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February 3, 2016: Successes and Burdens

Hi-tech innovations coming out of Israel are fairly non-stop.  Consider: 

Credit: Gizmodo
Made-in-Israel technology is heading toward ubiquity, not just in back-end hardware and software, but even in consumer goods. Case in point: One-third of the smart TVs sold in the world today contain an essential piece of technology made by Tel Aviv start-up Giraffic.
“’As of this year, both Samsung and LG are using our Adaptive Video Acceleration (AVA) technology to ensure flawless playback of streaming content on their Internet-connected televisions,’ said Giraffic co-founder and CEO Yoel Zanger. ‘Right now we are the industry standard for client-side video acceleration and stabilization technology. It’s pretty cool.’”

Credit: shutterstock

“Israeli smart communication platform MyState has raised $6.5 million in funding from private U.S. investors. The Tel Aviv-based startup is set on better coordinating the way people communicate, and is launching on Android and iOS. Users are able to automatically check in on contacts to see if they’re available - even before dialing - eliminating the need for call waiting and time wasting.

“MyState shows the availability of a contact before dialing by displaying icons to indicate the person is on a call, offline or has no Internet connection, in a different time-zone, as well as their battery life running low, or charging. It also displays icons to indicate if their phone is on vibrate or silent. In addition, users can type out their own status message, if they choose.

“A key feature of MyState is the ‘Crunch’ button, which is used when a contact is speaking on the phone. By pressing the Crunch button, your smartphone will notify you when the contact is done with their call, and it will also notify the contact that you’re looking for them.”
It’s the barest beginning, but I certainly include as good news the results of the Iowa primary – with Cruz besting Trump and Rubio running a very close third.  Plus Hillary and Sanders neck-in-neck, so that even with a call for her, the close vote is a humiliation.
Charles Krauthammer calls the Republican results a “major inflection point”: It’s no long a given that Trump is invincible, and his victory is far from inevitable.  It is now a three person race, with Cruz, Trump and Rubio.
Daniel Greenfield, writing in Front Page Magazine, says that the primary is good news for the Republicans.  “Republican turnout in Iowa has shattered records. Ted Cruz picked up more Iowa caucus votes than any other candidate ever received despite the crowded field of candidates.”  (Emphasis added)
Other commentators believe the victory was to Rubio:

“Marco Rubio gave a victory speech in Iowa. That might sound astonishing, given that the junior senator from Florida finished third, but the way in which Rubio closed a big two-digit gap between himself and his party rivals Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz in the space of a few days suddenly makes him the Republican institution's ideal candidate. In Iowa, the winner finishes third.

“Rubio is suddenly being portrayed as the party's savior, the man who can win not only his party primaries at the Republican convention in Ohio in June, but also the general election in November. According to a CNN poll published Tuesday, 44% of respondents said they believed that Rubio had the greatest chance of beating the Democrats to the White House.”
The bottom line here is that there is hope. For America and beyond.
It is also good news when our government stands up for our rights – a state of affairs that is not inevitable.
On Tuesday, IDF soldiers demolished some 24 illegal Arab buildings around the Arab village of Khirbet Jenbah, south of Hevron. The homes were built in an area that has long been a closed military zone; some 10 or 12 of them had been financed by the EU.
An EU spokesman condemned the demolitions and said (emphasis added), “The EU expects its investments in support of the Palestinian people to be protected from damage and destruction.”
I love it: They support Arab building that is not only illegal but that is situated inside of a closed IDF military zone, and they think we should protect it?  The chuzpah (moxie) of the Europeans is boundless.
The head of a local village council charged that 12 families were left homeless. 
“However, Israeli activists have noted that most ‘residents’ of such illegal Arab outposts in fact own homes elsewhere, and set up sites such as these in order to create political ‘facts on the ground.’"
I can vouch for this, as I went, with a Regavim tour, to see the Arab outpost they claim as Susyia, and found that no one was home. There was not single person to be seen. They come out, from their real homes in a nearby Arab town, I was told, when press is expected.
Last posting, I wrote about the PA police officer, Amjad Sakari, who shot at IDF soldiers near Beit El and was subsequently shot dead.  On Monday, his funeral was held in Nablus (Shechem). 

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Amjad Abu Omar Sakari, who was shot dead while carrying out an attack on Israeli soldiers near the Beit El settlement, during his funeral in the village of Jamain south of Nablus, on February 1, 2016. (AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)

“Throngs of marching Palestinians called out ‘Death to Israel’...
’It is time for the machine gun, to shoot 500 people,’ the man leading Sakari’s funeral procession shouted over a megaphone, his words raucously repeated by the mourners, in footage screened by Israel’s Channel 2. ‘Muhammad’s army will return,’ he vowed.”  (Emphasis added)
Our “peace partners.” 
Some analysts have been saying that we are on the edge of a full-blown intifada that moves beyond the knifings and car rammings we’ve been dealing with.
And here we are:
Near the Damascus Gate in eastern Jerusalem, which is in an Arab neighborhood (picture of the Gate shown below), two young female border police officers, all of 19 and 20 years of age, spotted three Arabs who looked suspicious.  They approached to check out the Arabs and one produced his ID, while another produced a sub-machine gun that he had been concealing, and shot the officers, one of whom is in serious condition and the other, critical – on a respirator.
Other police officers in the area shot and killed all three terrorists.  Not only were they carrying concealed sub-machine guns, they also had knives and bombs. They were planning something big and the two young border police officers stopped them.


Credit: Times of Israel
If French leaders found the clearly inciteful behavior at the funeral reprehensible or counter-productive, I failed to notice it.  I rather doubt it, for the French are too busy championing the Palestinian Arabs.
Last Friday, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius announced:
“France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners, American, European, Arab, notably to preserve and make happen the solution of two states.”
He has in mind, he suggests, the venue of the UN Security Council for promoting the negotiations.
“And what will happen if this last-ditch attempt at reaching a negotiated solution hits a stumbling block? In that case, we will have to live up to our responsibilities and recognize a Palestinian state.”


Credit: ambafrance
Responsibility to recognize a Palestinian state?  How about responsibility to pressure the PA to stop inciting. and to clean up its corruption, and to have elections, which are way, way overdue? 
Why is it that none of this matters to Western powers?  The very same powers who go on about “international law,” most of which is invented.
A “state” is not created simply because nations declare that it has been “recognized”: a “state,” to be a political reality, must meet certain criteria, which have not been met, even remotely, by the PA. 
And that’s without even considering the security issues, such as the fact that, were the IDF to pull out of Judea and Samaria, the PA would fall quickly to Hamas or worse.
Even Israel’s opposition leader, Yitzhak Herzog, who is a big “two-state” fan, recently admitted that he didn’t see any way to move ahead now on negotiations for a “two-state solution.”
We have to ask what the motives of France’s officials are here.  A desire to be “leaders” in the Middle East? 
An eagerness to show the Arab world – and France’s own Muslims – that they are with the Palestinian Arabs all the way? 
An inherent hostility – nice words not withstanding – to Israel?  Or to Jews, more broadly: a new poll shows that 60% of the French believe that Jews have some responsibility for the marked rise in anti-Semitism in France.
This attitude, in and of itself, is a mark of anti-Semitism. 
Something else devious?
The Israeli government was quick to reject Fabius’s announced plans as counterproductive. “This is not how one conducts negotiations and not how one makes peace,” said a spokesman for the prime minister.  While Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz commented, similarly, that “Israel will not negotiate under ultimatums and threats.”
Even a US spokesman came out against the ultimatum:  “The US position on this issue has been clear. We continue to believe that the preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly.”
One of the main problems with France’s declared position is that it encourages PA obstinacy and fails to motivate the Palestinian Arabs in the slightest to cooperate or reform.  How sweet it is for them that the international community never holds their feet to the fire, and promises to hand them rewards on a silver platter.
Naturally, then, Abbas was full of enthusiasm for the French plan.  Not the negotiation part, but the “recognize a Palestinian state” part.
In a talk at an Arab summit in Addis Ababa, on Saturday, he made it clear he was not going into negotiations:
“We won’t return to negotiations just for the sake of negotiating and won’t continue to unilaterally implement previous agreements.”
I will not belabor here the outrage of Abbas pretending to have “unilaterally implemented previous agreements.”  Not when a basic tenet of Oslo was educating for peace and cessation of incitement.
Then he went further, declaiming:
“The region will not enjoy security and stability unless the Israeli occupation and settlement activities end. We will stay here on our land and in our homeland, where we have developed our historical and cultural identity and made humanitarian contributions for thousands of years.”
Who challenges these outrageously fallacious statements?  Cultural identity for thousands of years?  The “Palestinian people” – culturally no more than part of the Arab people  - was invented in the 20th century for political purposes.

Zahir Muhsein, PLO executive committee member, said, March 31, 1977, in an interview:

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."
And humanitarian contributions?  This is laughable.  If we feel like laughing, that is.
It has been announced that the Israel Police has a plan to bolster its presence in the Arab sector. Plans include hiring of 1,300 new police officers and setting up 10 new police stations. Good news, but they should have this done yesterday. And, in my humble opinion, there should be random checks, to search out the presence of guns that are being hidden.
The implementation of this plan will be overseen by a ministerial committee headed by Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.
And the Knesset has now approved the “stop and frisk” law, which permits police to search someone's body and belongings if there is a reasonable suspicion that he may be about to commit violence, or in the event that he uses threatening or violent language. This had been proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. 

Police search suspect

Credit: YNet,7340,L-4760974,00.html
All good moves, but not yet enough.
Much more, but tabled until my next post.
I close today with Lt. Col. Shai Abramson, Chief Cantor of the IDF, singing a prayer for the peace of Israel:
© 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, February 3, 2016 at 01:59PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 1, 2016: Virtual Torrent

I am referring to the mean-spirited, disappointing and hypocritical statements and actions that we see emanating from prominent world leaders.  This is in addition to the plethora of threats against Israel and the Jews.

But let’s hold that for a moment, as we must look at the good first.

This is a Namer armored personnel carrier equipped with the Trophy HV active protection system:


Credit: Ministry of Defense
In today’s world, this is good news. 

The Trophy system will be installed on every APC from this point on, enabling them “to enter battlegrounds rife with antitank and RPG threats and safely transport infantry, even in the face of multiple, simultaneous threats.”  Using radar panels to detect and follow threats before destroying them in mid-air with interceptors, it represents the highest level of protection for our soldiers and provides them with a significant advantage on the battlefield.
Most importantly, it will save Israeli lives, which is a very very good thing indeed.

Namer is Hebrew for leopard.  Nice imagery.


“Three 1,700-year-old funerary inscriptions referring to “rabbis” were discovered in Moshav Zippori in Israel’s Galilee region, a finding that affirms a Jewish presence in Israel during the Roman period, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.”

Two of the inscriptions were in Aramaic and one – shown below – in Greek, both languages used by Jews at that time.

Proof of Jewish presence in the land over the centuries is of major import.


“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades (center in the picture below) and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Nicosia, capital of Cyprus, on Thursday to discuss cooperation in the fields of energy, tourism, research and technology, environment, water management, combating terrorism, and migration.”

A joint statement by the three read, in part:

"The discovery of important hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean can serve as a catalyst for peace, stability and cooperation in the region. To this end, the three countries view the energy sector, and in particular, natural gas and renewable energy, as a solid foundation for cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean basin."

Commented Anastasiades:

"Our states share the same values as well as the conviction that in order to effectively counter multiple challenges confronting us on a local, regional and international level, we must work collectively.”

The leaders hope to meet again in the second half of this year.,7340,L-4759222,00.html 


Credit: Times of Israel

This represents a political turn that is positive.  As Prime Minister Netanyahu said:

“I believe this meeting has historic implications...the last time that Greeks, Cypriots and Jews sat around the table and talked on a common framework was about 2,000 years ago. So, it's historic in that sense, but I think it's historic for another reason.

”We're living through a great turbulent passage in history, in modern times, and we face unprecedented challenges, but also unprecedented opportunities to advance our common goals.”


The Israeli emergency response organization ZAKA has received official consultative status from the United Nations.  ZAKA will now be recognized as an official body in the UN, which will help it to expand its international search, rescue and recovery missions.” The organization now has the right to take part in official discussions in all UN institutions.

ZAKA applied for this status for three years running before being accepted.  Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon helped to make this a reality.

I will say here that I am in awe of the devotion of these guys – many of them ultra-Orthodox.  They not only assist in rescue, they recover bodies (and body parts), exhibiting profound respect as they do so.  And they lend services around the world.


Credit: voanews

As for that torrent:

Last Wednesday, January 27th, was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On that day – and the days immediately prior and following - we might (just might) have expected a smidgen of sensitivity to matters touching upon threats to Jews and Israel. 

There might, for example, have been an open expression of disapproval of Iran’s ongoing threats against Israel.  Just months ago, Ayatollah Khamenei said that Israel would not last another 25 years, and until it was gone, would not have a moment’s peace – as it would be hounded by jihadists.

Not an unreasonable expectation. But it was not to be.


On January 27th, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani arrived in France for a two-day visit.  This was the first such visit by an Iranian leader in many years. Here you see him being welcomed by French president Francois Hollande.

Credit: trend

The Jews of France declared themselves appalled; there were demonstrations by non-Jews as well because of Iranian-sponsored terrorism and Iranian deprivation of human rights. 




Credit: ibtimes (UK)

But never mind.  Matters sailed on smoothly.   Rouhani was accompanied by Iranian ministers and business leaders, all there to negotiate business deals.  And with this we get to the heart of the matter.  A joint venture was announced between car manufacturers PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) and Iran Khodro, and Iran arranged for the purchase of 118 Airbus (AIR.PA) passenger planes. There were other deals, as well.  Construction group Bouygues (BOUY.PA) and airport operator ADP (ADP.PA) are set to build an extension for Tehran airport, while French oil company Total said it would buy some 200,000 barrels of Iranian crude.

All of this courtesy of the lifting of sanctions on Iran.


It would surely be foolish to expect more, and yet France’s failure to embrace issues regarding human values is disheartening.  Business trumps everything, or almost everything.  The one glitch in Rouhani’s visit occurred when Rouhani demanded a wine-free lunch (as Muslim’s shun alcohol) and the French refused.  Apparently French officials said this went against their values.

Boy, those French know how to stand tough when it matters, don’t they?  This rubs salt in the wound and makes it all worse.


In Italy, which Rouhani visited before going to France, they withheld the wine.  And they did more: they covered their nude statue as to not offend the Iranian president.  This was  not well received either inside of Italy, where people thought it was going too far, and outside, where people mocked Italian leaders who made this decision.

See a brief video here:

It would be very funny, except that it’s not funny at all. Of course, all sorts of deals were struck in Italy as well.


While in Italy, Rouhani want to the Vatican for a visit with the pope.  As Ruthie Blum wrote today in “The Vatican’s disgraceful display” (emphasis added):

“...Pope Francis fawned all over the puppet head of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-led regime, directly and indirectly responsible for the slaughter of Christians across the world.

“The father of the Catholic Church nevertheless greeted ‘His Excellency Hassan Rouhani, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” as though he were a fellow pacifist ready, willing and able, not only to spread a global message of brotherly love, but to carry it out.”
“According to a statement from the Vatican after the meeting, the two held ‘cordial discussions’ in which ‘common spiritual values emerged.’

”The talks concluded with the ‘important role that Iran is called upon to fulfill, along with other countries in the region, to promote suitable political solutions to the problems afflicting the Middle East, to counter the spread of terrorism and arms trafficking. In this respect, the parties highlighted the importance of interreligious dialogue and the responsibility of religious communities in promoting reconciliation, tolerance and peace.’
”...To view Rouhani as someone with shared values who will act to combat terrorism and arms trafficking is to make a mockery of goodness.
“...Indeed, while Francis and Hassan were chumming it up on Tuesday, Iranian generals and admirals continued to boast about the progress they have been making in nuclear activities as a result of their deal with the West, while conducting drills to test long-range missiles and sophisticated radar systems.

On Wednesday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Rouhani’s master, Khamenei, aired a video he produced denying the Holocaust and attacking America and Europe.”


There is a great deal more I could write about today, but I am going to cut it short, because there is much to contemplate in what I have written here.  There are Holocaust Memorials built, some at considerable expense, in various places in the world. And there are speeches given at appropriate moments (about which more in a moment). But the bottom line is that the world has learned nothing since the Holocaust and is in fact totally amoral.  

It’s not just Jews that the world does not care about – though I’ll write about more Jews at risk soon, as anti-Semitism is mounting alarmingly – but other populations at risk as well. The Christians being massacred by Muslims.  The civilians dying in Syria.  

In the end, for the most Western leaders, it does not matter. The only Western leader I can think of who truly did operate on a moral plane was Steven Harper, and so the Canadians replaced him with an Obama wannabe.


I recall every now and again the words of a magnificent non-Jewish gentleman I heard speak years ago.  He recounted his absolute frustration with Roosevelt, when, coming from Europe and having witnessed what was being done to the Jews of Europe, he tried to get the president to act. and could not.

Then he turned to the audience of Jews and said, “I know you think the world deserted you during WWII, but it isn’t so. The world’s leaders deserted you, but many people were with you.”

That thought sustains me. There are many good people out there, who stand with us.  I know this and express gratitude for it.

Now we need to find a way for people of moral value to be the ones to assume leadership of the nations of the West. Never has an American election been more important than the one this year.  It is absolutely essential that Hillary not be allowed to make it.  I defy anyone to claim that she functions from a position of morality or human decency or concern for human rights.

On the Republican side, we do see such persons.  I dearly love Mike Huckabee, and know his innate decency. But I also know he is not headed for the White House.  Of those in the lead, I most champion Ted Cruz, who has spoken out forthrightly on a variety of issues.  Whoever is your favorite – keep in mind that the key is decency in office and the strength to act for what is right.


Before leaving this subject, I must share this: On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Obama went to the Israeli Embassy and pronounced: “We are all Jews.”

For me, this statement - so patently false coming from the president who is responsible for the empowerment of Iran - had a particularly high gag-quotient. But this, I can laugh at.


Credit: shilomusings

What we here in Israel know is that we can rely only on ourselves. Which is why it is so terribly important for us to stand strong.  A subject for another day.


Yesterday morning, three IDF soldiers were shot at a checkpoint not far from the community of Beit El in Samaria; two were seriously injured, and one moderately. 

Their assailant was shot dead. This terrorist was a Palestinian Authority police office, who had served as a bodyguard for the PA attorney-general.

Abbas has made no comment about the fact that an officer had shot at IDF soldiers, but the PA’s official news agency, Wafa, referred to the terrorist as a “martyr.”

Today, referring to “situation assessments,” the IDF partially closed off nearby Ramallah, which is the seat of the PA.  This is the first time such action has been taken during the present time of violence.,7340,L-4760510,00.html


This last news piece I would call good/bad news. 

A 17 year old boy, a recent immigrant from the US, was stabbed in the back on Shabbat afternoon when returning from the Kotel with a friend.  They were surrounded by a group of Arabs some of whom had knives. After he was attacked – thank Heaven, not seriously injured – his friend ran away and sought help. 

Says this young man, who left his ultra-Orthodox family in the US to come here alone, this has not deterred him from his intention to enlist in the IDF.  He wants to serve in the top commando unit, Sayeret Matkal.  I’ll give my all...I’m not afraid of anything.”

Being strong for ourselves.  Blessings upon him.


Recently, I showed a video of a song in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. sung by the Maccabeats and a group called Naturally 7.  I was so impressed with the latter group that I searched them on the Internet and found one piece they did that blew me away.  I think it resonates especially well with today’s posting, and I hope you love it as I did.  Please watch it through to the very end.

© 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 Monday, February 1, 2016 at 01:28PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 27, 2016: Doors Open and Shut

There is a hi-tech, interactive exhibit on Israel making the rounds internationally.  It is called “Open a Door to Israel,” and consists of a series of brightly colored doors, each of which opens to show, via video and interactive programming, another aspect of Israel - hi-tech innovations, the Israeli people, etc.

See what it’s about here:

“The main problem in the world is that they don’t know Israel,” says Tal Brody, a good will ambassador for Israel, in the video.


And indeed, we must continue to put out the good about Israel, because the world does not know us.

Consider this example:

“Dozens of Israelis answered a Facebook call to help a 90-year-old woman living alone in poor conditions in the north of the country.”
The Hebrew news site 0404 put up pictures from the FB posting of the woman’s squalid apartment, and reproduced the call for help. 

“Within minutes, said 0404 on Monday, ‘We received many replies from concerned citizens offering to volunteer their services to ameliorate the condition of the elderly woman. These included: renovations, household equipment and supplies, furniture, grocery shopping, assistance with day-to-day chores and cash donations. The latter, according to 0404, was from people who said they live too far away to provide hands-on help.’
“...This, said 0404, is the beautiful side of Israeli society, which so often gets overlooked in the fray of politics and conflict.” (Emphasis added)

Those of us here in Israel who keep our eyes peeled and our hearts open know that this beautiful side of Israel society exists and is frequently astounding.


In the Israeli Arab town of Abu Gosh, right outside of Jerusalem, there is a 60-man volunteer search-and-rescue team, headed by Arab Israeli Imad Jaber, who is Muslim.
Said Jaber in an interview with CBN news: “’We rescue people. It doesn't matter gender, race or religion.  Our goal is to save human lives.  It doesn't matter if it's a Jew or an Arab, American [or someone] from Russia..
It's not simple and it's not easy, especially in these very difficult times. On one hand, we are Arabs, Muslims, and we're residents of the state, citizens of the State of Israel...

"To raise up a unit like this takes courage, it needs people that are humane. We're not fighting against anyone. We don't kill anyone, but the opposite. We are saving human lives.

“We're wearing the uniforms of the IDF. That's an honor for us.”

Lt. Col. Yigal Dahan, the Jewish Home Front commander who oversees the group, had this to say about them (emphasis added):

“This company is Israeli civilians from the Arab sector that decided actually to be partners, to be good citizens of the state, to be partners in all that happens here -- actually to take responsibility for themselves in time of emergency...

"I think they've taken a courageous step...I think it's a very important message in general for everything that's happening in this country.”

Credit: pinterest


Of course, making certain that people world-wide know about the beautiful side of Israel will not solve all of our problems.  For there is a huge, and growing, amount of anti-Semitism out there, which closes the door in some people’s minds to who we really are.  They want to revel in their hatred for us – don’t bother them with facts.

See the report by Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (chair, Habayit Hayehudi) on growing European anti-Semitism:

“...anti-Semitic incidents in London rose more than 60 percent during the 12-month period ending November 15 and...incidents in France shot up 84% in the first quarter of 2015,” he said.


One of the most egregious and perverse examples of anti-Semitism (which is what this anti-Israel action truly is) that I’ve encountered involves a group of doctors in the UK.

Seventy-one British doctors want to expel the Israeli Medical Association from the World Medical Association. 

Why?  Because Israeli doctors carried out “medical torture” on Palestinian patients.  Can they believe this?
They are speaking, you understand, about the medical establishment in Israel that treats Syrians wounded in their civil war and children from Gaza with heart problems.  See photo from Wolfson Medical Center of one such child.

Marwan , a four-year-old from Gaza receives treatment at Wolfson Medical Center.
Not incidentally, Israeli doctors treat terrorists who have attacked Jews.  There was actually quite a furor about this recently, when some medical personnel declared that the medical ethic requires them to treat patients in order of how badly injured they are, so that if a terrorist is more badly injured than his victim he receives attention first, while others maintained vociferously that this is where they draw the line – victims receive first attention and it is outrageous to suggest otherwise.

Were Israel to be banned from the World Medical Association, it would have a seriously deleterious effect on our research efforts: Israelis would be prevented from participating in medical conferences or publishing papers in journals, there would a halt to international funding of research and joint research endeavors, and Israeli doctors would be prevented from acquiring membership in other medical associations.

However, this action would also be seriously detrimental to the ability of doctors worldwide to provide cutting edge treatment to their patients, because that treatment frequently emanates from Israel.  Blocking the ability of Israeli doctors to share their research and prohibiting funding for additional research is really not a smart idea if you are interested in the health of your patients.

“Cutting off your nose to spite your face” may be a cliché – but it sure applies here.  This is what hatred does.

It is not expected that the effort of these doctors will succeed – at least not now. But this is a sign of the times and what we are coping with.

And so, when I write about the need to “open doors,” I am also referring to the need to shine a light of truth where falsehoods – the most egregious lies – are told about Israel.

Much has been said recently – by the EU, the US ambassador to Israel, the UN (see below) and others – that is based on the premise that Israel has no right to be in Judea and Samaria and that the Jewish communities there (“settlements”) are destructive to peace. 

As part of that effort to shed light, I will pause here for some basic information.  Because of the astonishing degree to which the world has bought the Palestinian Arab fiction that all of the land beyond what is referred to as the “1967 border” belongs to them, it is important to return now and again for a basic look at the facts. 

Those of my readers who know this information already will, I trust, understand the need to review it. Those who require further elucidation are welcome to contact me.

[] The Mandate for Palestine of 1922, passed unanimously by the League of Nations, and founded upon the San Remo Resolution of 1920, set as an article of international law the right of the Jewish people to dense settlement and establishment of a homeland in Palestine (which means, at a minimum, from the river to the sea, including Judea and Samaria). This still stands. 

[] Judea and Samaria represent the heartland of the Jewish nation from ancient times – it is this region that Shilo (where the tabernacle rested) and Hevron (where the Machpela stands) and other ancient sites are located.

[] “Palestine” – a term coined by the Romans after the forced dispersal of Jews from Judea - for millennia was a geographical area that was in no way related to a state for Arabs.  In point of fact, before the founding of the modern State of Israel, JEWS were referred to as Palestinians.

[] The “partition plan” of 1947, which spoke about dividing Palestine into a state for Jews and a state of Arabs, was a resolution of the General Assembly – Resolution 181. GA resolutions are only recommendations and have no weight in international law.  It changed nothing with regard to the legal status of Palestine as a Jewish homeland, from the river to the sea.  All the more so was this the case as the Arabs refused this plan. 

[] Thus Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria cannot be a “belligerent occupation,” as a state cannot “occupy” land that belongs to her.  Jordan’s control of Judea and Samaria from 1948 – 67 constituted an illegal occupation, as it was seized in an offensive war. Israel did not take Judea and Samaria from a sovereign state that had rightful control of the area.

[] What is more, Israel took control of Judea and Samaria in a defensive war, which confers upon her rights in retaining it.

[] The so-called “1967 border” was not a border at all, but a 1949 armistice line.  The armistice agreement stated explicitly that this line was temporary and did not prejudice future negotiations for a permanent border.

[] Note please: this agreement was with Jordan, not with the “Palestinian people” or a “Palestinian state.”  There has NEVER been a Palestinian state, and there is no legitimacy whatsoever to the persistent claim that everything beyond the 1949 armistice line “belongs” to the Palestinian Arab people, such as they may be defined.  This notion, which has been marketed so broadly, is nothing but the greatest humbuggery.

[] Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the Six Day War, declared that final borders would be resolved via negotiations.  With regard to Judea and Samaria, this meant a final border between Israel and Jordan – again with no mention whatsoever of a Palestinian state.  There was no requirement in this resolution that Israel return behind the 1949 armistice line. In fact, the resolution called for the right of all states “to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” and it was broadly recognized that Israel’s prior situation – with its lack of strategic depth - made her too vulnerable.

Resolution 242 called for “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”  As it did not say “all” territories or “the” territories,” it was understood that a full withdrawal was not required, that “some” withdrawal is all that was called for. There are lawyers who make the case that, as Israel has withdrawn from the Sinai, which was occupied in the war, and negotiated a peace with Egypt that defines the border, she has already fulfilled the stipulations of this resolution.

[]  The Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the PLO in 1993 and subsequently, called for final status negotiations. No where in the Accords does it say the PLO will have a full and sovereign state. PM Rabin, in a speech in the Knesset, made it clear that he had in mind something in the nature of an autonomy that was less than a full sovereign state.

Yet – as the result of a vast and persistent disinformation campaign – the perception of what the Palestinian Arabs are entitled to has morphed into a full state.  Much of the world accepts this as a given, believing that the Palestinian Arabs are being deprived of their rights.  Either that – or like the 71 British doctors – they prefer to promote notions they do not fully believe because of hatred of Israel.


A particularly ugly example of the way in which the world has embraced the myths of Israeli “occupation,” and Palestinian “rights” to Judea and Samaria can be seen in a statement made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to the Security Council Monday.  Addressing the issue of Palestinian Arab violence, he attributed it to "frustration" - "it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism...progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise."  He also objected to the demolition in Area C of illegally built Arab homes, often funded by the EU.  (Although of course he didn’t acknowledge that they were illegally built.),7340,L-4758162,00.html

We should not, I suppose, have expected better of Ban Ki Moon.  Blame Israel. Blame “the settlements.” 

Ignore the frustration Palestinian Arabs feel because of the lack of human rights and the corruption they endure under the Palestinian Authority.

Ignore the blatant incitement by the PA, starting with Mahmoud Abbas.  His praise of terrorists.  His repeated fallacious charges that Jews are threatening al-Aksa mosque. Ignore the PLO salaries paid to terrorists in prison.  Ignore the fact that just last week, on Ma’an TV, Fatah Central Committee Member Tawfiq Tirawi said: "Let us talk logically. Hitler was not ‎morally corrupt ‎. He was daring‎."‎


And by all means, ignore this:

The 15-year-old Palestinian terrorist who stabbed mother-of-six Dafna Meir to death on January 19 in the West Bank community of Otniel was under the influence of broadcasts by Palestinian Authority TV, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation has found.

”A statement released on Sunday on the progress of the investigation said the minor, who was arrested in his home in Beit Amra, near Hebron, disclosed during questioning that ‘in the period of time preceding the terrorist attack,’ he watched ‘PA television, which presented Israel as a state that “kills Palestinian youths.”’ On the day of the attack, “under the influence of the content he saw on television, the minor decided to carry out a stabbing attack in order to murder a Jewish person.” (emphasis added):


Observed a furious Netanyahu:

"The UN Secretary General's remarks give a tailwind to terrorism. There is no justification for terrorism. The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state – they want to destroy a state and they say this openly. They want to murder Jews simply because they are Jews and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights.

"The UN lost its neutrality and moral force a long time ago and the Secretary General's remarks do not improve the situation."


On the same theme, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, speaking at the Security Council yesterday said (emphasis added):

“During the past four months, Israelis have been stabbed in their homes, shot at in the streets and run over by terrorists  using cars as weapons.

“During this period of time, the [Security] council has adopted resolutions against terrorism, and condemned terror attacks in France, Sinai, Lebanon, Mali, Tunisia, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Sudan.  Not once were the lives of Israelis murdered by terrorists recognized by this council. No condemnation, no expression of solidarity – not even a statement of concern.”

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, holds up a collage of terrorism victims

Credit: UN


And here, the terrorism continues...

On Monday, two women were stabbed by two Arabs in front of a grocery store in the community of Beit Horon, which is adjacent to Route 443, between Modi’in and Jerusalem. The Arabs, who also threw pipe bombs at the store, were shot and killed by a security guard.

One of the women, 58, was moderately wounded, and remains in the hospital. The other stabbing victim, Shlomit Krigman, just shy of 24, was critically wounded.  During the night on Monday, she lingered close to death.  By morning, despite doctors’ devoted efforts to save her, she was gone.

Shlomit Krigman

Courtesy family

Her friend, Maayan, described the hope that she would live:

“You fought as you slept. We tried to send you messages of encouragement – you can do it, you can recover...”

Shlomit, who grew up in the Jordan Valley community of Shadmot Mehola, had been staying with her grandparents in Beit Horon because she was doing National Service there.   “She filled every corner of the house,” they said.

At the funeral, which was held in Jerusalem yesterday, her grandmother spoke to her deceased granddaughter:
Part of my heart will be buried today; we so loved you.”
While her mother, Na’ama, standing at her daughter’s body at the graveside, told her:
“We are burying you in Jerusalem, as you requested, in one of our conversations about the situation. Your smile, your soul, your zest for life, will stay with us always. Rest in peace.


It is a painful irony that Shlomit was buried right next to Dafna Meir, who had been stabbed to death just a little over a week ago.

This merely intensifies the cry from our hearts: Isn’t it enough already?


I will note here that Israeli security sees the last few terrorist attacks as an escalation: the terrorists entered Jewish towns to attack.  Previously we were seeing attacks at crossroads, or checkpoints, or municipal bus stops.  What is happening now increases the vulnerability of Jewish citizens.


Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Not specifically here in Israel, but internationally, in recognition of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by the Red Army 70 years.



Credit: cnn

I close today with a video from Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial of a ceremony at Auschwitz that includes a flyover by the Israeli Air Force.

May the Almighty grant supreme strength and great wisdom to our armed forces from this day and evermore.

© 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 27, 2016 at 01:33PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 19, 2016: Shed a Little Light

As you come to the end of this posting, you will discover the upbeat inspiration for its title.

But here, at its beginning, I share a “good news” piece that is bitter-sweet.  It could not be otherwise. Yet I count it as very much good news: it is a celebration of life, and strength and perseverance:
Roee Fogel, whose mother Ruth, father Udi, and three of his siblings, Yoav (11), Elad (4) and Hadas (3 months) were murdered in their home in Itamar in 2011, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last Thursday.  In the picture below you see him at the Torah, during the service at the Kotel.  He was joined for the event by family – including two siblings who survived with him and his grandparents who are raising him - friends and many counselors and friends from the OneFamily Fund.

Everyone then moved on to a celebratory breakfast.  Roee gave a moving speech to all gathered, which included these words:

When you don’t think of yourself as just being part of a family but as part of the whole Jewish people, then you’ll never be afraid of any challenge. We have to carry on as a strong Jewish nation.”

Untitled design (1)



Terrorism.  For a while there appeared to be a lull in the number of attacks that were taking place – or at least successful attacks, as many terrorists were stopped in time.  I had hoped to be able to write about that lull in this posting.  And so it is with a deeply heavy heart that I must write just the opposite:

Late Sunday, in the town of Otniel, in the Har Hevron region of Judea, a terrorist broke into the home of Dafna Meir and stabbed her to death.  She was the mother of six children – the first four from 10 to 17 years in age, and then two younger brothers, adopted.

Three of her children were home at the time of the attack; her 17-year old daughter witnessed it and called for help. 

Dafna Meir


Dafna, who was a neurosurgical nurse at Soroka Medical Center, is described as a having been a very joyful and giving person. She is said to have put up an heroic fight – attempting to protect her children - before succumbing to her attacker, who fled.

The terrorist managed to escape on foot, and the army and Shin Bet jointly launched a manhunt for him in the Hevron Hills area.

Soldiers searching for an assailant who stabbed a woman to death in the West Bank settlement of Otniel on January 17, 2016. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Channel 2 screen capture

Overnight, last night, he was apprehended.  A sixteen year old (imagine!) identified by sources as Morad Bader Abdullah Adais.

“He was arrested by soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit in the village of Beit Amra, some three kilometers (1.8 miles) from the scene of the attack, reports said. Residents of the village where Adais was hiding out apprised security forces of his presence there, allowing the arrest to proceed without resistance, Channel 10 reported.” (Emphasis added)

After what happened in the north, I consider the fact that the residents of Beit Amra turned in the terrorist good news.


Dafna Meir was buried yesterday in Jerusalem.

The family of Dafna Meir at her funeral in Jerusalem on January 18, 2106. Meir was stabbed to death at the entrance to her home in the settlement of Otniel on January 17. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

How many times will there be innocent Israeli Jewish children mourning? Bereaved for no reason other than that they are Israeli Jewish children.

Dafna’s husband, Natan Meir, spoke movingly at her grave:

“We met as soldiers, on the border with Lebanon. It took us a moment to fall in love...I said to you then, 'Welcome.'  I say to you now, 'Farewell'...

“You left me with six treasures, I will keep them safe for you...

“Dear [Almighty] Father, I have no second thoughts about you at all, give us strength, be present at our home, let us feel your warm embrace, your love...

“Dafna had a large crown: the crown of truth...and this truth has now been thrown to the ground, it has burst into smithereens.

"I request that everyone who came out here, pick up something from the light that was spilled on the ground, so that truth may spring from the earth.”


Oh how this world needs truth.  Even if you weren’t at the funeral, along with some 1,500 mourners, pick up something of that light, as it were, and spread words of truth.   

There will not be much in the way of reports in the mainstream media about the cruel death of Dafna Meir at the hands of an Arab terrorist.  And so share this information widely because people need to know. 

Share something else as well: Tell people of the nobility of Natan Meir, grieving his wife’s death, who spoke of love, and care for children, and sustained faith.  Without a call for violence or a word of hatred.

I doubt that the world much cares about such nobility.  But tell it anyway, because it is truth.


Sunday night the Har Hevron Regional Council barred the presence of Arab workers in the local communities for Monday.  Similarly, on Monday, the commander of the Etzion Brigade of the IDF banned all Arab workers in Gush Etzion.

It is not clear what the duration of these orders – a response to multiple attacks and attempted attacks – will be.


Yesterday morning, there was another attack, this one in the community of Tekoa, in Gush Etzion:

Medics wheel a wounded Michal Forman into the emergency room of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center on January 18, 2016. Froman, who is pregnant, was wounded in a stabbing attack in the settlement of Tekoa (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Michal Froman, who is pregnant, was stabbed in her upper body. She is in stable condition and, thankfully, the fetus was not harmed.  Michael is the daughter-in-law of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman.


I want to return for just a moment to the issue of the “transparency bill” that is headed towards a vote in the Knesset.  I had written that it would require members of NGOs who receive more than 50% of their funds from foreign governments to wear a badge in the Knesset declaring this fact.  As I now understand it, while this has been suggested and alluded to in press reports (and might yet be incorporated into the legislation), as the draft now stands it is not mentioned.

I share here a link to an excellent article about this issue by attorney Jan Sokolovsky that provides solid details:


And then I want to return, as I said I would, to the matter of foreign governments or their representatives who intrude themselves into our affairs, comment when they should not, and attempt to manipulate our situation to their liking.  Who would deprive us of our right to manage our own affairs, weakening our sovereignty.

In point of fact, there is so much taking place with regard to this, that it is difficult to know where to begin.

Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, once again proved herself to be a thorn in our side last week. During a parliamentary debate, she declared that Israel may be guilty of “extrajudicial killings” of Arabs in response to terror attacks against Jewish citizens: “It is vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability."

She didn’t, you will notice, call for an investigation of the PA for its incessant and hateful incitement, which has been spurring the terrorism.  Nor did she express concern for the innocent Israelis who have been wounded and killed.  But she presumed to judge Israel, as we respond to murderers.

Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) retorted that an investigation should be conducted instead on "how a woman who so bluntly hates Israel was elected, and still holds the role of foreign minister of Sweden."

Subsequently, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely let it be known that Swedish diplomats were unwelcome in Israel.


Writes Noah Feldman on this issue of Wallstrom’s charges (emphasis added):

“Before the Swedish parliament, Wallström referred to ‘the...importance of the principles of proportionality and distinction.’  Proportionality and distinction belong to the body of international law governing the use of military force in wartime against combatants.

But these principles don’t apply to domestic police arrests of civilians committing violence, like the stabbers in Israel...

“...the legal standard is that police “may only use intentional lethal force when it is clear an individual is about to kill someone and cannot be detained by other means.”

“...Wallström went out of her way to emphasize that “21 Israelis and 100 Palestinians were killed in connection with knife attacks, acts of violence, demonstrations and clashes.” The numbers are legally irrelevant.

That also makes moral sense. Police making arrests aren’t morally or legally obligated to allow innocent people to die in order to balance the number of deaths of criminal attackers. Effective police are supposed to save the innocent and subdue the attackers, by lethal means if necessary.”


Recently, it was exposed by the Israeli NGO Regavim that a road was being constructed illegally by the PA in Area C, which is under full control of Israel.  It was part of the ongoing attempt to co-opt Area C, and it was proudly funded by the EU. 

The planned road


The Civil Administration seized construction equipment, but the work continued.  Regavim sought an injunction in the High Court, and I’ve been informed that the work is being stopped.


Funding of this road is one very small part of what the EU underwrites illegally in Area C.  At a recent meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subcommittee on Judea and Samaria, MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) said that the EU spends roughly $120 million per year on supporting illegal PA building.

See a video of a statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding the EU funding of illegal construction in order to create political realities, and the tendency of the EU to single out Israel for treatment not accorded other democracies.  It includes photos of that EU illegal construction:

Netanyahu calls here for a “reset” of Israel’s relationship with the EU, but as you will see below, the situation with the EU has further deteriorated.


Yesterday evening, the EU passed a resolution stipulating that all agreements between Israel and the EU not apply to any areas over the 1949 armistice line, which they refer to as the “1967 border”:

"The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that - in line with international law - all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to territories occupied by Israel in 1967."

This followed intense diplomat efforts by Israel to forestall this EU action.  And Israel is now furious.  The EU is prejudging a situation (assuming Israel has no rights in any of Judea and Samaria), when this has not been determined.

