Saturday, October 29, 2011

What to Do? What to Do?

Norma Zager

“After that I could never pass a dead man without stopping to gaze on his face, stripped by death of that earthly patina which masks the living soul. And I would ask, who were you? Where was your home? Who is mourning for you now?” Ernst Toller Sadly, history repeats itself. Even more tragic, mistakes of the past are repeated with very little hesitation or interference from what should be an intelligent life form. We should know better.

If the human race is racing anywhere, it is backwards at warp speed. In an effort to lighten the mood of this Postcard, and I can’t imagine even the great Mel Brooks or Carl Reiner could achieve that considering the subject matter, I will add a joke.

Two Jews walked into a bar.

Oops. Forget it. Couldn’t happen. Not because Jewish people don’t drink, but because two Jews could never agree on which bar to enter.

An average day of news watching or reading stories features the rise of anti-Semitism, demands by Muslim students to remove Christian religious symbols in one’s own church, acceptance of Shariah law, shouts of “blame the Jews and drive them out of America” and “Israel is an apartheid state that performs egregious acts against innocent Palestinians.”

Whoa, one’s head almost spins with the insanity and evil of it all. The fact that crazy, horrible people exist is no great revelation, the fact that no normal voices rise to shout them down, extremely troubling.

Seeking to rid my psyche of anti-German sentiment throughout my life, I have often tried to convince myself that all Germans did not agree with Hitler. They were swept up in the blanket of evil that engulfed the country.

A generous notion to be sure and one that enables forgiveness and the will to move on.

In recent years I have accepted the new reality that is Germany. Even applauded its sensible and logical demeanor as a country in a Europe weighted down with an oppressive Muslim presence.

Watching today as the insane in the streets of America espouse their hateful “blame-the-Jews” rhetoric, I am not as surprised by their hatred, as by the fact no one is speaking out against this evil.

The President of the United States refuses to refute their hate speak. As the leader of the greatest nation on earth, he should shout loud and clear that hatred will not fester on his watch. Yet, through his silence and support, he enables the divisive and dangerous behavior. One must wonder if he sees his job description as the great enabler of hatred.

Friends I speak with are waking up to this new reality. One that is frightening and impossible to process.

I, and many others, have long been aware of the rise of anti-Semitism. The murders of innocent Jewish people in Europe and all around the globe, and the anti-Jewish ravings in the world, especially the United Nations, evil’s greatest purveyor on the planet.

Now it is too late to fight the rising tide.

The spread of Jewish hatred has made it impossible to find a safe harbor.

Where shall the Jews run? To Israel? Or back to Germany?

Are we safe anywhere when the bombs of the world are pointed in our direction? Waiting patiently to explode and conquer once and for all the dangerous and troublesome Jews? There are 14 million Jewish people in the world, half in Israel. Are our enemies waiting until we are all driven there to finish their evil agenda?

Where shall our children go?

Where will they be safe from the evil that is now infesting itself into our midst?

The world is now drinking Kool Aid laced with the flavor of anti-Semitic apple.

Man has devolved and will continue to do so?

Who is powerful enough to stop the hatred?

Who is smart enough to convince the Jews to stop self-destructing?

Who is caring enough to prevent another Holocaust?

Sadly, I cannot answer these questions, yet I seek with all my strength someone who can. If there is an answer, can it be found in time to save the Jewish people?

The greatest tragedy for our children is that while our enemies danced, the Jewish people played the music. While they gathered their armies, the Jewish people gave them gold to buy weapons. While they threatened to destroy us, the Jewish people joined in the chorus chanting for blood.

Where is the hope for a people that contribute so greatly to its own demise?

The anti-Semitism in Europe is quite expected. The Catholic Church has espoused this hatred for centuries and of course Europe is all too willing to awaken that hateful effort at a moment’s notice.

Soon the Catholic Church will disavow their handiwork, but the groundwork and seeds of hate were planted eons ago.

The Catholic Church and the United Nations are brothers in arms. Each aiding the other in their ultimate goal: to create a Jew-free world.

Of course whom will they blame for the ills of mankind when the Jews are gone? Sadly, many will not be around to know the answer. The Final Solution seems to be on the rise again.

Hate is the new “in” thing with governments and humankind.

There is a story in the Torah about mitzvahs. Each time a good deed is done a little light goes out and falls on the earth. There it sits until the moment the Messiah comes. At that time God will turn off all the lights on earth and only the goodness will shine.

If there is more light than darkness, man will be saved. If not…

I am afraid evil has far exceeded the light and good people have a world of catching up now.

It is up to the sane of planet earth to make goodness their goal. To stop the hatred, stop allowing tyrants to starve and murder children, and accept kindness and love into their hearts. To evolve at last into humankind’s highest form, not to sink to its lowest level once again.

Otherwise, it won’t be long until the lights are turned off for good.

The series “Postcards from America—Postcards from Israel” by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover and Israelis often ignore.

This point—and often—counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites

Friday, October 28, 2011

Poll Shows Nationalist / Religious Bloc with 70 Knesset Seats

Gil Ronen

Three polls in 24 hours show Likud has received a serious boost, most likely from the Shalit deal with Hamas.

A poll carried out by the Smith Institute for Globes gives Likud 33, while Labor chalks up 20 and Kadima gets 17. According to the poll, the nationalist / religious bloc, including the haredi parties, has 70 seats, five more than at present.

A Panels poll for the Knesset Channel also gave Likud 33 Knesset seats, with Labor in the number two spot garnering 25. Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu both received 14 seats and Shas got 7.

The Panels / Knesset Channel poll in September gave Likud 28, Labor 25, Kadima 16, Yisrael Beitenu 15 and Shas 9. Taken side by side, the two Knesset Channel polls show Likud jumped up by 5 seats in the course of a month, at the expense of all of the other top parties except Labor. On Wednesday a Channel 2 / Sarid Institute poll showed Likud gaining 10 seats compared to its current 27 if elections were held today, and Kadima losing 11 seats. According to the poll, Likud would have 37 seats, and Kadima would have only 17, putting it in third place after Labor, which would receive 22 seats.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party was projected to receive 15 seats, the same number it currently holds.

Kadima appears to be losing steam as the leading opposition party and Labor appears to be taking its place, going back to the time when LIkud and Labor were the largest parties. While Kadima refused to join the Netanyahu coalition, Labor's attitude may be different. Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich is seen by some as a centrist, while others suspect her of harboring far-left views that she conceals for political purposes.

Yechimovich grew up in a radical communist household, has admitted to knowing some of Karl Marx's writings by heart and to voting for the communist party in the general elections on at least one occasion.

Interestingly, Israel's three Jewish leftist parties will soon be headed by women. Meretz's Zehava Galon is expected to become its chairperson, joining Kadima's Tzipi Livni and Labor's Yechimovich as female party leaders.

Did the Libyan Leadership Deceive the West?

Jonathan D. Halevi

On October 23, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) that is the temporary power in Libya replacing the Gaddafi regime, announced: "We, as an Islamic state, determined that Islamic law is a major source for legislation, and on this basis any law which contradicts the principles of Islam and Islamic law will be considered null and void."

The NTC has the support of the West and NATO countries, which helped it militarily to bring down the Gaddafi regime, hoping to establish a democratic regime in Libya.

In early October, Dr. David Gerbi, who was born in Libya and fled to Italy in 1967, arrived in Tripoli and asked to repair the synagogue. The NTC was quick to remove him, while demonstrations were held in Tripoli calling to prevent any Jewish presence in Libya or the establishment of synagogues. The NTC did not condemn this expression of anti-Semitism, nor was there any objection by any other political factions in Libya.
NTC and Western officials have already stated their growing concerns that Qatar is trying to interfere in the country's sovereignty, and the rebels are said to have received about $2 billion from the Qatari government. Qatari involvement is likely to produce a regime in Libya that follows the political orientation of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, thereby giving the Muslim Brotherhood an open door in the new Libya.

The political debate in Libya will be within an essentially Islamist universe, with different leaders distinguished by the degree to which they seek to implement their Islamism. It seems that the strategy of the democratic states that trusted the promises of the rebel forces to adopt and implement the principles of democracy has collapsed, and that Western aid to overthrow Gaddafi's tyrannical regime prepared the groundwork for the establishment of an Islamic state, which eventually may become hostile to the West.

The Supremacy of Islamic Law

Libya is opening a new page in its history after the execution of former leader Muammar Gaddafi. At a ceremony in Benghazi on October 23, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman of the National Transitional Council, which is the temporary power in Libya replacing the Gaddafi regime, announced the completion of the "liberation of Libya" and outlined the characteristics of the new government, which adopts Islamic law (Sharia) as a major source for legislation. That means Libya's transformation into an Islamic state.

In his victory speech, Abdul Jalil said: "We, as an Islamic state, determined that Islamic law is a major source for legislation, and on this basis any law which contradicts the principles of Islam and Islamic law will be considered null and void. As an example of such laws I will mention the law of marriage and divorce which limited polygamy. This law is contrary to Islamic law and its application is suspended." Abdul Jalil added that the new regime intends to base the banking system on legislation consistent with Islamic law that prohibits interest, which he described as fundamentally evil and corrupt. As an immediate measure to realize this intention, Abdul Jalil announced an exemption from interest for bank loans up to ten thousand dinars, and in the future, he said, interest will be cancelled completely in accordance with Islamic law.

The National Transitional Council has the support of the West and NATO countries, which helped it militarily to bring down the Gaddafi regime, hoping to establish a democratic regime in Libya. NATO's political, military, and economic support of the rebels played a decisive role in breaking the yoke of the Gaddafi regime. This included economic sanctions, military attacks on targets in Libya, enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, and intelligence assistance.

The Democratic Vision of Libya

The West's basic assumption was that the leadership of the National Transitional Council would remain faithful to its promises and commitment to the implementation of democracy in Libya, protecting human rights, and fighting terrorism. The message conveyed by the National Transitional Council was clear, as reflected in its platform published in the Council's official website. The section "The Democratic Vision of Libya" reads as follows:

The National Transitional Council presents the vision to building a democracy in Libya....There is no alternative to building a free, pluralistic and democratic society, a unified state based on the rule of law, human dignity, and protecting human rights and formation (of these rights)....We recognize without reservation our duty and our commitment as follows:

Formulation of a national constitution...keeping a civil constitutional state which will ensure ideological and political pluralism...protecting freedom of expression...promising that the state will draw its power from the provisions of religion which teach of peace, right, justice and equality...applying a political democracy and the principles of social justice, including...

A constitutional civil state which respects the sanctity of faith and condemns fanaticism, extremism and violence...a country to which we aspire that condemns violence, terrorism, fanaticism and cultural isolation, seeing how it respects human rights and the foundations and principles of citizenship and the rights of minorities and weaker groups. Every person shall enjoy the full rights of citizenship regardless of color, sex, race or social status.

The building of a democratic Libya which bases our foreign relations and relations with regional countries on (the following principles): establishing democratic values ​​and democratic institutions that honor our neighbors, that build partnerships and recognize the independence and sovereignty of other countries...a country which will promote the values ​​of international justice and citizenship and will respect international humanitarian law and human rights conventions...a country that will join the international community in the opposition and condemnation of discrimination, racism and terrorism and will strongly support peace, democracy and freedom.

The National Transitional Council emphasized the words "democracy," "pluralism," "civil rights," "justice," and "equality," but their meanings in its eyes are quite different from those of the Western democracies that supported it and actually enabled its rise to power in place of Gaddafi. Like the Muslim Brotherhood, the National Transitional Council subjects "democracy" to Islamic law (Sharia), and actually drains it of its contents by stating that Islamic law is the source of legislation and that all laws that contradict it are null and void.

The declaration by Mustafa Abdul Jalil of an Islamic Libyan state was not received with any opposition from members of the National Transitional Council and the Libyan public, and it apparently expresses the dominant mood within the public, which tends to accept Islamic rule.

No Tolerance for Jews

One can learn about the atmosphere on the Libyan street from the hostile and anti-Semitic public reaction to the arrival of Dr. David Gerbi in Tripoli in early October. Gerbi, who was born in Libya and fled to Italy in 1967 out of fear of harm to the Jewish community after the Six-Day War, visited the synagogue in Tripoli and asked to repair it. Upon learning of the synagogue visit, the National Transitional Council was quick to remove him from the synagogue, arguing that he was not authorized to enter the complex, which is under the authority of the Department of Archaeology. At the same time, many demonstrations were held in Tripoli calling to prevent any Jewish presence in Libya or the establishment of synagogues in the country. The National Transitional Council did not prevent this expression of anti-Semitism and did not condemn it, nor was there any objection to this by other political factions in Libya.

Key Islamic Figures

A central force of power in the National Transitional Council is Abdelhakim Belhadj, commander of the military forces in Tripoli who led the campaign to remove the Gaddafi regime and occupy the presidential compound in Bab al-Azizia. Belhadj, who was appointed by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has an extensive jihadist background. He fought alongside the mujahideen in Afghanistan against Soviet forces and was a senior member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a radical Islamic terrorist organization, which until recently held a world view rather similar to that of Al-Qaeda. The Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that nearly 800 soldiers from the LIFG were involved in the fighting in Tripoli, some of them former combatants in Afghanistan and Bosnia.

In September 2010, a former leader of the LIFG and colleague of bin Laden in Afghanistan, Noman Benotman, addressed an open letter to bin Laden, calling on him and al-Qaeda to "abandon armed struggle,"stating that "Your actions have harmed millions of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims alike. How is this Islam or jihad? For how much longer will al-Qaeda continue to bring shame on Islam, disrupt ordinary Muslims' lives, and be the cause of global unrest?"1

Just a year earlier, the LIFG published a very long, revisionist document to repudiate al-Qaeda's ideology of global jihad. This was part of a more comprehensive deal, orchestrated by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was interested in promoting his planned reforms and the leadership of the LIFG and other imprisoned Islamist groups, to release them from prison in return for their reintegration into society and abandonment of terror.2 The document, however, did not mean that the LIFG was to abandon its Islamist tendency. Indeed, it was mainly endorsed by senior scholars close to the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology like Saudi Sheikh Salman al-Awdeh.

In addition to Benotman, Libyan Sheikh Ali al-Salabi, who until recently resided in Qatar, served as the intermediary between Saif al-Islam and the LIFG leadership. Salabi is a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS),3 a global umbrella group headed by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the Qatar-based leader of the Muslim Brotherhood on a global scale. Even though he had no official position in Libya at the time, Salabi had already won the title of the "spiritual guide of the Libyan revolution,"4 and was also described by the New York Times as someone who may well be the most important politician in the new Libya.5

A few weeks ago, Salabi called on the top leadership of the NTC to resign, saying that they supported the West's agenda and interest in taking control over Libya's resources.6 Salabi further stated that the rebels had received about $2 billion from the Qatari government,7 and indeed, NTC and Western officials have already stated their growing concerns that Qatar is trying to interfere in the country's sovereignty, bypassing an internationally-agreed assistance strategy for Libya to throw its support behind individuals and factions contributing to the continuing political instability.8 Qatari involvement is likely to produce a regime in Libya that follows the political orientation of Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, thereby giving the Muslim Brotherhood an open door in the new Libya.

In North Africa, Libya is emerging as a very different country from Morocco or Algeria, for, unlike its neighbors, Libya is headed towards the establishment of an Islamic state. The political debate in Libya will be within an essentially Islamist universe, with different leaders distinguished by the degree to which they seek to implement their Islamism. We already can see that many of its new leaders are far from the values ​​of democracy and human rights as understood in the West. It seems that the strategy of the democratic states that trusted the promises of the rebel forces to adopt and implement the principles of democracy has collapsed, and that Western aid to overthrow Gaddafi's tyrannical regime prepared the groundwork for the establishment of an Islamic state, which eventually may become hostile to the West.

* * *










* * *

Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

When will the Israelis awake to the reality of Gilad Shalit?

Israel Commentary

(With the support of 79% of the Israeli electorate and a huge majority of the Knesset)
Redacted from a courageous, politically incorrect, article by Uri Kaufman
The Jewish Press, October 21, 2011
In March 1978, at the conclusion of the Litani Operation in South Lebanon, five Israeli soldiers and a civilian jumped into a car and decided to go on an outing. The group took to the road in defiance of army regulations and somehow got waived through a forward checkpoint. Moments later they found themselves surrounded by heavily armed Palestinians. Four of the five soldiers were killed instantly, while the civilian miraculously made it back to Israeli lines the next day.
The fifth soldier was taken captive by the PFLP-GC, the Palestinian terror group headed by Ahmed Jibril. Up to that point, Israel had a firm policy of trading soldiers for soldiers. Terrorists sentenced to life in prison were expected to spend life in prison. Exchanges with terror groups sometimes occurred in hostage situations, but they were rare and always premised on trading one for one.

In 1970, an Israeli farmer in the northern village of Metulla was kidnapped by Palestinians and taken to Lebanon. The Palestinians demanded the release of dozens of jailed terrorists. The Israeli government held firm, and in the end the farmer’s release was secured for just one terrorist.

With this in mind, a team was assembled in Jerusalem in 1978 to negotiate the release of the soldier. A terrorism expert named Ariel Merari, circulated a memo that concluded the captured Israeli had “no market value.” Accordingly, he advised the government to set a low value and stick to it. Above all, he urged political leaders not to meet with the soldier’s family. Both pieces of advice were ignored. The family of the soldier first met with Defense Minister Ezer Weizmann. Merari later remembered that “Weizmann had a hard time standing up to the pressure, he folded, he promised and he declared that they had an open line to him whenever they wanted.” The same thing happened when the family met with Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

The initial offer from the Jibril camp was to swap the soldier for 19 Palestinians captured during the Litani Operation plus another six or seven in Israeli jails. It was deemed a reasonable offer. The 19 captured in the field were combatants, not terrorists, and the six or seven were all low value prisoners that were either sick or wounded.

Merari advised going slow. This was, after all, the way it worked in the Arab souk (market place). You showed little interest for what the other side was offering and then slowly negotiated your way to the finish line. Were Israel to accept the first offer, it would send the message that it would pay more. The general placed in charge of the negotiations wanted to wrap up the talks quickly and ignored this advice as well. With that, Merari tendered his resignation.

A year later, Merari was asked to return. Every dark prophecy of his had come true. The price from Jibril had climbed to the original 19 Palestinians captured in the field plus 76 terrorists held in Israeli jails, many of whom were murderers. Merari couldn’t believe his ears. He advised walking from the negotiating table, breaking off all contact. His advice was ignored once again. In the end, Jerusalem released the 19 combatants together with the 76 terrorists. Merari later calculated that the freed Palestinians had combined sentences remaining of over 2,800 years.

Ahmed Jibril had learned a valuable lesson. You didn’t need to hijack an airplane to free jailed terrorists. In fact, not only was it unnecessary, it was undesirable. When the Palestinians held large numbers of hostages, the Israelis sent in commandos to free them. When they held a single soldier, the Israelis refrained from any heroics because of the inevitable loss of life. The Israelis took four killed to free 106 hostages in Entebbe. But they wouldn’t take four killed to free just one soldier. Instead they gave in.

This logic, if one could call it that, was carried to a further extreme just a few years later. At the conclusion of the First Lebanon War in 1982, eight Israeli soldiers were captured by a smaller number of Palestinians. There was clear dereliction of duty on the part of the soldiers. A little over a year later they were traded for 4,700 Fatah fighters who had surrendered during the war plus 63 terrorists in Israeli jails.

The remaining two Israeli soldiers had the misfortune of falling into the hands of Ahmed Jibril. He already held a third soldier named Hezi Shai who had been captured after fighting with great valor in an unrelated battle. Jibril knew from his previous experience that Israel would pay dearly to win the release of three soldiers so he held out for more.

For the freedom of just three soldiers, Ahmed Jibril received 1,150 convicted terrorists including some 400 murderers, many of whom were among the most notorious in Israeli history. One of those freed was Kozo Akimoto, who together with two others carried out the 1972 Lod Airport massacre in which 26 people were killed. The victims in that attack included Aharon Katzir, one of Israel’s most prominent scientists and brother of Israeli President Ephraim Katzir.

The Gemara (commentary on the Oral Laws furthering the Hebrew Torah) states in Gittin [45A] that “it is forbidden to redeem hostages for more than their value because of the common good.” After Rabbi Meir from Rottenberg was kidnapped by a medieval king, he commanded the local Jewish community not to pay any ransom on his behalf. Instead, he spent the last seven years of his life in captivity, dying in prison in 1293.

Professor Merari summed it up as well as anyone in a newspaper interview. “The moral obligation of the government,” he said, “is to act so that the fewest possible number of Israelis get attacked. The defense minister is charged with protecting the entire country, not any particular family. If you free 500 terrorists, you do so knowing that you are sentencing dozens of Israelis to death.”

The Israelis of an earlier generation that had actually experienced the Holocaust never caved in to similar pressure. Ben-Gurion, Dayan and Eshkol had plenty of opportunities to engage in similar arrangements, but they never did. They only traded soldiers for soldiers and they always kept the price within reason.
That Israel invariably pays a terrible price in blood when it lets terrorists go is a fact acknowledged by all. SHABAK, the Israeli equivalent of the FBI, performed a study and found that fully two thirds of those freed go right back to terrorism. Some 6,912 terrorists were freed between the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993 and the outbreak of the al-Aksa Intifada in September 2000 – mostly as good will gestures to the Palestinian Authority, though some had served out their term. A victims group called Almagor released a study that found that in the first five years of the al-Aksa Intifada the freed terrorists killed at least 177 Israelis.

In January 2004, Israel turned 435 terrorists over to Hizbullah to win the freedom of a kidnapped drug dealer named Elchanan Tenenbaum. So far, those freed terrorists have killed 27 Israelis.

And those were just the direct costs. The indirect costs were incalculably higher. And yet, time and again the Israeli public supported lopsided exchanges, even as the price climbed ever higher. Somehow, the Israeli public internalized nothing but the pain of the families in a hostage predicament.

Other democracies learned the futility of negotiating with terrorists and ceased the practice. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration swapped hostages for arms, only to see more Americans snatched off the streets of Beirut. Washington no longer negotiates with terrorists, and so Americans are no longer kidnapped.

All of which brings us to the sad story of Gilad Shalit.

Since his kidnapping by Hamas in June 2006, the floodgates of Israel’s emotion have burst open, submerging and overwhelming any attempt at a rational response. The mainstream Israeli media have abandoned any pretense of objectivity, condemning any refusal to free terrorists as cowardice and praising every concession as courageous. One popular news show ends each daily broadcast with an update of how many days Gilad has spent in captivity.

And so last week over 500 Israeli families received notices from the Defense Ministry: those who had murdered their loved ones were about to be freed. The final tally in this latest exchange dwarfs every deal that came before it. In return for a single soldier, the State of Israel has agreed to free 1,027 convicted terrorists.

One woman, Ahlem Tamimi, drove the suicide bomber who killed 15 in the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem. She has already been seen on Israeli television smiling and saying she has no regrets. And why should she? She has served only ten years in prison and she will soon be free to plan the deaths of more innocent people.

Don’t believe a word of the fashionable nonsense pulsating through the Israeli media in praise of Netanyahu. The likely price yet to be paid for this historic blunder is too painful to contemplate. Either way, we are witnessing a complete victory for Hamas and the forces of terror.

Uri Kaufman is the author of “Low Level Victory,” to be released shortly by Harmony Books

A new generation of justices

Dr. Haim Shine

In November, the Judicial Appointments Committee will meet to select new judges for the Supreme Court, in place of those that have retired. At the start of the upcoming Gregorian calendar year, Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinish will also retire. One can certainly say that the new appointments process is a complete generational turnover in the Supreme Court. In essence, we are talking about the rise of a third generation of Supreme Court justices. The first generation of Supreme Court judges acted with judicial restraint based on the belief that the court should serve the state and its institutions. A young country was at the outset of its path, on the backdrop of a complex reality with respect to its security and economy. The second generation, led by former Supreme Court President Justice Aharon Barak operated with judicial activism under the banner phrase "everything is judiciable" in a state for all its citizens. This activism sought to educate Israeli society, in keeping with the post-modernist era, to apply the values of individual rights based on the judges' predictions for the future. Now the third generation ascends and crystallizes. In my opinion, this generation connects back to the first one, disconnected from the rule of the court (as opposed to the rule of law) via this internalization: The courts must provide fair and efficient services for citizens, rather than wasting their precious time re-educating Israeli society.

The Judicial Appointments Committee members, current Supreme Court justices, cabinet ministers, Knesset members and representatives of the Israeli Bar Association, are under tremendous pressure, under which they must not shame the tough, energetic lobbyists in the Knesset and its committees. Committee members must display stamina in the face of the many stakeholders interested in who the new judges will be. People with money and power, from the Right and the Left, activists and conservatives, will all be in attendance at this hot Mediterranean celebration, as if singer of the year was being chosen.

The considerations underlying the selection of Supreme Court justices in the early days of the state were, in many cases, based on extraneous and erroneous considerations; for example, their closeness to Mapai (precursor to the Labor party), religious and ethnic identity, personal relationships and whether their ideas conformed to the ideas of those in power. During the 25 years of Justice Barak's influence on the makeup of the Supreme Court, identification with his liberal values for the advancing and enlightened society were the only tickets to get in. Supreme Court judges typically enjoyed a unified sense of how they sought to shape Israeli society.

The hegemony of Supreme Court rulings in a progressive and enlightened society caused a constant decline in public trust in the court, which for many years was the main expression of Israeli cohesion. Supreme Court judges possess neither purse nor sword, only public trust. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the new judges be chosen, first and foremost, based on their professional skills, disregarding their personal opinions, religious agendas, ethnicity and political values.

Political corruption, social violence and the crisis of values in Israeli society all require caution and responsibility in selecting Supreme Court justices. It should be based solely on criteria of suitability for this high office, regardless of personal history or obligation to particular sectors of society. Truly it is hard to disconnect from the personal dimension when making such decisions, but the public is allowed to expect that irrelevant considerations be pushed aside when choosing Supreme Court justices. Woe to the generation that judges its judges, as the price is ultimately paid by the public.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Red Cross Did Not Examine Gilad Shalit Before Controversial Egyptian Interview

Pesach Benson

That Egyptian interview with Gilad Shalit took place before any medics had a chance to check his condition. Investigative journalist Robert Behar (Forbes) blows the lid:

Last week, I sent an email to the interviewer, Shahira Amin, Egypt’s most famous TV journalist – posted afterwards in a news story.

Three days ago, she responded at great length in an email, most of which she subsequently published in an open letter in the Jerusalem Post. In her email to me, Amin defends her decision to conduct the interview with Shalit – in part because she says the interview was conducted “AFTER [her caps] he had been released by Hamas and had a medical checkup by the Red Cross.” But here’s the problem: Red Cross spokesman Hicham Hassan wrote me today that “ICRC representatives met Mr. Shalit briefly after his transfer to the Egyptian authorities. However, he was not met by an IRC doctor as this has [sic] not been solicited.”

And just what did that mean for the interview?

Dr. Nancy Zarse

“This was an illusion of choice,” says Dr. Nancy Zarse of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, an expert in hostage negotiations for the FBI, federal prisons, and the Chicago Police. “I watched the video of the interview. There was evidence of increased autonomic [nervous system] arousal, a lot of heavy breathing, and there were times that I thought he looked scared. This wasn’t really that you have the option to say no. I haven’t met or spoken with him, but I would understand that an individual like this still feels captive – that an interview like this would become part and parcel of the captivity.”

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 have long been used to protect the human dignity of current and former war prisoners. While those laws apply to governments, and not media organizations, keep in mind that the Shalit interview was conducted for Egyptian state TV – an arm of government. Since 2003, the British Red Cross and the British Government have made efforts to provide an updated interpretation of the requirement to protect prisoners of war or civilian internees against “insults and public curiosity” by TV media. For one thing, the Red Cross notes, publicity can humiliate the person and make his return to his own country more difficult. And many of those interviews are done “under duress.”

The interview wasn’t just exploitative, it was abusive and clearly a humiliating extension of Shalit’s captivity.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"National Integrity"

Arlene Kushner

When I speak of integrity, I am referring to soundness, state of being whole.

For Israel as a nation, this applies to a great many situations. We have a regrettable and maddening tendency to turn ourselves into a veritable pretzel -- as we seek to disprove a charge against or to satisfy demands leveled at us -- rather than remaining true to what we know we are.

My reason for raising this now is because the issue of the rebuilding of the Mughrabi Gate bridge has come to the fore once again.
Marc Israel Sellem


I've written about this in the past, but here is the story once again:

The Mughrabi Gate is the only entrance to the Temple Mount utilized by non-Muslims; it is the entryway for Jewish Israelis, tourists who are Christian and Jewish, and Israeli security forces who need to have access to the Mount at times of emergency. The Gate is on the right side and at the top of the Western Wall.

Prior to 2004, a sand embankment led to the Gate; but that year a combination of severe weather forces caused it to collapse. Israel quickly constructed a covered wooden bridge -- which is what is pictured above -- so that there would be access to the Gate. It was intended to be only temporary.


Quickly thereafter, plans were put in place by Israel for a permanent bridge of glass and steel of some considerable dimensions. That plan was dropped because of fear by archeologists that damage would be done to the adjacent archeological park, through which it was to run, and because of an inadequate approval process. Subsequent plans have since been established for a permanent bridge to the Gate.

Everything is in order:

In the summer of 2007 legally mandated archeological rescue operations took place, ensuring that anything of archeological value in the path of the projected bridge be rescued and preserved. This work, which required excavation, was done with complete transparency. Cameras permitted transmission of live pictures of the work being done.

And international organizations were invited to come observe the archeological rescue operations. A team from Turkey came, and most notably one from UNESCO, which reported that, "no work is being conducted inside the Haram es-Sharif [Temple Mount], nor is there anything in the nature of the works being performed at this stage that could constitute a threat to the stability of the Western Wall and the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

Additionally, Jordan was invited to participate fully in the planning.


Was this attempt to pacify the situation successful? A rhetorical question. For passionate objections from Muslims are founded not in serious concerns, but rather an opportunity to incite against Israel. Thus, as described by Nadav Shragai, we saw the following:

At the time of the rescue operation in 2007, the Islamic radical Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, instigated riots, declaring:

"Whoever is playing with fire should know that the fire will consume him. Whoever schemes to destroy the al-Aksa mosque will have his house destroyed."

Destroy the al-Aksa mosque? Not for a second does he believe this is what Israel intends. But this is his ploy, utilized frequently in order to inflame Israeli Muslims. Nothing works as well as saying that Israel intends to destroy their most important mosque on the Mount.

Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas politburo, participated in this inciteful charade, telling a press conference that, "Israel is perpetrating a new attack on al-Aksa mosque."

And, let it be noted, the bureau chief for PA president Mahmoud Abbas said:

"The Palestinian Authority will provide every assistance to the struggle against the Jewish excavations under the Temple Mount."

That is the totally fallacious (and, considering Jewish sensibilities, illogical) claim: that Israel is digging under the Mount with the intention of bringing it down.


An aside here, before continuing the story. This statement from the PA provides evidence of the fact that it will never take a moderate stance. Quite simply, the political rhetoric of the Palestinian Arabs is radical. If the PA diverges too far from this, it is lost.


Just this year, Jordan, in a total reversal of its earlier position, withdrew from cooperation with Israel on the planning of the bridge.

Jordan's Hashemite king is growing increasingly weak on his throne and we've seen, accordingly, his movement towards a more radical stance as a protective measure. He too, at this point, I suspect, cannot diverge from the radical line and survive. But Jordanian withdrawal from the project, Shragai tells us, caused enormous unease in Israel.


In addition to all of this, the Wakf has charged that the bridge belongs to Muslims and Israel does not have the authority to make plans for its construction.

And here, I think, we come to the heart of the matter. Yes, there are attempts to utilize the situation for incitement. But there is more: this is a challenge to Israeli sovereignty.

The Wakf, or Islamic Trust, over which Jordan has influence, has day-to-day authority for the administration of the Temple Mount. (Itself a deeply regrettable situation.) But the bridge to be constructed is not on the Mount, it is on sovereign Israeli territory.


Everything moves slowly here in Israel -- especially when there are legal challenges by left wing groups. But the Western Wall Heritage Fund, which will oversee bridge construction in coordination with the Antiquities Authority, received necessary permits in March of this year; the Ministry of the Interior has signed off on it. Additionally, the Jerusalem District Court has upheld the legality of the plan.

And yet, nothing has happened. Seems that the prime minister's office, which has to give final approval because of the political sensitivity of the situation, has not yet done so.

Back in late May the municipal engineer declared the bridge unsafe and in need of being torn down. But according to a May JPost article, an official with the prime minister's office, "said one safety concern is avoiding playing into the hands of extremists who would use any change in the site to stir up tension."

How devoid of integrity is such a statement! Integrity in terms of our sense of our own sovereignty and our own rights.

Does the prime minister's office presume that every time extremists threaten to stir up tension we must refrain from what distresses them? The proper course of action is to go ahead, certain of our right to do so, and take down that unsafe bridge and build the new one. If they riot, send out trained riot troops with non-lethal weapons that can disperse them. To act otherwise is to compromise our sovereignty and our deterrence power.


Fighting the fight against the Jerusalem Municipality, which wants to see the construction begun, is Attorney Kais Nasser, who represents the Council for Muslim Interests in Israel. The challenge that was brought, with regard to the right of Muslims -- via the Wakf or other groups -- to have input on this, is supposed to be heard in the High Court in December. Nasser's stated approach is that the bridge has worked fine until now, so he doesn't see why there's a problem waiting until December.

That, however, is not how Municipal Engineer Shlomo Eshkol sees the matter. He says the bridge is dangerous -- a catastrophe waiting to happen -- and must come down. In the name of the municipality, he has sent a letter to the Western Wall Heritage Fund saying that the city will destroy the bridge if the Fund fails to act within 30 days. The Fund, which is "studying the situation," has made no comment as yet.

One matter is certain: The issue is not one of genuine concern on the part of Muslim groups that we're doing something wrong. The issue is one of control, of their uncontested right to have a say.

For that very reason -- even beyond the real and serious issue of the potential for the bridge to collapse when people are on it -- Israel must proceed. But of course, Israel wouldn't be maintaining a bridge that is in danger of collapsing if it were not for fear of political repercussions. How ludicrous it all is.


The excellent, detailed study of the situation by Nadav Shragai, done for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, can be found here:

And the most recent JPost article on the situation, here:


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Israel’s UN Ambassador Separates Lies from Truth

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

Israel’s United Nations envoy Ron Prosor put the facts on the line Monday and stated that the Arab world blames Israel for all its woes while failing to help its own people.

He said during a debate on "The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” that “for generations, the Arab world has failed miserably to address the needs of its own people.” Prosor was highly successful as ambassador to Britain before taking up his new post in the summer and his oratory already has proved him to be one of the best Israel UN ambassadors in years.

“From 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza was part of Egypt.” Prosor stated. “The Arab world did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. And it sought Israel's annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza.”

He also exposed in simple but glaring language ”a glimpse into the real world of the Middle East.”

Prosor stated, “Young people struggle without access to jobs and education. Women are denied basic rights. Free expression is repressed. Minorities are persecuted. Elections are a sham."

“And with their world in flames, Arab leaders continue to blame Israel and the West for all their problems. For years, it's the only explanation that they have been able to offer to their own people… Everything wrong in the Middle East, according to many Arab leaders, is simply Israel's fault. If it's not the Mossad, it's the CIA, or MI6, or some other ‘foreign force.’

Pointing out the brutality of rulers and former rulers in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Libya, the ambassador added, “Two roads stand before us. There is the future offered by Iranian and Syrian leaders -- a future of more extremism, greater violence and continued hate. And there is another road - a path of progress, reform and moderation…

“It is time for this Council to stop ignoring the destructive forces that seek to keep the Middle East in the past, so that we can seize the promise of a brighter future."

Prosor also admonished Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for omitting any reference to Judaism when he told the United Nations last month, "I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)."

“He denied 4,000 years of Jewish history,” Prosor said. “It was not a small omission. It was not an oversight. The Palestinian leadership attempts to erase the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel."

Prosor also told the UN Security Council that "Today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state".

"The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians is a non-starter. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it. This gap between perception and reality is the major obstacle to peace. The so-called right of return is the major hurdle to achieving peace," he stated.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Asserting control over east Jerusalem textbooks


Israeli censorship grows as officials clamp down on delegitimization content, expurgate Palestinian symbols and nationalist take on history.

Is it an expression of Palestinian nationalism or is it delegitimizing the State of Israel? That’s the question at the heart of a controversy over Israel’s decision to expurgate Palestinian symbols and a nationalist take on history from the textbooks used by students in largely Arab east Jerusalem.

Jalal Abukhater, a high school senior who studies in Palestinian-ruled Ramallah, brought the controversy to the public eye over the weekend in the +972 Magazine website, a forum for left-of center Israelis, in an essay “Israel imposes censored Palestinian textbooks in east Jerusalem.”
“It’s really weird. The children are the core of every society and they are trying to deface their identity to alter their history and background. That is really dangerous,” Abukhater told The Media Line. “What I learned I will never forget. It is basic education and if you do this and alter their identity through textbooks they will grow up having a blind side and might be ignorant on many issues.”

But the Knesset Education Committee, which ordered the textbooks used by public schools in east Jerusalem to be modified, says the books engage in incitement and intolerance.

At a meeting last year, committee chairman Zevulun Orlev, who belongs to the right-of-center Habayit Hayehudi, said an examination of the textbooks detected “delegitimization of the State of Israel” as well as “inculcating values of hatred, violent confrontation, jihad and martyrdom, absence of conciliation, absence of peace, ignoring the map of Israel and the existence of Israel.”

The textbook controversy is the latest tussle in the battle over the character of east Jerusalem. Unlike their peers in the West Bank, east Jerusalem’s largely Palestinian population have Israeli residency and enjoy government benefits and unhindered movement. But in recent years, they have felt besieged by Israeli Jews moving into their neighborhoods.

Acting on directives from the Knesset committee, the Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA), the municipal educational authority, began ensuring last year that public schools in east Jerusalem used approved-only textbooks.

But the controversy heated up this year when the directives were imposed on private schools, which make up about half of the schools east Jerusalem Palestinians attend.

Abukhater compared many of the censored changes in textbooks used from first to 10th grades, now being used in east Jerusalem schools, and found changes such as the removal of the Palestinian flag from first grade coloring books and the deletion of all songs or poems about Palestinian uprisings or longing for homelands.

At a meeting of the committee least year, Dani Bar-Giora, the chairman of the JEA, said Israel has for some time been vetting Palestinian textbooks before they are printed and distributed to east Jerusalem schools. The textbooks are written and edited under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority but must be approved by Israel before they reach students.

“Textbooks go through a process of censorship. The books come to us. There is a whole process of inspection and supervision over them. Whatever needs to be changed is changed. It is reprinted and then sent back into the system,” Bar Giora told the committee, according to published minutes.

These modifications include the removal of maps, slogans and historical references, including all mention of Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as references to nakba, the “catastrophe” marked by Arabs states on the Gregorian date of Israeli independence.

Abukhater said he was speaking to a friend of his who was studying at a Christian school in east Jerusalem who told her their teachers were being pushed to drop textbooks published under the aegis of the PA, which has no official standing in east Jerusalem.

“She told me that her teacher has been warning them that even though the censored textbooks are forced on us we still don’t have to believe everything we read in the text. You have to go home and read other books to enlighten yourself. She was telling me that they might be forced to use the textbooks because they might be forced to shut down if they don’t and the students would not be able to go to Israeli universities if they refused the textbooks,” Abukhater said.

Yochanan Manor, the chairman of Impact-SE, an organization that examines textbooks for tolerance, said his group has detected a growing “Islamization” in PA textbooks.

Israel allowed Jordanian school books to be used in east Jerusalem in the years after the 1967 war. But following the 1993 Oslo Accords Israel allowed PA textbooks to replace the Jordanian ones. They included Palestinian interpretations of history, culture and geography.

“It was ridiculous. The municipality was paying a lot of money to reprint these books and instead of modifying them with text that could foster coexistence between Arabs and Jews etc., it was simply just removing the PA logo,” Manor said.

He said that rather than requiring new material to be put in its place, censors left gaping holes in the textbooks, which caused more damage by emphasizing to the readers that the content was censored.

“They were doing many things without thinking them through because when you erase text you leave a blank page that only raises more questions,” Manor said.

Abukhater said Israeli authorities were confiscating textbooks from schools and replacing them with textbooks without Palestinian logos and references to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

“My textbooks enlightened me about the history of Palestine. I have learned a lot through textbooks and I think that if my fellow Palestinians in east Jerusalem have this information censored from them, they are missing a lot and it is just dangerous,” he said.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chinese to build railway to Eilat

Israeli, Chinese governments to sign memorandum of understanding for construction of 180-kilometer railway from Nahal Tzin to southern resort city

Ofer Petersburg
Israel Business

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz met with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing recently, and the two agreed to cooperate in the construction of a railway to the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

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The Israeli and Chinese governments will sign a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a 180-kilometer (112-mile) railway from Nahal Tzin to Eilat. Before leaving on his trip, Minister Katz discussed the advancement of transportation projects with China with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The minister plans to further the Eilat railway law.

Charlie Solomon, the ministry's deputy director-general for economics and planning, who was part of the minister's delegation, has been tasked with drafting a cooperation document with his Chinese counterpart.

According to Katz, his visit to China led to a breakthrough in the advancement of transportation initiatives with the transportation superpower. Israel plans to invest NIS 100 billion in roads and trains in the next five years, and the Chinese are to have a significant part in the projects.

Many Chinese companies specializing in infrastructure will send representatives to Israel to conduct the work. It has been reported recently that the Chinese will also set up the Haifa-Carmiel railway, after the successful construction of the Carmel Tunnels.

Jewish Rights to Palestine Are Guaranteed by International Law

October 24, 2011 | Eli E. Hertz

Successive Israeli governments have failed to recognize the supreme importance of the "Mandate for Palestine" [24 July, 1922] a historical League of Nations document that set forth the irrevocable Jewish legal rights to settle anywhere in western Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered by international law and valid to this day.

Leadership, both in Israel and in the Diaspora do practically nothing effective with the best legal weapon they will ever have: "The Mandate for Palestine." n the first Report of the High Commissioner on the Administration of Palestine (1920-1925) presented to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, and published in April 1925, the most senior official of the Mandate underscored how international guarantees for the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine were achieved:

The [Balfour] Declaration was endorsed at the time by several of the Allied Governments; it was reaffirmed by the Conference of the Principal Allied Powers at San Remo in 1920; it was subsequently endorsed by unanimous resolutions of both Houses of the Congress of the United States; it was embodied in the Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations in 1922; it was declared, in a formal statement of policy issued by the Colonial Secretary in the same year, 'not to be susceptible of change.'

Article 27 of the Mandate for Palestine states that the "consent of the Council of the League of Nations is required for any modification of the terms of this mandate." No such consent was ever passed.

Eleven successive British governments, Labor and Conservative, from David Lloyd George (1916-1922) through Clement Attlee (1945-1952) viewed themselves as duty-bound to fulfill the "Mandate for Palestine" placed in the hands of Great Britain by the League of Nations.

In 1947 the British put the future of western Palestine into the hands of the United Nations, the successor organization to the League of Nations which had established the Mandate for Palestine.

When describing trust agreements such as the Mandate for Palestine, Article 80 of the United States Charter states that "nothing in this Chapter shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states of any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties".

Thus, the Mandate for Palestine is still in effect today.

It is time to tell the free democratic world:
Effective immediately, the Government of Israel reaffirms the Mandate for Palestine as the foundation and the starting point for any and all peace discussions between the Jewish state of Israel and the Arab inhabitant in Judea and Samaria.

Netanyahu: Enforce Law in Arab Sector Too

Gil Ronen, INN

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s Cabinet session that police must enforce the law in Arab and other minority sectors just as they do in the Jewish sector.

“There are not two states,” the Prime Minister said. “There is no state within a state. We live in one state – the State of Israel is Jewish and democratic.”

Using unusually emotional language, Netanyahu said: “I am crying out against the inegalitarian enforcement from both the positive angle – which necessitates making police services available – and from the aspect that requires stricter enforcement.” “There is a feeling in the public that the level of enforcement among these populaces is much lower. I am committed to change this. I demand equal enforcement in all parts of the state of Israel.”
Netanyahu instructed the Minister of Public Security, Yitzchak Aharonovich, to come up with a plan for equalizing the level of enforcement in all sectors, as soon as possible. This is to be carried out in addition to the money set aside for education, infrastructure and health services in the minority sectors and to the Cabinet decision to pay 30 million shekels for providing security to educational institutions in the minority sectors.

It is a well-known fact in Israel that Arabs riot and ambush Jews regularly in various hotspots including eastern Jerusalem, and that police are loath to give chase for fear that they will have to use violence and then face prosecution by left-leaning state prosecutors.

Netanyahu also gave instructions to meaningfully augment enforcement along the southern border in order to reduce the number of infiltrators, until the completion of a security barrier along the border.

The Arab world - from Gadhafi to Gaza

Reuven Berko

These days the skulls of many Arab leaders have made their way into the annals of history. Among the heads dangling from a belt buckle are those of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Moammar Gadhafi, and Syrian President Bashar Assad could soon join them. The fates of Hosni Mubarak and Yemeni's Ali Abdullah Saleh are also not guaranteed. The brutal manner in which Gadhafi was killed and the way his body was desecrated and dragged by a mob through the streets of Libya shines a light on the neighborhood in which we live: Every day dozens of civilians are killed in Yemen, Turkey bombs Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq and Syrian soldiers massacre their own people. No one in the world has lifted a finger, except for NATO's cynical involvement in the elimination of Libya's dictator, which was deemed worthy so that Europe would have enough oil and gas for a rainy day.

And then, believe it or not, something absurd happened. The U.N. published a report recently that complains about Israel's violation of Palestinian human rights - just when Israel released more than 1,000 terrorists in exchange for our soldier Gilad Shalit, who did not even get one visit from the Red Cross in more than five years in captivity. Our neighbors the Palestinians are a part of this regional culture, and are not that different from the mob that killed Gadhafi. To support this, we only need to recall Roi Rutenberg from Nahal Oz, who in 1956 was dragged to Gaza and had his eyes gouged out, the cruel lynch of soldiers in Ramallah and the soldier who burned to death when his car was torched in Jabalya. Let us not even mention the terrible murders of innocent Israeli civilians, babies, women and the elderly committed by the same terrorists freed last week, who insisted on being called prisoners of war.

Palestinian media continue to cover the joyous celebrations that are mixed with frustration and complaints. The Voice of Palestine radio interviews freed "heroes" who boast of having broken the Zionist enemy's back and promise the additional kidnapping of Israelis. Inspired by the Arab Spring, a freed Druze prisoner from the Golan Heights recently acted like an impassioned hero and rallied for Bashar Assad, once considered to have "betrayed the Golan." Meanwhile, some Israeli Arabs have said they identify as Palestinians and demanded the release of more "heroes."

Palestinian Authority leaders continue to find fault in the Hamas deal, while calling for unity with the group and demanding that Israel release more prisoners. In the aftermath of the Shalit deal, many Palestinians have raised harsh questions about whether its true price made the swap worthwhile. They say that Shalit's abduction cost them more than 3,000 lives and millions of dollars' worth of damage to infrastructure. Palestinians also don't like to suffer or die. Israel must remember that as it plans how it will deal with the next abduction.

The terrorist strategy of Hamas and the PLO, which was founded on the notion of "scaring the Jews out of the country," collapsed when Israeli children, women and elderly citizens sent a clear message. It was precisely these vulnerable citizens, who serve as the terrorists' targets, that pressed the Israeli government to release Gilad in exchange for murderers. "We are not afraid," they said. Did Hamas and the PLO get the message?

Occupy Wall Street: Does anyone care about the anti-Semitism?

Jennifer Rubin

In the millions of pixels devoted to the radical Occupy Wall Streeters, virtually nothing has been said about its anti-Semitic elements. The conservative Emergency Committee for Israel is out with an eye-popping ad: Those vile scenes have been noticed in Israel as well. Israel Today observes:

A growing number of Israelis and foreign Jewish groups are expressing concern over the anti-Semitic flavor of some of the “Occupy Wall St.” economic protests in the US. . . .

In Los Angeles, California, protester Patricia McAllister, who identified herself as an employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District (we can only hope she is not an educator), had this to say:

“I think that the Zionist Jews, who are running these big banks and our Federal Reserve, which is not run by the federal government… they need to be run out of this country.”

On the American Nazi Party website, leader Rocky Suhayda voiced support for “Occupy Wall St.” and asked, “Who hold the wealth and power in this country? The Judeo-Capitalists. Who is therefore the #1 enemy who makes this filth happen? The Judeo-Capitalists.”

One of [the] people reportedly responsible for organizing the “Occupy Wall St.” protests, Adbusters editor Kalle Lasn, has a history of perpetuating conspiracy theories that say the Jews control America’s foreign policies.

Back in New York, another protester insisted that “a small ethnic group constitutes almost all of the hedge fund managers and bankers on Wall St. They are all Jewish. There is a conspiracy in this country where Jews control the media, finances… They have pooled their money together in order to take control of America.”

This does not mean all or even most of the OWS protesters are anti-Semitic, but the prominent liberal leaders who have shown sympathy for their cause have failed to speak out, as have the other elements within the group. Israel Today reports: “More than the few Occupy Wall St. anti-Semites themselves, it is the lack of a clear and firm repudiation of their hateful rhetoric by the mainstream American media and political leaders that has a growing number of Israelis and Jews on edge.”

You will recall that reports of alleged anti-black comments (never verified) from Tea Party groups brought howls from Democrats and the media. But not this time, when Jews are the object of the vilification (documented on film) and it’s the left who is protesting and engaging in behavior that would have earned the Tea Partyers condemnation had they engaged in the same conduct.

The lefty mob is still trying to decide whether to make “demands,” so perhaps they are otherwise occupied. But for respectable politicians and media outlets, where is the outrage?

UPDATE (5:30 p.m.): The Anti-Defamation League has called on “organizers, participants and supporters of these rallies to condemn such bigoted statements clearly and forcefully.”

Exceptional Leadership

By Ari Bussel

How does one measure leadership? I will let the reader ponder this question, as I point out a true leader is one who wields his will onto others rather than the one who submits to populace wishes. Leaders are often judged in retrospect, in much better light than when they were contemporaries. Such, for example, are Ronald Reagan, Menachem Begin, the Shah of Iran, Lech Walesa, Pope John Paul II and others.

To this short list, I would add President Mubarak of Egypt, who in 2011 stood up to the American President, and despite the tsunami sweeping the Arab world in a manner and magnitude never before seen, said to his people and the world: I am not leaving. This is my country and here I shall stay to my death. Here I will be buried The Egyptians were not happy. In fact, they went as far as to bring the ailing Mubarak on a bed into a cage to be humiliated before the entire world. The main humiliation was upon Egypt itself, once a proud nation from the emergence of civilization.

One who visits Egypt can witness pictorial and architectural depictions of the great Pharaohs. From the burial tombs to the great Pyramids, the Egyptians struggled with the great exodus of the Hebrews and the drowning of their eternal-Pharaoh and his powerful army. On a historical axis, add to this the recent self-inflicted humiliation.

Where were the other Arab countries? Where were the other Arab leaders? They should have stood as one and said: Every dollar the American President withholds or withdraws will be replaced three-fold – or ten-fold (just to make the point) – by us, and anyone who dares to tell any sovereign ruler to leave must look closer to home. The late Steve Jobs had the courage to tell President Obama straight forwardly, “You will be a one-term president”, but the all-powerful Arab rulers behaved like lapdogs with their tails between their legs.

These are the very same dogmatic “leaders” who lecture and blame Israel for any and all ills and overall behave like bullies in the Middle East. True leaders might have shifted the focus from pure hatred and demagogy against the Jews in their neighborhood, to better neighborly relations. So much benefit could have been derived for their own people, from agriculture to better utilization of scarce resources, protecting the environment to learning how to maximize yields for the greater good.

No, even selfish interests paled in comparison to a common enemy. How void of any substance, how shallow and pitiful it is now in light of the events that unfolded in 2011. One by one these “leaders” are gone, their billions unhelpful, their bodies at times dragged like garbage through the streets of their home towns.

SHAME. How can any people treat their leaders in such a manner? Do they not understand they are shaming themselves? Lynching and blood thirsting is the image forever stuck in our memories, along with a caged ruler or an ousted king forever barred.

Strange place the Middle East, and regrettably, its influence is spreading. Israel used to be fearless. It had no choice because to survive, it had to do whatever was necessary: from drying swamps and fighting malaria to making the desert bloom; fighting armies many times its size and overcoming unimaginable odds against its very existence.

The miracle called “Modern Israel” was replaced with the comforts of being. All is taken for granted, and Israel is now in too many ways like its neighbors. They are more interested in Israel’s destruction while Israel is busy initiating its own demise.

Israel stopped fighting and apparently lost its conviction and will. In fact, the same symptoms are displayed by much of the Western World, with a singular exception.

One true leader among all lost of their common sense and eyesight is Canada.

Canada refused to participate in the circus called “Durban III” where all the ills of the world were attributed to Israel, where Jews were called racists and Zionism was named the source of all worldly evils.

The USA that contributes upwards of 22% of the United Nations annual funding facilitates the organization’s continued existence. This clearly defies all logic.

President Ahmadinejad, the head of a sovereign country, calls for the annihilation of another member of the UN and is allowed to do so from the pulpit of the organization’s New York headquarters. Worse, he is given free passage into New York and has the audacity to expect to go to Ground Zero and to accuse the Zionists and the CIA of perpetrating crimes against humanity (i.e. 9/11 was all a scheme) in order to blame the Islamic Nation.

Today, Canada did something that Israeli media reported as follows: “It is quite doubtful if something like that would have happened in Israel.” Imagine the beginning of an article ascribing such little faith to Israel and attributing so much to CANADA.

The report continues: “Canada is expelling from its territory the Palestinian representative after she added to her Twitter account a link to a video in which a Palestinian girl is seen calling to a war in which the Jews be exterminated.

“According to the report, the Palestinian Representative Subach Ali was declared persona non-grata, was asked to leave the country and official elements were told to minimize any contact with her.

“In addition, Ali was called to be reprimanded, in addition to an official protest which was presented to the Palestinian Authority.

“In the referenced video linked from the Twitter account of the representative, a link that won the approval of that representative, a crying Palestinian girl can be seen reading a song in which she declared ‘I am Palestinian’ and subsequently calls for a ‘war that will defeat the injustice and the Occupation and will annihilate the Jews.’”

In Israel a debate would have erupted. No, in fact, nothing would have happened, so used are the Israelis to insane voices from within their own midst.

In the days following the release of Gilad Shalit after 1,940 days in captivity (for those who think the number is insignificant, it represents four months and five years without access to the International Red Cross), Muslim Israelis call for the kidnapping of other Israeli soldiers to force Israel to release more Palestinian terrorists. Sane? Not in Canada.

In Israel, Palestinians burn Israeli products, and Israel does what in return? Nothing.

In Israel, Palestinians name classrooms, school auditoriums, playgrounds and city squares after terrorists who murdered Israelis. What does Israel do? Again NOTHING.

Is Israel, foreign entities (individuals, foundations and governments) funnel money to elements whose sole mission is to destroy the Jewish State. They hide under the guise “human rights organizations,” but they are never truly concerned with human rights. It is the same hypocrisy as having Syria, Libya or Iran on the Human Rights Council. And Israel allows this unrestricted flow of money that hastens and will eventually bring its downfall.

Also in Israel, the intellectual elite fights Israel. The Gazans are bombing population centers in Israel, and the “elite” demonstrates against Israel. Leading newspapers call the Israeli operation to stop the smuggling of arms into Gaza and stop the bombardment of the south a “blood bath,” and Israelis then participate in the “Free Gaza” movement and the flotillas to “break the blockade” and “end the siege.”

Members of the Israeli Knesset, including one Deputy Speaker, met with the enemy, participated in the Turkish Terrorist Flotilla whose stated aim was to break both Israeli and international law, and they feel immune. Well, they are, the Knesset did nothing to expel him.

Even when the Knesset finally acts (like prohibiting participation of elements who oppose the state in elections), the Israeli Supreme Court engages in judicial activism and blurs the line between the Judiciary and the Legislative branches of government. In Israel this is proper and expected as long as the Supreme Court follows its (political) convictions that—without exception—are extreme and-left-leaning.

There are those who would say Israel is a Democracy and all the above are “signs of strength.” Learned readers would emit a bitter laugh. Strength? It sounds like a person about to commit suicide explaining why suicide is the noble and just way to go. A psychiatrist is what the patient needs, not encouragement. Unless, that is, the bystanders wish the suicide to occur.

Thus, as I look at Israel’s refusal to fight for its existence, when I see Israeli bureaucrats and elected officials doing anything other than actually lead, putting their benefits and comforts ahead of the common good and longevity of their office before country, it is refreshing to read one article about, and then witness another act—and then another—by Canada.

What do the Canadians see that Israelis do not? I am reminded of a talk by the founder of the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction Israel movement), when he stated, “Europe has already fallen; the US is next.” I am also reminded of an Israeli-American professor, head of a department at UCLA who said, in talking about Gilad Shalit, “it is perfectly legitimate to kidnap Israeli soldiers.” Then I read with admiration and utter disbelief the news item that starts off saying “It is doubtful if in Israel something like that would have happened.”

I salute you Canada, and I salute the People of Canada. You show leadership in the face of adversity. You exemplify what taking a stand and doing something highly unpopular (standing for Israel, acting sane and unwavering) is all about. 

In my dictionary your actions define true leadership. The pages of history will judge you, and I humbly add a footnote as things evolve before our very eyes: Take a lesson from the Canadians. They stand for Israel, thus they stand for themselves and all good men. Bravo.

The series “Postcards from America—Postcards from Israel” by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover and Israelis often ignore.

This point—and often—counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

Zager and Bussel can be heard on live radio in conversation on the program “Conversations Eye to Eye between Norma and Ari.”

© “Postcards from America — Postcards from Israel,” October, 2011


Sunday, October 23, 2011

"The Broader Context"

Arlene Kushner

Theories abound as to why Netanyahu agreed to the Shalit trade now. The decision was undoubtedly "over-determined." As is often the case in life, many different converging factors played into it. Some -- for example, that he wanted to lift the morale of the nation, or that it was politically advantageous to appeal to the populist spirit of those doing the tent protests -- I prefer to pass by, although they may have played into the decision in some relatively minor fashion.

A few ideas, however, merit a closer look:

Much is being written about the role of Egypt -- which negotiated the deal -- in bringing it about now. I have been reading about this, but have been reluctant to cite sources that are less than consistently reliable. But now I have a source that I consider quite reliable. Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the JPost on Friday, laid out this scenario:

"...The ongoing popular uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad has put the Damascus-based Hamas leadership in a difficult position. According to numerous reports in the Arab media, relations between the Syrian authorities and the Hamas leaders have deteriorated in recent months because of the Islamist movement's [Hamas's] refusal to voice public support for Assad's regime. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has begun studying the possibility of moving the Hamas headquarters from Syria to another Arab country the reports claimed.

"...The growing tensions between Hamas and Syria drove Mashaal and the Hamas leadership into the open arms of the ruling military council in Egypt. Some Egyptian journalists have suggested in the past few months that Hamas may move its headquarters from Damascus to Cairo.

"Sources close to Hamas said that Egypt's ruling generals told Mashaal that if he wanted to improve his relations with Cairo, he would have to soften his position on a number of issues, first and foremost a prisoner exchange agreement with Israel..."


"The sources noted," writes Abu Toameh, "that the ruling military council in Cairo had a great interest in reaching a deal between Hamas and Israel. Facing increased criticism from home and abroad for its failure to hand power over to a civilian government, and violations of human rights...the Egyptian generals now have good reason to show the US and the rest of the world that they are capable of delivering.

"By embracing Hamas, the generals are also hoping to appease the Egyptian masses especially the Muslim Brotherhood organization. In the eyes of many Egyptians, being affiliated with Hamas is more dignified than an alliance with the Western-backed PA."


OK, so the Hamas leadership may now be taking orders from Egyptian Field Marshal Tantawi and his generals in the Supreme Military Council. And they may have, per Egyptian demands, become more "flexible" in negotiations with Israel. "Flexible" meaning that they would now accept deportation to another country for some of the released prisoners, and they would agree that some small number they had wanted out (perhaps including Marwan Barghouti) would stay put.

But this is only one half of the negotiation equation: This does not automatically make the deal acceptable for Israel. And this begs the question of why Netanyahu was prepared to accept this increased "flexibility" on the part of Hamas (what is being referred to as a "window of opportunity") and do the deal. Why he, in turn, waxed more "flexible" -- allowing terrorists with blood on their hands to be released, for example.


Here we have many factors that require a closer look.

[] From sources that I have referred to as less than consistently reliable has come the suggestion that Obama had reasons for wanting Hamas to move out of Syria's sphere and into Egypt -- and thus wanted Israel to make the deal with Hamas. According to this scenario, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was here in Israel recently, he would have pushed Netanyahu to take the deal. Understand that I put this out only as a tentative possibility. I have no definitive information. I do know, however, that when Panetta was here he annoyed me royally by talking about how Israel was "increasingly isolated" and needed to improve diplomatic relations with her Palestinian neighbors. Something to consider.

[] There are those who suggest that Netanyahu was seeking to weaken the PA, following the UN gambit by Abbas. No question, the trade boosted Hamas's popularity in the Palestinian street, at least for the moment. Something else to consider.


[] Various deeply troubling reports suggest that there was an Israeli intelligence failure, so that Shalit was never located and no plans were ever drawn up for rescuing him.

We see this in the written comments of Tzachi Hanegbi, who, as an MK with Kadima, served as Chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee:

"I am concerned about the limitations of the intelligence community exposed by this whole affair. As someone who is aware of the amount of resources allocated by the state to locating Gilad Schalit in Gaza, to allow for a military option, I am very disturbed by the thin results of such great efforts.

"This failure stands out even more in light of the long list of achievements by IDF Military Intelligence, the Mossad and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) during the years in which Gilad’s whereabouts remained a frustrating mystery."


And even more powerfully is this point made by Maariv journalist Ben Caspi, in his piece, "The Schalit story is an intelligence failure."

"We flew to Entebbe and returned with hundreds of hostages. We taught the world that terrorist isn't to be bargained with or catered to, that terror is to be fought. Despite its vaunted intelligence services, advanced technologies and enormous well-trained and experienced army, Israel was unable to locate a single soldier being held in a narrow, controlled strip of enemy territory just a few miles away.

"...In the final analysis, this will be understood to be one of the worse intelligence and military failures in the country's history." (Emphasis added)


(See more on this IDF/intelligence failure from Caroline Glick, below.)

Caspi writes that because of the intelligence failure Israel "was forced to fold to bring Gilad Schalit home." I wouldn't put it quite that way -- we did not have to fold. But the intelligence failure should not be discounted as a factor. Netanyahu felt his options were limited.

[] Perhaps most serious and most disturbing are the charges made by Caroline Glick in "Marketing Gilad Schalit":

"According to the New Wave poll carried out for Makor Rishon...75.7 percent of the public supported the deal and only 15.5 percent opposed it. In a society as rife with internal divisions as Israel, it is hard to think of any issue that enjoys the support of three quarters of the population. But even more amazing than the level of support is that the poll also shows the vast majority of Israelis believe that the deal harms Israel's national security.

"...How can this triumph of emotion over reason be explained?...what brought a large majority of Israelis to favor a deal they know endangers them?

"Part of the answer was provided by an article in the Globes newspaper...Titled 'Lucky the kidnapping happened in the technological era,' and written by Anat Bein-Leibovitz, it analyzed the five-year advertising campaign that shaped public perceptions about Schalit and built public support for a deal that obviously harms the country.

"The Shalmor Avnon Amichai firm ran the campaign to free Schalit. Shlomi Avnon, a partner in the agency, described the goals of the campaign as follows: 'The first goal was to generate empathy for Gilad and his family. We did not know when the government needed to make a decision, but we wanted the Schalit family to enjoy wide public support when it came.

"'The second goal was to keep Gilad in the public consciousness so that he would not be forgotten...We attacked on all fronts...

"'We made a decision that our target audience was the public and not decision makers, because we knew that with decision makers all could be lost...

"Avnon and his colleagues marketed Schalit like a commercial product. As advertising executive Sefi Shaked explained, 'This was a battle between two brands. One was "Bring Gilad back," and the other was "Woe if we free murderers."'

What made this all extraordinarily successful, explains Glick, is that the media, which is supposed to be the watchdog of Israel's national interests against the advertising executives, opted to "behave like lapdogs." And this is not the first time that this has been the situation:

"...the media are the strongest force in Israeli society. Their power owes to the fact that the major media organs are ideologically uniform and therefore act consistently as a pack.

"...By choosing sides, the media ensure there is no substantive public debate about the controversial campaigns they support. Rather than debate the substance of an issue, the media, together with PR firms, personalize the dispute."

Thus could an advertising executive observe, "The media left the government no option not to act [on Schalit]."


Glick continues:

"What distinguished the Schalit campaign from those that preceded it was not the media mobilization but the complicity of the IDF, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Mossad. In all the other campaigns, the security services either opposed the campaigns or stood on the sidelines.

"In an interview with Haaretz this past Sunday, Col. Ronen Cohen, who recently retired from IDF Military Intelligence, said the IDF never tried to put together an operation to rescue Schalit. In his words, Schalit's prolonged captivity 'was a resounding failure of the IDF.... The IDF never took responsibility for the soldier and did not even set up a team to deal with bringing him back.'

"...According to PR executive Geller, the IDF's abdication of its responsibility to rescue Schalit was influenced by the media's full mobilization on behalf of the PR campaign. 'That [Schalit] was not hurt in a rescue operation is due, among other things, to the high value that the media placed on him.' The IDF was too afraid of media criticism to risk a rescue raid. (Emphasis added)


A question still to be asked here is who paid for the PR campaign that promoted the trade of terrorists for Gilad Shalit?

It is a question of major import.


An excellent article by Martin Sherman echoes many of the same sentiments:

"Some have characterized the Schalit episode as a case of 'heart prevailing over head.' It certainly was a triumph of media-mania over mind, a victory of rating over rationality.

"For it could never have played out as it did without the press -- both print and electronic -- promoting the mantra of 'no price is too high,' with little regard for the consequences.

"Any thought of wider national issues was subordinated to the playing up the more newsworthy personal anguish. Any consideration for the long-term impact was swept away by a puerile -- but profit-worthy -- penchant for instant gratification that brooked no delay."


For anyone who doubts that there is an impact on the Palestinian Arab population with regard to the release of terrorists, I share this:

Wafa al-Biss was receiving treatment 2005 at Soroka Hospital in Beersheva for severe burns. As I recall her case, the burns had been inflicted by her family, and the Jewish doctors at Soroka had saved her life. But when traveling back to the hospital from Gaza for follow-up, she was found to be wearing a belt of explosives.

Now Biss, who had been serving a 12-year sentence, was freed in the trade and is back in Gaza. At home, she told dozens of children who came to visit her that she hoped they would follow in her footsteps.

"We will give souls and blood to redeem the prisoners. We will give souls and blood for you, Palestine," she told the kids, who cheered and waved flags.

Just lovely.


There is a great deal of talk now about how to respond when Hamas attempts to capture another IDF soldier. This is a matter of great significance and I'm pleased to see it.

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Subcommittee for Intelligence, Secret Services, Captives and Missing Soldiers has called for an official government policy on captive soldiers, and even Defense Minister Barak has called for guidelines.

You might also want to see this: . (Thanks, Jeff D.)


PA President Abbas, smarting at the increase in Hamas popularity as a result of the trade, is demanding that Israel now release Fatah prisoners as well.

Additionally he has announced that the PA will "honor" all prisoners who have been released, including those in Gaza, by providing them with "grants." There is more to be said with regard to the source of the funds for those grants


Another of the demands made of Hamas by Egypt, according to Abu Toameh, is that Hamas forge a unity government with Fatah. This is something we will have to watch, as the situation is currently very fluid. Reportedly, Abbas and Mashaal will be meeting in Cairo next month.

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials are saying that if their UN bid fails, they will pursue "other options."


The Quartet plans to meet with the PA and Israel separately to get detailed proposals from each regarding borders and security, touting this as progress forward.


PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is saying that the time is not ripe for productive Israeli-Palestinian talks. How right he is.

But of course, his frame of reference is different from mine: he means we have to first agree to '67 lines as the basis for negotiations and stop construction in Judea and Samaria.

Moshe Ya'alon, however, in a talk last night, was insistent that there would be no further freezes, which he labels ethnic cleansing. Ya'alon may be Deputy Prime Minister as well as Minister of Security Affairs, but his opinion, on its own, does not necessarily hold sway. May the government remain strong in the face of PA demands.


© 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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