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August 26, 2010: The Good Fight

December 9, 2010

That’s what we — Israelis and all those who love Israel — must take on. The situation is enough to make one tear one’s hair out.  But the antidote is hard work to combat the threats and the insanity.
Let’s begin with a piece on the dangers of the US training of PA security forces, which I wrote with David Bedein, and which has now been put up in the JPost.  It is exceedingly relevant with regard to current prospects for “peace negotiations” and the issue of demilitarization of a Palestinian state.
There is considerable evidence that the PA forces, no matter how trained, will not reliably take on Hamas. What is more, there is genuine concern that these forces might in time actually turn on Israel.
I spoke yesterday about contacting your elected officials in Congress regarding incitement in PA textbooks.
The issue of the US training of PA forces is yet another one about which they are lacking information.  In the main, they have been told that this training is going swimmingly well. Anyone seeking more information, after reading the article, is invited to contact me.
For your Congresspersons: 


For your Senators: 



Please see an excellent “tell-it-like-it-is” article by Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in Hudson-NY: “Abbas & Fayyad: Do They Have a Mandate?”

The answer, of course, is that they do not.  Says Abu Toameh:

“A president whose term in office expired a long time ago, and a prime minister who won about 2% of the vote when he ran in an election, have now been invited by the US Administration to hold direct peace talks with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

“…The 18-member PLO Executive Committee, which met in Ramallah last week to approve the Palestinians’ participation in the direct talks with Israel, is dominated by unelected veteran officials.

“Only nine PLO officials attended the meeting. The PLO constitution requires a minimum of 12 members for a quorum. This means that, contrary to reports in the Palestinian and international media, Abbas and Fayyad do not have the support of the PLO committee to negotiate directly with Israel.

“With regards to the Central Council of Fatah, it remains unclear whether its 21 members ever endorsed the US invitation to hold direct talks with Israel.

“So here is a president whose term in office expired in January 2009 — and who has won the backing of only some of his traditional loyalists — preparing to negotiate with Israel about extremely important issues such as borders, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements and security.

“As if it is not enough that Abbas and Fayyad do not have a real mandate from their people, now they are going to lose what is left of their credibility as they appear to have “succumbed” to the outside pressure.

“…Over the past few months, Abbas and Fayyad had been telling their people that there would be no direct talks with Israel unless their conditions are fulfilled. Now, however, they…and are being pressured to the negotiating table by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

“…How can any Palestinian buy an agreement from them after they told their people that they are going to the talks only because the Americans and Europeans threatened to cut off financial aid?

“Any agreement Abbas and Fayyad bring back home will be seen by many Palestinians as the fruit of ‘extortion’ and ‘threats’ and not as the result of peace talks that were conducted in good faith.

“Leaders who do not have a clear mandate from their people will not be able to strike any deal with Israel, particularly when it concerns explosive issues such as Jerusalem, refugees and settlements…

“Abbas and Fayyad are nonetheless not stupid. The two are well aware of the fact that they do not have a mandate to sign any agreement with Israel. This is why they will search for any excuse to withdraw from the direct talks and blame Israel for the failure of the peace process.”



For a taste of PA intransigence, it would be hard to beat this.  The PA cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Fayyad met, reports WAFA (the PLO news agency,) and approved the decision to go ahead with negotiations, based on the Quartet statement.

The full cabinet statement included condemnation of all Israeli “violations.”  Included was condemnation of “the settlements’ plans in East Jerusalem such as building a huge elevator system which connects the Jewish square in East Jerusalem’s
Old City’ and the western wall.”

Of course it is nonsense to call these “the settlement’s plans” — this phrase is meaningless. But there is talk (by the Municipality?  a ministry?  not sure) about putting in an elevator between the Jewish Quarter (the Rova) and the plaza in front of the Kotel.  Anyone who has been there knows what a huge set of steps there is between the two — steps that inhibit movement for the elderly or disabled.  What a lovely thing this would be.


One particular e-mail has been forwarded to me in recent days more frequently than any other e-mail I’ve ever received.  I’ve been astonished at the frequency with which it has come into my In-box. 

The e-mail I’m referring to says at the top something like “Can you guess where these pictures were taken?”  Then after a string of some 20 or more pictures, the “answer” is provided: “Gaza.”

The problem is that there is no person’s name attached to this, no organization or site. No identification that might be used to confirm what is being said.  And, quite simply, there is no way to know if these really are pictures of Gaza.  I myself, and some others I consulted with, have some doubts.

The idea, of course, is to show how luxurious Gaza is, even as there are claims of suffering there.  Certainly I know Gaza in its totality is not as dreary, as slum-like and down-and-out as some would have us believe.  And I have readily shared pictures of a Gaza market filled with goods, the new swimming pool and more.  But in all of these instances I confirmed their validity.

What it seemed to me is that some of the pictures in this sequence were from Gaza, while others — of the more “glitzy’ and upscale buildings — seemed likely not.

And yet, thousands upon thousands of people are accepting this as a given veracity.  One of the dangers of the Internet.

My advice, across the board, is not to share material unless it can be validated and confirmed. There is enough legitimate material that can be confirmed to combat the lies coming from the other side without relying upon what is dubious and may be fallacious.  Our integrity in fighting that good fight depends upon our reliability as we present information.  If we are not careful, we can — inadvertently and unintentionally — undermine our own case


“The Good News Corner”

Certain parts of the country are currently adrift in storks, and will be for some time yet.

Israel is the crossroads for many birds in migration, and right now it’s stork migration time, with the birds heading south.  At the moment, at the height of the migration, some 31,000 storks are in the south.  They flew over the Beit She’an valley and then landed in the Negev, where they will rest before continuing on to east Africa for the winter. By the end of the migration, which takes six weeks, some 350,000 storks will have been in Israel.  This is an annual event.

When the birds were expected over the Beit She’an area, experts from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel advised farmers to plow their fields to uncover rodents so the birds could prey on them — thereby benefiting both birds and farmers. 

The SPNI, working with the Air Force, is monitoring the flight of these birds, which can cause a hazard if they collide with air craft.


Incredibly, all of the various species of birds who will migrate over Israel this fall and winter will total 500 million.




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