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July 6, 2016: Cutting Through the Pain

Here I am, again, skipping over the good news.  My apologies for this, as I know my readers enjoy those good reports (as do I).  But once again, I feel compelled to focus on the not-good news:

Some painful circumstances – disease, for example – may be unavoidable.  Others should never, ever happen.  What I have in mind right now is the terrorist murder of 13 year old Hallel Yafa Ariel last week, who met her death at the hands of a knife-wielding 17 year old Palestinian Arab.


Credit: onlysimchas
Monday I paid a shiva (condolence) call to her family.  I was blown away by their determination to persevere, their strength in the face of horror.


And just for one moment it is the horror I need to focus on.  For she wasn’t “just” killed via a knifing.  Her body endured a pummeling by knife.  It is so perversely sick that thinking about it becomes unbearable.  (It brought to my mind the 2011 beheading of the two-month old Fogel baby by Palestinian Arabs terrorists who later declared themselves “proud” of what they had done.)

There is a part of me that wants to be circumspect and discrete, passing over these gruesome facts.  But I have come to realize I have an obligation to speak out. Because the world does not know. People – embracing some sanitized version of the situation - do not begin to comprehend what we deal with here.  And so I must tell it out, and ask you to wrap your heads around this, and tell it out as well.

Please, do not imagine that the way this young terrorist behaved is a response to the “occupation” – an occupation which, in point of fact, does not even exist.  (More below on this issue.)  Or that he is an anomaly, an aberration in an otherwise normal social.  For this is not the case!

What we are facing is a society that in some substantial measure – encouraged by its leadership - embraces, indeed venerates, violence.  

Consider Palestinian Arab practices such as “honor killings” and the shooting of guns to celebrate weddings (which practice on occasion causes the accidental death of a celebrant).  Mark their hysterical and violent funerals for their terrorists, as compared with the subdued, “let’s make the world a better place” tone of the funerals for the victims of those terrorists. 

Hey, even more significantly: Mark the fact that the terrorists are their national heroes, celebrated in a way that the Palestinian Arabs never, ever remotely celebrate scientists or musicians or educators.  And that children are taught at a young age to embrace violence.  This is a form of child abuse. 

See this chilling video:   and be sure to read the full comment below about social media.


And so, we come to the great injustice visited upon us by the world: We are told to make concessions to the Palestinian Arabs for “peace.”  Concessions to people who venerate violence and celebrate death.


The traditional way of Muslim mourning requires erecting a tent, where mourners receive their visitors.  The Taraiyre family – family of the terrorist who murdered Hallel Ariel - has such a tent.

The governor of Hebron (center), visiting the mourning tent  for the terrorist killed after slaughtering 13-year-old Hallel Ariel. Photo: Facebook.

Credit: Facebook

It was paid for by the Palestinian Authority.

Reportedly, a high official of Fatah, the major party of the PA, was among those who paid a condolence call.

And there is still more.  As the Palestinian Media Watch has noted:

“ accordance with PA law, Taraiyre’s family will now begin receiving a monthly stipend — something that is paid to all families of “martyrs” [shahids].
Please, dear friends, wrap your heads around this, as well.  The Palestinian Authority condones and rewards what this young terrorist did.  Its leaders have no red lines that conform with decency and humanity.  They do not speak out against such acts, but the contrary.

How dare the world suggest that we sit with the PA and negotiate a “state” for them!   


Before I move on to further points I wish to make, it is important for me to note that certainly not every Palestinian Arab embraces violence and is filled with hatred; some show that decency and humanity I refer to above.

Please see an article here about the Palestinians Arabs who saw the overturned car of the Mark family, and came to help:,7340,L-4824391,00.html

(The fact that this was newsworthy indicates that this behavior is out of the norm.) 


As to the much touted suggestion that the “occupation” is the cause of this deep-seated and virulent hatred we are witnessing:

[] I have spoken many times about the fact that in legal and historical terms Israel is not an “occupier” in Judea and Samaria, and I will return to this many more times. But even if there were an “occupation,” it would not justify what is going on now. No way, no how.  To use it as justification is to obfuscate: to rationalize, to mask the total immorality of the current violence.

[]  While they are reluctant to say so publicly for obvious reasons, it has been clear for years that many Palestinian Arabs would prefer governance by Israel to governance by the PA, which is totally corrupt, provides no human rights, offers scant economic opportunities, has no social services, etc.  They are not chaffing under Israeli governance, where it exists, so much as furious about the way the PA conducts itself.  But sometimes it is easier (and safer) to vent against Israel.  And the PA – in speaking about such things as the alleged danger Jews represent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque – provides a convenient rationale for channeling this fury.

See this, written just a year ago:

It is nonsense to suggest that those Palestinian Arabs under the jurisdiction of Israel are so greatly enraged by this fact that they are reduced to extreme and uncontrollable violence, or that those under the jurisdiction of the PA are livid because they believe the PA has not been given the latitude to establish a full state.

Palestinian Arab culture is hamula-based.  The loyalty is to the clan. There is not a huge yearning for a state.  Not intrinsically.  Whatever the PR hype on the matter.

[] Lastly, I would like to share something just written by the eminent scholar Efraim Karsh, “Occupation is not the problem.”

When professor Karsh speaks about “occupation,” he is not referring to legalities of ownership of the land, but of governance of the Palestinian Arabs by Israel.

His executive summary (emphasis in the original):

The proposition that ‘occupation’ is to blame for Palestinian terrorism defies history, reality, and logic. Israel’s control of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza has been virtually nonexistent for twenty years, ever since the 1995 interim agreement and the 1997 Hebron redeployment. Palestinian terrorism has increased not in response to the ‘occupation,’ but in response to its ending.”

Professor Karch writes (emphasis added):

“If occupation is indeed the cause of terrorism, why was terrorism so sparse during the years of actual occupation? Why did it increase dramatically with the prospect of the end of the occupation, and why did it escalate into open war following Israel’s most far-reaching concessions ever?
One might argue far more plausibly that it was the absence of occupation – that is, the withdrawal of close Israeli surveillance – that facilitated the launching of the terrorist war in the first place, just as it was the partial restoration of security measures in the West Bank during the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield and its aftermath (albeit without assuming control of over the daily lives of the Palestinian population there) that brought the Palestinian war of terror to a (temporary) halt. 


Unfortunately – and it grieves me greatly to say this - some portion of Israeli society is also sick.  But in a way that is the inverse of the Palestinian Arab society. 

We have had our own Jewish nation in modern times for 68 years now. But before this, we were in galut – in exile – for some 2,000 years. During those years, the survival of Jews often depended upon being able to please the host society.  And we have not, as a nation, yet lost the habit of trying to please others.

As the Western world promotes a disproportionate concern for the Palestinian Arabs to the detriment of Israeli rights and well being, our leadership – or some portion thereof – struggles to show what “good guys” we are in dealing with those Palestinian Arabs.

In a nutshell: We are not as tough on them, and specifically on the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, as we need to be.  We take little steps, and while they move in the right direction – quicker demolition of houses of terrorists, refusal to return bodies, etc. - they remain insufficient.

Our government needs to be less concerned about what the Western world will say, and more concerned about making certain that no more Israelis meet the fate endured by Hallel Yafa Ariel and Rabbi Micki Mark last week

There are a number of suggestions on the table as to how to be more stringent. They include such actions as shutting down PA broadcasts, because of the incitement; refusing to turn over any tax monies collected as long as the PA continues to pay the families of terrorists and “salaries” to terrorists in prison; and blocking use of the Internet, which is a major vehicle for terrorists’ communication (although how, is beyond my expertise). 

Taking aim directly at PA actions is a critical component of what needs to be done.  And it is precisely in this regard that our government tends to tip-toe.

I cannot possibly deal here with all the suggestions for greater stringency that have been proposed, although I will mention one below and return to others later. 


There is a feeling in several quarters in Israel that the government is about talk – about “seeming” tough for the moment – rather than about real action. 

There is solid reason for this feeling.  There have been stringent actions announced in the face of a specific terrorist act that are quietly reversed when the moment is past.  And announcements about actions that seem to be stringent but in point of fact are not what they appear to be.


Here I mention a couple of examples of the latter:

The prime minister announced that in response to the terror attack in Kiryat Arba, 42 new housing units would be built.

Subsequently it became apparent that the tenders for this building had gone out well before the attack.  That is, it was not a plan for new, additional building being announced at all.


It was also announced that there was going to be “full closure” of the village of Bani Na’im, home of the murderer of Hallel Ariel.

Subsequently, it was discovered that the “full closure” consisted of “nothing more than a pile of dirt that the Arab residents easily drive around.”


What I ask here is that you send a message to Prime Minister Netanyahu. 

I cannot emphasize this enough: Do NOT preach to him. Do NOT write in anger.  Do NOT suggest that you have superior expertise in the matter and can advise him on what to do.  Do NOT engage in polemics or provide history lessons. All of these approaches are severely counterproductive.  They will turn him off.  If you want to be helpful, you will write with great restraint and avoid these pitfalls.

Be respectful.  And write no more than three sentences.  Be positive: Urge strength, encourage him to stand tall in the face of enemies, let him know you are with him during this horrendous time. It is the number of messages that matters, not your specific message.

I provide three different addresses below.  Send your message to all three.  The prime minister will not be reading these messages directly, his aides will. In your subject line, put “Please share this with the prime minister,” “Please pass this message to PM Netanyahu,” or something similar (underscore after pm) 


As to responses that are being called for, I want to allude here to one approach that I see as good news: annexation of Ma’aleh Adumim and of Gush Etzion.  It is time for a new message, say those advancing these proposals.  And I heartily agree.  Whether they meet with success now or not, we must hope that they mark the beginning of a brighter future.


When last I wrote, I noted that neither the White House nor the State Department had expressed condolences for the terrorist murder of Hallel Ariel, who was an American citizen.  It was pointed out to me by a couple of readers that indeed there had been a statement by the State Department.  This is the case, and so my comment had not been fully correct. But the State Department expression of condolences – which ignored the fact that Hallel was an American – was insufficient.

Not for a second do I believe this was an inadvertent oversight on the part of the State Department.  To acknowledge Hallel’s citizenship is to acknowledge responsibility for responding to what happened to her.  The State Department would rather avoid this.

A ZOA press release on this issue makes the further point that the condolence statement neglects to mention that the terrorist was a Palestinian Arab. Hmmm... It also compares the State Department condolence here to similar condolences regarding events in other parts of the world.


I will do my best to focus on some measure of good news when next I post.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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


Posted on Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at 09:49AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 3, 2016: Resilience in the Face of Obscenity 

"You try to scare us so that we'll wear down, break, and leave, but it's all for naught. The sentiments in Otniel are not of fear and exhaustion, but rather of cohesion, resilience and especially a strong desire to move forward. The murderers that imagine eliminating us through bloodshed will find before them again and again a solid wall of people who believe in life a lot more than those same murderers believe in death.",7340,L-4822991,00.html
These are the words of Eran Dgan, secretary of Otniel, a small Jewish community south of Hevron in the regional council of Har Hevron, and home of the Otniel Yeshiva.
Amazing words from an anguished man.  Dgan was addressing the terrorists – not yet captured - who late on Friday afternoon attacked and killed Rabbi Michael (Micki) Mark, who was director of the Otniel Yeshiva and lived in the community with his wife and their 10 children.

Miki Mark (Facebook)


Let all potential terrorists mark Dgan’s words well.  As a matter of fact, let the world mark them well.  We are not going anywhere.

Described as a pillar of the community, Rabbi Mark was a much-loved man – “a man of faith and spirit [who] spent every moment of his free time studying Torah...a gentle man and a devoted father to his family.”  He was in his car on route 60, south of Hevron, when Arabs drove past him and began shooting at his car.  There are at least 20 bullet holes in the car.

As Mark’s 14 year old son described it:

“They shot at us from the side where my sister was sitting next to me, on my left - then suddenly dad wasn't moving anymore."

As the rabbi lost control, the car flipped over.

The Marks' flipped car (Photo: Har Hevron Regional Council)

Credit: Har Hevron Regional Council

The rabbi’s wife, Chava, was seriously injured.  Following a series of surgeries her life is now out of danger, but she is still in very serious condition and faces a long recovery.  A daughter, 14, was moderately injured and remains in the hospital.  The son, quoted above, was lightly injured and has been released from the hospital.


The funeral today was held in two venues.  First a service in Otniel, with many rabbis and other notables in attendance.

Credit: Arutz Sheva


Credit: Hadas Perush/Flash90

Credit: Hadas Perush/Flash90
And then interment in Jerusalem.

Please see this extraordinary video clip of the Mark children put out before the funeral:

Said President Ruby Rivlin, who was a distant cousin of Rabbi Mark, “We are not loosening our grip on the land. Terrorism will never undermine our hold on the land...”  Again, let everyone take note.  (Mark was also a cousin of Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad.)

Rabbi Yehuda Glick, mourning deeply, on Friday noted his close relationship with Rabbi Mark: "He was like a brother to me."

And Rabbi Binyamin Kelmanson, Rabbi Mark’s brother-in-law, said, addressing Mark at the funeral:

“Ironically, you will also be missed by the members of the [group] your murderers came from, you will be missed by our [Arab] neighbors whom you helped so much. We will still try to maintain good relations with our neighbors, and we will continue to meet with them.”

“But,” – now addressing the Arab population - “know this, that if you do not strike down the arms of the murderers, it will hurt you.”


Religious Jews, on receiving news of a death, say “Baruch Dayan HaEmet.”  “Blessed be the Righteous Judge.”  We, even when bereft and devoid of understanding, surrender to the Almighty’s judgment in the matter.  And so, we see, again and again, an astonishing lack of bitterness in those mourning victims of terror. 

We encounter, instead, a desire that some good should result from the unbearable tragedy.  And a firm determination to stand strong.

I have written again and again about the sense of family we have here in Israel.  And this is part of what we are witnessing: a strength that comes from being tied to the people. The people embracing the mourners and holding them upright in unending comfort.


I was going to say there will be no good news in today’s posting. But the news of who we are as a people and how we cope as a people is very very good news indeed.

Har Hevron Regional Council head Yochai Damri  put out a message before Shabbat:

“...For a long time in Otniel and Har Hevron, we have experienced difficult events, and today an additional event, but they will not break us! A peaceful Sabbath and a warm and lamenting hug to all.",7340,L-4822991,00.html

The Security Cabinet met last night and has decided on a number of more stringent measures for dealing with the Arabs: there will be a cemetery for burying terrorists, and none of their bodies will be returned; more work permits will be cancelled; more speedy demolition of houses of terrorists; more closures, including of Hevron; etc. etc.  More to follow on this in my next posting.

All to the good, and, taken collectively, still not sufficient.  This cannot continue.  That is the message that was delivered in demonstrations held here in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria last night.


Approval has been given for construction of 42 new apartments in Kiryat Arba, in response to the terrorist murder of Hallel Ariel last week.


I am very eager to get this out, but pause to note just a couple of other matters:

We must ask, first, how much one family can endure.  Chava Mark, who is seriously injured, is the aunt of Yondav Hirschfeld, one of the eight high school students murdered during the 2008 terror attack in the Markaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Her son, Shlomi, is married to Iska, the daughter of Eliyahu Ben-Ami of Otniel, who was killed in a terror shooting attack in 2000.


Hallel Ariel, murdered in her bed by a terrorist last week, was a US citizen (with joint Israeli and American citizenship). To the best of my knowledge there has been no mention of this by the White House or State Department – no expression of outrage over this death.   If I am wrong, and it has come, it is in recent hours, for last I checked it was not the case.  Shameful.

And then: Abbas, who has remained purposely silent on these Palestinian Arab terrorist murders.  To decline to speedily and forcefully condemning is to condone.  Make no mistake about it: His people get the message.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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


Posted on Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 03:31PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 1, 2016: Keeping Our Balance


credit: christinemareebel

Not an easy thing to do – to maintain balance.  We might know where we want to go, yet find the way there exceedingly slippery.  This is what we are dealing with now: the rapids and the uneven stepping stones.


I like to sustain my practice of starting with good news – it is one of the things that provides balance.  But today I cannot.  First things first.

Yesterday morning, in Kiryat Arba, a Jewish community adjacent to Hevron, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, age 13 - shown below with her mother, Rina - was asleep in her bed.  She was sleeping late because she had performed in a dance recital in Jerusalem the night before.

Hallel (left) and Rina Ariel (Courtesy)


A Palestinian Arab teenager from the nearby village of Bani Na’im jumped the fence surrounding Kiryat Arba and broke into Hallel’s home, getting into her bedroom. There he stabbed her multiple times before he was shot dead by security forces.

Hallel was rushed to the hospital.

Medics wheeling Hallel Yaffa Ariel, fatally injured in a West Bank stabbing attack, into Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center on June 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

There she succumbed to her wounds. 


She was buried Thursday evening in the old Jewish cemetery of Hevron, with thousands in attendance. 


Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP

“Rina [Hallel’s mother] called on the public to come to Kiryat Arba...

“We invite everyone to console; there are...Jews here who need strengthening. We are strong and we won’t break, but we need your help to continue and build here...

“I want to address the mother of the terrorist who did this.  I teach my children to love and you’ve educated yours to hate.’” (Emphasis added)

She ended with the Shema prayer.  And once again, I am in awe at the strength and lack of bitterness.  Let the world see who we are, should it ever choose to see.


“Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who is a first cousin of the victim's father Amichai, eulogized young Hallel with a call to strengthen the Jewish presence in the land of Israel.

"”We say to the mourners: through the building of the land we will be comforted.’ (Emphasis added)

"’This cannot be just a demand - this is a Torah command!...I stand here and say to you Hallel, and to all the Ariel family... we vow today to further build up the land of Israel.’”


And MK Yehuda Glick “burst into tears as he offered his condolences to Hallel’s grieving parents.
“Rena and Amichai, there is no person in the world who can see a young girl’s bedroom with a mattress full of blood and not cry out, ‘God Almighty, enough. Enough fathers and mothers who bury their children and children who bury their parents. Avenge the spilled blood of they servants!’”

Yehuda Glick

Credit: Flash90


A child. A beautiful and innocent child. Dead for no reason whatsoever, except that she was Jewish and lived in Kiryat Arba. 

I want to wax eloquent, but suddenly find that words fail.  "How do you eulogize a girl thirteen and a half years old?" sobbed her mother, at the grave.

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke of “bloodlust” and “inhumanity,” and he sure has that right.


Entry in and out of the terrorist’s village has been blocked, and the work permits of the members of his family have been rescinded. Additionally, family members are being questioned.  The body of the terrorist will not be returned to his family, and the process has begun for the demolition of his house. 


But here, I think, is where we can see the heart of the matter:  Almost immediately after the terror attack, the official Facebook page of Fatah (the party of Abbas and the main party of the PA) posted the terrorist’s picture and referred to him as a martyr (a “shahid”).  The official PA news agency WAFA did the same. 

The terrorist’s mother, speaking to a local Hevron news network, said, “My son died as a Martyr defending Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”


And where would she get this idea about defending Al-Aqsa, if not from the PA and Abbas himself?  See this from the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:

“During its weekly meeting held...[June 7, 2016] in Ramallah, led by [PA Prime Minister] Rami Hamdallah, the [PA] government called to visit Jerusalem, and for every one of our people who can, to come to the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray and carry out Ribat (i.e., religious conflict/war over land claimed to be Islamic) there. Likewise, it called on the Arab and Islamic world to fulfill their responsibility and support the resolve of the [Arab] citizens of Jerusalem who are the defenders of Jerusalem and guardians of its honorable [Al-Aqsa] Mosque.”


And so, let’s take a look for a moment at what’s going on on Har HaBayit (The Temple Mount) in recent days. Please understand, this is during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which means increased Muslim agitation is almost taken for granted.

At the beginning of the week, there was repeated violence on the part of Muslims, who attacked Jews on the Mount.  Masked men stockpiled rocks in their sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque with which to pelt Jews and Israeli security forces. 

A video of the violence here:

You can perceive immediately how “pious” these people are, and how deeply they revere the mosque they use to support their violent behavior. 

It always astounds me – the juxtaposition of their claims of great reverence for their holy site and their demonstrations of defilement in its environs.  I guess what most astounds me is how little the world chooses to notice this.

The presence of Jews on the Mount is apparently “offensive” to these masked men.  At the beginning of the week, the Jews were protected by security forces, with warnings sounded to the Muslims that violence would not be tolerated.  A handful of violent Muslims was arrested.


But by Tuesday a different approach was being taken: Since the presence of Jews agitated the Muslims on the Mount, it was decided that no non-Muslims would be permitted up there.
What a fantastic idea!  Give in to their violence.  Let them win by removing the source of their agitation.  Then quiet can be maintained and security forces can handle the situation.  And the only cost is that Jews (and Christians) will be deprived of the right to ascend to the Mount.  Piffle.  What is that?

According to this article, this practice will be enforced only for three days. But I’ve read elsewhere that this will go on until the end of Ramadan, which is next Tuesday.  Today is the last Friday (the sabbath of Islam) of Ramadan and security forces will be out in large numbers in Jerusalem.


In theory, Israel has sovereignty over the Mount, which sits in the heart of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel.  In theory.  What I want to know is when it will be the case in practice, as well.

Masked Palestinians hold stones during clashes with Israeli police on the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem's Old City, June 28, 2016. (Muammar Awad/Flash90)

Credit: Muammar Awad/Flash90

I wrote in my last posting about the importance of our holding our heads high.  How do we imagine that we can defeat Islamic-based terrorism when we surrender to Islamic-based violence? 

If it were up to me, I would send a battalion of IDF soldiers up there, if necessary, to sustain quiet and permit a Jewish presence on the site.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat had it right, when he said:

We must not make decisions under pressure from violent disturbances. Only consistent and determined practice in protecting the status quo will ensure a long-term reduction in violent incidents and bring quiet to Jerusalem.” (Emphasis added)

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat seen on top of the Tower of David Museum, on April 14, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90


At roughly the same time that Hallel Ariel was being buried, there was another knifing attack in a market in Netanya, along the Mediterranean coast. Two people were wounded, one seriously.  The terrorist was shot dead.


Let me now turn to Brexit, and explain why I put this in the good news category.

Quite simply: The EU is inherently hostile to Israel. 

[] They undermine us with demands for labeling of goods from Judea and Samaria.

[] They refer to the communities in Judea and Samaria as “illegal settlements,” which they are not.

[] Showing a blatant disregard for the rule of law, they fund illegal building of Arab housing in Area C - claiming that “diplomatic immunity” prevents Israel from taking them to court. 

US Embassy London Grosvenor Square with illegal EU structure

Credit: Israellycool

[] They are applying pressure on Israel to participate in negotiations for a “two state solution” embracing terms – via the French plan - that are untenable and dangerous, as well as unjust.


Bad enough. But worse - worst of all - was what happened last week, when Abbas addressed the EU parliament.  He said:

“Only a week ago, a number of rabbis in Israel announced, and made a clear announcement, demanding that their government poison the water to kill the Palestinians."
A blood libel pure and simple.  And for this he received a standing ovation.


Credit: Elder of Ziyon

What can one say? This is a mark of Jew hatred, pure and simple. The EU is totally without moral or political integrity. 

That it should be weakened is a positive development.


I note that Abbas “sort of” retracted his statement just days after the above picture was taken.  A release from his office said: It has become evident that the alleged statements by a rabbi on poisoning Palestinian wells, which were reported by various media outlets, are baseless."

Myself, I think a more honest statement would have been: While the EU parliament seemed to love what Abbas said, he faced severe criticism from other quarters and decided it was politic to walk back his position.

It doesn’t matter, of course, because the point is that the EU parliament loved him before he walked it back.

But in the end, this is not just a question of what’s “good for the Jews.”  There are other reasons to celebrate a weakening/possible breakdown of the EU.

Italian journalist Guilio Meotti speaks of the development of the EU as a project that “was entrusted to a bureaucracy with extraordinary legislative and administrative powers.” But he asks,  “Who will guard the guardians? It is the question of political legitimacy and sovereignty...
“As everyone knows, there is a terrible deficit of legitimacy regarding the European institutions...
“The integration of Europe was conceived in one-dimensional terms with the dictatorship of unelected bureaucrats and judges, cancellation of laws passed by representative parliaments, constitutional treaties signed without any input from the people...” (Emphasis added)


The open borders policy of the EU, which has permitted an uncontrolled and massive influx of Muslim migrants into the nations of the EU, is its biggest failure and may ultimately bring about its downfall.

For more on this, a Gatestone video, “Brexit: What It Means to Get Our Freedom Back.” with Dennis Maceoin. 

Pro-Brexit Brits are hopeful that they can regain their sovereignty and control of their nation now.  Dry Bones has it right, I think:

Europe, UK, EU, BREXIT, immigrants, Muslim,Great Britain,












Other nations may not be far behind.  There is talk, but it is still speculation at this point.

Many of us have been watching the horrendous implosion of Europe, as it is being overrun by those Muslims immigrants.  The breakdown of the EU – should it happen – would represent a return to sanity on the part of some individual European nations.  Might such a turn of events ultimately halt what seemed to be a runaway train?

We can ask, and then we must wait and watch...


I wanted to examine the new agreement between Israel and Turkey here – which leaves me greatly unsettled.  But other issues have taken precedence. As it is a complex matter, I will save it for next time.


Additional good news items before closing:

“The 3 Million Club is an Israeli NGO that works in Haiti, Nepal, and is now starting in India.  It supplies nutritional bars that are specially formulated to cure children from malnutrition within 12 weeks.”

The Knesset last week gave final approval to marking the seventh of Chesvan on the Hebrew calendar as “Aliyah Day.” Aliyah is immigration to Israel or, literally, going up.

The legislation - sponsored by MKs Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Miki Zohar (Likud), Avraham Neguise (Likud), and Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp) – will institute “a day dedicated to olim (immigrants) and their contributions to the country. It will be marked around the country in schools, the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, the President’s Residence, and the Knesset.”

The date was picked because it is close to the Shabbat – in the fall - on which there is the reading of the Torah portion Lech-Lecha, which describes God’s command to Avraham to leave his home and go to the Land of Israel. 


And so, fittingly, Prayer for the State of Israel, with IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson.  I hope it uplifts you as it does me. .


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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


Posted on Friday, July 1, 2016 at 04:05AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

June 24, 2016: Holding Our Heads High

I actually mean this in two senses.  The first is the traditional sense of being proud, and I will share an example of this in a moment. 
But then, there is the more metaphorical sense of not drowning in the sea of malice and stupidity that passes for international diplomacy and political action these days.   

As to the first meaning, I want to refer to the Shurat HaDin (Israel Law Center) Conference “Towards a new law of war,” which was held this week.  The very last speaker at the end of the conference on Tuesday was Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Chair, Habayit Heyehudi).  His talk was enormously well received because he said a number of things that badly need to be said. 

Naftali Bennett at Shurat HaDin conference

Credit: Oded Entman
Minister Bennett made three significant points:
1) We must change the battlefield with regard to fighting BDS and delegitimization.  We have to stop obsessing about how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because it is insolvable.  Instead we have to move to focusing on our ability to be a Light Unto the Nations.  This is a strategic shift, as the world needs us.  We have something to teach with regard to technology, medicine, agriculture, providing security while maintaining quality of life, and more.
How about the art of innovation?  We should have a summit on “teaching innovation.”  We are a “start-up nation” because of this capacity for innovation, and the world badly needs to learn how to promote this.  We have an ancient, traditional method of studying texts called “chevruta” – two people studying together with back and forth questions and discussion.  Others need to know about this.  Our youth groups are led by young people, who learn how to be responsible.  In other countries youth groups are led by adults.  Maybe they need to hear about what we do.   
2) We must talk about our rights and not just security.  This is our home.  The security argument will last just so long before people will say, if it’s not yours, give it up. But it is oursThe world will respect us if we respect ourselves.
What Bennett said was so important, I will say it again:  The world will respect us if we respect ourselves.
At the same time, we should talk about a solution for the Arabs.  By this he means something less than a state, which he is opposed to.  His point is that we should demonstrate that we have an innovative and workable plan for the Arabs, even as we say that the land is ours.
3) Israel must start fighting delegitimization seriously.  We need an agency dedicated to this, with a serious budget.  We need to devote energy to this, just as we devote energy to security matters.
Before I move to other serious matters, I take the time here to provide a laugh, which we can always use.
The PA’s Mahmoud Abbas was in Saudi Arabia very recently, and, of course brought gifts for King Salomon.  One of these was a framed copy of the Palestinian Post.  According to Elder of Ziyon, dated from August 13, 1935.
Now here is the question: Is Abbas so obtuse that he doesn’t know that the Palestine Post was a Zionist paper, the precursor to the Jerusalem Post?  That prior to the founding of of the modern state of Israel, “Palestinians” referred to the Jews in the land, not the Arabs?
Or is he fully cognizant of the fact that “Palestine” before 1948 was Mandate territory – set aside as a homeland for the Jews and not a state for Arabs at all - but simply counting on it that King Salomon has no clue?   


With regard to Abbas implicitly portraying Palestine, prior to the establishment of Israel, as belonging to the “Palestinian people,” allow me to share this (with emphasis added):
”The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.

“For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa. While as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem...”
This is from PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, March 31, 1977, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw.
Please, bookmark and save this.  Share it broadly.
Abbas was in Brussels, Wednesday, at the same time that President Ruby Rivlin was – as both addressed the EU Parliament.  Despite efforts by EU President Martin Schultz to arrange at least a brief meeting between the two, Abbas refused.  Rivlin was prepared to meet, in line with Netanyahu’s “any time, any place” statement.

I have no great desire to see our president meet with Abbas, you may be sure.  What I would hope, in this context, is that it would be apparent who is obstructionist - then the declared willingness to meet would have served some purpose. But I most seriously doubt that this is the case.
It is, I think, time to focus on respecting ourselves.
As to what Rivlin said to the EU parliament – this is a case of his having to hold his head up so as to not flounder in the sea of stupidity and malice that passes for diplomacy.  All in all, I think Rivlin did a respectable job in some good measure. He made his requisite comments about shared values and a history of friendship with the EU and all the rest. But he then came down hard on European attitudes towards Israel in general, and specifically on the French “plan,” which the EU has decided to endorse (emphasis added):
The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it.”
He described the plan as an inflexible “all or nothing approach...
“This paradigm relies on the assumption that the problem which is the crux of the matter in this bloody and painful conflict is simply the lack of good faith on both parts, and that if we [the Europeans] only exert pressure on ‘them’, on us,’ they will adhere to a permanent agreement and to a state of peace.”
And I interrupt at this point to refer to something international law professor Eugene Kontorovich said during the Shurat HaDin conference: People think if an agreement can be reached, then there will be peace. But the two are not synonymous and one does not automatically lead to the other.  This is what Rivlin is talking about here.  We must regularly remind those pushing for negotiations of this essential fact.
Continued Rivlin, it is “fundamentally erroneous” to imagine that it is sufficient to address the lack of good will between the parties.  For this approach ignores practical considerations: “Currently the practical conditions, the political and regional circumstances, which would enable us to reach a permanent agreement between us – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are failing to materialize.” 

Credit: consilium-europa
What you are trying to make happen, is not going to happen, Rivlin was telling the Europeans: “The divided Palestinian leadership, and regional political turmoil [make] reaching any peace agreement with Israel impossible. Hamas, the terrorist group-turned-rulers of the Gaza Strip, [is] committed to the annihilation of Israel.” 
There is truth here, but still not full truth.  The full truth is that the PLO is ALSO committed to the annihilation of Israel. The full truth is that we have rights to the land that we will not relinquish in accordance with Palestinian Arab demands.
It’s not politically correct to say this, but this understanding is precisely what we must promote.
Rivlin encouraged the Europeans to have patience, to improve matters through investment rather than divestment, through cooperation rather than boycotts. 
So what do the members of the EU parliament really think of Abbas? What could they possibly think of him?
On Thursday, he addressed the same gathering that Rivlin had addressed earlier.  
He dragged out an outrageous medieval libel (and total falsehood) and begged the members of the European community to save Palestinian Arabs from poisoned water:
“Only a week ago, a number of rabbis in Israel announced, and made a clear announcement, demanding that their government poison the water to kill the Palestinians."
And he declared that:
Once the occupation ends, terrorism will disappear, there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world.”

Credit: al-akhbar
Now there are those who claim that the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict is at the core of Middle East turmoil, which in and of itself is a fallacious notion.  All the radical jihadis are not about to suddenly turn peaceful if the non-existent “occupation” ends.  An Israel-Palestinian Arab deal is barely on their radar screen as they seek to promote the caliphate.
But to speak of this being the case all over the world?  This is so beyond the realm of the rational that it merits no response at all.
What is of concern to me is not what Abbas said, but how the Europeans responded to his words.  They gave him, I am reading, a standing ovation.
Are they that eager to ignore his words and make of him something honorable despite all evidence to the contrary?  Do they hate us that much? 
Delusional to the core, they imagine we will accept them as honest brokers, even as they behave thus.  All because, they tell us, a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict is a “priority” for them. .
Someone who assessed this issue with a clear (and non-politically correct) eye this week is Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon, who said that the EU’s policies with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict feel like the “ghosts of a colonial European past coming back to life.”
What is more, he properly pegged the motivation of the EU: leaders, he charged, were cynically exploiting the conflict to deflect criticism and to distract the public from their inability to solve the continent’s genuine and pressing problems.
Right on, Emmanuel Nahshon!  Refreshing.

Credit: hispantv
The EU was offended.
But I am offended by the words of EU President Donald Tusk to Rivlin: “The European Union is ready back up a peace deal with an unprecedented package of cooperation and support to both sides."
Does the EU imagine it can bribe Israel to accept a deal that is absolutely not in our best interest?
I wish to mention this only briefly in passing, because – as vile as it was – in the end it is without diplomatic import:
It has been revealed that in 2015, before the last elections, Buji Herzog of the Zionist Camp struck a secret deal with Abbas, presumably to be implemented if he were to win the elections (which thank Heaven a thousand times he did not).  Details of the “deal” – a non-deal because Herzog does not speak for Israel – have been revealed, and include such items as withdrawal from almost all of Judea and Samaria and the dividing of Jerusalem.
It shows us, sadly, that not all of the stupidity that passes for diplomacy is to be found beyond Israel’s borders.
At first, I pondered what his motivation could be, if he kept the deal secret.  But then his thinking was made clear: He was hoping to prevent an intifada.  Grasp this horror: he would have pushed appeasement to the limit and surrendered half our country to prevent violence.  For shame.  To give up on standing for our rights.  To abdicate responsibility to defend our ancient heritage. And to be be foolish enough to think that an enemy such as Abbas can be appeased, in any event.
May he sink into political oblivion.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was on hand in Fort Worth, Texas, on Wednesday, for the ceremony unveiling the first F-35 fighter jet, called the Adir:
Israel will be the first country outside the US to receive these stealth jet fighters, which will be customized by Israel and begin to become operational in 2017.  This plane, and a second Adir. will be brought to Israel in December. I believe Israeli pilots will begin training on the jet in the US later this year. 
So far, 33 planes have been purchased – and will arrive in Israel at the rate of six to seven per year; it is expected that more will be ordered. 
“Every opinion I have heard says that this is the best jet in existence today,” said Lieberman, shown below sitting in the new plane. “It is clear and obvious to us, and to the entire region, that the new F-35 — the Adir — will create real deterrence and enhance our capabilities for a long time.”

Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry
Lieberman, of course, was not in the US just for the unveiling of the Adir.  He was there to meet with his American counterpart and deal with negotiations regarding the new American defense assistance package. 
Reports that had come out in recent days indicated that closure was imminent.  But that is not quite the case – unless you consider November “imminent.”  Lieberman says negotiations are in an advanced stage and moving well.  Maybe, and maybe not...
The US election is in November, and the question is whether the deal will be done before then.  Reportedly, Netanyahu – who is ultimately in charge of the negotiations - is still not certain he wants to finalize with Obama.  Among those advising him not to do so is former Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren.
And what has become apparent is that there are several serious issues that are holding up matters from the Israeli side.  I allude to them briefly here, with a promise to keep an eye on them as we move along:
According to an article by Eli Lake, as reported in Algemeiner, Obama wants to remove the provision in the deal that permits 26% of the funds supplied by the US to be spent for military development in Israel (with the majority of the funds being turned back to the US for purchase of equipment there).
Elliot Abrams, commenting on this report, observed that:
“We know from recent comments by [former US Defense Secretary] Leon Panetta that Obama has never been a supporter of maintaining Israel’s QME [Qualitative Military Edge]. This is another fact that undermines the claim that he’s so great for Israel’s security. It should be obvious that undermining Israel’s defense sector undermines its security.”  (Emphasis added)
Abrams said he was unsurprised by Obama’s reversal of policy, because his claims of unwavering support for Israel “have always been baseless.”
I note here that there are military analysts who advocate that Israel move towards military independence with domestic development of military equipment (although it seems we are too far gone in terms of being enmeshed in deals with US military contractors to make this alternative viable now).
Caroline Glick similarly has deep concerns about Obama’s desire to block Israel’s ability to spend a percentage of US military aid – she says 25% – on Israeli military development. This would have a seriously deleterious effect on Israeli military independence:
Agreeing to this, she says “would be tantamount to an Israeli agreement to concede its military independence to the White House for a fistful of dollars. Without the independent capacity to develop and produce defense systems, spare parts and munitions, Israel will be unable to take military action without White House approval.”
According to Glick, it is this issue that moved Oren to advise the prime minister not to take the deal.
Oren, Glick tells us, feels there is another major concern as well: the deal would deprive Israel of the ability to go to Congress for supplemental assistance, should a crisis arise.  Israel would be frozen into the deal that was signed (which at least in theory would incorporate the sort of assistance that in previous deals might have been requested as supplements).  And this is a problem because it is Congress that is Israel’s biggest supporter in the US.
I find all of this interesting, because previously I wrote about how it was being said that having a deal locked in provided long-term security for Israel, without the uncertainty of having to appeal to Congress annually, which generated problems with planning.  Was this just spin?
The bottom line here is that Obama is not to be trusted, and that it is likely far better to deal with his successor, whomever that will be.  We will not do worse, and might do a good deal better.
I want to visit the issue here of the horrendously unjust parole terms being endured by Jonathan Pollard (shown below with his wife, Esther, leaving the court house) since his release from prison last November. There is nothing we can do about it, as it is my understanding that his legal team believes public protest might be counterproductive.  The matter is in their hands - there is a hearing on the matter in process.
Put simply, the parole terms for Jonathan are draconian and unreasonable:  He has a curfew and cannot be out after 7 PM or before 7 AM; cannot leave New York; must wear an electronic bracelet that impinges upon his observance of Shabbat; cannot access the Internet; etc. etc. 
All this, it is claimed, because he is in possession of information from 30 years ago that is still classified, and he has the potential to do damage to the US by passing this information.  Never mind that many experts say that there is nothing relevant that he might pass (even if he wanted to) with regard to information that is 30 years old.
But there is another factor here that seems to me to make a mockery of this entire process:  If he were to stay within New York, and go out only during permitted hours, could he not – were he inclined to and if he really had information of value – still pass information?  Could he not sit at a café and whisper in someone’s ear?  How do the terms of his parole prevent this? And, if they do not, what is it all about?  Other than virulently anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment and a determination to punish.
See an article on the issue here:


Credit: Reuters
I close with a good news piece about a law to be passed here in Israel that is a reflection of who we are:
This past Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation gave its blessing to legislation in process that would exempt people over 80 from having to wait in line in public places such as movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, banks and post offices.
The bill was initiated by Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, who said:

“[This] is our duty as a society, even without enacting laws.  And I have no doubt that as a result of the law, the issue will become a societal norm, making such legislation unnecessary in the future.”

Referring to a precept from Leviticus 19 — “Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly” — Gamliel said this should be the guiding principle of a “healthy, tolerant society that knows how to respect and appreciate its elderly, and exempting [octogenarians] from standing on line is the minimum that we can do for them.”

It is such things that make us hold our heads high.

Credit: nomadicsamuel


I know, I know, I have shared this song in a couple of different versions recently. But it feels SO appropriate – as it tells us to hold our heads up high and strikes an optimistic note for the future – that I want to share it yet again:
“When you walk through a storm...”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 07:44AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

June 17, 2016: And the Good Too

After my last post (which now requires follow-up), I promised I would return to my regular format, which includes good news.  Would that the good predominated. It does not, of course. But it is real – as you will see in the course of this posting.  And so offers promise and a bit of gladness.
But I begin by marking the death yesterday of philanthropist Dr. Irving Moskowitz z”l, whose support – with his wife Cherna - for Israeli national causes was rivaled by none.  He is on the right in picture below.  Baruch Dayan Emet, we say.  Blessed is the Righteous Judge.

Dr. Irving Moskowitz

Credit: Flash90
“[In] a secret ballot Monday in New York, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon was elected chairman of the GA’s Sixth Committee, which deals with legal issues.

“’This is a historic achievement for the State of Israel. We broke the glass ceiling: Despite the opposition of many countries, including Iran and others that tried to prevent the vote, we managed to be elected for the first time to head a committee at the UN,’ Danon said.

“In the past, Israeli diplomats have presided over other, less prestigious committees at the UN and even co-chaired the GA, but never headed one of the GA’s six main committees. ‘The Sixth Committee is the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly,’ according to the UN.

“Among the issues it is expected to deal with at this fall’s GA are ‘measures to eliminate international terrorism,’ and “the rule of law at the national and international levels.” (Emphasis added)

Danny Danon

Credit: Reuters

A couple of thoughts here:  This victory was possible because it was a secret ballot. There are nations that will support us privately today, but not in public.  Not yet.  And then, there is the fact that the committee Danon will head will be looking at measures to combat international terrorism.  They know, they know very well – who better than Israel in this position?

And yet, this is something that would not have happened just a short time ago.  We are seeing, slowly, a shift in Israel’s position in the world.


The Planning and Building Committee of the Municipality of Jerusalem has approved the construction of a three-story residential building for Jews in Shiloah (Silwan), which is today predominately Palestinian Arab.  Near Beit Yehonatan (pictured) – a building in which Jewish families already live , it will be built on land purchased in 2005 by Ateret Cohanim (which received, I should mention, strong support from Irving Moskowitz). 

Beit Yehonatan.

Credit: Ariel Jerozolimski
This decision followed a debate of some weeks; it is considered “controversial,” an “infringement” into an Arab neighborhood.  However, this area, which is very near to the City of David, is part of a unified Jerusalem. The notion that Jews cannot live there is simply unacceptable. 
So we celebrate this decision, and hope that it holds as pressure mounts.
A bit of history is important here. Not only to correct the distortions circulated about this area - which is represented as exclusively Arab with Jewish interlopers.  But also because there is a way in which the distortions in this situation echo the larger fight for Jewish Israel, as Arabs attempt to erase markers of Jewish presence.
For a long time the area, which had a solid mix of Jewish and Arab residents, was called the Yemenite Village because most of the Jewish population had originally come from Yemen (back in 1881-82).
See the article documenting this – “Rewriting History: Silwan” put up by Israellycool:
The Jews were driven from the area by Arab riots in 1936-39.  Thus did it become “Arab.”
You will find a more extensive history here:
“The Battle Over Silwan: Fabricating Palestinian History,” in the Middle East Quarterly.
This fascinating piece includes a photograph of Arab homes build directly over (visible) ancient Jewish tombs carved into the limestone hillside.
It is being reported that Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, a senior member of Hamas, defected to Israel during the first week of June.  He came with his wife and children to the border with Israel, and gave himself up to Israeli security forces.  He carried a laptop and secret maps allegedly showing some of the tunnels that have been constructed in Gaza.,7340,L-4816034,00.html
War with Hamas (about which more below) is inevitable.  And so, information such as that reportedly carried by Baraka puts us way ahead. 
As to war with Hamas...
A senior source in the Ministry of Defense is saying that the next war with Hamas, while inevitable, will be the last. 
“His comments come after senior military officials made changes to the IDF's end goals in any potential future Gaza conflict. Should hostilities erupt again, military planners would seek the destruction of Hamas's military wing, not establishing deterrence like they did in past wars.”  (Emphasis added)
As you may remember, this is precisely what Lieberman said on assuming the position of Minister of Defense.  We cannot tolerate an on-going war of attrition, he declared, setting himself apart from Ya’alon, who indeed did opt to tolerate that war of attrition.  Lieberman’s is the stronger, if you will, more right wing, stance.


Credit: i24news
The prospect of war cannot quite be “good news,” although it will unquestionably be a war that must be fought.  It is good, however, that Lieberman - in promoting a policy change - is remaining true to his word on this issue.  And good that we can envision the possibility, finally, of eliminating an enemy rather than indefinitely tolerating it.  After each of the three wars we’ve fought with Hamas, to deter it, it has come back even stronger with the acquisition of more sophisticated weaponry.
There are, however, two points in this article citing the “senior source in the Defense Ministry” that I would question.  One is that he says Israel must not initiate a war.  I understand the desire to not appear to be “war-mongering.”  (Yes, that again – how we appear.) But just recently I noted that a defense official had said that this time we would choose the time for going to war, and I had thought, finally... 
Each time, we have waited for Hamas to initiate at the moment of their choosing.  But I wonder if it’s not the case that the stockpiling of weaponry that Hamas is doing might be interpreted as a casus belli at some critical juncture, justifying a defensive action at a time of our choosing.  There would be an element of surprise and it would put us at the advantage.  
And then, this official said we might just take out Hamas’s military arm and leave the political arm in place.  Again, I understand the rationale: to avoid having to actually administer Gaza, in its horrendous situation.  Or to create a political vacuum into which some other terror group would immediately move. But what I question is whether there can really be a separation of these “arms” – or whether a political arm would very quickly instigate military buildup once again.  This issue has been raised in Europe with regard to Hezbollah, which ostensibly has military and political arms.
Lieberman, backed by the Shin Bet, has just revoked the permit for entry into Israel for PA liaison to Israel Muhammad Al-Madani, a member of Fatah, for “subversive” activities.  Said Lieberman: A foreign diplomatic official who is trying to intervene in political life in Israel is illegitimate.”  No further explanation was offered.
Al-Madani is an aide to Mahmoud Abbas.
And speaking of the PA, see this most interesting article by Khaled Abu Toameh – “Palestinians: Anarchy Returns to the West Bank” - which documents its internal rivalries, upheavals, and potential for chaos (emphasis added):
“[] Hostility towards the Palestinian Authority (PA) seems to have reached unprecedented heights among refugee camp residents.
“[] A chat with young Palestinians in any refugee camp in the West Bank will reveal a driving sense of betrayal. In these camps, the PA seems as much the enemy as Israel. They speak of the PA as a corrupt and incompetent body that is managed by "mafia leaders." Many camp activists believe it is only a matter of time before Palestinians launch an intifada against the PA.
“[] Nablus, the largest city in the West Bank, is surrounded by a number of refugee camps that are effectively controlled by dozens of Fatah gangs that have long been terrorizing the city's wealthy clans and leading figures.”
I would most strongly recommend that this article be sent to all of those who are promoting a “two-state solution.” 
Ask them: This? This unstable, weak and thoroughly corrupt entity is what you want to see existing at Israel’s side as a “state”? 
A “state” must be administered by a government that controls the area within its borders.  But the PA does NOT control all of the area that it theoretically administers under Oslo, most notably Area A.  To propose expanding the administrative area to all or most of Judea and Samaria is sheer madness.  (This totally aside from Israel’s rights to the land.)
A separate but equally critical question here is why there are “refugee camps” in areas that are presumed to be within the future “Palestinian state.”  Why are the residents of those camps still considered “refugees” and treated differently from any other residents of PA administered Judea and Samaria?  That they – political pawns, retained in their status to pressure Israel - are angry and bitter is hardly a surprise.
It is a common charge leveled unreasonably against Israel by Palestinian Arabs and their supporters – the charge that Israel deprives Arabs in Judea and Samaria of water.  When time allows, I’d like to come back to this with some solid information on all that Israel has done for Arabs villages in Judea and Samaria in order to provide them with water.  But here I simply want to provide the facts to counter one particular libel:
On Thursday, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah charged that “Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life, and uses its control of our water sources to this end.”
Al-Jazeera followed with an outrageously incorrect story about Israel deliberately depriving Arabs of water during Ramadan, while the temperatures rise.  Other media sources then picked this up without checking.
COGAT (the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) clarified: There had been a temporary problem because of a broken water main that services villages in the Jenin area, which caused a shut-down in service.  It has already been fixed.
What is more, for the month of Ramadan, the water flow to the Jenin area has been increased at night, when use is particularly high. Additionally, water flow to the Hevron-Bethlehem area has been increased by 5,000 cubic meters per hour.
Mekorot, the national water company, put out a statement indicating that there were shortfalls in water across Judea and Samaria – including in Jewish communities – because the current infrastructure (old pipes) cannot meet the current demand.  A master plan was recently approved by the Israel Water Authority that would clean and upgrade the water infrastructure throughout Judea and Samaria. 
However, charged COGAT, the upgrading of water infrastructure is made difficult because of Palestinian Arab refusal to cooperate
Please, internalize this information – counter-intuitive though it may be: The Arabs would rather suffer from water problems and complain about Israel than work with Israel to improve their situation. 
Water is a particularly touchy issue, but this is broadly a prototype for what we deal with again and again.
The Honest Reporting site put up the brief COGAT video of the broken pipe, which you can see here (scroll down):
On Wednesday, the Knesset passed a new law for penalties against terrorists, shepherded through by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. This comprehensive bill now enters Israel’s criminal code.
“It expands the tools used to handle terrorism via criminal and legal mechanisms, extends the maximum sentence for carrying out various terrorism-related crimes to 30 years, anchors in law administrative detentions, and sets sanctions for multiple kinds of terrorism-related offenses.” 

Ayelet Shaked is a rising star in the right-wing, religious Zionist Jewish Home party. (Flash90)

Credit: Flash90
Among its provisions:
“...anyone who heads a terrorist organization, directly or indirectly, will be sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment. However, if that group carries out attacks, its leader will be sentenced to life in prison. The same sentence is fixed for those who carry out an act of terrorism with chemical, biological or radioactive weapons...
”Anyone who trains terrorists will be subject to a prison term of nine years; if they recruited new members to the terrorist organization during their training, or if they carry out operations for the organization, including threatening to carry out an act of terrorism, then they will be liable for a penalty of a further seven years,

“Those who [aid terrorists] will be subject to penalty of five years' imprisonment. The same sanction applies to those who provide services or means to terrorists...”,7340,L-4816332,00.html

Credit: clipartix
Israel is now negotiating with the US the terms of an aid package – to be secured in a Memorandum of Understanding - that would run for ten years after the current one expires in 2018. 
Israel’s position has been that the current state of the world – which has deteriorated considerably with regard to security issues – requires granting of additional assistance to Israel. 
I would very much doubt that Israeli negotiators put it so boldly – they are speaking of “increased security challenges in the region.”  But the fact is that the US - by closing the deal it did with Iran, which permits Iran at a minimum to continue fostering terrorist groups with the expanded largesse made available by sanctions relief, and by withdrawing from active involvement in this part of the world - has contributed to a situation of increased risk for Israel.  Thus does the US have an obligation to help Israel develop and maintain the defensive military equipment that is required. 
A couple of days ago, news broke about a letter that Obama had sent to Congress indicating his opposition to significant increases in aid for Israel’s missile defense. A bit of a panic ensued here in the media, but Netanyahu reassuringly declared that all would be well.  The issue was an internal one in the US, he said – it was a matter of how much increase we would see, there was no question of a decrease.
And indeed it appears he may well be correct, because both Congress and the Pentagon are with us.  

“...[a senior administration] official told The Jerusalem Post that a new decade-long US defense package to Israel would include a long-term missile defense aid commitment – a new feature to the defense relationship that Israel had sought to secure over several months of negotiations.”

(Note: my understanding is that previously there was a Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel that was long-term, but supplemental assistance for such things as missile development had to be negotiated annually, leaving Israel with a sense of insecurity in planning.)

“’This commitment, which would amount to billions of dollars over 10 years, would be the first long-term pledge on missile defense support to Israel, affording Israel robust support for its missile defense, as well as predictability and facilitating long-term planning for missile defense initiatives,’ the official said.”  (Emphasis added.)

“...Israel’s acting head of the National Security Council, Ya’akov Nagel (pictured) – who is leading the Israeli side in the negotiations over the MoU – told reporters in a phone call on Wednesday that the negotiations are in their final stages.”  One of the issues still under discussion is how much of this money can be spent in Israel.  It must be understood that the majority of the funds are spent in the US, for equipment that will be utilized by Israel – with some percentage used by Israel to customize and upgrade the equipment.


Yaakov Nagel (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
The Times of Israel quoted Nagel as saying Israel wants to conclude an agreement but “not at any price,” which leads to questions as to what is meant by this.
Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke at the Herzliya Conference this week and alluded to the aid likely to be given to Israel -  the “biggest aid package ever.”  Not surprisingly, he also spoke about the need for Israel to stop “settlement activity,” but did not overtly tie one to the other.  It is all more subtle than that.
So, what I see is that there indeed will be pressure on Netanyahu from the White House and State Department (could we expect otherwise?), and that our prime minister, especially mindful of the huge security boost this aid will provide for us, will play the game via public statements about his support for two-states, etc., as is his MO.  We are not about to agree to pull out of Judea and Samaria, or rush to the table for negotiations on Abbas’s terms.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is flying to the US to meet with his counterpart, Ashton Carter.
Circling back to issues related to the Orlando terror attack: 
It most certainly would have been my desire that someone else would have garnered sufficient delegates in state contests to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president. I have not been a promoter of Donald Trump, have not been excited about the prospects of him as president. 
But at this point, I believe we need to examine our options with clarity. 
Never mind all the other issues (which are themselves huge). When it comes to the security of the United States, what I see is that the prospect of Hillary Clinton in the White House is a nightmare.  Her alliances are highly questionable, and there is not the remotest reason to believe that her stance would be firm.  She is both slippery and politically correct.  She a danger to America’s future.  Security is America’s primary issue.  Those who do not yet understand this have not been paying attention.
After the attack in Florida, Trump made a major speech.  Most likely, it was scripted by others. But most likely, as well, it lays out certain positions that he wishes to advance.  And they are positions that are most welcome, in fact, desperately needed.  Were he to become president, and rely upon advisors who promote the positions that were in that speech, then America would be going in the right direction at long last.   
Please read what Robert Spencer – director of Jihad Watch and author of 15 books on radical Islam and related subjects – has to say about Trump’s speech, in “Finally, a Realistic Plan for Fighting Jihad and Protecting Americans, Courtesy of Donald Trump” (emphasis added):
“We’ve gotten so used to politically correct obfuscation about Islam being a religion of peace that preaches tolerance and non-violence that Donald Trump’s words in his address Monday were startling: ‘Many of the principles of radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions. Remember this, radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-American. I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, Jewish people are targets of persecution and intimation by radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence.’

“Trump continued: ‘This is not just a national security issue. It’s a quality of life issue. If we want to protect the quality of life for all Americans — women and children, gay and straight, Jews and Christians and all people then we need to tell the truth about radical Islam and we need to do it now.’

“...Trump is now the first presidential candidate since maybe John Quincy Adams to recognize that the problem posed by Islam is not just restricted to the specter of violent jihad attacks, but is, given Sharia oppression of women, gays, and non-Muslims, very much, as Trump put it, a ‘quality of life issue.’

“Trump declared his determination to prevent more jihad attacks such as the one in Orlando Saturday night above all by reiterating his proposal temporarily to ‘suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies until we fully understand how to end these threats.’ CNN huffed: ‘Critics of Trump's policies, however, have pointed out that the perpetrator of the Orlando massacre was born in the U.S.’

“Those critics are not being honest. What Trump actually said was that the Orlando jihad mass murderer was born ‘of Afghan parents, who immigrated to the United States.’ He noted, quite correctly, that ‘the bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place, was because we allowed his family to come here,’ and pointed out, quite rightly, that ‘we have a dysfunctional immigration system, which does not permit us to know who we let into our country, and it does not permit us to protect our citizens properly….We’re importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system and through an intelligence community held back by our president. Even our own FBI director has admitted that we cannot effectively check the backgrounds of people we’re letting into America.’

“...Another foray into political incorrectness in Trump’s speech was his insistence that the Muslim community in the U.S. has ‘to work with us. They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. They know it. And they have to do it, and they have to do it forthwith….The Muslims have to work with us. They have to work with us. They know what’s going on. They know that he was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death, and destruction.’
“...[said Trump] ‘America must unite the whole civilized world in the fight against Islamic terrorism.’
“Indeed. The world is on fire courtesy of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. If America votes in November for more of the same, we will soon be engulfed in those flames as well. On Monday, Donald Trump outlined an unprecedentedly realistic plan for putting out the fire.”


Credit: jihadwatch
So much much more yet to come...
“Rachem” - Cantors Shimon Farkas, Dov Farkas, Shai Abramson
I think I put this up previously in a different version. But this felt right today – a prayer to the Almighty for mercy for His people.  And these three cantors are marvelous.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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



Posted on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at 03:55PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

June 14, 2016: Facing Down Reality

I decided to table this posting for a couple of days because of the horrendous terror attack in Florida. 

For all those who lost dear ones in that obscene assault, or who were wounded, I extend deepest compassion.  May they know healing.


Credit: Tribune

What is painfully ironic is that what I had originally planned to write about in this post and what subsequently happened in Orlando are thematically connected.


Let’s start with the attack in Orlando that killed at some 50 people and wounded at least as many more.  According to a number of news reports, the terrorist appeared to have ISIS connections:

“According to CNN citing a police source, Omar Mateen, 30, a US citizen born to Afghan parents, was holed up inside the club with hostages for several hours and communicated with police on a number of occasions. In one of the calls, he swore allegiance to the terror group that has claimed several deadly attacks around the world in recent months, including the Paris attacks in November 2015 and Brussels several months later.

“An FBI spokesman later confirmed that a call to police in which a ‘general allegiance to the Islamic State’ was made.”

A number of reports had it that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he aimed his assault weapon.


While, of course, claims are not documentation, this is enough to make people sit up and take notice:

ISIS, in a radio broadcast on Monday, claimed the Orlando terrorist as “one of the soldiers of the caliphate in America.”


Soldiers of the caliphate in America?  Is this just crazy talk? 


See this article in American Thinker, which states (emphasis added throughout):

”While the Middle East remains a hotbed for terrorists, we’ve got our own jihad training compounds set up in rural areas across the United States. They are run by an organization called Muslims of America (MOA). Law enforcement describes these compounds as ‘classically structured terrorist cells.’”


Author Carol Brown provides, first, background on the Muslims of America:

”Let’s start with the founder: El Sheikh Gilani. Prior to MOA, he founded Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani terror organization. MOA is the American version of ul-Fuqra...

“Gilani emigrated from Pakistan around 1980. He settled in Brooklyn, NY, where he began preaching at a mosque frequented by African-American Muslims. This is where he started to recruit for jihad in Afghanistan, often targeting black criminals who converted to Islam in prison -- a source of recruits for jihad that continues to this day.

“Then Gilani took things a step further and set up a terror-training compound in a rural area of upstate New York. There are now numerous MOA compounds across the United States. Estimates vary regarding how many there are, ranging from 22 to 35. As of this writing, states where MOA has set up shop are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

In other words, they’re just about everywhere.

In some states there is more than one location. New York’s ‘Islamburg’ (located in the town of Hancock) is the largest operation and serves as the headquarters...

There is no doubt that MOA is a terror organization operating on American soil. It is well documented by the FBI whose records state that MOA has the infrastructure to plan and carry out terror attacks (here, and overseas) and that MOA leaders urge their members to commit jihad against enemies of Islam.”


She sites from a Christian Action Network (CAN) report:
“MOA trains men, and women, to become jihadists poised to attack Americans when Gilani gives the order. Toward this end, MOA maintains a stockpile of illegal weapons. Residents are taught that jihad is their life’s purpose...
“Compounds are completely insular, with their own stores, mosques, and graveyards, as well as guard posts to intercept visitors... All members follow Sharia law and consider themselves to be above local, state and federal authority...
“There are as many as four generations of people living in these camps, all of whom have been taught from the outset to distrust Americans and to prepare for jihad. For some members, life in the camp is all they’ve ever known...”

Then she explains how the Muslims of America get away with what they are doing:

“...factors that reflect a combination of deception, political correctness, and public policy that inhibits the FBI’s ability to do their job. First, the FBI wants to avoid the appearance that it is scrutinizing Muslim organizations and/or is infringing on religious freedom. Second, MOA sets up religious/charitable causes to mask their illicit activities, intertwining good with bad. This enables them to play the victim card during investigation attempts.

“In other words, suicidal political correctness overrides our safety as United States law enforcement allows itself to be intimidated by faux charities that provide cover for terrorists.

“But perhaps the most significant barrier to our ability to take action is the fact that our State Department refuses to designate ul-Fuqra a terrorist organization despite unequivocal evidence that they are.

“ Ryan Mauro, national security researcher for CAN stated back in 2009: ‘law enforcement authorities do not have the tools they need to search these compounds…members involved in terrorist and criminal activity are being treated as if they are isolated incidents; rogue followers of an otherwise innocent cult.’

So we’ve got jihad training camps and sleeper cells scattered all across the United States ready to attack. And what are we doing about it? Precious little.”


The current resident of the White House may speak of “terror,” when confronting what happened in Orlando. But he will not say “Muslim” or “jihad,” and certainly doesn’t speak of a “caliphate.”  The terrorist who took 50 lives is represented as one angry man.  An “isolated incident,” as above.  He declines to confront the truth of the situation.

The question, then, is whether the American people are ready to deal with reality

Dry Bones gets it so very right:

Islamism,Islam, Muslim, terror, terrorism, Orlando, terror attack, LGBT, Media, MSM, media bias,Jihad,






On this subject, I also recommend you read Caroline Glick’s latest: “Is ISIS a GOP franchise?” (emphasis added):
“ the president sees things, if you oppose limitations on firearm ownership, then you're on Mateen's [the terrorist’s] side...

“To say that Obama's behavior is unpresidential is an understatement. His behavior is dangerous. It imperils the United States and its citizens.

”Adolf Hitler did not go to war against Great Britain because he opposed parliamentary democracy. Hitler went to war against Britain because he wanted to rule the world and Britain stood in his way.

”Just so, Islamic jihadists are not sides in America's domestic policy debates about gun ownership and gay rights. Islamic jihadists like Mateen, the Tsarnaev brothers from Boston, Nidal Malik Hassan at Ft. Hood, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi at Garland, Texas, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik in San Bernadino didn't decide to slaughter innocents because of their passionate opposition to the liberal takeover of the US Supreme Court.

They killed Americans because they thought that doing so advances their goal of instituting the dominion of Islamic totalitarians across the world. They oppose freedom and democracy because democracy and freedom stand in the way of their goal to subordinate humanity to an Islamic caliphate.

”...The most devastating, and at this point clearly premeditated, outcome of Obama's refusal to name the cause of the violence is that he has made it illegitimate to discuss it. He has made it controversial for Americans to talk about Islamic supremacism, extremism, violence and war for world domination.

”He has made substantive criticism of his policies tantamount to bigotry. And he has rendered the public debate about the most salient strategic threat to American lives, liberty and national security a partisan issue.

Today in Obama's America, only Republicans use the terms Islamic terrorism or radicalism or jihad. Democrats pretend those things don't exist.”
Here in Israel, as my readers know, we had a terror attack last Wednesday night.  There was one man present who was shot in the head at close range, twice. Miraculously, he survived.  His father was quoted in the news, as he opined that, “The solution [to terror attacks] is obviously diplomatic. Until we have a two-state solution, we have to protect our children.”
This father is not the only one who thinks this way, and yet his comment – his supposition that terror would cease if we gave the Palestinian Arabs a state - left me absolutely aghast.  And determined to counter his “observation” with a solid, albeit necessarily abbreviated, dose of reality.
It occurred to me then, as it has innumerable times in the past, that, in a situation such as this, we see a primary difference between those politically on the left and those on the right. On the left there is a tendency to believe that every problem has a solution, which can be approached via reason and kindness.  On the right we recognize the existence of evil, with which it is impossible to bargain. 
A few facts:
The attack was perpetrated by members of Hamas.
Hamas has never even pretended to be seeking a “two-state solution.” Says the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, with regard to the Hamas Charter (emphasis added):
“overtly anti-Semitic and anti-West, radical Islamic in outlook, it stresses Hamas’ ideological commitment to destroy the State of Israel through a long-term holy war (jihad).

Main points of the Charter:

“􀂔􀂔 The conflict with Israeli is religious and political...

“􀂔􀂔 All Palestine is Muslim land and no one has the right to give it up...

“􀂔􀂔 The importance of jihad (holy war) as the main means for the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) to achieve its goals: An uncompromising jihad must be waged against Israel and any agreement recognizing its [Israel’s] right to exist must be totally opposed. Jihad is the personal duty of every Muslim.”


Credit: Frontpage

By what stretch of the imagination, then, could we come to the conclusion that giving Hamas a state next to Israel would convince them to withdraw their commitment to destroy Israel?


Of course, at least in theory, Israel is expected to negotiate a “two-state solution” with the PLO/Palestinian Authority, anyway, not Hamas.  Hamas would be a party to nothing.  But what is clear from a security perspective is that Hamas is eager to overthrow the PA; were there – Heaven forbid! – to be a Palestinian state under PA/PLO auspices, Hamas would attempt to take it over as quickly as possible.  Then we would have Hamas at our eastern border.  That would put a quick end to terrorism, right?  Just like in Gaza.


But let’s take a look at the Palestinian Authority for a moment.  While the PA adapts an ostensibly more moderate stance, in the end its goals are no different from those of Hamas.

It should be noted that twice very generous (excessively generous) offers regarding a state have been made to the PA by Israeli leaders.  Once by then PM Ehud Barak, and again by then PM Ehud Olmert, whose terms were even more generous (a capital in eastern Jerusalem, 94% of Judea and Samaria, 5,000 “refugees” brought in).  But they were both turned down.  This is not how an entity that truly wants a state acts.


The Palestinian National Charter of 1968 – which has not been altered since – reads in part (emphasis added):

“􀂔􀂔 Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian Arab people...

“􀂔􀂔 Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit...
“􀂔􀂔 The phase in their history, through which the Palestinian people are now living, is that of national (watani) struggle for the liberation of Palestine.

“􀂔􀂔 Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it...
“􀂔􀂔 The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine...

Sounds rather like the Hamas Charter, does it not?


In 1974, recognizing that Israel could not be defeated all at once, the PLO adopted the “Phased Program,” which speaks of “liberation steps.”  Any “step” that paved the way for the final goal of “complete liberation” was considered acceptable.  That included negotiations, if they weakened Israel, for the sake of the final goal.  As part of this policy, it was decided to give the impression of moderation.

Said Palestinian Minister Nabil Sha’ath in 1996:

“We decided to liberate our homeland step-by-step...Should Israel continue [to negotiate] – no problem...if and when Israel says ‘enough’ that case...we will return to violence. But this time it will be with 30,000 armed Palestinian soldiers...” (

That impression of moderation is nurtured to this day in English and there are those who persist in allowing themselves to be deluded by it.  When one studies what Palestinian Arab leaders say to their own people in their own language, however, it is quite another story.  See the Palestinian Media Watch ( for unending instances of incitement, support for terrorism (which includes a convoluted system for paying salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons), claims to all of the land – with identification of Israeli cities such as Haifa as “Palestinian,” and maps that show “Palestine” in all of the land, with Israel gone.

From the Facebook page of Fatah, the main party of the PA:




The delusion of an America safe from Islamic radical threat, and the delusion that Israel can find security in a “two-state solution,” are close cousins then.  And they are both exceedingly dangerous.


I will return to my regular format with good news (which does exist) and lots of pictures, next I write.

Please share this very widely.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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


Posted on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 02:01PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

June 10,2016: Recurring Evil

Last time I posted, it was with a spirit uplifted because of Yom Yerushalayim.  I had not intended to post again until next week.  For Shabbat is coming, and immediately after, Shavuot, the harvest festival that celebrates our receiving of the Torah and is marked by study into/or through the night, and a custom of eating dairy foods (cheesecake a specialty). 

But pain and horror have intervened, and so I must write again now, because everyone must know:

On Wednesday night, two terrorists attacked in Tel Aviv, killing four innocent Israelis and wounding another sixteen, several of whom are in intensive care.  The carnage took place at an outdoor mall known as the Sarona Market. It is immediately across from the Defense Ministry headquarters, the Kirya. 


The four who were killed are:

Ido Ben Ari, 42, from Ramat Gan.  The father of two, he served in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit during his IDF service.  His wife was injured in the attack.  Their two children were with them; one of his sons was restless and didn’t want to be there.

Ido Ben Ari, of of four victims killed in a terror attack in Tel Aviv's Sarona Market on June 6, 2016. (Courtesy)

Ilana Naveh, 40, from Tel Aviv.  The mother of four – including a daughter who had recently celebrated her bat mitzvah; she was out that night to celebrate her birthday.  A neighbor said about Ilana, “She was the best woman in the world...her door was always open.”

Ilana Navaa

Credit: Times of Israel
Michael Feige  58,from Ramat Gan.  The father of three, he was a highly esteemed professor at Ben Gurion University in Be’ersheva. A sociologist and anthropologist, he headed the Israel studies program at the university.

Credit: Dani Machlis
Mila Mishayev, 32, from Rishon Lezion.   She was engaged to be married, and her wedding was planned for the near future.  She was waiting for her fiancé in the café when she was attacked. After having been shot, she actually called him before she died of loss of blood.

Mila Mishayev

Credit: Times of Israel


The killers have been identified as first cousins, Muhammad and Khalid Mehamara of the Arab village of Yatta in the Hevron Hills, in Area A, controlled by the PA. One is now in police custody, and the other, shot, in the hospital. 
At first there were questions about how they got into Israel, but it has since been revealed by security that there were in Israel illegally for some months before the attack.
This immediately suggests the likelihood of collaborators. Terror is often a “family affair,” and it has come to light that the uncle of these terrorists, Taleb Mehamara, was a member of a Fatah Tanzim terror cell that killed four Israelis in a targeted shooting attack in 2002. He is currently in an Israeli prison.

I have my own unanswered question: Did they come into Israel illegally, sent by Hamas to plan, and wait for the “right” time to attack.  Or were they here for other reasons and then recruited in the last several days?


The two, dressed in white shirts and black pants and ties, sat down at a table in the upscale Max Brenner café and ordered desserts. Then they rose to their feet, pulled out submachine guns, and began to indiscriminately shoot. When they were done, there was death, and injury, and a café strewn with blood.

MK Amir Ohana (Likud), who arrived at the scene shortly after the attack occurred, described  “uneaten birthday cakes next to pools of blood.”


Prime Minister Netanyahu had just arrived in the airport following his trip to Moscow when this happened.  Heading straight to the scene of the attack, he vowed a “decisive” response.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of a terror attack on Tel Aviv's Sarona Market on June 9, 2016. (Prime Minister's Office)

Credit: PMO

Thursday, after meeting with heads of the security agencies, Netanyahu said, “We discussed a series of offensive and defensive steps that we will take in order to act against this serious phenomenon of shootings. This is a challenge, and we shall meet it.”  In this statement, he raised the issue of collaborators.

While our new Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared that Israel “doesn’t intend to put up with the situation. I don’t think this is the time to issue pronouncements, but everything necessary we will do and we will do in a severe manner.”

To which I respond, all power to him.

At the time of this writing, the following actions have been taken, although more might follow: 

The village of Yatta has been sealed off, and no one will be allowed in or out except for emergencies.  The question is how long this will be sustained.  Some members of the Mehamara clan have been taken in for questioning, and the work permits (allowing entry into Israel) for 204 members of that clan have been cancelled.
Additionally, 83,000 permits for entry into Jerusalem over Ramadan, for praying at the Al-Aksa Mosque at the Temple Mount, which had been given to residents of Judea and Samaria, have been cancelled.

Lieberman on Thursday called for a moratorium on the return of terrorists’ bodies to their families.  We’ve been round and round on this one so often!  Let us hope this is the last word on the situation now.  Lieberman is also calling for the process of razing terrorists’ homes to be expedited so as to be completed in 24 hours.

“...none of those involved in the attack will escape justice,” he said

“Those who tried and succeeded in harming innocent Jews, at this very moment they and their families are paying and will pay the price. And those who sent them, directly and indirectly...who provide the ideological and operational infrastructure for these acts, will not be spared. We will catch each and every one of them.”

Late yesterday, the prime minister announced that a third suspect had been apprehended.


The question being asked is why this happened now after many weeks of relative calm in Israel.

Much is being made in certain media sources of the fact that Hamas has praised the attack without actually taking credit for it.  But I’m not reading it this way.  Hamas has said that the terrorists were members of their group, and has praised their actions as “heroic.”  The village of Yatta is actually recognized as a Hamas stronghold.

Hamas has offered a “rationale” for the attack: unspecified “Al-Aksa violations.”  This is a standard charge as part of the incitement against Israel, and in that sense it is not connected to Hamas exclusively – it is the constant cry of Abbas.  But this charge is particularly ironic now considering that permits by the tens of thousands had been granted to Palestinian Arabs to make it easier to get to Al-Aksa.

Finally, Hamas has threatened that there will be more attacks during the month of Ramadan.


And that leads to another thread in this situation: Ramadan, which began Sunday night. Typically, there is heightened Arab violence here over this period of time when observant Muslims neither eat nor drink from sun-up to sun-down.  I do not believe there is any ideological reason for this – it is more the physical strain on the Muslim systems, the discomfort and frustration. 


And then, lastly, there is this: the convergence of Yom Yerushalayim with the beginning of Ramadan.  They tried to stop the Parade of Flags through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and could not – never mind that the Damascus Gate (Sha’ar Shechem) was closed to the Parade early so that there would not be Jewish celebrants in the area when Ramadan started.

I believe the Parade – the celebration of victory at a time the Arabs consider a “setback” - is galling to them in any terms.

See just a portion of the video clip below:

It shows tens of thousands of young Zionist Jews celebrating at the Kotel for Yom Yerushalayim. This particular clip was from three years ago, but the flavor is much the same.  It is not a hostile celebration.  It doesn’t involve shooting of guns or shouting violent threats.  It is joyous.  It suggests victory and a positive Jewish future.

The Kotel is on the edge of Arab areas of the Old City.


I do not paint all Arabs with one brush.  I know there are peaceful Arabs, and Arabs glad for Israeli citizenship or residency.  Some who are even Zionistic.

But neither do I delude myself.  There is much hatred within the Arab community, and it is directed at us – not because of anything we have done, but because of who we are. It is palpable.

Innocents were murdered in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.  People – good people with loving lives – who were doing nothing to invite what happened to them.  And yet their deaths were celebrated as a victory by many in the Arab community. There was the passing out of candy. And they lit up the sky with fireworks in Yatta. 

In a million years, can you imagine Jews behaving thus?

Perhaps ugliest of all, there was celebration in front of Sha’ar Shechem, where our young people had sung and danced only days ago.  See it for yourself in this brief video clip:


And so we must be resilient as we face down this enemy. Strong in defending ourselves. Confident that we have a right to do so.

There can be no equivocation – no accepting of excuses of any sort. 


In the end, they cannot win.  For the hatred in their hearts is destructive to them, more than to us.  It is corrosive.

We Israelis, on the other hand, are amazing in our determination to go on with life in positive ways.  On Thursday, less than 24 hours after the attack, this was the scene at Sarona Market, with young people erecting an impromptu memorial to those who had been killed. 

Teenage members of a pre-army program set up an impromptu memorial for the victims of a terror attack a day prior at the Max Brenner cafe at the Sarona Market in central Tel Aviv, June 9, 2016. (Ricky Ben-David/Times of Israel) 

Credit: Ricki Ben-David/Times of Israel

They softly sang Shir Lama’alot - a Song of Ascents, Psalm 121: “Behold, He that keepeth Israel, doth neither slumber nor sleep...The Lord shall guard thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and for ever.”
“We have to be strong. We survive as Israelis because people wake up the next morning and do what needs to be done,” said one participant.

While a Chabad rabbi, at a table on the periphery of this activity, encouraged male passersby to put on tfillin.  “We all need to do good,” he explained, “to create a chain effect in our own surroundings, among our family and friends and workplace and to be better people. If we go out of our way to do good, it will hasten our redemption.”

And Defense Minister Lieberman came by for a cup of coffee in a show of solidarity.


Credit: jta


As we head towards Shavuot, and the time for religious study, let us be mindful of all that we are meant to be.


Credit: Jewish ledger
“It is is a tree of life, to those who grasp it, and all its ways are peace.”


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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


Posted on Friday, June 10, 2016 at 07:31AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

June 8, 2016: Spirits Lifted


Credit: Arutz7
There is nothing like being there: Hearing the music.  Watching the young people dancing with enormous sprit. And seeing the flags – oh so many flags! – waving in the air.  This picture was taken in the late afternoon on Sunday, on King George Street in front of the Great Synagogue, as participants gathered in preparation for the Dance of the Flags – the parade that led down to the Kotel (Western Wall).

I was there.  At this very spot, feeling my heart lift, as the energy on the street soared. It was later reported that some like 30,000 people, mostly young, Dati Leumi – religious nationalist, participated.  More than ever before. This, I understood, was Israel’s future. 


Sunday night was the start of Ramadan, the month-long Muslim holiday that requires fasting during day-light hours.  There were protests that large numbers of Jews would be streaming into Sha’ar Shechem (the Damascus Gate – the largest and most imposing of the gates) and through a Muslim part of the Old City on the way to the Kotel just as the holiday was about to begin. 



Credit: bu

The attempt to stop it went all the way to the High Court, which denied the petition.  Some 2,000 police officers were stationed along the route, to ensure quiet. And, thank Heaven, there was quiet so that the parade – which is a celebration of a re-united Jerusalem in Jewish hands – could go on. 

In deference to the onset of the Muslim holiday, Sha’ar Shechem was closed to the parade at roughly 6:15, so there would not be Jews streaming through the area as Ramadan began at 8:00.

Ramadan or not, this parade really does not sit well with the Arabs in the Muslim Quarter, who consider the Six Day War a time of loss, a setback in attempts to destroy Israel. They actually call it “Naksa,” the setback. When they make their peace with the reality of our presence here is when it will be possible to have peace in the larger sense.



Credit: AFP/Ahmad Gharabli

For me, there was a sense of poetic justice in our young people entering via this gate. For in the past several months, the area right in front of the gate had been a prime location for one terror attack after another.  Among the songs they sang on Sunday was “Am Yisrael Chai,” the Nation of Israel lives.


The very next day, Monday, marked the moment in 1967 when the Ma’arat Hamachpela – Tomb of the Patriarchs – in Hevron, the second holiest city for Jews after Jerusalem, was liberated. 


Credit: David Ravkin

Rabbi Shlomo Goren, IDF Chief Rabbi and a general in the IDF, actually liberated it himself.  Here he is putting an Israeli flag up on the Machpela.


Credit: Hebron Fund

Why don’t we know this incredible story of what happened that day, as we know other stories?  I had never heard it before.  It was told by Rabbi Goren himself, and was heard by many, including veteran spokesman of the Hevron Jewish community, David Wilder.  You might want to take the time to read this.  It is a story of the hand of God.

Jews had not been permitted inside the Machpela for 700 years, barred first by the Mamelukes and then the Ottomans.  They prayed from the infamous “seventh step.”


Credit: Hebron fund

Today, the Machpela – in the small enclave of Hevron that remains Jewish - is under Israeli control, and is shared between Jews and Muslims. There are some Jewish holy days when only Jews enter, and other Muslim holy days when only Muslims enter, and many days when both religions have access.  

This is how we do it, you see – sharing.  This same sort of arrangement has been suggested for Har Habayit (the Temple Mount), but the Muslims, wishing to claim it all for themselves, will have no part of it.

There are lessons here that we Jews have yet to fully absorb.


There had been quite a bit of anxiety about the French-initiated “peace summit,” held in Paris last Friday. But in the end, it fizzled.  A communiqué was issued by the participants that reaffirmed “their support for a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Of course, unsurprisingly, the summit also reaffirmed that “a negotiated two-state solution is the only way to achieve an enduring peace, with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.”



What was perhaps surprising was this:
“US Secretary of State John Kerry prevented France from successfully launching a strong new peace initiative last week that could have impacted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said on Monday.

Credit: Ahram

“Kerry was ‘definitely not enthusiastic’ about the June 3 Paris summit, he said and added that the American administration did not play a proactive role in the summit...

“When the summit convened it had hoped to have in its hand a much touted Quartet report about about the conflict. But disagreement over the language in the report, including US objectives, delayed its publication and it has yet to be issued.

“Delegates at the summit had hoped to use the report to create a blue-print for creating a two-state solution...”


So, we have been provided with a reprieve, but by no means should we consider the matter closed.  Suffice it to say that it would be unwise to place full trust in Kerry and his boss with regard to this matter (or any other). 

Credit: wsj

It could well be that Obama - not pleased at the prospect of the French stealing his thunder - undercut this summit to make way for his own initiative. There are rumors regarding what the president may yet opt for, including support for some sort of UN resolution. Rumors. We do not yet know, but must continue to stay vigilant. 


As to Netanyahu’s suggestion, on the night Lieberman was sworn in, that a revised Arab peace initiative might be workable – that appears to be going nowhere quickly. The same al-Arabi cited above, of the Arab League, says he wants to see “action” from Israel with regard to ending the “occupation,” as the first order of business.

Al-Arabi says that Israel wants to “utterly change” the peace initiative for the sake of financial gain in Arab markets.

He also says that he knows Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold, and he is “one of the most extreme people I know.”  Dore Gold?  That would be fairly amusing, except that it tells us how intransigent the Arabs remain, Netanyahu’s hopes on the matter not withstanding.  Haval, as we say – it’s too bad.


As to politics here at home, the situation is so contentious and fluid that I prefer to say little.  There are times – many times, actually - when it simply does not pay to give much credence to the assortment of declarations floating in the air.

Minister Naftali Bennett (Chair, Habayit Hayehudi) continues to deride Prime Minister Netanyahu for his conflicting statements. As I’ve pointed out before, Bennett is often correct. But his motivation in making much of various matters is, of course, also political. 

Netanyahu - rather than saying he wishes there could be a peace agreement, but recognizes that the parties are simply too far apart for this to happen – continues to declare himself in favor of a “two state solution.” 

Yet, on Yom Yerushalayim, he proclaimed, 

“The love of Jerusalem unites all of us as one man with one heart. I remember the divided city of Jerusalem with the Jordanians on the fence. That will not come back. Jerusalem will remain whole,”

Great.  Then tell Abbas, who insists the PA must have eastern Jerusalem, to forget it, there is no deal.

Meanwhile, Yehuda Glick, new MK with Likud, claimed in a speech last Friday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "in his heart is with the settlers."

Wish I could know that for sure.  I continue to struggle with ambivalence, believing without full certainty that he is likely embracing the “two states” for reasons of diplomatic “pragmatism.” (Please, do not write to tell me what you think. None of us, the good Yehuda Glick included, can be certain.)


As to the opposition, head of the Zionist Camp Buji Herzog is still making noises about joining the coalition – if Bennett leaves.  Other members of his party are quite opposed.


It has been revealed that another member of Hamas involved with digging tunnels was apprehended recently when he crossed the border from Gaza.  Once again, we are being told that a wealth of information was secured.  That we are acquiring this information is good news, what we are learning is most definitely not - although this helps us to prepare and plan properly:

“The suspect admitted that the tunnels were to be used by the Hamas Special Forces Nakhba unit to kidnap IDF soldiers, commit suicide attacks, and commit other large scale attacks on Israeli towns.
“Hamas, the prisoner said, is working to create a warren of tunnels under Gaza for its fighters to enable them to traverse the length and breadth of the strip completely underground. The tunnels contain rooms and structures to be used for the benefit of Hamas Special Forces fighters.

“The majority of tunnel entrances are located in and around schools, mosques, and private homes, built with the knowledge that Israel is less likely to attack these structures.”,7340,L-4812155,00.html

Apparently Hamas has an elaborate communication system within the warren of interconnected tunnels, which even have recreation areas, so that the terrorists would be able to conduct a war from a base that is entirely underground. 

This makes it clear how the huge quantities of cement Hamas confiscates is being utilized.


Prime Minister Netanyahu is returning home from Russia today, after meeting with President Putin for the fourth time in a year – the third meeting in Moscow.  Goals included marking the 25th anniversary of relations between the two nations, and deepening ties.

While there are, certainly, points of disagreement – with Russia’s provision of weaponry to Iran being key, reports are of very cordial interaction.  As seen here from an earlier meeting:

Credit: veteranstoday

Netanyahu at one point said, “Israel’s doors are open to Russia and Russia’s doors are open to Israel,” while Putin, for his part, observed that in the war against terror, Russia and Israel were ‘unconditional allies.”  The point was made, additionally, that there is a bond between the nations because of more than one million Russian-speaking Israeli citizens who had come from the former USSR.  There are now three such Israelis who are ministers in Netanyahu’s government Avigdor Lieberman, Ze’ev Elkin (who was, once again, with Netanyahu as translator) and Sofa Landver.

Yesterday, Netanyahu helped to inaugurate an exhibit “Open a door to Israel,” on innovation and technology.  Participating was a delegation organized by the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, which finds Russia more receptive to their products than the EU states.

A variety of subjects was discussed; key among them was the refining of coordination between the two air forces, to avoid inadvertent conflict over Syria. But there was also talk about the Palestinian Arabs, and Turkey.

This is one of the situations I believe Netanyahu is handling very well.  The connection to Russia provides an important counterbalance to our troubled interaction with the US and his security coordination is truly important; Russia, for its part is seeking influence in the Middle East, and so is happy to foster this relationship. 


I found it of interest that the two leaders also signed a bilateral pensions agreement, which seeks to “correct a historic injustice regarding émigrés from the former USSR up to 1992 who lost their eligibility for a Russian pension.”

You may remember that this issue, from the Israeli side, held up negotiations regarding Lieberman joining the coalition.  He sought additional Israeli pensions for those who had lost Russian pensions. The resolution was an equitable increase in pensions across the board. But here we see a correction of the problem from the other side.  I read nothing about this specifically, but must assume that this was done in response to a request made by Lieberman.


As a good will gesture, Putin agreed even before this meeting to return to Israel a Magach-3 tank tank captured in the 1982 Battle of Sultan Yacoub during the first Lebanon war; it has been in Russia’s possession – in a museum, actually.

Credit: GPO


I wrote recently about an extraordinary program the IDF has, utilized adults with autism as volunteers in the army.  In closing, I want to return to this subject.  Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, yesterday posted movingly on Facebook about his special-needs daughter, who just completed her army service:

At her graduation ceremony, Yaeli saluted her commanding officer. She wore a uniform and an orange beret, and her father wiped his eyes and hoped nobody could see.

Her class – a class of young people with special needs – volunteered for the entire year on a base of the IDF National Search and Rescue Unit. They contributed as much as they could.

The soldiers and commanders were charming and attentive and treated them with respect and affection. “I don’t know who learned more from whom this year,” a 19-year-old sergeant told me, with a huge smile.

“So you’re now a soldier like Lior?” I asked Yaeli, and my non-speaking daughter nodded forcefully.

The next time someone tells you that the only role of the army is to fight, send him the photo I attached here. Maybe it’s true of other armies, but the IDF is much more than that. (Emphasis added)

Yesh Atid Party chairman Yair Lapid, with his daughter, Yael, at her IDF graduation ceremony. Photo: Facebook.



Shlomo Carlebach, “Am Yisrael Chai”

Credit: shlomocarlebachmusic


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


Posted on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 06:41AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

June 5, 2016: Rejoice Yerushalayim!


Today marks the 49th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War.
Here you see IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, at the Kotel (Western Wall), which Jews had not been permitted to approach for almost 20 years prior to the liberation. 

Credit: BreakingIsraelNews
For a mere 19 years, of the more than 3,000 years since King David first established the city as his capital, has the city been divided.  Nineteen years, following our War of Independence, during which Jordan occupied the eastern half of the city – which encompasses Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) and the Kotel (the Western Wall) - desecrating Jewish religious sites, and making it “Arab” by banishing all Jews who had lived there.
We have restored Jerusalem as the Jewish capital and built up the Jewish Quarter. 

Old City Jerusalem - Jewish Quarter 

Credit: atozkidstuff

Credit: Pacificbliss

Credit: rabbisinigoga
We have also provided free – and protected - access to the holy sites for all religions.  Only under Jewish control of the city has this been a reality.
And yet, the cry persists in many places that Jerusalem should be divided, with eastern Jerusalem to serve as the capital for a “Palestinian state.”
But this will not happen.  We will not permit it.
Today the fight focuses on Har Habayit, as the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters attempt to lay claim to this site that is the holiest in the world for Jews.  They attempt to squeeze us out, and to libel us and to make it theirs alone.
I will be writing more about this.  But wish to say here only that we must be strong and determined in securing our rights on Har Habayit. It is not that the Arabs venerate this site so highly, so much as that they know how they would weaken our national spirit were they – Heaven forbid! - to drive us away.
We have made many mistakes (chief among them, granting day-to-day administration of Har Habayit to the Muslim Wakf), but the future lies before us.  If we will be resolute and understand deeper meanings.
Today I will be with family and friends. And I want to go out and watch the flag parade through the city.   

Credit: Israellycool
And so I make this brief.  As celebration and as reminder. 
If you have never been to Jerusalem – come!  I promise you, this golden city will touch your heart and you will go away changed.  


Credit: Jerusalem Shots
And please, pray for Jerusalem.
Psalm 137, “If I forget you, Yerushalayim.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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


Posted on Sunday, June 5, 2016 at 07:13AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

June 3, 2016: Situation Unfolding

There is certainly nothing static about the current political situation, and an update seems in order.

Actually, some of what is happening is good – better than might be expected.

For those feeling unease that we might give away our country because of what Netanyahu and Lieberman said the other day, I start with these items:

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), while on a tour of the Binyamin region of the Shomron Tuesday, said (emphasis added here and below):

“I will say the obvious: As long as we are in the government, there will be no Palestinian state, there will be no settlement evacuations and we will not give any land to our enemies.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Habayit Hayehudi, added:

everyone who is opposed to dividing Jerusalem and building a Palestinian state… don’t worry: we’re here.”

MK Ayelet Shaked (left), seen with Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett during a party meeting at the Knesset. (photo credit: Flash90)

Credit: Flash90


Earlier, another member of Habayit Hayehudi, Shuli Mualem, in responding to Lieberman’s statement after he was sworn in, observed:

“At this point I still do not see a reason to be concerned by these kinds of declarations...

“...[Lieberman] wants to appease the international community with meaningless declarations during the government’s transition.

We’ll be keeping an eye on him to make sure that no such process gains traction.”


Credit: Miriam Aster


The day after he was sworn in, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had his first meeting with military general staff at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

Avigdor Lieberman shakes hands with the military general staff during a welcoming ceremony at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, on May 31, 2016. (Flash90)

Credit: Flash90

He said a number of things in his statement to the military that day, but there was one thing that caught my eye, and which I believe has real significance (emphasis added):

“In a democratic society, matters of war and peace must express the will of the people and enjoy the support of the majority. We don’t have the option to fight an unnecessary war. As Israeli society, we can only engage in necessary wars, and in those, we must win...We don’t have the luxury of conducting drawn-out wars of attrition.”

As you may have noticed, we’ve been conducting a drawn-out war of attrition with Hamas for years. And two years ago when we were in battle in Gaza, then Defense Minister Ya’alon did not fight to win, but settled for a period of temporary quiet with the knowledge that it would inevitably be followed by another round of fighting.

It appears that Ya’alon’s successor may play it another way the next time around. And judging from the last time – when the public expressed frustration with what was seen as a premature end to the war - Lieberman will indeed have the support of the people if he fights to win.

(Ya’alon, by the way, has graciously offered to brief Lieberman on the job of Defense Minister.)


Speaking of the will of the people: According to a poll conducted by the Midgam polling firm, 78% of Israeli Jews, both to the left and the right, are in favor of extending Israeli sovereignty to Ma’aleh Adumim, which is just outside Jerusalem to the east. And 70% say that Israel should do this regardless of the consequences.  This is a powerful statement.

The Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset – which has 20 members and is co-chaired by Yoav Kish (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Heyehudi) - has announced that in response to this, they will introduce a bill in the Knesset this summer calling for Israeli sovereignty to be applied to Ma’aleh Adumim.


I do not imagine that there is much chance of this legislation passing (unless the prime minister decides to stand tall), but this is a statement of no small significance.  It is a response to those who demand that we return behind the 1949 armistice line for the sake of “peace.”

I do wonder how the highly contested E1 will be handled in the proposed legislation.  This is an area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim on which Israel has had plans to build for some time – those plans have repeatedly been put on hold because of Arab protests that building there would interfere with the contiguity of the “Palestinian state.”  On a regular basis, Arabs squatters put up temporary buildings, or even tents, there, which are quickly taken down.


The Land of Israel Lobby declared in their statement on this issue that, “The consensus view in the public is that Ma’aleh Adumim is an inseparable part of Israel...” 

This is undoubtedly true.  But it is likely true of other areas as well.  I think first of Gush Etzion, which is a bloc immediately adjacent to Jerusalem to the south, which serves as the southern entry point into Jerusalem.

Gush Etzion encompasses 20 dynamic Jewish communities with a population of 20,000 collectively.  (See here: )

Some of those communities (notably Kfar Etzion) pre-dated the founding of modern Israel, but were destroyed in 1948.  Israelis – including in some instances the children of the earlier inhabitants – have returned to the area since 1967, to re-build those original communities and establish others.

It seems very likely to me that there would be a public consensus that these communities are part of Israel.


And how about this:

North of Jerusalem in the Shomron (Samaria) is the city of Ariel, with a population of 20,000, it is the forth largest community in Judea-Samaria; it is home to a university.

President Ruby Rivlin recently said:

“It’s obvious to everyone that Ariel would be an inseparable part of Israel in any future accord.”


I want to return, just briefly, to look at some of the issues surrounding the declarations regarding receptivity to a revised Saudi peace plan, made by Netanyahu and Lieberman at the time of Lieberman’s swearing in, on Monday evening.

What was mentioned specifically was appreciation for the recent efforts of Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to promote negotiations. And so I have gone back to find al-Sisi’s words. 

Credit: egyptianembassy

If Reuters provided a proper translation of his words, he “promised Israel...warmer ties if it accepts efforts to resume peace talks with the Palestinians.”

Now that’s a bit vague, but what I note is that it does not say ties with Israel will be warmer if a peace agreement is achieved. And so – this is my not altogether unfounded speculation – Netanyahu might reason (or hope) that showing readiness will improve ties with Egypt and other Arab nations, even if in the end the PA is obstructionist and nothing concrete happens. 

The proviso here is that Israel absolutely must not demonstrate a readiness that entails such things as freezing building (which is minimal as it is), or dismantling any communities. 


Saudi Arabia, at this point, has been cool to the Netanyahu-Lieberman declaration.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that:
“It's a little early for one to assess the seriousness of the Israeli side to begin talks based on the Arab peace initiative.

"When the Israeli prime minister spoke about it, he spoke about some clauses that he considers positive, not about accepting the initiative as the basis of talks.”

This is absolutely true. Netanyahu made it clear that there would need to be “adjustments” in the plan. And they would have to be major adjustments.

There were exceedingly solid reasons why this plan was rejected by Israel when it was first introduced by the Saudis in 2002 and then re-introduced by the Arab League in 2007.  It called for: “normalizing relations between the Arab region and Israel, in exchange for a complete withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem) and a ‘just settlement’ of the Palestinian refugee problem based on UN Resolution 194.” 

In their dreams.

Of course, the political situation now is different from what it was even nine years ago – with regard to Iran and more. The Arab League just might be a bit more flexible.  A bit. 


As to the Palestinian Arabs...

Saeb Erekat, who is now secretary general of the PLO, at first dismissed the statement by Netanyahu as “public relations.”  He said if Netanyahu is serious, then Israel must demonstrate this:

“...first and foremost by ending the manufacture of facts on the ground, the cessation of settlement, ending the Judaization of Jerusalem, stopping extrajudicial executions, halting all demolition of homes, releasing the detention of bodies, lifting the siege, recognition of the 1967 borders...”

This merely demonstrates the point that nothing is going to happen because the maximalist demands of the Palestinian Arabs are a total non-starter.  Always, my favorite, when I read a list like this is the “Judaization of Jerusalem.”

Says Erekat, the realization of the two-state solution requires an explicit and clear recognition of the 1967 borders (sic) by Israel.  I’ve already covered that subject above.


What we face now is the French-initiated conference in Paris, called to begin today.  Israel has been in intensive communication with the US government – seen to be the primary player here – on how the conference will proceed.

I will be tracking this in forthcoming posts.  This, and a great deal more.


Aaron David Miller, writing in the Wall Street Journal about this conference, says:

“After 20-plus years of planning mostly failed Middle East peace conferences for Republican and Democratic administrations, I know a fatally flawed one when I see it.”

He offers five reasons why the French initiative “can’t deliver a serious and sustained negotiating process, let alone a breakthrough.”  Among these reasons (emphasis added):
[] “We are in a period of political maneuver, not serious decision-making.” That a new American administration is just months away is relevant here.
[] “Peace conferences and summits are usually good for one of two things: launching a credible negotiating process or reaching an agreement to finalize one. The French approach is not poised to do either. Neither of the parties to the conflict will be at Friday’s gathering. As with the Geneva process to end Syria’s civil war, there are limits on what outside parties can do to ameliorate or end regional conflict

[] Israel has already rejected the French plan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unwilling to accept Palestinian terms for a settlement and sees little reason to participate in an international forum that might pressure him to do so...The prime minister and defense minister have a stake in sounding reasonable. Both are making positive statements about two states and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. But once details are discussed, the yawning gaps between the Israelis, Arabs, and Palestinians will become apparent.


I end with a good news piece:

An anti-BDS conference – called the “Building Bridges Not Boycotts, International Summit - was held in the UN General Assembly hall in New York on Tuesday. Over 2,000 people, students, activists and legal professionals, were in attendance; Christians joined with Jews in participating. The event focused on fighting BDS on college campuses, in courts of law, and in the UN itself. 

Speaking at the event, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who served as the event’s host, said;

“BDS has already infected the UN.

“Can you imagine, 70 years after the Holocaust, the UN [Human Rights Council] is creating lists to encourage the boycott of Jewish companies? 

“This is exactly the kind of hatred which the UN was founded to eradicate.  When the UN is opening the door to BDS we have to respond.  When Jewish students are afraid to visibly support Israel on a college campus, we have to take a stand.

“The truth is the best weapon in the battle against the lies and distortions of BDS.  BDS is modern-day anti-Semitism and we must unite to reveal its true face and put an end to an ideology of hatred and lies...we are here to win.”

Danny Danon has become quite the fighter at the UN, and to him I say Kol Hakavod – with all honor due you. 


Credit: Kobi Kalmanovitz

The event was co-sponsored by the Israeli Mission to the UN and a number of American Jewish organizations,  World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder also spoke.  The goal of the event was to lift morale, so Jewish students could know they were not alone, and to teach practical methods for combatting BDS.


André Rieu, “When you walk through a storm.”

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


Posted on Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 07:24PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint