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April 14, 2016: Where Are We All Going?

It’s a huge question with no easy answers. But this posting is going to start with the good stuff, which we find in some considerable measure here in Israel.
You have read numerous times about the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube.  We have just put out an Interim Report, describing our exciting programs.  It has been sent to supporters, and thus some of you may have already seen it.  But if you have not, I encourage you to do so, here:
If you would like this report in an email format, for sharing with others (which I encourage!), or have questions, or want more information, please contact me directly.
The fact that we have legal rights in Judea and Samaria and an organization fighting for those rights is no small matter.  Stand with us in this work, please!


New Wave Research recently conducted a poll of 11th and 12th grade Israeli high school student for Israel Hayom.  The results are marvelously encouraging (emphasis added):

Some 85% said they loved Israel, and 89% said they saw their future in Israel. The popularity of the Israel Defense Force was also evident: 88% said they planned on enlisting, and more than 50% said they believed the IDF was the most moral military. Some 65% endorsed the saying, "It is good to die for our country," attributed to Zionist icon Joseph Trumpeldor. Almost 60% said they subscribed to right-wing views, with 23% saying they were centrists. Only about 13% said they considered themselves left-wing.

What is behind Israeli youngsters' great love of their homeland? The respondents said the best thing about our country was the sense that we are one big family and our tendency to close ranks in times of crisis.”
This is our future.
On Monday, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled the Drone Dome. This is a system designed to detect and neutralize hostile drones“used by terrorists to perform aerial attacks, collect intelligence, and other intimidating activities.”

“Drone Dome has 360-degree circular coverage and is designed to detect, track and neutralize drones classified as threats flying in no-fly zones.” It has a very fast response time.

Drone Dome 

Courtesy Rafael
Just one more addition to our ever-growing arsenal of defensive equipment.
This is neat: A secret wedding was performed on Har Habayit (the Temple Mount) recently.  It would have caused the Wakf no end of apoplexy had it been known. See details here:

Temple Mount

Credit: Temple Institute
Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of UK forces in Afghanistan, spoke about Israel when addressing a Gatestone Institute gathering in New York recently:
“I don’t believe there can be a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel wants to live in peace, but what the Arabs want is its annihilation.”
Kemp, referring to the Jewish State as “an outpost of strength,” said that the IDF had a “unique morality,” and that “when Israel fights, it stands in isolation.”
The colonel believes that Israel “should initiate an offensive strike on Iran, whose nuclear program it has the capability of delaying.”

Col. Richard Kemp, addressing the Gatestone Institute. Photo: Raymond Hamlin.

Credit: Raymond Hamlin
I found disturbing, however, Kemp’s comment on Minister of Defense Ya’alon’s and Chief of Staff Eizenkot’s condemnation of the solder who shot dead a subdued terrorist before the facts were known:  Their condemnation came, he said, out of their awareness of the “continual and unjust international pressure on Israel, no matter what it does.”
In fairness, perhaps he felt obliged to support top Israeli military leaders.  But there is a contradiction inherent in what he said.  If we are attacked no matter what we do, we should not be attempting to appease the ever-judgmental international community.  It’s a no-win situation in which we risk weakening ourselves.  I worry about this state of mind in Israel’s putative leaders.
No one realizes what is going on better than the soldier who did the shooting himself.  Indicted for manslaughter now, he recently said:
“If he [the terrorist] actually had a bomb belt and he detonated, what would have happened?  How many would have been killed?...
"Only because they're afraid maybe of the papers and what the world will say [they act] to clean the hands of the IDF, [and say] that the soldier didn't act properly." (Emphasis added)
Turkey, under the Islamic stewardship of Prime Minister Recep Rayyip Erdogan, is no friend to Israel.   

Turkish President Recep Rayyip Erdogan. Photo: Wikipedia.

Credit: Wikipedia
The cordial diplomatic relationship that existed between Israel and Turkey in prior days is not going to be restored under current conditions.  And yet, each nation has motivation for trying to re-establish ties.  Whenever I read about negotiations taking place, I become uneasy, lest our government concede matters that should not be conceded, and fall into a situation that might come to no good. 
Last week, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that the two countries were “finalizing rapprochement,” and I thought, “Uh oh.”
But earlier this week, a spokesman for the prime minister declared that there would not be a final rapprochement until Israel lifted the maritime blockade of Gaza.
Well then, as this is not about to happen, perhaps there is no need for immediate concern...
Mahmoud Abbas – as I had indicated recently – has switched tactics, in several respects. All of a sudden, he’s against violence, presenting to the world the face of the “good guy.” He is also attempting the international route once again:
It has been confirmed that he has circulated a draft resolution which reportedly condemns Israel’s construction in the “settlements” to some members of the Security Council.  His ultimate intention, according to some reports, is to convince the Security Council to set a three-year timetable for Israeli withdrawal from those “settlements.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response was that this resolution would make peace less likely:
"The Palestinians teach their children everyday that the settlements are Tel Aviv, Haifa and Acre," said Netanyahu. "Abu Mazen’s [Abbas’s] actions will push peace talks further away. The only way to advance peace is through direct talks and Abu Mazen is hiding from that."
Abbas is currently on tour – to Turkey, France, Russia, Germany and the US - attempting to garner support for his resolution.  He apparently plans to be in NY (ostensibly for another reasons) when a session of the Security Council is scheduled - Friday, April 22, the eve of Pesach.  At that time, as I understand it, he plans to deliver a speech, following which, he would circulate the proposal.


Credit: Telegraph (UK)
Key here, my friends, is the position of the Obama administration, which has the ability to veto this resolution in the Security Council.  Representatives of the government have been playing it close to the chest, offering little in the way of indication as to what Obama might decide to do. There are reports that he might decide to abstain on the vote, but we do not really know yet.
Apparently, one reason US government spokespersons are reticent to discuss the matter is because there is no clarity on precisely what the resolution will say – they have been refusing to discuss ‘hypothetical” proposals still in draft form.
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman sort of/kind of brought a bit of clarity to the matter today.  He said that the door is “firmly shut” against any resolution the US considers biased against Israel.
Oh.  Although this is being interpreted as meaning the US will veto, what Toner said is not exactly the same as saying the US is opposed to addressing the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict via the UN rather than negotiations.  Now we just have to speculate on what Obama and Kerry would consider a biased resolution.
Alan Baker, International lawyer and Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, had an op-ed in yesterday’s JPost, called “The indecisive and confusing state of the Palestinian leadership.”
Suffice it to say that Baker writes that everyone is utterly confused by the Palestinian [Arab] leadership because of the mixed messages it is sending out.  According to him, the draft to the Security Council under discussion calls for renewed negotiations.
Maybe it’s so convoluted that it refers to negotiations and enforced withdrawal both, which would really make no sense.
I do not advocate cutting Obama any slack here – by all means possible the message should be conveyed to him that it is essential to veto this resolution.
But it is comforting to know that Baker, in an in-house JCPA interview, said that the resolution would not be binding on Israel in any event.  Should the Obama administration decide not to veto it:
The resolution will have no basic effect...If the resolution isn’t mandatory according to the seventh chapter of the UN Charter – and no Middle Eastern resolutions have been adopted according to the seventh chapter – it can’t lead to sanctions.” (Emphasis added)

Amb. Alan Baker. Photo: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs/Screenshot.

JCPA screenshot
If the above item is worrisome, the following is stomach-turning:
The Palestinian commission for Prisoners, the Palestinian Prisoners Club, and member of the Palestinian Legislature are launching a “world-wide campaign” to nominate Marwan Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Barghouti is a terrorist – a Fatah terrorist, it should be noted, from the Tanzim, Fatah’s so-called militant wing - who is sitting in Israeli prison, serving out five life sentences for terrorist murders.  And that’s just the acts they were able to nail him on – he orchestrated many more terror attacks and was a key instigator of the second intifada.
The Nobel Peace Prize??
Of course, Arafat, who was also a terrorist, received the prize, but that was ostensibly because he turned “peaceful” when he signed on to Oslo.  On what basis are they suggesting this low life should be nominated?  A massive campaign is said to be in the works, with the involvement of international media.
As I understand it, there is hope that if Barghouti’s release can be secured, the release of other terrorist murderers in Israeli prisons would not be far behind.  Apparently we’re holding a bunch of really great people in our prisons.
Avi Issacaroff, writing in the Times of Israel, presents a more troubling scenario regarding Barghouti:
A small group of people close to Marwan Barghouti has reached an agreement with Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership regarding a “comprehensive plan” to jointly campaign against the Israeli “occupation.”
“The plan includes unprecedented steps within the framework of what is dubbed ‘nonviolent resistance’...The goal is to force Israel out of all areas beyond the pre-1967 lines via a nonviolent intifada coordinated by a unified Palestinian leadership under Barghouti...”
Secret meetings have been held in recent months in which in which four “Fatah officials” - all considered senior members of the Tanzim during the 90s and three of whom are known to be personal friends of Barghouti – participated.  They have met with Hamas officials, including Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas politburo in Doha, Qatar.
The intention is to institute this plan after Abbas has left the scene: Barghouti would run for the PA presidency and everything would proceed under his leadership.  The Oslo Accords and all cooperation with Israel (notably security cooperation) would be cancelled.  There would then be only a “peaceful resistance” via such acts as blocking all roads in Judea and Samaria or destroying infrastructure in the communities of Judea and Samaria.  (This is peaceful?)


Marwan Barghouti never goes away. This is not the first time it has been proposed that he run for the PA presidency from his prison cell. What happens is that he is represented as a “hero” who has suffered at the hands of the Israelis while fighting the “occupation.” Black becomes white and white, black. It works because the international community is ready to accept that black is white, and white is black.

See here a picture of a mural that existed (I don’t believe it is there now) outside of Ramallah, representing Barghouti as the “Palestinian’s Mandela”:

File: A Palestinian child stands in front of a mural of jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti at the Kalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem. (Kobi Gideon/Flash 90)

Credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90

The assumption that Barghouti would win a PA presidential election (which might indeed be the case) perhaps tells us everything we need to know about the Palestinian Arab electorate. They have been conditioned by the PA leadership – first Arafat and now Abbas – to venerate terrorists, after all. 

I report this not to cause undue anxiety but rather to promote watchfulness.  We are reminded once again about Palestinian Arab deviousness, and, yes, ingenuity. Anything but a sincere effort to build a productive and genuinely peaceful state. 

This “plan” is full of holes, starting with the fact that it is predicated upon interparty cooperation – which historically never holds up. Sooner or later they are at each other.  We know that within Fatah itself there is dissention and division, and as it is, only four Fatah members have participated in the meetings. There are prominent members of Fatah who are eager to succeed Abbas.

In addition, there is some foolish assumption that the hands of Israeli security would be tied because the protests would be “peaceful.”  But if they imagine we would sit still while the infrastructure of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria was uprooted, they had best think again.


I have long been troubled by the fact that Barghouti has had too much prominence from within his prison cell.  He has given interviews to the media via his attorney, and at one point – do not believe that this is still permitted to him – used a cell phone.

What is required here is enormous stringency on the part of the Israeli government in terms of how this man is handled.  Bottom line: he is a murderer many times over, and sits in prison because he has been sentenced by a court; he should  never be released.


Reports are that terrorism is way down, and where terrorist acts are concerned, this is the case.  But I must mention that there are regular reports of planned attacked that were prevented or blocked because of good intelligence or swift action.  Today, two terror attacks – a knifing in Judea and an axing in the Old City of Jerusalem – were thwarted within minutes of each other.


We’ve looked at enough regarding “where we are all going” for one posting. The news does not stop, and the head begins to spin.

I close with this amusing item from an astute Elder of Ziyon:

“Hewlett Packard is one of the companies always targeted by Israel-haters, because it does business in Israel and for the IDF.

”In a new video showing off their high-tech military skills, masked Fatah terrorists are seen in a room using HP laptops.
“So what do self-respecting BDSers do when they find out that their freedom fighters are using the equipment that they demand everyone to boycott?”

Credit: Elder of Ziyon
Sim Shalom, with IDF Cantor Shai Abramson:
What better a prayer that the Almighty will establish peace, goodness, blessing, life, grace and mercy.


© 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, April 14, 2016 at 03:07PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 6, 2016: Fighting the Good Fight

When I placed the Legal Grounds cartoon in my last posting, I said I would be sharing more about the EU.  The cartoon was aimed at the distorted perspective of the EU, and it is just the beginning.
EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen consistently makes statements about the “fact” that, according to “international law,” Israel has no rights in Judea and Samaria.  Thus has Legal Grounds decided to invite him to participate in a debate with prestigious international lawyer Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, a member of our Legal Advisory Board, on the issue of Israel’s legal rights.  The invitation has been sent and we are waiting for the ambassador’s response.  

Lars Faaborg-Andersen

Credit: Yoni Kempinski
See more about the issues and what he has said, here:
I had written last, as well, about a drop in the incidence of terrorism here in Israel, and with the latest statistics out, the news is even better:
In March there was a total of six terrorism incidents (including shootings, stabbings, and vehicle rammings), compared to 56 in February.
According to an announcement by the Bank of Israel, Israel last year recorded stable economic growth of 2.5 percent and its lowest unemployment rate in three decades...”
Pictured is Governor of the Bank of Israel, Karnit Flug, at a press conference days ago.

Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem on March 31, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90
If the above is fairly amazing, in light of all that’s going on, what follows is perhaps even more so (emphasis added):
According to a Tourism Ministry official, last year saw no dip in tourism.  Uri Steinberg, the North American Israeli tourism commissioner, said that “2015 was the best year ever for tourism to Israel from North America and the first quarter of 2016 is up over 2015.”
Folks, if you haven’t visited Israel yet, you might think about scheduling a trip soon!
“[Ministry of Tourism Director-General Amir] Halevi also noted additional sources of growing tourism: China and India. In 2015, tourism from China to Israel grew 43 percent — to 50,000 visitors. The Tourism Ministry expects that number to double by 2018. Indian tourism rose 13 percent, with 40,000 tourists in 2015. The ministry foresees 80,000-100,000 Indian tourists visiting the country in 2018.”
A surprising and welcome turn of events, as well, near the border with Gaza, according to a JPost analysis:
”Once battered by Gazan rockets and shells, the southern border region is experiencing its quietest period in many years.

