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August 19, 2016: Truth Sacrificed

The sacrifice is on the alter of politically correct left-wing politics.  And that is all I wish to deal with today in the limited time available to me before Shabbat.  It is a top-flight priority.

I waited, during the course of this past week, for Defense Minister Lieberman’s final decision with regard to demolishing the illegal Arab village of Susiya.   


The High Court, which is involved here, wanted to know what the position of the State was on the matter.  The State’s position is always factored into the decision.

The answer to the Court is still indecisive.  A request was made that the State be given additional time.  According to one version, time until the end of October was requested. Another version says Israel is seeking to delay this until after the US elections.  In due course I will have further information on this, but I consider it imperative that I proceed now, in order to make critical points.
What is clear is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided to become involved, because of the political hullabaloo surrounding this issue. There is the possibility that he will ultimately seek a “compromise” that would involve legalization retroactively of the village or some part thereof. 
This is terribly troubling, because caving to world pressure – when the facts and the law are with you - is not the way for a sovereign state to go.
My best information is that it would be Lieberman’s choice to demolish the village. 

Credit: Matzav
There is also talk, about which I likely will have more to say in time, about demolishing only those structures put up since 2013, when there had been a specific order by the High Court freezing further building.  In continuing to build, the Arabs had acted in direct defiance of the court order.


That the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters misrepresent the truth is hardly surprising. They do it every day, so why not with regard to Susiya? 

What is deeply troubling for those of us in touch with the situation is that so many in the media are happy to accept those misrepresentations and run them as “facts,” without taking the time to thoroughly investigate what is being said.  Truth sacrificed.

It is astounding what a major issue has been made internationally of the fate of this one little illegal Arab village called Susiya.  We’re talking about squatters.  Yet this has become the flagship for fighting for Palestinian Arab rights.  And it seems that anything goes in this fight – as long as it advances the cause of Arab rights to the land and weakens the international image of Israel.

It is precisely for this reason that the Israeli government must not cave to pressure. 


I want to devote the remainder of this posting to refuting the major misrepresentations with regard to this issue.

Please, dear friends, I need you to join this fight. 

First, share this posting with others – friends, family, associates, lists - as broadly as possible.

Put it up on Facebook and invite sharing there.

Write letters to the editor of publications that are running distorted articles on the issue. Short letters that simply refute basic misinformation.  Do talkbacks to articles on the Internet in the same manner.


One of the claims being made is that the land on which the Arabs have put up their illegal buildings is “Palestinian agricultural land.”  But this is factually inaccurate

The Arabs’ claim is predicated on an 1881 Ottoman Empire Land grant document, which has never been produced in court.

But even if it had been, it would be insufficient. For Ottoman law said that land given for agriculture purposes had to be cultivated, and the taxes paid.  If a period of three years elapsed during which time the person to whom the land deed had been given failed to pay taxes and did not cultivate the land, it reverted back to the governing authority.

Aerial photos make it clear that there was nothing – with the possible exception of 3 or 4 structures - on this land prior to 2000.  It certainly was not under continuous cultivation by those now claiming it.

In point of fact, the land is Israeli State land


Another claim is that the 300 or so Arab residents of the village would be homeless if it were demolished.  This is a typical ploy, demonstrating how the Arabs suffer and how cruel Israel is to them.

Never mentioned is the fact that the majority of those 300 have homes in the village of Yatta in Area A. This is documented by population registries maintained by the Civil Administration.  Most of those living in Yatta who claim to be residents of Susiya are members of the Najawa clan. 

Homeless?  Give me a break.


I also want to mention the fact that the State of Israel offered the so-called residents of Susiya an alternate plot of land in Area C near Yatta, on which to relocate. This was done - in order to demonstrate concern for all those involved – with knowledge that most of the residents actually lived in Yatta, 

The residents rejected the offer.  Had they accepted it, there would be no way now for them to claim that they were being evicted, and left homeless.  Instead the residents appealed to the Court to legalize the current village of Susiya and to permit enlargement.  The Court rejected this appeal, accepting the position of the State that because of planning considerations the current location could not be authorized for construction.  Please remember that this illegal village is in a sensitive area, adjacent to land that has been declared a protected archeological site.

We are looking at an illegal land grab that the Arabs hope they can pull off by enlisting international support.


The legal situation here involves many court decisions over time, for the squatters and those representing them have entered one petition and appeal after another. That is why the issue is still pending after so much time. While I am not in a position to review each court ruling, what I wish to emphasize is that - according to my best information - although the issue has been revisited and revisited, at no point in time has any Israeli court found with the squatters and declared that they have rights to the land and can legally build there.


© 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, August 19, 2016 at 08:01AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 12, 2016: Outrage

I’m talking about steam-coming-out-of-my-ears outrage. 

The subject is the allegedly ancient Arab village of Susiya.  The issue is Israel’s rights as a sovereign state operating under rules of law.


The background, briefly:

In the Hebron Hills of Judea there are the remains of an ancient Jewish city known as Susiya, which flourished in the Talmudic era. It is estimated that about 3,000 people – all Jews, observing a religious life – lived there at its height.  Archeological remains, including a synagogue, that have been excavated can be visited today.

Credit: Susiya Tourist Center
Still retained within the synagogue is an ancient mosaic floor:


Credit: mfa


Not far from this archeological site, there is a modern Jewish town of Susiya.

But within the area of the archeological remains there is also an Arab squatters’ village. It consists today of some 60+ constructions of concrete, tin and canvas.  They call this village Susiya as well.  And those squatting on the land claim that their village has been there for a very long time.




The facts tell a very different story:

There is no evidence of an old Arab village there.  Aerial photos indicate that with the exception of four building constructed in the 90s, there was nothing on the site until after 2000.  In fact, when the surveys conducted by the British mandatory powers in 1945 - which mention all of the villages in the area - are examined, no mention of a village named Susiya is found. 
The site had been used seasonally by Bedouin shepherds, who found shelter in the caves in the region.  But in 1986, 277 dunams (about 68 acres) of land in the area, including this location, were declared to be an archeological site, at which time the caves were no longer available to the Bedouin.

Most of the buildings went up between 2011 and 2013 in defiance of a court order forbidding the building.


Now here it gets really interesting:

When the population registry of the Civil Administration was examined, it was found that most of the people claiming to live in Susiya had homes in the nearby town of Yatta (which is in Area A under PA jurisdiction).

How about that!  They move between their real homes in Yatta and the hovels in Susiya as it serves their political purpose – they come out when an entourage of left wing activists or a cadre of journalists (also most likely left wing) is due to visit.  When I was there, on a Regavim tour, the place was empty.


What we are in fact seeing here is a land grab by the Palestinian Arab Nawajah family of Yatta, which has built illegally and in blatant violation of Israeli court orders.

Two facts must be emphasized.  One is that this matter has been thoroughly adjudicated.  That is, the courts – with due process and over a period of time – fully and fairly considered the issues.  The courts determined that the claims of the squatters were without basis, that they had been operating in contempt of court, and that the buildings that had been erected must be demolished.  This was not a determination arrived at lightly: the buildings had to come down.

And then, even though these were squatters without legal rights to the land, an offer was made to them regarding an allocation of land, in area C beyond the archeological site, near Yatta, to which they might move. But they refused and applied for legalization of their current site – which was rejected by the Court.  Aside from everything else, a village was not about to be legalized in a designated archeological area, which requires protection.

Further details can be seen here:

After multiple delays, the time now draws near for the demolition of many of the structures in illegal Arab Susiya.  It was last month that the Court ruled on this yet again.


But nothing is ever simple here in Israel, where the Western world seems to think it has a right to a say about everything we do.  This is the outrage: that others think they can tell a sovereign state that operates according to the rule of law what to do.  The interference is breathtakingly offensive.  We are forced to wonder if they would imagine interfering in the internal affairs of any other state in this fashion.

The imminent demolition of buildings in Arab Susiya has become a cause célèbre in left wing circles.  “Susiya 4ever!” they say, as if this is some noble cause.



Even a Senator – Dianne Feinstein – imagined she had a right to say something about what Israel was doing. And several NGOs have been involved. 

Rabbis for Human Rights has now actually approached the High Court and asked that the demolition orders be shelved.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will be going to the Court on Monday to present the State’s case on this.  If the State were to recommend that the demolition be shelved, the Court would likely accept this – there would be no reason not to. 
Word is that Lieberman will tell the Court we must go ahead.

But the pressure on our government is unreal. With all of the hullabaloo, the worst that has happened in recent days is that the State Department has weighed in. On July 16th, State Department spokesman John Kirby let it be known that the US was “closely following developments.”

We need them to monitor what we are doing?  There is a warning implicit in this.

At a press briefing he said (emphasis added):

We strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village. Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes, would be harmful and provocative...”

Elsewhere it has been reported that the US is putting great pressure on Israel with regard to this matter, and has indicated that if the demolition proceeds “the US response would be extremely severe.”


I hope and trust that steam is now coming out of your ears as well. 

It is imperative that the Israeli government stand strong in the face of this.  Otherwise our legal system is degraded and our state is demeaned. If the US finds it can push us around here, what comes next?

Please, share this broadly, so that others can know the truth of this situation.


I promise to return to other issues very very soon.

My wishes for a Shabbat Shalom. 

And then, immediately following – for those who observe – an easy fast.  On Saturday night and Sunday Tisha B’Av will be observed - a day of mourning for the destruction of our Temples and other evils that have befallen us at this time.


© 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, August 12, 2016 at 06:40AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 10, 2016: Making Our Way

I hope and trust that my readers will understand: my postings are less frequent and possibly shorter because I am giving priority to my work on the Legal Grounds Campaign.  Once again, I invite anyone who would like to know more to contact me. 


There is no way I can do justice in my posts to all that is going on in the US now, though it grieves me greatly.  I see a once great nation spiraling down, down. 

It’s not “just” that Obama has paid ransom to Iran for the release of US hostages - and there is no doubt that he did.  It is that the American electorate is not screaming like crazy about the way in which their president shamed the nation.

There is an apathy that is lethal to a democracy.  A readiness to be oblivious to what stares us in the face – with regard, for example, to Hillary’s absolutely compulsive lying.  (See this re: Hillary’s lying: and think about the implications for American security.)

I can only touch one base and another as I write, sharing links to relevant articles and videos as I go...


Today I share a video of an interview with a Gold Star mother, Karen Vaughn. Pro-Trump, she says she found him to be “an extraordinarily warm, kind, soft-spoken, gentle man” in the course of a meeting he had with Gold Star parents. 

This alternate perspective is important.  I urge you to hear her full statement and then consider sharing it:


Twitter @forourson


Following are a handful of reports that fall under the rubric “it’s about time!”  Every step towards sanity and self-preservation that emerges is welcome.  The good news is that we seem to be getting smarter for ourselves, and less worried about what the world will say.

“This week, the cabinet decided to establish an inter-ministerial task force charged with locating tourists who come to Israel to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and other forms of delegitimization. The decision comes after a considerable period in which various groups have sent radical members to Israel, disguised as tourists, to document ‘human rights violations’ and contribute to the anti-Israel campaign.”

I had written recently about a single instance in which such an “activist” was banned from entry into Israel, and had expressed the hope that that action might be signaling a new policy.


On Tuesday, five illegal Arab structures in the Hevron Hills region of Area C were demolished by the IDF.  Three of them were funded by the EU – you may be able to see the blue label of the EU in the picture.

west bank demolition

Credit: COGAT

This is being celebrated as an important move by Israel – acting against this illegality, which is designed to weaken Israel’s control in Judea and Samaria.  And yes, I too celebrate it.  But understand that this – while perhaps having huge symbolic significance – is actually the merest drop in that proverbial bucket.  If you were to go out to the various areas where the EU-funded illegal building is taking place – in the E1 area outside of Maaleh Adumim, for example - you would be astounded at how much there is.

See Regavim’s report on this for further information:

And so, while I celebrate, I hope to see a great deal more action on this front.  It all must be done with a deaf ear turned to the harsh criticism from the likes of the US State Department.
“The Ministry of Defense has issued tenders to several companies to build a concrete barrier extending several stories below ground to mitigate the threat of terror tunnels; the barriers will have sensors to detect digging, and will completely encircle Gaza...

“The barrier is supposed to end the tunnel threat once and for all...”,7340,L-4836808,00.html

Mazel tov!  Let the work begin, and may the barrier go deep enough to thoroughly do the job.


A screening process is going to be put in place in Israeli prisons that will prevent members of Hamas from making phone calls.  It was discovered that these terrorists were smuggling in phones and using them to plan attacks from inside the the prison.


Actually, Hamas is in the news quite a bit these days:

It has been revealed that Muhammad Halabi, who worked as manager of operations for World Vision in Gaza, was arrested in a joint Shin Bet-IDF-Israel Police operation at the Erez Crossing on June 15.  The Shin Bet, after thorough investigation, charges that he siphoned off to Hamas tens of millions of dollars of the charity’s money. World Vision is an international NGO located in the US. 
Halabi, a long-time member of Hamas, was hand-picked in 2005 to infiltrate the organization and steal funds.  He was indicted in a Beersheva court on a number of charges this past week. 

Muhammad Halabi, a member of Hamas and manager of the World Vision charity's operations in the Gaza Strip, was indicted on August 4, 2016, for diverting the charity's funds to the terrorist organization. (Shin Bet)

Credit: Shin Bet

The Shin Bet says a full 60% of World Vision’s budget for Gaza – some $7.6 million per year - went to Hamas. 

Halabi accomplished this by creating dummy projects, in which a good percentage of the funds allocated to it was actually turned over to Hamas.  In addition, the dummy projects allowed cover for Hamas in other ways.  For example, there was a greenhouse construction project that provided an opportunity to check out sites for tunnels. 

The money taken went for the military use of Hamas; naturally some was diverted for the “personal needs” of Hamas leaders.

An incredibly complex scheme all in all.  World Vision is denying this would have been possible, but the Shin Bet has details, and Halabi has confessed.

Nor is this the end of the story:

Following another Shin Bet investigation, Israel has charged Wahid Abd Allah Borsh, an engineer in the UN Development Program, of funneling funds to Hamas as well.  He was arrested at the Erez crossing.  Borsh has also confessed, saying that in 2014, he was directed by Hamas to “focus on his work in the UNDP in a way that would allow Hamas to extract the greatest possible benefit from him.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has now said, “we must increase the oversight of the monies that flow to human rights organizations, which are repeatedly used to transfer money to terrorist groups.”
Comes the dawn.


Avi Dichter, former head of the Shin Bet and now a Likud MK chairing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, says that the world is “hideously naïve” about the diversion of charity funds to Hamas.  He charges that just about 100% of UN relief workers in Gaza are Hamas.


Credit: Wikipedia

And another note on Hamas, in a different vein:

In June, Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, announced that municipal elections (for selection of local councils in Palestinian Arab cities, towns and villages) would take place in Palestinian Arab areas of Judea and Samaria (which they refer to as the West Bank) on October 8. 

Credit: Wikipedia

At the time, it was assumed that the elections would not be held in Gaza, as Hamas would not permit it, and that Hamas would not be participating in those elections.  There is speculation that the PA decided to hold these elections to demonstrate to the world that it is committed to democratic process. 

These elections will not affect anything beyond the local situation.  (Abbas was elected president for a four-year term that ran out in 2009, and which he extended for one more year.  There has been no presidential election since January 2005, and he’s not about to declare one now.)

However, the situation has now shifted, as Hamas has declared its intention to fully participate.

The dynamics of this situation bear watching.  Islamic Jihad has declared it will not participate in elections, as “resistance” is more effective. 


In anticipation of those elections, Hamas has now put out a video showing how good things are in Gaza because of its work.  The signs people are holding express gratitude to Hamas.  Amazing:


Veteran journalist Pinchas Inbari says that the PA is crumbling. It has already lost control of some districts and stands to lose more.

“In Hebron, for instance, the large clans of Mount Hebron have linked up with each other, reestablished the Tribal Council of Mount Hebron, and sent a delegation to Amman to express loyalty to the king of Jordan under the Jordanian flag...

“Nablus, for its part, has gone into a tailspin of total anarchy. It is under the rule of gangs, with exchanges of gunfire in the heart of the city and attempts at political assassinations.

Mark this down as just one more reason – as if we need additional reasons – why the notion of Israel negotiating with the PA is idiocy.  It is a mark of the breakdown of reason and sanity in the Western world that this is still actively promoted.
Right on!

“A European member of parliament is forming the first official caucus group that will support building homes in Judea and Samaria, and promote free trade with imports made and labeled from these areas in Israel.

“’I see Israel as a friend and also as an important ally of Europe, in defense and in the fight against terrorism and for this purpose and to promote these common values, I have decided to put together . . . a group of friends of Judea and Samaria,’ Petr Mach, a Czech Republic member of the European parliament said...”

European MP Petr Mach is forming the first official caucus group that will support building homes in Judea and Samaria. Photo: Martin Kozák via Wikimedia Commons.

European MP Petr Mach is forming the first official caucus group that will support building homes in Judea and Samaria. Photo: Martin Kozák via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons


Ending today with a report that reflects upon who we are, and we they are:

In the immediate aftermath to the horrendous attack that ended with the death of Rabbi Micki Mark and injury to members of his family, two Palestinian Arabs came to help.  One of them, a doctor, subsequently lost his job because he helped Jews. 

Now members of the Hevron Regional Council are attempting to assist these Arabs by securing Israeli work permits for them.

Said Yochai Damri, head of the Regional Council:

” is reasonable that in instances like these we are obligated, as the Jewish people, to express our gratitude to the people who behave like human beings as is expected from them in these instances.

“Now, of all time, is the time to strengthen the positive elements and send a clear message that normal and positive conduct will be rewarded in kind,”,7340,L-4839005,00.html

© 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, August 10, 2016 at 06:37AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

August 3, 2016: Seek the Light

The light is there, my friends, although sometimes it’s more obvious than at others. These are tough times, on several fronts.  But don’t stop looking.
Haven’t started a posting with a good news item in a while now.  But today I will – we need it.  Actually, there are several items, each with a different focus.

Omri Caspi, Israeli NBA star, is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Thursday, bringing a group of fellow-NBA players with him on a mission to improve Israel’s image abroad.  There is no better way to combat anti-Israel sentiment than by letting people see what Israel really is.

Omri Casspi

Credit: Moshe Shai/Flash 90


The IDF has unveiled its new APC (Armored Personnel Carrier), the Eitan.  Capable of carrying 12 soldiers, it is the most sophisticated yet, and well shielded.  As I understand it, this is the first version that has wheels, and a capacity to move at a good speed.   In addition, it has “an active interception defense system capable of intercepting incoming anti-tank missiles.”  This will save lives during battle, and that is always good news.

The new Eitan APC. (Photo: Ministry of Defense)

Credit: Ministry of Defense,7340,L-4835980,00.html


“Egypt-Israel ties have been strengthening in the three years since the military coup that ousted former President Mohamed Morsi, a Cairo-based political analyst wrote on Friday.

“In an op-ed published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Arabic-English website Fikra Forum, Mohamed Soliman said that this flourishing relationship – which sprouted in the immediate aftermath of the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government – has been a two-way street.

“’Shortly after the July 3 [2013] military intervention, Israel began unequivocally backing the new regime,’ he wrote...”

“Soliman also said that none of Sisi’s supporters have been able to cause him to budge on his pro-Israel positions. On the contrary, he asserted, ‘Sisi has instead turned the former narrative on its head, insisting that Egypt-Israel relations are a necessity in light of their shared regional foe: Hamas, seen as an extension of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, Sisi [pictured] has shifted Egypt’s role with Israel from that of an “existential struggle” to a partnership of necessity.’” (Emphasis added)

Credit: aharam


After the UN Economic and Social Council released a statement about the “economic and social repercussions of the occupation on the living conditions of....the Arab population of the Golan,” Dulan abu-Saleh, the mayor of Majdal Shams, the largest Druze town in the Golan, decided to speak out.

Calling the statement a “total joke,” he said:

“I don’t understand what they’re talking about, it’s laughable.” Druze in the Golan “don’t serve in the IDF and so far are only receiving from the state.
“Why don’t they condemn the horrors in Syria, where dozens of children are killed daily? Golan residents have a good life.”


This is one of those “what took so long?” news items that may herald a tougher stance by Israel:

For the first time, a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist was on Tuesday deported from Israel, Channel 2 News reports.

Soon after she landed at Ben Gurion International Airport, the activist from Switzerland, who is a member of a Christian organization which works in cooperation with the BDS movement was taken in for questioning and then deported, after Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) issued a deportation order against her.

According to Channel 2 News the activist, Rita Faye, visited Israel several times in the past and is known to the IDF mainly from her activities at checkpoints in the Jericho area.  In the past Faye would harass the soldiers stationed in the area and record their activities.  She would then send the information she collected abroad.

The deportation order was issued by Deri after the IDF received information that she intends to return to Israel, the report said.


I had planned to table US political issues until my next posting – Heaven knows there is enough to write without this.  But I find myself pulled back to some key issues, and so take this detour from my intended agenda.

What I am seeing is a Donald Trump who is capable of being crude and insensitive in his off-the-cuff statements.  I would be misrepresenting if I said otherwise.  Just as I would be lying if I claimed everything he says plays well with me.  However, there is a big “but” here:

For I am also seeing that his statements are distorted by the media and taken out of context, and more often than not blown up to be far more important than they are.   Particularly when you consider that broader context.  And that is what I want to look at.


One example will suffice for now, with more to follow.

At the Democratic Convention, as undoubtedly most of you know, there was a short speech by Khizr Khan, the American Muslim father of a soldier who died in Iraq in 2004; Humayun Khan gave his life while fending off a suicide bomber. 

Afterward, Trump alluded to the total silence of this man’s wife: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.” That was it.  The unspoken implication was that she was not permitted to speak because she was Muslim.

It was a mistake. The media lambasted Trump’s statement, and painted Khan in noble terms – the suffering father who spoke with dignity, etc.

But to properly assess this, we need to go back and consider Khizr Khan’s speech.  For he did not speak as a grieving father so much as a political operator.  Waving a copy of the Constitution in the air, he suggested that perhaps Trump had never read it.



Credit; The Daily Beast

An insult to Trump.

Then he instructed Trump that it contains the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law,” implying that Trump’s position contravenes these concepts as advanced in the Constitution.

Finally, Khan observed, “If it was up to Donald Trump, he [Humayan] never would have been in America.”


At this point I say, “Hold your horses!” (Does this date me?)  There are gross misrepresentations here.

First, “liberty” and “equal protection of law” when found in the Constitution apply to citizens of the United States, not to immigrants who are not citizens and, many of whom are actually illegal.  It is certain that Khizr Khan knows this, because he himself is an attorney.  So his words were no more than galling political sophistry.

Ditto with regard to the suggestion that Trump’s policy would have prevented Khan’s son from ever being in America because he wants Muslims blocked from entry.  What Trump has said is that Muslims from countries that are problematic should be prevented from entering until a proper vetting process can be set in place. That is very different from saying no Muslims may enter the US.  When the Khans came into America in 1980, the situation was not was it is today: there was no flood of radical refugees.  Surely Khan knows this as well.


With all his apparently elevated and passionate statements about accepting all kinds of people in America, what Khan did was to obfuscate the issues, conflating the honor of his hero son with Trump’s desire to block the entry into America of dangerous Muslim radicals.  It was subtle, but he was mocking Trump – brushing away a serious problem. 

In the criticism of Trump, we heard again and again that he shouldn’t have attacked Gold Star parents – American parents who have suffered the loss of a soldier son.  They are sacrosanct.  But what the Clinton campaign did was dirty pool. They used a man who had this sacrosanct cover and allowed him to politicize and attack.  The great irony here is that his son was killed by radical Islamists, and he might well have come forward to say that they must be stopped.

On Saturday night, Trump released a statement that said, in part (emphasis added):

“Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe. The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country to do us further harm. Given the state of the world today, we have to know everything about those looking to enter our country, and given the state of chaos in some of these countries, that is impossible.”

“While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan, who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.”


Political analyst Allen West, former military career officer, former Congressman, and a straight-talking man if ever there was one, put out a statement addressed to Khizr Khan.  His final observation was this (emphasis added):

"Mr. Khan, I grieve for the loss of your son. However, I grieve even more that you used his sacrifice and loss as nothing more than a damn politicized stunt. May God forgive you for it."

Context, my friends, context. The big picture.  How else we even begin to make sense of this crazy campaign? 


If we can find a light side in the political goings-on, it is the most recent statement by the president that Trump is “unfit” to be president.  Obama, arguably the worst president the US has ever had, says this?

But let us move to other matters...


I want to call your attention to this article – “The invisible industry of deceit” by Ardie Geldman - because it touches on something that every visitor to Israel should be aware of:

“...the myriad overseas visitors to Israel and the PA who at any given point during the year may be found taking part in some organized program of subtle political indoctrination. Collectively, these activities constitute an invisible industry of lies and deceit. Invisible because they arouse virtually no attention, including of the government of the State of Israel. These programs represent the independent efforts of many organizations. They are not coordinated or run by a central authority. All these organizations, however, share one fundamental objective, and that is to proselytize the message that the Palestinians are an oppressed people and the State of Israel is the oppressor.”  (Emphasis added)
The word from here is caution.  Determine the political orientation of any group that provides “information” on the situation in the course of a tour, in Jerusalem or in Judea and Samaria.  Where you have doubts, check facts.
And then, a video that is it is difficult to wrap your head around, because it is so counter-intuitive: a Palestinian Arab father trying to get his small son killed by Israeli soldiers.  But it’s real.  One more instance of what we deal with.  Share it, please, so that people know. Note how the “big bad” Israeli soldier shook the child’s hand.
Consider, as well, what this cute little kid will be like in a few years.  Not so cute anymore.


One of several subjects that needs to be addressed is the recent outrageous State Department statement on Israeli “settlements.”
In yesterday’s JPost, Alan Baker, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, wrote about this issue in “The curious State Department announcement on Israeli settlements” (emphasis added):
”On reading the recent statement issued by the US State Department on Israeli settlements, an average reader...could only conclude that Israel’s settlement activity is the source of all evil in the world...No international terrorism, no Islamic State, no Iranian nuclear threat, no Syria, no Hezbollah, no Hamas, no hunger, no global warming. Only Israeli settlements.

”...the terminology used and the biting and incisive verve of the statement raise some serious questions as to the basic knowledge, seriousness, professionalism and responsibility of the writer and of whoever approved the issuance of the statement.

”The State Department’s position regarding settlements has evolved over the years. While previous administrations described them as an ‘obstacle to peace,’ the Obama and Kerry administration have degraded them to being ‘illegitimate.’ The recent inclusion by the State Department of areas within Israel’s capital city Jerusalem as illegal settlements is a novel addition.

”But to describe settlements – both in the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem, as ‘corrosive to the cause of peace,’ as ‘systematically undermining the prospects for a two-state solution,’ as ‘entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict’ and as ‘provocative and counterproductive’ – is nothing more than a sad, political exaggeration, out of all proportion to the issue’s actual size or significance...
”Furthermore, in voicing its one-sided allegations, the State Department seems to be willfully and systematically ignoring the well-established and documented legal, historic and political rights of the Jewish people regarding the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria, as stressed consistently over many years by Israel.

”The State Department should be aware of the fact that its repeated questioning of the legality of Israel’s settlement activity and Israel’s claims regarding Jerusalem in fact prejudge these central negotiating issues and play into the Palestinian and European denials of Israel’s rights. As such, the State Department statements are the very antithesis of any peace negotiation process, and run counter to the professed support by the US of a negotiated, peaceful solution...
”But above all, in fixating on settlements, the State Department is deliberately turning a blind eye to the mortal danger of Islamic terrorism and the hatred of Jews that permeates Palestinian society. In so doing, the department is in fact giving a green light to the Palestinian leadership, media and administrative bodies that openly incite, encourage and support terrorism, violence and boycotts against Israel.

”By the same token, the State Department is giving sanction to the EU and its constituent member states, as well as to the UN and its specialized agencies to exacerbate their hostile policies against Israel...” 

Credit: JCPA

This is a worrisome state of affairs.  There had been talk that Obama, in his last months in the White House, would make things as difficult as possible for Israel.
What apparently prompted the State Department statement in question was the announcement of plans to build 770 new housing units in Gilo. This neighborhood in the south of Jerusalem was built after the Six Day War.  While it is over the Green Line (which I see as irrelevant in any event), most of the land on which it is located had been purchased by Jews before WWII and never relinquished.  The remaining land on which it stands was sold to Israelis by Jabra Hamis the former mayor of Beit Jallah.

It is not possible to imagine any scenario in which Gilo would be part of a Palestinian state (Heaven forbid there should be one at all). 
On the one hand, the Israeli government issued a statement refuting the alleged facts and contentions of the US, as well as of the EU and the UN. 
On the other, we see Netanyahu walking that tightrope – making statements designed to demonstrate his readiness to negotiate a “two-state solution,” etc. etc.  I see where he’s going: his hope of emerging at the end of Obama’s term in office with minimal damage done is clear.  And yet, as ever, it makes me want to bang my head against the wall.
What makes this entire situation even more worrisome is that discussions on the new Memorandum of Understanding regarding US military aid to Israel are said to be in their final stages.  There had been a hiatus in those negotiations, with expectation that Netanyahu would hold off.  The current MOU does not expire until 2018.
Why the prime minister has now decided to attempt to conclude a deal (if this is the case) is not clear to me.  While in dollar amounts it would be huge, the terms are not satisfactory – as they would weaken the Israeli defense industry.  To be dependent on the US for military equipment is not a wise state of affairs. 


Yoram Ettinger lays out the problems and pitfalls of this possible agreement, advising patience and caution:

In the new MOU, the ability of Congress to fund special military initiatives as might be required in a world of growing violence would be cut off. The deal would simply be frozen. What is most significant, no money allocated by the agreement would be spent in Israel – everything would be turned back to the US.  Under the current agreement, 25% of the funds can be spent in Israel – this has allowed “annual funding of Israel's groundbreaking missile defense research, development.”

Ettinger maintains – and this is a common theme of his – that “there has been a dramatic surge in Israel's contributions to the U.S. in the areas of intelligence, research and development, training, operations...”  The US benefits from this military cooperation; the military arrangement absolutely should not be seen as one-sided.

Caroline Glick believes that it’s time to walk away.

The point is that the US aid deal is really a deal for Lockheed Martin, not for Israel. And we need to say no.“
© 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, August 3, 2016 at 10:07AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 28, 2016: Do Not Repeat the Mistake!!

At the beginning of Barack Hussein Obama’s first presidential campaign, I had enormous unease about who he was and where he would take the country.

Credit: NBCNews

I wrote about this unease in a posting, in terms that were quite mild.  Back shot a furious response from someone I had known in America.  She declared in righteous tones that she had worked for the civil rights movement in the 60s, and no one was going to stop her from voting for a black man for president now.

I told her she was a racist.  

She was not assessing Obama’s qualifications for office, but instead opting to vote for him because of the color of his skin.

My unease proved prescient, as Obama has turned out to be an horrendous president – weakening America in multiple ways.  After his first term in office, I was sure the voters would deny him a second go-round in the White House.  With everything else, it was the time of the scandal of Benghazi. But he was voted in again.  My bewilderment was great: how could the American electorate fail to see his presidential failings? 

I found my answer in the response of my correspondent of four years earlier: Many simply could not conceive of rejecting a black president – for millions of voters, this seemed a morally reprehensible thing to do.  In a secret part of themselves they would have felt like racial bigots. 

Of course, Obama and his supporters nurtured this thinking at every turn, ultimately turning back the clock on race relations in the US.  When Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted an invitation to come to Congress to speak about Iran, President Obama was mighty displeased. The Black Caucus in Congress then boycotted the prime minister’s talk because he was being disrespectful to the black president.  What in Heaven’s name did race have to do with the issues at hand? 



This week Hillary Clinton was nominated as the presidential candidate of the Democratic party.


Credit: theAtlantic

She speaks repeatedly about how she has now cracked the glass ceiling.  That’s the invisible barrier that has prevented women from going all the way to the top.  If she is elected, she will have gone through that ceiling.

But do not, I implore you, do not vote for her because of her gender: do not vote for her because it feels like a righteous thing to do – to advance the possibilities of women. 

That’s the line Michelle Obama delivered: now her girls and all American children know that a woman can be president.  Here again, we see the suggestion that voting for Hillary is a “good” and a “progressive” – a morally elevated - thing to do because it advances equality in the nation.  This time it’s gender equality, and the unspoken but potent accusation is that failing to vote for her would be a backward, a sexist thing to do.

But here’s the rub: Hillary’s female “plumbing” qualifies her for the presidency no more than Obama’s black skin qualified him.  She must be judged on her character, and on her accomplishments to date, and on the positions she espouses.  In all of these respects she fails the test. I will begin today and come back to explore this many times, in many ways in the weeks ahead. 


The greatest irony is that Hillary is herself no champion of women, no stalwart defender of their dignity and their rights.

Critics are saying that Bill Clinton’s speech at the convention in great praise of his wife was masterful – the old Bill in true form.  Perhaps it was that, but it was also an exercise in deceit and myth-building. He portrayed a loving marriage.  But the elephant was in that convention hall. In fact, there may have been a whole herd of elephants there. The Clinton marriage is a shell of a relationship, sustained for political expediency.  She opted to remain at his side in spite of the outrage of what has been referred to as his “hound dog ways,” thereby providing him with political cover.  A concern for the vile manner in which her husband demeans and humiliates and uses women was notably absent from her decision.  She was and is, in fact, a classic enabler.

And now - in a hypocritical “do as I say and not as I do” moment - she lists among the goals of her campaign stopping campus sexual assault.

Do you see an honesty and integrity here that makes you want to support her?


There is likely no one reading this who does not know of the scandal of the emails: Hillary’s use of a private server for official governmental email correspondence, failure to protect confidential material, risks to the security of the nation, etc. .  But some of you may have been reassured by statements Hillary and her staff made regarding this situation.  And further reassured by the fact that the decision was made not to indict her for what she has done.

I ask, now, please, that you see this C-Span clip of Rep. Trey Goudy (R-S. Carolina) questioning FBI Director James Comey during a meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Give it three minutes of your time – it’s important:

Now, once you’ve seen it:

Do you believe that Hillary Clinton behaved in this matter with an honesty, integrity and concern for American security that makes you want to support her?


Then there is the matter of corruption inside the Democratic National Committee. As a result of emails that were secured when the DNC was hacked and then provided to Wikileaks - which released tens of thousands of them - it became apparent that there had been a bias demonstrated by member of the Committee, working to advance the candidacy of Hillary Clinton over that of Bernie Sanders. 

See here, for example:

This is not supposed to happen – although the fact that it did is hardly shocking news. Sanders supporters were enraged.

The first thing I found interesting is that Hillary, when interviewed, said she really couldn’t address this issue because she didn’t have knowledge of what was going on.

Is this believable?


And then, two things happened.

As a result of what had been exposed, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was responsible at the top and certainly complicit, resigned from her position.

And what did Hillary do almost immediately?  Instead of distancing herself from Wasserman Schultz, she appointed her as honorary chair of her campaign.

What does this tell us?  Does it seem to be a smart move?  A clean one?  Are you comfortable with it?  Is this Hillary honoring Wasserman-Schultz as reward or compensation for her having taken a hit on the leaked emails?


There have been charges, apparently backed by some solid evidence, that the Russians, or someone connected to the Russians, did the hacking.

But the Clinton campaign carried it one step further, saying that the Russians did this at this time specifically because it would help Trump, and this was an outrage, as it represented foreign interference in the election process.

What I found most revealing (and ironic) here is that the Democratic campaign focus was on the inappropriate behavior of the Russians, who allegedly sought to influence an election.  There was no expression by Hillary that I could find of regret that the DNC also apparently tried to influence elections.  Her campaign deflected away from this, speaking about what the Russians did and not what they exposed.  Had there been nothing to expose, the Russian release of emails would have been devoid of import.  Think about that.

Does this entire process sit comfortably with you? 


Lastly for today, I want to look at what has gone on inside the convention hall and immediately outside.

Inside, there were Palestinian flags. 


Credit: Naomi Dann

What this tells us is that the Democratic party is moving hard left. The joke here is that these flags are being displayed upside-down: the black portion belongs at the top. 

Outside the convention hall was much worse:  Both American and Israeli flags were burned. 


Credit: Times of Israel

“Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s chief legal officer and Israel adviser Jason Greenblatt issued a statement calling on the DNC and Hillary Clinton to ‘speak out against this shameful desecration promptly and unequivocally...

“”the Democrats are attuned to the potent symbolism of flags. Why, then, have the Democratic National Committee and its presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, failed to condemn the desecration of the American and Israeli flags and the glorification of the Palestinian intifada [which calls for violence against Israelis] mere feet away from their convention hall?’

’Their silence is deafening,’ he said.” (Emphasis added)

Are you comfortable with Hillary’s silence on this?


And so we begin, my friends.  I want to ask you now, and every time I write about the campaign, to share this very broadly.  Send it out to others, put it on your Facebook pages and ask that people share. Write letters to the editor drawing on some of this material.

If you care about America’s future, please, become an activist on the issues now and remain so until November. 


I am giving this focus priority because I believe I must. Perhaps next posting we will look at what’s going on here.


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

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


Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2016 at 08:40AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 25, 2016: Looking Up

When Hillary Clinton announced her running mate – Virginia Senator Tim Kaine – on Saturday, she declared that he “is everything Donald Trump and Mike Pence are not.”

AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke

Credit: AP/Loren Victoria Burke
Well.  It’s very rarely indeed that I agree with Hillary.  But here I do, saying Baruch Hashem (Thank Heaven) for the difference.  That’s the very beginning (but hardly the end) of today’s good news.
Before you think I have gone totally bonkers, allow me to explain, beginning with a brief overview of what Tim Kaine stands for:
Declared an editorial in the NY Sun:
“Can it be a coincidence that of all the millions of Americans Secretary Clinton could have picked as her running mate, she chose, in Senator Kaine, one of the eight Democrats who boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address last year to a joint meeting of Congress? Not a chance...
“[Kaine] was also one the senators who in 2014 refused to sign a letter to President Obama warning of legislated legal constraints on funding the Palestinian Arab authority after it struck its alliance with Hamas. The letter, led by Senators Susan Collins and Ben Cardin, was signed by 88 senators from both parties.
According to the JPost, Kaine was also “one of only 17 senators in April not to sign a letter urging US President Barack Obama to increase the US military aid package to Israel.

”The bipartisan letter, sponsored by Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), urged Obama to conclude a ‘robust’ new military aid package “that increases aid to Israel and retains the current terms of the existing aid program.”
Then last, but hardly least, Breitbart reports that he “has a history of embracing Islamists. He appointed a Hamas supporter to a state immigration commission; spoke at a dinner honoring a Muslim Brotherhood terror suspect; and received donations from well-known Islamist groups.”  (Emphasis added)
See details:
So we have clarity with regard to who Tim Kaine is. And with this, of course, comes clarity about Hillary, who selected him. 
We have to be grateful for this lack of ambiguity, because it leaves no doubt about the fact the Clinton-Kaine ticket must be defeated.  For Israel’s sake, yes. 
But first and primarily for America’s sake.  A presidential – vice presidential team that continues Obama’s embrace of Islamists is a road to destruction that cannot be tolerated.
Having said this, I would then be quite justified in promoting the Trump – Pence ticket because it must be anyone but Hillary.


Credit: bccn2
But the other reason things are looking up is that I have now moved  beyond this position and am pleased to endorse the Republican team in positive terms.  By the time we come close to the election, I hope I will have brought many of my readers to the same place.
On Sunday, I went to have a serious conversation with attorney Marc Zell, who co-chairs Republicans Overseas Israel.  Marc participated in the deliberations and meetings of the Republican Platform Committee, which passed the most pro-Israel plank in over 25 years, if not ever, and was a non-voting delegate at the convention.
He speaks, first, about the overwhelmingly positive attitude the Republican party is expressing with regard to Israel.  The support that is being exhibited, said Marc, would not have been possible without the participation and encouragement of key Trump advisors.  Mike Pence, for his part, as a congressman and then as governor of Indiana, has a long history of passionate support for Israel.
Marc explored with me a number of accusations made against Trump, in each regard setting the record straight:
Trump is not an isolationist.  He has simply said that the US cannot function in the greater world until she is strengthened from within – that this strengthening must come first. 
To make American safe, make America strong, make America great.  “...this does not mean turning inward and steering America away from the world at large.  Trump and Pence have both said that in order for America to play the role she should play around the globe, she must be strong internally, economically, etc. Law and order must be restored to America.  Americans must feel themselves to be exceptional and worthy of the role they must play in the world.  This is not isolationism.  It is good common sense...”
These are goals that a great many of us, despairing of the state America finds herself in, would gladly embrace. 
“Trump wants to roll back the US-Iran Nuclear deal...Trump wants to wage a war on terror, in contrast to the Democrats who have avoided using the war analogy from the time they retook the White House in 2009...Trump wants to destroy ISIS...Trump wants to confront the Chinese through aggressive negotiations about trade policy, currency manipulation and strong measures to curb their pilfering intellectual property and cyber-theft...Trump wants to strengthen the US military...None of these clearly and frequently stated foreign policies is consistent with an isolationist world view.”
Trump, it should be mentioned here, does not advocate the US pulling out of NATO.  Rather, he has protested that the US is expected to carry too much of the weight.
I have come around to thinking that the tough-guy populist persona Trump projected during the primary campaign is one he thought would resonate with the voters (and he was correct about this), but that it does not adequately represent who he truly is. 
My impression was strengthened by something Marc Zell told me happened when he attended a meeting of the Oklahoma delegation at the convention.  At that meeting, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe told Marc that he had requested a meeting with Trump.  Trump came to the meeting well prepared – he had been well briefed on Inhofe's political views and Senate committee assignments and legislative program.  What is more, Trump LISTENED intently throughout the meeting.
This is not how a know-it-all tough guy behaves.  As a result of this meeting, Senator Inhofe is now an enthusiastic Trump supporter.
I suspect we are going to hear a great deal more in the same vein.  During the primary campaign, Trump threw out ideas without elaborating on specifics, or policies that would bring these ideas to fruition.  His approach was broad and open-ended, which appealed to many, but frustrated others.
Now I have learned that he is in the process of putting serious policy teams in place and that he is listening to what they have to say.  And so it certainly seems that Trump as president would be much more serious and nuanced than what he has seemed to be as a candidate. 
I will continue to track the situation as it evolves, and write about it regularly.  Down the road, I hope many of you will assume an activist role, to help prevent the unthinkable from happening, and to bring new possibilities to America.
Now as we go into the Democratic Convention, we see it riddled with scandal.  During the primary campaign, candidate Bernie Sanders regularly claimed that the establishment system was rigged against him.  

Credit: Getty
And now it turns out that it was.  A WikiLeaks dump of some 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee makes it obvious that there was bias towards and collusion on behalf of Hillary.  The DNC is supposed to remain impartial.  See details:
Some 45% of the pledged delegates at the convention are Sanders supporters, and they do not intend to remain quiet.  Many will not vote Democratic in the general election. Some may move over to Trump.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz has to step down from her position as DNC Chairwoman as a result of this situation. But the story is not about Schultz, who will quickly disappear into political oblivion.  The story is about political corruption.  What amused me the most was the charge by Hillary that the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC emails because they prefer Trump – a charge the Trump campaign calls ridiculous. 
She is upset that the inner machinations of the DNC were exposed – not contrite about the fact that there were such machinations.
CNN/ORC poll published Monday gave Republican candidate Donald Trump a five-point lead over presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in a four-way race, and a three-point lead in a head-to-head.
The terror in Europe only worsens, and there is no end in sight.
A great deal more that begs to be written about will have to wait until my next posting.
“Lu Yehi” – Everything we ask (pray for), let it be.  Written by Naomi Shemer, sung by Chava Alberstein:
English subtitles.
© 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, July 25, 2016 at 03:20PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 20, 2016: Where to Turn?

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

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


Credit: istock

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Video Streaming

Credit: zyxel


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


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

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

Credit: Reuters

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


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

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

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

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


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

Credit: MyIsrael

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Credit: Shmuel Bar Am

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Please, share this broadly.


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

July 13, 2016: Stepping Forward

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

Ayelet Shaked

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

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

Did we ask for his opinion?

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


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

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


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


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

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


Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016 at 07:34AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

July 8, 2016: Looking Up

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

Yoav Kish

Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90

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

Credit: Flash90

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


In Ethiopia, his last stop, he declared that: 

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

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

Credit: Gil Yehonan

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

Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

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


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


And so, we are “looking up.” 

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

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


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

Screen capture Channel 10

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

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


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

July 6, 2016: Cutting Through the Pain

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Credit: Facebook

It was paid for by the Palestinian Authority.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

See this, written just a year ago:

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

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

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

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

His executive summary (emphasis in the original):

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

Professor Karch writes (emphasis added):

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Here I mention a couple of examples of the latter:

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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


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