After my last post (which now requires follow-up), I promised I would return to my regular format, which includes good news. Would that the good predominated. It does not, of course. But it is real – as you will see in the course of this posting. And so offers promise and a bit of gladness.
But I begin by marking the death yesterday of philanthropist Dr. Irving Moskowitz z”l, whose support – with his wife Cherna – for Israeli national causes was rivaled by none. He is on the right in picture below. Baruch Dayan Emet, we say. Blessed is the Righteous Judge.
“[In] a secret ballot Monday in New York, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon was elected chairman of the GA’s Sixth Committee, which deals with legal issues.
“’This is a historic achievement for the State of Israel. We broke the glass ceiling: Despite the opposition of many countries, including Iran and others that tried to prevent the vote, we managed to be elected for the first time to head a committee at the UN,’ Danon said.
“In the past, Israeli diplomats have presided over other, less prestigious committees at the UN and even co-chaired the GA, but never headed one of the GA’s six main committees. ‘The Sixth Committee is the primary forum for the consideration of legal questions in the General Assembly,’ according to the UN.
“Among the issues it is expected to deal with at this fall’s GA are ‘measures to eliminate international terrorism,’ and “the rule of law at the national and international levels.” (Emphasis added)
A couple of thoughts here: This victory was possible because it was a secret ballot. There are nations that will support us privately today, but not in public. Not yet. And then, there is the fact that the committee Danon will head will be looking at measures to combat international terrorism. They know, they know very well – who better than Israel in this position?
And yet, this is something that would not have happened just a short time ago. We are seeing, slowly, a shift in Israel’s position in the world.
The Planning and Building Committee of the Municipality of Jerusalem has approved the construction of a three-story residential building for Jews in Shiloah (Silwan), which is today predominately Palestinian Arab. Near Beit Yehonatan (pictured) – a building in which Jewish families already live , it will be built on land purchased in 2005 by Ateret Cohanim (which received, I should mention, strong support from Irving Moskowitz).
Credit: Ariel Jerozolimski
This decision followed a debate of some weeks; it is considered “controversial,” an “infringement” into an Arab neighborhood. However, this area, which is very near to the City of David, is part of a unified Jerusalem. The notion that Jews cannot live there is simply unacceptable.
So we celebrate this decision, and hope that it holds as pressure mounts.
A bit of history is important here. Not only to correct the distortions circulated about this area – which is represented as exclusively Arab with Jewish interlopers. But also because there is a way in which the distortions in this situation echo the larger fight for Jewish Israel, as Arabs attempt to erase markers of Jewish presence.
For a long time the area, which had a solid mix of Jewish and Arab residents, was called the Yemenite Village because most of the Jewish population had originally come from Yemen (back in 1881-82).
See the article documenting this – “Rewriting History: Silwan” put up by Israellycool:
The Jews were driven from the area by Arab riots in 1936-39. Thus did it become “Arab.”
You will find a more extensive history here:
“The Battle Over Silwan: Fabricating Palestinian History,” in the Middle East Quarterly.
This fascinating piece includes a photograph of Arab homes build directly over (visible) ancient Jewish tombs carved into the limestone hillside.
It is being reported that Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, a senior member of Hamas, defected to Israel during the first week of June. He came with his wife and children to the border with Israel, and gave himself up to Israeli security forces. He carried a laptop and secret maps allegedly showing some of the tunnels that have been constructed in Gaza.
War with Hamas (about which more below) is inevitable. And so, information such as that reportedly carried by Baraka puts us way ahead.
As to war with Hamas…
A senior source in the Ministry of Defense is saying that the next war with Hamas, while inevitable, will be the last.
“His comments come after senior military officials made changes to the IDF’s end goals in any potential future Gaza conflict. Should hostilities erupt again, military planners would seek the destruction of Hamas’s military wing, not establishing deterrence like they did in past wars.” (Emphasis added)
As you may remember, this is precisely what Lieberman said on assuming the position of Minister of Defense. We cannot tolerate an on-going war of attrition, he declared, setting himself apart from Ya’alon, who indeed did opt to tolerate that war of attrition. Lieberman’s is the stronger, if you will, more right wing, stance.
The prospect of war cannot quite be “good news,” although it will unquestionably be a war that must be fought. It is good, however, that Lieberman – in promoting a policy change – is remaining true to his word on this issue. And good that we can envision the possibility, finally, of eliminating an enemy rather than indefinitely tolerating it. After each of the three wars we’ve fought with Hamas, to deter it, it has come back even stronger with the acquisition of more sophisticated weaponry.
There are, however, two points in this article citing the “senior source in the Defense Ministry” that I would question. One is that he says Israel must not initiate a war. I understand the desire to not appear to be “war-mongering.” (Yes, that again – how we appear.) But just recently I noted that a defense official had said that this time we would choose the time for going to war, and I had thought, finally…
Each time, we have waited for Hamas to initiate at the moment of their choosing. But I wonder if it’s not the case that the stockpiling of weaponry that Hamas is doing might be interpreted as a casus belli at some critical juncture, justifying a defensive action at a time of our choosing. There would be an element of surprise and it would put us at the advantage.
And then, this official said we might just take out Hamas’s military arm and leave the political arm in place. Again, I understand the rationale: to avoid having to actually administer Gaza, in its horrendous situation. Or to create a political vacuum into which some other terror group would immediately move. But what I question is whether there can really be a separation of these “arms” – or whether a political arm would very quickly instigate military buildup once again. This issue has been raised in Europe with regard to Hezbollah, which ostensibly has military and political arms.
Lieberman, backed by the Shin Bet, has just revoked the permit for entry into Israel for PA liaison to Israel Muhammad Al-Madani, a member of Fatah, for “subversive” activities. Said Lieberman: A foreign diplomatic official who is trying to intervene in political life in Israel is illegitimate.” No further explanation was offered.
Al-Madani is an aide to Mahmoud Abbas.
And speaking of the PA, see this most interesting article by Khaled Abu Toameh – “Palestinians: Anarchy Returns to the West Bank” – which documents its internal rivalries, upheavals, and potential for chaos (emphasis added):
“ Hostility towards the Palestinian Authority (PA) seems to have reached unprecedented heights among refugee camp residents.
“ A chat with young Palestinians in any refugee camp in the West Bank will reveal a driving sense of betrayal. In these camps, the PA seems as much the enemy as Israel. They speak of the PA as a corrupt and incompetent body that is managed by “mafia leaders.” Many camp activists believe it is only a matter of time before Palestinians launch an intifada against the PA.
“ Nablus, the largest city in the West Bank, is surrounded by a number of refugee camps that are effectively controlled by dozens of Fatah gangs that have long been terrorizing the city’s wealthy clans and leading figures.”
I would most strongly recommend that this article be sent to all of those who are promoting a “two-state solution.”
Ask them: This? This unstable, weak and thoroughly corrupt entity is what you want to see existing at Israel’s side as a “state”?
A “state” must be administered by a government that controls the area within its borders. But the PA does NOT control all of the area that it theoretically administers under Oslo, most notably Area A. To propose expanding the administrative area to all or most of Judea and Samaria is sheer madness. (This totally aside from Israel’s rights to the land.)
A separate but equally critical question here is why there are “refugee camps” in areas that are presumed to be within the future “Palestinian state.” Why are the residents of those camps still considered “refugees” and treated differently from any other residents of PA administered Judea and Samaria? That they – political pawns, retained in their status to pressure Israel – are angry and bitter is hardly a surprise.
It is a common charge leveled unreasonably against Israel by Palestinian Arabs and their supporters – the charge that Israel deprives Arabs in Judea and Samaria of water. When time allows, I’d like to come back to this with some solid information on all that Israel has done for Arabs villages in Judea and Samaria in order to provide them with water. But here I simply want to provide the facts to counter one particular libel:
On Thursday, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah charged that “Israel wants to prevent Palestinians from leading a dignified life, and uses its control of our water sources to this end.”
Al-Jazeera followed with an outrageously incorrect story about Israel deliberately depriving Arabs of water during Ramadan, while the temperatures rise. Other media sources then picked this up without checking.
COGAT (the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) clarified: There had been a temporary problem because of a broken water main that services villages in the Jenin area, which caused a shut-down in service. It has already been fixed.
What is more, for the month of Ramadan, the water flow to the Jenin area has been increased at night, when use is particularly high. Additionally, water flow to the Hevron-Bethlehem area has been increased by 5,000 cubic meters per hour.
Mekorot, the national water company, put out a statement indicating that there were shortfalls in water across Judea and Samaria – including in Jewish communities – because the current infrastructure (old pipes) cannot meet the current demand. A master plan was recently approved by the Israel Water Authority that would clean and upgrade the water infrastructure throughout Judea and Samaria.
However, charged COGAT, the upgrading of water infrastructure is made difficult because of Palestinian Arab refusal to cooperate.
Please, internalize this information – counter-intuitive though it may be: The Arabs would rather suffer from water problems and complain about Israel than work with Israel to improve their situation.
Water is a particularly touchy issue, but this is broadly a prototype for what we deal with again a
The Honest Reporting site put up the brief COGAT video of the broken pipe, which you can see here (scroll down):
On Wednesday, the Knesset passed a new law for penalties against terrorists, shepherded through by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. This comprehensive bill now enters Israel’s criminal code.
“It expands the tools used to handle terrorism via criminal and legal mechanisms, extends the maximum sentence for carrying out various terrorism-related crimes to 30 years, anchors in law administrative detentions, and sets sanctions for multiple kinds of terrorism-related offenses.”
Among its provisions:
“…anyone who heads a terrorist organization, directly or indirectly, will be sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment. However, if that group carries out attacks, its leader will be sentenced to life in prison. The same sentence is fixed for those who carry out an act of terrorism with chemical, biological or radioactive weapons…
”Anyone who trains terrorists will be subject to a prison term of nine years; if they recruited new members to the terrorist organization during their training, or if they carry out operations for the organization, including threatening to carry out an act of terrorism, then they will be liable for a penalty of a further seven years,
“Those who [aid terrorists] will be subject to penalty of five years’ imprisonment. The same sanction applies to those who provide services or means to terrorists…”
Israel is now negotiating with the US the terms of an aid package – to be secured in a Memorandum of Understanding – that would run for ten years after the current one expires in 2018.
Israel’s position has been that the current state of the world – which has deteriorated considerably with regard to security issues – requires granting of additional assistance to Israel.
I would very much doubt that Israeli negotiators put it so boldly – they are speaking of “increased security challenges in the region.” But the fact is that the US – by closing the deal it did with Iran, which permits Iran at a minimum to continue fostering terrorist groups with the expanded largesse made available by sanctions relief, and by withdrawing from active involvement in this part of the world – has contributed to a situation of increased risk for Israel. Thus does the US have an obligation to help Israel develop and maintain the defensive military equipment that is required.
A couple of days ago, news broke about a letter that Obama had sent to Congress indicating his opposition to significant increases in aid for Israel’s missile defense. A bit of a panic ensued here in the media, but Netanyahu reassuringly declared that all would be well. The issue was an internal one in the US, he said – it was a matter of how much increase we would see, there was no question of a decrease.
And indeed it appears he may well be correct, because both Congress and the Pentagon are with us.
“…[a senior administration] official told The Jerusalem Post that a new decade-long US defense package to Israel would include a long-term missile defense aid commitment – a new feature to the defense relationship that Israel had sought to secure over several months of negotiations.”
(Note: my understanding is that previously there was a Memorandum of Understanding between the US and Israel that was long-term, but supplemental assistance for such things as missile development had to be negotiated annually, leaving Israel with a sense of insecurity in planning.)
“’This commitment, which would amount to billions of dollars over 10 years, would be the first long-term pledge on missile defense support to Israel, affording Israel robust support for its missile defense, as well as predictability and facilitating long-term planning for missile defense initiatives,’ the official said.” (Emphasis added.)
“…Israel’s acting head of the National Security Council, Ya’akov Nagel (pictured) – who is leading the Israeli side in the negotiations over the MoU – told reporters in a phone call on Wednesday that the negotiations are in their final stages.” One of the issues still under discussion is how much of this money can be spent in Israel. It must be understood that the majority of the funds are spent in the US, for equipment that will be utilized by Israel – with some percentage used by Israel to customize and upgrade the equipment.
Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
The Times of Israel quoted Nagel as saying Israel wants to conclude an agreement but “not at any price,” which leads to questions as to what is meant by this.
Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke at the Herzliya Conference this week and alluded to the aid likely to be given to Israel – the “biggest aid package ever.” Not surprisingly, he also spoke about the need for Israel to stop “settlement activity,” but did not overtly tie one to the other. It is all more subtle than that.
So, what I see is that there indeed will be pressure on Netanyahu from the White House and State Department (could we expect otherwise?), and that our prime minister, especially mindful of the huge security boost this aid will provide for us, will play the game via public statements about his support for two-states, etc., as is his MO. We are not about to agree to pull out of Judea and Samaria, or rush to the table for negotiations on Abbas’s terms.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman is flying to the US to meet with his counterpart, Ashton Carter.
Circling back to issues related to the Orlando terror attack:
It most certainly would have been my desire that someone else would have garnered sufficient delegates in state contests to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president. I have not been a promoter of Donald Trump, have not been excited about the prospects of him as president.
But at this point, I believe we need to examine our options with clarity.
Never mind all the other issues (which are themselves huge). When it comes to the security of the United States, what I see is that the prospect of Hillary Clinton in the White House is a nightmare. Her alliances are highly questionable, and there is not the remotest reason to believe that her stance would be firm. She is both slippery and politically correct. She a danger to America’s future. Security is America’s primary issue. Those who do not yet understand this have not been paying attention.
After the attack in Florida, Trump made a major speech. Most likely, it was scripted by others. But most likely, as well, it lays out certain positions that he wishes to advance. And they are positions that are most welcome, in fact, desperately needed. Were he to become president, and rely upon advisors who promote the positions that were in that speech, then America would be going in the right direction at long last.
Please read what Robert Spencer – director of Jihad Watch and author of 15 books on radical Islam and related subjects – has to say about Trump’s speech, in “Finally, a Realistic Plan for Fighting Jihad and Protecting Americans, Courtesy of Donald Trump” (emphasis added):
“We’ve gotten so used to politically correct obfuscation about Islam being a religion of peace that preaches tolerance and non-violence that Donald Trump’s words in his address Monday were startling: ‘Many of the principles of radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions. Remember this, radical Islam is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-American. I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, Jewish people are targets of persecution and intimation by radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence.’
“Trump continued: ‘This is not just a national security issue. It’s a quality of life issue. If we want to protect the quality of life for all Americans — women and children, gay and straight, Jews and Christians and all people then we need to tell the truth about radical Islam and we need to do it now.’
“…Trump is now the first presidential candidate since maybe John Quincy Adams to recognize that the problem posed by Islam is not just restricted to the specter of violent jihad attacks, but is, given Sharia oppression of women, gays, and non-Muslims, very much, as Trump put it, a ‘quality of life issue.’
“Trump declared his determination to prevent more jihad attacks such as the one in Orlando Saturday night above all by reiterating his proposal temporarily to ‘suspend immigration from areas of the world where there’s a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies until we fully understand how to end these threats.’ CNN huffed: ‘Critics of Trump’s policies, however, have pointed out that the perpetrator of the Orlando massacre was born in the U.S.’
“Those critics are not being honest. What Trump actually said was that the Orlando jihad mass murderer was born ‘of Afghan parents, who immigrated to the United States.’ He noted, quite correctly, that ‘the bottom line is that the only reason the killer was in America in the first place, was because we allowed his family to come here,’ and pointed out, quite rightly, that ‘we have a dysfunctional immigration system, which does not permit us to know who we let into our country, and it does not permit us to protect our citizens properly….We’re importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system and through an intelligence community held back by our president. Even our own FBI director has admitted that we cannot effectively check the backgrounds of people we’re letting into America.’
“…Another foray into political incorrectness in Trump’s speech was his insistence that the Muslim community in the U.S. has ‘to work with us. They have to cooperate with law enforcement and turn in the people who they know are bad. They know it. And they have to do it, and they have to do it forthwith….The Muslims have to work with us. They have to work with us. They know what’s going on. They know that he was bad. They knew the people in San Bernardino were bad. But you know what? They didn’t turn them in. And you know what? We had death, and destruction.’
“…[said Trump] ‘America must unite the whole civilized world in the fight against Islamic terrorism.’
“Indeed. The world is on fire courtesy of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. If America votes in November for more of the same, we will soon be engulfed in those flames as well. On Monday, Donald Trump outlined an unprecedentedly realistic plan for putting out the fire.”
So much much more yet to come…
“Rachem” – Cantors Shimon Farkas, Dov Farkas, Shai Abramson
I think I put this up previously in a different version. But this felt right today – a prayer to the Almighty for mercy for His people. And these three cantors are marvelous.
© 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.