The light is there, my friends, although sometimes it’s more obvious than at others. These are tough times, on several fronts. But don’t stop looking.
Haven’t started a posting with a good news item in a while now. But today I will – we need it. Actually, there are several items, each with a different focus.
Omri Caspi, Israeli NBA star, is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Thursday, bringing a group of fellow-NBA players with him on a mission to improve Israel’s image abroad. There is no better way to combat anti-Israel sentiment than by letting people see what Israel really is.
Credit: Moshe Shai/Flash 90
The IDF has unveiled its new APC (Armored Personnel Carrier), the Eitan. Capable of carrying 12 soldiers, it is the most sophisticated yet, and well shielded. As I understand it, this is the first version that has wheels, and a capacity to move at a good speed. In addition, it has “an active interception defense system capable of intercepting incoming anti-tank missiles.” This will save lives during battle, and that is always good news.
Credit: Ministry of Defense
“Egypt-Israel ties have been strengthening in the three years since the military coup that ousted former President Mohamed Morsi, a Cairo-based political analyst wrote on Friday.
“In an op-ed published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Arabic-English website Fikra Forum, Mohamed Soliman said that this flourishing relationship – which sprouted in the immediate aftermath of the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government – has been a two-way street.
“’Shortly after the July 3  military intervention, Israel began unequivocally backing the new regime,’ he wrote…”
“Soliman also said that none of Sisi’s supporters have been able to cause him to budge on his pro-Israel positions. On the contrary, he asserted, ‘Sisi has instead turned the former narrative on its head, insisting that Egypt-Israel relations are a necessity in light of their shared regional foe: Hamas, seen as an extension of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, Sisi [pictured] has shifted Egypt’s role with Israel from that of an “existential struggle” to a partnership of necessity.’” (Emphasis added)
After the UN Economic and Social Council released a statement about the “economic and social repercussions of the occupation on the living conditions of….the Arab population of the Golan,” Dulan abu-Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, the largest Druze town in the Golan, decided to speak out.
Calling the statement a “total joke,” he said:
“I don’t understand what they’re talking about, it’s laughable.” Druze in the Golan “don’t serve in the IDF and so far are only receiving from the state.
“Why don’t they condemn the horrors in Syria, where dozens of children are killed daily? Golan residents have a good life.”
This is one of those “what took so long?” news items that may herald a tougher stance by Israel:
For the first time, a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist was on Tuesday deported from Israel, Channel 2 News reports.
Soon after she landed at Ben Gurion International Airport, the activist from Switzerland, who is a member of a Christian organization which works in cooperation with the BDS movement was taken in for questioning and then deported, after Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) issued a deportation order against her.
According to Channel 2 News the activist, Rita Faye, visited Israel several times in the past and is known to the IDF mainly from her activities at checkpoints in the Jericho area. In the past Faye would harass the soldiers stationed in the area and record their activities. She would then send the information she collected abroad.
The deportation order was issued by Deri after the IDF received information that she intends to return to Israel, the report said.
I had planned to table US political issues until my next posting – Heaven knows there is enough to write without this. But I find myself pulled back to some key issues, and so take this detour from my intended agenda.
What I am seeing is a Donald Trump who is capable of being crude and insensitive in his off-the-cuff statements. I would be misrepresenting if I said otherwise. Just as I would be lying if I claimed everything he says plays well with me. However, there is a big “but” here:
For I am also seeing that his statements are distorted by the media and taken out of context, and more often than not blown up to be far more important than they are. Particularly when you consider that broader context. And that is what I want to look at.
One example will suffice for now, with more to follow.
At the Democratic Convention, as undoubtedly most of you know, there was a short speech by Khizr Khan, the American Muslim father of a soldier who died in Iraq in 2004; Humayun Khan gave his life while fending off a suicide bomber.
Afterward, Trump alluded to the total silence of this man’s wife: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” That was it. The unspoken implication was that she was not permitted to speak because she was Muslim.
It was a mistake. The media lambasted Trump’s statement, and painted Khan in noble terms – the suffering father who spoke with dignity, etc.
But to properly assess this, we need to go back and consider Khizr Khan’s speech. For he did not speak as a grieving father so much as a political operator. Waving a copy of the Constitution in the air, he suggested that perhaps Trump had never read it.
