Current Postings

February 15, 2016: Confusion? And Far Worse

One great thing Israel has going for her is the political cartoon work of Ya’akov Kirschen, who has been doing “Dry Bones” for over 40 years now.   At present, he is developing an online Bones Academy to train an army of cartoonists in the art of Computer Based Messaging - using cartoons to bring the news to a public that is being misled by a biased anti Israel media. 

With on-line training with the Academy, you will learn:
    [] formats, tactics and strategies
    [] how to turn issues into cartoons
    [] how to create punchlines

Interested? Want to help?  See:


A positive sign of changing times:

Last Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi hosted 36 American Jewish leaders, representing a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in Cairo. A major focus of their two-hour discussion was Egypt’s close security cooperation with Israel.  The participants in the meeting are not talking about the content of the discussion, but have described Sissi’s statements as “positive.”  (See following)

Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo on February 11, 2016 (Courtesy)



According to one report of the meeting, al-Sisi described Netanyahu as:
"a leader who possesses great powers, which assist him not only to lead his country, but can also advance the region and the entire world."

The amazing quote was provided Sunday by Zvika Klein, a reporter for Makor Rishon, on his Twitter feed.

Asked by a commenter if the quote is an authentic one, Klein replied in the positive.


Credit: ndtv


Addressing the same Conference of Presidents, Prime Minister Netanyahu, seeking more openness from Arab countries with regard to Israel, said:

“Major Arab countries are changing their view of Israel … they don’t see Israel anymore as their enemy, but they see Israel as their ally, especially in the battle against militant Islam with its two fountainheads.  Now, this is something that is forging new ties, many of them discreet, some of them open. And I think there too we can expect and should expect and should ask to see a change.”

The prime minister then addressed changes in Israel’s relationship with non-Arab countries as well (emphasis added):

“On the one hand, there was an ongoing multinational hostility toward Israel at the UN, ICC, and EU, together with what he termed an ‘obsession’ with Israel in international forums.
“On the other hand, he said, countries like China, India, Russia and Japan were warming their ties to Israel because of their concern with militant Islam and the terrorism it produces and to benefit from Israeli operational experience and intelligence in fighting terror as well as Israeli technologies, such as cyber security, improved water management and desalination, agriculture and biotechnology. ‘We need these countries who are coming to us to change their votes in international forums,’ he said.”

The message here is that, while things seem very grim sometimes, there is hope on the horizon as well, for the whole dynamic of international relations is changing.  And Israel is at the forefront of so much that is positive.


This is good news in my estimation, as well (emphasis added):

“Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) on Thursday during a visit to Switzerland told reporters that the rapprochement talks with Turkey are unlikely to succeed, because Ankara is refusing to address Israel’s demand that it stop supporting the Hamas terrorist organization.

“Speaking even as a new round of normalization talks began in Geneva on Thursday, Ya’alon said, ‘I’m not sure that we’ll reach an agreement.’

’The Turks need to agree to our conditions so that we can get over the obstacles and reach a political agreement,’ he said. ‘Turkey is hosting senior Hamas officials in Istanbul, and we are not ready to accept that.  The Turks support Hamas generally through the Muslim Brotherhood and that must be discussed.’”

It’s good news whenever we stand strong for ourselves.  May it continue here.  There are commentators who believe Turkey is very hungry for an agreement with Israel because so many of its other relationships have soured.  We need to continue to watch this...


And here’s something to make all Israelis proud:  A social experiment that showed Israeli kindness and integrity:

“A social experiment conducted in Israel recently showed Israelis unanimously helping a man who was posing as blind and appearing to have mistaken a large shekel bill for a small one.

“A video of the experiment, posted on Facebook by pro-Israel group StandWithUs, shows the man posing as a blind student asking strangers to break a 20-shekel bill, which was actually a 100 shekel note. In the footage, every single person he stopped on the street — including some who approached to ask if he needed help — pointed out that the bill he was holding was, in fact, a 100 shekel bill. One man even gave him an additional 20 shekels.”



But oh, it’s not all good news, folks.  In many respects it’s actually pretty dire.  And yes, while there is an unending supply of confusion, there is also a great deal that is maliced, rather than confused.

There are two major bases I want to touch upon today – subjects that I believe you should be aware of.

The first deals with US Customs regulations.  Recently, as many of you may be aware, US Customs ostensibly reissued guidelines that were said to have been in effect since 1995.  The guidelines were with regard to “country of origin marking requirements for goods that are manufactured in the West Bank” (that is, Judea and Samaria):

“...goods produced in the West Bank...shall be marked as originating from ‘West Bank’... It is not acceptable to mark the aforementioned goods with the words ‘Israel,’ ‘Made in Israel,’ ‘Occupied Territories-Israel,’ or any variation thereof..”  

There was broad scale assurance that this was merely a reissuing of the same guidelines that were released in 1995; this was the claim of State Department spokesman Mark Toner on January 23.  And there was an assessment by many that it was less destructive than the EU guidelines, as it did not distinguish between goods manufactured by Jews and Arabs in the “West Bank” (that is, in Judea and Samaria).

Even if this were the case, there were questions to be asked: Why would a re-issue of the guidelines be necessary, rather than simply a decision to enforce those guidelines that presumably had been frequently ignored. And how does this decision to re-issue dovetail with the political climate generated by the EU decision on labeling?


As many of you may also be aware, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), pictured, has introduced S. 2474, the Fair Treatment for Israel in Product Labeling Act, which would rescind the Obama Administration's recent policy directive ‚Äčand permit the use of the terms “Israel,” “Product of Israel,” or “Made in Israel,” as additional country-of-origin markings for products made in the Judea and Samaria.  


Credit: thepoliticus
Both Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) have co-sponsored this bill, which seeks to set right an insidiously problematic directive from the Obama administration.  And it should be supported!


But this is not exactly the end of the story.  My co-chair for Legal Grounds, Jeff Daube, and I, independently delving into the issue, have come to the conclusion that the original intent of the directive has been subverted. 

When the text of the original directive and an earlier explanatory guideline, issued on April 6, and March 28, 1995 respectively, are examined, what appears to be the case is that there was a very specific intent at work that differs considerably from what is broadly understood today:

The 1995 directive was issued at the time of the Oslo Accords, which had created a new interim self-governing Palestinian Council. The Accords granted this Council the authority to independently conduct certain of its affairs, including financial matters such as import and export.  Thus proper labeling of goods coming from the areas governed by the Palestinian Council was necessary.  The decision was made to label these products as from the “West Bank” rather than utilizing a term such as “Palestine,” which would have had political connotations.

Article II of the March 28 guideline stated that: it "applied only to goods produced in the areas for which arrangements are being established for Palestinian interim self-government." 
Article IV of the same guidelines stated "Jurisdiction of the [Palestinian] Council will cover West Bank and Gaza strip territory except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations:  Jerusalem, settlements, military locations, and Israelis.” This article explicitly excluded Israeli controlled areas.
Call the current claims by the State Department a hijacking of the original guidelines, or subversion, as you like. But they are dishonest at their core, serving the purposes of the Obama administration.
You might want to see this article on the subject:

And then we have an horrendous situation regarding Israel’s acquisition of F-35 aircraft.  Procurement by Israel of these aircraft has been hailed as providing a significant military edge to Israel.  And yet it turns out that there are enormous problems. 
Aaron Lerner of IMRA first sounded the alarm last Wednesday (emphasis added): 
“All F-35 aircraft operating across the world will have to update their mission data files and their Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS) profiles before and after every sortie.

“And they will do this by communicating with a computer located in the United States.

“The Americans are certainly smart enough to figure out ways to manipulate this arrangement in order to ground Israeli F-35s if the U.S. considers such action as serving vital American interests.”


Credit: popularmechanics
Israel placed its first order of 19 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in 2010.  The first two of these stealth, supersonic multi-role planes built by Lockheed Martin are due to arrive later this year, and the rest of that order is scheduled for delivery within two years.
Caroline Glick, in her column on Friday, tells us (emphasis added):

“Last October, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon asked US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to provide Israel with a new squadron of F-15s that Israel would outfit with its own electronics systems. Carter reportedly rejected that request as well as one for bunker buster bombs.

“Carter instead insisted that Israel use the supplemental aid to purchase more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, US-made missile defense systems, and the Osprey V-22 helicopter, which Ya’alon didn’t want.

The fact that the administration wants Israel to buy more F-35s instead of F-15s is alarming both for what it tells us about America’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge against Iran and for what it tells us about the F-35, which is set to become the IAF’s next generation combat fighter...

“By all accounts, the F-35 is an impressive next generation fighter. But at the same time, as Aaron Lerner from IMRA...noted this week, the F-35 suffers from one major weakness that arguably cancels out all of its advantages. That weakness is the F-35’s operational dependence on software laboratories and logistics support computers located in the US.

“As reported last November, ‘All F-35 aircraft operating across the world will have to update their mission data files and their Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS) profiles before and after every sortie, to ensure that on-board systems are programmed with the latest available operational data and that ALIS is kept permanently informed of each aircraft’s technical status and maintenance requirements.

“‘ALIS can, and has, prevented aircraft taking off because of an incomplete data file,’ the report revealed.

“This technical limitation on the F-35s constitutes a critical weakness from Israel’s perspective for two reasons. First, as the Defense-Aerospace article points out, the need to constantly update the ALIS in the US means that the F-35 must be connected to the Internet in order to work. All Internet connections are maintained via fiber optic underwater cables.

“Defense-Aerospace cited an article published last October in reporting that those cables are ‘surprisingly vulnerable’ to attack.

“According to Nicole Starosielski, a media expert from New York University, all Internet communications go through a mere 200 underwater cables that are ‘concentrated in very few areas. The cables end up getting funneled through these narrow pressure points all around the globe,’ she said.


“...the fear is that an ‘ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.’

Given the F-35’s dependence on the Internet, such an attack, while directed at the US itself, would also ground the IAF’s main combat fighter.

“The second reason the F-35’s continuous dependence on a US-based logistics system is a critical weakness is that it would be irresponsible of Israel to trust that the US will not abuse its power to undermine and block IAF operations.

“This brings us back to the Pentagon’s insistence that Israel purchase only F-35s and missile defense systems. By giving Israel no option other than purchasing more F-35s, which the Americans control – to the point of being able to ground – even after they are deployed by the IAF, and defensive systems jointly developed with the US and built in the US, the Americans are hollowing out Israel’s ability to operate independently.”


Glick notes that Israel is on the verge of finalizing $3 billion in arms deals with India.  Her proposal – which seems from my perspective one worthy of serious consideration – is that Netanyahu should end Israel’s military dependence on the US by offering Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi an opportunity to jointly develop a next generation fighter plane based on the Lavi.


A couple of explanatory notes:

Much of the military funding provided by the US to Israel must be funneled back to the US via the purchase of military equipment.  This generates a bind for Israel.

I picked up the following from a back issue of The Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs:

“Matti Peled, former Israeli major general and Knesset member [deceased 1995], told Zunes that he and most Israeli generals believe this aid is ‘little more than an American subsidy to U.S. arms manufacturers,’ considering that the majority of military aid to Israel is used to buy weapons from the U.S. Moreover, arms to Israel create more demand for weaponry in Arab states. According to Zunes, ‘the Israelis announced back in 1991 that they supported the idea of a freeze in Middle East arms transfers, yet it was the United States that rejected it.
This background clarifies Glick’s description of the US Secretary of Defense telling the Israeli Defense Minister what he should purchase with “supplemental funds.” 


As to the Lavi, which Glick referred to: it was a fighter plane being developed by Israel Aircraft Industries in the 1980s that was to be the mainstay of the Israeli air force. There was much controversy surrounding it because of the enormous cost to Israel, and the pressure being brought to bear by the US to discontinue it, as it competed with American jets in the export market. It was discontinued in 1987, to the great dismay of many – most notably Moshe Arens.  Two prototypes (one pictured below) were preserved. Following cancellation, Israel purchased 90 F-16s from the US.


It is possible to see now, in retrospect, how important it is for Israel to maintain military independence.  No one, back in 1987 could have anticipated the problems that would be generated by reliance on US military equipment.

The US and Israel have been signing military aid packages for 10 year periods, with the current one expiring in 2018.  Negotiations have been on-going for the arrangements that would go into effect after the expiration of the current package.  There is word, however, that Netanyahu is thinking of waiting until Obama’s predecessor comes in before finalizing the new deal.  The package being offered is generous but has some significant draw-backs.
So that you are up-to-date:
A post script from Aaron Lerner with regard to what he wrote the other day about the US computers controlling Israel’s F-35s, which I cited above. 
He said that there were those who were contacting him, “asserting that there is no problem as the IAF will be able to figure out a way to bypass the requirement of a USA interface before each take off.
“I checked with both a senior Israeli defense affairs reporter as well as one of the top Israeli experts on the IAF (who had written numerous books on the IAF and writes in both the popular press and in professional journals).

“They say that while in theory after investing many years in the effort it may be possible for a team to ‘crack’ the system that in the ‘best’ of circumstances any country that receives the F-35 will be subject to a USA ‘veto’ for years.
One final word on the issue here:
When Israel first considered purchase of F-35s in 2009, the IAF requested permission to install our own technology on the planes. The US refused.
The issues were not precisely the same as they are today – for example – Israel was concerned that the US would sell the F-35s with the same technology to enemy states. But yet...
I have not mentioned terrorist attacks for a bit, but do not imagine that this is because they have ceased (it should only be!).  Consider:
Yesterday, at the Damascus Gate, two Palestinian Arab terrorists opened fire with guns on Border Police officers.  One of the terrorists was a PA policeman. Both terrorists were killed; no Israelis were hurt.
Yesterday afternoon, a female terrorist attempted to stab a Border Police officer near the Machpela in Hevron; she was critically wounded before she could inflict damage.
Late on Shabbat, four Border Police were lightly wounded when terrorists rammed a car into them, at a junction near Ma’ale Adumim.
There is more, but you get the idea.
There is a feeling (I certainly feel it) that in certain quarters the usual culprits – US, EU, UN, etc. – seem to be coming at us with great vigor with regard to pushing us to negotiate for a “two-state solution.” Nut cases, one and all, but dangerous nutcases.  This subject requires a separate posting, with serious analysis, which will probably follow next.
See here a video of Gazelle Valley, Jerusalem’s new nature preserve in the heart of the city.
Following this video is another short one explaining how local residents fought development of the property the park was situated on, and helped to preserve it as a natural treasure.
And following this theme, I close with John Denver, singing ‘'”Sunshine on my shoulders.”
© 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, February 15, 2016 at 10:36AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 11, 2016: Confusion Abounds

And yet, the good stuff is with us as well.
It’s been a winter here in Jerusalem that has brought some bitter cold (by Jerusalem standards), and periods of heavy rain, interspersed with warm and sunny days.
Every year at this time,  I am pleasantly surprised when I am out and about and start to see blossoms open on the almond trees.  Not a profusion – one tree here, another there. But the sight of these blossoms brings a lifting of the spirit: spring is on the way, and it’s so very beautiful in Jerusalem.


Credit: Israelvision
In line with our increasingly close ties with India, we have this:
India is close to concluding a number of bilateral military deals and joint projects with Israel, collectively worth some $3 billion – these are expected to be finalized ahead of the first visit to Israel later this year of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's (pictured).

Credit: Ceasefire magazine
This is potentially big news:
“Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have destroyed the HIV virus using peptides containing multiple copies of the virus’ DNA.  Combined with existing HIV medications the peptides activate the cell's self-destruction mechanisms.  After two weeks there was no sign of the virus.  Human trials will commence in a few months.”,7340,L-4750903,00.html
A court decision that moves in the right direction:
Seventy Jahalin Bedouin families who are living in temporary houses illegally on land that is part of Ma’aleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, had petitioned the High Court for the right to remain were they were.  As reported by Regavim, the Court has ruled against them, saying that no building will be done there.  While the Bedouin claimed they were in Area B (controlled civilly by the PA), the Court ruled that they were in Israel-controlled Area C. 
The State has provided the Bedouin with free plots of land in Abu Dis, where they could build permanent homes; infrastructure and roads are already in place for them.  However, the Palestinian Authority has discouraged that move. 
Said a representative of Regavim:  “The Palestinian Authority is more concerned with its strategic hold on the area than with the welfare of the Bedouin.”
The confusion I speak of today refers not only to the larger world, which is in utter chaos in many places, but also to what’s going on here in Israel.  There is a definite lack of clarity with regard to policy.  Enough so to make one’s head spin.
I want to go back to the issue of release of prisoners’ bodies.  As I tried to make sense of the policy presumably embraced by Israel with regard to release of those bodies, I found myself mired in that confusion.  Until I sorted it out:
Bodies of terrorists who had lived in Israel proper – either with citizenship or Jerusalem residency papers – are under the jurisdiction of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who has a stringent approach to the matter and believes that withholding bodies from the families has a deterrent effect.  Bodies of terrorists who had lived in Judea and Samaria, in PA areas, are under the jurisdiction of the Civil Administration, which means Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, pictured, who has a more lenient policy on the matter. 
Ya’alon’s jurisdiction on the matter explains why the bodies of the three “Damascus Gate” terrorists who had been carrying concealed machine guns were released so quickly: they were from the Arab village of Kabatiya. 

Credit: CBC
So, we’ve got two different policies, which seems to me a bit nuts.   This is but one example of the confusion potentially created by the fact that Israeli law has not been applied to Judea and Samaria.
But there is more, which was not very acceptable from my perspective.  This week it was announced from Erdan’s office that arrangements had been made for the release of the 10 bodies still being withheld of terrorists who had lived in eastern Jerusalem.  These were the the terrorists whose families met the three Arab MKs.
What was distressing is that the MKs obviously petitioned Erdan’s office on behalf of the families, and convinced Erdan that those families were ready to abide by his requirements: a small family funeral at night to avoid massive turnouts and inciteful rioting.  Additionally, a monetary bond would have to be posted by the family, which would not be returned if the family did not abide by the rules.
Those rules set out by Erdan were good. The problem is that the three Arab MKs had been given credibility. That should not have happened when you consider their behavior when with the families - identifying with their Palestinian cause, standing in silence to honor those “martyrs” killed, etc. As Arutz 7 put it: “The MKs won.”
At first, releases – which are to be staggered - were set to begin the very next day, but this was delayed because of protests planned by Jerusalem Arabs.
Erdan has said that if one family fails to abide by the rules, additional bodies will not be released.
As to the three MKs, the Knesset Ethics Committee received a record 450 complaints about their behavior, including from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, and other members of the Knesset.  The Committee ruled for suspension – which means they cannot participate in the Knesset except to vote. MKs Hanin Zoabi and Basel Ghattas were suspended for a period of four months, while MK Jamal Zahalka – whose record of similar previous actions is less problematic - was suspended for two months.
MK Avigdor Lieberman (head, Yisrael Beitenu), pictured below, who sits in the opposition, has made some “off the wall” comments over time, but is making sense to me of late.  On this issue, he said:
“Rather than impose on them the maximum penalty, suspending them from the Knesset sessions for six months and garnishing their wages, and thus really discouraging such actions, the ethics committee has turned the case into a joke by deciding on a punishment that is not serious...”

Credit: aftonbladet
There is still the issue of whether the three MKs broke the law, which is being investigated by the attorney-general. 
And Netanyahu – with backing of the coalition - is promoting legislation that would be added to Basic Law, providing for the long term suspension or even expulsion of an MK, for "behavior inappropriate to their position as a member of the Knesset."  Suspension or expulsion would require a vote of a super-majority of 90 members of the Knesset.
Those on the left are objecting to this, with Tzipi Livni, for example, saying that this will “crumble democracy.” The fear is that this legislation would be used against the political opposition. 
I see it precisely the other way around.  It is a perversion of democracy, it seems to me, that Haneen Zoabi still sits in our Knesset.  In 2014, she wrote in a Hamas- affiliated news site that:
“We must abandon our own deadly trinity – and instead of security coordination, declare popular resistance; instead of negotiating with ‘Israel,’ besiege it; and instead of splitting, unite [Fatah and Hamas].”
Note the “we.”  She identifies as Hamas.  So did she identify with anti-Israeli radicals and terrorists when she rode on the Mavi Marmara.
And Basel Ghattas? 
According to Palestinian Media Watch, he said:
"The day Arab MPs abstain from visiting Martyrs' (Shahids) families who have lost their precious sons in the turmoil of the struggle against the oppressive occupation - they did not go to kill or attempt to kill for criminal reasons or illegally -  the day we abstain from visiting Martyrs' families, we will have to vacate our [parliamentary] chairs and leave the keys at home."
We make a laughing stock of ourselves when, in our desire to show our “inclusiveness,” we balk at finding a way to remove Zoabi, and Ghattas, and others like them, from the Knesset.
After chaos ensued yesterday at a Knesset session about this legislation, Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), head of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, vowed that he would work to remove MKs who support terrorism from the Knesset, one by one.
A man who takes pride in fostering what we should be, without fear of international criticism of our being “anti-democratic or “anti-Arab.”     

Nissan Slomiansky
Credit: Israelnationalnews
Another issue that is looming large in public consciousness, and causing no small amount of confusion and angst, is that of Hamas tunnels:
In the last war with Hamas in Gaza, in 2014, we destroyed over 30 tunnels that had been dug under Israel, having crossed the line from Gaza.  One of those tunnels is seen here:

Credit: Times of Israel/Mitch Ginsburg
Hamas also had an enormous network of tunnels inside of Gaza, used for storing weaponry, ready hiding from Israeli troops, ambushing those troops, and more. Some of these tunnels were damaged in battle, but by no stretch of the imagination was the network destroyed.
We knew that Hamas would get to work immediately after the war, repairing destroyed tunnels and constructing still more.  Heavy equipment has been sighted doing excavation on the Gaza side of the border (where a new road has been built very close to the border). 
There have been several “work accidents” of late, with 11 people now having died, apparently when tunnels being constructed by Hamas collapsed.
“Last week, IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, refused to say whether Israel was involved in the tunnel collapses when asked about this by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. ‘God knows,’ he answered. ‘I would suggest to the residents of the Gaza Strip not to occupy themselves with the tunnels and to get away from them, especially after seeing the results in recent days.”
The big question has been whether the excavation and repair work is being done only inside of Gaza, albeit right to the border, or whether tunneling is again being done in Israeli soil. 
Hamas has in recent days bragged that they have restored tunnels reaching into Israel. 
Residents of communities in the south adjacent to the border have said they can hear the tunneling.  In a recent response to concerns about the situation, Defense Minister Ya’alon said that all complaints are checked and no tunnels have been discovered dug under Israeli homes
I don’t know how residents near Gaza felt about this qualified reassurance, but it left me feeling very dubious.  Does he mean to say that residents would only hear the tunneling if it were directly under their homes?  Surely, this is not the case.  And how about if tunnels are being dung 500 meters beyond homes?  He didn’t address this.
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett (head, Habayit Hayehudi) came out in favor of a preemptive attack on Hamas.  

Naftali Bennett

Credit: Israel Sellem/JPost
This is an issue of major significance: How long do we sit still when we know the enemy is increasing its capabilities, and allow that enemy to choose the time of its next attack? 
In other circumstances, I would agree with Bennett. But I am mindful of what we are facing to our north, where a larger concentration of our troops is now stationed.  The lifting of sanctions against Iran is making it possible for the Iranian government to increase its funding of Hezbollah, which is considered a far larger threat to us than Hamas.  To divert too much time and energy into attacking Hamas right now might not be the wisest option.
I do not feel equipped to second guess the government on this.
At any rate, both Netanyahu and Ya’alon criticized Bennett, with Ya’alon calling his suggestion “childish.”
But I was not happy with Netanyahu’s response, which was an attempt at deterrence:  If Hamas attacks us via tunnels, he warned, our response would be stronger than in 2014.
The problem here is that the “stronger than in 2014” attack would come AFTER we had been attacked.  So, perhaps it is the wrong time for a full attack on Hamas in Gaza, but this suggests that tunnels inside of Israel will remain because we don’t even know where they are.  Don’t even know in spite of all we heard about different technologies for locating the tunnels, advanced after the last war.
Then, two days ago, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot spoke out on the issue, and was somewhat more reassuring. Hinting that much of the effort against the tunnels cannot be spoken about publicly, he said that this is now the IDF’s main priority, and that perhaps as many as 100 engineering vehicles were in the area involved in efforts to find and destroy tunnels.
We have advanced capabilities...(Emphasis added)
“We will not allow the fact that there is quiet in the south to blind our eyes.”


Credit: Yaron Brenner
We have to pray for the success of those advanced capabilities, and for concentrated intent to take out the tunnels, for today’s news is a shocker:
An IDF appraisal of current security threats issued yesterday morning speaks about one major tunnel being excavated way into Israeli territory by Hamas, with 1,000 workers lending efforts to the digging.
The decision was made by Hamas to utilize one major tunnel that would allow a large number of terrorists to launch a significant attack deep inside Israel.  The tunnel, says the report, crossed into Israeli territory some time ago and is progressing some 50 meters per day.
What this means, if the report is accurate, is that the information was acquired by intelligence, but we still do not know where this major tunnel is.  Reportedly, there are some 30 drills digging down at sites identified via intelligence but the tunnel has not yet been found. 
This report possibly helps us understand both Netanyahu’s threats and Bennett’s desire for a preemptive attack.
Enough confusion for one day. 
We close with a prayer.  Cantor Ya’akov Motzen, praying for the IDF:
© 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, February 11, 2016 at 04:20PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 7, 2016: Are We Ready?

First we note the death of a vigilant and brave security officer:

Last Wednesday, two young Border Policewomen outside the Damascus Gate were able to stop three terrorists who had concealed machine guns and other weaponry.  Both policewomen were attacked, and the three terrorists were then quickly shot dead by other Border Police on the scene.

At the time I last wrote, one of those who had been attacked, Hadar Cohen, was in critical condition.  But sadly, the doctors were not able to save her life.  She was 19 years old and had been on the job only two months.  

Hadar Cohen

Israel Police

Hadar has been hailed as a hero.  What quickly became clear is that the three terrorists, loaded as they were with weaponry, intended something big.  She gave her life during the process of stopping them from a large scale massacre. 
Ravit Mirilashvili, age 20 – Hadar’s heroic companion in this action, shown below in the hospital during a visit by PM Netanyahu - is recovering from her wounds.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a wounded Israeli border police officer at the Hadassah Hospital in Mount Scopus on February 4, 2016. Mirilashvili was injured a day earlier in a shooting and stabbing attack near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Her colleague Hadar Cohen was killed. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Credit: Amos Ben Bershom/GPO

Hadar’s funeral was last Thursday.  Her father, Ofir, at her graveside, saluted her, and said:

"My beloved Hadar, my dear daughter...who was more beloved to me than anything. How am I supposed to separate from you now, how?...I am proud of you...may your soul be entwined in life."

Here you see her mourned by colleagues in the Board Police.

Border Police colleagues of Hadar Cohen, 19, at her funeral in Yehud, on February 4, 2016. Cohen was killed by Palestinian gunmen near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on February 3. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90
Too many times, I find myself writing about funerals!


But then, to some good things, because especially now, they must not be ignored:

In the face of all we are coping with - including the efforts of the BDS campaign to weaken us economically - it’s pretty amazing:  Standard’s and Poor’s Rating Service has given Israel an A+ long term rating with stable outlook. According to the agency:

“The ratings are supported by Israel’s prosperous and diverse economy, strong external balance sheet, and flexible monetary framework...

“We expect the Israeli economy to weather potential volatility in the global economy and international financial market, thanks to its diversified economy, strong external position, and flexible monetary framework.’

As to predicting a stable outlook, S&P said this “reflects our expectation that the government will maintain stable public finances and that the impact of security risks on the Israeli economy will be contained over the next two years.”

Credit: Globes


“An innovative technology developed in Israel may soon be able to predict the spread of cancer from one organ to another, potentially saving the lives of millions of people around the world.

“The technology, developed at Israel’s Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, has been proven in preliminary laboratory trials, and is now entering into advanced testing using cells from patients undergoing surgery.”


“Farmers face a major crisis today — a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ crisis. Farmers need to keep their fields free of insects that eat crops and destroy their livelihood.

However, the pesticides that are effective against those insects are causing major environmental damage, killing off not only pests, but helpful insects such as bees...

Fortunately, an Israeli start-up has developed a middle way — a system that enables farmers to protect their crops, while avoiding the use of environment-destroying pesticides. And a new study conducted by that start-up, EdenShield, showed just how effective are the company’s natural [non-toxic] pesticides, which have been developed from plants and herbs.

In the study, greenhouses in Italy where tomatoes are grown using EdenShield’s GateKeeper prevented close to 100% penetration of pests and led to a reduction of over 80% in the use of pesticides. .

Credit: Edenshield


As the above examples demonstrate so vividly, we are doing smashingly well in a number of spheres.

But when I ask, “Are we ready?” I am thinking about the strength Israel requires to take steps on her own behalf even if the world will not like it. 

Whatever is being done to stop or greatly reduce the violence being visited upon innocent Israeli Jews by Arabs terrorists (both Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Arabs) is simply not sufficient to the task.  By all means, all of those approaches that are in place – increased police force, etc. etc. – should be continued.  But it is time to look at what more would do the trick.

Critical to the solution, I believe, is taking action that would make would-be terrorists think twice.  And then a third time.  That’s the logic behind demolition of houses of the families of terrorists.  If they know their families are going to be severely inconvenienced, would-be terrorists might hesitate, goes the thinking.  Perhaps there are some who indeed have revised their plans because of this.  But it sure hasn’t served as a major deterrent.


There are commentators who have suggested wrapping the bodies of terrorists in pig skin.  Now we would be talking not about inconvenience to the families, but about generating major worry to the would-be terrorists themselves regarding whether they would be able to go to heaven - as promised in all of the jihadist hype – because they would be defiled.

I suspect this indeed might work.  But we are not going to find out, because our officials would never do it.  It would generate an enormous international furor with an outcry about human rights and all the rest.  Human rights for terrorists. 


But there is something else that has been talked about, and tried from time to time: withholding the bodies of the terrorists. Refusing to return them to their families, who would give them a religious Muslim burial.  Burying them, instead, in an anonymous grave, preferably without religious rites and certainly without family present. 

This too might have an impact.  Not just because the families would grieve at this situation. But also because the prospect of not being accorded what would be deemed as a proper burial might be genuinely worrisome to those would-be terrorists.


We had been told, not so long ago, as my recollection serves me, that bodies of terrorists would no longer be returned to their families. And then, for whatever reasons, and due to whatever pressures, that stricture was modified.  I know that Defense Minister Ya’alon was not in favor of that ruling, although the Cabinet had been.

Now, says Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan (Likud), we will hold bodies until the families promise to have small, quiet funerals at night, which won’t be used to generate rioting and incite further terrorism.


Credit: Namespedia


Erdan certainly has a point.  There have been some horrendous funerals, with mob scenes and riots ensuing – shooting of guns and strident calls for murders of more Jews to “avenge” the Israeli “murder” of the “martyr.”  Incitement is reduced when these over-sized, over-heated, violence-inducing funerals are blocked.  One such funeral pictured here: 

Shuafat funeral


However, this is just half the story.  For if someone already contemplating a terror attack knows that indeed his family would be able to recover his body and give him proper Muslim rites - even if the funeral would be small, then it is not likely that he would be deterred.  Greater deterrence would be served if he knew his body would not be returned.


In any event, I found it more than a little disconcerting that the bodies of the three terrorists Hadar Cohen had confronted outside the Damascus Gate were quickly turned over – to the Red Crescent - by Israeli authorities.  This happened on Friday, reportedly after the families agreed not to use the funerals for a “political rally.”

Is agreeing there would be no “political rally” the same as agreeing to a small funeral at night?

One of the terrorists was from Jenin, and two were from the Arab village of Kabatiya.  The Red Crescent turned the bodies over to the families, and it was in Kabatiya that the funerals were held later that same day.  In spite of the fact that Israel had maintained a closure on Kabatiya (and had made several security arrests), thousands came to the funeral.

There is something wrong with this picture.  See following for a complex and infuriating situation that just might have some connection.


On Thursday evening, three Israeli Arab members of the Knesset of the Balad party, which is part of the Joint List, went to visit 10 families of terrorists, whose bodies have not been released to them.  The three are – from the left in photo - Basal Ghattas, Haneen Zoabi (a nightmare), and Jamal Zahakla.

Joint List lawmakers Haneen Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka and Basel Ghattas.

Credit: Noam Moskowitz

But it’s worse than the fact that these MKs met with terrorists’ families, ostensibly for a “humanitarian” purpose.

It’s that they identified with them. According to the Maan news agency, the meeting in eastern Jerusalem began with a moment of silence [out of respect for those terrorists who had died].  Said Maan, the MKs emphasized their Palestinian identity, and saluted the families’ strong stance and their endless struggle against aggression.

I believe this also occurred at the meeting with the families, but it has been documented as well that the Balad party, on Facebook, referred to terrorists as “shahid,” “martyr.”

The question now is what will be done about this. 

It is hardly a new story, that we have members of the Knesset who identify with our enemyTheir presence in the Knesset has been tolerated all too long.  Now they have gone over the top.


There has been a lot of noise from various quarters about this situation, and a great deal of anger (all emphasis added):

Said Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein:

It cannot be that while innocent civilians are being slaughtered on the streets of Israel, MKs go to comfort [the terrorists’ families] and, with incomparable audacity, even bring their requests to the government."

Most pertinently, MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), tweeted:

Let me get this straight: Israeli MKs meet with terrorists’ families and not the victims’, and we’re still paying their salaries?”

Prime Minister Netanyahu has said these people do not belong in the Knesset.


Both Edelstein and Netanyahu will be filing complaints with the Knesset Ethics Committee, but that is not sufficient.  The committee can levy penalties against the MKs but not banish them from the Knesset.

Carrying this further, Netanyahu has discussed this with the attorney-general. 

We have a new attorney-general, Avichai Mandleblit (pictured), who may be more receptive than his predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein, who was far left, had been. (Weinstein, for example, was apparently opposed to the deportation of family members of a terrorist to Gaza.)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit (Photo: Marc Israel Sellem)

Credit: Marc Israel Sellem

Today’s news is that Mandelblit is considering what legal action might be taken against the trio, but nothing is a certainty yet.,7340,L-4762967,00.html


Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beitenu, in opposition, is particularly incensed by this situation, as he had tried to block certain members of Balad – notably Zoabi – from running in the last Knesset election but was prevented from doing so by the High Court.
Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), who is on the Knesset Law and Constitution Committee, has suggested that legislation might need to be drafted to handle this situation.  The point is that whatever needs to be done must be done. 
There must be the will at this point.
This becomes a matter of who we are as a State.

A couple of other pertinent points here:
On Thursday, Interior Minister Arye Deri (Shas) signed on order cancelling the residency permit of Riad Zwid, the father of one terrorist, Ala Zwid. This means he will lose medical and other benefits.
The circumstances here are worth noting. Riad Zwid, along with his son, Ala, had been residents of a Palestinian Arab village.  But when Riad married an Israeli Arab, under Israel’s Family Reunification law, he was granted residency in Israel.  This law, more than once, has proved to generate a problematic situation. 
The question has been raised – which I will repeat here but cannot answer definitively – as to whether there was any connection between the appeal to the minister of public security  by the three Arab MKs that terrorists’ bodies be released and the alacrity with which the bodies of the three “Damascus Gate” terrorists were released.  The timing lends itself to this question.  As does the fact that – in spite of rules that were supposed to be in place - there were thousands in attendance at the funeral of those terrorists.
Lastly for now on this issue, I want to make the point very clearly that the outcry against the MKs of Balad is NOT an outcry against the Arab population of Israel.  Not at all. In fact, one MK after the other specifically made a point of saying that Israeli Arabs deserve better representation than what whey have had in the Knesset to date. The Arab MKs often promote their own radical agendas rather than tending to the genuine needs of their constituency. 
Naftali Bennett (chair, Habayit Hayehudi), declared:
I call on the Arab public: You are better than them. Reject them. Condemn them...”
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said:
“Arab MKs are agents of terror instead of representing their voters.”
Today I am going to end with the late, great Ofra Haza sing “Hai.”  Includes English subtitles.  An old song, a great message, with the poignancy of knowing her life ended too soon.
© 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, February 7, 2016 at 02:44PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 3, 2016: Successes and Burdens

Hi-tech innovations coming out of Israel are fairly non-stop.  Consider: 

Credit: Gizmodo
Made-in-Israel technology is heading toward ubiquity, not just in back-end hardware and software, but even in consumer goods. Case in point: One-third of the smart TVs sold in the world today contain an essential piece of technology made by Tel Aviv start-up Giraffic.
“’As of this year, both Samsung and LG are using our Adaptive Video Acceleration (AVA) technology to ensure flawless playback of streaming content on their Internet-connected televisions,’ said Giraffic co-founder and CEO Yoel Zanger. ‘Right now we are the industry standard for client-side video acceleration and stabilization technology. It’s pretty cool.’”

Credit: shutterstock

“Israeli smart communication platform MyState has raised $6.5 million in funding from private U.S. investors. The Tel Aviv-based startup is set on better coordinating the way people communicate, and is launching on Android and iOS. Users are able to automatically check in on contacts to see if they’re available - even before dialing - eliminating the need for call waiting and time wasting.

“MyState shows the availability of a contact before dialing by displaying icons to indicate the person is on a call, offline or has no Internet connection, in a different time-zone, as well as their battery life running low, or charging. It also displays icons to indicate if their phone is on vibrate or silent. In addition, users can type out their own status message, if they choose.

“A key feature of MyState is the ‘Crunch’ button, which is used when a contact is speaking on the phone. By pressing the Crunch button, your smartphone will notify you when the contact is done with their call, and it will also notify the contact that you’re looking for them.”
It’s the barest beginning, but I certainly include as good news the results of the Iowa primary – with Cruz besting Trump and Rubio running a very close third.  Plus Hillary and Sanders neck-in-neck, so that even with a call for her, the close vote is a humiliation.
Charles Krauthammer calls the Republican results a “major inflection point”: It’s no long a given that Trump is invincible, and his victory is far from inevitable.  It is now a three person race, with Cruz, Trump and Rubio.
Daniel Greenfield, writing in Front Page Magazine, says that the primary is good news for the Republicans.  “Republican turnout in Iowa has shattered records. Ted Cruz picked up more Iowa caucus votes than any other candidate ever received despite the crowded field of candidates.”  (Emphasis added)
Other commentators believe the victory was to Rubio:

“Marco Rubio gave a victory speech in Iowa. That might sound astonishing, given that the junior senator from Florida finished third, but the way in which Rubio closed a big two-digit gap between himself and his party rivals Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz in the space of a few days suddenly makes him the Republican institution's ideal candidate. In Iowa, the winner finishes third.

“Rubio is suddenly being portrayed as the party's savior, the man who can win not only his party primaries at the Republican convention in Ohio in June, but also the general election in November. According to a CNN poll published Tuesday, 44% of respondents said they believed that Rubio had the greatest chance of beating the Democrats to the White House.”
The bottom line here is that there is hope. For America and beyond.
It is also good news when our government stands up for our rights – a state of affairs that is not inevitable.
On Tuesday, IDF soldiers demolished some 24 illegal Arab buildings around the Arab village of Khirbet Jenbah, south of Hevron. The homes were built in an area that has long been a closed military zone; some 10 or 12 of them had been financed by the EU.
An EU spokesman condemned the demolitions and said (emphasis added), “The EU expects its investments in support of the Palestinian people to be protected from damage and destruction.”
I love it: They support Arab building that is not only illegal but that is situated inside of a closed IDF military zone, and they think we should protect it?  The chuzpah (moxie) of the Europeans is boundless.
The head of a local village council charged that 12 families were left homeless. 
“However, Israeli activists have noted that most ‘residents’ of such illegal Arab outposts in fact own homes elsewhere, and set up sites such as these in order to create political ‘facts on the ground.’"
I can vouch for this, as I went, with a Regavim tour, to see the Arab outpost they claim as Susyia, and found that no one was home. There was not single person to be seen. They come out, from their real homes in a nearby Arab town, I was told, when press is expected.
Last posting, I wrote about the PA police officer, Amjad Sakari, who shot at IDF soldiers near Beit El and was subsequently shot dead.  On Monday, his funeral was held in Nablus (Shechem). 

Palestinian mourners carry the body of Amjad Abu Omar Sakari, who was shot dead while carrying out an attack on Israeli soldiers near the Beit El settlement, during his funeral in the village of Jamain south of Nablus, on February 1, 2016. (AFP / JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)

“Throngs of marching Palestinians called out ‘Death to Israel’...
’It is time for the machine gun, to shoot 500 people,’ the man leading Sakari’s funeral procession shouted over a megaphone, his words raucously repeated by the mourners, in footage screened by Israel’s Channel 2. ‘Muhammad’s army will return,’ he vowed.”  (Emphasis added)
Our “peace partners.” 
Some analysts have been saying that we are on the edge of a full-blown intifada that moves beyond the knifings and car rammings we’ve been dealing with.
And here we are:
Near the Damascus Gate in eastern Jerusalem, which is in an Arab neighborhood (picture of the Gate shown below), two young female border police officers, all of 19 and 20 years of age, spotted three Arabs who looked suspicious.  They approached to check out the Arabs and one produced his ID, while another produced a sub-machine gun that he had been concealing, and shot the officers, one of whom is in serious condition and the other, critical – on a respirator.
Other police officers in the area shot and killed all three terrorists.  Not only were they carrying concealed sub-machine guns, they also had knives and bombs. They were planning something big and the two young border police officers stopped them.


Credit: Times of Israel
If French leaders found the clearly inciteful behavior at the funeral reprehensible or counter-productive, I failed to notice it.  I rather doubt it, for the French are too busy championing the Palestinian Arabs.
Last Friday, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius announced:
“France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners, American, European, Arab, notably to preserve and make happen the solution of two states.”
He has in mind, he suggests, the venue of the UN Security Council for promoting the negotiations.
“And what will happen if this last-ditch attempt at reaching a negotiated solution hits a stumbling block? In that case, we will have to live up to our responsibilities and recognize a Palestinian state.”


Credit: ambafrance
Responsibility to recognize a Palestinian state?  How about responsibility to pressure the PA to stop inciting. and to clean up its corruption, and to have elections, which are way, way overdue? 
Why is it that none of this matters to Western powers?  The very same powers who go on about “international law,” most of which is invented.
A “state” is not created simply because nations declare that it has been “recognized”: a “state,” to be a political reality, must meet certain criteria, which have not been met, even remotely, by the PA. 
And that’s without even considering the security issues, such as the fact that, were the IDF to pull out of Judea and Samaria, the PA would fall quickly to Hamas or worse.
Even Israel’s opposition leader, Yitzhak Herzog, who is a big “two-state” fan, recently admitted that he didn’t see any way to move ahead now on negotiations for a “two-state solution.”
We have to ask what the motives of France’s officials are here.  A desire to be “leaders” in the Middle East? 
An eagerness to show the Arab world – and France’s own Muslims – that they are with the Palestinian Arabs all the way? 
An inherent hostility – nice words not withstanding – to Israel?  Or to Jews, more broadly: a new poll shows that 60% of the French believe that Jews have some responsibility for the marked rise in anti-Semitism in France.
This attitude, in and of itself, is a mark of anti-Semitism. 
Something else devious?
The Israeli government was quick to reject Fabius’s announced plans as counterproductive. “This is not how one conducts negotiations and not how one makes peace,” said a spokesman for the prime minister.  While Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz commented, similarly, that “Israel will not negotiate under ultimatums and threats.”
Even a US spokesman came out against the ultimatum:  “The US position on this issue has been clear. We continue to believe that the preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly.”
One of the main problems with France’s declared position is that it encourages PA obstinacy and fails to motivate the Palestinian Arabs in the slightest to cooperate or reform.  How sweet it is for them that the international community never holds their feet to the fire, and promises to hand them rewards on a silver platter.
Naturally, then, Abbas was full of enthusiasm for the French plan.  Not the negotiation part, but the “recognize a Palestinian state” part.
In a talk at an Arab summit in Addis Ababa, on Saturday, he made it clear he was not going into negotiations:
“We won’t return to negotiations just for the sake of negotiating and won’t continue to unilaterally implement previous agreements.”
I will not belabor here the outrage of Abbas pretending to have “unilaterally implemented previous agreements.”  Not when a basic tenet of Oslo was educating for peace and cessation of incitement.
Then he went further, declaiming:
“The region will not enjoy security and stability unless the Israeli occupation and settlement activities end. We will stay here on our land and in our homeland, where we have developed our historical and cultural identity and made humanitarian contributions for thousands of years.”
Who challenges these outrageously fallacious statements?  Cultural identity for thousands of years?  The “Palestinian people” – culturally no more than part of the Arab people  - was invented in the 20th century for political purposes.

Zahir Muhsein, PLO executive committee member, said, March 31, 1977, in an interview:

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."
And humanitarian contributions?  This is laughable.  If we feel like laughing, that is.
It has been announced that the Israel Police has a plan to bolster its presence in the Arab sector. Plans include hiring of 1,300 new police officers and setting up 10 new police stations. Good news, but they should have this done yesterday. And, in my humble opinion, there should be random checks, to search out the presence of guns that are being hidden.
The implementation of this plan will be overseen by a ministerial committee headed by Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Elkin and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.
And the Knesset has now approved the “stop and frisk” law, which permits police to search someone's body and belongings if there is a reasonable suspicion that he may be about to commit violence, or in the event that he uses threatening or violent language. This had been proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. 

Police search suspect

Credit: YNet,7340,L-4760974,00.html
All good moves, but not yet enough.
Much more, but tabled until my next post.
I close today with Lt. Col. Shai Abramson, Chief Cantor of the IDF, singing a prayer for the peace of Israel:
© 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, February 3, 2016 at 01:59PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

February 1, 2016: Virtual Torrent

I am referring to the mean-spirited, disappointing and hypocritical statements and actions that we see emanating from prominent world leaders.  This is in addition to the plethora of threats against Israel and the Jews.

But let’s hold that for a moment, as we must look at the good first.

This is a Namer armored personnel carrier equipped with the Trophy HV active protection system:


Credit: Ministry of Defense
In today’s world, this is good news. 

The Trophy system will be installed on every APC from this point on, enabling them “to enter battlegrounds rife with antitank and RPG threats and safely transport infantry, even in the face of multiple, simultaneous threats.”  Using radar panels to detect and follow threats before destroying them in mid-air with interceptors, it represents the highest level of protection for our soldiers and provides them with a significant advantage on the battlefield.
Most importantly, it will save Israeli lives, which is a very very good thing indeed.

Namer is Hebrew for leopard.  Nice imagery.


“Three 1,700-year-old funerary inscriptions referring to “rabbis” were discovered in Moshav Zippori in Israel’s Galilee region, a finding that affirms a Jewish presence in Israel during the Roman period, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday.”

Two of the inscriptions were in Aramaic and one – shown below – in Greek, both languages used by Jews at that time.

Proof of Jewish presence in the land over the centuries is of major import.


“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades (center in the picture below) and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Nicosia, capital of Cyprus, on Thursday to discuss cooperation in the fields of energy, tourism, research and technology, environment, water management, combating terrorism, and migration.”

A joint statement by the three read, in part:

"The discovery of important hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean can serve as a catalyst for peace, stability and cooperation in the region. To this end, the three countries view the energy sector, and in particular, natural gas and renewable energy, as a solid foundation for cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean basin."

Commented Anastasiades:

"Our states share the same values as well as the conviction that in order to effectively counter multiple challenges confronting us on a local, regional and international level, we must work collectively.”

The leaders hope to meet again in the second half of this year.,7340,L-4759222,00.html 


Credit: Times of Israel

This represents a political turn that is positive.  As Prime Minister Netanyahu said:

“I believe this meeting has historic implications...the last time that Greeks, Cypriots and Jews sat around the table and talked on a common framework was about 2,000 years ago. So, it's historic in that sense, but I think it's historic for another reason.

”We're living through a great turbulent passage in history, in modern times, and we face unprecedented challenges, but also unprecedented opportunities to advance our common goals.”


The Israeli emergency response organization ZAKA has received official consultative status from the United Nations.  ZAKA will now be recognized as an official body in the UN, which will help it to expand its international search, rescue and recovery missions.” The organization now has the right to take part in official discussions in all UN institutions.

ZAKA applied for this status for three years running before being accepted.  Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon helped to make this a reality.

I will say here that I am in awe of the devotion of these guys – many of them ultra-Orthodox.  They not only assist in rescue, they recover bodies (and body parts), exhibiting profound respect as they do so.  And they lend services around the world.


Credit: voanews

As for that torrent:

Last Wednesday, January 27th, was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On that day – and the days immediately prior and following - we might (just might) have expected a smidgen of sensitivity to matters touching upon threats to Jews and Israel. 

There might, for example, have been an open expression of disapproval of Iran’s ongoing threats against Israel.  Just months ago, Ayatollah Khamenei said that Israel would not last another 25 years, and until it was gone, would not have a moment’s peace – as it would be hounded by jihadists.

Not an unreasonable expectation. But it was not to be.


On January 27th, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani arrived in France for a two-day visit.  This was the first such visit by an Iranian leader in many years. Here you see him being welcomed by French president Francois Hollande.

Credit: trend

The Jews of France declared themselves appalled; there were demonstrations by non-Jews as well because of Iranian-sponsored terrorism and Iranian deprivation of human rights. 




Credit: ibtimes (UK)

But never mind.  Matters sailed on smoothly.   Rouhani was accompanied by Iranian ministers and business leaders, all there to negotiate business deals.  And with this we get to the heart of the matter.  A joint venture was announced between car manufacturers PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) and Iran Khodro, and Iran arranged for the purchase of 118 Airbus (AIR.PA) passenger planes. There were other deals, as well.  Construction group Bouygues (BOUY.PA) and airport operator ADP (ADP.PA) are set to build an extension for Tehran airport, while French oil company Total said it would buy some 200,000 barrels of Iranian crude.

All of this courtesy of the lifting of sanctions on Iran.


It would surely be foolish to expect more, and yet France’s failure to embrace issues regarding human values is disheartening.  Business trumps everything, or almost everything.  The one glitch in Rouhani’s visit occurred when Rouhani demanded a wine-free lunch (as Muslim’s shun alcohol) and the French refused.  Apparently French officials said this went against their values.

Boy, those French know how to stand tough when it matters, don’t they?  This rubs salt in the wound and makes it all worse.


In Italy, which Rouhani visited before going to France, they withheld the wine.  And they did more: they covered their nude statue as to not offend the Iranian president.  This was  not well received either inside of Italy, where people thought it was going too far, and outside, where people mocked Italian leaders who made this decision.

See a brief video here:

It would be very funny, except that it’s not funny at all. Of course, all sorts of deals were struck in Italy as well.


While in Italy, Rouhani want to the Vatican for a visit with the pope.  As Ruthie Blum wrote today in “The Vatican’s disgraceful display” (emphasis added):

“...Pope Francis fawned all over the puppet head of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei-led regime, directly and indirectly responsible for the slaughter of Christians across the world.

“The father of the Catholic Church nevertheless greeted ‘His Excellency Hassan Rouhani, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” as though he were a fellow pacifist ready, willing and able, not only to spread a global message of brotherly love, but to carry it out.”
“According to a statement from the Vatican after the meeting, the two held ‘cordial discussions’ in which ‘common spiritual values emerged.’

”The talks concluded with the ‘important role that Iran is called upon to fulfill, along with other countries in the region, to promote suitable political solutions to the problems afflicting the Middle East, to counter the spread of terrorism and arms trafficking. In this respect, the parties highlighted the importance of interreligious dialogue and the responsibility of religious communities in promoting reconciliation, tolerance and peace.’
”...To view Rouhani as someone with shared values who will act to combat terrorism and arms trafficking is to make a mockery of goodness.
“...Indeed, while Francis and Hassan were chumming it up on Tuesday, Iranian generals and admirals continued to boast about the progress they have been making in nuclear activities as a result of their deal with the West, while conducting drills to test long-range missiles and sophisticated radar systems.

On Wednesday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Rouhani’s master, Khamenei, aired a video he produced denying the Holocaust and attacking America and Europe.”


There is a great deal more I could write about today, but I am going to cut it short, because there is much to contemplate in what I have written here.  There are Holocaust Memorials built, some at considerable expense, in various places in the world. And there are speeches given at appropriate moments (about which more in a moment). But the bottom line is that the world has learned nothing since the Holocaust and is in fact totally amoral.  

It’s not just Jews that the world does not care about – though I’ll write about more Jews at risk soon, as anti-Semitism is mounting alarmingly – but other populations at risk as well. The Christians being massacred by Muslims.  The civilians dying in Syria.  

In the end, for the most Western leaders, it does not matter. The only Western leader I can think of who truly did operate on a moral plane was Steven Harper, and so the Canadians replaced him with an Obama wannabe.


I recall every now and again the words of a magnificent non-Jewish gentleman I heard speak years ago.  He recounted his absolute frustration with Roosevelt, when, coming from Europe and having witnessed what was being done to the Jews of Europe, he tried to get the president to act. and could not.

Then he turned to the audience of Jews and said, “I know you think the world deserted you during WWII, but it isn’t so. The world’s leaders deserted you, but many people were with you.”

That thought sustains me. There are many good people out there, who stand with us.  I know this and express gratitude for it.

Now we need to find a way for people of moral value to be the ones to assume leadership of the nations of the West. Never has an American election been more important than the one this year.  It is absolutely essential that Hillary not be allowed to make it.  I defy anyone to claim that she functions from a position of morality or human decency or concern for human rights.

On the Republican side, we do see such persons.  I dearly love Mike Huckabee, and know his innate decency. But I also know he is not headed for the White House.  Of those in the lead, I most champion Ted Cruz, who has spoken out forthrightly on a variety of issues.  Whoever is your favorite – keep in mind that the key is decency in office and the strength to act for what is right.


Before leaving this subject, I must share this: On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Obama went to the Israeli Embassy and pronounced: “We are all Jews.”

For me, this statement - so patently false coming from the president who is responsible for the empowerment of Iran - had a particularly high gag-quotient. But this, I can laugh at.


Credit: shilomusings

What we here in Israel know is that we can rely only on ourselves. Which is why it is so terribly important for us to stand strong.  A subject for another day.


Yesterday morning, three IDF soldiers were shot at a checkpoint not far from the community of Beit El in Samaria; two were seriously injured, and one moderately. 

Their assailant was shot dead. This terrorist was a Palestinian Authority police office, who had served as a bodyguard for the PA attorney-general.

Abbas has made no comment about the fact that an officer had shot at IDF soldiers, but the PA’s official news agency, Wafa, referred to the terrorist as a “martyr.”

Today, referring to “situation assessments,” the IDF partially closed off nearby Ramallah, which is the seat of the PA.  This is the first time such action has been taken during the present time of violence.,7340,L-4760510,00.html


This last news piece I would call good/bad news. 

A 17 year old boy, a recent immigrant from the US, was stabbed in the back on Shabbat afternoon when returning from the Kotel with a friend.  They were surrounded by a group of Arabs some of whom had knives. After he was attacked – thank Heaven, not seriously injured – his friend ran away and sought help. 

Says this young man, who left his ultra-Orthodox family in the US to come here alone, this has not deterred him from his intention to enlist in the IDF.  He wants to serve in the top commando unit, Sayeret Matkal.  I’ll give my all...I’m not afraid of anything.”

Being strong for ourselves.  Blessings upon him.


Recently, I showed a video of a song in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. sung by the Maccabeats and a group called Naturally 7.  I was so impressed with the latter group that I searched them on the Internet and found one piece they did that blew me away.  I think it resonates especially well with today’s posting, and I hope you love it as I did.  Please watch it through to the very end.

© 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, February 1, 2016 at 01:28PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 27, 2016: Doors Open and Shut

There is a hi-tech, interactive exhibit on Israel making the rounds internationally.  It is called “Open a Door to Israel,” and consists of a series of brightly colored doors, each of which opens to show, via video and interactive programming, another aspect of Israel - hi-tech innovations, the Israeli people, etc.

See what it’s about here:

“The main problem in the world is that they don’t know Israel,” says Tal Brody, a good will ambassador for Israel, in the video.


And indeed, we must continue to put out the good about Israel, because the world does not know us.

Consider this example:

“Dozens of Israelis answered a Facebook call to help a 90-year-old woman living alone in poor conditions in the north of the country.”
The Hebrew news site 0404 put up pictures from the FB posting of the woman’s squalid apartment, and reproduced the call for help. 

“Within minutes, said 0404 on Monday, ‘We received many replies from concerned citizens offering to volunteer their services to ameliorate the condition of the elderly woman. These included: renovations, household equipment and supplies, furniture, grocery shopping, assistance with day-to-day chores and cash donations. The latter, according to 0404, was from people who said they live too far away to provide hands-on help.’
“...This, said 0404, is the beautiful side of Israeli society, which so often gets overlooked in the fray of politics and conflict.” (Emphasis added)

Those of us here in Israel who keep our eyes peeled and our hearts open know that this beautiful side of Israel society exists and is frequently astounding.


In the Israeli Arab town of Abu Gosh, right outside of Jerusalem, there is a 60-man volunteer search-and-rescue team, headed by Arab Israeli Imad Jaber, who is Muslim.
Said Jaber in an interview with CBN news: “’We rescue people. It doesn't matter gender, race or religion.  Our goal is to save human lives.  It doesn't matter if it's a Jew or an Arab, American [or someone] from Russia..
It's not simple and it's not easy, especially in these very difficult times. On one hand, we are Arabs, Muslims, and we're residents of the state, citizens of the State of Israel...

"To raise up a unit like this takes courage, it needs people that are humane. We're not fighting against anyone. We don't kill anyone, but the opposite. We are saving human lives.

“We're wearing the uniforms of the IDF. That's an honor for us.”

Lt. Col. Yigal Dahan, the Jewish Home Front commander who oversees the group, had this to say about them (emphasis added):

“This company is Israeli civilians from the Arab sector that decided actually to be partners, to be good citizens of the state, to be partners in all that happens here -- actually to take responsibility for themselves in time of emergency...

"I think they've taken a courageous step...I think it's a very important message in general for everything that's happening in this country.”

Credit: pinterest


Of course, making certain that people world-wide know about the beautiful side of Israel will not solve all of our problems.  For there is a huge, and growing, amount of anti-Semitism out there, which closes the door in some people’s minds to who we really are.  They want to revel in their hatred for us – don’t bother them with facts.

See the report by Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett (chair, Habayit Hayehudi) on growing European anti-Semitism:

“...anti-Semitic incidents in London rose more than 60 percent during the 12-month period ending November 15 and...incidents in France shot up 84% in the first quarter of 2015,” he said.


One of the most egregious and perverse examples of anti-Semitism (which is what this anti-Israel action truly is) that I’ve encountered involves a group of doctors in the UK.

Seventy-one British doctors want to expel the Israeli Medical Association from the World Medical Association. 

Why?  Because Israeli doctors carried out “medical torture” on Palestinian patients.  Can they believe this?
They are speaking, you understand, about the medical establishment in Israel that treats Syrians wounded in their civil war and children from Gaza with heart problems.  See photo from Wolfson Medical Center of one such child.

Marwan , a four-year-old from Gaza receives treatment at Wolfson Medical Center.
Not incidentally, Israeli doctors treat terrorists who have attacked Jews.  There was actually quite a furor about this recently, when some medical personnel declared that the medical ethic requires them to treat patients in order of how badly injured they are, so that if a terrorist is more badly injured than his victim he receives attention first, while others maintained vociferously that this is where they draw the line – victims receive first attention and it is outrageous to suggest otherwise.

Were Israel to be banned from the World Medical Association, it would have a seriously deleterious effect on our research efforts: Israelis would be prevented from participating in medical conferences or publishing papers in journals, there would a halt to international funding of research and joint research endeavors, and Israeli doctors would be prevented from acquiring membership in other medical associations.

However, this action would also be seriously detrimental to the ability of doctors worldwide to provide cutting edge treatment to their patients, because that treatment frequently emanates from Israel.  Blocking the ability of Israeli doctors to share their research and prohibiting funding for additional research is really not a smart idea if you are interested in the health of your patients.

“Cutting off your nose to spite your face” may be a cliché – but it sure applies here.  This is what hatred does.

It is not expected that the effort of these doctors will succeed – at least not now. But this is a sign of the times and what we are coping with.

And so, when I write about the need to “open doors,” I am also referring to the need to shine a light of truth where falsehoods – the most egregious lies – are told about Israel.

Much has been said recently – by the EU, the US ambassador to Israel, the UN (see below) and others – that is based on the premise that Israel has no right to be in Judea and Samaria and that the Jewish communities there (“settlements”) are destructive to peace. 

As part of that effort to shed light, I will pause here for some basic information.  Because of the astonishing degree to which the world has bought the Palestinian Arab fiction that all of the land beyond what is referred to as the “1967 border” belongs to them, it is important to return now and again for a basic look at the facts. 

Those of my readers who know this information already will, I trust, understand the need to review it. Those who require further elucidation are welcome to contact me.

[] The Mandate for Palestine of 1922, passed unanimously by the League of Nations, and founded upon the San Remo Resolution of 1920, set as an article of international law the right of the Jewish people to dense settlement and establishment of a homeland in Palestine (which means, at a minimum, from the river to the sea, including Judea and Samaria). This still stands. 

[] Judea and Samaria represent the heartland of the Jewish nation from ancient times – it is this region that Shilo (where the tabernacle rested) and Hevron (where the Machpela stands) and other ancient sites are located.

[] “Palestine” – a term coined by the Romans after the forced dispersal of Jews from Judea - for millennia was a geographical area that was in no way related to a state for Arabs.  In point of fact, before the founding of the modern State of Israel, JEWS were referred to as Palestinians.

[] The “partition plan” of 1947, which spoke about dividing Palestine into a state for Jews and a state of Arabs, was a resolution of the General Assembly – Resolution 181. GA resolutions are only recommendations and have no weight in international law.  It changed nothing with regard to the legal status of Palestine as a Jewish homeland, from the river to the sea.  All the more so was this the case as the Arabs refused this plan. 

[] Thus Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria cannot be a “belligerent occupation,” as a state cannot “occupy” land that belongs to her.  Jordan’s control of Judea and Samaria from 1948 – 67 constituted an illegal occupation, as it was seized in an offensive war. Israel did not take Judea and Samaria from a sovereign state that had rightful control of the area.

[] What is more, Israel took control of Judea and Samaria in a defensive war, which confers upon her rights in retaining it.

[] The so-called “1967 border” was not a border at all, but a 1949 armistice line.  The armistice agreement stated explicitly that this line was temporary and did not prejudice future negotiations for a permanent border.

[] Note please: this agreement was with Jordan, not with the “Palestinian people” or a “Palestinian state.”  There has NEVER been a Palestinian state, and there is no legitimacy whatsoever to the persistent claim that everything beyond the 1949 armistice line “belongs” to the Palestinian Arab people, such as they may be defined.  This notion, which has been marketed so broadly, is nothing but the greatest humbuggery.

[] Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the Six Day War, declared that final borders would be resolved via negotiations.  With regard to Judea and Samaria, this meant a final border between Israel and Jordan – again with no mention whatsoever of a Palestinian state.  There was no requirement in this resolution that Israel return behind the 1949 armistice line. In fact, the resolution called for the right of all states “to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” and it was broadly recognized that Israel’s prior situation – with its lack of strategic depth - made her too vulnerable.

Resolution 242 called for “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”  As it did not say “all” territories or “the” territories,” it was understood that a full withdrawal was not required, that “some” withdrawal is all that was called for. There are lawyers who make the case that, as Israel has withdrawn from the Sinai, which was occupied in the war, and negotiated a peace with Egypt that defines the border, she has already fulfilled the stipulations of this resolution.

[]  The Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the PLO in 1993 and subsequently, called for final status negotiations. No where in the Accords does it say the PLO will have a full and sovereign state. PM Rabin, in a speech in the Knesset, made it clear that he had in mind something in the nature of an autonomy that was less than a full sovereign state.

Yet – as the result of a vast and persistent disinformation campaign – the perception of what the Palestinian Arabs are entitled to has morphed into a full state.  Much of the world accepts this as a given, believing that the Palestinian Arabs are being deprived of their rights.  Either that – or like the 71 British doctors – they prefer to promote notions they do not fully believe because of hatred of Israel.


A particularly ugly example of the way in which the world has embraced the myths of Israeli “occupation,” and Palestinian “rights” to Judea and Samaria can be seen in a statement made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to the Security Council Monday.  Addressing the issue of Palestinian Arab violence, he attributed it to "frustration" - "it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism...progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise."  He also objected to the demolition in Area C of illegally built Arab homes, often funded by the EU.  (Although of course he didn’t acknowledge that they were illegally built.),7340,L-4758162,00.html

We should not, I suppose, have expected better of Ban Ki Moon.  Blame Israel. Blame “the settlements.” 

Ignore the frustration Palestinian Arabs feel because of the lack of human rights and the corruption they endure under the Palestinian Authority.

Ignore the blatant incitement by the PA, starting with Mahmoud Abbas.  His praise of terrorists.  His repeated fallacious charges that Jews are threatening al-Aksa mosque. Ignore the PLO salaries paid to terrorists in prison.  Ignore the fact that just last week, on Ma’an TV, Fatah Central Committee Member Tawfiq Tirawi said: "Let us talk logically. Hitler was not ‎morally corrupt ‎. He was daring‎."‎


And by all means, ignore this:

The 15-year-old Palestinian terrorist who stabbed mother-of-six Dafna Meir to death on January 19 in the West Bank community of Otniel was under the influence of broadcasts by Palestinian Authority TV, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation has found.

”A statement released on Sunday on the progress of the investigation said the minor, who was arrested in his home in Beit Amra, near Hebron, disclosed during questioning that ‘in the period of time preceding the terrorist attack,’ he watched ‘PA television, which presented Israel as a state that “kills Palestinian youths.”’ On the day of the attack, “under the influence of the content he saw on television, the minor decided to carry out a stabbing attack in order to murder a Jewish person.” (emphasis added):


Observed a furious Netanyahu:

"The UN Secretary General's remarks give a tailwind to terrorism. There is no justification for terrorism. The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state – they want to destroy a state and they say this openly. They want to murder Jews simply because they are Jews and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights.

"The UN lost its neutrality and moral force a long time ago and the Secretary General's remarks do not improve the situation."


On the same theme, Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, speaking at the Security Council yesterday said (emphasis added):

“During the past four months, Israelis have been stabbed in their homes, shot at in the streets and run over by terrorists  using cars as weapons.

“During this period of time, the [Security] council has adopted resolutions against terrorism, and condemned terror attacks in France, Sinai, Lebanon, Mali, Tunisia, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Sudan.  Not once were the lives of Israelis murdered by terrorists recognized by this council. No condemnation, no expression of solidarity – not even a statement of concern.”

Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, holds up a collage of terrorism victims

Credit: UN


And here, the terrorism continues...

On Monday, two women were stabbed by two Arabs in front of a grocery store in the community of Beit Horon, which is adjacent to Route 443, between Modi’in and Jerusalem. The Arabs, who also threw pipe bombs at the store, were shot and killed by a security guard.

One of the women, 58, was moderately wounded, and remains in the hospital. The other stabbing victim, Shlomit Krigman, just shy of 24, was critically wounded.  During the night on Monday, she lingered close to death.  By morning, despite doctors’ devoted efforts to save her, she was gone.

Shlomit Krigman

Courtesy family

Her friend, Maayan, described the hope that she would live:

“You fought as you slept. We tried to send you messages of encouragement – you can do it, you can recover...”

Shlomit, who grew up in the Jordan Valley community of Shadmot Mehola, had been staying with her grandparents in Beit Horon because she was doing National Service there.   “She filled every corner of the house,” they said.

At the funeral, which was held in Jerusalem yesterday, her grandmother spoke to her deceased granddaughter:
Part of my heart will be buried today; we so loved you.”
While her mother, Na’ama, standing at her daughter’s body at the graveside, told her:
“We are burying you in Jerusalem, as you requested, in one of our conversations about the situation. Your smile, your soul, your zest for life, will stay with us always. Rest in peace.


It is a painful irony that Shlomit was buried right next to Dafna Meir, who had been stabbed to death just a little over a week ago.

This merely intensifies the cry from our hearts: Isn’t it enough already?


I will note here that Israeli security sees the last few terrorist attacks as an escalation: the terrorists entered Jewish towns to attack.  Previously we were seeing attacks at crossroads, or checkpoints, or municipal bus stops.  What is happening now increases the vulnerability of Jewish citizens.


Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Not specifically here in Israel, but internationally, in recognition of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by the Red Army 70 years.



Credit: cnn

I close today with a video from Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial of a ceremony at Auschwitz that includes a flyover by the Israeli Air Force.

May the Almighty grant supreme strength and great wisdom to our armed forces from this day and evermore.

© 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, January 27, 2016 at 01:33PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 19, 2016: Shed a Little Light

As you come to the end of this posting, you will discover the upbeat inspiration for its title.

But here, at its beginning, I share a “good news” piece that is bitter-sweet.  It could not be otherwise. Yet I count it as very much good news: it is a celebration of life, and strength and perseverance:
Roee Fogel, whose mother Ruth, father Udi, and three of his siblings, Yoav (11), Elad (4) and Hadas (3 months) were murdered in their home in Itamar in 2011, celebrated his Bar Mitzvah last Thursday.  In the picture below you see him at the Torah, during the service at the Kotel.  He was joined for the event by family – including two siblings who survived with him and his grandparents who are raising him - friends and many counselors and friends from the OneFamily Fund.

Everyone then moved on to a celebratory breakfast.  Roee gave a moving speech to all gathered, which included these words:

When you don’t think of yourself as just being part of a family but as part of the whole Jewish people, then you’ll never be afraid of any challenge. We have to carry on as a strong Jewish nation.”

Untitled design (1)



Terrorism.  For a while there appeared to be a lull in the number of attacks that were taking place – or at least successful attacks, as many terrorists were stopped in time.  I had hoped to be able to write about that lull in this posting.  And so it is with a deeply heavy heart that I must write just the opposite:

Late Sunday, in the town of Otniel, in the Har Hevron region of Judea, a terrorist broke into the home of Dafna Meir and stabbed her to death.  She was the mother of six children – the first four from 10 to 17 years in age, and then two younger brothers, adopted.

Three of her children were home at the time of the attack; her 17-year old daughter witnessed it and called for help. 

Dafna Meir


Dafna, who was a neurosurgical nurse at Soroka Medical Center, is described as a having been a very joyful and giving person. She is said to have put up an heroic fight – attempting to protect her children - before succumbing to her attacker, who fled.

The terrorist managed to escape on foot, and the army and Shin Bet jointly launched a manhunt for him in the Hevron Hills area.

Soldiers searching for an assailant who stabbed a woman to death in the West Bank settlement of Otniel on January 17, 2016. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

Channel 2 screen capture

Overnight, last night, he was apprehended.  A sixteen year old (imagine!) identified by sources as Morad Bader Abdullah Adais.

“He was arrested by soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit in the village of Beit Amra, some three kilometers (1.8 miles) from the scene of the attack, reports said. Residents of the village where Adais was hiding out apprised security forces of his presence there, allowing the arrest to proceed without resistance, Channel 10 reported.” (Emphasis added)

After what happened in the north, I consider the fact that the residents of Beit Amra turned in the terrorist good news.


Dafna Meir was buried yesterday in Jerusalem.

The family of Dafna Meir at her funeral in Jerusalem on January 18, 2106. Meir was stabbed to death at the entrance to her home in the settlement of Otniel on January 17. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

How many times will there be innocent Israeli Jewish children mourning? Bereaved for no reason other than that they are Israeli Jewish children.

Dafna’s husband, Natan Meir, spoke movingly at her grave:

“We met as soldiers, on the border with Lebanon. It took us a moment to fall in love...I said to you then, 'Welcome.'  I say to you now, 'Farewell'...

“You left me with six treasures, I will keep them safe for you...

“Dear [Almighty] Father, I have no second thoughts about you at all, give us strength, be present at our home, let us feel your warm embrace, your love...

“Dafna had a large crown: the crown of truth...and this truth has now been thrown to the ground, it has burst into smithereens.

"I request that everyone who came out here, pick up something from the light that was spilled on the ground, so that truth may spring from the earth.”


Oh how this world needs truth.  Even if you weren’t at the funeral, along with some 1,500 mourners, pick up something of that light, as it were, and spread words of truth.   

There will not be much in the way of reports in the mainstream media about the cruel death of Dafna Meir at the hands of an Arab terrorist.  And so share this information widely because people need to know. 

Share something else as well: Tell people of the nobility of Natan Meir, grieving his wife’s death, who spoke of love, and care for children, and sustained faith.  Without a call for violence or a word of hatred.

I doubt that the world much cares about such nobility.  But tell it anyway, because it is truth.


Sunday night the Har Hevron Regional Council barred the presence of Arab workers in the local communities for Monday.  Similarly, on Monday, the commander of the Etzion Brigade of the IDF banned all Arab workers in Gush Etzion.

It is not clear what the duration of these orders – a response to multiple attacks and attempted attacks – will be.


Yesterday morning, there was another attack, this one in the community of Tekoa, in Gush Etzion:

Medics wheel a wounded Michal Forman into the emergency room of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center on January 18, 2016. Froman, who is pregnant, was wounded in a stabbing attack in the settlement of Tekoa (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Michal Froman, who is pregnant, was stabbed in her upper body. She is in stable condition and, thankfully, the fetus was not harmed.  Michael is the daughter-in-law of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman.


I want to return for just a moment to the issue of the “transparency bill” that is headed towards a vote in the Knesset.  I had written that it would require members of NGOs who receive more than 50% of their funds from foreign governments to wear a badge in the Knesset declaring this fact.  As I now understand it, while this has been suggested and alluded to in press reports (and might yet be incorporated into the legislation), as the draft now stands it is not mentioned.

I share here a link to an excellent article about this issue by attorney Jan Sokolovsky that provides solid details:


And then I want to return, as I said I would, to the matter of foreign governments or their representatives who intrude themselves into our affairs, comment when they should not, and attempt to manipulate our situation to their liking.  Who would deprive us of our right to manage our own affairs, weakening our sovereignty.

In point of fact, there is so much taking place with regard to this, that it is difficult to know where to begin.

Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, once again proved herself to be a thorn in our side last week. During a parliamentary debate, she declared that Israel may be guilty of “extrajudicial killings” of Arabs in response to terror attacks against Jewish citizens: “It is vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability."

She didn’t, you will notice, call for an investigation of the PA for its incessant and hateful incitement, which has been spurring the terrorism.  Nor did she express concern for the innocent Israelis who have been wounded and killed.  But she presumed to judge Israel, as we respond to murderers.

Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) retorted that an investigation should be conducted instead on "how a woman who so bluntly hates Israel was elected, and still holds the role of foreign minister of Sweden."

Subsequently, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely let it be known that Swedish diplomats were unwelcome in Israel.


Writes Noah Feldman on this issue of Wallstrom’s charges (emphasis added):

“Before the Swedish parliament, Wallström referred to ‘the...importance of the principles of proportionality and distinction.’  Proportionality and distinction belong to the body of international law governing the use of military force in wartime against combatants.

But these principles don’t apply to domestic police arrests of civilians committing violence, like the stabbers in Israel...

“...the legal standard is that police “may only use intentional lethal force when it is clear an individual is about to kill someone and cannot be detained by other means.”

“...Wallström went out of her way to emphasize that “21 Israelis and 100 Palestinians were killed in connection with knife attacks, acts of violence, demonstrations and clashes.” The numbers are legally irrelevant.

That also makes moral sense. Police making arrests aren’t morally or legally obligated to allow innocent people to die in order to balance the number of deaths of criminal attackers. Effective police are supposed to save the innocent and subdue the attackers, by lethal means if necessary.”


Recently, it was exposed by the Israeli NGO Regavim that a road was being constructed illegally by the PA in Area C, which is under full control of Israel.  It was part of the ongoing attempt to co-opt Area C, and it was proudly funded by the EU. 

The planned road


The Civil Administration seized construction equipment, but the work continued.  Regavim sought an injunction in the High Court, and I’ve been informed that the work is being stopped.


Funding of this road is one very small part of what the EU underwrites illegally in Area C.  At a recent meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s subcommittee on Judea and Samaria, MK Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) said that the EU spends roughly $120 million per year on supporting illegal PA building.

See a video of a statement by Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding the EU funding of illegal construction in order to create political realities, and the tendency of the EU to single out Israel for treatment not accorded other democracies.  It includes photos of that EU illegal construction:

Netanyahu calls here for a “reset” of Israel’s relationship with the EU, but as you will see below, the situation with the EU has further deteriorated.


Yesterday evening, the EU passed a resolution stipulating that all agreements between Israel and the EU not apply to any areas over the 1949 armistice line, which they refer to as the “1967 border”:

"The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that - in line with international law - all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to territories occupied by Israel in 1967."

This followed intense diplomat efforts by Israel to forestall this EU action.  And Israel is now furious.  The EU is prejudging a situation (assuming Israel has no rights in any of Judea and Samaria), when this has not been determined.

I cite here in its entirety the statement on this issue put out by Legal Grounds, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube (with emphasis added):

“...Legal Grounds says the expected EU decision distinguishing between Israel proper and the territories it captured in 1967 ‘violates the legal rights of the State of Israel and constitutes a blunt violation of the principles established in the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is party in its position as witness. It seems the EU cannot serve as honest broker in the foreseeable future.’

“[Legal Grounds], working to establish Israel’s rights according to international law, strongly condemns the decision, which, it says, lacks any legal basis.

“’The line called the 1967 line is nothing more than the armistice line of 1948. The EU is certainly aware that the ceasefire agreement signed in the Greek island of Rhodes in 1949 clearly maintains that the line “in no way constitutes a political or state border.”’

The EU has chosen to ignore Israel’s preferential position as claimant to the territory, which according to international law is considered ‘disputed.’ Furthermore...the European Union is violating its role as witness of the implementation of the Oslo Accords which contain a basic principle according to which the question of borders will be decided solely by negotiations.’”


Lastly here I mention the offensive statement of US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, made at “a high-profile security conference Monday, a rare public rebuke.” 

“He alleged that Israel restricts Palestinian economic development in the PA-run territories and bemoaned what he called an inadequate response to ‘settler’ violence.
“’Too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.’”


The government of Israel is enraged by these distortions (and others included in Shapiro’s remarks).  What Shapiro said – which undoubtedly reflects the direction that Obama intends to take in his last year – is enough to raise the blood pressure of anyone who understands what is going on in Judea and Samaria with the PA.

As to “restricting Palestinian economic development,” it is the exceedingly corrupt PA that does this.  Israel actually fails to act in her own best interest fiscally with regard to the PA relationship. We continue, for example, to supply electricity to PA areas in spite of an astronomic bill that has not been paid, and part of which is being forgiven.

But far more outrageous – obscene - is talk of “settler violence” at a time when residents of Judea and Samaria are victims of ongoing Arab violence, and endure death, injury, and an environment that is continuously stressful.  Many of those residents feel, correctly or not, that the IDF has not done enough to protect them.  I cannot share here what I would like to say to Shapiro out of concern for my professionalism as a journalist. 


And then there is the charge by Shapiro that Israel has two standards of adherence to the law, “one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.”  Actually, there is some truth to what he says, except that he has it exactly backwards.
Jewish non-authorized building in Judea and Samaria is demolished much more quickly than is the blatantly illegal EU-funded Arab construction in Area C.  Those of us who monitor the situation with concern for Jewish rights have seen again and again situations in which there was a question about Jewish ownership of a property – a question, resulting from Arab claims, that that had not yet been definitively answered – and the housing on the property was taken down. 

But the illegal Arab building?   It has been necessary to publicize this building, to petition the courts, because the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria – while now improving its stance! – has been habitually slow to respond for reasons of political correctness.  Because the world is watching and won’t like it (which is something Netanyahu alluded to in his statement in the video linked above).


One must hope that the outrageous claims against Israel will stiffen the backs of her leaders.  I tend to believe so, and thus see that there may be a silver lining in the international policies and accusations.

When the world is behaving with relative moderation concerning Israel, there is the inclination, however misguided, to step carefully so as not to ruffle feathers. 

But now it is clear that we cannot win no matter what we do.  Israel will not find justice in this world.

And so it’s time to stop worrying what the world thinks and act unequivocally in our own best interest.  Nurture appropriate ties with other nations – absolutely!  Netanyahu is doing a great deal with regard to reaching out to nations in the east, and, quietly, to Sunni Arab states.  Make our case forcefully and coherently at all times.  Indeed!

But act as we need to act, for our own sake.


Yesterday was Martin Luther King day in the US.  Dr. King was a great supporter of Israel, and a friend to the Jews.  I close with a delightful joint musical tribute to him, “Shed a Little Light”:


Credit: usaguidetours
“Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of 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 Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 10:28AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 14, 2016: Intrusion

The INS Rehav, Israel’s fifth Dolphin class submarine, arrived home to its Haifa port yesterday with a crew of 50, to much official fanfare. 

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a welcoming ceremony for the new submarine 'Rahav' at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, on January 12, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

Built in Germany, at a cost of over $400 million (one third of which was picked up by the German government), it is the “the most advanced, complex and most expensive item in the Israeli military’s arsenal.” according to President Ruby Rivlin.

Over 220 feet (67 meters) long and weighing more than 2,000 tons, this diesel-fueled sub has an air-independent propulsion system, which operates through a fuel cell instead of oxygen-dependent sources, allowing it to remain underwater without surfacing for weeks at a time.

“In the decades to come, the INS Rahav will take an active part in defending the country and its maritime territory, by acting deeper, further and longer underwater. Seeing without being seen, keeping a watchful eye, and projecting our operational abilities on the naval front.”

Although there has been no official comment on this, the sub is said to be able to deliver a nuclear payload.  This is what Prime Minister Netanyahu did say:

“Above all else, our submarine fleet acts as a deterrent to our enemies who want to destroy us. They won’t achieve their aims. They need to know that Israel can attack, with great might, anyone who tries to harm her.”

A sixth submarine was purchased from Germany in 2013, and will be complete in a few years.


Credit: Static


This, my friends, is good news. As is the  following:

“Israel's first-ever stealth fighter jet took a significant step towards completion at the end of last week, when the new "Adir" F-35 entered the advanced production stages at Lockheed Martin's plant in Forth Worth, Texas. A ceremony was held on-site to mark the milestone.
“...The Defense Ministry has ordered 33 of the fighter jets from (example pictured) the US at a total cost of $4.75 billion, which includes the building of infrastructure from which the aircraft can operate as well as making changes specified by the IAF.”,7340,L-4751490,00.html

F-35 Evader

Credit: Lockheed Martin
In 2013, Lockheed Martin Aircraft Industries announced that Israel would be the first nation outside of the US to receive its F-35 stealth fighter jets – capable of evading radar and integrated air defense systems. It is the most expensive weapon in U.S. history.


Also good news is the consistent shift we are seeing in Israeli policy with  Tzipi Hotovely serving as Deputy Foreign Minister:

“Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) on Wednesday led a tour of Samaria of the foreign service school cadets, accompanied by local council head Yossi Dagan, as part of the effort to familiarize Israel’s future emissaries abroad with the realities on the ground back home. ‘Today you will learn about the great settlement endeavor that has risen here, you’ll see the topographic importance of the area, the coexistence in the industrial parks — in short, you can’t really represent Israel without having been here physically.’

“Traditionally, Israel’s foreign service has been staffed with old guard, pro-left personnel, who on occasion sided with Israel’s opponents over issues like the value of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Hotovely, who is identified with the right-wing, pro-settlement segment of her party, has set out to change that through educating the next generation of Israeli diplomats.

Hotovely reiterated the Israeli government’s position that ‘the settlements are legal, and the foreign ministry has issued a legal paper on this matter. The State of Israel engages in legal construction, and all the homes are sitting either on state owned land or on legally purchased land....’” (Emphasis added)

Tzipi Hotovely

Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/JPost


Now about that “intrusion”: 

To “intrude” – says Merriam-Webster - is “to thrust or force in or upon someone or something especially without permission, welcome, or fitness.”

Unfortunately, what I have observed is that foreign officials/governments seem to think they have the right to intrude in Israeli affairs, making comments that are inappropriate (because, who asked them?) and, far worse, trying to manipulate matters to their liking.

Here I want to focus on one particular issue (with other related issues to follow):

Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) has sponsored a bill regarding NGO funding transparency. A draft has already passed through the Ministerial Committee on Legislation – with a nod from the prime minister  - and is on its way to the Knesset, where there is a good likelihood it will pass.

Credit: Flash 90

The bill would require all NGOs that receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governments to declare the precise sources of their funding and to make the fact of that funding known when they enter the Knesset (via wearing a badge).

It does not penalize them for receiving that funding, nor does it prohibit them from continuing to receive those funds. 


The purpose of this (long over-due) bill is not difficult to comprehend.  Foreign governments invest money in specific Israeli NGOs, with compatible positions, in order to advance their own agendas.  As a result of this foreign funding – which is often considerable – the selected NGOs are better able to promote particular positions inside of Israel.  This may include the lobbying of members of Knesset and bringing petitions to the Court, all done in the name of Israeli organizations, not foreign governments.

What is more, it would be naïve in the extreme to imagine that the NGOs receiving large sums from specific governments are anything but devotedly attentive to their agendas and concerns.  At the most basic level, this is simply the way it works.  If they wish to sustain those major donations, the NGOs know they have to produce results that will keep the foreign governments happy.  (I will not address here the possibility that certain NGOs ultimately perceive themselves as partners with foreign governments in doing their work.)

The foreign governments are thus able to have an effect on the policies and practices of NGOs that are registered as Israeli organizations

The result is an intrusion into the workings of the Israeli government by foreign governments.  Minister Shaked makes the point, with great validity, that if foreign governments wish to influence Israel’s government there are proper diplomatic channels for doing so.


There has been a considerable outcry from certain quarters about this pending legislation.  This rush to protest, in and of itself, I would suggest, indicates how badly the legislation is required. 

Perhaps most telling is the fact that an EU-associated group on December 15th gave a 30,000 euro grant to B’Tselem to fight the legislation. This was reported by NGO-Monitor, whose spokesman, Aaron Kalman, observed:

The nature of the grant, openly aiming at influencing Israeli legislation, again highlights the infringement on sovereignty and the manipulative intent of European government funding in the context of Israeli democracy.”


As protests against the legislation have been advanced, there have been more than a few misrepresentations of fact. 

It has been said that this bill is directed selectively at left wing organizations.  Not so.  It applies across the political spectrum without distinction. However (surprise!), it happens that international governments (primarily the EU or EU nations) are only interested in left wing NGOs.

Left wing organizations such as Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) and B’Tselem, which work mightily to remove Jews from Judea and Samaria, are major recipients directly, or indirectly via NIF, of European funds.  The Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair, works just as mightily to demonstrate the legal basis for Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria. And yet, not even one European nation has ever offered to provide funds for us. I say this tongue in cheek. Of course, we have never expected European funds, for the Europeans promote Palestinian Arab rights to a state.

What we see then is an inequity. Left-wing, pro-Palestinian Arab organizations and Jewish nationalist organizations do not operate on a level field, in terms of making their respective cases to the public and the Knesset.  For, as a result of foreign funding, the left wing operates with far greater fiscal ability to do PR, run tours, hire lawyers to bring court cases, produce expensive videos, etc.


And that leads to the next point of criticism: that the legislation works against the democratic process.  That is unmitigated nonsense. For quite the contrary is true. As Gerald Steingberg, head of NGO-Monitor, put it (emphasis added):

In democracies, civil society organizations are supposed to arise indigenously and not as tools of external actors promoting their own interests and political manipulations.”


There have also been claims that this legislation will interfere with free speech, and I have no clue, frankly, as to how they think they can make this case.  The representatives of NGOs supported by foreign governments will be as free to speak out and make their case as they ever were

What may happen, of course, is that their words will be less heeded when it is understood that foreign interests may be promoting them.  And that, quite frankly, is precisely as it should be. Or, to put it in the vernacular: Tough.

Again from Gerald Steinberg: “ Israel, this is not a free speech issue; rather, the NGO legislation seeks to counter what is seen by many as costly and unjust demonization and warfare enabled by European governments.”


Aaron Kalman, cited above, refers to “infringement of sovereignty,” I would like to return to this briefly.  A sovereign state is autonomous, operating independently without outside control or infringement. When I wrote about foreign governments thinking they have the right to intrude in Israeli affairs, this is what I was talking about.  There is a pattern we can discern – we see foreign governments (Western governments) that fail to respect Israel’s sovereignty. This problem transcends the issue of funding for NGOs.


One of the nations that has registered “concern” about the pending legislation is the US.  US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro spoke out on this and held a meeting with Minister Shaked to explore the issues. 


US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro (Flash90)

Credit: Flash 90

Here you can see all of those “concerns” spelled out:

Said he: In a healthy democracy, “governments must protect free expression and peaceful dissent and create an atmosphere where all voices can be heard."

Sigh.  Diplomatic doubletalk.  I would like him to explain how the law would prevent “free expression and peaceful dissent.”


But there is one issue he raised that I do wish to explore.  Comparisons have been made between the current Israeli draft legislation on NGO transparency and FARA in the US – the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  Shapiro insisted that there is no comparison, for “FARA requires individuals or organizations to register as foreign agents only if they engage in certain specified activities at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal – not simply by receiving contributions from such an entity.”

After he made this statement, I contacted an American-Israeli lawyer who has helped with the drafting of the proposed Israeli legislation and has familiarity with FARA, as well  What I learned is that it is not as simple as Shapiro would have it.  He makes it seem as if there must be a contract between a foreign government and a US individual or organization before foreign agent registration is required.  However, my legal advisor said, actually FARA allows for determination that someone is a foreign agent to be made via oral agreements as well. It is a question of “circumstances,” which can be proven by “context,” and not just by documentation.  This resembles what I discussed above.


A statement released by the US Embassy indicated that "Ambassador Shapiro sought more information about the draft legislation from the Minister.”

It’s his business?

Shaked’s response, released shortly after, was appropriate:

“I met the American ambassador and was under the impression that the American administration's interest and concern is sincere. But there is no cause for concern. Israel is a strong democracy and as such there is no need for other nations to intervene in internal legislation.” (Emphasis added)


We might ask why the US is suddenly so concerned about Israeli democracy.  This issue did not worry Obama when he sent political advisors to Israel during an election campaign, in an attempt to influence the election.  One is hard put not to come to the conclusion that the true American concern here is blocking the transparency bill.

Shaked, as a representative of the Israeli government, has gracefully acknowledged the American concern for Israeli democracy as “sincere.”  I would like to share one incident that casts a very different light on the matter (with emphasis added):

“Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton considered a secret plan created by her then-advisers to foment unrest among Palestinian citizens and spark protests in order to push the Israeli government back to the negotiating table, according to emails released as part of the investigation into the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s private email server.

“In a Dec, 18, 2011, email, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Thomas Pickering suggested that Clinton consider a plan to restart then-stalled peace negotiations by kick starting Palestinian demonstrations against Israel.

“Pickering described the effort as a potential ‘game changer in the region,’ recommending that the United States undertake a clandestine campaign to generate unrest. Clinton requested that his email be printed...

“’Most of all the United States, in my view, cannot be seen to have stimulated, encouraged or be the power behind it for reasons you will understand better than anyone,’ he wrote, suggesting that the government enlist liberal non-profit groups in Israel. ‘I believe third parties and a number NGOs [non-government organizations] on both sides would help.’”

Enough said.


I close with a fascinating video of starlings doing a “dancing cloud” over Israel.


© 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 14, 2016 at 10:37AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 12, 2016: Full Agenda

So much, so much to write about.  I suggested as much toward the end of my last posting on Friday.  But we will not by-pass the good news first:
An Israeli hi-tech agricultural start up has developed an Internet of Things technology for crops.  (Internet of Things: IoT, a network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect data.)
PhyTech, located in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai near the Gaza border, developed its plant sensor system PlantBeat in 2011.  This system records how much water crops get, how moist the soil is, what the soil temperature is, and other data. The information provided by the sensors is analyzed and downloaded to a mobile app that indicates how healthy a plant is and what to do to improve its performance.

“The low-cost sensors can be attached to sample plants to take readings within an immediate area of several square meters, with multiple sensors set up as an array to get a full picture of conditions in a growing area.”


Credit:  PhyTech

This system is already in use on some of the biggest farms in the US, Brazil, Australia, and elsewhere.  In Israel, some 60% of tomato farmers and 40% of cotton growers utilize it.

And now Sygenta, one of the world’s biggest agriculture technology businesses, is partnering with the corporate group Mitsui, of Japan, to invest an undisclosed sum in PhyTech.


Another Israeli start up, NUA Robotics, has developed a prototype for luggage that uses Bluetooth technology that syncs with a smart phone app that allows it to identify its owner and follow along.

This smart suitcase “features an anti-theft alarm, a USB port for charging electronic devices on the go, and can send real-time data, including its weight and location, to the app.”

It is hoped that this will be on the market within a year.

Credit: dailymail (UK)


This is also good news, serious good news, of far greater import:

”Spain’s Supreme Court, the Council of State, has issued a landmark ruling against the country’s Housing Ministry for illegally excluding Israel’s Ariel University from a scientific competition in 2009.

”The legal victory, which was announced last week but made public by Ariel University on Tuesday, is a significant setback for Spanish BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activists targeting the Jewish state...
”According to a university statement, Ariel received an invitation to participate in the international competition from Spain’s Housing Ministry, the organizer. The competition was open to universities from around the world.

“’In 2008, Ariel University was selected as one of 21 finalist universities,’ the statement said. ‘Ariel University was the only Israeli and Middle Eastern finalist in the competition.’

”...According to the university, in 2009, the Spanish government notified it that it had been ousted from the competition because ‘your institution is located in the occupied territories and since we are bound to respect the position of the European Union in relation to this matter, we are compelled to announce that it will not be possible for your center to continue in this competition.’

’The important legal victory shows that Europe’s treatment of Israeli entities and people in Judea and Samaria is legally baseless, and amounts to arbitrary discrimination,’ Eugene Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law in the US and a leading expert on BDS, told The Jerusalem Post. (emphasis added)
“...The legal case against the government of Spain was led by Spanish firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo on behalf of Ariel University, in coordination with the University’s Anti-BDS Committee, headed by executive committee member and lawyer Marc Zell of Jerusalem.”
In all, Ariel University was granted €100,000 in compensation.

Ariel University Center

Credit: Ariel University
We might also categorize the growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran as good news, however qualified.  Good, because if this diminishes Iran’s influence in the region, Israel stands to gain.  Most analysts see what is going on in terms of Sunni (Saudi) vs. Shiite (Iran) but you will see a more nuanced assessment by Jonathan Spyer below.
Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum of the BESA Center had this to say :
“By executing a prominent Shiite leader, the Saudi King and his son the Deputy Crown Prince sent a strong signal to Iran, to the kingdom’s beleaguered Shiite minority, and to the world. To its Iranian Shiite rival, Sunni Riyadh was saying that it would absolutely not tolerate intervention in its internal affairs. It was telling its own Shiites that it would not allow ‘Arab Spring’-like dissent. And to the world, Salman and Muhammad were signaling that the Saudis were growing into their new role as a defender and leader of the Sunni Muslim countries; especially since the Obama administration appears to be siding with Iran. (Emphasis added)

“On January 2, 2016, Saudi Arabia announced the execution of the Shiite religious leader Shaykh Nimr al-Nimr (and 46 other prisoners). [This was followed by a breaking off of diplomatic relations.]  In the region, this was the climax of escalating tension between Saudi Arabia, which perceives itself as defending the world’s Sunni Muslims, and Iran, which claims the mantle of Shiite leadership.

”...for King Salman bin Abd al-Aziz (pictured), only a year in office, and his young son and Minister of Defense, Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, this was a further demonstration of a developing muscular and assertive foreign policy.”


Credit: royalista


Never a fan of the Saudis, who maintain an exceedingly repressive regime and export radical Wahhabi Islam, I find myself pleased indeed with their challenge to Iran.  They are attempting to fill the lacunae created by an absent Obama.

Gulf Sunni states, with the exception of Oman, are expected to come forward publicly on the side of the Saudis.

According to Eliezer Tsafrir of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, the situation has a been fraught with tension “since the Saudis, having had enough of Iranian subversion near its border, launched a war in Yemen [which borders Saudi Arabia to the south] last year to defend its interests against Iranian- backed Houthis taking over the country.

”...the decision by [Sunni majority] Sudan, until recently in Iran’s orbit of influence, to cut off diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic, may be a sign of things to come. He said Khartoum’s maneuver demonstrated how far the conflict between the Sunni and Shi’ite factions has escalated...

”Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at the IDC said that both sides ‘are going to significantly increase support for proxy groups in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and even Lebanon.’”
According to Javedanar, “for now direct confrontation is unlikely as they ‘prefer fighting proxy wars against each other. And this is likely to continue.’”


Dr. Jonathan Spyer Director of the Rubin Center (formerly the GLORIA Center), IDC Herzliya, shares similar perceptions in his analysis as above, but addresses a broader context and enlarges on the complexities of the current situation – what he refers to as “trend lines” (emphasis added):

As its [Iran’s] activities in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and among the Palestinians show, Iran is not able to build lasting and deep alliances with forces outside of the Shi’a and associated minorities. And the Shi’a are a minority in the region, too few in numbers to form a basis for regional hegemony...

“The result of this is that Iranian interference in each case until now has led not to Iranian victory and the reconstitution of the area as an Iranian ally. Rather, Iranian interference leads to ongoing instability and conflict, with the Iranian client neither defeated nor fully victorious. Iran creates chaos...

So welcome to the Middle East circa 2016 – state collapse, political Islam as the dominant language, an ambitious Iran at the head of a Shi’a/minorities alliance, and Saudi Arabia seeking to mobilize Sunni resistance to Iranian plans, in competition with sundry other Sunni actors.  All taking place against a backdrop of American absence and Russian attempts to build a presence.”

In terms of that “American absence,” Spyer wrote:

“The abandonment by the US of long-standing ally Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 confirmed for the Saudis the sense that the current US administration is operating in the Middle East according to a set of perceptions quite alien to its own, and quite likely to end in disaster.”


On Friday I said in my posting that the Tel Aviv terrorist Nashat Milhem had not yet been found. About two hours after I sent it out, he was located and killed in a shoot-out.  Seems he went quickly to his village of Ara’ra in the north after the attack.  I have seen various reports about how he was located.  One involved tracking via DNA, and another referred to a phone call placed to authorities by relatives in the village, from whom he sought assistance while attempting to hide his identity.

I would like to believe that relatives did contact authorities. For we also have reports that paint quite a different picture:

According to Arutz Sheva, he made his way to his village by car less than two hours after his killing spree (which ultimately included murder of a taxi driver, Amin Shaaban).  This strongly suggests an accomplice who cooperated in his escape.

And we have a report from Times of Israel that:

“Many of the residents of Arara knew that fugitive gunman Nashat Milhem was hiding in the Arab town in northern Israel, but were reluctant to hand him over to the authorities, locals said....  
“’He received full help, in particular from his close relatives,’ local residents told the Ynet news website. ‘He slept in a different location every day. They brought him food and took care of him.’”


That there was very probably family complicity is clear: Milhem’s father, Mohammad, and brother, Ali, were first held by police and are currently under house arrest.  More significantly, yesterday an unnamed relative was remanded into custody for seven days, under suspicion that he played a “central role” in the attack.

Milhem’s body was supposed to have been returned to the family, for a quiet funeral Sunnday, but return was delayed by Security Minister Erdan out of concern that the funeral would become a celebration of terror.  The body will not be turned over to them until the family agrees to Israel’s terms. 

But why should we turn it over at all?  More so is this a reasonable question as there seems complicity of some family members.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan arrives to the weekly government meeting in Jerusalem, January 3, 2016. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

Credit: Alex Kolomoisky/POOL


I want to return to the subject of the Duma arson very briefly here.  I hope there will be time to address this in greater depth – the broader situation begs for it.  But not in this posting.

While I continue to reiterate that I cannot say with certainty that Amiram Ben-Uliel did not set the fires in Duma, I do want my readers to know that the case against him is problematic, with several matters having come to the fore:

- Apparently he confessed to the Shabak, but then recanted his confession when turned over to police.

- The indictment says he acted alone, as the minor who was supposed to act as accomplice backed out.  However, police records from the time of the arson indicate that family members on the scene reported seeing two men.  Other news reports similarly refer to multiple perpetrators on the scene.

- If you look closely at the two instances of graffiti at the site, it becomes apparent that they are very different in appearance, strongly suggesting that they were written by different people.

And this is hardly the sum total of troubling issues with regard to this case.


A full enough agenda, then, for one posting.  More soon...

Recently, I was sent commentary about the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from a Jewish perspective. And for this I express thanks.

I have always loved that song because it touched something deep inside of me; I remember singing it to myself as a young girl.  This commentary by Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, however, brought a whole new depth to it:

”But perhaps the most poignant song to emerge out of the mass exodus from Europe was ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ The lyrics were written by Yip Harburg, the youngest of four children born to Russian-Jewish immigrants. His real name was Isidore Hochberg, and he grew up in a Yiddish-speaking, Orthodox Jewish home in New York.
“The song's music was written by Harold Arlen, also a cantor's son. His real name was Hyman Arluck, and his parents were from Lithuania.

“Together, Hochberg and Arluck wrote ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ which was voted the 20th century's No. 1 song by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“In writing it, the two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness — framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen — and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words. Read the lyrics in their Jewish context and suddenly the words are no longer about wizards and Oz, [but] Jewish survival.”

Somehow, this seemed like the right song to share, as counterpoint to so much that I have written above.  Perhaps you have to be of a certain age to properly enjoy it. Although I would hope not. 

I have located a video of Judy Garland singing it, in the movie “Wizard of Oz,” 1939.  You may remember – as do I – seeing that movie in colorized version many years after the original was released.

© 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 12, 2016 at 06:06AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

January 8, 2016: A Deep Breath

Unless we breathe deeply and slowly, and focus on the good that abounds in Israel – and the good that Israel exports to the world - we run the risk of feeling overwhelmed. These are not the best of times (understatement).  And so, good news first (emphasis below added).


Credit: dreamstime
“Israeli high-tech startups were red hot in 2015, and are entering 2016 as exciting commodities for investors worldwide, according to numerous end-of-year market reports....

“We have grown accustomed to the presence in Israel of global giants like Facebook, Apple, IBM, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Intel and more,” writes Rubi Suliman in the PwC report.

The amounts currently invested in Israeli high-tech are unprecedented, and it seems that this will bear fruit in the form of more innovative companies that will keep Israeli high-tech rolling forward...

“Asian delegations to Israel grabbed headlines throughout 2015 and reports show that it was definitely not a one-off.

’The romance with Asia is serious. It is new and exciting for both sides and this shows signs of a long term commitment,’ Jonathan Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, told ISRAEL21c in our predictions for 2016.”


“Volunteers from the Engineers without Borders (EwB) chapter at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology joined up with a rural community in northern Ethiopia to design and build a safe drinking-water system for their school.

“The system collects rainwater from the rooftop during the rainy season and stores it in a stone reservoir constructed as part of the project. The water is cleaned and treated before reaching the school’s holding tank.

“As a result, more than 600 students finally have access to safe drinking and washing water during the school day, all year long. The visiting Israelis formed an engineering club for older children at the school and trained them to be responsible for the maintenance of the system and treating the water.”

EwB-Technion members taught the schoolchildren about water purity and showed the older kids how to maintain the system. Photo courtesy of Nimrod Polonsky, Matan Segman, Tal Dana fromTechnions Spokespersons Office

Credit:  Technion spokesperson


“When American troops are injured in the field, the first piece of life-saving medical equipment they may come into contact with nowadays is an Israeli-invented mini-sized manual ventilator. And not just American soldiers on the battlefield; the Pocket BVM has been used to treat thousands of people at the scene of numerous natural disasters, like in the huge earthquake that devastated Nepal earlier this year...”

A Pocket BVM system, out of the box (Courtesy)



“When an infectious pandemic hits – SARS, swine flu, MERS or Ebola, for instance – health officials in dozens of countries turn to the Israeli company Beth-El Industries for its IsoArk biological isolation units...

“In the world market, Beth-El Industries is a key supplier to many NATO and other armies and NGOs.”

At Kaplan Medical Center, a patient is isolated inside the IsoArk tent, protecting everyone in the intensive care unit from infectious disease. Photo courtesy of Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot

Courtesy Kaplan Medical Center, Rehovot

Are those who support BDS ready to rethink their positions yet?


Before moving on to other matters, I want to turn to the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube.  Most of you have seen my previous references to this important work. You can find a good deal of information about us on our website: (please sign up if you have not yet done so), and you can see highlights of our campaign to date here:

Until now we have worked primarily in the Knesset, and we will continue to do so.  But at this point, we are eager to reach out with innovative and important projects outside of the Knesset as well.

A significant venture we are advancing now is a series of classes for a select group of Israeli law students – all of whom study in law schools that tilt left (they all do) – in order to provide them with important information regarding Israel’s rights in Judea & Samaria and all of Jerusalem, and help them understand how to apply this information in their practices.

If you would like to know more about what we are planning, please contact me directly.


We call it the matsav – the “situation” – and everyone knows what is meant by this.  The word does not necessarily mean a bad situation, but with the current state of affairs, that is what is clearly understood.  “I’m not sleeping well because of the matsav.”


Terror-related issues remain uppermost in the minds of most Israelis.

Last Friday afternoon, in a terrorist shooting on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, two people were killed, two seriously injured and five others injured moderately to lightly. The attacker shot 15 times with a submachine gun, aiming into various establishments such as a bar, restaurant and café.

The terrorist was subsequently identified as Nashat Milhem, who had served time in prison for attacking a soldier.

Dead in that attack were Shimon Ruimi:

Shimon Ruimi, 30, from the southern town of Ofakim, had traveled to Tel Aviv for a friend's birthday when he was killed in a shooting attack in the city on January 1, 2016 (photo via Facebook)


and Alon Bakai:

Alon Bakal, 26, was killed in a shooting attack in central Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016 (photo via Facebook)


At first, the terrorist’s father rushed forth, ostensibly to lend assistance – he called for his son to surrender, etc.  Subsequently he and other family members where picked up by police and questioned as possible accomplices.


In this instance, the terrorist fled, and was not caught either by security or by bystanders.  Tel Aviv was combed – while mothers kept their children home from school - and then after some days it was declared that he had left the area and is either in the north or, it is thought, in a PA area.  As I write, he is still at large. This is the first time this has happened in the course of the current intifada.

What I want to note as well, is that there seem to be fewer stabbings and vehicle attacks now, and more shootings. An escalation.


And there is something else notable about this particular incident. Milhem (pictured) is from the Israeli Arab village of Ara’ra, in the north of Israel, close to the village of Umm al-Fahm – a hotbed of Arab radicalism that served as the focus of the Israel Islamic Movement, northern branch.  All in all, a troublesome area.

The suspect in the January 1, 2016 shooting attack in Tel Aviv, 29-year-old Nashat Milhem, as seen after a 2007 arrest (Channel 10 news)

Credit: Channel 10 news

A day after it happened, Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the scene of the attack and made a statement that I find significant (emphasis added):

He was unwilling, he said, to tolerate “enclaves with no law enforcement, with Islamist incitement and an abundance of illegal weapons that are often fired at happy events, weddings, and during endless criminal incidents...That time is over...

We will demand loyalty to the laws of the state from everyone. One cannot say ‘I am Israeli in my rights and Palestinian in my responsibilities.’ Whoever wants to be Israeli, must be Israeli all the way, with rights and responsibilities, and the first and foremost responsibility is to follow the laws of the state...

“I call on all Israeli citizens, and especially Muslim Israeli citizens, to follow this path, a path of integration, coexistence and peace, and not a path of incitement, hatred and zealotry. We are all citizens of the State.”


And I say, Mazel Tov, this was long past due.  Psychological identification by some – not all!! – Israeli Arabs with Palestinian Arabs is a major problem, and in recent years Israeli Arabs have been increasingly radicalized by Palestinian Arabs who play on that dual sense of loyalty. It does not work and damages Israel. 

The prime minister did not paint all Israel Arabs with one brush. He praised those who voluntarily enlist in the IDF or do national service, and those who spoke out against the attack. 

At the same time, he announced that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich had established a plan to greatly increase law enforcement services in Arab areas throughout the country.


At Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, the prime minister enlarged on these plans.  There will be increased enforcement of the law with regard to building, regulations against noise coming from mosques, and incitement coming from mosques, social media and the educational system. Additionally, there will be confiscation of large quantities of illegal arms in Arab communities.

In spite of the fact that Netanyahu said that this increased law enforcement would also help Arabs, many of whom suffer as a result of lawlessness in their communities – which results in heightened criminality - some Arab leaders charged him with inciting against the Arabs of Israel and singling out one group.  Netanyahu – thankfully - was not moved by these charges, and I would dare say that in light of the terrorism our nation is currently coping with, these plans will be most welcome by a majority of Israelis (including some Muslim Arabs).

Commented Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) (emphasis added):

Those who want to live in peace with us, we will respect, and those who don’t, like that blood thirsty terrorist – and the condemnation of his father did not impress me – we need to fight them will all our strength and step up the enforcement of the law...

”...the desire to kill Jews came from somewhere. So with all due respect to the condemnation, the phenomenon is very wide and deep, and it needs to be dealt with at its root among the extremists among the Israeli Arabs.”

Knesset Interior Affairs Committee chairman David Amsalem (Likud), for his part, announced that he would swiftly call a meeting of his committee to consider the issue of illegal weapons.

“In the Arab population alone there are thousands of illegal weapons, many of which were stolen from the IDF.  They are used every day and illegally to harm citizens of the state in criminal and nationalist acts.”


At the very end of December a decision had been made to allocate an additional $4 billion towards services in minority communities - Muslims, Druze, Christians and Circassians, with Muslim Arabs predominating. This is as it should be.  Services of equitable levels in communities across Israel and law enforcement of equitable stringency.

After Netanyahu’s announcement regarding increased law enforcement, there were murmurs in the Arab community about the additional allocations being tied to this, which is being denied.  Illegal housing construction will be impacted, however, with a different sort of housing being funded.


After Shabbat we might look at news about Hezbollah, Russia, the PA, heightened tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia...  There is no end...

But as we are going into Shabbat, I close here with a traditional version of Shalom Aleichem, traditionally sung on Friday evening.      

Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,
of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.
Come in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,
of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.


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

Posted on Friday, January 8, 2016 at 06:58AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint