Thursday, July 19, 2012
Today I'm going to start with the good stuff I never wrote about yesterday, because I was too heavy-hearted about the terror attack. What we must keep in mind -- why my sharing that good stuff is important -- is that in spite of the obscenities and the horrors, we are also making progress in some very positive ways.
Those who are devoted to Jewish rights in the Land saw this as a significant victory this week:
The Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education voted on Tuesday that Ariel University Center be accorded full accredited status as a university. It will be the first institute of higher learning to be accorded this status beyond the Green Line.
Certain criteria had to be met before this status could be achieved and the institute has been working towards this goal since the 2004-2005 academic year. It boasts 26 departments in three schools, and serves over 14,000 students -- many of whom live within the Green Line and a percentage of whom are Arab. All of the degrees it confers are recognized by the Council for Higher Education.
In the main, objections voiced to creating Ariel University were not based on objective claims of academic inadequacy. Rather, the fight that was fought was political in nature.
Consider this statement by Zahava Gal-On of the far left Meretz party, who objected that granting university status to this academic center would "bring about academic boycotts of Israel."
"The Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education, which excels in 'occupation studies,' has brought Israel to a moral low point by establishing an institution on stolen land."
The accreditation vote passed in spite of the fact that the planning and budget committee of Israel's Council for Higher Education had recommended against it. But then, that Council had previously demonstrated a reluctance to discuss academic issues beyond the Green Line, which is what had brought into creation the Judea and Samaria Council.
Minister of Education Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) wholeheartedly endorsed the accreditation of the school as a university. And Yuvel Steinitz (Likud), Finance Minister announced on Sunday that he would "pave the way" by allocating 50 million shekels in special funds to be utilized over the next two years.
Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), Coalition Chair, who heads the Knesset Lobby for Higher Education, declared that "...justice has been done in a historic process that transformed Ariel into an Israeli university.”
The commander of the IDF Central Command must still sign off on this, but, according to my information, there is not expected to be a problem.
Ariel, which is where the university is located, is a city of substantial proportions in Samaria. Founded in 1978, it now boasts a population of 18,000 plus. The fourth largest city beyond the Green Line, and the largest in Samaria, it was dubbed the Capital of Samaria by PM Netanyahu.
Not infrequently over recent years, Ariel has been discussed with regard to whether it would be retained, were there to be an agreement with the Palestinian Arabs. And this, my friends, is at the heart of the matter.
In another sphere, we are seeing progress as well:
A letter that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein wrote a few weeks ago has just come to light; it had been sent to the Jerusalem municipality, the Jerusalem police, and the Antiquities Authority.
The thrust of his message, which went to legal advisers: The Temple Mount is under Israeli law.
Well, of course, you might think. After all, Israel has sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, and, last we looked, that's where the Temple Mount is. But the Wakf is forever attempting to assert its authority on the Mount and frequently makes comments regarding the fact that Israel has no jurisdiction there.
Simply stating this principle, which drew an angry response from the PA, is hugely important.
However, we've got a way to go yet. as Weinstein also wrote that authorities must be "extra sensitive" in applying Israeli laws to the site. This gives altogether too much leeway to those who would prefer to back off from the subject or accede to Arab demands:
For, while Weinstein indicated that all laws -- or stipulations -- of the Planning and Building Committee and the Antiquities Authority are applicable to the Mount and must be adhered to, he also said that any time authorities need to "test the application of law in the Temple Mount complex," they should be pragmatic and take the area’s unique status into consideration.
There are claims being made by Jerusalem police that a presence is maintained on the Mount at all times so that the Antiquities Authority has full access to what is going on. The issue at present is repair work being done at the Dome of the Rock.
But it cannot possibly be that the Antiquities Authority signed off on all the damage that was done to priceless archeological artifacts on the Mount in recent years. Could it be that there is more stringency applied to supervision now than was the case previously? I would love to think so, but do not yet know.
An update with regard to the terror attack in Bulgaria:
Authorities are now convinced that the attack was perpetrated by a suicide bomber. There are airport security videos of a man pacing around back and forth for an hour before the attack, and there is one body among those on the bus that was more severely injured than the others -- suggesting the bomb originated at this source.
The presumed bomber was carrying a US passport and other identification, but it has all proved to be counterfeit. American authorities are working along with Israeli and Bulgarian security on this issue.
Identification of those Israelis who were killed is still on-going. Israeli authorities have brought home 33 injured Israelis and all those who were not hurt in the attack.
Bulgarian authorities are saying that the Mossad didn't warn them there might be an attack. I am sure the Mossad didn't -- it has already been announced that there was no intelligence on this.
In a press conference this afternoon, Prime Minister Netanyahu pointed out that women and children on vacation have been targeted for no other reason than that they are Jewish.
He thanked the Bulgarians for their assistance, saying that "Bulgaria is a true friend of the State of Israel."
"It's time that all the world's countries speak the truth clearly and say that Iran is behind the wave of terror. A terror state should not have nuclear weapons. The most dangerous country in the world will have the most dangerous weapon on the face of the earth. (Emphasis added)
"We'll continue to chase after the culprits and exact a heavy price from them. Israel is a strong country."
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