Monday, November 28, 2011

Kushner - From Israel: First the Good

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
27 November '11

There's a marvelous new documentary film about Israel by Rafi Shore of JerusalemOnlineU ( that will be premiered this week: "Israel Inside -- How a small nation makes a big difference." "An emotional, inspiring look at what makes Israel tick." Shows "how the Israeli people have transformed this country against all odds in a very short time."

If you live in south Florida, you'll be able to see it on Tuesday November 29, 8 pm, on PBS in South Florida – WPBT Channel 2. It is hoped that it will be broadcast nationally on PBS in 2012.

See and share the trailer for the film:

(With thanks to the several people who called my attention to this.)


Tomorrow begins a US-wide "BUY ISRAEL WEEK," designed to counter Boycott Israel efforts. It runs from November 28 to December 4.

See for featured deals and coupons. Retailers will be offering specials on Israeli goods.

Please, support this effort and pass the word.


Hats off to Aaron Lerner, director of IMRA, who has put up a clip, with translation, from an interview with an Israeli Arab of Abu Goush -- a village outside of Jerusalem. In it, the Arab says that while most Israeli Arabs came from a variety of places such as Yemen and Egypt, the people of Abu Goush came from one man who emigrated from the Caucasus:

Note this well, folks, and remember it when the Arabs talk about their millennia-long roots in this land.


The latest wrinkle with regard to the projected Fatah-Hamas unity government:

According to an AP story that I picked up on YNet, a "senior Hamas official" says the two sides have agreed to maintain their current governments until the elections in May. This would permit the parties to by-pass the current dispute regarding appointment of an interim government as a step towards reconciliation.

At the moment, Fatah is denying that this arrangement has been made. This is so even though it would work in favor of Fatah for the present -- as it would allow Abbas to tell funding nations that the PA is working independently and has not merged with Hamas.

Of course, Abu Toameh reported yesterday that there are not likely to be elections in May if the issue of detainees on each side is not resolved.

If there is any agreement down the road, I suspect it may look something like this: not a genuine merger with both sides participating in a unity government -- rather, more likely a coalition that offers some superficial semblance of unity but also continues to provide independence to both parties and a degree of deniability for Fatah. Deniability for those nations eager to continue to support Abbas, too.

There is precedent for this sort of very muddled situation. Just as there is a precedent for it to fall apart.


In Egypt the turmoil persists, threatening the stability of the first round of elections, scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Transition to civilian rule is due to take place in July after all rounds of elections, for the lower and upper houses of parliament and the president, have ended. The ruling military council has selected 78-year-old Kamal Ganzouri -- who was Mubarak's prime minister from 1996-99 -- as prime minister; he will form the next government and has asked the protesters to give him two months.

The mobs in Tahrir Square, however, have been seeking to push out the ruling military council -- the Supreme Council of the Military Forces -- immediately, and replace it with an interim government. Mohammed el-Baradei, currently a presidential candidate, is frequently mentioned as the one to head an interim government now. El-Baradei, who was a snake in the grass when he headed the IAEA, is no friend to the West.

But that military council is not leaving, although the generals have agreed to form "a civilian consultative council" to assist in governing the nation at present. Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, writing in the JPost, is of the opinion that the military council cannot relinquish power because there is no one to take over. One gets the sense that the council leaders understand that they represent Egypt's best hope for stability.


Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the council, said the army would ensure security at the polling booths. The Interior Ministry is responsible for supervising the elections, but the armed forces "are participating fully in this process."

Speaking to the nation, Tantawi declared:

"We are at a crossroads. There are only two routes, the success of elections leading Egypt towards safety or facing dangerous hurdles that we in the armed forces, as part of the Egyptian people, will not allow.

"I would like to address the great Egyptian people those who can vote and beg them to go and vote tomorrow, because we want the parliament to be balanced and we want it to include all groups."

An immediate transition would work against that goal. Consider the words of Islamist presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Futuh, who said, "A government with revolutionary leadership must be formed to meet the demands of Tahrir Square."


According to Al-Ahram, Egypt's state-owned paper, Tantawi also said the military would not back down from the role it sees for itself in the country's proposed new constitution, which would exempt the military from parliamentary oversight.


While demonstrators were out in full force in Tahrir Square, the Islamists held their own anti-Israel demonstration at the al-Azhar Mosque.

I mention this not only because it is an indication of what we face should there be a Brotherhood-dominated government, but also because of my comments the other day regarding pressure on Netanyahu to quickly negotiate with Abbas to alleviate certain tensions in Egypt. My position hasn't changed: The Islamists are virulently anti-Israel, not to mention anti-Semitic. Negotiating a "two state solution" would in no way mollify them. It would simply weaken Israel.

And lest there be any doubt about it: The Islamists are just as anti-American.


All in all an exceedingly complex situation in Egypt and a very dangerous time with considerable repercussions not just for Israel but the entire West. At best, the elections and ensuing transition will allow the Brotherhood a role, but will prevent them from gaining control.

For further insight into the situation, see Mazel's piece, "Egypt: a house divided":


© 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.

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