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