Wednesday, November 30, 2011

All that Jazz!

Last Saturday night we went to the first concert in our subscription series with the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Harvey Bordowitz. It was an excellent concert under the title "Pastoral Dreams" and featured a soprano, a clarinettist and included Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony (No. 6).

By contrast, this Saturday night we went to the last concert in the annual series of last concerts of Stanley Ross and the Stompers Jazz Band. They play unbelievably great Dixieland Jazz, and they have been playing together for so many years that they really play in harmony. Stanley is now 81, and although his face gets ruddy when he blows he still plays a mean trumpet. Stanley is from Glasgow where he started a jazz band in his teens. The concert was held in the hall of the Young Israel Congregation in Netanya. This was a great concert, with a full complement of excellent musicians: Larry Brant, from Long Island NY on banjo; Ed Mishnov from Russia on double bass; Zack Benson, drummer; Roy Rich on guitar, from Manchester; Evy Tamari on piano from Detroit; Amnon Ben Artzi, the Israeli trombonist; and the diminuitive Jacques Sany, French soprano saxophonist, who is a renowned artist who plays around the world and has played the Preservation Hall in New Orleans. This concert was superb and a great joy. Incidentally Stanley and the trombonist Amnon started the Band 28 years ago.

Monday we went to our regular noon Shearim Concert that usually features immigrants from the former Soviet Union. There was an excellent duo of Ilya Trost, cello and Galina Cheremushkin, piano, and they played Beethoven, Faure and Joplin.

Tues evening we drove to Jerusalem to hear a concert of Flamenco music at the Israel Museum celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel. We naievely believed that we would see Flamenco dancing, but we were disappointed, it was only a singer and a guitarist. Apparently the performer, Jose Merc, is a famous Flamenco singer, and was greeted rapturously by the audience. He was a tall, handsome man with long gray hair dressed all in black. He was accompanied by a wonderful guitarist, whose complex rhythms were fascinating. He also had two clappers, all they did was clap, although the rhythms were mesmerizing. However, we did not enjoy what passed for singing. Of course, we could not understand the Spanish, but it sounded like someone shouting while being strangled, and drowned. Obviously an acquired taste. Nevertheless, we ate out afterwards and it was a very pleasant evening.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It was pointed out by Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum that Nov 29 is a historic day because it was the date of the vote at the UN on the Partition Plan of 1947, that was a major step in the founding of the State of Israel. But, on that date the UN did not recognize Israel!

To be specific:

1. The UN Partition Plan (res. 181) proposed the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab State in British Mandatory Palestine (as well as making Jerusalem an "international city") and was voted on 29 Nov, 1947 - but, it was never implemented as it was rejected by one of the sides - the Arabs (there were no Palestinians then). But, it did end the British Mandate of Palestine.

2. The State of Israel was proclaimed unilaterally by David Ben Gurion on May 14, 1948, a day before the War of Independence started (that's why May 15 is called Nakba Day by the Palestinians) when the Arab States invaded the nascent Jewish State. Individual states (USA, USSR, etc.) then subsequently recognized Israel.

3. But, the State of Israel was not recognized as a full member of the UN until May 11, 1949 - because actual membership at the UN after being proposed by a majority of the Security Council requires a majority of States to recognize the applicant.

Thus, the Partition Plan did not establish a Jewish State, Ben Gurion's declaration of independence did, but it was not actually recognized until 1.5 years after the Partition Plan!

Those who support unilateral Palestinian Independence should note this process. It was neither the Partition Plan, nor a unilateral declaration that makes a State recognized as a member of the UN, it is the recognition of its ability to control its territory, organize a government and maintain economic independence by a majority of the Security Council and the General Assembly. The aspiring State of Palestine, has none of these features.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Rape of Europa II - Recovery

Continuing the review of "The Rape of Europa" by Lynn Nicholson, describing the plunder of the cultural heritage of Europe by the Nazis during WWII and the attempts by the Allies to recover most of the treasures after the war.

While WWII was still in progress, both the British and Americans took extensive steps to protect their own artistic heritage. In Britain, warned by the depredations of the art of France by the Germans and in order to avoid the blitz on London, the British moved much of their museum and art inventories to castles in Wales and the north. Meanwhile in the US, the holdings of the museums of NYC and Washington were en route to the hinterland, to large houses in western Pennsylvania and further afield. Luckily the vast bulk of this materiel was protected and saved and returned in due course undamaged.

The US, aware of the danger to the treasures of Europe from their bombing, after much discussion established a group of experts who were assigned to each Army group, who would move with them once the invasion of Europe began. Because of the desire to protect monuments, these men were called "the Monuments Men." Their first attempt to produce maps with monuments shown on them was a failure, they were shipped to Italy and captured by the Germans, who had no idea what they were for and dumped them. The first test of the Monuments Men was in the invasion of Sicily, but so much went wrong there that it could only be called a learning experience under fire. For the most part the Germans stole and removed all valuable objects and destroyed much else, while the Americans and allies had little idea what they were supposed to be doing.

The first real test came in Italy, as the Allies gradually fought their way north and the Germans slowly gave way. In the chaos that ensued the movement and re-movement of the treasures of Rome and Florence in particular was like a dance without a choreographer. Some Germans tried their best to keep the treasures of Italy in Italy, while some, including the SS, tried as hard as they could to find their hiding places and transport them north. Much of the art of Rome ended up in the Vatican that was officially neutral, and much of the art of Florence ended up in minor stately homes and even in garages. It was a very mixed picture, often priceless treasures were strewn around with garbage and used for tables, but after all was said and done some 98% of the art of Florence was found intact. Almost all of it was returned amid great pomp to its owners, for which the Italian people were very grateful to the Allied forces.

The Allied invasion of France resulted in an even more chaotic situation. As the German Army retreated in France they sometimes destroyed everything, including burning down Chateaux filled with artworks, sometimes looted, and sometimes left things untouched. Similarly the advancing Allied soldiers were not averse to pilfering valuable artworks, which they shipped back home. As well as the Nazis in France moving their art spoils to the Fatherland, as the Russians approached from the East and the Americans and British from the West, within Germany artworks were moved and moved again, both away from the Russians and from the Americans. Much of it, including stolen objects from Jewish and other sources mixed in amongst them, were hidden in the salt mines in southern Germany and Austria, where the conditions of humidity and temperature were right for their storage. In addition, most of the Castles (Schloss) were completely full of stolen art works.

Because of the meticulous notes kept by Madame Valland of the Jeux de Paume gallery in Paris, the Monument Men had a list of German sites to which most of the art works had been shipped. One of them was the Neuschwanstein Schloss hoard containing the cream of French art including the impressionists and thousands of other paintings. In a vault behind a hidden steel door were boxes containing the stolen Rothschild jewelry and thousands of pieces of silver stolen from French Jewish collectors. The Monuments Men were able to post guards there to make sure none of it disappeared. In an adjoining room was a master list containing 20,000 entries each representing a stolen item. In another hoard they found the original compositions of Beethoven's symphonies. Tons of gold bars from the German national gold reserves and 400 tons of art from the Berlin museums was stashed In a salt mine. This required a major military convoy to take to a safe location in the rear.

According to the laws of war all this "loot" became the property of the US Government and could only be returned to other sovereign Governments, not directly to individuals. During the chaos of war so much had been looted, stolen and lost that to recover anything was considered a success. One French Jewish collector who survived the war in the US recovered 400 paintings out of 14,000 items that he had had in his collection. The art and culture of Europe had been dispersed and intermingled, yet much that was most important had miraculously survived intact.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Syrian pawn

Don't be taken in by the apparent concern of the Arab League for the poor, suffering Syrian people. This is a strategic move by the Sunni Muslim world against the Shia. The Arab League is overwhelmingly Sunni, and currently it is backed by Turkey that is also Sunni Muslim. After supporting Pres. Assad of Syria, Turkey under PM Erdogan has now changed sides and supports the Arab League initiative to impose severe sanctions against Syria. On the other side are the Shia, i.e. Iran, Syria, that is an Iranian dependency, and Lebanon under Hizbollah.

For many centuries the Ottoman and Persian Empires were rivals for hegemony over the weak Arabs. That competition dwindled thru history as the Western powers took over, especially due to oil in the Gulf region. But, with the Iranian revolution and the ascendency of the Shia Ayatollahs and the move from secularism towards Islam in Turkey under Erdogan, that rivalry has returned. Turkey now wishes to be seen as the champion of the Sunnis, and since the Arabs are weak, Erdogan has seized the opportunity offered by the Arab League move against Syria. By targeting Syria while it is weakened by the internal insurrection, the Sunnis hope to force it back into their camp, which would be a major victory for the Sunnis and in fact for the West. Even though we do not know what the outcome of such a maneuver will finally be and whether or not the Iranians will make a counter-move to protect their investiment in Syria, the reduced effectiveness of Iran in the Middle East would be a net gain for Israel and for the US. But, note that Israel plays no direct role in this inter-Muslim rivalry.

In fact, the possibility of France, historically the guarantor of Christian Lebanon, taking a major role in this move to overthrow Assad as stated by Pres. Sarkozy, and the presence of a US aircraft carrier, the USS George W. Bush, off the Syrian coast, are major indicators to Iran, Russia and China that now the West means business in Syria. In effect Syria is Iran's Achilles heel, the weak point in its defensive armor. Don't expect a similar strategy as in Libya, but this time the Arabs themselves will play the lead role, under Turkish and Western protection, in trying to replace Assad. It could even become a direct confrontation between Turkey and Iran.

If the Assad Alawite regime in Syria were to fall, Iran would lose control over Syria and would no longer be able to supply Hizbollah with the weapons that it has delivered to them in the past. In the event of a war of Israel with Iran, even if Hizbollah were involved, it is unlikely that Syria would then also be involved and Hizbollah, not to mention Hamas, would not be able to be resupplied by Iran. So the removal of Syria from the Shia camp would be a major positive achievement of the Sunni Arabs that would also benefit Israel and the West.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Last Sat night we went to our subscription concert of the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra conducted by Harvey Bordowitz at the Concert Hall in Herzliya. The title of the concert was "Pastoral Dreams" and it featured a very pleasant program, including Mendelsohn's Hebrides Overture "Fingal's Cave", Schubert "The Shepherd on the Rock", Canteloube's "Songs of the Auvergne" and ended with Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony (No. 6). The singer for the two vocal pieces (the Schubert and Canteloube) was Enas Masalha, an Israeli Arab soprano, who wore a slinky black lace dress and sang beautifully and was greatly appreciated by the audience. She was also accompanied by the Israeli clarinettist Shira Eliassaf of the Beersheva Chamber Orchestra. Masalha was trained at the Jerusalem Center for Music and Drama.

Yesterday we went to our Maccabi Kupat Holim (Health Fund) Pharmacy to pick up our monthly set of meds with the prescriptions from our doc. We also had several other items to pick up, and since there are two of us and we each had to show our Maccabi cards and then charge it to our account, its all a bit tricky. We were served by a young man, who was very helpful and who spoke some English. as wellas Hebrew. His name was Mohammed, and three of the four pharmacists serving at that time were Arabs (the women wear tight head scarves, but the men are difficult to distinguish, usually only by their accents). After receiving the meds I thanked him for his help, nothing special about that. There were many Arabs learning Pharmacy (about 50% of the class) when I was at the School of Pharmacy in Hebrew University.

In neither of these cases was anything said or noted about the fact that the person involved was Arab. In fact, to an uninformed observer it would have been impossible to distinguish the difference. Incidentally, one of the Judges on the Supreme Court who heard the appeal for the case of former Israeli President Katsav is an Arab. So much for the absurd charge of apartheid in Israel. By the way, after the pharmacy, we sat at a cafe in the nice weather and had a drink, next to an Arab couple with their kid. Just another ordinary day in the extraordinary Jewish State.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An island of calm

Israel is an island of calm in a very stormy Arab sea. Looking at the Middle East from a western perspective one must take note of the reality, whatever one's preferred ideological leaning. Most of the left was convinced that the "Arab Spring" was the precursor to a reawakening of the Arabs to the ideals of peace, justice and democracy. Most of the right was sceptical that from such violent beginnings there could emerge anything other than chaos and Islamic extremism.

So far it seems the right has been correct, in Tunisia and Libya there is little more to show for the "revolution" than the emergence of right wing extremist governments. In Egypt, the continuing clashes between the Army under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the demonstrators has led to an agreement to speed up elections. However, it seems that the eventual outcome will be the same, the Muslim Brotherhood has a huge majority throughout Egypt. Syria is entering a civil war that will unleash great bloodshed, but as happened with Iraq and Iran in the 1980's, the Israeli mantra should be "let them kill each other." But, eventually the Sunni are likely to win and the outcome will be another pro-Muslim Brotherhood regime. During all this, Lebanon has ceased to be an independent state and is now under pro-Iranian Hizbollah domination. King Abdullah of Jordan, ever the survivor, to show his subjects his new identification with their anti-Israel bias, has quickly aligned himself with the projected united Hamas-Fatah Palestinian government in the making. So the Arab world is torn by instability, extremism and violence. PM Netanyahu said yesterday in an address in the Knesset that those calling for a quick Israeli move "had their heads buried in the sand." He said that those who urge him to "seize the opportunity and rush into an agreement are wrong." We can't know what the outcome will be and his "careful attitude was correct, smart and responsible."

Those leftists and liberals who vainly hope that a democratic system will emerge in Egypt are ignoring the clear signals emanating from the events in Cairo. First, there was the attack on the Israeli Embassy that barely ended without bloodshed. Then there have been numerous attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt, who are about 10% of the population, including the burning down of Churches in several locations, including Alexandria. Finally, there have been continued attacks against women, such as the mob-rape of American TV journalist Lara Logan. Under these circumstances, anyone who still maintains that the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict is the key to Middle East peace is terribly deluded. PM Netanyahu said that "an Islamist, anti-American and anti-Israel wave" is sweeping the MIddle East. In an unprecedented move the General Assembly, with Arab support, condemned the Syrian Government for its violent crack-down on dissent in Syria, with more than 3,500 killed so far.

We also have to deal with Iran's drive for local hegemony and its development of nuclear weapons. At last the Governments of the US, Canada and France have instituted new stringent sanctions against Iran, including stopping all financial transactions with the Iranian Government and National Bank. Similar sanctions were blocked in the UN Security Council by Russia and China. However, it is not expected that even these new sanctions would be enough to stop the Iranian regime from continuing to develop nuclear weapons. If there is a credible military option by Israel, it would have to be different in kind from previous such attacks, in which Israel amplifies its capabilities beyond those of a small distant country. In this case, Israel will likely use a fleet of large drones, equipped with major electronic warfare equipment, that can intercept and confuse all Iranian electronic messages. This will be a new kind of cyber-warfare, and the only hope to avoid it is if the Iranians believe that it is credible.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Back to the present

I do not approve of "back to nature" movements. As if we can ignore the progress that civilization has made and forget science and medicine and retreat to simple, unspoiled lives. All this is an attempt to turn one's back on life as it is now, to retreat from its difficulties, as if that can improve things. If it were not for science and scientific medicine, then most of us would already be dead. Life-expectancy in the west has risen from ca. 50 to over 70 in the past 100 years. When reading about past generations it is amazing how many people died young because of an illness or infection that is now unknown, such as measels, chicken pox and consumption.

The anti-capitalism demonstrations are an example, instead of opposing the misuse of capitalism, such as Ponzi schemes by dishonest individuals and bankers who get enormous rewards, they want to throw out the bath water with the baby. Why don't they get honest jobs and work within the system? Just because the Euro is in difficulty due of the misuse and mistakes of incompetent and greedy politicians and bankers doesn't mean that it should be dispensed with. It is noteworthy that the three countries most affected by the current Eurozone crisis, Greece, Italy and Spain, have all replaced their Governments with technocrats, who are expected to do a more honest and pragmatic job. Why couldn't they have chosen such people in the first place?

But, being in favor of competent leaders is not exactly the same as being against back to nature or even back to the past movements. The Muslims who want to live like Mohammed in 8th century Arabia and seek to reestablish a Caliphate are symptomatic of this kind of impulse. But, they haven't learned that you can never go back, once the present is released from the bottle it cannot be forced back in. For example, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge, came up with the post-Communist notion that we should all leave the cities and live in the countryside like peasants, happy together in ignorance. But, in order to accomplish this they had to forcibly evacuate the cities, including Phnom-Phen, and murder ca. 1.5 million people out of a total of ca. 4.5, most with guns developed in the 20th century. Taking anti-colonialism that far is ludicrous and murderous. Fortunately the Khmer Rouge were defeated by the ordinary Communists of Vietnam. I wonder how many of the young anti-Capitalism protesters in Wall Street and St. Paul's Cathedral in London know about this unsuccessful experiment to reverse history.

Likewise, the Palestinians want to reverse history. They are pathetic, wallowing in their misnamed "refugee camps", exploited by their fellow Arabs, talking about the "keys" to their ancestral homes, while life and history has moved on. Now a large, powerful and modern State has grown in their place. It's up to them to come to terms with this or forever dwell in ignorance. The USA replaced a handful of Indian settlements, too bad for the Indians, but look what progress was wrought. There is no going back, it is an illusion, we must continue to move forwards.

Friends, I am not feeling well, I have a cold! There will be a break for a few days in my e-mail blog. For past postings see ISblog:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Syrian follies

The expulsion of Syria from the Arab League is an amazing step, and now they have given Syria three days to stop all attacks against civilians. It makes it appear that those human rights advocates in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the other fun-loving Arab regimes are actually concerned about the loss of life of Syrian civilians. It would be funny if it were not so serious. Actually, this is a small but deliberate step in the anti-Shia stance taken by the majority of Sunni Arab rulers against the Iran-backed heretical Alawite regime of Syria, that has killed just enough people (at this point ca. 3,500) to have upset the West. When the West, particularly the US, is upset, then the Sunnis can take a small step in the direction of isolating Syria, which means an anti-Iran baby step.

The problem of course is that the Sunni Arabs are impotent. They buy billions of dollars of arms, but they have no army to speak of. Iran, without the threat of counter attack by either the US and/or Israel would have gobbled up the Sunni Arabs long ago. They tried with Saddam's Iraq int eh 1980's but this was a big mistake, they went in the w ong direction. The US is motivated by the potential loss af Saudi and Kuwaiti oil, and Israel by the possibility of Iran having a greater strategic depth from which to attack it.

It was rich to hear King Abdullah of Jordan give advice to Pres. Bashar Assad of Syria, namely that if he were Bashar he would have resigned in order to save his people further loss and to make sure that he is replaced by a more responsible government. Not only the fact that Abdullah is practically an absolute monarch (he appoints half of his Parliament), but he is politically a midget compared to Bashar, who himself is not exactly statesman material. Actually, the Hashemites, of which Abdullah is the last ruling example, are an extinct species, who managed to hang on as a result of the generosity of Winston Churchill, who when he was in charge in Britain gave half of Mandatory Palestine to Abdullah's grandfather as a gift at the expense of the Jewish people. As Avigdor Lieberman, our Foreign Minister, said the other day, to harp on this is pointless since Jordan is a recognized sovereign state, even if it was artificially created by a colonial power.

So the Sunni Arabs have shown their teeth. What will they do for follow-up? Remember that the Shia hate the Sunnis and the Sunnis hate the Shia, more than they hate anyone else, including Israel, the West, Obama and the whole shebang! This is a historic clash that goes to the very roots of Islam.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


As part of a series of history lectures at the AACI Netanya I gave a talk about "Meir Dizengoff, First Mayor of Tel Aviv." This series is entitled "Street Names" since there are many streets named after famous Zionists in Netanya and other cities, but often very little is known about them.

Meir Dizengoff was born in 1861 in Bessarabia, which is now Moldova, and grew up and studied in Kishinev. He was drafted into the Czarist Russian Army in 1882 and served in the Ukraine. After demobilization he joined a a pre-Communist revolutionary socialist organization and was arrested and jailed for a year for "insurrection." Then in Odessa he met members of the early proto-Zionist group "Hovevei Zion" (Lovers of Zion) and started a branch in Kishinev. He went to Paris in 1989 to study Chemical Engineering. There in Zionist circles he met Lionel de Rothschild, who persuaded him to go to Turkish Palestine in 1895 and start a bottling plant to bottle the wines from the Rothschild wineries in Rishon Lezion and Zichron Yaakov. Unfortunately, Dizengoff knew nothing about glass and the bottles he produced from the plant he built in Tantura were defective due to some impurities in the sand. As a consequence, the venture was a failure and Dizengoff returned to Kishinev. The building of the plant still stands today and is used as a museum.

In Kishinev he met Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism, and as a result Dizengoff returned to Palestine permanently in 1905. He landed at Jaffa and found that there was no motorized transport to Jerusalem, only donkeys or horse-drawn carts. So Dizengoff started the first taxi and bus service between Jaffa and Jerusalem. The Arabs had no interest in such a service but the Jews did. He also started a shipping line and rapidly became wealthy. He heard about the plans to start a Jewish suburb outside Jaffa, called Ahuzat Bayit (Pleasant Housing). He quickly joined this organization and became a major investor. In1906 they held a meeting on the sand dunes outside Jaffa and auctioned lots for this development. Dizengoff planned the community with straight streets and uniform houses. It was the first planned community in Palestine and he was the first City Planner.

There were several other Jewish villages already outside Jaffa, including Neve Tzedek, that had been built by the French Jewish contractor Aharon Chelouche in 1887, Har Tikva, that had started as a Christian farm in 1844 intended to attract Jews to re-settle in the Holyland and a Yemenite village that had been settled starting in 1904. Combining these all together they chose the name Tel Aviv, as an approximate translation of the famous prophetic book "Altneuland" by Herzl. Noone could have predicted that these villages would cohere into a mjaor city of 500,000 people and become the first Hebrew-speaking city. This was largely due to the efforts of Dizengoff. There is a statue to him on Rothschild Blvd. in Tel Aviv astride his horse as he rode to inspect the various parts of his city. He officially became Mayor of Tel Aviv in 1911 and remained in that post until 1922. His grand house became the Mayor's House and when his wife died he left it to the City and it became the first Museum in Tel Aviv. It was in the main Hall of this house that Ben Gurion declared the Indpendence of the State of Israel in 1948, and today it is callled Independence Hall. Dizengoff remained actrive in Telk Aviv politics until near his death in 1936.

Tel Aviv is famous for its Bauhaus buildings (also known as "the international style") that were designed by German Jewish architects who fled Germany in the 1920's and 30's. They put into practice what they had learned at the famous school of modern architectural design and Tel Aviv is famous for the greatest concentration of Bauhaus buildings in the world. Because they were all painted white the nickname for Tel Aviv was "The White City". In 2003 UNESCO proclaimed Tel Aviv as a "an example of new town plannign and architecture of the early 20th century." During the French Mandate of Syria, they wished to modernize Damascus, and requested the British in Palestine if they had a modern city planner available, rather than spend the money to bring one from France. The British sent Dizengoff, and it is ironic that the plan of modern Damascus was designed by the Jewish Mayor of Tel Aviv.

Another interesting incident in Tel Aviv and why it spread so far north was that in 1917 when the British were fighting the Turks during WWI, after the battle of Beersheva, the Turks were forced to retreat northwards from Gaza followed in pursuit by the British forces. The Turks took a stand on the northern shore of the Yarkon River, known as the Ouja or Auja River in Arabic, just north of Tel Aviv. Then it was a large marshy area, and the British were unable to cross it. The General in charge of the British forces was surprised to find Jews living there and asked for their help in crossing the marshland. They did indeed help to transport British soldiers with weapons across the river at night, and in the morning they attacked the Turks from their flank. In response for this help at the "Battle of the Auja River," the British later ceded the the land north of the River to Tel Aviv, that is now the area of Ramat Aviv. A pillar was erected that stands on the northern shore of the Yarkon River with a metal inscription to commemorate this event.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The IAEA Report

If anyone had any doubt that the Iranian regime is in the process of developing a nuclear weapon, this should be dispelled by the latest IAEA Report on the subject issued this week. Now with a different Director, a Japanese rather than the former Egyptian El Baradei, whose honesty has been called into question, the current IAEA Report is much more detailed and definitive. Intelligence from at least 10 countries as well as the IAEA's own information was combined in the current Report. Its conclusions support the position of the Israeli Government that Iran is rapidly working towards developing a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it by missile.

Open discussions started in Israel to highlight the danger to the world of an Iranian nuclear capability have now extended to the whole world. The leaders of the USA, France and the UK have all once again stated that they will not allow Iran to develop such a capability. However, they all emphasize the need for stronger sanctions before any military action should be considered, as a last resort. But, the application of stronger sanctions is blocked by Russia and China in the Security Council. However, knowing that Israel is considering such a strike against Iran must make them think twice.

The problem with any military strike has been pointed out, that Iran has diversified its nuclear facilities, so that there are at least 20 sites scattered all over the country. Furthermore, many of them are buried underground or inside mountains. Not easy targets for any military force. Finally, they are protected by significant defenses consisting of multiple layers of guns and air defenses. Even though Israel was successful in attacking the nuclear reactor in Baghdad back in 1988 and in Syria two years ago, these were nothing compared to the complexity of attacking Iran, but good training nevertheless. Perhaps the most important consideration for the world is that any war scanario in the Persian Gulf is likely to involve the closing of the Straits of Hormuz to oil tankers, that could bring international industry to a standstill. It is this potential threat that should activate the Russian and Chinese leaders to want to prevent Iran from progressing to a nuclear capability. Otherwise the flow of oil to them and the West will be severely disrupted. Israel therefore holds the key to this problem, its threat to attack Iran is not only a danger to Iran, but also a huge risk for the world's leading industrial countries.

Yesterday there was a huge explosion in a major air base near Tehran that killed the leader of Iran's missile program and many others. Reports have attributed this explosion to the Mossad, although the Iranians say that it was an accident. Also, there are reports of other computer viruses that have once again slowed progress in tthe Iranian development of a nucelar weapon. In addition Israel has developed drones the size of a 747 airliner, that are packed with electronic hardware and weapons, and Israel has so-called bunker buster bombs that can penetrate deep into the earth. The problem is that if Israel were about to attack Iran, Hizbollah and Hamas might first start firing thousands of missiles at Israel that have been supplied by Iran for just such an eventuality. In that event Israel might be forced to take preemptive strikes against them to prevent this, or it might lead to a three front war (assuming Syria is too busy killing its own civilians). That is why such an attack on Iran is a last report, but everyone should be aware that Israel is capable of carrying out such an attack and is prepared to do so if there is no alternative.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This letter was published in the Jerusalem Post on 11/11/11:

If Pres Sarkozy of France calls PM Netanyahu a "liar" and Pres. Obama says he is "fed up" with him, then I know that I am right in supporting Netanyahu. If these two gentlemen have such opinions of our Prime Minister then he must be doing the right thing. After all, his job is not to please them, but to pursue the interests of the Jewish State, not something these gentlemen have as their priorities.
Jack Cohen

The question is, who do these comments harm most? I would say that even though it puts Netanyahu in a bad light, everyone knows that all politicians lie, and this is especially true of Sarkozy of France (not to mention Berlusconi of Italy who is now out). So saying that Netanyahu lies is not very damaging to his character. But, to be caught saying these things before microphones (even though they were assumed to be turned off) is a gaffe that puts Sarkozy and Obama in a bad light, not to mention that they are both up for re-election in a year. It means that neither are what they seem to be in dealing with other statesmen, and therefore they cannot be trusted. The pro-Israel elements in their electorates will take the appropriate message from this minor event. It will not affect relations between the States, but it will cast doubt on the sincerity of their statements.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Failed bid

The Palestinian bid to be recognized as a State by the UN Security Council has failed! After due consideration, the Committee of all members set up to consider the application voted on 11/11/11 by a majority that the bid had not been sufficiently justified. They stated that the application had not established that "Palestine" had the necessary prerequisites of a State, namely the ability to defend its territory, the organizational infrastructure to function as a State and the necessary economic basis. Some members voted for the bid for political reasons despite these shortcomings, but the Palestinians could not muster a sufficient majority. Some of those members who abstained said they would in principle like to see a Palestinian State, but could not support this bid, particularly since it meant that the Palestinains could avoid negotiating with Israel. One positive feature of this failed bid is that it did not require the US to exercise its veto in the Security Council.

Although the UNESCO arm of the UN did recognize Palestine, this is a pyrrhic victory, since it does not give the Palestinians the political legitimacy they crave, and has put UNESCO itself into severe financial straits since the US, Canada and Israel cancelled their payments to the organization. Unfortunately, now the PA can bring cases before UNESCO to attempt to delegitimize Israel, such as claiming that the rebuilding of the collapsing ramp to the Temple Mount is intended to harm the Haram al-Sharif Mosque, which is physically impossible.

This failure to be recognized at the UN is seen as a failure for Pres. Abbas of the PA and for the Fatah organization that he heads. As such, Hamas, which opposed this application, will consider this their victory and will be strengthened. Now the Palestinians have to decide what is their next step at the UN. They could apply to the General Assembly to improve their status to member observer status, which is likely to succeed, although it will fall short of their political aims. Pres. Abbas of the PA in his first interview to an Israeli journalist recently made some extraorinary admissions, most notably that it was probably a mistake for the Arabs to have rejected the UN Partition Plan of 1948 - only 63 years too late! Now he is finding that you can't simply reverse history, the Partition that was proposed then has long gone. Now Israel exists as a thriving, powerful State and must be reckoned with. Israel should make no more concessions to the Palestinians. When they have decided that they want to live in peace with Israel they will then agree to negotiations. Until then they must deal with their internal dissension, their inability to organize a State and their continuing use of violence to achieve their aims.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Terror in the Digital Age

This year I have again organized a series of talks on behalf of Netanya-AACI at Netanya Academic College (NAC). The first in the series was given by David Nissan on "Terror in the Digital Age." David Nissan was born and brought up in Iran, speaks Farsi, and works for an Israeli company that collects information from the internet about Islamist terror, hence his direct involvement in this subject. Here is my summary of his excellent presentation (with his corrections and additions).

He started by pointing out that terrorism is a method that has an ancient history and has always been with us in one form or another, from the Jewish Sicarii in the Roman age, thru the Persian Shiite Assassins to al Qaeda. The internet is now a major battleground of this conflict, particularly by those who wish to harm Israel, such as Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran, as well as many other groups around the world who are Islamist or anti-western. Just as we have our own web sites, so the Jihadists and Islamists have theirs. We don't often visit them, but they also have some sites in English. Their primary function is information ("hasbara"), to describe their organization, its aims and achievements and to persuade the reader to support their cause. The more sophisticated websites, such as the one run by the military wing of Hamas – Izzadin Al-Kassem – is a portal which includes forums and chat rooms where discussions can be held regarding a variety of subjects. This is due to the realization that in the modern age, winning the war on the physical battlefield is not enough, you also have to win the war in the information arena.

Terrorism is only one of the methods used by extremist organizations, and is meant to intimidate the enemy population by carrying out indiscriminate and violent attacks targeted against civilians. The most important aspect and desired result of terror is the psychological factor, even more than the loss of life and property. The objective is to induce fear in the hearts of the civilians in the enemy camp and to demoralize them. On their web sites they feature videos of their actions and show people being shot, American tanks being blown up in Iraq or Afghanistan and Western hostages being beheaded. This level of violence is meant to show that they are strong and commited and although they are weaker in resources than the powerful armies arrayed against them, they can nevertheless be victorious. They take their success against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan as an indication that they can beat anyone, even the mighty USA.

Individuals now have access to intelligence that previously was confined to states. For example, using Google Earth, anyone with a computer can focus in on any location in the Western world, and can gain intelligence on potential targets, for example by watching changes over time, and using one of the permanent webcams that show many sites, such as airports and road junctions. For example, Mohammed Atta planned the 9/11 attacks using the internet, and also checked airline schedules in the US and bought most of the tickets online from Hamburg before the 19 hijackers left for the US. There is very little that can be done against this.

Another major function of internet sites and e-mail is recruitment, persuading people to become supporters of a certain organization or take action for the cause, even becoming suicide bombers. This is what happened with Richard Reed, the "shoe bomber," Major Nidal Hassan who carried out the Fort Hood massacre, as well as the "underwear bomber" Nigerian Muslim Abdulmuttalab. They were recruited by Anwar al Awlaki, a US-born Islamic extremist, who when the FBI was closing in on him, moved his operation to Yemen, where he was still equally able to carry on recruiting. Fortunately he was targeted by a US drone and killed last month. The internet can be used not only to recruit members, but also to provide them with instructions in bomb making and how to carry out suicide attacks and so on. There is an online Jihad encyclopedia site that has thousands of pages of instructions on almost every kind of terror attack – collection of intelligence, making explosives, kidnappings, etc.

The internet can be used to send messages and pass secret information. Not only do people use false names, but they can send information by posting coded messages on bulletin boards and even encode information within pictures and videos using a technique called steganography. While the "defender" can invest vast resources in order to monitor and intercept these messages – and even occasionally foil plots in time, a lot of these messages pass through unnoticed because of the growing sophistication of the techniques used by the extremist organizations.

Finally, there is the field of cyber terror. While extremist islamist organization are constantly trying to sabotage crucial computer networks and servers in target states, they have not had many notable successes so far. The defending side has also utilized sophisticated computer technology in order to strike back at the attackers, such as putting worms, bugs or detection programs into the enemies' computers, such as the Stuxnet virus that caused damage to Iran's nuclear program. The US has a Cyber Command, headed by a general with thousands of programmers devoted to this activity (defensive and offensive) and Israel is also known to be well advanced in this area.

The digital age has considerably strengthened the capabilities of extremist groups that use terror, and this development presents serious challenges for national security agencies in the western world. While there still is a large gap between these capabilities and the actual achievement of the desired objectives of terrorist groups, this gap is not getting larger, and is in fact narrowing. This has prompted western nations, especially after the 9/11 attacks to join forces and share terror-related intelligence on an unprecedented level.

Friday, November 11, 2011

All fall down!

George Papandreou has resigned as Greek PM, after he and his family (three generations) have bled Greece dry with their socialist programs and entitlements, and now Greece is in dire economic straits. By proposing a referendum on the austerity measures required by the EU and IMF to bail Greece out from its debt burden, and then reversing himself under pressure, when it became clear that they would not pay up if Greece did not carry out the austerity program, Papandreou had no choice but to resign. He negotiated a power sharing agreement between his Pasok socialist party and the center right party to form a unity coalition, and then left office. It took four days to finalize the coalition, but the new PM is now Lucas Papademos, a Harvard Professor who was previously Head of the Greek National Bank. In his acceptance speech he emphasized to Greeks that the country is in a dire financial situation and must take this bad medicine if it wants to get healthy in the future.

While sex scandals could not bring down PM Berlusconi of Italy, financial scandals have done so. He has met with the Italian President and submitted his resignation, although he has not defined at what date it will take effect. Italy is a much larger economy than Greece (6x) and is the third largest economy in the EU, but is in even more dire economic straits than Greece. Its debt is comparably bigger, and if it were to fail or default on its debts then it is likely that the euro itself would fail. In order to prevent this Berlusconi must go! While he remains in office the interest on Italian loans has increased to a record 8%, that is unacheivable with Italy's slow rate of growth. With his departure, it is hoped that the loan rate will decrease and Italy will also start on an austerty package.

Apart from the fall of Presidents Gaddafi of Libya, Mubarak of Egypt and Ben ali of Tunisia, the latest Arab President in dire straits is Pres. Assad of Syria. His forces are supposed to have killed ca. 100 people around Homs in contravention of the agreement that he signed with the Arab League recently to stop the violence, and now several Arab states have offered him asylum if he leaves office. The US has also come out in favor of his leaving, saying that he no longer can function as President. Deserters from the Syrian Army have formed the Syrian Free Defence Army and are fighting back. His days are numbered and if he doesn't want to share the fate of Gaddafi, hiding in a hole and being beaten and shot, he must leave soon.

Another President has been disgraced and forced form office and that is former Pres. Katsav of Israel. His fall illustrates the extreme differences between Israel and the Arab States. In Israel, Katsav was removed from office as a result of a legal procedure after 4 women accused him of sexual misconduct during his career in Government. He was tried, found guilty, appealed and now has had his appeal rejected and next month he must start his 7 year sentence. He was removed without violence, and although it was a moral shock to find that the President was a sex abuser, it shows that noone in ISrael is above the law. In Israel there was no uprising, he was simply replaced by a democratic constitutional procedure. What a contrast to the Arab world!

Another person who is leaving office is Dennis Ross, special adviser to Pres. Obama on the Middle East. I am glad, since I have never trusted Ross after he revealed in his autobiography that as an adviser to Pres. Clinton, they knew that Pres. Arafat of the PA was spending money (cash) that they gave him as aid to the Palestinians on supporting terrorism, but did nothing about it, as long as he promised that he would negotiate with Israel, which he never did honestly. Ross allowed the US to be made a fool of by a dishonest dictator, while pressuring Israel to make concessions to him. Such an official does not deserve to be honored.

Finally, a third woman has come forward and described in intimate detail how Republican hopeful Herman Cain made sexual advances to her. He of course denies this, and his opponents did not raise this issue in the latest Republican debate, maybe because they also have such events in their past. But, with that hanging over him his campaign to become the Republiucan nominee for President surely cannot succeed. Even long-time coach Joe Paterno of U Penn has been forced to resign as a result of a sex scancdal in which his assistant was abusing boys at the college. All fall down!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Egyptian atrocity

In South Africa the Russell Commission is holding a Symposium in order to label Israel "an aparthied state," even though everyone knows that it's not true. Throughout the world well-meaning liberals and humanitarians protest against the treatment by Israel of the Palestinians, never mind that they are firing missiles from Gaza into Israel and there are random acts of terror from the West Bank, including knifings and shooting ambushes of cars. Apparently to human rights activists the lives of Israelis don't count.

Where are the protests against the Syrian regime that in the past 7 months has massacred 3,000 people and injured 20,000 (UN numbers) demonstrating for their freedom. Apparently among Arabs only the lives of Palestinians count to these human rights activists. In Libya massacres continue against former supporters of Col. Gaddafi and in Iran there is no right to demonstrate freely and the secret police make sure that Evien prison is full. In Egypt freedom is still an illusion and demonstrations are suppressed with force by the Armed forces.

But, there is another human rights atrocity in Egypt, that noone in the West cares about. African refugees, mostly young men from eastern and central Africa (Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Nigeria, etc.) are being shot by Egyptian border guards while trying to cross the Sinai desert into Israel. They know that in Israel they will be treated humanely and fed, and may even be able to stay and work. But, in Egypt they are treated terribly and usually shot on sight. Now there are reports, that I saw substantiated on CNN, that not only the Egyptian border guards are shooting the refugees, but tribes of Beduin in the Egyptian Sinai are killing them in order to take their organs. Apparently they have doctors standing by and ambulances waiting to take the organs to Cairo. Since they sell the organs for $10-20,000 each, this is a huge profit. They usually dump the bodies near El Arish in a trash pile outside the cemetery there. Cemetery workers then sort through the bodies and if there is any identification they bury them in the Muslim or Christian cemetery, but if there is no id then they bury them in the trash dump. At present as far as the reporter could tell there were ca. 300 bodies buried there, and inside the cemetery another few hundred. A cemetery worker said that he had buried about 7,000 Africans in the past 10 years, most of them shot by the Egyptian border guards. He had a recording taken from one of them after he was shot but before he died confirming this. But, many of the bodies also have their organs removed.

Will human rights activists protest about this terrible and disgusting practice? Probably not, since the perpetrators are not Jews and the victims are not Palestinians.

Monday, November 07, 2011


Let's be clear about some things:
1. The Jews never sought to control the world, they were simply successful at business when Christians were not allowed to practise usury (making a profit). Jews thought this was foolish and they were right. Capitalism is based on the profit motive, where would be without it today? Even the Chinese Communists have reinvented Capitalism. Tell this to the idiots at the anti-Capitalism protests on Wall Street and elsewhere.
2. Clear evidence against the Jew's power and control of the world is that the Nazis, who indeed wanted to control the world, as the Islamists do today, were able to decimate the Jews. During the Holocaust in WWII the Jews were in fact powerless!
3. The British were given a Mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations (the precursor of the UN) in 1922 in order to esablish a Jewish State, instead they established an Arab State from Palestine, namely Jordan, and then were forced to leave by the Zionists.
3. After the British withdrew from Palestine in 1947, the UN proposed a Partition of Palestine to form Jewish and Arab States. The Jews accepted the Plan but the Arabs rejected it and so the Partition Plan became null and void.
4. After the UN Partition Plan failed, the Jewish State was proclaimed in 1948, and the Arab States (Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded in order to destroy it. But, they were defeated and the State was able to defend and organize itself.
5. After the Israeli War of Independence of 1948, the State of Israel then applied for recognition and was recognized by the UN, but its eastern border was never defined, it remained a ceasefire line.
6. Jordan illegally occupied what became the West Bank and Egypt illegally occupied Gaza. Their sovereignty over these areas was never recognized by the UN or the international community. They were ejected by Israel from these areas in the 6 Day War of 1967. Neither was there ever Palestinian Arab sovereignty over these areas.
7. As a result, legally there is no distinction between Israel proper and the West Bank and Gaza. Israel chose to withdraw from Gaza in 2005, but continues to claim the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and build there.
8. Within Israel there are 1 million Arabs (20% of the population) who are Israeli citizens, but in the West Bank the Palestine Authority states that it will not allow any Jews to live in their territory. This is racist!
9. Within Israel there are no laws or official forms of discrimination or persecution of Israeli Arabs. Anyone can come here and see this for themselves, Arabs are represented in the Knesset (even though many of them are anti-Israel) and are both doctors and patients in all hospitals equally. The accusation of "apartheid" is nonsense.
10. The Palestinians are afraid to negotiate with Israel, because then they would have to agree on an eastern border of Israel and this would negate their claim over all of Israel. This is why they are seeking to esablish their state unilaterally at the UN, but hopefully that bid will fail.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


Headlines in Israel and around the world are discussing whether or not Israel will attack Iran to stop its development of a nuclear weapon. This public debate was triggered when several Israeli politicians and former security experts leaked information to the press about current dicussions in the Israeli Cabinet regarding such an Israeli attack. In a poll the majority of Israelis support such an attack but only by a narrow margin.

The Iranian FM issued a statement saying that if Israel did attack Iranian nuclear sites their response would be "crushing." This is the big problem, will other nations support any such Israel strike and what would be the Iranian reponse. Although any actual attack might be a surprise for them, they are well prepared, having diversified and buried much of their nuclear facilities. Also, they have Iranian proxies, Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, both of which have tens of thousands of rockets that they could unleash against Israel, as well as large permanent armies of 8-10,000 men each trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards with plans to invade Israel.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ia about to issue a new Report on Iran, that documents Iran's lack of cooperation with the IAEA and its deliberate attempts to hide aspects of its nuclear program. They have detected the building of a large explosion testing facility as well as the development of a computer program to simulate atomic explosions. This will be the first Report on this subject issued under the new IAEA leader Japanese Yukiya Amano. Although the Report apparently fails to draw the obvious conclusions from the data, nevertheless it is more up-front than previous IAEA reports issued under the former Egyptian chief El-Baradei.

Statements by US officials indicate that they are against such an attack, preferring to use sanctions. But, Israel thinks that the sanctions that are in place are ineffective in stopping the Iranian regime from reaching its goal of developing the nuclear bomb and the means to deliver it with long-range missiles. The question is whether or not the Israeli officials leaked the information about Israeli plans because they genuinely oppose such an attack or as a means to initiate a world-wide debate in order either to facilitate stiffer sanctions against Iran or to indicate that Israel is seriously considering such an attack. In either case, the fact is that Iran is drawing closer to actually having such a nuclear device and Israel cannot live with the constant threat of it being used against us. At least the world cannot say it wasn't warned.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Yes, we Cannes

The G20 summit at Cannes, France, has been thrown into chaos by Greek PM Panandreou's decision to hold a referendum on the euro in Greece. Greece in is the midst of a grave economic crisis with a sovereign debt of ca. 350 billion euros. This results from decades of Greek Government over-spending based on profligate socialist programs and lack of Government income due to Greeks' avoidance of tax payments. Also, the Greek Government deliberately lied about its financial situation in order to stave off this crisis, until the true situation became known last year.

In order to avoid Greece leaving the Eurozone, that might lead to an unraveling of the euro itself, the major Eurozone countries, Germany and France, have been steadily increasing the huge payments to Greece, reducing the actual debt to ca. 50% of that owed to private banks and increasing the Euro bailout (rescue) fund from 250 billion, to 500 billion and now to 1 trillion euros. This fund is supposed to make it clear that the Eurozone will not allow any country to default. But, with Portugal, Spain and even Italy also with enormous debts, even this gigantic sum many not be enough. Pres. Obama also at the G20 in Cannes said that he supported the Eurozone's efforts to avoid Greek default.

With Greece anticipating the last payment, or tranche, of its bailout fund of 50 billion euros, plus a further 100 billion from the IMF, suddenly Papandreou, whose policies undoubtedly led to this catastrophic situation, announced that Greece's citizens, most of whom strongly oppose the austerity cuts imposed by the Eurozone and IMF on Greece, will be given a choice in the matter with a referendum. As a result, under emergency conditions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, met with Papandreou and read him the riot act. She told him that the referendum should not be held, but if it is it must only be a choice for Greece to leave the Eurozone, something that most Greek citizens also contrarily don't want. She also told him that the last tranche would not be paid to Greece if it decided not to accept the austerity program proposed by the Eurozone and the IMF. But, they can't have it both ways, either they accept austerity and pay in effect for their previous bad financial behavior, or they leave the Eurozone, default on their huge debt and somehow return to the drachma. Such a process would be a terrible blow for the stability of the euro, and would put into high profile the lack of credibility of the Eurozone rules that are supposed to control the financial behavior of members of the Eurozone community.

Now as a result of this confusing situation, the Greek Cabinet met, but apparently Papandreou has reversed himself and decided not to call for a referendum and has decided not to resign as PM, but instead is trying to fashion a national unity government with the opposition. What a mess!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Dirty fans

What do you do when you turn on your computer one morning and it makes a terrible whirring noise. You realize that one of the fans (or all of them) need cleaning, and so you turn everything off, disconnect the computer and open it up in order to clean the fans. They are supposed to be cleaned every 6 months, or at least every 12 months, but if like me you haven't cleaned them in years, now is the time to do it. I could of course, have called an expert, or taken it in for cleaning, but that would all cost money and time.

I took out two screws and slid off the side panel and was pleased to find that I had chosen the correct side. Then I saw how covered in dust was the main fan, it was filthy. No wonder it wasn't working properly. I removed all the outside dust, but there was a huge amount inside the fan itself and covering the heat exchanger, which is the metal unit with fluting that the fan is supposed to cool. So I realized that I needed to remove this unit, and I was sure that there must be a way to do this, but I could not see how. It was held on the corners by four plastic supports, but pushing, pulling or bending these (very carefully) did not release the unit. So I got a flashlight (torch for the Brits) and looked more closely, and lo and behold I saw a small arrow on each showing the way to open them with a screwdriver. So I turned the tops a half turn and sure enough each one of them popped out and I was able to remove the unit. Then to separate the fan itself from the heat exchanger I saw that there were two ridges in the latter and simply prised the plastic fan holder carefully off the metal part. Then I was able to clean each of them properly, and put a small spray of oil into the fan itself.

There were two other fans, one a large one at the back of the computer unit, that was easy to clean, and another inside the power supply. I carefully removed this and opened it (including 2 hidden screws) and took out the fan unit and cleaned it. Then I put everything back the way it had been, without having disconnected any electrical connectors or touching any circuit boards. After reconnecting all the peripherals, everything is working fine, and I am able to write this to you all. I saved some money and time and I'm happy I accomplished something myself.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Yesterday the UNESCO Assembly meeting in Geneva voted by a large majority to accept "Palestine" as a new member. This is a strange vote, since "Palestine" is not yet a recognized State within the United Nations, because the Security Council is still considering its application. So how can it be a member of one of the UN's constituent bodies and not of the governing organization. The vote was 107 for, including France, Brazil, China, Russia, India and South Africa,14 against, including Israel, the USA, Canada, Holland and Germany and 52 abstentions, including the UK.

This vote really has nothing to do with the reality of Palestine as an actual State, but has more to do with revolutionary or left-wing politics. All the Arab, Muslim and "third world" countries voted for Palestine, as they vote against Israel in any resolution condemning the Jewish State. They regard Israel as being a "colonialist, occupying" State. Israel rejected the vote as being in opposition to peace, because such a unilateral move awards the Palestinians with something that they have not been able to achieve by the usual processes of international relations, which requires bilateral negotiations with Israel. This has been the modus of the so-called "peace process" since UN resolution 242 after the 1967 war, through the Madrid Conference, the Oslo Agreements, the Road Map of Pres. Bush, the Annapolis meeting, and until very recently. Without agreeing on any of the outstanding issues, this vote allows the Palestinians to evade negotiations with Israel and leaves the status quo unresolved.

The US announced today that due to this decision that it opposed, it will freeze its funding of UNESCO (22%). Israeli FM Liebermann announced that he feels Israel should now also take unilateral steps, for example to annex parts of the West Bank that it considers essential for its security and the protection of its citizens. But, this will probably not be done yet, until the matter is resolved in the UN. If each side takes its own unilateral actions then there will likely be further conflict. Today the Israeli Government announced that the inner Cabinet had decided to accelerate building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to halt payments of tax revenues to the PA. So this symbolic unilateral step will result in actual losses for both UNESCO and Palestine.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Gaza missiles

This is not some academic subject, missiles are falling all over southern Israel. My daughter, who lives in Beersheva, heard the Iron Dome alarm while driving with our granddaughter and they took shelter in an apartment stairwell with others. They heard two big explosions, apparently the Iron Dome worked and intercepted two missiles fired at Beersheva from Gaza.

You may not read or hear anything about this in your western media, but when Israel has to retaliate to stop this barrage that is keeping the south of Israel hostage, then you will see headlines that read "Israel attacks Gaza..." and at the bottom of the article it will mention that this was in response to shelling of Israel by "militants" who oppose the "occupation." Even though Egypt has negotiated two ceasefires, the firings by Islamic Jihad have not ceased. There were three more misiles last night.

In his opening speech yesterday to the winter session of the Israeli Knesset, PM Netanyahu stated that "Israel will strike at anyone who tries to hurt us," and "security is about the ability to attack not just defend." But, so far he has done none of these things. Even though the IDF has announced that it is ready to implement a plan to stop the missiles being fired into Israel. For three days now the south of Israel has been under constant threat that has brought normal life to a standstill, no school, no public events, no gatherings of people. This cannot go on. When will Israel meaningfully strike back.