I cite here in its entirety the statement on this issue put out by Legal Grounds, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube (with emphasis added):

“...Legal Grounds says the expected EU decision distinguishing between Israel proper and the territories it captured in 1967 ‘violates the legal rights of the State of Israel and constitutes a blunt violation of the principles established in the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is party in its position as witness. It seems the EU cannot serve as honest broker in the foreseeable future.’

“[Legal Grounds], working to establish Israel’s rights according to international law, strongly condemns the decision, which, it says, lacks any legal basis.

“’The line called the 1967 line is nothing more than the armistice line of 1948. The EU is certainly aware that the ceasefire agreement signed in the Greek island of Rhodes in 1949 clearly maintains that the line “in no way constitutes a political or state border.”’

The EU has chosen to ignore Israel’s preferential position as claimant to the territory, which according to international law is considered ‘disputed.’ Furthermore...the European Union is violating its role as witness of the implementation of the Oslo Accords which contain a basic principle according to which the question of borders will be decided solely by negotiations.’”


Lastly here I mention the offensive statement of US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, made at “a high-profile security conference Monday, a rare public rebuke.” 

“He alleged that Israel restricts Palestinian economic development in the PA-run territories and bemoaned what he called an inadequate response to ‘settler’ violence.
“’Too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.’”


The government of Israel is enraged by these distortions (and others included in Shapiro’s remarks).  What Shapiro said – which undoubtedly reflects the direction that Obama intends to take in his last year – is enough to raise the blood pressure of anyone who understands what is going on in Judea and Samaria with the PA.

As to “restricting Palestinian economic development,” it is the exceedingly corrupt PA that does this.  Israel actually fails to act in her own best interest fiscally with regard to the PA relationship. We continue, for example, to supply electricity to PA areas in spite of an astronomic bill that has not been paid, and part of which is being forgiven.

But far more outrageous – obscene - is talk of “settler violence” at a time when residents of Judea and Samaria are victims of ongoing Arab violence, and endure death, injury, and an environment that is continuously stressful.  Many of those residents feel, correctly or not, that the IDF has not done enough to protect them.  I cannot share here what I would like to say to Shapiro out of concern for my professionalism as a journalist. 


And then there is the charge by Shapiro that Israel has two standards of adherence to the law, “one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.”  Actually, there is some truth to what he says, except that he has it exactly backwards.
Jewish non-authorized building in Judea and Samaria is demolished much more quickly than is the blatantly illegal EU-funded Arab construction in Area C.  Those of us who monitor the situation with concern for Jewish rights have seen again and again situations in which there was a question about Jewish ownership of a property – a question, resulting from Arab claims, that that had not yet been definitively answered – and the housing on the property was taken down. 

But the illegal Arab building?   It has been necessary to publicize this building, to petition the courts, because the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria – while now improving its stance! – has been habitually slow to respond for reasons of political correctness.  Because the world is watching and won’t like it (which is something Netanyahu alluded to in his statement in the video linked above).


One must hope that the outrageous claims against Israel will stiffen the backs of her leaders.  I tend to believe so, and thus see that there may be a silver lining in the international policies and accusations.

When the world is behaving with relative moderation concerning Israel, there is the inclination, however misguided, to step carefully so as not to ruffle feathers. 

But now it is clear that we cannot win no matter what we do.  Israel will not find justice in this world.

And so it’s time to stop worrying what the world thinks and act unequivocally in our own best interest.  Nurture appropriate ties with other nations – absolutely!  Netanyahu is doing a great deal with regard to reaching out to nations in the east, and, quietly, to Sunni Arab states.  Make our case forcefully and coherently at all times.  Indeed!

But act as we need to act, for our own sake.


Yesterday was Martin Luther King day in the US.  Dr. King was a great supporter of Israel, and a friend to the Jews.  I close with a delightful joint musical tribute to him, “Shed a Little Light”:


Credit: usaguidetours
“Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope”


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


Posted on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 10:28AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 14, 2016: Intrusion

The INS Rehav, Israel’s fifth Dolphin class submarine, arrived home to its Haifa port yesterday with a crew of 50, to much official fanfare. 

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a welcoming ceremony for the new submarine 'Rahav' at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, on January 12, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

Built in Germany, at a cost of over $400 million (one third of which was picked up by the German government), it is the “the most advanced, complex and most expensive item in the Israeli military’s arsenal.” according to President Ruby Rivlin.

Over 220 feet (67 meters) long and weighing more than 2,000 tons, this diesel-fueled sub has an air-independent propulsion system, which operates through a fuel cell instead of oxygen-dependent sources, allowing it to remain underwater without surfacing for weeks at a time.

“In the decades to come, the INS Rahav will take an active part in defending the country and its maritime territory, by acting deeper, further and longer underwater. Seeing without being seen, keeping a watchful eye, and projecting our operational abilities on the naval front.”

Although there has been no official comment on this, the sub is said to be able to deliver a nuclear payload.  This is what Prime Minister Netanyahu did say:

“Above all else, our submarine fleet acts as a deterrent to our enemies who want to destroy us. They won’t achieve their aims. They need to know that Israel can attack, with great might, anyone who tries to harm her.”

A sixth submarine was purchased from Germany in 2013, and will be complete in a few years.


Credit: Static


This, my friends, is good news. As is the  following:

“Israel's first-ever stealth fighter jet took a significant step towards completion at the end of last week, when the new "Adir" F-35 entered the advanced production stages at Lockheed Martin's plant in Forth Worth, Texas. A ceremony was held on-site to mark the milestone.
“...The Defense Ministry has ordered 33 of the fighter jets from (example pictured) the US at a total cost of $4.75 billion, which includes the building of infrastructure from which the aircraft can operate as well as making changes specified by the IAF.”,7340,L-4751490,00.html

F-35 Evader

Credit: Lockheed Martin
In 2013, Lockheed Martin Aircraft Industries announced that Israel would be the first nation outside of the US to receive its F-35 stealth fighter jets – capable of evading radar and integrated air defense systems. It is the most expensive weapon in U.S. history.


Also good news is the consistent shift we are seeing in Israeli policy with  Tzipi Hotovely serving as Deputy Foreign Minister:

“Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) on Wednesday led a tour of Samaria of the foreign service school cadets, accompanied by local council head Yossi Dagan, as part of the effort to familiarize Israel’s future emissaries abroad with the realities on the ground back home. ‘Today you will learn about the great settlement endeavor that has risen here, you’ll see the topographic importance of the area, the coexistence in the industrial parks — in short, you can’t really represent Israel without having been here physically.’

“Traditionally, Israel’s foreign service has been staffed with old guard, pro-left personnel, who on occasion sided with Israel’s opponents over issues like the value of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Hotovely, who is identified with the right-wing, pro-settlement segment of her party, has set out to change that through educating the next generation of Israeli diplomats.

Hotovely reiterated the Israeli government’s position that ‘the settlements are legal, and the foreign ministry has issued a legal paper on this matter. The State of Israel engages in legal construction, and all the homes are sitting either on state owned land or on legally purchased land....’” (Emphasis added)

Tzipi Hotovely

Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/JPost


Now about that “intrusion”: 

To “intrude” – says Merriam-Webster - is “to thrust or force in or upon someone or something especially without permission, welcome, or fitness.”

Unfortunately, what I have observed is that foreign officials/governments seem to think they have the right to intrude in Israeli affairs, making comments that are inappropriate (because, who asked them?) and, far worse, trying to manipulate matters to their liking.

Here I want to focus on one particular issue (with other related issues to follow):

Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) has sponsored a bill regarding NGO funding transparency. A draft has already passed through the Ministerial Committee on Legislation – with a nod from the prime minister  - and is on its way to the Knesset, where there is a good likelihood it will pass.

Credit: Flash 90

The bill would require all NGOs that receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governments to declare the precise sources of their funding and to make the fact of that funding known when they enter the Knesset (via wearing a badge).

It does not penalize them for receiving that funding, nor does it prohibit them from continuing to receive those funds. 


The purpose of this (long over-due) bill is not difficult to comprehend.  Foreign governments invest money in specific Israeli NGOs, with compatible positions, in order to advance their own agendas.  As a result of this foreign funding – which is often considerable – the selected NGOs are better able to promote particular positions inside of Israel.  This may include the lobbying of members of Knesset and bringing petitions to the Court, all done in the name of Israeli organizations, not foreign governments.

What is more, it would be naïve in the extreme to imagine that the NGOs receiving large sums from specific governments are anything but devotedly attentive to their agendas and concerns.  At the most basic level, this is simply the way it works.  If they wish to sustain those major donations, the NGOs know they have to produce results that will keep the foreign governments happy.  (I will not address here the possibility that certain NGOs ultimately perceive themselves as partners with foreign governments in doing their work.)

The foreign governments are thus able to have an effect on the policies and practices of NGOs that are registered as Israeli organizations

The result is an intrusion into the workings of the Israeli government by foreign governments.  Minister Shaked makes the point, with great validity, that if foreign governments wish to influence Israel’s government there are proper diplomatic channels for doing so.


There has been a considerable outcry from certain quarters about this pending legislation.  This rush to protest, in and of itself, I would suggest, indicates how badly the legislation is required. 

Perhaps most telling is the fact that an EU-associated group on December 15th gave a 30,000 euro grant to B’Tselem to fight the legislation. This was reported by NGO-Monitor, whose spokesman, Aaron Kalman, observed:

The nature of the grant, openly aiming at influencing Israeli legislation, again highlights the infringement on sovereignty and the manipulative intent of European government funding in the context of Israeli democracy.”


As protests against the legislation have been advanced, there have been more than a few misrepresentations of fact. 

It has been said that this bill is directed selectively at left wing organizations.  Not so.  It applies across the political spectrum without distinction. However (surprise!), it happens that international governments (primarily the EU or EU nations) are only interested in left wing NGOs.

Left wing organizations such as Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) and B’Tselem, which work mightily to remove Jews from Judea and Samaria, are major recipients directly, or indirectly via NIF, of European funds.  The Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair, works just as mightily to demonstrate the legal basis for Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria. And yet, not even one European nation has ever offered to provide funds for us. I say this tongue in cheek. Of course, we have never expected European funds, for the Europeans promote Palestinian Arab rights to a state.

What we see then is an inequity. Left-wing, pro-Palestinian Arab organizations and Jewish nationalist organizations do not operate on a level field, in terms of making their respective cases to the public and the Knesset.  For, as a result of foreign funding, the left wing operates with far greater fiscal ability to do PR, run tours, hire lawyers to bring court cases, produce expensive videos, etc.


And that leads to the next point of criticism: that the legislation works against the democratic process.  That is unmitigated nonsense. For quite the contrary is true. As Gerald Steingberg, head of NGO-Monitor, put it (emphasis added):

In democracies, civil society organizations are supposed to arise indigenously and not as tools of external actors promoting their own interests and political manipulations.”


There have also been claims that this legislation will interfere with free speech, and I have no clue, frankly, as to how they think they can make this case.  The representatives of NGOs supported by foreign governments will be as free to speak out and make their case as they ever were

What may happen, of course, is that their words will be less heeded when it is understood that foreign interests may be promoting them.  And that, quite frankly, is precisely as it should be. Or, to put it in the vernacular: Tough.

Again from Gerald Steinberg: “ Israel, this is not a free speech issue; rather, the NGO legislation seeks to counter what is seen by many as costly and unjust demonization and warfare enabled by European governments.”


Aaron Kalman, cited above, refers to “infringement of sovereignty,” I would like to return to this briefly.  A sovereign state is autonomous, operating independently without outside control or infringement. When I wrote about foreign governments thinking they have the right to intrude in Israeli affairs, this is what I was talking about.  There is a pattern we can discern – we see foreign governments (Western governments) that fail to respect Israel’s sovereignty. This problem transcends the issue of funding for NGOs.


One of the nations that has registered “concern” about the pending legislation is the US.  US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro spoke out on this and held a meeting with Minister Shaked to explore the issues. 


US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro (Flash90)

Credit: Flash 90

Here you can see all of those “concerns” spelled out:

Said he: In a healthy democracy, “governments must protect free expression and peaceful dissent and create an atmosphere where all voices can be heard."

Sigh.  Diplomatic doubletalk.  I would like him to explain how the law would prevent “free expression and peaceful dissent.”


But there is one issue he raised that I do wish to explore.  Comparisons have been made between the current Israeli draft legislation on NGO transparency and FARA in the US – the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  Shapiro insisted that there is no comparison, for “FARA requires individuals or organizations to register as foreign agents only if they engage in certain specified activities at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal – not simply by receiving contributions from such an entity.”

After he made this statement, I contacted an American-Israeli lawyer who has helped with the drafting of the proposed Israeli legislation and has familiarity with FARA, as well  What I learned is that it is not as simple as Shapiro would have it.  He makes it seem as if there must be a contract between a foreign government and a US individual or organization before foreign agent registration is required.  However, my legal advisor said, actually FARA allows for determination that someone is a foreign agent to be made via oral agreements as well. It is a question of “circumstances,” which can be proven by “context,” and not just by documentation.  This resembles what I discussed above.


A statement released by the US Embassy indicated that "Ambassador Shapiro sought more information about the draft legislation from the Minister.”

It’s his business?

Shaked’s response, released shortly after, was appropriate:

“I met the American ambassador and was under the impression that the American administration's interest and concern is sincere. But there is no cause for concern. Israel is a strong democracy and as such there is no need for other nations to intervene in internal legislation.” (Emphasis added)


We might ask why the US is suddenly so concerned about Israeli democracy.  This issue did not worry Obama when he sent political advisors to Israel during an election campaign, in an attempt to influence the election.  One is hard put not to come to the conclusion that the true American concern here is blocking the transparency bill.

Shaked, as a representative of the Israeli government, has gracefully acknowledged the American concern for Israeli democracy as “sincere.”  I would like to share one incident that casts a very different light on the matter (with emphasis added):

“Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton considered a secret plan created by her then-advisers to foment unrest among Palestinian citizens and spark protests in order to push the Israeli government back to the negotiating table, according to emails released as part of the investigation into the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s private email server.

“In a Dec, 18, 2011, email, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Thomas Pickering suggested that Clinton consider a plan to restart then-stalled peace negotiations by kick starting Palestinian demonstrations against Israel.

“Pickering described the effort as a potential ‘game changer in the region,’ recommending that the United States undertake a clandestine campaign to generate unrest. Clinton requested that his email be printed...

“’Most of all the United States, in my view, cannot be seen to have stimulated, encouraged or be the power behind it for reasons you will understand better than anyone,’ he wrote, suggesting that the government enlist liberal non-profit groups in Israel. ‘I believe third parties and a number NGOs [non-government organizations] on both sides would help.’”

Enough said.


I close with a fascinating video of starlings doing a “dancing cloud” over Israel.


© 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 14, 2016 at 10:37AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 12, 2016: Full Agenda

So much, so much to write about.  I suggested as much toward the end of my last posting on Friday.  But we will not by-pass the good news first:
An Israeli hi-tech agricultural start up has developed an Internet of Things technology for crops.  (Internet of Things: IoT, a network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect data.)
PhyTech, located in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai near the Gaza border, developed its plant sensor system PlantBeat in 2011.  This system records how much water crops get, how moist the soil is, what the soil temperature is, and other data. The information provided by the sensors is analyzed and downloaded to a mobile app that indicates how healthy a plant is and what to do to improve its performance.

“The low-cost sensors can be attached to sample plants to take readings within an immediate area of several square meters, with multiple sensors set up as an array to get a full picture of conditions in a growing area.”


Credit:  PhyTech

This system is already in use on some of the biggest farms in the US, Brazil, Australia, and elsewhere.  In Israel, some 60% of tomato farmers and 40% of cotton growers utilize it.

And now Sygenta, one of the world’s biggest agriculture technology businesses, is partnering with the corporate group Mitsui, of Japan, to invest an undisclosed sum in PhyTech.


Another Israeli start up, NUA Robotics, has developed a prototype for luggage that uses Bluetooth technology that syncs with a smart phone app that allows it to identify its owner and follow along.

This smart suitcase “features an anti-theft alarm, a USB port for charging electronic devices on the go, and can send real-time data, including its weight and location, to the app.”

It is hoped that this will be on the market within a year.

Credit: dailymail (UK)


This is also good news, serious good news, of far greater import:

”Spain’s Supreme Court, the Council of State, has issued a landmark ruling against the country’s Housing Ministry for illegally excluding Israel’s Ariel University from a scientific competition in 2009.

”The legal victory, which was announced last week but made public by Ariel University on Tuesday, is a significant setback for Spanish BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activists targeting the Jewish state...
”According to a university statement, Ariel received an invitation to participate in the international competition from Spain’s Housing Ministry, the organizer. The competition was open to universities from around the world.

“’In 2008, Ariel University was selected as one of 21 finalist universities,’ the statement said. ‘Ariel University was the only Israeli and Middle Eastern finalist in the competition.’

”...According to the university, in 2009, the Spanish government notified it that it had been ousted from the competition because ‘your institution is located in the occupied territories and since we are bound to respect the position of the European Union in relation to this matter, we are compelled to announce that it will not be possible for your center to continue in this competition.’

’The important legal victory shows that Europe’s treatment of Israeli entities and people in Judea and Samaria is legally baseless, and amounts to arbitrary discrimination,’ Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law in the US and a leading expert on BDS, told The Jerusalem Post. (emphasis added)
“...The legal case against the government of Spain was led by Spanish firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo on behalf of Ariel University, in coordination with the University’s Anti-BDS Committee, headed by executive committee member and lawyer Marc Zell of Jerusalem.”
In all, Ariel University was granted €100,000 in compensation.

Ariel University Center

Credit: Ariel University
We might also categorize the growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran as good news, however qualified.  Good, because if this diminishes Iran’s influence in the region, Israel stands to gain.  Most analysts see what is going on in terms of Sunni (Saudi) vs. Shiite (Iran) but you will see a more nuanced assessment by Jonathan Spyer below.
Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum of the BESA Center had this to say :
“By executing a prominent Shiite leader, the Saudi King and his son the Deputy Crown Prince sent a strong signal to Iran, to the kingdom’s beleaguered Shiite minority, and to the world. To its Iranian Shiite rival, Sunni Riyadh was saying that it would absolutely not tolerate intervention in its internal affairs. It was telling its own Shiites that it would not allow ‘Arab Spring’-like dissent. And to the world, Salman and Muhammad were signaling that the Saudis were growing into their new role as a defender and leader of the Sunni Muslim countries; especially since the Obama administration appears to be siding with Iran. (Emphasis added)

“On January 2, 2016, Saudi Arabia announced the execution of the Shiite religious leader Shaykh Nimr al-Nimr (and 46 other prisoners). [This was followed by a breaking off of diplomatic relations.]  In the region, this was the climax of escalating tension between Saudi Arabia, which perceives itself as defending the world’s Sunni Muslims, and Iran, which claims the mantle of Shiite leadership.

”...for King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz (pictured), only a year in office, and his young son and Minister of Defense, Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, this was a further demonstration of a developing muscular and assertive foreign policy.”


Credit: royalista


Never a fan of the Saudis, who maintain an exceedingly repressive regime and export radical Wahhabi Islam, I find myself pleased indeed with their challenge to Iran.  They are attempting to fill the lacunae created by an absent Obama.

Gulf Sunni states, with the exception of Oman, are expected to come forward publicly on the side of the Saudis.

According to Eliezer Tsafrir of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, the situation has a been fraught with tension “since the Saudis, having had enough of Iranian subversion near its border, launched a war in Yemen [which borders Saudi Arabia to the south] last year to defend its interests against Iranian- backed Houthis taking over the country.

”...the decision by [Sunni majority] Sudan, until recently in Iran’s orbit of influence, to cut off diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic, may be a sign of things to come. He said Khartoum’s maneuver demonstrated how far the conflict between the Sunni and Shi’ite factions has escalated...

”Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at the IDC said that both sides ‘are going to significantly increase support for proxy groups in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and even Lebanon.’”
According to Javedanar, “for now direct confrontation is unlikely as they ‘prefer fighting proxy wars against each other. And this is likely to continue.’”


Dr. Jonathan Spyer Director of the Rubin Center (formerly the GLORIA Center), IDC Herzliya, shares similar perceptions in his analysis as above, but addresses a broader context and enlarges on the complexities of the current situation – what he refers to as “trend lines” (emphasis added):

As its [Iran’s] activities in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and among the Palestinians show, Iran is not able to build lasting and deep alliances with forces outside of the Shi’a and associated minorities. And the Shi’a are a minority in the region, too few in numbers to form a basis for regional hegemony...

“The result of this is that Iranian interference in each case until now has led not to Iranian victory and the reconstitution of the area as an Iranian ally. Rather, Iranian interference leads to ongoing instability and conflict, with the Iranian client neither defeated nor fully victorious. Iran creates chaos...

So welcome to the Middle East circa 2016 – state collapse, political Islam as the dominant language, an ambitious Iran at the head of a Shi’a/minorities alliance, and Saudi Arabia seeking to mobilize Sunni resistance to Iranian plans, in competition with sundry other Sunni actors.  All taking place against a backdrop of American absence and Russian attempts to build a presence.”

In terms of that “American absence,” Spyer wrote:

“The abandonment by the US of long-standing ally Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 confirmed for the Saudis the sense that the current US administration is operating in the Middle East according to a set of perceptions quite alien to its own, and quite likely to end in disaster.”


On Friday I said in my posting that the Tel Aviv terrorist Nashat Milhem had not yet been found. About two hours after I sent it out, he was located and killed in a shoot-out.  Seems he went quickly to his village of Ara’ra in the north after the attack.  I have seen various reports about how he was located.  One involved tracking via DNA, and another referred to a phone call placed to authorities by relatives in the village, from whom he sought assistance while attempting to hide his identity.

I would like to believe that relatives did contact authorities. For we also have reports that paint quite a different picture:

According to Arutz Sheva, he made his way to his village by car less than two hours after his killing spree (which ultimately included murder of a taxi driver, Amin Shaaban).  This strongly suggests an accomplice who cooperated in his escape.

And we have a report from Times of Israel that:

“Many of the residents of Arara knew that fugitive gunman Nashat Milhem was hiding in the Arab town in northern Israel, but were reluctant to hand him over to the authorities, locals said....  
“’He received full help, in particular from his close relatives,’ local residents told the Ynet news website. ‘He slept in a different location every day. They brought him food and took care of him.’”


That there was very probably family complicity is clear: Milhem’s father, Mohammad, and brother, Ali, were first held by police and are currently under house arrest.  More significantly, yesterday an unnamed relative was remanded into custody for seven days, under suspicion that he played a “central role” in the attack.

Milhem’s body was supposed to have been returned to the family, for a quiet funeral Sunnday, but return was delayed by Security Minister Erdan out of concern that the funeral would become a celebration of terror.  The body will not be turned over to them until the family agrees to Israel’s terms. 

But why should we turn it over at all?  More so is this a reasonable question as there seems complicity of some family members.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan arrives to the weekly government meeting in Jerusalem, January 3, 2016. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

Credit: Alex Kolomoisky/POOL


I want to return to the subject of the Duma arson very briefly here.  I hope there will be time to address this in greater depth – the broader situation begs for it.  But not in this posting.

While I continue to reiterate that I cannot say with certainty that Amiram Ben-Uliel did not set the fires in Duma, I do want my readers to know that the case against him is problematic, with several matters having come to the fore:

- Apparently he confessed to the Shabak, but then recanted his confession when turned over to police.

- The indictment says he acted alone, as the minor who was supposed to act as accomplice backed out.  However, police records from the time of the arson indicate that family members on the scene reported seeing two men.  Other news reports similarly refer to multiple perpetrators on the scene.

- If you look closely at the two instances of graffiti at the site, it becomes apparent that they are very different in appearance, strongly suggesting that they were written by different people.

And this is hardly the sum total of troubling issues with regard to this case.


A full enough agenda, then, for one posting.  More soon...

Recently, I was sent commentary about the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from a Jewish perspective. And for this I express thanks.

I have always loved that song because it touched something deep inside of me; I remember singing it to myself as a young girl.  This commentary by Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, however, brought a whole new depth to it:

”But perhaps the most poignant song to emerge out of the mass exodus from Europe was ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ The lyrics were written by Yip Harburg, the youngest of four children born to Russian-Jewish immigrants. His real name was Isidore Hochberg, and he grew up in a Yiddish-speaking, Orthodox Jewish home in New York.
“The song's music was written by Harold Arlen, also a cantor's son. His real name was Hyman Arluck, and his parents were from Lithuania.

“Together, Hochberg and Arluck wrote ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ which was voted the 20th century's No. 1 song by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“In writing it, the two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness — framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen — and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words. Read the lyrics in their Jewish context and suddenly the words are no longer about wizards and Oz, [but] Jewish survival.”

Somehow, this seemed like the right song to share, as counterpoint to so much that I have written above.  Perhaps you have to be of a certain age to properly enjoy it. Although I would hope not. 

I have located a video of Judy Garland singing it, in the movie “Wizard of Oz,” 1939.  You may remember – as do I – seeing that movie in colorized version many years after the original was released.

© 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, January 12, 2016 at 06:06AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 8, 2016: A Deep Breath

Unless we breathe deeply and slowly, and focus on the good that abounds in Israel – and the good that Israel exports to the world - we run the risk of feeling overwhelmed. These are not the best of times (understatement).  And so, good news first (emphasis below added).


Credit: dreamstime
“Israeli high-tech startups were red hot in 2015, and are entering 2016 as exciting commodities for investors worldwide, according to numerous end-of-year market reports....

“We have grown accustomed to the presence in Israel of global giants like Facebook, Apple, IBM, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Intel and more,” writes Rubi Suliman in the PwC report.

The amounts currently invested in Israeli high-tech are unprecedented, and it seems that this will bear fruit in the form of more innovative companies that will keep Israeli high-tech rolling forward...

“Asian delegations to Israel grabbed headlines throughout 2015 and reports show that it was definitely not a one-off.

’The romance with Asia is serious. It is new and exciting for both sides and this shows signs of a long term commitment,’ Jonathan Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, told ISRAEL21c in our predictions for 2016.”


“Volunteers from the Engineers without Borders (EwB) chapter at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology joined up with a rural community in northern Ethiopia to design and build a safe drinking-water system for their school.

“The system collects rainwater from the rooftop during the rainy season and stores it in a stone reservoir constructed as part of the project. The water is cleaned and treated before reaching the school’s holding tank.

“As a result, more than 600 students finally have access to safe drinking and washing water during the school day, all year long. The visiting Israelis formed an engineering club for older children at the school and trained them to be responsible for the maintenance of the system and treating the water.”

EwB-Technion members taught the schoolchildren about water purity and showed the older kids how to maintain the system. Photo courtesy of Nimrod Polonsky, Matan Segman, Tal Dana fromTechnions Spokespersons Office

Credit:  Technion spokesperson


“When American troops are injured in the field, the first piece of life-saving medical equipment they may come into contact with nowadays is an Israeli-invented mini-sized manual ventilator. And not just American soldiers on the battlefield; the Pocket BVM has been used to treat thousands of people at the scene of numerous natural disasters, like in the huge earthquake that devastated Nepal earlier this year...”

A Pocket BVM system, out of the box (Courtesy)



“When an infectious pandemic hits – SARS, swine flu, MERS or Ebola, for instance – health officials in dozens of countries turn to the Israeli company Beth-El Industries for its IsoArk biological isolation units...

“In the world market, Beth-El Industries is a key supplier to many NATO and other armies and NGOs.”

At Kaplan Medical Center, a patient is isolated inside the IsoArk tent, protecting everyone in the intensive care unit from infectious disease. Photo courtesy of Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot

Courtesy Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot

Are those who support BDS ready to rethink their positions yet?


Before moving on to other matters, I want to turn to the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube.  Most of you have seen my previous references to this important work. You can find a good deal of information about us on our website: (please sign up if you have not yet done so), and you can see highlights of our campaign to date here:

Until now we have worked primarily in the Knesset, and we will continue to do so.  But at this point, we are eager to reach out with innovative and important projects outside of the Knesset as well.

A significant venture we are advancing now is a series of classes for a select group of Israeli law students – all of whom study in law schools that tilt left (they all do) – in order to provide them with important information regarding Israel’s rights in Judea & Samaria and all of Jerusalem, and help them understand how to apply this information in their practices.

If you would like to know more about what we are planning, please contact me directly.


We call it the matsav – the “situation” – and everyone knows what is meant by this.  The word does not necessarily mean a bad situation, but with the current state of affairs, that is what is clearly understood.  “I’m not sleeping well because of the matsav.”


Terror-related issues remain uppermost in the minds of most Israelis.

Last Friday afternoon, in a terrorist shooting on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, two people were killed, two seriously injured and five others injured moderately to lightly. The attacker shot 15 times with a submachine gun, aiming into various establishments such as a bar, restaurant and café.

The terrorist was subsequently identified as Nashat Milhem, who had served time in prison for attacking a soldier.

Dead in that attack were Shimon Ruimi:

Shimon Ruimi, 30, from the southern town of Ofakim, had traveled to Tel Aviv for a friend's birthday when he was killed in a shooting attack in the city on January 1, 2016 (photo via Facebook)


and Alon Bakai:

Alon Bakal, 26, was killed in a shooting attack in central Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016 (photo via Facebook)


At first, the terrorist’s father rushed forth, ostensibly to lend assistance – he called for his son to surrender, etc.  Subsequently he and other family members where picked up by police and questioned as possible accomplices.


In this instance, the terrorist fled, and was not caught either by security or by bystanders.  Tel Aviv was combed – while mothers kept their children home from school - and then after some days it was declared that he had left the area and is either in the north or, it is thought, in a PA area.  As I write, he is still at large. This is the first time this has happened in the course of the current intifada.

What I want to note as well, is that there seem to be fewer stabbings and vehicle attacks now, and more shootings. An escalation.


And there is something else notable about this particular incident. Milhem (pictured) is from the Israeli Arab village of Ara’ra, in the north of Israel, close to the village of Umm al-Fahm – a hotbed of Arab radicalism that served as the focus of the Israel Islamic Movement, northern branch.  All in all, a troublesome area.

The suspect in the January 1, 2016 shooting attack in Tel Aviv, 29-year-old Nashat Milhem, as seen after a 2007 arrest (Channel 10 news)

Credit: Channel 10 news

A day after it happened, Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the scene of the attack and made a statement that I find significant (emphasis added):

He was unwilling, he said, to tolerate “enclaves with no law enforcement, with Islamist incitement and an abundance of illegal weapons that are often fired at happy events, weddings, and during endless criminal incidents...That time is over...

We will demand loyalty to the laws of the state from everyone. One cannot say ‘I am Israeli in my rights and Palestinian in my responsibilities.’ Whoever wants to be Israeli, must be Israeli all the way, with rights and responsibilities, and the first and foremost responsibility is to follow the laws of the state...

“I call on all Israeli citizens, and especially Muslim Israeli citizens, to follow this path, a path of integration, coexistence and peace, and not a path of incitement, hatred and zealotry. We are all citizens of the State.”


And I say, Mazel Tov, this was long past due.  Psychological identification by some – not all!! – Israeli Arabs with Palestinian Arabs is a major problem, and in recent years Israeli Arabs have been increasingly radicalized by Palestinian Arabs who play on that dual sense of loyalty. It does not work and damages Israel. 

The prime minister did not paint all Israel Arabs with one brush. He praised those who voluntarily enlist in the IDF or do national service, and those who spoke out against the attack. 

At the same time, he announced that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich had established a plan to greatly increase law enforcement services in Arab areas throughout the country.


At Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, the prime minister enlarged on these plans.  There will be increased enforcement of the law with regard to building, regulations against noise coming from mosques, and incitement coming from mosques, social media and the educational system. Additionally, there will be confiscation of large quantities of illegal arms in Arab communities.

In spite of the fact that Netanyahu said that this increased law enforcement would also help Arabs, many of whom suffer as a result of lawlessness in their communities – which results in heightened criminality - some Arab leaders charged him with inciting against the Arabs of Israel and singling out one group.  Netanyahu – thankfully - was not moved by these charges, and I would dare say that in light of the terrorism our nation is currently coping with, these plans will be most welcome by a majority of Israelis (including some Muslim Arabs).

Commented Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) (emphasis added):

Those who want to live in peace with us, we will respect, and those who don’t, like that blood thirsty terrorist – and the condemnation of his father did not impress me – we need to fight them will all our strength and step up the enforcement of the law...

”...the desire to kill Jews came from somewhere. So with all due respect to the condemnation, the phenomenon is very wide and deep, and it needs to be dealt with at its root among the extremists among the Israeli Arabs.”

Knesset Interior Affairs Committee chairman David Amsalem (Likud), for his part, announced that he would swiftly call a meeting of his committee to consider the issue of illegal weapons.

“In the Arab population alone there are thousands of illegal weapons, many of which were stolen from the IDF.  They are used every day and illegally to harm citizens of the state in criminal and nationalist acts.”


At the very end of December a decision had been made to allocate an additional $4 billion towards services in minority communities - Muslims, Druze, Christians and Circassians, with Muslim Arabs predominating. This is as it should be.  Services of equitable levels in communities across Israel and law enforcement of equitable stringency.

After Netanyahu’s announcement regarding increased law enforcement, there were murmurs in the Arab community about the additional allocations being tied to this, which is being denied.  Illegal housing construction will be impacted, however, with a different sort of housing being funded.


After Shabbat we might look at news about Hezbollah, Russia, the PA, heightened tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia...  There is no end...

But as we are going into Shabbat, I close here with a traditional version of Shalom Aleichem, traditionally sung on Friday evening.      

Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,
of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
Come in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,
of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.


© 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 8, 2016 at 06:58AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 4, 2016: It Is Time

No good news will start this posting, my friends. That’s not because there isn’t any – there is! and I’ll get back to sharing it next posting – but because it is time for me to write about Duma once again. There is nothing redeeming about this situation, but I believe it is important to focus on it today. 

I do not – I cannot claim to – have final or absolute answers. But I raise critical issues.

I first wrote on August 4th about the situation – the late July torching via a firebomb of a house in the Arab village of Duma, which ultimately caused the death of three people, starting with 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha. 

A man shows a picture of 18-month-old Palestinian toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha who died when his family house was set on fire by alleged Jewish extremists in the West Bank village of Duma on July 31, 2015. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Credit: AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh

You can find the full post here:

I want to begin by referring back to pertinent sections of that posting to establish context for what is going on now:


At the scene of the arson, graffiti spray-painted on the wall led to the wide-spread assumption – in some cases tentative and in others not so tentative - that it was an attack by Jews:

The graffiti consisted of a Jewish star and the Hebrew word nekama, which means “revenge.”

A Star of David and the Hebrew word 'Revenge' are spray-painted on the walls of a Palestinian home which was burned down by arsonists on July 31, 2015 in the Palestinian village of Duma, near Nablus (Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights)

Credit: Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights

Elsewhere on the wall was written, “Long live King Messiach” (HaMelech HaMoshiach).


The Hebrew phrase 'Long live the king messiah' is spray-painted on the walls of a Palestinian home which was burned down by arsonists on July 31, 2015 in the Palestinian village of Duma, near Nablus (Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights)

Credit: Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights
Academic Daniel Gordis wrote, “it is almost universally assumed that the attack was the work of right-wing Jewish nationalist extremists.”  Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon reflected this assumption when he declared, “We intend to fight Jewish terror with determination and without compromises.” But I did not see this assumption as “almost universal.”  

What was widely suggested was that the perpetrators were “radical settlers” from a nearby Jewish community – with “settler,” in this context, a pejorative. The fact was, however, that there were no identified suspects when this presumption was advanced.  This was the “Rush to Judgment” that I referred to in the title of my August 4 post.

On the part of the Jews of Israel, there was, first, a stunned sorrow, on learning that a baby had been destroyed, that a family had been attacked in their home.  But then there was the difficulty of taking in the fact that it may have been Jews who did this.  Jews are not supposed to behave thus.  The visceral reaction was that such an act demeaned us, as a people. 
There were demonstrations to register opposition to terrorism; rabbis who spoke out forcefully against use of violence for resolving societal problems; editorials that decried what our society was in danger of becoming and demanded communal soul-searching.

And so, there was a way in which it was possible to say that we had demonstrated that this is not what what we are – we had demonstrated to ourselves and before the world that we are different.  We stand against violence.

And yet there was a point at which this ceased to resonate positively. There was too much breast-beating, a tone that echoed a sort of communal guilt that was not appropriate. Condemning the terrorism implicit in burning a baby is one thing. Assuming that our whole society is generating a terrorist mentality – because of one act that may or may not have been committed by Jews - is something else.

(I didn’t say this explicitly in August, but I would suggest now that this was galut mentality.  This rush to assume guilt.  Seeking answers and being ready to acknowledge the fact of a Jew who committed a terror act is one thing – this went further.)

Add to this the way in which our political adversaries and enemies chose to use the terror act in Duma to attack Israel. 

And the way in which leftist Israelis sought to use this as a weapon against “religious Zionists,” “nationalists” – representing them as violent crazies who must be restrained.

The so-called “Rabbis for Human Rights” (which I consider shorthand for Rabbis for Arab Human Rights) irked me greatly.  Which is hardly surprising.  One of their field workers was cited as saying this “terrorist action” was “one of the more heinous ones that has occurred in the West Bank.”  The message: that Jews commit atrocities that are as bad or worse than what Arabs do.

My mind went immediately to what was done four years ago to five members of the Fogel family, murdered by Arabs while they slept in their home.  The perpetrators declared themselves proud of what they had done, which included mutilating the body of the Fogel’s two-month old baby.  I had no recollection of Rabbis for Human Rights speaking out on this most horrendous attack – but then, the Fogels were “settlers” of a religious orientation.

As for the EU, their response to this incident was vile:

“The Israeli authorities should … take resolute measures to protect the local population. We call for full accountability, effective law enforcement and zero tolerance for settler violence,” declared a spokesperson for Federica Mogherini, head of foreign policy for the EU, in a prepared statement.  

When, ever, did you hear an EU spokesperson say to Abbas or other PA leaders that it was time for them to take full accountability for the violence visited upon Jews by Arabs living in PA areas?  When did they demand zero PA tolerance for violence?  Rhetorical questions, of course. The EU does not see fit to predicate support for the PA on its accountability with regard to terrorism.  And yet Mogherini’s spokesperson had the gall to speak about protecting the local Arab population from Jews.


And  here I come to the final issue I addressed in August: certain facts that I encountered cast doubt on the likelihood that it was Jews who killed Ali Saad Dawabsha

Hillel Fendel wrote an article in Arutz Sheva about this.  He relayed the fact that “there have been reports of an ongoing, 18-year feud between two clans in Duma that might be related to the murderous arson.” 

Then he cited Yonadav Tapuchim, a Jew who had gone into Duma with other Jews in an attempt (unsuccessful) to pay a condolence call to the bereaved family.  Tapuchim had written on his Facebook page that there was something suspicious about the nature of the alleged arson, with “curious aspects” in the story.
“I would start with the fact that the two houses [an empty one was firebombed first ] are located in the center of the village, and that in order to get there we had to travel a number of minutes from the entrance. Duma is spread out over a gigantic area, and the houses are situated at the end of a winding road, among fences and yards.
“According to the Duma version, the attackers burnt one house, then saw that it was empty, and so they went to set fire to the next house. The second house is enclosed by a fence, and the windows are covered by a dense lattice; a firebomb cannot be hurled through the windows, and in any event it is very hard to reach the windows behind the fence....”

Most of the time, when terrorists enter a village, they aim for attack on the houses close to its periphery, to reduce the chance of being seen and maximize the opportunity for escape.  Such attacks are random in nature – the Fogel family, for example, was, to the best of my understanding, just in the wrong place, not singled out specifically for attack.

The logical question here is why Jewish terrorists would have taken themselves way into the center of the Arab village, where the chances for being seen or apprehended were much greater, rather than staying on the periphery.  And why they would have chosen to hit a home that was difficult to access because of fencing, if the intent was to hit “a” family, not to target any particular family

If the perpetrator belonged to a clan that is feuding with the Dawabsha clan, then there might indeed have been a specific family that had been targeted.  And thus a specific reason for going to that particular house.  What is more, if the perpetrator belonged to the feuding Arab clan of Duma, then, presumably, he was already a resident of the village and not someone who had to make his way from the outside – and not identifiable in the way a religious Jew would have been.


Let us then carry this one step further:

On the front page of the August 4th Jerusalem Post, there was a feature story about the family that owned the empty house that had been firebombed. They were supposed to be in the house that night, but were delayed in Nablus (Shechem). And guess what? Their name is also Dawabsha – they are cousins to the family that was attacked. 

Was this truly random then?  An attack by Jews from the outside? Or an attack by people who were after members of the Dawabsha clan specifically?   

What was explained by Emam Dawabsha (lady of the first house) is that the arsonists “torched the backroom of their home where they typically slept on hot summer nights.” 

So then, one last question: Was it simply a random act by Jewish terrorists, who happened to torch the room where this family would have been sleeping even though it was at the back of the  house?  Or was the attack by people who knew full well where the family was expected to be?


