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February 4, 2014: More Dangerous Nonsense

Before I get to the nonsense, which increases daily, I note with sadness the untimely passing yesterday of commentator, writer, and author Barry Rubin, who served as director of GLORIA (Global Research in International Affairs).  He succumbed after a long battle with cancer, at the age of 64.  Enormously astute in his analysis, he will be sorely missed.  As the JPost described him: “one of the most important, indefatigable, and prolific commentators on Middle East politics, international affairs and world history.”

May his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.


Credit: pjmedia


Then I ask, please, that if you have not yet visited the Levy Report/Legal Grounds Facebook page, you do so, and “like” the page: .

As well, please ask others to do the same; post the URL on your Facebook and website pages.  Thank you.  In the face of the awfulness of the current situation, our work becomes ever more important.


There is so much to write about, but I will begin with the dangerous nonsense with regard to “peace negotiations” and the US guidelines that are supposed to be released soon.  I am sooo tired of the rumors, the charges, and the countercharges.  So much that is ridiculous is being said. It is ludicrous that Kerry says he expects to forge a “peace agreement” within this environment.

That he is having trouble even forging a “framework” agreement, never mind a final peace deal, became readily apparent with today’s news: He doesn’t have the “framework” together yet, and needs more time.  Are we surprised?  As to that nine-month deadline for negotiations (scheduled to end on April 29), a state department spokesperson says there is still time but that the date, as set, is “artificial.”


Yesterday, Abbas made a number of statements -,7340,L-4484036,00.html - regarding the PA position on negotiations. 

The IDF, he declared, can remain in Judea and Samaria (what he calls “the West Bank” – which does not include the Jordan Valley, by the way) for five years.  After that, international forces – NATO troops, lead by Americans – would be brought in.

Not an acceptable position from the Israeli perspective.  The experience Israel has had with foreign troops, including US troops, has been decidedly negative. UNIFIL troops have allowed Hezbollah to re-arm in Lebanon right under their noses.  US troops withdrew precipitously from Lebanon in the 1980s.  Once it gets hot, these troops withdraw.  Naftali Bennett commented on this at his Bayit Hayehudi faction meeting.  “The moment they [international forces] are needed, they run away.” He prefers “old style security: only the IDF will guard our kids.”,7340,L-4484036,00.html


As to recognizing Israel as the Jewish state, Abbas called this “out of the question.” 

Netanyahu’s response, at his faction meeting: “he [Abbas] knows there will not be an agreement without recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”  He considered ‘”absurd,” he said, the notion that Israel would sign a deal recognizing the “Palestinian people” without mutual recognition from the PA.


The Palestinian state will be demilitarized: It will have only a police force and not an army, claims Abbas.  Demilitarization is one of Netanyahu’s demands.  Not for a fraction of a second do I believe this, folks.  They may call these troops “security forces” or “police forces,” but the PA already has the rudiments of an army (trained and supplied in some good part with US help), and I daresay they are not contemplating dismantling these units.  Ultimately, they can be expected to turn on Israel.


Abbas also said: “In my life, and if I have any more life in the future, I will never return to the armed struggle.”

This was certainly for Western consumption.  See what Jabril Rajoub, senior member of Abbas’s Fatah party, said on Saturday:

“We have not ruled out an armed uprising as a solution...We will not stop the resistance until the establishment of an independent Palestinian government in east Jerusalem.”


I think my very favorite quote from the Palestinian Arab side is this one, reported yesterday by Khaled Abu Toameh:

“US Secretary of State John Kerry recently threatened PA President Mahmoud Abbas that he would meet the same fate as his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, if he turned down Washington’s proposals for peace with Israel, a Palestinian source was quoted Sunday as saying.

“The source told the website Rai al-Youm that Abbas angrily stormed out of a four-hour meeting with Kerry in Ramallah after the latter exerted pressure on him to accept the proposals.

“The source claimed that Kerry told Abbas his fate would not be ‘less than that of Yasser Arafat.’
“Jamal Muhaissen, a senior Fatah official in the West Bank, said that if the report is true, ‘this shows that Israel assassinated Yasser Arafat after receiving a green light from the US administration.’ 

“’...If true, Kerry’s threat paves the way for bringing him before the International Criminal Court for threatening the life of an elected Palestinian president,’ Muhaissen said.”

This is merely entertainment: it shows how ludicrous the whole situation is. I am not in the habit of defending Kerry, but if he did say this, he meant, most certainly, that Abbas would end up, like Arafat, a failed leader who could have led his people to peace and did not.  I don’t mind admitting that I hope his attempts to deal with the Palestinian Arabs is giving him a stomach ache.

And, for the record, Abbas is not the “elected Palestinian president”: His term ran out on January 15, 2009, and they’ve never bothered to have another election.


And then, for added entertainment, we have this statement by Saeb Erekat, the PA’s chief negotiator:

He is, he claimed, “a direct descendant of the Canaanite tribes who lived in Israel some 9,000 years ago. I am the proud son of the Canaanites who were there 5,500 years before Joshua bin Nun burned down the town of Jericho.”

“However,” reports Algemeiner, “his family tree, posted on Facebook, shows his clan descends from Arabia, not Canaan. His family is part of the Huwaitat tribe, now one of the largest in Jordan, who migrated from Medina to the desert and the Levant settling in Aqaba, then coming to Israel many decades ago, but not centuries nor millennia.”

A perfect example of dangerous nonsense. This is pure nonsense, but then there is always the uninformed person who, hearing Erekat’s claim, will say, “Ah, and the Jews try to take their land.”

For the record as well: Joshua never burned down Jericho, he merely brought down the city’s walls.


On the other hand, while we certainly have nothing of this nature on the Israeli side, I would never claim that I am content with all of the positions our prime minister is taking.

When Abbas refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Netanyahu said something about how it’s now time for the international community to pressure Abbas.  Let’s get on with moving towards peace, he declared.

Now, I know he was trying to make a point – that only Israel gets pressured and only Israel is blamed with being a stumbling block. But I wanted to tell him, “Shhh! Leave it.”


And then there is unease with regard to what Netanyahu may agree to when the framework finally is released by Kerry.  According to various press reports, special US envoy for the negotiations Martin Indyk has been revealing some details of that framework.  One of them - certainly to be expected - is that the negotiations will be based on the “1967 line.”,7340,L-4483738,00.html

Also to be expected is that Netanyahu - who wants to paint the Arabs as the stumbling block and does not to appear intransigent himself – will agree to these terms, possibly “with reservations.” 

And this, most of all, is unacceptable.  This is the chance for Israel to tell the world (if I sound like a broken record it’s because this must be repeatedly said) that there IS no 1967 border; that the line was only a temporary armistice line that was, by treaty, not to prejudice future negotiations on a permanent border; and that, in any event, it was Jordan on the other side and not Palestinian Arabs.  In other words, he must make it clear to the world that Israel absolutely does not accept the premise and will not negotiate in accordance with it.

He won’t do this.  And it is very dangerous indeed, even if, as Netanyahu likely expects, there is no deal struck. For it sets a precedent and fails to advance a stand for Israel’s legal grounds in Judea and Samaria.


What Defense Minister Ya’alon said, on the other hand, was good:

“I hope we can achieve our goals in this agreement, but if we cannot, Israel will manage...we have to tell the truth and not fool ourselves regarding PA chief Mahmoud Abbas's intentions. Will he be prepared to recognize Israel as a Jewish state? He has given us a clear answer, and it is no.”


How does this happen?  I have not yet touched on issues re: the EU, Iran, and Syria – all matters to be addressed with real seriousness.  Nothing remotely amusing there. And yet, I am out of time, out of energy, because of other work that calls. And so, for another post...


I will end on a positive note. The almond trees (sh’kdim), the earliest to come into flower here, are blooming in Jerusalem.  It lifts the heart to see this, a symbol of hope. 

White and Pink Almond Blossoms - Spring Decor - Made in Israel - Flower Photography 

Credit: etsy


© 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, February 4, 2014 at 04:20PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 1, 2014: Dangerous Nonsense

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

Ah that there would be six more hours in the day. Then I would be posting as often as I ideally would like to.  But as this is not the case, in the last several days I’ve had to focus first on the Levy Report/Legal Grounds Campaign that I am so involved with. This situation is likely to persist for a while.

Here I begin by sharing an article of mine that came out in Front Page Magazine on Friday.  Please, read it and share it with others.  It makes points that need to be heard without further delay.


As to the dangerous nonsense: Sometimes I assess the situation in this part of the world, as it is reported, and shake my head in bewilderment. 

I have in mind, first, a position espoused by Netanyahu just about a week ago.  He declared – in what seemed at the time a bid to reassure the political right – that “I have no intention of evacuating any settlement or uprooting any Israelis.”

He said this at the Davos economic conference, in Hebrew, to Israeli journalists he was briefing.  Sounded good at the time. There has been so much talk about dismantling of “settlements” as part of an agreement.

But then subsequently a statement from an official in the Prime Minister’s office cast a decidedly different light on the matter: “His [Netanyahu’s] consistent position has been that those settlements that will be on the Palestinian side of the border should not be uprooted. Just as Israel has an Arab minority, the prime minister doesn’t see why Palestine can’t have a Jewish minority. The Jews living on their side should have a choice whether they want to stay or not.”

Come again?? 


Naftali Bennett, head of Habayit Hayehudi, saw the nonsense implicit in this position.

First on his Facebook page he wrote that:

[It] “reflects the loss of a moral compass. We didn’t experience 2,000 years of yearning for the Land of Israel so that we could live under the government of Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]. Anyone thinking of placing the lives of Jews in the Land of Israel under Palestinian rule is pulling the rug out from under our presence in Tel Aviv.

“I call on the prime minister to immediately reject this terrible idea.”

And then Bennett further criticized Netanyahu’s position at a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies (emphasis added):

“A new idea has arisen: Jews will live in their lands but under Palestinian sovereignty. This will not happen, nor could it.

“Do you know why? Why Jews can’t live under Palestinian sovereignty? Why can't Palestinians rule over Israelis? Because they’ll kill them. How do I know? How do I know? Because it has already happened. In Hebron, there were Jews living in peace with their Arab neighbors, but one day in 1929 they got up and killed the Jews. Just like that, those same Arab neighbors killed them...

The essence of Zionism is sovereignty. Without sovereignty there is no Zionism. Jews under foreign sovereignty is a retreat as far as Zionism is concerned. We already tried that in Europe and it didn’t quite work out. What are the ramifications of even bringing such an idea up? What does that tell us?”

Placing Jews under foreign rule would be a U-turn for Zionism, Bennett concluded.


I don’t know where Netanyahu thought he was going, with this idea. Whether it was a good idea, or (which is the fact of the matter) an atrociously bad, one, it’s hard to believe it was a serious suggestion. For Abbas has made it clear up front, time and again, that there would not be a single Jew in the Palestinian state. And, indeed, PA officials were quick to call Netanyahu’s suggestion ridiculous. 

I would like to think that our prime minister was simply attempting to expose the apartheid attitude of Abbas more clearly.  But - while there were Israeli government statements regarding what the PA opposition to Jews in “their” proposed state tells us – I do not.


It is significant that not only Bennett criticized Netanyahu’s idea.  For, in fact, there was criticism voiced by several major players in Likud.  Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, for example, said:

“Only someone who suffers from the illusion that ‘the wolf will lie down with the lamb,’ and that one can place the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens at the mercy of those who conducted the [October 2000] lynch in Ramallah, can truly believe that we can assure the security of the Dan region and the central region if a Palestinian state is established.”

But Netanyahu’s greatest ire was reserved for Bennett, and his office let it be known that if there was not an apology from Bennett forthcoming, the composition of the coalition might change shortly.

This made a great deal of press here.

Matters cooled down after Bennett offered a semblance of an apology that, in my opinion, was nothing of the sort:

"If the prime minister was hurt, I am definitely saddened by that.

"There are sources that are trying to turn a fundamental debate about the future of our country and our safety to a personal attack that wasn't intended.

"I respect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his leadership under complicated conditions. I support him when needed and criticize him as needed; this is my duty.

"Imposing Palestinian sovereignty on Israeli citizens is dangerous, and it is my obligation to drop this idea from the agenda, and now the idea is gone.",7340,L-4482409,00.html

Right on, Naftali!


It is worth noting that a poll taken following this flap between Bennett and Netanyahu indicated that if elections were held today Habayit Hayehudi would go from its current 12 seats to 17 seats.

This says heartening things about the attitude of our electorate, and perhaps will provide an appropriate signal to Netanyahu.


The turmoil I’ve described here is indicative of the tensions resulting from the pressures being brought to bear by Kerry, in order to push through his soon-to-be announced framework for continuing “negotiations.”  The rumors continue to fly (I will return to further discussion on this), and the pressure grows ever more intense.

Just today the American secretary of state, in Germany, indicated that a failure of the peace talks will lead to global boycotts and delegitimization of Israel. 

This sort of threat by Kerry raises my own blood pressure more than a bit.  He’s a man without principles who will stoop to anything in an effort to achieve his goals.  And here I would like to speak for myself:

I will tighten my belt, figuratively, and do without a good deal, were there to be economic boycotts that reduced the standard of living here, rather than see a deal struck with the PLO in any terms whatsoever.  For me, and many many others, this is a no-brainer.  We will not be intimidated. 


And this is precisely what Bennett said (and I am pleased to quote him yet again, emphasis added):

I want to clarify to all those giving advice: the country has yet to be born that will give up its land because of economic threats, and we won't either. Only security will bring financial stability, not a terror state next to the Ben Gurion Airport.

"We expect our friends in the world to stand by our side, against the anti-Semitic boycott attempts against Israel, and not to be the voice of the boycotts. We've known in the past and know today how to stay strong."

Kerry is likely to find that his tactics are backfiring.


I’ve only begun to touch upon a multiplicity of subjects waiting to be written about – hopefully I will address others soon.  But please, now that you’ve read about the pressures being put upon Israel, go back and read my article, if you have not yet done so.  It is urgently and painfully relevant.


© 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, February 1, 2014 at 07:46PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 26, 2014: Legal Grounds

These are the legal grounds Israel has in Judea and Samaria – charges by the international community not withstanding.  It is what I - and my co-chair on this effort, Jeff Daube, head of the Israel office of ZOA – are working on ever diligently with regard to the Levy Report and associated documentation. 
I am eager to share the URL for our website (which is up, looking splendid, but still a work in progress): .  Please, see it and share it!
I see what’s coming down the road in all likelihood (some of you have already heard this from me):
Just days ago, the EU ambassador to Israel declared that if the “peace talks” fail because of the settlements (which means the PA declares it cannot go on because of the settlements), then, “Naturally…the blame will be put squarely on Israel’s doorstep.”
This feels like a carefully orchestrated plan to put the onus on Israel, with the PA then marching to international organizations and agencies for support.  It will not do for Israel to make claims about rights in Judea and Samaria at that point. This position has to be in place prior to that. It is not enough to say, “Well, we cannot go back to the 1967 line for security reasons.”  It absolutely MUST be said that we have legal grounds in Judea and Samaria. And said now.
This is what our campaign is about, at its core: Defending Israel’s legal rights to the land.  
I wrote recently about the African migrant problem here in Jerusalem.  After I had done so, I came across an article on the subject – “The week of the economic migrant” by Ben Caspit that was so powerful that I want to return to the issue just briefly, to share some of his thoughts (emphasis added):
When refugees flee their homelands, they bring their wives and children along with them. Ninety percent of the infiltrators here in Israel are men. The women are also starting to trickle in, bit by bit, but in very small numbers.

”We’re talking about men between the ages of 24-45 – the working years.

All of the African migrants I’ve spoken with have openly admitted to me that they came here to work, to improve their lives. Real refugees flee from their homeland and request refugee status as quickly as they can in a neighboring country. These people, though, have passed through four or five countries on their way here, since the nearest country wasn’t good enough.
“...What we are doing now is transferring some of them to the Hulot facility, a center with amazing living conditions. You can go take a look yourself. The facility was originally built for the IDF (which was furious when it was expropriated).

The migrants can take classes, get three square meals a day and even have full access to health services. It’s a full-service center.

”In the rest of the world, when refugees reach a neighboring country in a desperate attempt to save their lives, they are housed in refugee camps. Take a second to research this. Syrian refugees live in tin structures and tents in such camps. That’s how refugees all over the world live. If Hulot were actually a refugee camp, it would be the fanciest one in the world.

But no, our refugees want to live in Tel Aviv.

Because that’s where they can find work. And by the way, all of them are working. We noticed that this week, too.
“The migrant workers’ campaign we witnessed last week scares me. It is based on naïveté mixed with lies and a twisted reality. It was organized by human rights organizations, many of which are led by Israelis – Israeli anarchists.

”The old leaders of the infiltrators disappeared overnight, and new ones took their place. They are being briefed and handed ready-made signs. Buses are being reserved for them and they are being spoon-fed slogans.

They are acting in a disciplined manner and are not violent. At least up until now they haven’t been.

”They’re saving the violence for the nighttime in Tel Aviv; there aren’t any cameras there. In Tel Aviv, thousands of weak Israelis have been left to fend for themselves: old people, the disabled, Holocaust survivors, the housebound, people who’ve had their whole lives taken from them, not to mention their belongings.

”People who are too scared to go downstairs to the corner market for fear of being mugged...”
There’s more.  Read it all. You’ll learn about Israel’s liberal policies regarding infiltrators as compared to policies of other nations.
And keep this to refer to, and share, when you read about how horrible Israel is to the refugees.
I am picking up from several quarters heightened concern about al-Qaeda activity.  (Please understand, this is the same al-Qaeda that Obama declared was on the run.)
Last Wednesday, the Shin Bet released information about “an al-Qaeda plot, directed from the Gaza Strip, to carry out mega terror attacks in Israel against both US and Israeli targets,”  Those targets – to be hit via twin suicide attacks - were the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and Binyanei Ha'uma – the Jerusalem Convention Center.
Reportedly initiated on the direct orders of al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri, the plot involved an Arab resident of east Jerusalem, who was to be sent to Syria for training, and a Gaza-based al-Qaeda operative, as the point man for the attacks.  Two other recruits were also involved, one from a Jerusalem neighborhood; contacts were made via Skype and Facebook.
The fact that the point man was allowed to operate freely from Gaza indicates to the Shin Bet that “Hamas allows Salafists to carry out terror attacks as long as they are not targeting them.”
Three men have been arrested, but the Gaza-based operative is still at large.
It has also become increasingly clear, the security organization said, that the civil war in Syria, a magnet for terror operatives throughout the Middle East, has deepened the roots of al-Qaeda and other like-minded organizations in the region.

Those organizations, the Shin Bet said, are striving to link up with willing Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in order to strike Israel and Western targets.

“...Yoram Schweitzer and Aviv Oreg, two fellows at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, recently wrote that al-Qaeda head al-Zawahiri’s frequently articulated plans are for extremist Muslims to gather in Syrian territory and, after toppling Assad, to use their perch there as ‘a training pad for jihad operations against Israel.’”


As to Syria being a magnet for terror operatives, a senior Israeli intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has alleged that there are now “more than 30,000 al-Qaida linked fighters are active in Syria, a huge increase over previous Western estimates.”  (Emphasis added)

This situation, warned the official, is causing Israel to have to re-evaluate its policy with regard to the Syrian civil war:

“He claimed that the Islamic rebel groups in Syria currently focused on toppling Assad intend to turn their sites on Israel after dispatching the Syrian government.

"’After Assad and after establishing or strengthening their foothold in Syria they are going to move and deflect their effort and attack Israel,’ he told The Associated Press.

“...With the absence of any potential ally and any hope that a good resolution could come from the fighting, Israeli conventional wisdom has held that it was better off with it continuing and having the rival forces stay busy butchering each other rather than noticing Israel.

“But that may not be the case anymore. ‘The longer the war in Syria continues, the more jihadists and radicals are coming to this territory,’ the official said.”


On the very same day that the al-Qaeda plot was announced, two Palestinian Arab residents of Hevron were arrested for storing a cache of weapons in their home.  We’re talking about an Uzi submachine gun, an M-16 assault rifle, a carbine rifle, hand guns and some 8,000 bullets.  It is believed that these weapons were being held for terrorist attacks.


A marvelous follow-up story:

I wrote last week that when Canadian Prime Minister Harper was speaking at the Knesset, there was an outburst from two Arab MKs, who subsequently stormed out, angry about Harper’s praise for Israel.

One of those MKs was Ahmed Tibi, who claimed that the village, Arara, where MK Taleb Abu Arar lives, has “no water and no electricity” unlike what might be found in Syria. 

Members of the NGO Regavim, which fights for Jewish land rights in Israel, decided to visit that village.  See the Regavim website- - and scroll down to “Another lie uncovered by Regavim,” click on it and you’ll find a video of the Tibi outburst and the visit to the village, with English subtitles. As you might well imagine, signs of electricity and more were quite apparent. Delightful.

A signal lesson here: Do not believe what the Arabs say.  They have no shame whatsoever with regard to telling blatant lies to suit their purposes. Obviously, it never occurred to Tibi that anyone would check.  We have to expose them a whole lot more often.

PM Netanyahu, in his remarks following Tibi’s outburst, commented that he never sees any Arabs would want to leave Israel (to go, for example, to Syria), and he understands this. Laughter. It is very true: They carry on about Israel’s treatment, but never take themselves elsewhere. Israeli Arabs have far, far better treatment - with full civil and human rights, and all perks of citizenship where it applies – than they would receive in any other country in the Middle East.


© 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.


January 24, 2014: A "Train Wreck"

I’m been so focused on Israeli issues that I haven’t written about Iran and its nuclear aspirations for a while.  But now it seems very necessary. 

It has been crystal clear to me that Obama – I won’t say was “had” by Iran – but rather that he was willingly permitting himself to be had.  That he went along with a deal that on the face of it was not good and didn’t bargain tough.

But there’s more.  An interim deal of some sort was struck with Iran and now a final deal is supposed to be negotiated.  The first problem here is that the Obama administration refuses to publicly release the details of how that interim agreement – the Joint Plan of Action - is to be implemented.  What is evolving is a picture in which the president has misrepresented to his own public what that Plan of Action includes.  The implications here are huge.


See here a White House “fact sheet” released when terms were arrived at in November (although the interim agreement did not go into effect then):

“President Obama has been clear that achieving a peaceful resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is in America’s national security interest.  Today, the P5+1 [the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany] and Iran reached a set of initial understandings that halts the progress of Iran's nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects.” (Emphasis added)


Then see a CNN interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who says the White House “both underplays [Western] concessions and overplays the Iranian commitment.”

This interview was followed by an interview by Fareed Zakaria of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, which is the clincher: .  Listen to the entire four minutes and hear what Zakaria has to say.  I borrowed the term “train wreck” – a description of the deal with Iran - from him. 


Then let’s see what Cliff May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, has to say about the situation, in “World Powers Surrendered to Iran” (Emphasis added):

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week tweeted a declaration of diplomatic victory: "In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iran's national will." In response, White House press secretary Jay Carney said not to worry: ‘It doesn't matter what they say. It matters what they do.’

“OK, so what are they doing? Abbas Araqchi, Iran's chief negotiator, has provided the answer. ‘No facility will be closed; enrichment will continue, and qualitative nuclear research will be expanded,’ he said. ‘All research into a new generation of centrifuges will continue.’ Iran also is sending warships into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in history -- a not-so-subtle message, perhaps?

“The Geneva agreement does slow Iran's timeline for the development of nuclear weapons -- by a month. Yes, that's right: If Iran's rulers faithfully comply with every commitment they have so far made, at the end of this six-month period, they will be about three months -- instead of two months -- away from breakout capacity.

In exchange, the U.S. and other "world powers" have given the revolutionary regime, long the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, additional time -- perhaps as much as a year -- to continue developing nuclear warheads, triggers and ballistic missiles. Plus there is sanctions relief sufficient to remove the threat of an impending Iranian economic crisis. Iran's economy already is recovering.”


Oft times I have wondered what it takes to arouse the sleeping American electorate.  When will they understand that they are being betrayed by the man in the White House? 

The information I have provided here should be shared very broadly.


The World Economic Forum is currently meeting in Davos, Switzerland.  Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Rouhani are in attendance. Netanyahu – who is a lone voice in warning the world about Iran – spoke from that setting about Rouhani’s on-going charm offensive:

“Rouhani can say something, but it doesn’t make it real.  It sounds nice but it is false.  [Rouhani’s conciliatory words] have no connection to what is going on on the ground.”


Since Netanyahu has his eyes wide open with regard to Iran, and is determined that Iran, in the end, should not go nuclear, I will close here with this piece from Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council, in “Israel Keeps It’s Options Open on Iran.”

“Is an Israeli military attack against Iran truly off the table? Conventional wisdom certainly seems to think that it is. In the aftermath of the signing of an interim nuclear deal in Geneva this past November, the foreign policy cognoscenti in Washington, and elsewhere, have been vocal about the fact that they believe the bell has effectively tolled on the possibility of Israeli military action.

“The view from Israel, however, is far less settled. Take a new report in Israel Defense, a well-regarded strategic intelligence newsletter, which suggests that planning for a military option against Iran hasn't been tabled, just postponed pending the outcome of the current negotiating track between Iran and the P5+1 powers (the U.S., France, Russia, China, Great Britain and Germany). As the analysis points out, for Israel the operative element of the diplomatic thaw now underway between the Islamic Republic and the West is whether it truly results in an end to Tehran's pursuit of the atomic bomb.

"’For Jerusalem… the existing political circumstances allow no viable political option for an attack, but the situation can change within months,’ the Israel Defense report concludes. ‘If Israel manages to gather intelligence evidence that Iran continues to “work” on the atomic bomb, the Cabinet may convene dramatic meetings and order [an] attack in the near summer or fall months.’

“The message is crystal clear. As far as the Israeli government is concerned, the hard choices facing the international community about precisely what lengths it will need to go to in order to prevent the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran haven't been resolved. They have only been deferred—and perhaps not for all that long.” (Emphasis added)


As Shabbat comes early, I will close here and return to all other issues after Shabbat.


© 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, January 24, 2014 at 05:45AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 20, 2014: Music Sweet to the Ears

There isn’t much we hear these days that can be categorized as “sweet music.”  And so we must relish it whenever we hear even a few bars (which is all we’re likely to get).

The other day, in one more strange and foolish comment, Prime Minister Netanyahu said something about advancing new ideas to invigorate the negotiations.  His latest: We need a fourth settlement bloc, in addition to the three commonly identified: the Ariel bloc, the Ma’aleh Adumim bloc, and the Gush Etzion bloc.  That fourth would be a Beit El bloc, and in exchange we would surrender the Arab area of the Galilee (the triangle) to the Palestinian Arabs. 

A non-starter, first because we shouldn’t be talking in terms of just keeping settlement blocs – especially not in exchange for Jewish land inside of the Green line, and second because the Palestinian Arabs would scream plenty about a “new settlement bloc,” while the Israeli Arabs would scream just as loudly about having their Israeli citizenship taken away.  And I do not for a moment think that he is ignorant of these realities.

This proposal – a riff on something Foreign Minister Lieberman proposed recently – seems to me one more attempt to show the international community that Israel is flexible and really trying to “make peace.”  It is not music to our ears, however, and I certainly did not mean to imply that it was.

What is music, rather, is the statement by Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habyit Hayehudi) about settlements.  There are only three settlement blocs, he told IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal) yesterday (emphasis added):

the first is Judea, the second is Samaria, and the third is the Jordan Valley.”



Continued Ariel: “Nobody is amused by this absurdity [the negotiations], and nobody is buying it. They aren’t willing to recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state, they wouldn’t recognize this studio [where he was being interviewed by Razi Barkai] as Jewish....

“What nation would give up those hundreds of years? The tombs of its forefathers?

“Can we surrender, can we tire out? 400,000 residents will prove… I think this is sinking in to the Israeli consciousness.

“Even the Australian Foreign Minister has said she doesn’t understand why settlements are illegal.”


Nonetheless, the ever-eager John Kerry is reportedly going to present his “framework document” for the negotiations by the end of January.  As is the norm, we have nothing but rumors to go on.

But what seems to be the case is that Kerry is hedging details and specificity sufficiently to presumably make it tolerable, if not palatable, for both parties.  According to Palestinian Arab sources cited by Al-Hayat, the document consists of “general ideas that are elastic and fuzzy.”  This provides each side with the opportunity to interpret the ideas in the document as it chooses to do so.

That’s all well and good, from Kerry’s perspective, since he wants to avoid offending either party and causing the collapse of the talks that he wishes to extend now beyond nine months.  But if specificity will cause the talks to collapse, then it does not take a rocket scientist to see that there is no realistic hope for an agreement.

According to a JPost article, citing these Palestinian Arab sources, “Sovereignty and control over the border and natural resources will effectively remain in the hands of Israel.”  They said that the 1967 borders would be “cancelled.”

What I make from this, quite simply, is that there is Palestinian Arab discontent because Kerry is not following their line – negotiations based on the ‘67 “borders,” etc.  Beyond that? Who knows.


Reportedly, Jordan’s King Abdullah will be involved in what Kerry is planning next, with Kerry’s document to be announced at the Jordanian port of Aqaba.  We regularly see attempts to buoy Abdullah, as he totters on his throne.  The king has met with both Abbas and Netanyahu in recent days; Netanyahu made an unannounced visit to Jordan last week.

According to Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, Kerry is due here later this week, and efforts are being made to promote a Netanyahu-Abbas summit under Jordanian sponsorship. This strikes me as a decidedly bad idea.


But I’m hardly the only one who doesn’t like this.  Yesterday, 200 nationalist activists met in Ofra with Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotevely and other MKs to develop strategy for preventing Netanyahu from making concessions when pressured by the US.

“Talk of keeping only settlement blocs is adopting the path of Yossi Beilin and is a sin against the Right,” Hotevely declared.  “The way to stop such destructive plans is via the Likud  and the coalition. The prime minister must understand that he will have no coalition and he will have no party if he accedes to a diplomatic agreement.”

Head of Habayit Hayehudi, Naftali Bennett, is working along the same lines to secure the support of a sufficient number of MKs to block any proposal Netanyahu might advance that involves concessions.  What is more, he is working with a sufficient number of MKs from the combined Likud-Yisrael Beitenu faction to prevent Netanyahu from replacing Habayit Hayehudi from being replaced in the coalition by Labor.

May Heaven strengthen their efforts.


I see all of this as working in one of two different ways. Either the prime minister might simply see that he doesn’t have the political backing to make concessions, and, choosing not to bring down his government, not go there.  Or, he might use this to strengthen his capacity to say “no!”  In other words, Bennett and Hotevely and company might give him the rationale he is looking for: “Oh, Mr. Kerry, you can see how I have been working for peace. But my government will fall if I do this.  It cannot happen.”

I personally see his tendency to go with the second option. This is why, ever the team player, he’s still making “creative suggestions” to advance negotiations.


I wish I had the time to explore additional issues – such as the fact that the UN apparently thinks telling the truth is bad for peace -  but I have not.  Not today.

I began with the good, and will end the same way...

It is sweet indeed for us here in Israel that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. who is a forthright and special friend, is visiting us. He was greeted by Prime Minister Netanyahu with great ceremony, which included an honor guard and blaring trumpets:

“You are a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said.  “I am not just saying that, I mean it deeply from the bottom of my heart, and I am speaking for all of the people of Israel.

“...This world is often cynical and hypocritical, and you have shown great moral leadership.  When it comes to fighting terrorism, you know that there cannot be any politically correct double talk, but only unequivocal condemnation and united international action.

“When it comes to anti-Semitism, you have stood up unabashedly at the side of Israel and the entire Jewish people, I think at the side of decency and fairness to everyone: Jews and non-Jews alike. And when it comes to Iran's repeated calls for Israel's annihilation and its unrelenting development of nuclear weapons – you and Canada have stood unflinchingly on the right side of history.

”And finally, when it comes to peace, you recognize that a genuine peace, a lasting peace, must be based on mutual recognition and sound security arrangements on the ground. I think in all this and in so many other things, you have shown courage, clarity and conviction. And in standing up for the truth, your voice, Stephen, has been an indispensable one.”

Credit: Sunnewsnetwork


Just a very short while ago, Prime Minister Harper delivered a marvelous, an extraordinary, talk to the Knesset.  A talk that brought MKs and invited guests to their feet several times, and caused a couple of Arab MKs to storm out in fury. 

You can see the full speech here:

But I take pleasure in sharing some highlights (with emphasis added):

“...The friendship between us is rooted in history, nourished by shared values, and it is intentionally reinforced at the highest levels of commerce and government as an outward expression of strongly held inner convictions.

“Laureen and I share [with Jewish Canadians]...the pride and the understanding that what has been achieved here has occurred in the shadow of the horrors of the Holocaust; the understanding that it is right to support Israel because, after generations of persecution, the Jewish people deserve their own homeland and deserve to live safely and peacefully in that homeland.

“Let me repeat that: Canada supports Israel because it is right to do so.

“...But, I would argue, support today for the Jewish state of Israel is more than a moral imperative it is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own, long-term interests.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I said a moment ago, that the special friendship between Canada and Israel is rooted in shared values.

“Indeed, Israel is the only country in the Middle East, which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

“...Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who, often begin by hating the Jews, but, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence, and which, today, as 9/11 graphically showed us, threaten us all.

“And so, either we stand up for our values and our interests, here, in Israel, stand up for the existence of a free, democratic and distinctively Jewish state or the retreat of our values and our interests in the world will begin.

“...No state is beyond legitimate questioning or criticism.

“But our support does mean at least three things.

“First, Canada finds it deplorable that some in the international community still question the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel.

Our view on Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state is absolute and non-negotiable.

“Second, Canada believes that Israel should be able to exercise its full rights as a UN member-state and to enjoy the full measure of its sovereignty.

“For this reason, Canada has spoken on numerous occasions in support of Israel’s engagement and equal treatment in multilateral fora.

“And, in this regard, I should mention that we welcome Israel’s induction this month into the western, democratic group of states at the United Nations.

“Third, we refuse to single out Israel for criticism on the international stage.

“Now I understand, in the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy ‘to go along to get along’ and single out Israel.

“But such ‘going along to get along,’ is not a ‘balanced’ approach, nor a ‘sophisticated’ one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.

“Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant.

“And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.

“And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.

“...As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.

“On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.

“Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.

“Think about that.

Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: a state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism.

It is nothing short of sickening.

“...Ladies and gentlemen, any assessment – any judgment – of Israel’s actions must start with this understanding:

“In the sixty-five years that modern Israel has been a nation, Israelis have endured attacks and slanders beyond counting and have never known a day of true peace.

“And we understand that Israelis live with this, impossible calculus:

“If you act to defend yourselves, you will suffer widespread condemnation, over and over again.

“But, should you fail to act, you alone will suffer the consequence of your inaction, and that consequence will be final, your destruction.

“...In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life.

“And therefore, through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”


Can we clone this marvelous man of integrity a hundred times over?


© 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.


January 16, 2014: With Twisted Arm

Today was Tu B’Shvat. Actually the time considered the new year for trees (an issue with import in Jewish law) but popularly thought of as a sort of Jewish Arbor Day.  Trees are planted in honor of the day, and fruits and nuts – products of trees – are eaten.


Credit: ishashiri

I spent the day with a tour into the Jordan Valley sponsored by World Likud – a tour that emphasized the fact that this Valley is ours.  Anyone in Likud who isn’t for the retention of the Valley, does not belong in Likud, declared key speaker Deputy Minister of Defense Danny Danon.

As I’m beginning late, this post will be short (or short for me, at any rate).


The twisted arm I refer to above belongs to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.


Credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch

On Tuesday, Yediot Ahronot reported on a private conversation in which Ya’alon had engaged.  In the course of it, he is reported to have said:

"Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] is alive and well thanks to us. The moment we leave Judea and Samaria he is finished. In reality, there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months – but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.

"The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it's written on. It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the River Jordan will endure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don't become targets for rockets from every direction. American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.",7340,L-4476582,00.html


Well, I loved every word of it.  Here was a top official doing a very amazing thing: Telling the truth.  His words were on the mark.

And I will say here that I believe we’re seeing Ya’alon playing the “bad cop” to Netanyahu’s “good cop.”  I don’t believe Ya’alon would have said this  – even in private conversation - without a wink and a nod from his boss, who would, himself, never dream of voicing such honesty.

US officials, professing great shock at these remarks, demanded an apology. That is where the twisted arm comes in.  Ya’alon’s office issued this:

“The defense minister had no intention to cause any offense to the secretary, and he apologizes if the secretary was offended by words attributed to the minister.”

Fine.  There was no retraction of the core of his original comments.

And there is, by the way, a question of journalistic ethics, that Ya’alon’s remarks, made privately, were repeated with attribution.

A bit of diplomatic high drama, which for many here lightened the tone just briefly.  Kerry, ever determined to soldier on (forgive the pun), declared that he would continue working for peace no matter what Ya’alon thinks.


And so, now that we’ve determined what a “great” job Kerry is doing, even as he’s being criticized, I thought we should look at some of the latest from the Palestinian Arabs:

All in all, the situation of the Palestinian Authority is appalling.  Two weeks ago the Czechs found a large, illegal cache of weapons (serious weapons and enough to arm ten men) at the Prague home of the Palestinian Arab “ambassador,” Jamel al-Jamal, who had been killed in an explosion.

After a couple of days, Czech authorities indicated that they believed these weapons were part of a gun smuggling operation – just the tip of the iceberg of a massive Europe-wide operation.

But, don’t worry: the PA apologized.


Then, a week ago, the Palestinian Arab new agency WAFA ran a piece about Fatah interest in revisiting the question of reconciliation with Hamas.
Azzam al-Ahmad, the Fatah official in charge of the reconciliation talks with Hamas, said he held  a lengthy phone conversation with Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, regarding resumption of efforts to reach final reconciliation, and that they would be meeting soon.

Now, I do not believe for a moment that there will truly be reconciliation.  But we must ask why this should even be raised now, when the PA (comprised primarily of Fatah people) is supposed to be engaged in negotiations.  Could it be because Fatah leaders know that any move towards merger with Hamas would have a most chilling effect on those negotiations?


With it all, there are continuing (shall I say “routine”?) statements from PA officials regarding insistence on Jerusalem as a Palestinian capital, refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, demand for return of “refugee,” etc. etc.  Nothing has changed.


I close here by sharing an op-ed and a news report.  What they both tell us is that we do, indeed, have friends:

Writes Ryan Bellerose, in his op-ed, “Israel: The World's First Modern Indigenous State” (emphasis added):

“I am Métis [native American] from the Paddle Prairie Metis settlement in Northern Alberta Canada.  I founded Canadians For Accountability, a native rights advocacy group, and I am an organizer and participant in the Idle No More movement in Calgary. I am a founding member of an Israeli advocacy group called Calgary United with Israel. And I am a Zionist...

“Israel is the world’s first modern indigenous state: the creation and declaration of the sovereign nation of Israel marks the first time in history that an indigenous people has managed to regain control of its ancestral lands and build a nation state. As such, this is incredibly important for indigenous people both to recognize and to support as a great example for our peoples to emulate.
“The actual working definition of ‘indigenous people,’ (not the Wikipedia version, nor Merriam Webster, both more suited to plants and animals) for purposes of this essay is that developed by aforementioned anthropologist José R. Martínez-Cobo. With this as my foundation, I will detail why Jews are indigenous to Israel, and why Palestinians are not...”

Great stuff. Read it all:

The Palestinian Arabs routinely incorporate into their (fictional) narrative the notion that they are the indigenous people in this area.


And then we have Julie Bishop, Australian foreign minister, and someone else who is prepared to speak truth. One very sharp lady.

“In an exclusive interview with The Times of Israel, Julie Bishop suggested that, contrary to conventional diplomatic wisdom, the settlements may not be illegal under international law. She refrained from condemning Israeli initiatives to build additional housing units beyond the Green Line or from calling on Israel to freeze such plans, merely saying the fact that settlements were being expanded showed the need for the sides to quickly reach a peace agreement. ‘I don’t want to prejudge the fundamental issues in the peace negotiations,’ Bishop said. ‘The issue of settlements is absolutely and utterly fundamental to the negotiations that are under way and I think it’s appropriate that we give those negotiations every chance of succeeding.’

“Asked whether she agrees or disagrees with the near-universal view that Israeli settlements anywhere beyond the 1967 lines are illegal under international law, she replied: ‘I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal.’” (All emphasis added)

“International law” is a term bandied about very easily. She’s got it right, to question this.  The “settlements” most certainly are NOT illegal.  The Levy Report thoroughly documents this fact.


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


Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 04:54PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 12, 2014: A Rapidly Shifting World

As most of you undoubtedly know, Ariel (Arik) Sharon, 85, former prime minister of Israel, passed away yesterday, after eight years in a comatose state following a stroke. 


Credit: USAToday

In some quarters, the news is filled with laudatory articles about him.  For in his younger days he was a brilliant and fearless military commander whose strategies were critical in the victories in 1967 and 1973.  Subsequently, as a government minister, he fostered the building of communities in Judea and Samaria.

None of this can be taken away from him.  Nor would I wish to do that.

In Arab and related anti-Israel quarters there is obscene jubilation at his death, with the leveling of accusations against him that are absolutely not true.  He was not responsible for the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.  And, I hasten to point out, he did not initiate the Second Intifada by going onto Har Habayit.  That Palestinian Arab war against Israel begun in 2000 was not a spontaneous uprising of anger – it had been thoroughly pre-planned by Arafat, who was waiting for a pretext to begin.  It is important that this record be kept straight.  The anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish media saw him as a special target for vilification, so that he was represented – with outrageous injustice – as a monster. This cannot be allowed to stand.  Against such accusers I stand read to defend his record.

And yet... and yet...

Minister Naftali Bennett says we should leave discussion of the disengagement for another time.  This is, surely, a response to the principle of not speaking ill of the dead, and in particular the very recently deceased.  I respect that, and yet cannot let pass mention of the expulsion from Gaza (Gush Katif), which Sharon pushed through the government, and which was an unmitigated disaster for this country from both a diplomatic and security perspective. It generated a time of enormous national pain from which we have not yet recovered.  As I see it, the Gush Katif expulsion was a betrayal of Sharon’s mandate from the electorate, and a betrayal of the nation.  It represented a reversal of all that he was understood to represent until then, and left many highly bewildered.  There seems no way to reconcile Sharon’s different policies, although a great many people are struggling to do just that.


Credit: Kuma


Sharon is lying in state today and will be buried next to his wife Lily at his Negev farm tomorrow.

For eight years, the neshama (soul) of Arik Sharon floated between this world and the next.  Perhaps now he will find peace.  And may we, having learned important lessons about standing strong, move on to peace for the soul of our nation.


One of the issues I want to focus on today is that enormously problematic situation of the African migrants currently in Israel.  You may well have heard – via some of those same anti-Israel sources I referred to above – about how lacking in humanitarian sensitivity Israel is with regard to policy on these migrants.  As they present the situation, Israel can do no right. If there is an opportunity for attacking us, they grab it.

A few basic facts:

Most of the 50,000 plus Africans, primarily from Eritrea and Sudan, are NOT refugees – even though they, and the left wing press and NGOs, would represent them as being so.  Of the 53,000 African infiltrators in our country, only 1,800 have applied for asylum, on a refugee basis.  This information comes directly from Israeli Minister of the Interior Gideon Sa’ar. (See an interview Sa’ar did with the JPost:  It is enormously telling.

What are they?  Economic migrants.  Life is hard in their countries, so they decided to move on to a place where they have hopes of earning better money.  Far and wide in Africa, the word is out that Israel is “the” place to go.

But, obviously, they didn’t applied for entry into the country on work visas.  They are precisely what Sa’ar calls them: infiltrators.  They entered our borders illegally.  This is a situation no country can tolerate.  It means relinquishing control of the borders: every nation has the right to control who enters.  If we were to lose control, then millions who would prefer to live here than where they now live would attempt to enter, ultimately overwhelming the nation.

Note what Israel’s Foreign Ministry said recently about this issue (emphasis added):

The situation in Israel is much more complex than that of other developed countries. Israel is the only developed country with a land border with Africa, which makes it comparatively more accessible for those who wish to enter. Moreover, due to Israel's unique geostrategic situation and the current political instability surrounding its borders, it becomes practically impossible to develop regional cooperative solutions with countries of origin and transit, as done by other developed countries, such as European countries and the US.”

It is my understanding that Israel has more illegal economic infiltrators in absolute numbers than all of Europe combined. The developed nations simply do not permit an influx of third world people in large numbers such that can weaken their stability.

Israel is a very small nation: 50,000 infiltrators from a radically different culture - with no genuine allegiance to Israel but only concern for what they can garner from Israel -are far, far more than can be accommodated.  The vast majority came via Israel’s border with the Sinai.  That border has now been closed, as a fence has been constructed across its length. But there remains the issue of what to do with those who are already here.  The government of Israel is determined to find solutions for their going elsewhere.  There have been some voluntary repatriations, but most would leave to third countries.

While there certainly are issues of humanitarian concern and human rights for the African migrants, the rights of Israeli citizens must also be considered.  In areas where these infiltrators live, there is an enormous increase in crime, including rape; in certain neighborhoods – notably in south Tel Aviv – people are afraid to go out at night. 

Please note: this does not mean every single infiltrator is a criminal or violent.  In no way do I intend to imply this.  But these are desperate people, and desperation leads to criminal or violent behavior in some instances.  What is more, there are costs to the nation in terms of medical care, for example, that are a burden on the Israeli taxpayers.


Last week, there were massive demonstrations by tens of thousands of the Africans, appealing for the right to stay and work. 


Credit: NewYorker

Their efforts have backfired for a simple reason: It clear that they are being manipulated and choreographed for purposes that are destructive to Israel. 

Gideon Sa’ar (see above URL), is convinced that outside bodies are initiating the protests (emphasis added):

“The infiltrators are not the ones asking for protest permits.  They are not the ones paying for the buses...

“It is legitimate to disagree with government policies.  What infuriates me is when organizations make libelous statements about the State of Israel and the demonstrations in front of foreign embassies and the verbal attacks that are carried out in front of international media cameras.  Israel has nothing to be ashamed of and is coping with this phenomenon just as well as other Western nations that have dealt with this problem.”

The goal of those underwriting the protests, clearly, is a weakening of Israeli society and of the international image of Israel.  Do not be taken in...


Before moving on to another topic, I want to make one additional and extremely important point.  David Lev has written (emphasis added):

“But the reason they [African illegals] were able to do so [organize impressive demonstrations], said Yisrael Hayom Thursday, was because they had some ‘inside help,’ from an Israeli organization funded by the UN, EU, and the leftist New Israel Fund. According to the report, the demonstrations this week in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were organized by the “Refugee Assistance Fund,” an organization led by several well-known Israeli leftists. Among those funding the group is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, various European Union groups, and the New Israel Fund, infamous for funding leftist projects and organizations like Peace Now, Yesh Gvul, etc.”

This touches upon a related, but different issue: the meddling, behind the scenes, of foreign organizations and governments in what goes on in Israel.  Legislation is being developed that would address some aspects of these situation.


I have written several times about the rapidly changing Middle East.  After World War I, and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, France and Great Britain essentially divided control over the area and drew arbitrary borders to create states, without concern for the ethnic and religious (Christian, Druze, Sunni, Shi’ite, etc.) groups contained within those borders. These groups have been to a considerable degree kept under the thumb of autocratic rulers, who themselves may have been members of a minority ethnic group. That autocratic rule suppressed self-assertion by the various other groups and lent the superficial impression of a unified nation.  I think in particular of the Alawite rule in Syria and the Hashemite rule in Jordan. (In Lebanon there is a history of serious and violent tensions between Christians and Muslims, with ongoing instability.)

Now, with the seriously misnamed “Arab Spring,” states are beginning to break apart - we see this is Syria, in Iraq and elsewhere – with various religious and ethnic groups asserted themselves. A particularly important example of this is with the Kurds, who are a legitimate ethnic, cultural group that inhabits adjacent regions in Iraq and Turkey.  They are aiming for an independent Kurdistan.


Within Israel, we are beginning to see something similar, as there is now a movement to differentiate Christians from Muslim Arabs. Coalition Chair Yariv Levin (Likud) is attempting to institute measures that would legally differentiate the groups. Christians would receive an identity as a minority group separate from Arabs, and give them their own representation.

“Out of ignorance, the government has been lumping all of the minorities – Druse, Christians and others – under the category of ‘Arab’ since the establishment of the state, even though there are big differences among them. Since there are many more Muslims than members of other groups, the result is that only Muslim concerns were met...

“This idea came from Christians who asked me to do this following similar activity pertaining to the Druse minority.

It’s not surprising that Christians want to be separated from Muslims. This is the only place in the Middle East where they have security and freedom of worship. Many Christians don’t want to be known as Arabs, but as Maronites or Aramites.”


This strikes me as imminently sensible.  The Christians here who traditionally have been identified as “Arabs” actually have various cultural roots.  Most of them practice religions such as Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, with each church having liturgy in that respective language.  That is, in an “Arab” Greek Orthodox church in this part of the world, you will find prayers in Greek, and so forth.  Knowing this, it has long occurred to me that these Christian “Arabs” are truly ethnically different from the Muslim population.

Now this is being recognized.  Says Levin, “I’m doing justice to this community by connecting them to the country and preventing Islamist extremists from forcing an identity on them that they don’t want.”

What is of significance here is the movement to encourage the Christians to fully identify with Israel and to enlist in the IDF.


In her column on Friday, Caroline Glick writes about this phenomenon (emphasis added). 

She mentions Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest in Nazareth, who, she says, “is responsible for the 300 percent rise in Christian Arab enlistment in the IDF in the past year.

“Nadaf does not hide his goal or his motivation.  He seeks the full integration of Israel’s  130,000 Christians into Israeli society...

“As he explained in a recent interview...’in light of what we see happening to Christians in Arab countries, how they are slaughtered and persecuted on a daily basis, killed and raped just because they are Christians.  Does this happen in the State of Israel?  No, it doesn’t.”


What we are seeing here, says Glick, is “the natural result of the most significant revolutionary development of the so-called Arab Spring: the demise of Arab nationalism.“

Glick - citing Ofir Haivry, vice president of the Herzl Institute – then proceeds to offer an analysis of the situation that I think is brilliant:

“...Arab nationalism was born in pan-Arabism – an invention of European powers during World War I that sought to endow the post-Ottoman Middle East with a new identity.

“The core of the new identity was the Arabic language. The religious, tribal, ethnic and nationalist aspirations of the peoples of the Arabic-speaking region were to be smothered and replaced by a pan-Arabic identity...

But now pan-Arabism lies in ruins from North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula. The people of the region have gone back to identifying themselves by tribe, religion, and ethnicity. and in the case of the Kurds and Berbers, non-Arab national identity...

“As Haivry notes, Israel’s central strategic challenge has always been contending with pan-Arabism...

“Since its inception, pan-Arab leaders always saw Israel as the scapegoat on which to pin their failure to deliver on pan-Arabism’s promise of global Arab power and influence...

“...Once, Israel could see the dangers in pan-Arabism and Arab nationalism.  But since 1993 [Oslo], says Haivry, Israel’s national strategy has been based on appeasing the secular authoritarian pan-Arab leaders by offering land for peace to Syria and the PLO.

“Haivry notes the Shimon Peres is the political godfather of Israel’s  accomodationist strategy, which is rooted in a mix of perceived powerlessness on the one hand, and utopianism on the other.

“The sense of powerlessness owes to the conviction that Israel cannot influence its environment.  That the Arabs will never change.  Israel’s neighbors will always see themselves primarily as Arabs, and they will always want, more than anything else, Arab states...

The so-called Arab Spring has put paid to every one of the accomodationists’ beliefs.  From Egypt to Tunisia to Iraq to Syria, Israel’s neighbors are fighting each other as Sunnis, Shi’ites and Salafists, or as members of clans and tribes, without a thought for the alleged primacy of their Arab identity...”

It is time for a revamping of government thinking on a significant scale, declares Glick:

“...The Netanyahu government has failed to recognize the implications of the death of pan-Arabism.  In maintaining their slavish devotion to the two-state formula, and viewing the Arabs in the Galilee, Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem and surrounding states as an impenetrable bloc, they are placing Israel’s future in the hands of actors who have already disappeared or will soon disappear...”

I encourage you to read this entire piece, and share it:


© 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, January 12, 2014 at 03:13PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 8, 2014: A Long, Hard Struggle

I’m encountering a lot of anger here in Israel, and the depression that often follows.  Pit-of-the-stomach anxiety, too.  How could it be otherwise?

Kerry took off on Monday but plans to be back very soon.  His “framework” is still not in place, and the rumors continue to fly.  Some of those rumors suggest that the framework might be verbal and not in written form at all.  This may be because he cannot put together a document that both parties would sign – which would be good news.

Netanyahu: "There is still no document and the Americans are not succeeding at obtaining agreements between the sides."


According to Israel National News yesterday:

“Governmental sources report that US Secretary of State John Kerry is behind the European boycott threats on Israeli products and companies operating in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

“The EU published its guidelines last July, boycotting Israeli companies operating over the 1949 Armistice lines.

“At the moment, Kerry is making sure the threats stay in check, but as soon as the peace talks fail he intends to open the floodgates and spur on full-blown international boycotts on Israel, reports Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio).”

This provides a hint as to why Netanyahu is playing along (and I’ll get to that in more detail in a second).

Here’s Defense Secretary Moshe Ya’alon:

"It is clear to us that there are large gaps [between us] - and this is not new - but it is certainly in our interest to continue negotiations and to continue to work to stabilize the situation in the relationship between us and the Palestinians."

The government is laboring mightily to make sure it does not appear that we are the ones who are the stumbling block to “peace.”  The problem, of course, and always, is that it will be our fault no matter how we labor to make it otherwise.  Note what the “government sources” cited above say: “As soon as the peace talks fail [Kerry] intends to...spur on full blown international boycotts.”  Failure will be our fault.  No wonder, then, as well. that Ya’alon talks about the possibility of extending the talks.

No wonder, either, that the Israeli people are suffering a great deal of anger and depression. 


The pivotal figure, however, is Netanyahu, not Kerry.  We need a prime minister who – recognizing that we cannot win in this situation – will opt to be done with it already.

 On this, see Michael Freund’s recent article,  “Can Israel say 'No' to the US? Yes, we can!” 

”Amid reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry is applying mounting pressure on Israel to make significant concessions to the Palestinians, there is an increasingly common refrain that has seeped into our political dialogue which needs to be exposed for the fallacy that it is.

“Israel, we are told by various pundits and politicians, has no choice but to go along with American demands.

“After all, our relationship with Washington is our greatest strategic asset and we cannot allow anything to get in its way. Hence, whatever America wants, the Jewish state must more or less accept.

“Needless to say, such an approach is not only short-sighted and misguided - it is oblivious to history and perilous to our destiny. And the sooner we expose it for the misleading oversimplification that it is, the better off we will all be.

“To begin with, Israel is not a vassal state, an American overseas territory or a serf that must cower before his feudal overlord.

We are a sovereign independent nation with our own national and security interests, and while we must surely take into account what our friends and allies have to say, we cannot and must not lose sight of our right and obligation to determine our own fate.

And regardless of how short our memories might be, the fact is that on numerous occasions Israel has defied and resisted, flouted and even disregarded American demands when it came to matters that went to the core of our very existence.”


Alas, that is not how Netanyahu plays it.


Credit: Mondoweiss

I know some who believe he has caved and is prepared to negotiate a “Palestinian state.”  I still don’t believe that, and I base my assessment on a host of factors including an “inside” discussion.  What he is doing is typical Bibi: He’s playing an exceedingly dangerous game in the belief that this is in Israel’s best interests. 

At one point he made a comment about how anything we agreed to would not be binding anyway – but this is not the way to go.  You don’t agree in principle to something that is not in Israel’s best interest just to keep the ball in the air, saying that it’s not binding. 

I am convinced that it’s a game for Netanyahu partly because of this: According to the JPost, he has told MKs he was working to persuade Kerry that Israel must keep significant areas in Judea and Samaria, and that he was “succeeding” in getting “Kerry to accept many of Israel’s positions.” “There is an understanding about Israel’s need to keep settlement blocs and areas of historical (and religious) significance like Hevron and Beit El.”

Well, what he reportedly wants to keep, as important as it is, is not sufficient, if we are going to demand what we have a legal right to.  But it is sufficient to make the deal totally unpalatable to the Arabs.  And he knows it.

According to Israeli sources, cited in the above article, the framework is supposed to be what is followed as negotiations continue, with both sides agreeing to do this “with reservations.” Another “no-no.”  Israel submitted reservations when the US presented the “Roadmap.”  Those reservations were totally ignored.

In this case, both sides are expected to say that the positions in the framework are American positions – not necessarily positions that the parties themselves agree to - but that they will continue to negotiate based on this framework. What sort of diplomatic fancy footwork is this?


In a talk at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, Naftali Bennett, Economy Minister and head of Habayit Hayehudi, had this to say:

“The games are over. We will not play word games any more.  The 1967 lines [demanded by the PA, and reportedly to be included in Kerry’s framework) means the division of Jerusalem.  We will never agree to give up a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and only Israel.  We will not accept a Palestinian terror state. We will not accept an agreement based on the 1967 lines.  We will not beg for for land swaps as if we are talking about a cut-and-paste in a Word document.

“...We won’t sit in a government that, because of international pressure, will endanger the lives of our capital.  We will not sit in a government that will make the easy and dangerous decisions.”

Credit: JPost

Bravo.  The major concern here is that if his party goes, Labor would come in.  Stay tuned.


I will have more soon.  Here, I close with two videos.

The first shares a video clip from Palestinian Media Watch that exposes PA intentions with regard to the Strategy of Stages. This is a clearly enunciated policy, years old, that says Israel cannot be taken down at once and must be weakened in stages. The current negotiations are part of that effort. 

If you scroll down further on the page, you will find another PMW video that touts the "Treaty of Hudaybiyyah."  This sanctions false treaties – treaties made to be broken when the time is right.  Muhammad is the model for this, but here the speaker is referring to Oslo.

The second is difficult to watch but important: It reveals Israel’s humanitarian heart, and it delivers a message to Israel from a Muslim converted to Christianity:

All good reasons, my friends, to say no to Kerry.


© 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, January 8, 2014 at 02:04PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 5, 2014: Where Are We Going?

The installation of a new computer has – incredibly – slowed down my writing for about a week.  Learning new systems can be a challenge.


The date I have written here is 2014, and I am pleased that I remembered. 

With all honesty, this was the major change that “the new year” represented for me.  But I have no desire to be insensitive: And so, I thank all who wrote to wish me a good new year, and extend the same wishes to all of you.  Mostly, however, I extend these wishes on a personal level: may each of you have health, loving family and friends, satisfying work, secure income.

For the world, I have enormous unease. Certainly no balloons or fireworks.  Only prayers: May Heaven help us.


This will be a beginning of the resumption of writing, with more to follow.  I take a look at what is transpiring here, and what has been happening over the last few days, and I am overwhelmed by the stupidity, the emptiness, the immorality of the goings-on.  Indeed, Heaven help us.


Late at night on the 31st of December, Israel released 26 murderers of Jews, terrorists who were in Israeli prisons since before Oslo, but whose terms had not been completed.

This sparked an enormous sense of grief in the nation, a grief that, quite frankly, left me carrying unshed tears: it should never have been allowed to happen.  

Our prime minister spoke about honoring commitments already made. He didn’t convince me. 


They celebrated mightily at the president’s compound in Ramallah after their release.

Credit: Times of Israel

Palestinians celebrate at the welcome reception for released Palestinian prisoners, at the Muqata'a in Ramallah, in the early hours of Tuesday, December 31, 2013

But did Abbas express gratitude for this?  Of course not.  Silly question.  He declared that there would be no “peace deal” until every last vile, scummy, sub-human terrorist was released from our prisons.  He gained this much, why not shoot for the whole thing? Maybe Kerry would be able to get this for him.


When Kerry arrived here a couple of days later (and more about this below), Netanyahu, in his opening statement, registered distress about the fact that Abbas celebrated the terrorist releases: “A few days ago in Ramallah, President Abbas embraced terrorists as heroes. To glorify the murders of innocent women and men as heroes is an outrage.”

Abbas did indeed refer to them directly as “heroes”: “Today is a day of joy to our people, our families and our hero prisoners who’ve achieved freedom...”

But I wanted to say, “Come on, Bibi!  You knew this is what Abbas would do when he demanded their release.  The problem lies in the fact that they were released.  If you didn’t want the celebration, you should not have let them go.”  The question to be asked is: “What sort of people demands the release of murderers in order to negotiate peace?”

They were let go as part of what is supposed to be a “confidence building measure,” which is pathetic.  They were released, as I have indicated previously, because of major pressure from the US, and for no other reason.  Abbas demands this because it increases his very meager support among the Palestinian Arab people.  It is a popular move, which tells us a whole lot about the Palestinian Arab people. And Kerry?  He’s so eager to get Abbas to the table he would agree to many outrages.


What I have learned is that a handful of the prisoners let out last week had Jerusalem residency cards and were released to eastern Jerusalem. This is exceedingly troubling.  According to Arab sources, the last batch of prisoners will include some eight with Israeli citizenship.  This is unacceptable twice over.  If Abbas wants “his” murderers released, that is bad enough, but it is one thing. Asking us to release Israelis who murdered other Israelis and were tried in Israeli courts in something else and should not be tolerated under any circumstances.  They fall under Israeli jurisdiction exclusively and Abbas should have nothing to say about them.

Right now, it seems that Netanyahu is distancing himself from this and will not confirm the reports:,7340,L-4473015,00.html


If there is anything encouraging to be said about the current situation it is that there does seem to be push-back here in Israel on the Kerry “framework” proposal.  We are seeing this in several ways:

Last Thursday, a contingent of 15 MKs and Ministers representing all the parties of the coalition except Livni’s Hatnua visited the Jordan Valley in protest against Kerry’s plans for removal of civilians from the Jordan Valley, and in solidarity with the people there. This visit, organized by Orit Strook (Habayit Hayehudi), chair of the Land of Israel caucus in the Knesset, included Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud); Coalition chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud); Deputy Minister of Transportation Tzipi Hotovely (Likud);
and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (also Likud). 

Sa’ar, who symbolically poured a bucket of cement into the foundation of a new home there, declared, “It is wrong to precondition peace on the withdrawal of Jewish settlements. This can not bring peace.”

What I note about Sa’ar in particular is that he is number two on the Likud list and close to Netanyahu. 

Credit: Haaretz

It is my contention in situations like this that Netanyahu runs a tight ship in his party and that someone like Sa’ar would not be doing what he is without a quiet nod from the prime minister.  Netanyahu seems to be letting others speak out in a way that he himself is not doing, quite possibly with the intention of allowing a situation to develop that permits him to tell Kerry his party won’t stand still for certain concessions.

While the emphasis was on the Jordan Valley, because of Kerry demands – with Sa’ar saying, “The question is, where will Israel’s eastern border be? At the Jordan River or God forbid, near Netanya or Kfar Saba,” and Elkins pointing out that Prime Minister Rabin “was not willing to let go of the Jordan Valley” – there was also important talk about the retention of all communities in Judea and Samaria.  This, my friends, is the bottom line.


Even Netanyahu, (see the JPost article cited above) made a statement about not being very optimistic about the PA’s sincerity about peace.  You think?  He alluded in particular to PA incitement and celebration of terror.

Meanwhile, Senator John McCain, of Arizona, who is visiting Israel with fellow Republican Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, met with Netanyahu and subsequently reported that:

“Prime Minister Netanyahu has serious, serious concerns about the plan as it has been presented to him...”


And Kerry?  Forgive me, but I have the impression that his brains leaked out of his ears some long time ago.  He is, to this moment, making all sorts of optimistic comments about the progress being made.  Israel and the PLO, he says are starting to “flesh out the toughest hurdles” in the “peace process.”

But what takes the cake is the comparison Kerry actually made this past week between our situation here and Vietnam.  Please see Aaron Lerner of IMRA on this:

For the record, Kerry’s hands are not clean, with regard to what went on concerning Vietnam.  (Details, perhaps, in time.)


Ahmed Tibi, an MK with the party, was an advisor to Arafat and remains close to Abbas (which leads to questions about how such a man is allowed in the Knesset, but that is for another day). Tibi, in interview with Al-Monitor, said that he speaks with Abbas “a lot,” and that Abbas will never settle for less than Jerusalem (he didn’t say “east”) as the capital of a Palestinian state, and insists that not a single IDF soldier would be permitted on Palestinian land.

This is not new, but so much for Kerry’s suggestion about fleshing out the tough hurdles.


Other than the contentious issue of control of the Jordan Valley, I have no solid information on what Kerry is trying to sell or how detailed his framework is. Some reports indicate that he is still aiming for a final agreement by April, while others report that this is his way of making it possible for negotiations to continue after April.

There are those who suggest what Kerry is really after is the Nobel Peace prize. Hey! It could happen.  His boss, Obama, got it for doing absolutely nothing so surely he might get it after working so hard for “peace.”


The area remains on fire all about us, and there is much to be examined in days ahead.  A great deal of the violence we are seeing is Sunni-Shia, in one guise or another.


© 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, January 5, 2014 at 03:12PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 28, 2010: The Jordan Valley

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

From multiple sources I am picking up considerable concern regarding the broad implications -- diplomatic and security -- with regard to any relinquishment by Israel of full control of the Jordan Valley.


Apologies that this map says "West Bank" and not, properly, Judea and Samaria.  It is the best I could find in order to clearly illustrate the location of the Jordan Valley -- the lowland that abuts the bank of the Jordan River. 

I wrote the other day about the expectation ("demand") voiced by Kerry that Israel remove all Jewish communities in the Valley.  There might be some IDF forces stationed for a period of time in the Valley, but they would subsequently be replaced by international (US?) forces. An unmitigated disaster. 

Credit: wikipedia


I'm pleased to see, now, that the Jordan Valley Regional Council, representing 21 permanent Jewish communities, is up in arms about this proposal.
Says Council head David Elhayani:

“The communities of the Jordan Valley will not sit silently in the face of the recent reports regarding a change in the Jordan Valley’s status, at least in the Americans’ eyes."

Residents are planning a campaign “to explain the importance to security of the Jordan Valley communities, to explain that this is important to the entire nation of Israel,” he said.

“We want the position that the Jordan Valley needs to be under Israeli sovereignty to have overwhelming support, so there will be no question mark hanging over the Jordan Valley’s future.”


Put simply, only residence by Israeli citizens ensures the permanence of an Israeli presence.  If the communities are gone, and only a military presence exists in the area, it can be (it would be) dismissed.  That presence is seen as a bulwark against invasion from the east, across the Jordan River.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon certainly sees it this way: 

"He...stated earlier this month that he opposed the dismantling of the settlements there [in the Jordan Valley], since, he said, a civilian presence was critical to the viability of maintaining security control." (Emphasis added)

In fact, a number of Likud ministers feel so strongly about this that they are promoting legislation to annex the area and its access roads. This effort, spearheaded by Miri Regev, is expected to advance just so far and no further.


If the legislation had the full blessing of the prime minister, it would succeed.  But Netanyahu, while insisting on a continued military presence in the Valley, has been less definitive about a continued civilian presence.  He's not saying what his defense minister is saying -- he's leaving it to Ya'alon.  The reason is fairly obvious: this would put Netanyahu in direct and public conflict with Kerry. 

I cited a knowledgeable source on this the other day: Netanyahu, it is being surmised, will hold tight on Jerusalem, and his position will constitute a deal-breaker.  Thus, as Netanyahu apparently sees it, it would be unnecessarily confrontational for him to insist on an Israeli civilian presence in the Valley, as there will be no deal.

But there comes a time when standing on our rights is something that must be done. Period.

It goes without saying that our very foolish chief Israeli negotiator, Tzipi Livni, is adamantly opposed to this.  We don't want to interfere with the "peace process," after all.


With regard to the Jordan Valley, Yigal Alon, Deputy Prime Minister from 1967-69, proposed what was known as the Alon plan. 

An interesting bit of history (see the map).  This was right after Israel had acquired (liberated) Judea and Samaria from the Jordanians in a 1967 defensive war.  Alon suggested that a large part of the area - in yellow - be returned to the Jordanians with a corridor from that area leading back into Jordan. (There was no talk of a "Palestinian state," folks.)  His plan, however, called for retention of the Jordan Valley as part of Israel.


Credit: Jewishvirtuallibrary

While it has long been discredited as inadequate with regard to safeguarding Israel, even this plan proposed a row of settlements along the Jordan River. This was in order to safeguard strategic control of the area, which was considered of prime importance.  The first of the modern Israeli communities to be built in the area was established in 1968.

Now along comes Kerry, who knows better.  Or knows nothing.


Aside from security issues, it is an outrage to the families of these communities to suggest they be evacuated.  This was the area, my friends, where Joshua entered the Promised Land.  Could it be much clearer: This is Jewish by heritage and right.  We must keep saying this.

Some 60% of the population here is involved in agriculture -- either directly, or via related services.  These are very permanent communities.

What their removal would do, aside from everything else, is set a horrific precedent: Well, see, it was OK to remove communities from the Jordan Valley, so why not remove them from Samaria, as well? 


So, please, raise your voices on this issue:

Contact Prime Minister Netanyahu and urge him to stand strong at all cost against Kerry's Jordan Valley "security" plan:

E-mail: and also (underscore after pm) use both addresses

Remind him that there are both security issues and more basic issues of Israel's rights -- and that as prime minister he needs to stand for all of this.  Implore him not to consent to the dismantling of civilian communities in the Jordan Valley. Be brief (no lectures), and be polite. 


Contact your representatives in Congress, as well, and protest this initiative by Kerry, pointing out the critical importance of permanent Israeli communities in the Jordan Valley. 

Explain that it is Jordan as well as Israel that has serious concerns about Palestinian Arab control of the Jordan Valley.  

Khaled Abu Toameh wrote in September (emphasis added): 

"It is no secret that the Jordanians have long been worried about the repercussions of the presence of Palestinians on their border.

"In a recent closed briefing with a high-ranking Jordanian security official, he was asked about the kingdom's position regarding the possibility that Palestinians might one day replace Israel along the border with Jordan.

"'May God forbid!' the official retorted. 'We have repeatedly made it clear to the Israeli side that we will not agree to the presence of a third party at our border.'

"...Jordan's opposition to placing the border crossings with the West Bank under Palestinian control is not only based on security concerns.

"Of course, Jordan's security concerns are not unjustified, especially in light of what has been happening over the past few years along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

"The Egyptians are now paying a heavy price for neglecting their shared border with the Gaza Strip over the past few decades. This lapse has seen Sinai emerge as a hotbed for Al-Qaeda-linked terror groups that are now posing a serious threat to Egypt's national security.

"Besides the security concerns, the Jordanians are also worried about the demographic implications of Palestinian security and civilian presence over the border.

"Their worst nightmare, as a veteran Jordanian diplomat once told Israeli colleagues during a private encounter, is that once the Palestinians are given control over the border, thousands of them from the future Palestinian state would pour into Jordan.

"...Although the Jordanians are not part of the ongoing peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, they are hoping that Israel will not rush to abandon security control over its long border with the kingdom. Understandably, the Jordanian monarchy cannot go public with its stance for fear of being accused by Arabs and Muslims of treason and collaboration with the 'Zionist enemy..

"The Egyptians today know what the Jordanians have been aware of for a long time -- that a shared border with Fatah or Hamas or any other Palestinian group is a recipe for instability and anarchy. The Egyptians surely miss the days when the Israel Defense Forces were sitting along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip."


Never miss an opportunity to educate your elected representatives on these issues.  There is a great deal that passes them by.

For your Congresspersons: 

For your Senators: 


And while you're at it, spread the word on this issue, which is not well understood, in other venues. Share this posting, write letters to the editor, post on Facebook and websites.  Let people know the facts.


In my last posting I had alluded to an increase in terror attacks lately.  Within the last week we've seen:

[] A bomb exploded on a bus in Bat Yam after an alert passenger noticed it and averted a disaster by helping the other passengers get off safely just in time.  Echoes of a horrendous time.  Baruch Hashem tragedy was averted here.

[] A day after, a rocket was fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

[] A police officer was stabbed in the back at a checkpoint near Adam.

[] And a sniper from Gaza killed an Israeli, Saleh Abu Latif, a 22-year-old Israeli Defense Ministry worker doing repairs on the fence at the Gaza border. 

Israeli officials, particularly concerned about a reduction in deterrence, responded with an attack inside of Gaza.  "This is a very severe incident and we will not let it go unanswered," said Netanyahu.


It is broadly understood that the terror attacks are initiated by radical groups trying to subvert "the peace process."  There is, you see, typically, an increase in terror when we are negotiating.

The aforementioned very foolish Livni made a statement about how we won't let this stop us from negotiating.

But this is not clear-headed thinking. (Has Livni ever been clear-headed?)  If "peace" negotiations invite violence, then obviously a "peace" agreement would invite major efforts to undo it. That is, peace, true peace is not possible.  It would only be possible if all factions of the Palestinian Arabs were on-board for a comprehensive peace, and this is not remotely the case.

What is more, it is my own suspicion that blaming only terrorist groups in Gaza is simplistic.  I strongly suspect that elements in Fatah (the majority party of the PA/PLO) endorse such attacks, as they hope this will make us more amenable to concessions.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it should be noted, spoke in praise of the bus bombing but did not take credit for it.


Israeli security has announced a new terrorist threat in Judea and Samaria (not Gaza, note): The rise of al-Qaida-inspired Salafi-jihadi terrorist cells:

"Salafi-jihadi cell, armed with guns and explosives, set out from the Hebron area to carry out a series of attacks...

"...the cell's first intended step was to kidnap IDF soldiers and to carry out shooting and bomb attacks on Israelis.

"...Israeli intelligence sources say, the movement is first and foremost an ideology which appears to be gaining some ground, thanks to a power vacuum in the West Bank.

While this was kept under control because of the vigilance of Israeli security, which tracked and then apprehended these terrorists, I invite you to imagine what the situation would be if Israel were no longer permitted to operate in the area.

And please note the reference to a "power vacuum" in Judea and Samaria (i.e., in PA controlled areas): The PA is not up to governing, no how.


What we're about to see -- on December 31 -- is the release of more terrorists as part of Netanyahu's commitment to release 104 in total over the course of the nine months of "negotiations" with the PA. The majority of the nation is against this, although our prime minister, insisting that he had to keep his word, intends to go ahead.

There are multiple reasons why this is a horrendous idea:

[] It subverts justice, allowing murderers of Israelis who have been properly tried to go free before their sentences are complete. This fosters a disrespect for the justice system and weakens the motivation of those responsible for apprehending such terrorists.

[] It is an act of moral failure with regard to sensitivity to the families of those killed by terrorists.  A betrayal of this country's commitment to them to punish those responsible for their loved ones' deaths.

[] It encourages terrorism because potential perpetrators of terrorism are led to believe that they will be able to find their way out of prison if they are caught.  Netanyahu and Ya'alon are worried about "deterrence," but this weakens that deterrence.  

[] It invites additional terrorism because there is a high rate of recidivism among those released: they return to terror or abet terror.


And so why did Netanyahu agree to this?  Because Kerry and Obama pushed for it, as Abbas had made it a condition for coming to the table. 

Doesn't mean Israel had to agree. 

At the time the conditions were spelled out, there was talk about our having to either agree to this or to a building freeze -- with Netanyahu deeming this the less objectionable choice.  "Having to" is a seriously questionable phrase, but I do not for a moment make light of the pressure put on our prime minister.  What he fears, I think  is being accused within the international community of being the stumbling block to "peace."

There is a vast responsibility for this unacceptable situation to be laid at the feet of the US administration.


A ministerial committee for this purpose will be determining the precise terrorists to be released, and their names won't be made public until the last moment.  The release is scheduled to take place late at night in an effort to mute publicity.

One issue of particular concern: A handful of those that the PA is demanding we release are Israeli Arabs.  This would be abhorrent twice-over.  Bad enough that the PA wants "their" people released, when they are convicted murderers.  But to seek the release of Israeli citizens raises a host of other issues.  Right now I do not know if they will be included.


At the time that the first two releases were done, the government simultaneously announced building in Judea and Samaria -- reportedly to appease right-wingers angry about the releases.  In the face of accusations from the US and the PA that this was "undermining the peace process," government officials indicated that all parties understood up front that this was going to happen.   

Recently the EU leveled threats at the Israeli government, warning that there had better not be more building announced when more prisoners are released, or there would be "repercussions."  Uh oh, I thought.  Would this intimidate Netanyahu?

And so I was pleased to see that this was not the case, for it is essential that the EU not be permitted to dictate to us in any respect:  It was announced this week that the process towards more building would be advanced when the next group of terrorists was released.


And yet, this is not a satisfactory situation. The government should not be announcing building in Judea and Samaria in retaliation for something, or to appease a part of the Israeli electorate.

The government should be building routinely because we have the right: We have legal grounds. This is what must be said, and said, and said, until the international community begins to get it.


© 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.