idea if it hit him in the head. (More about him below.) And I’m not real sure about Kerry, either. But the push is on.
The opening general debate session of the UN General Assembly is now in progress, and speakers are using that podium to turn up the heat on Israel as well:
For me, most reprehensible of all was the statement of Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who spoke Tuesday (emphasis added):
“No injustice has spread more bitter fruit than the denial of a Palestinian state. I say: Peace is a conscious decision. Israel has to embrace peace or eventually be engulfed in a sea of hatred in a region of turmoil.”
I know that he is in something of a bind:
He fervently wants Israel at his border and not a Palestinian state, which would generate instability. But the radicals in his country are nipping at his heels, so that he fears publicly acknowledging even the discreet cooperative relationship he has with Israel.
However, in light of various assistance that Israel has afforded Jordan (a year ago, for example, we gave Jordan 16 retired Cobra helicopters to fend off ISIS), I think that the vehemence of this statement is over-the-top inexcusable. It is vile. And I’m not even going to deal here with his ludicrous charges against Israel regarding the Temple Mount.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who has praised Israeli-Egyptian security cooperation in other venues, at the UN podium spoke only about the importance of Palestinian Arab aspirations to establish an independent state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital; he said this is linked to comprehensive peace in the area.
In my book, he is one of the good guys. He pumps for a “two-state solution” but without malice towards Israel. In the course of his speech, he stopped to deviate from his written words:
“I want to address the leaders and citizens of Israel.
“I call on the Israeli government and the Israeli people to find a solution to this problem. We have a real opportunity to write a new page in history of our region moving towards peace.”
Ban Ki Moon, outgoing UN secretary-general, did not mention Palestinian Arab violence at all, instead saying (emphasis added):
“Ten years lost to illegal settlement expansion. Ten years lost to intra-Palestinian divide, growing polarization and hopelessness. This is madness...replacing a two-state solution with a one-state construct would spell doom.”
We would expect nothing different from the chief officer of the UN. And I would say that I welcome his imminent departure, except for the fact that I don’t expect his successor to be any better.
Obama, in his farewell speech on Tuesday, didn’t refer to Palestinian Arab violence either.
He mentioned incitement, saying “Surely Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement...” He didn’t say they must reject it, and he didn’t predicate progress in the “peace process” on their doing so. He simply segued into this: “Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.” (Emphasis added)
Precisely what “Palestinian land” he is referring to was not made not clear – although we can guess. We know he was more than a tad confused when he spoke, because he also said, [We have] “resolved the Iranian nuclear issue through diplomacy.” He is seriously in need of a reality check.
There are still more speakers scheduled:
Netanyahu will be speaking about terrorism and the need for the world to unite in fighting it. I will follow through on this. I expect him to share well thought-out advice that is likely to be ignored much as his advice on Iran was. I anticipate that the world is not ready to confront with seriousness what he is likely to challenge them to deal with. We’ll see.
Putin will be speaking. As he is playing a growing role on the world stage, happily flexing his muscles, we should pay careful attention to what his says – for whatever clues it provides as to his thinking and intentions.
And then there is Mahmoud Abbas.
Writing about him in this context challenges my skills as a professional – so deep is my antipathy to him. But, of course, that he is made welcome at the UN podium and treated with respect says as much about the UN as it does about him. Holocaust-denying, inciting, lying, anti-Semite that he is.
According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, he will be appealing to the UN to consider the “great suffering” of the people under “occupation.” He will be seeking UN resolutions to redress “continuing Israeli crimes,” according to "moral and historical imperatives." And, it is being said, he hopes to include “the right of return.”
Again, now, he wants to bring up the “right of return”? I believe he sees himself as having a tactical advantage at the moment and wants to make the most of it.
And so, I will take a minute here to address the purported “right of return,” which allegedly is founded in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which was passed in December 1948.
In a nutshell, there is no such thing as “the right of return.” The resolutions of the General Assembly are merely recommendations and carry no weight in international law.
What this resolution did was examine a variety of factors that had to be addressed in order achieve a truce as the War of Independence drew to a close. In order to facilitate this, it established a Conciliation Commission. The resolution in its entirety deals with a number of relevant issues – demilitarization, road development, free access to holy places, etc. etc.
One of the issues to be dealt with was refugees. And here, please note, it does not refer to “Arab” refugees, for there were Jewish refugees as well (although they were conveniently forgotten along the way). This Commission was instructed to “facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees...” Please note the inclusion of the option of resettlement for refugees. “Repatriation” was only one possibility.
What the Arabs have done is to cite Clause 11 in isolation: “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date...” Even this, taken by itself, is problematic. “Wishing to return...and live at peace with their neighbors...” At no point was Israel expected to take in Arabs who were hostile. And what does “the earliest practicable date” mean?
The great irony here is that Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen all voted against this resolution because it implicitly recognized the existence of Israel. Only in retrospect did they go back and draw upon what suited them.
One final word: The number of Arab refugees is routinely cited as four million by the Arabs and their supporters. This is a gross misrepresentation, a fraud promoted and nurtured by UNRWA, the refugee agency that attends to the Arab refugees. Incredibly, UNRWA says that all refugees retain refugee status even if they have found citizenship elsewhere – only “return” to their original homes in Israel eliminates that status. But people living in third countries who have citizenship are not refugees. What is more, UNRWA confers refugee status down through the generations – now the fourth generation. This applies to no other refugee population.
It was difficult not to be somewhat uneasy about Netanyahu’s meeting with Obama yesterday, given the political climate. Our prime minister has been talking about how we have to have gratitude to Obama for that MOU deal. That rings bells.
The two spoke to the press before their meeting, exuding a warm atmosphere. There was even banter about playing golf together and similar nonsense meant to convey a happy message: Israel and the US are the closest of friends, and the US watches out for Israel’s interests.
Publicly, Obama referred to the need to “keep alive the possibility of a stable, secure Israel, at peace with its neighbors, and a Palestinian homeland that meets the aspirations of their people.”
Reports are that he came on tougher privately, speaking of “profound US concerns” that settlement-building was eroding prospects for peace. But, I’m happy to say, those same reports indicate that Netanyahu advanced a counter-argument to Obama’s position.
But we’re not done yet. What continues to be unsettling are the rumors that Obama might withdraw support for Israel at the UN after election. This undoubtedly is what Abbas is playing towards. It would be Obama’s last chance to sock it to us, when it no longer mattered to him politically. Clifford May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has sounded such a warning.
While former Mid-East negotiator Aaron David Miller suggests that the newly signed MOU might serve as a “trigger mechanism” for a fresh American push for “peace” during Obama’s lame-duck period. Sort of a quid pro quo approach.
In response to this concern about the possibility of Obama opting not to veto a coercive Security Council resolution, 88 senators signed a letter sent to Obama urging him to:
“make it clear that you will veto any one-sided UNSC resolution that may be offered in the coming months. Any such resolution, whether focused on settlements or other final status issues, will ultimately make it more difficult for Israelis and Palestinians to resolve the conflict.” (Emphasis added)
The letter additionally recalled the statement by former US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice that “even well-intentioned initiatives” at the UN could “risk locking the parties into positions that will make it more difficult to return to the negotiation table and make the compromises necessary for peace.”
I’d like to say that this is a fantastic move, but I cannot. It is certainly heartening in that it shows Congressional support for Israel in its attempt to forestall inappropriate action by Obama. But in the end, what it says is that coercion won’t solve the problem of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict, only negotiations leading to a “two-state solution” will do that.
Oh. We’re back to that again? What makes this even more problematic is that AIPAC (which most definitely is not what it once was) drafted that letter.
Two very pro-Israel Senators, Ted Cruz (R–TX) and Marco Rubio (R–FL), refused to sign the letter. Cruz subsequently clarified that he supported the “spirit” of the letter but rejected the notion that “the two-state solution” was the “only” solution. He objected to coercing Israel in this direction. It is thought that Rubio has similar feelings on the matter.
And I suspect that some of the others who did not sign may have had similar thoughts. Consider Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), for example, who has now said that the next president should renegotiate the MOU and give Israel better terms.
Perhaps all those who did sign it should consider having a conversation with Ambassador Bolton, who, bless him, DOES understand that this paradigm has failed.
We still have a whole lot of work ahead of us.
