Saturday, February 18, 2012

Surplus Jews

Daniel Gordis

It is simply impossible for today's Jews to find themselves in a world in which no one wants them or will have them. That, perhaps most fundamentally, is the dimension of Jewish life that Israel has changed, hopefully forever. Jews may be all sorts of things,
but we are no longer "surplus."


We Jews permit ourselves degrees of intolerance towards each other that we would never exhibit toward others outside our community. The settings are numerous - theology, Halacha, denominations, politics and more.

But nowhere are the vehemence and the inability to actually listen to those with whom we disagree more pronounced than with regard to the State of Israel.

The great irony of our age is that arguments about how to safeguard the Jewish state are a significant part of what now threatens to destroy any semblance of unity among the Jewish people. It is therefore helpful to have periodic reminders of just how much is at stake in the survival and flourishing of this state.

This week affords just that opportunity, for we are just days shy of the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Struma. Few people today remember the Struma or its story; the young among us cannot even imagine the Jewish existential condition that it reflected, a condition that the state has, thankfully, completely eradicated. The story begins in 1941, when it was clear to many Eastern European Jews that they were destined for a horrific end. In Romania, several Zionist organizations, Betar among them, commissioned a Bulgarian ship to transport almost 800 Jewish passengers to Palestine - the Struma.

Like Europe, however, the Struma was a disaster waiting to happen. The ship was barely more than a floating tub, 61 meters in length and six meters wide, which had been built in 1830 for shipping cargo; it had subsequently been used to transport cattle. It was powered by a motor that had apparently been salvaged from the bottom of the Danube River. The immigrants aboard had, according to some accounts, but a single bathroom.

Their only sources of comfort were the knowledge that they were finally succeeding in fleeing a burning Europe, and that the whole trip to Istanbul, the first leg of their journey, would take merely 14 hours.

The Struma set sail on December 12, 1941, but the engine gave out almost immediately. The tugboat that had towed them out of the harbor eventually sent its navigator and engineer on board, but they would only fix the engine for a large sum of money. The passengers, however, had given all their money to the Romanian customs officials. So they parted with their gold wedding bands in return for the repairs.

Four interminable days later, the boat limped into the Istanbul harbor, where it would remain for months.

Turkey refused to allow the passengers to disembark - what country would want a boatload of homeless Jews? Nor did Britain want them to make their way to Palestine; the British were anxious to assure an increasingly restless and sometimes violent Arab resistance that limits on Jewish immigration would be enforced.

On February 12, almost two months after the boat had left Romania, the British finally acquiesced and granted Palestinian visas to the children on board. But His Majesty's government refused to send a ship to collect them, and Turkey refused to grant them overland passage. The children thus remained on board. With negotiations between Turkey and Britain at a standstill, Turkish officials towed the disabled boat up the Bosporus Strait toward the Black Sea.

Passengers hung signs over the side that said "Save Us" in both English and Hebrew. The signs were plainly visible to people on the shores of the Bosporus, but no one, of course, did anything to help them.

When the hapless Struma reached the Black Sea, the Turks abandoned the ship, leaving it to drift. The next morning, on February 24, a Soviet submarine torpedoed the Struma, which exploded and sank. Of the 769 people on board, only one survived, by holding on to wreckage for more than 24 hours. His name was David Stoliar, and he was imprisoned in Turkey for several weeks, then admitted to Palestine. Stoliar served in the British Army during the war, and then in the IDF during the War of Independence; he later moved to Oregon.

There is much we do not know about the Struma catastrophe. Why did the Soviets sink the boat? Did they mistake it for something else? Did the British actually encourage their Soviet allies to sink the ship in order to "solve" the problem without putting pressure on Palestinian immigration? Some people believe so, but we will probably never know with certainty.

The incident, now mostly forgotten, had all the iconic elements of the Shoah. Human beings transported with equipment once used for cattle. Subhuman and unlivable conditions. Helpless Jews, whom no one wanted, with nowhere in the world to go. And finally, of course, mass death, with no graves to mark the fact that these innocent people had even existed, and had died for the simple reason that they were Jews.

Perhaps the most important element of the story to remember is to be found in a British governmental communication from 1941, referring to the Jews who were desperate to escape Europe and who, the British rightly understood, would try to make their way to Palestine despite British objections. "We should have some alternative scheme in hand for disposing of these surplus Jews, who having escaped from persecution in Europe, are going to be kept in detention camps in British colonies," the communication stated matter-of-factly.

"Surplus Jews": The phrase is used with no hint of embarrassment, no expression of responsibility. "Surplus Jews," as in human beings that are, for now, a commodity - until they become literally worthless. "Surplus," as in not needed, as in a problem that needs to be disposed of.

No one uses this phrase anymore. Not the British, nor the Turks. Not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nor Mahmoud Abbas. People across the globe still have their beef with us; some are justified, most are not. But whatever one might say about the State of Israel, one thing is clear - the Struma incident simply could not happen today.

It is simply impossible for today's Jews to find themselves in a world in which no one wants them or will have them. That, perhaps most fundamentally, is the dimension of Jewish life that Israel has changed, hopefully forever. Jews may be all sorts of things, but we are no longer "surplus."

It is worth remembering now just how much has changed in the past 70 years. And as we battle over how Judaism should be manifested in this state, what its borders should be and how we can best protect it, the memory of the Struma ought to serve as a chilling reminder of what we will lose if the stridency of our debate rips our people - and then our state - asunder.

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Logistics of an Israeli Strike on Iran

David P. Goldman

There are plenty of analysts who deal with the logistics of nuclear weapons and their interdiction in the abstract, and a very few who have dealt with the matter as an existential issue. Apart from the Israelis, for whom Iranian nuclear capability represents an existential threat, the list is short. The German defense expert Hans Rühle headed the Policy Planning Staff of Germany’s Defense Ministry during the 1980s, when the U.S. installed the medium-range Pershing missiles in Germany and undercut Russia’s military advantage in the European theater. A nuclear exchange with Russia remained a live possibility in those days; after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the high water mark for strategic risk during the Cold War came in 1983, when then-Soviet premier Andropov declared a nuclear alert, ostensibly in response to NATO’s “Able Archer” exercise, but really as an attempt to panic the Germans.Hans Rühle was one of the toughest and most perspicacious analysts in those heady days. Today he evaluates Israel’s capacity to knock out Iran’s nuclear program in an essay in the German conservative daily Die Welt. It is worth reading (for non-German speakers, there’s Google Translate).

Rühle is highly confident that Israel could knock out Iran’s nuclear program for a decade or more with about 25 of its 87 F-15 fighter-bombers and a smaller number of its F-16s. Each of the F-15s would carry two of the GBU-28 bunker busters, with the F-16s armed with smaller bombs. Rühle writes

There are 25 to 30 installations in Iran which are exclusively or predominately dedicated to the nuclear program. Six of them are targets of the first rank: the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, the conversion works in Isfahan, the heavy water reactor in Arak, the weapons and munitions production facility in Parchin, the uranium enrichment facility in Fordow, and the Bushehr light water reactor.

The location, nature, and defenses as well as (with some limitations) the type of installed anti-aircraft systems are extensively known.

The information about Natanz are solid. The project has been under satellite surveillance from the beginning and watched by Israeli “tourists.” At the moment there are a good 10,000 centrifuges installed, of which 6,500 are producing. Israel’s strongest “bunker buster” is the GBU-28 (weight 2.3 tons), which demonstrably can break through seven meters of reinforced concrete and 30 meters of earth. It would suffice to break through the roof at Natanz. In case of doubt, two GBU-28s could be used in sequence; the second bomb would deepen the first bomb’s crater and realize the required success.

Available guidance systems, the German expert adds, are quite adequate to guide the bunker-busters to their goal in this fashion. Only a few bombs, he adds, would be required to destroy all the centrifuges; spinning at 1,500 revolutions per second, these instruments turn into grenades when destabilized. With a few hits, all the centrifuges would be destroyed beyond repair.

Fordow, by contrast, is a harder target, with about 3,000 centrifuges under 70 meters of rock. Even the U.S., Rühle says, does not have bunker-busters that can penetrate that far. The deployment of special forces is a more likely option. The other targets (the light- and heavy-water reactors) are far softer, and F-16s with lighter munitions would suffice.

Parchin is the “bottleneck” through which all nuclear materials must pass, the weapons production facility where warheads are designed and tested. “How many bombs would be required to destroy Parchin,” Rühle says, “is a matter of speculation.”

Most importantly, Rühle believes that it would take Iran a decade to restore its capabilities — with the exception of Isfahan — unless special forces could inflict more damage from the ground than was possible from the air. There are risks, of course: the Russians might have secretly given Iran more advanced surface-to-air missiles; refueling might be interdicted along a route that overflies potentially hostile countries; and Iran’s proxies (Syria, Hizbollah, Hamas) might retaliate. Nonetheless, he concludes that Israel could lastingly disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Haaretz: Israel’s Anti-Semitic Rag

P. David Hornik
on Feb 17th, 2012

Haaretz, Israel’s left-wing daily, used to be Israel’s newspaper of record and comparable to the New York Times, read also by those who differed from its line. Today Haaretz is read by less than 6 percent of Israelis, overwhelmingly composed of the country’s left-wing “elite.” Haaretz comes in far behind successful newcomer, right-of-center Israel Hayom at 38% and left-of-center Yediot Aharonot at 36%.

Haaretz’s English website, however, gets a very high Alexa ranking—around the 3900th most popular website in the world and currently neck-and-neck with the centrist Jerusalem Post’s site. Indeed, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu allegedly called (his office later denied it) Haaretz and the New York Times Israel’s “two main enemies” and said: :

They set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read them every morning and base their news stories…on what they read in the New York Times and Haaretz.

Whether or not Netanyahu said it, he could have added that foreign diplomats as well base their views of Israel, and their perceptions—however skewed—of Israeli opinion, on what they read in Haaretz.

For his part, Israeli justice minister Yaakov Neeman has allegedly gone even further and likened Haaretz to Der Stürmer.

Are such charges justified? To get an idea on whether they are, I followed Haaretz’s English website’s op-eds and editorials through the Israeli workweek of Sunday, January 29 to Friday, February 3. Having done the same experiment eight years ago, I can say right away that Haaretz has, if anything, gotten worse since then. (While its reporting is also biased, the bias is easier to demonstrate in opinion articles.) This despite the fact that last August, Aluf Benn became Haaretz’s new editor in chief.

For years Benn was a thoughtful left-of-center columnist for the paper who made valid, if arguable, points. Under his tenure, though, Haaretz has kept publishing the same bevy of radical leftists. It appears inevitable considering that the Schocken family, which has owned the paper since 1937, still holds a dominant 60% stake of Haaretz. In an op-ed last November, current Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken portrayed Israel as a country verging on apartheid.

During the week in question, January 29-February 3, Haaretz published 30 op-eds. Fifteen of these could be called neutral on political, left-right issues. Exactly one—by Haaretz’s sole regular right-wing columnist, Israel Harel—was a discussion from a right-wing perspective. Of the other 14, 11 were virulently left-wing and 3 more moderately so. As for the editorials, all six were harsh attacks on Israeli policy, leadership, and institutions. The following is only a sampling from the week.

On Sunday, Gideon Levy published a piece on a recent poll finding high levels of religious beliefs in the Israeli Jewish population. For instance, 84% believe in God, 70% believe Jews are the chosen people, 76% eat kosher at home—figures far beyond the approximately 25% of the Jewish population that is formally observant. This poll, to put it mildly, did not sit well with Levy and other Haaretz pundits.

Levy, for his part, wrote:

Expressions of racism toward Arabs and foreigners, Israel’s arrogant attitude toward international opinion—these too can be explained by the benighted, primeval belief of the majority of Israelis (70 percent ) that we enjoy complete license because You chose us.… we are in the West Bank above all because the majority of Israelis believe that it is not only the land of the patriarchs, but that this fact gives us a patrimonial right to sovereignty, to cruelty, to abuse and to occupation—and to hell with the position of the international community and the principles of international law, because, after all, we were chosen from among all other peoples.

That is not a valid polemic but, rather, an anti-Semitic rant. As Shmuel Rosner notes regarding the traditional Jewish belief in chosenness,

There’s nothing wrong with such belief. When Americans were asked by Gallup if their nation “has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world,” 80 percent said yes. According to a Pew survey, “About half of Americans (49 percent) and Germans (47 percent) agree with the statement, ‘Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others.’”

Israelis, of course, do not regard chosenness as a license to commit crimes, and Levy cannot cite any evidence that they do. He just asserts it, or “spits it” would be more accurate.

Also riding the antireligious tide on Sunday, Amir Oren complained that the Israeli army “was another kind of army [once], before the chief rabbi of the air force took office, before the religious takeover of aircraft hangars, and their takeover of the rest of the Israel Defense Forces.” Oren approvingly quotes an anonymous letter to the chief of staff by a secular air force pilot:

…maybe I should let you know that the members of the air force, at least from [a certain] base, will not be meeting with authors, or guides who would teach them about nature and about various places around the country, or scientists or philosophers, or journalists or historians, or people looking at future trends. Only with religious people, who my son describes as crazy. I find no reason to assume that this disease only exists on this one particular base…. Don’t be surprised if normal soldiers don’t find their place in your army of God.

If this sounds like hatred of religious Jews, it is; and it is no less clear that hatred of a category of Jews is anti-Semitism. It should be added that, whatever legitimate controversies may exist about religion’s role in the Israeli army, one reason it has become more prominent there is that religious Israelis now disproportionately volunteer to be officers and combat soldiers—a fact I didn’t come across anywhere in Haaretz’s rants.

And Sunday’s editorial weighed in on the “failed” (except that all serious commentators knew they didn’t stand a chance) Israeli-Palestinians talks in Jordan, saying these were intentionally scuttled by Israel and adding:

Netanyahu, with [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak’s help, has turned the Iranian nuclear threat into an impressive ploy to distract attention from settlement policy and the perpetuation of the occupation…. The death certificate of negotiations based on the two-state solution is a badge of shame for Israeli society. It’s hard to understand how a society that has so impressively brought social injustice to the top of the agenda has fallen victim to our nationalist-religious leaders’ criminal ploy.

Here it should be noted that neither Netanyahu nor—even less so—Barak is considered religious in Israeli terms. But these bad characters, we see—with “Israeli society” in tow—are leading the world by the nose on the Iranian-nuke issue so they can tighten their grip on the West Bank. If this reminds you of Walt, Mearsheimer, Patrick Buchanan, & Co., it should—and it’s coming from a made-in-Israel website.

That Israel is an “apartheid state” is, of course, another shibboleth of contemporary anti-Semitism. It was well represented in Haaretz on Monday by Druze writer and contributor Salman Masalha who, in another crude rant, drew direct parallels between Israel and apartheid South Africa. Then there was Akiva Eldar, whose tirade also featured the crafty, peace-destroying Netanyahu:

If Netanyahu had not existed, the settlers would have been forced to invent him. It has cost him peanuts to remove some of the roadblocks in the West Bank, to lift part of the blockade on the Gaza Strip, and to pay a bit of lip service to “the peace process.” And, he has managed to preserve all the settlers’ interests.

…Fact: It is possible to gobble up additional territories and also be depicted as a moderate leader while managing to keep relations with the United States and Europe intact.

The settlers can relax. The general positions outlined last week in Jordan to the Palestinians [were] nothing more than another exercise aimed at presenting Netanyahu as a partner to peace and the Palestinians as the ones who turn it down….

Tricky Jews at it again; all is subterfuge, don’t believe a word they say.
Especially offensive, though, was Monday’s column by Merav Michaeli, who also focused on the poll that so upset Gideon Levy but found a different significance in it:

The issue that should have sparked panic in the survey is the total consensus among Israeli Jews…that the “guiding principle” for the country and for Judaism itself is “to remember the Holocaust.” Ninety-eight percent of the respondents consider it either fairly important or very important to remember the Holocaust, attributing to it even more weight than to living in Israel, the Sabbath, the Passover seder and the feeling of belonging to the Jewish people.

…That’s the way it is with traumas…. Trauma leads to belligerence and a strong tendency to wreak havoc on one’s surroundings….

A very high societal awareness of the Holocaust—cause for “panic”! From a non-Haaretz perspective, this might be seen as an educational success and a welcome phenomenon. Holocaust survivors, it can be assumed, regard it that way, and so would the victims. But for columnist Michaeli, it’s something that drives Israelis to beat up on others—again, a familiar canard of the anti-Semites.

On Tuesday Avirama Golan gave her take on Israeli secondary education:

from year to year, Israeli children will participate in experiential tours in Israel and abroad. First they will lift their heads in national pride in the City of David and shed a Jewish tear at the Western Wall…. Two years later they will march with a huge Israeli flag in the suburbs of Warsaw, will hate Poles and will swear to take revenge on the Palestinians…. Never mind. In any case these children will be drafted, will be welcomed to the army by the rabbi of the base, who will blow the shofar in their honor. It’s better if they’re prepared.

It’s nasty, leering stuff, and it’s anti-Semitic by any reasonable definition.

It was more of the same on Wednesday. Bradley Burston heaped some more demonization on the Israeli leadership:

If we’re lucky, the threat (no more than the threat) of an Iran attack (Bibi and Barak’s Glory Days Redux fantasy) will be just one more dodge to keep settlers and their opponents at bay: long enough to make it to elections, long enough to get another fix of power…. Alternatively, they could do the bidding of the hard right. Shun the left, exploit the center, build like mad in the settlements and bomb Iran for good measure.

By now it should be emerging that—aside from portraying Israel as a country that touts a phony Iranian threat for its own nefarious purposes, or might start a Middle Eastern conflagration for its own sneaky reasons—Haaretz is not fond of “the settlers.” The fury toward Israelis who live in the West Bank—now numbering well over 300,000 and covering the full sociological spectrum—clearly smacks of pathological obsession. Wednesday’s column by Zvi Barel directed still more abuse at these people, depicting them as taking over the country while perhaps being “willing to give Israel equal rights under conditions dictated by the invaders of the hills.”

Thursday was somewhat quieter, with the aforementioned column by right-winger Harel and a few “neutrals.” But Ari Shavit came through with:

Over the past three years, Netanyahu has succeeded in decimating the left’s belief in peace with the Palestinians, and he is en route to destroying the world’s hopes as well. He has managed to convince both the Americans and the Europeans that the main topic on the world’s agenda must be Iran….

And Haaretz was back in full force on Friday. Yoel Marcus:

…The most worrying survey showed that 80 percent of Israelis believe in God…. this number is another element in the weakening of the left, the strengthening of the right, the reinforcement of the rabbis’ rule and the sanctity of the territories—and the continuation of the Bibi regime.

Former Knesset member and cabinet minister Yossi Sarid offered an imaginary letter to his parents by an Israeli schoolchild taken on a school tour of Hebron:

They should stop telling us stories—we’re not children anymore. With our own eyes we saw the settlers acting like the bosses, telling the soldiers and the policemen what to do.… Once I saw a movie called “To Hell and Back,” and that’s a pretty good description of the day we had. We discovered a grave new world, in which an abomination becomes a righteous deed, as long as it’s performed by authority of the Torah, of course…. I’m going to have to rethink everything, after I found out…that God has more support than…Netanyahu here: at least 80 percent, and a majority is a majority. Just as murder is murder…. I trust our education minister will examine our memories to discover what Hebron did to us as a city that really stinks.

And Doron Rosenblum:

It has become difficult in this country to distinguish, at least on the visual level, between a ceremony to dedicate a new Torah scroll and a walk to the cabinet meeting by the prime minister (who is “good for the Jews”) and his entourage of skullcap- and kerchief-wearers.…

To sum up, then, the gleanings from one week of Haaretz’s opinion articles: the Jewish religion is primitive and benighted, and Israeli Jews exploit it to abuse others. Religious Jews are taking over Israel and the Israeli army and constitute a “disease” in that army. Israeli is solely and deliberately responsible for the failure of Israeli-Palestinian talks, and craftily uses the Iranian threat to deceive Americans and Europeans and advance its goals. Israel is an apartheid state. Israelis are driven by the Holocaust to wreak havoc on others. Israeli schoolchildren are inculcated with a ludicrous religion, Judaism, and learn to hate Poles and Palestinians. Israel may bomb Iran just so its prime minister and defense minister can please the “hard right.” The “settlers” are demons, entirely evil.

One of Israel’s main enemies? Haaretz’s English website is certainly that, as it spews this vile nonsense all over the world. Der Stürmer? With its hatred and defamation of the Israeli Jewish people and of Judaism in general, its volleys of anti-Semitic stereotypes, Haaretz is not far off.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Palestinians and the Greatest Political Scam of Modern Times

David Solway on Feb 16th, 2012

The usual understanding of Israel as an aggressive, colonial, apartheid state robbing the Palestinians of their heritage is quite possibly the greatest political scam of modern times. It is the outcome of a mixture of historical amnesia, ideological prejudice and reflex hostility, which serves to keep it mind-proof. This species of unreason explains why, in the interminable conflict raging in the Middle East, the Palestinians have been given a free pass.

It is why the press has bowdlerized the word “terrorist” and substituted inoffensive synonyms like “militant,” “activist” and “insurgent.” It is why any Israeli response to Gaza rocket fire is denounced as “collective punishment” and a violation of international norms by the United Nations, which has no problem turning a blind eye to the continuing barrage of rocket fire, kidnappings and attempted kidnappings, and ambushes emanating from the terrorist enclave. This knee-jerk reaction to Israel is the reason Hezbollah was permitted to re-arm itself in violation of UN Resolution 1701. It accounts for the fact that Human Rights outfits and NGOs have been hijacked by the anti-Israeli crowd hiding behind their anesthetic titles. It is the reason that foreign nations funding left-wing, anti-Zionist groups that operate in Israel object to the passing of transparency legislation by the Knesset, though they themselves stringently monitor such interference in their own affairs. It accounts for the sanctimonious and hypocritical outcry against the Israeli security barrier as an apartheid wall, without evincing the slightest concern for the Jewish victims of Palestinian terror: 1,218 fatalities and 8,431 maimed between 2000-2007.

Such unfounded partiality explains why so dysfunctional a society as “Palestine” is the recipient of lavish American and European largesse, despite the hemorrhaging economies of most Western nations. It is the reason that the rejection by the 1974 Palestinian National Council of UN Resolution 242, which recognized Israeli sovereignty, is never mentioned. It throws light upon the general refusal to acknowledge that the casus belli in the region is not a wrangle over borders but the Palestinian rejection of both the concept and reality of a Jewish state, which is why the Haq al-Awda or “right of return” of millions of foreign-born, manufactured “refugees” has been a non-negotiable issue for the Palestinians, from Arafat to Abbas. In fact, in no other case on record has the United Nations recognized multi-generational descendants as authentic “refugees” entitled to repatriation.

Nor is the fact ever mentioned that the first Arab women to exercise the vote were those who live in Israel. It makes no difference to the soi-disant international community that an independent “Palestine” adjacent to Israel would be officially Judenrein, or Jew-free, which means it would not be a democratic state. It makes no difference that the Palestinian Arabs have failed or reneged in every area of their commitments to Israel and the “peace process,” from putting the lid on media incitement to debelling the terrorists in their ranks to reforming the school curriculum.

Further, the claim bruited by Arab propagandists of various stripes that the Palestinian refugees were driven out by Israeli forces during the War of Independence is more than likely only minimally valid. The brunt of the responsibility for the flight of Palestinian villagers and fellaheen must be borne almost exclusively by the Arabs. “Every year,” writes Sol Stern in A Century of Palestinian Rejectionism and Jew Hatred, “the legend grows about the historical crimes committed against the Palestinians in 1948.” This is the “nakba myth,” which “has become a lethal political cocktail.” But it is for the most part falsified history. Even Sir John Glubb of “Glubb Pasha” fame, the British general of the Arab Legion that conducted a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” against the newborn Jewish state, wrote in the London Daily Mail for August 12, 1948 that “The Arab civilians panicked and fled ignominiously. Villages were frequently abandoned before they were threatened by the progress of war.” Emile Ghoury, secretary of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, interviewed in the Beirut Telegraph for September 6, 1948, stressed that “these refugees [are] the direct consequence of the act of the Arab states in opposing partition and the Jewish state,” and the Jordanian daily Falastin in an article for February 19, 1949 blamed the “Arab states which had encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes.” These are only a brace among other such affidavits.

With all this information at our fingertips, readily accessible to anyone who cares to do a modicum of research, the question practically asks itself. Why is the international community so quick to accept Palestinian victimhood and to condemn Israel? The answer is self-evident. What the Palestinians have going for them is the latent—and more often manifest—hatred of Israel and the Zionist enterprise in much of the world, which is only the contemporary permutation of age-old antisemitism and which they can tap into and exploit to their own advantage. This is why the Palestinian narrative has “taken.” As Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick puts it, “Anti-Semitism is back in style. Its new justification is not race or religion. It is nationalism….And like its racist and religious predecessors, its aim is to deny the right of Jews to be free.”

The Western embrace of the Palestinians may be nothing more than the furtive policy and privy intention of an international community that plainly wishes for Israel to disappear from the historical proscenium. The fact that Israel within its current borders, as well as Judea and Samaria (aka the “West Bank”), comprise the historic and legal home of the Jewish people is conveniently brushed aside. I am reminded of a moving passage from poet Clive Wilmer, in his New and Collected: “I can’t live where I once lived, though/the roof there used to cover me.” Moreover, there is little willingness to recognize that when terrorism becomes a way of life as it has for the Palestinians, there is scant prospect for peace.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Time to Attack Iran

Matthew Kroenig
January/February 2012

Matthew Kroenig’s recent article in this magazine argued that a military strike against Iran would be “the least bad option” for stopping its nuclear program. But the war Kroenig calls for would be far messier than he predicts, and Washington still has better options available.
The Case For Regime Change in Iran
Jamie M. Fly and Gary Schmitt

Bombing Iran's nuclear program would only be a temporary fix. Instead, the United States should plan a larger military operation that also aims to destabilize the regime and, in turn, resolves the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all.

The mistake Bush made was responding to a 21st century terrorist attack with 20th century wars.

In early October, U.S. officials accused Iranian operatives of planning to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States on American soil. Iran denied the charges, but the episode has already managed to increase tensions between Washington and Tehran. Although the Obama administration has not publicly threatened to retaliate with military force, the allegations have underscored the real and growing risk that the two sides could go to war sometime soon -- particularly over Iran’s advancing nuclear program. For several years now, starting long before this episode, American pundits and policymakers have been debating whether the United States should attack Iran and attempt to eliminate its nuclear facilities. Proponents of a strike have argued that the only thing worse than military action against Iran would be an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Critics, meanwhile, have warned that such a raid would likely fail and, even if it succeeded, would spark a full-fledged war and a global economic crisis. They have urged the United States to rely on nonmilitary options, such as diplomacy, sanctions, and covert operations, to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb. Fearing the costs of a bombing campaign, most critics maintain that if these other tactics fail to impede Tehran’s progress, the United States should simply learn to live with a nuclear Iran.

But skeptics of military action fail to appreciate the true danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to U.S. interests in the Middle East and beyond. And their grim forecasts assume that the cure would be worse than the disease -- that is, that the consequences of a U.S. assault on Iran would be as bad as or worse than those of Iran achieving its nuclear ambitions. But that is a faulty assumption. The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.

The face of Iranian terrorism

New Delhi police arrest five suspects tied to Monday’s bombing • Thai police say third Iranian suspect in Bangkok blasts escaped to Malaysia • Indian media: Investigators scanning records of all Iranian nationals, Lebanese students who arrived recently.
Eli Leon, Lilach Shoval and News Agencies

CCTV footage of one of the suspected terrorists, Saeid Moradi, walking on a Bangkok street on Tuesday.

Authorities in India and Thailand announced Wednesday that they were making progress in investigating the attacks in their respective countries this week that, at least in the Indian case, directly targeted Israeli Embassy officials. Police arrested five suspects in connection with Monday's bombing that wounded the wife of the Defense Ministry attache, according to reports in Indian media, while Thai police have have two men in custody they believe were behind Tuesday's bombing in the Thai capital and are searching for a third suspect. An additional suspect in the Bangkok plot is believed to have fled to Malaysia.

Itzhak Shoham, the Israeli ambassador to Thailand, drew a clear line between the attacks against Israeli targets in New Delhi and Tiblisi, Georgia, on Monday and Tuesday's bombings in the Thai capital.

“We can assume from the other experiences that we were the target," Shoham told The Associated Press. Thai police found and defused two magnetic bombs that could be stuck on vehicles after Tuesday' blasts. “They are similar to the ones used in Delhi and in Tblisi," Shoham said. "From that we can assume that this is the same network of terror." He said the arrest of two Iranians suspected of involvement in the blasts “again leaves not too much room to assume who was behind it."

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again pointed the finger at Iran, saying it is destabilizing the world and that its aggression must be stopped. Speaking at the Knesset, Netanyahu reiterated Israel's claims that Iran was responsible for explosions this week that targeted Israeli diplomats in India and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

“Iran is targeting innocent diplomats around the world. If this aggression isn't halted, if red lines are not clearly marked, Iran's aggression will ultimately spread to many other countries," Netanyahu warned.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed the security arrangements at Israeli embassies in countries geographically close to Iran, saying they were different than arrangements at embassies in other countries, such as the U.S. or Canada. Speaking to Israel Radio on Wednesday, Lieberman said that the attacks were carried out on Monday, as the Israeli embassies were closed on Sunday - the fourth anniversary of the death of Hezbollah mastermind Imad Mughniyeh, who died in a 2008 Damascus car-bomb blast.

Lieberman said Israel has sent officials to India to take part in the investigation of Monday's attack and that he was confident the perpetrators would be caught.

One day after Monday’s terrorist attack in New Delhi and a failed assassination attempt in Tbilisi, both involving Israeli targets, suspected Iranian terrorists moved on to Thailand on Tuesday as three explosions ripped through a busy Bangkok neighborhood, wounding four Thai civilians and blowing off the legs of a foreigner whom police blamed for the violence.

The incident in Bangkok occurred in the Ekamai district and began with an explosion in an apartment that had been rented by three Iranians several weeks earlier, just one kilometer from the Israeli Embassy. Thai police who entered the apartment after the blast found explosive materials, lending support to their assessment that the apartment was being used as a bomb factory for planned terrorist attacks.

Moments after the explosion, two men wearing backpacks were seen fleeing what was left of the structure. One of the men, wearing a cap and a dark colored jacket, was observed walking down a street carrying small devices similar to radios.

Another man, identified as Said Muradi, was later also seen leaving the apartment. He was covered in blood, and tried to flag down a taxi cab after exiting the building. When the driver of the cab refused to stop, Muradi hurled a grenade at it, causing damage to the vehicle. When police arrived, spotted Muradi and moved toward him, he tossed another grenade at them, but it apparently ricocheted off an object – some reports said it was a tree – and blew up near him, severing one of his legs. A picture posted on Twitter purportedly showed a wounded man lying on a sidewalk strewn with broken glass, his leg apparently sheared off. His second leg was amputated in surgery. The wounded Iranian was in police custody at a Bangkok hospital. Immigration police detained a second Iranian as he tried to board a flight for Malaysia.

Both men were facing four charges, including possession of explosives, attempted murder, attempted murder of a policeman and causing explosions that damaged property, National Police Chief Gen. Prewpan Damapong said. Security forces were searching for a third Iranian suspect.

Police Col. Sittiphab Baiprasert told The Associated Press the blasts occurred about 100 meters (328 feet) apart on Sukhumvit Soi 71, a multi-lane thoroughfare with businesses and apartment blocks.

Three Thai men and a Thai woman were brought to Kluaynamthai Hospital for treatment, Suwinai Busarakamwong, a doctor there, said. The cab driver was among the wounded, reports said.

Several Thai television stations reported that an identification card found in a satchel near the site of the grenade explosion indicated Muradi was of Iranian descent. Iranian currency was also found among the man’s possessions. Police Col. Warawut Taweechaikarn, a senior officer in the district, confirmed the reports and said the wounded foreigner was Iranian.

Documents Muradi was carrying indicated he arrived in Phuket, Thailand, on Feb. 8 from Seoul, South Korea, and spent a few nights in a hotel in the Chonburi district, a two-hour drive from Bangkok. On the same day Muradi arrived in Thailand, Mohammad Hazai, 42, also arrived in the country. According to Thai police, Hazai was also in the apartment at the time of the explosion, and was arrested after the incident at the Bangkok International Airport before attempting to board a plane to Malaysia.

Thai police said both Muradi and Hazai confessed to planning attacks on Israeli targets in Thailand. Explosives found in the apartment were apparently meant for use in assassination attempts rather than to blow up buildings or other structures. A police bomb squad searching the house found and defused two explosives, each made of three or four pounds of C-4 explosives, inside a pair of radios. Prewpan Damapong said the bombs were “magnetic” and could be affixed to vehicles. “From the investigation, we found the type of explosives indicated that the prepared targets were individuals,” Wichean said. “Based on the equipment and materials we found, they were aimed at individuals and the destruction capacity was not intended for large crowds or big buildings.”

In the attack in New Delhi a day earlier, Tal Yehoshua Koren, wife of the Defense Ministry attache in India, was in her car and stopped at an intersection when a man on a motorcycle appeared from behind, attached a bomb to the car on the opposite side to the gas tank – if it had been on the tank side it would have been a bigger blast and likely caused fatalities. Media reports said five people had been detained for questioning.

Koren is recuperating from shrapnel wounds, which reportedly pierced her lungs, spine and liver. Indian media reported that she underwent spinal surgery, but is conscious and can talk.

Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat confirmed that the blast there was caused by a "sticky bomb.” He said witnesses saw a lone motorbike rider attach the device to the right rear side of the car in which the Israeli diplomat's wife was travelling.

He said the device, which was about the size of an iPad, would have exploded about three to five seconds after it was stuck to the vehicle and magnetic fragments were found at the scene. "This is the first time that this modus operandi has been seen in India," Bhagat told Reuters.

Indian media said investigators were scanning records of all Iranian nationals as well as Lebanese students who arrived in the country in recent months.

India said on Tuesday it was still unsure who was behind the attack. It has been not publicly commented on Israel's accusation that Tehran was the culprit. Police were visiting the Israeli Embassy on Wednesday. Media reported that two Israeli Mossad agents had flown into New Delhi. Delhi Police Wednesday recovered an abandoned red motorcycle from south Delhi's Lado Sarai area, an official told the Times of India Wednesday. An intensive search had been launched for the owner of the bike, a Special Cell police official told IANS.

A similar attack was prevented at the Israeli Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Monday. A local man employed as a driver for the embassy heard a noise from the back of his vehicle and noticed a plastic object that looked like an explosive attached to the bottom of the car. The driver parked the car at the side of the road and called the police. An explosives team defused the bomb without incident, and a police spokesman said the device was timed to explode shortly after the vehicle entered the Israeli Embassy grounds.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ice Cream and Conversion

Isi Leibler
February 14, 2012

When the Israeli Chief Rabbinate decreed that Haagen-Dazs ice cream is no longer kosher because it is not based on Chalav d’Yisrael - milk extracted under authorized Jewish supervision - it is imposing the most stringent interpretation of kashrut on all Israelis. There has never been a rabbinical precedent anywhere imposing such an edict on an entire community.

Symbolically outrageous though this may be, it does not dramatically impact on the nation or our lifestyle. In contrast, had the Supreme Court not prevented the annulment of the heter mechira, approved for over a century by former Chief Rabbinates and enabled farmers to work during the sabbatical year - a large proportion of the agricultural sector would have suffered bankruptcy. Clearly, the haredi establishment is determined to turn the clock back and impose the most stringent standards of observance on the entire nation, irrespective of the consequences.

The most damaging aspect of this haredi controlled Chief Rabbinate is the utterly myopic attitude towards conversion which it has transformed into an obstacle course, imposing requirements frequently beyond those of the Talmud, Maimonides or even the Shulchan Aruch.

Nowhere is the term halachic blackmail more appropriate than in this area in which any rabbi challenging the stringent insensitive approach is invariably deemed heretical and subjected to vicious character assassination. This was exemplified by the defamatory abuse directed against respected rabbis like Rabbi Chaim Amsalem formerly from Shas and national religious Rabbi Druckman when they demurred from the halachic approach of the haredi establishment.

Today the Chief Rabbinate not only limits the right of individual rabbis to conduct conversions but even endorsed a ruling by Rabbi Avraham Sherman of the haredi Rabbinical Court enabling the retroactive annulment of thousands of conversions conducted by Rabbi Druckman – something unprecedented in Jewish history. Maimonides, one of our greatest sages, states that even a convert who returns to idol worship is still considered a Jew.

In this regard, a remarkable book has just appeared co-authored by David Ellenson, the President of the Hebrew Union College (the US Reform Academy) and Daniel Gordis, a Conservative Rabbi who made aliya and is now president of the Shalem Foundation.

Many Orthodox Jews will instinctively dismiss as tainted any work produced by non-Orthodox scholars. Yet the joint authors of this fascinating work avoid expressing their opinions or promoting their personal attitudes towards Halacha. They merely quote Responsa, dating from the 18th century until today, by universally respected giants of the Orthodox rabbinical world from all corners of the world, including Israel. They highlight the broad range of attitudes which prevailed towards conversion, ranging from the most stringent to the most liberal, including some who maintained that even ulterior motives in the first instance should not be considered a barrier to conversion. The Responsa also demonstrate beyond any shadow of doubt that, like other halachic issues, rabbis took into account the social, cultural and religious trends of the time.

In this context I also recommend the current volume of "Ideas", a quarterly orthodox journal published in New York, which is devoted to essays by the highly respected American Orthodox Sephardic Rabbi Marc Angel, and includes extensive reviews of the various approaches of distinguished rabbis over the ages towards conversion.

There are innumerable responsa which could apply as precedents for a more liberal approach. Most notable was former Sephardi Israeli Chief Rabbi Uziel (1880-1953) who considered it a mitzvah to accept converts even if initially, they were unlikely to be fully observant. He quotes Maimonides who ruled that the convert is not required to observe all the rituals of Judaism and that it is a mitzvah to accept converts with the hope that they will become observant in the future.

Rabbi Uziel was particularly emphatic of the need to convert intermarried couples because of our responsibility for the children who will be born of these marriages. He wrote: “If we push the children away completely by not accepting their parents for conversion, we shall be brought to judgment and they shall say to us "You did not bring back those who were driven away and those who were lost, you did not seek." (Yechezkel 34:4).”

Rabbi Angel also contrasts the opposing views on conversion of two revered Israeli Chief Rabbis – Rabbi Kook and Rabbi Uziel - not in order to demonstrate who is right and who is wrong, but to highlight the fact that there are frequently contrasting interpretations of Halacha in which "ellu ve’ellu divrei Elokim hayim” i.e. both positions are acceptable in the eyes of God.

Likewise Ashkenazi Israeli Chief Rabbi Herzog ruled that “for the sake of heaven” was a justification to convert gentile women who had saved their Jewish husbands by refusing to adhere to Nazi dictates to divorce them. He also defined aliya, joining the Jewish nation, as “being for the sake of heaven” and a factor meriting conversion.

Chief Rabbi Goren maintained that conversion was frowned upon in the Diaspora but welcomed in Israel. Similarly Chief Rabbi Unterman opposed conversion in the UK but recommended an especially lenient approach towards Russians in Israel who, even if initially converting for ulterior motives, may at a later stage accept the tenets of Judaism.

Overall, it is clear that prior to the haredi hijacking of the Chief Rabbinate and state rabbinical institutions, the approach towards conversion in Israel had been far more accommodating.

Rabbi Amsalem published a number of scholarly books providing halachic justification for being more compassionate and inclusive in terms of conversion in Israel and called for special leniency towards intermarried Jews from the former Soviet Union whose sons serve in the IDF.

There are halachic grounds for employing maximum flexibility in the case of 350,000 non halachic Jews living in a Jewish state. One must take into account that intermarriage in the Soviet Union was a byproduct of Jews forcibly estranged from their heritage for 70 years by a hostile regime. That millions of them came to Israel or joined other diaspora Jewish communities should be seen as an extraordinary miracle. Yet, the intransigence of the current haredi rabbinate represents a ticking time bomb which may inflict personal tragedies on the lives of future generations of Israelis with the potential of undermining the stability and social cohesion of the nation.

Those promoting the more stringent approach argue the need for the highest common denominator to ensure that all Jews recognize the validity of conversions. But the reality is that although differing halachic interpretations have prevailed throughout our history, to this day many haredim deny the validity of conversions not inducted under their own rabbinical auspices.

There are of course major halachic differences relating to the Jewish identity of Russian and Ethiopian olim. Yet, what is required today is religious leadership of the caliber of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef who refused to be intimidated by those denying the Jewishness of the Ethiopian aliya and ruled that they were halachically Jewish and not obliged to undergo conversion. That to this day, some Jewish religious factions continue to refuse to recognize them as Jews does not bother him.

This issue is of such supreme importance, that it alone warrants the dissolution of the current Chief Rabbinate or at least the creation of an alternative modern Orthodox Bet Din, which must deal with a wide variety of issues beyond conversion such as marriage and divorce, gender separation, kashrut etc. in accordance with Halacha but in a moderate and compassionate manner, befitting the needs of a modern nation-state.

Many observant Jews, exasperated with the determination of a haredi Rabbinate to impose their stringent lifestyles on the entire nation, would enthusiastically welcome the creation of such a Bet Din.

There are organizations like Bet Morasha and ITIM supported by a handful of courageous rabbis like Rabbis Haim Amsalem, Benny Lau, Shlomo Riskin and Seth Farber whose observance and level of learning is beyond reproach, who are resisting the extremists. They should unite and encourage other rabbis to join them in order to save Judaism from the control of a haredi minority which exploits its excessive political leverage to coerce the people and in so doing alienates and marginalizes Judaism from the nation.

Rabbi Benny Lau does not mince his words, observing that “There is no logic in allowing the ultra-Orthodox to run the rabbinical courts. There are many rabbis in Israel who serve in the army, send their children to the army, and are full partners in all the challenges of Israeli society. The country deserves to have religious court judges who are committed to its future and its fate, and to free itself of judges estranged from the public”.

Netanyahu Meets Hunger Striking Daughter of Ex-SLA Soldier

PM Netanyahu meets with 14-year-old daughter of a former SLA officer who has been hunger striking due to her family's difficult situation.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/14/2012

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Monday at the Knesset with 14-year-old Tal Hajaj, the daughter of a former officer in the South Lebanon Army. Since Thursday, Hajaj has been on a hunger strike outside the Knesset, due to the difficulties her family has experienced since her father came to the State of Israel. The SLA was an anti-Islamist, anti-PLO army of Lebanese Arabs, primarily, though not exclusively Christians, heavily supported by Israel. The IDF and the SLA collaborated against the Iran-backed Hizbullah and PLO terrorist forces before and during the years that Israel operated a Security Zone in southern Lebanon, between 1982 and 2000. When the IDF withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 without prior warning, the SLA collapsed and many of its fighters fled into Israel.

Approximately 6,000 SLA refugees, including soldiers and their families, initially arrived in Israel. Of those, about 1,500 subsequently dispersed to various countries around the world. As of 2009, when Likud Minister Yossi Peled was given the responsibility for the welfare of SLA families, there were about 2,400 expatriates from southern Lebanon remaining in Israel.

Minister Peled also attended Monday’s meeting between Tal and the Prime Minister, during which Netanyahu asked the young girl to stop her hunger strike and return to her home in Tiberias.

“I want you to start eating, I want you to return to your home, leave the problem to us so we can try to help you,” Netanyahu said. “You’ve achieved something important – you’ve explained it all to me, I didn’t know all the details.”

Netanyahu asked Minister Peled to consider how the family's situation might be improved and told Tal that he is very loyal to the cause and would do anything in his power to help her.

Tal promised Netanyahu that she would end her hunger strike and go back home, and thanked the Prime Minister for his time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"Attack and Attempts"

Arlene Kushner

The attack took place in New Delhi, the capital of India, today, while there was a second attempt in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. In both instances explosives were utilized in cars connected to the local Israeli embassies.

In New Delhi, Tali Yehoshua-Koren, wife of the Defense Ministry representative to India was on her way to pick up her children from school when a blast occurred in her car, causing moderate injuries from shrapnel in her legs. .

Source: Haaretz

She was brought to the hospital for surgery, and two Israeli doctors who just happened to be in the areas were able to assume responsibility for her care.

It is believed that an assassin on a motorbike attached the bomb to the car; it is unclear whether he was attempting to kill Tali Koren or believed her husband was in the car.

A local Indian resident, as well as the driver of the car, may also have been injured. The car caught fire in the street, not far from the Indian prime minister's residence, and ultimately was gutted. In Tbilisi, a local employee of the Israeli embassy had dropped his children off at school when he heard a strange ticking in the car. He got out of the car and located an explosive device; Georgia police sappers dismantled it and there were no injuries.


We must be thankful that it was not a great deal worse. In each instance, a parent was involved in either dropping off or picking up children, and yet no children were injured.


In a press conference following these incidents, Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated that there have been similar attempts in recent months, including in Azerbaijan and Thailand:

"In each instance we succeeded in foiling the attacks in cooperation with local authorities....

Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind all of these attempted attacks. Iran is the world's largest terror exporter."

As is the case each year, Israeli embassies have been placed on alert, in any event, because Hezbollah is about to mark the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, one of its senior terrorist operatives. There is always concern about retaliation at this time of year. What gives pause is the fact that these two incidents seem to have been coordinated.


Our prime minister indicated that actions would be taken to prevent future attacks. Foreign Minister Lieberman will be holding a meeting with senior officials this evening to assess the current situation and provide new security directives, as needed, to Israel's diplomatic missions around the world.

India has pledged ample security for the Israeli embassy and has promised to try to find those responsible and bring them to justice. India and Israel have exceedingly cordial relations, evidenced by a call placed to Lieberman by Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna. Krishna, who visited Israel just last month, expressed "shock" and offered words that reinforced the friendship.

Krishna Source: Ekantipur

Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague released a written statement on these incidents indicating that he was "shocked and appalled."


You may have heard the rumors about CNN firing all the Jews on its staff in the Jerusalem bureau. Close, but not 100% accurate. See the story by Michael Widlanski:


If you will be in Jerusalem or environs on February 25 (a Shabbat), please note this significant meeting to be held Motzei (after) Shabbat -- at 8:30 -- at the Great Synagogue at 56 King George Street. Doors open at 7:30 and it is best to arrive early.

An emergency public forum to be held in English on the problems confronting Har HaZeitim (Mount of Olives) cemetery.

I've written before about what's happening at Har HaZeitim regarding the Arab desecration of graves, Arab violence directed at mourners, and illegal expansion of a mosque on the cemetery grounds just meters from the grave of Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

This cemetery, the oldest and largest Jewish cemetery in the world, is a national treasure that is at risk. Israeli sovereignty must be unequivocally established here and the issues are serious.

For this reason, the International Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeitim has called this meeting. Its goal is the restoration of the cemetery and its preservation.

Keynote speakers: Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Executive Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents Malcolm Hoenlein are keynote speakers, several members of the Knesset will be participating.


The good news today is that Mekorot, Israel's national water company, has told the Knesset Economics Committee that within a decade Israel will have a water surplus. Anyone familiar with Israel's water situation will recognize what astounding news this is.

We are having a good winter, with more rain than we've seen in several seasons. But the Mekorot report was based, not on this, but on projections regarding desalination plants. Israel has six desalination facilities, which produce 600 million cubic meters of water a year; a new desalination plant is being constructed in Ashdod that will supply 100 million cubic meters of water annually. It is to be completed in 2013; by then, it is estimated, 75% of households will be using desalinated water.

While Israel is currently lacking 2 billion cubic meters of water, once reliance on desalinated water becomes greater, the natural sources of water -- notably the Coastal Aquifer and Lake Kinneret, will be replenished.

Here you can see the Kinneret at a diminished water level:

Long-term plans are in the works for a second national water carrier (pipeline system) that would carry only brackish and desalinated water to agricultural sites.

Incredibly, it is anticipated that by 2014 Israel may become an exporter of water.


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Israeli Embassies Targeted in Terror Attacks in Georgia and India

Challah Hu Akbar | Feb 13, 2012 |

In late January, an Iranian linked terror cell, which planned to target Israelis and Jews, was exposed in Azerbaijan. During his recent trip to the United States, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel was concerned that Hezbollah would provoke Israel through an attack in order to distract the world’s attention from Syria. A French intelligence report stated a similar belief. On Friday, a Senior official in Hezbollah said on Al-Manar TV that “Israel can never be calm. Hezbollah will avenge the murder of the blessed Mughniyeh even it takes 100 years.”

Yet, Sunday’s Israel Hayom reported that “An Israeli defense source told Israel Hayom that the defense establishment is not on any special alert” for the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh.

Today, Israeli missions in Georgia, and India were targeted in terrorist attacks. An explosion tore through an Israeli diplomat’s car in the vicinity of the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, India, Monday. One woman was injured.

Initial details suggest that the injured woman is the wife of an Israeli diplomat for the Defense Ministry’s mission. The explosion apparently took place after she dropped of their children off at a local preschool. She suffered minor injuries and was rushed to a nearby medical center for treatment.

By Joji Philip Thomas

Explosives were also found near the Israeli Embassy building in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. The device was neutralized safely.

Ynet now reports that:

Indian media outlets reported that two bikers were tailing the car driven by the Israeli diplomat’s wife in New Delhi and that at one point one of them “hurled something at the car,” which exploded shortly after.

According to Yaakov Katz:

Neither of these appear to serve as the required Casus belli needed to initiate a war against Hezbollah, if it was the one behind the attacks.

On the other hand, Israel will have to consider the implication of ignoring the attacks and what that will do to the deterrence it has tried to create vis-à-vis Hezbollah following the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement on the attacks.

In recent months we have witnessed several attempts to attack Israeli citizens and Jews in several countries, including Azerbaijan, Thailand and others. In each instance we succeeded in foiling the attacks in cooperation with local authorities. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah were behind all of these attempted attacks. Today we have witnessed two additional attempted terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, the first against an Israeli woman who was wounded in New Delhi and the second against a local employee of the Israeli Embassy in Georgia. Iran is behind these attacks; it is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world. The Government of Israel and the security services will continue to act together with local security forces against such acts of terrorism. We will continue to take strong and systematic, yet patient, action against the international terrorism that originates in Iran.

Update: The Israeli woman injured in the attack in India was Tal Yehoshua-Koren. Reports now indicate that attack occured as she was on her way to pick up her children, not after she dropped them off, as earlier reports had suggested. Plans are currently being made for her to fly home to Israel after her surgery.

You Can’t March In Step With Suicide Bombers and Lecture About What’s Mainstream

Pesach Benson

Peter Manning

Peter Manning (Sydney Morning Herald op-ed) argues that Canberra’s support for Israel is out of step” with Australian public opinion.

But as I read his piece and the polls he cites, I’m having a recurring thought: skewed media coverage of Israel impacts public opinion, and public opinion impacts policy.

Indeed Manning is part of that problem — a big part in fact. A 2005 study of Israel in the Australian media found, for example, that Manning supported suicide bombers. A recent book by Peter Manning, ABC’s former head of news and current affairs and now a university journalism lecturer, reflects the channel’s dominant, self-perpetuating views. In its first part, Dog Whistle Politics and Journalism attempts to prove Australian media racism against Arabs by using a computer search for the proximity of the words Arab and Islamic with words related to war and violence. Given that there has been a real concatenation of terror and violence with the Middle East in world affairs, it is not surprising that he found the combination was quite common. As for the book’s second part, it argues that the media did not sufficiently understand that Palestinian suicide bombings were a necessary and reasonable response to Israeli occupation.

Ain’t that sweet? Someone in step with suicide bombers is lecturing me about what’s mainstream.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

They keep firing at Israelis; most people keep looking the other way

This Ongoing War

The Sabbath has just ended and we're catching up on the news of the past 30 hours or so.

Ynet is reporting that on Friday night, yet another of the many thousands of Qassam rockets held by the terrorists of Hamas-controlled Gaza was fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip. It landed and exploded in a community somewhere in the Ashkelon Coast region with no injuries reported. What are termed "structures" were damaged, but details are not yet available. Israel customarily avoids, where it can, giving away usable information about how accurate or inaccurate the rocket-rich terrorist thugs are so as to minimize anything that might conceivably enable them to score more deaths, injuries or substantial damage in the Israeli communities they target. Being terrorists, the gangs supervised by the Hamas regime in Gaza care not one bit about collateral damage, since there is absolutely no such thing in their form of war. They usually don't even pretend to be trying to achieve military gains. It's ordinary people living ordinary lives that are their goal.

Ynet reports as well that Palestinian Arab sources in the Gaza Strip reported earlier Friday evening that another Qassam rocket fired in the general direction of Israel from Gaza Strip exploded in midair. It quotes the IDF Spokesperson's Unit saying they are not aware of such an incident.

There's real concern about the terrorists stepping up the scale of their warfare against us. Maan, the Palestinian newsagency, said this evening that the Egyptians intercepted what they termed "a stash of bombs" that included anti-aircraft missiles and several tons of TNT, today in the Sinai peninsula. The report says it was evidently being prepared for shipment to Gaza.

There is a considerable degree of chaos in the Sinai now that the government in Cairo has gone through major lurches after the fall of the Mubarak regime a year ago. Related to this, and magnifying its quite dangerous effect, we also know that

"Hamas has established forward bases and rocket production facilities in the Sinai Peninsula in an effort to protect them from Israeli air strikes... By establishing the facilities in Egypt, Hamas aims to protect its assets since it believes Israel will not strike targets inside Egypt due to the affect it would have on bilateral relations."

We have reported here about a dozen separate attacks in Sinai on the Egypt-Israel gas line over the past twelve months. It's a worrying situation for many reasons. One is that almost no one outside of Israel is worried.

The terrorism-addicted rulers of Gaza are problem enough. But our larger neighbors are problematic in themselves. Despite Israel's requests to Cairo to increase to restore order in Sinai and prevent attacks, the Egyptian military (says JPost) has refrained from dismantling the Hamas infrastructure in the peninsula. Israel consented to more than a dozen Egyptian army battalions entering Sinai last year (Egyptian forces there under limited under the terms of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty) and they are still there. But they are achieving what is politely called "limited success" and it's plain that terrorist activity and arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip (including advanced weaponry and missiles sourced from looted Libyan military storehouses) are continuing largely unhindered, tonight's report notwithstanding.

Palestinian Authority Blocks Access To Another Website

Challah Hu Akbar | Feb 12, 2012

On Thursday, I reported that Mahmoud Abbas after waging nearly two weeks of hacking attacks had ordered the Ministry of Information to block access to InLightPress from Palestinian territory. is reporting that Palestinian intelligence services have ordered PalTel to block access to Amad from Palestinian territory. Like the InLightPress case, it is unclear if this includes Gaza.

On its website, Amad says that users in Palestinian territory can access the website, however, they can only do so through a proxy. According to Amad, a number of officials have spoken out against the actions of Abbas. Talat Safadi, a leader of the Palestine’ People’s Party, said that what as occurring was “unacceptable behavior.” An official from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said that the Palestinian Authority must review its recent decisions and lift the bans. A Fatah official in Gaza called on Mahmoud Abbas to allow access to the sites.

Comment: Ready to be a nation state-I don't think so-no freedom of expression!!