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July 20, 2016: Where to Turn?

As you have undoubtedly observed, the state of the world is terrible and growing worse.  Social unrest, violence, threats of violence and more are all about us: From yet another – particularly horrendous - terror attack, this one in Nice; to an illegal immigrant problem in Europe that is out of control and endangers the entire European society; to Iran’s   belligerent stance; to repeated incidents of racially motivated murders of police officers in the US.  (Remember Obama’s promise eight years ago of a time of “post-racial” harmony?)

Could I begin this posting without alluding to these exceedingly alarming matters? They can be ignored only at great peril. 


Credit: istock

In particular is this the case with regard to Islamist terror – which is still not being confronted within Europe and the US with either honesty or anything resembling requisite resolve.  After the Nice attack French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared that France is going to have to learn to live with terror.

Then there is the inability (or refusal) on the part of European officials to address the threat presented by the influx of a huge hostile Muslim population.  There is actually a tendency in certain parts of Europe for authorities to hide statistics on rape and sexual aggression by Muslim immigrants, for fear of alarming the populace.

While the world most definitely prefers to ignore the intentions of Iran – and, in fact, is all too accommodating.  News has just broken about a “secret deal” - an “add-on document” revealed by AP - which was apparently approved by the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.  It “will ease [nuclear constraints on Iran] in slightly more than a decade, cutting the time Tehran would need to build a bomb to six months.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, identified Iran as Israel’s greatest threat: Iran “continues to develop its military missile program with full force,” he said.

While over in the US, after the Baton Rouge massacre of police officers, Attorney General Loretta Lynch – fueling tensions - opined that, while people should not be violent, their feelings of “helplessness” and “fear” are “understandable” and “justified.”

Not only has a huge black-white rift emerged in the US, there are anti-Israel overtones within the “Black Lives Matter” movement.  Most recently, Atlanta’s mayor, Kasim Reed, flatly rejected “Black Lives Matter” demands that Atlanta’s police stop associating with Israeli police. Israel is referred to as “Apartheid Israel,” and black identification is with the people of Gaza.  (Should we be surprised?)


It is hardly possible for me to address all of these issues in any detail in this one posting – I can only point in a number of very important directions. 

Having done so, I want to narrow my focus to Israel-related matters.  In this regard, there is some good news.  I didn’t start with it, but happily it does exist.


Right now is an especially auspicious time for me to mention the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube -

Last week we had the closing ceremony for our pilot law course.  Ten law students were provided with eight classes taught by top notch international lawyers on issues regarding our rights in the land – issues that are often not adequately touched upon in the law schools.  We now have ten students who will be far better equipped to address these issues once they begin their law careers. 

We are delighted about this.  Having proven that we can do this successfully, we are aiming for more students and more classes next year.  This is a real and important contribution to Israel’s future.


At the same time, Jeff and I are working on the first video for Legal Grounds – a presentation of the case for our rights in the land.  There is so much disinformation out there, so much confusion on the various legal and historical issues, that we believe it is critical for us to present our case cogently, simply, and with great clarity.  To be done in Hebrew and English versions, it will be dynamic and cutting-edge.  We hope it will go viral. 

We are grateful to generous donors who have provided the basic funds for the production of this video: we are very close to signing on a video producer.

Video Streaming

Credit: zyxel


My friends, I share quite candidly the fact that my intensive work on the Legal Grounds Campaign has prevented me from posting as frequently as has been my habit.  Thus does a posting such as today’s have a feel of being not just a current report, but a review of recent events.


As of last Wednesday, the 13th, Theresa May officially succeeded David Cameron as prime minister of Great Britain.  This definitely counts as good news.

Theresa May emerges to speak to reporters after being confirmed as the leader of the Conservative Pa

Credit: Reuters

During her service as home secretary, she demonstrated very warm feelings towards Britain’s Jewish citizens, and voiced support for Israel.  She visited Israel in 2014, has spoken before a variety of Jewish groups, and, also in 2014, banned the French anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne from entering the UK.


Prime Minister May’s selection of Boris Johnson, former mayor of London, as Foreign Secretary, is also being celebrated: Johnson has a history of exceedingly supportive ties to the Jewish community and to Israel. 

Boris Johnson, the UK's newly appointed foreign secretary. Photo: Wikipedia.

Credit: Wikipedia
He was here last November in order to boost London-Jerusalem ties.  Commenting on supporters of BDS, he referred to them, as “corduroy-jacketed lefty academics.” (One version reports – even better - that he said “corduroy-jacketed, snaggletoothed, lefty academics.”)
“I cannot think of anything more foolish [than to boycott] a country that, when all is said and done, is the only democracy in the region, the only place that has in my view a pluralist open society.”

Referred to as a “larger than life character,” he is, admittedly, a bit idiosyncratic. But that’s quite OK.  He sounds like our kind of guy.  He has not endeared himself with the Palestinian Arabs.


The best vote of confidence in Israel: the arrival of new olim (immigrants).  On Tuesday, 218 people from N. America made the flight, to come home.  They were assisted by the organization Nefesh b’Nefesh.

Credit: MyIsrael

The Nefesh b’Nefesh goal for the summer is 2,000 olim.

I will mention here, just briefly, the July 10th visit to Israel of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.  This was the first visit to Israel of an Egyptian foreign minister since 2007, and the tone was most cordial.  Recently a growing relationship between Israel and Egypt – with enhanced intelligence cooperation - has come to light, spurred in part by mutual concerns about ISIS.

Shoukry came promoting a reinvigoration of “the peace process,” with Egyptian involvement.  It’s that Egyptian involvement that Netanyahu welcomes, as it undercuts EU efforts.

There is talk of arranging for a meeting between Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi but it is not clear whether this will materialize.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on Sunday, July 10, 2016 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90


Also briefly: An agreement for normalization of ties between Israel and Turkey was reached at the end of June.  Vastly leery of the Islamist perspective of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, I had a response to this that was not positive, and I was hardly the only one reacting this way.  In many quarters it was felt that Turkey gained too much, and Israel demanded too little.

What was particularly galling was the apology by Israel for the deaths of nine so-called “activists” who were aboard the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara - which was attempting to break the Gaza blockade six years ago. Those who died had ambushed and viciously attacked Israeli navy commandos who had come aboard to demand that the ship alter its course.  A compensation fund for the families of those who died is to be established to the tune of $20 million.  It feels altogether too much like an inappropriate admission of culpability from our side, a sort of appeasement.  (The quid pro quo here is supposed to be that legal action against Israelis involved would be dropped.)

What is greatly disturbing, Turkey was not required to banish Hamas, but simply to ensure that Hamas not plan terrorism from inside its borders.  Right....

On the other hand, Turkey did not secure one of its major demands, which was the end of the Gaza naval blockade.  Turkey will be able to provide relief provisions to Gaza via an Israeli port, and to lend assistance to Hamas with reconstruction inside Gaza.  (Eyebrows are raised over this last concession, which raises questions about the nature of the Turkish assistance to Hamas, particularly with regard to construction of “hospitals,” which Hamas uses as military headquarters.)

Some in the know are saying that the prime motivator of this agreement was gas.  Turkey, whose ties with Russia are not what they once were, requires gas.  And Israel is most interested in selling.

Others say that this agreement increases stabilization in the area, but that remains to be seen.  There is even a question now as to whether the failed military coup in Turkey will end up weakening the rapport with Israel.


I fervently wish that I could say that in Israel all is peaceful and easy, but of course that is not the case.  Terror attacks and attempted attacks continue:

On Sunday morning, alert security guards stopped a suspicious Palestinian Arab man from boarding the light rail at the Jaffa Street station near King George Street, right in the center of town. 


Credit: Shmuel Bar Am

Turned out that he was carrying three pipe bombs as well as knives.  Had he successfully boarded, it would have been a horror.  The terrorist was from a village near Hevron.


I want to share this article by Ruthie Blum – “Where is the feminist outcry?” – because the world so little understands the nature of our enemy, and what we must contend with (emphasis added):

“The recently appointed head of Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency gave his first presentation on Tuesday to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset. As part of his overview of the country's current situation, Nadav Argaman addressed the role of Arab women in the terror wave against Israelis that began last September.

“More specifically, he talked about the way in which Palestinian girls and women are being forced by the norms of their society to become cannon fodder in the ‘lone-wolf intifada’...

“According to Argaman, so far more than 40 girls and women have been wounded, killed or arrested for committing -- or attempting to commit -- terrorist attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. These acts are both homicidal and suicidal in nature: geared toward murder, on the one hand, but usually involve or result in self-sacrifice. Indeed, a teenage girl who runs up to a group of IDF soldiers while flailing a knife and shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ knows she is not long for this world. Even those who go after unarmed passersby are aware that they are likely to be shot in the process.

“...most of these women had ‘shamed’ their families in some way -- through what is considered to constitute sexual misconduct. This could include anything from flirting with the wrong boy -- a Christian, perhaps -- to engaging in actual or perceived adultery.

These women know that what awaits them is a painful, humiliating and often slow death at the hands of one or more male relatives -- fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins -- with no intervention on the part of their mothers or the Palestinian police.

“Yes, honor killing is alive and well in the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders traipse around the United Nations in Armani suits to bemoan Israeli injustices.

To ‘launder’ their inevitable end, many Palestinian girls opt to go out with a literal bang and become ‘martyrs.’ Some, Argaman said, are encouraged to do so -- even driven to the site of the terrorist attacks they are told to commit -- by their parents. If the girls are put to death for dishonoring their families, the stain remains. If, on the other hand, they are killed in the process of maiming Jews, their parents are guaranteed adulation and a hefty monthly stipend from the coffers of the PA, filled regularly by the United States and Europe...”


Blum’s title is right-on. It has long been a sore point with me: the failure of left wing so-called feminists to cry out on behalf of their Palestinian Arab sisters.  Because this involves  Palestinian Arab society, they prefer to turn a blind eye.

Please, share this broadly.


And lastly here a look at who we are – along with further information on who they are (emphasis added):

The Knesset Special Committee on the Rights of the Child is working to resolve the issue of Palestinian Arab child beggars. It was revealed that “there are dozens of children aged five to 17 begging in the streets, the vast majority in Arab villages.

“They are mostly minors...who come through crossings or open areas, or children from East (sic) Jerusalem...This is a growing phenomenon [especially] during the holidays and summer vacation.

“...these children, who often suffer from physical and sexual abuse, are often forced by adult handlers to beg on the streets for 11 hours per day.”

Frustration has been expressed because of a lack of cooperation on this issue within the Palestinian Authority.


A long posting, my friends, I know. Hopefully a valuable one. There is more, much more.  Next time.


“Ana BeKoach” – a mystical song that is a special favorite of mine.  It feels right for today and I like this version (although I don’t know why the illustration utilized).

“We beg, we beg thee with the strength and greatness of thy right arm, untangle our knotted fate.
Accept your people's song, elevate, elevate and purify us.”


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

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


Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2016 at 10:18AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 13, 2016: Stepping Forward

Credit: conceptdraw
Our steps here in Israel are not always as smooth as we might like.  But more often than not, when we stumble, we right ourselves (pun unintended) and keep going.
A vote that passed in the Knesset Monday night represents a significant step for Israel.  It has been a long time in coming, but what is called the “Transparency Law” has now been approved.
This legislation - authored by MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Heyehudi) – requires all NGOs that receive more than 50% of their funds from foreign governments or governmental agencies, or political entities such as the EU or the UN, to report this fact each year to the NGO Registrar in the Justice Ministry, which will publish a list of said NGOs.
“Those NGOs that are on the list must note this fact on their websites, on any advocacy publications readily available to the public, as well as in their communications with public servants and elected officials.
“They are also required to inform the chair of a Knesset committee that they are on the list whenever they appear before said committee.”
Critics of the bill charge, first, that it is “biased” because almost all of the roughly two-dozen NGOs that will fall under the purview of this new legislation are left wing organizations.  They say that right wing groups should also be required to report donations from individuals and private foundations outside Israel. (Very few, if any, foreign governments or their agencies are remotely interested in supporting groups that promote such issues as our rights to the land.)
This charge provides me with an opportunity to explain the outrageous situation that has prevailed here until now:
Governments of foreign nations – primarily nations in Europe – and international political entities such as the EU have an agenda with regard to Israel that is decidedly and aggressively left-wing.  Their interest is in weakening Israel and promoting Palestinian Arab predominance. Thus do they donate considerable largesse to NGOs registered in Israel that embrace their political orientation.
In simple terms, this is meddling.  There are diplomatic protocols that ought be followed – diplomatic channels that should be employed – if a foreign government seeks to protest policies of the Israeli government, the government of a sovereign state.  But in supporting NGOs that are ostensibly Israeli (because they are Israeli-registered), these governments have been attempting to circumvent the diplomatic channels and interfere directly from inside Israel. 
When the Israeli-registered NGO B’Tselem, to cite just one example, has taken a particular stand on an issue, the Israeli populace might reasonably have assumed that this was an Israeli position being promoted out of conviction by Israelis running a domestic organization that espoused a particular domestic agenda. 
Once the fact is made public that the majority of B’Tselem’s funds come from foreign governmental sources, it substantially changes perceptions: Can this be seen as a genuine domestic position that B’Tselem is promoting, or does B’Tselem reflect a foreign agenda?  It defies common sense to imagine that B’Tselem (or any of the other organizations that will be on the list) accepts large sums of money from foreign donors without being mindful of what those donors expect in the way of advocacy and political action.
What is more, the ability of an organization such as B’Tselem to advance certain positions is vastly enhanced by the infusion of very large sums of money from foreign governments.  Whether it is in the hiring of lawyers or lobbyists, or doing advertising and promotion, the foreign-funded NGOs have a distinct advantage.  (As someone who works with right wing organizations, I can attest to this anecdotally: right wing groups consistently find they are hurting for funds – whatever the donations of individuals and foundations – and are keenly aware of an inequity that is at work.)
Justice Minister Shaked, in defending the legislation last night, said, “Until now, we accepted [foreign intervention] with bowed heads. Our heads are bowed no longer.” 

Ayelet Shaked

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
While MK Robert Ilatov, celebrating the passage of the legislation, said:
“It is unthinkable that these organizations receive millions of shekels annually and are working against the existence of Israel, promote foreign goals while unregulated and uncontrolled.”

Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Then there is the charge that the bill is “undemocratic.”  But quite the opposite is true because true Israeli democracy is fostered when foreign governmental interference is exposed.
The point here is that all this bill does is require transparency.  It does not prevent NGOs that receive foreign funds from continuing to operate!
Prime Minister Netanyahu, speaking in support of the bill prior to its passage, noted, tellingly, that it “has been met with complaints from those who usually support transparency.”  
The legislation, he declared, “is right, democratic and necessary”: It is meant to create greater transparency regarding the activities of foreign governments inside of Israel.
The JPost reported, in the article above, that: “European countries pressured individual Israeli lawmakers to vote against it.”  That sort of outrageous interference with our democratic process, in and of itself, provides solid indication of what we are dealing with. 
It is my distinct impression that foreign governments imagine they can meddle here as they would never dream of doing in other places.  When we expose this, we are holding our heads high.
One last observation regarding the left here in Israel, which feels deeply threatened by this bill.  During debate in the Knesset before the vote was taken, Yitzhak (Buji) Herzog, head of the Zionist Union and leader of the opposition, charged that the law:
“symbolizes the budding fascism that is rising and flourishing in Israeli society,” which makes a “mockery” of the “right to organize, which is a sacred founding principle of a democratic society.”
HUH?  Budding fascism fostered by transparency?  This is what we call “shtuyote” – nonsense. The bill does not remotely hinder “the right to organize.”  It does not address this at all. The only “right” being addressed by the bill is the “right” to take large sums of foreign government money without letting the public or the Knesset know.
Did Herzog know full well that his was a nonsensically fallacious charge?  If he did, it would suggest he was out and out dishonest, invoking a “sacred founding principle” just for effect.   Or did he actually believe this blather?  This would tend to suggest that he may have feathers between his ears, where gray matter should be. Neither alternative is reassuring.
I mention this to caution my readers to think carefully before accepting as true various charges being leveled at the legislation.
And we have criticism from the US on this bill, as well.  Naturally.  State Department spokesman John Kirby expressed concern “not just about free expression but association and dissent.
“We are deeply concerned that this law can have a chilling effect on the activities that these worthwhile organizations are trying to do.”

Did we ask for his opinion?

The organizations that will be affected by the new law are as free to dissent and express themselves as they ever were.  It’s just that now everyone will know who is supporting their work.  If this knowledge has the effect of “chilling” public response to the messages of these groups, well... perhaps that is precisely how it should be.


In point of fact, a bipartisan Senate report, just released, exposes the fact that the V15 campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015 was indirectly funded by US State Department dollars.  While it was not overtly illegal – as it was channeled, this use of US funds is certainly unsettling.

Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin said Tuesday that the Senate’s findings were proof “of how correct the laws of transparency in foreign state funding of NGOs is.”


Over in the US yesterday, a step was taken, as well, that is being referred to as “historic” and “groundbreaking.”  This is the amended, very solidly pro-Israel plank that was passed unanimously in the Republican Party Platform Committee.
Entitled: “Our Unequivocal Support of Israel and Jerusalem,” - it was hammered out in subcommittee over a period of months and passed in that subcommittee on Monday.  It reads (emphasis added):
“Like the United States of America, the modern state of Israel is a country born from the aspiration for freedom, and standing out among the nations as a beacon of democracy and humanity. Beyond our mutual strategic interests, Israel is likewise an exceptional country that shares our most essential values. It is the only country in the Middle East where freedom of speech and freedom of religion are found. Therefore, support for Israel is an expression of Americanism, and it is the responsibility of our government to advance policies that reflect Americans’ strong desire for a relationship with no daylight between America and Israel. We recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state, and call for the American embassy to be moved there in fulfillment of U.S. law.
We reaffirm America's commitment to Israel's security and will ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative military edge over any and all adversaries. We support Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself against terror attacks upon its people, and against alternative forms of warfare being waged upon it legally, economically, culturally and otherwise. We reject the false notion that Israel is an occupier, and specifically recognize that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (‘BDS’) is anti-Semitic in nature and seeks to destroy Israel. Therefore, we call for effective legislation to thwart actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories, in a discriminatory manner.
“The U.S. seeks to assist in the establishment of comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East, to be negotiated among those living in the region. We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so. Our party is proud to stand with Israel now and always.”
Attorney Marc Zell, Chair of Republicans in Israel, was present for the vote and sent out a highly enthusiastic email in which he said that adoption of the amended plank changed “in one fell swoop 25 years of standard language...The amendment was adopted with a standing ovation by the Platform Committee and tears from us in the audience...[it] was drafted with the active participation of Donald Trump's Middle East advisors.”  
The changes in the plank were shepherded through the Subcommittee by delegate Alan Clemmons, a member of the S. Carolina House of Representatives.


You can see hear his marvelously supportive introduction to the vote on the amended plank on C-Span here.  Well worth listening to:
There are several other issues I had hoped to address in this posting (not all of which would have been positive), but I am going to table them.  I am eager to send out the information above as quickly as possible.  It is my understanding that the mainstream media in the US did not pick up on this vote (no surprise).  Thus, it falls to us, once again, to spread the word. 
Put this information out every way you can – in emails, in Facebook postings, etc. etc.  It is not necessary to say a great deal.  Speak about the fact that there was a vote on an amended plank in the Republican platform, which is staunchly pro-Israel.  It was supported by Trump advisors and shepherded through by Rep. Alan Clemmons of S. Carolina.  Share the c-span link to his marvelous introduction to the vote, and the link to the amended plank.  These speaks for themselves and no more is necessary.
As this turns out to be a very positive posting, then a very positive song: “Halleluyah la olam.”  This version provides Hebrew and English lyrics. The original won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1979.
© 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, July 14, 2016 at 07:34AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 8, 2016: Looking Up

I promised good news in this posting, and you will have it.  We should always be looking up, but sometimes it is easier than at other times.
In my last posting, I mentioned talk about annexing Ma’aleh Adumim. 
This was proposed last Sunday, by the heads of the Knesset Land of Israel Lobby, MK Yoav Kisch (Likud – first picture immediately below) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi). 

Yoav Kish

Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90

Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Among those supporting them were Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) and Minister Haim Katz (Likud), as well as MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu), MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid), MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid), MK Shuli Mualem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) and MK Eli Cohen (Kulanu).
Attendees at the Lobby meeting signed a “Declaration of Sovereignty of Ma’ale Adumim,” which read in part (emphasis added):
"We the undersigned view Israeli sovereignty over Ma'ale Adumim as part of an Independent Israel, regardless of any political agreements, as a correct step, which is Zionist, necessary and responsible. The nations of the world should accept [this decision] with understanding. But even if it provokes international opposition, the State of Israel should do so because it is her right and her duty.”
These are leaders who are holding their heads high.  Ze’ev Elkin made the point that even if the application of sovereignty over Ma’ale Adumim does not happen now, having the discussion will increase public awareness of the issue.

Credit: Flash90

This is exactly right, and it is what Jeff Daube, my Legal Grounds Campaign co-chair, and I say all of the time with regard to our work promoting recognition of Israel’s legal rights to the land.  It is a process, which happens one step at a time as the paradigm of thinking shifts.

The important thing is to know that we are headed in the right direction.

One day later, Minister Yisrael Katz, in a radio interview, advocated the annexation as well of Gush Etzion, and Beitar Illit, which is on the edge of the Gush.  These areas, he says are clearly part of Israel.

Again, the fact that he is advocating this does not mean it will happen tomorrow (although Gush Etzion is so thoroughly part of Israel, it should).  But we see the conversation is changing.


On the same day that the Land of Israel Lobby released its declaration on sovereignty for Ma’aleh Adumim, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Lieberman announced plans for construction of 560 new housing units in Ma’ale Adumim, 140 for Ramot in northern Jerusalem, 100 for the Har Homa neighborhood, in southeastern Jerusalem.  (How new these plans are, I do not know.)

It was also announced that 600 units would be built in Beit Safafa, an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem.  There were immediate protests with regard to this. 

Minister Naftali Bennett says it effectively divides Jewish Jerusalem.  Minister Elkin maintained that if a Jewish majority is to be maintained in Jerusalem, then such building for Arabs must be matched with corresponding building for Jews.  Both called for building in Givat Hamatos, which is directly adjacent to Beit Safafa.


It took only until Tuesday for the US State Department to respond to these announcements of plans for building of apartments. Said State Department spokesman John Kirby (emphasis added):

“If it’s true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions, and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.

We oppose steps like these, which we believe are counterproductive to the cause of peace.  In general, we are deeply concerned about settlement construction and expansion in East (sic) Jerusalem and the West Bank. “

Kirby said the US was having “tough discussions” with Israeli leaders about the construction plans


Well...I might like to have a “tough discussion” with Mr. Kirby, or his bosses, as I suspect would many of my readers.  But it would all be to no available.  This is about a political position, not about logic or realities on the ground.

Before sharing Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response to this, I would like to make a few comments, with more to follow below:

[] There is a conflation of the concepts of the “two state solution” and “peace.”  They are not the same: I have said this before and I will continue to say it.  The “two state solution” will NOT bring peace, but the opposite.  People imagine that if a piece of paper is signed, all will be well, and this is nonsense. For the intentions of the Palestinian Authority are not peaceful. 

[] There is no such thing as “East Jerusalem,” there is only a unified Jerusalem, which is Israel’s eternal capital.  Sooner or later, people are going to have to get this.  It blows my mind when members of the international community refer to neighborhoods of Jerusalem as “settlements.”

[] Please notice: there was no comment about the fact that plans included housing for Arabs in Jerusalem, as well.


The EU, I should note, joined in the condemnation of Israel, saying, “Israel is continuing its settlement policy, which is illegal under international law.”

This is simply not the case.  It is so convenient to be able to invent international law as it suits. 

How can it be illegal for Israel to build on land that was allocated for a Jewish homeland by the Mandate for Palestine (which remains an article of international law)?  Even Oslo says nothing about Israel not being able to build in Judea and Samaria.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu retorted that (emphasis added):
“I know the US position, it is not new and not acceptable to us. Building in Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim is, in all due respect, not distancing the peace...
What is preventing peace is, first of all, the continuous incitement against the existence of Israel on any borders, and it is time that the nations of the world recognize that simple truth.”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the media at a joint press conference on July 5, 2016 at the State House, in Nairobi, on the second leg of his four-nation landmark African tour. / AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

Credit: AFP/Simon Maina
Go get them, Mr. Prime Minister!  Telling it like it is, head tall.  (Netanyahu was in Rwanda at the time, which I will come to.)
Here, I wish to make a serious request: 
If I thought it would be productive, I would ask you to write to the State Department and White House.  I do not. 
What I ask here is something I have not requested in a long time: Speak out for Israel’s position – in letters to the editor, op-eds in local papers, talk-backs on the Internet, statements on call-in radio, postings on your Facebook page, and more.  If you all do this, it will have an impact.
Say that the US government has unmitigated gall (I like this term, you can select your own), in accusing Israel of being the stumbling block to peace, in light of the behavior of the Palestinian Authority.  Ask why the White House and the State Department never level criticism against the Palestinian Authority.
Point out that a 13 year old Jewish girl, Hallel Ariel, was knifed by a Palestinian Arab terrorist. It was so bad that he not only killed her, he also severely mutilated her body.  And yet, the PA has chosen to identify him as as a “martyr,” thus qualifying his family for a monthly stipend from the PA.
Share with them information from this link, which addresses testimony by Yigal Carmon, president of MEMRI, regarding continuing PA support for terrorists, which has the effect of “encouraging terrorism in violation of its Oslo commitment.”
So few know these facts.  You have them. Share them, please.  Challenge current thinking.
Point out, as well, that a “two state solution” and peace are not synonymous. This is something people need to start to wrap their heads around. There is no magic bullet here.
Not long after the prime minister made his statement, it was announced that the government was advancing a plan to spend some 50 million shekels for infrastructure upgrades in the Kiryat Arba-Hevron area. This is being spearheaded by Minister Uri Ariel.

 Reportedly, plans include improvement in an archeological park, new signage around the Machpela (Tomb of the Patriarchs), a heritage trail, etc.  I will try to follow these plans if and as they materialize (i.e., if the government will proceed when the Arabs start screaming), but what is projected sounds good. 


Prime Minister Netanyahu has just completed a tour across four East African nations – the first prime minister to travel into the continent in decades. He has been greeted with considerable warmth and it seems the tour was a diplomatic success.  

His first stop was Uganda, timed for a ceremony on July 4, marking the 40th anniversary of the daring rescue by Israel of hostages held at Entebbe (a rescue operation in which his brother Yonatan was killed).  During his speech there, he spoke of the courage needed “to defend our values and our lives”: “we and all the civilized nations must rededicate ourselves to the spirit of Entebbe, a spirit of daring and resolve, a spirit of courage and fortitude...” 

He met there with several African heads of state – from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, South Sudan and Tanzania. 

Netanyahu on Thursday revealed that one of the leaders at this summit meeting arranged a phone call for him with a (as yet unnamed) Muslim leader of a Muslim African country with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, and they have agreed to meet at a future date. 

The JPost on Friday further shared reports that in recent months the prime minister met secretly in Tel Aviv with Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohammud.  (Netanyahu says this is not who he spoke to by phone this week.) 


Here we have a video of a talk he gave in Kenya, on Tuesday, which provides a very good sense of how he has handled himself in Africa, and how he was received:


Following this, in Rwanda, he spoke of a painful shared heritage of genocide, and visited a memorial for the one million Tutsis killed in 1994.  Incitement to murder precedes genocide, he cautioned. Take words seriously. Don’t rely on the international community, and have the capacity to defend yourself. 


In Ethiopia, his last stop, he declared that: 

All African countries can benefit from renewed cooperation with Israel.  Israel is coming back to Africa." Agreements on bi-lateral cooperation were signed, and he delivered an address to the Ethiopian parliament. 

Among those who came with him were Ethiopian-born MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) and Penina Tamano-Shata, lawyer and former MK.

Credit: Gil Yehonan

Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared Ethiopia ready to back Israel's bid for observer status in the African Union. 

Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

This is a status that will serve Israel well, diplomatically and politically.  It provides an example of the sort of connections Netanyahu is seeking.


Israel, in her early years, had a strong relationship with several African nations. But this fell apart in the sixties, with the tensions of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  By the 1970s, many African nations had broken ties with Israel and were firmly in the Arab camp.  Israel is working hard to reverse this situation now – offering badly needed expertise in a variety of areas, from agriculture to water management to combatting terror, and looking for diplomatic support in international venues such as the UN.


And so, we are “looking up.” 

But I want to close with another video that might be best thought of as bittersweet. Perhaps not the right word. Here is Orit, a daughter of Rabbi Micki Mark, who was killed by a terrorist this week.  There is the terrible pain in her words, but, with it, an attitude that is so strong, so resilient and so remarkably free of bitterness that we cannot but be deeply moved.  The world needs to see this. 

Rabbi Mark’s wife, Chava, badly injured in the attack, has regained consciousness and is said to be getting stronger. 


Also incredible: The family of Hallel Ariel got up from shiva (the week of mourning) on Thursday morning.  Hallel’s parents  - Rina and Amichai - then took themselves from Kiryat Arba, where they live, to Otniel, where the Mark family is still sitting shiva, to pay a condolence call.  Out of their pain, they reached out to provide comfort. This is Israel.

Screen capture Channel 10

Yehi Shalom.
“May there be peace within your walls....For my brothers and companions' sake, I will say, Peace be within you!”
From Psalm 122.
There are many versions.  I rather like this one:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.  

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


Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2016 at 04:26AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 6, 2016: Cutting Through the Pain

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Credit: Facebook

It was paid for by the Palestinian Authority.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

See this, written just a year ago:

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

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

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

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

His executive summary (emphasis in the original):

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

Professor Karch writes (emphasis added):

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Here I mention a couple of examples of the latter:

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

July 3, 2016: Resilience in the Face of Obscenity 

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

Miki Mark (Facebook)


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

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

As Mark’s 14 year old son described it:

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

As the rabbi lost control, the car flipped over.

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

Credit: Har Hevron Regional Council

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


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

Credit: Arutz Sheva


Credit: Hadas Perush/Flash90

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

July 1, 2016: Keeping Our Balance


credit: christinemareebel

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


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

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

Hallel (left) and Rina Ariel (Courtesy)


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

Hallel was rushed to the hospital.

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

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

There she succumbed to her wounds. 


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


Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Yehuda Glick

Credit: Flash90


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

A video of the violence here:

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Credit: Muammar Awad/Flash90

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90


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


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

Quite simply: The EU is inherently hostile to Israel. 

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

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

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

US Embassy London Grosvenor Square with illegal EU structure

Credit: Israellycool

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


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

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


Credit: Elder of Ziyon

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

That it should be weakened is a positive development.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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












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

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

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


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


Additional good news items before closing:

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

June 24, 2016: Holding Our Heads High

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

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

Naftali Bennett at Shurat HaDin conference

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Credit: nomadicsamuel


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


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

June 17, 2016: And the Good Too

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

Dr. Irving Moskowitz

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

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

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

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

Danny Danon

Credit: Reuters

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

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


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

Beit Yehonatan.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yaakov Nagel (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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

June 14, 2016: Facing Down Reality

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

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


Credit: Tribune

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

In other words, they’re just about everywhere.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Dry Bones gets it so very right:

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main points of the Charter:

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

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

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


Credit: Frontpage

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Sounds rather like the Hamas Charter, does it not?


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

Said Palestinian Minister Nabil Sha’ath in 1996:

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

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

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




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


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

Please share this very widely.


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

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


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

June 10,2016: Recurring Evil

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

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

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


The four who were killed are:

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

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

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

Ilana Navaa

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

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

Mila Mishayev

Credit: Times of Israel


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

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


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

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


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

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

Credit: PMO

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

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

To which I respond, all power to him.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

See just a portion of the video clip below:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Credit: Ricki Ben-David/Times of Israel

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

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

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


Credit: jta


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


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


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

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


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