Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oh Dear! Palestinians Want!

...But they keep on wanting. They want and they want and they want and the news media keeps wanting it for them. Like crybabies who want the other child’s shiny toy, they want what is not theirs, a thing that never belonged to them.

Michael Lumish..
Israel Thrives..
31 December '14..

They want and they want and they want.

Writing in Arutz Sheva, Jack Englhard says:

We read that “the Palestinians want to establish a state in East Jerusalem.” Well I want to play quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.

I have as much right to this as they have to that, but they keep on wanting. There never was a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem or West Jerusalem.

There never was a Palestinian state anywhere. Period.

End of story. If only that were so.

Who were their kings? Who were their prophets throughout the Holy Land for some 3,800 years? We can name thousands. It’s in the books. Can they name one?

But they keep on wanting. They want and they want and they want and the news media keeps wanting it for them.

Like crybabies who want the other child’s shiny toy, they want what is not theirs, a thing that never belonged to them. So they go crying to Mommy, in the form of the European Union, or they throw a tantrum for help from their uncles at the United Nations.

I have to say, Englehard is one tough cookie.

There is not a whole lot of moral equivocation with Jack Englehard.

What I like most about the guy, however, is that he has not allowed the so-called "Palestinian narrative" even so much as a foothold in his way of thinking. He discusses the conflict in a manner which, to my mind, demonstrates an independence of thought that we can certainly use more of.

For example in the article linked to above he criticizes Reuters for publishing this line:

Palestinians want to establish a state in East Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and Gaza, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Englehard writes:

Notice each word dipped in poison – “occupied” and “captured” and the most reliable phrasing of all, “Palestinians WANT.”

It is this kind of attention to the assumptions behind the framing of the conflict that we must constantly be aware of. That one brief sentence seems so innocuous, yet is so dangerously and unjustly wrong on so many levels.

The ‘Demographic Time Bomb' Boogie-Man and Inflated Palestinian Population Figures

...The inflated numbers are a key factor behind the current claim that Palestinians will outnumber Jews living in Israel and the Palestinian territories by 2016. Similarly false claims have been made in previous years, triggering the politically-loaded conclusion that Israel, in supposedly becoming a country where a Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority, has effectively emerged as an apartheid state.

Ben Cohen..
The Algemeiner..
30 December '14..

The latest demographic survey of the Palestinian population by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics overestimates the number of Palestinian residents between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan by around 1.2 million, a leading Israeli expert on demography has told The Algemeiner.

Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli diplomat who now works as a lecturer and consultant and is well-known in policy circles for his research on Palestinian and Israeli demography, said that the Palestinian statistics, released yesterday, “are inflated by more than 1 million in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and by almost 400,000 in Gaza.”

According to the Palestinian statistics bureau, there are over 6 million Palestinians living west of the Jordan; Ettinger calculates the number at 4.8 million.

The inflated numbers are a key factor behind the current claim that Palestinians will outnumber Jews living in Israel and the Palestinian territories by 2016. Similarly false claims have been made in previous years, triggering the politically-loaded conclusion that Israel, in supposedly becoming a country where a Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority, has effectively emerged as an apartheid state.

Ettinger identified several methodological flaws in the official Palestinian count. “According to their own records, they include over 400,000, mostly in Judea and Samaria, who are abroad for more than a year,” he said. This contradicts, Ettinger said, the “international standards” which dictate that a person who lives outside his or her country for more than a year should not be included in a count of the resident population.

“The only entity that doesn’t follow this practice is the Palestinian statistics bureau,” Ettinger said.

Responding appropriately to a diplomatic terrorist attack at the UN

So just why, you might be wondering, are the Palestinians insisting on bringing the matter to a vote before December 31 if they are certain to lose? Why don't they just wait another day or two and then come away with at least some kind of diplomatic triumph? However counterintuitive it might sound, the logical answer is that the Palestinians do not want to win. They actually wish to lose. They want to generate further disappointment and frustration on the Palestinian street, in order to ensure the continuation of the low-level intifada that has been raging for months.

Michael Freund..
30 December '14..

In the next few days, the United Nations Security Council is slated to vote on a resolution drafted by the Palestinians and submitted by Jordan which aims to force Israel out of Judea and Samaria by 2017 and create a Palestinian state.

This unilateral move, which is designed to dictate to the Jewish state the terms of a Middle East settlement, is simply inexcusable. It is the diplomatic equivalent of a Palestinian terrorist attack, an attempt by our foes to cause damage to Israel and intimidate its leadership into making dangerous concessions. Regardless of whether the resolution passes or not, the Palestinian Authority should be made to pay a steep price for resorting to such shenanigans, which will only serve to inflame the situation on the ground and incite more violence and bloodshed.

Consider the following: In order for a resolution to pass, it requires the support of at least nine Security Council members. By all accounts, as things stand now, the Palestinians do not have the requisite number of votes needed for the approval of the resolution. A number of the countries currently serving as rotating members of the Security Council, such as Lithuania and South Korea, are said to be unlikely to back the Palestinian initiative, thereby denying it the minimum votes required. Yet, the membership of the Council is slated to change drastically by the end of this week, when hostile anti-Israel states such as Malaysia and Venezuela replace them on January 1. Including Chad, this means that there will be three countries on the Security Council, or one-fifth of the membership, which do not even have diplomatic relations with Jerusalem.

Hence, if the Palestinians wait at least until Thursday, they would almost certainly get the nine votes they need, which would put the US in the uncomfortable position of having to exercise its veto, something it prefers not to do unless absolutely necessary. Nonetheless, such a scenario would still constitute an enormous political victory for the Palestinians, who could then say that the international community is behind them and were it not for America, they could be preparing for statehood.

So just why, you might be wondering, are the Palestinians insisting on bringing the matter to a vote before December 31 if they are certain to lose? Why don't they just wait another day or two and then come away with at least some kind of diplomatic triumph? However counterintuitive it might sound, the logical answer is that the Palestinians do not want to win. They actually wish to lose. They want to generate further disappointment and frustration on the Palestinian street, in order to ensure the continuation of the low-level intifada that has been raging for months.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Killers, heroes, passions and (sadly) churches

There is not much doubt, it has to be said, that on the life and death terrorism-centred matters about which we are writing, the upstanding Christians of the World Council of Churches and the terrorist thugs represented by Karake of the PLO/Palestinian Authority are on about the same plane. They share a similar nauseating regard for jihad and murder. They appeal for ever greater understanding of the terrorists and their lethal 'resistance' industry. And about Jewish victims? Enough said. We're baffled by the idea that religion-minded Christians can see this and yet not scream for the WCC leadership to be kicked down the stairs of their well-appointed Swiss office headquarters and pulpits.

The now-convicted and imprisoned terrorist
at his trial, April 2013 [Image Source]
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
30 December '14..

In the news reporting of this ongoing war, few voices are quite as malevolent as that of Issa Karake (sometimes written Qaraqe). Less than a household name outside the Palestinian Arab world, he gets wide and frequent coverage in the Arabic media, much of it serving as incitement for people in his sphere of influence to do more terror.

Until recently, he was the Minister of Prisoners' Affairs in the Mahmoud Abbas regime. Since the summer, he is the head of a brand new PLO entity, the Prisoners Affairs Authority that does pretty much exactly the same work but now outside the PA. The reason why, like much of what happens in the terror business, is money-related and described here.

The man's frequent public speeches and talk-show appearances center on one theme: the heroic nature of Palestinian Arab terror and those who do it. That plus the unreasonable cruelty of the Israelis who stubbornly keep putting terrorists behind bars, refusing to let them out to be honored as men and women of transcendent achievement. (The good people of Palestinian Media Watch.have compiled an on-line archive of Karake video clips and speech texts, translated from the Arabic,)

Now for his latest rant:


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The NY Times Picture of the Year, 2014

...In case there was any confusion in the New York Times message to its readership, it included another small picture of Netanyahu near its large picture of the year. (By way of comparison, did you ever see the NYT post a picture of US President Obama near an article about drone strikes or deaths in Afghanistan that he specifically ordered and oversaw?)

First One Through..
28 December '14..

The year 2014 was notable for the global escalation in terror and death compared to prior years.

- Islamic State/ ISIS created killing fields in Iraq, executing and beheading hundreds of people which it recorded and aired on the Internet. The group massacred and destroyed entire villages that existed for centuries.

- Boko Haram in Nigeria killed hundreds of Christians and abducted hundreds of girls.

- The ongoing war in Syria had a death toll approaching 200,000 people including over 10,000 children.

- Israel responded to attacks from Gaza for the third time in eight years as Hamas continued rocket fire into Israeli towns. An advanced Hamas terror tunnel network extending into Israel forced a ground invasion into Gaza which claimed over 2000 lives.

- Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, as Ukraine turned to the world for support but received virtually nothing.

- Wars in Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan and other countries continued to claim thousands of lives.

The year also included near break-out race riots in the United States as several unarmed black men were killed by white police officers. In Africa, the deadly disease Ebola killed thousands.

Various news agencies highlighted the most significant news events which ranged from Ebola to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They selected new events that impacted thousands of people in 2014 which had potentially long-term consequences.

However, for the New York Times, the most significant picture which summed up a dominant theme in its reporting for 2014 was the picture above, of a 15-year old Arab surrounded by Israeli policemen. For the New York Times, the stories on its cover pages in 2014 repeatedly told the story: that Israel attacks Arab youths.

The large color picture was displayed on its cover page on July 7, 2014. The bruised 15-year old Arab boy was being escorted out of a police station where he had been detained after throwing stones in a riot. There are several things that make the front-page treatment of the teenager note-worthy:


Updates throughout the day at If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work as well as a big vote to follow our good friend Kay Wilson on Twitter

Hmmm... Why Do Palestinians Want Both Statehood and ‘Occupation?’

...Just like Hamas, which rails against “occupation” while governing what is functionally a Palestinian state, Abbas clings to policies that keep the status quo in place while still railing against it. The reason is that although its leader is wrongly proclaimed by Washington as a champion of peace, he and his movement are as committed to Israel’s destruction as Hamas.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
28 December '14..

Today (Sunday), the Hamas terrorists who rule the Palestinian state in all but name in Gaza once again demonstrated their lack of concern for the subjects by denying a group of war orphans a chance to spend a week in Israel. Their reason: doing so would involve the teens visiting “occupied cities” and “settlements” and would undermine their effort to perpetuate a century-old war against Zionism. That Hamas would continue to rail against “occupation” while enjoying virtual sovereignty over part of the country is no contradiction. It actually dovetails nicely with the stand of their Fatah rivals who are seeking recognition of Palestinian statehood in the United Nations this week while also clinging to an “occupation” that allows them to avoid making peace.

Some will harp on the casual cruelty of denying a break to schoolchildren who have been harmed by war and who could use a chance to get out of the claustrophobic strip. But that would be a mistake. The key issue here is not the Islamist group’s insensitivity or even its reflexive hostility to Israel. Rather, it is the language used in explaining its decision to turn the bus with the 37 orphans back from the border:

“Security forces prevented 37 children of martyrs from entering the land occupied in 1948 for a suspicious visit to a number of settlements and occupied cities,” wrote Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad Al-Bozom on Facebook Sunday. “This move came in order to safeguard our children’s education and protect them from the policy of normalization.”

Hamas’s harping on the occupied places that the orphans who were invited by Israel’s Kibbutz movement and two Israeli Arab towns is telling in that the places the kids were going to visit were not part of what the world is told is “occupied territory.” Indeed, every place on their itinerary was Israeli territory prior to the Six Day War in June 1967. For Hamas, “occupation” refers to any land on which the Jewish state may exist regardless of where its borders might be drawn. In this way, they make it clear that their “resistance” against “occupation” is not a protest about the West Bank or Jerusalem but a sign of their determination to wage war on Israel until it is destroyed. This renders moot if not absurd the conviction held by some on the Jewish left as well as the Obama administration that peace could still be obtained by an Israeli decision to trade land for peace.

Yet while this speaks volumes about the foolishness of those who believe Hamas is prepared to make peace, it should not be viewed as fundamentally different from the position of the Palestinian Authority as it tries to get the UN Security Council to vote to recognize their independence in all of the lands that Israel took during the Six Day War.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Trying to reach Bethlehem today, they might get murdered by Palestinian terrorists

Such denial, coming frequently from even “moderate” Palestinian Authority officials, that there was ever a Jewish kingdom or temple in Jerusalem, or that the Jews otherwise are natives to the area, means that the Arab side can’t see any potential peace agreement as a historic reconciliation between two peoples with strong claims to the land, but as at best a humiliating capitulation to foreign occupation that would have to eventually be reversed.... Writers like Hasan are quite simply the enemies of peace.

David Bernstein..
Washington Post..
29 December '14..

Mehdi Hasan, political director of the Huffington Post, UK, has a post up entitled, “If Mary and Joseph Tried to Reach Bethlehem Today, They Would Get Stuck at an Israeli Checkpoint.”

How would that carpenter and his pregnant wife have circumnavigated the Kafka­esque network of Israeli settlements, roadblocks and closed military zones in the occupied West Bank? Would Mary have had to experience labour or childbirth at a checkpoint, as one in ten pregnant Palestinian women did between 2000 and 2007?

Well, since Joseph and Mary were Judeans, i.e., Jews, from Nazareth, they wouldn’t need to be afraid of Israeli roadblocks needed to combat Palestinian terrorism, but of being murdered by terrorists from Hamas or Fatah.

Seriously, this sort of historical revisionism, treating ancient Jewish Judeans as if they were Palestinian Arabs, and then analogizing modern Israel to the oppressors of Jesus and his family, a common trope in the UK, would be laughable if it were not so pernicious. Pernicious not simply because it’s a ridiculous distortion of history, and not simply because it’s often accompanied by a large dose of anti-Semitism, with Palestinians playing the role of Jesus and the Israelis being the foreign oppressors crucifying him. But pernicious because it goes to the true heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict–the failure of the Arab side to recognize that the “Zionists” are not the “European settler-colonialists” of Third Worldist imagination, but a people with a three thousand year plus tie to the Land of Israel, whose religion was born there, who ruled two separate kingdoms there, who have prayed toward Jerusalem for two thousand years in their ancient Hebrew language, and so on.

Excuse me. You there with the knife. What are you waiting for?

...Terrorism always depends on people with money to allow it to go on. Identifying and exposing those people - naming them, shaming them - is critically important to blunting the attacks of the men, women and children with the knives and other implements of destruction.

Slogan at the close of the
Arab "how-to" video
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 December '14..

The slogan at the end of a viral video doing the rounds the last couple of days in the Arabic-speaking world is "What are you waiting for? Rise up and stab." It's an instructional video clip that tries to show how to kill or at minimum cause grievous injuries by attacking an unsuspecting victim with a knife. And it's aimed at Israeli victims.

According to a syndicated JTA report today

"The video shows two masked men wearing black-and-white checkered keffiyahs demonstrating the different stab positions. The video demonstrates how to turn the knife after stabbing and how to stab someone quickly and walk away. It ends with the statement, “What are you waiting for? Rise up and stab.”

If only this were a sick joke. But it's not. Knifings are a favored form of terrorism among jihad-minded Palestinian Arabs. On Friday, two Israel Police officers were attacked by a hit-and-run assailant on foot who stabbed them both in an alleyway of Jerusalem’s Old City, near Lion’s Gate. A security video camera captured the frenzy and horror.


Updates throughout the day at If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work as well as a big vote to follow our good friend Kay Wilson on Twitter

Really, Hardly an Excessive Demand

...All this began before there was a State of Israel, before there was an “occupation” and it continues unabated to this day. In response to these onslaughts, Israel has not demanded reparations for the horrific causalities it has sustained in its fight for survival against repeated Arab aggression. It did not ask the Arab countries for restitution on behalf of 899,000 Jews that fled “All Moslem Lands” [NY Times, May 16, 1948]. It has only asked that it be allowed to live in peace with recognized and defendable borders as suggested in UN Security Council Resolution 242, and to develop according to its own Jewish ethos, and this is hardly an excessive demand.

Eli E.Hertz..
27 December '14..

The weight of the evidence of so many scholars, observers, pollsters and monitors make it almost impossible to mitigate, not to mention ignore the enormity of finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict [or better described as Arab-Israeli war].

When one grasps the duration of the conflict and its roots, when one fully faces the depth of animosity towards Israel and the antisemitism that permeates the Arab world from the political, religious and intellectual elites down to the grass roots, the sheer magnitude of the challenge for peacemakers becomes painfully apparent.

When one admits the implications of Palestinian society’s behavior – the repetitive pattern of nearly 100 years of rejectionism on the diplomatic front and a penchant for terrorism against civilians, the “readiness” of Arabs for co-existence and the chances of a breakthrough assume their true proportions.

The unwillingness to accept Israel as a legitimate non-Muslim political entity is epitomized by the Palestinians asymmetrical demands for the Right of Return of all Palestinian refugees to the Jewish state coupled with a demand that the West Bank and Gaza be cleansed of all Jews.

One cannot artificially narrow the scope of the conflict. One cannot duck the tough issues – whether in the Palestinian camp or the Arab world as a whole. Western leadership that is “Staying above the conflict” out of fear that demanding Arabs to ‘walk the talk’ will jeopardize one’s status as an honest broker has not and will not bring peace.

There has never been “a cycle of violence.” Resorting to such neutral terminology requires the U.S. and Europe to acquiesce to, and perpetuate a gross misrepresentation of reality.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Two children, many questions

...The chronic hypocrisy and sickening terrorism-addiction of those who claim to lead the Palestinian Arabs seriously threaten the health and well-being of children all through our region, on all sides of this ongoing conflict.

Family snapshot of Ayala 
Shapira, the child attacked 
by the firebombers on Thursday
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 December '14..

There are two reports in this blog post, each one about a child.

A news blackout was lifted tonight (Saturday) on the arrest of two Palestinian Arabs, at least one of them a minor, who launched a firebomb attack Thursday night on identifiably-Israeli vehicles plying the roads in the vicinity of their village, Kfar Azoun (in some reports, Azzoun), in Israel's Samaria district. Ynet reports that both attackers have confessed under interrogation.

Video of the attack's immediate aftermath

Firebombs, also known as Molotov Cocktails, are "primarily intended to set targets ablaze rather than instantly destroy them", according to Wikipedia. The attack on Thursday night succeeded. It set the target ablaze. The target is now in hospital, fighting a desperate battle for her life. She is eleven years old.

The girl, Ayala Shapira, had third-degree burns on her face and upper torso, and her wounds were life-threatening, according to medical officials at the Tel Aviv hospital treating her. The girl’s father, Avner Shapira, suffered minor injuries... Ayala Shapira’s mother, Ruth, told reporters that she was driving the family car on the same road a month ago when it was hit by a firebomb but she was unharmed... There has been an uptick in Palestinian attacks against Israelis in recent weeks, including deadly assaults in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Israeli-occupied West Bank... ["Israeli Girl Severely Wounded in Firebomb Attack in West Bank", New York Times, December 25, 2014]

An uptick?! Here's what uptick translates into in terms of the lives of real children and their parents.


Updates throughout the day at If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work as well as a big vote to follow our good friend Kay Wilson on Twitter

It's Open Season on Jews for Palestinians. And...

...Palestinians leaders have declared open season on killing Jews and the world isn’t particularly interested. It is little surprise that Palestinians listen to their leaders and imams and throw gasoline bombs and attempt to run down or stab Jews whenever they can. Under these circumstances, this week’s casualties just like all those that have become before them, should expect little sympathy or notice from the international press.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
26 December '14..

Last month, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was blasted by Israel for making statements that both incited terrorist attacks and for his praise of those who committed such actions. But the PA head, who is vowing to get a vote for his effort to have the United Nations Security Council recognize a Palestinian state without making peace first with Israel, noted that Western nations did not join in the criticism. Palestinians were similarly undaunted and the toll of terrorist attacks on Israelis in both Jerusalem and the West Bank has continued to rise. Just this week, Palestinians firebombed the car of a Jewish family resulting in life-threatening burns to an 11-year-old child. Days later, two policemen were stabbed in Jerusalem by a Palestinian who had just attended prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. But rather than these and other attacks generating international outrage, the world shrugs. Palestinians trying to kill Jews is so ordinary that few people, including many American Jews, think it worth the effort to complain about it.

In a sense those that think this way aren’t entirely wrong. Attacks on Jews on the roads in the West Bank have always been so commonplace as to not even raise many eyebrows in Israel. Indeed, the most interesting detail in the story about the firebombing that nearly killed an 11-year-old girl is that her mother said she barely escaped a similar fate recently when another firebomb just missed her.

The same is true of attacks in Jerusalem recently. The horrific stabbings of four rabbis at prayer in a Har Nof synagogue last month generated a momentary surge of interest in the surge in Arab terrorism that quickly dissipated. While that crime was considered more noteworthy, the numerous attempts by Palestinians to run down Jewish pedestrians or to stab or incinerate them in the weeks since that attack demonstrates that it was unique only in terms of the number of casualties and the barbaric methods used by the murderers.

Why does the world yawn when it hears of Palestinians attacking Jews?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My personal Kishinev by Vic Rosenthal

...Do we, civilized people, understand what it means to be in a struggle with barbarians? Do we understand that the choices are victory or the end of our state, death and dispersal? But we seem to care more about Arab rights than our own right to exist. We are at a turning point. We need to choose between victory and destruction. There are no other alternatives.

Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
27 December '14..

You probably heard about the 11-year old girl who was critically burned on Thursday when the car she was riding in was struck by a firebomb thrown by an Arab terrorist. And you certainly know about the attack on the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem in which four worshipers and a policeman were brutally murdered. You probably know about the several incidents in which Arabs drove their vehicles into groups of Jews, including one in which a 3-month old baby and a tourist from Ecuador were murdered, and another in which the driver got out and ran back to his not-yet-dead victim and cut her throat.

If you follow these things, you may also know that Jews are afraid to go to the historic Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem because of continued violent attacks on buses, cars and people. You may also have heard about the daily rock-throwing attacks on the light rail in Jerusalem, against Jewish-driven cars on the roads in Judea and Samaria, the acid thrown on a Jewish family, etc. I could go on. And on.

The horror of the 1903 Kishinev pogrom was a turning point for many Jews, including Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Jew-hatred was finally seen to be implacable and a permanent feature of Diaspora life, and only a complete separation from the haters by the establishment of a Jewish state and the relocation of the Jewish people to it could be a permanent solution.

I think the firebomb incident was my own personal Kishinev experience. Now there is a Jewish state, but the problem of hatred-spawned violence against Jews has not ended, even here.

There is a simple reason for that: we allow it.

The Palestinian Arab leadership and its official media as well as their legions of social media propagandists incite murder every day. They pay the salaries of incarcerated murderers, treat released terrorists as heroes, and call for violent action against Jews, sometimes in remarkably ugly ways. We don’t stop them. We could, but we don’t.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Wow! If CNN Asked You If You Are Brain Dead

...I cannot sit back any longer and watch people like you continue to misreport the truth. In my fantasies, the answer to all of these questions is zero. The time for change is now, and if you are not prepared to be a part of the change, I ask you, ‘Are you serious?… Are you brain dead?’

Hayley Nagelberg..
Times of Israel..
24 December '14..

CNN does not have a great reputation for a fair and balanced coverage of events involving Israel. Ten years ago, Israeli hip-hop group הדג נחש (HaDag Nachash) released a song called שירת הסטיקר (Shirat HaStikar). The song’s lyrics include the lines that were found on bumper stickers throughout Israel, namely “CNN משקר” (CNN Mishaker) – “CNN lies”. I don’t think anyone could have fathomed ten years ago just how true that line would prove to be.

On November 18th, 2014, American Israeli Rabbis Moshe Twersky (ז״ל), Calman Levine (ז״ל), and Aryeh Kopinsky (ז״ל), British Israeli Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg (ז״ל) and Druze first responder Zidan Saif (ז״ל) were killed during morning prayers at a synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem by Abed Abu Jamal and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal. These two Palestinian cousins attacked the Israelis with meat cleavers, axes and a gun. The first headline I witnessed from CNN read “Two Palestinians Killed”; the next said “Four Israelis Two Palestinians Killed”; and later, the story would also read that this attack took place in a mosque.

One month later, on December 21, 2014, over 700 Jewish teenagers from around North America gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, for United Synagogue Youth’s (USY) 64th annual international convention. During our convention, on December 22, after a study session about the concept ואהבת לרעך כמוך (Ve’ahavta L’ereacha Kamocha) – “love your neighbor as yourself” – I joined roughly thirty other USYers and staff in a conference room of the Omni hotel to listen to representatives from CNN, which has headquarters right next to our convention center. We gathered to learn about a modern application of this concept to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Richard Davis is the Executive Vice President of News Standards and Practices for CNN. He has held this post since 1998. He is known for launching many CNN programs such as Sports Tonight. During the hour that I spent listening to him and his colleague Etan Horrowitz, CNN’s Mobile Editor, I felt my jaw drop lower and lower in disbelief, and the scowl on my face grow increasingly intense in anger and frustration.

Davis told me and my peers and staff that it is up to us, and everyone else, as consumers to check other news sources if we think we may want more information. He said, “You can’t be in the news business and also be a babysitter to the people that only read the first paragraph”. I was confused. Isn’t it a news organization’s job to provide the facts? While an educated reader should always check a variety of news sources for different presentations, one should expect a leading news distributor to get the basic story right. And in a day and age where most people only read headlines, or maybe the first few lines or paragraphs if you’re lucky, shouldn’t CNN make sure that all salient and truthful information can be found there?

Searching for Arabic-language outrage at the men with the meat-cleavers and knives

And among the morally-addled ranks of certain English-language commentators, there's criticism of the Israeli side who, as usual, cannot be forgiven for Arab acts of bestiality

Body of a victim of the Har Nof savagery is taken
from the scene, November 18, 2014 [Image Source]
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
26 December '14..

In the long and bitter history of Arab, and in particular Arab Islamist, murderous hatred of their Jewish neighbours, the cold-blooded killings on the morning of November 18, 2014 of four Jewish men at prayer in the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem, along with a non-Jewish security officer who died trying to subdue the frenzied attackers, stand out.

This is not because the Har Nof Synagogue attack exacted an unusually large number of innocent victims: tragically, there have been many Arab terrorist attacks that killed and injured more people at a single time.

For many, the idea of an attack by men brandishing butcher knives, axes and a gun on unarmed individuals wrapped in prayer shawls, quietly swaying in their daily worship, will make concrete a horror that seems incomprehensible. That horror is magnified by the evident clarity that accompanies the published Palestinian Arab reactions. If there is some process of moral doubt and profound soul-searching in their ranks, it's hard to find.

This past Wednesday evening, the bodies of the perpetrators, two cousins from an Arab clan called Abu Jamal, were buried on the fringes of Jerusalem. [Some photos here.] An English-language report from the Palestinian Arab (and European-funded) news agency Ma'an says


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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Take NY Times Rudoren’s ‘Miracle’ with a Cup of Salt

...While I’m sure the soup was good, the story that went with it should have struck any journalist worth his or her salt as a crock or at least in need of some heavy seasoning with the facts about Palestinian actions during the intifada if it was going to be written up. But not Jodi Rudoren. She’s as green as the day she arrived in Israel in May 2012 to take up her post. That would be an embarrassment for any foreign correspondent, let alone a Times bureau chief. Readers should keep this in mind whenever they look at her non-food or holiday-related coverage in the paper.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
24 December '14..

When inexperienced foreign correspondents arrive in Israel, one of the rites of passage tends to be their being suckered into writing a heartwarming Palestinian story intended to give Israel a black eye. However, the best indication of their mettle as a journalist is not so much whether Palestinians sources/fixers inveigle them into producing one of these atrocities as whether they learn from the experience and try not to get hooked into another obvious piece of pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel puffery. Judged by this standard, New York Times Jerusalem Bureau chief Jodi Rudoren must be considered a dismal failure. Though she has been in the country for two and a half years, Rudoren has just produced a stereotypical holiday piece about the conflict published today in the paper that should embarrass even the most raw rookie scribe.

The article, tabbed as “Letter From the Middle East,” is titled “An Open Door Beckons in the West Bank.” It concerns the experiences of Khadra Zreineh, a Palestinian woman who hosts foreigners and those living temporarily in Israel as part of what Rudoren describes as “off-the-beaten-track tourist experiences often focused on food.” Apparently Zreineh served up some nice stories along with her home made freekeh soup about life in the town of Beit Jala during the second intifada where she lives in what she dubs “the house of the open door,” where both Jews and Arabs have always been welcome.

One in particular entranced Rudoren who made it the centerpiece of her article. It concerned Zreineh’s experience during Easter of 2002 when the area was under curfew as Israeli troops sought to capture Palestinian terrorists who had taken refuge in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity. The terrorists held out in the shrine for 39 days secure in the knowledge that Israeli troops would respect the site’s sanctity. In the end, they were allowed to leave unharmed for exile in Gaza or Europe. During the siege, which took place during a time of intense fighting in the West Bank as armed Palestinian cadres waged war against Israel, local residents were given brief periods to leave their homes to get supplies. But after 34 days, Zreineh and some friends decided to defy the curfew and go to church. Instead of stopping them, an Israeli tank crew let them do as they liked and then waited for them to escort them safely home after the service. Zreineh considered this action an “Easter miracle” but then found out that one of the soldiers knew her son from earlier more peaceful times and had been in her home before.

That’s very nice and would, at least on its face, seem to confirm the idea that the only thing that is needed to end the conflict between Jews and Arabs is more contact and understanding with some good food thrown in. But there are some problems with the narrative and the way that Rudoren retold it that tell us more about Rudoren’s poor skills as a journalist than about what’s wrong with the Middle East.

Israeli elections: Time for substantive debate – not “do something” slogans

...“Do something” should not be an acceptable slogan for a serious candidate. Voters deserve to know not only what candidates propose to do but also be provided with serious analysis and debate of their proposals.

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
IMRA Weekly Commentary..
24 December '14..

Herzog. Livni and now Liberman and Kahlon have all adopted a common slogan in their campaign against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: we have to “do something”.

But what’s the “something”?

And just how well does that “something” stand up to public scrutiny?

This week Livni had a photo op at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, proclaiming that it would always be under Israeli control.

Netanyahu retorted that if the final status arrangements that Livni appears to support were implemented that safe access to the Western Wall might require an armored carrier.

Is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assessment reasonable?

His remark certainly provided Livni the opportunity to address the efficacy of the various options for dividing the city into a patchwork of sovereignties with schemes involving third party observers and even third party security forces.

But instead of rising to the challenge Livni snapped back that Netanyahu was dredging up slogans from past election campaigns.

Now wait a moment: the slogans from previous election campaigns were that opponents of Netanyahu want to divide Jerusalem.

Were the slogans incorrect?

Of course not.

That’s exactly what Herzog and Livni – and now apparently Liberman and Kahlon – want to do!

And since they want to divide Jerusalem, then they damn well owe it to the Israeli voters to explain why they are so confident that the situation on the ground couldn’t possibly deteriorate to the point that, as Netanyahu put it, safe access to the Western Wall might required an armored carrier.

But just how important is the efficacy of their programs?

Imagining a Shimon Peres comeback? It won't wash

...As for ties with the United States, there was indeed a crisis in 1991, but it was fomented by Shimon Peres. Shamir's Likud government had asked the Bush Administration for a $10 billion loan guarantee to fund the massive absorption of immigrants from the Soviet Union. Peres told the Bush Administration to postpone the signature of the loan by demanding an Israeli commitment not to spend any of the loan money beyond the Green Line. Since Shamir refused, the 1992 Labor campaign accused him of jeopardizing the relationship with the United States and of harming the Israeli economy. Today, when John Kerry threatens Israel with international isolation, he merely repeats the line of Israeli politicians.

Dr. Emmanuel Navon..
i24 News..
24 December '14..

Israel’s upcoming elections have something in common with all Israeli elections for the past 56 years: Shimon Peres. Peres was first elected to the Knesset in 1959. For the 2015 elections, he is getting indirectly involved by adding his voice to the lambasting of the current government. As for Tzipi Livni, the former minister of justice and the current partner of Labor party leader Isaac Herzog, she seems to have taken a leaf out of the Peres book. She prides herself on having convinced the Obama Administration to push off the Security Council vote on Palestinian statehood so as not to throw more Israelis into the arms of the right. In the 1996 campaign, candidate Shimon Peres declared that he had convinced PLO chief Yasser Arafat to put terrorist attacks on hold during the elections.

Peres’ latest comment against the government came after publication of two reports on poverty in Israel. “You can’t feed hungry children and senior citizens with mere declarations,” Peres said. “We know how to find money for wars; surely we can find money to fight poverty.” Shortly after, Israeli journalist Assaf Lieberman posted on his Facebook page the recording of a November 1989 interview he conducted with then finance minister Shimon Peres. The interview took place right after the annual publication of the poverty report. “Do you think there are hungry people in Israel today?” Peres was asked. “What is that, an investigation?” Peres replied angrily before cutting the interview short.

In his recent comments, Peres seemed to suggest that the solution to poverty is government handouts. But when he served as prime minister between 1984 and 1986, and as finance minister between 1988 and 1990, Peres implemented Thatcherite policies. His 1985 economic stabilization plan included sharp cuts in government expenditures and deficits, a freeze of wages, a contractionary monetary policy, and the privatization of government-owned companies. Under Peres’ leadership, Israel’s Labor party reconstructed itself in the shape of its sister parties in Britain and Germany in the 1990s, realizing that wealth needs to be produced before being redistributed. During elections, however, politicians such as Shimon Peres tend to rely on the short memory (or ignorance) of voters.

On the economy, yesterday’s promoters of Thatcherism would have us believe today that big government is the answer to poverty. On foreign policy, those who bring upon us foreign opprobrium present themselves as the only ones capable of ending Israel’s alleged international isolation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

As Gaza Closes Out the Year

...There are many newspaper stories about the awful situation in Gaza, but very few point out what Politico did: that Israel is playing a positive and humane role in Gaza reconstruction, while the top Palestinian “leaders” in both the PA and Hamas jockey for money, power, and advantage and don’t seem to care much about the people they claim to represent. And as the Europeans debate BDS resolutions and recognition of a Palestinian state, the actual facts about Gaza never even cross their minds. For all too many politicians in Europe, Palestine and Palestinians aren’t a real cause anyway: their real motivation is to attack Israel. Facts that get in the way are easily ignored.

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
23 December '14..

At the end of last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas, all sorts of pledges were made about rebuilding Gaza. Hamas in particular claimed victory because it had broken the “siege of Gaza” and now all Gazans would benefit.

This was nonsense, and clearly so back then. It was obvious from previous experience that goods would not flow easily into Hamas-controlled territory, especially with Egypt smashing the network of smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai.

What is the reality at year end? This is from the Saudi Gazette:

Two months after donors pledged $5.4 billion to help rebuild Gaza after the war between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian, UN and other officials say barely 2 percent of the money has been transferred. The conference in Cairo had been hailed as a success, with Qatar promising $1 billion, Saudi Arabia $500 million and the United States and the European Union a combined $780 million in various forms of assistance. Half was expected to go to rebuilding houses and infrastructure in Gaza destroyed during seven weeks of fighting, and the rest to support the Palestinian budget. But of the total, only $100 million or so has been received, according to UN and other officials. While the EU and the United States have accelerated some funding that was already in the pipeline, very few new pledges have come to fruition.

Who is to blame? Donors who have not met their pledges, to start.

Then add the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, fighting over power and uninterested in the actual welfare of the people of Gaza. This is from Politico:

First Step. Don’t Like Anti-Semitism? Then Don’t Encourage It.

...To be clear: when Miliband and Cohen decry the rise of anti-Semitism it is not in doubt that they are being sincere. But they are also being woefully naive if they fail to see the role the organizations they head have in stoking that same anti-Semitism.

Tom Wilson..
Commentary Magazine..
23 December '14..

In Britain, prominent Jewish figures are expressing concern about the rising tide of anti-Semitism in that country. Most recently the director of the BBC Danny Cohen has stated that he has never felt so uncomfortable being Jewish in Britain. He even went so far as to cast doubt on the long-term future of Anglo-Jewry. Similarly, Labor Party leader Ed Miliband—also Jewish—has called for a “zero tolerance” approach to anti-Semitism. The great irony here, however, is that both men are Jews heading organizations which, through their portrayal and policy on Israel, are laying the groundwork for yet more Jew-hatred.

The correlation between the demonization of Israel and attacks on Jews worldwide is hardly in doubt. The dramatic spike in anti-Semitic attacks throughout the diaspora that coincided with this summer’s Gaza war speaks for itself. That is not to suggest that Israeli policy is the underlying cause of anti-Semitism, but rather just as Church doctrine or Social Darwinism were ideologies used as a conduit for anti-Semitism, today anti-Zionism, with its depiction of events in Israel, takes the position as the primary outlet for anti-Semitism. And while both Danny Cohen and Ed Miliband are quite right to be concerned by the rising tide of Jew-hatred in Britain today, there is no escaping the fact that both the BBC and the Labor Party have played a role in stoking the kind of contempt for the Jewish state that leads directly to the increasingly common verbal and physical attacks on British Jews.

Danny Cohen only took over as head of BBC television in May 2013, and so can hardly be held responsible for the BBC’s long legacy of slanted reporting on Israel. And in fairness, Cohen has pledged to give prominence to programming about the Holocaust to mark the upcoming memorial day. Still, during the recent Gaza conflict there were several troubling moments at the BBC. One particularly memorable incident was news anchor Emily Maitlis’s grilling of Israeli spokesman Mark Regev. Maitlis—who is herself Jewish—hounded Regev on the point of a UN shelter that had been hit, possibly by Israel, possibly by Hamas. The implicit suggestion in Maitlis’s questioning was that Israel had the exact coordinates of the shelter, that Israel knew that it was full of women and children, that Israel had refused to permit an evacuation of those in the shelter, and that Israel had intentionally gone ahead and hit it anyway. Her accusatory questions became fiercest when she asserted: “But you said you were going to hit it, you hit it, you killed them! You knew there were children in that building!”

Meanwhile, under Ed Miliband Labor has veered toward being far more overtly hostile to the Jewish state. While it is true that this process has been taking place on the left of that party for some time, under the stewardship of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Labor policy remained resolutely supportive of the Jewish state. Yet under Miliband, the son of Holocaust refugees, this has begun to change. Not only did Miliband condemn Israel’s war against Hamas this summer, but he publicly attacked Prime Minister Cameron’s refusal to join in with the chorus of condemnation, calling Cameron’s stance “unacceptable and unjustifiable.” Miliband further outraged Israel supporters when he recently attended the gala dinner for Labor Friends of Palestine—a group which reportedly backs anti-Israel boycotts.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Europe, dead Jews and the big yawn

...Even as Palestinians plow their cars into pedestrians with encouragement from Palestinian Authority institutions, European officials do not even attempt to explain why Israelis shouldn’t worry about the concessions they demand. They want Israel to give the Palestinians what they believe the Palestinians deserve, even if unaccompanied by a termination of violence on the part of the Palestinians. If that results in more dead Jews, that is none of their concern.

Daniel Tauber..
For Zion's Sake/JPost..
21 December '14..

While the people of Israel wondered whether a third intifada might be starting in Jerusalem and then whether their government would break apart, Europeans were wondering how they could force their will on Israel.

On October 30, one day after the attempted assassination of a Jewish political activist and a week after Palestinian terrorists plowed their car into pedestrians waiting at a train station in Jerusalem, killing an infant and a tourist, the Swedish government recognized the “State of Palestine.”

Just two weeks before that, and not long after Hamas initiated another war with Israel, the British parliament voted (274-12) to urge the British government “to recognize the state of Palestine.”

In the middle of November, a month of terrorist attacks against Jews – including the heinous massacre of four Jewish worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue – the Spanish parliament voted almost unanimously (319-2) “urg[ing] the government to recognize Palestine as a state.”

More recently, on December 2 France’s National Assembly voted 339-151 urging recognition of Palestinian statehood, with the French Senate ratifying the resolution soon after.

As the terrorism continued, for example with the stabbing of two Jewish shoppers at a supermarket on December 3, so did the European resolutions, with the Irish parliament calling for recognition of a Palestinian state on December 9 and the Portuguese parliament doing the same on December 13.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament resolved that it “supports in principle recognition of Palestinian statehood.”

France and potentially other European powers are also considering supporting a UN Security Council resolution requiring an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and the creation of a Palestinian state on a predetermined timetable.

These resolutions are ostensibly about jumpstarting the peace process. And indeed some of the resolutions were couched in the usual dream-language of two states living side by side in peace.

In practice, however, the resolutions are meant to pressure Israel, which to the European mind is avoiding its responsibilities vis-à-vis the Palestinians and using Palestinian terrorism as an excuse.

As one British MP argued during the debate over the British Parliament’s resolution: “The only thing that the Israeli Government understands... is pressure.

What the House will be doing this evening will be to add to the pressure on the government of Israel.”

But as the Israeli government has reiterated time and again, these European attempts to pressure Israel will only make peace less likely.

For Israelis, European criticism is incessant and hopelessly one-sided. These resolutions only confirm that.

Israel has undertaken numerous substantial concessions either for the sake of peace or merely to get the Palestinians to agree to negotiate with Israel.

These include granting the Palestinians self-rule and withdrawing from Palestinian cities as part of the Oslo Accords, withdrawing completely from the Gaza Strip and expelling thousands of Israeli citizens from their communities as part of the disengagement plan, freezing settlement construction, releasing terrorists convicted of murder and attempted murder, and barring Jews from praying at the Temple Mount. Though these concessions have been met with increased Palestinian violence against Jews, Europe acts as if Israel refuses to compromise, concede or sacrifice for peace.

Even If She Wins the World Won’t Listen to Livni

...There may be reasons for Israelis to choose a new prime minister but the notion that Livni will magically erase the country’s diplomatic isolation is a delusion that rests upon her hubris and mistaken belief in the dubious magic of her personality. No rational person who has been paying attention to the way the world interacts with and judges Israel over the past 20 years of peace processing should take such a fanciful idea seriously.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
22 December '14..

In what has already been a topsy-turvy Israeli election campaign Hatnua Party co-leader Tzipi Livni caused an uproar when she bragged about her efforts to persuade Secretary of State John Kerry to “torpedo” the Palestinian effort to gain United Nations recognition for their independence. That led some on the Israeli right to accuse Kerry of trying to intervene in the elections because reportedly Livni told him that if the U.S. let a UN Security Council resolution pass it would help Prime Minister Netanyahu in the Knesset vote. But their outrage is to be expected. Everyone knows the Obama administration wants Netanyahu to lose and that Livni and her new partner, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog, are looking for a little help from Washington. But what is of particular interest is that Livni actually thinks, as she said yesterday in an Israel Army Radio interview, “the world listens to me.” If she wins, she will soon find out that “the world” and even the Obama administration, doesn’t differentiate between Israeli politicians as much as she thinks.

Livni, who is running for the Knesset on her fourth different political party in the last decade, scored a coup when she managed to persuade Herzog not only to run a joint ticket with her party but also to “rotate” the prime ministership between the two if they won. Considering that polls showed Hatnua wouldn’t win a seat on its own, that shows she’s better at driving good bargains for her party than she was for her country during her time as foreign minister under Ehud Olmert or as lead negotiator with the Palestinians under Netanyahu the last two years.

Though her eclectic and often changing positions on the issues have placed her all over the political map, her main claim to fame in the past few years has been as the Israeli politician that American and European leaders have hoped would topple the much disliked Netanyahu. Indeed, during the first two years of the Obama administration, the White House wrongly thought Livni would soon replace him as prime minister. So it’s hardly surprising that Livni would attempt to play that card again so as to convince Israeli voters that their country’s growing diplomatic isolation is purely the result of Netanyahu’s bad judgment and that it would all change if only Livni were in power.

But whatever her chances of helping to topple the prime minister, she’s wrong if she thinks the international community will be substantially friendlier to a government that she helped run than the one she just left. The reasons for this should be obvious even to her.

Thoughts on a Maccabean solution for the Gaza Strip

...Just as the Hanukka candles that we kindle each night stand ramrod straight, giving off light in defiance of their surroundings, so too must Israel now do the same, taking the initiative to forestall the possibility of thousands of rockets raining down on the country in 2015 or beyond. It took the Maccabees nearly five decades to realize that Gaza had to be totally and unconditionally defeated. Let's learn from their experience and put an end to this problem once and for all.

Michael Freund..
23 December '14..

This past Friday, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired a rocket into southern Israel without any provocation, setting off air-raid sirens and rekindling fears of a return to this past summer's hostilities.

Indeed, although barely four months have passed since the end of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas is said to be actively preparing for the next round of conflict, rebuilding its network of terror tunnels and working to improve the accuracy of its arsenal.

It is no wonder, then, that Israel's Military Intelligence is forecasting a possible resumption of fighting in 2015.

The Gaza conundrum, which has been a nettlesome thorn in the Jewish state's side for years, in particular since the Hamas takeover of the area, continues to befuddle successive Israeli governments. Pinpoint air-strikes, restrictions on the importation of goods, limited ground incursions and larger-scale military operations have all failed to quash the growing threat posed by Hamas in Gaza, leaving many to wonder if there is any way to put an end to this ongoing peril.

The answer is a resounding "yes!" and we need only look to the Maccabees, the heroes of Hanukka, to see how it can be done.

It was in the year 145 BCE, some two decades after the liberation of the Temple in Jerusalem and the miracle of the oil, that the Hasmonean king Jonathan, the youngest of Matityahu's five sons, attacked Gaza and its hostile population.

Following in the footsteps of his older brother Judah the Maccabee, Jonathan heroically proceeded to subdue his foes.

As the historian Josephus writes in his The Antiquities of the Jews (Volume 13, 5:5), "[H] e set a part of his army round about Gaza itself, so with the rest he overran their land, and spoiled it, and burnt what was in it. When the people of Gaza saw themselves in this state of affliction... so they sent to Jonathan, and professed they would be his friends, and afford him assistance." In other words, Jonathan conquered the area, pacified it thoroughly and compelled Gaza's residents to plead for peace.

Nonetheless, despite their professions of amity, Gaza's residents continued to agitate against Israel, leading Simon the Maccabee, who had succeeded Jonathan, to conclude what his brother had started.

As recounted in the First Book of Maccabees, "In those days, Simon camped against Gaza and besieged it round about. He made also an engine of war and set it by the city, and battered a certain tower and took it."

Simon's soldiers entered Gaza city, which led the local populace to "cry with a loud voice beseeching Simon to grant them peace." They implored the Maccabee: "Deal not with us according to our wickedness but according to your mercy."

Simon agreed, but not before taking a series of measures to try and ensure that Gaza would never again pose a threat.

Among these, he "placed such men there as would keep the law, and made it stronger than it was before," essentially reimposing security on the unruly strip of land. Simon also sent Jews to settle the area, and he even built himself a home in Gaza, as if to underline the fact that the Jewish people had every intention of remaining.

But even these measures did not quell the Gaza problem.

It was only when Alexander Jannaeus, Matityahu's great-grandson, captured the city in the year 100 BCE that the threat was finally ended and the southwestern border of the Hasmonean Jewish state enjoyed some long-sought peace. Alexander, Josephus tells us, "had utterly overthrown their city... having spent a year in that siege."