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January 11, 2015: Crisis

No way to be upbeat today, even with the outpouring of protest from people grieved and furious about the terrorist killings in France.

Late Friday – before Shabbat - four French Jews were killed in a kosher market in Paris by an associate of the terrorists who attacked at Charlie Hebdo.  Apparently he intended to take hostages, to trade for the release of his associates.  In the end, four were shot dead and others were hidden in the market refrigerator by Lassana Bathily, a “Malian Muslim” employee [from Mali or of Mali extraction] and then rescued.
The four killed were Yoav Hattab, 21; Yohan Cohen, 22; Philippe Braham, 40; and Francois-Michel Saada, about 60.  

Credit: Elder of Ziyon

Hattab, who was studying in France, was the son of the chief rabbi of Tunis.

Leah Elyakim, of Israel, met him just weeks ago when he visited here for the first time.  It had been difficult for him make his way here sooner, coming from Tunis.
"He learned Hebrew, he knew everything about Israeli history, more than any of us," she remembered.

“Every day we traveled, we walked around with an Israeli flag on his back. He said Israel was the only place he would walk freely with a Star of David or an Israeli flag.  In France he never could have.”

"His dream was to move to Israel and serve in the army. [He had been] "so depressed when he had to return to France. He told me, 'when I get to Paris, I'll have to hide the flag.'"

So he hid the Israeli flag, but shopped at a kosher market in Paris, and that did it.

Make no mistake: These four were killed because they were Jews.

There is talk now about bringing them to Israel for burial.  I consider this enormously appropriate because of the statement this makes.


A dear friend of mine, who lives in Paris with her family (and will likely see this), wrote to me last night:

Sadly this is just the beginning - finally the authorities have admitted its just a matter of when!!”

Important, this honest recognition: There are Islamist cells throughout France and it will happen again.  And again.  There are now reports that terrorist sleeper cells have been activated.,7340,L-4613629,00.html

And there is evidence of links the terrorists may have had to either Al-Qaeda or Islamic State.


French aliyah (immigration into Israel) has grown a great deal in recent years.  In 2014, 7,000 French Jews came, twice the number that had come the previous year.  Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency, has reported that there were 50,000 inquiries about aliyah from French Jews in 2014. With the current attack, the actual aliyah is likely to increase significantly.  Numerous Israeli officials, beginning with our prime minister, are encouraging this.

Last night, Netanyahu spoke out to French Jews:

"The State of Israel is not just the place to which you turn in prayer. The State of Israel is also your home. This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism. All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our state that is also your state."


Some French officials are disturbed by the prospect of a major Jewish emigration from France.  (There are some 500,000 Jews in France – the largest Jewish community remaining in Europe.)

Of particular note is the statement by the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valis, reported by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic:
“The choice was made by the French Revolution in 1789 to recognize Jews as full citizens.  To understand what the idea of the republic is about, you have to understand the central role played by the emancipation of the Jews. It is a founding principle.  If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure.”

I found this fascinating.  They are saying they will send the army, if necessary, to protect the Jewish institutions of France.

But my response is that they should have thought about this sooner. The French Republic is about to be judged a failure not just because it has not protected the community of Jews it had emancipated long ago, but because it has not been true to its principles in a host of spheres.  Because there are enclaves of Muslims (“no-go zones governed by Sharia law) right in Paris and other locales, where the French police will not enter.  And because essential freedoms presumably guarded by the French nation have been sacrificed.


Says Alex Fishman, writing in YNet (emphasis added):

“As long as Jews were the only ones getting killed, France avoided dealing with the Islamic terror. The red lights which should have been triggered several years ago didn't even flash for a second.

France has opened its arms to Islamic terror. And the bigger the failure, the larger and grander the mourning rallies. This is a rule invented by politicians to cover up their own failures....
”The French security services' failure in the past week was colossal and shameful, and indeed, France and all of Europe are being swept away accordingly in mass mourning rallies and protests of millions. (See below on this.)

“But there is not a single protest or speech which can cover up the bitter truth: The Western European countries' security services in general – and France's security services in particular – are not prepared in any way for dealing with the radical Islamic terror. Not professionally, not legally and definitely not mentally...

Suddenly it turns out that all those red lights which should have been triggered several years ago, when the Islamic terror killed Jews, did not even flash for a second. The French security services insisted on not touching the Islamic terror, professionally and fundamentally.

“There is no legislation in France which makes it possible to deal with the hundreds of people who left France to fight along with the radical Islamic movements. There is no legislation which defines Islamic terror as a problem, and therefore there are no agents in the problematic mosques.

“The French intelligence services have zero ability to do something with the information they receive from foreign intelligence agencies about dangerous Muslims who have returned to France. And so the terrorists had no problem travelling on a train in France with Kalashnikovs in their bags. There was not a chance in the world that someone would stop them...

“Who would have thought that the French people, who invented the modern intelligence, would reach such a low point. When France wants its intelligence to be extraordinary, it is. But it just didn't want, for political reasons, to deal with the Islamic terror...”,7340,L-4613823,00.html


There are politically correct concerns being voiced about a backlash against innocent Muslims – Islamophobia, they call it – as a result of the terror attacks.  With regard to this, I share the observations of Lawrence A. Franklin writing in Gatestone (emphasis added):

“A seemingly required inclusion in most reports on the recent mass murder in Paris was the rhetorical question posed by reporters has been: "Will these events invite a wave of anti-Muslim incidents"? Since these Islam-inspired murders, however, there have been only a few anti-Muslim actions -- all against property.

Under-reported, however, was how rapidly the assault against Charlie Hebdo migrated into an anti-Jewish mini-pogrom in the heart of Paris. What did shoppers in a kosher market, four of whom were slaughtered, have to do with the cartoon images of Mohammad? Nothing. But the assault on the HyperCacher Jewish kosher supermarket has a lot to do with the true nature of Islamic militancy.

“It seems the drawings in Charlie Hebdo offended some true believers of Islam, but the mere existence of Jews also offends them...

“In reaction to the murders in Paris, the French capital's Grand Synagogue was closed for the first time since World War II. In fact, synagogues all over Paris were closed. There were no Shabbat services this Saturday, the Jewish day of rest...In light of all the expressed concern about possible anti-Muslim incidents, claims on television, such as on CNN, that ‘Muslims are the most persecuted people,’ seemed jarring and wrong.

The Grand Mosque in Paris, like mosques all over the capital, was open for business on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Moreover, there was little discernible increased security around the Grand Mosque. It seems French security authorities were less worried about attacks directed at Muslim institutions than were America's media commentators. Perhaps they should have spent just a little time reporting on the anti-Jewish rioting that took place in the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Trappes, a suburb of Paris?”


It is well understood that Obama embraces the same politically correct perspective, which translates into a policy protective of Muslims. I will note here that it has made the rounds of several blogger sites that Obama’s press secretary said that, in light of the terror attacks in Paris, fighting Islamophobia would be given a priority by the president.  However, I have not been able to locate a primary source for this.  Thus, while I have no trouble believing that this would reflect Obama’s position, I cannot verify this statement.

What I can share here, however, is a piece by eminent anti-terrorist Steve Emerson, regarding the refusal to use the word “Islam” in association with terrorism:

“The first comments came from Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, who refused to even call the massacre an act of terrorism, but made sure to add the now typical non-sequitor which...routinely follows Islamic terrorist attacks, that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ and therefore no [one] should associate the "extremists" in Paris with Islam.

“Then President Obama issued his own statement, but in keeping with his administration's 6 year old prohibition on using the term ‘Islamic terrorism,’ he simply referred to the attack as ‘terrorism’ -- a vanilla term conspicuously devoid of any descriptive term explaining the motivation behind the attack.”

There’s more. See it here:


Emerson reports that in 2012, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said, referring to the very same Charlie Hebdo Magazine that was attacked last week:

“We are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the prophet Muhammad, and obviously we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this. We know these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory."

So much for defending freedom of speech.


I mention this here not only to expose the appeasement of the Obama administration, but to point out where true courage in “telling it straight” can be found now: Amongst the cartoonists.  And I want to spotlight one particular cartoonist, Yaakov Kirschen, originator of “Dry Bones.” 

Says Kirschen:

“I don’t think that the political or religious leadership in the West is up to the job. I think they are cowardly.  I think they are fearful and that’s what we got.

“I think what we have now, is that bizarrely, cartoonists are the front-line soldiers in the war to defend freedom of speech...I think cartoonists have become advocates and activists.”

Kirschen is involved in a cartooning project to fight anti-Semitism and apathy regarding persecution of Middle East Christians.

You might want to lend support.  See


As I close today, hundreds of thousands, if not a million, people are winding up their march in Paris, a silent protest against terror.  Among the leaders present are Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; Israeli Ministers Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman are also in attendance.


Credit: Jewish News UK

Something heartening about seeing such a turnout against terror.  You want to believe it says something positive. But for me this has been seriously marred by the revolting presence of Mahmoud Abbas, who was not ashamed to show his face, as if he were also against terror.

A good show. But let’s see what, if anything at all serious, follows.


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


Posted on Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 01:25PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 8, 2015: Always More

I begin here with a correction:  When I last shared news of the electoral campaign, I mentioned irregularities in the Likud primary. And I spoke about the fact that one candidate demanded a recount and came close to securing a reasonable slot on the list as a result.  This was Tzipi Hotovely, pictured below.  My brain was not working when I wrote, however, and I typed “Tzipi Livni” instead. Many readers caught this.  I appreciate it, because it means my readers are paying attention.  But I also appreciate that just about every single reader who wrote to me indicated that he/she knew it was an error and that I meant Hotovely.


Credit: kikar


And then a tribute to a very special lady, Joan Peters Caro, who passed away yesterday. Joan was a courageous journalist, devoted to truth, who wrote “From Time Immemorial,” which documented poorly understood facts about the Jewish and Arab demography in the land in the years prior to and right after the founding of the modern State of Israel.  Scrupulously researched, it is considered an indispensable resource by many who care about Israel as the Jewish state. 


Credit: Levitt


Coming back to Tzipi Livni just briefly...Arutz Sheva says she claimed yesterday that she and Herzog would make Israel “popular” again – something she maintains Netanyahu could not do.

This position, which I find deplorable, goes a long way to demonstrating what is wrong with the left.

It is several years ago, when she was foreign minister, that she gave a talk at a conference I attended.  She explained that we “had to” give away Judea and Samaria in order to make the world happy, as this was important.  I got up and walked out.  Would do the same today, of course.

Our positions must be based on what is best for us, and we must stand up strongly for our rights, whether this makes the world “happy” or not.

What is more, her claim that Netanyahu is responsible for the “increasing isolation” that Israel is enduring is just plain wrong.  The UN and the EU are horrendously one-sided, but around the world we are forging new relationships with some states, and strengthening our relationships with others. Read about our growing ties with India, for example, or Japan. And the very quiet cooperation with the more moderate Arab states (something that would have been impossible not so long ago). We are not increasingly isolated.


On the other hand, I was not exactly ecstatic about a statement made by Netanyahu on Tuesday, either:

He says he is still in favor of a “two-state” solution, as he espoused it in his Bar Ilan speech of 2009, but the Palestinian Arabs have rendered this impossible:

“I don’t think withdrawing settlers is practical at the moment.”


I know exactly what is happening, as it is fairly obvious on the face of it: Kerry is telling Netanyahu he will support Israel in international forums. But, as the US opposes unilateral actions by the PA because negotiations are the way for the Palestinian Arabs to secure a state, Israel must be willing to consider coming back to the table to negotiate that state.

And so, our prime minister is playing both sides.  Yes, sure I’m for that state, he says for public consumption, but look, the PA has made it impossible for us to proceed.

He’s certainly correct, that the PA has made negotiating impossible. This is what makes the position of leftists who call for us to negotiate a state now so ridiculous. But, it is time for our head of state to say that a Palestinian state is not the way to go, in any event, because of Jewish rights in the land.  He should not be going on record, once again, for that “two state solution.”


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced on Tuesday that the Palestinian Arabs will formally become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1.  What is more, the court's registrar said yesterday that jurisdiction would date back to June 13, 2014.

This is something I do not understand: retroactive jurisdiction. Bringing jurisdiction back to the middle of June means possibly giving the PA the opportunity to level charges against Israel for her actions in the Gaza war. (There are still issues regarding jurisdiction of place – as Hamas and not the PA is in control in Gaza.)  


Meanwhile, the State Department has declared that the US does not believe Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and doesn't recognize it as such and does not believe that it is eligible to accede to the Rome statute."


International lawyer Alan Baker, writing for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, agrees with the US position.  He says that the Secretary General should have refused to accept the request of the PA because the Rome statute limits membership to states, and explains why “Palestine” is not a sovereign state.

Says Baker:

“...the acceptance by the Secretary General of the Palestinian request is legally flawed and was determined under false pretenses – ‘false’ because there exists no sovereign Palestinian state, and ‘pretenses’ because of the pretension by the Secretary General as if such a state exists when he is fully aware that there is no legal basis for this.”


Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) yesterday introduced a bill that would immediately stop all US aid to the PA, until such time as the PA withdrew its application to the ICC. The bill is entitled, “Defend Israel by Defunding Palestinian Foreign Aid Act of 2015.”

Love it!  Let’s see how many Republicans stand up now.


Credit: US Senate


There is no one reading this who is not aware of the horrendous Islamist massacre that took place at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and I doubt there is anyone reading this who is not horrified and whose heart does not go out to those killed and their families.

The news reports yesterday spoke of the many tens of thousands who crowded the streets in Paris and elsewhere in France, as well as in other countries, showing solidarity with those slain (“Je suis Charlie”).  It is in this report that I found just a little glimmer of hope: out on the streets, not in their homes, staring at the TV and clucking. Is the world just possibly beginning to wake up?


Last I wrote, I spoke of the major snow storm predicted.  I even included a lovely picture of snow falling. But a slight rise in temperatures changed that scenario here in Jerusalem. Chilling to the bone cold, but not cold enough. We had fierce weather, but it was pouring rain, and hail, and sleet. They’re talking about snow for tomorrow.  We’ll see...


Credit: rvbloggers


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


Posted on Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 04:59PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 6, 2015: Frenetic Pace

Where to begin in these days of turmoil, both at home and abroad? 
I think I’ll start at home, with the weather.  A major winter storm is due to start here within hours.  It is predicted that the north, Jerusalem, and high places in Judea and Samaria will see considerable snow between now and Friday.  In other places there will be torrential rain, hail, thunderstorms and flooding.  


Credit: gopicpix

As long as I don’t lose my electric power, I’ll keep writing.
From snow, to heavier issues regarding the Palestinian Authority:
The US State Department has criticized Israel’s declared intention to withhold collected taxes from the PA because of Abbas’s application for membership in the ICC. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki delivered one of her typical, vastly irritating statements: “We’re opposed to any actions that raise tensions. Obviously this is one that raises tensions.”
Translation: “Yes, I know the PA did something deplorable, but be nice. We don’t want to make them angry now, do we?”
Well, actually, yes, I think we do.
I had alluded recently to the fact that while we are about to withhold PA tax money, the PA owes the Israel Electric Company enormous sums of money.  And now, lo and behold, the Israel Electric Company seems to have come to its senses.  Or, perhaps more accurately, I should say that they’ve been given a tacit nod from the government that allows them to take a necessary and sensible position. 
Israel Electric Company CEO Eli Glickman has now sent a letter to Israel’s security chiefs, letting them know that there may be a certain amount of “unrest” in PA-controlled areas because a decision has been made to limit the supply of electricity in those areas.  That is because the PA and the Palestinian-Arab controlled Jerusalem District Electric Company owe the Electric Company 1.7 billion shekels (well over $400 million). The PA buys the electricity from IEC and then sells it to PA-controlled municipalities.
Glickman has written that, "the debt imposes a heavy burden on the company's cash flow...” and IEC “as a supplier of an essential service that is committed to all its customers, is obligated to begin working in the coming days to collect [outstanding funds]” either by limiting supply of electricity or refusing to connect new customers.,7340,L-4611713,00.html
At last!
Please do note that service will be reduced, not curtailed.  And I am quite certain that nothing has been initiated that would affect service during the predicted storm.
It must be pointed out that the failure of the PA to pay this bill is not an indication of a simple lack of funds, but rather of a highly inappropriate utilization of funds.  There is, for example, the matter of “salaries” paid to the terrorists in Israeli jails (with the amount of the salaries higher for those who committed more heinous crimes). 
And then, of course, there is the enormous corruption in the PA, so that, while the Palestinian Arabs receive the highest amount per capita in international funding of any group, a good deal of that money seems to “disappear.”
Please see, “The  10 year klepto-dictatorship of Mahmoud Abbas”:
“Like any dictator, [Abbas is] corrupt. His predecessor, Yasser Arafat, was accused of embezzling billions of dollars of money meant for the Palestinian people, with US officials estimating the man’s personal nest egg at between one and three billion dollars. In line with his role model, after whom he named his own son, Abbas has continued this ignominious tradition.”
What must be asked, however, is why the Israeli government is not simply turning over to the Electric Company the money that is being withheld, so that a good part of the money owed by the PA for electricity would be covered. 
The fact that this is not the case suggests that the government knows now that the money is being held only temporarily as a gesture, and that ultimately it will be given to the PA.  Or that there is at least the possibility of this decision being made, in response to international pressure.    
The PA application for membership in the ICC does not require the US to act – beyond, perhaps, closing a PLO office temporarily.  But, according to recently passed US legislation, no funding may be provided to the PA if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”
Both Israel and members of Congress are watching the situation closely.
When reports came out very recently indicating that non-governmental Israeli organizations might be the ones to pursue charges against the PA in courts outside of Israel, my thoughts went immediately to Shurat Hadin.  And here you are:
“Shurat Hadin said it would be sending copies of the ready-to- file complaints to Abbas, Mashaal, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and many others so that they could see directly what they will face if they go beyond signing the Rome Statute and take the final step of filing war crimes complaints against Israelis.”
They’re fantastic.
International lawyer Alan Baker, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has now drafted “Ten Points Regarding the Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords.”

Credit: inthelastofdays

It is the considered legal opinion of Ambassador Baker that (emphasis added):
In “petitioning the UN, the International Criminal Court and international organizations to recognize them and accept them as a full member state, and by their unification with the Hamas terror organization, the Palestinians have knowingly and deliberately bypassed their contractual obligations pursuant to the Oslo Accords in an attempt to prejudge the main negotiating issues outside the negotiation. 
“This, together with their attempts to delegitimize Israel among the international community and their attempted actions against Israel’s leaders, has served to frustrate any possibility of realization of the Oslo Accords, and as such the Palestinians are in material breach of their contractual obligations.”
“...according to the accepted and universally recognized laws of contracts and international agreements, a fundamental breach enables the injured party to declare the agreement void and is freed from any further obligations pursuant to the agreement or contract. Therefore the fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords by the Palestinians is indicative of their conscious decision to undermine them and prevent any possibility of their implementation. As such they have rendered the Accords void...Israel has the legitimate right to declare that the Oslo Accords are no longer valid and to act unilaterally in order to protect its essential legal and security interests.”
A very important legal opinion. But fairly meaningless if Israel does not act accordingly.
Matters have not been exactly peaceful here in the political sphere, aka the “political circus.”  A few highlights:
There were some irregularities discovered in the voting in the Likud primary, which were challenged by Tzipi Hotovely.  After some re-counting was done, she found herself just 55 votes shy of taking the (realistic) 20th slot from Avi Dichter. She says she is not giving up yet.  There have been some other readjustments of slot assignments according to the recount.  But I will not report on details until it is all final.
Netanyahu made a statement regarding campaign plans for the Likud that involved some future legislation that would change electoral procedures.  But this is campaign talk.  If and when such legislation is proposed, I will write about it.
For some many days the Herzog-Livni duo, according to the polls, was either slightly ahead of Likud or neck and neck with it.  Now polls are showing Likud pulling ahead.  Predictions are that a right-wing religious coalition might be composed of as many as 69 mandates. 
At present, neither the newly founded party of Michael Ben-Ari nor that of Eli Yishai is shown to make the cut-off (3.75% of the vote) for getting into the Knesset. 
Shas is, unsurprisingly, showing at only a fraction of its current strength.  A similar drop in mandates is showing for Yisrael Beitenu (Lieberman) and Yesh Atid (Lapid). 
A word about Lapid here: He has admitted on IDF radio that he went into the Finance Ministry, “a bit power drunk...we should have listened to advice more." He sure was power drunk, and he did damage in the process. Perhaps he thinks making this confession will square him with the voters, but I do not.
Moshe Feiglin has announced that he is leaving Likud.  His plans are a bit vague. Either he’ll start a new party (we need another party, yes?), in which case he recognizes that he will not be in the Knesset next time around. Or he’ll join with another nationalist party now, in hopes of securing a realistic place on a list.  Ben-Ari has invited him; it is not clear to me at all if Feiglin has sufficient voter influence to bring Ben-Ari’s party into the Knesset.
New people are joining parties at a rapid clip – including from the broadcasting world and the entertainment world.  Let’s see who makes the cut once lists are announced.  Up-coming soon is the Habayit Hayehudi primary; not every party determines its list via primary.
I close with this upbeat opinion piece by Guy Bechor: “The Arab oil era is over.”
“As the Gulf states are left with no money to spend and are experiencing internal shocks, the era of destructive Arab power is coming to an end; the Israeli mind and innovation era, on the other hand, is just beginning.
“The most dramatic news in 2014 almost went unnoticed: The United States lifted the restrictions on American oil exports, and as of the first day of the new year it has begun exporting oil to the world.
“No one believed this would happen so fast, but the US is already the world's biggest oil manufacturer, bigger than Saudi Arabia, thanks to the oil shale technology which changed the world of energy...
“As the year 2015 begins, we are facing a new world: A world of a revolution of information, mind, personal strength, innovation and inventions. And in this world, Israel is a real princess...
“Israel is becoming a close friend of countries which were distant in the past but are close today, like India, Japan, China and South Korea. They too understand that those who are not innovative and lack a creative mind will just not be. And in this field, Israel has a lot to offer them, just like they have a lot to offer in return.”,7340,L-4611200,00.html
As I hear the wind howling outside my window, I am able to smile.

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


Posted on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at 05:40PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 4, 2015

Mahmoud Abbas would certainly like us to think it is a crisis.  He wants us cringing in fear.  But he’s going to be disappointed on this score:

On Wednesday, Abbas made a show of filling out membership forms for a variety of international organizations. But filling out forms is not applying.

On Friday night, that step was taken, when Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Arab envoy to the UN – acting on behalf of the “State of Palestine” - submitted to the Secretariat of the UN in New York applications to join some 20 international treaties.  Key among these was the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court at the Hague. (The Rome Statute is the founding treaty of the ICC.)

A UN spokesman confirmed receipt of the documents and said they were being reviewed.


The process of joining the ICC requires 90 days from the time the application is submitted.  But Abbas didn’t even wait for the ink to dry on the application he filed before moving forward.  On Thursday morning the PA filed a request with the Dutch Embassy (the court is in the Hague, in Holland – the Dutch have a consulate in Ramallah) requesting that Israel be investigated for alleged war crimes committed during the 50 days of the Gaza war this summer.

I see this as grandstanding and not a move that has legal legitimacy at all. But what we’re seeing is that Abbas, who hesitated for some time in filing with the ICC, seems ready to go full steam ahead now, and is talking about leveling every charge he can come up with against Israel, including retroactively.  I even read about the idea the Palestinian Arabs have that they can charge Israel with “war crimes” because of the “settlements.”


The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals (not states) for the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It is able to exercise its jurisdiction only when certain conditions are met. The process is not simple or automatic.  In point of fact, it is exceedingly doubtful that what Abbas is attempting to do will yield anything resembling the results he says he wishes to achieve.

The ICC will not take seriously any petition registered by the PA for investigating Israeli officials until “the State of Palestine” is recognized as a member of the Court.

It is Fatou Bensouda, of Gambia, Chief Prosecutor at the ICC, who has responsibility to make this initial determination.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Should she, after initial consultations, decide that Palestine is a state, qualified to lodge complaints, she must then determine whether these complains merit investigation.  If she does determine so, she would begin with a preliminary investigation.  But this in no way guarantees that a full criminal investigation would follow.

Says international law professor Robbie Sabel, of Hebrew University:

“I assume that they will start a preliminary examination.  But the prosecution will soon find that it’s an entirely political issue, and unless Israel goes mad and decides to start committing mass atrocities, which it won’t, the prosecutor will be reluctant to proceed with an actual criminal investigation.”

Determination of a basis for a full investigation depends on many factors, including complex issues of jurisdiction and gravity.

Generally, charges can only be brought for alleged crimes committed in territory over which a state has jurisdiction after that state has joined the Court.  The charges against Israel for events that occurred last summer would be questionable.  The fact that these charges involve Gaza further complicates the matter, because it may be determined that Hamas and not a “Palestinian state” is in charge there. 

Then there is the question of whether charges could be brought against Israel for “settlements,” as Israel is not a member of the court and the court only has jurisdiction over crimes committed within the territory of members of the court.

And there is the fact that the court, according to the Rome Statute, the jurisdiction of the court is limited to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole...unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity.”

Even in the unlikely event that Abbas were to succeed in achieving a full criminal investigation against key Israeli figures, there would be no final result for years because of the complexity of the process.


According to Alan Baker, international lawyer and director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, this entire action seems to be a PR bluff that Abbas hopes will pressure the US into agreeing to a Security Council Resolution.  Might be.  PA officials are already making noise about calling for another vote at the Security Council.  As there are now new temporary members of the Council, more predisposed to supporting a “Palestinian state” unilaterally established, the US would have to veto to block it.

My guess, however, is that Abbas is severely overplaying his hand, if he thinks he can pressure the US.  The State Department has registered great irritation with Abbas over this behavior, and there are members of Congress calling for penalties (withholding of funding) because of the ICC gambit.


The question is whether Abbas is really seeking a SC resolution that “creates” a state. There are yet other ways of looking at the situation.  And so I share here an article by Yishai Schwartz in the New Republic that seems to me an astute analysis of Abbas’s gambit. Things are not always what they seem to be on the surface, and where Abbas is concerned it’s best to seek the devious motivation.  (Emphasis added)

“...on Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally requested membership in the International Criminal Court. Coming in the middle of Israeli elections, these actions—which are sure to infuriate Israelis and strengthen the Israeli right—seem rather self-defeating, and Americans committed to Mideast peace are bewildered...
The New York Times editorial board warned that ‘Mr. Abbas’s actions will almost certainly make the situation worse, setting back the cause of statehood even farther. By taking this tack before the Israeli elections, which are set for March 17, he has given Israeli hard-liners new ammunition to attack the Palestinians and reject new peace talks.’

“Underlying these responses is the assumption that Palestinian leadership...would prefer to negotiate with [Netanyahu’s] more conciliatory alternatives, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni. It is this assumption that creates the apparent conflict between Palestinian priorities (a negotiated settlement with Israel) and actions (weakening Israeli doves in the middle of election season). This assumption is faulty. Palestinians likely view Netanyahu’s opponents as wolves in sheep’s clothing; Herzog and Livni appear reasonable to the world but are unlikely to offer anything that Palestinians consider acceptable. In the absence of a prospective agreement, negotiations are about optics of blame rather than substance—and in that world, Netanyahu is Palestinians’ best option.

“Imagine for a moment that a sudden surge brings the Israeli center-left to power. From the statements and past actions of figures like Livni and Herzog, we have a fairly good sense of what to expect: respectful and earnest negotiations that culminate in an offer similar to—and likely less generous than—those offers made by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert to Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat. These offers were both, of course, rejected as inadequate for Palestinian needs. And in the years since, the position of the Palestinian leadership—on refugees, on Jerusalem, on borders—has only hardened and gained more international legitimacy. The gap between the parties has only widened from a decade ago, but even then the truth was clear: The most that Israelis will offer is less than the least Palestinians will accept.

“Abbas knows this...he must...recognize that politically, a right-wing Israeli government is a diplomatic triumph. International support for Palestinians plummets when Israel is led by leftist leaders who make concrete offers...[that the PA is going to refuse]...”


As to Israel’s response to Abbas’s ICC membership application, it is, as would be expected, furious. 
The announcement has already been made that Israel has frozen the transfer of about $125 million from tax funds collected for the PA.,7340,L-4610793,00.html

The PA is screaming “theft,” but it owes the Israeli Electric Company a fortune.


In addition, Israel is “weighing the possibilities for large-scale prosecution in the United States and elsewhere” of PA officials including Abbas.

These cases might be put forward via “non-governmental agencies and legal groups that can file lawsuits abroad,” rather than via the Israeli government.

At the opening of the weekly Cabinet meeting this morning, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that:

The Palestinian Authority is "opting for a confrontation with the state of Israel" and "we will not sit idly by. We will not allow them to drag IDF soldiers and commanders to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
" is the heads of the Palestinian Authority, who struck an alliance with the Hamas war criminals, who should be held accountable.

"The IDF will continue to defend Israel with determination and force, and just as they defend us, we will defend them with the same determination and force."

Appropriately said.  However, if Netanyahu has received advice that the PA efforts at the ICC will likely come to nothing, there is, as well, a bit of grandstanding in this statement – with regard to not allowing them to drag IDF soldiers to the ICC, etc.  Grandstanding, as in, it’s an election time and the nation must know that I am strong.


This leads me directly into a brief discussion of what I have termed the political circus...

Actually, I realized a while ago that while this metaphor is catchy – with its image of multiple activities going on at once, with someone on a high wire and a second person seeking to control lions, while a third is balancing balls in the air – it delivers the wrong message. For a circus suggests fun activity, and I don’t notice many – with the possible exception of Naftali Bennett - who are having fun where this election campaign is concerned.  Quite the contrary.   It is an amorphous and somewhat ambiguous affair, with far far too many tensions.

The Likud has held its primary – to determine its list for the elections - and I conceded readily enough that I am disappointed in the results, which were less solidly nationalist/right wing than I had hoped they would be.

As was to be expected, Netanyahu soundly trounced challenger Danny Danon to head the list; Danon is number 10 on the list.  Following Netanyahu in the top 15 slots are Gilad Erdan – not someone to get excited about, then Yuli Edelstein, Yisrael Katz and Miri Regev – all quite good.  But in slot six, a weak Silvan Shalom, followed by Moshe Ya’alon, who has been a severe disappointment.  Number eight is a top notch Ze’ev Elkin, with a weak Tzachbi Hanegbi following.  Yariv Levin and Ofir Akunis – slots 12 and 15 – are both top notch, with Yuval Steinitz and Gila Gamliel both OK but not enormously strong.  Avi Dichter, in slot 20, is not good news.

Should Likud garner 24 mandates, then the passionately Zionistic Ayub Kara would get back into the Knesset, and I would love to see that.

Missing is Tzipi Hotovely, who had been a fiery MK with some good instincts.  And Moshe Feiglin, whose ouster, it is being strongly suggested, involved machinations behind the scenes.

Final Likud list

Credit: YNet

There is no “Wow!” for this list, no matter how delighted Netanyahu declared himself to be.                             


I spoke above about the fact that Bennett may be having fun.  He “starred” in a couple of entertaining recruitment videos for Habayit Hayehudi. 

The recruitment has now ended, but a vigorous drive increased the number belonging to the party, which will have an effect on the primary for this party, yet to come. Bennett seems to be stretching to make the party as inclusive as he can.  (See below.)  The slogan that has been adopted is that the party is for “those who love the people of Israel, the Land of Israel and the Torah of Israel.”


Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beitenu, is all over the place, and coping with significant corruption charges – not against him but rather several members of his party.  Painful. Shameful.

Eli Yishai, who did make a nationalist statement a while ago, has not yet clearly defined the nature of his party.  While Shas, from which he withdrew, is imploding.  Head Arieh Deri – embarrassed by a video in which deceased religious head Rav Ovadiah Yosef severely criticized him – submitted a resignation, but has since hinted he will continue to lead the party.

And the Herzog-Livni duo?  As far as I am concerned, the less said about them the better.  Perhaps it is here that the circus metaphor most aptly fits, because I see them as clowns.  Their positions, their criticisms of the government, do not seem truly serious at all.  But – go know! – according to the polls, there is a segment of the population that would vote for them.

Enough said for one go-round.


Ahmed Tibi, an MK who heads the United Arab list – Ta’al is loyal to the Palestinian Authority, even though he holds Israeli citizenship.  This is commonly known.  He once served as an advisor to Arafat.  Yesterday he led a procession to the Temple Mount and raised a Palestinian flag there, declaring, “Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is Arab and the capital of Palestine and the Al-Aksa mosque is a place of Muslim prayer.”

Are we crazy, that loyalty to the State is not required of those who sit in her Knesset?   With this, we are charged with being apartheid.

Ironically, the Israeli Arabs seem to have the very worst representing them in political parties.


But there is a flip side to this story here, with Anett Haskia, an Arab Muslim Israeli whom Tibi calls a traitor.

Her three children have served in the IDF and she is encouraging Arab Israeli youth to do national service to give back to their country.  She calls the Arab Israeli MKs a “fifth column bent on Israel’s destruction.”  And she is running for the Habayit Hayehudi list.

Interesting, to say the least. Refreshing.

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Posted on Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 02:47PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 31, 2014: We Must Hope

I comment every year at this time about the difference between the way the secular new year and the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) are celebrated.  In the Jewish tradition it is a time for prayer and introspection. 

This year in particular, I think, the difference is marked.  For the year 2014, in retrospect, does not leave much room for celebrating (except, of course, on a personal level).


Nor can we face the advent of 2015 filled with facile optimism.  I, myself, don’t see this as a time for fireworks and champagne – although I am sure there will be much in the way of fireworks and champagne in various venues.

This said, we are forbidden to despair. There is always room for hope. We SHOULD hope for better times, and resolve to do all possible to bring them to fruition.  And there is something about turning that calendar page, with a new year marked on it, that increases the sense of hope – makes hope feel more possible. 


And so, I extend to my dear readers my heartfelt wishes that at a personal level you should find the year 2015 a very good one. 

And for the larger world, I pray for the serious weakening of radical forces, (they should self-destruct) with strong and wise leadership in the democracies holding sway (I can dream).  A diminution of disease and poverty and hatred.  An increase in loving-kindness and acts of simple humanity, one to the other.

May we all be able to sleep easily and have much reason for laughter in the 12 months ahead.


If not for the incoming year, I would not have written again today.  For today is the Likud primary – a time when all those who are members of the party have the opportunity to select the candidates who will appear on the list for the elections.  We will not have results for a day or two. 

What we know, with almost a certainty, is that Binyamin Netanyahu will head the list, and is likely to emerge, once again, as prime minister. What also seems to be the case – we shall see - is that a number of right wing/nationalist candidates will be high up on the list, thus guaranteed seats in the Knesset.

Perhaps in the end, when the Israeli election is held, there will be cause for great hope. For Habayit Hayehudi seems to be growing stronger as well, while certain other parties, such as Livni’s, seem to be on the cusp of disappearing.

But right now, the political circus – when monitored carefully – tends to promote a headache.  Or a stomach ache.  I will examine some of the diverse parameters in an upcoming posting – at the same time that I report on the Likud primary results.  I confess, the situation has been so fluid and frequently unpleasant that I’ve been reluctant to report on it in any detail.  


What I will report on here are the results of the vote on a Palestinian state held last night in the Security Council: It did not pass – there were eight votes for, and not the required nine, so that the US did not have to veto.

But here too we see a situation that was very fluid.  At one point late yesterday, PA spokespersons said that they had the necessary majority of nine, as France – a big disappointment - and Luxembourg had decided they would vote in favor.  But at the very last moment, Nigeria had second thoughts and decided to abstain instead because a negotiated settlement is required.

Along with France and Luxembourg, China, Jordan, Russia, Argentina, Chad and Chile voted for the resolution, while the UK, South Korea, Rwanda, and Lithuania abstained.  The US and Australia voted against. 

What will happen next is anyone’s guess, as PA representatives are prone to making a variety of threats.


For the last post of 2014, a site that describes some of Israel’s innovations of the past year:

My favorite is the ReWalk, which is an “Israeli-developed exoskeleton system that enables the paralyzed to walk...Using computers and motion sensors for the heavy lifting, ReWalk allows independent, controlled walking similar to that of an able-bodied person. The system controls movement using subtle changes in the center of gravity, mimics a natural gait and provides functional walking speed, enabling even paraplegics to move independently.”

The ReWalk in action (Courtesy)


Amazing.  If things such as this are being done, there is definitely hope.

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


Posted on Wednesday, December 31, 2014 at 03:11PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 30, 2014: A Somber View

Very somber, my friends.  The situation in the world is not worrisome – it’s terrifying.  Consider:

In an interview with NPR, President Obama said that Iran could become a “very successful regional power” if it agrees to a nuclear deal.  He said things must move slowly but he wouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of opening a US embassy in Tehran before his term ran out.


WHAT?  There is nothing on the table in negotiations with Iran at the moment that is serious enough to prevent Iran’s nuclear advancement. The Iranians – a threat to the world – are running rings around an eager Obama.

In fact:

“A commander of Iran’s widely feared Basij paramilitary corps has inadvertently confessed that the Tehran regime aims to build up an arsenal of nuclear and chemical weapons.

“Abdul Reza Dashti, the head Basij commander in Bushehr – a city on Iran’s Persian Gulf coast that contains the Bushehr nuclear power plant, one of the regime’s key installations – had been addressing the fight against ‘foreign influences’ in Iran when he made the admission, according to a report by the official news agency IRNA.”

And see this article by Jonathan Tobin, editor of Commentary, on the Iranian situation:


Obama is worthless on this because of his own orientation, motivation. But where is everyone else? This is the stuff of nightmares.


Then, as if there isn’t enough with the Iranian situation to prevent peaceful sleep, there is the on-going situation at the UN Security Council. Not nearly as troubling as Iran, but, yes, troubling, on several scores because of diplomatic implications, not legal ones. 

Jordan has submitted a draft PA resolution to the Security Council.

Originally, Kerry had hedged on whether the US would veto such a proposal.  It was clear that he was looking for revisions that would soften its terms, so that he wouldn’t have to veto it.  But what has happened instead is that Jordan strengthened the terms, with the approval of the Arab League.

The current version calls for a complete end to Israel “occupation” within three years, with a Palestinian state to be established within the “June 1967 borders” (sic) and East” Jerusalem to be the Palestinian capital.


As for “East Jerusalem,” there is no such thing. There is one city of Jerusalem.  What is meant, in actuality, is all of Jerusalem past the Green Line, which includes northern and southern parts of the city as well as eastern. This is sometimes referred to as “Arab Jerusalem.”  It most certainly is not “Arab” today, as there are many Jewish neighborhoods in this part of the city. What is more, the Old City is in the eastern part of the city, as is the Jewish cemetery at Mt. of Olives – the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world, with 150,000 Jewish graves.


Demographic Map of Jerusalem

Credit: Keep Jerusalem

The division of the city came about at the end of the War of Independence in 1949, when Jordan (illegally) held part of the city, and an armistice line was drawn.  It is the only time in Jerusalem’s 3,000 year history that Jerusalem was divided, and it became “Arab” only because Jordan rendered it Judenrein. Prior to the Jordanian occupation, the heart of Jewish residency was to be found in this part of the city.  

Jerusalem will never be divided again. 


And as to “occupation,” my friends, they can use this loaded buzz word all they wish.  Israel is not an occupier in Judea and Samaria.  It is Israel that has legal rights there.  The corollary point to be made here is that the land in no way “belongs” to the Palestinian Arabs. There has never been a Palestinian state.


The behind the scenes politicking on this resolution issue are convoluted. 

At this point Kerry will veto if necessary (the “strengthening” of its terms made this more likely), but he prefers not to.  He had implored Abbas to wait to call a vote until after the Israeli elections on March 17. His reason is infuriating: a fear that what is happening in the UN will push the Israeli electorate to the right. 

Abbas said yesterday that the vote would be called in “a day or two.” And the most interesting questions have to do with why Abbas chose to ignore Kerry and move ahead anyway. It’s clear that he’s not afraid to figuratively bite the (US) hand that feeds him – this tells us a good deal about loss of American influence. 

I will suggest something that is counter-intuitive on the surface but is actually reflective of the way Abbas has consistently conducted himself: Abbas does not want to win here.  We must conclude this if he is willing to buck the US, secretary of state.  Had he waited, he might have said to Kerry, look, I did as you asked, now don’t veto. Abbas does not want a state, with the concomitant burdens it implies. Nor, I would imagine, does he think he could hold on to a state for more than a week or two before Hamas pushed him out.

Abbas wants to squeeze Israel and garner PR.  Part of that PR involves showing the world how the poor Palestinian Arabs suffer setbacks in their heart-wrenching efforts to achieve self-determination. 

Another possible motivation for Abbas: this may give him the excuse to go to the International Criminal Court, something he’s been threatening to do. This remains to be seen – as that too may be just a ploy.  


With this, there is one other factor at play.  The Security Council consists of 15 members: five permanent - China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States -and 10 others who rotate every two years.  Only the permanent members can veto a resolution.  For a resolution to pass, nine votes are required.  Right now, Abbas does not have those nine votes.

But here is the catch: The terms of the temporary members is up at the end of the year. As it happens, nations not supportive of this resolution – such as Lithuania and South Korea - will be replaced by nations hostile to Israel – such as Malaysia and Venezuela.  Then the chances of getting nine votes in favor would be greater.  It has been suggested that this would strengthen Abbas’s position – he would be able to say that most of the Security Council is with him because his cause is just even if the US is not.

But Abbas seems bent on not waiting for this transition in membership.  Again, we must ask why.

Since Abbas does not want to win anyway, this may be a way to allow Kerry to save face: he will not have to veto if there are not nine votes in favor.

Commentator Michael Freund, however, has another idea.  He refers to what is going on in the UN as “a diplomatic terror attack.”  No, he agrees, they don’t want to win: What they want is a rationale for “resistance,” since they can say they’ve tried diplomacy and it doesn’t work.


I hope all my readers are still with me.


Before closing I want to share a couple of painful, but hardly surprising, insights into the true nature of the Palestinian Arabs:

Last year, two Palestinian Arab terrorists who were involved in throwing rocks that killed Asher Palmer and his infant son Jonathan (when the rocks made Asher lose control of his car) were convicted of murder.  This was a much welcome landmark decision.  It was followed recently by a court decision requiring one of the terrorists, Ali Saada, to pay a hefty fine as compensation to the Asher family.

Now Issa Karake, a PA Minister in charge of “prisoner affairs” has complained about this, saying that this delegitimizes “the national resistance against the occupation.” (Emphasis added)

In other words, he approves of killing innocent babies.


Last Thursday evening, Avner Shapira and his daughter, Ayala, 11, were driving in the Shomron, when a firebomb was tossed at their car.  Avner yelled at his daughter to get out of the car. Had she not, she would have been killed, as it went up in flames.  As it was, she was very seriously injured – with third degree burns over more than half of her body and damage to her respiratory system.

Ayala Shapira

Where does it end?  My thoughts when this happened were murderous, I confess.  This child, whom her mother described as very intelligent in a special way, was on her way home from a special math class. 

Her father, who was mildly injured, protested that such attacks are not criminal in nature, but acts of war, and should be treated as such:

We have an enemy who is trying to annihilate us and states this day and night. It’s not the IDF’s fault, rather [it’s the fault of] the security establishment which treats these acts as criminal. Criminals that need to be caught and made to stand trial as if you can stand trial during a is a case of us or them; they want to kick us out of here.” (Emphasis added)
Ayala, who was burned in the face, has before her the prospects of months of hospitalization and many surgeries to do reconstruction.


Within a day or two, the firebomb perpetrators were picked up by the Shin Bet in the Arab village of Azzoun in Samaria.  They are both teenagers, and one, at 16, is under age. They told of hiding in the bushes at the side of the road, waiting for a car to approach, throwing the firebomb and then running back to their village.,7340,L-4608327,00.html

They will not be handled with sufficient severity, I am afraid – although I always wait to be surprised. It is not clear which of the two actually tossed the bomb.


Let us circle around for a moment: if Freund is correct about diplomatic terrorism, then the PA loss in the Security Council will be used to strengthen the rationale for the sort of horrors I’ve just described. 


And yet at a bare minimum, Kerry – who will oppose certain UN gambits by Abbas - thinks we should negotiate with the PA, never mind how violent the nature they’ve exposed is. In fact, I believe if he does veto, he’ll then come to Netanyahu and say we have an obligation to sit at the table with Abbas to negotiate since he “saved” us. 

See the article below that describes Abbas’s refusal to cooperate with the US last March in an arrangement that would have pressured Israel and moved a “deal” forward.

This look at Abbas’s perennial insistence on failure reinforces the speculation that he also wants to fail now in the UN. 

But it leaves us pondering what Kerry’s game is, since he KNOWS that Abbas is not truly on board for a two-state deal.  I will leave speculation aside here, but none of this is reassuring in the slightest.


The good news - this is who we are:

Israel has made the world's largest per-capita contribution to halt the spread of Ebola in West Africa, Part of the $8.75 million pledge is committed to UNICEF, for care of children stricken with the disease.  In addition, Israel has sent into West Africa fully equipped clinics and medical specialists.

The IDF recently saved the life of a Palestinian Arab baby with heart problems, who collapsed while on the way to Jordan for medical treatment. A medical helicopter airlifted him to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, thereby saving his life.,7340,L-4608295,00.html

Sometimes it’s not hard to wonder if we are nuts. But I have concluded we most certainly are not.  We can stand proud.


© 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, December 30, 2014 at 03:03PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 24, 2014: Back to Work

The Chanukah week, which is now closing, was a blessing.  Now, invigorated, I see that it is time to return to the serious and painful matters that face us.
This posting will be brief because I’ve spent hours today working on the plans for the Legal Grounds Campaign, which will up and running in a short while. Those of us who are working on it are excited about what is in the planning.  My readers will be kept informed, as we progress.    
Here I would like to focus on Hamas, as signs of trouble down the road with this group are strong.
My position when the recent war ended was that it would not have been prudent for the IDF to assume the task of fully taking out Hamas – a position with which some certainly disagreed .  I have continued to maintain this position, because had we become enmeshed in a lengthy and exhausting battle inside of Gaza that might have depleted our ability to take on Hezbollah or other radicals at the Syrian border.  (With those other elements more likely to move on us, if they were aware that we were distracted elsewhere.) Were Hamas the only radical jihadist element we had to deal with, the assessment might have been different.
But I felt then, and believe this to be the case even more strongly now, that more could have been done to weaken Hamas before a ceasefire was declared. 
And I would expect that if it becomes necessary for us to take on Hamas again before long, we would then be inclined to finish them.  In fact, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz addressed this very matter today, saying that by threatening Israel’s security situation at the border with Israel (see below), Hamas risks a “comprehensive military operation that will involve full demolition of its military and government infrastructure alike.”
Please, see the briefing on the subject of Hamas – “Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood have their sites on the West Bank and Jordan” - done by journalist Pinchas Inbari for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
“Hamas is now directly threatening Fatah that it will take over the West Bank. Senior Gaza-based Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar declared on Dec. 14: ‘Just as we liberated Gaza, just as we established a real national government in it...we will make the same effort in the West Bank as we prepare to extend our presence to all of Palestine.’
“...The failure of the reconciliation talks with the PA in Ramallah stems from Hamas's insistence on being a Muslim Brotherhood movement and not a national Palestinian one.
“Hamas is in a tight bind. Egypt is systematically destroying the tunnels from Sinai into Gaza and is planning to build a moat that will flood the tunnels to finally seal off Gaza from Egypt. Economically, Gaza has lost its oxygen supply from Sinai.
“So Hamas has decided to export its crisis from Gaza to the West Bank. Hamas seeks to replace the window to the Arab world that Sinai provided with another window - in the direction of Jordan. (Emphasis added)
“PA sources in Ramallah suspect that the Hamas delegation that recently visited Tehran was seeking Iran's help for carrying out a takeover of the West Bank.”
This situation makes clear, once again, the necessity for a strong IDF presence in all of Judea and Samaria.  This is, first and foremost, for the sake of Israel’s security.  But this is something that is important for Jordan (which has been arresting Brotherhood people), as well – whether Jordan publicly acknowledges this or not.
And it makes a mockery of the threats by Abbas to cut off security cooperation with Israel.  Without that security cooperation, Fatah would be finished in the blink of an eye.
Yesterday, there was a statement by Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, indicating that Hamas was rebuilding what he refers to as “defensive” tunnels.  By this he means tunnels being constructed inside of Gaza, which allow terrorist fighters to move about in a safe underground environment, transfer weapons from one location to another, etc.
With all due respect to Minister Ya’alon, the purpose of these tunnels is not precisely “defensive.”  Their construction is in anticipation of a war that Hamas would generate, so that its fighters would be able to operate more effectively.  He uses the term to different between these tunnels and clearly “offensive” tunnels built under the south of Israel – for purposes of direct attack.
So far, there is no sign of “offensive” tunnels being built, but the danger of this happening persists.  If a “defensive” tunnel is excavated near the border with Israel, it doesn’t take much to move into Israeli territory. And, in fact, residents in the south of Israel are concerned about signs of excavation right adjacent to the border:
Among the many questions to be asked here is where the concrete for these tunnels is coming from.  Building materials have been let in for “civilian” purposes, but it is all a mockery, as the monitoring simply is not in place to ensure that Hamas doesn’t co-opt this material for its own purposes.
Talk is so very cheap. All the talk at the end of the war about a “demilitarized” Hamas, and careful monitoring, and...
A rocket was launched from Gaza into the Eshkol region of Israel on Friday; it caused no damage.  Israel retaliated with a hit on a cement factory in Khan Yunis in the south of Gaza.
This morning there was sniper fire across the border from Gaza into Israel that seriously wounded one IDF soldier – a member of the Bedouin Reconnaissance Battalion.  Return fire by Israel succeeded in taking down Tayseer al-Ismary, head of the surveillance unit in Hamas's Al-Qassam Brigades and wounding two other members of Hamas.
There are assessments that the two attacks, described here, were by “renegade” elements not connected with Hamas.  But that can be carried only so far.
Netanyahu today said that "We will respond forcefully every time there is an attempt to break the quiet...”
I will return to discuss the political circus and other matters in my next posting.
Here, as Christmas eve approaches, I wish my Christian friends a meaningful and joyous holiday.


Credit: memespp
© 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, December 24, 2014 at 04:14PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 18, 2014: Very Briefly

I am currently preparing for the arrival of family, and so have only a brief moment to write.  The next three days I will be devoting myself to Chanukah (and Shabbat) and family – which is, quite frankly, a double lifesaver for me.
Simply wanted to update my readers, with much more, including analysis, to follow next week.
Last night Jordan did submit a proposal to the Security Council on behalf of the PA.  At present I only know that it calls for “peace” between Israel and the PA to be completed in a year, with Israel’s “occupation” of Judea and Samaria to finish by the end of 2017, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.  What clowns they are!  But, of course, if they specify all of the terms of negotiations up front, there are not many matters left to discuss, are there?
There are several ways this might play out:
Sometimes a vote on a proposal submitted to the Council is delayed, or never even happens.  The US might push for this option. PA officials say they’re in no rush to see it come to a vote, as there are consultations still to be done.  In this regard, they are still making threats (maybe they’ll cancel security cooperation with Israel after all, etc.). They may envision this proposal to be a threat that drives us back to the table without their ever needing to call a vote.
Or, the US might decide to veto this.
Or, the US might draft and submit a different proposal, with or without consultation with Israel.
The only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that Israel is not going to complete negotiations with the PA in a year, and is not going to pull back in Judea and Samaria. How this will be handled diplomatically and legally will be explored as it goes. There are several legal/diplomatic problems with this proposal, of course.
Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz (Likud) calls this proposal “an act of war,” not an act of peace.  He recommends a very harsh response to the PA.
Let it be!
I have read that Kerry tried to delay this proposal until after Israeli elections, because it’s not right to interfere in the election process.  That’s good for a laugh.  No interfering in elections, if the interference wouldn’t have the result he desires, is what he means.  His concern, very obviously, is that such a proposal would push a furious Israeli electorate to the right.
Well, the proposal was submitted, and that is exactly what may happen.  Let us hope so.  Israelis do not like being pushed around this way.  We need a very strong, very determined government to deal with all of this.
The EU court decision, which removed Hamas from its list of terror organizations, was based on the premise that there had been no information on Hamas’s status provided by EU states or persons.  EU officials tried to suggest yesterday that such information would be coming soon, so that Hamas would be quickly re-instated on the list.  Well... maybe, and maybe not.
Please, see the Elder of Ziyon for a more complete analysis of this.
What is most significant here is that:
“...since the EU was founded in 1993, despite spending tens of thousands of man-hours and untold millions of euros on Middle East topics and on the ground in Israel and the territories, no effort has been made to document Arab terrorism. (Emphasis in the original)

”Think about it. The EU wants to be a part of the peace process - it is part of the Quartet - and it has given lots of money to anti-Israel NGOs. It has no problem criticizing Israeli actions and parsing the statements of Israeli ministers to find evidence of anything offensive.

“Yet in all that time, no EU official has felt it was important to research and report on Arab terrorism! Not one bothered to visit the site of suicide bombings and read official Hamas statements taking credit for them. Not one bothered to follow up on Hamas incitement, on Hamas anti-Semitism, or on Hamas' public statements declaring all of Israel ‘occupied’ and all Israelis to be targets for attack.

“Not one.

Apparently, the entire EU presence in the Middle East is meant to document Israeli building in the territories and to ferret out ‘price tag’ attacks. Thousands of pages are written about whether Israeli products that are manufactured on one side of the Green Line but packaged on the other side are considered contraband in Europe. But not one official report has been written that says that Hamas took credit for a terror attack. (Emphasis added)

”There is a huge blind spot in the most studied place on the planet, and yet in 21 years the EU has not been able to write up a single report on Palestinian terrorism.

”Is there any more evidence needed of EU bias against Israel than this?”
Yesterday Hamas held its biggest military exercise since the end of the war this summer. Israeli residents near Gaza reported hearing explosions and shooting over night.
Anything that buoys Hamas’s sense that the international community may be with them is reprehensible in the extreme.
Yesterday, as well, there was a meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Accord, in Geneva, of course.  It was one more exercise in Israel-bashing, and I will examine the issues when time allows.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.


Posted on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 03:53PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 17, 2014: This Way and That

Some news a tad encouraging, and other news that’s nothing short of infuriating. Sometimes it’s hard to determine whether we have, on average, broken even.  Doesn’t look so here.


But let’s put that aside from a moment, and attend to first things first.  It is Chanukah, and I want to share a video that is absolutely beautiful, in terms of tying together Chanukah and an understanding of who we are.

Charlie Harary is an inspirational speaker, whose videos are frequently used by Aish.  But never before have I seen one that is as brilliant and inspiring as this one. If you attend to nothing else in this posting, please do see this.  He touches on an essential truth of our uniqueness:


Credit: Chabad


As to news that is possibly good in some respects and most decidedly not in others:

According to the reports late yesterday, Kerry had told Palestinian Arab negotiator Saeb Erekat and other world leaders that the US would veto the PA proposal on Israeli withdrawal to the ‘67 lines, which was to be submitted to the Security Council.  Kerry was opposed to the draft of the proposal approved by the Arab League.,7340,L-4604469,00.html

That was tentatively good news.  But that was yesterday. Today, the word is that a PA version and a French version of a proposed resolution have been combined.  The only definitive information I have on this at present is that in order for the Palestinian Arabs to agree to merge versions, the French had to remove reference to a Jewish state. 

And now the question is whether Kerry will veto this, or will see it as a “compromise” that the US can live with.


And one other word about Kerry.  Yesterday I had alluded to his perspective of moral equivalency, when alluding to a “cycle of violence.” Here we have more of the same, and worse.

In speaking to reporters in London, he said:

“...ongoing unrest of the last weeks has brought new tensions to all sides…Earlier this month, two Israelis were stabbed as they shopped for groceries in the West Bank. Two more were axed to death while praying. And we were all devastated and shocked by the acid attack against an Israeli family last week. Palestinians have mourned the death of a Palestinian official, Ziad Abu Ein, and they have suffered indefensible price tag attacks, so-called price tag attacks, including the recent burning of a mosque near Ramallah.”


There were not two Israelis axed to death while praying, there were four, plus a fifth who came to protect them. And mentioning Abu Ein in this context is ludicrous.  It is playing to the PA, pure and simple.  Plus, and most significantly, what he refers to as a “price tag attack,” meaning done by Jews against Arabs, has been shown to have been the result of a faulty heater, with no evidence of arson.


Yesterday, as well, the EU decided not to advance a resolution that would have urged all members to recognize a Palestinian state.  A good sign, one might think.

But today, the EU voted on a “compromise” resolution instead.  It supported, "recognition of Palestinian statehood in principle" - but as part of a two-state solution with Israel. The “two state solution”?  It would be based on the 1967 lines, with Jerusalem shared.
Wow!  What a compromise.

But this is not the worst of it.  Today the General Court of the EU in Luxembourg annulled, “on procedural grounds,” the 2001 listing of Hamas on its list of terrorist organizations.  The argument was that it was a procedural matter because what it reviewed was the original decision-making process. The original decision to include Hamas on the list, said the court, did not include the considered opinion of competent authorities, but instead relied on press and Internet reports.,7340,L-4604665,00.html

The way I understand the problem, it’s not a question of information having been culled from the press – rather, information on Hamas came from the US and Israel, and not directly from European sources, which the court demands.


The court decision is going to be appealed, and all measures on the books against Hamas will be maintained until those appeals are complete or for a period of three months.

EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Anderson said that the EU still considers Hamas a terror organization and will do everything it can to get it back on the list.

Sorry, not good enough.  Not by a long shot. 


Hamas, needless to say, is very pleased with the court finding.  Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq declared, "This is the correction of an error and an injustice that was caused to Hamas, which is a national liberation movement."

According to the Algemeiner, there are concerns that Hamas “will exploit any legal ambiguities over its present status to rebuild its organizational and fundraising network within Europe.”

Jonathan Schanzer, Vice-President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on Hamas, voiced other concerns as well:

The Council of the EU first designated Hamas’s so-called military wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, as terrorist, in 2001, with the designation of the entire organization following two years later.  That bifurcation – distinguishing between the military and political wings of Hamas - is erroneous; there is one Hamas organization. If the EU court refers back to this distinction, it could potentially legitimize Hamas’s political activity in Europe.


Prime Minister Netanyahu went ballistic over this ruling.

“It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil six million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing,” he said.

I would most respectfully differ with my prime minster on this.  It is not a matter of whether Europeans have learned the lessons they need to learn.  It is more a question of what matters to them.  I would suggest that the leaders of those nations where six million were slaughtered, and those nations who turned over their Jews to the Nazis, have nothing to say to Israel about how we conduct ourselves today.

And it would seem that Caroline Glick, author, columnist and political analyst, agrees.  Last week the Jerusalem Post held a Diplomatic Conference here in Jerusalem.  See here her heated response to a comment by Danish Ambassador Jesper Vahr, in the course of a panel discussion.

Credit: Monsters and Critics

When you finish cheering, remember to share this link broadly. She is boldly and incisively on the mark.
Yesterday, the Taliban entered a school in Pakistan and went from room to room shooting; in the end 132 children and nine staff members were dead. 
Where is the horror and outrage of the world?  Why is everyone not focused on the reality of what is going on?  How is it that the Western world has not grasped – deep in the gut – the nature of Islamic Jihadis, whether Taliban, or Hamas?

We live in a very sick world.  The Jihadis would return us to the dark ages. While others, devoid of a moral compass, are so busy equivocating and playing political games that they don’t quite notice. The Palestinian Authority is not the Taliban.  No. But the PA supports and funds terrorists.  Make no mistake about it. 

But, oh, the Europeans are terribly worried about the “rights” of the Palestinian Arabs to a state and they have a court very concerned about who testified as to the terrorist nature of Hamas.  While Obama and Kerry are not far behind.

And so, perhaps we here in Israel stand alone among the nations – not the people! - of the world.  But I thank Heaven that we know how to defend with a sword and fight with light.  We will do what we need to do for ourselves, while moving ever closer to what we are meant to be: a light unto the nations. 

© 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, December 17, 2014 at 04:05PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

December 16, 2014: Light the Lights

Tonight we light the first light in the eight day Festival of Chanukah. A time for joy and hope.  

Credit: ebay

Actually, there are two stories of Chanukah: One has to do with the miracle of the oil, which burned in the Temple for eight days although there was only enough oil for one day.  In commemoration of this, we eat foods associated with oil – potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (donuts).

Credit: ourtastytravels


Credit: Jerusaleminsiders

In truth, if we are going to talk about miracles: the existence of modern Israel is a miracle. We should be ever mindful of this, and ever grateful.


Then there is the historical Chanukah story of the Maccabees battle against the Greeks - which enabled them to regain and rededicate the Temple after it had been defiled.  There are lessons here in terms of determination and bravery (for the war was very long and bitter) and dedication to our traditional practices and our faith.  All very much lessons for today.


A particular determination is required right now.  For these are very tough times, no matter how you cut it.

I held off posting yesterday to see what would evolve with regard to the UN Security Council and anti-Israel resolutions to be brought forward.  But there is nothing definitive to report yet. 

Prime Minster Netanyahu, who met with Secretary of State Kerry yesterday, seems to be holding tough.  He says he will not agree to any UN coercion.

Kerry himself is waffling, and this is very unsettling.  Netanyahu put on a good front before meeting with Kerry, saying that there was no reason to believe that the US would diverge from its traditional position of vetoing Security Council measures that are anti-Israel.  But that is not really the case.  We know what a lame duck Obama is capable of.


At a press conference today, Kerry said that the parties themselves must resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict – it cannot be done from the outside. 

Nu?  That means it cannot be resolved via UN attempts to force Israel to move back to the ‘67 line.  No?

But in that same press conference he offered no assurances about his readiness to veto what might yet be proposed.


Of course, it is possible that the Kerry “indecision” is a tactic aimed at getting Netanyahu to cave on agreeing to negotiate. So far I have no indication that Netanyahu has agreed to anything.

One of the things I picked up today was a reference by Kerry about “the cycle of violence,” which invariably infuriates me. This is a false moral equivalency. There is no cycle of violence, only Arab terrorism and Israeli response.


The PA may bring forward a proposal this week that would require Israel to return to its situation prior to the 1967 war by February 2016; it would acknowledge eastern Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, and would make provision for the “Palestinian refugees.”  There is no precise wording of this proposal available in its entirety yet.

The French are working on a different proposal that would, as I understand it, require that negotiations between Israel and the PA be completed in two years.  Somewhat less horrendous than the PA version, but neither viable nor acceptable.

Please, dear readers, do not panic about any of this.  It’s a long way from a PA-proposed resolution in the Security Council, which has not yet materialized, to a real shift in Israel’s situation.   


Relevant to this, I believe, is the announcement by the PA that they would not be cancelling security cooperation with Israel over the death of Abi Ein, as had been threatened. A PA official now admits that they never intended to follow-through with the threats.  They rely on Israel, said this official.

Hey, no surprise there.  Abbas wouldn’t last a week if not for Israel’s control of Hamas in Judea and Samaria.

What we see then is that the PA leadership makes threats that it doesn’t necessarily intend to act upon.  And that Israel has some leverage over the PA.

So...stay tuned.


The PA says that if its proposal does not pass in the Security Council it will go to the International Criminal Court and level charges of war crimes against Israeli leaders.  This may be yet another threat.  Abbas has already been warned by our leaders that this path would work two ways. In any event, there is no guarantee that the ICC would accept “a Palestinian state” as a member.

But see what one very wonderful legal warrior in Israel, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat Ha-Din - the Israel Law Center, is doing: filing claims in the ICC against Abbas and Hamas leaders.  She is taking the offensive and hopes to make Abbas think twice.


Credit: Wikipedia


Let me turn here, then, to a brief update on the political circus:

Eli Yishai has made it official. He has broken with the Shas party and is forming a new party, Yahad – Together.  It is being watched very closely, for it appears that it will not be just a duplicate of the haredi party, Shas, but will bring in national religious elements as well.  It aims to be a party that, indeed, unifies people in their concern for religious values and political nationalism.  Although it is early to make predictions, it carries genuine promise.

What we know so far is that Yoni Chetboun, who just left Habayit Hayehudi because of some deep discontents, will be joining Yishai. And now all eyes are on the relationship between Uri Ariel and Naftali Bennett.  If Uriel walks out of Habyit Hayehudi with his Tekuma faction, he would very likely join Yishai.

There are very early predictions that when the dust settles this new party might bring in as much as seven mandates.  Aryeh Deri, who now heads Shas, is having conniptions. But on Aryeh Deri, who is not exactly the model of an upright politician, it looks good.  Apparently Yishai – who was pretty much shafted by Deri - will take a fair amount of support with him and has already received the endorsement of some significant rabbis.


Finally...Chanukah, songs.  First a medley of some traditional songs with a pleasing twist:  (Yes, it should be a “new” level, but the singing is nice.)

And then, a very lovely new version of the classic Maoz Tzur, by much-loved Israeli entertainer and cantor Dudu Fisher:
Enjoy, and Chag Chanukah Sameach!
© 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, December 16, 2014 at 02:55PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint