Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Netanyahu's speech at the UN

PM Netanyahu's speech at the UN did two good things, he told the truth about the conflict with Hamas and he spoke truth to power about IS and Iran.  Most of the Arab and Muslim delegations walked out as usual because the Israeli PM was speaking, and if this doesn't show the state of the world we live in, what does.  They do this reflexively, as an Israeli Jew he has no right to be heard by them.  By contrast, Pres. Abbas of "Palestine" who spoke lies and vilified Israel received a standing ovation.  Such is the state of the UN and the world.
Here is a full transcript of Bibi's speech: http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/09/29/full-transcript-prime-minister-netanyahu%E2%80%99s-speech-at-the-united-nations-general-assembly-2014/   and here are some important excerpts:

"Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS, and yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.
ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control. Listen to ISIS’ self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is what he said two months ago: "A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master. The Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism and destroy the idol of democracy." Now listen to Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas. He proclaims a similar vision of the future: "We say this to the West — by Allah you will be defeated.  Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world."
Ladies and gentlemen, militant Islam’s ambition to dominate the world seems mad, but so too did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept into power eight decades ago. The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith.
Ladies and gentlemen, would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn’t. Then you mustn’t let the Islamic state of Iran do those things either, because here’s what will happen. Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charms and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. And it’s then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world.
There’s only one responsible course of action to address this threat. Iran’s nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled. (Applause.) Make no mistake: ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war. (Applause.) To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war."

To give appropriate background to Netanyahu's speech, I refer readers to the interview with Jonathan Spyer, my favorite expert on the region of Syria-Iraq, recently carried out by Voice of Israel (see

Monday, September 29, 2014

Origins of terrorism

In his speeches at the UN General Assembly and at the Security Council, Pres. Obama mentioned that the phenomenon of terrorism is not new.  But, it is worthwhile pointing out that the phenomenon of modern Islamic terrorism dates explicitly from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that started terrorism against Israel in the 1960s.  Most notably they pioneered hijacking aircraft and murdered hundreds of innocent civilians, including blowing up a Swiss airliner bound for Israel as well as blowing up three planes that they had hijacked to Jordan in 1970.  Supposedly the PLO gave up terrorism when Yasir Arafat was allowed to return to "Palestine" in 1993 by PM Rabin as part of the Oslo Accords.  But in fact, Arafat continued to support terrorism against Israel both by Fatah. his own faction the PLO, and by Hamas which was founded in 1987 as the Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.  Arafat explicitly organized the Second Intifada (2000-2003) that killed thousands of Israelis in suicide bombings.
The PLO also gave rise to the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism against western targets.  There were many PLO terrorist incidents in Europe, including the attack on the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 that led to the killing of 11 Israeli athletes.  Many people believe that the PLO did in fact finally give up terrorism against Israel when Pres. Abbas became Arafat's successor in 2005.  But, so far few Israelis believe that, since we continue to see terrorists from the West Bank carrying out and trying to carry out bombings and shootings in Israel.  But, most of the terrorist incidents are now perpetrated by Hamas terrorists, such as the murder of the three teenagers last June.
Subsequently, Osama bin Laden of al Qaeda declared war on the US in 1996 and started his campaign that led to the Twin Towers attack in 2001.  But, for many Islamists Al Qaeda allowed its enmity for the West and particularly the USA to blind it to the opportunities that presented themselves in the wake of the so-called "Arab Spring," when the chaos in Syria and Iraq left large regions of Sunni-dominated territory available for conquest and the establishment of their desired Caliphate.  Hence the split between ISIS (or ISIL) and Al Qaeda (and its affiliate in Syria the Al Nusrah Front) and the subsequent expansion of IS.
But, the US under Pres. Obama was very slow to respond to those conquests.  Everyone knew about them and the Yazidis, the Christians and the Kurds were being massacred, but it was not until two American journalists were beheaded that Obama decided to react militarily against this dangerous and determined foe.  If only Obama had continued his predecessor George W. Bush's Global War Against Terrorism instead of rushing off to Cairo to tell the Muslims what good guys the Americans really are, then we might not be in the state we are in today, trying to catch up and destroy them only from the air.  If only we had strongly supported the true opposition to Assad in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, they might have defeated Assad, and there might not be such a strong Islamist opposition in Syria and tens of thousands of Syrians, Yazidis, Christians and Kurds might still be alive.  Now with the Coalition of States against IS and Britain cautiously joining in the aerial attacks, we can expect the estimated ca. 3,000 foreign fighters in IS in Iraq and Syria to return to their homelands and bring about another wave of terrorism, that is already beginning.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jerusalem, 1947

In 1947, Zipporah Porath (nee Borowski) from Los Angeles was chosen to spend a year on a scholarship at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  She was chosen mainly because she spoke Hebrew, since her father was a Hebraist and they spoke Hebrew at home.  When she arrived in Jerusalem in October, 1947, she had no idea what she was getting into. A bright, indomitable lady, she told her story at Netanya AACI. 
Within a month of her arrival the UN General Assembly voted on Nov 19 to accept the Partition Plan for Palestine and to establish a Jewish State. In Palestine the Jews went wild with excitement, the first Jewish State was born in the same place that it had existed 2,000 years before.  It was then that Zippy started writing long detailed letters to her parents describing the historic situation. She first typed the major part of the aerogramme on her portable typewriter and then she added last comments by hand.  Almost immediately 5 Arab armies attacked the fledgling state and Zippy found herself in the midst of a war. Very quickly Jerusalem was besieged, a situation that continued for 3 months. 
Zippy had a choice, either try to get out in a Red Cross convoy for foreigners, or stay and help fight for the Jewish homeland (not yet named).  She chose the latter and volunteered for the Haganah in any kind of service that was needed.  At first she had a hard time being taken seriously, but since she spoke fluent Hebrew she was able to establish her bona fides and was soon nicknamed "Zippy HaAmericait."  She did nursing, helping to attend to wounded fighters and helping people to find whatever rations were available, as food became increasingly scarce.  She also met many amazing people, including the British girl Esther Cailingold, who was killed in the siege of the Old City.  One large convoy managed to reach besieged Jerusalem and she smuggled her cache of letters that had accumulated out via a friend who was a guard accompanying it on its return.  She never knew if they actually were sent or delivered.
Eventually the situation became too dangerous with the pounding of Jewish Jerusalem from the guns of the Jordanian Arab Legion and so she took the Red Cross convoy out of Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, where she luxuriated in a bed with sheets and as much food as she could eat.  Then she learned that the new nation had been named Israel.  Since she had been in Jerusalem and could speak English she volunteered to help the fledgling State dealing with the foreign press, and she therefore became the first Israeli press representative, and did a bit of intelligence work on the side.  She did this for several months, but missed the intensity of being in Jerusalem, so returned and did a similar job there.  Eventually she got married and stayed in Israel.
It was only when her father died forty years later that her sister, in going through his papers, discovered a small folder that contained all her letters, carefully numbered in sequence.  SInce they were such a detailed personal eyewitness account of being at the birth of the State, Zipporah decided to publish them as a book, and they are now available as "Letters from Jerusalem 1947-48."  One thing she emphasizes in her book is the contributions of the foreign volunteers in the War of Independence, known in Hebrew under the acronym Machal (www.machal.org.il). She gave as an example how the story of Gen. Micky Marcus, the first General of a Jewish Army since the Maccabees, was deliberately downplayed because he was an American rather than a native-born Israeli.  Altogether a fascinating and compelling story.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Killing the killers

