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July 19, 2009: Good Move, Barack!

August 14, 2009

Well, old Barack Hussein has finally done it. He has gone too far:

In the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, there is a compound that was legally purchased by American businessman Irving Moskowitz in 1985. All papers are in order. The site originally belonged to the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Nazi collaborator and mentor of Yasser Arafat, and later became the Shepherd hotel. Plans now are to replace the hotel with a housing complex of some 20 to 30 apartments, to be purchased by Jewish families.

But Mahmoud Abbas was disturbed about these plans, because this would “shift the demographic balance” in the city. Which is to say that he covets eastern Jerusalem and wants to see it stay predominantly Arab.

(Clarification: It is predominantly Arab not because this was the historical situation, but because Jordan rendered the area Judenrein from 1949-67.)


Reports are that Abbas complained to the Americans. And what happens when Abbas protests? Seems that the American president jumps. Michael Oren, our ambassador to the US, was summoned to the State Department and told that the Obama administration wanted us to stop the building.

“Nothing doing,” Oren told them.

What’s important here is that, no only will we refuse, but that PM Netanyahu was reportedly incensed about this, saying that Obama had “crossed a red line.” The issue here is very clear:

Jerusalem united is undisputedly our sovereign capital. Jews are allowed to build, and live, anywhere in the city. “This has always been Israel’s policy and this is the policy of the current government,” declared the prime minister.

“…There is no prohibition against Arab residents buying apartments in the west of the city and there is no prohibition barring the city’s Jewish residents from buying or building in the east of the city. That is the policy of an open city that is not divided.”


In a press conference today, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called this demand “odd”:

“Thousands of Arab families build houses in Jerusalem, in the [primarily Jewish] neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov and French Hill, and I’ve never heard any comment on the matter from the United States or Europe. I’m trying to put this delicately: It would be very strange if Jews were discriminated against in Jerusalem of all places, especially in light of the fact that it is not an isolated site; this is the heart of the city, very close to the Government Compound and Israel Police Headquarters.”

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein said, “A demand to cease construction in a neighborhood situated only several meters from the Hebrew University proves how dangerous it is to be dragged into a debate on settlement freeze, which will lead us to a total demand to freeze our normal lives throughout the entire State of Israel.”


I would like to imagine — it may be hoping too much, but perhaps not — that this will stiffen the backs of our government officials more broadly with regard to American demands. For it can be seen that there is no end, and no respect for our rights. There will always be another demand.


The municipality of Jerusalem also weighed in on this issue, with a statement that reflects a principle of enormous significance:

“The Local Planning Committee of the Jerusalem Municipality operates according to equal criteria for all issues of construction permits, without regard to race, creed, gender, religion, or national identity of the resident or property owner.”

Imagine if we tried to prevent Arabs from building legally in the city. It seems that the world finds this acceptable only where Jews are concerned. And the Palestinians deign to refer to Israel as apartheid??


We can readily extrapolate from this issue to the broader issue of building in Jewish communities beyond the Green Line, as well. Picture the furor that would ensue if we said that in Judea and Samaria no Arab could add to his house, and no Arab city could build a nursery school. But to attempt to impose this on Jews? Hey, that’s another story. We’re dealing here with essential human rights., and the notion that they can be selectively withheld.


Perhaps in line with this thinking, spokespeople for our government have decided not to use the term “natural growth” any more, with regard to why building is needed in settlements. Instead, the term “normal life” will be used with regard to the need for continued construction.

I rather like the explanation of Herb Keinon in the Post:

“If Israel [were to eventually agree] to a freeze except for “natural growth,” then if anyone moved to a home in a settlement who was not a returning son or daughter, or was not born there, then Israel could be accused of lying, since this type of movement is migration and not natural growth.

“However, ‘normal life’ would seem to allow for the occasional family moving across the Green Line, because what is normal life if not some people moving in, and others moving out?”


It should be mentioned here that former PM Ehud Olmert has finally made a statement — in an op-ed in the Washington Post that appeared Friday — with regard to our understanding with the US on settlements. Of course there was a US-Israeli understanding, he says.

The criteria he describes are much as we’ve heard from other sources: construction would be within current borders, no new land would be allocated or confiscated for settlement construction, no new settlements would be constructed, and there would be no provision of economic incentives to promote settlement growth.

Wrote Olmert: “during the run-up to Annapolis and in meetings there [in 2007], I elaborated to the US administration and the Palestinian leadership that Israel would continue to build in the settlements according to the above criteria.

“Let me be clear. Without those understandings, the Annapolis process would not have taken on any form. Therefore, the focus on settlement construction now is not useful.”

Interestingly, in line with the new phraseology adopted by the government — and purely coincidentally, I’m sure — Olmert wrote that the understandings created “a proper balance to allow essential elements of stability and normality for Israelis living in settlements…”


Apparently pleased with Obama’s response on the building in eastern Jerusalem, PA prime minister Salam Fayyad has again appealed to him to “come up with a plan and a timetable for its application that will…put an end to Jewish settlements and Israeli offensives, and lead to serious negotiations.”


PA negotiator Saeb Erekat has declared that Netanyahu is “hampering peace” by supporting Jewish housing in eastern Jerusalem. There is no middle ground, he said — there can be building in settlements (eastern Jerusalem being a “settlement” by the PA definition) or there can be negotiations, but not both.


I am quite certain that Erekat’s statements carry less than no weight here, especially as the prime minister’s office has registered outrage at a recent meeting Erekat had in Sharm el-Sheikh with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, saying it stands in stark contrast to the Palestinian refusal to negotiate with the Netanyahu government.

Said spokesman Mark Regev, “It appears…that [the Palestinians] have no qualms and place no pre-conditions upon dialogue with the most extreme and violent enemies of peace.”


Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin, in a report to the Cabinet today, said that Hamas has moved from the military to the political arena in an attempt to undermine PA president Mahmoud Abbas.

Meanwhile, Egypt has set a new deadline of August 25, for a unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas. They never give up, do they? How many times now have I written that Egyptian negotiators had thrown up their hands in despair and cancelled further efforts to achieve that unity government?


Diskin further reported that the Palestinians were increasing their activities in eastern Jerusalem in order to enhance their presence in the city. He said that there is ongoing, clandestine PA activity in eastern Jerusalem meant to stop Jews from buying land in the area. Arab land brokers who sell property
to Jews are persecuted, prosecuted, and sometimes even sentenced to death.

Hamas, added Diskin, has been working get a foothold in the Jerusalem. The Muslim Brotherhood’s senior cleric, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has allotted $21 million for the purchase of property in the city in order to establish a Hamas infrastructure.

Most troubling. Diligence is essential.


Two very fine articles I recommend:

“Self-exiled by guilt,” by Sarah Honig deals with a slip made by Mahmoud Abbas on July 6, which puts the lie to his claim that he is a “refugee” and was driven from his home in Sfat by Israeli troops. Seems he and his family left voluntarily:

“People were motivated to run away… They feared retribution from Zionist terrorist organizations – particularly from the Sfat ones. Those of us from Sfat especially feared that the Jews harbored old desires to avenge what happened during the 1929 uprising. This was in the memory of our families and parents… They realized the balance of forces was shifting and therefore the whole town was abandoned on the basis of this rationale – saving our lives and our belongings.”

The 1929 uprising? A pogrom in which 21 Jews were butchered by Arabs, in action instigated by the Jerusalem Mufti (the very same one who once owned the property upon which Jews will now have homes).

Please, read this painful story, and this important piece of history.



And then this very perceptive piece by Abraham Miller, “For Liberal Jews, Obama is the Messiah.”


(Thanks, Dianne E.)


“The Good News Corner”

All over the world, bee colonies are collapsing, thus endangering agricultural production. An Israeli company, Beeologics, has developed a medication, Remembee, that helps to strengthen the resistance of bee colonies to the virus that causes the collapse. Successful trials in the US on millions of bees show that besides combating the virus, the medication increases the longevity of bees and increases honey production.

What is known as “drug on drug interaction” can kill: You take one drug prescribed by a doctor and buy another over the counter. Or you have different doctors that prescribe different medications. While each is safe standing alone, sometimes in combination the drugs can have harmful or even lethal affects.

An Israeli company RX-DrugOn has now developed a way to handle this potential problem: The DrugOnCard, a smart card that will be able to be presented each time a drug is purchased, will carry complete information about what you are taking. It comes with a pre-installed (and regularly updated) database of potentially dangerous drug interactions, and will alert the pharmacist if a problem is detected.

The desert rhubarb, Rheum palaestinum, a rare plant found only in Israel and neaby Jordan, is believed to be the only one in the world that is self-irrigating. Its broad leaves have grooves and channels that funnel minute amounts of rainwater directly to the roots of the plant. It can collect up to 16 times more water than other plants growing in the same arid environment. In addition, the water that is funneled goes 10 times deeper into the sand than rain that lands directly on the sand.




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