Credit; The Daily Beast
An insult to Trump.
Then he instructed Trump that it contains the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law,” implying that Trump’s position contravenes these concepts as advanced in the Constitution.
Finally, Khan observed, “If it was up to Donald Trump, he [Humayan] never would have been in America.”
At this point I say, “Hold your horses!” (Does this date me?) There are gross misrepresentations here.
First, “liberty” and “equal protection of law” when found in the Constitution apply to citizens of the United States, not to immigrants who are not citizens and, many of whom are actually illegal. It is certain that Khizr Khan knows this, because he himself is an attorney. So his words were no more than galling political sophistry.
Ditto with regard to the suggestion that Trump’s policy would have prevented Khan’s son from ever being in America because he wants Muslims blocked from entry. What Trump has said is that Muslims from countries that are problematic should be prevented from entering until a proper vetting process can be set in place. That is very different from saying no Muslims may enter the US. When the Khans came into America in 1980, the situation was not was it is today: there was no flood of radical refugees. Surely Khan knows this as well.
With all his apparently elevated and passionate statements about accepting all kinds of people in America, what Khan did was to obfuscate the issues, conflating the honor of his hero son with Trump’s desire to block the entry into America of dangerous Muslim radicals. It was subtle, but he was mocking Trump – brushing away a serious problem.
In the criticism of Trump, we heard again and again that he shouldn’t have attacked Gold Star parents – American parents who have suffered the loss of a soldier son. They are sacrosanct. But what the Clinton campaign did was dirty pool. They used a man who had this sacrosanct cover and allowed him to politicize and attack. The great irony here is that his son was killed by radical Islamists, and he might well have come forward to say that they must be stopped.
On Saturday night, Trump released a statement that said, in part (emphasis added):
“Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe. The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country to do us further harm. Given the state of the world today, we have to know everything about those looking to enter our country, and given the state of chaos in some of these countries, that is impossible.”
“While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan, who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.”
Political analyst Allen West, former military career officer, former Congressman, and a straight-talking man if ever there was one, put out a statement addressed to Khizr Khan. His final observation was this (emphasis added):
“Mr. Khan, I grieve for the loss of your son. However, I grieve even more that you used his sacrifice and loss as nothing more than a damn politicized stunt. May God forgive you for it.”
Context, my friends, context. The big picture. How else we even begin to make sense of this crazy campaign?
If we can find a light side in the political goings-on, it is the most recent statement by the president that Trump is “unfit” to be president. Obama, arguably the worst president the US has ever had, says this?
But let us move to other matters…
I want to call your attention to this article – “The invisible industry of deceit” by Ardie Geldman – because it touches on something that every visitor to Israel should be aware of:
“…the myriad overseas visitors to Israel and the PA who at any given point during the year may be found taking part in some organized program of subtle political indoctrination. Collectively, these activities constitute an invisible industry of lies and deceit. Invisible because they arouse virtually no attention, including of the government of the State of Israel. These programs represent the independent efforts of many organizations. They are not coordinated or run by a central authority. All these organizations, however, share one fundamental objective, and that is to proselytize the message that the Palestinians are an oppressed people and the State of Israel is the oppressor.” (Emphasis added)
The word from here is caution. Determine the political orientation of any group that provides “information” on the situation in the course of a tour, in Jerusalem or in Judea and Samaria. Where you have doubts, check facts.
And then, a video that is it is difficult to wrap your head around, because it is so counter-intuitive: a Palestinian Arab father trying to get his small son killed by Israeli soldiers. But it’s real. One more instance of what we deal with. Share it, please, so that people know. Note how the “big bad” Israeli soldier shook the child’s hand.
Consider, as well, what this cute little kid will be like in a few years. Not so cute anymore.
One of several subjects that needs to be addressed is the recent outrageous State Department statement on Israeli “settlements.”
In yesterday’s JPost, Alan Baker, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, wrote about this issue in “The curious State Department announcement on Israeli settlements” (emphasis added):
”On reading the recent statement issued by the US State Department on Israeli settlements, an average reader…could only conclude that Israel’s settlement activity is the source of all evil in the world…No international terrorism, no Islamic State, no Iranian nuclear threat, no Syria, no Hezbollah, no Hamas, no hunger, no global warming. Only Israeli settlements.
”…the terminology used and the biting and incisive verve of the statement raise some serious questions as to the basic knowledge, seriousness, professionalism and responsibility of the writer and of whoever approved the issuance of the statement.
”The State Department’s position regarding settlements has evolved over the years. While previous administrations described them as an ‘obstacle to peace,’ the Obama and Kerry administration have degraded them to being ‘illegitimate.’ The recent inclusion by the State Department of areas within Israel’s capital city Jerusalem as illegal settlements is a novel addition.
”But to describe settlements – both in the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem, as ‘corrosive to the cause of peace,’ as ‘systematically undermining the prospects for a two-state solution,’ as ‘entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict’ and as ‘provocative and counterproductive’ – is nothing more than a sad, political exaggeration, out of all proportion to the issue’s actual size or significance…
”Furthermore, in voicing its one-sided allegations, the State Department seems to be willfully and systematically ignoring the well-established and documented legal, historic and political rights of the Jewish people regarding the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria, as stressed consistently over many years by Israel.
”The State Department should be aware of the fact that its repeated questioning of the legality of Israel’s settlement activity and Israel’s claims regarding Jerusalem in fact prejudge these central negotiating issues and play into the Palestinian and European denials of Israel’s rights. As such, the State Department statements are the very antithesis of any peace negotiation process, and run counter to the professed support by the US of a negotiated, peaceful solution…
”But above all, in fixating on settlements, the State Department is deliberately turning a blind eye to the mortal danger of Islamic terrorism and the hatred of Jews that permeates Palestinian society. In so doing, the department is in fact giving a green light to the Palestinian leadership, media and administrative bodies that openly incite, encourage and support terrorism, violence and boycotts against Israel.
”By the same token, the State Department is giving sanction to the EU and its constituent member states, as well as to the UN and its specialized agencies to exacerbate their hostile policies against Israel…”
This is a worrisome state of affairs. There had been talk that Obama, in his last months in the White House, would make things as difficult as possible for Israel.
What apparently prompted the State Department statement in question was the announcement of plans to build 770 new housing units in Gilo. This neighborhood in the south of Jerusalem was built after the Six Day War. While it is over the Green Line (which I see as irrelevant in any event), most of the land on which it is located had been purchased by Jews before WWII and never relinquished. The remaining land on which it stands was sold to Israelis by Jabra Hamis the former mayor of Beit Jallah.
It is not possible to imagine any scenario in which Gilo would be part of a Palestinian state (Heaven forbid there should be one at all).
On the one hand, the Israeli government issued a statement refuting the alleged facts and contentions of the US, as well as of the EU and the UN.
On the other, we see Netanyahu walking that tightrope – making statements designed to demonstrate his readiness to negotiate a “two-state solution,” etc. etc. I see where he’s going: his hope of emerging at the end of Obama’s term in office with minimal damage done is clear. And yet, as ever, it makes me want to bang my head against the wall.
What makes this entire situation even more worrisome is that discussions on the new Memorandum of Understanding regarding US military aid to Israel are said to be in their final stages. There had been a hiatus in those negotiations, with expectation that Netanyahu would hold off. The current MOU does not expire until 2018.
Why the prime minister has now decided to attempt to conclude a deal (if this is the case) is not clear to me. While in dollar amounts it would be huge, the terms are not satisfactory – as they would weaken the Israeli defense industry. To be dependent on the US for military equipment is not a wise state of affairs.
Yoram Ettinger lays out the problems and pitfalls of this possible agreement, advising patience and caution:
In the new MOU, the ability of Congress to fund special military initiatives as might be required in a world of growing violence would be cut off. The deal would simply be frozen. What is most significant, no money allocated by the agreement would be spent in Israel – everything would be turned back to the US. Under the current agreement, 25% of the funds can be spent in Israel – this has allowed “annual funding of Israel’s groundbreaking missile defense research, development.”
Ettinger maintains – and this is a common theme of his – that “there has been a dramatic surge in Israel’s contributions to the U.S. in the areas of intelligence, research and development, training, operations…” The US benefits from this military cooperation; the military arrangement absolutely should not be seen as one-sided.
Caroline Glick believes that it’s time to walk away.
“The point is that the US aid deal is really a deal for Lockheed Martin, not for Israel. And we need to say no.“
© 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.