Some commentators have taken a close look at that “HaMelech HaMoshiach” graffiti.  Clearly, it suggests, or is deliberately designed to suggest, a “radical religious settler.”  However, this specific term is directly associated with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement today. (If you doubt it, Google it and you will see.)  But Chabad – indisputably the most open and moderate of hassidic groups – is not associated with terrorism. Was this term written by a radical religious settler?  Or by an Arab who wrote Hebrew and got his religious groups just a tad mixed up? 

(Some commentators have suggested – there are apparently ways for graphologists to assess this – that the way the Hebrew looks suggests that it was not written by a Jew thoroughly comfortable with Hebrew, but by someone who was copying the Hebrew.)


For some considerable time thereafter, there was only silence. 

If there was ever a serious investigation within Duma, regarding the clan feud, etc., no word was ever leaked about it, no report ever issued.     

But neither was there any information leaked about evidence secured in the course of an investigation of possible Jewish suspects. As it turned out, there apparently was no evidence.

At one point Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon made an ambiguous statement that bewildered many – myself included.  We know who did it, he said.  Jews, but not from the price tag  (tag mehir) movement.  Those responsible are a small group of perhaps a couple hundred who are very radical, he said, and a danger to Israel because they want to overthrow the government.  No arrests followed this statement, however.  Ya’alon said this was because it would “expose intelligence sources” if arrests were made. 


Then, some some six weeks ago, a number of far right young people (the original number I believe was six and then one was released) were detained in connection with the Duma arson. In their teens – at least one a minor – and early twenties, their identities were withheld. 

These are members of the hilltop youth, who have established themselves on hilltops in Samaria, attempting to claim the land without approval from the gov’t. They are extremely right wing, and passionate in their beliefs.  They are disenchanted with the government, often alienated; they may be responsible for price tag graffiti, or vandalism on occasion. 


Credit: i24news

You might deplore their positions and tactics, wish they had better guidance from adults who can reach out to them, or admire them as courageous and honest.  But none of what I just described, per se, makes them “terrorists.”  

The question before our nation now is whether any one of their members indeed is a terrorist. 


They were not arrested because there was no evidence against them and thus no way to charge them.  And here I want to stop and cite political commentator Martin Sherman, who recently provided valuable perspective with regard to the fact that Shin Bet had nothing on them (emphasis added):

“Having committed the dastardly deed, these youthful renegade radicals, who presumably have not been extensively schooled in the tradecraft of clandestine activity, apparently have the iron discipline not to let slip the vaguest hint of what they had perpetrated. No boastful bravado, no indiscreet phone call in a moment of weakness – only sphinx-like silence for months on end, while the county’s entire law enforcement apparatus, together with the formidable internal security services, was hunting them.

”Remember, the suspects, unlike covert intelligence agents operating in foreign lands, cannot escape to some safe haven in another country. Quite the opposite, they comprise a small, easily identifiable group, confined to well-known locations, readily recognized by their physical appearance and thus unable to blend in easily with the general population.

For months the law enforcement agencies, with all the measures at their disposal – covert surveillance, phone tapping, insertion of undercover agents, enlistment of group members to become informers (either willingly, by positive persuasion or unwillingly, under duress) – could not come up with any incriminating evidence...
Could it be that there is something disturbingly wrong with this picture?”

And so, minus evidence or specific charges, the Shin Bet – Shabak, the Israeli internal security agency – held them in “administrative detention” for weeks without allowing them access either to their parents or to their pro bono lawyers from Honenu.

Why they selected the particular individuals they did, when they apparently were lacking evidence pointing to them specifically, is something I cannot explain. My guess at the time – and I caution that it was only my speculation – was that they decided these radical kids were a good place to start, and figured if none of those in detention were responsible, in the end they would provide information that would lead them to others. 

The situation came to the fore when Honenu lawyers finally were allowed to meet with their clients on December 16th. The next evening, three attorneys associated with the case held a press conference during which they charged that the remand conditions and methods of interrogation were “appalling.”

Itamar Ben-Gvir, for example, said:

“I met my client after 21 days, during which he was forbidden to meet an attorney.  I met a man physically, mentally, broken, a man who needs psychotherapy. The Shin Bet investigators made him into a shadow of a man.”

He claimed the interrogation was accompanied by “sexual harassment against my client, harm to what is holy to him, to his observance of the Torah and commandments, and sleep deprivation for long periods.”

Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir from the Honenu legal aid organization seen during a press conference regarding the detention of Jewish youth in the Duma terror attack investigation, in Jerusalem on December 17, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90


These deeply distressing charges were followed by counter charges and denials that made it very difficult to grasp with firmness precisely what was going on.  At some points it was impossible to declare anything definitively.  There seemed little to do but wait for greater clarity.

Here I can only summarize what has been and continues to be a very painful and complex situation.

Shin Bet for its part, insisted what they were doing was “tough interrogation” – supervised by lawyers - that did not constitute “torture,” as the charge had been made.  But then we came to a horrendous place of asking where “tough interrogation” stops and “torture” begins.  Refusing to allow the suspects sleep – what is that?  And refusing a religious person a chanukiah for lighting candles? Or clean underwear?  Not letting a 17 year old speak with his family for weeks?  Tying a suspect’s hands behind his back in an uncomfortable position for extended periods?

And so questions began to be posed regarding what it was appropriate for Israel, a democracy, to be doing.  Especially, as minors were involved.  There have certainly been suggestions that the law has been broken in one regard or another by the methods of interrogation that were used.


It was explained by multiple persons – persons in gov’t and journalists - that the Shin Bet was dealing with a very serious situation that necessitated “toughness” – because these young people want to overthrow the government and are dangerous.  Overthrow the government? That would justify a great deal. This was the original claim of Ya’alon that I referred to above. 

But what does this mean? That the hilltop youth are thoroughly alienated by the government and would prefer one that works according to principles of Torah is likely true.  But it’s a huge stretch from acknowledging this to saying they represent a “danger.” This, my friends, I find it difficult to believe. There has been no evidence to bolster this claim – not with all of the investigation of the group that has been done.  A convenient charge to make, perhaps to justify actions that should not be justified  How?  How would they be a danger in any real sense?  And if they are a danger, why have no indictments in this respect been brought?

What occurred to me as these charges were being made is that we have at least one Arab member of the Knesset (Hanin Zoabi) who speaks for the enemy – and yet she is still in the Knesset.  But the young people are dangerous?  Is there equity of judgment here, or is it a matter of what is politically correct, and what will fly?


Still another explanation offered for why “tough interrogation” was required was that these young people represented a “ticking bomb.”  By this was meant there was a real danger of their doing a second time what they had done once in Duma, so that information had to be secured quickly to prevent this from happening. 

But this does not fly either. The arson at Duma happened at the end of July, and these young people were at large until approximately mid-November. That would have been plenty of time for them to perpetrate another terror attack, had that been their intention. There is no way to make the case for a ticking bomb here!

The term “ticking bomb” is applied with regard to an Arab with terrorist connections who may know where weapons to be used in an imminent attack are hidden, or exactly when and where the next attack is going to happen. 


Late last week, a news story broke that undercut denials of torture and rendered this entire situation more troublesome still (emphasis added):

“Sources close to the probe of a fatal firebombing of a Palestinian home in July say Jewish suspects in the case were tortured under the express authorization of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, Haaretz reported Thursday.

“The unnamed sources reportedly allege that Weinstein authorized the use of severe interrogation techniques against the detainees several weeks ago, after officials in the Shin Bet internal security service informed him that the investigation was at a dead-end.

“The report further stated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not informed of this decision in advance, and was only notified about the use of extreme measures after the fact.”

Credit: YNet


And now, Amiram Ben-Uliel, one of the young people who has been in detention, is reported to have confessed and has been indicted for the arson at Duma. Shin Bet says he acted alone (as his accomplice backed out) and that he re-enacted part of the crime in the course of his confession.

Amiram Ben-Uliel, who was indicted Sunday, January 3, 2016, for murder in the killing of the Dawabsha family in Duma (courtesy)



There are two questions of over-riding significance here.  One is the question of whether he did it. 

I do not know and am obviously not in a position to make final judgment on this. His wife insists that he is innocent but cracked under torture. There certainly are false confessions on record given as a result of torture, whether it is true in this case or not.

IF he did it, by himself and without the assistance of an accomplice, it means that he went along a winding road into the center of Duma, set one house on fire, saw that no one was in it, set a second house, which was difficult to access because of fences and lattice-work, on fire, wrote the graffiti on the wall, and got out without being seen.


But there is another issue which likely supersedes the first question:  If his confession was secured via torture, it is not legal.  The Movement for Governability and Democracy (Meshilut) had already charged that if the Attorney-General approved torture despite the “lack of concrete events justifying such measures” he acted illegally “and in violation of a Supreme Court ruling on this matter.”

Will the confession be accepted by a court of law then? For without the confession, the authorities have nothing and there is no case against Ben-Uliel.


And so we are grappling with two matters of deepest concern. 

One is whether a Jew committed terrorism against an Arab family.

But the other is whether Israel will conduct herself according to the rule of law – and whether “tough interrogation”/torture will be permitted when there is no independent evidence that would justify it.  The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Aryeh Stern, having spoken with the young people held in detention, has already called for an “independent inquiry” to determine whether the charges against the Shin Bet are true.  There will be other such calls.  .

Undoubtedly, I will return to this, as these are heavy, heavy questions.


Before closing, I make this comment:  I saw an article that implored, leave the Shin Bet alone, for we are indebted to them for the work they do in protecting us.  I heartily concur that we are indebted to them!  I write about it all the time – the Hamas cell they uncover, the cache of weapons, etc.  It is an ongoing and very necessary service they provide to Israel with considerable effort and diligence. 

Thus, does it follow that it gives me no pleasure to criticize the Shin Bet.

However, the Shin Bet as well must obey the laws of the land, and when it seems there are hard questions to be asked, they must be asked.  This too is for Israel’s sake, that she might be all she should be as a democracy.

In point of fact, this entire posting has been very difficult for me to write. 


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
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Posted on Monday, January 4, 2016 at 06:31AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 31, 2015: Facing Forward

It has been my practice every year, as January first approaches, to speak about the fact that for me the New Year is Rosh Hashana, a time of reflection and prayer.  All the secular new year means to me, I would write, is that I must change the date I put on my checks.  And, while I almost never write checks anymore, this still pertains to putting the correct year at the top of my postings.
But every year, as well, I have most sincerely wished my readers a Happy New Year, and put up an illustration that is somehow celebratory, in recognition of how New Year’s Eve is customarily observed by many.  Champagne glasses. Bright sparklers.
Yet in this posting you will see no illustrations of celebration.  This year is different. Of course I wish one and all a good year ahead.  But right now, in my heart of hearts, I feel revelry is not appropriate. At all. For the world is in crisis.
A Rosh Hashana model seems so much more fitting: Don’t we need to reflect on what needs to be done to move this world of ours to a more peaceful and humane place – a place where evil is defeated? 
And should we not pray for the strength and wisdom required to go forward? 

 Credit: Chabad
May I write a year from now uplifted by the good that will have transpired in the course of 2016.
Be assured, I am not suggesting there is nothing to celebrate. For of course there is, always! Touching various bases:
“Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed a molecule known as NT157 which targets metastatic human melanoma and colon cancer.  The molecule has been licensed to Israeli startup TyrNovo for medical trials.”

Credit: afhu
“The Prime Ministers of Israel and Albania signed a joint declaration of friendship in honor of 25th years of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.  Other documents signed included a medical research cooperation agreement between hospitals.”


Credit: invest-in-albania
“Israel is to open a diplomatic-level mission to the International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi, its first openly established representative office in the United Arab Emirates.  Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold (on left below) visited Abu Dhabi earlier in December, the first time an Israeli government official of his diplomatic rank has publicly made the trip.”


Credit: israelhayom
This is not, I hasten to note, a full diplomatic mission and Israel and the UAE still do not have diplomatic relations. But, as one Israeli official noted, “It is half a step out the door.”  One more sign of a changing situation, being achieved incrementally.
“Dudu Shevy was paralyzed in a car accident 12 years ago.  Thanks to Amit Goffer, founder of Israel’s ReWalk, Dudu surprised his family by walking down the aisle to his bride wearing a ReWalk exoskeleton loaned to him for his wedding day.”
Shevy, who is an IDF vet, had three months of secretive training by the Defense Ministry in order to pull off the surprise.


Credit: madpatriots
We are dealing with a crisis in our diplomatic relationship with Brazil. This is a situation that has broad and serious implications.
The current Israeli ambassador to Brazil, Raed Mansour, completed his term of office and returned to Jerusalem last week, and Dani Dayan, who had been chosen by Prime Minister Netanyahu to be the next ambassador, was prepared to replace him.

Dani Dayan  

Credit: Flash 90
Dayan was an excellent choice: A native of Argentina, he knows Latin America well.  What is more, Brazil is a rapidly growing market for Israeli goods and Dayan has experience as an entrepreneur. 
But politics reared its head in an unexpected and severely problematic fashion: Three former Israeli ambassadors, all with a distinctly left-wing tilt – and all working for EU associated NGOs - lobbied Brazil, in a most inappropriate action, to reject Dayan because of his association with “the settlements”: Dayan had served as head of the Yesha Council, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  By many, he is seen as the public face of the “settlements” – the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.  Argued the former ambassadors, accepting Dayan would be tantamount to acknowledging Israel’s right to be present in Judea and Samaria.
Thus did the BDS movement – normally associated with boycotting of goods from and academia in Judea and Samaria – intrude itself into a diplomatic matter.  Dayan himself has said that this is not just about him, and whether he is accepted in Brasilia, but where all those diplomats who live in or are associated with Judea and Samaria will be deemed “not kosher.”  
This simply is not a situation that Israel can accept.  Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has let Brazil know that someone else will not be appointed.  It will be Dayan or no one.  Attempts at settling the matter quietly were unsuccessful and the issue has been made public.
See Caroline Glick on this, below, with more to follow shortly regarding the transparency of NGOs.
German journalist Jurgen Todenhöfer (shown with ISIS fighters), is the only Western journalist ever allowed access to the terrorists where they are located. He risked his life in moving with them in Iraq and Syria for 10 days, and has now done an interview with the the Jewish News in the UK.


Credit: al-Jazeera
ISIS, he declared (emphasis added) is  “preparing the largest religious cleansing in history...The only country ISIS fears is Israel. They told me they know the Israeli army is too strong for them...
“They think they can defeat US and UK ground troops, who they say they have no experience in city guerrilla or terrorist strategies, but they know the Israelis are very tough as far as fighting against guerrillas and terrorists...
“...they are scared of the Israelis, and told me the Israeli army is the real danger. We can’t defeat them with our current strategy.”
Let this be so!  This is very relevant to the current situation ( see following).
An offshoot of ISIS known as Shuhda al-Yarmouk – the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade – has taken over wide swaths of territory in the Syrian Golan Heights from the al Nusra Front. Estimated at about 600 fighters, they are situated about 15 kilometers (just over nine miles) from Israel.  Because they are in possession of a significant quantity of weapons, the IDF considers them to be a genuine threat.  
Thus are appropriate precautions being set in place: security has been enhanced, concrete blocks have been put up at the fence (to prevent a truck with explosives from crashing through), more armored units have been brought to the area.
Additionally, a new elite Commando Brigade  - Brigade Oz – has been established.  It is headed by Col. David Zini (pictured), a veteran of the most distinguished Sayeret Matkal special forces unit. 

Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
This  new brigade will combine some of the army’s most specialized units — Egoz, Rimon, Maglan and Duvdevan – for greater efficiency.
The terror?  It continues unabated:
On Saturday, an Arab rammed his car into troops manning the Hawara checkpoint south of Shechem (Nablus) and was shot deal.  One solider was lightly wounded.
On Sunday, a terrorist stabbed a soldier  near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station; the soldier was lightly wounded and the terrorist was grabbed by security.  You see here the knife the terrorist used.

The knife used in the stabbing attack in Jerusalem (Photo: Police spokeswoman)

Credit: police spokeswoman
Later that same day, again at Hawara, Arabs attempted to stab soldiers who were checking their papers.  One soldier was lightly wounded; the terrorists were shot dead.
Sadly, yesterday we learned of the passing of Ganedi Kofman, the much-loved gardener of Hevron, who had been so badly stabbed but hung on for weeks.

Ganedi Kofman

Credit: Jewish yishuv of Hevron
Today there has been a car ramming that lightly injured one soldier; the terrorist was shot.
Before leaving the subject of terrorism, there are two items I want to bring to your attention in order to provide perspective (with emphasis added):
”With Palestinians committing stabbing attacks against Israelis almost daily, the PA and Fatah have chosen to glorify and promote the ‘blood’ and Martyrdom motifs.

“The Facebook page of official spokesman of the PA Security Forces Adnan Al-Damiri, posted a message from Fatah Shabiba youth movement to children that the way to succeed in ‘revolution’ against Israel is to ‘water it with blood’:
"Teach your children to love the land
“Teach them that we live a life of suffering
Teach them that there is a seed in the ground
If they water it with blood, a revolution will flower
”Teach them that Fatah is the eternal revolution
”That the 'Storm'
“Is the blade of the intifada

”And that the Shabiba are the knights of the rocks."
Once again, my friends, I must ask that you save this and broadcast it widely.  People must know.
Dr. Ofer Merin, Director of the Trauma Unit at Shaare Tzedek Hospital says that the wounds suffered by terror victims are not random.  “The terrorists know where to strike,” he declared at a conference on emergency medicine.
“Three weeks ago, a casualty who is still hospitalized was brought to us with four stab wounds: one in the lungs, one in the upper atrium, one in the right ventricle and one in the neck. It's as if someone read the manual, and then the casualty came in with two punctures in the heart. You learn from that, that they know where to strike."

Dr. Ofer Merin

Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash 90
Questions are raised, then, about whether attacks are truly “lone wolf” as has been claimed.”
There is more, my friends.  More that is painful, and difficult and confusing.  It will wait until my first posts of 2016.
But let us end this last post of 2015 with something lighthearted: a story about an ostrich ambling down a street in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo causing quite a good-natured stir, with people taking selfies with the bird.  


Credit: Shlomi Hazut
The bird – approximately one to two years old - had been bought illegally as a chick from an Arab marketplace near Tel Aviv, and was being raised in its owner’s home in Jerusalem when it escaped.
Said Dr. Asaf Brill of the Jerusalem Municipality Veterinary Service:
“We experience fleeing animals like parrots and iguanas, but these are animals people usually raise.  The ostrich is a wild, dangerous and endangered bird. It can reach the weight of many hundreds of pounds – a kick from it can kill a man.”
A Jerusalem Municipality spokesperson said that, “Out of a deep concern for her well-being, the municipal authority has coordinated her transfer to the Biblical Zoo, where she will receive the dedicated care of the professional staff."

“Bashana Ha-ba’a” is an Israeli folksong commonly associated with Rosh Hashana.  “You will yet see, you will yet see,” goes the refrain, “how good it will be next year.”
I found this old video of the song that somehow seems right for us now in all its unpolished eagerness.  Children are our hope, after all.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Thursday, December 31, 2015 at 09:26AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 21, 2015: This Way and That

The good news?  Lets start with this picture of Yotam Sitboun:

Yotam Sitboun. Photo: Screenshot

Just a week ago, Yotam was, along with 13 others, the victim of a terrorist car ramming during which a portion of his leg was severely damaged.  According to numerous sources, none official – his parents were not talking – the damaged part of his leg had to be amputated. 

The boy’s parents now say they have released this picture to dispel rumors.  “It’s important for us to clarify: false pictures and rumors about Yotam’s health were published.”
Does this mean that efforts to reattach the almost severed leg were successful?  Or that he’s bouncing back from the amputation?  Do not know.  Only know that the boy is doing all right and the parents – who did not allude to the condition of their son’s leg - are hopeful.

That’s enough to make us smile.  And there is more from the parents:

“The nation of Israel is a great nation. Jews from around the world pray together with us and we feel this and it gives us and Yotam much strength. We are asking for you to keep praying...”

Please note here the total absence of bitterness and hatred in the parents’ message. That, too, is what makes us a great nation.


Also good news, of an entirely different sort, is that at long last we have taken out Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze terrorist.  He was the worst of the worst – capable of a brutal and despicable act. In 1979, participating in a Palestinian Liberation Front terror operation, he came down from southern Lebanon into Israel, kidnapped a father, 31-year-old Danny Haran, and his 4-year-old daughter, Einat.  He shot Danny in front of Einat, then crushed her skull with the butt of his rifle.  The moral depravity of this behavior defies rational comprehension.

Credit: Beitbart

Kuntar was tried and imprisoned in Israel, but in 2008 was released in a prisoner trade with Hezbollah in Lebanon.  He then began operating with Hezbollah and was believed to have held a senior leadership position within that terrorist group.  Reportedly, he recruited Druze for Hezbollah.

Israel never directly claims attacks such as this one, but Syrian militia reported a direct Israeli strike that took Kuntar out on Saturday night.  The building he was living in, in the Jaramana neighborhood of Damascus, took the hit. 


Credit: ste.india


According to reports in Arab media, eight other terrorists – who were working on related terror attacks - were taken out with Kuntar.  In fact, it is being said that this was less vengeance for Kuntar’s past terrorism than it was a need to eliminate him because of what he was currently planning with his associates.

There seems a great deal of validity to this, for there are reports that Kuntar was no longer working for Hezbollah but had become an agent for Iran. According to Ely Karmon, senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Kuntar was part of an Iranian effort to set up a platform in southern Syria.

And yet, with this all, there is certainly a feeling on the part of many here that Israel has finally gotten someone who long deserved to die.  Smadar Haran, widow of Danny Haran, spoke of the alleged assassination of Kuntar as “historic justice” and the “closing of a circle.”

It comes as no surprise that there was (Katyusha) rocket fire directed at northern Israel from Lebanon hours after the Kuntar hit – at least three projectiles landed in an open field near Nahariya.   Israel, holding the Lebanese army responsible, shelled the area in Lebanon from which the rockets were launched.

But this is likely not the end of it, as Hezbollah vows retaliation, as do several Palestinian Arab groups. 

Of course, both Syria and Iran condemned the assassination of Kuntar.  And so did Hamas, which called the killing of Kuntar a “heinous” crime and called upon the international community to take action against Israel.

Kuntar is to be buried in Beirut's Dahiya neighborhood and it is anticipated that the funeral will be the focus for a Hezbollah terror rally – complete with Nasrallah addressing the crowd via satellite feed from his bunker.  The IDF is on high alert.

Sunni Syrian rebels in battle with Hezbollah utilized social media to thank Israel for eliminating Kuntar.


At the end of November, ostensibly in response to the Turkish shooting down of a Russian plane, the Russians declared that they had installed a battery of the S-400 ground to air missile defense system in northwest Syria.

Credit: Sputnik news

If that system is up and operating (there have been some questions about this), there may be implications to be drawn regarding Israel’s action in Damascus.  Thus does Aaron Lerner of IMRA conclude “that the operation took place with the knowledge of Russia that jets would operate at specific locations within the S-400 envelope - and in this case in a route that passed through the area of Syria's capital.”

Remember that Israel and Russian have a system of communication in place for coordination to avoid conflict in a variety of scenarios.  And so this could well be the case (although it still seems fairly mind-boggling). 

However, Ely Karmon, cited above, suggests that Israel may have used long range missiles that did not require entering Syrian air space.

Most important however, says Karmon, is that the strike underscores Israel’s commitment to maintain full operational freedom and disrupt imminent threats to its security.


Nothing is official yet, but there have been high level bilateral meetings in Switzerland and it is looking likely that Israel and Turkey will resume diplomatic relations

There had been unease about this possibility in several quarters:

- Because of its potentially negative impact on the growing diplomatic relationship with Greece and Cyprus.
- Because of Turkey’s demands regarding Gaza and its relationship with Hamas. 

But now the official response here to what seems to be on the diplomatic horizon has been largely positive. 

Turkey has been given a face-saving out with regard to its demands that Israel lift the “siege of Gaza” – actually a legal maritime blockade.  Israel has no intention of lifting that blockade and allowing goods – which would include large quantities of weapons – to be brought in via the Mediterranean without being checked.  That blockade will stay in place, but Israel will allow larger quantities of goods into Gaza via land – above and beyond the very large quantities already permitted in daily. Thus will Turkey say the blockade has been “eased.”

For your information: on one single day – a fairly routine day - this August, 405 trucks carrying 12,966 tons of goods entered Gaza.

Many people have no clue that this is taking place.

Credit: IDF blog

The key here is diligent checking and stringency in terms of what can be brought in, e.g., regarding dual use products.  (There has been some tendency for Israel to be, shall we say, excessively forthcoming in what has been permitted through in order to demonstrate humanitarian concerns.) Even now Turkish aid to Gaza is arriving at Israel’s ports and being transported by land to Gaza.

And then – this is something most of us choke on because of the essential injustice of the situation - Israel will be providing a $20 million fund for the families of the Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara. They were killed in a defensive action when they viciously ambushed IDF naval commandos.  This is something Turkey demands and there is a face saving aspect here as well.


Pointing to a significant gain for Israel, Minister Ze’ev Elkin says the projected deal places “a heavy limitation on Hamas activity in Turkey": Turkey will be required to expel Hamas leadership - most importantly, Salah Al-Arouri, who is a founder of the military wing of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and coordinates Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria from his base in Turkey. 

But perhaps the most hopeful aspect of renewed relations is the prospect of a major deal for Turkey to purchase natural gas from Israel.  This is potentially a multi-billion dollar project (that would ultimately involve the construction of a gas line) and, according to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz of huge importance both with regard to further development of the Leviathan field in the Mediterranean (below), and bringing international energy firms back to Israel to look for new gas fields. 


Credit: offshore technology

Turkey is dependent upon imports for its energy sources. As a result of its tensions with Russia, from which it has been buying natural gas, Turkey needs to find new sources.,7340,L-4741131,00.html


Shoshana Bryen’s analysis of the situation – “When All Else Fails, Erdogan Looks to Israel” - is helpful (emphasis added):

“Turkey's foreign policy choices and current crises have combined to make Erdogan reach out to Israel for help...
The restoration of relations with Israel is less a political reconciliation than an admission of the utter bankruptcy of Turkey's last five years of diplomatic endeavor.”


There is gushing from some members of Turkey’s ruling party about the fact that Israelis are Turkey’s friends – they make it all sound terribly positive.  (With everything else, the Turks are eager to have Israelis as tourists to their country once again.)

But Dr. Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, fears that Israeli leaders may be a bit naïve in their enthusiasm for this deal.  He sees strong Islamist influence within Turkey.  (We should note that even after the negotiations in Switzerland, Erdogan met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.)

And savvy commentator Ruthie Bloom writes about “An ill-advised deal with the Turkish devil”: “...getting in bed with an Islamist is tantamount to the tale of the tortoise helping the scorpion across the river.  The deadly sting to the former is inevitable, even if the latter commits suicide in the process.”


A world in flux, sufficiently so to make the head spin. 


Unfortunately, the terror is not abating.  On Saturday, three Israelis were stabbed by a terrorist in Raanana – one seriously hurt.  Yesterday, an Arab woman attempted to stab soldiers in Hevron before being shot and seriously wounded. And on it goes.  There have also been multiple IDF operations in which cells planning terror were apprehended before the fact.


I end with the song “Shomer Israel”: Guardian of Israel, watch over the remnant of Israel. 

I do believe this may be Neshama Carlebach singing.

This video includes lovely shots of Israel.


© 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 Monday, December 21, 2015 at 10:33AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint