Friday, October 31, 2014

Critical responses

Recently I had a series of responses to some of my blog articles.  I certainly like feedback, but usually do not respond to the positive feedback I get that agrees with me.  However, when I get critical responses I usually respond, often because I have missed a point or made an error or disagree with the writer.  Here are three responses I have had recently and my different reaction to each of them.

Respondent 1.  This respondent disagreed with my analysis of the settlement issue:
But ... Israel needs to understand how toxic the settlement expansions are.  As David Horowitz in The Times of Israel said, Israel is losing countries friendly to it, and is losing many American Jews over these trivial expansions.  This seems to be the single issue that garners most media attention.  At least for the UK, it is the settlement expansion that pushed many in Parliament away from Israel.  To quote Sir Richard Ottaway, Conservative British MP:   “I have stood by Israel through thick and thin, through the good years and the bad. I have sat down with ministers and senior Israeli politicians and urged peaceful negotiations and a proportionate response to prevarication, and I thought that they were listening. But I realize now, in truth, looking back over the past 20 years, that Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life, mainly because it makes me look a fool, and that is something that I resent…I am not yet convinced that it [Palestine] is fit to be a state… Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the Government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.”  I'm sure the government does understand this, which leaves me with the question of why are they continuing to expand the settlements?
My reply:  What you perhaps fail to grasp is that a large segment of the Israeli public see no distinction between Israel and the so-called West Bank in terms ot Israel's legitimate right to build there.  It was part of the original Palestine Mandate, it was under Jordanian control from 1948-67, but this was never recognised internationally.  When Israel recaptured the area in 1967 it reverted to its former legitimacy.  But, Israel did not annex it pending negotiations.  The longer the situation persists, ie. the longer the Paletinians continue to refuse to recognise Israel's right to exist, the greater will be the pressure to expand the settlements.  Anyway, many of what they call settlements are suburbs of Jerusalem which is part of Israel proper.  If Netanyahu freezes settlement construction he will lose his right wing support in the Likud Party, leading to a possible turn to the right of that Party.  Those people who have decided that the Palestinians inherently deserve a State, despite their positions and their terrorism and their intransigence are not facing reality.  I predict that if Abbas goes to the UN Security Council to try to achieve unilateral recognition of a State, then Netanyahu will renounce recognition of the PA under the Olso Accords and will annex larger areas of the West Bank.  Actions must have consequences.  Then Sir Richard Ottaway will find another excuse to excoriate Israel.

He replied: It is helpful to get an on-the-ground view of the situation.  Yes, I'm concerned about the PR, because it will be much harder for Israel to go it alone, particularly without US support.  Not impossible, but certainly not a good thing.  My comments were directed at this issue, which is part of the recent anti-israeli, anti-Semitic outbursts in Europe and on American college campuses - a chilling reminder of the World War II era.  It seems you would like to see Israel with the entire territory, or at least much more of the territory that the UN in 1948 gave to the Palestinians.  I'd like to see that as well, but unless Israel is to become a majority Muslim nation, this is not even faintly realistic. 
My response:  Sure each side wants to maximize its options.  Israel could easily have annexed the WB, but it didn't because we are serious about wanting a two-state solution.  But, since we have never found a serious partner on the other side (like we had Sadat in Egypt) then things don't last forever.  Most people assume that the Muslims will become a majority.  But first we are the majority, there are 6 million Jews and ca. 4 million Palestinians.  Second, the Jewish birthrate is increasing, while the Arab birthrate is decreasing (a sign of improved prosperity).  Who knows what can happen in the future.
Respondent 2.  This respondent was critical of my opinion on terrorism:  
Terrorism........also equates to state of the art military equipment/tanks,infra red high velocity computer guided weapons, and the like marauding unopposed (except for kids throwing stones) through a densely populated civilian city and destroying "18000 homes and killing over 2000 essentially unarmed women and children" trying to go about their daily bread......Now I wonder where that happened recently and who are the barbarians who "terrorised" these people?
To which I replied: Such destruction only occurs after receiving 14,000 missiles against civilian population for 8 years. Easy to forget, huh! That's terrroism. Don't tread on me!  Destruction of buildings is better than more civilians being killed, In Gaza 1,000 dead vs 160,000 in Syria.  Count it up, what's worse!  Do the math, get real! 
To which he wrote a long-winded reply with the ending There has to be another way?
To which I replied: War is hell, if the Palestinians would recognise the right of Israel to exist then we could have peace.  Syria is very relevant and so is Iraq, if the Arab Muslims kill each other with such ferocity (and throughout the Arab world there is violence), what chance would we Jews have.  We are Yazidis but with an Army.  If there is another way, you name it!  Yes, it would be nice if we all loved each other....but unfortunately that's not this world.  
He replied: the idea that you can take a few hundred thousand people from all over Europe all speaking different languages and from different cultures but only held together by a tenuous religious ideology and dump them in the middle of Palestine and say "there you are guys this bit is fenced off for you now and you can call it Israel" is as potty as going to war over the Falklands or still maintaining Gibralter is British or for that matter saying the 6 counties in the north of Eire are British........The real owners of the land will want it back eventually......
My reply: Nonsense - Israel is a thriving progressive democratic State of 8 million people, come and see for yourself! Not because anyone "dumped" people together here, we are an immigrant country like the United States of America, or Canada, or Australia, etc. Jews chose to be here!  Yes, since the 1880's Jews have been returning and resettling here because of the attitudes of people like you. Because of hatred, anti-Semitism and massacres, as happened in Europe only 70 years ago.  You obviously don't know any history, so look up "Balfour Declaration," British Mandate" "Holocaust" and "Israel War of Independence" when 650,000 "settlers" defeated the armies of 5 Arab countries.  We are here by right, we are here to stay, so get used to it!At this point he seemed to give up.
Respondent 3.  This person was downright nasty, there is no point in trying to reason with someone who is anti-Semitic:
To conflate the enemies of Israel with the actions of the British Parliament tells me that it is once again...Israel right or wrong, just as Nazis were to behave from 1933 up to their defeat in 1945.  Jack it is the height of hypocrisy to refer to Isis activities, of serious barbarity, and remain silent about other offenders in the region. There are many with a  similar denial of human rights and Israel is of course one of them. Are you so ignorant that you have no knowledge of the Zionist terrorism that  adds to the grisly mixture in the region . In this year alone Israel in Gaza was to cause the deaths of over 2200 people, with most being civilians . In the same phase Israel was to suffer the loss of over 70 people with most of them being military. Dear Jack, people in glasshouses should learn not to throw stones and you're old enough to know this.
My reply:  Screw you! (accompanied by a poster of IAF fighter jets lined up with the caption "Jews: not so easy to fuck with anymore") 
His reply:  Good of you to reply so promptly even if it might have been a good idea to have given some thought as to what you might say. The problem with the 'Case for Israel' is that there isn't one, and this must be a difficulty for you.
My response: Anyone who compares the Jews to the Nazis is beneath contempt.  So nothing you can say can redeem you. Especially as you are deficient in facts, analysis and ideas.  So after much consideration - screw you!  Don't bother to reply, try reading a history book.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

