Current Postings

October 21, 2014: Body and Soul

Last night I went to the premiere showing, here in Jerusalem at the Begin Center, of a very special new film by Gloria Greenfield: “Body and Soul – the State of the Jewish Nation.”

The showing was sponsored by Doc Emet Productions (Greenfield’s company), The Menachem Begin Heritage Center, the Vidal Sasson International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, and the Zionist Organization of America.

As its website explains, the film:

“presents a comprehensive examination of the broad and deep connections between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. World-renowned historians, archaeologists, political scientists, religious leaders, and international law and media experts trace the evocative evolution of the relationship between the Jewish People and their homeland that is over 3,000 years old.
”’Jewish identity is born in a journey to the Land of Israel’, declares Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Kingdom. That journey moves through the First and Second Temple periods and the Middle Ages, then to modernity, where the development of political Zionism catalyzed the blossoming of a new Jewish spirit. That renewal of Jewish spirit resulted in the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in the Land, an event that Harvard University Professor Ruth Wisse declares ‘a miracle of truly Biblical proportions.’"
I urge you to visit the website:

View the trailer, which will give you a good sense of what it is all about.

See the impressive list of commentators featured in the film:
Then, if you are in N. America, search the list of screenings that are already scheduled: . If the film is scheduled to show near you, then please go and see it, and – most important – encourage others to do the same.

If it is not scheduled to show near you, you might get in touch with Gloria Greenfield directly - – regarding arrangements for a showing in your area.  Or order the DVD, see the video yourself and then arrange private showings so others can see it.


Many of my readers in N. America lament the ignorance about Israel exhibited by many people.  They have a lack of understanding of the ancient and intrinsic Jewish connection to the Land, and are unaware of the extent of Jewish legal rights to the Land.  

Gloria has done a magnificent job in presenting this case.

Here is an opportunity for you to pick up on this and run with it, to further understanding about Israel.


After the premiere showing last night, there was a marvelous panel discussion.  Participants were:

Yoram Hazony, an Israeli philosopher and political theorist, and currently president of The Herzl Institute in Jerusalem.

Credit: YoramHazoni

Robert Wistrich, Professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the head of the University's Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism


Credit: Manhattan College

 Eugene Kontorovich, professor at Northwestern University School of Law, and an expert in constitutional and international law


Credit: TribuneJuive


The primary message of this session was that we must pull back to basics and be sure of who we are as Jews.  Jewish self respect is the cornerstone of Zionism.
There was a time when the Bible (the Tanach – Torah, Prophets and Writings) was seen as a major pillar of Western civilization.  It is a national, historical and philosophical document.

Unfortunately, it has been delegitimized. With the enlightenment came intellectual attacks on the Bible, which was reduced to the status of mythical nonsense. German academics, way before Hitler, founded their universities on the basis of eliminating the Bible as a document to be respected and studied. Post-modern ideology has the same approach.

Thus Jews are hesitant to refer to the Bible when making the case for Jewish connection to the Land.  This is true of such organizations as AIPAC, Birthright and a host of others.  Yet the Bible is absolutely intrinsic to this connection.  There is a triad of the People, the Bible and the Land that cannot be divided.  Ben Gurion understood this when he said that “The Bible is our Mandate.”

Traditionally observant Jews see the Torah as having come from God. But this perspective is not essential to making the broader case that it has moral and historical significance that speaks to the world.  Once this position is promoted with pride by Jews, the historical case for the Jewish connection to the Land becomes obvious.


Yoram Hazony explained that there is one strand of Christianity that has stayed connected to the Jewish Bible - believes Christianity is founded on the Hebrew Bible.  Adherents of this position are eager to learn its lessons.  This is not true of progressive denominations of Christianity, which tend to embrace replacement theology and focus on New Testament.  He suggests that Jews may have a role to play in working with Christians who have a deep interest in the Jewish Bible.


Among the many points made by Kantorovich is that it is more effective to focus on other parallel situations, rather than on Israel, when making a case regarding international law.   
When it comes to Israel, people tend to lose perspective that they often retain when considering less volatile situations. Last night he used as example the fact that the Crimea, which has been seized by Russia, remains part of the Ukraine according to international law. This illustrates a principle known as “the persistence of borders” – a principle that applies as well to Judea and Samaria, which were encompassed within the Mandate borders.  Recently he had written about this:


© 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, October 21, 2014 at 03:49PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

October 19, 2014: The Temple Mount

I’ve written several times about the growing problems on Har Habayit – the Temple Mount. 
Temple Mount

Credit: Wiki Commons
Again now I report on the situation, which is grave and most be considered with utmost seriousness.
Over the week of the Sukkot holiday, there was a rash of Arab violence that was clearly premeditated.  It began on Wednesday, the 8th of October: that evening began Sukkot and many Jewish worshippers came to ascend to the Mount (emphasis added):

The fighting began when masked youths threw stones, iron bars, cinder blocks and Molotov cocktails at police officers as the Mughrabi Gate opened to non-Muslim visitors earlier in the day.

“Police chased the demonstrators toward the Al-Aqsa mosque, where they barricaded themselves inside and continued hurling objects in the direction of the police, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri.

“Samri said the Palestinians had prepared for the confrontation ahead of time, and had set up obstacles at the holy site to slow down police. She said the Palestinians threw firebombs and rocks at police from within the mosque.

Police responded with ‘nonlethal riot control means,’ Samri said.

“A radical Islamic cleric in Israel, Raed Salah, had called on Muslims to be present at the mosque Wednesday morning. About 30 young Palestinians slept the night before at the mosque in preparation for the confrontation, according to Palestinian eyewitnesses.”


Credit: TheJerusalemConnection

The violence continued intermittently over the course of the week of Sukkot.  But finally, it seems, Israeli authorities, confronting the serious of the Arab threat, are responding with greater determination.  This is to be celebrated.  For many years, Arabs knew that all they had to do was riot or even threaten to riot, and Israeli police, citing security concerns, blocked entrance to the Mount for Jews.  The wrong people were being deprived of the opportunity to be on the Mount. But now (emphasis added):
“In a policy change since the beginning of the Jewish New Year, instead of closing the Temple Mount to [Jewish] visitors after Muslim rioting, the Israel Police push the rioters back inside the Al-Aqsa mosque and leave the Temple Mount compound open. But the policy may change again if the current situation persists, Aharonovitch said.

’If the Jews cannot go up to the Mount, the Muslims will not go up to the Mount,’ he said.”
What we are dealing with is a battle for control of the Mount. 
Jordan, which controls the Muslim Wakf (trust, or authority) on the Mount, charged Israeli police with fomenting the problem.
“The forces of the occupation ... prevented religious officials entering (the compound) and cleared it of all Muslims, while at the same time enabling Jewish extremists to storm it, and pray with security forces protection," complained Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momeni.
Note: “forces of the occupation” implies Israel has no right to be there. 
And now it has come to this (emphasis added):
”Palestinian Authority President (sic) Mahmoud Abbas called on Palestinians on Friday to prevent Jewish ‘settlers’ from entering the Temple Mount.

”Addressing Fatah activists from east[ern] Jerusalem in Ramallah, Abbas also called on Palestinians to be present at the Temple Mount at all times to confront the ‘fierce onslaught on Al-Aksa Mosque, Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre Church.’

He said Fatah should spearhead the effort to stop ‘settlers’ from entering the Temple Mount.
“We must prevent them from entering the Noble Sanctuary in any way. This is our Al-Aksa and our church. They have no right to enter and desecrate them. We must confront them and defend our holy sites.”
These statements by Abbas are always calculated.  Note the term “settlers,” which is pejorative, referring to Jews who are presumably where they do not belong.
And a “fierce onslaught” on the Holy Sepulchre Church?  (Which, by the way, is not on the Mount at all.) This is a ludicrous attempt to make it seem as if Muslims protect Christians from Israeli attack. The reality is that Muslims are massacring Christians, who are in fact safe no where in the Middle East except Israel.  Christians pray freely at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is in eastern Jerusalem.  But Abbas says what he pleases, with impunity and with no regard for the truth.
Abbas’s statement, which represents a new low, is incitement clear and simple.  This is the man with whom Israel should negotiate?  Let’s see how long it takes for Kerry to call him on this.
Just one day after this outrage, Abbas went even further:
In a speech yesterday to to the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah party, he referred to Jews entering the Mount as a “herd of cattle.”
”Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman blasted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday night after Abbas said that Jews should be prevented from visiting the Temple Mount and that Palestinians should defend the site from them.

“Lieberman said Abbas' remarks reveal his attempt to ignite the conflict by using the most sensitive place, the Temple Mount. In a statement released on Saturday night, Lieberman accused Abbas and the PA of being behind the disturbances of the residents of east Jerusalem.

”The foreign minister said that the remarks also reveal Abbas' ‘true face’ as a ‘Holocaust denier who speaks about a Palestinian state free of Jews.’ He said Abbas was and remains an anti-Semite.

"’Behind his [Abbas'] suit and the pleasantries aimed at the international community, he ramps up incitement against Israel and the Jews and calls for a religious war,’ he said.”
True, all true.



I noted with particular interest a quote Martin Sherman provided in his most recent JPost column (and for which I thank him):

With the two-state solution... Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the chosen people? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse.... Then we will move forward.”

Abbas Zaki, senior PLO official. (ANB TV, Lebanon, May 7, 2009)


Where Zaki refers to Jerusalem, with its spiritual status, read “Temple Mount,” which is at the very core of that spiritual status.  It must not be relinquished. Our presence on the Mount must be constant, and our security forces and authorities must be ever strong in defending our rights there.


And the good news today? We had rain. A period of torrential rain that turned the streets to rivers.  I got caught in it, and I called it a blessing.  We began praying for rain on Simchat Torah, Thursday.  The beginning of the winter season.  May it be a very wet one.

Credit: Marc Israel Sellem


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


Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 02:37AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

October 18, 2014: What Is He Talking About?

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

We have just completed the holiday of Sukkot, during which time we live in sukkahs.  While conforming to certain specifications, a sukkah is in its essence a temporary and thus fragile structure.

Credit: Mishpacha

This comes to remind us that what protects us is not the walls of the sukkah, but the embrace of the Almighty. And I believe that now, especially, this is a lesson we need to carry with us: As is obvious from my postings, I believe we are commanded to act as decisively as we can.  Never do I suggest that we should leave it to Heaven and stop exerting our own effort to protect Israel – on the contrary! 

But in the end, we indeed must rely upon the embrace of the Almighty.  The world grows less comprehensible day by day.


John Kerry’s statements serve as a perfect example of the incomprehensible nature of current events.  This past Thursday, he linked the lack of a “two-state solution” to rising Islamic radicalism:

"there wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation...
“People need to understand the connection of that. And it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity."


This position is not only daft and outrageous, it is dead wrong and dangerous.

The vast majority of the Arabs across the region care very little about the “Palestinians” and their call for a state. 

ISIS is about an Islamic caliphate established on the basis of sharia law.  Were there (Heaven forbid) no Israel, the Islamic radicals would still be seeking a caliphate.

More to the point with regard to the rise of ISIS is the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq at a premature time.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who was in Gaza this past week, echoed a refrain similar to that of Kerry:

“The Gaza situation is a symptom of a larger problem: the stalemate in the Middle East peace process.”

It doesn’t end. 

One must ask what it is that Ban doesn’t get: Hamas in Gaza was not part of negotiations for “peace” and has declared it never will be.  The goal of this terror organization is the elimination of Israel and it would not be pacified by a “two-state solution.”  It would merely utilize the presence of a “Palestinian state” in Judea and Samaria to advance its opportunities for attacking Israel. 

How has it come to pass that successful peace negotiations are touted as the panacea for everything that ails this part of the world?

From where I sit, it looks like a serious epidemic of “blame it on the Jews.”   


But here we are, with Kerry declaring:
"It is imperative that we find a way to get back to the negotiations.[We need] to find a way to create two states that can live together side by side, two peoples, with both of their aspirations being respected.”


I confess, my friends, that I was naïve.  I believed that when Abbas signed with Hamas for a unity government it was the kiss of death for negotiations, at least for some interim of time.  I was convinced that it would be clear that Israel could not negotiate with an entity that encompassed a terrorist organization and that Abbas’s credentials as a “partner for peace” had been severely tarnished. 

But, alas...I was wrong. We are expected to negotiate anyway.

We will not.

From a purely pragmatic perspective I also saw Kerry as having too much on his plate to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict right now.  Go know...


This past Sunday, a donor conference was held in Cairo to raise money for the rebuilding of Gaza.   A staggering $5.4 billion dollars was pledged, the largest pledge of $1 billion coming from the Hamas-supporting nation of Qatar.

Israel, the PA and the UN have ostensibly worked out a mechanism for ensuring that materials brought in will not be utilized by Hamas.  I have not quite figured out yet how this can be the case, when the PA encompasses Hamas.  Please, do not hold your collective breath expecting success on this score.  My understanding is that it will be impossible to effectively monitor dual-use items (that can be used for civilian building or for military purposes) once they are in Gaza.  This past Tuesday, cement and steel entered Gaza for the first time in a year.

Yuli Edelstein, speaker of the Knesset, expressed double concern about a lack of proper supervision of the funds donated: It will not reach the population that needs it, and it will embolden Hamas to more violence

Edelstein regretted that Israel had not been invited by Cairo to the conference.


I call your attention in particular to a piece on this issue by Michael Freund, “Is rebuilding Gaza more important than halting Ebola?” (emphasis added):

“...despite the Islamic terrorist group’s [Hamas’s] cynical use of the area as a launching pad for thousands of rocket attacks against Israel, Western powers and others have rushed to open their checkbooks to help with reconstruction.

This is morally obtuse, politically obscene and strategically oblivious behavior...

“...At the Gaza donor conference, which was held in Cairo, a whopping $5.4 billion was pledged, half of which will go towards rebuilding efforts, while the rest will be used to sustain the budget of the Palestinian Authority, which now includes Hamas through 2017.

In other words, even though the Palestinians siphoned off previous aid and used it to prepare for war with Israel, they are once again becoming recipients of Western largesse.

Needless to say, the funds pledged are not contingent on Hamas disarmament, nor will any demands be made of the terrorist group to cease building tunnels to try and burrow into Israel and murder innocent Israelis...

The inanity at work here is even more pronounced when one considers that the United Nations has been having difficulty raising just $1 billion to fight Ebola.

“Although the disease has killed more than 4,000 people and spread to at least seven countries, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said on Friday that just $250 million...has been raised thus far...

“And so, even though the number of Ebola cases is reportedly doubling every three to four weeks, billions of dollars will be lavished on Gaza rather than on the jeopardized populations of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“Similarly, a recent donor conference in Washington aimed at combatting cholera in Haiti, which has killed more than 8,000 and infected 700,000 others, raised just $52.5 million out of the $400 million needed for the program’s first two years.

“And just last month, Ertharin Cousin, the head of the World Food Program, said that because of funding shortages, the organization has had to reduce food rations and distributions.

“’We’re going to need to cut rations to those people we’re supporting inside Syria, and to cut the size of the vouchers to those Syrians who are refugees outside Syria...’”

Concludes Freund, “no reasonable moral calculus can justify prioritizing the reconstruction of Gaza apartment buildings over preventing an Ebola epidemic that threatens millions of people.”


All this makes me long for the peace of the sukkah. But I’ll be here, with a great deal more to write about.

As I had recently written about Hezbollah, and increasing concerns about its intentions, I end with this article by Jonathan Spyer, who has considerable expertise on the issue:

The Nusra Front – a Sunni Jihadist group in Syria – “is demonstrating its ability to hit at [Shi’ite] Hezbollah across the border [from Syria into Lebanon] with increasing impunity.”  In the past, Hezbollah has tangled with weak Sunni elements inside of Lebanon, or with Syrian refugees located in Lebanon, but this is different.  Nusra is attacking Hezbollah positions; there are indications that the Syrian civil war is moving “irrevocably” into Lebanon.

All of this must be followed closely because of the complex implications for Hezbollah’s motivation to hit Israel in the near future.  Hezbollah is facing new challenges.  On the one hand, it is distracted and under pressure.  But it is eager to justify itself to the Lebanese population, which has not been pleased with Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.


© 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, October 18, 2014 at 06:52PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

October 7, 2014: Sukkot

“v'samachta bechagecha”: and you shall rejoice in your festival.  This is it, Sukkot, our season of rejoicing.  My very favorite holiday.  The spirit is in the air, here in Jerusalem.  I look forward to meals in the Sukkah (much larger than the illustration here!), and sleeping in the Sukkah with my grandchildren. 

And blessings over the lulav and etrog.



Sukkot starts tomorrow night, and I will post only very erratically, if at all, during the coming eight-day period.  The older I get, and the worse the world seems, the more I understand how important are these moments of joy.  To all celebrating, I wish a Chag Sameach.


The Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube, had to slow down during the recent war with Hamas.  But we are ready to gear up again after the holiday and we believe there is now a window of opportunity for effect work.

Our ultimate goal of getting the government of Israel to speak in one voice, providing consistent messages to the Israeli public and the international community about our legal  grounds – and then adjusting policies so that they reflect these rights – has not changed.  We believe this is critical to Israel’s future.

Until how we’ve been working in the Knesset.  We are convinced there is still more work to be done there – bringing MKs on board to speak out about Israel’s rights - before we to the next stage. 

It is important to emphasize: There are no magic bullets.  We are engaged in a process to turn the situation around.  Little by little. 

I have already been in touch with some of you directly.  If you would like to know more about this campaign – what we’ve accomplished to date and where we are headed – or if you are interested in helping, financially or otherwise, please write to me (and put “Legal Grounds Campaign” in the subject line).


There is, as always, an unending number of subjects to be discussed.  I will touch here upon just a few of the most critical. 

The other day, the new government of Sweden declared intention of recognizing the Palestinian Authority as a “state.”  From the perspective of customary international law, this does not work.  For an entity to be defined as a state, it must:

* exercise effective and independent governmental control
* possess a defined territory over which it exercises such control
* have the capacity to freely engage in foreign relations
* have a permanent population
Clearly, the Palestinian Authority has multiple problems fulfilling these criteria.  The whole matter of government control is very complex in this situation.  One Palestinian Authority as a unity government?  Or two authorities, one in Judea and Samaria and the other in Gaza, no matter how it is papered over?  Because of this complexity, there is confusion over what population it has.

But most significant is the issue of a defined territory over which it exercises control.  Were Abbas seeking to declare a state on the area that the PA now administers in Judea and Samaria, that would be one thing. But he is defining his state as encompassing everything over the Green Line (the 1949 armistice line, sometimes called the 1967 “border”), which enfolds all of eastern Jerusalem as well a host of Jewish communities.  He is not in control of this area and never will be. 


Then, there is yet another problem.  The PLO is obligated to a final status for the PA via the Oslo Accords, which call for negotiations.  European nations profess support for Oslo, but unilateral recognition of a state sabotages the process. 

I will note here that Oslo does not specifically define a sovereign Palestinian state as the end goal of negotiations.

What is more, the General Assembly resolution that accorded the PA the status of a non-voting member of that body did not legally confer statehood upon the PA either. The UN cannot confer statehood.


Yet Sweden, for purely political reasons, declared itself prepared to “recognize” this “state” that does not exist.  The danger is that it could motivate other nations to do the same.  While this “state” still would not fulfill all of the traditional criteria, by some measures, a state is defined in part by the recognition of other nations. Thus is it imperative to nip this in the bud. Sweden hasn’t actually taken the step yet.


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was furious about Sweden’s announced intentions, and the Swedish ambassador to Israel was summoned for a reprimand.,7340,L-4578329,00.html

Swedish prime minister Stephen Lofven was apparently startled by the reaction his announcement (during his inauguration speech, yet) elicited, and has backtracked a bit. Now he has explained that he is friends with both parties and was not trying to attack Israel.  He was trying to help, because if the PA is recognized as a state it will advance the peace process.  Unmitigated nonsense.  Hopefully in the end this will not happen.


Sweden’s announcement stimulated similar talk in London. But in England this was not expected to have legs.  If a vote were to be held in the parliament, it would be purely “symbolic.”


Now our eyes are on the north, where the situation is enormously unstable.  (Actually, the situation is unstable everywhere, but this area is considered most worrisome.)

On Sunday, a small group of Lebanese soldiers moved across the border from Lebanon into Israel.  The IDF shot at them and one soldier was lightly wounded; they all turned back into Lebanon.

At that point UNIFIL – the “peace keeping” UN troops in Lebanon – got involved, and had some harsh words for the shooting of the Lebanese soldier.  This struck me as ironic but not terribly surprising: For us they have reprimands. But this force that was supposed to keep Hezbollah from being re-armed after the 2006 Lebanon war totally failed in its mandated mission, as Hezbollah now has some 100,000 rockets.


The concern being voiced here is that there has been a shift in the situation, with the Lebanese army and Hezbollah cooperating. In theory this was not supposed to happen. As far as I know, it has not happened overtly until now.  Although I will note that UNIFIL works under the direction of the Lebanese army.  The thinking is that this group of Lebanese soldiers was actually a cell intent on a terrorist attack.


Repeatedly over the last several months, I have read reports that Hezbollah, which is headquartered in Lebanon, was not likely to turn its sights on Israel, as it was mired down in the Syrian civil war, where it had been depleted by the loss of hundreds of troops.  This is what I have been reporting.

But now there is a new assessment: Hezbollah has actually gained strength as the result of experience fighting in Syria: It has greater confidence and has new offensive capabilities.

The IDF has thus made “dramatic changes” in its plans to defend the north of Israel in all eventualities. 

While no war with Hezbollah is expected in the immediate future, it is expected that such a war will come and it will be two-pronged.  There will be aerial attack by rockets and missiles that are far more sophisticated than anything Hamas has. And there will infiltration into the north of Israel, in the Galil, with an attempt to seize areas or communities.

There is confidence in the IDF that Hezbollah forces that entered Israel’s north could be repelled in short order.  The far greater concern is those rockets and missiles. 

I’ve heard it said many times by our military commanders and defense personnel that a war with Hezbollah would not be like a war with Hamas, and I can only pray that from the perspective of our defense they mean it.  We would have to preempt. Hezbollah follows exactly the same pattern of hiding rockets in civilian areas. But in Lebanon, there would be no time to warn civilians to move out of the way.  Attacks on sites where the key weaponry is stored would have to be swift and massive to prevent launching of those destructive rockets.  In order to defend ourselves we would have to concentrate on speedily eliminating the threat, rather than worrying about accusations from the world community or a count of how many civilians got in the way.


And while we are talking about the north, there is also the presence of radical jihadists on the other side of the Golan, in Syria, who at some point in the future may decide to move down into Israel.  Different groups are represented there, none nearly as strong as Hezbollah or armed with rockets as Hezbollah is, but requiring extreme vigilance all the same.


All of this, I must add, provides strong rationale for not having gone into Gaza to totally take down Hamas. This would have drawn on too much of our resources, occupied too many of our soldiers – all of which may, on short notice, be needed elsewhere.


On Sunday, a powerful blast tore into Iran's military facility at Parchin. At least two people were killed. It is not yet known if this explosion was the result of sabotage or a work accident.  But such news is always welcome.  I will not know anything more before Sukkot begins. But after the holiday, there is a great deal to write about concerning Iran.

Tensions remain high between Netanyahu and Obama, over the issue (which is a non-issue!) of our plans to build in eastern Jerusalem.

What is pleasing from the perspective here is that Netanyahu has about had it – he’s standing strong, unapologetically.


An interview of Prime Minister Netanyahu by Dovid Efune appears in the Algemeiner.  In it he explains that his determination not to transfer any territory to the PA without extensive security arrangements (read: the continuing presence of the IDF inside this territory) has “only become firmer,” in light of current situations.

“We don’t just hand over territory, close our eyes and hope for the best.”


This non-appeasing stance by our prime minster is most welcome.  He is couching his position in security terms, and indeed the concerns in this regard are very real:

"’[Some] have said Hamas wants to create an Islamic emirate in Gaza,’ says senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar... ‘We won't do that, but we will build an Islamic state in Palestine, all of Palestine.’
If Hamas manages to establish a foothold in the West Bank, it would be able to wipe out Israel and establish an Islamic state in its stead, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told Palestinian news outlet Al-Ayyam on Wednesday.” (Emphasis added)

What this indicates is not only that giving a state to Abbas would be incredibly dangerous and foolish, but that the notion of a unity government is a farce, a pretense: If Hamas and Fatah were truly united, Hamas would not be talking this way.


But in the end, Netanyahu’s concerns translate to: No two-state solution, folks.  Elsewhere I read that Netanyahu says the definition of “sovereignty” would have to change with regard to what was meant by a “sovereign” Palestinian state. 

Abbas will not have this. But there it stands.  The world is going to be angry at us and we had better learn to live with it.  To give the world what it wants of us would be suicide.

A very good time for making our case about our rights in the land with full vigor.

© 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, October 7, 2014 at 08:37AM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

October 6, 2014: Silent Intifada

A piece of particular importance that I wrote has just gone up on Front Page Magazine.  Rather than just provide the link to it, I provide here the entire article.  The link follows.  Please, share this very widely – if not this post, then the Front Page URL.
The perpetrators in the main are male Arabs, mostly young, with Jerusalem residency cards.  They have the right to live in Jerusalem, and receive the perks of citizens, but – tellingly – for political reasons have declined to become full citizens. 

With increasing frequency in recent weeks, they are out on the streets of eastern Jerusalem and at key eastern Jerusalem locations, actively participating in violent and destructive behaviors.  Sometimes they wrap scarves around their faces so they cannot be identified. 

Some Arab “unrest” occurs from time to time in the city.  Perhaps a demonstration protesting a perceived grievance suddenly turns into a riot.  Molotov cocktails might be thrown, or rocks large enough to kill.  Municipal infrastructure might incur some damage.   

None of this is acceptable, but for the most part, these have been intermittent and localized occurrences.  What is happening now is something else: a form of behavior that is more persistently violent and more pervasive.  

It comes as a shock to learn, for example, that at least 30% of the cars of the Jerusalem Light Rail are out of commission because of vandalism that takes place at the Light Rail station located in Shu’afat, an Arab neighborhood.  This is not a matter of delinquent kids with time on their hands. This is focused behavior intended to undermine the authority of the municipality. 

This past week, on the second night of Rosh Hashana, Chanan Kupietzky, 25, and two others were walking towards the Kotel (the Western Wall) when they were accosted by some four Arabs, who began by calling, “Dirty Jews!”  At a signal from yet another Arab, they approached Kupietzky and his companions and launched a physical attack.  Other Arabs in the area began throwing rocks at the three, and at other Jews who were nearby, wounding one man in the chest. 

“It was like an ambush,” Kupietzy said.  One Arab came at him with a two-by-four that had nails protruding from it, which was used to strike him repeatedly; ultimately his hand was so badly fractured that he required surgery. 

One of the locations that has been most problematic is Har Hazeitim – the Mount of Olives.  This is the site of Judaism’s most ancient cemetery, with 150,000 graves. This past week, on one night alone, 40 graves were vandalized. 

Nearby is Ma’aleh Hazeitim, a Jewish neighborhood that has been the site of stonings.  Arabs – likely from the nearby Arab neighborhood of Ras al-Amud – target cars on the road that have Jewish drivers. 

This past week, however, a new low was reached when Arab stone-throwers made a nursery school the target of an attack.  As rocks pelted the outside of the nursery building, the teacher quickly brought the children into an air-raid shelter for safety and summoned the police. 

These stories and many more like them have been insufficiently publicized. 

Multiple observers have noticed that the attacks seem organized rather than random, and that there is never one person acting alone.  There are groups operating, under instruction. 

According to one very reliable individual with direct connections to the Israeli government, what we are seeing is a limited intifada.  The Palestinian Authority has decided that a wide scale intifada in Judea and Samaria would not be a good idea now: they have opted for one focused exclusively on Jerusalem instead

It makes perfect sense. In the struggle between Israel and the PA, Jerusalem is the heart of the matter. 

In July 1980, the Knesset passed a bill in Basic Law that reads: “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.” There is no such place as “East Jerusalem;” there is one, undivided city.  Nonetheless, the Palestinian Authority continues to promote the fiction of “East Jerusalem” as a separate place that is destined to become its capital.  In the end, the sovereignty of Jerusalem – as the sovereignty of any place – is directly connected to control on the ground.  The PA goal is to make eastern Jerusalem so difficult for Jews to live in that they will withdraw. 

Were this to happen, it would be an unmitigated disaster, particularly as the very core of Jewish tradition in the city – including the Temple Mount – is in its more ancient eastern part. It would mean relinquishing that core, with all the implications that would follow

The over­rid­ing question now is what is being done to guarantee that this does not happen. 

There are many fine police officers at work in Jerusalem, and, in fact, their numbers have been augmented recently. But there remains a persistent unease that what may be happening when the police act is more in the way of containment than enforcement of the law to the fullest extent possible.  Sometimes violent groups are scattered and chased away rather than arrested.  At other times arrests are made but prosecutions do not follow. 

While these instances have been observed, what is not clear is whether they are just that – separate instances, or whether they are the result of orders from above, from Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, or police officials. 

It is not difficult to understand the inclination to fall back on containment, no matter how ill-advised it is in the long run: The world watches Israel as it watches no other nation. One false arrest, one injury or death of an Arab during attempts to make arrests, will result in headlines and international protests.  It feels safer to go easy. 

But it is exceedingly important for Jews to make their presence known in all parts of Israel’s capital; and they must be able to do so free of harassment or physical risk.  Protecting its citizens is a primary responsibility of the government.  

In this instance, when the government of Israel acts to protect its citizens, it is also protecting its rights as a sovereign nation and its future in the land.
© 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.


October 2, 2014: Right On!

This will be an exceedingly short post. We go into Yom Kippur late afternoon Friday, and I will have no chance to write tomorrow.  And so I do it now. 

Wishing all those observing Yom Kippur a G’mar Chatima Tova.  Maybe we be sealed for a good year, and may the Almighty watch over us.



Yesterday I expressed considerable unease about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statements voicing his on-going support for a “two state solution.”

Today I am happy to offer praise for a forthright stand he has taken on behalf of Israel.  It all happened later in the day yesterday, after the two leaders met. But with the time difference (seven hours later here), I didn’t pick up full information until this morning.


The story:

In December 2012, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee had formally announced that it was going to launch a construction project at Givat Hamtos in eastern Jerusalem.  (It encompasses an area of 170 dunams; bordered by Talpiot in the north, Gilo in the south, and Beit Safafa in the west.)
Last week, before Rosh Hashana, final announcement of plans to build came from the municipality – this was largely a technicality, as the formal decision to do this was already in place.  Roughly 2,500 units are planned, half for Jews, and – please note – half for Arabs.
Yesterday, Peace Now, ever seeking to stir up matters, announced on its Facebook page that this building was going to take place.  The timing of the announcement made it seem as if Netanyahu had suddenly approved a project that would undercut his declared intentions regarding that “two state solution.”


The White House, shall we say, was a tad distressed.  The action that Israel is planning was “condemned.”  White House press secretary Josh Earnest said:

”This step is contrary to Israel's stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians.

“This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere, not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations.”

But Netanyahu did not back down one iota, nor was his tone remotely apologetic.

He told reporters he didn’t understand why there was criticism: “Arabs in Jerusalem freely buy apartments, and nobody says that is forbidden. I will also not say that Jews cannot buy property in Jerusalem. There cannot be discrimination between Jews and Arabs.”

No one “stole” the houses in Jerusalem or took them over by force, he said. “This is a normal process, and I see no reason to discriminate.”

He minced no words about Peace Now, either. Without mentioning the group by name, he said it was exhibiting a “lack of national responsibility” by publicizing this in order to “harm the meeting.”  It was not a “coincidence” that they published this information on the morning he was to meet with the president – the intention was to sabotage the meeting.  The action taken last week, he indicated, was merely a “technical step” predicated on a decision that had been made much earlier, and there was no need to publicize it.

Netanyahu was absolutely on the mark, and seemed to me more forthright and candid than usual – projecting a strong sense of the rightness of Israel’s actions.


Interviewed on NBC by Andrea Mitchell, he was asked about the new settlements to be built in Jerusalem.  His response:

“I think they [the Obama administration] should be acquainted with the facts first. You know? First of all, these are not settlements. These are neighborhoods of Jerusalem. We have Arab neighborhoods and we have Jewish neighborhoods."

Yea, we know.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Credit: Reuters


© 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, October 2, 2014 at 03:46PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

October 1, 2014: Following

My critique of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at the UN stands. 

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the UNGA, Sept. 29, 2014.


In particular, I was distressed that he spoke about a readiness to make territorial concessions for an agreement with “rock solid security.” 

This seems to me a very poor time to talk about such a thing – when Abbas is in bed with Hamas and the world is upside down.  It feels like a sort of super-eagerness to demonstrate readiness for concessions.  And it primes the world, not least the Arab world, to demand such concessions.

Yes, there are those who have pointed out to me that he almost certainly said it knowing it will never happen.  That may be true, but I confess to a distinct weariness with this sort of diplomatic game-playing.  I am looking for a bit more candor: we cannot negotiate with a unity government that enfolds a terrorist organization. Nor do we consider Abbas a legitimate partner for peace when he can libel Israel as he has just done, throwing all truth to the wind.  But then, this expectation may be why I am a writer/analyst and not a politician.


What is being said is that his talk about a new template for peace that involves Arab states - who today see Israel differently - effectively threw out the “two-state solution,” as he had espoused it in his 2009 Bar Ilan talk.

It would be nice to think so, but it seems to me a bit of stretch.  There are many in the international community who could well have interpreted his words as simply meaning that he needs Arab help in crafting a “two-state solution” that works.  Precisely because Netanyahu spoke in free-wheeling and amorphous terms that lacked specificity, they may still believe that in the end the “two-state” paradigm is the solution.

In point of fact, this may be precisely what Netanyahu did mean in his UN speech. For in preliminary remarks for the press today in Washington, before he met with President Obama, Netanyahu said,

“I remain committed to the vision of peace of two states for two peoples, based on mutual recognition and rock solid security arrangements.”  So there it is and too much should not be read into what he said at the UN.  His clarification is that the path to two states might be different from what has been tried until now: “we should make use of the new opportunities [in the Middle East], think outside of the box, and see how we can include the Arab countries to advance this very hopeful agenda.”

“Very hopeful agenda.”  Let us hope he means the new relationship with Arab states, and not the “two state solution.”


One thing he was clear about at the UN – and is to be applauded for – is saying that ISIS and Hamas, in their ideology and their intentions, are one and the same.  This is not going over well with the Obama administration.

Yesterday, I had cited Ben Shapiro, whose remarks on Obama’s UN speech I had hoped to run, but which I passed on because of the size of my posting.  Today I will return to just one thing he discussed (all emphasis was his in the original):

Referring to ISIS, Obama said: “No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force…"
Then, speaking of Hamas, the president said: “the violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace. But let’s be clear: the status quo in the West Bank and Gaza is not sustainable.”
Observed Shapiro: “Self-defense for America, but not for the Jews, according to the President. The Jews must continue to pursue the ‘hard work of peace,’ even if they’re experiencing rocket fire every day; America, however, can bomb the hell out of ISIS even if ISIS is located thousands of miles away and largely threatens other Muslims. The hypocrisy is rank, and [the] moral equivocation repulsive.” (Here it is my emphasis.)


This position was put forth by Obama before Netanyahu spoke, and what the prime minister subsequently said directly countered the president’s stand on the matter.  Needless to say, this is not being well received at the White House or the State Department.  Because Obama is bombing ISIS. And Obama also wants Israel to negotiate with the unity government that includes Hamas.

What we are seeing here is a serious difference of opinion between the two governments.   It was reflected in comments made by Jen Psaki, State Department spokesperson, yesterday:  “Certainly we see differences. We would not agree with that characterization.”


And indeed, we see this echoed by Obama today as well, in his statement prior to his meeting with Netanyahu.  Referring to Gaza, he said:

...ways have to be found to “change the status quo” so that Israelis are safe in their homes and schools and “also so you don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well.”

He indicated that he wants to extensively discuss the situation in Gaza, and finding a more sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.

This is exceedingly bothersome.  No, infuriating.  There is a moral equivalency reflected in the president’s statement - between Israelis being threatened by rockets flying while they are in their schools and homes, and Palestinian Arab children being killed.  He choses not to perceive, or acknowledge, that if Israelis aren’t threatened with rockets flying, Palestinian Arab children, used as human shields by Hamas, will not be inadvertently killed as Israel takes on a necessary self-defense.  That is, he does not acknowledge that Hamas behavior generates this entire situation.

What is more, in speaking about a “sustainable peace,” Obama is making assumptions that are untenable and unreasonable.  How does Israel forge a “sustainable peace” with an entity that is sworn to destroy it?  Why should anyone assume that such a “peace” would bring the end of genocidal intentions Hamas has towards Jews?  And what right does the president have to ask us to try to reach such a “peace,” which would clearly entail suicidal concessions on our part?


Ben Shapiro had it exactly right:  Obama’s “There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force…” does not apply to Israel’s confrontation with Hamas.


But the really big bone of contention here – the one with the heaviest implications - is with regard to Iran and ISIS.  There have various suggestions, various rumors, about the US going easier on Iran in return for help in taking on ISIS.

Said Netanyahu, going into his meeting with the president:

“Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power. And I firmly hope under your leadership that would not happen.”

Yet there are signs that this may be happening.  In coming days, I will be tracking this.  Netanyahu is correct that concern about the threat of a nuclear Iran trumps the other concerns in this area, as considerable as they are.


The Netanyahu – Obama meeting has not ended, as I prepare to put this out.  When it does, I doubt there will be much of import announced that hasn’t already been touched upon here.  If there is, I will, of course, pick up on it in future postings.

What is interesting here is that reports indicate that the body language of the two leaders reflects a more relaxed atmosphere than has been the case before.

US President Barack Obama, right, speaks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a bilateral meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, October 1, 2014. photo credit: AFP/ Jim WATSON)

Credit: AFP/Jim Watson

© 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, October 1, 2014 at 03:14PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 29, 2014: UN Season

You will find that during this High Holiday season – and extending through Sukkot – my postings will be less frequent.  I hope that all who celebrated Rosh Hashana found it meaningful and joyful.
Besides being the High Holiday season, this is also the time of year when a new session of the UN General Assembly starts (hardly to be compared in one breath!).  This means – aren’t we lucky? – that various heads of state and assorted other persons address the GA. 
Last Wednesday (which was the eve of Rosh Hashana), President Obama spoke.  Ben Shapiro, a skilled and perceptive analyst – as well as a Harvard-trained lawyer – has written a piece on that speech that summarizes the important points neatly. 
Shapiro says Obama’s speech was “chock-full of moronic platitudes, internal contradictions, and morally disgusting sentiments.” He then proceeds to demonstrate this with considerable effectiveness.  I had hoped to cite extensively from this critique, but realize I must focus on other matters here.  And so I will simply call this to your attention, and suggest you read it:
His opening paragraph is not quite my style, but he is on the mark.
And then, sigh, there was the horrendous, and long-winded speech of Mahmoud Abbas before the General Assembly on Friday.  It was fraught with lies and accusations against Israel:
Most reprehensibly, he accuses Israel of having conducted a “war of genocide” against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
First speaking about the fact that three wars have been “waged by the racist occupying State in five years against Gaza...,” he then declares that (emphasis is mine):
“The difference today is that the scale of this genocidal crime is larger, and that the list of martyrs, especially children, is longer...
”And, the difference today is that the devastation caused by this recent aggression is unmatched in modern times...
”This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment, in a manner that makes it inconceivable that anyone today can claim that they did not realize the magnitude and horror of the crime.”
You can see the entire speech (if you have the stomach for it) plus commentary by IMRA director Dr. Aaron Lerner, here:
Abbas uses buzz words – genocide, martyrs, war crimes, occupation – without the remotest attention to factual reality. 
Of course there is no mention of Hamas – either Hamas’s aggression against Israel or its use of human shields - for he is thoroughly in bed with Hamas (about which more below). 
And his exaggeration is stupendous – e.g., “recent aggression unmatched in modern times,” when modern times are witness to Syria, the genuine genocide of Christians, and more.
Declaring that Israel “did not miss an opportunity to undermine the chance for peace,” Abbas says, “The occupation’s campaign specifically targeted the City of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, attempting to artificially alter the spirit, identity and character of the Holy City, focusing on Al-Aqsa Mosque.” 

This is of particular note because it is of a piece with the on-going theme I’ve been writing about  - the attempt by the Palestinian Arabs to undermine and delegitimize Israeli sovereignty, most especially in Jerusalem. (About this exceedingly worrisome situation, too, I will have more to say soon.)
When he refers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, he means the Temple Mount, which in Arabic is actually Haram al Sharif (often translated as Noble Sanctuary, which has a more generic meaning).  What he has done is attempt to conflate the Mosque with the entire Mount, as if it has no other history or significance.
Of particular note is this comment by Abbas (emphasis added):
”I affirm in front of you that the Palestinian people hold steadfast to their legitimate right to defend themselves against the Israeli war machine and to their legitimate right to resist this colonial, racist Israeli occupation.”

He is claiming the right to be violent.  “Resistance” is a code word for jihad and terrorism.
Threats of violence aside, with this speech, Abbas has begun the game of attempting to secure international backing – via the UN - for a Palestinian state, while delegitimizing Israel.  He says (emphasis added):
“And now, where do we go from here?

“...It is impossible, and I repeat - it is impossible - to return to the cycle of negotiations that failed to deal with the substance of the matter and the fundamental question...
There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian Territory occupied in the 1967 war. And, there is no value in negotiations which are not linked to a firm timetable for the implementation of this goal.

“The time has come to end this settlement occupation...
”During the past two weeks, Palestine and the Arab Group undertook intensive contacts with the various regional groups in the United Nations to prepare for the introduction of a draft resolution to be adopted by the United Nations Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to push forward the efforts to achieve peace...

“This endeavor aspires to correct the deficiency of the previous efforts to achieve peace by affirming the goal of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the two-State solution, of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, over the entire territory occupied in 1967, alongside the State of Israel and reaching a just and agreed upon solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees on the basis of resolution 194, with a specific timeframe for the implementation of these objectives as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative. This will be linked to the immediate resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel to demarcate the borders, reach a detailed and comprehensive agreement and draft a peace treaty between them.”

This venture is pie-in-the sky.  And I will enumerate here the most basic reasons why:
[] The United States has already called Abbas’s speech “unconstructive,” “provocative,” and “disappointing.”  The American position is that final borders must be resolved via negotiations.  The US almost certainly will veto what Abbas proposes.
[] The United Nations, including the Security Council, cannot create states.  It is not in the hands of the SC to declare a Palestinian State.
[] There is no “1967 border” (it was a temporary armistice line) and no legal justification for the claim that everything to the east of that line “belongs” to a Palestinian state.  In point of fact, SC Resolution 242 does NOT require Israel to return to that line, as it would not provide a secure border; it instead calls for the final border to be determined via negotiations.  What is more, SC Resolution 242 does not MENTION a Palestinian state or a Palestinian people at all.
[]  Resolution 194, to which Abbas refers, does NOT, as the Palestinian Arabs claim ad infinitum, mandate a “right of return.”  It was a resolution of the General Assembly, which can only make non-binding recommendations, and, in fact, put forth a variety of possible ways to resolve the situation, including settlement in a third country.
[] Abbas made no mention of this, but the PLO is in theory committed to the terms of the Oslo Accords, signed with Israel.  The Palestinian Authority, which was supposed to be a temporary administrative entity only, was actually created by the Accords.  Those Accords call for a final status agreement to be achieved VIA NEGOTIATIONS.  Abbas, by this action, is abrogating the Oslo Accords.   Nowhere in the Accords is there any statement that defines all of the land beyond the armistice line as “belonging” to the Palestinian Arabs. That is clear on the face of the matter, as Area C was assigned to Israel fully with regard to civil and military control. It does not spell out a “state” as the necessary conclusion of a final status agreement and it does not preclude building by Israel in area C.  
The entire matter of Israel not being an “occupier” is at the core of the Legal Grounds Campaign.  I will come back to this again and again, but here simply note that there is significant legal backing for this position.  Judea and Samaria, at most, are unclaimed Mandate land.  Israel cannot be termed an occupier of this land, which was given to her under international law in the first place.
I note here that Abbas ends by saying that after the UN forces terms on Israel, the Palestinian State and Israel will immediately go to negotiations to settle final matters. What he is doing here is obvious: he knows the PA is supposed to negotiate terms, and, wary of being called on this, has proposed these “negotiations” after the fact.
Abbas spoke at the UN on Friday.  The very day before - after two days of negotiations in Cairo - Fatah and Hamas had announced that they had come to terms for a final agreement on a unity government, under Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.  That unity government will be taking charge in Gaza.
There are serious questions as to how long this will last, but right now this deal serves them both – it makes Abbas a “player” in what goes on in Gaza, and it allows reconstruction materials and funds to come into Gaza, which suits Hamas and which would not happen in the same way were Hamas alone in charge.  But this might be more realistically viewed as a temporary fiction, destined to ultimately fall apart.
Right now it is of no comfort that PA security forces will join with Hamas forces in Gaza to oversee the Gaza crossings.
There is no question in my mind about the fact that the tone Abbas assumed at the UN reflects this brand new unity reconciliation: he played down negotiations, defended the right to “resist,” focused heavily on Israeli “crimes” in Gaza, etc.  Not only is he factoring in Hamas positions, he certainly knows that there will be no negotiations with Israel as long as Hamas is a participant in the unity government.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is in New York.  He had a very positive meeting with of Indian Prime Minister Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night, to discuss Iran and strengthening of bilateral ties.  Earlier yesterday, he lunched with Sec. of State Kerry, at which time. according to news reports, he lashed out regarding Abbas. And he has yet to meet with Obama. 
But his primary purpose in coming was to address the UN General Assembly and, presumably, to counter the slanders of Abbas.  This he did early afternoon NY time ( evening Israeli time) – just a short while ago as I write.  He had promoted this talk as one that would be a “razor sharp” retort. And so I held off sending out this post until after he spoke.  But for me the razor was more than a bit dull.
I would not say that Netanyahu’s speech was without good points. They were there, and they make Israel’s case. But they are points we’ve heard from him before:
The possibility of peace is at risk because of militant Islam, whose goal is to dominate the world.  This cancer must be eradicated in all its forms.  But it seems that countries that support hitting ISIS oppose Israel’s attacks on Hamas – even though at bottom Hamas and ISIS are one and the same in their radical Islamic vision.
One place where the militant Islamic dream may be realized is Iran, which will be enormously more dangerous if it has nuclear weapons.  If you wouldn’t let ISIS have such weapons, you cannot let Iran have them either.  Iran’s nuclear capability must be fully dismantled.  To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.
Every time militant Islam succeeds, militants everywhere are emboldened.  Israel’s fight against Hamas is not just for Israel, it is the world’s fight.
Netanyahu then described the propaganda war that Israel had to fight as it was battling Hamas rockets.  In the course of doing this, clearly he was answering the charges of Abbas, but unfortunately was not explicit in saying so. What he did say:
The reality is that Gazan citizens were inadvertently and regrettably being killed because of Hamas’s use of human shields.  Israel sought to minimize the deaths – warning civilians with notices, etc.
“No other country has ever gone to greater lengths to protect civilians of its enemy.  The IDF upheld the highest moral standards of any army in the world.  It deserves admiration, not condemnation.”
What Hamas did was a war crime.  And Abbas, as the head of the unity government, bears responsibility.
He turned then to accusations leveled at the UN Human Rights Council, which – in deciding to investigate Israel and give Hamas a free pass – has things upside down.  The Council has given a clear message to terrorist regimes – use human shields, it works.
What the Council is doing is a manifestation of the return of anti-Semitism that we are now seeing. 
Abbas at the podium accused Israel although he himself called for a Judenrein Palestine. “In what moral universe is warning civilians to get out of the way considered genocide?”
So far, OK, if unexceptional.  Some good lines, some good points.
But then... then he began to talk about “historic opportunity.”  We’ve heard this before as well: the new recognition of leading Arab states that they have concerns in common with Israel.  This has the potential for partnership.  These Arab states may help facilitate an Israel-Palestinian peace.
An Israeli-Palestinian peace?  The old template for peace must be updated to allow for Arab participation.
He is willing to make an historic compromise for peace.  Some territorial concession would be necessary. But what is important are “rock solid security arrangements.”  Withdrawal from Lebanon and from Gaza led to terrorist entities in these places.  We cannot allow ISIS into Judea and Samaria.
In any peace agreement, Israel has to be able to defend itself by itself.
This, I would presume, is Netanyahu’s way of countering Abbas’s proposal regarding “Palestine” to the 1967 line.  Such a formulation would not provide the strategic depth that is necessary for Israeli self-defense.  But he does not actually say this.
For me, this is insufficient, a cop-out.
What I had hoped to hear was a crystal clear statement that a Fatah that is joined with Hamas cannot be considered a partner for peace. That there can be no talk of negotiations, as fervently as Israel hopes for peace, until Fatah’s leaders renounce violence. As it is, just days ago, Abbas, right on the UN dais, defended Fatah’s right to violent resistance.  Before there can be peace, Fatah must demonstrate a genuine desire for it.  And this is something we’ve yet to see.
Did Netanyahu – always eager to please – feel the need to mention a willingness to compromise for peace because Abbas had accused Israel of undermining peace?  Truly do I hope that is not the case. 
You can see his entire speech here:
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. 
If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.



Posted on Monday, September 29, 2014 at 04:44PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 23, 2014: Rosh Hashana Approaches

I want to begin by wishing blessings for the New Year to all my readers who observe Rosh Hashana: The blessings of inner peace, spiritual growth, good health, love and companionship, and secure livelihood.
Please, after you pray for yourselves, pray for the Jewish People and the State of Israel with special intensity.  May the Almighty give us strength for the hard times, the wisdom to make the right decisions, and, ultimately, security and peace.  May He hold us in His hands.

Rosh Hashana begins Wednesday at sundown. 
I put aside other news I had wanted to feature, to report on this first:
Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel (Photo: Shaul Golan)

Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel
Eyal, Gilad and Naftali are gone.  We cannot bring them back. But now justice has been done:
The two men from the Hevron area - Marwan Kawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisha - who had abducted and then murdered them were located early this morning.  In the course of an attempt to arrest them, a gun fight ensued, and they were killed.
It was the Shin Bet that located their hideout.  Hamas suspects who were believed to be sheltering them had been arrested and questioned.  The operation itself was carried out by the IDF and, Yamam, a special unit of the Border Police.
Other members of the Kawasmeh family have been arrested for involvement in the kidnapping/murder.  The mastermind, Mahmoud Kawasmeh, had been released in the Shalit prisoner exchange (a very clear reason to NEVER release a terrorist in an exchange again).  Operating from Gaza, he proceeded with Hamas instructions and cash; he is still at large.
With a few exceptions, even if it takes time, in the end we get the perpetrators of heinous crimes against innocent Israelis.  Here, it has brought a sense of relief.  That this has happened immediately before the new year is being taken in some quarters as a sign, please God, that we may see better times in the new year.
Paula Stern, writing as “a soldier’s mother,” commented on this. She says it so beautifully that I wanted to share (emphasis added):
There is no more we can do for the three boys, other than to hold on to the love and the unity that in their deaths was born. But in their memory, our government can pledge that no one will ever think Jewish blood is cheap again. We promised we would hunt them down...and we did. For this ending, there is a new beginning - a new year.

”May the memory of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali always be blessed; may their families know no more sorrow, and more, may they know our gratitude. In their grace, with their faith, they led us through what was, without question, the worst moments of their lives. May they go from strength to strength with our love.”
Now Israel must – absolutely must! - respond with a similar degree of determination in dealing with another sort of problem being generated by Palestinian Arabs.  This is a critical situation and one that I am eager to bring to your attention:
Since the summer we are seeing increased Arab violence and vandalism in the eastern parts of Jerusalem. 

Credit: Reuters
In the main, the perpetrators are Arabs with Jerusalem residency cards, not citizens of Israel. (Note: these Arabs have the opportunity to acquire citizenship, but prefer the residency papers because they provide many of the same perks – health care, etc. - but are more “politically correct” from their perspective than Israeli citizenship.)
There have always been two hotspots with regard to this situation. 
One – at the very heart of what this is all about – is Har Habayit, the Temple Mount.  You’ve heard it from me, and I will come back to it again and again:  Jews are not allowed to pray on the Mount even though it is the holiest site in Judaism, because this causes Arabs who are up there to riot.  Perish the thought that they should riot.  But what is happening now is that Jews are being increasingly harassed on the Mount by Arabs.
I shared this video in the spring, showing the obscene harassment of children by Arabs on the Mount:
There have been many other incidents since then.
The other hotspot is the cemetery on Har HaZeitim, the Mount of Olives. This is the oldest and largest Jewish cemetery in the world.  An integral part of our ancient heritage in the land, with 150,000 graves, it is still in use.
File:Jerusalem Mount of Olives BW 2010-09-20 07-57-31.JPG
Credit: Berthold Werner
Here, we are dealing with two problems.  One is the desecration of graves and the other is threats upon those attending funerals on the Mount or visiting graves:  Arabs throw “stones” that are sometimes chunks of concrete or almost boulders – creating a serious risk.
There has been much done in recent years to improve the situation in the cemetery but of late the attacks have grown worse.  Just months ago Tova Richler, an American, missed her own father’s funeral on Har HaZeitim because she was so traumatized by an attack upon her as she was on the road adjacent to the cemetery that she could not continue.
And then there’s more: Rioting and rock-throwing, Molotov cocktails, attacks and vandalism in and near largely Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem. 
In Wadi Joz, an Israeli family was besieged by Arabs throwing rocks at their van when they stopped at a traffic light; three members of the family were hurt.
In Shufat, enormous vandalism has taken place.  The Light Rail goes through Shufat and I’m reading – depending on the source – that some 30% to 50% of the Rail cars are out of commission because of this vandalism. This is mind-boggling.
Last week, a bus carrying Jewish children from the Ma’aleh HaZeitim neighborhood (which is on the Mount of Olives and adjacent to Arab villages) was attacked by masked Arabs throwing stones.
I could continue with further examples, but it is not necessary.  Everyone reading this should be thoroughly outraged by now.
The question is what will be done about this.  For it is not only (only??) a matter of risk to Jews in Jerusalem, there is the over-riding issue of Israeli sovereignty in all of Jerusalem.
If we lose control of parts of the city, we lose control of the sovereignty of those areas. And this is precisely what is intended.  Make no mistake about it.
What has been done to date is – on the very face of it – sorely insufficient.  Some hundreds of Arabs have been arrested. But I have it on very good authority that there is a revolving door and many are released without being prosecuted.
We cannot afford to operate out of fear, and yet this is what seems to be happening: Fear that if we send in the police in sufficient numbers to control the rock-throwers with sufficient force, somehow something will go wrong and some Arab will be severely injured or killed. Then there will be more rioting. Or the world will carry on about how we “treat” the Arabs.  The US or the EU will demand an “inquiry,” and reprimand us.
On his Facebook page Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has now said:
“I want to qualify this decisively: a heavy and uncompromising hand should be applied against all those who employ violence of any kind...”
Don’t tell us, show us.  It is time for action at a municipal and a national level on this.  Without fear of repercussions, with firm belief in our rights in our land.
My take, my friends, is that the mindset in our government that promotes stepping softly here is precisely the same mindset that promotes stepping softly with Hamas in Gaza. 
I will be returning to this.
Please see a piece by David Weinberg on this issue:
And then one by Nadav Shragai:
Both writers allude to what is happening as an intifada.  But each has a different perspective.
Shragai says that this is not spontaneous, but organized (emphasis added):

In each of the villages [Arab neighborhoods] of east Jerusalem, there is at least one dominant player on the ground. In A-Tor, it's Fatah. In Issawiya‎, it's the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In Jabal Mukaber, it's Hamas. In the Shuafat refugee camp, both Fatah and Hamas are in charge. Somebody -- and it is still unclear who -- is subsidizing the thousands of packs of fireworks that are being launched at a dizzying pace by Palestinians in Jerusalem.

Each bundle of fireworks, which costs hundreds of shekels, isn't being paid for by the rioters themselves. The rioters' legal fees are covered by the Palestinian Authority. Hamas websites are calling this phenomenon by its real name: "the third intifada." There are almost no lone wolves. The countless disturbances are being carried out in groups.”

All the more reason, then, for a strong hand.  This truly is a battle for Jerusalem.


Weinberg further says (emphasis added):
A critical element for regaining control of the entire city has to be enforcement of civic law. Somehow, in the Arab neighborhoods of the city, building codes and noise pollution bylaws don't apply. The Arab residents know how to take national insurance payments from the government of Israel and to enjoy excellent health care privileges in the city's clinics and hospitals, but they know nothing of municipal taxes, building permits, or yielding to stop signs.

“This has to change. Part of regaining security control of the city is disciplining the Arab public to be law-abiding residents in all spheres.

“The bottom line is that to hold on to a united Jerusalem, Israel must act forcefully to restore its full and active jurisdiction in all parts of the holy city. It must wield a big baton against Arab insurgents that are threatening the stability of the city. And there is no better time to act than now.”


Weinberg ends by citing Isaiah 61:
"For the sake of Zion I will not hold my peace, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still. … I will set watchman on the walls of Jerusalem all day or night. ... Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way of the people; bank up, build up the highway, clear the stones; lift up a standard for the people."

Credit: KeepJerusalem

© 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, September 23, 2014 at 05:47PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

September 21, 2014: Duplicity

The news appeared recently in several media sources, that major think tanks in Washington DC are being funded by foreign governments.  This is huge.  But you may have missed it.

It was the NYTimes that broke the story, and I quote here (emphasis added):

“The agreement signed last year by the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs was explicit: For $5 million, Norway’s partner in Washington would push top officials at the White House, at the Treasury Department and in Congress to double spending on a United States foreign aid program.

“But the recipient of the cash was not one of the many Beltway lobbying firms that work every year on behalf of foreign governments.

“It was the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit research organization, or think tank, one of many such groups in Washington that lawmakers, government officials and the news media have long relied on to provide independent policy analysis and scholarship.

More than a dozen prominent Washington research groups have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments in recent years while pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

“The money is increasingly transforming the once-staid think-tank world into a muscular arm of foreign governments’ lobbying in Washington. And it has set off troubling questions about intellectual freedom: Some scholars say they have been pressured to reach conclusions friendly to the government financing the research.

The think tanks do not disclose the terms of the agreements they have reached with foreign governments. And they have not registered with the United States government as representatives of the donor countries, an omission that appears, in some cases, to be a violation of federal law, according to several legal specialists who examined the agreements at the request of The Times.

“As a result, policy makers who rely on think tanks are often unaware of the role of foreign governments in funding the research.

“Joseph Sandler, a lawyer and expert on the statute that governs Americans lobbying for foreign governments, said the arrangements between the countries and think tanks ‘opened a whole new window into an aspect of the influence-buying in Washington that has not previously been exposed.’

“’It is particularly egregious because with a law firm or lobbying firm, you expect them to be an advocate,’ Mr. Sandler added. ‘Think tanks have this patina of academic neutrality and objectivity, and that is being compromised.’

The arrangements involve Washington’s most influential think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the Atlantic Council. Each is a major recipient of overseas funds, producing policy papers, hosting forums and organizing private briefings for senior United States government officials that typically align with the foreign governments’ agendas.”


This is a serious matter on several counts and should be of concern to every American citizen for a host of reasons, including the fact that these think tanks may be breaking the law but, to date, have not been prosecuted.

But it is of very specific concern to those who support Israel.  For it has now been exposed that the Brookings Institution signed a four year agreement last year with Qatar that will provide Brookings with $14.8 million.

Qatar is pro-Muslim Brotherhood.  As Daniel Pipes has written, it also "funneled hundreds of millions to Hamas-led Gaza and encouraged its rocket and tunnel assault on Israel."

And Brookings?  This is “where Martin Indyk serves as vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program. Indyk worked for Secretary of State John Kerry from July 2013 to June 2014 as special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian could Indyk be expected to act in a neutral way?” (Emphasis added)

You may remember, when Israeli-PA negotiations fell apart, Indyk said it was Israel’s fault.

That Indyk is guilty of duplicity barely touches the surface of what might be said about him.   His career should be totally down the tubes, but – given Washington DC realities – it won’t be. 


Then, I want to share a level-headed and informed assessment of Mahmoud Abbas’s recent threats. You’ve heard much of this from me, but better still to hear it from an international lawyer.

Alan Baker - director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and director of the International Action Division of the Legal Forum for Israel - says, in his piece - “Is Abbas Serious?” - that (emphasis added):

“The Palestinian Authority leadership’s fixation on ‘internationalizing the conflict’ by ‘going back to the UN,’ joining various international conventions and taking Israeli political and military leaders to the International Criminal Court sounds dramatic and even threatening. But it involves a large degree of self-delusion...

“The latest ploy by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for frightening the Israelis – going to the UN Security Council with a resolution demanding withdrawal by Israel from ‘Palestinian territory’ to ‘the 1967 borders’ within three years and threatening to go to the International Criminal Court if it isn’t passed – would appear to be no less misguided legally, no less self-deluding and fraught with non-sequiturs than previous abortive Palestinian UN forays.

“Despite all the annual politically generated UN resolutions, which do nothing more than represent the political opinions of the states voting for them, the territories of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip have never legally or historically been declared to be ‘Palestinian.’ There has never been a sovereign Palestinian state, and no treaty, agreement, or binding resolution has ever determined that the territories belong to the Palestinians.
“To the contrary, even the Palestinians themselves agreed in the 1993-1995 Oslo Accords, guaranteed by the US, the EU, Russia, Norway, Egypt and Jordan and endorsed by the UN, that the permanent status of the territories would be determined in negotiations. To determine in advance that these territories are Palestinian is to prejudge an agreed-upon negotiating issue.
“Similarly, there is no such thing as the ‘1967 borders.’ The parties have agreed to negotiate ‘secure and recognized boundaries,’ as demanded by UN Security Council Resolution 242, and the question of ‘borders’ is also an agreed negotiating issue pursuant to the Oslo Accords...
“Moreover, Abbas’s ostensibly serious ammunition – his threat to go to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and have Israeli leaders and military officers tried for war crimes in the event that his Security Council ploy fails – appears almost certain to backfire.
“Even if the ICC prosecutor, as she has promised, accepts a Palestinian request for standing in the Court...that, in and of itself, cannot guarantee that Abbas and his associates will be able to advance any serious criminal claims against Israeli political or military leaders.
“This is because of the Court’s complex evidentiary rules, specifically the rule of ‘complementarity,’ which prevents the Court’s exercising its jurisdiction if the case in question is already subject to investigation and potential juridical process by the nation state of the accused...Thus it is highly unlikely that any such attempt to bring Israeli leaders to trial would succeed.
“Even more noteworthy is the likelihood that the Palestinian leadership, in giving the Court jurisdiction over the territories, including the Gaza Strip, would be placing itself – as well as senior Hamas commanders and tacticians – at the mercy of anyone who chooses to initiate claims against them for serious war crimes and terrorism.”


Credit: inthelastdays

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Hasan Khreisha, the second-deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament, has said that Abbas is holding off on joining the ICC in order to press charges against Israel.  This, in spite of encouragement from several Palestinian Arab parties for him to do so.

Says Khriesa, this is because Abbas prefers to push forward a bid for new peace talks. Sounds nice. But my guess is that Abbas knows exactly what Alan Baker has written: that attempts to have Israelis prosecuted in the ICC are likely to fail. So he talks the talk and then balks at moving ahead.  The Abbas M.O.


”Israel believes Syria has retained caches of combat-ready chemical weapons after giving up raw materials used to produce such munitions under pressure from foreign powers, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday.

”Summarizing Israeli intelligence estimates that were previously not disclosed to avoid undermining the Syrians' surrender of their declared chemical arsenal, the official said they had kept some missile warheads, air-dropped bombs and rocket-propelled grenades primed with toxins like sarin.

"’There is, to my mind, still in the hands of Syria a significant residual capability ... that could be used in certain circumstances and could be potentially very serious,’ the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.”

Surprising?  Not at all. It would have been more surprising if a vicious and duplicitous Assad really had surrendered everything.  There are numerous lessons to be learned here.
There is little concern here in Israel that Assad would use such weapons against us because of Israeli deterrence power:  Said one Israeli official, this would not be a game changer for Assad, it would be a “game-ender.”  He is more likely to use these chemicals in his civil war.
But there is concern about what would happen if radical rebels were to get their hands on this material.

No end of subjects to write about.  Yet my time is limited in these days leading up to Rosh Hashana.  I hope to do one more posting before the holiday.  Some of the subjects that may merit serious attention:

[] We have a very serious problem with increasing Arab violence here in Jerusalem.  I want to emphasize the import of this and would like to look at the issue in some detail. This is with regard to the possibility of a third intifada. But even more so, with regard to the absolute need for our government – state and municipal – to be tough if we are serious about our own sovereignty in the land.  This is not something to be taken lightly.  The Arabs, for the most part with Jerusalem residency, must be  handled with with a very strong hand.

[] There is much political turmoil in Israel right now, including unrest within Likud.  Gideon Sa’ar – who headed the Ministry of Interior - has resigned from the government, and this was a political bombshell. There is much speculation as to where he is going.  Where Likud is going. Where Netanyahu is going. And whether Naftali Bennett – head of Habyit Hayehudi - can succeed in ways he hopes to.  There is unrest inside of his party as well.

[] There is also much political turmoil within the Palestinian Arab world, with tensions growing between Fatah and Hamas.

[] And...on Tuesday indirect ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas are to begin in Cairo.


© 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, September 21, 2014 at 01:38PM by Registered CommenterArlene in , , , , | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint