Monday, June 20, 2011


Arlene Kushner

This Shabbat we read the Torah portion about the spies (meraglim) -- a group consisting of a leader from each of the twelve tribes, sent to scout out the land that the people were about to enter. Ten of the spies -- Joshua and Caleb being the exceptions -- brought back a negative report: the land devours its inhabitants, and the people are huge. "We were like grasshoppers in our eyes..."

The people became afraid then, and cried to return to Egypt. Whereupon God asked, "How long will these people provoke me? And how long will they not have faith in me, despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst[ being taken out of Egypt, brought to the revelation at Sinai, etc.]?"

In the end God decreed that the generation that was afraid would wander the desert for 40 years and not enter the land. For me, today, it comes together clearly:

In 1948, Ben Gurion announced the independence of the State of Israel.

Never before had a people returned to a land from which it had been deprived of sovereignty -- with the bulk of the population having been banished -- for 2,000 years. Never before had the sense of peoplehood been retained for two millenia in spite of dispersion and banishment. Never before had an ancient language been revived for daily use. Yet, this was what happened here, as the ingathering that had been predicted by the prophets began.

Almost at once the Arab League attacked in order to destroy the new Jewish sstate. Leaders of the world were certain Israel would be defeated. However, not only were we victorious, we also secured additional area of land in the course of the war.


In 1967, the Arab states were determined once again to destroy Israel, but in a stunning six-day victory we acquired control of the land of our heritage from the river to the sea. At first, Jordan, at our east, did not participate in the war being waged by Egypt and Syria. The Israeli government had sent a message to King Hussein saying that we would leave him alone if he did not attack. But the Egyptians put out broadcasts saying they were on the verge of victory, and Hussein, wishing to be on the winning side, hit us. Thus did we, engaging Jordan, secure eastern Jerusalem with Har Habayit and the Kotel. As well as Hevron, and a great deal more.


In 1973, our enemies attacked again, this time on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. Not only were we victorious, we waged the war with extraordinary skill -- from a military perspective, victory here was even more stunning than in 1967.


Since that time, Israel has grown stronger in multiple ways. Jews have continued to return, and the land has prospered. We are at the cutting edge in hi-tech and medical discoveries. We have endured recent financial difficulties better than many nations: the shekel stands stronger than the dollar. We are a first world nation, developed in spite of hardships and threats, boasting a population that is, according to surveys, among the most contented in the world. We have one of the world's strongest armies, and unquestionably the most ethical and humane. We are a blessing to the world, via our scientific discoveries and our readiness to help in times of disaster.

Who could have imagined all this?

Is there a way to explain it without seeing that the hand of God is inside what has happened?


There are Jews today who look around at the enemies we face, and beat their chests, crying, "Oi vey, we are doomed! We're so alone in the world."

Alone? Not quite. We have a true friend in Canada, and the support of the American Congress, and the devotion of millions of Christian Zionists.

But most of all, we have the Almighty above.

Perhaps, these days, he has returned to his ancient question: "How long will they not have faith in me despite all of the signs?"


To trust in Heaven does not mean sitting passively, however, and letting God take care of matters. It means working our tushies off, protecting Israel, speaking in defense of Israel, working to build Israel, and all the rest.

But it also means that we need not -- must not! -- feel like grasshoppers in our own eyes. "In our own eyes" is what counts most! We must not define ourselves by how the world chooses to see us.

As we express faith in what is possible, and act on that faith, we will continue to know miracles.


We all need a laugh from time to time, and so I share this:

As reported by AFP on Thursday, Palestinian Authority negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh told reporters in Ramallah that:

"We are by all means going to the United Nations, whether there are negotiations or no negotiations..

"We think that is not either/or -- we think that going to the United Nations and negotiations can go hand in hand and they are complementary to each other."



Then we have our nemesis, Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times. He's a clown, but somewhat more dangerous than Mohammed Shtayeh, because there are people who take him seriously. He wants to bring back the UN partition resolution 181 of 1947, but change it to acknowledge '67 lines as border.

I mention it here only to shoot it down. From a dozen perspectives it makes no sense. Starting with the fact that the resolution was from the General Assembly and thus not legally binding, and ending with the fact that the Arabs refused it.

That, I think, is the key point. Why, in Friedman's opinion, do the Arabs deserve another chance when they rejected the state they might have had? He wants to reverse history on their behalf. What makes them so deserving?


The following, on the other hand, from the PA news agency Maan, has real significance:

Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh said yesterday at Islamic University in Gaza City that "we were able to establish a [unity government] deal that reflects the people's will...not the outside will and unjust agreements with Israel[Oslo] ."

Of central importance, he said, was the forming of national security departments that do not cooperate with Israel. "Protecting the resistance weapon" should be a priority.

"A national strategy should be established to protect the resistance weapon within the framework of living our lives amidst the stages of liberation from the occupation."

"The resistence weapon." We all understand what this means.

This is not a surprise, but it is spoken confirmation of what we understood was very likely.

The PA "security forces" that the US has been funding and training, so that they could fight terrorists, may be about to turn on us.


I hedge with a "may be" for only one reason: the unity government, it turns out, is still not a done deal.

Seems I spoke too soon in reporting that Fatah and Hamas were going to meet in Cairo this week and finalize the government. They did announce this, but now have un-announced it. Seems there is still squabbling about who should be prime minister, and so the meeting has been postponed "indefinitely."

"Indefinitely" sounds serious, and this must be watched closely. There are all sorts of implications here with regard to how Abbas will play his hand. Can he/would he go to the UN if there were no unity?


The IHH, the Turkish "humanitarian" group with terrorist links, whose flagship is the Mavi Marmari, has pulled out of the flotilla that is planning to try to break the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza again later this month. Allegedly because it had sustained so much damage last time around that it could not be repaired in time -- but in fact most likely for other reasons. According to Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Ankara probably pressured the IHH to pull out to avoid seeing it designated a terrorist group.

Israel, however, is preparing all the same, as "activists" representing various other groups, including some from the US, intend to launch ten other ships in that flotilla.


In a related story there is this:

A rarely used, little known, 18th century statute, still on the books, allows a plaintiff to privately seize ships outfitted in the US for use against a US ally. It is about to be invoked with regard to ships being prepared for participation in the flotilla, using funds raised unlawfully in the US by groups such the Free Gaza Movement.

The plaintiff is Dr. Alan Bauer, an American-Israeli, who, with his young son, was severely wounded in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in 2002. Represented by attorneys Robert Tolchin of New York, and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center, Bauer is seeking to confiscate the ships.

Nitsana does fantastic work -- fighting terrorism via the law -- with little publicity. Last week one of the ships that was scheduled to participate in the flotilla learned that its maritime insurance company-- after having received a letter from Shurat HaDin -- would not be covering it.


We read in an article in Haaretz that:

"[Last] Tuesday, eight MKs from right-wing parties entered Nablus [Shechem], and under the heavy guard of Palestinian policemen and Israeli soldiers, they arrived at Joseph's Tomb, prayed there, and hastened to issue reports to the press about how moved they were by this historic occasion: It was the first time in 11 years, since the outbreak of the second intifada, that such a visit was made in broad daylight and not under the cover of darkness."

Read the entire article here:

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin played a pivotal role in making this happen. Hurray for his persistence!

But note, please, the constant concern on the part of Israeli security lest there be Arab rioting. Do we always have to gauge our actions according to Arab behavior?


What kind of man is Barack Obama? A rhetorical question intended here, with the implicit answer anything but positive.

He has ignored the pleas, from the prime minister of Israel, as well as from legislators and key former officials within the US, to right the wrong of continued imprisonment of Jonathan Pollard.

Recently, Pollard's very elderly father, Morris Pollard, 95, fell ill, and there were pleas, again, this time for "compassionate leave" for Jonathan to visit his father one last time. They were denied.


Now Morris Pollard has died and the effort has turned to permitting Pollard out for 24 hours, in order to attend the funeral, which will be held in South Bend, IN, tomorrow.

The JPost reports that the volume of furious phone calls to the White House shut down the switchboard. There has been a demonstration outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv joined by some MKs; PM Netanyahu made his own request for this compassionate leave.

We should expect nothing of Obama, whose inflexible stonewalling is totally without moral justification. Mark this well, for with this behavior he exposes the true darkness at the core of his heart.

© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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