After the three Israeli teens, Eyal Yifrah (19), Gilad Shaar (16), and Naftali Fraenkel (16, with dual Israeli-American citizenship), disappeared on June 12, PM Netanyahu announced that they had been kidnapped by Hamas terrorists.  The world, including US commentators, was sceptical, they attributed this statement to Netanyahu's natural enmity towards Hamas.  But Netanyahu said that Israel had the necessary evidence, while Hamas of course denied any connection to the kidnappings. 
Then on July 1, the bodies of the three teens were found on the West Bank in the Hebron region and Netanyahu reiterated his claim that they were murdered by Hamas terrorists.  The Head of Hamas himself, Khaled Mashaal, denied any knowledge of the killings.  Nevertheless, on Aug 6 the so-called mastermind or planner of the killings and the owner of the land where the bodies were discovered, Hamad Kawasme, a known Hamas operative, was arrested in Hebron.  At that point Hamas in Gaza admitted that it had been a Hamas operation. 
The IDF believed that the murderers, who were named as Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Ayash, were hiding out in Hebron, an intricate city with very narrow streets and which is fiercely anti-Israel.  In one of the largest manhunts in Israeli history, the two killers were finally located yesterday and surrounded in a house in Hebron.  They refused to give up and returned fire and were both killed and in the process the house was destroyed. No Israelis were injured in the incident. Khaled Mashaal then issued a statement bemoaning the death of the two Hamas members.  The lesson to draw from this is not only that Hamas terrorists are indiscriminate killers of children, but that the Israeli Government does not issue a statement attributing guilt without evidence and that such statements can be trusted, while Hamas lies.
All of Israel feels relieved that the two murderers are dead.  But, unfortunately it probably won't be the last time that such killings will occur.  Meanwhile the US is busy killing Islamic State killers.  But, maybe some people they killed in the air strikes in Iraq and now in Syria weren't IS killers.  Maybe they were innocent civilians.  But, I don't see the headlines blaring in the international media saying 'Disproportionate attacks by US'  in fact the word 'disproportionate' is only used against Israel - why is that?  So let's not see it used any more, it is inaccurate, inappropriate and biased!!  If you see it used again in any media against Israel, contact their editors and complain.
About IS, they have beheaded American and British journalists and they have commited genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Kurds.  Yesterday ca. 130,000 Kurds from Northern Syria fled over the border into Turkey.  At first Turkey had closed the border, then opened it, then closed it again, stopping Kurdish men returning to fight the IS, then they opened it again.  Turkey is in a bind, they fear the Kurds demanding sovereign rights, so oppose them, but they also fear the IS, even though the current Turkish Government is pro-Sunni and pro- Muslim Brotherhood, opposes the al-Sisi Government of Egypt and supports Qatar, that has been bank-rolling IS and Hamas.  It's all too complex even for Middle East experts.  The best approach is the simplest, cut the Gordian knot, just kill all the killers!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Population exchanges

In the modern world, major population exchanges have occurred several times, and although they are drastic and involve great loss of life, they may be judged ultimately to have been successful.   It would be preferable if communities with different cultures and religions could live together (in an ideal world), but more often than not, the evidence is that they can't.  Here are some examples,
1.  India and Pakistan:  The separation of the inhabitants of the subcontinent into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan in 1948, although it involved the transfer of ca. 12 million people and the loss of ca. 1 million lives, may ultimately be regarded as successful. The war that succeeded the departure of the British imperialists resulted in the formation of an independent Muslim State separate from the rest of India.  Actually it is incorrect to state that India is exclusively Hindu, since there remains a very large Muslim minority in India, ca. 15% or 177 million people, that makes India the third largest Muslim nation in the world.  There are of course other minorities in India, such as Sikhs, Catholics, Parsees, Jains, Buddhists and Animists, so that India is a secular democratic republic.  By contrast Pakistan is quite homogeneous, although it has quite a troubled political history.   Nevertheless, despite two wars between them, India and Pakistan are currently co-existing.
2. Greece and Turkey:  After WWI the future of Turkey was in doubt, the Ottoman Empire had been defeated and there were plans by the Allies (Britain, France and the USA) to divide Turkey, much as they did Germany after WWII.  British PM Lloyd George, who was a liberal and philo-Hellenist, supported Greece in attacking the Turkish mainland in 1919 to take territory that had been inhabited by Greeks for millenia.  Unfortunately, the Greeks finding little opposition went too far inland and were then counter-attacked and defeated by a Turkish Army led by the hero of Gallipoli, Gen Mustafa Kemal known as Ataturk.  As the (Muslim) Turks advanced the (Christian) Greeks fled before them and concentrated in the city of Smyrna, now known as Izmir, where a series of massacres occured, including drowning tens of thousands of Greeks in the harbor.  The Republic of Turkey was established in 1923 with Ataturk as President.  The Turks then systematically expelled 1.5 million Greeks from villages and towns along the western coast mostly to Greek islands.  In exchange ca. half a million Turks were expelled from the Greek Isles, such as Crete, to Turkey.  This exchange of populations, although it caused great suffering at the time, has undoubtedly resulted in a more stable, peaceful climate between Greece and Turkey.  Much later the island of Cyprus was divided between northern Turkish and southern Greek regions by the invasion of Turkish forces in 1974, also resulting in an exchange of Greek and Turkish populations.
3. Germany and Eastern Europe: During WWII the German Reich expanded its borders by conquest and annexed territory to the east, including Poland and parts of Russia.  As the Soviet forces advanced westwards on the eastern front, Germans were forced to flee before them.  Between 1944-1950 it is estimated that 12 million Germans, both those that had been re-settled and the original ethnic German inhabitants were expelled from Poland and eastern Europe.  In exchange, millions of Poles and other nationals who had been expelled to make way for the German settlers, were repatriated to their native countries.  However much one might consider this exchange of populations brutal and forced, nevertheless the position of Germans in Eastern Europe was no longer viable after WWII and the exchange of populations led to a more stable situation that has lasted for 65 years.
4. Arabs and Jews: In 1947 the UN voted to Partition the British Mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Arab enclaves. Israel accepted the Plan, but the Arab countries rejected it and their armies invaded Israel. The Palestinian Arabs were told to move out of the way, while the armies of the Arab countries (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq) killed the Jews. But, the Arabs were defeated and as a result of the 1948 War of Independence, Israel became a recognized country in the UN. The Arab refugees (ca.750,000) were left where they were, mostly incarcerated in camps from which they were not allowed to leave or to work.  Only Jordan gave the Palestinian refugees citizenship, thus actually removing from them the designation of "refugee."  Also, those that remained on the West Bank or in Gaza were still within the Palestine Mandate and also technically were not refugees.  This left ca. 400,000 actual refugees in Syria, and Lebanon.  But, since the international definition of a refugee is only those who leave a country and does not include their descendents, this leaves only a handful of actual refugees today (ca. 20,000).  At the same time the Arab countries attacked, massacred and expelled their indigenous Jewish populations.  Many fled, from Morocco to Iraq a total of ca. 800,000 Jewish refugees, and about 500,000 of these came to Israel, where they were integrated within the population and ceased to be refugees. Most of the rest went to France, but many are leaving there now to settle in Israel due to the tremendous wave of anti-Semitism and violence there.  This was then a population exchange between Israel and the Arab countries, for which the Jewish refugees have received no compensation, unlike the Palestinian Arabs who have been supported to the tune of billions of dollars by UNWRA.
The lesson to be drawn from this is that population exchanges when the two groups are incompatible, although terribly costly in lives and disruption, are effective in the long term, as long as both sides are satisfied by the complete separation.  Unfortunately in the case of the Arabs and Israel, this is not the case, the separation was incomplete and perhaps needs to be completed for there to be peace between the two sides.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A day out

Where to take some visitors who have been to Israel many times and seen all the main sights for a day out?  Living in central Israel that's a challenge, since they've been to Tel Aviv, the Herzliya marina, Caesarea and the Roman ruins and so on.   So we took them to three places off the beaten track:
1. The Parrott Farm at Kfar Hess.  We used to take our grandkids to the Parrott Farm when they visited us.  It is quite remote although only 30 mins drive from Netanya.  You go east to Kfar Mond, a settlement named after Lord Mond, who was a Jewish patriarch in England and who bought the land there many years ago.  There is also a small museum of his former house in Kfar Mond.  Kfar Hess, named after the Jewish socialist Moses Hess, is beyond Kfar Mond.  In order to find the Farm we followed the signs, but went around in a circle (twice) because we could not see how to enter it.  The way someone told us was inaccessible to our car, so we got out and walked a long way down a dirt path until we found the Farm.  Then the owner told us we could enter on the other side from the nearby road, but the entrance is deliberately not marked because he doesn't want people to drive in (thanks a lot).  The parrots were impressive, some very large macaws that are so tame they perch on your hands, heads and shoulders.  Then we toured the Farm seeing many rare parrots of every imaginable shade and color.  Also some petting animals (goats, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs), and some exotic ones (coatis, porcupines).  A very nice place to visit, especially for the kids.
2. The Sarona Chocolate factory at Ein Vered.  Ein Vered is very close to Kfar Mond, only a little further east but on the other side of the highway.  Once again it was hard to find, we followed the signs, but we had difficulty mainly because the sign pointing to the entrance had fallen down and so there was no way to know except to ask.  It is a nice modern little place with a shop and a small cafe, but we were unable to tour the factory itself because it had been rented by a group, so it's a good idea to phone ahead.  We did buy some nice chocolates, but unfortunately we had no way to cool them in the car and the remainder melted.  It was still a very tasty goo.
3. Utopia at Bahan.  Further north up Rte. 4 and east on highway 57, Utopia is located near Bat Hefer.  It is an ideal place to visit with kids, consisting of a large enclosed jungle type of environment, very humid, with a waterfall and many exotic plants, especially orchids, growing wild.  There are also numerous parrots and other birds in an aviary and you can walk right through their enclosure. Outside there is a large complex fountain, a maze and animals to pet.  But, it was also very hot and so we older adults retired for a cool drink.  There is a large plant center there and you can buy all sorts of lawn ornaments, including dwarfs if that is what you like.  One tip, do not go in shorts, the mosquitoes are very active there.
Altogether a nice day out.  Pity our grandkids are all grown up.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

World War III?

We are already involved in the beginning of WWIII.  But, of course, few recognise that, particularly the western liberal elite, who as in WWI and WWII were typically caught napping.  Whereas WWI involved the breakup of Empires (Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, Prussian), and WWII involved the clash of the Nazi-Fascist ideology with the rest of the world, WWIII involves the clash of western values with Islamism. 
Here are some battles in the start of WWIII that are taking place currently:
1. The establishment of the Islamic State in the ruins of Syria and Iraq, and US and allied aerial counter-attacks against them
2. The battle of Israel to resist the forces of Hamas in Gaza
3. The violent attacks being carried out by Muslim extremists in Europe, such as in London, Brussels and Marseille
4. The struggle of the Egyptian Government to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood
5. Conflict in Kenya against the Somali-based Al Shabbab
6. Violent clashes between Malian and French forces with Islamists in Mali
7. Attacks by Boko Haram against Nigerian civilians and the Army in Nigeria
8. On-going conflict between Philippino forces and the Abu Sayyaf Islamist insurgency in Mindanao
9. The opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan, that supports formation of a Caliphate
10. The continuing struggle of the Afghan government against the Taliban
People don't realize that this is a truly world wide phenomenon, which was essentially started when Osama bin Laden declared war on the US, after US troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia in order to fight Iraq and rescue Kuwait in the First Gulf War.  Consequently, the first act in this War was the successful destruction of the Twin Towers in NY in 2001 killing 3,000 people.  From then Pres. Bush declared the War on Global Terrorism, but Pres. Obama, who was elected in opposition to US involvement in the Iraq War, refused to recognise this international campaign of Islamism, and tried to ingratiate himself with the Islamic world by making his speech from Cairo in 2005, which was an abject failure.  Even he, after all his efforts at grovelling to the Muslims, has been forced to declare war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after they made rapid progress in capturing territory with US weaponry from the Iraqi Army, carried out genocide against all minorities (Yazidis, Christians, Kurds) and also very publicly beheaded two American journalists.  If only he had maintained the pressure on the Islamists from the start of his presidency we would not be where we are today, trying to catch up and stop their rapid progress.
Note that Islamism, or the political version of Islam, that contends that Islam must be a political force that overcomes the West, is not of ancient origin.  It was initiated by Hassan al Banna in 1928, when after visiting the US and living there as a student, he organized the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  The failure of the Arabs and the Palestinians to defeat Israel, considered a bastion of the West in "their" lands, led to the formation of Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and then to other groups, such as Hizbollah in Lebanon.  Finally the emergence of Al Qaeda resulted in the actual outbreak of hostilities with the US.  It is noteworthy that while the perpetrators of the World Trade Center attack in 2001 were mostly Saudis (17 plus one French-Moroccan) who had met in Hamburg, the perpetrators of the 7/7 attack in London in 2005 that killed 52 were of Pakistani origin.  the shoe bomber who was caught was Nigerian, the murderer of a British soldier in a street in broad daylight in London last year was a Somali and the man who beheaded the American journalists was British. The national origin of the Islamists is irrelevant.
Some people might argue that the true origin of WWIII is in eastern Ukraine, where Pres. Putin in trying to extend Russian power to restore its position as it was under the Communists.  He is trying to conquer Ukrainian territory by supporting the pro-Russian insurgents, as he did in the Crimea, which is now well and truly incorporated into Russia, although this is not accepted by the UN, the US and the EU.  Pres. Poroshenko of Ukraine, who signed a pact with the EU contrary to Russia's wishes, is now firmly supported by NATO.  Applying western sanctions does not apparently inhibit Putin's designs, and consequently this region may become the nucleus of WWIII of the West against Russia.  Or maybe that will be WWIV.  Certainly the US does not want to fight both of these wars, against Islamist and Russian expansionism, both at the same time.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Eat your soup!

Mankind has puzzled over the eternal question, where did life on earth come from?  I know where life on earth came from, it developed in the primordial soup my mother used to make, that I was forced to eat.  This was the life-giving potion that took generations to create, involving chicken and a lot of fat and some spaghetti type material called "lokshen."  It was known to cure all ills, but it caused even very healthy people to break out in a sweat and collapse gurgling onto the floor.
What I didn't know then, but took many years of research and suffering to find out, is that the fat is a killer.  It caused my intestines to tie in knots and made me scream in agony.  At the time it was diagnosed as a psychological aversion to good food.   But, it took me years to realize that it was poisoning me.  Every Friday night, instead of enjoying the Shabbat dinner I would be writhing in anguish. It took me years to get up the courage to actually refuse to eat it.  My mother cried and my father called me an "ungrateful bastard."
I shouldn't blame this entirely on my parents, because we lived next door to a poulterer, and if we didn't buy a chicken from them every Friday the wife would be broigas (a very painful complaint).  Also, if she was broigas she wouldn't let her son give us lifts in his black Morris Minor car, that sat gleaming outside their shop all day.  So we had to eat it, whether we liked it or not.
Ever since then I have had a pathological aversion to chicken soup.  Much like that Alexander Portnoy had with liver.  Of course, I know intellectually that a chicken bouillon made by a French chef is different from the concoction that my mother made, but I still can't face it, even though it looks like diluted pee.  There must be a cure for this "chicken soup syndrome," known in the profession as CSS, but all of them taste disgusting.  Some witch in Scotland once proposed "eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog," but nothing, it did nothing, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
Once my wife and I were eating in a Jewish restaurant in New York and as we were nearly finishing the meal, the waitress came over and said "you didn't eat your green beans."  It sounded familiar.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Military strategy in Gaza

While we have this extended ceasefire, one can expect that Hamas is busy preparing ambushes and traps for the IDF if the sides cannot come to an agreement and fighting should resume.  This might happen if Hamas refuses to demilitarize Gaza, as it was before they took over in a coup in 2007, in exchange for borders that are still controlled by Israel to prevent smuggling of missiles and terrorists. 
In that case the IDF must be prepared for a smart invasion of Gaza.  I suggest that instead of coming from the east, where they have usually attacked from, into populated areas, such as Gaza City, where Hamas will lay its defences, the IDF should instead attack from the west.  There are two routes, one down the coast from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and also by invasion of paratroopers and landing craft from the sea.  Hamas will not be prepared for this tactic.  At the same time, armored columns should invade from the east, but only through relatively unpopulated areas, so as to break the Gaza Strip into separate divisions.  Then the armoured columns, with support from the troops coming in from the sea, should wheel eastwards and attack the cities from the rear.  In each case armoured bulldozers should clear the way for armoured columns in order to avoid fighting in narrow alleys, which are traps for infantry and foot soldiers.  This should make three clear wide roads into Gaza City, from the west, north-west and south-west.   It is unlikely that Hamas will be adequately prepared for such an invasion route.
Of course, I am not a military strategist, on the contrary I am an armchair strategist, but maybe that perspective is valuable for it adds distance and detachment to the situation.  I am motivated by the descriptions I have read of the wars that Israel fought against the Arab States in 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982.  My "expertise" comes from books that I have read, such as "The Arab-Israeli Wars," by Chaim Herzog, "Six Days of War," by Michael Oren and "The Yom Kippur War," by Abraham Rabinovich. Also, "Strategy: the logic of war and peace" by Edward Luttwak is a useful primer.  I remember some incidents vividly, such as the Battle of the Faluja Pocket in 1956, in which Gen. Moshe Dayan encircled the Egyptian Army under the command of Gen Abdul Nasser, the Battle of the Mitla Pass in1967 when Gen. Ariel Sharon cut off the retreat of the whole Egyptian Army, the Battle of the Chinese Farm in 1973, that was fought in order to bring in pontoon bridges to the pre-prepared ramps that Gen. Ariel Sharon had set-up in 1967 and that led to the encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army, forcing  the Egyptian surrender.  These examples of daring and elan (as the French would call it) are good examples of forward thinking and novel approaches that took the enemy by surprise.  This is what is needed to recapture Gaza, rather than running blindly into their traps. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Air superiority

What is the elephant in the room in the Gaza conflict?  Air superiority.  It is so accepted without thinking about it, that no-one realizes that this is the cause of the great destruction in Gaza and the concomitant loss of life.  When the Allies had air superiority during WWII what did they do, they carpet bombed parts of Germany, they destroyed Hamburg and Tokyo in fire-storms, they flattened the city of Dresden, full of German civilian refugees, they dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing ca. 100,000 civilians in each.  Now Israel with complete air superioirty is following the strategic path set by the US and UK, namely that in any conflict one must have air superiority, not only to pummel the enemy, but also to protect one's own ground forces.  But with the advancement of technology the IAF can now use mainly targeted munitions, so that civilian casualties are reduced.  But, nevertheless, in war there will always be casualties and always mistakes and always "collateral damage."
There is a similar factor at play in the US intervention in northern Iraq against the fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS).  They may be fierce suicidal warriors, but even they cannot make progress when attacked from the air in an open desert plain by targeted missiles.  The fact that the US has total air superiority enables Pres. Obama to choose not to put "boots on the ground," but to use a purely aerial strategy, while the Kurdish Pesh Merga and Iraqi Army forces (now beefed up) counter attack the ISIS fighters on the ground.  That is how they recaptured the significant strategic target of the Mosul dam.  This combination of US air power and local ground troops can go a long way to push back the forces of ISIS, although it cannot defeat them totally, since they control many cities, including Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
It is a primary Israeli strategy to always fight any battle on the enemy's territory, since Israel is so small and densely populated.  Air superiority enabled Israel to win all its wars, the Six Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and so on.  But, the new terrorist strategy of missiles and tunnels to a large extent defeat air superiority.  Tunnels have to be destroyed by troops on the ground and as we have seen, even the IDF cannot stop missiles being launched from hidden sites in populated areas.  So even though Israel must have air superiority to prevent a large scale military attack, it needs other skills to ensure that the new terrorist strategy cannot succeed. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Disproportion against IS?

Question: Is the US response to the Islamic State (ISIL), announced by Pres. Obama and being carried out in bombing raids in Iraq and possibly Syria, disproportionate?  What?  The question has never been asked.  Why not?  Because no-one cares.  If you are the US and fighting a ruthless terrorist enemy like ISIL, then who cares about disproportionate response.  We will kill them with whatever weapons we've got, even if they have no defence against it.  It's like Joan Rivers said, "if missiles were being fired at New York from New Jersey, we'd flatten New Jersey."  The only country in the world that is accused of "disproportionate force" in responding to a ruthless terrorist enemy is ...Israel.  You may ask yourself why, and it isn't hard to come up with an answer.
Here is an excerpt from PM David Cameron's speech of today to the British people following the beheading of a British subject, David Haines, by ISIL, "We are a peaceful people. We do not seek out confrontation but we cannot ignore this threat to our security.....We cannot just walk on by if we are to keep this country safe. We have to confront this menace," he said.   In fact exactly the same statement could have been said, and in effect was said, by PM Netanyahu about Hamas.  This has almost nothing to do with the fact that Hamas are largely Palestinian Sunnis and ISIL are largely Syrian and Iraqi Sunnis (plus a motley crew of foreign Sunni extremists). Their objectives are the same, to wipe out all non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East, including Yazidis, Kurds, Christians and Jews, as well as Muslim heretics such as the Shia and the Alawis of Syria (including Pres. Bashar Assad and his regime).
There are some unexpected outcomes of the success of the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East.  First, The Arab League has cohered around opposition to the terrorist IS, which threatens all the established Arab States in the region, notably Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.  They have joined up with the US to form a coalition to fight IS.  The US and UK are not prepared to put "boots on the ground," so they will carry out the disproportionate air campaign, while the Kurdish Pesh Merga and the Iraqi Arabs will hopefully do the ground work (with some training).  One way or another with disproportionate force the IS will be destroyed, But it can't be destroyed only by proportionate force, using only the same weapons in the same quantity that they have, what a stupid idea.
Another surprise is that Qatar has joined the Arab "moderates" in agreeing to fight ISIL.  That means that they had reversed themselves and are no longer going to support ISIL.  But, what about Hamas, are they still going to support Hamas?  If so then the US Adminsitration must put pressure on them to stop their support.  The only way to bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians is to take Hamas out of the picture, and their only major donor of funds at the moment is Qatar.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

After the war

Israel is a state of democracy and law.  As in all democracies, the wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn.  For example, the Attorney General of the IDF is investigating 99 cases of potential breaches of international humanitarian law from the IDF actions in Gaza this summer.  Considering that the IDF carried out ca. 5,000 sorties over Gaza during the 50-day long Operation Protective Edge, and there were numerous ground operations, that is not a large number.  According to media reports, so far 12 cases have been investigated and of those 7 have been dropped and 5 have been referred for judicial enquiry.  This includes for example, the killing of 5 Palestinian boys who were playing soccer on the beach and were killed by IAF fire.  Since Hamas stages many incidents, one cannot believe their version of events or so-called eye-witnesses in any case, and that is why the IDF carries out its own investigation.  If there is a case to answer, then the IAF pilot involved will be charged accordingly and there will be a trial.
All this is independent of the so-called UN Human Rights investigation of Israel for "war crimes" that is known to be biased even before it starts.  For example, clearly Israel cannot investigate the Hamas war crimes, but the UN investigation could, however their remit only includes investigating Israel, not Hamas.  The well-documented actions of Hamas for firing ca. 4,500 missiles into populated Israeli territory, the numerous cases of using civilians as "human shields," and the cases of misusing UN facilities for storing weapons and firing from them, all warrant legal investigation, but neither Hamas nor the UN will in fact be investigating them. 
A report investigated by AP concluded that Hamas gunmen threatened UNWRA personnel at gunpoint during the fighting in Gaza.  They terrorized them and stole humanitarian goods as well as stored munitions in UN facilities.  Trucks marked with the UN logo were hijacked by Hamas gunmen and their contents were off-loaded for Hamas use. Hamas missile launching squads deliberately launched missiles from next to UN facilities, even though they were warned and asked to move their launchers. Yet, the main complaint by UNWRA and the UN Secty Gen Ban-ki Moon were all against Israel for supposedly targeting their facilities.
As evidence that Israel is a state of law, witness the following: a. Human Rights Watch a left-wing Israel NGO produced a report without any real investigation concluding that Israel commited war crimes in Gaza during the Operation this summer. Since Israel is an open society they are free to publish any report they like, which doesn't mean that its conclusions are correct.  b. The Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the demolition of 5 apartment buildings in the midst of the settlement of Beth EL, because it has accepted that they were built on privately Arab owned land without permission.  Anyone can go to court in Israel, including Palestinian Arabs and sue for their own interests, and they often do.  c. Two border policemen and a soldier were arrested Mon and charged with illegally robbing foreign workers, including Eritrean and Chinese laborers.  d. The Attorney General has ordered an investigation into the activities of Judge Yitzhak Cohen of Nazareth District Court over allegations of sexual offences.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Secret Report - Adolf Hitler

This Report is released by Wikipedia - the organization takes no responsibility for its contents

Report of the Combined Committee of Forensic Experts (CCFE) on the remains attributed to Adolf Hitler
In 2009, the supposed remaining fragments of Adolf Hitler's skull, that had been taken from outside his bunker in Berlin in 1945 by Soviet troops and stored in the Soviet State Archives in Moscow for 64 years, were subjected to detailed analysis in several labs to test their authenticity.  The conclusion was that they were not Hitler's remains, DNA tests proved that the skull was in fact that of a young woman.  It was then decided to store the rest of the remains in a vault that was accessible only with official permission.  
Since then DNA analysis has advanced.  One of the best sources of DNA of a dead person are the jawbone and teeth.  An application was made on behalf of a group of forensic scientists in several countries, including Russia, the UK, France and the USA, to obtain samples from the other remains.  Permission by the Russian State Archives with the signature of Pres. Putin was granted in 2012 on one condition, that the results remain secret and that they only be revealed by the Russian Government when it was satisfied that the results were unanimous. 
As a consequence, samples were removed from inside the marrow of the jawbone and teeth and were subjected to detailed DNA analysis using the latest PCR, RFLP, mitochondrial (m) DNA and Y-chromosome analysis methods.  It was also decided by each lab separately what other samples would be collected and tested for comparison.  Thus, the French Government received permission from the German Government to exhume the remains of Adolf Hitler's mother, father and siblings. This was done in the utmost secrecy at night, using special forces protection.  
At this point a short history of Hitler's family is in order.  Adolf Hitler was the fourth of six children of Alois and Klara Heidler or Hitler.  Since Alois Hitler was illegitimate, he used his mother's surname, Schiklgruber, for 39 years.  But, by the time Adolf was born in 1889 he had changed it to the name of his adopted step-father, Heidler, often spelt Heitler or Hitler.  Adolf chose the simpler form, Hitler. Adolf had very bad relations with his father, and it was rumored that this may have been because he too was the illegitimate offspring of his mother and the son of the Jewish doctor that she worked for in Graz named Leopold Frankenberger.  No definite evidence for this has ever been found, but it is quite likely that if there were any truth to this that Hitler, during the period of his absolute dictatorship of Germany (1933-45) and control of the Gestapo, could easily have had such evidence destroyed.   The British team pursued this lead by trying to find any living relatives of the Frankenberger family.
In cooperation with US authorities, an Emile Frankenberger was traced to New York City.  He was the last surviving member of the Frankenberger family of Graz, Austria, who escaped by being secretly hidden by a non-Jewish friend of the family.  He was 80 years old at the time ont eh interview, and was quite lucid.   He claimed that his family had been wiped out specifically on the orders of Hitler himself. [This would not have been unusual, for example Magda Goebbels, wife of Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda, had a Jewish step-father Richard Friedlander, with whom she had had a good relationship and whose letters to her during WWII pleading for her help survived, but she never replied or acknowledged them. She ensured that he died in Buchenwald concentration camp.]  DNA samples were taken from Emile Frankenberger as well as his children.  These were analyzed at the Forensic laboratories in the USA and UK.  All the analyses were combined and compared with those from the supposed Hitler samples, and those of his parents and siblings.
Summary: To summarize the findings briefly, comparison of selected alleles from the Hitler family showed that while Klara Heidler was Adolf's mother and was the mother of his siblings, Alois Heidler was not Adolf's father.  Rather his Y-chromosome indicated that his father was related to the Frankenberger family.  The conclusion is inevitable that Adolf Hitler was the illegitimate child of Klara Heidler and Leopold Frankenberger.  In other words he was half-Jewish, a mischling.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Israeli mistakes

What have been the worst mistakes in Israeli foreign policy?  There were two, the first was the decision by PM Rabin in 1994 to allow Yasir Arafat, Chairman of the PLO, to return from exile in Tunisia to Gaza, with his supporters.  The PLO had been expelled from Lebanon where they had established a state within a state in southern Lebanon, and had been attacking Israel across the Lebanese border.  In the First Lebanon War of 1982, Defense Minister Sharon chased the PLO to Beirut, but they were allowed to survive and escape under American protection to Tunisia, the only Arab country that would take them. 
After 10 years the PLO was in decline, there were internal conflicts and the Tunisians were fed up with them.  But, Rabin, under the influence of Shimon Peres and his assistant Yossi Beilin, agreed as part of the Oslo Accords (1993) to allow Arafat to return to "Palestine" as Head of the Palestine Authority.  Rabin saved Arafat from obscurity and extinction.  Instead of showing his gratitude, Arafat began immediately to enforce his authority by organizing a terrorist campaign against Israel that became the second intifada (2000-2005).  In this way, Rabin, Peres and Beilin were responsible for the deaths of at least 1,200 Israelis. Rabin had hoped that Arafat would suppress Hamas, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza.  But he did not, Arafat collaborated with Hamas in their terrorist campaign against Israel. 
The second major mistake in Israeli foreign policy was the unilateral withdrawal carried out under PM Sharon in 2005, the so-called disengagement from Gaza.  The rationale behind this move was that Israel was taking casualties all the time from the Israeli presence in Gaza and it was costing a lot financially as well as in lives to protect the few settlements there.  But, this unilateral decision resulted in a great expansion of Hamas in Gaza, they not only won the only PA election held in Gaza, but they then staged a coup in 2007 and murdered hundreds of Fatah/PLO operatives in Gaza.  With Iranian backing they managed to smuggle thousands of missiles and other weapons in through the tunnels from Egypt, thus leading to the periodic Israeli clashes in 2009, 2012 (Operation Cast Lead) and 2014 (Operation Protective Edge).
In retrospect, one can see these mistakes as attempts by right wing leaders, Rabin and Sharon, under pressure from the US and others, to implement essentially left-wing solutions in order to placate the Palestinians as a possible route towards accomodation.  In neither case did this work, on the contrary, these concessions to the Palestinians appeared to them as weakness, which they quickly proceeded to exploit.  We hope that PM Netanyahu will not make a similar mistake at this juncture.  Making any major concessions to Hamas now, such as not insisting on demilitarization of Gaza (ensuring that no missiles can be imported) would be a major error that would come back to haunt us in the future. Only those who survive have learned from their mistakes.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The enemy of my enemy...

Recently the adage "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" has been rejected by Pres. Obama and other western leaders as a basis for cooperation against the Islamic State (IS) that has suddenly appeared in the midst of the Middle East.  This is intended to exclude both Pres. Bashar Assad' regime in Syria, who are targets of IS, and the Ayatollahs of Iran, who are the leaders of the Shia Muslim sect, from becoming allies of the US against IS.  However, while this may be a sensible policy given that both Bashar Assad and the Iranian regime are anti-democratic, anti-western murderous regimes themselves, nevertheless the Western democracies have engaged in fraternal relations with the enemy of their enemy on several occasions.
Perhaps the most obvious was the alliance with Stalin's Soviet Union in WWII against the threat of Nazi Germany.  At that time, the Communists, who had been considered arch-enemies of western democracy were embraced as close allies, and were supported and supplied with vast amounts of US munitions in order to fight Hitler's armies.  In fact it was a very wise move to ally with Soviet Russia, since not only was it the main enemy of Nazi Germany, but they also took the brunt of the huge invasion of Operation Barbarossa, that involved at least 2 million German troops.  It was only the huge size of Russia, the intense Russian winter and the counter-attacks of the Red Army that resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany.  Certainly D-Day and the Allied invasion from the west played a large role, but had it not been for the Soviet stand at Stalingrad and the victory at Kursk, there is little chance that the western allies alone would have been able to invade Nazi-occupied Europe and the results could have been catastrophic.  So sometimes choosing unpleasant allies may be the right thing to do.
Other examples are the sometimes fascist dictators that the US befriended during the Cold War as allies against the Soviet Union, such as Gen. Batista in Cuba (overthrown by Fidel Castro), Gen. Nasser in Egypt (replaced by Pres. Sadat), Gen. Somoza in Nicaragua, etc. etc.  It seems that liberals like Pres. Obama would rather allow enemies like Iran and the IS to grow and expand rather than pragmatically join forces with whoever is also opposed to them.  I do not for a minute mean that the US should cooperate with Iran or Assad, but there are other players who should be included, such as Israel (which is fighting the Islamist Hamas), Nigeria (which is fighting the Islamist Boko Haram), Kenya (which is fighting the Islamist Al Shabbab) and the Kurds (who are fighting IS on the ground).  Fortunately, at the recent NATO Conference in Wales, Obama initiated a joint collaboration with some of the member countries, including Turkey, against the IS.  This is what is needed, a Global War on Terrorism, something that Pres, Bush initiated and that Pres. Obama rejected when he first came into office.  Now he finally faces the reality.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Long weekend

We went away for a long weekend in Aug to the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel at Ramat Gan in the center of the country.  It is a very impressive building and large facility with an adjacent pool and sports complex.  We had a lovely room on the 5th floor with a nice view of the grounds and the adjacent National Park.
Because our daughter and her family were intending to join us for the day I called the Hotel and confirmed that it would be OK for them to join us in the pool.  I was told I should buy guest tickets for them at the reception desk.  When we checked in I asked to buy these 4 tickets and I was told by the clerk that we could only buy two tickets during August to avoid crowding at the pool.  I told her that I had called to confirm it was OK for 4 and she smiled nicely and said, "you were misinformed."  Also, she told me that the tickets were purchased at the pool not at the reception.  So I called my daughter and they had already set off, so we said we'll sort it out somehow.  I confirmed with the clerk that any 5 people could use the pool at a time since there were three of us in the room (including our Filippina metapelet), so all four of them could go with one of us.  When the family arrived we went over to the pool and I showed them my hotel key and the guard at the entrance let all seven of us in without a question. 
The day before we went there I had gone to the gym and evidently pulled a muscle in my lower left back and I had quite a bad pain.  This had happened to me twice before, coincidentally both times on cruises, to Mexico and to Athens.  That night I woke up in agony and could hardly stand or sit.  At my family's insistence I arranged a massage at the Spa in the Hotel for the next day.  This is the kind of thing one does on vacation, although I am not a fan of massage, since I always feel it is self-indulgent.  I imagine a Roman Emperor having a massage from a slave, while giving out orders to conquer a country and then saying "press there, that's better."   
Anyway I went for the massage.  It is always in a darkened room, with pungent smells of odiforous oils, and a nice young man with golden hands.  I lay face down and put my face in the ring and could not see what he was doing to me.  I think there should be a tv down there so one can see what's going on, athough it might frighten the massagee.  I told him about my pains and he did things to me that could be considered "crimes against humanity" under the Geneva Conventions.  What it was he pressed into my lower back, his elbow, his fist, or a gun barrel, I'll never know.  Over all it was a nice experience, but hardly curative.  Someone also tried Reike on me, but that did nothing either.  I bought some muscle relaxant and a pain killer at the local pharmacy, and they did the trick and gave me relief (of course I believe in drugs, I was a Professor of pharmacology).
Overall we had a great time, the highlight was the visit to the nearby Safari Park, where we communed with many animals at close proximity, but with the windows of the car closed.  We also drove around the zoo in an electric buggy, that was great fun.  What does one do on vacation - eat!  We ate three good meals a day in the hotel with an unlimited buffet, including 5 kinds of cake.  Of course, the food was too rich for me and I began to have abdominal pains, since I have always had a "sensitive" system. It was good to get home and recover.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Scottish independence

I vote "Yes" for Scottish independence!  Actually I don't have a vote, but if I did I would vote yes.  Not because I am a Scottish nationalist, not because I like Scotch whiskey, but because I am a Jew and an Israeli.  The Scots are very pro-Palestinian and consequently anti-Israel.  I would like to see Scotland, with a lot more advantages than we had, go the route to independence.  I would like to see them struggle, even without the kind of implacable and ruthless enemies that we have.  If they need help and advise, don't come to us, let them go to the Palestine Authority or Hamas for help and advise.
Also, if Scotland goes independent that would make all sorts of problems for the English, and I cannot say I am displeased at that prospect, given the lack of sympathy that we in Israel get from them.  Finally, the main reason I would vote yes is that it would probably usher in a Labor Government in Scotland, and I can't think of a better place, for the dour Scots to have a socialist government.  That would fix them.
Actually the Scots as a people are very hospitable and charming.  I remember with fondness the time we stayed in Edinburgh with my colleague Sir Patrick Forrest, who was in charge of deciding whether or not British women should be tested routinely for breast cancer.  He decided "yes" and I decide "yes."  Actually, the principle at stake here is self-determination, better to be independent and poor than dependent and wealthy.  Just as we would not like our fate to be decided in Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, or Washington, so the Scots should not want their fate decided in London. 
But, if the Scots get their independence, will the UK unravel?  Will Wales be next?  And of course, Northern Ireland will go its own way and eventually maybe will unite with Eire.  Then there might be a Celtic Confederation of Wales, Ireland and Scotland against the English, who are of Germanic origin (Normans, Angles and Saxons).  That would really be a change.  So vote "yes" for Scotland!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The lessons of Rotherham

Rotherham is a small city in south Yorkshire in England.  It is similar to many other cities in northern England, including the fact that it has a large Pakistani minority.  To all intents and purposes the Pakistani Muslim community is accepted and integrated in Rotherham and to a large extent is involved in the social fabric of the city.  It was therefore a shock of national proportions when it was recently revealed through investigations, both in The Times of London and in Parliament, that there has been an organized network of Pakistani men in Rotherham and nearby towns that has exploited young white girls for sexual purposes. 
It was revealed that from 1997 to 2013, approx. 1,400 girls as young as 11 and 12 were abused, raped, and trafficked around Britain to other groups of Pakistani men.  What is incredible is that the local Municipality, the social welfare department and the police were all aware of this activity, but did nothing about it.  This has been labelled a "complete dereliction of duty."  The reason given for their lack of action is that they were afraid that if they exposed the fact that this was a Pakistani problem they would be accused of racism.  Whereas in fact the motive for the abuse of young white girls (none were of Pakistani origin) was that the Pakistani Muslim men regarded these girls as little more than chattels, in other word this was to a large extent a racial crime.
Consider this irony, British services, staffed by British people, were supposedly afraid to expose a brutal criminal gang of Muslim men preying on British girls because they supposedly were afraid to be labelled racists, talk about the height of PC.  But, there are other interpretations, including the possibility that the police, the politicians and the welfare organizations were complicit in the activity, either receiving sexual favors or being paid off, or also from fear.  How did these men manage to carry out this extensive program?  They watched schools and picked up young girls in their cars, raped them and threatened them and their families with injury or death if the girls did not cooperate.  Girls were doused with gasoline and told they would be set on fire if they did not cooperate, and they were warned that if they did not return to the men for further sexual activity, their homes would be torched, and their parents and younger siblings would be murdered.  The girls then became prostitutes for Muslim men.    
The background to this story is that 5 Pakistani men were arrested and tried in 2010 in Leeds, the nearby city, for the same crimes of rape and forced prostitution of young white girls, and they were found guilty and sentenced.  But, apparently the police did not extend the investigation, even though there was evidence that they were only part of a larger network.  Recently a girl who was victimized by this gang in Rotherham after finding no help from the police or the welfare dept. managed to get a note to a reporter for The Times.  The reporter did an investigation and published an article, that triggered a hearing in a Parliamentary Committee.  When the story went public, all sorts of defensive responses came from the Rotherham City and police.  Finally the Chief of the South Yorkshire Police Department was forced to resign.  Other resignations are expected and there will be criminal cases.
It has been said that the attitude of the Muslim men to the British girls was one of contempt.  How many wives did Muhammud have?  In fact he had 13 wives, some of whom were no more than children.  One might say, well that was in the early Middle Ages in a culture where women were considered to be little more than property.  But, come on, 13 wives, for a supposedly holy man.  That women are treated as chattels in Islamic societies is well known and is part of the culture the Muslim men fight to retain (see for example "A thousand splendid suns" by Khaled Hosseini and "Nine parts of desire" by Geraldine Brooks).  But, to these Muslim men the white girls were considered to be trash, even at the age of 12, since they walked around with uncovered legs and faces, they were already little more than trainee prostitutes.  That British society could not and did not protect their own children from these villains may be a harbinger of what is coming.. Now suppose they had sharia law in Britain, what would be the situation then. 
If Britain cannot protect itself from this form of Islamic tyranny, why should we even concern ourselves with their opinions about the Palestinians, the IS and other Muslim causes.  Their society is already too far gone and is virtually controlled by Muslims.  That is why we see Palestinian flags at all demonstrations, even those currently going on against the NATO meeting in Wales.  It has nothing to do with Palestine, yet there are more "Free Palestine" posters there than there are "Free Ukraine" and "Free Iraq."  The rot has set in and Britain is already past the point of no return.  Muslim sponsored anti-Semitism in Britain is already as virulent as the sexual exploitation of non-Muslims.

Friday, September 05, 2014

By the numbers

To the uninitiated the Hebrew place names may sound complex, Kiryat Shmone, Ein HaShlosha, Ma'ale HaChamisha, Netiv HaLamed He.  Maybe they are ancient biblical names.  But, to Hebrew speakers the names tell a different story, the story of the history of this Land, the story of murder and of numbers.
Kiryat Shmone is in the far north of Israel near the Lebanese border and means the "City of Eight," it is named for the eight defenders who were murdered by Arab irregulars in 1920, long before the State was established.  Ein HaShlosha is in southern Israel near the Gaza border and means "Well of the Three" and is named for three young men who were killed by Arabs in 1948 during the War of Independence.  Ma'ale HaChamisha is near Jerusalem and means the "Ascent of the Five" and is named in honor of five young Polish Jewish immigrants, who were ambushed by Arabs in 1936.   Netiv HaLamed He is a kibbutz south west of Jerusalem in the Elah Valley near the Etzion bloc of settlements and means the "Path of the Thirty five."  It commemmorates the 35 young men (lamed he is 35 in Hebrew characters), mostly students at Hebrew University,  who went out on a rescue mission to take supplies to the besieged Jews of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion in 1947 and never made it.  They were discovered en route, surrounded by armed Arabs and massacred.  The Etzion bloc, consisting of three settlements, was one of the few Jewish settlements that were actually captured by the Arabs during the War of Independence. It's inhabitants were massacred and the survivors were taken into custody by the Jordanian Legion and it was razed to the ground by the Arabs, even the trees were uprooted.  But, it was recaptured in the Six Day War of 1967 and was resettled by the surviving children of the kibbutz.  To the Jews the numbers tell a story of death, destruction and of renewal.
The reason I tell this tale of numbers, of death and revival, is because we are in the midst of a similar story now.  On June 12, 2014, three high school students, Gilad Shaer, Naftali Frankel and Eyal Yifrah, returning from a lesson, were kidnapped and murdered by three Arab terrorists belonging to Hamas.  Their bodies were burnt and buried, but they were discovered after an extensive search.  Their murder was one of the causes of the IDF Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.  The planner of the murders, Hassan Kawasme, was indicted in an Israeli court on Sept 4, 2014, and the two other murderers are still being sought.
On Aug 15, it was announced that the Israeli Defense Minister had given permission for 1,000 acres of land in the region of the West Bank, where the bodies of the three teens had been found, to be annexed to the State of Israel.  This caused a great deal of criticism in the international media.  It may be years before this actually happens because there are numerous left-wing organizations in Israel that regard all Israeli acquisition of land as illegal.  But, in fact this land was originally supposed to be part of the Jewish State under the Palestine Mandate given to the British in 1922 and was never under recognized Arab or Palestinian sovereignty.  Once the approval clears the Israel Supreme Court a settlement will be built there.  At present there is already the small outpost of Gevaot, but it may be renamed Yad HaShlosha, the"Memorial to the Three" and will add to the settlements named for murdered and massacred Jews that unfortunately dot the landscape of Israel.  It is the Zionist way, and it evokes memory, survival and resilience.  The terrorists should know that wherever they spill Jewish blood in the Land of Israel, there a village, a town or a city will spring up.   

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Qatar, supporter of terrorism

Qatar is one of the smallest Gulf Arab States, consisting of a small peninsula jutting out from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf.  There are only ca. 275,000 actual Qataris, but due to their oil wealth they have attracted some 1.5 million foreign workers, mostly from India.  Qatar is an absolute monarchy, ruled by the Emir of the al Thani family.  Because it is a very conservative Sunni enclave, they are understandably nervous of Shia Iran that looms across the Gulf, and so they have given space to the US military, and Qatar is the largest US military and naval presence in the Persian Gulf.  The US in effect protects Qatar from its potential enemies.  Doha is the capital of Qatar and is a growing city in which the Qataris have invested a great deal of money to avoid becoming dependent entirely on oil. 
What distinguishes Qatar from the other conservative Arab Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, is its extreme Islamist policies, since Qatar supports Hamas and other Islamist revolutionary groups, including the most extreme of all, ISIS or the Islamic State (IS), that is rapidly gobbling up Syria and Iraq.  Qatar stands alone opposed to the so-called "moderate" Sunni States of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).   In fact, Qatar has made itself the pariah in the Sunni Arab world by financially supporting  these extremist Sunni groups.  For example, Khaled Mashaal who is the Head of Hamas outside Gaza, had his headquarters in Damascus for many years.  But, due to the Syrian civil war, in which the Sunnis opposed the pro-Shia regime of Bashar Assad, Hamas had a falling out with the Assad regime and left Damascus.  For a while they moved to Cairo under the Muslim Brotherhood presidency of Pres. Morsi.  But, when the Army toppled Morsi from power and replaced him with Gen, now Pres. al-Sisi, Hamas fell out of favor and was forced to move again. 
They ended up in Qatar.  Not only does Qatar sponsor Hamas, but they also have become the main financial supporter of Hamas in Gaza, replacing Shia Iran in that function.  However, although Iran could provide Hamas with missiles and expertise as well as funding, Qatar cannot do that.  It was ultimately because of this loss of support from Shia Iran and teh Egyptian closing of the tunnels under the Gaza border that Hamas has become impoverished, and was forced to seek a unity government with the PA, and also launched its current round of missiles at Israel, precipitating the recent military crisis.   By firing hundreds of missiles per day at Israel, Hamas ensured that the Israeli Government had no alternative but to respond forcefully.
Qatar is the weak link in the current situation, since it appears to be, apart from Turkey in a smaller way, the only current financial sponsor of Hamas.  You might wonder how it could be that Qatar is a sponsor of both the US military and anti-American terrorist groups such as Hamas and IS.  Indeed, one wonders why the US has accepted this absurd situation and allows it to continue.  While trying to support Iraq and prevent the IS fighters expand their territory at the expense of the Kurdish Pesh Merga fighters in northern Iraq, the US is fighting the very terrorists its sponsor in the Gulf is supporting.  Could the Qataris be giving the terrorists information about the US actions? This is a ridiculous situation and the Obama Administration must bring it to an end.  They must give Qatar an ultimatum, either stop funding Hamas and IS and other Sunni terrorist groups or we will remove the US military base elsewhere.  Americans note, if the Administration will not do this, the Congress must intervene and take this action!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Whither IS?

What most people fail to understand about the fighters of the Islamic State (IS), that has been proclaimed in eastern Syria and northern Iraq, is that they model themselves on the example of their prophet Muhammad, who in 622 ce moved with his followers from Mecca to Medina (now in Saudi Arabia) and there founded his religious community.  This is termed the hejira from which the Muslims date their calendar.  There were two main tribal groups residing in these two cities at that time, pagan Arabs and Jews (some of them converted Arabs).  Muhammad set about trying to convert both of them to his new monotheistic religion.  In order to do this he formed an army that in 624 ce returned to Mecca and eventually conquered it. Then he returned with his army to Medina and through a series of raids and battles he subdued all resistance in the region and forced all remaining inhibitants to either convert to Islam (which means submission) or die.  In Mecca, he substituted his worship for the pagan Arab worship at the Kaba (the great black basalt stone), initiated the Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca) and gradually extended his control over the whole of Arabia.  After his death in 632 ce, his followers, the Ummah, continued to expand the Islamic Empire by conquest of Jerusalem, Damascus, Cairo and Baghdad.
This history is contained in the Koran and is very well known to all Muslims (for a detailed account see "No god but God" by Reza Aslan).  There are two things to note about this history, first, that Islam was spread by "the sword," second that Mohammad dealt very harshly with those he conquered who refused to accept his belief system, they were summarily executed.   When some peope say that Islam is a "peaceful religion" they mean that many Muslims are not motivated to follow this example of Muhammad, but of course, many others are.  These constitute the current wave of political Islam or Islamism that seeks to expand the realm of Islam by force and reconstitute the (Sunni) Islamic Caliphate, that was founded among his followers after Muhammad's death and which was centred in Baghdad until it was taken over by the Ottoman Turks and was transferred to Istanbul, until it was abolished in 1928 following the establishment of the modern Turkish Republic by Kemal Ataturk.
Knowing this history and knowing that that the IS are specifically following Muhammad's pattern, is necessary in order to understand their true threat to modern western civilization and for all minorities.  It is true to say that Islam does not tolerate minorities, they are considered to be un-Islamic, or to use a Christian term - they are heretical.  Jews and Christians have been tolerated by Islam because they are monotheistic precursors to Islam, but they were forced to pay a special protection tax (the jizya) and treated as "second class" citizens or dhimmis.  However, throughout  Muslim history, Jews and Christians have been persecuted, and now in the whole Muslim world there is no viable Jewish population and those of Christians are diminishing rapidly as a result of massacres and attacks from Nigeria to Iraq.  Of course, Israel is a main target of the IS.  But, note that IS does not only consider Jews and Christians as their enemies, they also include in that category the Shia, the main heretical sect of Islam in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon and the regimes that control all the Arab Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, that was established only in 1932.  Further, they consider the USA as their chief enemy, being the most powerful secular/Christian country in the world.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Summing up Gaza

Last Weds night PM Netanyahu gave a press conference, flanked by his senior advisors, Defense Minister Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon and CiC IDF Gen. Benny Gantz.  Given the degree of focus on the Gaza war that there has been in the international media one would think they would be interested in this important summing up by the Israeli leader.  But, it was not shown and hardly mentioned in the media.  If a Palestinian child is not bleeding, forget it!
Of course, Bibi summarized the reasons why Israel has so far won the conflict (see my blog on 28 Aug).  Even though Israelis have ample reasons to be satisfied by the outcome of the fighting so far, nevertheless Bibi's approval rating has been in serious decline during the conflict.  As the rain of missiles into southern Israel continued, his popularity that was nearly 90% at the start of Operation Defensive Edge, dipped now to only 30%.  The reasons for this are interesting, mainly the people in the south expected that the missiles would be stopped, so that they could return to normal life, and they haven't been.  Also the attack tunnels that were discovered and destroyed gave them pause, since it was apparently not known by Israeli intelligence that they were there, opening inside Israel just a few km from Israeli communities.  Even kibbutizim that are generally left-wing, were shocked by this development.  They realize that even if they are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause (they all support giving the Palestinians a State) they would be summarily murdered by Palestinian terrorists (thus illustrating the line that "a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged"). Therefore, they all became hardline, basically what they are saying to Bibi is, take the opportunity and destroy Hamas.  But to do this would jeopardize several political advantages.
Most notably during this conflict, while many western liberals supported the Palestinians, that they wrongly equate with Hamas, the Arab League and most of the Arab countries have been strangely quiet.  Only on one occasion did the Saudi FM criticize Israel, in a mild and almost off-hand way.  In other words, the Arabs countries as a whole for the first time failed to support the Palestinian side, because they recognize Hamas for what it is, a radical Islamist organization, committed to their destruction as well as that of Israel.   This is a case of the western liberals being holier than the Pope (or the Imam).  But, if Israel carried out a ground invasion into Gaza City, with many more civilian casualties, then the Arab States might feel the need to show greater support for the Palestinian side.  The only Arab country that actually supported Hamas during this conflict was Qatar, and also the non-Arab countries Turkey and Iran (note that Turkey's threat to send another flotilla to Gaza during the hostilities was quickly dropped).  This new alignment of moderate Sunni Arab States, that oppose radical Islamic terrorism, as in the IS, bodes well for a future potential rapprochement between them and Israel.
Although there was as usual much talk about a UN Security Council resolution to bring a ceasefire, they never managed to do this, and so it was Egypt that led the way to bring a ceasefire.  And this was advantageous to Israel, since the Egyptians do not favor Hamas, on the contrary, the Egyptians insisted on a ceasefire without conditions.
Perhaps the most notable outcome of the conflict then is domestic, with the right wing, notably FM Lieberman and Bayit Yehudi Chairman Bennett as well as Danny Danon within the Likud Party, attacking Bibi for being too cautious, for not finishing the job, for not destroying Hamas.  Operation Defensive Edge is not over yet, but when it is, if Hamas is not demilitarized and is still in control of Gaza, then Bibi can expect a concerted political attack from the right.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Abbas blames Hamas

For once I agree with Palestinian Pres. Mahmud Abbas of the PA, in an important admission he squarely lays the blame for the destruction in Gaza on Hamas itself (http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-blames-hamas-for-prolonged-battle-with-israel/ ). Tell that to the thousands of violent pro-Palestinian demonstrators in the West, who showed their antagonism towards Israel with such rage.  In a meeting with the PLO leadership in Ramallah and in a subsequent interview on Palestine TV, Abbas said what many Palestinians and others are thinking, namely that after 50 days of fighting, that resulted in 2,100 deaths and the destruction of 50,000 buildings in Gaza, Hamas achieved nothing.  They accepted the same unconditional Egyptian ceasefire that they rejected 5 days after the conflict began.  All this destruction and suffering could have been avoided, but they insisted in showing their antagonism to Israel by continuing to fire about 100 missiles a day into Israel, forcing the IDF to respond.  And the Iron Dome anti-missile system destroyed 90% of the missiles projected to fall on populated areas, so that they were totally unsuccessful, killing only 7 people in Israel (6 Israelis and one Thai worker) with 4,564 missiles in 50 days, that 's 652 missiles per casualty, also they did not hit any Israeli strategic targets, certainly an abject failure!   Israel and the PA are strangely in agreement, since although Abbas criticized Israel and gave his tacit support to the suffering Palestinians in Gaza during the conflict, nevertheless he wants to gain points with the Palestinian street relative to Hamas. Similarly, most of the Arab League members, including Saudi Arabia, have blamed Hamas for the deaths of Palestinian civilians.
Both Israel and the US would prefer the PA to take back control of Gaza from Hamas.  But, Hamas have the guns and are in command of Gaza and there is no way one can see that Abbas will be able to replace them.  The major difference between Hamas and Fatah/PLO is that the former, as we have seen, are still committed to the destruction of Israel by force, while Abbas has supposedly given up on that route.  He prefers to take the diplomatic route, trying to have the UN or the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague to force Israel to accept his dictates.   But, while this diplomatic tactic is preferred by Israel over the use of terrorism, nevertheless, even this route is unlikely to succeed.   First, although Abbas can get a majority in the General Assembly of the UN, GA resolutions are unenforceable, only Security Council resolutions are binding.  And second, the US, even under Obama, will surely veto any resolution in the UN SC that seeks to enforce a unilateral Palestinian solution to the problem, since all previous UN resolutions require negotiations between the two sides.  Also third, going to the ICC to try to charge Israel with war crimes, will also lay Hamas open to similar charges, which should be an open-and-shut case, since firing missiles into populated areas is ipso facto a war crime.
So after 50 days of fighting Hamas has gained little more than a token terrorizing of Israelis in southern Israel.  What will happen after the quiet period is over and the sides are required to negotiate indirectly through Egypt remains to be seen.  If Hamas once again rejects demilitarization and resumes firing missiles into Israel then they can expect, as PM Netanyahu has said, that the IDF will go all the way next time.