Current Postings

December 6, 2014: A Political Circus

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)
 
It wouldn’t do, I suppose, for the political situation to have clarity for too long. Or for the news to simply be promising.  We’ve now entered the circus arena: the rumors are flying, predictions are contradictory, and some surprising alliances are being suggested as possible. All of this defeats clarity and considerably dampens optimism.
 
I will offer here only an overview, with a promise of more to come when it’s possible to make better sense of how matters will evolve.  In the few days since my last posting - announcing the firing of Livni and Lapid and the advent of elections – there have been news stories and opinion pieces about all of the following:
 
Caroline Glick, in her piece, “Lapid’s Political Crackup,” two days ago, explained why, in her assessment, the forthcoming election is very necessary.  “The up to NIS 1.2 billion that taxpayers will have to pay to finance the vote scheduled for March 17 is money well spent...
 
“In 2013, Lapid ran as a centrist...
 
“Lapid and his ministers from Yesh Atid exchanged their capitalist platform for socialist policies immediately upon taking office. In so doing they put Israel on a path to recession and social upheaval.
 
“[His policies have] already damaged Israel’s international credit rating.”
 
http://carolineglick.com/lapids-political-crack-up/
 
Let me add  here that Netanyahu was a superb finance minister in his time, and set the nation on a strong fiscal path.  He would readily perceive and be greatly distressed by what Glick describes here.
 
Wrote Glick, “....according to polls, Netanyahu has no rivals for the job. It is not merely that nearly three times as many people think that Netanyahu is the best person to serve as prime minister when compared to his closest contender, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. It’s also that the polls show right-wing parties picking up seats, while Lapid’s party is likely to lose more than half it seats in the Knesset.” (Emphasis added)
 
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But JPost political commentator Gil Hoffman wrote two days ago about a Panels Research Poll done for the JPost and its sister Hebrew paper just one day before”: “It asked respondents whether they want Netanyahu to remain prime minister after the vote. Sixty percent said no...”  (Emphasis added)
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Post-poll-60-percent-of-Israelis-dont-want-Netanyahu-anymore-383724
 
That was a bit of a shocker when it made headlines.  But making sense of this, while a bit difficult, is certainly not impossible if you read the description of the questions carefully.
 
Glick was referring to a race between Netanyahu as head of Likud vs. Herzog as head the Labor party, leading the opposition.  But Hoffman was describing a choice between Netanyahu as head of Likud as vs. someone else – such as Gideon Sa’ar - within the Likud party itself.  That’s another matter all together. 
 
People, it seems, feel it is time for new blood in Likud. But have very little doubt about whether Likud should lead the next coalition. Every poll indicates that Likud would command the most mandates (although precise figures vary).
 
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The real battle then, if there is one, may be within Likud itself. 
 
There are rumors that Gideon Sa’ar, who left politics just months ago, is mulling the idea of challenging Netanyahu in the primaries.

 

Credit: Hebron.com
 
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Then we have Israel Hayom - a staunch Netanyahu supporter, I note – citing a New Wave Research poll that indicated that the right wing bloc would come out ahead on elections. What is more, when asked "who is most qualified to serve as prime minister?" a larger percentage selected Netanyahu than any of the other party heads.
 
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=21953
 
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As far as the significant lead by a right wing bloc of parties, there are a couple of factors to be kept in mind:
 
One is the assumption that Yisrael Beitenu (Israel – Our House), headed by Avigdor Lieberman, is a right wing party.  A reasonable enough assumption.  But there were rumors – probably (hopefully!) no more than rumors – that Lieberman might join forces with Lapid.   That would truly be shocking if so.  Yisrael Beitenu ran on a joint list with Likud the last time around.
 
But the fact that it was presented as something that conceivably might happen is an indication of how much Lieberman is seen to vacillate.
 
Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman

Credit: presstv

 
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Then you have Moshe Kahlon.  He is supposed to be forming a new party, which is not yet fully registered – with no name or slate announced.  While there is some indication that he intends to focus on social issues, there is enormous speculation as to where he will stand within the line-up of parties.  He is generally counted as part of the right wing when the poll results are presented. But that is not a sure thing.
 
Former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Credit: Miriam Alster/ Flash 90
 
Kahlon, who was with Likud, and served as Minister of Communications before his resignation from politics in 2012, was a popular figure. The guessing is that he will pull down a very respectable number of votes.
 
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At the same time that we’re considering all of the above, there is also the jockeying on the left to consider.  We have heard that Livni and Lapid might join forces, but alternately, that Livni is considering an offer from Labor.
 
Just about every poll I’ve seen shows Lapid’s Yesh Atid way down in mandates; the only way he has any hope at all of making an impact is if he joins forces. Even then it is all fairly dubious.
 
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Ah, and then there’s Shaul Mofaz, currently head of the almost defunct Kadima, who is said to be working out a deal to join Labor as well.
 
What seems fairly certain is that Kadima will be history, as well it should be, with Livni’s party not far behind.
 
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All of this is without mention of the stories that Eli Yishai of Shas may be mulling a break from the party to start something new.
 
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One other factor that I want to mention here is the specter of attempts by Obama to influence our election results.  As I last reported, Kerry declared right after the announcement of elections that he hoped the new government would resume “peace negotiations.” 
 
He may have been blowing in the wind. But it is more Obama’s style to do what he can to promote the election of a coalition that will support negotiations. It is no secret in any case that he despises Netanyahu.
 
I’ve picked up two sorts of rumors:
 
[] that he is considering levying sanctions against Israel because of our building (at the same time that he is attempting to block sanctions against Iran) and
 
[] that he is thinking of withholding the US veto against anti-Israel measures in the Security Council. 
 
The idea would be that the Israeli electorate would realize that Netanyahu had damaged Israel’s relationship with the US and thus vote for his opponents.
 
There are concerned readers warning me about these possibilities.
 
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I most certainly recognize that Obama is a snake in the grass.  But for pragmatic reasons I am not yet ready to become too distressed about these possibilities.  That is, first, because the Congress is solidly with us. 
 
And then, my own understanding is that the Israeli electorate is so anti-Obama that, were the president to act against Israel’s interests, they would support Netanyahu with even further strength.  Caroline Glick has written that Obama is aware of this possibility, and hesitant to act, less his gambit backfire.
 
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In my next posting I would like to turn to issues other than the elections. The very serious problems we are facing are not about to go away.
 
Here I end with a quote I rather liked, attributed to Yuval Steinitz, who, as a very competent Finance Minister, shepherded us successfully through a very difficult fiscal time:
 
“It’s a problem when the best thing the finance minister has going for him is a good head of hair.”  That’s pretty boy Yair Lapid all over!
 
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© 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.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/12/6/december-6-2014-a-political-circus.html

 

Posted on Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 06:36PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 3, 2014: Looking Good

It’s a long time since I have had a positive – even tentatively positive – sense of the political scene here in Israel. But here we are now, in a time of real turmoil, which nonetheless has within it the promise of something better than the unfortunate situation we’ve been struggling with.

As surely almost everyone one of my readers already knows, we are headed for elections.  Not an opportune time for elections, with all that is going on around us. But better – far better – to see an adjustment in the situation than to continue with the status quo.

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Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu made a startling decisive move.

dek
Credit: Getty

He didn’t simply start the process of initiating elections, he fired Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Chair, Hatenua) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (Chair, Yesh Atid).

Tzipi Livni
Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90 

Israeli Challenger: TV personality-turned-politician Yair Lapid launched his campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a call to restart peace talks.              
Credit: Getty

This was very welcome news to many of us. It left me smiling.

Netanyahu had attempted to meet with both faction heads before making his decision.  In neither case was the result constructive; as I understand it, the meeting with Lapid was particularly fractious.

The prime minister made it clear, in subsequent statements, that, while he preferred not to go to elections, he was not willing to continue to deal with members of his coalition who constantly and publicly challenged him.  Even worse, by today he indicated that Lapid and Livni were attempted a putsch, maneuvering to take over the coalition.

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Both Livni and Lapid reacted with anger, denying his accusations and making countercharges at Netanyahu regarding his incompetency.  Naturally. 

The other ministers in Yesh Atid resigned with alacrity:  Shai Piron, Minister of Education; Yaakov Perry, Minister of Science; Yael German, Minister of Health; Meir Cohen, Minister of Social Services.

Lapid said Netanyahu lives in an aquarium.

Livni moaned that, “Now the crazies can run amok.”  She fancies herself, in her own words, the gatekeeper of democracy. 

Sigh... 

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In a brief statement to the public last night, Netanyahu said that he did not take this action for narrow personal reasons, but for the good of the country – because it was impossible to lead under current conditions.  He asked that the public vote Likud in the coming elections so that the most stable government possible might be formed.

He disbanded the government, and called party heads together for a decision on a date for elections. They will be held on March 17; from the time a Knesset is dissolved until the election is held, a period of three months, at a minimum, is required.

Later in the day, a vote was held in the Knesset regarding dissolving the Knesset.  It passed by 84 votes. This was the first of three readings, with the second and third to take place on Monday.  A “caretaker” government will be in place until the election.      

Outstanding items on the Knesset agenda of particular note are the budget – with the one Finance Minister Lapid had proposed not having been well accepted, and the legislation on Israel as a Jewish State, which has caused enormous turmoil.

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Here I simply want to take a quick look at how we got to where we are now, and why there is at least some modicum of hope that we will be seeing improvements in the overall situation.

The current situation was wrought by animosity, mistrust, ego, and poor political judgment.  Going into the last election, which was held in January of 2013, there was enmity between Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, who was up and coming with his nationalist HaBayit HaYehudi party.  At one time Bennett worked as an aide to Netanyahu and there had been a falling out.  But whatever ever else triggered the mutual ill will, it seemed clear that there was also unease on Netanyahu’s part because he saw Bennett as a challenger – with reason.

Netanyahu began to attack the HaBayit HaYehudi party, assuming that he (i.e,. Likud) would be the beneficiary of votes that HaBayit HaYehudi lost. But the gambit – which demonstrated poor judgment from the start – backfired.  Lapid’s Yesh Atid garnered the votes instead, coming in way ahead of what the polls had predicted for him. Yesh Atid, with 19 mandates, was second only to a combined Likud-Yisrael Beitenu list, that had 31 mandates.  While Bennett’s HaBayit HaYehudi straggled in with only 12, Lapid, a TV personality with charisma and absolutely no political expertise, felt like a big man all of a sudden.  Lapid is not a modest man, by any stretch of the imagination.  Nor a deep thinker.

At that point, Netanyahu had no choice but to include Lapid in his coalition.  But Lapid refused to sit in a government with the two ultra-Orthodox parties, who traditionally had a place in a coalition – now they were left out.    

Bennett, fearing that he might also be left out of the government, forged a strange, “one for all, all for one, we are brothers” relationship with Lapid.  They informed Netanyahu that he had to take both of them or would get neither.

Minister of Finance Yair Lapid and Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett, in happier times. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90.
Credit: Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90

And so, grudgingly, Netanyahu made Bennett Minister of the Economy.

Over time, the Lapid-Bennett love-fest totally dissipated.  They were a very odd couple ideologically.

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Politics truly does make strange bedfellows and is one very convoluted business. I hope and trust that this brief explanation has provided some clarity.

Where do we go now?  There have been expressions of regret and self-recrimination on the part of both Bennett and Netanyahu.  The two have said they will work closely now, without tensions. And Bennett has said that his brief connection with Lapid was a mistake.  Just possibly these people have learned something.

Polls are indicating that combined right wing-nationalist parties may bring in as many as 79 mandates.  This is encouraging, and there is talk by various MKs about joining together for the sake of issues of mutual concern. This is precisely the way it must be in these incredibly difficult and dangerous times.

The ultra-Orthodox parties are expected to be part of the next coalition.

Yisrael Beitenu, which ran with Likud in the last election, will run separately now.  The joint list proved not to be a success.  While this party is counted in the tally of right wing parties, faction head Avigdor Lieberman, currently Foreign Minister, has not demonstrated very much consistency in his positions. He is impossible to read and causes considerable unease in some quarters.

Livni’s party just might sink into oblivion. And Lapid, who turned out to not be very popular with the electorate (in part because of his positions on finance), is not expected to do well. 

Moshe Kahlon, a former Likud minister, is forming a new party (Israel needs new parties, yes?) that seems to be focusing on social welfare issues – the role he will play is not yet clear.

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All things being equal, it is assumed that Likud will garner the most mandates in the election and that Binyamin Netanyahu will continue in his position of prime minister.

The biggest winner in this scenario, however, is probably Naftali Bennett.  He has made it his business to be very visible for some time now, and has taken some very strong positions on nationalist and security issues that have resonated solidly with the public.  He is expected to have considerable influence in the next government.

There were murmurings of dissension within his party, with Uri Ariel, but matters have been smoothed over.

It is, of course, too soon to predict with any certainty, but it is being said that Bennett may be in line for appointment as Defense Minister.  Or, barring this, may have enormous influence with regard to security matters.  This is something I find reassuring precisely because his positions have been unapologetically tough.

Naftali Bennett, head of the Israeli hardline national religious party, Jewish Home, speaks during the first high-tech conference for Israel's Haredi Sector, on Jan. 15, 2013, in Jerusalem.

Credit: Getty

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Oh, and the most important item: Kerry has said that he hopes the next Israeli government will be ready to negotiate.  Mr. Kerry should not hold his breath.

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© 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.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/12/3/december-3-2014-looking-good.html

 

Posted on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at 04:55PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 30, 2014: Jewish (and Other) Rights in the Land Today

Let us begin today by looking briefly at the historical situation that immediately followed Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the subsequent War of Independence.  At the end of the war, in 1949, armistice lines (ceasefire lines) were established.  They were similar to, but not exactly the same, as the lines within which the Jews had declared a state in 1948: Israel had gained a bit of territory.  Most significantly, Israel had secured the western part of Jerusalem.  (In the original UN proposal, Jerusalem was to be internationalized.)

 

 

 Credit: English-online
 
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These armistice lines – referred to as the Green Line - were the lines within which Israel remained until 1967. Egypt had taken Gaza, and Jordan had taken the remainder of Mandate Palestine – Judea and Samaria, dubbed “the West Bank” by Jordan.  Jordan, I will note, occupied this land illegally, for it was acquired in a war of aggression.

This Green Line, my friends, is the so-called border behind which Mahmoud Abbas of the PA is always insisting Israel must retreat.  He speaks of it as if it had been Israel’s official “border,” and much of the world has adopted this skewed perspective.  But it was NOT a border, it was a temporary armistice line.  Israel had an armistice agreement with Jordan; it specified that the armistice line was temporary and that a final border would be negotiated (something that never happened). 

And note this well: not only was that line not Israel’s border, it was Jordan that Israel was going to negotiate with regarding a final border.  There was no mention of Palestinian Arabs; there was no suggestion that a Palestinian state would be on the other side of the border.

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The situation changed in 1967 during the Six Day War, which Israel fought defensively, in the process acquiring Judea and Samaria.  What Israel acquired then was Mandate land.  Unclaimed Mandate land, to be sure, but according to international law still Mandate land. 

There are claims – oi, are there claims! - that Israel is an “occupier” in Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank), that Israel is there illegally, that Israel has no right to build there.

But how can Israel be an “occupier”?  This is land that the Mandate – which has never been superseded - had determined was a Homeland for the Jews.  A people cannot be an “occupier” in its own land.  How can it be “illegal” for Israel to build in this land, when the Mandate called for “close settlement” by the Jews?

I would add here that the fact that the land was acquired in a defensive war gives an added layer of legitimacy to Israel’s acquisition of it.

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And there is one other point of enormous significance here:  Judea and Samaria – the western part of Mandate Palestine promised to the Jews – was stateless when Israel acquired it.  No legal sovereignty had been applied to it.  That is, Jordan’s presence in the land was illegal.  Israel did not usurp the land from another state that had it legally. 

According to international law, “occupation” can only take place when one state has taken control of land over which another state already had sovereignty.  And remember what I wrote yesterday: There has NEVER been a sovereign Arab state (never mind a “Palestinian Arab” state) in Palestine.

Israel did not “take” the land from any state and thus cannot be an “occupier,” no matter what claims are made to the contrary.  Of course, the myth that is promulgated is that Israel “took” the land away from the Palestinian Arabs.

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Following the Six Day War, Israel did not annex Judea and Samaria – something that many, myself included, deeply regret.  It would have precluded a host of problems, had Israel claimed her full rights to the land once she had control of it.  The thinking at that time was that there might be a trade of that land, or some part of it, for peace – a prospect that turned out to be greatly unrealistic.

And so Judea and Samaria remained unclaimed Mandate land, to which Israel had inarguably, the very best claim.  Certainly the fact that Israel did not annex the land did not deny her the right to build there.

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I will mention here only very briefly the Oslo Accords – which many, again including myself – have viewed as a huge mistake.  Today the Accords float somewhere in legal limbo, not having been formally renounced by Israel, but – breached repeatedly by the PA - not viable by any meaningful standard. 

Two points should be made here with regard to Oslo.

1) The first is that the land of Judea and Samaria was divided by the Accord into three sections. Section C is land over which Israel has both civil and military control.  And in this Area, the Accords do not restrict Israel’s right to build.  (Israel voluntarily restricted her own right to build in Areas A and B, and this would change were Oslo renounced.)  ALL Jewish communities (aka “settlements”) in Judea and Samaria are in Area C.

2) It should also be noted that there is nothing in the Accords about a sovereign Palestinian state. This is an idea that morphed over time.  Even Yitzhak Rabin, who was prime minister at the time of the Accords, made it very clear that he envisioned the “final status” (which is what the Accord refers to) as something in the nature of an autonomy that is less than a full state.

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There will be many reasons to refer back to this history over the coming days and weeks. Now I’d like to take a look at some current happenings, considered in the light of this history:

Prime Minister Netanyahu is pushing hard for passage of Basic Law legislation that will declare unambiguously that Israel is a Jewish state.  And the furor that is on-going with regard to this is incredible.  He is accused of being “undemocratic,” which is patently nonsense.

The Elder of Ziyon blogspot has put up the full draft version of this legislation. This is the draft Netanyahu prefers, although it may change.  It says that its goal is:

“Defining the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, and anchoring the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.”
 
It declares that:
 
The State of Israel is democratic, based on the foundations of freedom, justice and peace in light of the visions of the prophets of Israel, and upholds the individual rights of all its citizens according to law.”
 
And that:
 
The State will act to enable all residents of Israel, regardless of religion, race or nationality, to preserve their culture, heritage, language and identity.”
 
And that:

“...members of recognized faiths shall be entitled to rest on their Sabbaths and holidays.”

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.il/2014/11/full-text-of-jewish-state-draft-law.html#.VHt3ZWdxnIV

So what do Netanyahu’s critic’s object to?  It says that Israel is the national home of the Jewish People, in which the Jewish People realizes it right to self-determination.  It identifies Hatikva as the national anthem, says the flag has a Star of David on it, recognizes all Jews as having the right to immigrate.

And this, say the complainers, makes non-Jews “second class citizens.”

But wait!  The Mandate described Palestine as the Homeland of the Jews, and acknowledged national rights of self-determination only for the Jewish people, with non-Jews having equal protection with regard to individual civil and religious rights only. This is not new.

And if we look at the Resolution 181 of the General Assembly that recommended a partition of Palestine: one state was to be a Jewish state.  Have they not noticed this?

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What’s going on now is political, an attempt by Netanyahu’s critics inside of Israel to play to the Arabs and the greater world:  “See? See how liberal and fair I am! See how I protect the Arab minority in Israel. See, you can trust me to get along with you.”

Of course, there is the chorus of criticism from outside of Israel by members of the EU and others.  But, while we don’t expect much from the EU, we have a right to expect better from Israeli politicians.

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There are those who ponder why Netanyahu is making quite the fuss over this that he is.  He is furious with both Tzipi Livni (head of Hatenua) and Yair Lapid (head of Yesh Atid), who are members of the coalition but have publicly crossed the prime minister on this issue.  He says he cannot govern with members of the coalition defying coalition discipline and behaving as if they are in the opposition.

Thus there has been serious talk about his dissolving the Knesset and bringing early elections (perhaps by March).  He has been courting the Ultra Orthodox parties vigorously, for he would hope to bring them into a new coalition in place of Yesh Atid and Hatenua.

Last week I would have put my money on early elections. Today I’m not so sure.  Netanyahu is delaying calling for a vote on the legislation and is seeking wording that would be agreeable to all. 

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His reason for persisting on this?  There are suggestions that what he is doing is political: That he sees the public support for his party, Likud, slipping in the polls, while Naftali Bennett’s party, Habayit Hayehudi, is garnering greater support.  And that he is therefore making an all out effort to take a stand sure to be pleasing to the right wing that is favoring Bennett.  What is more, goes this thinking, he is provoking a coalition crisis that will lead to new elections, because he thinks he’ll do better in elections now than he would some months from now.

I know full well that Binyamin Netanyahu is a political animal, and there may be some modest truth in what is being said.  I, however, read a great deal more into this.  I believe he knows what international efforts are afoot to delegitimize Israel and so believes that it is essential to codify our nature as a state unambiguously and up front.

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Please, see what Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor, has to say about this situation (emphasis added):

“In the debate on the proposed ‘Jewish state law,’ much of the criticism erases the context that brought this issue to the political center at this time. Claims of  ‘racism’ and ‘discrimination’ that have echoed through the media and in the Knesset reduce an important and complex issue to simplistic and misleading slogans...
 
This initiative cannot be understood without considering the ongoing campaigns to erode and eventually erase the essential Jewish framework of Zionism. For a number of years, anti-Zionist political groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have sought to reverse the definition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and replace it by a state ‘of all of its citizens.’

“...claims that a Jewish state is somehow racist or a theocracy ignore the fact that the 28 members of the European Union (plus Norway and Switzerland) are Christian societies, with symbols, flags, calendars, and, as in Britain, an established Church. Similarly, there are over 55 countries that define themselves as Islamic, and a number are, in fact, theocracies. Thus, the attempts to single out Israel for criticism are themselves highly discriminatory.

“For all of these reasons, the political agenda reflects the importance of reinforcing Israel’s fundamental Jewish and Zionist identity, based on the 1948 Declaration of Independence, which defines Israel clearly and repeatedly as ‘the Jewish state.’ And while different formulae exist in order to reach this objective, opponents who resort to false slogans such as ‘racism’ are contributing to the problem.”


http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-jewish-state-law-as-a-response-to-demonization/
 
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Two days ago, in an emergency session of the Arab League in Cairo, Abbas declared:

We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.”  He accused Israel of setting up an apartheid state.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-palestinians-will-never-recognize-israel-as-jewish-state/

So there you have it.  It is in response to this sort of thinking that Netanyahu seems determined to take his stand.
 
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I would like to close with good news – evidence of the democratic spirit with which Israel relates to its non-Jewish citizens:

On Thursday, MK Danny Danon (Likud) announced that he was going to attempt to secure an addendum to the “Jewish state” bill calling for affirmative action for minority communities that take active part in defending the state.  That would be the Druse and Circassian communities, which take part in mandatory military service.

Now the prime minister has announced he will be submitting a plan to the government for “significant investment” in the Druse and Circassian communities – in the areas of education, employment and infrastructure.

http://www.timesofisrael.com/pm-promises-major-investment-in-druze-circassian-towns/

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The parents and the widow of Zidan Saif, the Druse police officer who died protecting Jews in the Har Nof massacre, visited the Har Nof synagogue and met with members of the congregation in an emotional meeting.

 

Credit: Dudi Vaaknin

Said Rinael Saif, Zidan’s widow, to the widows of the four rabbis who had been slain, “There is no way to make this easier, no words that can offer comfort, I feel your sorrow.”  The families held a joint prayer service.

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=21793

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“Lost in the uproar over the proposed Israeli Nationality Bill has been the historic recognition of Arameans as a separate nationality in Israel. Israel is the first country in the world to recognize the Arameans. And this historic recognition has empowered and emboldened Arameans to seek better treatment in other countries they live in.

“On Wednesday, November 26, the World Council of Arameans (WCA) will be addressing the Seventh Session of the Forum on Minority Issues at the United Nations in Geneva. Shadi Halul, an Aramean from Gush Halav in the Galilee, will be traveling to Geneva in order to address the assembly. His two year old child was the first person to be registered  under the new identity in Israel, one month ago...

“Part of his statement will read as follows: ‘We, Aramean Christian Israelis, want all the nations of the world to see the historic democratic move of Israel in recognizing the nationality of “Aramean” within the Christian citizens of the Jewish and democratic Israel...

’The only safe haven for our people in the entire region is Israel,’ Jahn Zaknoun, spokesperson of the Christian Aramaic Society in Israel told Tazpit News Agency. ‘It is the only place we are demographically growing in the entire region. In 1948 there were between 50,000 and 70,000 Arameans in the countryl, and today there are 130,000 Arameans.’

“”We want our people to be a useful and productive part of the country, to serve in the army, as anyone who loves this country as it is would do,’ Zaknoun added. ‘Israel is the only country in the region where everyone who comes here is integrated into society. Anyone who cherishes freedom, of life and of speech, loves Israel.’”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/11/27/israel-first-country-to-recognize-aramean-nationality/

What a source of pride for all Israelis!  Share this, share this, share this.

The Aramean Christians are one of the most ancient Christian churches, originating in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They are brutally persecuted today outside of Israel.

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I end today with a video of the Circassian community in Israel, a Muslim community that is “proud to be Israeli.”  This community cannot return to its native Caucasus and is grateful to the Israeli government for its assistance to Muslim leaders in the land.  In Arab lands they cannot raise the Circassian flag – in Israel they can.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152581281228717&set=vb.19793423716&type=2&theater

(Thanks to Danny Seaman.)

Share this, as well, please!

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© 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.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/11/30/november-30-2014-jewish-and-other-rights-in-the-land-today.html

 

Posted on Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 05:39PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 29, 2014: Kaf Tet B'November

Motzei Shabbat (after Shabbat)

“Kaf Tet B’November” is precisely this: the 29th of November.

Sixty seven years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly voted to recommend the division of Palestine west of the Jordan River into a Jewish state and an Arab state. 
There are so many lessons to be derived from this historical date that I could not let it pass without mention:

All of the land that the General Assembly recommended be divided was British Mandate land.  In  1922, the League of Nations - in accordance with the San Remo Resolution of 1920 – conferred upon Britain the mandatory responsibility for securing the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

Actually, the original Mandate for Palestine included all of what is today Jordan, as well.  But the British very quickly lopped off all of the land east of the Jordan (77% of Palestine) and, in a bit of political maneuvering, turned it over to Abdullah ibn Hussein of Arabia.

 


~~~~~~~~~~

The Mandate for Palestine was binding in international law from the time of its establishment at the San Remo Conference. 

As Winston Churchill, who was British Secretary of the State for the Colonies, said in 1922:

“When it is asked what is meant by the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, it may be answered that it is not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the existing Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of the world, in order that it may become a centre in which the Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride. But in order that this community should have the best prospect of free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance.”
 
The Mandate accorded Jews, and only Jews, political right to self-determination on this land; non-Jews were accorded only individual civil rights.  “Close settlement” of the Jews was to be encouraged everywhere in the land except areas required for public use.
 
A host of legal documents over the years has testified to the continuing validity of the Mandate.  I will note here that Article 80 of the UN Charter verified that the Mandate survived the demise of the League of Nations and persisted as a legal commitment to the Jews.

For more information about the Mandate for Palestine, see:

http://www.mythsandfacts.org/conflict/mandate_for_palestine/mandate_for_palestine.htm

~~~~~~~~~~

All of the above said, the years from 1922 until 1947 did not proceed according to the vision of the Mandate.  This was in good measure because the British – who as it turned out were considerably less than eager to honor their mandatory responsibility in any event – found themselves contending with a restive and sometimes violent Arab population within Mandatory Palestine. 

Ultimately, the British threw up their hands and informed the UN (the successor to the League of Nations) that it would be turning back the Mandate.  At this point the UN General Assembly recommended that Mandatory Palestine be divided. This was Resolution 181.  The vote was 33 to 12 with 10 abstentions:

 


~~~~~~~~~~

In spite of the fact that what was recommended was considerably less than what was to be have been accorded to the Jews under the Mandate – less than the Jews had a legal right to according to the international accord of the Mandate - there was enormous rejoicing among the Jews of Palestine when the vote was announced.

Palestine Partition - Dancing in the Street
Credit: Zionism-Israel
 
Why this rejoicing? Because after the interminable grief of Arab hostilities, the international community was setting the stage for Jewish self-determination. 

The Jewish community – represented by the Jewish Agency – accepted the recommendation; the Arabs states, acting as a bloc, unanimously rejected it. 

This is of enormous importance in several regards. 

The Resolution required the agreement of both parties in order for there to be a change in the legal status quo.  The Mandate land had been accorded to the Jews.  Had the Arabs agreed, and concluded a legal accord with the Jews that established a border between the two states, the legal situation would have changed.  But this never happened, my friends

Resolution 181, coming as it did from the General Assembly, was ONLY a recommendation and not binding in international law.  Legally, the partition did not exist: the land that was in the part of Palestine that had been recommended for an Arab state was still Mandate land. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Why did the Arabs refuse?  Same story as today. They wanted all of the land, and were not content to officially endorse any Jewish state on any part of the land. 

The Arabs sometimes claim today that they have a right to the land that Resolution 181 recommended become an Arab state.  This is unmitigated nonsense.  They refused it. They could have had it and chose not to take it.  There has NEVER been a sovereign Arab state (never mind a “Palestinian Arab” state) in Palestine.  They have convinced the world otherwise, but they have no claim. 

~~~~~~~~~~                 

It must be made clear that this recommendation did not “establish” the state of Israel.  It paved the way, and then the Jewish Agency declared the State of Israel on May 14, 1948.  The state was declared on the portion of Palestine that Resolution 181 recommended be allocated for a Jewish state.  But this does not mean that the Jews had legally relinquished rights to the rest of Palestine.

Within hours of declaring the state, the people of Israel were fighting the War of Independence – the Arab states vowed to annihilate the new Jewish state. And in point of fact, the Arab attacks had begun with the passage of Resolution 181.  The Jews of Palestine were already thorough immersed in protecting their lives and the portion of the land upon which their community lived and which would be established as their state.  That they had not the resources at that point to physically claim all of Palestinian as theirs does not negate their right to claim that land now.

~~~~~~~~~~  

The implications for what is going on today are obvious, and I will pick up on this in my next posting.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/11/29/november-29-2014-kaf-tet-bnovember.html

Posted on Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 05:37PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 25, 2014: May You Live in Interesting Times

This phrase is usually identified as an “old Chinese curse,” while in fact it is neither old nor Chinese in origin.  What it is, clearly, is ironic, which is why I am using it:  Our “interesting” times are often overwhelming - filled with turmoil and confusion.  Oi! Could we do with a bit of “uninteresting” times. 

~~~~~~~~~~

I would like to share some news that reflects back on what I wrote yesterday:

The vote in the Knesset on the “Jewish state” law has been tabled for at least a week and a good deal of the tension has dissipated.  Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is that neither Livni nor Lapid - both of whom said they’d leave the coalition rather than support the law – are eager for the new elections that their leaving the coalition might spark.  Polls indicate that they would both garner fewer mandates than they have now – which in Livni’s case might mean her disappearance from the Knesset. Talk is cheap.  (Although I would not be sorry to see her gone from the Knesset.)

~~~~~~~~~~

The US State Department did offer its (unsolicited) opinion on the law.  A spokesman said: "Israel is a Jewish and democratic state and all its citizens should enjoy equal rights. We expect Israel to stick to its democratic principles."

Naftali Bennett’s response to this on IDF radio this morning was right on: “I say to the Americans that the affairs of the State of Israel – we will manage.  We will have to deal with the implications...and what kind of country we want...This is an internal issue and I think that no one has the right to intervene...”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187849#.VHR0uJtxnIU

Of course, the unspoken implication of the State Department comment is that the Jewish State legislation would damage Israel’s democracy.

~~~~~~~~~~

But look who is unabashedly supporting the “Israel is a Jewish State” legislation: Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest (and an Arab) from Nazareth who promotes IDF service for Christian Arabs in Israel.

See here: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/10/arab-spring-prompts-israeli-christians-to-break-from-muslim-political-parties-and-form-new-movement/

He went to the UN recently to say that the only safe place for Christians in the Middle East is Israel.
 
Father Gabriel Nadaf
Credit: Facebook

This amazing man gets it, even if some Jews in Israel refuse to get it.  The JPost describes what Father Nadaf wrote on his Facebook page (emphasis added):

”He said that it is ironic that, although the State of Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state, democratic principles are well-founded in law, whereas Jewish principles are not.

”The priest also said that the claim by ‘a small minority, with great influence via the Supreme Court, the media, and leftist academia’ that Israel is ‘a state of all it’s citizens,’ was lovely at first sight, ‘but covers a severe injury to the Jewishness of the state.’”

“’Even the Basic Laws – which the Supreme Court has turned into a constitution, contrary to all internationally recognized practice – where it says that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, have been interpreted to give a clear superiority to the democratic dimension above the Jewish dimension,’ he said.

Nadaf highlighted what he said is the importance of defining Israel as a Jewish state in light of the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to so.

There is a reason why they won’t recognize [Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people]. They prefer it to be a state of all its citizens, without a national perspective, which would allow them to claim their own national rights in the land forever, including the concept of the ‘right of return.’ In light of this, it is important to clarify in law to the citizens of the state, who maybe have forgotten this, to our neighbors, and to the entire world, that it is not worthwhile for them to err. The Jews have returned home and established their national state. They are no longer temporary residents in the Land of Israel,” Nadaf wrote.

”He noted that all minority citizens living in the State of Israel “enjoy freedom and equality in all aspects, and that for Israel to define itself as Jewish would not pose any obstacle for members of minority groups to live in peace in the country.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/Christian-priest-speaks-out-strongly-in-favor-of-Jewish-state-law-382723

This, I believe, is worth sharing.  It carries more weight when a non-Jew in Israel says minorities enjoy freedom and equality in all aspects.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

Switching gears just slightly...we now have another proposed piece of legislation that is sparking controversy.  Referred to as the Haneen Zoabi bill, it would be an amendment to Basic Law, and states:

“an MK who in a time of war or military action against an enemy state or terror organization offers public support for military struggle against the State of Israel, their term in the Knesset shall be terminated on the day the Knesset decides by a majority of its members and at the recommendation of the Knesset House Committee that the published comments constitute the aforementioned expressions of support.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-lends-support-to-zoabi-bill/

The involvement of the House Committee is essential for determining precisely what constitutes public support for an enemy.  Netanyahu is in favor of this legislation, but wants to see a supermajority of votes (I’m reading 70) required, rather than the simple majority of half plus one (which is 61). 

The legislation has the support of a broad spectrum of MKs, and was proposed by David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu), who chairs the Knesset Committee on Constitution, Law and Justice.

Credit: Flash 90


~~~~~~~~~~

My response to this is, Mazel Tov!  The failure of the Knesset to take action against MKs who are obviously not loyal to Israel has been distressing to many for a long time.  Hopefully this situation will now be rectified.

There will be an outcry with regard to this proposal, as well, from the Arab parties and the left.  With this outcry will come a certain confusion about what the real issues are.  The claim will be that a democracy must permit free speech. But even free speech has limits.

It is instructive to read what Knesset legal advisor Ayal Yinon had to say on these issues less than a month ago.  When Haneen Zoabi was banned for six months from all Knesset activity except voting (I wrote about this yesterday), she went to the High Court, claiming that the Knesset has no legal right to sanction an MK for expressing a political opinion. 

Explained Yinon: We are not dealing with the expression of unethical opinions, which would be protected by parliamentary immunity. It is rather that Zoabi’s statements violate MKs’ vow to be faithful to the State of Israel and its laws and work for the good of the country.
 
http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Knesset-legal-adviser-to-High-Court-Reject-Zoabis-petition-381036

Let’s see where this goes now.  This proposed legislation definitely feels like progress for Israel.  I have long felt that this woman should be tossed out of the Knesset.  Yesterday I wrote that she said the kidnappers of the boys were not terrorists.  But, during our war with Hamas this summer, she also encouraged Hamas rocket attacks and wrote on a Hamas website that they should put Israel under siege.  From where I sit that smells like treason.

~~~~~~~~~~

The bitter irony is that in spite of legal/ethical debates such as those described above, and the democratic protections that are in place, Israel is charged with persecution of its minorities, racism, and “apartheid.” In my view, we’ve put up with too much that is unacceptable, for too long.

~~~~~~~~~~

The EU Parliament had been scheduled to vote on recognizing a Palestinian state today, but that vote has been tabled for two weeks. Not a whole lot of time.  Reasons given for the postponement include dissension within the EU on the language of the resolution; opposition to the resolution by some member states, most notably Germany; and intense lobbying for postponement that has been done by Israel. It is hoped that the two weeks will provide time for convincing some additional states to oppose the resolution.

~~~~~~~~~~

According to the Ma’an News Agency, PA Foreign Minister Riyad ha-Maliki said Monday that there would be a delay in bringing the issue of Palestinian statement before the Security Council – both because the Council was preoccupied with Iranian issues and because the support of member states had not been secured.

Yesterday, according to the Wafa News Agency, ha-Maliki denies this and says they are proceeding.

When they figure out what they’re doing, they can let us know.

~~~~~~~~~~

Sweden passed a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state last month, prompting Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman to angrily recall the Israeli ambassador to Sweden.  After Sweden indicated its desire to sustain a relationship with Israel – and it became clear that the Swedish government took the position it did for internal political reasons - the decision was made that we will allow our ambassador to return at the end of this week.
 
The parliaments of Britain, Ireland and Spain have passed non-binding resolutions urging their respective governments to recognize a Palestinian state. The parliaments of France, Denmark, and Slovenia will be voting similarly before long.  But so far no other nation has actually voted to recognize the state.

From a legal perspective, these votes are without impact.  Remember that the PA simply does not fulfill the qualifications for a state. But there are political ramifications.

~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, at a Fatah conference in Ramallah yesterday, Abbas stated, at the end of a speech he delivered, that:

"It is a moral, national and religious right to defend Al-Aqsa and the places holy to Islam and Christianity. Our people oppose the thieving attackers who are supported by the government of Israel...We are all ready to sacrifice ourselves for Al-Aqsa and for Jerusalem.”

http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=65557

I want you to note how the PA now enfolds “Christianity into its references to holy places, as if it is the protector of Christians.  A mockery.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
I supported the decision of the Netanyahu government not to take Hamas out entirely this summer.  I was convinced that there are too many other directions in which to focus, too many other places in which we might need to devote our troops and equipment in battle, to allow us to become too mired in Gaza in a long-term draining battle.  Not that I would not have wished it could have been possible.  It seemed to me a question of military pragmatics, triage if you will; although I do confess that I had wished we might have done more damage than we did before quitting.

But now come reports that are troubling. There is no question that Hamas is re-arming – for example, testing rockets by launching them into the Mediterranean. 

There are claims that Hamas is also rebuilding tunnels into Israel.  This would be troubling in the extreme.  You want to say, surely the military is on top of this.  Fervently would I hope so, but nothing is certain. It might be that the military – still very concerned about what might explode to our north – is studiously ignoring Hamas at the moment, figuratively speaking.

I write this now to call my readers’ attention to this issue (“interesting times,” huh?).  But also because of two articles I want to share:

Mosab Yousef, the son of Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, worked for the Shin Bet for 10 years.  Now he has come forward with a plea to take out Hamas before it gains strength via rebuilding. 
 
“I say these things because you cannot escape from reality. You cannot escape from [Hamas militarization] with temporary solutions. You have to address the Hamas problem by pulling it up from the roots, once and for all.
 
Yousef called the ceasefire agreement “fundamentally flawed”: "This is, first and foremost, an ideological movement. Thus, there is no concept of negotiations or compromise with it." 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187852#.VHTKoZtxnIU

This is absolutely true.  If Hamas refrains from attacking us, it is because it suits them to refrain, or because of Israeli deterrence, not because of a commitment it has made.

What caught my attention here was that Yousef also said that taking on Hamas again now would lead to reduced tensions in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. Food for thought, for there is no question but that Hamas is fomenting terrorism.  Not that I really believe for a moment that Israel will act in this direction now, even if Yousef is analyzing correctly.

~~~~~~~~~~

Then, please see this article by Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas: Rebuild Gaza or We Attack.”

“The only option Hamas faces, therefore, is to attack Israel again as a way of ridding itself of the severe crisis in the Gaza Strip and the growing frustration among the Palestinians living there. Hamas's biggest fear is that this frustration will be translated into disillusionment with its regime. That is why Hamas is now seeking to direct the anger on the Palestinian street toward Israel.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4900/hamas-rebuild-gaza

However you look at it, it seems to me, there is extreme turmoil in Gaza, and insufficient deterrence for us to depend upon.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
Last Friday, Hamas called for one more “day of rage,” although I believe it fell a bit flat (thank Heaven).

At the same time, the grieving families of the four rabbis killed in Har Nof put out this notice:

”The widows and orphans of the four men who were slain in the Jerusalem synagogue massacre this week issued a letter calling for national solidarity and unity:

”With broken hearts, drenched in tears shed over the spilt blood of holy men - the heads of our families.

”We call on our brethren wherever they are - let us come together so that we may merit mercy from Heaven, and let's accept upon ourselves to increase love and comradery, between each individual and each community.

”We ask that every person accept upon himself on this Sabbath Eve ...to set aside the day of Shabbat as a day of unconditional love, a day during which we will refrain from words of disagreement and division, from words of gossip and slander.

”May this serve to elevate the souls of our husbands and fathers who were slaughtered while sanctifying God's name.”
 
http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.il/2014/11/the-opposite-of-day-of-rage.html#.VHS-DmdxnIW

Compare and contrast, please! Time and again I am left in awe of the noble spirits of those who have lost loved ones to terrorism.  We are, without question, a special people.

And THIS, my friends, is the good news for today.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/11/25/november-25-2014-may-you-live-in-interesting-times.html

 

Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 03:49PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 24, 2014: Shifting Sands

If I said that things were good, I would be nothing but a Pollyanna.  But I do believe there are some signs here in Israel of a shift in perspective that is long overdue and should ultimately provide better policies for a stronger nation.
 
Of course, these shifts are generating tensions, a fairly predictable state of affairs.  Nothing ever progresses smoothly, and perhaps in a democracy we cannot and should not expect that any transition would be made without resistance.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
“Democracy” is a buzz word right now with regard to domestic tensions, and we see this in several respects.
 
The first has to do with how we are responding to Arabs within our midst.  And I say, without inhibitions or second thoughts, that in our situation of crisis, it may be necessary to adjust some of the parameters of what is seen as civil liberties for the Arabs.  Because in some instances the flip side of Arab civil liberties is the right of Jews to not be killed or attacked.
 
The other day I quoted Netanyahu (although perhaps it was Erdan) who said that 99.9% of Israeli Arabs are OK.  I did not belabor the fact that I didn’t believe it for a second, that only .1 % of Israeli Arabs are potentially trouble.  I just made the point of how many this represents. 
 
Well, today I encountered a poll by Stat Net that indicated that 68% of Israeli Arabs oppose terror:  http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187808#.VHMOOJtxnIU
 
Hmmm.  If I am calculating correctly, that leaves over 500,000 Arabs within our midst who might in certain circumstances be predisposed to terror – whether actively or via passive support. (I am not saying we have 500,000 terrorists in our midst.  I am saying there is a potential that we dare not ignore.)
 
I made the point recently that all Israeli Arabs are not loyal to Israel. Some have conflicting loyalties, and are pulled at by radical elements who challenge them to prove their devotion to the “Palestinian cause.”  And I again contrast this situation to that of the Israeli Druse community: they made a conscious decision to be loyal Israelis and opted for conscription in the IDF.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Some of the most shocking and blatant examples of Israeli Arabs who in their hearts are not loyal to Israel can be found in the Israeli parties of the Knesset.  Few are worse than Haneen Zoabi. She was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara that attempted to break the blockade of Gaza, and has told Palestinian Arabs that they should “declare popular resistance.”  This summer, she stated that the kidnappers of the three teenage boys were not terrorists.  Speaking of the kidnappers, she said, “they are people who don’t see any way to change their reality and are forced to use these means until Israel sobers up a bit.” In response, the Knesset ethics committee suspended for six months her right to address the plenum of the Knesset. She was still a member of the Knesset, and could still vote. But she called this ruling “anti-democratic.” 
 
Give me a break. The only place in the Middle East where Arabs have civil rights is in Israel.  
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I am looking at all of this now in part because of the decision by the Ashkelon mayor to temporarily stop Arabs from working on construction sites near pre-schools.  All sorts of epithets were thrown at him, and, under pressure, he has backed down part way now.  The Arab construction workers will be permitted to continue and the children will be moved to a community center for the duration of the construction.
 
You might want to see Ruthie Blum’s “The Mayor of Ashkelon is not a racist,” which set this incident into context:
 
”’I would rather be taken to the Supreme Court than, heaven forbid, to the funeral of a kindergarten child,’ Shimoni told Channel 2 on Thursday evening. Finding himself under fire and at the wrong end of the law, Shimoni backed down on Sunday... His new decision is to leave the Arab workers at the kindergartens to complete the job of renovating the bomb shelters, while moving the children from those specific pre-schools to community centers.

”Shimoni may well find himself at the wrong end of the law. But there is nothing in his behavior that warrants being labeled a racist. Willing to face ostracism and possible indictment in order to protect the weakest sector of his city from a palpable threat, he is exhibiting leadership.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-mayor-of-Ashkelon-is-not-a-racist-382632
 
The key word here is “palpable threat.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And here’s the context:
 
Just last week, on PA TV (not Hamas TV), a program host intoned:
 
Good morning to you, good morning to your pride, and to your hands preparing to throw stones and ignite the gasoline in the Molotov cocktails, greetings from the Good Morning Jerusalem program.”
 
While on its Facebook page, Fatah posted a video that featured this song:
 
“I'm coming towards you, my enemy,
”We're going down from every house with cleavers and knives,
”With grenades we announced a popular war.
”I swear, you won't escape, my enemy, 
“from the revolution and the people.
”How will you escape the ring of fire,“while the crowds are blocking the way?”
 
This is accompanied by pictures of Arabs attacking with rocks and more in the streets.
 

http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=13224
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And I raise the issue of “democracy,” as well, because of other actions that are now being taken:
 
“Likud Central Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon is advancing a new bill to prevent Israel from returning the bodies of dead terrorists to their families and the Palestinian Authority (PA), in an attempt to deter terrorism and prevent the glorification of terrorists at their funerals.
“...Danon explained ‘we saw what happened recently when cruel terrorists turn into heroes and their funeral processions turn into recruitment processions for the next generation of terrorists.’

“So as to prevent the current arrangement from continuing, Danon is proposing to have the bodies of terrorists buried in unknown cemeteries.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187805#.VHNO5ZtxnIV
 
My only question here is why we didn’t start doing this sooner.  But guaranteed, someone will respond to this great idea by screaming “human rights.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
With encouragement from Prime Minister Netanyahu, legislation is being drawn up to remove residency rights from Arabs who are convicted of attacks on Israeli citizens or promote Israel’s destruction.
 
Meanwhile, Minister of the Interior Gilad Erdan has revoked the Jerusalem residency status of Mohammed Nadi who drove a suicide bomber to the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2001.  That attack killed 21 teenagers and injured 132 people.  Nadi served 10 years in prison as accomplice.
 
Said Erdan;
 
“a wave of terror and incitement” has swept Israel, assisted by Israeli residents who “carry out attacks, assist them, and justify them, and even incite others to commit crimes and murders.”

“These people cannot continue to enjoy a permanent status of Israeli residency, and I will use all of my power to cancel their residency and prevent them from receiving all benefits that this residency offers.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/interior-minister-revokes-jerusalem-residency-of-terror-accomplice/
 
Benefits consist primarily of the right to reside in Israel, and to receive social benefits such as health insurance.
 
What are the odds that someone will seek to challenge this excellent move in the courts?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Along with this is the stated intention to continue the demolition of homes of terrorists (although there are charges that the homes are not even fully demolished).
 
And wouldn’t you know; last Thursday the ambassadors from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain registered objections about this to our government.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 

And then there is the bill being advanced as part of basic law that speaks about Israel as a Jewish nation.
 
With strong support from Netanyahu, one version of this bill has been approved by the Cabinet. But, as it is causing great dissension within the coalition, other modified versions are being promoted.  I am not able to describe the contents of these bills in detail, but my understanding is that while basics remain, there are some modifications regarding specifications about democracy.

Whatever modifications are made, I believe they all clearly state that Israel is a Jewish state, and somehow defines national rights (and self-determination) as belonging only to the Jewish people, with individual civil rights adhering to all citizens.

Those who objecting to the bill are Tzipi Livni (Hatenua) and and Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), both of whom threaten to leave the coalition because the bill is “anti-democratic” and “unfair to the Arabs.”

What I have found fascinating is how adamant the prime minister is about pushing this.  This, too, I believe is a reflection of our times. Whether there is real risk of the coalition tearing apart because of this, or it is grandstanding, I cannot say.  What Netanyahu is working on, we are told, is a version of the bill that would satisfy all.  Whatever that might turn out to be.

~~~~~~~~~~

Perhaps even in calling these modest steps signs of an encouraging shift in perspective, I am being a Pollyanna. For, as I read this over, I see how we seem to go two steps forward and then one step backward. We speak about national unity – oh how we need national unity! – but even here in Israel there are those who have forgotten who we are, and those who are too concerned with what the world says to take a stand.

Keep plugging then...

~~~~~~~~~~

As Jerusalem continues to take measures to protect its Jewish citizens, additional security measures have been announced:

There will be 300 guards placed at bus stations. First, at the Central Bus Station, and then along routes that have been selected as requiring the most security protection.  Then, 10,000 bus drivers national-wide are being given training in the Israeli martial art of will be given Krav Maga.

~~~~~~~~~~

And finally, someone with his head screwed on properly, who is talking about blocking ways in which we assist the PA or provide benefits to Palestinian Arabs. The “someone” is MK Naom Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), who chairs the Knesset Finance Committee.  And he is seeking ways to block the transfer of funds from Israel to the Palestinian Authority:

“We must recognize there’s a crazy absurdness here that I don’t understand,” Slomiansky said. “A terrorist who murdered and attacked and goes into jail has his finances covered during the years in jail, for him and his family.”

Money finds its way from the PA to the families of the terrorists – while Israel passes on to the PA taxes it collect for it in accordance with agreements in the Paris Protocol and the Oslo Accords.  And this continues even as the PA fails to honor its agreements and owes Israel “staggering sums” including over 1.4 billion shekels (over $360 million).

Slomiansky says that the PA collects money for electricity from its residents, even as it doesn’t pay Israel for the electricity, instead using the money for such purposes as providing “salaries” to terrorists.

“We have to defend ourselves. It's not just a game of money anymore. We are indirectly encouraging terror against ourselves and the murder of our citizens. We must stop this,"

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187803#.VHORaJtxnIV

Can we clone him?

If I said that things were good, I would be nothing but a Pollyanna.  But I do believe there are some signs here in Israel of a shift in perspective that is long overdue and should ultimately provide better policies for a stronger nation.
 
Of course, these shifts are generating tensions, a fairly predictable state of affairs.  Nothing ever progresses smoothly, and perhaps in a democracy we cannot and should not expect that any transition would be made without resistance.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
“Democracy” is a buzz word right now with regard to domestic tensions, and we see this in several respects.
 
The first has to do with how we are responding to Arabs within our midst.  And I say, without inhibitions or second thoughts, that in our situation of crisis, it may be necessary to adjust some of the parameters of what is seen as civil liberties for the Arabs.  Because in some instances the flip side of Arab civil liberties is the right of Jews to not be killed or attacked.
 
The other day I quoted Netanyahu (although perhaps it was Erdan) who said that 99.9% of Israeli Arabs are OK.  I did not belabor the fact that I didn’t believe it for a second, that only .1 % of Israeli Arabs are potentially trouble.  I just made the point of how many this represents. 
 
Well, today I encountered a poll by Stat Net that indicated that 68% of Israeli Arabs oppose terror:  http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187808#.VHMOOJtxnIU
 
Hmmm.  If I am calculating correctly, that leaves over 500,000 Arabs within our midst who might in certain circumstances be predisposed to terror – whether actively or via passive support. (I am not saying we have 500,000 terrorists in our midst.  I am saying there is a potential that we dare not ignore.)
 
I made the point recently that all Israeli Arabs are not loyal to Israel. Some have conflicting loyalties, and are pulled at by radical elements who challenge them to prove their devotion to the “Palestinian cause.”  And I again contrast this situation to that of the Israeli Druse community: they made a conscious decision to be loyal Israelis and opted for conscription in the IDF.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Some of the most shocking and blatant examples of Israeli Arabs who in their hearts are not loyal to Israel can be found in the Israeli parties of the Knesset.  Few are worse than Haneen Zoabi. She was a passenger on the Mavi Marmara that attempted to break the blockade of Gaza, and has told Palestinian Arabs that they should “declare popular resistance.”  This summer, she stated that the kidnappers of the three teenage boys were not terrorists.  Speaking of the kidnappers, she said, “they are people who don’t see any way to change their reality and are forced to use these means until Israel sobers up a bit.” In response, the Knesset ethics committee suspended for six months her right to address the plenum of the Knesset. She was still a member of the Knesset, and could still vote. But she called this ruling “anti-democratic.” 
 
Give me a break. The only place in the Middle East where Arabs have civil rights is in Israel.  
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
I am looking at all of this now in part because of the decision by the Ashkelon mayor to temporarily stop Arabs from working on construction sites near pre-schools.  All sorts of epithets were thrown at him, and, under pressure, he has backed down part way now.  The Arab construction workers will be permitted to continue and the children will be moved to a community center for the duration of the construction.
 
You might want to see Ruthie Blum’s “The Mayor of Ashkelon is not a racist,” which set this incident into context:
 
”’I would rather be taken to the Supreme Court than, heaven forbid, to the funeral of a kindergarten child,’ Shimoni told Channel 2 on Thursday evening. Finding himself under fire and at the wrong end of the law, Shimoni backed down on Sunday... His new decision is to leave the Arab workers at the kindergartens to complete the job of renovating the bomb shelters, while moving the children from those specific pre-schools to community centers.

”Shimoni may well find himself at the wrong end of the law. But there is nothing in his behavior that warrants being labeled a racist. Willing to face ostracism and possible indictment in order to protect the weakest sector of his city from a palpable threat, he is exhibiting leadership.”
 
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-mayor-of-Ashkelon-is-not-a-racist-382632
 
The key word here is “palpable threat.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And here’s the context:
 
Just last week, on PA TV (not Hamas TV), a program host intoned:
 
Good morning to you, good morning to your pride, and to your hands preparing to throw stones and ignite the gasoline in the Molotov cocktails, greetings from the Good Morning Jerusalem program.”
 
While on its Facebook page, Fatah posted a video that featured this song:
 
"I'm coming towards you, my enemy,
"We're going down from every house with cleavers and knives,
"With grenades we announced a popular war.
"I swear, you won't escape, my enemy, 
"from the revolution and the people.
"How will you escape the ring of fire,“while the crowds are blocking the way?" 
 
This is accompanied by pictures of Arabs attacking with rocks and more in the streets.
 

http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=13224
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
And I raise the issue of “democracy,” as well, because of other actions that are now being taken:
 
“Likud Central Committee Chairman MK Danny Danon is advancing a new bill to prevent Israel from returning the bodies of dead terrorists to their families and the Palestinian Authority (PA), in an attempt to deter terrorism and prevent the glorification of terrorists at their funerals.
“...Danon explained ‘we saw what happened recently when cruel terrorists turn into heroes and their funeral processions turn into recruitment processions for the next generation of terrorists.’

“So as to prevent the current arrangement from continuing, Danon is proposing to have the bodies of terrorists buried in unknown cemeteries.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187805#.VHNO5ZtxnIV
 
My only question here is why we didn’t start doing this sooner.  But guaranteed, someone will respond to this great idea by screaming “human rights.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
With encouragement from Prime Minister Netanyahu, legislation is being drawn up to remove residency rights from Arabs who are convicted of attacks on Israeli citizens or promote Israel’s destruction.
 
Meanwhile, Minister of the Interior Gilad Erdan has revoked the Jerusalem residency status of Mohammed Nadi who drove a suicide bomber to the Dolphinarium nightclub in Tel Aviv on June 1, 2001.  That attack killed 21 teenagers and injured 132 people.  Nadi served 10 years in prison as accomplice.
 
Said Erdan;
 
“a wave of terror and incitement” has swept Israel, assisted by Israeli residents who “carry out attacks, assist them, and justify them, and even incite others to commit crimes and murders.”

“These people cannot continue to enjoy a permanent status of Israeli residency, and I will use all of my power to cancel their residency and prevent them from receiving all benefits that this residency offers.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/interior-minister-revokes-jerusalem-residency-of-terror-accomplice/
 
Benefits consist primarily of the right to reside in Israel, and to receive social benefits such as health insurance.
 
What are the odds that someone will seek to challenge this excellent move in the courts?
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Along with this is the stated intention to continue the demolition of homes of terrorists (although there are charges that the homes are not even fully demolished).
 
And wouldn’t you know; last Thursday the ambassadors from Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain registered objections about this to our government.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 

And then there is the bill being advanced as part of basic law that speaks about Israel as a Jewish nation.
 
With strong support from Netanyahu, one version of this bill has been approved by the Cabinet. But, as it is causing great dissension within the coalition, other modified versions are being promoted.  I am not able to describe the contents of these bills in detail, but my understanding is that while basics remain, there are some modifications regarding specifications about democracy.

Whatever modifications are made, I believe they all clearly state that Israel is a Jewish state, and somehow defines national rights (and self-determination) as belonging only to the Jewish people, with individual civil rights adhering to all citizens.

Those who objecting to the bill are Tzipi Livni (Hatenua) and and Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), both of whom threaten to leave the coalition because the bill is “anti-democratic” and “unfair to the Arabs.”

What I have found fascinating is how adamant the prime minister is about pushing this.  This, too, I believe is a reflection of our times. Whether there is real risk of the coalition tearing apart because of this, or it is grandstanding, I cannot say.  What Netanyahu is working on, we are told, is a version of the bill that would satisfy all.  Whatever that might turn out to be.

~~~~~~~~~~

Perhaps even in calling these modest steps signs of an encouraging shift in perspective, I am being a Pollyanna. For, as I read this over, I see how we seem to go two steps forward and then one step backward. We speak about national unity – oh how we need national unity! – but even here in Israel there are those who have forgotten who we are, and those who are too concerned with what the world says to take a stand.

Keep plugging then...

~~~~~~~~~~

As Jerusalem continues to take measures to protect its Jewish citizens, additional security measures have been announced:

There will be 300 guards placed at bus stations. First, at the Central Bus Station, and then along routes that have been selected as requiring the most security protection.  Then, 10,000 bus drivers national-wide are being given training in the Israeli martial art of will be given Krav Maga.

~~~~~~~~~~

And finally, someone with his head screwed on properly, who is talking about blocking ways in which we assist the PA or provide benefits to Palestinian Arabs. The “someone” is MK Naom Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), who chairs the Knesset Finance Committee.  And he is seeking ways to block the transfer of funds from Israel to the Palestinian Authority:

“We must recognize there’s a crazy absurdness here that I don’t understand,” Slomiansky said. “A terrorist who murdered and attacked and goes into jail has his finances covered during the years in jail, for him and his family.”

Money finds its way from the PA to the families of the terrorists – while Israel passes on to the PA taxes it collect for it in accordance with agreements in the Paris Protocol and the Oslo Accords.  And this continues even as the PA fails to honor its agreements and owes Israel “staggering sums” including over 1.4 billion shekels (over $360 million).

Slomiansky says that the PA collects money for electricity from its residents, even as it doesn’t pay Israel for the electricity, instead using the money for such purposes as providing “salaries” to terrorists.

“We have to defend ourselves. It's not just a game of money anymore. We are indirectly encouraging terror against ourselves and the murder of our citizens. We must stop this,"

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187803#.VHORaJtxnIV

Can we clone him?

Nissan Slomiansky

Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90

~~~~~~~~~~

I cannot say that the failure to reach an agreement with Iran today is good news  Seven more months of pathetic negotiations is definitely not that. But our prime minister is happy at present because “no deal is better than a bad deal,” and it’s hard to disagree with that. Depends on what happens next, doesn’t it?  

~~~~~~~~~~

So, let’s end with some really good news, twice over.

First, Yehuda Glick was released from Shaare Zedek hospital tonight. Baruch Hashem.  At a press conference, he called his recovery, after he was close to death, a “miracle.”

And then he said,

“Those who are giving respect to Islam are those Muslim doctors and nurses who work at this hospital [by] helping people after they have signed the Hippocratic Oath.”
 
This is so lovely.  As it should be.  The counterweight to the ugly stuff.
 
Yehudah Glick
Credit: Shaare Zedek Medical Center

~~~~~~~~~~

And then Yehuda said:

“It must not be a working assumption that members of the public in Israel are protected. Something has happened in Israel – a person who is active in public and law-abiding was shot because of his faith.”
 
The government, he warned, must “come to its senses” and provide the public with better protection. Relates directly to much of what I’ve written above.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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.

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Posted on Monday, November 24, 2014 at 04:42PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 20, 2014: Complexities and Hard Truths

A bit more follow up and analysis before Shabbat...

Some of the recommended actions I wrote about yesterday, and more, have been put in place.  Not because I wrote about them, obviously, but because the government in this regard is responding with some appropriate security and deterrence measures:

There is now a large police presence in Jerusalem bolstered by Navy commandos who are volunteers serving on their own time.  Troops have been deployed outside of educational institutions and kindergartens, as well as outside some Arab neighborhoods – where checkpoints have been set up for searching people who might be suspect.

Observation balloons (with cameras) are being scattered about the city, controlled from a central command location.  This seems to me a very good idea.  Sometimes from above activity can be spotted that would not be caught by observers on the ground.

And the policy of demolition of terrorists’ homes is being enforced.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187675#.VG33DJtxnIV

There has also been a report from Arutz Sheva – not confirmed elsewhere - that the bodies of the Har Nof terrorists will not be returned to their families.  Great move, if it is so.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187664#.VG4NhJtxnIV

Is all of this sufficient?  I would not go so far as to declare this definitively.  But we are seeing some serious steps in the right direction.

~~~~~~~~~~

What’s not serious is the number of “benefits” to the PA that will be put on hold or terminated.  I had anticipated this.  Today I’m reading that there were certain roads in Judea and Samaria that were closed to non-Israelis because of security risks.  Just as over time checkpoints in Judea and Samaria have been removed, those road were scheduled to be opened to Palestinian Arabs soon.  Well, says Bogie Ya’alon, they will not be.  That’s it? Let’s get real here. 

~~~~~~~~~~

I had written recently about the fact that the men murdered in Har Nof were not settlers, were in western Jerusalem, were not agitators or radical activists, were not people who tend to go up on Har Habayit (The Temple Mount) – even though these various reasons – occupation, Temple Mount agitation, etc. – are provided as the rationale for why the terrorists acted.

The Elder of Zyion blog has carried these thoughts one step further and the analysis is so very important that I want to share it here:

After showing Arab cartoons celebrating the Har Nof massacre such as this one:

 

He writes (emphasis in the original):

”Images like these are celebrated by many, and condoned by the rest, with their silence.

“This is the fundamental story of the massacre. For once, the motives are crystal-clear.

”It cannot be about ‘occupation’ or ‘settlements’ because the attack was inside the Green Line.
”It cannot be about ‘Al Aqsa’ because the people who prayed there are not the types to ascend.
”It cannot be about ‘Israeli oppression’ because the victims were not soldiers or reservists.

”The facts are undeniable: the terrorists targeted the most Jewish looking people at a synagogue while they were at prayer.

”The cartoons illustrate nicely what the west wants to hide: the targets are Jews. Period.

”Palestinian Arab cartoons in general routinely depict "Israelis" as a Nazi-style caricatures of a bearded, black-clad men, even though no Israeli leader has ever resembled that person. These victims did. The cartoons taught generations of terrorists that their enemy is the Jews, not Israelis.

”The West wants to find excuses for Palestinian terror, to pretend that both sides are part of the problem. But this attack, and these cartoons, combined with the glaring absence of any Palestinians who object to this kind of incitement, reveal the ugly truth: that in the end it is about Jew-hatred. All the other reasons being given by pseudo-intellectuals of ‘occupation’ or ‘Al Aqsa’ or ‘Gaza’ or bus drivers who commit suicide are simply excuses to divert the world's attention from the simple fact that this is really about the world's oldest hate.

“Once you realize this you can start to understand the reality and not the spin that we've been fed for decades.”
 
http://elderofziyon.blogspot.co.il/2014/11/lessons-from-sick-depraved-antisemitic.html#.VG4CvGdxnIU
 
Wow!  Stunningly on the mark.  Please share this. It deflates all of the arguments of Palestinian Arab “suffering.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The mayor of Ashkelon, Itamar Shimoni, has taken a position that is not surprising, and is also not politically correct:
 
He announced yesterday that Arab workers will no longer be allowed on construction sites at kindergartens in the city where shelters are being built, and that security personnel will be placed at kindergartens near construction sites.  He said he made this decision in consultation with the police.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4594006,00.html

~~~~~~~~~~

Well...

The furor is all that we might expect  The mayor is being attacked and accused of racism.  It is being said that he is preventing Arabs from working, and tearing the fabric of good Jewish-Arab relations in the city.  Netanyahu, for example, said that we have no desire to target all Israeli Arabs, 99.9% of whom are decent folk.

My response is also going to be not politically correct, for there are painful realities at work here.  If 99.9% of Israeli Arabs are decent people, then – as there are approximately 1,700,000 Arabs in Israel - we have 1,700 who are not OK.  And the awful truth is that they cannot always be readily identified. The terrorist who shot Yehuda Glick outside of the Begin Center worked in the restaurant in the Center.  One of the terrorists who committed the Har Nof atrocities worked in a grocery store next to the synagogue. 

Back in previous years, there have been instances of Arabs who were loyal employees of a business owner for years, and then murdered that business owner.  What seems to have happened is that such employees were recruited by radicals.  As long as we have a reasonable representation of such radicals within our society – radicals who endorse and encourage the killing of Jews – as well as others who are receptive to the messages of the radicals, we have a problem.  What comes to mind most readily is the Islamic Movement of Israel, Northern Branch.  Its leader and members are Israeli citizens.  But they have been shown to have links with Hamas and the Brotherhood.  Of course, there are others as well.

The mayor did not ban employment for Arabs everywhere in the city.  He was concerned with the safety of children.  An alternative to his decision might have been thorough security checks for any Arab who works near the kindergartens.  But let us not pretend there is no problem.

~~~~~~~~~~

To demonstrate how things can be, and what a positive attitude is possible, we need only look at the Druse community in Israel, about which so much has been written in the last days.

At the funeral of Zidan Saif yesterday, President Ruby Rivlin spoke, saying:

“He went first into the fire to protect the residents of Jerusalem. Without fear, he faced the terrorists and risked his life to protect the residents of Jerusalem. He acted on the values on which he was raised—courage, valor, self-sacrifice.”

While Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch declared:

“[Saif] is a source of pride for you, the Druse people, for the police, and for the people of Israel.  The values that you instilled in him compelled him to protect, and he fell while defending the state of Israel. We have that shared fate. Together we will fight the murderers.” (Emphasis added)

~~~~~~~~~~

Israeli Druse Naif Alian has written a guest column for Israel Hayom.  In it he said:

We, the Druze, are part of the people of Israel. I have never felt a difference between me, my relatives and my friends and the Jewish people. We are one family, always have been and always will be.

“The blood pact between Druze and Jews in the land of Israel began in the 1930s, and it will never be broken. When Haganah forces arrived in Shfaram, my late father Hussein joined them. During the War of Independence, he and 30 other local Druze enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces and took part in the liberation of the Galilee.

“In the 1950s, my father was one of the five sheikhs who signed the agreement making military service compulsory for the Druze. In 1957, I lost my brother Salim during his military service. Today, I am the proud father of three IDF officers. They have never felt different from anyone else and have always walked with their heads held high -- as I taught them to do.”

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=10645

Beautiful.  As it can be, as it should be, with non-Jewish Israelis who feel connected and choose to be a part of the land and the people. The problem, of course, is that Palestinian Arabs who are Israeli citizens are conflicted in their loyalties in some (definitely not all!) instances, pulled in different directions. 

Much to consider, on another day.  Complexities and hard truths.

~~~~~~~~~~

We end on this upbeat note:

“In a profound display of faith in the face of carnage, the family of a newborn infant on Wednesday held his circumcision ceremony at the Jerusalem synagogue where terrorists slaughtered worshipers and a police officer exactly 24-hours earlier, Israel’s Ch. 2 News reported.

“’This is Judaism – from tragedy to joy,’ said Mohel Association Chairman, Chaim Miller, who performed the festive ancient ritual – symbolizing the eight-day-old infant’s joining the Jewish people – at the B’nai Torah synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood.”

http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/11/20/brit-held-in-terror-attack-synagogue-in-your-bloods-you-shall-live-video/

(scroll down for the 40 second video)

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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.

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Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 12:18PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 19, 2014: A Day Later

 

The death toll in the Nar Nof massacre has risen to five.

Master Sergeant  Zidan Saif, 30 - of the Druse village of Kfar Yanouch in the Galil – was one of the first police officers on the scene during the massacre yesterday, and sustained wounds to his head.  Last night, he succumbed to those wounds in the hospital.  He leaves behind a wife and a four month old daughter.
 

Courtesy: Family

I want to take a moment to pay tribute to him, and to the Druse community in Israel.  Just ten days ago, another Druse, an officer in the Border Police, was killed in the course of a terror attack.  In fact, it seems to me that the Druse have given above and beyond.  It is emblematic that the Druse village of Beit Jann has lost the highest number of men per capita of any locality in the course of Israel’s wars.

Loyal citizens of Israel, the Druse serve proudly in the IDF, and in various police units. The families accept with dignity the sacrifices of sons lost in battles on behalf of Israel.

Saif was buried today.  Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) were in attendance in large numbers in order to pay tribute to him for giving his life in an effort to protect members of their community. Buses were organized to bring people from Jerusalem to the village in the north.  Calls went out for young people of the community to attend as well: “We won't be ungrateful, we will show our gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives for us.”
 
Thousands at Sif's funeral (Photo: Avihu Shapira)

Credit: Avihu Shapira

This, my friends, is precisely how it should be.

~~~~~~~~~~

The Har Nof casualties, then:


 
Sergeant Zidan Saif, Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Rabbi Kalman Levine,
Rabbi Moshe Twersky and Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
The horror stories continue – told by witnesses and survivors.  It would seem that the cream of the religious community of Har Nof was killed in the attack.

There are injured still in critical condition. Two had surgery yesterday, and one has regained consciousness.  One of the badly injured is reported to have severe brain damage.
 
~~~~~~~~~~

It is very much the practice here in Israel to resume “business as usual” as quickly as possible, so that terrorists cannot think they are able to disrupt our lives.  Thus did davening (praying) continue this morning in the synagogue where the attack took place.
 
 
Prayer service Wednesday morning (Photo: Noam (Dabul) Dvir)

Credit: Noam (Dabul) Dvir
 
Those who pray in the synagogue regularly were joined by others – including a couple of MKs - who came in a show of solidarity.  Here, on the right, you see Naftali Bennett:

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (R) prays inside a synagogue where two terrorists from East Jerusalem killed five people on Tuesday. November 19, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

~~~~~~~~~~

The question now is where we go from here in dealing with the violence.  As I am reading it, this particular attack has been a turning point psychologically.  Instead of mumblings about whether this or that attack may be leading towards an intifada, I now read reference to the fact that we’re dealing with an intifada.  For all intents and purposes that is a recognition of war.

And so?

~~~~~~~~~~

Let me begin by saying that while I am reading calls for this, I do not believe that attempting to seize control of the Temple Mount now would be a constructive act.  I have written extensively about the fact that King Abdullah of Jordan sits uneasily on his throne. Were he to be toppled, he would be replaced by jihadis and radicals – and this would definitely not be in our best interest. What is more, we have a relationship with Jordan that is valuable in a host of other ways.

One of the ways Abdullah maintains political strength and commands respect from the people is by demonstrating that he – via the Jordanian Wakf – exercises control on the Mount and is able to confront Israel. He makes a great show of this.  And while it is not to my liking, I do understand it.  To undercut Abdullah now, while the region is in such ferment, would be unwise.

Do I think what Moshe Dayan did was deplorable?  Yes.  Do I believe Jews should have full and equal rights on the Mount? Absolutely. But what was done badly in the past must be undone when the time is right.

~~~~~~~~~~

More to the point, I believe, is exercising full Israeli sovereignty and control over all Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem.  Not incidentally, this includes effective control over Har HaZeitim (the Mount of Olives) and the ancient Jewish cemetery there, where we are still seeing Arab vandalism and destruction of graves.

The need to be strong – to make the Arabs fear us – is a point I’ve already made. There will be much to write about in coming weeks.  Some measures have already been taken -  strengthening of certain laws, etc. But not nearly enough yet.  Some thoughts:

We need to bring out the army and have an on-going military presence in the city.  Checkpoints, if necessary, at intersections leading in and out of the most troublesome neighborhoods.  There should be a situation in which Arabs with knives and cleavers are likely to be caught before they use their weapons.  They should at least know they cannot walk around with such weapons with impunity.

We need to increase our intelligence and behave proactively to bring in people plotting attacks before they are reality – with preventative detention of agitators.

There are caches of guns in Arab areas of Jerusalem, and they need to be searched out and confiscated.  I find it deplorable that this has not yet been done.

~~~~~~~~~~

Naftali Bennett gave an interview on Army Radio today in which he espoused this sort of approach. 

We should not active defensively, he says, but go on the attack, just as we did to put down terrorism in Arab areas of Judea and Samaria, in 2002, in Operation Defensive Shield.  Terror infrastructure must be rooted out.

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Bennett-calls-for-military-operation-in-east-Jerusalem-to-root-out-terror-382236

~~~~~~~~~~

In line with this shift in attitude, I would hope for a proud stance that no longer reflected continual anxiety about what the international community is thinking. 

It is time to openly conceptualize the PA and Abbas as the enemy, not as a potential partner, whom the world is waiting for us to sit down and talk to as soon as matters settle down. Passing the law establishing Israel as a Jewish state is a part of this thinking.

Defense Minister Ya’alon has announced that certain benefits that were to be accorded the PA will be put on hold now.  I read this and thought, Is there any question? Benefits for the PA?  But those benefits that Ya’alon has in mind are almost certainly only a small part of the courtesies and services that have been extended to the PA and that should now be terminated. 

~~~~~~~~~~

Other issues connected to this situation:

We are dealing with multiple Arab populations, which makes matters more complex: There are Arabs living in parts of Judea and Samaria administered by the PA, who either enter Israel legally to work, or enter illegally.  There are Arabs in Jerusalem who have Jerusalem residency cards. And there are Arabs who are full citizens of Jerusalem.  Each of these populations requires a different response.

Simmering under the surface is the issue of our jurisdiction in Area C in Judea and Samaria – over which, according to Oslo, we were to have civil and military control.  I cannot say this is a question of sovereignty, because – unfortunately – we have not declared sovereignty in this area (yet).  But it is a close second, in terms of losing our prerogatives in an area over which we were supposed to have control. And this, in my opinion, is directly connected to the governmental mental set (which must change now) regarding such matters as slipshod control over certain neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

No one said this was going to be easy to sort out.  Or to make right.

~~~~~~~~~~

As I continue to track what’s going on, I hope I can bring some good news and a smile to my readers time and again. 

What I will say here is that Israelis are extraordinarily resilient. We are determined to come out on top in this struggle, for this is our land.  Enormously important, as we fight this fight, is unity among the people:  We must hold fast as one.

~~~~~~~~~~
 
© 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.

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Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 05:02PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 18, 2014: Without Words

Sometimes a situation is so horrific that it renders one speechless.  Such was the attack by Israeli Arabs on innocent Jews praying in Jerusalem this morning.  And so, I’m going to start with photos, which provide greater impact than my words alone would. 

Once I would have apologized for provided such graphic illustrations.  No more. The world must “get the picture,” figuratively as well as literally.

Har Nof shul massacre
Credit: preoccupiedterritory
 
~~~~~~~~~~

Jews went to pray this morning in a major synagogue connected to a yeshiva on Aggasi Street in Har Nof, a largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on a hill in western Jerusalem. 

Two Israeli Arabs entered, bearing guns and meat cleavers and knives.  Calling “Allahu Akbar,” they proceeded to massacre those who were praying.

Please note the fact of meat cleavers.  This is about more than “just” killing Jews.  For that guns would have sufficed.  How do I – struggling for adequate words – convey to the world what is going on?  How do I get people to understand what we are dealing with here?

Blood on prayer shawls and prayer books seen inside the synagogue where four people were killed in Jerusalem on November 18, 2014. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/FLASH90)

Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/FLASH90
 
~~~~~~~~~~

ZAKA is an Israeli organization that, among other things, gathers tissue and blood from attacks, to be interred with the deceased according to Jewish law.  A member of ZAKA today commented that he has been at scenes where more people had been murdered, but he had never seen a bloodier or more gruesome scene than the one today.

Some worshippers were lying in blood on the floor with their tallitot (prayer shalls) and tefillin still on.

Worshipers were cut down as they prayed
Credit: GPO

~~~~~~~~~~

In the end, four were killed:

Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, Rosh Kollel for the Torat Moshe yeshiva and grandson of the great Rav Soloveitchik; Rabbi Kalman Levine, 55; Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, 43; and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68. Rabbi Goldberg had dual Israeli-British citizenship; the other three were American-Israeli.

May the Almighty avenge their deaths.

At least eight others were injured, including two police officers.  Four are serious to critical.

~~~~~~~~~~

All four of the victims lived on Aggasi Street. “On one street, four widows and 24 orphans were left," the head rabbi of the community, Yitzhak Mordechai Rubin, said at the funeral of Rabbi Twersky.
 

 

Credit: JPost

 
Rabbi Twersky’s funeral, the first held, was attended by thousands. The other three funerals, also heavily attended, were held shortly thereafter.

~~~~~~~~~~

The two terrorists were shot dead by police.  They were Rasan and Oudai Abu Jamal, cousins from the problematic Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber in eastern Jerusalem. They are reportedly related to terrorist Jamal Abu Jamal, who was released from prison as part of a “gesture” to Abbas and subsequently re-arrested.  As I’ve indicated before that terror is often a “family affair.”

According to various reports I’ve picked up, one of the terrorists worked in a small grocery store (a makolet) just next door to the synagogue.  (More on the significance of this below.)

~~~~~~~~~~

Security forces went into the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood today, where they met resistance.  I believe some family members were arrested. The terrorists’ homes will be demolished and I believe their wives may be expelled.  But note this, please:

The families hailed the terrorists as heroes and martyrs, and passed out candies to celebrate:

Sweets handed out in Gaza to celebrate the attack (Photo: Reuters)

Credit: Reuters

Yet another cousin of the terrorists, Alaa Abu Jamal, said:

“This occurred because of the pressures of the occupying Israeli government on the Palestinian people and in Jerusalem generally, and the ongoing harm to the al-Aqsa mosque; this act is something normal for any person who is connected to his people, to courage and to Islam.

"We got the usual death notification and we shouted with joy, people here also handed out candies to guests who came to visit and were happy for the martyrs."

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4593292,00.html

~~~~~~~~~~


I have noted the language of this creep carefully.  He says the act is “normal” for any person connected to Islam.  I’ve seen this word used again and again.  Oh? Arab residents of Jerusalem throw stones at the Light Rail? That’s “normal.”

Think, think carefully and deeply about what it says that a Muslim Arab can describe the horrendous murder of innocent men at prayer as “normal.” It wasn’t excused as an aberration, as the desperate act of people who are demented or deluded.  “Normal.”  And a cause for shouting with joy, yet.

~~~~~~~~~~

As to Abbas, he was under sufficient pressure from various sources – including the US – that he felt the need to at least appear to condemn the attack.  But note how he did it:

"The Palestinian presidency has always condemned the killing of civilians on both sides, and condemns today the killing of worshipers in a house of worship in west Jerusalem.

"It also condemns all acts of violence from whatever source and demands an end to invasions of Al-Aqsa mosque, to the provocations of settlers, and to the incitement of certain Israeli ministers." (Emphasis added)

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=21553

This is no condemnation.  It is additional incitement.  “Invasions” of the mosque?  “Provocations” of settlers?

Netanyahu went out of his way to calm things by meeting with Kerry and King Abdullah.  He made a point of saying there would be no change in the status quo on the Mount.  It does not matter.

~~~~~~~~~~

I note a bitter irony here.  NO terrorist attack is ever justified in any terms. But in this instance there was no justification even from the Palestinian Arab perspective, although they pretend there was.  The people who were killed lived and were praying in western Jerusalem. They were peaceful people - heads of institutions of study and the like. They were not “settlers” or radicals.  They are not even the sort of people who were likely to visit the Temple Mount.  And so?

This attack was random on purpose: designed to foment terror precisely because of its unpredictable nature.

~~~~~~~~~~

There was one other incident that was hauled out as the “reason” for the attack.  And for this I must backtrack a bit.

On Sunday night, an Israeli Arab bus driver, Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, hung himself in his bus, which was parked overnight in the Egged bus company terminal in Har Hotzvim – an industrial area of northern Jerusalem. Police investigating found no signs of foul play and strongly suspected a suicide.  None the less, rumors flew that Jews had killed this man, and riots ensued in at least three Arab neighborhoods.

An autopsy was done (and I believe members of the family were permitted to be present); it concluded that cause of death was suicide.  Made no difference. One relative of the deceased declared: "Eye witnesses told us they saw three Jews who murdered him. Unfortunately, the Israeli police is ignoring the murder and claiming my relative hanged himself."

~~~~~~~~~~

Hamas spokesman Sanu Abu Zuhri put out a statement that declared (emphasis added):

”The operation in Jerusalem is a response to the murder of the martyr Yusuf Ramouni [the bus driver] and to the series of crimes by the occupier at Al-Aqsa and Hamas calls to continue these operations. Hamas calls for more operations like it.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-and-islamic-jihad-praise-jerusalem-attack/
 
According to Israel Hayom, Hamas “urged all Arabs who have Israeli ID cards to infiltrate public places [their ID cards making it easier for them to move about] and use any weapons at their disposal.” (Emphasis added)

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=21553

~~~~~~~~~~

What I discovered out on the Jerusalem street today was rage. Grief, yes. Sadness, yes. But a particular rage.  I know the feeling well.

Netanyahu has met with the Security Cabinet but I have nothing concrete yet regarding actions to be taken.  There is talk of bringing more security forces into Jerusalem, of guards at all synagogues, etc.

What is understood by those of us who feel rage is that it is time for the Arabs to be afraid.  Only then will they stop.

~~~~~~~~~~

Condemnations of the attack have come from many quarters.

What a visibly shaken Kerry said earlier today was laudable - strong and appropriate in tone. He actually fingered Palestinian Arabs:

“Innocent people who had come to worship died in the sanctuary of a synagogue. They were hatcheted, hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder. I call on Palestinians at every single level of leadership to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, particularly after the discussion that we just had the other day in Amman.”

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/272106/kerry-condemns-har-nif-terror-attack-calls-it-pure-terror-and-senseless-brutality-in-act-of-pure-terror.html
 
But please note what Obama said:

“At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.

“...tragically, this is not the first loss of lives that we have seen in recent months. Too many Israelis have died, too many Palestinians have died.  Obviously, we condemn in the strongest terms this attack.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187606#.VGuF6ptxnIU

Even now, moral equivalency.  “Too many Israelis, too many Palestinians.”  The Israelis died in terror attacks, the Palestinians were in the main shot for perpetrating attacks.

And so – with the permission of my readers - I will drop my professional cool for a moment at the end of this long day, and simply say, damn him.

~~~~~~~~~~

A long and difficult but very necessary posting.  I will close with two additional links that demonstrate ways in which international media in some instances downplayed what happened:

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Guardian-deletes-reference-to-Palestinians-CNN-labels-synagogue-mosque-382139

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/309351#.VGuK1JtxnIV
This too we must contend with.

~~~~~~~~~~

© 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.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/11/18/november-18-2014-without-words.html

 

Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 02:04PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

November 15, 2014: A Mixed Bag

I start today with the link to the Dry Bones Blog of Yaakov Kirschen.  Most of you are probably familiar with Kirschen’s absolutely on-the-mark political commentary by way of cartoon.
 
http://www.drybonesblog.blogspot.co.il/
 
Kirschen is convinced – and rightly so - that cartooning is a powerful way to reach out in today’s world, and so has begun a whole campaign to involve people.  Please see what he has to say.
 
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-fight-antisemitism-with-the-dry-bones-cartoon
 

 

Credit: DryBonesProject

 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Well, Kerry met last week with Abbas, by himself, and then with Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah.  Please note, there was no attempt by the US to encourage a meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu. It was acknowledged that it is not yet time for this.  I myself doubt that it will ever be time.
 
The Netanyahu-Abdullah meeting reinforced Jordan’s special role on the Temple Mount – which is what the king needed to demonstrate his strength to his own people.  We are being told that the status quo will be maintained on the Mount.
 
At the same time, it provided a photo op of Netanyahu and Abdullah, which reinforced what our prime minister is saying about a special relationship with Jordan that must be protected.  Not only was there a photo op, the meeting was initiated by the king and was hosted by Jordan:
 
"’Moderate axis’ is the term used by Israeli officials to describe the ties between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordanian King Abdullah II. However, Israel prefers not to actively publicize the channels of communications between Jerusalem, Amman and Cairo.
 
“Government officials in Israel say there is continuous and productive communication between Israel, Egypt and Jordan and that the three are coordinating their positions.”
 
http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=21501
 
This said, we should not become unduly irked by the king’s harsh charges leveled at Israel for public consumption.
 
As Times of Israel reported: “Jordan’s tough stance towards Israel over Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque reflects a determination to preserve its custodianship of the flashpoint site as well as its own stability, analysts say.”


http://www.timesofisrael.com/fearing-backlash-jordan-asserts-al-aqsa-custodianship/
 
 

Credit: Israel Today
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
If we can tolerate what the king says, because we understand his motivation, tolerating what Kerry says is something else all together.
 
Direct negations cannot commence until calm is restored in Jerusalem, he says.  The US is committed to advancing the “peace talks.” In his dreams.
 
Worse, he told the press that he had met with Abbas, who “will do everything possible to restore calm.”  Kerry said he had faith in both Netanyahu’s and Abbas’s commitment to peace.  Could it be?  Is he that clueless that he believes this?  That ready to be taken in by Abbas?
 
http://new.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Kerry-Netanyahu-and-Abbas-committed-to-deescalating-Temple-Mount-tensions-381789
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
See what Jonathan Spyer – senior research fellow at Gloria - has to say about the behavior of Abbas (emphasis added):

“,,,The new violence [as compared to the violence of the two intifadas], though indiscriminate, brutal and murderous, is more narrowly focused. It is limited, for now, to specific areas of the country and to specific parts of Jerusalem.

But the West Bank, the cauldron of so much violence and hatred during the last two intifadas, has so far stayed largely quiet.

“Why? Because the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank appears to be playing a double game.

“On the one hand, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is engaging in incitement, spreading fear and anger about supposed Israeli plans to upset the delicate rules for Jewish worship on the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque area. Abbas has spoken of Jews ‘desecrating’ and ‘contaminating’ the site — the holiest place in Judaism.

“...Meantime, while Abbas spouts incendiary rhetoric, his security forces are continuing to cooperate with the Israelis in ensuring relative quiet on the West Bank. This reflects the general lack of Palestinian enthusiasm to provoke another mass confrontation with Israel.

“This is a dangerous double game. While the attacks on Israeli civilians have been presented in some news reports as spontaneous acts of rage, an examination of the biographies of the perpetrators so far suggests something quite different.”

http://www.meforum.org/4888/fear-and-loathing-in-jerusalem

~~~~~~~~~~

For evidence of various calls to violence by the PA that are still going on, see this Palestinian Media Watch bulletin:
 
http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=13063
 
It describes such statements as that of a representative of the PA Ministry of Religious Affairs, who declared just two days ago that Jerusalem needs “sacrifices and blood.”
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
Security measures are still being tightened: Security Minister Aharonovitch has now said that metal detectors – which have not been employed since 2000 – are going to be utilized for screening of those seeking to enter the Temple Mount. Subsequently, he says, facial recognition cameras will be installed.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
MKs Yoni Chetboun and Ayelet Shaked of Habayit Hayehudi and Ze’ev Elkin and Yariv Levin of Likud are proposing legislation that would make prosecution of Arab rioters easier.  Now, police make arrests when illegal gatherings take place, but the burden of proof is on the arresting officers to provide evidence that the particular individuals were planning violence.  This is one of the reasons, Chetboun has explained, that we see the revolving door, with arrests made and then suspects freed.
 
The law being proposed – the “masks bill” – would put the burden of proof on the arrested suspects in cases where the suspects’ faces were covered.  The assumption being posited is that if someone covers his or her face, it is because this person is seeking violence and does not want to be identified. 
 
Have no idea what the chances of this passing are, but it sure sounds good to me.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
But, needless to say, the appeasing Obama administration is not exactly happy with our more stringent approach to handling terrorists and trouble makers from the Arab community in Israel.
 
We have re-established the policy of demolishing the homes of terrorists.  At a State Department press briefing on Thursday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki, when asked about this, said: “Well, we believe that punitive demolitions are counterproductive to the cause of peace and exacerbate an already tense situation.”
 
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187444#
 
At the same press conference, she also had something to say about that fire in a mosque in Samaria.  I wrote about this recently: Villagers were screaming that the Jews – “settlers” – did it, but there was no evidence for this and villagers would not allow Israeli police in to investigate. There is, in fact, reason to suspect that Arabs did it so that Jews might be fingered.
 
Psaki declared: “The United States condemns the attack against a mosque in the West Bank. We believe that such hateful and provocative actions against a place of worship are never justified."
 
No, she did not identify the culprits directly as Jews or “settlers.” There is no way she could. But you had better believe that is what she meant.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
This is vastly encouraging, although we have a long way to go:
 
MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) with the backing of the prime minister, is promoting legislation that would enshrine the concept of Israel as a Jewish state. 
 
Among the stipulations of the law:
 
“...all Jewish schools will teach Jewish history as well as Jewish tradition and heritage.  Hebrew will be recognized as the only official language in Israel. Arabic, which as of now is considered an official language in Israel, will instead be given special status.
 
“The bill also declares that the State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, in which a Jew can exercise his desire for self-determination in accordance with his historical legacy.  This right to exercise national self-determination will be provided to Jewish people only.
“However, every resident, regardless of religion and nationality, will be entitled to preserve his or her heritage, culture and language.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/187494#.VGkTO5txnIV
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
This has been an issue of great importance for a long time, for there are those who try to turn the identity of Israel as a democracy into Israel as “a state of all its citizens.” By this is meant that there would be no acknowledgment of a special status within the state for Jews. All citizens would be treated the same.  Jews have right of return, Arabs can have right of return too. Etc.  It is a blatant attempt to destroy the Jewish nature of Israel and allow for an eventual Arab takeover.
 
There are pro-Palestinian Arab organizations here in Israel, for example, that protest the flag of Israel, because the Jewish star renders it “unfair” to Arab citizens. 
 
With regard to this, there are two points that must be made.  First, that there is a difference between national rights – which pertain to the Jewish people in our land and pertain to such things as the Jewish star on the flag and the national anthem – and individual civil rights – which pertain to all citizens, with regard to freedom of speech, right to vote and run for office,  etc. etc.
 
And then, it must be understood that because Israel is a Jewish state does not mean it is not a democracy.    
 
With all this said, the issue is particularly important now because of the claims that we have no history on the Temple Mount, that we have no rights in the land, etc.
 
I was pleased that Netanyahu said at the Cabinet meeting today, that “it should be clear that Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people.”   This language harkens back to the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine. It’s a step towards publicly recognizing our rights in this land.
 
~~~~~~~~~~
 
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

http://arlenefromisrael.squarespace.com/current-postings/2014/11/16/november-15-2014-a-mixed-bag.html

 

Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 05:30PM by Registered CommenterArlene in | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint