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July 3, 2016: Resilience in the Face of Obscenity 

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

Miki Mark (Facebook)


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

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

As Mark’s 14 year old son described it:

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

As the rabbi lost control, the car flipped over.

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

Credit: Har Hevron Regional Council

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


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

Credit: Arutz Sheva


Credit: Hadas Perush/Flash90

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

July 1, 2016: Keeping Our Balance


credit: christinemareebel

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


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

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

Hallel (left) and Rina Ariel (Courtesy)


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

Hallel was rushed to the hospital.

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

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

There she succumbed to her wounds. 


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


Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Yehuda Glick

Credit: Flash90


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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

A video of the violence here:

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Credit: Muammar Awad/Flash90

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90


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


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

Quite simply: The EU is inherently hostile to Israel. 

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

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

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

US Embassy London Grosvenor Square with illegal EU structure

Credit: Israellycool

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


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

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


Credit: Elder of Ziyon

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

That it should be weakened is a positive development.


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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












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

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

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


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


Additional good news items before closing:

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

June 24, 2016: Holding Our Heads High

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

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

Naftali Bennett at Shurat HaDin conference

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Credit: nomadicsamuel


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


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

June 17, 2016: And the Good Too

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

Dr. Irving Moskowitz

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

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

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

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

Danny Danon

Credit: Reuters

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

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


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

Beit Yehonatan.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yaakov Nagel (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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

June 14, 2016: Facing Down Reality

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

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


Credit: Tribune

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

In other words, they’re just about everywhere.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Dry Bones gets it so very right:

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main points of the Charter:

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

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

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


Credit: Frontpage

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Sounds rather like the Hamas Charter, does it not?


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

Said Palestinian Minister Nabil Sha’ath in 1996:

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

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

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




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


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

Please share this very widely.


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

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


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

June 10,2016: Recurring Evil

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

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

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


The four who were killed are:

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

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

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

Ilana Navaa

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

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

Mila Mishayev

Credit: Times of Israel


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

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


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

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


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

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

Credit: PMO

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

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

To which I respond, all power to him.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

See just a portion of the video clip below:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Credit: Ricki Ben-David/Times of Israel

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

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

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


Credit: jta


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


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


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

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


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

June 8, 2016: Spirits Lifted


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

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


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



Credit: bu

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

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

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



Credit: AFP/Ahmad Gharabli

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


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


Credit: David Ravkin

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


Credit: Hebron Fund

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

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


Credit: Hebron fund

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

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

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


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

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



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

Credit: Ahram

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

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

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


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

Credit: wsj

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Yet, on Yom Yerushalayim, he proclaimed, 

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Credit: veteranstoday

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Credit: GPO


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Shlomo Carlebach, “Am Yisrael Chai”

Credit: shlomocarlebachmusic


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


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

June 5, 2016: Rejoice Yerushalayim!


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

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

Old City Jerusalem - Jewish Quarter 

Credit: atozkidstuff

Credit: Pacificbliss

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

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


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

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


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

June 3, 2016: Situation Unfolding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Flash90


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

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

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

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


Credit: Miriam Aster


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

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

Credit: Flash90

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


And how about this:

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

President Ruby Rivlin recently said:

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


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

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

Credit: egyptianembassy

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

In their dreams.

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


As to the Palestinian Arabs...

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


I end with a good news piece:

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

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

“BDS has already infected the UN.

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

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

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

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


Credit: Kobi Kalmanovitz

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


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

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


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

May 31, 2016: Choppy Waters

There is much to report at this time of political and diplomatic turmoil, but I will follow what has become my custom and start with some brief good news items. 
Midway between the Dead Sea and Eilat, in a place called Sapir, in the harsh Arava desert, we find the International Center for Agricultural Training (AICAT).  There, undergraduates from across Asia and Africa - from Nepal, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Ethiopia, South Sudan, East Timor, Thailand and Indonesia - come for a 10-month hands-on agriculture work-study program.
Says Hanni Arnon, AICAT director, “Here, where there are very harsh conditions, with geographic isolation, extreme weather, arid soil and a shortage of water — they learn the importance of human capacity. If you want it, you can make a change. We teach that a difficulty is a challenge and you need to find a solution.”

Students come from many countries to learn Israeli agricultural techniques at AICAT. Photo: courtesy

This is a very Israeli attitude, and is what has enabled us to thrive and grow.  And how good, that we share this perspective with others.
WoundClot gauze is a flexible and easy-to-handle material made of highly absorbent regenerated cellulose (plant cells). It absorbs about 2,500 percent of its own weight in fluids and forms a coagulating gel membrane with platelets from the blood on the open wound.

“By absorbing blood and enhancing the natural clotting process, this unique gauze stops hemorrhaging within minutes and naturally dissolves – no need for painful removal – within 24 hours...

“The technology was developed at Ben-Gurion University by nanomaterials chemist Shani Eliyahu-Gross and commercialized by Core Scientific Creations, founded in 2012 in Kfar Saba by private angel investors...

“’What is unique about WoundClot is its bio-absorbability and its ability to withhold severe bleeding,’ Core Scientific Creations CEO Yuval Yaskil tells ISRAEL21c.

“’We managed to create a “DNA clock” that breaks down the product when we want it to and not because of saturation. Also, it is the only product of its kind we know of in the world today that doesn’t use compression.’”

The product was developed with the battlefield in mind, but has a host of other uses in trauma situations.  It is predicted that someday this product may be in everyone’s medicine chest.

Photo via wiseGEEK



If you have not yet read the piece entitled ”The Palestinian Hoax” by Daniel Greenfield, writing as Sultan Knish, I encourage you to do so. 

“...the Palestinian Museum...opened with much fanfare and one slight problem. While admission is free, there’s nothing inside for any of the visitors to see except the bare walls.

“The Palestinian Museum had been in the works since 1998, but has no exhibits. The museum cost $24 million...The Palestinian Museum is open, but there’s nothing inside.”

The museum, says Greenfield, is a metaphor for “Palestine.”
“Over the Palestinian Museum flies the proud flag of Palestine, which was originally the flag of the Iraqi-Jordanian Federation before the PLO ‘borrowed’ it, and visitors might be greeted by the Palestinian anthem composed by Greek Communist Mikis Theodorakis. If it sounds anything like the soundtrack from Zorba the Greek, that’s because they both share the same composer. All of Palestine is so authentically Palestinian that it might as well be made in China. At least that’s where the stained Keffiyahs worn by the stone throwers hurling rocks at passing Jewish families while posing heroically for Norwegian, Canadian and Chilean photojournalists are made. Palestine is an empty building with nothing in it...There’s a flag, an anthem, a museum and all the trappings of a country. But if you look closer, there’s nothing inside. The Palestinian Museum’s chairman, Omar al-Qattan, who was born in Beirut and lives in the UK, said that the ‘Palestinians’ needed positive energy so badly that opening an empty museum made sense. Just think how much positive energy can come from realizing that you have no culture, heritage or history to put in your museum...”

After you’ve read it, you might like to share it.  This satirical piece looks at some very stark realities.


Just days ago, there was a rough spot in the coalition negotiations between Likud and Yisrael Beitenu, with dire predictions being made about how it was all going to fall apart.  But it was ironed out.

And then came another glitch, as Naftali Bennett, head of Habayit Hayehudi, said his party would not support Lieberman as Defense Minister when the required vote was taken in the Knesset, unless Netanyahu acceded to his demand for a security secretary to be appointed to inform members of the Security Cabinet about complex military issues, and to facilitate their visits to sensitive security sites.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Credit: Gil Yohanan

As I see it, Bennett’s demand was quite legitimate.  His concern was two-fold: that sometimes the Security Cabinet is by-passed as the IDF and the prime minister make decisions, and other times the Security Cabinet is ill-equipped to make proper decisions, when they are called upon to do so.  He views this matter with utmost seriousness, as lives are at stake.

Many agreed with him, including Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council.  Eiland explained:

“...the [Security] Cabinet does constitute the most senior echelon in the country in all matters of state security.

“The relationship between the Security Cabinet and the IDF can be compared to that of a company's board of directors and the company itself, with the IDF chief of staff serving as its CEO. And though the board of directors does have a chairperson—personified by the prime minister—the most important issues are still decided by the board, and not its chairperson.

“...Cabinet members are usually senior ministers, some of them heads of their own party. These are very busy people, with most of them lacking the preferable security background. The members, however, are responsible for all the important decisions and are expected to learn and know the workings of the ‘company’—personified by the IDF—they oversee and whose actions they must approve. Appointing a military secretary to aid the Security Cabinet in these matters seems like a partial yet highly worthwhile solution to this.”,7340,L-4807817,00.html


Inevitably, there is a political aspect that colors everything, and which the Israeli media – like media all over - just love to enlarge upon in great detail.  The relationship between Netanyahu and Bennett, as many of my readers may be aware, is hardly warm.  Certainly there is reason to believe that issues of ego or power rather than simply concern for the effectiveness of the Security Cabinet may have been involved in Netanyahu’s rejection of Bennett’s demand.  The prime minister’s suggestion that a committee be appointed to look into the matter was rejected by Bennett as “spin.”  Appointment of a “committee” is sometimes a means for stalling action.

Now, again, there were dire media reports about the coalition being on the verge of collapse; members of the current government rushed to bring the two sides together and prevent disaster. In this regard I was grateful that Herzog declared that his Zionist Camp would not step in to strengthen the coalition if Bennett walked.  Had he been willing, who knows how Netanyahu would have responded.  As it was, it was necessary for him and Bennett to come to some terms.


When Health Minister Ya’akov Litzman (UTJ) proposed a compromise, Netanyahu rejected it, although Bennett had accepted it. 

Yaakov Litzman matzavcomwpcontentuploads201506yaakovlitzm

Credit: Alchetron

Then on Sunday night, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi) encouraged the prime minister to accept it. Once Netanyahu did, the crisis disappeared.

The compromise:  A committee will be formed to find ways to facilitate transfer of information to the members of the Security Cabinet; they will have three weeks to come up with a solution.  In the interim, the head of the National Security Council will be responsible for reporting to the ministers.


So now we have a new enlarged government in place, and a new Minister of Defense.  The Cabinet unanimously approved Lieberman in his new position Monday during the day, and at night the Knesset voted approval of Lieberman as Minister of Defense, 55 to 43.  Lieberman has been sworn in.

Liberman sworn in as Defense Minister

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Also sworn in last night were Sofa Landver, as Minister of Aliyah, and Tzachi Hanegbi, as Minister in the Prime Minister’s office.

Once he was sworn in, Lieberman resigned his Knesset seat, making way for the next on the Yisrael Beitenu list, Yulia Malinovsky, to enter the Knesset.


And so now is the time to mention - with no little disdain – that the Obama administration has already voiced discontent with our new coalition. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said last week that Washington had “seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history...we also know that many of its ministers have said they oppose a two-state solution. This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in and what kind of policies it may adopt.”


The response a day later by Minister Yariv Levin – who had headed negotiations for Likud - was entirely appropriate: 

“Our relations with the United States are extremely close and strong, but I think that the makeup of the government is an internal Israeli issue.  That is how the situation has been in [Israel’s] entire history and I think we need to insist on that.”

Credit: al-monitor


Our paramount job is to stand strong for ourselves – if only we will do so.  The world is going to say what it chooses to say, in any event.

Last Wednesday, two new members of the Knesset were sworn in: Yaakov Asher, who came in as part of a rotation deal between Agudat Yisrael and Degel Hatorah, and Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who came into the Likud coalition as a result of the resignation of Moshe Ya’alon. It is Glick I want to focus on here.

Yehuda Glick's inaugural Knesset address

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Just as there is hysteria about Lieberman in the government (which is already something of a joke, see below), so is there with regard to Glick, who is called an “extremist.”  Why? Because, bless him, he wants to fight for Jewish rights on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount). He has declared himself committed to do what he can to secure the Jewish right to pray on this, our holiest place. 

This is what we have come to, that speaking out for Jewish rights should be seen as “extreme.”

In an effort to calm tensions these past months, the prime minister put out an order that MKs were not to go up on the Mount – it was perceived as a “provocation.”  Glick, before he was sworn in, went up one last time, which displeased Netanyahu.  But Glick said:

“I have no idea when I will be able to return here.

“Know that everything that I do stems from the peace this place represents.  I hope that it’s remembered that peace is the name of God, and everything I do for the country, the people and for Jerusalem, is driven by this city, the city of peace.”

Glick advocates not just for Jews, but for the rights of all peoples who are peaceful to pray on the Mount. He reminds his listeners that it is to be “a house of prayer for all nations.”  (From Isaiah 56)

Some radical.


As we move towards the ill-fated Paris “peace” conference scheduled for June 3, Abbas is making the most of it – with a series of specifications and demands.  If you follow what he said in a talk to the Arab League in Cairo on Saturday, it is possible to see, as clear as clear can be, that there has been no give in PA positions, no compromise. Everything is as it was last year, and the year before, and the year before that.

The “Palestinian state” should be located on all of the land beyond the 1949 armistice line, with perhaps small swaps of land of equal value, and eastern Jerusalem as the capital. There would be no recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.


There must also be, said Abbas, a “fair” resolution of the refugee issue, based on UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948. This is an old demand loaded with dishonesty and subterfuge that they persist in holding on to. It’s a centerpiece of plans to weaken Israel.  Resolution 194, according to Arab claims, gives Palestinian Arab “refugees” the “right of return” to areas within Israel that they fled in 1948. 

Resolution 194, however, is just a recommendation from the General Assembly, without any weight in law.  That is, there is no “right” conferred on refugees by virtue of the resolution, and no obligation levied against Israel. What is more, the reference to “return” was only one alternative mentioned in the resolution.  What the Arabs did is to focus on a portion of one phrase, rather than the entire document.  Over the last 65 + years, Arabs who fled during the war have been sustained, via UNRWA, in a refugee status, rather than being absorbed into the various Arab countries where they found themselves.  Even “refugees” who acquired citizenship elsewhere are still counted as refugees, as are their descendants.  I did a good deal of writing about this years ago, and nothing of significance has changed since I first wrote.


In addition now, Abbas, clearly confident of support from the international community, has added stipulations: if negotiations are re-launched, there should be time-caps set and a monitoring committee for following whatever is agreed upon.  And he would like NATO troops in Judea and Samaria.


And what do we have? Lieberman, newly sworn in last night, immediately declared in a joint statement with Netanyahu that he supports the recent efforts to promote peace in the region that have been advanced by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. This is not an embrace of Abbas, and not endorsement of the French plan. No. 

But it is a statement that reflects Netanyahu’s penchant for showing how willing we are to “make peace.” Netanyahu is facing pressure from France and the US government, and the EU. And I haven’t even mentioned yet the maliced meddling of the so-called leaders of the Jewish Policy Forum, who are preparing a paper to submit to the next president on how to pressure Netanyahu for concessions.  So, it is, first, I suspect, a “reassurance” that we’re not obstructionist.  And a way to reduce the horrendous pressure. 

It is also, I think, a counter to Abbas’s demands regarding negotiations, and perhaps a diversion to weaken French influence – sort of a splitting of the playing field. At the time the French announced their initiative, the Arabs declared that the responsibility for pursuing an agreement rested with them.  An undermining of the plans of the haughty French might be constructive.

Broadly speaking, this approach envisions an opportunity for us to improve our relations with Arab neighbors – something that the prime minister is always talking about. It is fraught at one and the same time with possibility in terms of strengthening our ties with the relatively moderate Arab states, and with danger, lest we concede what we should not in an effort to consolidate our interactions with them.

The initiative here is obviously that of Netanyahu.  News sources called this a “surprise,” and I would say so.  A shock might be more like it.  But this was hardly a spontaneous action. According to the JPost this morning, Tzachi Hanegbi, who tilts to the left, was brought into the prime minister’s office so that he might work on this.  What does “working on it” mean?


Even as I report on possible motivation for what Netanyahu is doing – which is not to my liking - I am able to consider the possibility that there might be some method to this madness. 

Perhaps we need to also keep in mind that Netanyahu knows that a “peace deal” is beyond the realm of what is possible. He knows that Abbas is making his maximalist demands and will never come to terms.  We absolutely should not count on the Arabs to save us, but they have, many times, and he may be counting on this again. And so, he might make his (potentially dangerous) gestures, to show the world how serious and magnanimous we are, but count on it, that in the end not much will change.


This turn of events is clearly also intended as an indication that Lieberman will be a “team player,” for he speaks of “positive elements” in the Saudi plan (if re-negotiated).  What was discussed in the coalition negotiations?  Choosing the time of Lieberman’s swearing in to make this announcement was deliberate, I have no doubt.  Yariv Levin’s comments aside, with everything else, this is designed to allay fears in the world that Lieberman is a “crazy extremist.” 

I feel the unease, and can clearly hear the laments: But Lieberman was supposed to be right wing!  Let us watch... It is very early, and there are yet so many unknowns.  As I said, “Choppy waters.”  So complex. So difficult.  Hold tight.

My own position: even if Lieberman turns out to be less than we might have hoped, Ya’alon had to go.  A man who compares one of our soldiers to ISIS, as he did, and encourages military insurrection against the government, cannot be Minister of Defense.


In my last posting, I wrote about the fact that for an interval of six weeks no cement – intended for housing construction – had been permitted into Gaza because some of it was being diverted by Hamas for tunnel construction, but that now it would be permitted in again.  I scoffed at the idea that the new regulations in place – such as more PA monitors on the scene – were going to make a difference.  And that was before I had the latest information:

Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold speaking at a United Nations World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul indicated that Hamas was diverting 95% of the cement allowed into Gaza for civilian purposes, in order to utilize it for terror.

Ninety-five percent. The new stipulations will have close to no effect on this.

And so I ask: What is wrong with us? What sickness is this that we have to show how nice we are, even when there is evidence that what we are doing is damaging to our nation? 

The most important lesson we as a nation still need to learn: to stand first for ourselves. I do not believe it can be said too often.


What better to do now than pray for the welfare of the State of Israel:

Send Your light and truth to Israel’s leaders, ministers and officials.”

May we see better days ahead.


© 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, May 31, 2016 at 12:13PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint