Friday, November 28, 2014

Follow IsBlog

Dear friend:

You have been receiving the daily postings from my blog, IsBlog (Israel Blog) that I have been sending to you by e-mail.  In order to improve and update my process, I am changing to a new format.  In future, the postings that I place on the website, will automatically be sent to you by e-mail, once you have added your e-mail address to the site as a follower.
If you want to continue receiving my blog, then you only have to do this once:
  • simply go to
  • find "Follow Blog Via Email" on the right hand side
  • insert your e-mail address into the box and press the 'Click to Follow' button
  • You will then receive an email from Wordpress where you must click the 'Confirm Follow' button in order to receive my blog.
This will enable me to simplify my process and also enable me to expand the number of recipients that has, until now, been limited by the number of e-mails that can be sent from the e-mail server.
I modestly hope you will choose to continue to receive my brilliant, incisive, informative and sometimes humorous missives.
Best regards
Jack Cohen

Punishment or justice?

The Israel Government recently re-introduced a method for dealing with terrorism in the wake of the recent wave of attacks that have taken the lives of 11 Israelis in a month.  The tactic is the destruction of their houses and also the expulsion of those who have been given Israeli id.  This applies particularly to the families of terrorists who have been killed in suicide attacks or attacks where they have been shot dead while committing a terrorist act.  How can you punish them if they are already dead?  The only way is to punish their family, so that future potential terrorists will be deterred.  This tactic works because young men and fathers are loath to cause the destruction of their family home and/or the expulsion of their wives and children from Israel, where they receive all sorts of benefits, including welfare.  We know this works because the former wave of suicide terrorism died out partly due to this punishment.
    Some of the British readers might regard this treatment as harsh, but actually this was the legal means of punishing Jewish fighters used by the British forces during the Mandate (1922-48).  It was declared legal by the British judiciary and was carried out by HM forces.  The Israeli Govt. merely adopted it and continued it, since if the British said it was legal it must be. By the way the civilized British used this tactic throughout their Empire.
    The expulsion is also legal, since when Israel captured the area in 1967 Arab residents of E. Jerusalem were given Israeli id, but not citizenship.   But, this is not permanent, it is revocable.  The families of the terrorists who drove a bulldozer into people last year,  the men who killed the 4 rabbis and the Druse policeman in a Jerusalem shul last week, and the man who drove his car into a queue and killed a woman and baby, are affected.  Some of these people and their families are in fact from the West Bank and have no permanent rights in Israel.  Two of the other attackers are in custody, the man who drove his van into a woman and stabbed her and the man who stabbed the soldier to death.
    Another Israeli death due to terrorism has been revealed, a construction worker who fell to his death from a building site in Petach Tikva has been found to be a terrorist incident.  His Arab co-workers cut the rope while he was suspended doing work on the building and he fell to his death. Three of his co-workers have been arrested.
    This tactic of destroying the houses of terrorists has been criticized by human rights groups as being "collective punishment," punishing the wives and family of the terrorist for his actions.  But, in trying to protect its citizens from such terrorist attacks, the Government is allowed to use extreme measures, and there is no reason why the family of a Palestinian terrorist should be immune from the consequences of his actions as well as benefiting from public welfare.  It's as if a Mexican family illegally entered the US and the husband killed someone and the wife then receives a pension, its just not right.  Also, other governments, including the British, are looking for ways to counteract the current wave of terrorism from the returning Syrian ISIS fighters.  PM Netanyahu is sponsoring a new bill in the Knesset that will bring together many anti-terrorism features, including stripping Israel Arabs who carry out terrorist attacks of their Israeli citizenship and deporting them after they serve their sentence and many other actions, including the destruction of houses of terrorists and the deportation of their families.
    People have asked why the homes of Jewish terrorists have not been demolished, but there is no comparison.  I can think of only four deaths caused by Jewish terrorists (Yitzhak Rabin assassinated by Yigal Amir; the massacre carried out by Baruch Goldstein; the shooting of passengers aboard a bus in Galilee; the death of the Arab boy Khdeir in retaliation for the murder of the three Israeli teens), but by comparison there have been hundreds of murders of Jews by Arab terrorists, and if you include the intifada, thousands.  So these measures are being used to counteract a wave of Palestinian Arab terrorism that is killing our civilians, and it must be stopped.  Any legal means are justified.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Own house in order

The State Department is continually preaching the Obama liberal agenda to Israel, treating Israel as an equal of the Palestinians and the other Arab States, and not as a true and loyal ally of the US.  What other country in the whole region can the US depend on, Turkey? Jordan? Egypt? Lebanon? Iraq? Saudi Arabia? Afghanistan? Pakistan?  From Europe clear across the globe to east Asia there is no militarily capable and pro-western country other than Israel.  Yet, when Israel builds a few houses in Jerusalem, we are criticized and talked down to, when the Knesset considers a bill regarding the nature of Israel as a Jewish State, we are lectured on democracy.  I say, put your own house in order first.  The rioting in Ferguson and across the US is worse than the rioting in Jerusalem and the trigger-happy white cops in the US are far worse than the border police in Israel, who have to deal with Palestinian terrorists and rioters all the time.  

It is demeaning and unnecessary for the State Dept. spokesman to lecture the Israeli Government and Israeli legislators on what they should or should not be doing.  It is direct interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, that the US would never do to other countries, even its enemies.  If the spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry lectured the US Government on how it should handle the riots in Ferguson, or its racial problem, or its immigration problem, or the policies of the housing department of Washington DC, would that be appropriate?  Of course, not.  So tell the US to stop meddling in the interal affairs of Israel.  We don't need the benefit of your supercilious advice, we don't need to be lectured about democracy.
This is not only my opinion, but that of many Israeli legislators and officials.  For example, Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett  stated:
"I say to the Americans that the affairs of the State of Israel - we will manage. At the end it is our problem. This is an internal issue and I think that no one has the right to intervene with it."   I say to the US put your own house in order before you criticize us.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another extension on Iran

Can you ever remember a time when the West was not negotiating with Iran to prevent their development of a nuclear weapon?  This has been going on for six years, I believe.  The latest round has been one year, between Iran and the so-called P5+1, namely the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, with the EU also represented.  That negotiation also failed and was already extended once.  Now today the negotiations failed again and were extended again for another 7 months, with the hopeful plan to conclude them in 4 months.
What are they negotiating about?  The international community are trying to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear state, i.e. developing a nuclear weapon.  The Iranian Government assures everyone publicly that they do not intend to weaponize their nuclear capability and only want to develop peaceful applications of nuclear technology, which every state should be allowed to do.  But, most people are skeptical and don't trust them.  How do we know we can't trust them?  As PM Netanyahu has said, why does an oil-rich state need such a large nuclear industry?  Why does a country like Iran need to make large quantities of highly enriched uranium that can only be used for bombs? Why does Iran need thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium?  Why does Iran need to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, if not to deliver a nuclear warhead?  And why did Iran keep most of its uranium enrichment facilities secret for a long time until they were discovered?  Would you trust these Ayatollahs, who answer only to Allah?  Would you trust the Iranian Government that is the major source of terrorism throughout the world?  On many occasions Pres. Obama and other western leaders have stated categorially, "we will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon."  But, so far Iran has kept them talking and playing for time, while it no doubt continues to improve its capability surreptitiously.
What has Iran to fear?  Mainly sanctions, placed by the US and the West against their trade and financial institutions.  There is no doubt that these sanctions are hurting Iran, but in a country where the elite cares little about the suffering of the people, as long as the gain for Shia Islam and Iran are strategic, they are prepared to accept the sanctions, but will never give up on their nuclear ambitions.  So they keep stalling.  According to the statements by the Western negotiators the talks have progressed, although there is no admission regarding what has actually been gained.  We are told that the Iranians are cooperative and that advances have been mainly technical.  At the same time, according to the Head of the International Atomic Energy Commission, Iran is still refusing to grant access to its nuclear sites in defiance of already signed agreements.
But, once again as PM Netanyahu has said, and others have echoed, no agreement is better than a bad agreement.  It is better that the talks have been postponed and will recontinue than that the West would have accepted no significant gain while easing the sanctions.  The Republican Congress wants to vote tougher sanctions on Iran, but Pres. Obama has asked them to delay this, to give the extended talks another chance.  US Secty of State Kerry claims that they have managed to extend the so-called "break-out time" the time that Iran would need to quickly achieve enough enriched materal to make a bomb.  But, this is highly questionable, since estimates of the break-out time vary widely.  Although Iran's bomb would be a threat to all the world, Israel and the Sunni Arab states would be most threatened.  Israel reserves the right to take action if it feels that the Iranian threat has not been stopped by the continuing negotiations and that Iran is ont eh point of prodcueing a bomb.  Hopefully this will never happen, but if it does hopefully Israel will find supporters, if not allies, among the Sunni Arab States.  Such an eventuality could change the face of the world.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Secular discoveries

They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound
They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother when they said that man could fly
They told Marconi wireless was a phony, it's the same old cry
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin
The following discoveries and inventions are what helped to develop and transform our secular society, and the people who invented and implemented them are the modern equivalents to saints in our secular society.
  • According to the historian L.T. White, it was the invention of the stirrup that transformed society, allowing armies of men to ride on horseback for days and fight in formation as cavalry.  This brought about the development of feudal society. 
  • The development of the loom allowed cloth to be manufactured, first in cottages, then in factories and finally in huge mechanized textile industries, fostering the industrial revolution.
  • The gun was invented by the Chinese in the 10th century based on their invention of gunpowder.  Many varieties of guns, from small revolvers to huge artillery pieces were developed over the centuries.
  • Galileo developed his first effective telescope in 1608, followed by improvements from Kepler in 1611, Huygens in 1655 and Newton in 1668.
  • Robert Hooke first used a microscope to describe cells in 1667 and this was improved on by van Leeuwenhock in 1675.
  • The first description of the circulation of blood and the function of the heart was by William Harvey in 1623.
  • The first physical law that was established was Boyle's law in 1662 that describes the relationship between the volume and pressure of a gas.  This resulted in the understanding of thermodynamics and led to the use of steam engines in transportation and the industrial revolution.
  • The first steam locomotive railway was opened in 1803 by Richard Trevithick in Wales to haul 10 tons of iron in one run.
  • The first internal combustion engine that uses gasoline (petrol) was patented in 1823 by Atkinson in the US and was greatly improved over the years by Otto, Benz, Daimler, Diesel and eventually Ford.
  • The first ocean-going iron hull steamship designed by Isambard Brunel crossed the Atlantic in 1845.
  • The first major oil discovery was at Oil Creek in Pennsylvania in 1859, and it greatly increased interest in internal combustion engines.
  • An efficient process for the production of steel was invented by Henry Bessemer in 1856 and exploited by Andrew Carnegie to build steel rails and girders for bridges and buildings starting in 1875.
  • The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876.
  • Marconi invented the telegraph and pioneered radio in 1897   
  • The electric light, the gramophone and moving films were invented by Thomas Edison from 1876 -1908.
  • Alernating current electricity for general use was introduced by Nikola Tesla in 1886.
  • Ignaz Semmelweis was the first to show that germs are responsible for a human disease in 1847, by having physicians wash their hands this reduced mortality from childbirth from 18% to 2%.
  • Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch proved that microorganisms are responsible for infectious diseases in the 1860s.
  • Proteins as a group were discovered by Jakob Berzelius in 1830.
  • DNA was discovered by Friedrich Miescher in Tubingen in 1869.
  • Walther Flemming was the first to describe the process of cell division (mitosis) in detail in 1879.
  • Max Planck formulated the quantum theory in 1900
  • Albert Einstein was the genius who realized that time is relative to the observer in his revolutionary relativity theory of 1905.
  • Hans Bohr described the first satisfactory model of the structure of the atom consisting of a nucleus and electrons in 1913.
  • The Wright Brothers carried out the first successful heavier than air flight by man in 1902.
  • The first commercial flight took place in Florida, USA, in 1914.
  • The Haber process for the fixation of nitrogen chemically from the air was developed by Fritz Haber in 1918.
  • From 1902-1921 Vilhelm Bjerknes established the basis of scientific meterology.
  • The first antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1926.
  • The first electronic television process was invented by Logie Baird in 1926.
  • William Shockley at Bell Labs invented the transistor in 1949 allowing the development of electronics.
  • Alan Turing built the first effective computer in 1943 and described the concept of the electronic computer in 1950.
  • Oswald Avery proved that DNA was the genetic substance in 1944 at Rockefeller Institute.
  • Watson and Crick described the double helical structure of DNA in 1953.
  • Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs built the first personal computer, the Mac, in 1976.
  • Bill Gates introduced the first successful computer operating system from Microsoft in 1980.
  • The world-wide-web or internet was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989
This is by no means a complete list. These advances were attained with great risk in some cases and with great effort.  It shows how many individuals in different areas were needed to give rise to the society we know today.  This secular society is not dependent on belief or religion, but is primarily dependent on science, technology, innovation and entreprenurship.  It is the only society developed by man that can provide improved individual consumer satisfaction and increased affluence.  By comparison those who seek to return to a religion-based society or a non-competitive model of society are doomed to failure.  They need to use the technology developed by this secular society, but they can never advance or improve on it.
The Arabs and Muslims need to develop the concept of toleration, just as we Jews have, so that others can live in peace beside them.  It is this arrogant nonsense that they (Muslims) have the only allowed belief system, as the Christians used to believe before western society became secular, that must be dropped and replaced.  Only when that happens will the violence subside.

Monday, November 24, 2014


People are sometimes distraught when more murders of innocent Jewish victims occur at the hands of ruthless Palestinian Arabs.  Will it never cease?  How could a man run down a young woman in his van, then turn around and park and cross the road with a knife and systematically stab her to death.  Two people tried to stop him and were also stabbed, until he was shot several times, but is still alive in hospital in Israel, receiving excellent health care.  A youth attacked and stabbed a young soldier at random at the busy Haganah train station in Tel Aviv, and stabbed him until he died of his wounds. This Palestinian Arab was captured and is in prison.  Two Palestinian terrorists entered a synagogue in Jerusalem  while Jews were praying and murdered 4 of them as well as a Druse policeman in cold blood.  There is such hatred, it is almost incomprehensible.  Yet, similar things occur in the US almost every month, a student with a gun goes into a school and shoots dead from 1 to 20 people, and for what reason?  It makes no sense, yet it happens all the time. The common theme is that these murderous acts are irrational.
It has been noted that such murders of Jews have been going on here for over 100 years.  From the time Jews reappeared on the scene, although some Arabs welcomed them and worked with them, but most have responded violently.  There were murders of Jews in the 1880s, the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s and on and on.  What is the origin of this intense hatred, primarily it is tribal.  Yes, it has a religious origin, in the exclusiveness of Islam, the belief that all men must be either converted to Islam (submission) or must die.  We see this process working very efficiently nowadays in the region of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, where massacres and beheadings on religious, ethnic and tribal basis are unfortunately commonplace.  What could oppose and prevent these kind of acts?  Unfortunately only defeating the armies of the religious extremists will work in the short run.  And this is also true of the Palestinian fanatics, but in the longer run the only solution is secularization.
Secularization is the process that has occured throughout the Western world as a consequence of two related things, the rise of science and the demise of Christianity.  The democratization of the West has occured gradually over hundreds of years as a result of a process in which the hold that religion, in this case Christianity, had over the minds and lives of men was gradually reduced, and the rights of the individual, the concept of human rights, has taken hold.  The development of science played a very important role in this process, since it has replaced religion as the ultimate source of authority in our societies.  We no longer go to the priest for the answer to all our questions, we go to the scientist and the doctor.  Scientific medicine and hygiene has doubled our life expectancy over the course of the last century.  The only societies that have thrived in the modern world are those that have embraced science and secularization.
In secular society, in principle, it is not important what an individual believes as far as religion is concerned, as long as he or she adheres to the basic laws set down by secular society.  These laws, civil and criminal, may be derived from religion, but now stand independently, and must have an indepengent judiciary to implement them, and there must be free speech and a free press and protection of minority rights.  All these factors are the basis of a modern liberal democracy that tolerates individual differences in belief.  No society based on religion can compare to the kind of society that has evolved in the West.  We see the return to a purely religious concept of a medieval society as retrograde and dangerous, and we must oppose it. 
I wish that Palestinian society showed signs of secularization and democratization, but it unfortunately does not.  They oppose the existence of a Jewish State, Israel, as they oppose the existence of Jews, on the basis of blind hatred driven by religious and tribal fervor.  The only short term solution is to fight them and defeat them, the only long term solution is secularization.  And the only way I see this happening is for Israel to take over these areas and force them to accept our version of a secular state, in which minority rights are respected and all religious views are tolerated.  Whether or not Islam can co-exist with secularization is still a question.  Turkey was supposed to have been the example that proves the rule, but now that looks increasingly unlikely.  In effect, secularization is the only cure for religious domination of society.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

No discrimination

This week PM Netanyahu made an important statement, that was supported by all his Coalition colleagues as well as the opposition.  He opposed a decision by the Mayor of Ashkelon to bar all Arab workers from working on construction projects and in schools and kindergartens in Ashkelon.  The Mayor said the reason was that parents are afraid to send their children to school with Arabs present, who could attack them, just as they had attacked Jews praying in a synagogue in Jerusalem.  It's true that there is little if any protection for schools and kindergartens from such an attack.  The police cannot protect every building and institution in the State.  On the other hand, the majority of innocent Arabs should not be punished for the actions of the small violent minority.  The fact is that the vast majority of Israeli Arabs (we are not talking about Palestinian Arabs who live in the territories and are much more radicalized) want to live a peaceful life and are loyal to the State of Israel.  At no time during any of Israel's wars has there been a major uprising of the Israeli Arab population.  There certainly has been radicalization of the youth, but apart from certain outbreaks of violence, the majority do not participate in violence or terrorism.  By punishing them all it only drives them into the hands of the extremists.
A notable feature of the current wave of terrorism and rioting in Jerusalem has been the fact that it is almost totally Palestinian Arabs living in East Jerusalem, who have Israeli id cards, but are not citizens and cannot vote in elections.  There has been violence from the West Bank, for example the drivers who deliberately drove into people and killed them (4 so far in three incidents) were Hamas members from the West Bank, but there has been no large-scale rioting in the West Bank.  Also, there have been isolated incidents within Israel, for example the rioting in Kfar Kana that escalated when a young Arab was shot by the police.  There was also a major clash in the village of Abu Snan recently, when a fight broke out between Arab Muslim and Druse inhabitants of the village and 40 were injured.  The Israeli police went in and separated the two groups and restored calm.  Note that the Druse are loyal citizens of Israel and the border policeman, Zidan Saif (30), who was shot dead by the Arabs who attacked the synagogue in Jerusalem, was a Druse.  Apparently the clashes in Abu Snan started when the Muslims wore their keffiyehs to school as a mark of protest.
In years past, parents in Israel used to do a rota to guard the schools where their children went (I remember doing this in the 1970s).  The parents job was not to stop the attackers, but to act as a deterrent and also an early warning signal.  Nowadays with cell phones it should be quick and easy to contact the police.  But, if such an attack does occur at a school or kindergarten (it is terrible that we are talking about this again) then it would definitely change the situation and things would quickly deteriorate.
Note that a border policeman has been brought up on charges for shooting a Palestinian youth with a live bullet.  This was a case where a youth who was nowhere near the rioting 6 months ago suddenly fell down and was shot.  It looked from the video as if he was pretending, from the way he put his arms out to save his fall.  But, apparently he was actually shot, and since there had been no order given to use live ammunition, this was an illegal shooting.  As a consequence, after an investigation, the presumed guilty party has been found and has been charged.  We are a country of law.  The Mayor of Ashkelon is also being investigated for breaking the law against racial discrimination.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The organized massacre

An edited version of this letter appeared in The Jerusalem Post 20/11/14:
I totally disagree with the opinion expressed by Yaakov Lappin on the front page of The J. Post today ("Each attack inspires the next" 19/11/14).  He states "the latest horrific terrorist atrocity in Jerusalem appears to be the most recent in a series of unorganized Palestinian attacks, with no visible guiding hand of a larger organization behind it."   Yes, one morning the perpetrators got up and took guns, knives and an axe and found an undefended synagogue, by chance, and then went in and slaughtered Jews.  How naieve can you get?  Don't you think that this site was recconoitered, don't you think the perpetrators were prepared in advance, don't you think that they were given the go-ahead, don't you think they said their prayers before committing murder, don't you think they made sure their families were taken care of?   All of the terrorist attacks are coordinated, in secret, maybe only by word of mouth because of Israeli security, and are planned at the highest levels of the Palestine Authority. Just as Yasir Arafat did during the second intifada, but denied any connection to it.  We Jews are a monumentally stupid people, we give our enemies the benefit of the doubt, for example, most of those who went through the gates at Auschwitz believed "Arbeit macht frei."  You can't combat an evil enemy unless you know what you are dealing with. 
Jack S. Cohen
This idea that the current wave of terrorism is "disorganized" and "spontaneous" is ludicrous. It's all organized through the contacts of terrorist organizations, families, clans and political parties.  When a certain district of youths are called to go out and riot, its all arranged in advance, they know what they have to do and where to do it.  They prepare their stones and petrol-bombs, and have their knives and even guns ready in advance.  When the Jewish underground wanted to escape from Acre Prison in 1948, it was all arranged and coordinated in advance (see the film "Exodus") without the British even being aware of it.
Unfortunately, people at the highest level of the Israeli Government also show this naieve stupidity.  The head of the Shin Bet Israeli intelligence service Yoram Cohen has gone on record saying that you cannot blame Mahmud Abbas for the current unrest, rioting and murders.  He ignores the fact that Abbas directly incited his population to take up arms to prevent Jews from going up to the Temple Mount.  In fact, Yoram Cohen blames the Jews for going there, and hence providing the Palestinian Arabs with an excuse to riot and kill.  What is his policy, if we Jews give up all our rights maybe the Arabs won't have any reason to kill us any more?  How does someone with such a perverted grasp of reality become the head of intelligence?  It boggles the mind.  Dep Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely has called on PM Netanyahu to fire him as being totally unfit for his position.
As further evidence of the organization of these riots, first the Israeli customs intercepted a huge shipment at Ashdod port of fireworks, knives and taser guns headed to Beit Hanina, one of the focal points of the Palestinian riots.  You can't have a riot without the necessary material.  Also, Hamas has called openly for a "day of rage" against Israel's supposed "desecration" of the Al Aksa mosque.  This is of course a lie, there is no desecration, only police protecting the Jews praying at the Western Wall and other visitors, and PM Netanyahu has announced numerous times that there are no plans, whatever individuals might say, for the Government to change the status quo at the Mosque.   So let's get real and fight this organized wave of terrorism against us.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Political controversies

Two political controversies are roiling the Israeli Knesset these days, they are the definition of Israel as a Jewish State and the Yisrael Hayom free newspaper.  Both issues have been fiercely debated and may cause the breakup of PM Netanyahu's Government Coalition.
As part of the Coalition Agreement, the Bayit Yehudi Party led by Naftali Bennett insisted that the status of the State of Israel being a Jewish State should be enshrined in law.  Such a bill was written and submitted, but the Justice Minster Tzipi Livni, who is against this proposition, diverted the bill and had it delayed.  Bennett complained about this political maneuver to PM Netanyahu and threatened to leave the Coalition if it is not reinstated, thus possibly causing the collapse of the Netanyahu Government.
At the same time, another bill before the Knesset, this time introduced by the Labor leader Eitan Cable, would outlaw the distribution of free newspapers in Israel.  This came about because the American billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, has been financing the publication and free distribution of a newspaper called Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today), which supports the Netanyahu Government, is pro-Likud nd is the most popular newspaper in Israel.  The Labor Opposition regard this as unfair competition and want to make it mandatory that newspapers should be paid for.  Yet, they also supported free pro-Labor papers in the past, that have all gone out of business.  Many regard this political maneuver as anti-democratic and hypocritical, but every party that is a member of the Coalition except Likud has supported this bill.  
So a party on the right and patries on the left have both threatened to bring down the Netanyahu Coalition Government. In fact, the far left Meretz party leader introduced a bill to dissolve the Knesset and call for new elections.  But, this is a futile maneuver, since with the current Palestinian violence in Jerusalem and the recent Gaza war, there is little appetite for left-wing approaches in Israel and both Meretz and Labor are expected to fare worse in the next elections.  Nevertheless, although the Coalition itself is under strain, it is likely that Netanyahu will manage to hold it together, because no one really wants to go to elections now and face the uncertainty of the public's choice. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


The four more Jews and the Druse police guard murdered in the massacre at the Kehilat Yaakov Synagogue in Jerusalem during prayers yesterday  morning are further proof that there is no possibility of compromise with the Palestinians.  They have no intention or possibility of compromising with us over the existence of a Palestinian State in anything but the whole of Palestine, that for them includes Israel.  There were scenes of wild celebration in the West Bank and Gaza following the murders of these innocent Israeli Jews.  Can anyone understand rationally why they would shout "Allah Akhbar" while murdering religious Jews praying to the one God that Mohammed adopted from the Jews. 
Mahmud Abbas, the illegal ruler of the Palestine Authority, who is intending to approach the supposedly civilized UN to become the President of a recognized state, was supposed to have given up terrorism many years ago.  But, of course he will deny responsibility for this attack, just a Arafat did before him. Abbas issued a statement condemning the attack, although only after US Secty of State Kerry called him twice and pressured him.  CNN erroneously described the attack as being on a mosque, as if the Jews did it!  The BBC refused to show pirctures of the carnage in the synagogue, although they had no problem showing the deaths of people in Gaza during the recent war.  Such hypocrisy.
The basic premise of the West is at fault in dealing with the Palestinian issue. It assumes there is some kind of solution, some kind of plan that can rationally "solve" the situation, and some moves that Israel can take to persuade the Palestinians to compromise with us.  But, there actually is not.  There is no "two-state solution," it is a mirage of superficial western liberal thinking, which the good liberal Jews in the Diaspora have bought into. If only Israel did this or did that, maybe the Palestinians could be satisfied.  The Palestinians are our mortal eternal enemies, just as the Nazis were, and the only thing we can do is either defeat them or fail to survive.
At the present rate they are killing about 2 Jews per week, for the past four weeks or so.  At this rate it is going to take them a very long time to kill us all, but they are depending on terrorising us, either into accepting their dictates, or giving up altogether and running away.  What we must do is recognise reality, put guards on all our institutions, including synagogues, just as there are in the Diaspora, and fight the bastards.  Those who think that killing more of them will make them angry and upset (and frustrated) are not facing reality.  It is not their anger or frustration that is motivating them, it is an organized, calculated process of murderous attacks, to demoralize and kill us.  Those who think these attacks are spontaneous or individual are not facing reality.  We must respond in kind, as we did before, by building security fences to close them off and separate ourselves from them, and to take all the strategic locations from where they might attack us and either kill them or starve them out.  I see no alternative.
Yes, there are good Arabs, just as there were good Germans, but unfortunately the good ones don't make the attacks and don't decide the policies.  The Muslim Arabs have a peculiar culture of death, violence and killing.  To survive we must kill them more than they kill us, and yet retain our humanity, just as the Allies did durng WWII.  Ultimately its the only way to survive.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


A Scotsman, an Irishman and an Englishman go into a pub.  The Scotsman says, "I don't know about you Paddy but things are not great for us,"  Paddy replies "Things are terrible for us too right now."  The Englishman says "Yes, we have lots of problems too, I know, let's blame it on the Jews, it worked for the Germans."
Of course, today they don't only blame the Jews, but they also blame the Jewish State, Israel, that in perceived wisdom is uniquely evil and suppressive of the poor Palestinians.  Who are "they", they are the liberal-left intelligentsia and the lumpen proletariat, who are always complaining and seeking scapegoats for their ills.  Even though in the Syrian civil war some 400,000 people have been killed in an orgy of carnage, the Syrian Arabs don't make a good scapegoat.   Even though in the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, they have massacred and beheaded thousands of minorities, Christians, Kurds, Yazidis, Shia, their crimes against humanity pale (in the biased minds) against the crimes of the Israelis.  Its so ridiculous. 
Recently Israel wouldn't let the Palestinian Arab youths pray on our Temple Mount, where the Temples of David and Solomon stood, because they were rioting and throwing stones and petrol bombs at our people and the police.  But, even the US Secty of State Kerry applauded PM Netnyahu's allowing all Muslims to pray there at Friday prayers and there was no violence.  The fact is that despite all the incitement by the Palestine Authority leaders, including Mahmud Abbas, against Israel and the Jews, there has been no change to the status quo of the Temple Mount.  It has been and continues to be under the control of the Muslim religious authority the Wakf and under the jurisdiction of King Abdullah of Jordan.  Yet, Israel will be uniquely vilified, by those who in no way care about Islamic prayer.
Their mantra is that Israel is an apartheid, imperialist colonialist state.  My answer to all those who think that Israel's actions are causing these "problems," these riots, the so-called frustration of the Palestinian people (that strangely manifests itself in organized riots from time to time), is that nothing we do as Jews or Israelis can change this situation, we are blamed whether we do something or not.  Usually they focus on the building of some homes in Jerusalem, which is our capital.  My mantra is: we are here by right and we are here to stay, so get used to it.

Monday, November 17, 2014


"Aramaic" has been approved by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior as a new official designation for people in Israeli society, alongside Jew, Arab and Druse   In fact there are only a few thousand people of the Maronite Christian faith in Israel who use the Aramaic language in their liturgy.  This is somewhat surprising considering that Aramaic was the common language of the region during the time of Christ, and many Christian groups as well as Jews at the time spoke Aramaic.  But, the Muslim conquests wiped out most other languages and replaced them with Arabic, just as they wiped out most of the Jews and Christians and converted them to Islam or killed them.
I like to point out differences between Israel and the Arabs, and in this respect the contrast could not be sharper.  In central Syria and Iraq, the Christian sects are being wiped out by the Islamic State organization.  Towns where Aramaic, Chaldean and Syriac, all minority Semitic languages and religions are still surviving, are being literally wiped out by the IS fighters.  Perhaps the last Aramaic speaking town it the world was Maloula in Syria, that was recently taken over by Islamist fighters. Such minority Christians are being beheaded and massacred at the same time that Israel is recognizing their right to be considered a separate ethnic group.  This persecution is not a new process, some 350,000 Chaldean Christians were massacred in central Iraq during the 1920's and recently there has been a wave of anti-Christian violence from Egypt to Iraq.
The reasons for the current recognition in Israel are mainly two-fold, first there is a growing movement of Christians in Israel to separate themselves from the Muslim Arab majority.  Although many Christian Arabs (ca. 12% of all Arabs in Israel) still identify as Arab and support the Palestinians, nevertheless more of them, seeing the persecution of Arab Christians throughout the Muslim Arab world and their freedom to worship in Israel, are identifying more as Israelis and are volunteering (their service is not compulsory) to serve in the IDF.  In fact there is a movement centred in Nazareth run by a Christian Arab priest that is supporting the recruitment of Christian Arabs into the IDF.   
It is against this backdrop that the Aramaic Christians have come forward to be designated separate from the Arabs.  Also behind this new designation of Aramaic is increased support for Israel and a counter movement by the Palestinian Arabs to retain the support of the Christian Arabs.  However, the move is going towards support of Israel, since the Christians are free in Israel to identify themselves and worship as they want and they see and feel the continuing oppression by the Muslim Arabs against Christians throughout the Middle East.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Jewish DNA

The Institute for Sefardic and Anousim Studies at Netanya Academic College sponsored a lecture by Bennett Greenspan on "DNA of the Jewish People: Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Anousim."  It was well-attended by an enthusiastic audience and this is my summary.  Bennett Greenspan is an expert on the subject of Jewish genealogy, having had geneaology as a hobby since he was a child.  His official position is in political science, but he has founded with others the company called "Family Tree DNA," that does DNA sequence analyses for a fee in order to determine markers that could provide genealogical information about people's ancestry (see for more information).
In the nuclei of human cells there are 23 pairs of chromosomes and within these chromosomes are sequences of DNA that constitute  distinct human gene sequences (the genome) that code for specific human characteristics (the phenotype), such as eye color, hair color, skin color etc.  There are many ways of analysing the DNA sequences, but the most common are (i) the Y-chromosome, the male sex chromosome, to analyse for patrilineal sequences and (ii) the mitochondrial (mt) DNA, which is an extranuclear piece of DNA that is passed down from mother to child (of both sexes) and can be analyzed for matrilineal descent.  From sequence analyses of these sources it is possible to characterize the genetic composition of any given individual in terms of common genetic markers (called haplogroups) found in different groups of humans.  So for example people from the Middle East commonly have a haplogroup marker labeled J that is found commonly in Arabs and Jews, while people from other regions of the world (Europe, China) have other common markers.  By comparing the range of markers found in a given individual or groups of individuals (for statistical analysis) it is possible to characterize the genetic profile of a given genealogical group. 
Of course, after many thousands of years of human evolution there has been much mixing of human genes pools and consequently there are very few "pure" genetic profiles.  But, the composition and distribution of various markers can be used to characterize specific groups.  In Jewish genealogy, the first such characterization was that of Cohanim, the priestly caste, that is unique in that it requires both female descent from a Jew and male descent from a Cohen. In the first such study reported in the prestigious British science journal Nature in 1997 by Dr. Karl Skorecki of the Technion, 188 Jewish males were asked to contribute some cheek cells from which their DNA was extracted for study. Participants from Israel, England and North America were asked to identify whether they were a Cohen, Levi or Israelite.  The results of the analysis of the Y chromosome markers of the Cohanim and non-Cohanim were indeed significant, a particular marker was detected in 98.5 percent of the Cohanim, and in a significantly lower percentage of non-Cohanim.
More recent studies reported in 2010 analysed the total genome, or nuclear DNA content, rather than analyzing only the male Y chromosome or the female mitochondrial DNA, to assess similarities. The results obtained in these studies provide a statistical probability of nearness of relationship.  The results of two independent studies (see M. Balter, Science 328, 1342, 2010) were consistent, showing that Jews from the three main Diaspora groups: Ashkenazi Jews (of European origin), Sephardi Jews (of Spanish origin) and Oriental Jews (of Middle Eastern origin), showed closer genetic relationships than comparison to non-Jewish groups of the same geographic region.  Further, the European Jews showed greater similarities to Cypriot and Druze groups than to other European groups (see also my blog article Family ties 13/8/10).  
There is a view, expressed originally by Arthur Koestler in his book "The Thirteenth Tribe" (1976) that European Jews were mainly descended from converts of central Asian origins, specifically the Khazars, a Turkic tribe that was converted to Judaism in the 8th century.  This concept was expanded on recently (2008) by Tel Aviv University historian Shlomo Sands in "The invention of the Jewish people."   These can be seen as attempts by left-wing ideologues to justify their view that the Jews have no legitimate claim to the land of the Middle East and hence allows them to oppose Israel but support the claims of the Palestinians.  All genetic studies carried out so far refute these views and support the conventional view that the main Jewish groups are related to each other and not to Turkic tribes and that all Jewish groups do in fact have an origin in the Middle East.
These genetic findings have great significance for those people who we call Bnei Anousim or descendents of the Secret Jews, who were forcibly converted to Christianity by the Church in Spain and Portugal, and were persecuted as New Christians (or conversos) by the Inquisition, but who clung throughout the centuries to their ancient customs, often in ignorance of their meaning.  All over the Spanish and Portuguese world individuals are waking up to the fact that they now have the freedom to pursue their own destiny and their own heritage.  Many are contacting Bennett and his company to have their genetic profile tested to see if they may have markers indicating that they are indeed of Jewish origin.  In this way, in the long term, thousands of people who were forcibly denied their identity will hopefully be able to return to the Jewish people. 
For background on DNA sequencing analysis please see my lectures at and for a history of the study of DNA please see

Friday, November 14, 2014

The phantom leak

To those of you with a macabre sense of humor, who have been following my troubles with water, namely floods, this story will amuse you.  We came home last Friday and everything appeared normal.  But, when we tried to use the water is was turned off.  At first I thought it must be the whole building, but when I checked the cold water mains outside the front door was actually turned off.  I wondered who would have done this without informing me, maybe it was a prank of some kind.  So I turned the water back on and then went around to check if there was another flood or leak anywhere, but there was not.  So I forgot about it for a while, then the phone rang just before Shabbat and it was a neighbor to tell me that there was a problem with hot water in the building, cold water was leaking into the hot water system and the plumber, Amram my friend, had traced it to to my apartment, and so he had turned my water off.  Would I mind keeping my water off until after the weekend when Amram would come and fix my problem.
So I obliged, we filled up some bowls and pots with water and then turned the water off.  Actually it was only the cold water that was off, so we could actually run hot water, which remained cold at first.  When we needed showers and to flush toilets I turned it back on for the time.  On Sunday (a working day here) I called Amram and he came in the afternoon and explained to me that when he checked the building my apartment was the only one that was using up cold water even though we were not home and supposedly it was all turned off, so he figured that there must be a leak from my cold water system into the hot water system of the building.
We went around together checking all the taps (faucets) and could find no problem.  I thought it must be the shower, that has a swivel lever that goes from cold to hot, but after checking Amram said it wasn't that.  Then he found the washing machine and although he could not prove it, he decided it must be the problem since we keep the taps to the washing machine open all the time, so the cold water under greater pressure than the hot, could be leaking into the hot water system.  I was not convinced, but he asked me to keep the cold water tap on the washing machine closed (when not in use), and indeed it reduced the cold water flow in my apartment to nearly nothing.
So I learned two things, first check the flow meter on the water periodically, to see if it is turning around when everything is turned off, and if it is then check for leaks.  Also, I learned that you can have a visit from the plumber without actually paying him if your leak is a phantom one. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fomenting religious war

It is true that at present there is a lot of violence, there have been several murders and the Israeli Government is taking steps to put down the rioting and mayhem of the Palestinian mobs.  But, we should not be over-concerned.  First of all there is no actual threat to Israel's existence, and furthermore the dire threats of Mahmoud Abbas, the current dictator of the West Bank, are hollow.  He has no forces to counter our police and IDF, merely rag-tag gangs of undisciplined youths.  Yes, they can kill a few of us, but so far no more than that. 
In a  letter published in The Jerusalem Post (9/11/14) I suggested that there is a simple way to prevent the kind of fatal attacks that have been taking place in Jerusalem, do not employ known members of Hamas or persons formerly convicted of terrorism offences.  According to reports, the man who shot Rabbi Glick at the Begin Center was employed at the Begin Center as a cook, but was previously incarcerated in Israeli prison for security offences, and the two men who deliberately drove their vehicles into people were both Hamas members.  If the police know that, then these persons should simply not be allowed to drive in Israel, their licenses should be revoked.  This is akin to listing former sex offenders, since they are never cured of their disease.  Similarly, all Hamas members and all former terrorists, should be banned from driving and working in Jerusalem.  How many more must be killed and maimed before the police actually take preventative action.  Similarly, taking strong legal action against rioters throwing stones and petrol bombs would cause others to think twice before participating in organized riots.
PM Netanyahu announced today a series of moves to improve the security situation.  All bus stops and light rail stations in Jerusalem are being protected with concrete barriers so that the phenomenon of "vehicular homicide" will be prevented.  Also, since most of the individual attackers are members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, known members of these illegal terrorist organizations are being preemptively arrested.  Also, the number of security forces around Jerusalem, the West Bank and within Israel are being doubled and reinforced.  The forces are also being more active in confronting and counter-attacking any manifestation of violent rioting.  With these actions the current outbreak will gradually be brought under control. 
The crux of the problem is that Abbas has incited violence against the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount and has called on his followers to prevent all Jews from ascending there.  He has denied any Jewish connection to the historic site, which is a lie and is ridiculous.  In doing this he is deliberately trying to incite a religious confrontation and a religious war.  It is to be hoped that the surrounding countries will not take the bait and allow themselves to be dragged into a religious strife that is not to anyone's benefit.  PM Netanyahu has gone on record several times to assure the Arabs, and has even met with King Abdullah of Jordan who is in charge of the Temple Mount (the Haram al-Sharif), to assure him that there is no intention of changing the status quo of the site, which has been unchanged since the end of the 6-Day War of 1967.  As long as Abbas is unable to manufacture a religious war, when there is no actual basis for it, then things will eventually calm down.

Note that one reason why Abbas is doing this now, is that the Unity Government of the PA and Gaza, that he supposedly helped form with Hamas, has collapsed.  They were unable to hold a ten-year commemoration ceremony for the anniversary of the death of Yasir Arafat in Gaza, as they did in Ramallah.  It was cancelled after explosions occurred at the homes of ten leaders of Fatah in Gaza.  So Abbas needs to re-assert his control over his domain, the West Bank, and this is the way he is doing it, the usual Palestinian way, with violence, lies, murder and mayhem.  Meanwhile Gaza is quiet and no other Arab countries are following Abbas' lead.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Russia or IS?

Question: Is Pres. Putin of Russia or is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria the most significant danger to western civilization?  By "western civilization" I mean liberal democracy that protects freedom of speech and minority rights.  The problem with Russia is that under Putin Russia has become a near-dictatorship, with his switching from Pres to PM and back again.  His takeover by force of the Crimea from Ukraine has caused a major split between Russia and the West.  Now Putin has sent in a platoon of tanks as well as other offensive weapons, such as missiles that were used to shoot down the Malaysian Airlines plane with 318 lives lost.  In other words Putin is strongly supporting the pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine against the Ukrainian Government.  One could make a case that Ukraine as it exists is in fact easily divisible into two parts the pro-Russian eastern part, consisting of Donestsk and Luhansk, and the pro-European western part based in Kiev and Lviv.  But, it is an act of war to occupy and incorporate a part of another country's sovereign territory and that is what is happening.  The EU and USA cannot allow Russia to get away with this, otherwise Putin could justify taking over Transnistria (the Russian-speaking part of Moldova) and the Baltic States (again) as well as some of the Central Asian Republics to resurrect the Soviet sphere of influence.  So the question arises is, this the beginning of another Cold War?
Meanwhile, although the IS has suffered some setbacks, such as the loss of the Mosul Dam to Pesh Merga forces and the inability to take Kobani, nevertheless they still control a large swath of land through parts of Syria and Iraq.  This is mainly the Sunni heartland of the Arab Middle East, and there is widespread support for IS from the Sunnis who fear the dominance of the Shia majority in Iraq and the pro-Shia Alawites of the Assad regime in Syria.  But, the Muslim fundamentalists of IS are apparently treating the Sunni tribes of central Iraq very badly, since they are trying to dominate them and forcibly convert them to their form of Islam.  This has resulted in fighting between the two groups and massacres of Sunni tribesmen by IS fighters in Iraq.  But, IS is still a significant force, with a large income from oil sales as well as a great deal of up-to-date weapons captured from the US-supplied Iraqi Army.  There is no doubt that IS will not remain within its region of the Middle East, but has designs on Iraq, Jordan Lebanon, Syria and Israel, as well as undoubtedly sending individuals and groups back to their home countries throughout the world to bring terrorism and mayhem.
So the question remains, which is the greater threat to western civilization, Putin's Russia or the Islamic State?  At present I don't think anyone can say with any degree of certainty.  Russia is still nominally "western" and being dependent on trade with the West and the US it will certainly take a big economic hit by adopting these hostile actions.  In reality the US will have to counteract both of these threats, and it is already attacking the IS by air and making definite inroads against its capability and is applying sanctions against Russia.  The US needs a President who can act and plan ahead strategically so that the US can pursue both of these actions with increased resolve in the future.   

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wave of terror

The shooting of a resident of Kfar Kana in the Galilee by Israeli police has resulted in more rioting.  But, consider that the police went to arrest another man for throwing fire bombs at police and as their vehicle drew up a young man, Heir Hamdan (22), attacked their vehicle with a knife trying to break the windows and when one of the policemen opened the door of the van the assailant then attacked him with the knife.  When the assailant backed off a bit, the policeman then opened the door and shot him.  This action was captured on film and in my eyes was a fully justified shooting. 
What kind of idiot attacks a police car with a knife then lunges at the police with a knife as they try to exit the vehicle, he had no expectation of living after that.  Do these Palestinians think they are invincible, maybe they believe Allah will protect them from  bullets?  Nevertheless, after the event they always claim that the killing was unjustified murder and now the Israeli Arab Monitoring Committee have called a three-day national strike over the incident.  Talk about escalating the situation.  The Israeli Government has said that the shooting will be investigated, but the Police Commissioner said he views the shooting as justified.  The police throughout the country are trying to put down these riots, but they are definitely being deliberately fomented throughout the region.
In retaliation there were several attacks on Israel Jews.  A Netanya resident who went to Taibe to visit his Arab friends, was set upon by a gang of 40 Arab youths and was beaten and his car was set afire.  Luckily some local Arabs intervened and saved his life and took him to the edge of town and delivered him to the security forces.  A group of police were then sent in to restore order and arrest the gang members. 
In Tel Aviv, at the busy Haganah train station, a Palestinian Arab youth in Israel illegally, tried to snatch the rifle of a soldier.  In the struggle the youth stabbed the soldier in the gut and fled.  He was later found hiding in a building and was arrested.  The knife was recovered at the scene and the soldier unfortunately died, he was Almog Shiloni (20) from Modiin
On the West Bank, at the Etzion Junction, opposite the site where the three teenagers were kidnapped and then killed some months ago, a Palestinian Arab drove up in a truck and when he couldn't drive into the line of waiting people due to a barrier, he parked and then attacked them with a knife, he killed a young woman Dalia Lamkus (26) from Tekoa and injured two soldiers before they shot him dead.  This kind of organized "spontaneous" incident is all too familiar, Islamic Jihad the pro-Iranian terrorist organization claimed credit.  That is what we are up against and I say that any suspicious activity should be met with immediate shooting, let's get them before they get us.  Otherwise the death toll will mount.  It seems this is the beginning of the third intifada. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Poetry of WWI

In commemoration of the centenary of WWI we had a panel discussion at AACI.  Raymond Cannon gave a general introduction and background to the conflict, Elkan Levy spoke about WWI in the Middle East and I spoke about the poetry of WWI.  I will describe that here.

The Poetry and literature of WWI are unique, there has never been any other war that produced such a flowering of poetry and literature as WWI.  The reasons are complex, but one of them was the static nature of the war, millions of men sat in trenches for months waiting for the next action, they had no distractions, no papers, no books, no radio and TV and of course, no smart phones.  In WWII the fast pace of armies, the blitzkreig and the the tank battles resulted in a much more mobile pace of the war, leaving men little time to spend contemplating the fine art of poetry.  Also, in WWI the vast majority of casualties were soldiers, while in WWII the vast majority of casualties were civilians, due to the bombing of cities and the concentration camps.   Most of the literature of WWII was descriptive novels or personal stories, but the poetry of WWI was a distilled essence of the experience of the soldiers at the front. In describing the horrific conditions they experienced in the trenches, they evinced a natural opposition to war that lasted until WWII (only 21 years later) and beyond.  There were many nationalities involved in WWI, English, German, French, American, Russian, etc.  But, the English poetry that came out of WWI is unique.  In Wikipedia there are analyses of the poetry of each country, that of most takes 5 pages, that of England takes over 50.

The poetry of WWI is both extremely modern and political in the sense that it exposed the futility of the age-old concept of the nobility of dying for one’s country.  It did this not by shouting slogans, but by describing in vivid detail the suffering of the soldiers at the front.  The poetry of WWI had a profound influence on the subsequent culture of England and the West.  It led to cynicism regarding governments and the development of concepts of liberalism and human rights.  Every poet and writer must consider the sometimes opposite effects of choosing the right word and rhyme and the message he wants to convey.  Gory death cannot be described in glorified stanzas.   Gen. Montgomery, who fought as an officer in WWI and a General in WWII, was once asked what was the chief difference, and he answered that in WWI the lives of the men were expendable, while in WWII the officers had to treat the soldiers as people.

Here are some famous English poets of WWI: Rupert Brooke (1887-1915); Siegfried Sassoon (1865-1967); Edmund Blunden (1896-1974); Wilfred Owen (1893-1918); Robert Graves (1895-1985); Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918); Herbert Read (1893-1968) and many more.  At the beginning of WWI there were still a few poets who glorified war and were idealistic, such was Rupert Brooke, here are excerpts of his poetry: 

    Stands the church clock at ten to three?
     And is there honey still for tea?
   (Showing nostalgia for home).

          The Soldier
     If I should die think only this of me
     That there is a corner of a foreign field
     That is forever England.

Fortunately he died early enough, in 1915 (from a mosquito bite) to avoid the worst suffering of the War.

Wilfred Owen is perhaps the most famous of the WWI poets.  Two of his poems have entered the canon of English literature:

           Strange Meeting:
    It seemed like out of battle I escaped
    Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
    Through granite which titanic wars had groined…..

           Anthem for doomed youth:
     What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?
    - Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
     Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
     Can patter out their hasty orisons…..
    The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
     And each slow dusk the drawing-down of blinds.

This last line is a famous poetic metaphor to the memory of the fallen.

Isaac Rosenberg was born in Bristol in 1890, and studied art at the Slade School in London.  He was visiting family in S. Africa when WWI was declared.  He returned to England and enlisted in the British Army in 1914.  He fought in the trenches and was killed at the age of 28 as the war ended.   Here are some examples of his poetry:
My eyes catch ruddy necks
Sturdily pressed back -
All a red brick moving glint.
Like flaming pendulums, hands
Swing across the khaki -
Mustard-coloured khaki -
To the automatic feet.
     Dead man’s dump
None saw their spirits' shadow shake the grass,
Or stood aside for the half used life to pass
Out of those doomed nostrils and the doomed mouth,
When the swift iron burning bee
Drained the wild honey of their youth.
This last metaphor for a bullet "the swift iron burning bee" that "drained the wild honey of their youth," is for me perhaps the greatest poetic image of WWI.  Yet, Isaac Rosenberg is little known, he was forgotten for many years and his name and fame have only been resurrected in recent years.  Why was Rosenberg ignored?   He was Jewish in WWI England; he was poor; he was a private, when all the other famous poets were officers; he died young and in obscurity.  In his study “First World War Poetry” (Penguin 1979) Jon Silken compares  the poetry of Rosenberg with that of Owen:   He states, “One of the principal differences in the Owen /Rosenberg contrast is that Owen’s poems are,  in the main, recollected…Rosenberg’s lines do have fierce immediacy not present in Owen’s”; “Owen’s language narrates or carries the ideas; Rosenberg’s language is them, sensuously enacts them, and experiences them.”  One might attribute this difference not only to their different styles, but also to the fact that Owen was British and Rosenberg was Jewish, his approach is more direct and sensual. Owen like most of the officers had leave during which he could hone his poetry, Rosenberg as a private had no leave.  But Rosenberg now has a plaque dedicated to him outside the Whitechapel Library in the East End of London, where many poor Jewish intellectuals worked.

In summary, Wilfred Owen famously wrote: “This book is not about heroes.  English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them.  Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honor, might, majesty , dominion or power, except War.  Above all I am not concerned with Poetry, my subject is War, and the pity of War.

To also mention several influential novels of WWI: 
• “Goodbye to all that” is a memoir by Robert Graves, published in 1929, of his time before during and after WWI, that as its title implies rejects the cosy, stable pre-war world.  It was a very influential book.
• “All Quiet on the Western Front,” is a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a German author, also published in 1929, who experienced the trench warfare.  It is a profoundly anti-war account and influenced many.  It has been made into several movies. 
• "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh" by Franz Werfel (1933).  This poignant novel based on real historical events unfolds the tragedy that befell the Armenian people in the dark year of 1915 when the Turks systematically exterminated their Christian subjects
• "A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway (1929) is set during the Italian campaign of WWI, the book, relates the story of a US officer in the Italian ambulance corps and his love affair with an American nurse.

The long-term influence of the literature and poetry of WWI was that it opened people’s eyes to the tremendous suffering and terrible treatment of soldiers by their own armies and leaders.   It emphasized the futility of war and the need for people to have a greater say in when wars are declared and how they are conducted. It gave rise to an anti-war movement that is still with us today.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The Temple Mount

What came first, the chicken or the egg?  What came first, Palestinian violence against Israeli occupation or Israeli reaction against Palestinian violence?   I suppose the answer to this question depends on the bias of the observer.  If you are reflexively pro-Palestinian then you will answer that it's Israel's fault.  But, if you can see the Israeli pov, then you would argue that the Palestinians are naturally violent, and that their leadership exploits them and incites them. 

What are the facts: the Temple Mount was Jewish long before it became Muslim.  David and Solomon built their Temples there thousands of years ago, before the Romans destroyed the Temple of Solomon in 70 ce.  The Arabs conquered Jerusalem in 637 ce, five years after the death of Mohammed.  It is important to emphasize that Mohammed never visited Jerusalem and that the name 'Jerusalem' does not appear in the Koran.  The identification of Jerusalem with "the northern-most mosque" mentioned in the Koran from which Mohammed was supposed to have ascended to heaven was invented by the second Caliph Omar, who wanted to make it a place of pilgrimage.  Omar knew of the significance of Jerusalem to the Jews because he came from a tribe that had included converts to Judaism.

The status quo on the Temple Mount (the Haram al-Sharif in Arabic) was essentially established by Moshe Dayan after the 1967 Six-day War, when Israel reconquered the territories of Judea and Samaria from the Jordanian Arab League.  Dayan in a gesture of reconciliation gave control over the Mount to the Muslim waqf, the Muslim religious authorities, and allowed the Jordanians to retain control of it.  But, in response the waqf forbade Jews to visit the Mount.  But, also the Orthodox Jewish authorities, faced with a new situation, also forbade Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, because in their view it was too holy.  Eventually Jews were allowed to visit the Mount, but not to pray there.  In fact Jews have been arrested by the Israeli police for moving their lips in apparent prayer while visiting the Temple Mount.  The Muslims to this day deny any Jewish connection to the Mount and the visit by any Jews, particularly Israeli Ministers, can cause riots.  This is clear intimidation.  There are always rumors being circulated among the Muslims that the Jews are either undermining or attacking the Haram al Sharif.  [This was the excuse used for a major riot in 1929 in which Arabs murdered Jews in Jerusalem and carried out a massacre in Hebron that caused the British to evacuate all Jews from that CIty; there were no Jews there between 1929 and 1967 when it was recaptured by the IDF from the Jordanians.]

This status quo on the Mount has been kept by successive Israeli Governments since 1967, even though Israel remains in sovereign control of the site.  Naturally a movement has sprung up among so-called right-wing Jews that not only ascribes Jewish rights to the Mount, but also would act to take it over and declare it a protected Jewish site.  The Government of Israel understands that even though Jews have the right to ascend the Mount and even pray there, to do so will alienate a large portion of the world's Muslims and that would change the conflict with the Palestinians from a national into a religious war.  That is why PM Netanyahu has reiterated several times, including in a meeting with King Abdallah of Jordan a few days ago, that the Govt. of Israel has no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount.  In the face of Palestinian rioting and provocation, such as throwing stones and firebombs onto Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall (the Kotel) below the Mount, Netanyahu has nevertheless called for calm.

The rioting around the Temple Mount can be traced to the war in Gaza a few months ago and the killing of the three Israeli youths on the West Bank that preceded it, followed by the killing of a Palestinian youth by Israelis.  This started the rioting in earnest, but it has continued gaining strength. At first the Israeli police had a "hands-off" policy and allowed the riots to continue with minimum interference, but that clearly did not work.  The recent killings in Jerusalem of Jewish pedestrians by two Arab drivers and the subsequent shooting of the drivers has exacerbated the situation.  Also, the shooting of Rabbi Glick by a Palestinian terrorist and his subsequent killing by Israeli police led to further riots.

One can only assume that the PA under the leadership of Pres Abbas wants this violence, for several reasons.  First, they want to apply to the UN for unilateral recognition of statehood, and how better to appeal to their fellow Muslim voters than to stir up their religious emotions against Israel.  Second, the leaders of Fatah seek to outflank Hamas, there is a continuous rivalry between them for the support of the Palestinian street.   Only yesterday there were 10 explosions at the houses of Fatah leaders in Gaza that did not kill anyone, but were clearly strong warnings.  Third, the Palestinian cause around the world is being harmed by the western focus on the Islamic State, which tends to paint a negative picture of Muslim extremism.  The PA wants to take back some of the media attention it has lost.  How better than to show Israeli soldiers beating and shooting tear gas at poor Palestinian youths demonstrating for Muslim rights.  On the other hand, it is actually Israeli police trying to restore order as a result of organized and persistent rioting by gangs of Arabs at a holy site.

There is no doubt that these riots are incited by the Palestinian leadership at the highest level.  Pres. Abbas issued a call to Muslims to prevent Jews from ascending to the Temple Mount and taking it over, then when the terrorists who murdered Jews were killed he issued a letter calling them martyrs.   He described the shooting of the killer of Rabbi Glick an “assassination which was perpetrated by the murderous, terrorist gangs of the despicable Israeli occupying army…”   Finally he has called the Israeli police action attempting to restore order on the Temple Mount a case of "genocide".  So in the final analysis it is the Palestinians who are deliberately fomenting this violence and the Israelis who are trying to bring it under control.  Whether or not this will become the beginning of the third intifada (uprising) remains to be seen.  How the Obama Administration can still consider Abbas a "peace partner" is beyond reason.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Terror in Jerusalem

In another terrorist attack in Jerusalem, a Hamas member driving a van deliberately crashed into a group of border policemen, killing one, and then hit people waiting for the light rail train and injured 16 altogether.  When his van eventually crashed, he exited the van with an iron bar to attack people, but was shot dead by a policeman.  Pres. Abbas of the PA immediately issued a statement calling the man, Ibrahim al Aqari, a hero!  The border policeman killed was a Druse officer, Jidan Assad, from Beit Jann.   Such is the divide between Israel and the Palestinians.  US Secty of State Kerry called the attack an "atrocity."  In another incident three IDF soldiers were run down on the West Bank and injured, they managed to shoot the driver.  Last week in a similar incident, another Hamas member drove into a line at a rail stop killing two, including a baby and an Ecuadorian immigrant to Israel.  If anyone thinks these attacks are "coincidental" they are deluded. 
Meanwhile rioting continued on the Temple Mount by Arab youths, throwing stones and firebombs at Jewish worshippers and police. The Israeli police fought back and managed to bring the situation under control, arresting several.  There is no doubt that this is a deliberate organized campaign of violence intended to exacerabate the situation in Jerusalem before the UN considers the Palestinian request for unilateral independence. 
There is one simple way to prevent the kind of fatal attacks that have been taking place in Jerusalem, do not employ known members of Hamas or persons formerly convicted of terrorism offences.  According to reports, the man who shot Rabbi Glick last week outside the Begin Center was  previously incarcerated in Israeli prison for security offences, and the two men who deliberately drove their vehicles into people were both Hamas members.  If the police know that, then these persons should simply not be allowed to drive in Israel, their licenses should be revoked.  This is akin to listing former sex offenders, since they are never cured of their disease.  Similarly, all Hamas members and all former terrorists, should be banned from driving and working in Jerusalem.  How many more must be killed and maimed before the police actually take preventative action.  Similarly, taking strong legal action against rioters throwing stones and petrol bombs would cause others to think twice before participating in organized riots.
If the media would spend as much time covering the deliberate terrorist murders carried out in Jerusalem by Hamas terrorists, as the amount of time spent on covering the take-over of land in Judea and Samaria (called the West Bank), and as much time covering the organized Arab rioting on theTemple Mount, including throwing stones and petrol bombs at Jewish worshippers, as the amount of time spent on covering the construction of apartments in Jerusalem, only then might the viewers and readers understand the equation.  There can be no peace and no peace process while the Palestinians riot and murder Jews.  On the contrary, in response Israel will continue to absorb land and build on it as it has a legitimate right to do under international law, whatever the UN and its Arab-subservient administrators say.  Will Western leaders condemn the incitement of Pres. Abbas, a supposed peace partner, as much as they rally to criticize PM Netanyahu for pursuing the rights of the Jewish people in the Holy Land?  Any analysis based on false premises will not stand.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Israel not alone

There is a persistent rumor that Israel is alone in the world facing the Islamist threat of Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB).   In fact Israel is not alone, since there are many countries around the world that are facing similar threats from Islamist terrorist groups:
  1. Egypt: Pres. al-Sisi is currently fighting the Egyptian MB, and fellow jihadists in Sinai.  Last week 33 Egyptian soldiers were killed near Al Arish, attacks that were traced to Gaza and blamed on Hamas.  Israel and Egypt have a working relationship against Hamas. 
  2. Nigeria: the Nigerian Government is fighting Boko Haram, the Islamist terrorist organization that has kidnpped hundreds of girls, since they oppose education of women, and they have killed hundreds in attacks on Nigerian Army facilities.
  3. Kenya: the government is fighting the al Shabab terrorists from Somalia, that have attacked Malls and tourist sites and have killed hundreds of Kenyan civilians. 
  4. India: There have been periodic spectacular attacks by Islamists on Indian cities and tourist locations, such as the attack in Bombay (Mumbai) a few years ago that killed hundreds.
  5. Philippines: The southern Philippine island of Mindanao (Sulu) is inhabited by Muslims that have been fighting the central government for years for local autonomy; the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf are fighting an insurgency against the Philippine Army.
  6. China: The Muslim Ouiger people of western China have engaged in an insurrection against the Central Government for years, including carrying out terrorist bombings in Beijing and elsewhere. 
  7. UK: There have been several violent incidents of bombings in London, carried out by groups of extremist Muslims, most notably the 7/7 attack in 2005 that killed 64 people.  Several groups have been arrested since then.  Most of these terrorists have been of Pakistani origin and trained in Pakistan.
  8. France: There have been several rounds of terrorist attacks in France, most of them resulting from the very large (ca. 5 million) Muslim population of N. African (Moroccon, Algerian) origin. Their riots are getting more and more violent and attacks on Jews have become routine.
  9. Saudi Arabia: Has survived a domestic war against al Qaeda affiliates and considers Shia Iran as a major enemy.
  10. Russia: Has faced an insurgency from Chechnyan Muslim terrorists for many years and has fought two wars in Chechnya.
  11. Canada: is the latest country to have a Muslim extremist attack its Parliament building and kill its soldiers.
States do not have friends, they have interests.  Israel treads a narrow line between being a client state and ally of the USA and being a sovereign state looking after its own interests.   Clearly the USA being the only world superpower can call the shots, but on the other hand when its interests and policies, as viewed by President Obama, contradict those of Israel, what is Israel to do.  In the final analysis it must put its own interests first, it must give them priority.  Also, when the US Administration derides Israeli PM Netanyahu for having "narrow national interests," of course he does, so does every politician, including Obama.  It is now high time that Israel looks to other centers for support and alliances, most notably India (now under a nationalist BJP President), China, Russia, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Philippines, and even the Arab Gulf States, whose interests are certainly to fill the vacuum left by Obama's ill-conceived withdrawal from the region. They may not be able to replace the USA as an ally for Israel, but they will allow Israel to some extent to diversify its dependence.