”Beneath the surface, the IDF is taking many steps, most of them covert, to prepare for any surprises Hamas may attempt to spring on the South. It appears as if these steps are contributing to the current calm, for now, by deterring Hamas from risking a massive Israeli response...
”On the civilian front, a blossoming is under way. The area has seen record numbers of new residents moving to villages and kibbutzim that were once considered war zones. Farmers work their lands right up to the Gaza border under the watchful eye of the IDF, and a recent festival in the area drew over 100,000 revelers...

”The IDF tries not to disrupt this normality with too heavy a presence, but it stealthily inserts its forces into areas that allow it to call upon speedy firepower in incidents.

”Nestled between trees in the birch forests of the area, Merkava tanks could lay in wait, out of view but not out of the minds of Hamas, which likely suspects their hidden presence, though not their precise locations. Further back, artillery lies ready to go into action at any time.

”On the border, Combat Intelligence units gather information 24 hours a day, feeding it to control centers. Radars and cameras feed the control rooms.

”The Northern Brigade maintains a large quantity of firepower at the ready, and often shifts them around to keep its cards close to its chest...
“The IDF remain on high, discreet alert, investigating every suspicious activity it detects, multiple times a day...”
How long this state of affairs will last is very difficult to predict, but it is certainly a blessing now.
French Minister of Health Marisol Touraine visited Israel last week to learn from Israeli medical expertise on treating victims of terror attacks.

Credit: lelynx
“Touraine also expressed her desire for greater cooperation between France and Israel, so that France can “’learn from the Israeli experience.’”
Last week, the Nuclear Security Summit was held in Washington DC.
The subject under discussion – a very frightening one – was nuclear terrorism.  What this involves is most likely not a terror group stealing a nuclear weapon but rather acquiring radioactive material and using it in a terror attack:
Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister of Energy explained that many of the injuries from such an attack would result from crowd panic, and that it was important for world leaders to think proactively about how to minimize panic, and also to develop strong cyber defense for nuclear reactors. 
The concern is “radioactive materials stolen from nuclear reactors or from hospitals or from factories. Then if you take that and scatter it you can cause some serious harm. Israel is preparing for that scenario.”
Explained Steinitz, “Israel is one of the countries most prepared for scenarios of nuclear terrorism...On the whole we can sleep soundly, relatively speaking, definitely when compared to other nations."  (Emphasis added)

He told the security summit that Israel is prepared to help prevent the smuggling of radioactive materials to any state in the Middle East, even if that state does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz attends a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on July 27, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

I watched this process and found it maddening, but follow this story to the end for some tentatively good results (which surprised me):
In all, the PA (in part via the PA-controlled Jerusalem District Electricity Company) owes Israel some 1.7 billion shekel (about $450 million) for electricity supplied.  And there has been no genuine effort on the part of the vastly corrupt PA – which pays salaries to terrorists - to honor this debt.
Last week it was announced that starting Thursday, there would be a partial power cut to the PA city of Jericho, by the Israel Electric Company (IEC) with a warning that cuts to other cities would likely follow.
On Sunday came reports that full power had been restored to Jericho – actually within hours of when it had been cut off. The restoration of power was accompanied by a warning that cuts could happen again at any time.
This was pretty much my response:

Then came a report that there were IEC plans to cut power in “various districts” in Judea and Samaria over the next two weeks. On Monday it was Bethlehem.  Following that, Hevron, briefly.
That still felt inadequate. Brief outages, with power promptly restored, it seemed to me, would not secure debt satisfaction.  What seemed to me to make sense at some point is activation of a more basic rule of “no pay/no power.”  But of course there would be enormous international outrage against Israel for what would be called “collective punishment” and making poor Arabs in need suffer. Putting the onus on Israel and not the PA, as is the norm.  That is the bottom line here on why we walk carefully on issues such as this.  For my response simply see the illustration above.
But today some unexpected news broke:
The Israel Electric Company reached an agreement with the PA this morning.  The PA has agreed to pay 20 million shekels (roughly $5.3 million), a small percentage of the money due, now, in exchange for a cessation of the outages for a period of one week.  During that week, negotiators would work towards reaching a settlement on the rest of the money owed.  A settlement might mean a plan for paying it out, but it also might mean that a percentage of the debt would be forgiven with the remainder paid.  If no agreement is reached in a week, then power outages will resume.
This is interesting from a couple of perspectives.  First, the IEC has indicated that it can no longer absorb the debt, which tells us it was this contingency that motivated the series of power outages: The IEC did not go after the PA money until it had to.  Saying it can no longer “absorb” the debt means until now everyone who is paying for electricity has been carrying the PA, does it not? 
Then there is the fact that when pushed to the wall, the PA finds itself able to come up with some funds, funds which it never bothered to advance as a good faith effort to pay down its debt.  It takes advantage of the situation, and Israel’s reluctance to be tough, to the maximum.  Undoubtedly the PA was aware that the current situation had rendered the IEC more serious about demanding payment.
There is little more that needs to be said here, except to ponder whether anything has been learned.
Last Thursday, Mahmoud Abbas of the PA was interviewed by Ilana Dayan on Israel’s channel 2.  It was, all in all, an interview that was so disingenuous as to be nauseating.  Abbas has no trouble at all posturing and lying.  Having been directly accused by Netanyahu and others of being an inciter of terrorism - which he most certainly is, big time – he decided to suddenly play the role of peacemaker:
“I do not like to see Palestinian children take knives and stab Israelis,” he saddens me greatly. It is unacceptable...You cannot kill a human being, never. Human blood must not be spilled for any reason. I object to that, I want peace…”
This is the same man who said just months ago, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah.” (Emphasis added)
Perhaps the single most significant, albeit also disingenuous, statement of his interview – attempting to place the onus on our prime minster - was this:
“I still reach out to Mr. Netanyahu because I believe in peace. I believe that the Israeli people want peace and the Palestinian people want peace.”  If invited by Netanyahu to a meeting, he said, he would meet him “anytime and anyplace.”
Well, that was just too easy.  Said Netanyahu to reporters on Tuesday:
“A few days ago, on Israeli television, I heard president (sic) Abbas say that if I invite him to meet, he’ll come.  I’m inviting him again.  I’ve cleared my schedule this week. Any day he can come, I’ll be here.”
And now we have the PA backtrack (emphasis added):

“Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and Secretary General of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told ‘Voice of Palestine’ Radio that the Palestinians reject the notion of restarting the peace talks with Israel unconditionally...

’In case the meeting is held, Netanyahu should first announce an end of settlement, release prisoners arrested before signing Oslo peace accords in 1993 and recognize all the signed peace treaties between the two sides,’ said Erekat.

“He insisted that ‘If Netanyahu doesn't do this, there will be no resumption of negotiations...’”


I trust no one is surprised by this. 

Netanyahu was responding to a statement by Abbas, he was not suggesting formal peace negotiations begin.  What he did say is that the first item on the agenda would be ceasing Palestinian incitement against Israel. 


A brief note about calling Abbas “president”:  His term ran out in January of 2009 and no elections have been called since.  I refuse to call him by his expired title.
I will write about Duma as many times as it seems appropriate to do so.  Every time I write, I see yet another layer in this complex story.  There is, it seems to me, far more under the surface that we don’t know, than what is presented publicly – a scenario in which a “Jewish extremist” allegedly is responsible for the arson that killed three people in an Arab family in this village.
The latest news:
In a nighttime raid in the village of Duma on Sunday, the Shin Bet arrested Wissam Dawabsheh (alternately spelled Dawabsha), the brother of the woman who died in the arson.  He is suspected of having Hamas associations.
Do I know how this fits into this complex tale?  I do not. But I sure would like to.
For a variety of reasons, I have refrained from writing about the young soldier who shot dead a terrorist who had already been wounded and was lying on the ground.  That is, until now. 
You may well have read about him.  He insists he saw the terrorist, who was wearing a heavy coat on a warm day, move his hand, and believed he might have been about to detonate an explosive belt.  There are those who were present who corroborate this impression, and others who refute it.
The news today reveals that “an IDF platoon commander present at the scene of the Hebron shooting expressed concern that [the terrorist], though wounded, might have been wearing an explosives vest.”
This was major news because an IDF Appeals Court has ruled that the accused does not have to remain in prison, as demanded by the prosecution, but could be released to open detention on his base.   

IDF Hebron

Credit: Noam Amir
Appeals Court Judge Brig.-Gen. Doron Filis, wrote, “Even if the soldier made a mistake, a mistake regarding which he should have acted differently – to alert his commanders – to warn in a more accelerated fashion those nearby that they should move [rather than shooting the terrorist]...However the level of criminality of his actions would be much lower than how the prosecution has defined them.”
Filis is not the judge who will hear the case if the IDF prosecution charges the soldier with manslaughter, as expected. But his statement may, as the JPost indicates, “foreshadow” how the court that will hear the case might rule. 
What particularly enraged me, in the midst of all of this, was a statement made yesterday by Defense Minister Ya’alon: “Those who back the soldier don’t back our laws and values.”
Was he there? Does he know what happened?  Why does he not wait for the determination of the military court before making judgment? 
What particularly concerns me is that soldiers who are at risk may hesitate for fear of prosecution, and thus lose their lives. 
What I want to do here is share an incisive and deeply feeling article on the issue, “Soldiering on through tears,” by Ruthie Blum. 
“The soldier,” she writes, “is now serving as a symbol for all sides of the dilemma that our boys and girls must face as soon as they don the uniform.
She ends with, “Whatever the outcome of the soldier’s trial, which the facts of the case – not public opinion or political posturing – will determine, I will shed no tears for the dead terrorist and many for the soldier who put an end to his life.”
Her piece is well worth reading in its entirety.  It addresses the moral dilemmas faced by our young soldiers and the stringencies placed upon them by regulations: 

Credit: JPost
And I close, most appropriately, with the prayer for the soldiers of the IDF, with IDF Chief Cantor Shai Abramson and choir.
We must never forget that these are our young children and grandchildren we are speaking about in the IDF, who at a tender age put their lives on the line to keep us safe.
© 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, April 7, 2016 at 10:06AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

April 1, 2016: Help This Go Viral



The cartoon you see above is from the Legal Grounds Campaign, which I co-chair with Jeff Daube.  I ask please that you put this on your Facebook pages and on your websites, and send this out to everyone you can.  We are eager to have this go viral! 

The cartoon can also be seen on our Facebook page:

The issue is clear: Far too much attention is being paid by the EU to the issue of Israeli “settlements” when terrorism should have absolute precedence.  I will be following with more on EU positions on Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria, with which Legal Grounds takes serious exception.
We need good news sooo badly.  Let’s start with this video.  As grim as the situation is, it provides a bit of hope:
The day after the terror attack in Brussels, “people gathered in Place de La Bourse and lit candles amid spontaneous singing and guitar...Locals and foreigners filled part of the square with candles and flags from dozens of countries.

Amid the display of national and international unity, a few people went out of their way to exclude Israel...
”In an incident Sunday around noon, locals intervened. A crowd confronted a man who, after praying in Arabic, shouted “Palestine” and anti-Israel slogans — calling Israel a “terrorist state.” The incident was caught on video.

”The white-haired man, wearing a head covering favored by North African Muslims, stepped on other flags and candles in an effort to reach an Israeli flag located near the center of the memorial site. Dozens of Belgians began booing him.

”Several shouted in Flemish and French: ‘Shameful!’ Others shouted in French: ‘Everyone!’ in a call for others to join the booing.

”When the man grabbed the Israeli flag, another man shoved him to the ground and wrestled it from his hands amid applause from onlookers. Two police officers made their way to the scene, and after a short exchange, escorted the shouting man away from the memorial. When the man again shouted in Arabic, one of the officers shoved him.”

See it happen here:
When Israel named Dani Dayan as ambassador to Brazil, the Brazilian government balked because of his “settlement” ties (he had been head of the Yesha Council).  For many weeks, the Israeli government held tight on that appointment.  But now there has been a reversal, and the outcome is most welcome: Dayan will become the Consul General in New York this summer.

Dani Dayan (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Credit: Gil Yonhanan
At an anti-BDS conference on Monday, Dayan said, “Those who don't want me in Brasilia, will get me in the capital of the world and to me that is a victory.  I believe I can revolutionize Israeli public relations in the US, whose beating heart is in New York." (Emphasis added),7340,L-4784038,00.html
More power to him!
Before his posting had been announced, Dayan referred to JStreet as “un-Jewish.”  Now he concedes that this was not a “diplomatic” comment, but he did not, I notice, say his assessment was in error.  JStreet is somewhat less than pleased with his appointment.
A senior 80-person delegation from China, including Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong (pictured below), has been visiting here in Israel.  On Tuesday, the vice premier signed an agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu instituting a 10-year, multi-visit visa that will facilitate business and tourist travel.  This is one of several agreements to be signed.
Explained Hagai Shagrir, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Northeast Asia department, “When a Chinese tourist or businessman looks [at] where to travel, he looks for two things: where it is easiest in terms of visas, and if there are direct flights with a Chinese airline,”  El Al currently runs three direct flights each week to Beijing, and now China’s Hainan Airlines is about to do the same.
In 2015, there was over $9 billion in trade with China, and this amount is expected to grow.
Shagrir noted that, “The Chinese see Israel as a partner who can help in innovation.”
One of the agreements to be signed involves “establishment of Israeli innovation centers in China in the spheres of agriculture, public health, education and entrepreneurship. The value added for Israel as a result of these centers is that they will expose the Chinese working in these fields to Israeli technology and know-how that they otherwise might not have known about.”

Israel China

Credit: Reuters
Talks on free trade with China have now begun.
At the same time that commercial agreements with China were being signed, another agreement - this one in India - regarding defense, was signed between Israel and India:
”Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. signed a cooperation agreement with India’s Reliance Defense Systems Ltd. on Tuesday that will encompass future deals worth $10 billion, the companies announced in Goa, where the 2016 Defexpo exhibition is taking place.

”The agreement covers cooperation in the production, development and supply of air defense systems, air-to-air missiles and surveillance balloons, Rafael said.” (Emphasis added)
Also visiting here, as guests of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a delegation of senior Indonesian journalists.  Netanyahu is hoping that their week-long visit will pave the way for a new, enhanced relationship with Indonesia, the largest Muslim country. It is time for full diplomatic ties, he told them, as “the reasons that prevented that in the past are no longer relevant..” 

israel indonesia

Credit: Haim Zach/GPO
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely recently acknowledged that Israel already has unofficial ties with Jakarta, and that the two countries are in “continuous contact.” 
“Despite the lack of diplomatic ties, in 2015 the two countries did some $150 million in trade...”


”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Monday night to halt the return of the bodies of terrorists to the Palestinians until further notice.

“The reasoning behind the decision was to prevent opportunities for the Palestinians to have welcoming processions that provide platforms for incitement against Israel.”
It’s about time.  Remember the hullabaloo about this a few weeks ago, with Security Minister Erdan refusing to return bodies held by Israel within the Green Line and Defense Minister Ya’alon, as head of the Civil Administration, permitting return in Judea and Samaria?  A schizoid situation.
I have no idea why Netanyahu decided to intervene at this particular point in time.  But please note carefully the fact that he CAN intervene.  As long as Ya’alon was permitting return of bodies, it meant he was receiving a nod from the prime minister. 
President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk:

Credit: trumanlibrary
Truman was prepared to take responsibility, and it is a principle that should not be forgotten.
Let’s hope Netanyahu does not reverse his decision.
Most of my readers will undoubtedly remember the whole Duma incident last July, with arson in that village that cost the lives of three members of the Dawabsheh family. At that point there was indication of a long-standing feud between the Dawabsheh clan and another clan in the village, but the possibility of the arson having been part of the feud was never seriously investigated. The clamor both internationally and within certain circles here in Israel was with regard to “Jewish terrorists.”  People pointed to the Hebrew graffiti written on the wall of the Dawabsha home as evidence (never mind that there were graphologists who thought it looked like it was written by an Arab).

After an intensive Shin Bet investigation of hilltop youth, which yielded no evidence with regard to the Duma arson, a handful of young Jewish suspects were placed in administrative detention.  Ultimately one, Amiram Ben-Uliel, who confessed under extreme duress, was charged with the crime and arrested.


Now there has been another instance of arson in the village of Duma (not the first since the Dawabsheh deaths, either, I would note).  The home of another member of the Dawabsheh clan went up in flames.  This man, Ibrahim, was reportedly the sole witness in the case against Ben-Uliel (although I have read that what he claims he saw differs from details of the charges against Ben-Uliel).

A Palestinian police member inspects the damage inside a burned-out house belonging to a key witness to an arson attack last year by Jewish extremists that killed a Palestinian family, in the West Bank village of Duma, after fire broke out in the home in the early hours of March 20, 2016. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

A Palestinian police member inspects the damage inside a burned-out house belonging to a key witness to an arson attack last year by Jewish extremists that killed a Palestinian family, in the West Bank village of Duma, after fire broke out in the home in the early hours of March 20, 2016. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Credit: AFP

However, “the Israel Police and Shin Bet, in a joint statement Sunday night, said mounting evidence indicated it was not a nationalistic attack. ‘The findings thus far at the scene are not consistent with the characteristics of a deliberate arson attack by Jews,’ it said.”


And wait, there is more:

“A Palestinian who claimed to be the victim of a hate crime, reporting earlier this month that Jewish settlers had torched his West Bank home, was found to have fabricated the story, police said Tuesday.

“Military prosecutors have opened an investigation into the report filed by the man, who now faces charges of obstruction of justice, making false claims to authorities and violating public order, according to a statement from police.

“...the man, a resident of the Bethlehem-area town of al-Khader, told Israeli authorities that Jewish settlers had graffitied ‘Death to Arabs’ [in Hebrew] on a wall near his family’s home before setting fire to their property.”

The man’s claim that five Jewish youths were involved was backed-up by his father.  Police took this quite seriously, but discovered “no forensic evidence at the scene to corroborate the man’s claims” and found “substantial” discrepancies between the man’s account and eyewitness testimonies.

How about that!  And there was Hebrew written at this site too.  What a surprise: it seems Arabs can do this.   

What would it take for investigators and prosecutors in the Ben-Uliel case to decide to take a hard second look at what they are dealing with?


A variety of anti-terrorist techniques are having an effect on levels of terrorism in Jerusalem, according to a senior police official.

A lull in major attacks is attributed by Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld to “hyper-vigilance, preemptive tactics and extensive intelligence coordination.”

Explained Rosenfeld, “Of course, the strategy is having police units at the right place at the right time, so we have mapped out the different areas where terror attacks could or have taken place.

“Multiple units are carrying out security measures in those areas – constantly guarding and patrolling them by car, motorcycle and foot, with undercover officers on site at all times.”

There are more than 3,500 police officers working together to make this happen, and a Tactical Intelligence Assessment Units keeps all units connected. 

Areas being most diligently monitored are the Old City (especially the Damascus Gate, pictured below), the light rail, the Central Bus Station, and all malls and shopping areas.

“...police units are deeply involved in tracking social media sites where potential terrorists are making contact with one another and transferring information.”

Credit: Ronen Zvulun/ Reuters


I have covered above, in the main, good news, or news that has a potential for something good. But the bad news is mind-blowing.  Worse than bad. Unendingly unendurable – except that we have to endure, and persist, and reach to make it better.  No choice.

See, for example, the article “War and Madness,” by the very savvy Jonathan Spyer.  A long but very informative piece that begins with this (emphasis added):

The cold numbers are the first thing that hit you. Figures telling of a human catastrophe on a scale hard to compute. Suffering on a level to which any rational response seems inadequate – 470,000 people killed, according to the latest estimates; 11.5 percent of the population injured; 45 percent of a country of 22 million made homeless; 4 million refugees and 6.36 million internally displaced persons. Life expectancy is down from 70.5 years in 2010 to an estimated 55.4 years in 2015. Welcome to the Syrian civil war.

“For those of us who have covered the war closely, these are not just numbers in black and white. They have behind them searing images and memories impossible to erase.”

And ends with this (emphasis again added):

“We are left with the bare facts behind all this – facts with which the policymaking echelon in the West has only just begun to grapple. The prison-house states are broken to pieces. The forces released from their ruins are swirling and clashing across the region and heading beyond it. Syria has become one of the hinges upon which regional and global events turn. The reputations of great powers, global and regional, are being made and broken among its ruins. It is war, and madness. And it is far from over.”


While over at the UN we have this report from Anne Bayefsky (emphasis added):

”According to the United Nations, the most evil country in the world today is Israel.

“On March 24, 2016, the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) wrapped up its annual meeting in New York by condemning only one country for violating women’s rights anywhere on the planet – Israel, for violating the rights of Palestinian women.

“On the same day, the UN Human Rights Council concluded its month-long session in Geneva by condemning Israel five times more than any other of the 192 UN member states.

“There were five Council resolutions on Israel. One each on the likes of hellish Syria, North Korea and Iran. Libya got an offer of “technical assistance.” And countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and China were among the 95% of states that were never mentioned.

“No slander is deemed too vile for the UN rights bodies that routinely listen to highly orchestrated Palestinian versions of the ancient blood libel against the Jews.”

Says Anne, “You can’t make it up.”.


For an impassioned and on-the-mark critique of the UN’s focus on Israel, see this video with Alan Dershowitz (emphasis added):

“Where are the liberals, the progressives? Where are the people who claim to be speaking in the name of decency? Why are they choosing the enemies of decency?”

“...Can the whole world be wrong? When it comes to Jews, yes!”

There is a right and wrong in this world, and there is a morally correct thing to do.”

Share this call for broad support for Israel, please!


“Terrorists from the so-called Islamic State have advanced plans to murder Jewish children in Turkey, targeting kindergartens, schools and youth centres, Sky News can reveal.

“Information on what intelligence officials are describing as an ‘imminent’ attack was obtained from six operatives from the ‘Caliphate’ who were arrested in the southern [Turkish] city of Gaziantep over the last week..

“The most likely target of an attack is Istanbul's synagogue in Beyoglu, which also has a community centre and a school attached to it...

“’In light of these circumstances, extraordinary security measures are being taken above and beyond the high alert level already in place by the Turkish police, as well as vigilance within the Jewish community,’ an intelligence source told Sky News.

"’This is a more than credible threat. This is an active plot,’ the source added.”


And so my friends... I have a great deal of emunah (faith), and I often have a smile on my face.  I am grateful for all of the blessings of my life, and reach for what is good.  But the truth?  I walk around with tears buried in my heart, in mourning for the sorry sorry state of this world.


A traditional Hebrew song, so appropriate today: Sisu et Yerushalayim

Rejoice with Jerusalem, be glad about her, be glad all you that love her, all who love her.

On your walls, Oh city of David. I have stationed watchmen, all day and night.


Do not fear, my servant Jacob, for your enemies shall be scattered before you.


Look about you and behold; see all as they are all gathering and coming unto you.


And your people are all holy and forever shall inherit the land.


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


Posted on Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 02:10PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 28, 2016: Precisely What Are They Thinking?

The good news, my friends, is that in the midst of neighboring mayhem and chaos, Israel managed to celebrate Purim late last week without mishap. This was not a sure thing, by any means, and should not be taken lightly.

Credit: itraveljerusalem

Credit: jbuzz

Credit: Corinna Kern/Flash 90

Three Megillot – scrolls of the Book of Esther, which are read on Purim - were recently found in a hidden synagogue at the former Warsaw Ghetto site after a wall in an old building in the ghetto collapsed.  These particular scrolls – pictured below is an example - were obviously used during the Holocaust.

Researchers from the Shem Olam Institute in Kfar Haroeh discovered them.

Rabbi Avraham Krieger, head of Shem Olam, said, “The more we investigate the life of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, [the more] we discover the courage and mental strength the Jews exhibited to keep the faith alive despite the grief and the threat of death that surrounded them from all directions.”  (Emphasis added)



As to what “they” are thinking, I am referring to western Europeans generally, and the Belgians most specifically.

I doubt that there is anyone reading this who does not know about the two-pronged attack that took place in Brussels, Belgium last Tuesday.  It happened after I had written my last posting and I think it is important to examine it here, not simply because of the horror, but more significantly, because of the implications.

Two suicide bombers struck just seconds apart, at 8:00 in the morning, in the departure hall at Brussels’ Zaventem airport, blowing out part of the roof.

Credit: Daily Mail (UK)

Just an hour later, another suicide bomber struck near at Molenbeek metro station, just a few hundred meters from the main European Union offices and many diplomatic missions.  This attack ripped apart a train.


Credit: Telegraph (UK)

In all, at least 31 people were killed and some 300 wounded – 61 critically.  Because of the location of the attack at the heart of the EU, 41 different nationalities are among the dead and wounded.

Utilizing fingerprint and DNA evidence, the authorities have identified the two suicide bombers from the airport: Belgian national Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Moroccan-born Najim Laachraoui, said to be a top ISIS bomb-maker.  Bakraoui’s younger brother Khalid El Bakraoui was identified as the metro bomber. Security cameras suggest that there was a third airport bomber and a second Metro bomber, both of whom got away.

A number of other suspected accomplices have been arrested in the days since the attacks.


What is quite clear is that the recent attack in Paris and this Brussels attack are connected – we are looking at a widespread, international terror network.  There was, for example, DNA evidence linking Laahraoui to the Paris attack. 

But perhaps most significant is the fact that just four days before the terrorists hit in Brussels, Belgian-born Frenchman Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the Paris attacks, had been arrested in Belgium after four months of running. Now there are multiple sources saying the attack in Brussels may have been revenge for Abdeslam’s arrest. 

But hey! This is not just in hindsight: I read at the time of the arrest that Belgian intelligence was looking at the possibility of such a revenge attack. 

Professor Anthony Glees, Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, says that the attack in Brussels was not a surprise given the arrest of Abdeslam (emphasis added):
"What is surprising is that one would have expected that at this time there would have been very strong armed police and soldiers at the airport and in the vicinity of the European Union.”

Surprising indeed.

Said Pini Schiff, formerly the security chief at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport (emphasis added):  "Two terrorists who enter the terminal area with explosive devices, this is undoubtedly a colossal failure."

Actually, Israeli security officials who were charged with assessing security measures at international airports operating flights to Tel Aviv had found “significant shortcomings” at Zaventem Airport.  Weeks ago the Israelis had warned Belgian authorities about the security lapses.

And it has now been revealed that Turkey had detained Ibrahim El Bakraoui last year and then deported him back to Europe.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Belgian authorities released him despite warnings from Ankara’s that he was “a foreign fighter.”

So, it is reasonable to ask, What the hell are they thinking?  Or perhaps, a better question is, ARE they thinking?  The answer to the latter question is, not a whole lot.  There is a great deal of denial (more on this below). 

There are a number of critiques regarding how Belgium operates with regard to risk from Islamists.  The Molenbeek section of Brussels is widely recognized as a hotbed of jihadist activity.  The Washington Post calls it “one of the world’s main breeding grounds of violent Islamist extremists.”

As one commentator observed, “The absurdity of the situation is that Molenbeek is in a short driving distance from the headquarters of NATO and the European Commission.”

Literally, the capital of Europe is out of control.  I’ve encountered a great deal about the cumbersome bureaucracy of Belgium and the failure of various agencies to properly communicate for effective cooperation.  And then there are the various regulations and rules that hinder effective security operations.  No houses may be searched at night  Racial profiling is, of course, forbidden.  There is an open border policy.

It goes without saying that we have not seen the last of jihadist attacks in Europe.

The Islamic State group has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks, deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris with orders to choose the time, place and method for maximum carnage, The Associated Press has learned.”  (Emphasis added)

The fighters in some instances are recruited inside of Europe, in places such as Molenbeek. But there is also the phenomenon of Europeans going to fight with ISIS in Syria and Iraq and then returning.  According to CNN, at least 500 men and women have left Belgium, alone, for Syria since 2012 – Belgium has the highest rate per capita in Europe of people going to fight with ISIS. More than 100 have returned. There is indication that some returnees  are arrested; but it is also the case that throughout Europe there are returnees who have re-entered freely.

Said Dutch MP Geert Wilders:

Returned Syria fighters are a huge threat... It is absolutely unbelievable that our governments allow them to return... Every government in the West, which refuses to do so [lock them up], is a moral accessory if one of these monsters commits an atrocity.” (Emphasis added, Gatestone source provided below.)

Soeren Kern, writing in Gatestone on the issue jihadists in the EU, quotes a US intelligence official who said (emphasis added):

"Even with the EU in general, there's an infiltration of jihadists that's been happening for two decades. And now they're just starting to work on this. When we have to contact these people or send our guys over to talk to them, we're essentially talking with people who are — I'm just going to put it bluntly — children. These are not pro-active, they don't know what's going on. They're in such denial. It's such a frightening thing to admit their country is being taken over."

And the 40,000 Jews of Belgium – do they feel safe?  A rhetorical question, actually.  How could they?  Jews interviewed recently by the JPost refer repeatedly to the incompetence of the Belgian government.  They recognize, and appreciate, efforts being made to protect the Jewish population, but, as one resident of Antwerp’s Jewish neighborhood said, “When the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, the soldiers might as well be cardboard.”

The Brussels police requested of the Jewish community that all large Purim celebrations be cancelled. Thus, a large megillah (scroll of Esther) reading that would have been attended by some thousand people at the Great Synagogue was not held and instead there were small gatherings in homes. 

“The police said that they are unable to protect the event while the city is in a state of war," explained Rabbi Menachem Margolin.,7340,L-4782174,00.html

Belgian aliyah has increased significantly in recent years.


And speaking of aliyah...

There was an ancient Jewish community in Kaifeng, China, dating back more than 1,000 years; the Jews were traders who had come from Persia or India.  Over the years that community dissipated. Here we see young women, descendants of those Jews, who identify as Jews today and have come to Israel to formally convert and acquire Israeli citizenship.

Heartwarming, and rather amazing.  Truly a testament to the tenacity of Jewish identity.  The man speaking in the video is Michael Freund, who founded the organization Shavei Yisrael, to help lost Jews come home.


Jews had an ancient community in Yemen, dating back at least 1,000 years and very possibly twice as long at this; Yemenite Jews, who in the main were quite pious, had a good many unique traditions.  Most of that community, which had sustained itself in the face of persecution, was airlifted to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet, 1949 – 1950; 50,000 Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel.  Among the best known of Yemenite Israelis is the late Ofra Haza. 

A small remnant of that community remained in Yemen. But this past week, 19 Yemenite Jews were secretly airlifted into Israel by the Jewish Agency as part of an operation that took two years.  (Actually, 17 were brought in at one time, and two had come a bit earlier.) Secrecy was necessary because the Jews lived in an area today controlled by hostile Houthi rebels who had to be bribed.

The tension was greater because a 500 year old Yemenite Torah scroll was brought out with them.  The Iranian-backed Houthis claim that this scroll was part of their heritage and has been stolen from them. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds an 500 hundred-year-old Torah scroll as he poses for a picture with some of the Yemenite Jews who were brought to Israel as part of a secret rescue operation, at the Knesset on March 21, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Credit: Haim Zach/GPO

Some 50 Jews – who opted not to leave – remain in Yemen, but the Jewish Agency has now declared the rescue and aliyah of the Yemenite Jews ended  One of the Jews who remained behind, and helped the others get out, has been arrested, along with a Muslim, because of their involvement in helping to smuggle the Torah scroll out.

Some members of the Dahari family, which came to Israel now, had come earlier, a few at a time, over a period of ten years. This was true especially for the children, who were pulled out from a difficult situation.  When he learned about the Houthi claims to the Torah scroll, Manny Dehari, now 22, wrote on Facebook: “The Torah scroll has been in my family for hundreds of years and we will never give it up for anything or anyone.” 

Read more:


We close with Ofra Haza in a medley of traditional Yemenite songs:


© 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, March 28, 2016 at 11:59AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 22, 2016: Remembering 

This past Shabbat, the Shabbat before Purim, was Shabbat Zahor, which means “remember.”
Everyone is obligated to come to synagogue to hear the Torah reading, which ends with Devarim (Deuteronomy) 25:17-19:
You shall remember what Amalek did to you. How he happened upon you on the way and cut off all the stragglers at your rear, when you were faint and weary, and he did not fear God.
“ shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens. You shall not forget!”

Credit: dreamstime
Obliterate the remembrance? But not forget?
We are taught that Amalek – the Amalekites – were to be destroyed. But we are to remember always what our enemies are capable of and guard against them.
The Amalekites are no more.  But their prototypes – those of consummate evil, intent on destroying us – exist in every generation.  We are well aware of this.
At Pesach we read:
In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us but the Holy One Blessed Be He saves us from their hands.”
This then, is the good news: in spite of Iran and ISIS and Hamas and Fatah, we will not be destroyed.  We have not forgotten. We never will.
One who truly never forgot was Meir Dagan, who succumbed to his battle with cancer last Thursday, at age 71.


Credit: infostormer
Dagan throughout his life remembered that his grandfather was murdered in the Holocaust, and lived with determination that there would never be another Holocaust.  To that end, he fiercely devoted his life to defending Israel and fighting terror:
As an officer in the Paratroopers Brigade in the Six-Day War. he fought in battles in the Sinai, and, then – flown north with his troops by helicopter – took part in the capture of the Golan.  Subsequently, Ariel Sharon, who was at that time GOC Southern Command, assigned to Dagan the task of creating the top secret anti-terrorist Rimon unit, which operated daringly, under cover.  During his service in that unit, he injured both legs when his jeep ran over a mine; but also won the Medal of Courage when he jumped on a terrorist about to toss a grenade at the Gaza patrol unit he headed.
In 2002, then Prime Minister Sharon appointed Dagan as head of the Mossad.  In his office Dagan had a picture of his grandfather, wrapped in his tallit (prayer shawl), kneeling before the Nazis just before they shot him.
Dagan served in this role for eight years, focused primarily on the threat of Iran and terrorism outside of Israel. While, of course, no acknowledgement of these deeds is ever forthcoming, he has been credited with many stunning successes during his Mossad tenure, such as the assassination of Hezbollah's military chief, Imad Mughniyeh and the sabotaging of Iranian nuclear development.,7340,L-4780458,00.html
At his funeral, he was eulogized by President Rivlin, who said: "Meir was one of the greatest of the brave, creative and devout warriors that the Jewish people ever had. His devotion to the State of Israel was absolute."
While Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "I was always impressed by his love of the State, and his Zionist patriotism...A great warrior has died.”
Former President Peres credited him with making the Mossad, “the best organization in the world.”
New Mossad head, Yossi Cohen, explained: “Meir taught us, the people of the Mossad, to combine daring with cunning, bravery with ruses, to take big chances and to act at the same time with responsibility and sound judgment. He taught us one important thing in particular: to act with optimism and self-confidence.”  (All emphasis added)

Funeral of Meir Dagan

Credit: Kobi Gidon/GPO
With head held high, I want to share a special video about Israel, with thanks to those who shared it with me.  In turn, please pass it along to others.  Make it go viral  This is how you can help:


A suicide bomber blew himself up in Istanbul on Saturday - in an area of consulates, shops and restaurants much frequented by tourists - killing five people and wounding 36 others.  Among those killed were three Israelis, while 10 Israelis were among those wounded.  

At the time Netanyahu declared that there was no indication that Israelis were specifically targeted.

That assessment seems to have been reversed now:

“According the latest Turkish reports, the terrorist...had waited outside the restaurant where the group of Israelis had dined on Saturday morning, detonating himself moments after they exited the establishment, in very close proximity to them.

“Turkey's Haberturk newspaper said police had been examining closed-circuit TV footage from the scene, which appeared to corroborate the report that the suicide bomber had followed the group of Israeli tourists for several kilometers from their hotel and then waited outside the restaurant where they ate breakfast.

“The report, which also appeared on the Turkish T24 website, suggested that the suicide bomber recognized that the Israelis were speaking Hebrew and that is why he decided to target them.”  (All emphasis added)

The terrorist has been identified as Mehmet Ozturk, a member of the Islamic State from the city of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border. Several other persons have been arrested in connection with the attack and according to Turkish papers, there are three Islamic State members planning additional suicide attacks.

I will add that, as of today, Netanyahu is still saying that it is not certain the the Israelis were targeted and that Israeli intelligence is investigating this possibility.


Those Israelis who were lightly wounded were brought back to Israel on a Magen David Adom plane Saturday night.  An IAF plane brought home the more seriously wounded, and those who were killed on Sunday.  The dead have been identified as:

Simcha Damri, 60; Avraham Goldman, 69; Yonatan Shor, 40

The spouses of all three were among the wounded. Shor was in Turkey with his wife celebrating his birthday.

Shor and Goldman also had US citizenship


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to President Rivlin expressing “deepest condolences” to the Israeli people and to the families of those who were killed in Istanbul.  He was, he wrote, “very sorry” to learn that Israelis were involved.

It is too soon to call yet, but there is speculation that the cooperation that was necessary between Turkish and Israeli officials as a result of the attack, and a sense of working together against terrorism, may serve to repair the ruptured relationship between the two nations.

On Sunday, Foreign Ministry director general Dore Gold flew to Turkey and met with his counterpart, Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridan Sinirlioglu.


Ruthie Blum, who has been putting out some great stuff, has an article in yesterday’s JPost,  “Israel and the UN-PA complicity.”:

In it, she writes about the statement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon regarding the imperative to “strengthen Palestinian institutions, economic and security prospects.”

Responds Blum, “So many billions of dollars, euros and shekels have been spent on this endeavor that everyone has lost count by now. Yet nothing has changed other than the methods employed by Arafat’s successor, PA President (sic) Mahmoud Abbas to remain at the helm, while working towards the destruction of the Jewish state through a war of attrition in the street and international arenas.”  (Emphasis added)

Please see her article in full for examples of how the PA functions, as provided by a new MEMRI report on “Incitement to Terrorism by Palestinian Civil Society Organizations that Receive Foreign Funding.”  Among the organizations named are the Palestinian Bar Association, the Popular Art Centre, and the Shabab Al-Balad Youth Forum.

This is critical information that most Americans are oblivious to.


I read a news report the other day that said that the PA insists it has never permitted IDF operations in Area A and has declared it never will. 

This is a joke – an attempt by the PA to appear independent – when in fact the IDF does security operations inside of Area A on a daily basis.

Now there is Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writing in Gatestone about “More Palestinian Empty Threats” (emphasis added):

“For Abbas, security coordination with Israel is indeed ‘sacred’: it keeps him in power and stops Hamas from taking over the West Bank.

“Abbas cannot tell his people that security coordination with Israel is keeping him on the throne. That is a topic for Israeli ears only.

So what are the threats to end security cooperation about? Money. Here is Abbas's take-home to the world: ‘Send more money or we will cut off security cooperation with Israel.’

"Halting security coordination with Israel would spell both his end and that of the PA in the West Bank. The international community is simply hearing a new version of the old bid for yet more political concessions and yet more cash.”

This brings us full circle, does it not, to Ban’s call for more support for the PA?


My friends, I wish I did not have to share this, but I believe I must. It is a brief video clip of anti-Israel demonstrators outside the AIPAC convention, vilely cursing at, pursuing, and beating up Jewish members of AIPAC attempting to enter the premises.
I wept as I watched this, and if you love America, you will weep too.
Tomorrow is Tanit Esther – the Fast of Esther.  It is a fast day that precedes Purim, celebrated on Thursday (except for Shushan Purim, on Friday, celebrated by Jerusalem, which was a walled city).
On Purim we rejoice over the defeat of Haman – who was indeed an Amalakite and planned to destroy the Jews of the ancient Persian empire: We hear the story in the Megillat Esther, the Scroll of Esther. We give money to the poor, share gifts of food with friends, dress in costumes, and sit together for a festive meal.

In fact, we are called on to be happy.  And so I wish all who will be celebrating, a Purim Sameach.  It takes strength and courage, strong belief in who we are, and, most of all, emunah, faith, to celebrate today.

There are no “great” Purim songs. Most of the traditional ones are kiddie songs. Thus I’ve decided to end with the Maccabeats doing a (non-traditional) Purim song.  The silliness of it fits the mood of the day.  “Queen Esther” is adorable.


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


Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 10:10AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 17, 2016: In Memoriam

It is with sadness that I note the passing on Tuesday of Salomon Benzimra of Toronto. 
Originally from Morocco – what was then the International Zone of Tangiers - he was able to trace his family back to Spain prior to the Inquisition. When it became necessary they had escaped across the Straits of Gibraltar. He was fluent in Spanish and French, as well as English.
Trained as a chemical engineer, Salomon developed a passion for the issue of Israel’s legal rights more than a decade ago. With Goldi Steiner, he co-founded Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, and wrote an authoritative book on the subject:The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel, available on Amazon in Kindle format. 
Salomon and Goldi were in Israel for meetings; my Legal Grounds co-chair, Jeff Daube, and I had sat with them on Monday. Salomon passed while on his return to Toronto the next day.
May his memory be for a blessing and may his work continue to inform many.
I would like to further elaborate on the theme of Muslim Arab citizens who are loyal to Israel.  I had mentioned the Zoabi clan as Zionistic, and have here two videos to share:
The first is of Sarah Zoabi.  I had first seen this particular video clip – with subtitles - some time ago.  She was entering a cooking contest and had to speak about herself. You can see how surprised/impressed the judges are.  She speaks about the right of the Jewish people to have the land of Israel, the holy land.  It’s a Gan Eden, a paradise, she says, compared to all the Arab lands.  In Israel she is 100% safe.  When will Arabs in Israel wake up and realize this?

 Sara Zoabi

Credit: Kesher Network
And then her son Muhammad, who speaks in English, and is nothing short of extraordinary.  A brave boy who received Muslim Arab threats for his position as a proud Israeli.


Credit: Times of Israel
Please note that both mother and son talk freely about Israel as a Jewish state. They don’t protest that it must also be a Muslim state to be fair to them. They know they receive civil and human rights in Israel – rights they would not receive anywhere else in the Middle East, and they are more than content to live within a Jewish Israel.  This is enormously important.
Those who wish to destroy Israel as a Jewish state protest that an injustice is done to the Muslim citizens because there is a Jewish star on the flag, and Hatikva speaks of the Jewish soul, etc. Nonsense. Never be taken in by this.
It is also encouraging that 13% more Arab Israeli youth participated in National Service in 2015, which suggests a readiness to be a constructive part of Israeli society.  National Service (Sherut Leumi) is an alternative to serving in the army for religious Jewish young women and some few young Jewish men who will not be serving in the army.  For Jews, service of one sort or another is mandatory, for the Arabs, it is strictly voluntary.  There is a huge selection of ways in which the service can be done.
The young Arabs reported enduring intimidation within their communities with regard to their decision to “take the ultimate leap” and become “agents of the state.”  But they did it anyway.
Fighting the terrorism of the “knife intifada,” which is also a shooting and car ramming intifada.  (Please! do not send me your suggestions.  I am not in touch with the prime minister and fear being overwhelmed by more emails in my inbox than I can cope with.)


Credit: UnitedwithIsrael
There are several respects in which this months-long bout of terrorism differs from prior periods of violence visited upon the Jewish people by Arabs in recent years – all of which may impinge upon how the terrorism can be dealt with:
[] The attacks come not just from Palestinian Arabs, but sometimes from Israeli Arabs and Arabs with residency permits living in Jerusalem.  That this generates problems is obvious on the face of it.  In numerous instances, although not always, the terrorists emerge from amongst us.
[] The attackers are identified as “lone wolves” – persons acting alone without membership in a terrorist cell or according to specific instructions provided by a terrorist leader – it is said they act on their own initiative.  This identification is only accurate in part. Sometimes teams of two or three go out together.  And while they do not have specific instructions regarding the attacks they perpetrate, they are guided in the general sense of having been exposed to virulent incitement at official PA levels.  That is, the attacks are not simply “spontaneous.” This said, however, it is far more difficult to anticipate a given terror attack than it would be if intelligence were able to track a pattern of planning within a cell.
[] The age of the attackers is lower, with many in their teens, even early teens.  There is considerable discussion regarding the families of these teens – do they encourage and condone what the kids do? Are the kids out of control?
Actually, this discussion of family involvement applies even when the terrorist is not a teenager.  I think for example of the Tel Aviv terrorist, who was no kid.  Ultimately members of his family, from a village in the north, were arrested as possible accomplices.
[] The method of attack is different – with the very frequent use of knives, which are ubiquitous and easy to acquire as well as easy to hide. Although in the main we’re talking about daggers and not the average kitten paring knife. And sometimes axes are used. 


Credit: Israel police
On occasion, guns, even submachine guns, have been used, resulting in killing and wounding of a larger number of victims.  When the guns are used, predictions are made regarding escalation of the intifada.
Has everything that might be done to stop the terrorism been put into place?  Absolutely not. I hear accusations that Netanyahu has done nothing against the terror, and I think that is an unfair charge.  But what he has done to date is not yet everything he might do. 
There have been no compunctions about shooting terrorists in the midst of attack – shooting to kill, even if the terrorist is a teenager.  Although there are discussions about when it may be inappropriate to kill – as when the terrorist is already disarmed and down.  Outrage emanates from some quarters when occasionally a rabbi - relying on the Talmudic injunction that “If someone comes to kill you, rise up, and kill him first” – pronounces it an obligation to kill terrorists.  There are official sanctions against continuing to shoot a terrorist in excess of what is necessary (however that is defined).
This said, acting with full force in all venues requires nerves of steel and iron determination. Netanyahu knows that the world is watching. The slippery Abbas plays it very smart, although I should point out that he plays to an international audience often all too eager to find Israel at fault. 
He frequently paints the terrorists as innocents who are gunned down by Israeli assassins, which is manifestly ridiculous. Or he claims that it’s the “occupation” causing the violence, which is another patent falsehood. While he makes these declarations to the larger world in English, his own people hear him, in Arabic, as he decries “defilement” of the Temple Mount by Jews, and heaps great praise on terrorists as “martyrs.”  The message to young people – and Abbas’s culpability - is clear.

Credit: Telegraph (UK)
As the clamor for the government to do something more effective to stop the attacks grows louder, more decisions are enacted.  I have found myself asking, on more than one occasion: if it’s good to do this, why wasn’t it done sooner?
One of the things I know the government wrestles with is the question of whether very stringent measures applied to an entire group will be effective as deterrent or cause resentment that increases the violence.  Stringent measures such as blocking Arab workers from entering an area for their jobs.
What we are seeing now:
Two days ago there was a demonstration by hundreds of Jews who live in Judea, marching along route 60 demanding closure of the road to Arabs during and after an attack.  

Photo: Daniel Elior

Credit: Daniel Elior
I am not sure how temporary closure serves as a deterrent, but the entire issue of allowing Arabs to use roads that Jews use, in areas where there have been frequent attacks, such as Gush Etzion, is one under discussion.
There is discussion as well about expelling terrorists’ families.  
According to the new attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, this is only possible under certain circumstances.  The family had to have known about the attack prior to its having taken place, and they can only be expelled to ( Palestinian Authority areas of) Judea and Samaria, and not to Gaza or Syria, as some legislators had wanted.  He says such a move would violate international law and could be used to sue Israel in the International Court of Justice.

Netanyahu and Mandelblit

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

This, then, is one restriction that Netanyahu faces – rulings of the courts and the judgment of appointed legal advisors, within a legal system that tends to tilt left. I will say that Mandelblit appears to be a measure better than his predecessor had been. 
I do know that there have been instances of revocation of rights of Jerusalem residents who are family members of a terrorist – although this is certainly not a policy being followed in all instances.  
One of the reasons there is a problem with Arabs who possess Jerusalem residency permits is because there had been a policy of “family reunification.”  If an Arab from a PA area married an Arab with Jerusalem residency, he or she received a permit to live in Jerusalem.  This has been a source of trouble on numerous occasions, as those who were doing the “reuniting” were not necessarily desirables.
In recent years legislation has been in place blocking further automatic family reunification.
There is talk about restricting worker permits for those who live in PA areas and come into Jewish areas to work.  Certainly, Netanyahu wants to revoke work permits for families of terrorists.
Beyond this, and more seriously, is the problem of Arabs from PA areas who are working in Jewish areas illegally. After the terror attack in Jaffa, which was committed by someone who was in Israel illegally, a roundup of some 250 Palestinian Arabs who were illegals took place.,7340,L-4776893,00.html
There is going to be a clamping down on the employers who hire the illegals, as part of the approach to mitigating this situation. My sense of it, however, from informal queries, is that there is a dependence upon these workers in the construction industry, which means we have a problem.
There is supposed to be demolition of houses of families of terrorists, but this seems to be happening only sporadically.  To date, the houses of only 12 terrorists have been demolished, with another seven scheduled for demolition.
In one of his first recommendations in his new position, Attorney General Mandelblit advised that families who turned in terrorists should not have their homes demolished.
This position was ultimately accepted.  It seems imminently sensible to me – and may even encourage families to hand over terrorists.
There is the issue I wrote about previously regarding returning of bodies of terrorists to their families – with confused guidelines and some bodies being returned.
Netanyahu has declared intention to complete construction of the security barrier, begun in 2002, in the area around Jerusalem.  Although it would likely have some impact, it does not seem to be a major solution to the problem – as some of the terrorists emanate from inside of Israel. Then there is the objection to the barrier based on concerns that this creates a de facto border for Israel.  
Sometimes a terrorist’s village is closed for a matter of some days following an attack. Here, too, I am not clear on how something so temporary can be see as an effective deterrent. It is, I assume, being done as a warning of what will happen if other residents of that village attack – with the hope this will cause people to think twice.
What I see as the single biggest problem - the incitement coming from the PA - is not being addressed.  There have been calls for shutting down the bandwidths on which the PA broadcasts. But this – which would require iron will because of the international furor that would ensue - has not been done.
There has been one instance of a Palestinian Arab station shut down – but this was a station belonging to Islamic Jihad, not the PA: "Palestine Alyoum" broadcasting from Ramallah.  A closure order was issued just a week ago, transmitters and technical equipment were seized. But, according to Israel National News, the station was broadcasting as normal the next day.  This is a screen shot of the Friday broadcast: 

Palestine Alyoum broadcast Friday morning

There is very little to say about this although you may hear the sound of my head banging against the wall.
I have heard nothing about restrictions being placed on Abbas in any sense whatsoever, to dissuade him from some of his behaviors.
As I reflect on this situation, I have just a few comments. 
Opposition leader Bugie Herzog has been telling everyone who will listen that the solution is “separation,” by which he means unilateral withdrawal from at least parts of Judea and Samaria.  

Labor Party chairman MK Isaac Herzog leads a party meeting in the Knesset on February 03, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Credit: Flash90
This is a horrendous suggestion from a perspective of our legal rights and with regard to security.
But in any event, it would not solve this problem.  As I read over the various issues and suggested measures, what stands out as clear is that there is a great deal of interlocking between Jewish Israelis and Arabs, whether Israeli or Palestinian.  We cannot draw a line and “separate.” Some live here amongst us legally, either as citizens or with resident permits.  And they would continue to be exposed to PA incitement even if a fence separated us from PA areas. Many are relied upon as needed labor. 
If there is a to be a meaningful long term solution, it seems to me that it will have to be in the opposite direction.  It is past time to declare Oslo a failure.  But that is not going to happen right now – because of the implications within the international community: UN Security Council resolutions, boycotts and the rest. And, perhaps even more significantly, because it means that all at once all the Arabs in the PA areas would be Israel’s responsibility.
Perhaps the Palestinian Authority will do us a favor and finally implode on its own.  Or maybe Israel will find it necessary to take this step some time not so far down the road. 
The education system in the PA area has to be revamped. The incitement has to cease.  Streets with the names of terrorists have to be-renamed.
It is not incidental to consider the positive impact that might be generated if Palestinian Arabs were freed of their infuriating and strangling confinement within a system that is unendingly corrupt and provides them with scant human rights, pathetic services and meager economic opportunity.  I have no intention of addressing here questions of whether [with the banishment of terrorist elements] they would be provided with an autonomy short of a state or citizenship within Israel, if they pledged loyalty.  Rather, I am looking at the constructive turn-around that might follow over time.
Whatever the polls show, this I know: when there was talk of dividing Jerusalem, those Arabs living in the part of the city that would have been turned over to the PA hurried to move to areas that would have been retained by Israel.  For all the talk of their wanting “a state,” this is not what we saw.
For now, however, this is only wishful thinking.  And so I close with something unusual, a total change of mood: the late Ofra Haza, who returns here to her Yemenite roots and sings a 17th century traditional Yemenite song,  An explanation and translation of the lyrics is included if you scroll down.
© 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, March 17, 2016 at 04:49PM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 16, 2016: Where to Begin?

I frequently feel overwhelmed by the number of critical issues I would like to share with my readers: I must chose among events competing for attention. That said, I begin with the good news, which is of considerable importance.  (But I ask you please to continue reading past the good news for important matters requiring attention and action.)
“An Israeli researcher at Ariel University in Samaria has discovered a revolutionary new method to stop the uncontrolled bleeding common in victims of stab wounds...
“Israeli scientist Moshe Rogosnitzky has discovered that gallium, a biometal currently used to stop bone loss in cancer patients, can, in liquid form, known as galluim nitrate, rapidly halt bleeding from deep wounds without causing blood clots.” 

Credit: lndscience
There is promise here for many lives to be saved, in Israel and across the world.  Rogosnitzky says this discovery has the potential to “dramatically increase the survival rates of victims of stabbings and accidents.”  He is anxious to get this from the lab to the clinic as quickly as possible.  In addition to stopping bleeding, the gallium is a powerful anti-infective and speeds healing. 
“Electronics melded with living tissues have been used by Tel Aviv University researchers to create a self-regulating ‘cyborg cardiac patch’ to  save lives of people with diseased hearts.”
The number of donor hearts for transplants is limited, and more than 25% of those Americans waiting for transplants will die before receiving a new heart.  The patch, which was invented by Prof. Tal Dvir (pictured below) and doctoral student Ron Feiner, has capabilities that actually surpass those of human tissue alone: it contacts and expands like human heart tissue but regulates itself like a machine.


Credit: TAU
This is an innovation that – while still in development - is at the cutting edge of new age science.  What is envisioned is the possibility of remote monitoring of this patch to ensure sound functioning. Ultimately, it should be possible  to release drugs from the patch directly into the heart: “if it senses inflammation, it will release an anti-inflammatory drug,” etc. Researchers are also considering possibility for applying this concept to neurological conditions.
Nael Zoabi, an Arab-Israeli school principal in the north, has given an extensive interview to Makor Rishon (Hebrew) in which he criticizes the Arab Israeli MKs for investing their energy in Palestinian Arab nationalism rather than addressing issues within their own community.  


Credit: Mida
Zoabi insisted that “many, if not most, Arabs in the Jewish state would like to work on peaceful coexistence and in bettering their societal standing. But, he asserted harshly, ‘Their voices are stolen from them’ by their own Knesset representatives.”
In the interview, he said, “I meet with Arab and Jewish youth, religious and secular; I speak at home gatherings. Jews from the Diaspora come to visit me, and I introduce them to our people. I raise the issue of coexistence at every opportunity at the school, and write op-eds for Israeli papers like Israel Hayom and Haaretz. I came to educate the kids at the school to be good people and citizens, and not just any citizens, but effective ones. We don’t have another state or country — not us and not you...
“There are serious problems in our sector – relating to education, housing, employment, academic studies, violence and other issues...Who is addressing this? Nobody. The only issues our leaders concern themselves with are anti-Israel ones.” (All emphasis added)
I share this last item because it offers hope for Israel. 
I am not inside the Arab community, and I do not know what “the majority” of Israeli Arabs think.  What I do know is that – while there is a body of Arabs that functions peacefully and productively within the country - there has been a radicalization of many, with the process promoted by a covert Hamas influence and aided and abetted by the stance of Arab MKs.  The terrorism we are dealing with now comes in part from Israeli Arabs, and even if they and their sympathizers represent a minority, perhaps a small minority, of the Arabs - who constitute 20% of Israel’s population - we cannot tolerate a fifth column within our society. 
I’ve watched the process over the years, as Arabs who are citizens of Israel are encouraged by Palestinian Arabs who are anti-Israel to identify as “Palestinians” rather than “Israelis.”  They challenge the self-identity and loyalty of Israeli Arabs.  I know Arab Israeli citizens who call themselves “Arab Israelis” and others who say they are “Palestinian Israelis.” This last has always seemed to me a contradiction in terms, because I see “Palestinian” as a political identification and not an ethnic one – it reflects confusion.  I’ve seen Arabs here who have switched how they identify (in both directions) in response to changing times.
Part of the problem, as we struggle to deal with the situation, is knowing who is pro-Israel and who anti-Israel.  Who can be trusted and who not. An exceedingly painful and difficult problem today.  A morally complex situation. But maybe – let us pray! - there remains hope for the long run. 
Collective punishment (or, rather, inconvenience) is inevitable at some level because we must protect Jewish life.  And so, for example, both Arabs who are pro-Israel and those who are anti-Israel may have to go through checkpoints and endure delays at various times.  I have a “tough” attitude towards those who complain.
But what Zoabi’s statement comes to remind us is that we must also do our best to embrace those who sincerely stand with us.  The key is Arabs who are citizens feeling truly part of our country.
Nael is part of a large Zoabi clan, which – ironically – includes the horrendously anti-Israel Hanin Zoabi who sits in the Knesset. I have heard marvelously pro-Zionist statements from other members of this clan and perhaps I’ll return to some of them.  I salute them all. 
You may recall postings I’ve written in the past devoted to the outrage of EU funding of illegal Palestinian Arab housing in Area C (which is under full Israeli jurisdiction according to the Oslo Accords), with the goal of co-opting parts of this Area for a de facto Palestinian state
The EU, which persists in claiming (erroneously) that Israel is working in defiance of “international law,” has no trouble being disrespectful of Israeli law – which requires permits before building can take place.
Now there is another, even more outrageous element to the story, as the EU claims to be above the law.  The NGO Regavim - - which fights for Israel’s rights to the land, primarily via the courts, is attempting to utilize the courts to require demolition of those illegal EU-funded buildings.  But the EU delegation in Israel is claiming diplomatic immunity that means it cannot be taken to court.
The Daily Mail (UK), having uncovered documents regarding this situation, has now done an exclusive exposé of the situation.
I ask, first, that you see it:

The EU is claiming diplomatic immunity after using [British] taxpayers' money to build unauthorised settlements and roads on Israeli parts of the West Bank, MailOnline can reveal.

An Israeli NGO launched legal action after photographing EU flags flying above buildings on land placed under Israeli jurisdiction by the Oslo Accords, to which the EU is a signatory. EU bureaucrats are avoiding court by citing diplomatic rules.

The buildings, which are given to Palestinians, are intended to ‘pave the way’ for more land to be brought under Palestinian control, according to official EU papers. Many are bulldozed by Israel only for the EU to repeatedly rebuild them, generating more costs for the taxpayer.

Leaded documents obtained by MailOnline show the that EU – which receives £350 million per week from Britain – is using diplomatic rules to place officials above the law, foiling attempts to hold bureaucrats accountable...

“MPs have expressed outrage that the EU is using aid money to ‘meddle’ in a foreign territorial dispute, and branded its actions ‘dodgy.’

“’It is deeply concerning that the EU falls back on diplomatic immunity after breaking planning regulations, Jacob Reed-Mogg MP told MailOnline. ‘The UK Government would take a very dim view of a friendly state doing that to us.

’Diplomatic immunity is there to protect envoys from unjust treatment, not to protect the high-handed behaviour of arrogant bureaucracies.’

“He added: The EU maintains that it is based on fundamental principles of rule of law and support for democracy. But when this clashes with its bureaucratic bungling, neither rule of law nor democracy seem important.’” (Emphasis added)

The Daily Mail expose includes a letter written to the Foreign Ministry of Israel by the Delegation of the EU to the State of Israel, which documents the EU position.


You can see here a picture, supplied by Regavim, of illegal buildings in Area C, with stickers on each bearing the blue EU symbol:


And another with the sticker more visible: 


Credit: Jonathan Shaul

What I then ask of each of you is to broadly share the link to this Daily Mail article.  The information about the audacity of EU actions must be put out extensively.  The fact that the critique of the EU comes from an EU nation makes it all the more powerful.
There was a minor moment of panic in certain quarters here in Israel, last night and today, because of a report that was leaked.  On closer examination, it appears that the matter is complex, with context not quite as simple or nearly as alarming as seemed at first blush.
The report first appeared via Haaretz, which clearly has it own bias. What was said was that there had been secret talks between Israel and the PA, with Israel offering to halt all military operations in Ramallah and Jericho and rely on PA security operations instead, with a readiness to apply this agreement to other PA cities if matters go well. 
The PA, it was said, refused the offer because it was insufficient – its demand was that Israel stop operations in every PA city.  It was further reported that the PA said it was considering halting all security cooperation with Israel if its demand was not met.
As part of the Oslo agreement, the IDF had pulled back from PA-controlled Area A. That is, until 2002, when Defensive Shield was put into operation because of horrendous terror attacks that emanated from this area.  Since then the IDF has operated in all PA cities of Judea and Samaria, seeking out terrorists, cells planning attacks, arms caches, arms factories, etc.  There is no standing Israeli army presence in these cities – there are only operations, mostly at night, in which the IDF moves into an area for a specific purpose and then moves out again.
A primary target of IDF operations in the PA areas is Hamas; it is broadly recognized that without Israeli military assistance, the PA would be overthrown by Hamas in the blink of an eye, just as Fatah was roundly defeated by Hamas in Gaza.
In speaking to knowledgeable individuals, I have encountered a dubiousness as to whether Israel truly would have offered what the report says was offered. 
We are again struggling with a surge in terrorism, and could not – would not – relinquish our ability to go after terrorists in PA cities. According to Arutz Sheva, an Israeli official has said the talks addressed security arrangements with the PA, but that Israel always reserves the right to enter any place according to its operational needs. (See further confirmation of this below.)
The US has weighed in on this, saying that it had no information on such an offer, and that, because of close American involvement, would have been informed by Israel:
“State Department spokesman John Kirby says that the US has no knowledge of such discussions...”
He did not believe that there were such organized efforts.  “Otherwise we would know something like this was happening.”
Another US official was cited as saying he believed this was just “spin.”
“Diplomatic officials (presumably Israeli) told Arutz Sheva...that the report referred to ideas that arose in the security establishment, but have not been brought up in actual discussion. They added that there was no intention to implement them in practice.”  (Emphasis added)
As to the PA collapsing without security assistance from Israel, there are PA officials declaring that they’d rather collapse than be beholden to Israel.  This has the feel of grandstanding, or an attempt to make Israel look intransigent.  I wish I had ten shekels for every time some PA official has said the PA will be dissolved. 
But who knows?  There are reports that the PA may be close to imploding in any event.
The obligation we have, unquestionably, is to monitor such reported situations and speak out against what seems bad for Israel.  In the event that this was a trial balloon that had been floated by whomever – testing the political reception – it is important to make it clear precisely what the response to such a move would be.
Two in the government who have spoken out strongly are Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and Minister of Immigration Ze’ev Elkin (Likud).
In response to the press reports on the subject, Chief of Staff Eisenkot offered an explanation (emphasis added):
The talks being alluded to, he said, were among commanders on the ground and not at a political level. (Translation: the government is not talking about relinquishing parts of Judea and Samaria.)
“The goal of the discussions is to strengthen the effectiveness of regional security while examining the possibility of decreasing the number of IDF incursions into Area A, Eisenkot told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. ‘These discussions were preliminary...The IDF will preserve its full ability to act in Area A.
“Eisenkot also said Military Intelligence issued a strategic warning at the beginning of 2015 regarding the possibility of instability in West Bank. ‘In accordance with this warning, we have assessed that the IDF has an operational and intelligence advantage and works without limitations....’”,7340,L-4778924,00.html 

Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Photo: Moti Kimchi

Credit: Moti Kimchi
Next posting, finally, I hope to look at some of the measures (not yet adequate, but making headway) that the government is adopting to combat the terrorism.
When the current “knife intifada” began, I said that I would continue to report on all attacks, so that no one would think they had stopped. Sadly, this has not been possible, as there are too many attacks and attempted attacks – knifings, shootings, vehicle attacks - over a period of days.  According to the Israel Policy Center, the IDF reports that from September through mid-March there have been 130 stabbings, 47 shootings, and 25 car rammings.
The last item for this posting is a marvelous short video put out by Regavim Regavim Advocacy Project. 
In it, State Department spokesman John Kirby seems to be confusing the Negev with Judea and Samaria (what he would call the West Bank).  In his rush to look at his notes to quote the phrases that are considered just right, he forgot to get the question right.  When asked about demolitions of illegal housing for Bedouins in the Negev, which is southern Israel, he speaks about leaving "Palestinians" homeless and actions that are disruptive to a two-state solution.  (With thanks to Yisrael Medad.)
See this not only because it’s a blooper that is good for a laugh, but also because Regavim provides commentary to set the record straight.  It counters fallacious charges with facts.  We need the laugh, and we need the facts.
The song is over 55 years old, from the 1960 version of the film Exodus. “This Land is Mine.”  Some might think it dated.  But it feels right for today, especially with the overlay of pictures.
© 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, March 16, 2016 at 08:19AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 13, 2016: With a Smile and a Tear

A couple of “only in Israel” stories about ordinary, yet special, people:
Yishay Montgomery has been hailed as Israel’s “guitar hero.”   

 Israel's 'Guitar Hero'

Credit: Ben Hartman
Last Tuesday evening, Yishay was playing his acoustic guitar by the beach in southern Tel Aviv – near the Jaffa boardwalk where a terrorist had just stabbed several people in a rampage.  Yishay heard screaming and took off after the terrorist, clobbering him with his guitar and momentarily stunning him.  His instrument, which was damaged in the process, was featured in new photos.
The spunkiness of this young man caught people’s attention. And so he has been overwhelmed by gifts of replacement guitars, as well as a sum of money raised via crowd-funding for purchase of a new guitar.
Last month, we had an Israeli “angel,” Ofir Yitzhak. 


Credit: Daniel Danino/Facebook
Ofir was on a train in the area of Lod, southeast of Tel Aviv, when a young woman soldier boarded, talking into her phone and weeping. The soldier, who subsists on her modest salary, is the only child of a disabled mother; she was on the phone pleading with the electric company – without success - not to cut off her mother’s electricity in spite of an overdue bill of 1,950 shekels (about $500), before her mother’s monthly disability check came in.
It didn’t take Ofir, who overheard the conversation, long: he grabbed the phone from the crying soldier, gave the electric company his credit card number to clear the debt, and gave the soldier a confirmation number, as he handed her phone back to her.
Daniel Danino, another young female soldier, was sitting nearby. She witnessed the entire sequence of events and then decided to take Ofir’s picture and write about him on Facebook.  The story, confirmed by others in the train, went viral.
Wrote Daniel:
I was left with my mouth hanging open, speechless, and full of a sense of pride in being part of this nation that galvanizes to help others during times of distress....” (Emphasis added)
Daniel reported that Ofir said he acted as he did to calm the young soldier down and bring bring a smile to her face.
These modest stories are important because they remind us that human decency still exists in a world that is overwhelmed by the most vile indecency imaginable. As long as this is the case, there is hope for the future.  My take.
On Friday, the Arab League declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization. 
This is a mark of growing tensions between Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, and Shi’a powers, most notably Iran.  But at the same time it serves us well:
The Saudi ambassador to Egypt, Ahmed Kattan, stated on Al-Arabiya TV that “We will deal with Hezbollah as we deal with any terrorist organization.  Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries have begun preparing measures it will take against that terrorist party...”
Let them go at each other, distracting and possibly weakening Hezbollah.
What leaves me aghast is that once again the Arab parties in the Knesset are unhappy about Arab labeling of Hezbollah as terrorist. 
“Raja Zaatreh, a member of the Hadash Political Bureau, said on Friday night that ‘the Arab League is a pawn in the hands of the Gulf governments, who themselves serve the policy interests of the United States.

“’Hezbollah isn’t a terrorist organization; it’s an opposition movement that succeeded in removing the Israeli occupation in Lebanon...’”,7340,L-4777466,00.html
(The “Israeli occupation in Lebanon” being referred to is a Security Belt that was established in southern Lebanon by Israel in 1985, in cooperation with the South Lebanese Army, to prevent the infiltration into northern Israel of terrorists from Hezbollah and renegade Palestinian groups.  It was in place for 15 years.)
It is hardly surprising that, according to a survey published by Channel 2, which was completed by 350 people from the Arab sector of Israel, 56% believe that the Arab MKs do not represent them or represent them to a lesser extent.
A spark of hope here, and I must say, unexpected:
“Student associations at the University of Vienna issued a statement on Wednesday, declaring their opposition to every form of anti-Semitism, including the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement targeting Israel...
“The rejection of BDS by continental student organizations is believed to be the first major European opposition to the hubs of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic academic initiatives in the United Kingdom and the US.”
The following counts as “sort of” good news:
Last Wednesday, when Biden was here, he went to Ramallah to meet with the PA’s Abbas, touting Obama’s latest push for advancing negotiations. According to the Times of Israel, citing a (Palestinian Arab) Al Quds report, Biden told Abbas he could have a “settlement” freeze and the possibility of eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.  All he had to do was relinquish the “right of return,” and recognize Israel as the Jewish state. 

Credit: Daily Mail (UK)
Abbas reportedly refused to consider it, which rather throws a wet blanket over Obama’s proposal.
But hey, I could have told you he would refuse.  The Arabs never compromise on anything.  We’ve been saved by them, time after time.  And in this particular instance, we’re looking at Palestinian policy that is close to sacrosanct.  The entire principle of “right of return” - which is the faux refugee claim that is the raison d’etre of UNRWA aimed at Israel’s destruction - is thoroughly entrenched as Palestinian Arab core policy.  That Abbas knows it ain’t never gonna happen is beside the point. He would not dare publicly renounce it, especially as he is lacking a strong power base.   
The big question here is where the Americans got the idea that they might get Abbas to agree to this publicly.  The mere fact that they did is indicative of how far removed from reality American policy is.
I note the comments of Martin Indyk – definitely no friend of Israel - former US ambassador to Israel, and currently with the Brookings Institution, regarding the fact that (emphasis added):
"Obama and Kerry are looking at the very real likelihood that the two-state solution could die on their watch.”
To which I say a hearty Amen. 
Reuters, however, cites a US official who explains that:
"People in the government are asking the question what can we do to keep the two-state solution alive, and they’re generating ideas.” (Emphasis added)
I try to maintain my sense of humor, no easy task these days.  But to suggest that a settlement freeze and relinquishing the “right of return” represent the generation of new ideas is rather amusing. 
Round and round they go, while they pretend they are getting somewhere. 

Credit: clipartpanda
Unfortunately, we must also deal with the intransigent French, as Pierre Vimont, special envoy “for the preparation of the international conference to renew the Middle East peace process” is taking two days to generate support for that conference in Jerusalem and Ramallah  He has come from the “5th Extraordinary Islamic Summit on Palestine and Al-Quds [Jerusalem]” in Jakarta, Indonesia. 
Oh joy. 

Credit: lesoir
If there is any spark of good news here it is in a softening of tone at the French Foreign Ministry.  Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault now says that France will not “automatically” recognize a Palestinian state if the conference does not go ahead: “There is never anything automatic...It will be the first step, there is no prerequisite.”
His immediate predecessor, Laurent Fabius, had said a failure in negotiations would result in a recognition of a Palestinian state by France.  Could be that it dawned on Ayrault that Netanyahu was indeed correct in observing that the French formula guaranteed failure of a conference, as the Palestinian Arabs would see they did not have to even try.  Not that they will try in any event.
France hopes to hold that conference in the summer, with a planning meeting in April. Expected participants: the US, Russia, China, France, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Brazil, Japan, Germany, South Africa and India.  Nothing funny here at all. 
I will be tracking this.  Israel’s position remains the same: the conflict cannot be resolved by outside groups, but only via face to face negotiations. 
Let me circle back to Biden’s meeting with Abbas for a moment.  Biden, as I last wrote, was in Jaffa with Shimon Peres, when the rampage on the Jaffa boardwalk by a terrorist caused multiple injuries and the death of one American.
When Biden subsequently held a two-hour meeting with Abbas, no follow-up meeting with journalists was held, nor was there an official statement released from the vice president - a sure sign that there was nothing the US wished to publicize about that meeting.
There was subsequently a report from the official Palestinian Arab news agency Wafa, which was cited by Times of Israel:
“Abbas expressed condolences over the American citizen who was killed yesterday, stressing at the same time that occupation authorities have killed 200 Palestinians in the last five months.”
He did not condemn the violence. Informed only by Abbas’s version events, one would imagine that Israelis have just been wandering around killing innocent Palestinian Arabs.  Abbas, in fact, blamed “the occupation” for the violence.
Actually, the night of the attack on the Jaffa boardwalk, official PA TV referred to the terrorist Bashar Massalha as a “martyr,” a “shahid.”
“During the news broadcast on the official PA news station Palestine TV, which was translated to English by the Middle East Media Research Institute, the news presenter said the killer had been ‘martyred’ during the attack.
“Additionally, the correspondent on the scene said the attack was ‘a complex operation carried out by the martyr’ and referred to the victims as ‘settlers.’”
“Settlers”: the only victim who was killed was an American, and some of the wounded were also American, while others were Israeli Arabs.  This term is used as a blanket description of anyone terrorists kill, as they apparently think it justifies murder and mayhem.
One is tempted to ask – in the midst of last ditch efforts by Obama to keeps negotiation possibilities alive - how the US handles this total failure of the PA to accept any responsibility for violence against Jews, but instead actually seeks to justify it.
We have our answer in an Atlantic article by Jeffrey Goldberg published on-line last week:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘is in his own category’ when it comes to the Middle East leaders who have most deeply disappointed President Barack Obama, according to a major overview of the Obama presidency, featuring numerous interviews with the president...
“In the piece, headlined ;The Obama Doctrine,’ writer Jeffrey Goldberg goes to great lengths to trace the president’s growing disillusionment, over the course of his presidency, with the possibility of changing the region for the better. ‘Some of his deepest disappointments concern Middle Eastern leaders themselves,’ Goldberg writes. Of these, ‘Benjamin Netanyahu is in his own category.’” (Emphasis added)
Well, when you consider the type of leaders Obama has had to deal with, and the intransigence and perversity of Abbas even as tracked above, there is little left to say except that this Atlantic piece highlights Obama’s antipathy for Israel.
We might also add that it demonstrates the degree to which Obama is willing to cut the Palestinian Arabs slack, demanding nothing of them. It seems he expects Israel to do his bidding at every turn, unilaterally providing him with a diplomatic victory: The only way Netanyahu might have secured approval from Obama would have been for him to announce forthwith that we were withdrawing to behind the 1949 armistice lines and immediately recognizing a “Palestinian state.”  And even then I’m not sure.
A note about the American tourist who was killed on the Jaffa boardwalk. 

Vanderbilt graduate student Taylor Force was killed Tuesday March 9, 2016 in a terror attack in Jaffa.  (Facebook)

Credit: Facebook
Originally hailing from Lubbock, Texas,Taylor Force, 29, had graduated from West Point and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A graduate student at the Owen School of Management, at Vanderbilt University, he was in Israel to visit start-ups – as part of a course on global entrepreneurship.  Taylor’s wife was badly injured in the attack.
A ceremony was held for him on Friday at Ben Gurion Airport before his body was sent home.  Both Americans and Israelis participated.   

Israeli and American officials participate in a good-bye ceremony for Taylor Force, the US citizen killed in a stabbing terror attack in Jaffa, as his body is sent back to be buried in the United States, at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on Friday, March 11, 2016. (Flash90)

Credit: Flash90
Former Knesset Member Dov Lipman (second from right above) who had organized the ceremony wrote (emphasis added):
May Taylor's family be comforted by the collective hug from the people of Israel and may his memory be a source of blessing for all.”
Lipman began by reading a letter from Taylor’s sister, Kristen, on behalf of the family (emphasis added):
"Please convey our deepest appreciation to the Israeli people and government who have been so compassionate and thoughtful during the worst moment of our lives. Taylor was our world and our lives are forever changed, but knowing Israel mourns with us is comforting."
Texas governor  said, on hearing of Taylor’s death, said:
”I strongly condemn that terrorist and reiterate the way that Texas will stand side by side with our friend and ally, Israel, while doing all that we can to stomp out terrorist activities like this in Israel.”

My friends, there is much more I want to write about.  But this posting, already lengthy, would be truly too long. So I save it for my next posting. 
What I do want to share here is a marvelous speech by Dennis Prager at the CUFI convention, with thanks to my friend Esther for calling it to my attention.  It is enormously powerful, and goes to the heart of what is going on in this sad, and morally deficient world. 
Please, do share this with everyone.
Kol haolam kulo, gesher tzar meod: All the world is a narrow bridge.  This we know well today. And the main thing, this song tells us, is not to be afraid. An unusual version sung by children:
May today’s children grow up to find a better world.
© 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, March 14, 2016 at 09:41AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 9, 2016: Extreme Perversity and Much Worse

We here in Israel don’t really ever expect things to go smoothly, but there are situations that are simply not smooth and others that are maddeningly perverse or breathtakingly ugly.  But before I get to these, I begin with some good news that can provide a perspective.
As those of you who have traveled to and from Israel and used Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport know, there is a long corridor – complete with a traveling walkway - at one point on the way to the gates, which feature large posters along the wall on one side.  


Ben Gurion Airport Keren Hayesod Exhibit
Those posters are replaced every so often.  Now, and for the next year, there will be a very special set of posters on display:
Israeli Discoveries and Developments that Influenced the World” sponsored by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space. 
Each of over 50 posters represents an Israeli scientific innovation, discovery, or, in a couple of instances, historical connection.  Below here I provide a link for seeing all of the posters. Put your pointer over a selected poster, and an identifying caption will appear.  Click twice and you will be navigated to an explanation of that discovery or innovation or connection.  You’ll see everything from repair of heart tissue utilizing algae; to development of new citrus strains for desert climates; to a new method of recruiting immune cells to fight cancer; to development of the disk-on-key; to discovery in the Gulf of Eilat of a new invertebrate marine organism (an ascidian species).
The posters themselves (which are copyrighted) are gorgeous.  And as you explore you will learn a great deal about what is going on here.  Enjoy:
Other positive news:
At the site of an archeological excavation in the City of David (the original Jerusalem of King David):
The First Temple period structure in which the seals were found (Photo: IAA)

Credit:Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA)
a 2,500 year old seal, from First Temple times, has been discovered: 

First Temple period seal belonging to 'Elihana bat Gael' (Photo: IAA)

Credit: IAA
This again reinforces the fact of the Jewish presence in the Land over the millennia.
What makes this particular seal even more special is that the name written on it in ancient Hebrew is a woman’s name: Elihana Bat Gael.   Such seals were used for signing documents and this one belonging to a woman seems to indicate that she had the legal status to conduct business independently and to own property – a rarity in those times.,7340,L-4775345,00.html
The Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida, citing a high level source, reported on Saturday that Putin has decided to freeze Russia’s shipment of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran.  

The Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system (Photo: AP)

Credit: AP
According to the source, this was because Putin had evidence provided by Israel that Iran had transferred the advanced Russian-made SA-22 surface-to-air missile system to Hezbollah on repeated occasions.  This was in spite of a pledge by Iran not to transfer sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah.  The intelligence from Israel was corroborated  by Russian pilots flying missions over Syria and Lebanon who have reported that their radar systems detected advanced surface-to-air missile systems in Hezbollah-controlled areas.,7340,L-4774679,00.html
A week ago, the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar – named Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
It is pretty clear that the antipathy of these states to Iran, and Iran’s support of Hezbollah, are factors in this decision.  But none-the-less this is a good thing for Israel; already Saudi Arabia has blacklisted some companies that have associations with Hezbollah. Our prime minister has said that the Council decision was “very important and even amazing.”
What was indeed exceedingly perverse, however, was the fact that two Arab parties in the Knesset – Balad and Hadash – criticized the Council move.  Reasons given were because it inflames the Sunni-Shia conflict, and (I am not making this up) because it is good for Israel.
How long will such enemies of Israel be permitted to sit in the Knesset? 

Benjamin Netanyahu

Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/JPost
Netanyahu, speaking at a Knesset plenum, retorted that as amazing as the decision of the Council was the response of two parties in the Knesset.
Will you continue criticizing them when Hezbollah shoots rockets at your villages? Do they differentiate between blood and blood? [Hezbollah] wants to destroy the country, and you’re in the country. Have you gone crazy? Excuse my expression.” (Emphasis added)
We never expected things to go easy with Barack Hussein Obama, as long as he sits in the White House.  But now the rumblings are unsettling.
Later this month, AIPAC will hold its annual convention.  Typically, Netanyahu travels to Washington at this time, for an address at the convention and a meeting with the president.  Last year, as you will remember, the pattern was broken, when, at the time of the AIPAC convention, Netanyahu came to Washington and also addressed a joint session of Congress about Iran. An enraged Obama refused to meet with him.
Now the decision has been made by Netanyahu not to travel to the convention, to be held later this month, but to address those gathered by satellite.  The decision was made, according to reports, because candidates will be at the convention and Netanyahu did not want to be embroiled in US politics during the campaign.
If a lack of enthusiasm about meeting with Obama played into it as well, I would not be surprised.
In any event, the White House is generating a bit of a flap about this, declaring that the administration learned about Netanyahu’s decision via the media, etc.  Israeli officials say Obama had been advised that Netanyahu was not likely to come.  Then there was a whole discussion about whether Obama had assured Netanyahu he would have time for him.
This matter, in and of itself inconsequential, is reflective of a larger underlying tension.
What is of potentially major consequence is a report from the Wall Street Journal that Obama is thinking of utilizing the UN Security Council to push “peace negotiations.”  This, after he had declared on numerous occasions that he knew it was not a propitious  time for trying to advance negotiations.  It would seem that this may be as much a last jab at Israel as an attempt to bring peace to the area:. 
US President Barack Obama’s administration is considering a United Nations Security Council resolution to serve as a blueprint for Israeli-Palestinian talks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The US has repeatedly vetoed such resolutions in the past.

“That move would be just one element of a plan to receive the peace process, according to the Journal.

“The newspaper added that other elements might be a presidential speech and joint statement from the Quartet.

“The report offered one possible scenario: ‘the US would push Israel to halt construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories and recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state… Palestinians would in turn be asked to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and end claims on a right of return for Palestinian refugees.’”  (all emphasis added),7340,L-4775666,00.html

This is a report of a possibility, not a definitive announcement. But it is decidedly not good news.


Vice President Biden arrived here in Israel last night, and went to Jaffa for a meeting with Shimon Peres at the Peres Peace Center.

Credit: Dan Balilty/AP

While the two were meeting, all hell broke loose elsewhere in Jaffa:

An Arab terrorist from Kalkilyia ran along the boardwalk stabbing people as he went. He attacked in three different locations, killing an American tourist, wounding 10 others, including four tourists who have been critically injured.  Ultimately he was shot dead by police.

Security forces at the scene of a stabbing attack that killed one person and injured 10 others at the Jaffa Port on March 8, 2016 (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Credit: Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel

There is solid reason to believe that it was not a coincidence that the terror attack in Jaffa occurred just when the American vice president was there. 

This was the last of a spate of attacks that took place yesterday.  While police are finding no links between the attacks, it is speculated that Biden’s presence here may have been an independent factor in each one:

In Jerusalem, a terrorist riding a motorbike opened fire on police near the Damascus Gate, wounding two officers, one seriously, before being killed.

But it was a Jewish man in his 30s who was stabbed several times in an attack in Petah Tikva who exhibited an exceptional response:

He pulled the knife from his own neck and stabbed the attacker to death with his own knife. Right on!


"Terror activity against innocent women and children is intolerable," Biden reportedly told Peres, when he was informed of what had happened. This lead me to wonder if he believes terror attacks on innocent men are tolerable.

The vice president then spoke of America’s "absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to the security of Israel."  However sincerely he may have meant this over-the-top statement, in the rush of the news about terror, this is so far from the reality as to be ridiculous – especially in the light of his expressed hope for progress on the “peace process.”,7340,L-4776018,00.html


And I, along with a host of other Israelis, am so weary of/so enraged by the current situation that I am totally out of patience with dangerous diplomatic nonsense.

There is only one meaningful answer for Biden:

You want to show commitment to Israel’s security?  Demand that the Palestinian Authority stop the incitement that fuels the terror before you even speak about a “peace process.” There should be no rewards for terror.


Two of the villages that the terrorists had come from were closed off last night. The cries for stronger action to stop the terror are coming from several quarters and I will be following this closely. 

This morning, one Israeli man was critically wounded outside the Old City near the New Gate, when two terrorists opened fire on him from their car.  They were shot dead.


I was so engrossed in writing my last posting that I forgot to end with a music video.  But today I remember – oh how we need this! I want to share a magnificent version of Yehi She’amda, sung by Cantor Shimon Farkas, Cantor Dov Farkas, and Chief Cantor of the IDF Shai Abramson. Arrangement by Yonatan Razel.  I will repeat this before Pesach, with explanation.


© 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, March 9, 2016 at 09:03AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

March 4, 2016: Who We Are

Eric Mandel, director of MEPIN, wrote an op-ed in the JPost on February 28, entitled, “The real strength of Israel” (emphasis added):
He begins by saying that, “Israel’s long-term strength lies with its people.” 
In the course of this piece, he describes how he toured significant regions of Israel, and met with both leaders and ordinary people. And in his closing paragraphs he writes:
“After spending a good deal of time with olim [immigrants] from America, France, Holland, Italy and South Africa, as well as young native-born Israelis. I am indeed optimistic about the future of the Jewish state.
“Despite the high cost of housing, the income inequality and the continual security situation, Israelis are happier than most people in the Western world, including Americans.  They live lives of meaning and purpose.
“...the real security strength of Israel is its people, their love of their country, and their determination to overcome all obstacles.  Am Israel Chai.”


Credit: JPost
Much of what he is saying you’ve heard from me, time and again. But I am so pleased to cite him now, and to provide this as the focus of our good news for the day.  This goes beyond Israel’s incredible technological and medical advancements.  What we are looking at is the true nature of Israel, which is the best good news of all.
It is important for us to celebrate Israel, in this broad regard, from time to time.  And so here I provide a couple of examples of how Israel functions:
The State of Israel requires of its students in 10th and 11th grade that they do a minimum of 40 hours of what would be called, broadly, community service.  I’m told that almost everyone does more than 40 hours per school year.  One of my granddaughters led youth group activities for young Ethiopian girls.  Another granddaughter currently works at an afternoon activity center for young people with emotional and mental disabilities.  Some young people do basic training in life saving techniques and ride with MDA ambulances.
This service – with many possibilities available - is not simply encouraged: it is mandated.  Israeli students take bagrut tests, which are roughly equivalent to SAT achievement tests in the US.  A certificate is issued attesting to a student’s completion of basic bagrut tests, but only if the requirement for community service has also been met.
Israel, you see, encourages not only academic achievement, but also a giving of one’s self, a caring for others.  And the young  people take this requirement of service for granted.
One other example here: I know a young man who was studying at a residential yeshiva high school (religious national).  He told me about an annual program at the school in which mentally and emotionally disabled young people come to the school for a whole Shabbat.  Counselors are present, but it is the high school students themselves who are assigned to be companions to/caretakers of these young people.  I heard, for example, about one hyperactive visitor whose assigned student had to chase him all over the building. 
At one point, the young man describing this program alluded to the fact that occasionally one of the visitors comes in diapers.  “Diapers?” I responded, a bit astonished. “The students change their diapers?” Yes, said the young man, but in these cases there are two students assigned to one disabled visitor.  Oh.
Who we are.
On another front:
US News and World Report has just published a new study that ranks 60 nations of the world on a variety of parameters.  With regard to the category of “power,” Israel came in 8th, with only the US, Russia, China, Germany, the UK, France and Japan coming out ahead.
“Power” did not just refer to military might, but also to being a leader, economically influential, and politically influential, and having strong international alliances.

Credit: Israel foundation
On Monday night, two soldiers from a special forces unit (Oketz K-9 –the non-combatant canine unit) inadvertently entered the refugee camp of Kalandiya (aka Qalandiya) – a hotbed of violence and terrorism - where they were immediately accosted by a mob of Arabs who pelted them with rocks and threw firebombs at them.  One of the firebombs set the soldiers’ car on fire and they fled the mob, while calling for rescue.
Israeli security forces in some numbers – both IDF and Border Police – quickly entered the camp, fearing that the soldiers would be killed or taken hostage, and rioting by the Arab residents – with a gun battle - ensued.  The soldiers were safely recovered and the car was brought out.  In the course of the rioting, at least on Arab was killed and Israeli forces sustained a number of injuries.
You can see from this picture that Kalandiya resembles a poor urban neighborhood and not a “camp.”  This fact raises one of a host of questions that beg to be considered with regard to this UNRWA refugee camp, which, it seems, is within the northernmost region of Jerusalem.


Credit: Miriam Alster
Just a couple of weeks ago, Israeli security forces arrested Jamal Abu El Lail, who is head of the Fatah- affiliated Tanzim in Kalandiya. The Tanzim, founded originally by Arafat, is often classified as “militant.”  Associated with violence and terrorist actions, it is currently one of the groups that de facto runs Kalandiya in the absence of true law enforcement by any party.
Roi Harel, an IDF reservist, was on his way out the door of his home on Wednesday, when he was attacked by two young Arabs brandishing axes, knives and guns.  They pushed their way into the Harel home, which is in the community of Eli, in the Binyamin Regional Council of the Shomron, and made their way towards the bedrooms of the family’s five children.  Roi managed to repulse them, and shove them out of the door, which he then locked. The terrorists were ultimately shot and killed by security forces, who attempted to apprehend them as they fled.
This is a terrifying scenario that, in this instance, had a happy ending

Roy Harel, a resident of the Jewish settlement of Eli, being treated at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, March 2, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Most of you have probably never heard of Eli.  I came across this short video, which provides the viewer with a sense of what this community is like – so different from the stereotypes about “settlements”:
The situation of several of the enemies at Israel’s periphery is rapidly shifting in ways that require enormous diligence and preparedness.  Here I touch on issues that will require follow-up and elaboration over time.
There is, first, the Palestinian Authority, which, certainly, I count as an enemy.
Immigration Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) gave a talk on Monday at Bar Ilan University during which he warned that Israel has not yet internalized the fact that the PA is going to collapse.  

Ze'ev Elkin

Credit: Flash90
It’s not a question of “if,” he declared, but “when,” and Israel had best prepare for the chaos and violence that may ensue, in part because Mahmoud Abbas has not prepared a successor.  What he predicts is an internal fight for control of the PA and then anarchy.  He is concerned about the vast number of weapons in the hands of the PA, both legally and illegally.  (Many of those legal weapons were provided by the US, in a very misguided attempt to strengthen the PA on its way to becoming a state capable of fighting terrorism.)
“I have not yet found anyone from (either) the political or military echelons who claim this is an outlandish scenario," he said. 
In subsequent comments on the topic, Elkins elaborated that Israel must “internalize the failure of the Oslo paradigm.”  This is a man who understands.
At the same time, the IDF is preparing for the possibility of war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.  This is even while there are no indications at present that Hezbollah, which is deeply immersed in the civil war in Syria, has an interest in attacking Israel now: there has been absolutely no redeployment of troops that would suggest readiness to do battle with Israel.
Nonetheless, Hezbollah has 100,000 rockets which they can launch in batteries, hidden in villages, of 1,200 per day.  And there has been talk by Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah of taking over Israeli towns at the border.
And so the IDF is fortifying its ability to respond now, relying on:
[] Deep intelligence – with information on thousands of significant targets to be hit. The IDF says Hezbollah is going to be surprised at the depth of intelligence that has been acquired.  This means we know where they are keeping their weapons.
[] Enhanced defensive capabilities – which include an “aerial defense system [that] has been upgraded with Iron Dome batteries, the David’s Sling system that is soon to become operational, and the Arrow system,” as well as dramatically improved firepower.  “It’s firepower that we never had before,” declared an IAF officer, “and in such a conflict where the home front will be attacked, all restrictions will be lifted. We will not call houses before we attack.”  (Emphasis added)
[] A defensive line along the border to prevent the infiltration of Hezbollah forces – there are ten-foot high barriers being erected, and cliffs have been carved in the face of hillsides next to Israeli communities near the border.,7340,L-4771607,00.html
(See more about Hezbollah below.)
And then there is Syria, which in point of fact actually does not exist any longer as a single nation.  No serious thinker believes all of its disparate parts can be reunited under one government – there are simply enclaves with variable borders now, controlled by one group or another, including, of course, Assad’s Alawites.  At present there is a temporary ceasefire of sorts – brokered by the US and Russian - that went into effect on February 27.  It is not expected that it will be maintained, given the number of groups at play.
There are some 38 local ceasefire agreements.  What is more, neither ISIS nor the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front – which maintains significant force in Syria – is included in the truce.  Thus battles have continued, particularly in the north.
Russia has charged that there have been 31 violations of the ceasefire between different groups that are participants in the truce, in the course of three days.
Minister of Defense Ya’alon charged earlier this week that Assad has used chlorine gas on civilians several times since the beginning of the ceasefire.
It goes without saying that the way in which things play out here will impact Israel and that it is all being watched very carefully.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, at the Cabinet meeting last Sunday, said:
“We welcome the efforts to achieve a stable, long-term and genuine ceasefire in Syria. Anything that stops the terrible killing there is important especially from a humanitarian standpoint.” 
At the same time he warned that the quiet should not be used as a cover by Iran to build its military assets on the Golan Heights.

“It must be clear at the same time that any agreement in Syria must include a halt to Iran's aggression toward Israel from Syrian territory.”

Netanyahu referred as well to recent movement of heavy weapons from Iran to Hezbollah via Syria.

We will not agree to the supply of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah from Syria and Lebanon. We will not agree to the creation of a second terror front on the Golan Heights.  These are the red lines we have set and they remain the red lines of the State of Israel.” (emphasis added)
You can take the prime minister at his word on this.  In the middle of February, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an alleged strike by Israel near Damascus.  This was presumably to stop sophisticated weaponry being passed to Hezbollah from Syria, or from Iran to Hezbollah via Syria.  This was later obliquely confirmed by someone here in Israel.,7340,L-4768013,00.html
This is certainly not the first time that Israel has done such a strike – which may be have been long distance, without entering Syrian air space – nor is it likely to be the last.  The presence of Russia in the area as a major player might complicate matters, but at present has not been a problem. The interaction between Putin and Netanyahu appears to continue on a positive note, within a very complex mix of interactions.
© 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, March 9, 2016 at 04:08AM by Registered CommenterArlene | CommentsPost a Comment | EmailEmail | PrintPrint