US-Israeli relations

Pres. Obama has now taken the gloves off in his "lame duck" period as President against the State of Israel and its Prime Minister.  PM Netanyahu has not gone along with Obama's policies and Secty of State Kerry's pronouncements, but this is not enough reason to "throw Israel under the bus."  Obama  has made some spectacular mistakes in foreign policy, from his Cairo speech pleading with the Muslim world to accept Americans as friends (which they did not do) and completely misreading the so-called "Arab Spring," to his lack of action on Syria, and support for Muslim Brotherood Pres. Morsi, who was rejected by the Egyptians themselves.  If Pres. Carter was the one who lost Iran by not supporting the Shah, so Pres. Obama is the President who lost Egypt by not supporting Mubarak and his successor Al-Sisi, who is now President of Egypt. Also, the US is probably preparing to compromise with Iran on its obtaining enriched uranium that could be used to develop a nuclear weapon.  But, now allowing a "Senior Adminstration official" to go on the record as calling PM Netanyahu a "chickenshit" and a "coward" is unacceptable in relations between two supposed allies. Obama, with his own bullshit is now deliberately trying to destroy the relationship between the US and Israel.
With relation to Israel specifically, Kerry supported the Qatari-Turkish attempt at a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel during the Gaza war that would have given Hamas everything it wanted, while Israel accepted only the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, which gave Hamas nothing, and it was the one that was adopted.  Now with the murder to 33 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai this week, Egypt is blaming Hamas for allowing the terrorist perpetrators to be trained in and exit from Gaza, and they are taking a hard line against Gaza, by shutting the Rafah crossing and building a 500 m wide buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza.  So far there are no protests about this from the pro-Palestinian supporters in the West, although it could be far more damaging than the Israeli blockade.  Israel is still sending about 300 trucks a day of produce, medicine and building materials (under UN auspices) into Gaza, that have been inspected before being allowed in.  In other words Israel's blockade is only against weapons, missiles and the mis-use of building materials for military infrastructure, such as tunnels. 
Israel has just been named by two independent studies as having the best air-force in the world and the best army in the Middle East.  Now why, in a situation of great peril for Western civilization, while the US is actually fighting the Islamic State (but only from the air) and is continuing to increase security at home after the attacks in Canada, why then would the President of the USA insult the leader of the one country that the US can rely on as an ally in the Middle East.  The only explanation is, as many have said for years, that Obama is effectively pursuing a pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian policy and using all his efforts to force Israel to accept his dictates.  The fact is that PM Netanyahu will not bend to his will, he has resisted most efforts against US pressures to make unacceptable compromises.  For example, under US pressure Netanyahu instituted a 10 month cessation of construction in the West Bank, and what did he get for that, nothing!  Neither any concessions from the Palestinians and a loss of support from the right wing in his own Likud Party as well as the formation of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish home) party against him.
The ostensible reason for this break-down in US -Israel relations is the approval for the construction of 1,000 housing units in two suburbs of Jerusalem.  These are NOT settlements, but actual areas that are contingent with and part of Jerusalem that was annexed to Israel after the 1967 war.  You would think that the Obama Administration could find something more important to spend its time on rather than the construction of housing in Jerusalem.   Unless of course that is what Obama's Arab friends are telling him to do.  The next stage is that Obama will use this really secondary issue to not veto a UN SC resolution against Israel, that will usher in a whole new era of Israel-US relations.  American Jews take note, you either stand with Israel on this and vote Republican in the coming elections or you are complicit in Israel's potential demise.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Driving to Toronto

We were talking about Canada, not a particularly exciting conversation usually, and I mentioned some incidents that happened to me driving to and from Toronto.  Given the response I received, I thought you might like to read about them.
My wife has a large family in Toronto of various distant cousins.  They were originally Polish Jews, who escaped Europe before WWII and moved to Brazil, where her Uncle Pesach owned a large banana plantation.  After the war they moved to Toronto and he built a business knitting sweaters there.  When we lived in NJ they invited us to visit and so we drove there in our second hand pale-green Dodge with Naomi's parents who were visiting from England.  We drove up the Garden State Parkway, across the Tappen Zee Bridge and the NY Thruway and after we reached the border we were on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway to Toronto.  What I didn't know was that the QE Highway has traffic crossovers along the highway, unlike the NY Thruway.  It was already dark and raining and we were driving along at about 60 mph, and I could barely see and I was getting sleepy, when I suddenly saw looming ahead of me the end of a long flatbed truck sticking out halfway into my lane.  My father-in-law who was sitting beside me shouted "watch out!" and I instinctively swung the steering wheel to the right and then a second later back to the left.  I heard a bang and the car shuddered slightly, but we were still all there driving along in once piece.  It was a miracle that no car was in the right lane beside me at that moment.  I was going to stop but since I could see no damage and we had survived a narrow escape, I kept going.  When we arrived in Toronto I got out and examined the car for damage, the left hand wing mirror had gone and the handle on the driver's door, which had projected only one inch from the door, had been sheared off.  What an amazingly close shave!
I left the car sitting outside their house for a few days while we went around and had fun, and then when it was time to leave we packed everything back into the car and I went to start it and it wouldn't start.  The engine turned over, but it wouldn't start.  So I tried pumping the gas a few times and tried again, and then suddenly there was an explosion.  It was quite loud and everyone came out to see what had happened.  I looked under the car and the muffler had completely blown out.  We managed to get it to a garage (I don't remember how, maybe it was towed), and they replaced the muffler.  The car started fine and so we were on our way.  Halfway down the NY Thruway I heard some noises and bangs from under the car, so I slowed down and the noises continued and the car sounded strange. So I pulled onto the shoulder and looked underneath.  And what I saw was that the new muffler was hanging down, it had evidently broken off from the exhaust pipe.  I didn't know what to do, so I took the shoelace from one of the kid's shoes and tied the muffler up and then limped along the road to the next exit and luckily for us there was a garage there, and even though it was Sunday there was a mechanic on duty.  He looked at the problem, said it happened because the new muffler was too heavy for the old and rusty exhaust pipe and it would be easy to fix, if he had the right exhaust pipe, but he didn't.  Nevertheless he could take one he had and adapt it to fit, but it would take some time.  So I said "OK," and we sat around in that garage (no cafe) for several hours, trying to keep the two kids occupied, while he cut and bent a new pipe, in between pumping gas and doing other jobs.  Finally it was finished and I paid him, and he was very nice and he hardly charged me anything for his time, and we were on our way again.
After some years I bought a new car, a Chevy, and after a few weeks, the first time I took it on a long trip was once again to drive to Toronto for the wedding of a cousin named Luna.  I didn't drive too fast because I had been told to "drive it in."  On the way back we were driving down the QE Highway (again) at 60 mph and suddenly there was a huge explosion and steam and smoke came out from under the hood.  I swerved to the shoulder and quickly ushered Naomi and the kids out of the car.  Someone must have called it in because a police car was there in minutes.  We opened the hood and there was a huge hole in the side of the engine, quite an impressive sight.  They towed us directly to the Chevy dealer in Hamilton, Ontario, just south of Toronto.  It so happened that one of Naomi's family owned a Hotel in Hamilton.  We managed to contact them and they arranged a room for us, although we had to pay for it. I told the dealer that the car was brand new and still under warranty and I showed them the documents and they accepted them.  They told me it had happened because the indicator was set one stop off from where it should be so that when I thought I was in drive (D) I was actually in low gear (L).  I had never driven an automatic car before so I didn't realize that.  I was lucky, they said, that there was a factory outside Hamilton that made Chevy engines, so I would get a better engine than I had before.  We spent a horrible weekend in Hamilton, it rained  most of the time and the kids were terrible, its lucky our marriage survived that weekend.  It was the weekend of the Democratic Party convention in Chicago in 1968 and we watched the riots with fascination.  Anyway on the Monday the car was fitted with a new engine at no expense and we were able to continue our trip home.  Perhaps understandably that was the last time I actually drove to or from Toronto.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Recent Islamist attacks

1. Canada: An armed Islamic gunman killed a soldier standing guard at the National Memorial in Ottawa and then entered the Canadian Parliament and proceeded to shoot, but was killed by the Sergeant-at-arms. This followed only a day after two Canadian soldiers were run down by a car in rural Qebec and one was killed.  The perpetrator was pursued and shot by police.  In both cases the killers were new converts to Islam known to police for their activities.  Both had been denied passports to travel to Syria to joint the fighting there.  These attacks, while not reaching the level of carnage of the 9/11/01 attacks in the US and the 7/7/05 attacks in London have nevertheless been termed the Canadian  "9/11" because until now, Canada was viewed as a peaceful backwater, which was beyond the reach of the Islamists. This once again shows that nowhere is immune.  Certainly these attacks represent a "coming of age" of Canada in terms of the world-wide war against Islamism. In response to the attacks PM Harper warned that Canada will redouble its efforts to defeat the forces of Islamism in cooperation with the US Coalition.
2. Egypt: A series of attacks in northern Sinai took the lives of 33 Egyptian soldiers last week.  A group of Islamist terrorists attacked a check-point near Al-Arish and killed 30 soldiers while simultaneous attacks occurred in Al-Arish killing another 3.  The Egyptian Govt. has announced that these terrorists actually came from Gaza, although there are plenty of radicalized Beduin roaming Sinai as well as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, that Egyptian Pres. al-Sisi has banned. According to reports these terrorists came thru a tunnel under the border from Gaza, even though the Egyptian military was supposed to have closed all those tunnels.  In response Egypt has closed the border with Gaza,  specifically the Rafah crossing, and has imposed a three km buffer zone from the Gaza border to prevent further infiltration.  Maybe Israel should do the same.  Pres. al Sisi has also cancelled the indirect peace talks between Israel and Hamas that were due to be renewed in Cairo. In relation to Hamas, Egypt and Israel now have very similar interests, and Egypt also has a blockade of Gaza, although no-one seems to care about that, there is no BDS movement against Egypt.  Ask yourself why not?
3. Israel: Last week an Arab from a village adjoining Jerusalem, Isawiya, where there has been constant Arab rioting, deliberately drove his car into a line of people waiting for the light rail tram in the French Hill neighborhood.  Two were killed, including a baby of a few months and a young Ecuadorian woman who was a convert to Judaism, who died a few days later. The perpetrator ran from his car and was pursued and shot dead.  Although PM Netanyahu said that he will bolster the security presence in Jerusalem, this always comes after people have died.  Where is the security presence in advance of these senseless killings.  At the same time, prior to the major attack in Sinai, a large gang of terrorists attacked both Egyptian and Israeli border guards.  Unfortunately, one Israeli guard was badly wounded, and it turned out to be the grandson of our beloved Rabbi Ervin Birnbaum.  He is currently recovering in the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva. These attacks are a constant feature of life in Israel, but they do not deter us.  In any case they are going on all over the world.
4. USA:  Last week in New York City a crazy man with a hatchet attacked two NY policemen in the subway.  One was badly injured the other lightly.  They shot the attacker.  He was identified as Zale H. Thomson, also known as Zaim Farouq Abdul-Mali, a recent convert to Islam.

Although these attacks appear random they are the result of a world wide war being waged by Islamists as individuals and groups against all western civilization.  These are not "criminal attacks," they are terrorist attacks that represent a "clash of civilizations." If you don't see a pattern here, your pattern recognition ability is severely retarded.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Muslim players

One of my devoted readers asked me to clarify who are all the Muslim players now active in the region, the number of extremist groups is so extensive it becomes over-whelming.
Here is the basic state of play:
The major division in the Muslim world is between the Sunni (based on the Arabic for "tradition"), that forms about 75% of all Muslims in the world, and the Shia or Sh'ite (based on the Arabic for "the party").  [This schism comes from the earliest days of Islam and developed over the succession to Mohammed the Prophet.  Since he failed to specify his successor, his leading followers decided to appoint one of their own as his successor and he was called the Caliph.  But, the Shia believe that this was unacceptable and that only the actual "seed" of Mohammed could be leader of the Muslim world, and that was his grandson Ali.  The dispute came to a head at the battle of Kerbala (now in Iraq) where Ali's son Hussein and his followers were defeated and Hussein was killed.  Although the Shia comprise only ca. 25% of the Muslim world, because they are predominant in Iran, they constitute 40% of the Muslim population of the Middle East.]
The first organization to propose a political form of Islam to wage war against the West was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian who visited the USA and then wrote books against the spiritual corruption of the West.
In the modern era, terrorism by Sunni Muslim groups was started by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the 1960's, including airplane hijackings.  The PLO consists of various groups, including Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).  But they were predominantly nationalist and socialist.  The failure of these groups and various Arab dictators, such as Nasser or Assad, to either defeat Israel or to improve the lot of their people, led to a resurgence of Islamist views within Muslim society.  Hamas or the Palestine branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was probably the first.such terrorist group. 
Following the successful Afghan war against the Soviet Union, al Qaeda (meaning the base) of Osama bin Laden turned its attentions against the West and declared war on the US.   The 9/11 incident was the first major successful attack by an Islamist group against the US.
In Lebanon after the civil war, all the sectarian militias disarmed except Hizbollah, the Shia terrorist organization, supported by Iran and the Assad regime, which is dominated by the Alawite minority (ca. 12%) in Syria that are an offshoot of the Shia.  The Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) is the military organization that trains and supports Hizbollah (and formerly Hamas), and particularly its sections the Basij and the al Quds Force.
The so-called Arab Spring, or uprisings against the military dictatorships in the Arab world, resulted in theoverthrow of Pres. Mubarak in Egypt and several others.  In Egypt, the Army eventually overthrew the MB Pres. Morsi and retook power, followed by the election of Pres. al-Sisi.  In Syria, the opposition to Pres Assad was initially led by moderate elements and the Free Syrian Army.  But, eventually the fighting was largely taken over by an Islamist groups affiliated with al Qaeda including the al Nusrah Front.  The al Nusrah front split again and formed the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also called ISIL, where L represents the Levant, including Syria and Lebanon.  After they had expanded and made great strides in Iraq, taking over most of the Sunni-dominted Anbar province, they changed their name to simply the Islamic State IS.  [Although al Qaeda, al Nusrah and IS have overall the same aims, to defeat the West and establish a Muslim Caliphate, their priorities are different and they occasionally clash. Al Qaeda concentrates on attacking the West, particularly the USA, the al Nusrah Front concentrates on defeating Assad, who is supported by Shia Iran, and IS concentrates on establishing the Caliphate in what was Syria and Iraq.]
The Kurds are an independent force, who have enclaves in northern Iraq, termed the Kurdish Autonomous Region (KAR) with their army the Pesh Merga, and in northern Syria with their fighters the People's Protection Units (YPG).  They are currently battling against IS in Kobani.   Apart form that there are Islamist groups fighting in Nigeria, the Boko Haram, in Kenya and Somalia Al Shabaab, in Yemen and in practically all parts of the Muslim world.
Overall there are about 20 different groups fighting on Assad's side in the Syrian Civil War and about 20 on the opposition side. Each group has its own sectarian, political and military preferences.  What will come out of this mess eventually is impossible to predict.     

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Caroline Glick and the "Israeli Solution"

Caroline Glick, former IDF officer, former advisor to PM Netanyahu and currently Senior Contributing Editor of the Jerusalem Post, spoke at the New Synagogue in Netanya.  She was highly articulate and stimulating and held a large audience in rapt attention.  Her main thesis was two-fold, first that Pres. Obama is a serial enemy of Israel and that his policies in the Middle East have led to a loss of US credibility and left a power vacuum being filled by Islamist forces, and second that the Palestine Authority is an enemy entity and should be closed down and Israel should gradually take over sovereignty of Judea and Samaria.   
She pointed out that the only negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, that founded the Palestine Authority, were the Oslo Accords, and they have failed.  Not only because of the Second Intifada that Yasir Arafat organized to unleash terrorism against Israelis that killed thousands, but also because his successor, Pres. Abbas, has now jettisoned the idea of a negotiating peace with Israel in favor of seeking unilateral recognition of Palestine at the UN.  Israel is now surrounded by a turbulent Middle East with an unknown and perilous future, in relation to civil war in Syria, the Sunni Islamic State and the Shia Iranian drive for a nuclear bomb.  We cannot afford to continue applying the failed policies of the past.
Regarding Pres. Obama, he is clever, he delivers excellent speeches, but his intent is malicious.  From the moment he went to Cairo in 2005 and tried to persuade a hostile Arab world that he is really their friend, until the US embargo of arm sales to Israel during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza this summer, the Obama Administration has been hostile to Israel.  Obama says that he has Israel's back, but he has stabbed us in the back.  From the first visit of PM Netanyahu to the White House, when he was kept waiting and humiliated, to the second visit when Obama delivered an anti-Israel speech while Netanyahu was en route, to the current denial of meetings with VP Biden, Secty of State Kerry and Security Advisor Rice to visiting Israeli Defense Minister Ya'alon, the Obama Administration has been openly hostile to Israel. That they criticize Israeli plans for construction on the West Bank is not new, but they have commited themselves to dealing with the "moderate" Abbas, and anything that stands in the way of that, including reality, is opposed.  Thus, Abbas' speech at the UN calling Israel an "occupying, colonial power" to his most recent pronouncement inciting the Palestinian population to rise up against Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, have been essentially ignored by the Obama Administration.
Glick does not regard Gaza as a further threat to Israel, particularly as it is also a threat to Egypt and Egypt and Israel have a common interest in keeping Hamas from rearming and rebuilding its infrastructure.  Note that Obama accepted the Qatari proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza that would have required Israel to accede to Hamas demands, while Egypt stood firm against that and gave Hamas nothing.  Over and over again Obama has sided with the Muslim Brotherhood against Pres. al Sisi and with Qatar against Egypt.  Meanwhile a completely new situation exists in the Middle East when Egypt and Saudi Arabia effectively supported Israeli action against Hamas, and hardly criticized Israeli actions (less so than the western publics).   This informal alignment of interests between Israel and the so-called moderate Sunni States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States (excluding Qatar) is a new situation in the Middle East, and even if it is only temporary, Israeli must take advantage of it and build on it.  The threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon is not being realistically removed by US policy vis-a-vis the talks with Iran, on the contrary Israel and the Sunni States are very concerned that Obama is prepared to compromise with Iran.
The fact is that Israel has an excellent claim to sovereignty to Judea and Samaria under international law, since they have never been under any other sovereignty since the Palestine Mandate was granted to Britain in 1922 by the League of Nations to establish a Jewish Homeland in Palestine.   We should be stating very clearly and loudly our rights there, but successive Israeli Governments have failed to do so because they were laboring under the misapprehension that if they held those territories for the Arabs, eventually they would want to negotiate with us for the establishment of a Palestine State.  In other words we accepted the "two-state" solution, that is now effectively defunct.  The only viable alternative for Israel to secure its future and avoid having a hostile Palestinian entity on its border which would attract a large influx of extremely hostile Islamic radicals in close proximity to all our vital heartland is a "one state solution."  Israel must take-over and annex Judea and Samaria. Not to do so will eventually become suicidal for Israel.  We did this with the Golan and with East Jerusalem, we need to do this now with the so-called West Bank.
The counter argument made by the Israeli left, that is clearly in decline, is the demographic argument, namely that this will bring a large hostile population into Israel.  That is not necessarily the case, first the population of the West Bank has been greatly exaggerated by the PA Bureau of Statistics, their original assessment was deliberately double the truth, but now we know that the Palestinian population there is probably no more than 1.5 million (this needs to be reassessed).  Also, we do not need to give all these people the vote, so that they can eventually out-vote us.  Just as in Jerusalem and the Golan, we give them resident rights, but only those that apply for Israeli citizenship and are accepted will be able to vote.  And we must ensure that no terrorists or enemies of Israel actually become Israeli citizens.  We have done this before and we can do it again.
However, although Glick would like us to annex Judea and Samaria she acknowledges that we must do this in a gradual and step-wise manner.  Certainly the world will oppose this, but we must re-state and establish our rights to these territories and we must use all means, especially the police to arrest and imprison hostile elements that throw stones and Molotov cocktails at Jewish worshippers In Jerusalem and currently are hardly prevented from doing so.  A combination of local moves, eventually ending in Israeli law being applied to Judea and Samaria, together with an aggressive campaign both internationally and locally must end in Israeli security control over these territories.  This is the only way that Israel can secure its future existence.  In any case we must get through the next two years of the Obama Administration and hope that whoever succeeds him will be more friendly and politically astute.
(for further details see Caroline Glick's book "The Israeli Solution: a one-state plan for peace in the Middle East")  

Friday, October 24, 2014

UK Amb. Gould

UK Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould spoke at AACI Netanya and gave a polished, coherent presentation.  This is my summary of his remarks.  Of course, he emphasized the positive in Britain's relationship with Israel, even though there has been a checkered past.  Gould is the first Jew to hold this position and has been at his post longer than any previous incumbent. His previous posting was in Iran and he found Israel to be the exact opposite, whereas in Iran no-one would talk to him, in Israel everyone wants to talk to him, this is the difference between a closed dictatorship and an open democracy.  He mentioned that before he took up his post in Israel he met with PM Cameron and received clear instructions from him to improve and expand ties.  
He emphasized that Britain was the first major power to publicly recognize Jewish rights to a "homeland" in the Holy Land.   From the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 until the White Paper policy document in 1939, that represented a change in policy, Britain kept its commitment as required by the League of Nation's Mandate that had been granted to it in 1922 to establish a Jewish Homeland in Palestine.  As he pointed out, it is doubtful that there would be the Jewish State of Israel today without the British role in its history.  In the early years of the Mandate until 1939 Britain allowed Jewish immigration to Palestine and fostered the development of the pre-State Jewish settlement (yishuv) in many ways.  However, with the results of the White Paper that favored Arab claims to Palestine, and the advent of WWII, relations between the British Administration in Palestine and the Jewish yishuv deteriorated significantly, until the British eventually withdrew in 1948. 
But, in recent times relations have greatly improved, with major trade and security ties between the two democracies.  As Ambassador, Gould has worked tirelessly to further improve these ties.  He has helped expand trade between Israel and the UK until it is second only after the US, and he has established a group of eight people dealing only with technology, that ensures bilateral cooperation between innovative Israeli science and technology and British firms with an international reach.  Gould said this is his answer to those in Britain who support the BDS movement, that frankly has not been particularly successful.
He admitted that the presence of a large Muslim minority in Britain has resulted in an increase in anti-Semitism there.  But he argued that a survey of worldwide anti-Semitism by the US Anti-Defamation League still put the UK at the bottom of the list with only 7% deemed to be anti-Semitic, while even the US was higher with 8%.  Finally, he agreed that while the threat of Muslim extemism exists in the UK, it is nevertheless actually very small numerically.  Muslims in the UK make up only 4% of the population (that is ca. 2.4 million people) of them only 0.5% are considered to be radicals, or ca. 1,200 people, which is certainly enough to cause the British security services to be worried.  However, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Muslims want nothing more to do with such extremism than their British counterparts.
Gould reminded us that the visit of PM Cameron to Israel six months ago was very successful, his speech at the Knesset, which he wrote himself, was a clear statement of support for Israel and during the recent Gaza war Cameron remained steadfast in his support for Israel's right to defend itself against the barrage of missiles from Hamas.  Although there is a tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in the UK reflected in the recent Parliamentary resolution calling for British recognition of a Palestinian State, this should not be over-stated.  This was supported by the Labour Opposition, but Cameron has said it will have no influence on British Govt. policy, that there will be no recognition of a Palestine State unless it is the result of negotiations with Israel.   Although the relations between Israel and the UK are currently good and strong, one cannot predict what the future may hold. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Game changer

In a little noticed event during the Gaza war the banning of flights to Israel by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European airlines is a potential game changer. The reason given for the ban was that a rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in Yahud, 1 mile from BG Airport.  Actually according to reports, it was the residue of the rocket brought down by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.  However, it is understandable that some authorities would be nervous about this situation, particularly after the downing of the Malaysian flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine by a Russian missile.  However, there is a big difference, the latter was a deliberate, if unintentional, targeting, while the former was a random act that did not threaten air-planes.  Given the sensitivity of the situation it is understandable that this temporary ban was introduced.  Hamas issued a statement calling this suspension a great victory. 
Air traffic to and from BG Airport is Israel's lifeline to the outside world.  Since it had not been disrupted until this time, all throughout the firing of thousands of missiles into Israel, one can assume that the international agencies concluded that there was no significant danger to flights then.  That continues to be the case, and so the ban was in fact lifted by the FAA after one day.  El Al and Arkia added extra flights in order to enable stranded passengers here to return home and for Israelis abroad to come back home.  Although there were many cancellations of visits and vacations due to the war, hitting Israel's tourist industry, the cessation of flights would be a greater psychological and economic blow. 
The Transport Minister Israel Katz opened Uvda Airport near Eilat, far from the missiles, for international flights to be diverted to, instead of banning them altogether.  Some criticized this move as coming too late, after the ban was already in place, and there was no prior preparation of the airport there.  Meanwhile this air transport situation is a clear indication of why Israel must never give up areas of the West Bank, that could be used by a single terrorist with a ground-to-air missile to target planes arriving at or leaving BG Airport.  Such a move would be suicidal for Israel

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Islamist strategy

Islam teaches that the world is divided into two regions, dar al-Islam, the region of Islam, synonymous with dar al-salaam, the region of peace, and dar al-harb, the region of war.  It is curious that Muslims believe and accept this, given that their world dar al-Islam is far from peaceful and is in fact the source of most of the violent conflict in the world today.  One of the reasons for the wars is that there are always Muslim forces trying to control and expand dar al-Islam, in other words Islam is expansionist.  Today those forces are called Islamist or jihadist.
In trying to expand the region of Islam they have three strategies:
1. Direct force.  Their aim is to defeat and conquer all those kaffir (infidels) who do not follow their beliefs and do not submit to Islam (meaning submission).  This is the strategy of the Islamic State, that is seeking to expand its realm as a Caliphate over the whole of the Middle East and then over the whole of the world.   For example, the Turkish Empire that was the last Muslim Caliphate, was a unitary Empire until it was defeated by the British and French during WWI (the US did not fight the Turks) and then it was broken up into what are today ca. 24 separate countries, from Morocco to Azerbaijan, from Bosnia to Yemen.  IS seeks to reassert strict Sunni Muslim control over the whole of this region and in doing so will eliminate all opponents, including all minorities and sects, just as Mohammed did in his original conquest of Arabia in the 7th century.  Iran which follows the Shi'ite schism of Islam is also trying to expand its own realm, as it did in the former Persian Empire.  In order to do this they are attempting to develop nuclear weapons, although the West is being extremely niaeve in negotiating with them for 10 years to try to stop this.  Ironically the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam are deadly enemies and will probably destroy each other if left alone, much as they are doing in Syria and Iraq today, with the Assad regime in Syria and the Government of Iraq as basically Shia proxies and the Sunni populations of Syria and Iraq as the protagonists.  The US and its coalition attacking IS from the air with Kurdish ground forces fighting in Kobani and the Autonomous Kurdish Region of Iraq is trying to maintain the previous State structure of the region, i.e. a distinct Syria and Iraq, but in fact the distinction between them is now gone, and the whole region is in ferment.  After the dust has settled, who knows what the disposition of forces will be, but one prediction is that the Western strategy of maintaining the status quo ante will fail.
2. Persuasion. IS and its affiliates are attempting to radicalize young Muslims and obtain converts by using all PR methods available, especially the internet and social media (facebook, U-Tube, etc.).  It is amazing that until now there has been no concerted effort to close down and stop web-sites advertising the beheading of infidels as a great victory for Islam.  This strategy is working, the thousands of adherents of the extreme version of Islam are flooding into the region of IS from all Muslim countries around the world and from most non-Muslim countries with Muslim minorities.  Whether IS is ultimately successful or not, just as happened after the Afghan war, these adherents and converts will come flooding back into their homelands, and will wreak havoc there.  It is estimated that a major attack on US and UK soil is inevitable.   
3. Demographics.  The expansion of Muslims into Europe has been going on for at least 25 years and there are now sizeable Muslim minorities in the Scandinavian countries, France, Britain, Germany and so on, that even a small portion of them can constitute a very significant threat to the integrity and culture of those countries.  This is called establishing dar al-Islam by the womb.  Muslims move to Europe and where the average birth rate is ca. 2 or less (barely maintaining population) the Muslim birthrate is ca. 3-5.  It is in fact incumbent on any believing Muslim to work for the political leadership of his State to be Muslim and for the imposition of Shari law.  It is not hard to predict in a few generations that there will be continuing violent struggle for control of the European States.  Those politicians who adopt pro-Muslim or pro-Arab positions in order to curry favor with Muslim voters, such as being overtly anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian, are totally missing the point.  They too will be swept away by the tide of Islamism if they don't soon recognize the true threat to their own existence.
It is not my place to tell anyone what to do, I only point out the trends that seem obvious by looking at the current state of affairs and then projecting into the future.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Routine events

Is it just me, or does everybody have these daily routine incidents that take up one's time?  When I retired I imagined sitting back and relaxing, but it isn't like that.  I don't know how I coped with the constant train of events when I was actually working.
The current spate started routinely enough with a small flood on the floor near the toilet in our bathroom.  I could not see where the water was coming from, so I called our friendly plumber, Amram, who obviously likes to come because he overcharges me and is always very happy. He showed me that the leak was from the back of the toilet bowl at the joint with the outgoing pipe, and so he replaced the pipe with a new one with a new seal, and it was fine (charge NIS 250; $68).  A week or so later I found that there was another flood on the floor in the same place, but this time I discovered that the leak was from another source, from under the water tank, behind and above the toilet.  So I emptied the tank, turned off the water, managed to cause another flood, cleaned that up, then removed the downpipe and found that the O-ring was OK, but the former sealant around it had congealed and obviously allowed a leak.  So I removed the congealed stuff, replaced it with what I had available, vaseline, that I smeared around the pipe and the O-ring and then when I had replaced the pipe and the tank I smeared it around the base of the pipe where it exited the tank.  Then I turned the water on again, and guess what, no leak (cost zero!)
Then some days later I inadvertently made another small flood in the bathroom.  I decided it was time to clean the filter of the a/c. I try to do this ca. every 3 months, but it may be 6 months since I did it, before the summer. So I took down the filter and it was filthy with accumulated dust. I usually shake it out over the  balcony at the back then wash it off in the shower. But, for some reason this time I decided to skip the first step and went to wash it first in the shower. This was a mistake.  There was so much dust that it clogged the outlet and then clogged the drain.  Then water began to come up thru the drains in the bathroom floor.  I soaked it all up and then tried to clear it with the plunger, to no avail.  So I drove to the store and bought some de-clogger liquid and poured it down the drains.  Lo and behold in the morning the drains were clear.  The moral of this story is don't skip steps in a well-tried process (cost again near zero!).
The dirt in the a/c filter made me decide to clean the fan that we have been using all summer in our bedroom at night, I looked at the back of it and it was coated with a thick layer of dust.  I took it apart, lost one of the crucial screws on the floor, found a replacement, and cleaned the thick layer of grime coating the back and the inside with the vacuum cleaner, and then put it back together again (cost nothing). 
Then we had a problem with the tap/faucet in our small toilet.  For some time it had not worked properly and I tried to repair it.  But, suddenly the handle just turned loosely and the water gushed out.  So I had to turn the water off at the mains.  But, when we needed to use the toilets etc. I had to turn it on again, but I managed to reduce the flow from the tap to a trickle and we had showers.  After my shower I turned the water off again, and called Amram the plumber.  He came and saw the problem, smiled, went and got a new tap/faucet and replaced it 1,2 3.   I could have done it myself but was afraid there might be another flood again (cost NIS 150; $42).
Then I found that the rug we use in the bathroom was soaked.  I assumed it was water from the drains backing up again.  But, when I had a shower there was no flood.  So I left it, until there was another small flood on the floor.  This time I looked up and saw that there was a drip coming from the bathroom ceiling!  This was not new, it had happened before, when water leaked from the outlet of the air conditioner fan that is in the crawl-space (boyden) above the bathroom.  So I went into the bedroom and opened the door of the boyden near the ceiling and sure enough there was water dripping from the fan unit, but unfortunately it was not from the same place as before and was missing the dish that I had put there in order to catch any drips.  In fact the water was not dripping from the outlet of the pipe taking the water away as before, it was dripping from the actual metal base of the fan housing.   I cleaned up the water and moved the dish so that it now collected the drips from the new place, but I had no idea how to handle this, so I called an air conditioning technician. 
I told him that it was not the actual a/c unit that was a problem but a leak from the tank of the fan unit.  He climbed into the boyden, a space about 2 feet high, something that I am not thin enough and agile enough to do, and cleaned the filter in the front of the unit as well as opening it up and drying it inside and changing the angle slightly so that the water poured away.  He told me that what happens when the filter there is dirty, the suction of the fan pulls water droplets into the housing and they condense and fall down into the base, where they are not supposed to be, they are supposed to drip down into the tube that exits thru the outlet pipe.  He checked the outlet pipe to make sure is was clear (it was).  He first tried to sell me a pump to pump out the water, but since the pipe was clear I told him I'd rather use gravity, its free (cost for this cleaning NIS 400; $108). 
My sister was staying here a few weeks ago and when she came out of the toilet and shut the door, the next person couldn't open it.  I wondered how she had managed to lock it from the inside when she wasn't in it.  We pulled and tugged at the door but it wouldn't budge.  Then I took a flat bladed trowel and jiggled it inside between the jamb and the lock and suddenly it opened.  I found that the latch bolt (that springs in and out to close and open the door) had got stuck against the edge of the lock itself.  So in order to prevent it happening again I removed the handles, then the lock and replaced the handles, anyway there is a small draw bolt inside to secure the door.
Then I went out and purchased two new locks.  They are a standard size and are quite cheap (NIS 50 for two; $13).  I replaced one in the toilet door, it fitted perfectly, I screwed it in and replaced the handles again, et voila.  Then I decided to replace the lock on the bathroom door, since I saw that the handles were drooping (about 20 deg) and I knew it was no longer effective.  I took out the old lock and put in the new one didn't fit!  It was about 2-3 mm too wide so that the hole for the handles did not align with the holes in the door.   What to do?  I took it back to the store and asked if they had one a little narrower and they laughed at me, its a standard size they said.  So I went home and after some delay for thinking about it, I found my chisel (3/8"), that I haven't used for years, and I finally set to.  I started to chisel out the back of the wood inside the door using hammer and chisel to take the wider new lock.  The trick is to put the flat surface of the chisel away from the wood and use the rounded side to lever the wood chips out (that's what my Dad taught me).  The wood was hard and it took about an hour. Eventually the lock more or less fitted, the handles went through the holes and I was able to screw the lock in and now it is perfect.
Now there has been water on the floor again in our other toilet from a leak from the outlet pipe.  I didn't feel like trying to fix this myself, so I put in another call to Amram, the friendly plumber.  He came and found that it wasn't the seal this time, there was actually a hole in the bottom of the pipe that leaves the toilet and exits to the drain.  The plug that had been put in there before had came loose, so he plugged it again with epoxy, and it seems to be working (cost NIS 200; $54).  If it doesn't work, then it would be a big and unpleasant job. 
I counted floods from five distinct sources in the course of a few weeks in our small apartment.  Is this a record? Does it happen to everyone else?  Why me? The moral of this story is....I'm not sure, but I suppose persistence pays.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kerry's latest gaffe

I agree with Israel Economy Minister Naftali Bennett in his criticism of US Secty of State John Kerry.  When I heard Kerry's speech and then when I read his remarks I had two reactions, the first was the same as Bennett, namely Kerry is blaming Israel for the rise of the Islamic State.   Judge for yourself, here is what Kerry said at a meeting in Washington marking the holiday of Id-al-Adha: "As I went around and met people, in the course of our discussions about the ISIL (Islamic State) coalition, the truth is there wasn't a leader I met with in the region who didn't raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  It was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation that they felt - and I see a lot of heads nodding - they had to respond to."
It's the same old story, if only Israel would be more accommodating to the Palestinians and give them territory to form a state and make peace with them, then the other conflicts in the Middle East could be resolved.  What nonsense!   Even Kerry's boss, Pres. Obama recenty back-tracked on this, saying in his UN speech, "Understand, the situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region.  For far too long, that's been used as an excuse to distract people from problems at home."   Bennett put it more succintely " Even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian there will always be those who blame the Jews."  This is reminiscent of the libel against the Jews for the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982, when Christian Phalange militia massacred inhabitants of the camps, but Israel was blamed.
The IS had its origins in al Qaeda, and the recruitment of thousands of Sunni Muslims from the Anbar province of Iraq and from all over the Western world, has nothing whatsoever to do with the so-called Middle East peace process.  This is a superficial form of Arab propaganda, to get the US to bring pressure on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.  My second point is that look who Kerry was talking about , "leaders in the region," in other words Arab leaders, and who he was addressing, Muslim leaders.  Of course they were nodding their heads, they are delighted if Israel is blamed by the US Secty of State for their "problems at home."
Several Israeli leaders then jumped in and criticized Bennett for his remarks against Kerry.   FM Lieberman, who is known for his own blunt comments about Kerry and others, seemed unusually restrained and defended Kerry.  Maybe this was internal Israeli politics trumping Israel's interests.  Also Defense Minster Boogie Ya'alon defended Kerry, but this wasn't so surprising either since Ya'alon has also himself in the past criticized Kerry and is on his way for a meetings in the US Administration in Washington.  By defending Kerry he gets himself off the hook. Let's face it, by criticizing Kerry no-one is suggesting that there is anything wrong with the Israel-US relationship and that Israelis are not keenly aware of the strong US support for its position in the Middle East and at the UN.  However, if a politician makes a stupid and errant comment to curry favor with an Arab audience, it is certainly in order to criticize him, whatever self-serving analysis the spokesman of the State Department makes.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What planet is this?

When I wake up in the afternoon after a nap I need time to get my bearings.  I often ask, "what planet is this?" just to make sure I'm in the right place.  Nowadays I'm not sure.  On this planet people are being beheaded as a routine punishment for being who they are, who they were born as.  On this planet people are firing thousands of missiles into towns and cities, and yet they are supported enthusiastically by a large proportion of the population of the "neutral" countries.  On this planet there are people taking over large swathes of the Middle East who are against music, against women wearing dresses and who execute anyone who does not agree with them.
Come to think of it, I am not sure I want to be an inhibitant of this planet.  But, I don't seem to have a choice, short of becoming an astronaut and being fired into space.  Anyway, this is where all my loved ones live, and I couldn't be parted from them.  Also, we live on an island on this planet, surrounded by a region of inhospitable envionments and hostile people.  Yes, there may be nice Arabs and Muslims, but remember that a majority of those living in Gaza voted for Hamas, a declared terrorist organization that intends to murder all Jews, if it can get its hands on them, and to destroy a sovereign recognized member state of the UN.  Also, the Islamic State does not seem to have any difficulty getting Sunni adherents for its cruel and ruthless campaign to destroy every culture in the Middle East except its own, which itself is based on primitive medieval concepts.
The Gaza Donor's Conf. received pledges of b$5.4 for the reconstruction of Gaza, even more than expected.  The Arabs are always generous in pledging. but not so good at actually paying up.  However, compare this to the pledges for fighting the Ebola epidemic, judged to be the most severe international health emergency since the AIDS outbreak, m$400 was pledged, and essentially none by the Arabs.  So Gaza outranks Ebola by a factor of 12!  Weird!  I'm trying to work out what is the worst epidemic, Ebola or Obama?
On this strange planet there is an unusal phenomenon, that the President of the USA, who was voted in on a policy of ending wars, is now being forced reluctantly to take the initiative to organize a coalition of countries (50 so far) to fight this implacable IS enemy.  He says there is no negotiating with them, yet Israel is expected to negotiate with Hamas, which is just as implacable and extreme a Sunni Islamist foe.  And why is Israel not included among the countries in the coalition to fight IS.  Because it might embarrass the so-called moderate Arab States that have joined the coalition, including Qatar, that until yesterday was hosting Hamas and was supporting them and IS financially, and may still be doing so.  Can such allies be trusted?  And Turkey, standing by while the IS and the Kurds kill each other. What a strange planet this is.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Futile gestures

The new Social Democratic Prime Minster of Sweden, Stefan Lofven, announced in his inaugural speech last week, that among other things Sweden would recognize the State of Palestine.  A very nice gesture, but what does it accomplish.  It would change the established international requirements for recognition of a State, since Palestine has no agreed borders, no elected or functioning government or president, no independent economic means of survival and no means to control its territory. This puts the world order on its head, this means that any terrorist organization that takes a piece of territory or controls a swatch of land, such as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or the al Nusrah Front in Syria, the Boko Haram in northern Nigeria, or even the Sami (Lapp) people in northern Sweden, could request and be granted recognition by this precedent. 
The British Parliament voted by a majority, with the Government abstaining, to recognize a Palestinian State as part of a two-state solution.  This was proposed by the Labor opposition, under Jewish leader Ed Milliband, and supported by the Liberal Democrats as well as a minority of Conservative MPs. This non-binding gesture will empower the Palestinians in their unilateral moves to obtain recognition at the UN without consulting to Israel.  If such recognition is applied for, this goes against all prior UN resolutions concerning the Israel-Palestine dispute, that require bilateral negotiations.  The Conservative British Government did not support this maneuver and PM David Cameron stated that it will not affect British policy that no recognition can be forthcoming unless there is a negotiated settlement with Israel.
So why would Sweden or the UK recognize Palestine out of all the worthy claimants in the world.  After all, there has never been a Palestine State in existence in history, the current Palestine Authority does not have any existence beyond the Oslo Accords agreed between Israel and the PLO.  If Israel decided to withdraw that recognition, the PA would in effect cease to exist, whatever Sweden thinks or whatever the General Assembly of the UN votes for.  The President of the PA, Mahmud Abbas, is no longer legitimate, his term of office ran out 6 years ago, and the so-called Unity Government between the PA and the terrorist Hamas in Gaza has no actual validity.  Why not recognize more worthy and established entities, such as Taiwan, or Tibet, or Northern Cyprus, or Chechnya, or even Scotland or ...I could go on.  But, we all know that Palestine is the poster child of the Social Democratic movement, because it is the enemy of the Jews, because the Jews of Israel are well known to be a contemptible, imperialist, colonialist, apartheid, racist regime, without any justification for existence (?). 
The fact that Israel has been a recognized member of the UN for 66 years and is actually a functioning democracy, with political parties, an independent legal system, and human rights for all citizens, does not mean that the Israeli Govt. should be consulted before this recognition is extended to an entity that calls for the destruction and replacement of a UN member.  What an ignorant, unjust and unworthy decision by so-called responsible politicians.  How is it that misplaced sentiment can overcome reality in such a ridiculous manner?  What is really infuriating is that in the midst of this public debate, some 200 Israeli public figures chose to send a letter to the instigators of this Parliamentary debate supporting the recognition of a Palestinian State.  How misguided, how self-destructive, don't they realize that Israel has enough enemies without traitors from inside.
The Social Democrats in Sweden, Britain and elsewhere want peace in the Middle East, that's what everyone spouts.  But, this decision to unilaterally recognize Palestine can only make peace more remote, since it is precisely the unilateral actions of the Palestinians that prevent any real negotiations and agreements between the two sides to the conflict, as required by all applicable UN resolutions.  Allowing a Palestine State to come into existence without an agreement with Israel, on borders, refugees, Jerusalem, etc. will only lead to more fighting and conflict.  Ultimately this maneuver is a statement of contempt for the State of Israel and all that it stands for.  There are consequences of such a decision, it would also release Israel to take whatever unilateral moves its Government decides.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ban Ban

Secty Gen of the UN Ban-ki Moon visited Israel after the Gaza Donor's Conference in Cairo and met with PM Netanyahu.  Ban made several statements in his comments that are at least questionable if not factually incorrect:
1. Israel occupies Gaza:  Israel does NOT occupy Gaza, there is not one Israeli soldier or civilian within the borders ot Gaza.  This is pure Palestinian propaganda that officials such as Ban should not be repeating.  Since the disengagement policy of PM Sharon in 2005, all Israeli presence was removed from Gaza.  Israel does have a blockade of Gaza, that is obviously necessary in view of the recent actions of Hamas firing missiles into Israeli territory and digging attack tunnels under the Israeli border.  Such a blockade is legal under international law.  Israel allows food, drugs and building materials into Gaza, but only after they have been checked for illicit weapons and missiles.
2. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law:  This is not true, the settlements in the West Bank are legal because the West Bank was intended under the British Mandate to be part of the Jewish State.  Its occupation by Jordan between 1948-1967 was illegal and not recognized by international law.  There has been no Arab or Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank ever, since the British defeated the Turks in WWI and were awarded a Mandate by the League of Nations in 1922 to establish a Jewish Homeland in Palestine (nothing was said about an Arab State in Palestine).  Therefore, absent a negotiated agreement, Israel has the right to build settlements in what is at most disputed territory.  However, some of the so-called settlements are actually suburbs of Jerusalem that was integrated into Israel in 1967.
3. Israel is acting provocatively on the Temple Mount: Actually Israeli forces are acting against the provocations of Palestinian rioters who are throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli worshippers below them at the Western Wall and preventing visitors from ascending to the Temple Mount.  The police fought pitched battles with hundreds of rioters and eventually managed to lock them within the Mosque complex,  while some were arrested.  This culminates a period of months in which the police have been criticized for allowing the Palestinian demonstrators to take over areas of the Temple Mount and continually prevent Israelis from praying and visiting there.
4. Netanyahu criticized the use of UN facilties in Gaza by Hamas: He stated that the UN is not acting vigorously to prevent UN facilties, including UNRWA schools and storage facilities, from being used as stores for Hamas missiles and also being used as firing points for Hamas missiles against Israeli civilian targets. Hamas uses UN centers filled with civilians as human shields in its attacks.
Overall one can see that the UN Secty Gen. is a shill for the Palestinian/Arab position and although he pays lip service to the fact that Israel is and has been a recognized member of the UN for 66 years, he speaks and acts as an advocate for the Palestinians. So much for the UN itself and its supposed system of international legitimacy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The changing Middle East

Prof. Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, spoke at Netanya AACI.  This is my brief summary of his talk.  His initial message was that the Middle East is not what it used to be.  Those who thought that there might be a peaceful era in the 2000s have been very disappointed, including Pres. Obama, who went to Cairo in 2005 to deliver his message of peaceful coexistence.  The whole group of military dictatorships that had controlled the Arab World and had maintained the State status quo, namely Libya under Qaddafi, Egypt under Mubarak, Syria under Assad, Yemen, Tunisia and so forth have all been swept away. The outcome of the so-called "Arab Spring" has not been a fluourishing of democracy as the more optimistic thought, rather the reverse.  The contested regimes that have emerged from the chaos are anything but democratic, they range from a mild authoritarian regime in Tunisia, through a reversion to military control in Egypt (even though Gen. al Sisi was elected President) to the totalitarian Islamic State, that massacres and beheads opponents.
Perhaps we should have expected something like the Sunni Islamic State, since politics abhors a vacuum, and the abdication of the US role in the Middle East by the Obama Administration, by their withdrawal from Iraq and reduction of forces in Afghanistan left the field to the disgruntled Sunnis.  By supporting the pro-Shia regime of Pres. al-Maliki in Iraq and failing to take any direct action against the Assad regime in Syria, the US left the power vacuum that former al Qaeda supporters like al-Baghdad, the self-proclaimed Caliph of the IS, have filled.  The eastern Anbar province of Iraq was easy pickings for a Sunni Islamist military organization from Syria.  They now control the area from Aleppo in the east to Mosul in the west and have ca. 10 million people under their control.  They are a state in the making.  The States of Syria and Iraq, which were originally the invention of the French and British imperialists respectively, according to their Sykes-Picot Treaty during WWI, no longer really exist as we knew them.
We all must change our perspective, what we thought we knew before must be jettisoned, we must adapt to a new set of criteria in the Middle East.  For example, when he was a graduate student doing research on the Middle East in London Prof. Rabi came across an exchange of corespondence between Winston Churchill, then the Colonial Secretary, and the Deputy High Commissioner in Baghdad Col. Arnold Wilson.  In it Churchill questions whether the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shia could be expected to coexist together in the new State of Iraq, Wilson assured him confidently that they can and there would be no problem on that score.  Fast forward 100 years and we can see how wrong that prediction was. Actually the only thing that united them was opposition to the British.  We must learn that what matters in the Middle East is allegiance to sect (Sunni or Shia), ethnic group (Kurd or Arab) and religion (Christian, Muslim).  Democracy, human rights and elections are concerns of the west, not of the east.   

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Gaza Donor's Conference

The Gaza Donor's Conference is taking place in Cairo, under the sponsorship of the Egyptian Government headed by Gen. Al Sisi, but without the presence of Israel.  This is ridiculous, since Israel is central to any reconstruction in Gaza, and most of the goods needed for the rebuilding work must be routed through Israel.  However, some Arab States, particularly Qatar, refused to attend if Israel was present, and Qatar has pledged to donate b$1 to the reconstruction of Gaza.  Since Qatar has been bankrolling Hamas in its war against Israel, this runs counter to the strong opinions expressed by the Western representatives in Cairo, that any donations must be linked to a pledge by the Palestine Authority and Israel to restart peace negotiations.  For example, US Secty of State Kerry and Quartet representative Tony Blair made this a feature of their speeches, that there is no point in rebuilding Gaza if we will be back in a few years again asking for donations to rebuild Gaza once again after the next round of hostilities.  Gen. Al-Sisi proposed to renew the Arab Peace Initiative, which was unacceptable to Israel in its original form.
But, although the PA was represented at the Conf. by Pres. Abbas, Hamas was also not represented, even by the so-called Unity Government of the PA.  So both the actual parties to the recent war are not represented at the conference, so the likelihood of any improvement of the situaton before the resonstruction of Gaza and then another round of hostilities and destruction of Gaza is essentially nil.  The only positive feature of the Conf. apart from collecting money to reconstruct Gaza, is that the money should be channeled through the PA, which until now has been excluded from Gaza since the Hamas coup of 2007.  If the PA holds the actual funds can they be trusted (a big if) not to allow the funds to be diverted once again to rearming Hamas, rebuilding its attack tunnels under Israel's border and preparing for the next round of hostilities against Israel.  But, since the PA is now in a Unity Govt. with Hamas and since Pres. Abbas has rejected further bilateral negotiations with Israel in favor of unilateral moves at the UN for a Palestine State, this is not likely.
Only two things can be stated with any confidence, first Israel will not attack Gaza without provocation, second Israel will not allow open borders with Gaza that would allow them to import arms, rockets and building materials with which to rebuild their military infrastructure.  If the international community wants Israel to remove the blockade of Gaza they must provide believable guarantees that building materials will not be diverted and that arms and other military materiel will not be imported under the guise of reconstruction, as they were in the past.  It doesn't matter how much money is pledged for reconstruction of Gaza, if Israel's valid security interests are not taken into account, this will be an exercise in futility.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Travel medicine

Prof. Steve Berger's specialty is unusual. He is Associate Professor of  Medicine at Tel Aviv University and Director of Geographic Medicine at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv.  He spoke at Netanya AACI about his sometimes hair-raising experiences in his chosen specialty.
He showed a one foot long parasite removed from an Israeli woman's nose after she spent some time in Romania visiting relatives on a farm.  She had six other parasites in her stomach.  She caught these from eating vegetables that had not been properly washed.  In most countries the water used for growing and often washing vegetables and fruit is contaminated with all sorts of diseases.  The most common form of traveler's sickness is of course diarrhoea, that can be very dangerous and even fatal for children.  One couple who were very careful about not drinking the water caught diarrhoea from the ice used in their drinks at a bar.
The commonest group of diseases however, are infectious diseases, such as malaria, caught from mosquito bites.  In fact, there are at least 5 kinds of malaria spread by different types of mosquitoes, which also transmit 50 other diseases.  Israel has mosquitoes, but has eradicated malaria completely.  However, another mosquito-borne disease is West Nile Fever, but it is also prevalent in the USA and elsewhere. The easiest protection is an anti-mosquito repellent that really reduces the incidence of insect  bites and should be used in all mosquito-infected countries.  Other forms of infection come from fly bites, such as African sleeping sickness from the tsetse fly and Lyme disease  from ticks, often transferred from animals.  It is best to wear long trousers and sleeves in tropical countries and not to pet any animal, domestic or wild.  But, often these so-called "tropical" diseases, are in fact common in sub-tropical countries; for example, mosquito bites and exotic viruses are common in Sweden, and Lyme disease that comes from a tick is common on the East coast of the USA (it's named for  Lyme, Conn).
There are very few diseases in Israel which could be acquired by tourists in Israel, and several more which are contracted by Israelis living abroad.  By contrast there are dozens of exotic diseases in the USA, which are not found in Israel and could be acquired by foreigners and tourists.  The most recent well-publicized example of a travel-related disease is Ebola.  Although the patient who was infected and brought this into the US has since died (in isolation) he may have contacted hundreds of others, and this virus is extremely transmissible.  The USA may be forced to start checking every visitor and isolating any who show symptoms (fever, vomiting).  The best defense against an illness like that is not to go anywhere near West Africa.  Other examples are dengue fever and yellow fever, so it is important to get the appropriate advice and shots when going to a tropical country.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Random beheadings

The phenomenon of "random beheadings" has already begun in western countries.  On May 23,  Lee Rigby, a soldier returning to his barracks in Woolwich London, was run down by two Nigerians, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, in a car and was then stabbed and beheaded by them in broad daylight.  They did not run away, but stayed and told bystanders that this was an act of Islamic retaliation for the killing of Muslims in "our lands."  They were arrested and are still in custody.

On Sept 4 the body of an 83 year old woman, Mrs. Palmira, was found beheaded in her back garden in Edmonton, London. A man who was a convert to Islam, wielding a machete, was later arrested by police after he tried to attack two other people in the area.  On Sept. 26 a man reportedly beheaded one woman and stabbed another at his former workplace in Oklahoma shortly after being fired. The man was then shot by an off-duty police officer.  Both the suspect and the woman who was stabbed are expected to survive.  The suspect, Alton Alexander Nolen, is a 30-year-old man who has been trying to convert his coworkers to Islam, but this beheading was not designated a terrorist act.
Of course, everyone knows about the beheadings of the two US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in the past months by IS in Syria, in supposed retaliation for the US-led air attacks against IS positions.  Also a British journalist David Haines was beheaded as well as recently the aid worker Alan Henning.  A French photojournalist Hervé Gourdel was also captured and beheaded by IS sympathizers in Algeria.

This is terrorism, the infliction of a sense of terror in the population in every day life by such gruesome acts.  We in Israel know the feeling well from the continuing campaign of terrorism against our civilian population by Palestinian terrorists.  British PM David Cameron described the beheading of Henning as "absolutely barbaric," we feel the same about the random killings of Israelis, such as the barbaric murder of the three Jewish teenagers in June on the West Bank, by Hamas terrorists.  Although the means of killing differ slightly, the effect is the same, the murder of innocent individuals for a political purpose, this is terrorism.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


In his prophetic story "The Land Ironclads" written in 1903, the British author H.G. Wells foresaw the introduction of what were later called "tanks" into land warfare.  He described a war between the "men of the country" against the "the men of the city," and it was the latter who were innovative, who introduced the "land ironclads", large metal clad containers that were mobile and that had men inside them, protected from enemy fire, who fired through holes in the armor and were able to shoot and defeat the enemy.  Note that this was before the ravages of trench warfare of WWI and the actual introduction of tanks into warfare in 1916 by the British.  It was the introduction of the tank that revolutionized land warfare in the 21 years between the end of WWI and the beginning of WWII.  Note also that Wells predicted that the men of the city, small, clever and innovative ("nerds"), would always defeat the men of the country, who were large, physical ("jocks"), but dependent on age-old means of war, such as horses and cavalry.  H.G. Wells was also, of course the inventor of the genre of "science fiction" with his stories "The Time Machine" (1895) and "The War of the Worlds" (1898).
It is not a great leap of faith to go from Wells' two groups of protagonists to identify the "men of the city " with the West and the "men of the country" with the Islamists (previously the Nazis).  We have not only tanks and fighter jets (as well as air superiority) but also the control of vast amounts of technology, control of cyberspace and the means of electronic communication.  If we can't defeat a bunch of crazy barbarian ideologues whose main  means of fighting is the pick-up truck-mounted machine gun (an iron horse), then we are in for a great holocaust.  One might argue that the "barbarians" in this case are able to use technology, such as flying airplanes into tall buildings as in the World Trade Center attack of 9/11/01 and the effective use of social media to radicalize and gain adherents, but note that they are using our own technology against ourselves.  They do not have the means to develop new technology, such as the Iron Dome anti-missile system, themselves.
Western Judeo-Christian civilization (for want of a better descriptor) has the concept of "progress" embedded in it.  Every now and then we do have "back to nature" and "back to simplicity" movements, such as the hippie movement of the 1960s, with its cults and communes, and various "utopian" movements.  But, generally speaking they have not stopped progress, for example going from radio to television to the internet or from records to tapes to CDs and DVDs to solid state memory devices.  Even with our hands tied behind our backs by weak, ineffectual leadership and legalisms, we will still defeat those who want to go back to a medieval concept of living the life of Mohammed in 7th century Arabia.  We do not want to go back, we want to go forward, and the future is with us.  

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Israeli intelligence on IS

Although Israel is not a formal member of the coalition of now 50 countries that the USA has gathered together to join in the fight against the Islamic State, it has been reported that nevertheless Israel is providing vital intelligence information to the US in order to carry out its attacks against IS targets, particularly in Syria.  How has Israel obtained this intelligence?  There are two sources, first Israel has been constantly flying drones over Syrian territory throughout the three years of the Syrian civil war.  As such, Israel had significant information such as that used to locate most of the Syrian caches of chemical weapons.  Also, as the war has ebbed and flowed, Israel has been able to follow the development of the IS-held territories.
Second, Israel has treated in its hospitals several hundred patients who were injured in the fighting near the Syrian-Israel border.  These are both Syrian Army soldiers as well as fighters of the opposition, the Free Syrian Army and the Al Nusrah Front.  Recently during the fighting for Kuneitra, there were many casualties and several of these who were too badly injured for local treatment and who could not be transferred to Damascus hospitals, especially if they were in the opposition, were transferred via the UNDOF (the UN Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria) into Israel, where they have been treated in several hospitals in the north.  Among these are fighters of the Al Nusrah Front, that although they are Islamists, they have also been fighting against the IS as well as the Assad regime.
One of these fighters, whose body was riddled with shrapnel and whose life was saved in Poriya Hospital near Tiberias, was a special source of detailed information about IS (his name cannot be revealed for obvious reasons).  He had transferred his allegience from Al Nusrah to IS at an earlier stage of the war, as many fighters did, but he became disillusioned.  He decided that he joined up to fight against Assad and not to murder Kurds and others who were also fighting against Assad.  His IS officer became suspicious of him and had him sent to Raqqa, the center of IS in eastern Syria for interrogation.  However, he managed to escape and mingle with refugees, crossed the border into Turkey and then re-entered Syria again further west and rejoined his original Al Nusrah unit.  He was able and willing to give the military intelligence branch of the IDF detailed information of the disposition of IS and Al Nusrah forces in much of Syria.  His information is being used to help guide the US-led attacks on IS installations in eastern Syria.  Some of these attacks are being carried out by other air forces, including that of Saudi Arabia.