Monday, April 30, 2012

Tobin - Netanyahu Isn’t Worried About Olmert

Jonathan S. Tobin..
30 April '12..

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke in New York yesterday at a conference organized by the Jerusalem Post. In his speech, Olmert attacked the policies of his successor Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, defended President Obama against criticism and also called for dividing Jerusalem, which he once served as mayor. According to the New York Times, this is yet another blow to Netanyahu, coming as it did after similar statements from disgruntled former security officials who also trashed Israel’s current government. The Times devoted a fair amount of space to the story this morning and even speculated that Olmert’s remarks “reflected domestic political calculations of his own.”

But the idea that Olmert’s criticism means much in Israel is farcical. As the Times noted in a sentence tucked away in the middle of the story, Olmert is under indictment for corruption charges and faces prison if convicted. What they left out is that he left office in 2009 without even attempting to run for re-election not just because of his legal problems but because he was widely perceived as perhaps the most incompetent and unpopular prime minister in the country’s history. At a time when Netanyahu is riding high in the polls at home and considering moving up elections to strengthen his already tight grip on power for another four years, Olmert is a political pariah with no influence, no following and no future in public life. The only place he can get a hearing these days is in the United States where left-wing audiences enjoy his carping about those who do enjoy the confidence of the Israeli public who rejected him. The general lack of interest in this story on the part of the Israeli press confirms this.

Coughlin - Israel mustn't forget Iran is committed to its destruction

Con Coughlin..
The Telegraph..
30 April '12..

One of the great strengths of the Israeli state, which sets it apart from all its neighbours in the Middle East, is its vibrant democracy, which is far more likely to hold its politicians to account than outside critics who have no idea about the complexities of the country's internal debate.

The recent criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's government by Yuval Diskin, the country's former head of Shin Bet – Israel's equivalent of MI5 – over Iran's nuclear programme is a case in point. At a public meeting last week Mr Diskin launched a bitter attack against the competence of Mr Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, his defence minister, claiming that they are "not fit to hold the steering wheel of power" because they are deliberately misleading the Israeli public over the seriousness of the threat Iran poses to national security, and are making their decisions "based on messianic feelings."

Mr Diskin's comments have inevitably been seized upon by Guardinistas such as Mehdi Hassan and other anti-Israeli, left-wing agitators to show that Israel's concerns over Iran's nuclear programme are completely unfounded. But in pressing their arguments they are deliberately glossing over important political nuances concerning Israel's internal debate on the issue.

(+ Video) Oh my! Beinart says it doesn’t matter to him.

30 April '12..

From Martin Kramer on FB:

Peter Beinart’s tale of epiphany is dubious enough. He said he was moved to write his book by a clip showing a poor Palestinian being hauled away for stealing water. So here’s another Youtube, featuring members of the Palestinian’s family. (Beinart, the armchair expert, never followed up on the story.) They wish Israel to be blown away altogether. Beinart says it doesn’t matter to him. Guess they were just props.

A big TY to Martin Kramer for sharing another aspect of Peter Beinart's shallow grasp of the issues.

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Medad - Why Did She Write What She Wrote?

Yisrael Medad..
My Right Word..
30 April '12..

In her latest op-ed over at The Times of Israel, Sara Hirschorn quotes both Michael Sfard and Shlomo Ben-Ami on the issue of Israel's government decision to seek a legal alternative to the imbroglio it managed to find itself vis a vis the various Jewish communities the courts have adjudged to be destroyed.

First, Sfard

...the day had arrived where, “this government only now reaches the crossroads, the dilemma: it has to choose between the rule of law and ideology.”

and then Ben-Ami

A normal state is not supposed to settle beyond its legitimate borders...we still continue to behave as if we are a Yishuv. The entire peace enterprise of this government is aimed at leading the nation to choose, once and for all, between being a state or a Yishuv.

and she clarifies herself on the matter:

...the choice between settlement and statehood is a fundamental characterization of the Zionist project.

And asks, a bit ominously, or to be generous, employing a rather loaded term:

Does the state, in the form of authorizing settlement outposts, continue as an expansionist enterprise?


Roth - Just in from Sinai

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
29 April '12..

This being the factually-creative Middle East, there are competing versions of what is going on in the Egyptian-controlled Sinai desert peninsula.

We noted on the eve of the Passover festival a few weeks ago (see "5-Apr-12: The terrorists send us their Passover greetings" that when a missile crashed into Israel's holiday capital Eilat in the deep south of our small state, causing consternation among citizens and hotel-keepers alike, Egypt's director of security for the Sinai sector, Mahamoud El-Hefnawy, asserted about as confidently as a man can, that the rocket fire did not emanate from Sinai. In fact

"The situation in the southern sector is excellent. There are regular patrols and stakeouts across all roads"

he said. And he should know (we noted), though we wondered how this squares with the numerous attacks on the gas line between Egypt and Israel that managed to get past the ever-alert Egyptian security forces and put the pipeline out of action more than a dozen times in the past year.

What a difference three-and-a-half-weeks make. Egypt cancelled its contract to supply gas to Israel six days ago, substantially reducing the pressure on Egyptian security forces who presumably will no longer have to contend with further acts of sabotage on the pipeline.

Bennett - Do what’s good for Israel

Naftali Bennett..
Israel Opinion/Ynet..
29 April '12..

The Ulpana neighborhood was legally acquired and constructed by the Israeli government in the 1990s. It looks like any typical neighborhood in Haifa or Gedera. It has 14 buildings and they house families with hundreds of children. Happy families.

In 2008 the Yesh Din organization claimed that a small part of the neighborhood was sold to its residents deceitfully by the cousin of the real owner, who bears the same name. A typical land dispute.

Of course, it wasn’t the Arab who petitioned but the organization. The strategy of left-wing organizations has changed – they lost all their support with the people of Israel, and therefore moved their struggle from the field of public opinion, where they are forgotten, to the field of the High Court of Justice, where they have advocates.

If such a land dispute had happened in Raanana or Jerusalem the petitioner would be required to prove his claims, and if they were found correct he would win compensation and the story would end. But Judea and Samaria isn’t Raanana or Jerusalem. For 45 years Israel is holding this area without imposing sovereignty on it, as it did in Gilo and Ramot in Jerusalem, the Western Wall and Golan Heights. And this is the essence of the problem.

Mills - Power Play

Egypt may think it struck a blow against Israel by canceling a gas deal between the two countries. But all it really did was shoot itself in the foot.

Robin M. Mills..
Foreign Policy..
27 April '12..

It must be serious news to make Israel's ultra-hawkish foreign minister turn conciliatory. Yet Avigdor Lieberman described Egypt's April 22 cancellation of its deal to supply Israel with natural gas as "a trade dispute," minimizing the political repercussions of the end to the most significant economic tie between the two erstwhile adversaries. "To turn a business dispute into a diplomatic dispute would be a mistake," Lieberman counseled.

At first sight, the deal's cancellation is a blow to Israel. During normal times, 40 percent of its gas needs were met by Egypt. In the deal's absence, Israel's utility company has raised its rates by a third and has turned to burning expensive, dirty fuel oil. Even so, there are fears of blackouts this summer.

The formal cutoff was only the postscript to a long series of interruptions to the gas supply. The pipelines in the Sinai Peninsula have been bombed some 14 times since Egypt's revolution as law and order has broken down and Bedouin tribes have revenged their grievances against the government. Gas flowed to Israel for only 140 days last year, and 25 days in the first three months of this year.

Other Israeli politicians were not as sanguine as Lieberman. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz worried that the cancellation was "a dangerous precedent which casts a shadow on the peace agreements and the peaceful atmosphere between Egypt and Israel."

Yet the cancellation is neither a challenge to the Camp David Accords nor a purely commercial matter. The decision is instead a product of Egypt's muddled domestic politics, which means short-term pain for Tel Aviv but a longer-term strategic defeat for Cairo. As for the law, it's at least debatable: The 1979 peace treaty obliges Egypt and Israel to maintain normal economic relations, but the gas deal is dealt with in a 2005 memorandum of understanding referencing the treaty. Such memoranda are generally considered nonbinding in international law.

The gas deal with Israel has long been deeply unpopular in Egypt. Quite apart from the unpopularity of trading with a regional pariah, the deal is seen as a giveaway. The price for the gas was initially as low as $1.25 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) and was reportedly increased to $4 in 2008 -- the same as Egyptian industries pay. In the absence of a regional benchmark at the time of the deal in 2005, the price might have been defensible, but it now seems very low compared with the $7 to $10 Egypt earns for exports to Southern Europe.

Collins - Happy to be alive

Liat Collins..
My Word/JPost..
28 April '12..

As I was wondering what to write about for this column, my thoughts were interrupted by the tremendous noise outside my kitchen window. Looking out, I saw that the music blaring through an amplifier was accompanied by flashing lights, and a large crowd following a wedding canopy on a platform being pulled by a decorated truck. Police had temporarily stopped traffic on what is a main road in the capital, and at least one officer appeared to be singing along to the song: “Ani ma’amin,” “I believe,” confirming faith in the coming of the Messiah.

The joyous parade was not part of some extraordinary public matrimonial celebration, however, but a ceremony marking the arrival of a new Torah scroll at a local synagogue.

My annoyance at the commotion was replaced by the recognition of one of those “Only in Israel” moments – one that came during one of those “Only in Israel” periods, as it happens. The weeks between Passover and Independence Day have their own flavor in this particular part of the world, from the special events during the Passover vacation; the increasingly popular Mimouna celebrations at the end of the holiday; the somber nature of Holocaust Remembrance Day, with its two-minute siren; and the truly unique but incredibly Israeli combination of consecutive Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Independence Day.

Life seems full of such quintessentially Israeli incidents lately. Sitting on a bus traveling from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv on Holocaust Remembrance Day a week ago – and yes, the buses stop and passengers stand for the duration of the siren – I overheard a conversation that was definitely Israeli. It’s not that people in other countries don’t talk on mobile phones on public transport, but nowhere else in the world would you hear a woman in her twenties calling her friend to tell her she “must tune in to Army Radio, they’ve got all these great, sad songs on.”

I couldn’t help myself – talking uninhibitedly to strangers is one of the pleasures of Israeli life for someone of my nature who was born and raised in London. “Just wait,” I pointed out, “Next week the songs for Remembrance Day are even better.”

Catz - The Guardian Exploits Holocaust Survivors to Slander Israel

Sarit Catz..
CAMERA Media Analysis..
27 April '12..

Recently, Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, was observed and in many Jewish households yellow yarzheit candles cast their eerie glow. In Israel, sirens sounded throughout the country for two minutes. People stopped their cars, halted on the street and in their homes and stood at attention. Ceremonies and services were held throughout Israel, in the United States, and around the world in memory of the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.

In the United Kingdom on Yom HaShoah, readers of the Guardian were subjected to a grotesque story penned by Jerusalem correspondent Harriet Sherwood, "Holocaust survivors struggling to make ends meet in Israel." The author describes a growing proportion of Israeli survivors "who cannot make ends meet, who struggle with insufficient funds on a daily basis," and implies that Israel neglects them.

In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told of his recent encounters with Israeli Holocaust survivors in his Yom HaShoah speech:

Yesterday morning, I visited an old-age home for Holocaust survivors. There, I met Idit Yapo, an amazing woman of 104, clear and lucid. Idit fled Germany shortly after Hitler gained power, in 1934.

I met 89-year-old Esther Nadiv, one of Mengele's twins. She was reading a book, Golda Meir's biography, and she told me, with a glint in her eye, she said: "I am so proud, so very proud to be a part of the State of Israel which is in constant development."

I met Hanoch Mandelbaum, an 89-year-old survivor of Bergen-Belsen. Shortly after he came to Israel, as a young carpenter, he helped construct the desk upon which Ben Gurion signed the Declaration of Independence. That is MiSho'a liTkuma -- from holocaust to resurrection.

And I met Elisheva Lehman, an 88 year-old Holocaust survivor from Holland, who was a music teacher. I asked Elisheva if she would play something for us and she did. She enthusiastically played "Am Yisrael Chai" and we all sang together. It was quite emotional.

But the picture of Israel that Sherwood chose to paint was not of a country whose prime minister sings with survivors, but of a nation that ignores them:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kushner - From Israel: A Start

Arlene Kushner..
29 April '12..

In the interests of accuracy, an addition to the information I provided last week on the excellent video "Israel Inside": Tal Ben-Shahar did not generate the original idea for this film -- although he did run with it once he was approached. The producer of the film, Rafael Shore, conceptualized it and came to Tal with the idea.


As to that "start," I am referring to a delay that was requested by the government on the demolition of Givat Ha'Ulpana:

On instructions from the government, the attorney general went to the High Court on Friday and requested that the Court release the government from its pledge to demolish housing in Ulpana this very week.


Before I proceed further, I want to point out what we are seeing here: Just days ago, I was reading, from multiple sources, that it would be impossible, or near-impossible, to stop the demolition, because the Court had ordered it on the pledge of the government. That was nonsense, as many of us understood. And what we see now is how politicized this process is -- how much it is a question of political will.


What the attorney general told the court was that the State wants to re-examine its policy that automatically mandates the removal of all "unauthorized" buildings on "private Palestinian land." Each case should be decided separately, but as things stand now a decision regarding Ulpana impacts other sites. "Other sites" that are most immediately pertinent are Givat Assaf, which the government pledged to dismantle by July 1 and Amona, which is slated to be dismantled by the end of the year. Migron, about which I've written extensively, would likely also be affected.


Each time I see reference to "private Palestinian land," I have this great impulse to ask, "Seez who?" This is another issue that is really politicized. We're not talking about land that has documented ownership by a Palestinian Arab, but rather situations in which ownership is unclear, or, worse, in which Jewish ownership has been challenged -- situations in which sometimes land is almost arbitrarily designated as "Palestinian." (There is a convoluted history here that I will, perhaps, revisit.) In the instance of Ulpana, the Beit El community claims ownership and this claim has never been adequately examined in the courts.


The government requested a delay of 90 days; the Court has granted 60 days.

A matter to be followed closely...

(Video) For the hopelessly perplexed, Mahmoud Ismail keeps the message simple.

By palwatch..
18 April '12..

PA TV live broadcast from Ramallah: 2012 General Convention of the Palestinian Journalists' Association

Mahmoud Ismail, member of the PLO Executive Committee: "I hope that this election assembly of media people will inaugurate a wise Palestinian media enterprise, and our legacy will remain the stone, the rifle, and free speech; we will make alternating use of these, whenever and however we wish."
[PA TV (Fatah), March 9, 2012]


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Tobin - Israeli Spook Revolt is Politics as Usual

Jonathan S. Tobin..
29 April '12..

The international press is doing its best to hype critical remarks about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu uttered by Yuval Diskin, the retired head of the Shin Bet security service into a sign that the government is in trouble. Diskin, a respected figure that retired last year is the latest veteran spook to express his disdain for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and their stance on the nuclear threat from Iran. That there is a debate in the highest intelligence circles about what the best strategy for dealing with Iran has never been a secret. But what Diskin’s comments and other attacks on Netanyahu from former Mossad chief Meir Dagan reflect is not so much a revolt of the experts against the politicians but a standard trope of Israeli politics in which those who are frustrated about the fact that their ideas have not won the support of the Israeli public seek to overturn the verdict of democracy by appealing to the press and international opinion. It is no more likely to succeed now than in the past.

Though foreign news outlets treated Diskin’s remarks, as a huge story that can be spun as part of a negative trend for Netanyahu even the left-wing press in Israel is skeptical about that. Haaretz’s Yossi Verter noted that the personal nature of Diskin’s rant against Netanyahu and Barak at what he termed a “gathering of defense establishment pensioners” undermined their credibility. Unlike the foreign press, most Israelis are aware that Dagan’s animus against Netanyahu and Barak stems from the fact that he was fired from his post. That Diskin was passed over to replace Dagan may also explain his hard feelings. Moreover, the utter lack of public support for alternatives to Netanyahu or his policies makes the claim made in today’s New York Times that there is an “avalanche” of criticism about his stand on Iran farcical.

Roth - So many foreign "activists" here. Why?

Sushi place on Jerusalem's Emek Refaim:
As conflict zones go,

not quite a hardship posting
Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
29 April '12..

It's no secret that Israel's side of this ongoing war is told in ways that frequently suffer from excessive political spin and agenda-advancement. We have met hundreds of foreign journalists who have been based here for days or months over the last few years, and while many of them seem to be completely innocent of any historical background, it is striking to see how many have an actively hostile standpoint that comes through in the reports they publish.

There's something similar that can be said for the hordes of political 'activists' from Europe (and elsewhere, but in our experience it's mainly Europeans) who frequently get on-camera when there's a protest event against this or another aspect of Israeli policy. What brings them here?

An unassuming brief memoir penned by Tal Dror, a second-year student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who has been financing his way by working in a bar, throws some intriguing light on how and why we see so many European 'activists' and reporters in Israel. The article from which the following is excerpted was published on the Ynet site a few days ago.

How can a 20 year old Danish boy wake up one morning and tell his parents he's flying to the Middle East? A foreign reporter from Spain, who loves Israeli red wine, told me once how every foreign correspondent dreams of being stationed in Israel. "This is a foreign correspondent's paradise!" she said. "Where else can you go to restaurant in a city such as Tel Aviv, grab a drink, or go dancing on Dizengoff Street, and sleep at a fancy hotel, when the only thing that separates you from your authentic 'battle field' report is a 45 minute drive into Jerusalem or Bil'in and Naalin? ...I asked them once this one clichéd question that always comes to mind – "So why Israel of all places? Why not Syria? Egypt? Russia or China?" One of them put on a serious face. "Are you insane?" he asked me. "These are all extremely dangerous places!" ..."So wait," I asked in all seriousness. "You wouldn't have come here if you thought you could get badly hurt?" My Swedish friend grinned. "I don't think so," he said. "I may be a radical, but I'm also a spoiled one!" And they both burst out laughing. That's when I realized that for many of those foreign peace activists, this is all just a game. And in this game we, the Israelis and Palestinians, are the pieces. They come from all corners of the world to a faraway country they have never been to before. They confront soldiers and policemen, blocking roads and holding signs. Moreover – as long as they have their cold beer by the end of the evening, as long as they lay their heads in a comfy and friendly hostel – they will continue to arrive. They take advantage of what we're most proud of: Our freedom, democracy and the tolerance that we're so afraid to lose. They take advantage of the strange system we have developed, the one that lets us disconnect ourselves from reality and continue with our lives even when real fighting takes place so close to us.

No earth-shattering revelations here it would surprise us to know that Tal Dror's experiences ["The spoiled leftist radical: Op-ed: Provocative foreign activists exploit Israel’s tolerance and comfortable lifestyle"] are widely known or understood.


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Rennert - What NY Times and Wash. Post kept secret from readers in April

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
29 April '12..

April Fool's Day is not the only day of the year when the NY Times and the Wash. Post serve up misleading coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When it comes to developments on that front, any day of the year qualifies for pouncing on and blowing up Israeli flaws, while carefully censoring Palestinian misdeeds. The net result, fabricated but clearly intended: Only Israel stands in the way of peace.

Here is a compendium, by no means complete, of events that NY Times and Wash. Post editors and correspondents chose to ignore in just one month, starting with April Fool's Day:

April 1-Hamas official urges Palestinian women to blow themselves up "for the sake of Jerusalem."

April 2-PA arrests woman for criticizing Abbas on Facebook, cracks down on journalists.

April 3-Palestinian revisionism - Moses was a Muslim who led Muslims in exodus from Egypt.

April 3-Medieval blood libel of Jews gaining in popularity in Jordan.

April 4-Rocket explosions in Eilat - one rocket hits near apartment building.

CAMERA - Where's the Coverage? Palestinian Authority Hands Down Death Penalty for Land Sale to Jews

27 April '12..

In an article "celebrating" Israel’s 64th Independence Day, "Israel’s Big Day, Under Sun and Cloud" (April 26, 2012), the New York Times could not refrain from taking a number of jabs at Israel, including the obligatory swipe at "the settlements":

Israel's settlement building in the West Bank drew more international condemnation this week after the government retroactively legalized three Jewish outposts there. The Palestinians described the move as another example of why there is no peace.

This description is, at the least, simplistic. The communities had been authorized and approved by prior governments in the 1980s and 1990s but were missing some additional paperwork to formalize their status. The spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office, Mark Regev stated, "You can't tell me that the Israeli government has built new settlements, and you can't tell me that this is legalizing unauthorized outposts. These decisions are procedural or technical. They don't change anything whatever on the ground."

While this story was all over the media, another story about homes in the West Bank was completely ignored.

A Palestinian man, Muhammad Abu Shahala, reportedly confessed under torture to selling his home in Hebron to a Jewish man. He has been sentenced to death after a hurried trial. Caroline Glick writes on her blog:

Roth - Security barrier proves yet again to be a life-saver

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
29 April '12..

We have more than enough reason to write here about the plain dishonesty that seems to characterize much of the criticism of Israel's security checkpoints strategy. We wrote about this last Saturday night when armed terrorists were stopped at a security crossing en route to carrying out an attack on Israeli civilians - see "21-Apr-12: Stopped two more armed jihadists".

That was only the latest in a terribly long line of occasions when the existence of the part-built barrier, plus the network of manned crossing points through which Palestinian Arabs are frequently required to pass, plus the alertness of service personnel, and especially Israel's Border Guard, all came together to prevent another terrorist outrage.

Tonight (Saturday) there's another.

Glick - Post-Zionism is so 1990s

Caroline Glick..
27 April '12..

You can learn a lot about a nation's health by watching how it celebrates its national holidays. In Israel's case, compare how we celebrated our 50th Independence Day in 1998 to what celebrations involve today.

During the 1990s, Israel's elite took a vacation from reality and history and they brought much of the public with them.

Then-foreign minister Shimon Peres said that history was overrated. The so-called "New Historians," who rummaged through David Ben-Gurion's closet looking for skeletons, were the toast of the academic world. Radicals like Yossi Beilin, Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg were dictating government policy.

The media, the entertainment establishment, and the Education Ministry embraced and massively promoted plays, movies, television shows, songs, dances, art and books that "slayed sacred cows." Everywhere you turned, post-Zionism was in. Post-Judaism was in. And Zionism and Judaism were both decidedly out.

As he is today, in 1998 Binyamin Netanyahu was prime minister, and then as now there were prominent voices seeking to blame him for the absence of peace and every other terrible blight on the planet.

In 1998, the government invested a fortune in marking Israel's 50th Independence Day. The main official celebration was a massive affair called Jubilee Bells that took place at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem. More than 2,000 performers participated. But rather than serve as an event that unified Israeli society in celebration of 50 years of sovereign freedom, the event exposed just how far Israel's political and cultural elite were willing to go in attacking basic societal values.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sherman - Excoriating Eisner: Egregious or ethical?

Martin Sherman..
Into the Fray/JPost
26 April '1..

Nor do the gods appear in warrior’s armor clad
To strike them down with sword and spear
Those whom they would destroy
They first make mad – Bharthari, 7th century (translated from the Sanskrit)

A Spanish journalist, with a particular penchant for local red wine told me how every international correspondent dreams of being posted in Israel. “It a paradise for foreign journalists” she explained. “Where else in the world can you go to an restaurant in a town like Tel Aviv, have a drink in Dizengoff and then go to sleep in a good hotel when all that stands between you and a first-hand report from “the battleground” is a 45-minute ride to Sheikh Jarrah or Bil’in.” – Tal Dror, Ynet, April, 21, 2012 (translated from the Hebrew)

The two activists, who developed a taste for the blend of arak and red grapefruit [juice] I served them at the bar, explained to me [when] I asked – half naively, half critically – “Why don’t you demonstrate in Egypt? Why not in Syria? What do you want from us?” The Swede stopped smiling and replied with deadly seriousness. “Are you crazy? Those places are really dangerous” – Ibid

Quite some time ago – when I was significantly younger and considerably slimmer – I served in a unit that operated behind enemy lines. I therefore have a keen awareness of how important it is for the motivation of combatants who undertake demanding missions and for their resolve to execute them, that they believe that – if they are in a jam – they will enjoy the unmitigated backing of their superiors.

I mention this not because I was ever charged with the kind of tasks Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner was expected to execute two weeks ago, but because it gives me some idea of the sense of bitter disappointment and disillusionment he must be feeling at the moment. The potential operational impact the episode – and the unfortunate ethos that it reflects – could have on the efficacy of the IDF cannot be ignored.

What’s wrong with this picture?

There is something deeply disturbing about the picture that is emerging in the wake of incident that took place in the Jordan Valley on the post-Passover weekend. It goes far beyond the specifics of the particular incident and reflects a deeper malaise that pervades the public discourse in the country.

On the one hand, we have a radical anti- Israeli activist belonging to an organization virulently hostile to Israel, unequivocally supportive of terror organizations dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, taking part in an unruly confrontation with Israeli security forces, who ends up with (gasp) a cut lip.

On the other hand we have a senior IDF officer with a record of proven valor in combat, highly regarded by both his men and his superiors, who has been relieved of his command, his entire career in jeopardy, because of a fleeting video of a few seconds showing him striking the aforementioned radical with a single blow.

(Video) Israeli apology to Danish International Solidarity Movement's protester Andreas.

Caroline Glick..
27 April '12..

And in light of the massive demand, here, is the separate clip of last week's Israeli apology to Danish International Solidarity Movement's protester Andreas.

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Medad - Ofran's Reverse Irrationality

Yisrael Medad..
My Right Word..
26 April '12..

Peace Now's Hagit Ofran of its Settlement Watch Project is now arguing backwards:

The right wing, in order to justify continuation of Israeli control over the West Bank and of the expansion of settlements, is trying to claim that 1967 and 1948 are essentially equivalent: if 1948 was justified, then 1967 must also be accepted. Or, most simply: Once Zionism is what we call support for Israel as a homeland of the Jewish people, then Israeli occupation of the West Bank is merely a logical extension of the Zionist doctrine.

Paradoxically, by invoking Zionism in support of the settlements and the occupation, the right wing is joining the biggest opponents of Israel, who argue that if, as they believe, Israel's occupation of the Palestinian people in the territories is illegitimate, then, by logical extension, so is the entire Zionist enterprise.

That is a neat trick.

I have argued for over three decades with all of Hagit predecessors that

(a) indeed, 1967 was an extension and continuation of the 1948 war;

(b) it was so, since the Arabs, who began their terror campaign in 1920, rejected Zionism and the establishment of a Jewish state, had launched a war in 1948, actually on the morrow of the UN Partition recommendation adoption, and had never stopped all throughout the 1950s and 1960s;

(c) by doing so, the Arabs had displayed implaccable hatred that had simply intensified and led to the 1967 conflict triggered by Fatah/PLO terror;

(d) the only conclusion was that anything post-1967 could not be blamed for the hostilities and violence that ocurred pre-1967 and that includes "settlements", "outposts", "occupation", "illegal construction", "East Jerusalem neighborhoods", et al.;

(e) and now, Ofran seeks to reverse all that in an irrationality that astounds. If, as she writes

Gold - Shiites, Sunnis and Israel

Dore Gold..
Israel Hayom..
27 April '12..

It has become obvious that the central axis of conflict in the Middle East today is no longer the Arab-Israeli conflict, but rather the conflict within Islam between Sunnis and Shiites. This war lies behind the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, which pits the Alawite regime, backed by Shiite Iran, against the Sunni Muslim majority of Syria, backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

For many years, the Sunni-Shiite war also fed the internal conflict in Lebanon, in which the Shiites emerged victorious through Hezbollah. The Sunni-Shiite struggle was also behind the Shiite insurrection in Bahrain against its Sunni rulers, and it explains a good part of the civil war in Yemen where Zayidi Shiites have been battling the country's Sunni-led government. Looking at the mounting tensions in the Middle East, Mohammad Kharroub, a columnist for the Jordanian daily al-Ra'I, wrote this month about the possibility of a full-scale war breaking out between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

Right now, Israeli interests appear to be aligned with the Sunnis in this struggle, largely because Iran supports the Shiites' quest for power. But moving beyond the present, is it true that Israel's interests are permanently aligned with the Sunni world against the Shiites? Vali Nasr, a former U.S. official who was born in Tehran, reminds his readers of the stereotypes held in the U.S. defense establishment on the Sunni-Shiite split: He quotes a Pentagon official in the 1980s who said that the Shiites were "bloodthirsty, baby-eating monsters."

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tobin - What Israel Needs From American Jews

Jonathan S.Tobin..
26 April '12..

Israelis are celebrating their Independence Day today (Thursday), and it’s not likely that too many of them are spending their holiday worrying about American Jewish efforts to save them from themselves. The imbalance in the relationship between the two sides of the Israel-Diaspora relationship lends a touch of comedy, if not pathos, to the celebrated anguish of liberal American Jews who will spend this day, if not every day, publicizing their angst about Israeli policies and dramatically predicting doom for the Jewish state if it does not listen to their criticisms.

We have been hearing a lot lately about the imperative for “liberal Zionists” to speak out. Israel is a democratic country with a bewildering array of political parties and ideologies (almost all of which have some representation in its parliament), and if American Jews wish to identify with a particular brand of Israeli politics, there’s nothing wrong with that. I may disagree with some of the political views expressed on the Zionist left, but I consider the debate with those who are devoted to Israel but who wish to improve it in various ways, arguments undertaken, as Jewish tradition calls it, “for the sake of heaven,” which ought to be conducted with civility and respect on both sides and mutual commitment to Jewish peoplehood. Israel does not need blind devotion from its foreign friends or from Diaspora Jews. Nor does it require anyone to pretend that the Israeli state is perfect. Its democratic system, its politicians and even its military are no more perfect than those in the United States. But it does deserve a degree of respect that I think is lacking lately from some who call themselves liberal Zionists.

Much ink has been spilled and great deal of space on the Internet has been wasted debating the dubious merits of Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism, but as off target as his views about American Jewry may be in many respects, his ignorance of Israel has made it a symbol of all that is wrong with the liberal Jewish critique of the country. It’s all well and good for Beinart and other American Jews to wish for peace or to argue that different policies might bring it closer. It’s that they operate in an intellectual vacuum in which the real world dilemmas of Israeli life and the realities of Palestinian nationalism don’t exist.

David Meir-Levi - Our Naked Emperor

David Meir-Levi..
26 April '12..

When the vain and delusional emperor walked naked through the streets of his capital to show off his new clothes, so light and so finely woven that they could not be seen or felt, it was only an innocent little child, ingénue, who told the world that the emperor was naked. The rest went along with the charade, and collaborated with the emperor and his dishonest clothiers in order to avoid imperial ire.

Recent events and disclosures at the highest levels of our government demonstrate that our own rulers, like the naked emperor, have through folly and dishonesty exposed themselves as “useful idiots” or worse, liars and functionaries whose loyalties may well be to other than the United States.

On April 10, Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, stated that “religion is not driving extremist violence” in Nigeria. This pronouncement was made one day after Boko Haram, the uber-violent Muslim jihadist Nigerian terrorists, bombed a church killing 39 Christians.

Carson told us an unconscionable and transparent lie. In addition to stating an obvious falsehood, given the Boko Haram’s overt and unabashed self-definition as a brutally violent Muslim terrorist organization which condemns all things non-Muslim as “Haram” (prohibited), Carson also contradicted earlier State Department assessments, [i] all of which argue that Nigeria’s Islamic religious terrorist violence was so much a concern that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended back in 2002 that Nigeria be placed on the United States watch list.

What impelled Mr. Carson to lie such that anyone anywhere who does not live under a rock can see that he is lying? Joel Mowbray’s Dangerous Diplomacy provides a clue. Mowbray documents how the Saudi royal family has over the past decades insinuated itself into our State Department by promising State Department officials serving in the Arab world generous sinecures when they have retired from their official duties, as long as they represent Saudi interests to the US government while serving in the State Department. These Saudi long-range bribes render our officials servants of the Saudi government, representing Saudi interests to our government instead of the other way around.[ii]

Stern - History of a Picture

Paula R. Stern..
A Soldier's Mother..
27 April '12..

Wanna learn the history of Israel in a nutshell? Here it is - in a single headline.

The Zionists proclaim new State of Israel

Read here the new state because even then, everyone recognized there had once been another. As for the reference to Zionists - it was written in a time when the world did not judge Zionism to be evil, when they recognized it was, quite simply, the fulfillment of our dream, our hope.

Truman recognized it and hopes for peace

So, to those who have written to me to say that the US was opposed to the creation of Israel and only gave into "Zionist" pressure - I would say this proves you wrong. There was no time for such a lobby, such pressure. US recognition came eleven minutes after the State was declared and the US has been one of Israel's staunchest allies ever since.

Fresnozionism - Edward R. Murrow wouldn’t be pleased
26 April '12..

Like Hassan Nasrallah in 2006, Bob Simon and CBS were shocked at the response to the vicious little slander against Israel they perpetrated on “60 Minutes” this past Sunday.

“All we did was grab a couple of yahud and they’re bombing the crap out of us!” said Nasrallah (or something similar). “Don’t they understand the rules of the game?”

Well, Bob, we don’t have to play by your rules. We don’t have to accept your incessant attacks on Israel and consistently dishonest reporting any more than we do Hassan’s kidnapping and murder on the Lebanese border.

We are not going to let this slide anymore — not the pro-Israel community of Jews and Christians in the US, and not the Israeli government:

IMRA - PM Netanyahu continues the fan dance?

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
IMRA Weekly Commentary..
26 April '12..

From the latest “fan dance”:

NETANYAHU: Well demilitarized is a real state. It just means that they can't field the armies. They can't fire rockets. We want to make sure that if we have a peace arrangement, we walk away from certain areas that they won't be used a third time by Iran and its Palestinian proxies to fire rockets on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, but we don't want to run their lives. I don't want to govern the Palestinians. I don't want them as subjects of Israel or as citizens of Israel. I want them to have their own independent state but a demilitarized state.

BURNETT: And to be clear, one that isn't separated by Israel as in there's a Palestine part here, Israel --


BURNETT: All one --

NETANYAHU: That is Swiss cheese (ph) now --

- CNN Interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Aired April 24, 2012 - 19:00 ET

Until this interview we still had the then PM Sharon concept that “contiguity” could be achieved in a “have your cake and eat it too” arrangement via a series of unobstructed bridges and tunnels that would enable Palestinians to move between various locations without the presence of Israeli communities in the same general area interfering with that movement.

Tobin - Haaretz, NYTimes Play Telephone With IDF

Jonathan S. Tobin..
26 April '12..

Reading the New York Times account of an interview with Benny Gantz, the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Force, that was first published in Haaretz is like a children’s game of “telephone.” What Gantz actually said wasn’t reflected in the misleading headline of the Israeli newspaper. That headline, rather than the actual content of the piece, was repeated in the Times article, so what comes out in America’s so-called newspaper of record had more to do with the editorial agenda of the press than the reality of Israel’s security dilemma.

The Haaretz headline was an attention-grabber: “IDF Chief to Haaretz: I do not believe Iran will decide to develop nuclear weapons.” Yet nowhere in the piece was there a quote that matched this startling assertion that was repeated in the Times headline that read: “Israeli Army Chief Says He Believes Iran Won’t Build a Bomb.” What Gantz tells Haaretz is that while the Iranians are actively working on a nuclear program, they have yet to activate the final stage of the project that would convert the material to a nuclear bomb. This is no revelation, as not even the most alarmist account of Iran’s efforts has stated that this final stage has been reached. Nor did Gantz express a belief that Iran wouldn’t build a bomb. Rather, he said the Iranians would do it only if they felt themselves “invulnerable.” He said he thought the ayatollahs were “rational,” but added that a weapon in their hands would be “dangerous.”

So while the tone of Gantz’s interview was not as sharp as the statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the substance isn’t very different. Which makes the claims made by the Times and the misleading headline in Haaretz a transparent attempt to portray a stark division within the councils of Israel’s leaders where there may be none.

Here’s the text published by Haaretz:

Marcus - The Forward Suggests De-Judaizing Hatikva

Lori Lowenthal Marcus..
Z Street..
26 April '12..

Following on the heels of the Global March to Jerusalem*, planned by the Arab League but seized upon by Israel-haters everywhere, we have a new DE-JUDAIZATION effort. This one is brought to us by that iconic Jewish newspaper, now considered by some as an aider and abettor of the Israel-and- Jewish delegitimization crowd, the Jewish Daily Forward.

Today, on Yom Haatzmaut, the Forward's editorial suggests now is the time to consider ways to alter the Israeli Anthem, HaTikva, to make it more relevant, less objectionable, to all of Israel's inhabitants. In other words, to REMOVE THE JEWISH connection to Israel. But HaTikva is a historical poem. It is the story of a yearning, yes, a yearning of the Jews, to recreate our Homeland, to return to Zion, to the place where our people was born. It is through the realization of that hope that modern Israel was reborn. Israel was not created in the abstract, and its anthem, like most, reflects its history, its struggle and its unique tradition. Look at the anthems of virtually any country and there are references to specific gods, kings, and/or specific religions. Jordan's does, so do those of Iran, Switzerland, Germany, and the UK, to name just a few. Indeed, frequently entire anthems are infused with nationalistic, militaristic (China's) or religious imagery. Yet few states are entirely homogeneous, and most have recent immigrants for whom the specific historic story told in the anthem could be considered either irrelevant, or worse.

We think it is an outrage to suggest HaTikva needs to be de-Judaized, and to pretend that modern Israel was not founded in response to the ancient yearning - and yes, need - of the JEWS for a Jewish Homeland. For goodness sake, they sang it at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen! The Forward is inviting people to comment (and to make suggested changes). So let them know what you think, here.


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Roth - What better way to mark Israel's independence?

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
26 April '12..

The terrorists from Hamas-occupied Gaza sent their wishes to the people of Israel this morning. This was no surprise gift, since they have been delivering them on a daily basis for years even while most people in most places look the other way.

We refer, of course, to yet another explosive-laden rocket, fired entirely indiscriminately in the general direction of where the Jews live. The report of this morning's attack says the missile landed somewhere (details are deliberately sketchy, always - if you have to ask why, you should not know) in the Hof Ashkelon region of southern Israel in the early hours of this morning, Thursday. As far as we know, there were no injuries to people, no damage to property.

Even so, their gift was important: a reminder to us as we celebrate with our families and our communities on this beautiful spring day, Israel's 64th birthday as a modern nation-state: they really hate us over there (you can point in any direction from here in Jerusalem and you will be right). And they are ready, willing, able, anxious and thoroughly equipped to show that hatred in tangible, lethal ways.

That there is not greater loss is entirely due to the mercy of the Above, and the diligence and determination of the servicemen and servicewomen who guard our borders and homes.

Happy birthday, Israel, and may our country continue to go from strength to strength to strength to strength. Now, excuse us as we head off for our family's Independence Day picnic.


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Kushner - From Israel: Celebrating Our Nation

Arlene Kushner..
26 April '12..

Feeling good about Israel is great. But I would like to suggest that it's just a first step. Once you understand what we're about, and what there is in Israel to be celebrated, you can then help others to understand --- especially is this the case if you are outside of Israel. In light of all the attempts today to delegitimize Israel, this is not a small thing.

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar is an Israel who left for the States years ago, and ended up teaching at Harvard.

When he returned to Israel recently -- he's now teaching at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya -- he was astounded at the changes in his native land. This ultimately prompted him to created a film, "Inside Israel: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference."

"[It] shows Israel to be a dynamic, inventive and humanitarian society. Tal helps us discover that the deep-seated Jewish values such as freedom, education, family and responsibility (tikun olam), mixed in with a good dash of chutzpah, contribute to Israel’s accomplishments in both the economic and humanitarian spheres. We learn that these core values define Israel and have fueled this tiny, resource-challenged country’s drive to become an invaluable asset to the world."

(It is breathtakingly ironic, of course, that enemies of Israel, for perverse political reasons, would destroy a state that does so much good for the world, including for those enemies. But I digress from the focus of this film...)

Joffe - Independence Day

Alex Joffe..
Jewish Ideas Daily..
26 April '12..

Every spring, within a single week, Israel commemorates Yom Hashoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Ha'atzma'ut. These days revisit the core drama of the modern Jewish experience: the Holocaust, the losses suffered by Israel in its early wars, and the country's present independence. These days are also among the most controversial in the Israeli calendar.

With adjustments for Shabbat, Independence Day is celebrated on the fifth of Iyyar, the Hebrew correspondent of Israel's May 14 declaration of independence. Certain ultra-religious Jews have long protested the occasion. The Neturei Karta have declared it a "day of mourning for Torah-faithful Jews" and burn Israeli flags in protest. The next day, May 15, is commemorated by Palestinians as "Nakba Day," the day of "catastrophe." It is entirely negative: It mourns Palestinian dispossession at the hands of the Jews rather than celebrating any idea of Palestinian nationalism. Nakba Day speaks volumes about Palestinian political psychology.

There are also protests against Independence Day from within Israel, from Israeli Arabs—that is, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship—and leftist Israelis who want Israel to be a "state for all its citizens." This critique parallels the criticism of Israel's national anthem, "Hatikvah": The state, say the critics, celebrates the experience of the majority and further alienates the minority.

Independence Day is especially vexing to non-Israeli leftist commentators, who see in it a means of repression. One journalist recently said, "If I was [sic] a Palestinian citizen of the state, I don't think I would want to participate in the torch-lighting. I would also find the inclusion of Arabs to be dishonest, a way of whitewashing the reality of life here as a minority. . . . Independence and freedom here mean independence and freedom for Jews."

Rennert: Wash. Post, NY Times flog Israeli settlements, facts notwithstanding

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
25 April '12..

Earlier this week, the Israeli government formally legalized three small Jewish communities in the West Bank -- Rehalim, Bruchin and Sansana. They had been authorized and approved by prior governments in the 1980s and 1990s. Rehalim received official authorized settlement status on May 19, 1983, Bruchin on Nov. 27, 1991, and Sansana on June 28, 1998.

What had been lacking was additional paperwork to formalize their legal status -- essentially an oversight that now has been corrected.

But since the Washington Post and the New York Times are predisposed to see evil in anything pertaining to Jewish settlements, it comes as no surprise that they jumped on this thin bureaucratic reed to flog Jewish presence in the Jews' biblical homeland.

Ignoring facts and history, the Post carries a three-column article by Jerusalem correspondent Karin Brulliard in its April 25 edition, headlined "Israel legalizes 3 West Bank outposts -- Palestinian activists decry move as step toward new settlements."

Quote of the day (Yom Ha'Atzmaut 5772)

Petra Marquadt-Bigman..
The Warped Mirror..
26 April '12..

“we took to the road in an effort to see the country afresh. Beginning two years ago, […] we spent days and nights with ultra-Orthodox Jews in Beit Shemesh, Russian immigrants in Ashdod, Palestinian Israelis in Nazareth, Mizrahim in Yerucham, Bedouin in the neighboring unrecognized village of Rachma, settlers in Kfar Etzion and Palestinians in Beit Jallah. We travelled to Efrat, Uhm el-Fahm, Tirat Carmel, Ein Hud, Haifa and Jerusalem. When the summer protests produced tent camps across the country, we visited them from Kiryat Shemona in the north to Dimona in the south.

Through these travels, we observed a great and growing discrepancy between the way Israeli politics and society are discussed, at home and abroad, and the way they operate for real. The dichotomies that so many of us have for so long believed define the country – Ashkenazi vs. Mizrahi, Jew vs. Arab, secular vs. religious, center vs. periphery, native vs. immigrant, left vs. right – no longer reflect the complexity of Israeli society. There are commonalities in values and in visions that have gone largely unnoticed, and in these things that we share one find seeds of a common future characterized not by conflict, but by community.

One commonality, often overlooked, is a shared wish to be part of the world in which we live, and take responsibility for it. […]

Sultan Knish - Israel, A Nation Once Again

Daniel Greenfield..
Sultan Knish..
25 April '12..

Israel's Jewish population is approaching six million. If current birth rates hold steady that significant milestone will be reached in time for next year's Independence Day. If there is to be one.

In the sixty-four years that the revived country has existed, there has been a dramatic population shift. Western and Eastern Europe and Russia, where the majority of Western Jews once lived, now hold a fraction of the Jewish population. The Muslim world, former location of the majority of Eastern Jews, is barely worth mentioning.

Globally the Jewish population is divided between Israel and the United States. Israel is the home of the majority of the world's Jews, but the combined Jewish Anglosphere is still larger, not so much because of the United Kingdom, but because of North America, which holds the largest number of Jews. In a development that would have been all but incomprehensible a century ago, the majority of Jews in the world speak English or Hebrew. Smaller numbers speak French and Spanish, but in a generation hardly any will speak Russian or Arabic.

Fresnozionism - Paul Krugman’s “what must be said”
25 April '12..

The universal concealment of these facts,
To which my silence subordinated itself,
I sense as incriminating lies
And force–the punishment is promised
As soon as it is ignored;
The verdict of “anti-Semitism” is familiar.

Günter Grass, explaining how he will be punished for his ‘courage’ in saying “what must be said.”

This could be the stupidest conceit of today’s Israel-haters: that they are breaking the silence, speaking out in a fresh and original way, daring to say things that others may be thinking but fear to put into words because of the terrible retribution of the Zionist conspiracy, which will destroy them by branding them as antisemites.

The latest expression of this idiotic meme comes from the economist Paul Krugman, someone I have always admired despite his left-of-center politics. I will quote in full his remark, published today in the NY Times:

CAMERA - The Guardian: "Jerusalem is not the Capital of Israel, Tel Aviv is"

25 April '12..

CAMERA and many others routinely expose the subterfuge at the heart of the Guardian's coverage of Israel. This deceit was clearly demonstrated in a correction issued for a photo caption appearing on April 20 which inadvertently revealed that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

On April 23, the Guardian issued this correction:

The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: "Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is" (Eyewitness, 20 April, page 24).

Israel's Knesset and government resides in Jerusalem. That is a material fact. The Guardian could have remained consistent with its hostile stance towards Israel by stating that the paper does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But to deny reality by stating that Tel Aviv is the capital, when it demonstrably is not, provides an example of a news source allowing dogma to overrule physical reality. It is even more ironic that the photo caption dealt with the Holocaust, an incontrovertible reality subject to denial by individuals inimically hostile to Jewish interests.


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