Let’s end with some good news. This is big (emphasis added):
”By combining gene therapy with chemotherapy and delivering it to a primary tumor site, researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine have discovered in mice an ‘extremely effective way’ to prevent the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body...
“Two weeks after initiating cancer in the breasts of their mice, the researchers injected primary tumor sites with a hydrogel that contained naturally occurring RNAs to target the movement of cancer cells from primary to secondary sites.
“Two days after the treatment, the primary breast tumors were gone...
“’We realized we had stopped breast cancer metastasis in a mouse model, and that these results could be applicable to humans,’ [research team leader Noam] Shomron said. ‘There is a strong correlation between the effect on genes in mouse cells and the effect on those in human cells.’”
And this is a lovely reflection of Israel:
“During a raid on the house of a Hamas operative in the village of Jaba, near Jenin, in the early hours of Monday morning, security forces discovered a month-old fawn that was being held illegally and in conditions not suitable for wild animals.
“Border Police forces who conducted the raid transferred the fawn to the nature reserve section of the Civil Administration for treatment and rehabilitation.
“The Civil Administration said the fawn was being monitored by veterinarians at the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem, while continued recovery will most likely be conducted at a petting zoo. Veterinarians think that due to the age of the animal and the amount of time it spent in captivity, there is little chance it could survive in the wild...”
Said Operations commander Yasser Assadi, “Even in operations where we detain wanted suspects, it is impossible to ignore the sight of a suffering animal being held in captivity. This situation also involves saving life.” (Emphasis added)
Credit: police spokesperson
Proclaim Freedom: Dror Yikra – a 10th century Yemenite Jewish song, rendered here by Yonatan Razel. Traditionally a Shabbat song.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
Perhaps the best antidote to the insane events that seem normal fare these days is a focus on some of the good news that comes out of Israel. Thank Heaven, there is a good deal of that, if we take the time to pay attention:
“In Prof. Amir Amedi’s world-renowned Lab for Brain and Multisensory Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, people with vision impairment can ‘see’ their environment with the aid of sensory substitution devices (SSDs) that provide visual information from sound and touch.
“Now, two of the lab’s groundbreaking inventions are being readied for the mass market in Brainnovations, Israel Brain Technologies’ four-month accelerator program.
“EyeCane (pictured below), a flashlight-like orientation device, emits infrared rays to translate distance into auditory and tactile cues enabling the user to sense objects within an adjustable range of up to five meters. After brief training, EyeCane users can estimate distances, avoid obstacles and successfully navigate in simple environments.
“EyeMusic is an app and mini camera system that conveys colors, shapes and location of objects by converting images into ‘soundscapes’ for the brain to interpret visually. Blind individuals can be trained to recognize the letters of the alphabet, ‘see’ pictures of animals, and even find an object or person in a complex visual landscape. A version of the app is available free on the Apple App Store and Google Play...”
A system that enables blind persons to interpret color visually astounds me. See the link above for two videos demonstrating how these systems work.
Here’s something I can speak about first hand, and enthusiastically, having visited twice this summer with grandchildren, who loved it:
“Now there’s a permanent address for live music and music culture in the neighborhood: Kikar Hamusica (Music Square) on hip Yoel Moshe Salomon Street just off Zion Square.
“’We have created Kikar Hamusica right in the center of downtown Jerusalem to unify mankind through the happiness and spirituality that only comes from music,’ says Laurent Levy, the French immigrant behind the multifaceted project (below)....
“Every visitor gets a tablet and headphones so they can learn more details, play games such as musical trivia, and hear each of 260 musical instruments displayed in exquisitely appointed rooms.
“The furnishings and décor were handcrafted by artisans...according to the aesthetic of the particular region: Morocco-Andalusia, Central Asia, Europe, the Balkans, Iraq/Syria, Israel, Yemen and Africa.
“’The collections are grouped geographically to display how Hebrew music evolved in the diaspora following the destruction of the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians 2,500 years ago,’ explains Yaniv Levy, the museum’s marketing manager.”
Credit: Abigail Klein Leichman
“Turning now to some of the insanity we must deal with...insanity being a recurrent theme in my posts.
A recent statement made by Dennis Ross - while perhaps not surprising to those of us who know his history as an advisor to Bill Clinton - is none-the-less deeply infuriating. He represents a seriously wrong-headed perspective embraced by many American liberals, including a good number of Jews. Because he is a “diplomat,” what he says garners credibility. And so, it calls for a retort.
At a panel discussion at Georgetown University, Ross said that if Hillary is elected, she should do a “backdoor initiative” to force Netanyahu to make changes in his policy. Force?
“Even though negotiations with the Palestinian Authority won’t work now” Netanyahu, said Ross, should be taking steps for “peace.”
Netanyahu, he said, “does not want to make the difficult choice between his domestic interests and what the international community expects.”
Excuse me? Here we have the insufferable heart of his perspective. Would he speak about any other nation this way? When he refers to Netanyahu’s “domestic interests” – by which he means internal political concerns - he misses the point completely. Israel is a sovereign state, and the head of that state has an obligation to protect the wellbeing of its citizens and to respond to the will of its citizenry. There is less than no obligation to do what “the international community expects.”
We can rest assured that the “international community,” such as it exists, is not concerned with the wellbeing of Israel or Israeli citizens. We get in trouble when our leaders attempt to appease that “community.”
The expressed attitude of people such as Ross should serve our leaders as a reminder of exactly where we should not go.
There is yet more in Ross’s statement that I cannot let pass:
Insisting that we should make unilateral concessions, including a cessation of building beyond the security fence, he said this would be consistent with “the traditional Zionist way of shaping your own destiny.”
Is he really that obtuse or just pretending to be? We ARE shaping our own destiny, we ARE making choices. It’s just that Ross doesn’t like them:
Israelis need to realize, he declared, that “they can’t get [peace] on the cheap.”
How he could imagine, after everything that has transpired, that we would get “peace” by making more concessions eludes me totally. But wait! DOES he really imagine this? Or is he simply opting to do what he recommends Israel do – bow to what the world expects?
A few days ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu did a video clip about the fact that a Palestinian Arab state would be Judenrein.
The term he used was “ethnic cleansing,” as no Jews would be permitted to remain within the borders of that state. This is something Abbas has declared explicitly.
Well, the world has gone a bit bananas about this. It is astonishing.
No one – with the exception of a handful of right wing columnists - addressed the issue of Abbas’s demand that there would be no Jews in the Palestinian Arab state. No one addressed it even though Netanyahu is entirely correct: people who want ethnic cleansing are not peaceful. He made the point that 20% of the Israeli population is Arab, because when Israel was founded Jewish leaders invited Arabs who lived within Israel’s borders to stay.
Instead, Abbas got a free pass, and everyone turned the argument around to the matter of “settlements.” Within hours, the State Department had declared Netanyahu’s statement as “inappropriate and unhelpful.”
And the UN’s Ban Ki Moon? Well, what could we expect of him? He declared that Israeli settlements “are a violation of international law” and Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory “should be resolved as soon as possible through negotiations.”
For the record (for the thousandth time) “settlements” are not in violation of international law, and the area of Judea and Samaria is not “Palestinian territory.” But in this mad world, facts don’t matter.
What must be specifically noted is the stance of Jonathan Greenblatt, who has replaced Abe Foxman as national director of ADL – which has a mandate to fight anti-Semitism. Greenblatt, who worked for the Obama administration, came out against Netanyahu and sided instead with Obama.
See Jonathan Tobin’s piece on this: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-adl-takes-sides-against-israel/2016/09/15/. Exceedingly disturbing, and perhaps one more unfortunate prognosticator of where mainstream American Jewry is going.
I would not call the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) - on military aid for a ten year period beginning in 2019 - that has been signed between Israel and the US “insanity.” But I do think it is disturbing and I regret that agreement was reached now with the Obama administration. So much time had transpired that there was some reason to believe that Netanyahu might wait until after the elections. I am not privy to what made him decide to seal the deal now. (There is suggestion from one source that it was Obama who was holding out, and not Netanyahu at all.)
Over the course of 10 years, $38 billion will be provided by the US. The deal is being touted as the biggest and most generous ever – one that will provide Israeli military with planning security.
But the reality if far more complex than this.
First, it must be understood that this $38 billion may not to be expended in Israel – it will all get turned back to the US. This US “grant” to Israel keeps the US defense industry going.
