Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Top 10 Living Tough Jews


From Samson to Judah Maccabee, Ze’ev Jabotinsky to Hanna Senesh, there is a valiant history of tough and brave Jews who made tremendous marks on the world. While the image of a Jew has not always been that of a “tough” people, it is important that the world sees tough Jews.  Owning a PR firm, I help build brands and create personas – and as a proud traditional Jew and Zionist, approaching two important Jewish holidays – Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom HaZikaron, (Israel’s Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers), I offer this list in tribute.

The list of the Top 10 Living Tough Jews it is not only about brute physical strength – it is about a people who are smart, strong, resilient, rugged, bold and fearless. This is a reflection of good, tough Jews who are positive representations of the Jewish people, (no gangsters here) – don’t let a yarmulke fool you.

In no particular order here’s my List of the Top 10 Living Tough Jews – it’s a list compiled by a Public Relations pro, not a Rabbinical Authority.

Another tack: Every man for himself


Sequel stooges have just banded together in mutually advantageous alliance to fortify governing coalition of Jewish state.

The three stooges Photo: Jerusalem Post Archive
It’s official. A brand new Three Stooges remake is well under way. The sequel stooges have just banded together in a mutually advantageous alliance to fortify the governing coalition of the Jewish state – the ultimate setting to best suit their zany misadventures. For one thing, it’s quite compatible with the ethnicity of the original trio – brothers Moe and Curly (born Horwitz) and Larry who was a Feinberg.
 But more important is the fact that there’s nowhere like Israel’s madcap political arena to accentuate the knucklehead anarchic antics of the jerks-of-all-trades (as yesteryear’s screwballs dubbed themselves). With them around there’s never a dull moment. They keep unsettling all and sundry, themselves foremost.

Stepping into Moe’s shoes is Binyamin Netanyahu even though he doesn’t sport a soup ball haircut and even if he hasn’t exactly been poking at politicos’ eyes, whacking sidekicks with skillets and crunching the noses of cronies with neurotic, hyperactive zest.

But though deficient in Moe’s bully brass, Bibi is nonetheless the uncontested leader of the new threesome and their belated bond has only confirmed and boosted his primacy like never before. For better or worse, Bibi is recognized both near and far as the (for now) indisputable boss. He looks in charge, at the top of his game and unbeatable. But could he be in for nasty surprises?

Tied to him by a symbiotic fraternal attachment is Ehud Barak, playing the petulant, unpredictable and smugly self-satisfied Curly. It doesn’t matter that Barak doesn’t shave his head. He commands plenty of other attributes to qualify him for the role of the rotund buffoon, not least his pretentious parading as a key player in seeming oblivion of the fact that he has entirely lost his political power base. That in itself makes Barak as obviously unmindful of his ridiculousness as the originator of the trademark chuckle, underscored by the inevitable: “Nyuk, nyuk.”

Then comes the one non-brother, the add-on stooge – Shaul Mofaz-come-lately in the role of pensive Larry. True, Mofaz hasn’t quite mastered his alter ego’s puppy-dog look, but he does try awfully hard to impress us as sincere and deep. And Mofaz is every bit the nebbish bungler that Larry invariably was.

When Ariel Sharon broke away from the Likud to found Kadima, Mofaz in a righteous, upstanding pose sent out letters to all party central committee members assuring them that he won’t take the expedient course because “you don’t leave home.” But before the mailman managed to deliver the envelopes, Mofaz expediently left home.

That was just the first in a long list of mishaps, the latest of which included winning Kadima’s top slot only to be dragged against his will, his bravado notwithstanding, to new elections too soon. He next called Netanyahu a liar and vowed vehemently never to enter a Bibi-led coalition. So what if, as we were reading his lips, Mofaz deftly performed an about-face and linked his fortunes to those of Bibi and Barak?

It was better than going it alone on the campaign trail and slipping on the proverbial banana-peel-to-end-all-banana- peels. The ensuing embarrassment would have been far more mortifying than even the unkindest sight gag in the meanest of burlesques. Like Larry, Mofaz opted to play it safe and submissive. But for how long?

The one sure thing about the Stooges is that in their universe nothing is for sure, nothing can be taken at face value and nothing can be taken for granted. Therefore it’s advisable not to bet on this new team staying united and operating in the harmony they may exude for the short haul. The wild-eyed knife-jugglers are waiting in the wings, sharpening their blades.

Now that Bibi has saved them from the voters’ wrath and given them a stay of execution, the hotshots in Mofaz’s rogues’ gallery aren’t running as scared as they did before the grand coalition deal was announced. Without a trace of contrition or humility, they now announce that their goodwill is conditional, that Bibi must meet their timetables, and perform as per their direction or they will pull the rug from under him.

Forgotten is the dispensable detail that they were headed for an Election Day disaster while Netanyahu was the unmistakable front-runner. It’s not that they can bring Netanyahu down, but they can wear him down, besmirch and badmouth him with expertise unsurpassed outside Kadima. Knocking Bibi will become the new test for political pluck among the Kadima blusterers.

Bibi may well rue the pact he struck. He may well come out hobbled and battered and he’s “soitenly” not as irrepressible as Moe was. Odds are he won’t be the same by the time his new partners are through with him.

Their frequent flip-flops don’t recommend them for trustworthiness. Indeed those who lied in the past are likely to do so again. The ease with which they defended their zigzag into the coalition foreshadows the ease with which they’ll proffer excuses for trashing it – whether or not they actually leave. It’s easy to stay inside the coalition while posturing in the mantle of the sanctimonious opposition ideologue.

All the while, Mofaz might not only benefit from a breather, he may emerge rehabilitated (to say nothing of the image enhancement which Labor’s Shelly Yacimovich is sure to derive).

The bad press which greeted the trio’s premiere will only further motivate Mofaz to second guess Bibi at every opportunity, malign him at every turn and generally undermine him. His experience at saying one thing and switching to its direct opposite without batting an eyelid is practically peerless.

Moreover, he’s prone to doing it so senselessly that he cannot be expected to be reined in by coolheaded assessments. The more censorious commentators have a go at Mofaz, the greater will be his inclination to curry their favor, which will be really bad news for Bibi.

Therefore, it matters much that the talking heads now talk about a replicated “stinking maneuver.” This despite the fact that their comparison with the 1990 precedent just doesn’t hold water.

Three years pre-Oslo, in 1990 – when Israel was governed by the second unity coalition under Yitzhak Shamir – then-foreign minister Shimon Peres behaved like a law onto himself. Already then (and not for the first time) he furtively engaged in unauthorized freelance negotiations. He pursued covert assignations with Jordan behind Shamir’s back, in violation of every conceivable democratic principle.

When Shamir rejected Peres’s ultimatum (hatched with the notorious James Baker), Peres plotted to topple Shamir’s government, which he did. To Peres’s exasperation, however, he subsequently failed to put together a substitute coalition. Yitzhak Rabin, who branded Peres “an unrelenting underminer,” dubbed this “the stinking maneuver.”

The stinking maneuver of 22- years-ago constituted an elaborate scheme to deconstruct a national unity coalition. To apply the same catchphrase to the construction of a national unity coalition is more than misleading. It’s deliberate demagoguery.

Besides, it’s instructive to recall that back in the day our Left-dominated media cheered Peres on and deprecatingly rejected Rabin’s disapproval of the stench. Nothing was too foul to oust a Likud leader – then and now.

That’s why the press has resurrected Rabin’s harsh headline for the Peres sabotage. It’s not because another stinking maneuver was perpetrated but because nothing a Likud leader does can please most news analysts (unless, like Sharon, the Likud leader grievously injures the Likud). The criterion isn’t whether a coalition is formed or dismantled, but whether or not the Likud is harmed.

The Left, which now decries the sudden swerve away from early elections, griped endlessly about these very projected elections because the polls unanimously predicted a Netanyahu landslide. The bottom line beneath the multi-layered left-wing hypocrisy is that whoever teams up with Netanyahu is bound to be whacked by hostile opinion-molders.

Mofaz is well aware of this. His image is important to him and he will defend it by making Bibi’s life hell – now that Kadima no longer fears an inconvenient Knesset campaign.

Thus it’s doubtful that lasting political peace was secured by sheltering Mofaz from the electoral storm. If anything, Netanyahu will now be subjected to much graver pressure from within his cabinet (in addition to Barak’s) to sacrifice vital national interests to coax Ramallah figurehead Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiations table.

Netanyahu’s coalition partners at home will lean hard on him to deposit a hefty down payment just to get talks going. Similar extortion will be applied almost on every policy front – domestic, diplomatic and defense-oriented.

The upshot is that the coalition itself will become the future sparring ground. We will all in all probability witness farcical hijinks in the hallowed name of peace and democracy.

Sullen-faced Mofaz/Larry will scramble our brains, while supercilious Barak/Curly will chortle prodigiously with characteristic Stoogian self-congratulation. And, in a reversal of roles, Bibi’s/Moe’s shins will this time be kicked, his nose tweaked and his head continuously bopped.

All the while Bibi’s newfound coalition partners will shout the old stooge adaptation of the solidarity slogan (first sounded by Moe, Curly and Larry in their 1935 flick, Restless Knights): “All for one! One for all! Every man for himself!”

Friday, May 18, 2012

How to Write About Israel

  on May 18th, 2012 

Writing about Israel is a booming field. No news agency, be it ever so humble, can avoid embedding a few correspondents and a dog’s tail of stringers into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, to sit in cafes clicking away on their laptops, meeting up with leftist NGOs and the oppressed Muslim of the week.

At a time when international desks are being cut to the bone, this is the one bone that the newshounds won’t give up. Wars can be covered from thousands of miles away, genocide can go to the back page, but, when a rock flies in the West Bank, there had better be a correspondent with a fake continental accent and a khaki shirt to cover it.

Writing about Israel isn’t hard. Anyone who has consumed a steady diet of media over the years already knows all the bullet points. The trick is arranging them artistically, like so many wilted flowers, in the story of this week’s outrage.

Israel is hot, even in the winter, with the suggestion of violence brimming under the surface. It should be described as a “troubled land.” Throw in occasional ironic biblical references and end every article or broadcast by emphasizing that peace is still far away.

It has two types of people; the Israelis who live in posh houses stocked with all the latest appliances and the Arabs who live in crumbling shacks that are always in danger of being bulldozed. The Israelis are fanatical, the Arabs are passionate. The Israelis are hate-filled, while the Arabs are embittered. The Israelis have everything while the Arabs have nothing.

Avoid mentioning all the mansions that you pass on the way to interviewing some Palestinian Authority or Hamas bigwig. When visiting a terrorist prisoner in an Israeli jail, be sure to call him a militant, somewhere in the fifth paragraph, but do not mention the sheer amount of food in the prison, especially if he is on a hunger strike. If you happen to notice that the prisoners live better than most Israelis, that is something you will not refer to. Instead describe them as passionate and embittered. Never ask them how many children they killed or how much they make a month. Ask them what they think the prospects for peace are. Nod knowingly when they say that it’s up to Israel.
Weigh every story one way. Depersonalize Israelis, personalize Muslims. One is a statistic, the other a precious snowflake. A Muslim terrorist attack is always in retaliation for something, but an Israeli attack is rarely a retaliation for anything. When Israeli planes bomb a terrorist hideout, suggest that this latest action only feeds the “Cycle of Violence” and quote some official who urges Israel to return to peace negotiations– whether or not there actually are any negotiations to return to.

Center everything around peace negotiations. If Israel has any domestic politics that don’t involve checkpoints and air strikes, do your best to avoid learning about them. Frame all Israeli politics by asking whether a politician is finally willing to make the compromises that you think are necessary for peace. Always sigh regretfully and find them wanting. Assume that all Israelis think the same way. Every vote is a referendum on the peace process. A vote for a conservative party means that Israelis hate peace.

The Israelis can also be divided into two categories. There are the good Israelis, who wear glasses, own iPads and live in trendy neighborhoods. They are very concerned that the country is losing its soul by oppressing another people. They strum out-of-date American peace songs on guitars that they play badly, but which you will describe them as playing “soulfully”, and they show up at rallies demanding that the government make peace with the Palestinians.

When writing about them, act as if they are representative of the country’s youth and its best and brightest, which for all you know they might be, because you rarely meet anyone who isn’t like them, because you rarely meet anyone who isn’t like you. When you do it’s either a taxi driver, repairman or some working-class fellow whom you have nothing in common with, and who turns out to be a raving militant when it comes to the terrorism question.

These are the other Israelis. The big swarthy men who have no interest in alternative art exhibits. If you have to deal with them at all, get a quote from them about their hopes for peace and how much they dislike the government. Pretend that the two things are connected, and that everything that your friends, who are aspiring artists and playwrights, as well as volunteer humanitarians, told you about the country being ready to rise up against right-wingers like Barak and Netanyahu, to demand peace, is absolutely true. Don’t ask yourself why the country keeps electing right-wingers.

Israeli soldiers should be depicted looming menacingly over children. Your stringers are already experienced at urging a child into camera range, then getting down on one knee and tilting the camera up just as an Israeli soldier walks into the frame. If there isn’t time to set up the shot, get what you can. The photo can be cropped afterward to show just the Israeli soldier and the Palestinian child, even if the two are not actually interacting in any way.

n print, contrast the bored detachment of the soldiers with the prolonged miserable suffering of the Arab Muslims. Checkpoint lines should consist entirely of old and pregnant women waiting to visit their families. If you are Jewish then mention that the soldiers have given you special treatment on account of your race, even if the actual reason is because you are a journalist and your kind doesn’t set off bombs, your kind acts as the propaganda corps for those who set off bombs.

When visiting “settlers,” a term that currently covers a sizable portion of the country, describe them as “dogged” and “fanatical.” Dwell on their beards and on their assault rifles. Convey to the reader that there is something disturbing about the tenacity with which they cling to the land, while making it clear that they will have to be ethnically cleansed from the land for there to be peace. Do not use the word “ethnic cleansing,” use “evacuation,” it sounds cleaner.

Palestinian politicians are always willing to make peace, even when they aren’t. Work at it and you will get a hypothetical quote about their willingness to one day live in peace with the Jews. Turn that quote into the centerpiece of your article. Contrast it with Israeli leaders who still refuse to come to the table. Never ask them any tough questions about the budget, their support for terrorists or why they refuse to negotiate. Instead feed them softball questions, take their talking points and plug them into the template for the same article that your predecessors have been writing since the seventies.
If an Israeli tells you that there is no such thing as Palestinians, that they’re gangs of Muslim militias who have no interest in running their own country, or that Jordan is the actual Palestinian State, ignore him. You’re here to tell a story. The same story that has been told for generations about villainous Israelis and the heroic Muslim resistance fighters battling against them.

Write about the hills and the blood-red sunsets, mention all the armies that probably passed over them in a history you never bothered to learn. Talk about your mixed feelings as a Jew or part-Jew or someone who has Jewish friends, at the sight of Jews oppressing another people. Describe the black soulful eyes of a Palestinian terrorist leader. Write about how the soldiers and their guns make you uncomfortable. Close with an old man who expresses hope that one day peace will come to this troubled land.

Then go home.

"Outrage Upon Outrage"

It doesn't end; the insults to Israel, the attempts to delegitimize Israel, the lies about Israel.
According to the Country Ratings Poll of the BBC World Service, which was just released, the percentage of people in various nations polled that has a negative view of Israel has increased.   More than 24,000 people were polled in 22 countries.  In EU countries -- particularly Germany, Spain, Great Britain and France -- negative rating are very high. 
Is the world totally daft?  The negative ratings for Israel are similar to those for Pakistan and North Korea.
The only exceptions to this trend are the US, Nigeria and Kenya, where the percentage viewing Israel as positive has increased.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012


A Reminder:

Professor Louis Rene Beres
April 6, 2002 (first posted)
The following article was written by Professor Beres in June 1992.
Media references to territories administered by Israel since the June 1967 war now routinely describe them as "occupied." Yet, this description conveniently overlooks the pertinent history of these lands, especially the authentic Israeli claims supported by international law, the unwitting manner in which West Bank and Gaza fell into Israel's hands after sustained Arab aggression and the overwhelming security considerations involved. Contrary to widely disseminated but wholly erroneous allegations; a sovereign State of Palestine did not exist before 1967 or 1948; a State of Palestine was not promised by authoritative UN Security Council Resolution 242; indeed, a State of Palestine has never existed.
As a nonstate legal entity, Palestine ceased to exist in 1948, when Great Britain relinquished its League of Nations mandate. When, during the 1948 - 1949 war of independence, the West Bank and Gaza came under illegal control of Jordan and Egypt respectively, these aggressor nations did not put an end to an already-existing state. From the Biblical Period (ca. 1350 BC to 586 BC) to the British Mandate (1918 - 1948), the land named by the Romans after the ancient Philistines was controlled only by non- Palestinian elements.
Significantly, however, a continuous chain of Jewish possession of the land was legally recognized after World War I at the San Remo Peace Conference of April 1920. There, a binding treaty was signed in which Great Britain was given mandatory authority over Palestine (the area had been ruled by the Ottoman Turks since 1516) to prepare it to become the "national home for the Jewish people." Palestine, according to the treaty, comprised territories encompassing what are now the state of Jordan and Israel, including West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza. Present day Israel, including West Bank and Gaza, comprises only twenty-two percent of Palestine as defined and ratified at the San Remo Peace Conference.

Why Israel’s New Moderate Coalition Will Have Even Worse Relations With Obama


Last Tuesday, Israelis woke up to a new political reality. In the middle of the night, as the Knesset was voting to enact an early general election, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced a surprising deal with Shaul Mofaz, the recently elected leader of the main opposition party. All of a sudden, the snap election was called off and Mofaz’s Kadima party was part of the governing coalition.

The deal was essentially about self-serving domestic politics; all the main actors (Netanyahu, Mofaz, and defense minister Ehud Barak) reaped rewards from the arrangement. But it also clearly strengthened Netanyahu's foreign policy hand. With 94 out of 120 Knesset members in his coalition, with the opposition shredded and powerless, and with the smaller coalition parties unable to forestall a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu can theoretically pursue whatever national security strategy he pleases. He can go to war against Iran, or avoid going to war, or make peace with the Palestinians, or expand the West Bank settlements. The most likely result, however, is that the new coalition will first move towards a heightened confrontation with President Obama.

The Main Goal of the Palestinian Government

Khaled Abu Toameh  

The Palestinian government is in fact lying when it talks about a financial crisis; its main goal is to get Western and Arab donors to channel more funds to Ramallah. "Corruption in the Palestinian Authority is more widespread than in the past." — Hasan Khreishah, Deputy Seaker, Palestinian Parliament.
At a time when many Western governments, the World Bank and various international organizations are continuing to heap praise on the Palestinian Authority for implementing reforms, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament, Hasan Khreishah, announced that financial and administrative corruption was now more widespread than ever.
Khreishah, who is an independent parliamentarian, made it clear that the Palestinian government of Salam Fayyad, which has been hailed for combating corruption and implementing major reforms, was continuing to squander public funds.
One of the charges the deputy parliament speaker makes is related to the Palestinian government's claim that it is facing severe financial crisis.

Khreishah says that the Palestinian government is in fact lying when it talks about a financial crisis; its main goal is to get Western and Arab donors to channel more funds to Ramallah: "Corruption in the Palestinian Authority is more widespread than in the past," he said. "We hear about the suffering and hunger of the poor and the difficulties facing the unemployed, farmers, villagers and civil servants," Khreishah said. "At the same time, we hear about the luxurious life of senior and influential officials and the involvement of some in money laundering."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

PA Arab Who Sold Hevron Home in Life-Threatening Danger

Elad Benari PA Arab Who Sold Hevron Home in Danger

Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara said on Tuesday that there was a serious threat to the life of Muhammad Abu Shahala, the Palestinian Authority Arab who arranged the sale of the Beit Hamachpelah in Hevron to Jews.

Abu Shahala’s medical condition recently deteriorated and he has undergone four cardiac catheterizations. As well, the PA is threatening to execute him because of a PA law which stipulates that a person who sells property to Jews will be put to death.

“The PA's threats to execute Abu Shahala over the sale of Beit Hamachpelah in Hevron require Israel to intervene to save him,” Kara said at a meeting of Likud activists in the northern Israeli city of Akko.

"Laugh... If You Can"

Arlene Kushner

The agreement with the prisoners that was negotiated and signed can be seen here:
A few points are worth mention before we move to other issues. 
The leaders, in signing the agreement, pledged to refrain from all activity that constitutes practical support for terrorism, e.g., recruitment, providing guidance.  And yes, this is a laughable proposition.  It means about as much as the pledge signed by terrorists, released in deals such the Shalit trade, that they will never return to terrorism.   
Consider the implications of this:  From within their prison cells, prisoners who are terrorist leaders have had sufficient access to the outside world to be able to get out messages that foment or promote terrorism.  This, for all their laments.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The BBC and "The Jews"

 Walter Russell Mead

“American Presidents have long been criticized for being too in thrall to the Jewish lobby. The American Jews influence US foreign policy and that explains Washington’s unwavering support for Israel.”
Who made this statement this past week?
(a) A disgruntled fringe neo-Nazi
(b) Some poor soul ranting on their Facebook page
(c) The BBC

Sadly, as you can see in the clip above, the answer is C. This ugly assertion is the host’s opening line in an episode of this past week’s BBC HARDtalk program. This vicious garbage isn’t “sort of” or “almost” anti-Semitic; it is the real thing: vivid, unapologetic, odious and wrong. The BBC presenter, hopefully just reading a script that some fool of a writer threw up on the teleprompter, (or, as some readers suggest in the comments since this post first appeared, voicing a view that she does not personally endorse) gives voice to some of the dumbest and ugliest classic anti-Semitic tropes. To speak of “the Jews” in the aggregate, as though they form a monolithic super-entity with a single view and agenda, is exactly the kind of thinking that gutter anti-Semitism embraces in every age. To talk of an all-powerful “Jewish lobby” which controls American foreign policy is to embrace the paranoid fantasies of the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Netanyahu says no to West Bank annexation

Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs called to vote on bill to impose Israeli law on Jewish settlements in West Bank. After opposition from Begin, Meridor, Prime minister eventually intervenes to remove matter from committee's agenda
Attila Somfalvi

A private bill to impose Israeli law on all Jewish settlements in the West Bank was brought to a vote at the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs on Sunday but was eventually withdrawn after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intervention.
In practice, the bill means that military rule will not be applied in settlements. Imposing Israeli law on Jewish settlements is de facto annexation of the West Bank. 
Proposed by MK Miri Regev, the bill was brought to a vote at the Ministerial Committee – a prelude to a Knesset vote.

Five ministers initially voted in favor, including Likud ministers Gideon Sa'ar and Limor Livnat. Minister Benny Begin protested and said, "The government is being forced into a decision which must be left to a specially-designated cabinet meeting."

דרמה בוועדת השרים. נתניהו עם המשנה החדש לראש הממשלה מופז, היום (צילום: AP)
Netanyahu and new coalition partner Shaul Mofaz at cabinet meeting (Photo: AP)
Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman, who chairs the Ministerial Committee, wished to postpone the vote by 15 minutes to consult with the prime minister. Upon his return he said, "I wish to postpone the vote by a month and coordinate the matter with the government and the prime minister. This is a political bill and cannot be passed without such coordination."

Knesset Vote on Outpost Legalization Set for Wednesday

Gil Ronen Vote on Outpost Legalization Set for Wednesday

The bill for legalizing Jewish outposts and disputed neighborhoods – including Givat HaUlpana in Beit El – will be brought for a vote in the Knesset Wednesday.

The decision was made by Coalition Chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), MK Yariv Levin (Likud), MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu) and MK Yaakov Katz (National Union), after they consulted and coordinated the matter with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.

The bill will be a composite of two bills proposed by MK Katz and MK Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home).

Earlier Sunday, MK Elkin said that the bills would only be brought before the Knesset if they appear likely to pass. This, he added, will only happen if coalition ministers are allowed to vote freely and not forced to vote in a certain way, subject to party discipline. 
And here is the rest of it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Ulpana and More"

My information, as I write, is that the committee appointed by the prime minister to solve the problem of Ulpana has met twice now -- on Friday and today -- but that there is not yet resolution.  The issues are said to be "complex" and they will be meeting again.  I don't have great expectations, but there is still some modicum of hope.
In the meantime, The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel has joined with two residents of Ulpana, and today filed an appeal with the High Court requesting a delay on the demolition of five houses in this community. 
It argues, first, that the Court has violated Basic Law, which protects human dignity.
Then it states that the High Court acted unreasonably in ordering the demolition of the homes before a lower court has ruled on a lawsuit regarding ownership of the land.  People in Beit El (where Ulpana is located) have said, I will add, that they have submitted information regarding the ownership of this land that has not yet been examined.  
I am "just" a layperson.  But to me the argument regarding the necessity to first legally determine the ownership of the land is such irrefutably basic logic that anything else is unthinkable.  And yet... here we are.  

Lastly, the petition to the High Court notes that the expulsion order was issued with no discussion regarding compensation that would allow the families to purchase different homes. 
No one can predict how the Court will respond to this.  A representative of the Legal Forum pointed out to me today that this was an unusual petition, because it challenges the ruling of the Court itself.
For those of you who want a more serious look at this contentious and problematic issue, I share the Israelnationalnews link to a translation from Makor Rishon on the question of whether the law demands the demolition of these houses. According to the article:
"In actual fact, the courts never ruled that the law requires destroying the five Ulpana hill buildings in Beit El.
"The court never ruled that they are on private land, and that the claimants are the owners of that land.
"The court never discussed the above three questions. It [the court] asked the government what its position on the matter is, what it recommends, and the legal department answered that its position is that it is private land and that the government's policy concerning land on which Jews have settled is as follows: if construction is on government land, it must be legalized and if construction is on private land, it must be removed. The courts made decision in accordance with that government policy. (Emphasis added)

"Is the government's policy mandated by law? Does the law demand that the houses be destroyed?"

Professor of Law Shalom Lerner has written a detailed letter to the prime minister explaining why the answer to both of these questions is negative.  His thinking is outlined in this article.  Of particular note is the "good faith principle," which certainly applies in this instance.
MK Miri Regev (Likud) attempted today bring a bill forward that would have extended Israeli civil law to recognized Jewish communities beyond the Green Line.  
Bravo to her.  This is something else that seems imminently logical and fair to me, and which would solve a host of problems.  It is past-due.
But it was shot down in the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs after the committee understood that Netanyahu was opposed.  According to Times of Israel, Minister Benny Begin (Likud) said, "This bill is an unrealistic display, and for such displays we pay a heavy price in the international arena."
To which Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (HaBayit Hayehudi) replied, "We shouldn’t just think about the message this is sending to the nations of the world, but also about what message this is sending to the people of Israel." 
So it didn't pass this time, but at least we know someone has his head screwed on right.  Bravo to him as well.
Let's turn now to the on-going issue of the hunger strike by the Palestinian Arab prisoners, which is every bit as maddening as the above.
I learned with great bewilderment last night that the Egyptian government is doing negotiations with Israel regarding these prisoners. Egypt? Why have we sought/permitted their involvement? 
Again: We're dealing with people who have killed or attempted to kill innocent Jews and were convicted of their crimes, and others -- some smaller number -- directly associated with terrorists in such a way that Israel deems them to be an immediate threat but is unable to prosecute in open court because of the sensitivity of intelligence and the need to protect sources.  In these latter cases the courts have approved administrative detention for them.    
I then called a source who has multiple Arab contacts.  What he told me is that it is the intention of Israel to involve the Egyptian government in this because it is desirable to provide prestige to the ruling military -- The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) --  as it battles with radicals for control of Egypt.  Interesting.... And, I would imagine, this promotes good will on the part of SCAF as well -- we need them for such matters as combating terrorism in the Sinai .
The Arabs are using this burgeoning prison unrest to the maximum.  The prisoners themselves are threatening to riot, while the radical Islamic Movement in Israel has promoted massive rallies in support of the prisoners.  And according to one report, PA president Abbas has appealed to Secretary of State Clinton to intervene and secure the prisoners their demands.  Shall I title him king of chutzpah (moxy, gall)?  I don't know how Hillary responded.
My own sentiments are pretty much in line with those of a friend who expressed the desire to form (I am paraphrasing here) "a committee to permit the Palestinian Arab prisoners to starve to death if they wish."
But this, of course, will not happen.  At a bare minimum, those in severe condition -- there are at present six in dire shape -- will be hospitalized and put on IVs.  Every effort will be made to keep them alive.  One prisoner who is not eating described the situation succinctly: We win either way -- either they give us what we demand or we die and become martyrs.
For the record: There are 1,600 said to be on that hunger strike, of the 4,600 Palestinian Arabs in our prisons.
So, the question -- painfully -- is how much the Israeli Prison Authority will cave here for the sake of quiet and avoiding bad international PR.  We don't want "martyrs."
Some things have already been conceded.  Some others will be. Hamas's Haniyeh in Gaza said yesterday that "there is an important development on the issue of prisoner demands."
Some background on this:  Israeli authorities were, from my perspective, for too generous in allocations to the Palestinian prisoners for a long time.  Apparently at least some of the perks that were permitted the prisoners came as the result of prior prisoner strikes and prior negotiations.
When tensions grew over Gilad Shalit, who was not even permitted a visit by the Red Cross, as mandated by international law, authorities here decided it was time to cut back on what Palestinian Arabs were provided in Israeli prisoners.  To the thinking of many of us, this was a case of Israeli authorities finally coming to their senses.  Higher education/conjugal rights for these killers? 
But the prisoners are now saying that they had a deal with the authorities.  And, OK, perks were cut when things were bad for Shalit. But he's out now, and it's time to reinstate those perks.
This reminds me of a spoiled child who gets her way when she has a tantrum.  It's even more difficult for parents to say no once a precedent has been set.
I don't think I'm going to like how this is likely to end.
Please see an NGO-Monitor statement on the way some ostensible "human rights" NGOs are handling the prisoner hunger strike:
"A hunger strike by Palestinians convicted of murdering dozens of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings and other attacks, as well as a few prisoners held in Israeli administrative detention for suspected terrorist activity, is being publicized by a number of political advocacy NGOs.

"As in the past, NGOs claiming to promote human rights are promoting a one-sided image in which the Palestinians are automatically being portrayed as victims, removing the context of violent attacks that deliberately target Israeli civilians." (Emphasis added)
This is important information to have, should you see publicity by these NGOs.
Yitzhak Molcho, who serves as an envoy for Netanyahu, met last night with Abbas in Ramallah.  He carried to the PA president a letter that was a response from our prime minister to a letter that Abbas had sent him last month.

Credit: spacewar
The contents of the letter were not released. Scuttlebutt has it, however, that it offers to begin negotiations with no preconditions, and little beyond this.
The Palestinian Arabs are already saying that they don't expect anything to come of this, and don't believe that the new coalition will change the essential situation.
The PLO Executive Committee has examined the letter.  Committee member Hanan Ashwari then put out a statement to Reuters indicating that, "The content of [Netanyahu's] letter did not represent grounds for returning to negotiations."   
A delegation from J-Street --  good old J-Street! -- visited Abbas yesterday. According to the Palestinian news agency Maan:
"Abbas said that the Palestinian side is committed to peace based on the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"He stressed that the Palestinian leadership will resume negotiations with Israel if it approves the principle of the two-state solution and halts all settlement activities in the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem."
Entirely predictable.  Round and round we go...
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Court Suspends Hevron Expulsion Order

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Court Suspends Hevron Expulsion Order

Hevron Jews have won a rare court victory that suspends an order to expel Jewish families from a building that an Arab claimed was sold illegally.

Jerusalem District Court Judge Ram Winograd ruled that a decision declaring that the building was sold through forgery does not mean that the residents can be expelled without a hearing.

In the latest case, the Jerusalem court had rejected the Tal Lebniya construction company’s declaration that it legally purchased the building from a third-party Arab.