Part of what is terribly problematic here is that in prior agreements 20% of the aid from the US could be expended inside Israel, invested in the Israel defense industry. Now that has been cut out of the deal. This means a weakening of Israel’s defense industry and a greater dependency on US weaponry, missiles, planes, etc. That is not a happy scenario. The US (read Obama) would like to see us more dependent, but we should strive for exactly the reverse.
The US wants something else, as well: a bigger piece of the military defense industry market. If Israel’s military industry is crippled, to whatever degree, by lack of funds, it provides the US a better opportunity to market its military equipment. And so, when we speak about this aid package being the biggest ever, we have to deduct loss of income to Israel within the military equipment market. That’s before we calculate what the dollar was worth ten years ago, as compared to what it will be worth in the ten years beginning in 2019. The notion that two figures written on a piece of paper tell the whole story is erroneous.
As matters stand, US funds cannot even be used to provide fuel for Israeli military equipment, as has been the case in the past.
What is most significant, Congress has been cut out of the equation. In past deals, a certain amount was granted by the administration in a MOU. But Israel still had the latitude to go to Congress for additional assistance in times of crisis. It is, after all, Congress that allocates funds, and Congress that is Israel’s most reliable supporter.
The situation is being spun so that the need to go to Congress in times of crisis was a deficit in previous deals, as there was a lack of certainty as to what could be attained. Now, it is being said, there is certainty – allowing for planning security. Well, yes and no. True, there is a certain degree of planning security. But the sum is locked in – there is no latitude. That is not a plus.
Israel has agreed not to ask Congress for funds unless there is a war.
Shoshanna Bryen, Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center, asks what determines a “war”:
“Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria still maintain a state of war with Israel, as does Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and sometimes the Palestinian Authority. Did the Obama Administration leave Israel a loophole for Congressional assistance? Or is it denying that Israel lives in a perpetual and evolving state of threat and often fights ‘wars’ that are essential to the protection of its population, but are not formally declared?” (Emphasis added)
Apparently, as well – and this does strike me as nuts – Israel has agreed, under pressure from Obama, to return to Congress any extra monies allocated by Congress above and beyond the MOU level over the next two years.
We were that hungry to strike this deal? I feel as if we have not yet learned the full story here.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) says Israel made a mistake signing with Obama. “They left money on the table,” he observed.
“Graham, who chairs a Senate Appropriations subcommittee, said Congress isn't a party to the agreement and shouldn't be bound by the deal. He said he intended to test in the coming weeks a provision that restricts lawmakers from providing for more money than the deal mandates by pushing for a supplemental budget that would give Israel an additional $1.5 billion over what the administration has proposed.
“The Obama administration is trying to ‘neuter’ Congress [by] undercutting its ability to appropriate money, according to Graham. ‘I will not stand for that,’ he said.
“Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, seemed to side with Graham on that point. Corker said in a statement Wednesday that the agreement ‘sends an important signal about our long-term commitment to Israel,’ but the amount of money ‘is ultimately up to Congress to decide.’" (Emphasis added here and above.)
Sen. Graham points out that lawmakers this year wanted to give Israel $600 million for missile defense — $100 million more than the agreement proposes to provide in 2019, when the need may be even greater. This provides a perspective on that MOU, which is supposed to be so generous. (I note that Obama – the president who “has Israel’s back” - has a history of trying to reduce funds for Israel’s missile defense.)
Bryen further quotes Graham (emphasis added):
“Over the next decade, [Israel] is going to need to spend more on domestic defense, research and development, because the IDF is going to be under more threat, not less. This MOU sends the wrong signal to the Ayatollahs. I am appalled that the administration would (give) the largest state sponsor of terrorism access to $150 billion in sanctions relief without any requirement that they change their behavior. Instead, it is nickeling and diming Israel, and… that’s the wrong ship to sail.”
So here we have it, once again: Obama making like he’s a friend to Israel (a posture the left-wing gullible gladly embrace), while in truth he’s nothing of the sort.
One last note here: Former prime minister Ehud Barak strongly criticized the MOU deal in an op-ed in the Washington Post last week. This is reprehensible and smacks of politics. Such criticism belongs inside of Israel only. You do not attack your prime minister abroad.
If there is an up side here, it is the fact that this is a MOU and not a signed treaty. That means that the next president has the latitude to alter terms to Israel’s favor.
Attorney David Friedman, who is Trump’s key advisor on Middle East affairs, says Trump would not limit his assistance to Israel to this MOU.
Unfortunately, news has broken that Netanyahu, who will going to the US to address the UN on Thursday, will meet with Obama on Wednesday in New York.
After a period of much appreciated quiet, the terrorism has started up again. In the course of three days, there have been six attacks:
In the Hevron area; in the community of Efrat in Gush Etzion, where an infiltrator was quickly caught; at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem; and now outside Herod’s Gate in the Old City (pictured). A car ramming, several stabbings. Attacks resulted in either no injury or light injuries. Until today: At Herod’s Gate two police offices were knifed – one was injured moderately and one, who was stabbed in the neck, seriously.
The terrorists were all shot and in some cases killed.
The reason given for the upswing is the coming of the Jewish holidays. No reason is acceptable in the slightest. IDF reinforcements are being brought in to the high risk areas.
A simple song, with an upbeat message. Feels right for this posting as counter to the bad stuff: John Denver. “Sunshine on my shoulders.”
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
So, we start with the good.
More exciting archeological news:
There is a project called the Temple Mount sifting project. It was founded in 2004, by archaeologists Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Dvira in response to the horrendous removal of tons of earth from the Temple Mount by the Islamic Waqf in 1999. The Arabs who dumped this earth assumed, without a doubt, that they had disposed of much archeological evidence about the Temple.
But something very different happened. In the years since the earth was dumped, volunteer and professional sifters have have painstakingly gone through it, uncovering thousands of artifacts.
The most recent announcement came this week when segments of tile were reconstructed into a pattern that is believed to be from the Courtyard floor of the Temple in Herodian times.
Credit: Temple Mount sifting project
The tiles, prestigious and sophisticated, were composed of a variety of imported polished stones. “It enables us to get an idea of the Temple's incredible splendor," said Dr. Barkay.
What impresses me as much as anything else is the meticulous devotion of those who are doing this sorting and restoration work.
See a short video here: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/217487
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes we can win. And the lesson to be learned here, I think, is that it’s always worth trying:
Recently, the “Palestinian ambassador” to the Czech Republic registered a complaint about an atlas used in the Czech school system that identified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Czech minister of education informed the publisher of that book that a change had to be made, listing Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, or his books would no longer be accredited as official school books.
Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat (pictured immediately below), on learning of this, wrote an impassioned letter to Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.
The letter said, in part:
”The friendship between our peoples has deep historical roots. After Jerusalem’s destruction, Jews made Prague the Jerusalem of Europe – a center of Jewish thought, history, and culture. Prague shaped Jewish life, and Jewish thinkers, writers, and artists shaped Prague...
“Future generations of Czech students deserve nothing less than the truth: Jerusalem’s rightful place as the capital of Israel, and the heart and soul of the Jewish people, cannot and should not, be denied.”
Great letter. It made an impression upon PM Sobotka, who – much to his credit - has reversed the decision.
In a statement to Czech Radio, Education Minister Katerina Valachova’s said that Jerusalem would not be removed from the textbooks. “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital from the viewpoint of the declaration of the country to which this relates, which means Israel,” Valachova said.
“Jerusalem is on the map!” exulted Barket, while praising the Czech government for not caving to Palestinian Arab pressure.
The decision to remove Jerusalem was particularly disturbing, because the Czechs have been our friends. But in the end I think it is the fact that they are that allowed them to stand against the pressure.
Let’s see how long this holds. For now it is indeed good news:
”A new procedure set in place on Tuesday will make it harder for the civil administration to remove illegal settler structures.
”"Until now, the civil administration had the sole authority to remove unauthorized modular homes and structures within 60 days of their construction...
For the last decade, the civil administration has often moved fairly quickly to remove new illegal settler construction within those first 60 days.”
And I will note, with no little shame, that “settler” construction has been taken down with greater alacrity than illegal Arab construction, that is back by the clout of the EU.
”The procedure has now been changed, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) handing the purview of such activity over to the Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi).
“Ben-Dahan has spoken out against such demolitions, and it is expected that his involvement in the matter will slow down the rate of the demolitions.
”On Tuesday, Ben-Dahan wrote a letter to the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to explain the new regulations, and to underscore that he must approve such activity before it occurs.
”He issued his directive after the civil administration destroyed an encampment of some 10 families on an otherwise empty hilltop in the Kiryat Arba settlement.”
“The Knesset Land of Israel Caucus, led by MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), welcome the new procedure...”
When Prime Minister Netanyahu was in Holland, he was snubbed by a Dutch member of Parliament – Muslim, Turkish-born – who refused to shake his hand. But I rather like our prime minister’s response:
“We again saw today a clear example of who wants peace and who doesn’t. I will continue to represent Israel’s position with pride throughout the world and to strengthen its international standing. As [the late Likud] Prime Minister Menachem Begin once said, ‘he who snubs his nose will remain with a snubbed nose.’”
He handles himself with aplomb in situations like this.
On the flip side, Netanyahu was greeted most enthusiastically by a group of Christian Zionists. Even blowing of a shofar. See the video here:
Are we surprised? A PA court has ruled that the elections scheduled for October must be postponed because of disputes about the lists. Hamas is furious.
”Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have agreed ‘in principle’ to meet in Moscow.”
For your information only.
A group called Jewish Democrats for Trump has organized and is starting to do publicity, warning against the dangers of Hillary.
Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 19 points — 55 percent to 36 percent — among voters who are currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. military, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll.
I would suggest there are solid reasons for this. On Wednesday, Trump unveiled his “Peace Through Strength” plan – he says that the US cannot be safe without a strong military:
“We want to defer, avoid and prevent conflict through our unquestioned military strength" That means “rethinking the failed policies of the past.” (emphasis added)
I would say he’s absolutely right. Obama gutted the military, firing some of the best commanders and cutting back across the board. Trump wants to end the sequester, increase the number of active-duty military personnel and develop a state of the art missile defense system.
Here’s a bit of insight into Hillary’s thinking, from the Washington Times:
“Glossing over the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four U.S. diplomats, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night claimed that ‘we did not lose a single American’ due to military intervention in Libya.
“No Americans were lost in the military intervention itself, but the aftermath was a far different story. Four Americans were killed when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2012, and Mrs. Clinton has come under intense fire for not taking greater security precautions for her diplomats.
“Mrs. Clinton’s opponent in the 2016 presidential race, Republican Donald Trump, said the Obama administration badly mishandled the aftermath of the Libyan military intervention.
“’They complicated the mistake, once they bombed the you-know-what out of Gadhafi. They made a terrible mistake on Libya.’”
Commentator Daniel Greenfield calls Hillary’s insistence that no Americans died in the action in Libya “staggering in its shamelessness.”
The same must be said, and much more, about what Barack Hussein Obama has done – it is so staggering, it could knock us down altogether. Every revelation is followed by one even worse.
I’m waiting for America to notice.
 You likely know the story of the $400 million in cash that was sent secretly to Iran by Obama as ransom money for American hostages that Iran was holding. That was confirmed by the State Department by the third week of August.
 Then came a report from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) confirming that the US provided secret exemptions for Iran from the first day of the deal.
 A couple of days ago, the information broke that there were three shipments of cash sent by the US to Iran, because “immediate” payment was demanded. The total of these cash payments to Iran was $1.7 billion. And Democratic senators who were queried said they had not been informed before the fact.
Omri Ceren writes: ”the $1.7 billion is not the first time the administration has facilitated the transfer of billions of dollars to Iran...it's likely that Iran has secretly been getting additional cash payments over the last two years, as part of the administration's diplomacy.”
Unraveling all of this is difficult, but there are Financial Services hearings into this: “Iran may have gotten tens of billions more in secret cash.”
Wrap your heads around this if you can.
And think really hard about what you want next for America.
Shabbat is coming. Here you have the Maccabeats doing Lecha Dodi, traditionally sung as we welcome in Shabbat. Shabbat is greeted as a bride.
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Before I get to the malice, which sure stares us in the face, let’s start with some good news, which sets matters into a very broad context.
This week, the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem unveiled an enormously exciting new exhibit – “In the Valley of David and Goliath” - that features 3,000 year-old artifacts recovered from Khirbet Qeiyafa, which overlooks the Elah Valley southwest of Jerusalem. Archaeologists believe this ancient fortified city could be the biblical city of Sha'arayim (“Two Gates”) mentioned in the story of the battle of David and the Philistine giant, Goliath. Finds from the excavation have been carbon-dated back to the 11th Century BCE.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Professor Yosef Garfinkel, Yigal Yardin Chair of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who supervised the excavations, described them as a “Biblical Pompeii.” Evidence exists for this being a Judean stronghold at the edge of the Philistine area: there are no pig bones in the remains, and more significantly, there was a pottery jar with an inscription in Canaanite script, which is believed to be the earliest known example of Hebrew writing.
It is always exciting when a Biblical account and archeological evidence converge. We are provided here with very likely evidence of an Israelite Kingdom dating back 3,000 years.
Take note world: we were here. (And be very clear on this: Whatever may be claimed to the contrary, the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians today have less than nothing to do with the Philistines of millennia ago.)
The very astute historian and political analyst Prof. Efraim Karsh, who is about to assume the position of director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center), has done a comprehensive study of the Oslo Accords, very aptly referring to it as the “Oslo Disaster” (emphasis added):
“...the Oslo ‘peace process’ has substantially worsened the position of both parties and made the prospects for peace and reconciliation ever more remote.
“The process has led to establishment of an ineradicable terror entity on Israel’s doorstep, deepened Israel’s internal cleavages, destabilized its political system, and weakened its international standing.
“It has been a disaster for West Bank and Gaza Palestinians too. It has brought about subjugation to corrupt and repressive PLO and Hamas regimes...
“This abject failure is a direct result of the Palestinian leadership’s perception of the process as a pathway not to a two-state solution – meaning Israel alongside a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza – but to the subversion of the State of Israel. They view Oslo not as a path to nation-building and state creation, but to the formation of a repressive terror entity that perpetuates conflict with Israel, while keeping its hapless constituents in constant and bewildered awe as Palestinian leaders line their pockets from the proceeds of this misery...
“Politically and diplomatically...Oslo instantaneously transformed the PLO (and, to a lesser extent, Hamas) into an internationally accepted political actor while upholding its commitment to Israel’s destruction, edging toward fully fledged statehood outside the Oslo framework, and steadily undermining Israel’s international standing...
Karsh is exceedingly pessimistic about the chances that this situation will change:
“There has been no real reckoning by the Oslo architects and their erstwhile ‘peace camp’ successors, both in Israel and abroad, of the worst blunder in Israel’s history, and no rethinking of its disastrously misconceived assumptions – let alone any public admission of guilt or show of remorse for its horrific costs.
“Instead, they continue to willfully ignore the Palestinian leadership’s total lack of interest in the two-state solution and serial violation of contractual obligations. They continue to whitewash ongoing Palestinian violence, belittle the extent of Israeli suffering, and blame Jerusalem for the stalled process despite the public endorsement of the two-state solution by five successive Israeli prime ministers, Peres, Barak, Sharon, Olmert, and Netanyahu.
“Not only has the same terror-tainted Palestinian leadership come to be universally viewed as the prospective government of a future Palestinian state, but its goal of having this state established without negotiating with Israel, or even recognizing its right to exist, seems to be gaining ever wider currency...
“Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation, so it will only be when Palestinian society undergoes a real ‘spring’ that the century-long conflict between Arabs and Jews can at long last be resolved...This requires sweeping the corrupt and oppressive PLO and Hamas rulers from power, eliminating endemic violence from political and social life, and teaching the virtues of coexistence with Israeli neighbors.
“Sadly, the possibility of a Palestinian spring...has been destroyed for the foreseeable future by the Oslo ‘peace process’.”
This is an important piece that I encourage you to share broadly.
I will cut those who continue to support a “two-state solution” just a tiny bit of slack: There are some among them – albeit a decreasing number - with their heads in the sand, so very eager for things to be good that they hold on to the “two-state” vision as a panacea for problems here in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
But – really! - those who are simply blindly optimistic are a very small minority. In the main, what we are seeing is malice, disguised as desire for “peace.” It is with intent that Israel is being pressured and weakened. Do not delude yourselves that it is otherwise. The nations of the world cut the PLO slack as they do for no other entity. In many cases, it doesn’t matter what the PLO’s real intentions are or what they have failed to do or how they are using their money (donated by those same nations).
For this reason, anything other than a very strong stance by the government of Israel is a huge mistake. There is no way for us to win by showing a conciliatory stance, and it’s time to face this. Concessions only make matters worse for us. It’s important to speak truth to the world’s falsehoods.
Conflicting predictions re what will happen with the PA elections next month persist, with various reports as to how Fatah and Hamas are playing the game. Most recently, four Fatah lists in different regions of Gaza have been disqualified. We will continue to watch this as the implications are serious.
Julie Bishop, Australian Foreign Minister, who has been more than not a friend of Israel, has just completed a warm visit here.
She says that both sides have responsibility for the impasse on negotiations. The PA, with regard to violence and unilateral actions towards statehood, and Israel because of settlement construction. Such is the political climate that this even-handed position is welcomed by Jerusalem.
Bishop extended to Prime Minister Netanyahu an invitation to visit Australia early in 2017. He accepted gladly; his visit will be the first to Australia by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
As I write, Netanyahu is in the Netherlands, which he last visited in 2012. This is not a place enormously receptive to Israel: a former prime minister and Palestinian Arab activist, Dries van Agt, is calling for his arrest for “war crimes.” In meetings with Dutch leaders – including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and King Willem-Alexander, who are expected to be welcoming – Netanyahu will emphasize Israel’s role in fighting international terrorism.
This role that Israel is able to play may be a game-changer in certain diplomatic circumstances. I’ve alluded to this before: the world needs us.
Meanwhile, Putin – eager to usurp the US role - is getting into the “peace negotiations” scene. On Monday, Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East, met with Netanyahu for a discussion about a meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas in Moscow hosted by Putin. The prime minister subsequently indicated he was considering the possibility of such a meeting, and is always ready to meet with Abbas “without preconditions.”
The response from Abbas is ambiguous. Some reports indicated he was willing, while a source close to him declared that certain conditions – cessation of all building over the Green Line, etc. - would have to be met first. If Netanyahu insists on no preconditions, then Abbas’s saying yes, with conditions, is effectively saying no, while attempting to put the onus on Israel.
We’ve witnessed this game-playing before. It all comes to nothing.
Uzi Dayan, Major General in the IDF (ret.), and former National Security Advisor, in an interview this week, said that time is on our side. Israel’s greatest challenges, he said are effectively combatting terrorism, and dealing with the nuclearization of Iran (what he calls “unfinished business”).
To properly confront these threats, says Dayan, we need internal (i.e., national) unity, Jerusalem, and defensible borders.
Jerusalem is not just the capital of Israel, but of the Jewish people. Defensible borders include the Jordan River as the border to the east, to secure strategic depth.
Dayan does not delude himself that there is a “partner for peace.” And what the Palestinians see now more and more is that many Arab nations are devoted to issues more critical than theirs.
Avi Dichter, former head of Shin Bet and currently chair of the Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, who gave a briefing at the Israel Project offices in Jerusalem this week, pinpoints Iran – which he refers to as “recently empowered” - and its proxy terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, as the greatest existential threats to Israel.
Dichter said Hamas head Khaled Mashaal is poised to take over from the PA’s Abbas.
”If you listen very carefully to [Mashaal’s] speeches, in English he speaks in a way that you can understand that he supports a solution on the ‘67 lines. I recommend you listen to his speeches in Arabic.” In Arabic Mashaal talks about taking a whole lot more.
Dichter also addressed the terror situation in Jerusalem which has improved considerably:
“Nothing happens in one day, but you can see that when the philosophy of war is used against [terrorists] by the army, police, and Shin Bet, attacks go down.” (emphasis added here and above)
Please note, he did not say terrorism was reduced via incentives and perks and gestures.
Both Dichter and Dayan, above, refer to the primacy of a “recently empowered,” “nuclearized” Iran as existential threat to Israel. And precisely whom do we have to thank for this?
None other than the arrogant, conniving president of the US, of course. The very same man who, while claiming to be Israel’s friend, is filled with malice towards the Jewish state.
Please consider the following article very carefully (emphasis added):
Dr. Emily Landau, head of the Arms Control Program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, in discussion with the JPost on Monday, indicated that Iran is systematically testing the boundaries of the JCPOA nuclear deal, with the Obama administration repeatedly sweeping this under the carpet, and acting as “Iran’s lawyers.”
This hardly comes as surprise to many of us – who have long asked which side Obama is on, but here you have it from an expert.
Among the concerns that Landau referred to is a report published last week by the Institute for Science and International Security, headed by former IAEA inspector David Albright. It cites information that Iran received a number of exemptions from Washington ahead of the implementation of the JCPOA in January.
So, not only is the JCPOA horrendously inadequate, Obama ensured that the terms by which Iran had to abide were even more slack than would be indicated on paper. One exemption Iran received was that enriched uranium that had been converted into other chemical forms would not be counted in its enriched uranium supplies, thus permitting Iran to surpass its cap of low enriched uranium.
The JPost article elaborates:
“The upcoming elections in the US represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue with the next administration to formulate a response to Iran, Landau argued. While the US has stated that Iran is implementing its side of the deal, ‘Israel can’t be satisfied with that,’ Landau said, due to a host of ‘worrying dynamics and other issues’ that Washington is ignoring, as well as the fact that ‘the JCPOA is tremendously flawed.’”
“Recent developments will help create a new reality a decade from now, in which Iran will be ‘much stronger vis-à-vis world powers. Then, no one will be willing and able to stand up to Iran during the crunch time’...
“The radical ayatollahs are set to keep their hold on power in Iran...’They, together with the Revolutionary Guards, have the real hold on power. There is no basis, right now, for dreams of moderation. Yet the US is acting as if we are on the road to a changed Iran.’”
Please! wrap your heads around this. Obama – in a betrayal of his own country, of Israel, and of the Western world – has created a situation in which a radical Islamist Iran will be able to threaten the world with nuclear power in the not so distant future.
I am aghast that there are Americans, particularly presumably intelligent and sophisticated American Jews, who do not perceive this.
Most significant is the fact that it may be possible yet to change the dynamic. We’re coming close, but it is not yet too late:
“The upcoming elections in the US represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue with the next administration to formulate a response to Iran.”
I can think of dozens of reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton, but this reason is most significant of all. This is what the former secretary of state said at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, just a year ago, as the Senate began debate on the deal:
...the US faces a choice to either “move forward on a path to diplomacy or turn down [a] more dangerous path leading to a far less certain and riskier future.”
...the deal “blocks every pathway for Iran to get a bomb” and...it was “unrealistic” to [try to] get a better deal, as some opponents claimed was possible.
Well, it is crystal clear that the deal does not block every pathway for Iran to get a bomb, and almost any deal would have been better than the one Obama negotiated.
This said, it is obvious that Hillary in the White House will not represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue regarding a response to Iran.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has expressed extreme dissatisfaction with the Iran deal and calls for imposition of new sanctions and renegotiation of the deal. With him, there is opportunity for Israel to have a new dialogue regarding a response to Iran.
I point out that the Obama administration has blocked Israeli moves to attack Iran, and has refused to provide Israel with the bunker busters that would allow an Israeli attack to take out Iran’s nuclear equipment.
I speak a great deal, and with great conviction, about having visions of a better future. But sometimes it’s not enough to be “visionary.” Sometimes it’s essential to act to bring those good things about.
When there is a real and present danger, no one gets a free pass.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
When last I wrote, I spoke about light behind the shadows and looking ahead to what is possible - what good may be on the way. I meant every word, and will continue to seek the light.
However, I am not a Pollyanna and I don’t for a moment intend to suggest that what’s coming is all good. Only someone thoroughly deluded and obtuse could imagine that today.
In terms of what we envision, we have to strike a balance between two poles .
I continue to see news articles and opinion pieces that provide the same take I had in my last posting with regard to Defense Minister Lieberman: that the message he is delivering to our enemies is different – tougher! - and that the situation has shifted in some potentially significant ways.
I will add here a comment I saw regarding the fact that Lieberman is said to be demonstrating his trademark capacity for decisiveness. Let’s hope. If he is able to make up his mind without vacillating and stand strong on what he has decided this is not only very positive, it is badly needed. We’ve seen too much from our prime minister, who is known for a certain indecisiveness. Not infrequently, he talks tough, only to back off later. Adversaries need to know we mean what we say.
Two weeks ago, Lieberman unveiled a new “carrot and stick” policy for dealing with the Palestinian Arabs (emphasis added):
“We will implement a differential policy in Judea and Samaria. Its purpose is to continue to give benefits to those who desire co-existence with us and make life difficult for those who seek to harm Jews...anyone who is prepared for co-existence will prosper, while those who opt for terrorism will lose.”
According to this new plan, the map of Judea and Samaria has been divided into areas from which no terrorists have come, and those – mainly in southern Judea, from Hevron southward – from which terrorists have emerged.
The terror-free areas will receive a hospital (Beit Sahur), an industrial zone (Nablus), and a soccer field (Kafr Bidia). Other infrastructure development is planned for the no-terror areas as well.
For the areas from which terror emanates, there will be increased IDF activity; home demolitions; increased arrests; raids on terrorists’ homes; confiscation of terrorism funds and property; cancellation of VIP permits for senior Palestinian Authority officials taking part in incitement; increased vehicle searches at the Kalandiya refugee camp; and more.
Lieberman says that Netanyahu is on board with this in full measure.
At first, criticism for this plan came from some sources on the right concerned that the “good” Palestinian Arab villages in Judea and Samaria would actually be given a latitude with regard to development that is not being provided to Jews living in these areas. This would be a troubling prospect.
But what I see here is something that has the potential to be enormously positive: Lieberman is interested in dealing with individuals and specific towns, not with the PA proper. This is a good move, which undercuts the influence and the power of the exceedingly corrupt and malign PA.
The biggest mistake that was made by the Israeli government at the time of the Oslo Accords was arranging in 1994 for Arafat and his cronies to come into Judea and Samaria from Tunisia as the official representatives of the Palestinian Arabs. It was somehow imagined that this was necessary, as they headed the PLO – self-designated as the voice and official representative of the Palestinian Arabs – and that there could be no effective negotiations without them.
Prior to this, dealings had been with local Arabs. Once Arafat and his entourage entered the scene, they supported terrorism from within (while previously he promoted it from outside), taught hatred of Jews and Israel, and incited incessantly. Arafat’s protégé and successor Mahmoud Abbas (about which more below) has followed this model.
Many Israeli Jews are witness to the better relations that existed with local Palestinian Arabs before the advent of “peace.”
This past Monday, at a press conference, Lieberman spoke out on behalf of IDF soldiers who are intimidated by media:
“I would expect the Israeli press to work hard to strengthen the Israeli deterrent capability against our enemies — not to deter Israeli soldiers from fighting terrorists and fighting terror.
“I want a free press, not a press that deters IDF soldiers.
“I want to remind you that people are fighting terror on a daily basis, fighting terrorists. They can’t go out to a mission with a lawyer at their side, and therefore sometimes [their] thought process will be correct and sometimes it won’t.”
Lieberman had two specific cases in mind – most specifically that of soldier Elor Azaria, whose trial for manslaughter for killing a terrorist who had already been wounded is still on-going. This is refreshing after Moshe Ya’alon, Lieberman’s predecessor, spoke out inappropriately and prejudicially on this case.
Israel National News, citing the Palestinian Arab news agency Ma’an, reports that the body of terrorist who committed a stabbing in October has been turned over to the PA. The deal with the family, according to the report, was that no more than 25 people would attend the funeral; the family was said to have put up a bond of 25,000 shekels.
What concerns me here is not simply the issue of whether bodies of terrorists should be turned over to families – it is a matter of consistency. When the terrorism was bad, the security cabinet declared that a separate cemetery for terrorists would be established, so that bodies could be buried (which, truth to tell, is appropriate), but that there would be a policy of not handing them back. And now?
I have no information on whether Lieberman was involved here.
The situation with regard to the PA is shifting with some considerable speed.
There is, first of all, the matter of the local elections, which are supposed to be held on October 8. in PA areas in Judea and Samaria. Some analysts surmised at the time the elections were announced that Abbas was attempting to show the Western world – upon whose largesse he depends – that the PA had democratic process. A joke, but never mind.
Then Hamas changed the dynamic by announcing not only intention to participate by backing candidates in Judea and Samaria municipalities, but also readiness to permit elections to be held in Gaza. Ooops. Not a good scenario for Abbas, as there are reliable predictions that Hamas will show very well in these elections. Shades of what happened in Gaza in 2006, when Hamas won and subsequently took over Gaza in a coup.
Now analysts are scratching their heads, trying to figure out why Abbas, who is facing a losing proposition, does not find an excuse for cancelling those elections.
Not so many weeks ago, it made news here that the IDF (or, more accurately, some upper level IDF officers) were recommending that the PA be given more security responsibility to show the Palestinian Arabs how valuable Abbas is, so that he would garner more votes and hopefully prevent a Hamas win in the elections. Not a great idea, to understate the matter.
But now we see Lieberman undercutting Abbas by dealing directing with people and villages. The scenario has shifted dramatically.
In fact, not long ago, Lieberman leveled a direct charge against Abbas (emphasis added):
"We've met dozens of economists and businessmen from the Palestinian Authority, and when you ask what's most important for the Palestinian economy, they all reply that the most important thing is to get rid of Abu Mazen [Abbas]...He has imposed a reign of corruption that encompasses everything. He has people in every economic sector - in real estate, the fuel market, the communications market. Abbas' people take a tithe from every deal, and aside from the people in the inner circle, the PA leadership doesn't allow anyone there to develop economically. That's why it's so important for him to go. As long as Abbas is there, nothing will happen."
For more on this issue, see Caroline Glick in “The end of Mahmoud Abbas” (emphasis added):
“Like it or not, the day is fast approaching when the Palestinian Authority we have known for the past 22 years will cease to exist.
”PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’s US-trained Palestinian security forces have lost control over the Palestinians cities in Judea and Samaria. His EU- and US-funded bureaucracies are about to lose control over the local governments to Hamas. And his Fatah militias have turned against him.
“Palestinian affairs experts Pinchas Inbari of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Khaled Abu Toameh of the Gatestone Institute have in recent weeks reported in detail about the insurrection of Fatah militias and tribal leaders against Abbas’s PA.
“In Hebron, tribal leaders, more or less dormant for the past 20 years, are regenerating a tribal alliance as a means of bypassing the PA, which no longer represents them. Their first major action to date was to send a delegation of tribal leaders to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan.
”Even in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas’s power, the PA is losing ground to EU-funded NGOs that seek to limit the PA’s economic control over the groups and their operations.”
Glick says that the Hamas takeover of Palestinian Arab areas of Judea and Samaria will be swift, just as was the case in Gaza. The big question she raises is what Israel intends to do about this.
As it plays out, it may mean war. And that may be cleaner than pretending there is a “partner for peace” with Abbas. Our purported deal was with the PLO/PA and not with Hamas, after all.
But I share here a number of thoughts: First is Glick’s allusion to “tribal leaders.” Within Arab Judea and Samaria there are clans, each of which controls an area. It has long been the contention of Dr. Mordecai Kedar that the resolution of the situation – the way to a state of peace – is via dealing with these clans and allocating to each an area of autonomy. Now I wonder whether this scenario might play into the situation.
And then there is the allusion to Jordan. For all King Abdullah’s excessively hostile remarks about Israel for public consumption, it is Israel he wants controlling Judea and Samaria right up to his border. Is he, might he be, a factor now, surreptitiously? Surreptitiously, because radicals threaten his throne.
Lastly, I just read a comment about how it is obviously the case that were Hamas to be in charge instead of the PA, the world would understand that a “peace” deal is no longer viable. I would like to think so, but I do not. I have expected on numerous occasions – such as when Fatah and Hamas were negotiating a unity government – that the world would understand that Israel had no genuine partner for negotiations. But always there were those who rationalized the situation away.
Thus would I expect it to be the same in some quarters were there to be a Hamas takeover. In spite of the fact that our deal, such as it is, is with with the PA and not Hamas. They’ve moderated, we’d be told. Negotiations are still important. And so on. I am vastly cynical where these matters are concerned. Or perhaps just realistic with regard to world views.
We can see this distorted and sick thinking now. The PA is falling apart. Abbas is hated by his own people and losing control. Would you not think that the international leaders would lament what they had hoped would be, but concede that chances for a “two state solution” were just about non-existent?
But no. We still are criticized for doing things that “endanger” that non-existent solution. This is not about genuine hope for two-states. This is about attempts to weaken Israel.
This week we have UN envoy to the Middle East, Nickolay Mladenov, who has blasted “Israeli settlement expansion.”
Said Mladenov (emphasis added):
“No legal acrobatics can change the fact that all outposts, whether legalized by Israeli law or not, whether located on state land or absentee land or private Palestinian land - just like all settlements in Area C and East Jerusalem - remain illegal under international law.”
What an outrage this statement is, and what a total distortion of truth. The UN, as do other bodies, agencies and governments, willfully makes the assumption that everything past the 1949 armistice line “belongs” to a “Palestinian state.”
But there is no “East Jerusalem.” There is only one unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.
As to Area C, the Oslo Accords give Israel full control in Area C, including the right to build there. Mladenov’s position subverts Oslo, which provides the underpinning for the “two-state solution” he claims to be seeking. But that’s small potatoes. The bottom line is that Area C, along with Areas A and B, are Mandate land. The borders of Israel, according to customary international law, are the borders of the Mandate, the internationally recognized administrative area that preceded it.
The “huge” amount of building that so upset the UN envoy:
A 234-unit retirement home in Elkana; 30 private houses in Beit Aryeh; and 20 units in the town of Givat Ze’ev. In addition, 179 existing housing units in Ofarim were retroactively approved.
For the record: Area C is about 60% of Judea and Samaria, but all Jewish housing and communities in Judea and Samaria constitute less than 5% of the land area.
Prime Minister Netanyahu responded appropriately, as far as he went:
“Jews have lived in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace. The obstacle to peace is the attempt to incessantly deny the relationship of Jews to their historical land and the stubborn refusal to acknowledge that they are not foreigners there.
“The claim that Jewish construction in Jerusalem is illegal is as absurd as the claim that American construction in Washington or French construction in Paris are illegal. The Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing of Jews in its future state is horrifying, and the UN should be condemning it instead of adopting it.”
What I would wish from the prime minister is a more definitive statement regarding the fact that, according to international law, we are not illegal.
And then we have a statement from the US yesterday:
Hours after Israel’s Civil Administration gave approval to 463 housing units in Samaria, the Obama administration condemned the decision, saying that Israel risked undermining “the prospects for a two-state solution.”
How ludicrous this all is. “Prospects for a two-state solution” indeed.
Please see this piece – “The ‘Other’ Palestinians” by Khaled Abu Toameh, which is very much to the point (emphasis added):
“Nearly 3,500 Palestinians have been killed in Syria since 2011. But because these Palestinians were killed by Arabs, and not Israelis, this fact is not news in the mainstream media or of interest to ‘human rights’ forums.
“How many Western journalists have cared to inquire about the thirsty Palestinians of Yarmouk refugee camp, in Syria? Does anyone know that this camp has been without water supply for more than 720 days, and without electricity for the past three years?...
“When Western journalists lavish time on Palestinians delayed at Israeli checkpoints, and ignore bombs dropped by the Syrian military on residential areas, one might begin to wonder what they are really about.”
An ongoing libel against Israel is being sustained with regard to the so-called Arab village of Susiya, in the Hevron Hills. See what Honest Reporting has to say about this:
A musical flashmob from the city of Ariel, which is in Samaria and is not going anywhere. With thanks to my friend Chana G.
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.
It is almost two weeks now since we observed Tisha B’Av, marking the destruction of the Temples and a number of other tragedies that have befallen our people at this time on the calendar. We did the mourning: fasting... reading Eicha (Lamentations) while sitting on the floor...chanting of Kinot (dirges, sad poems).
I am circling back to this now because of a talk delivered in my synagogue that Shabbat by Rabbi Sam Shore. What he spoke about was the ability to look beyond tragedies, past and current, to see what good may yet be in the future. This is the ability to be visionary.
His message is exceedingly important for us these days, when we are struggling with so much. He addressed this theme in some detail, focusing on incidents in our history and our Torah text that I will not recount here.
But one thing he said was so powerful as metaphor that I did want to share it.
Remember, he said, when you see shadows, there is also light.
I call it “good news” in my postings. But what I am doing is looking for the light. Sometimes it’s hard to see, and sometimes I let my focus slide. But I keep trying.
Let’s start with Defense Minister Lieberman, who is providing some indication of a new policy of strength with regard to external security issues.
(Next posting we’ll look at his stated policy regarding the Palestinian Arabs, which is mixed.)
On Saturday night, a rocket was fired from Gaza into Sderot; it landed between two buildings and no one was injured. The Israeli response at first seemed to be no different from what Lieberman’s predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, typically did. The Air Force would attack a target or two in Gaza (sometimes nothing more than a launching field) and stop.
But Sunday night, the situation shifted with the largest scale attack into Gaza that had been seen since the war in 2014: In total, some 50 targets were hit, with indications that some of the targets were of more significance to Hamas operationally than what the Air Force had typically been hitting. In other words, this was not merely a token show. Reportedly, the explosions could be heard throughout Gaza; the message was that any and all rocket fire would be met with a strong response.
How different from those times when what was called a “drizzle” of rocket fire was met with a very tepid response. Let’s hope it lasts.
And there’s more. While touring the Havat Hashomer IDF base in the north on Tuesday, the Defense Minister said that Israel will not “stand by” as Hamas rearms itself in Gaza.
Well, truth be told, it’s a bit late, as Hamas has been rearming since the last war two years ago. But here again is an attitudinal shift from the policy of Ya’alon – which was basically “quiet for quiet”: we didn’t interfere with what Hamas was doing as long as they didn’t launch rockets at us. Lieberman is now discussing the fact that it is unacceptable for Hamas to be allowed to siphon off funds intended for rehabilitation in order to develop its weaponry instead. He wants Israeli assistance for rehabilitation to be predicated upon the demilitarization of Hamas.
This comment, of course, falls short of a genuine policy. In the almost certain event that Hamas will not be demilitarizing, but will continue to draw from all sorts of funds intended for the civilian population – for which it cares not at all - to underwrite weaponry, further clarification will be necessary with regard to precisely how Israel would take action, so as to not be “standing by.”
But I mention this here because I do sense a shift of thinking that might play out dynamically over time. What we do know is that Hamas is decidedly unhappy with Lieberman, which I think is a good sign. And there is significant indication that when we do go to war against Hamas again – whenever this should be – if Lieberman is in charge, he will fight to win, not just to achieve a few years of deterrence.
On June 27, normalization of the relationship between Israel and Turkey was finalized. The reconciliation deal will involve full diplomatic ties and a host of other cooperative efforts in the spheres of military, intelligence, economy and energy. The possibility of developing a natural gas pipeline between Israel and Turkey that would lead to gas sales in Europe was clearly high on Netanyahu’s list of priorities in signing off on this deal.
However, I, along with many others, was underwhelmed by this. Turkey maintains an orientation that is Islamist; Turkish president Erdogan is hostile to Israel and protective of Hamas.
Israel had wanted Hamas out of Turkey as part of the arrangements, but that did not happen. Instead, Turkey is supposed to ensure that Hamas does not plan terror attacks from Turkish soil.
And precisely who is to monitor this?
Now, just a bit over a month after the reconciliation deal was finalized, Turkey’s foreign ministry released a statement about Israel’s actions in Gaza:
“Normalizing ties with Israel does not mean that we will keep silent in the face of attacks against the Palestinian people."
To which Israel’s foreign ministry responded:
"The normalization of our relations with Turkey does not mean that we will remain silent in the face of its baseless condemnations...Turkey should think twice before criticizing the military actions of others."
It’s going to be a cold, cold reconciliation.
On the other hand, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (pictured) – who was recently the first Egyptian foreign minister to visit Israel in nine years – told a group of students at the Egyptian foreign ministry that Israel’s actions against Palestinians do not constitute terrorism.
Israel’s history, he said, has made it very sensitive to security issues.
This enraged a Hamas representative.
According to an Egyptian diplomatic official, the Egyptian government realizes that Israel “is not the enemy” and is more willing to say so publicly.
That certain Egyptian officials are coming forward with more positive attitudes towards Israel is hardly indication, however, that this is the thinking across the board. It made considerable press recently when Egyptian judoka Islam el-Shehaby – in a serious breach of judo etiquette - refused to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent, Ori Sasson, at the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Sasson - who had defeated el-Shehaby – said that before the match he heard him say “Alahu Akbar”: “It reminded me of what happens in Israel before terrorist attacks, with those shouts."
Might we hope that Shoukry’s way of thinking represents the future?
In a series of positive moves, we see on-going outreach by Israel to a number of nations, Asian and African:
Last month, Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold went to Chad – a nation in Central Africa that is majority Muslim with a sizeable Christian minority – where he met with President Idriss Déby in his palace in the heart of the Saharan desert.
Credit: Foreign Ministry
While formal diplomatic relations have not yet been reestablished, the meeting signaled a step in that direction.
Imangali Nurgaliuly Tasmagametov, defense minister of Kazakhstan – a Muslim majority nation that is concerned about terror attacks - was here this week to strengthen the security relationship between the two countries.
Prime Minister Netanyahu – who will become the first Israeli sitting prime minister to travel to central Asia - is scheduled to visit the country in four months, immediately prior to Kazakhstan’s assumption of a two-year rotating seat on the UN Security Council.
Just a month ago, Israel re-established diplomatic ties with Guinea – also a Muslim majority nation. And this week Israeli Foreign Minister Director General Dore Gold travelled there to meet with Guinean President Alpha Conde (pictured) and 10 of his ministers.
Gold was in West Africa for three days. His ministry would not reveal the identity of all of the countries he visited, but there are reports that Gold paid a clandestine visit to a country that does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
Just as Prime Minister Netanyahu met with leaders from seven nations primarily from East Africa (Zambia, in the south being the exception) at a counterterrorism summit in July, so is he eager to now meet with nations of West Africa.
The plan is participation in an annual summit of the 15 nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) scheduled to meet in Nigeria by the end of the year. When Marcel Alain de Souza, the commissioner of ECOWAS, was in Israel recently he invited Netanyahu to attend. But as it turns out, approval for Netanyahu’s participation must be unanimous and Nigeria has not signed off on this yet.
Some analysts find this bewildering, as a major focus of Israel’s meetings with African nations is terrorism and the ways to combat it. While the infamous terrorist group Boko Haram is headquartered in Nigeria. There seems more here than meets the eye. Stay tuned.
And then, lastly, there is this story about Saudi Arabia (emphasis added):
“Saudi Arabia has launched a media campaign to combat anti-Semitism, paving the way for public opinion to accept the kingdom’s burgeoning ties with Israel.
“Ehud Yaari, a senior analyst from Israel’s Channel 2 television station, said that a litany of recent articles by Saudi columnists and reporters demonstrate a shift in attitudes towards the Jewish state and Jews in general.”
No, the Saudis have not suddenly decided they love Jews. Their approach is pragmatic, because of a shared concern about Iran.
None the less, we are less and less a pariah nation and instead one greatly sought because of our expertise and our strength.
Last Thursday, NJ Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that prohibits the state’s public worker pension fund from investing in companies that engage in the boycott of Israel.
Following this lead, the California legislature passed an even more extensive bill that forbids all state bodies, including universities, from maintaining ties with organizations that support anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions activities.
An Israeli team of researchers - headed by Dr. Carmit Levy of the human molecular genetics and biochemistry department at the Tackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University – has unraveled the metastatic mechanism of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.
As the researchers have also found chemical substances that can stop the process, it is hoped that the cancer will become “nonthreatening and easily treatable.”
This is a very big Right on!
No Hurray! here. Not yet, because it’s all very tentative. But it seems worth reporting nonetheless:
”The IDF gave a nod in the direction of new Jewish building in Hebron when it gave the settlers there permission to plan infrastructure for permanent housing in a small compound near the city’s yeshiva.
”Six families now live in caravans in the ‘Metkanim’ compound, that is also used by the military...
“The possibility of building a 28-unit apartment project at the site, was raised in May 2014 by the Ministry of Construction and Housing...
“The land in question was formerly owned by Jewish residents of the city who fled after the 1929 massacre, explained former MK Orit Struck of the Bayit Yehudi party, who is a resident of Hebron.”
I think we need a bit of visionary thinking by the government and the Civil Administration. Especially is this the case because the State Department, as is their invariable practice, has already expressed “deep concern” about the plans, which they say represent “settlement expansion” inconsistent with a desire for a “two state solution.”
Let’s stop for an abbreviated but critical background on Hevron and the small Jewish community there.
Hevron is the second holiest city to the Jewish people, after Jerusalem.
It is home of the Machpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Our father Avraham purchased the field that contained the cave of Machpela as a burial place for Sara. This was at Mamre, which is associated with Hevron. Avraham would not accept a gift – he insisted on paying for the land, 400 shekels of silver. See Breishit (Genesis) 23.
For the first seven years of his reign, King David ruled from Hevron, before moving to Jerusalem.
Jumping ahead: For the 700 years during which the Ottomans controlled Hevron, Jews were not permitted into the Machpela. They were allowed no farther than the infamous “seventh step” leading up on the side of the structure.
Nonetheless, Jews lived in Hevron. In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Jewish development took place, with establishment of yeshivas, synagogues, and homes. Great rabbis were associated with this place, as well. By way of example: Abraham Azulai, a kabbalistic author; Malkiel Ashkenazi, respected authority on Jewish law who founded the Avraham Avinu Synagogue; Eliyahu de Vidas, a disciple of Isaac Luria who wrote on Kabbalah.
In the 20th century, there was further revitalization under the British Mandate after WWI ended – until the horrendous Arab massacre in Hevron in 1929, which destroyed the community there.
After the War of Independence, the Jordanians occupied Hevron, along with the rest of Judea and Samaria. As was their pattern, they attempted to obliterate evidence of the Jewish community there. The ancient Avraham Aveinu synagogue, for example, was turned into a goat pen.
The situation changed with the victory of 1967, when Hevron came into Israeli hands. Revitalization, reconstruction, of what had long been a Jewish area was slow however, spearheaded by a very determined group of activists. The government permitted them to live in a portion of a building that housed the military administration. A yeshiva was established again, and some commercial enterprises, such as a carpentry shop, were opened. Ultimately a few additional buildings were put up as housing. And one step at a time the old Jewish neighborhoods were reestablished: the Avraham Aveinu synagogue was reconstructed, and Beit Hadassah – which had been a Hadassah clinic before 1929. The Tel Rumeida neighborhood was brought back. Chabad established a considerable presence. And a short walk from the ancient heart of Hevron, Kiryat Arba, which is today a thriving area, was established as a Jewish community adjacent to and having close ties with Hevron.
The situation changed again with the advent of the Oslo Accords. As a spin-off of the Interim Agreement of the Accords, which gave the PA control over Palestinian Arab cities, came the Hebron Agreement of 1997. Hevron was divided: 80% was to be placed under control of the PA, and 20% under control of Israel. The IDF redeployed.
This is where we are today. The Israeli area of Hevron contains the Machpela (maroon on the map above, very close to Kiryat Arba), which is under Israeli control, with a system of shared use by Jews and Arabs in place.
Still today, the Israeli government is reluctant to approve additional housing for Jews in the area of H2. Not infrequently, court battles are involved, with organizations such as Peace Now standing on the wrong side.
Beit Hashalom (House of Peace) shown below is an example of a building that Jews secured only after legal battle.
The brave people who live in the Jewish enclave of H2 – numbering only hundreds - are very clear about their mission. They know that if they were to be gone, Jewish access to the Machpela would again be denied, whatever might be written into an agreement. (There are painful historical precedents for this.)
They are the guardians of an ancient holy site of our people, and I applaud them. The conditions under which they live are difficult, and they have been subject to frequent terror attacks.
Thus do I find the “concerns” of the US government particularly galling. They refer to “settlement expansion” which is a huge joke. If the US government or anyone else thinks that Israel will withdraw from Hevron and leave it to the Arabs as part of a “peace” deal, they can think again. The projected housing compound that is under discussion now is within the Israeli part of Hevron. What “expansion”?
I think this is exquisitely appropriate: Chief IDF Cantor Shai Abramson and IDF Choir singing in front of the Machpela. (Tehilim) Psalm 27.
“May the All-present have mercy upon [the whole house of Israel] and bring them forth from trouble to enlargement, from darkness to light.”
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