Monday, May 21, 2018

  • Monday, May 21, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Ma'an reports that a group of Palestinian "activists" threw stones at the car of an American delegation to Beit Jala where they attended a ceremony to celebrate graduate students who had studied under an American program.

Video shows that the rioters threw stones, placed posters over the car so the driver couldn't see where he or she was going, kicked the car, sat and stood on the car.



There are at least 7 USAID projects in Beit Jala.





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From Ian:

Ron Dermer: Stop demonizing Israel for defending itself
Hand it to Hamas. As this week’s events in Gaza showed, the terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction can still manipulate the media into demonizing Israel for the legitimate actions it takes to defend itself.

Hamas’s four-step formula for success is by now familiar. First, get a media that is largely hostile toward Israel, simply ignorant or both to ignore Hamas’s genocidal goals and excuse its terrorism. Second, put Palestinian civilians in harm’s way. Third, force Israel, while defending itself, to kill some of those civilians. Fourth, rely on that same hostile and ignorant media to blame Israel for these deaths.

In Gaza, step one began some seven weeks ago. Hamas called for tens of thousands of Palestinians to join a weekly “March of Return” — effectively, the flooding of Israel with millions of the descendants of Palestinian refugees from the War of Independence (which five Arab nations started, promising to throw the Jews into the sea).

The March of Return was to culminate in a mid-May march on “Nakba” day, which Palestinians mark each year to remember the “catastrophe” of Israel’s creation.

Palestinian “marchers” were told to break down the security fence separating Gaza from Israel, a clear and present danger to all those living in Jewish communities only hundreds of yards from that fence.

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, could not have been clearer about his goals: “We will take down the border and tear out their hearts from their bodies.”

But as thousands of Palestinians showed up to achieve that murderous goal, the media was determined to tell another tale. Press reports insisted that the march was “against the occupation” and “for humanitarian relief” in Gaza. Such nonsense continued even as rioters destroyed the very infrastructure that enables Israel to deliver food, medicine and supplies into Gaza.

This week, the media narrative shifted. Despite all evidence to the contrary, suddenly we were told that the riots in Gaza were against the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. “Marches over embassy move take on violent edge” read a headline in The Post, one of many similar headlines around the globe.

The media also insisted that these riots had been peaceful protests, or “mostly” peaceful, whatever that means. Apparently, grenades, molotov cocktails, fire kites, explosive devices, guns and machetes don’t quite hit the media’s bar for what constitutes Palestinian violence.
Israel Needs to Protect Its Borders. By Whatever Means Necessary
Of course, it does not benefit the Palestinians who dream about “returning,” or in other words, about eliminating Israel. But it is the only way forward for those who have more realistic expectations. The people of Gaza are miserable. They deserve sympathy and pity. But looking for Israel to remedy their problems will only exacerbate their misery. Expecting Israel to solve their problem will only lead them to delay what they must do for themselves.

There are two reasons for that. First, denying Hamas any achievement is the only way to ultimately persuade the Palestinians to abandon the futile battle for things they cannot get (“return,” control of Jerusalem, the elimination of Israel) and toward policies that will benefit their people. If Hamas is rewarded for organizing violent events, if the pressure on it is reduced because of the demonstrations, the result will be more demonstrations — and therefore more bloodshed, mostly Palestinian. Second, only an Israel that has the ability to feel secure about its borders could engage in any serious talks with the Palestinians. As Ehud Barak, a former prime minister and a critic of Israel’s current government, put it, “Those who believe in having separation from the Palestinians, getting into a peace agreement, having borders — you have to make clear that borders are respected.”

The Jewish sages had a famous, if not necessarily pleasant, saying that went something like this: Those who are kind to the cruel end up being cruel to the kind. As harsh as this sounds amid the scenes from Gaza, as problematic as this seems to good-intentioned people whose instinct is to sympathize with the weaker side in every conflict, sometimes there is no better choice than being clear, than being firm, than drawing a line that cannot be crossed by those wanting to harm you. By fire, if necessary.

PMW: The PA: US embassy in Jerusalem is a ticking bomb
Continuous hate speech against the US is being published in the official PA daily in response to the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem. The cartoon above depicts the embassy as a ticking bomb. It shows three domes in Jerusalem: (left to right) the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock, and the new "US Embassy" as a large hand grenade. [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 16, 2018]

An op-ed in the same official daily called the embassy itself "an American military base" and its opening of it "a war crime":
"How can it be that Israel's future will be full of shining promises of peace, as [US Presidential Advisor Jared] Kushner said while representing his President Trump at the inauguration of an American military base (sic., the US embassy) in occupied Jerusalem? Those who were present at the inauguration ceremony of Trump's embassy in Jerusalem are partners in a war crime ..." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 15, 2018]

Another said the embassy was an "outpost" to be "uprooted" and that the US is now "the enemy":
"[US President] Donald Trump, who issued the ominous Jerusalem declaration... continues in his unparalleled stupidity to talk about peace... The US has no place in the Middle East peace. It has lost its position, qualification, and credibility. Donald Trump, who transformed it [the US] from a mediator into an enemy, is leading the hostility...
This outpost (i.e., the US embassy) that Trump has established in our Jerusalem will be uprooted, and what will remain is the face of free Palestine."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 16, 2018]

Friday, May 18, 2018

From Ian:

Op-Ed: Left and right wing Anti-Semitism/Zionism
The left has accepted the outright lies told by the Islamists as a means of undermining political opponents. This is the old tactic of scapegoating/blaming the Jews/Israel for the ills of the world, again failing to take responsibility for their own behavior.

The postmodern Marxists have successfully inverted the meaning of anti-Semitism. It is no longer hatred of Jews. It is acceptable (normative) to attack pro-Israel Jews for their Jewish identity (part of their program of identity politics and intersectionality.)

Linda Sarsour, women’s movement activist and representative of the terrorist organization Hamas in America, recently redefined anti-Semitism at the New School in N.Y. She reformulated the age-old hatred of Jews so that progressive left activists could continue to be anti-Zionist or anti-Israel.

Hating Jews is not the definition of anti-Semitism under this new language formulation.

Criticizing progressive left activists for being anti-Israel is the new definition of anti-Semitism. Thus, this is a corruption of language and evidence of compelled speech, the very kind that Dr. Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto refused to use in Canada.

This redefinition by a Muslim who represents a terrorist organization in America is a ploy and a shield to protect its own anti-Israel activities. It is benefiting the leftists to the detriment of the Jews and of Israel.

The American Jewish community needs to have the necessary discussion about its safety and security. The time to educate is now so that the community has the tools to take collective action on its behalf.
A Great Historian of Russia on the Soviet Jewish Plight
Richard Pipes, one of America’s foremost historians of Russia and the Soviet Union, died yesterday at the age of ninety-four. In a book review he contributed to Commentary in 1989, when glasnost and the release of substantial numbers of Soviet Jews had made possible new and better-informed histories of Soviet Jewry, he presented a characteristically incisive summation of the situation of Jews under the Communist regime:

[A]lthough they protected Jews from violence and declared overt anti-Semitism a crime, the Communists espoused a program that promised slow death for Jews as a religious community and a nation. Measures outlawing private trade and manufacture, passed in the early years of the Soviet regime, undercut the economic base of Jewish life, creating millions of unemployed. The regime’s anti-religious policies affected Jews no less than Christians: as early as 1919, synagogues and other religious buildings were made liable to confiscation. Hebrew was declared a foreign language and Zionism a subversive doctrine.

In the 1920’s, especially during the relatively benign period of the New Economic Policy, Jews managed to circumvent many of the prohibitions on their economic and cultural activities. But all this came to an end in 1929 when Stalin undertook in earnest to realize Lenin’s revolutionary agenda. . . . By the time he entered into his alliance with Hitler in 1939, Stalin had restored many of the tsarist discriminatory laws, setting quotas on access to educational and bureaucratic opportunities and closing altogether the more sensitive positions. He meant to go farther. In 1942, as Germany’s armies were deep on their murderous mission in the Soviet Union, Hitler confided to his associates that Stalin had promised Ribbentrop “he would oust the Jews from leading positions the moment he had sufficient qualified Gentiles with whom to replace them.” . . .

In the decades since Stalin’s death his successors have done away with the most egregious manifestations of persecution, but discrimination against Jews remains in place. There are no Jews in the Politburo and hardly any in the upper echelons of the military. Strict quotas are imposed on admissions to institutions of higher learning. [Mikhail] Gorbachev’s reforms, which have eased Soviet discriminatory policies, have also allowed the emergence of overtly anti-Semitic movements, of which Pamyat [“memory”] is the most notorious. . . .

Hence very many Russian Jews see no future for themselves and their children, and if given a chance would emigrate. Recent Israeli estimates are that a continuation of Gorbachev’s liberalized emigration policy might lead to the exodus of at least 500,000 Jews. A community that a century ago was not only the largest in the world but also culturally the most vibrant has been destroyed by a regime that many Jews in and out of Russia once regarded as a beacon of hope.
Guatemala becomes 2nd country to open embassy in Jerusalem
In anticipation of the inauguration of the Guatemalan Embassy in Jerusalem’s Malcha Technology Park on May 16, the city illuminated the Old City walls with flags of Guatemala, Israel and the United States along with a message thanking President Jimmy Morales Cabrera of Guatemala.

Morales and the Guatemalan ministers of foreign affairs, defense and economy arrived in Israel earlier in the week to prepare for the event, which closely followed the official opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

Guatemala’s embassy was originally in Jerusalem and had moved to Tel Aviv in 1980.

“Guatemalan Embassy, welcome home!” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “I thank President Jimmy Morales Cabrera of Guatemala for his courageous decision and am honored that we will be opening the embassy in the capital of Israel.”

Before the ceremony inaugurating the new embassy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Guatemalan President Morales held a private meeting as did their wives, Sara Netanyahu and Patricia Morales. President Reuven Rivlin also met with Morales.
Where were the Democrats?
This should be clear enough, even for clueless Conor Powell, that If you don’t show up for Israel it means you’re showing up for Hamas.

That’s the tribe of terrorists who rule Gaza with love and tolerance for nobody, including their own children.

Why, for Fox News, is Powell dishing this Hamas propaganda about right of return to “ancestral homes” that can only fool a reporter who knows nothing.

Well, what can you expect from today’s journalists except zilch city. On the political front, however, Democrats occasionally know right from wrong. I said occasionally.

So in or out, as we’ve been saying. You can’t be half for Israel, where every child is precious, and half for Moloch who practice child incineration.

Was this a boycott? Either way, mark them as absent without an excuse. The Democrats were not there in Jerusalem when it counted, so count them as sharing the values of Radical Islam.

Include them with Hamas, ISIS, al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Nothing wrong with beheadings, wife beating, gay bashing, honor killings, and capricious mass executions.

It’s a sale, according to this new wave of Bernie Sanders Liberalism and… we should try it at home.

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israel’s sucker’s game on the Gaza border
There was a depressing familiarity both to Hamas’s suicide protest operation along Gaza’s border with Israel this week and to Israel’s response to it.

Hamas’s jihadist regime in Gaza doesn’t have a lot of cards to play in its continuous war against the Jewish state. But, as we have been seeing since Hamas launched its campaign against the border six weeks ago, it does have one card, and no matter how often it plays that card, Israel can’t seem to figure out how to beat it.

Hamas’s card is Western hostility to Israel. The Western media, along with the EU and most European governments, hate Israel. Leftist governments in other Western countries – Canada under Justin Trudeau, the US under Barack Obama, are similarly disposed.

Acting on the sure knowledge that the Western media, the EU and the international Left will always side with Israel’s enemies against it, Hamas’s high card is its ability to stage assaults on Israel that provide Israel’s haters in the West with a pretense for condemning it.

For more than a decade Hamas has deployed Western Israel-haters alongside Palestinian civilians as suicide protesters used for anti-Israel photo-ops. In 2003, Rachel Corrie, the Israel-hating activist from Washington state, walked in front of a giant IDF bulldozer building the border wall separating Gaza from Egypt’s Sinai. The driver couldn’t see her, ran her over, and Hamas and its Western partners created a blood libel of Corrie’s martyrdom.
Einat Wilf: The Gaza Protest Is About Ending Israel
In the past few days, we have come closer than we have in some time to touching the core issues that drive the conflict between Israelis, Palestinians, and the wider Arab and Islamic world.

After decades of discussing “territories,” “borders,” “settlements,” “two states” and “occupation,” and lamenting the lack of trust between the sides and the absence of leadership, we are finally discussing the key question, which is: Is the Arab and Islamic world, and the Palestinians among them, ready to acknowledge that the Jewish people, as a people, have the equal right to self-determination and sovereignty in their ancestral homeland?

Put another way, is Israel a temporary aberration in what should be properly an Arab and Islamic region?
Israel’s Choice To Shoot Palestinians Should Horrify — But Not Surprise Us
Peter BeinartMay 15, 2018

The twin images of the clashes on the 1967 border of Palestinian Gaza with Israel, and the inauguration of the American Embassy in Jerusalem, both serve to highlight the two dominant issues in the conflict that directly touch upon the question of the right of the Jewish people to the land: Jerusalem, and the Palestinian demand for “return” into the state of Israel within its pre 1967 lines.

No other two issues expose so clearly the extent to which the dominant Islamic, Arab and Palestinian narrative remains still one in which Israel is a colonial enterprise of a foreign, invented people who came out of nowhere to a place to which they have no connection.

  • Friday, May 18, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon


Wishing a happy holiday of Shavuot to my readers in earlier time zones!

I will not be online until Monday night EST at least.

Chag sameach!





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I don’t share Nas’s videos but this, I feel needs to be addressed.
Take a look:

He seems so passionate and yet so reasonable, I am sure many people will simply accept what is said in this video. The problem is that it’s a big fat lie.

LIE 1: Nas says he “can’t stand with Israel because Israel is doing something wrong.” 

What is Israel doing wrong? Absolutely nothing.

Israel is defending her sovereign borders. Any country in the world would do the same and with much more force. It would be easy to just drop one big bomb, kill everyone and there would be no more riots. Instead the IDF is resolutely standing and keeping the border, stopping only the few who are absolutely necessary. It would be very easy to not get shot – just stay away from the fence.

LIE 2: Nas says he “can’t stand with Palestine either because Palestine is doing something wrong.”

Palestine is a non-existent country. This is not one country against another country. 

What does is exist is a terrorist entity ruled by Hamas, terrorizing Israelis and Gazans alike. The real equation is country against terrorist entity like America vs AL Qaeda on 9/11 or the Allied Forces vs ISIS

LIE 3: Nas says that “if you stand with one side only, you are wrong” because it’s not black and white. 

It actually is black and white. There is right and wrong here and if you can’t tell the difference between the two you have a real problem.

If you can’t see that terrorists sending their own people to die in order to retain their own power is wrong – you have a severe moral deficiency.

If you can’t say that using women and children to hide behind while trying to murder other people is wrong – you have something deeply wrong with you.

If you can’t see that attacking the borders of a sovereign nation is not going to end peacefully – you have a severe disconnect from reality.

If you can’t stand with innocent people, Israelis and Gazans against the terrorist entity that is threatening both – you are enabling more deaths.


THAT is what pleasant, urbane, talented Nas is doing.





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  • Friday, May 18, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon


(This is an expansion of a Twitter thread I wrote yesterday.)

The revelation that seemingly 53 of the dead on the Gaza border on Monday were Hamas and Islamic Jihad members doesn't only exonerate the IDF - it shows that the IDF acted in a remarkably professional way, exactly the opposite of how they are being painted.

It's simple math. We can assume that there were at least 48,000 non-Hamas members out of 50,000 people there. Many women and children were at the fence itself, in the front of the Hamas members who were often behind and giving instructions. As the ITIC writes:
Confirmation of Hamas involvement was ascertained by information gained by interrogating Palestinians who crossed the fence into Israeli territory. According to the interrogations, Hamas encourages and dispatches demonstrators (including children and adolescents) to the border to carry out violent acts, vandalize security installations, and even cross the fence. On the other hand, Hamas forbade its operatives to approach the fence, lest they be killed or captured by IDF forces, and therefore when they are present in the field (i.e., among the rioters) they wear civilian clothing.
Confirmation that Hamas members were told to take off their uniforms, to appear to be civilians, came from Hamas head Yahya Sinwar's statement in an interview:.

Picture the scene: real Gaza civilians, including women and children, are dispatched to the fence. Some of them, in their enthusiasm, try to cut the fence itself - including a 14 year old girl who was given the wire cutters from some unknown person.

Yet nearly 90% of those killed happened to be members of the (say) 4% from terror groups, members disguised as civilians, and possibly not at the fence itself but behind the scenes, directing the action.

Behind huge walls of smoke from burning tires that were specifically set to protect the ringleaders from IDF snipers.

It is astonishing accuracy.

It shows that the Israeli snipers are incredible at identifying potentially deadly behaviors and neutralizing them, while avoiding the tens of thousands of people deployed as chaff to hide the Hamas activities.

There really were human shields in Gaza. A captured Gazan said explicitly that  Hamas "tell women to go forward. They say to a woman: Go ahead, you’re a woman and the army doesn’t shoot women. They tell small children: Go ahead, the army doesn’t shoot small children.”

And somehow the IDF managed, for the most part, to avoid killing the human shields and to target the terrorists who were orchestrating what can only be considered a military operation using civilians as shields.

Israel's critics, if they really cared about saving innocent lives, should be using the IDF as a model for all armies and police in violent riots. Given a completely unprecedented and complicated situation, the IDF was exemplary in avoiding killing innocent people.

But Israel's critics have an agenda that rarely has anything to do with the humanitarian principles they pretend to espouse.





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  • Friday, May 18, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
Matti Friedman in his New York Times op-ed talks about Hamas' ability to use the media to tell an anti-Israel story:

Most Western viewers experienced these events through a visual storytelling tool: a split screen. On one side was the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem in the presence of Ivanka Trump, evangelical Christian allies of the White House and Israel’s current political leadership — an event many here found curious and distant from our national life. On the other side was the terrible violence in the desperately poor and isolated territory. The juxtaposition was disturbing.

The attempts to breach the Gaza fence, which Palestinians call the March of Return, began in March and have the stated goal of erasing the border as a step toward erasing Israel. A central organizer, the Hamas leader Yehya Sinwar, exhorted participants on camera in Arabic to “tear out the hearts” of Israelis. But on Monday the enterprise was rebranded as a protest against the embassy opening, with which it was meticulously timed to coincide. The split screen, and the idea that people were dying in Gaza because of Donald Trump, was what Hamas was looking for.
In The Forward,  Lisa Goldman pretends to destroy Friedman's argument this way:
In fact, the May 14 demonstration was planned and announced many weeks ago. The date was chosen to coincide with the eve of Nakba Day, the day on which Palestinians mark their exile 70 years ago from the land now called Israel. It was not, as Friedman writes, chosen to coincide with the inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Why would the Great Return March organizers have chosen the eve of Nakba Day, and not Nakba Day itself?

A little research shows that the original date of the climax of the riots was indeed May 15, not May 14:

Al-Monitor, April 18:
Despite the protest organizers noting specific dates for the "Great Return March" — from Land Day, on March 30, to Nakba Day, on May 15 ....
+972, March 30:
Thousands of Palestinians are protesting in Gaza near the border fence with Israel on Friday. The protest marks the beginning of the “Great Return March,” a 45-day series of events planned to culminate on May 15, Nakba Day.
Middle East Eye, April 4:
In the Gaza Strip, where 1.3 million of the territory’s two million inhabitants are refugees, protest organisers have called for six weeks of demonstrations called the "Great March of Return" along the border of the besieged Palestinian enclave and Israel, starting on Land Day and culminating on 15 May for Nakba Day, marking the displacement of Palestinians by Israel in 1948.

The organizers did originally plan to protest on Tuesday as well, and Friedman is correct that the Monday protest was timed to coincide with the US Embassy opening. I couldn't find any announcement of May 14 protests until after the US Embassy opening schedule was publicized.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said this pretty explicitly:
I must emphasize a great strategic goal accomplished on May 14. Our people in Gaza recorded, for the whole world to see, their testimony over the transfer of the United States embassy to Jerusalem and the declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of the occupation entity.
The Monday protest did its propaganda job so well that they canceled the protest that was meant to be the culmination of the entire Great Return March! When have Palestinians ever canceled a demonstration before?

This is hardly the mot objectionable part of Goldman's article in The Forward. She claims that every single Gaza death was civilian even after knowing that 88% of them were Hamas members in civilian clothing when she says "Israel’s population is four times that of Gaza. Imagine the reaction if 240 Israeli civilians were killed and 10,000 wounded in a single day in a military attack. Just the thought is unbearable." Her entire premise, that blaming Hamas for Palestinian deaths is "racist," is undone by the knowledge that IDF snipers somehow managed to shoot around the masses of civilians and hit the small  minority of disguised terrorists.

But this just shows how easily and willingly the anti-Israel "journalists" are willing to lie for their cause.





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Thursday, May 17, 2018

From Ian:

New video purportedly shows UN influence in Gaza clashes
A video taken by the Center for Near East Policy Research at an UNRWA school and refugee camp in the Gaza Strip allegedly shows that UNRWA encourages anti-Semitism and the realization of the 'right of return' through violent means.

In the video, which was presented to Fox News by journalist David Bedein, children at an UNRWA-run school are seen gathered at a school assembly while repeatedly chanting 'Jerusalem is ours' before Monday's violent riots at the Gaza border.

Students can also be seen burning Israeli flags.

One student said that the school teaches students "how to defend the land, how to recapture the land."

Another student said that "what was taken by force will be returned by force, with jihad and all its means."

A third student was explicit in the means by which the 'right of return' would be achieved: "with weapons, stabbings, and car ramming."

UNRWA reportedly closed its schools in Gaza on Monday and Tuesday, allowing students to participate in the riots at the Gaza border. At least 40,000 people participated in the riots, in which at least 60 people were killed. The majority of those killed were confirmed to be members of Hamas by the terrorist organization itself.


UN Palestinian refugee agency ‘part of the problem’ — Swiss minister
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is fueling “unrealistic” hopes of return after 70 years and is therefore helping keep the Israeli-Palestinian conflict alive, Switzerland’s foreign minister said Thursday.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was established after Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, when around 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes.

But Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis pointed out that the number of Palestinians characterized as refugees — the vast majority of whom are descendants of refugees — living in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza has swelled to more than five million.

“It is unrealistic that this dream [of return] will be fulfilled for all,” he said in an interview given to several German-language papers owned by the Swiss NZZ group.

“But UNRWA maintains this hope. For me, the question is whether UNRWA is part of the solution or part of the problem,” he said, concluding that “it is both.”

The UN agency, he said, “worked as a solution for a long time, but today it has become part of the problem.”

  • Thursday, May 17, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
The New York Times has a backgrounder on the Gaza protests and the fence, which it claims is the source of the unrest.


The article briefly touches on the word "return" but downplays that as well:

Why is the conflict flaring up now?
The “March of Return,” as Palestinians are calling the protest campaign that began in March, was intended by its creators to publicize global awareness that about two-thirds of Gaza residents are considered Palestinian refugees.

I've covered the planned march since February. It is always exactly what it claimed: to overrun the border with Israel and force it to deal with thousands of people at once, aimed at forcing Israel to allow them to "return" - and destroy the Jewish state.

To call that "publicizing the refugees" is not close to the truth.





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 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column



I attended a lecture on Monday by Moti Toledo, who participated in Operation Solomon, the 36-hour airlift of about 15,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel while Ethiopia was in the throes of revolution.

Religious people can be excused for believing that miracles occurred during the operation. An El Al 747 with all its seats removed set the world record for number of people on a commercial aircraft, carrying 1088 passengers (two or three of them were babies born on the flight to Israel). According to the secular Toledo, the runway at that time was not considered long enough for even a normally-loaded 747, and the plane struggled to get airborne before it ran out of runway. An unexpected gust of wind came along from precisely the right direction, just in time. Make of this what you will.

This was after several covert operations had brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, including the fascinating “Operation Brothers,” a Mossad-operated diving resort in Sudan (a country as hostile to Israel as any you can think of) which operated during 1981-5, and succeeded in rescuing some 12,000Jews.

The efforts to get the Ethiopian Jews to Israel began after then Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef wrote a letter to Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Supposedly, Begin then called the head of the Mossad, and told him “Bring me my brothers, the Jews of Ethiopia.”

Toledo said that the story of the Ethiopian Jews illustrates the connection between the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Israel is and will always be a place of refuge and a protector of Jews everywhere. I can’t think of another country that has this kind of relationship with its people (and I am using “people” in its tribal sense). Perhaps if there will be an independent Kurdistan, there could be one more.

He also mentioned that when he gave a presentation in Europe, a non-Jewish person said to him that they too wished they had a place of refuge, the way Jews did. It reminded me of what an African-American Muslim said to my wife and I when we were about to make aliyah in 1979: “I wish we knew where our home was.”

Israel today is experiencing what Ofir Haivry called a “demographic miracle.” Everyone knows that when economic well-being and educational level increase, fertility goes down. This is true in Europe, North America, East and Southwest Asia, and the Middle East, including Palestinian and Israeli Arabs. But not among Jewish Israelis, where each woman has an average of 3.1 children (and this number is rising, despite Israel’s economic success). Haivry notes that this is not mostly because of a high birthrate among Haredim, but because the majority of secular and non-Haredi observant Jews are having more children. I can attest to this anecdotally – the streets and parks here are full of Jewish children and pregnant women.

Haivry attributes this to the strong family orientation of Jewish Israelis. He writes,

Throughout Israeli society, the educational and moral welfare of children as well as the continuity of the family remains at the center of parents’ (and grandparents’) lives, not only emotionally but as a matter of almost day-to-day practice.

But this is only part of it – and I think it is a small part, because close family ties characterize many countries in which there is nevertheless an inverse correlation between development and birthrate. He continues – and here I think he hits the nail on its head:

This peculiarly strong culture draws sustenance from and in turn informs the equally strong sense of national solidarity. Thanks to that strongly shared national identity, Israeli Jews are unusually willing to make personal sacrifices when it comes to welcoming new Jewish immigrants into the state and into their homes—and also when it comes to stoically enduring protracted periods of violence and bloodshed perpetrated by intractable enemies. As traditional communities of origin have receded in importance elsewhere in the world, the shared sense of an Israeli nation-family underlies the habitual instinct of most Israeli Jews to regard other Jews, and especially those in Israel itself, primarily as family members rather than merely as fellow citizens.

In a word, the secret is Zionism.

This is precisely why Menachem Begin asked the Mossad to bring him his Ethiopian brothers. This is why, when my own son told me that his wife was going to have a fourth child, he said – only half-jokingly – “I did it for the demographic struggle of the Jewish people.”

Having children is a joy, especially when one gets older. But in the beginning it means that parents have to sacrifice some of their own well-being for the sake of the children. There are adventures that they will not have, and pleasures that they will have to forgo. In highly self-centered societies, people often prefer not to make such sacrifices. They choose travel, extended education or careers over children. If they do have children, they have them later in life, so they have fewer of them. 

This is why the highly developed native cultures of Europe, for example, are phasing themselves out of history with fertility rates far below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. And worries about their shrinking work force which must support an increasingly aged population have led them to welcome the immigration that will ultimately put an end to those cultures.

And this is why liberal Jews will soon be disappearing as a distinct group in American society: their affluence together with a lack of national feeling – which is also the reason they are attracted to anti-Israel politics – leads them to put their personal gratification before any Jewish consciousness that they may have. They have fewer children, and don’t see a downside to intermarriage.

This also applies to the bitter anti-Zionist Left in Israel, the ones that advise their (few) children to refuse to be serve in the IDF. But for this very reason – they too will be gone soon – I don’t see them as a major threat to Israel’s national consciousness.

Someone said to me at Toledo’s lecture that while the immigration of the Ethiopians was a big success, their absorption has been less so. I disagree. We are just beginning to see the first generation of Ethiopian Jews born in Israel, and they are Israeli in every way. The usual problems of immigrants – prejudice, crime, poverty – are fading away, and in another generation or two will be gone. Jews from Ethiopia are finding their places in our society, including having plenty of children of their own.

Today Israel is militarily the most powerful nation in the region – we’ve just demonstrated that to the Iranian regime – and an economic powerhouse, but we are also vulnerable due to our small size. Begin realized that we need more than military strength to survive – we need to care about each other and our nation.

And despite the sometimes deafening disagreements, we do.





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From Ian:

Matti Friedman (NYTs): Falling for Hamas’s Split-Screen Fallacy
The press coverage on Monday was a major Hamas success in a war whose battlefield isn’t really Gaza, but the brains of foreign audiences.

Israeli soldiers facing Gaza have no good choices. They can warn people off with tear gas or rubber bullets, which are often inaccurate and ineffective, and if that doesn’t work, they can use live fire. Or they can hold their fire to spare lives and allow a breach, in which case thousands of people will surge into Israel, some of whom — the soldiers won’t know which — will be armed fighters. (On Wednesday a Hamas leader, Salah Bardawil, told a Hamas TV station that 50 of the dead were Hamas members. The militant group Islamic Jihad claimed three others.) If such a breach occurs, the death toll will be higher. And Hamas’s tactic, having proved itself, would likely be repeated by Israel’s enemies on its borders with Syria and Lebanon.

Knowledgeable people can debate the best way to deal with this threat. Could a different response have reduced the death toll? Or would a more aggressive response deter further actions of this kind and save lives in the long run? What are the open-fire orders on the India-Pakistan border, for example? Is there something Israel could have done to defuse things beforehand?

These are good questions. But anyone following the response abroad saw that this wasn’t what was being discussed. As is often the case where Israel is concerned, things quickly became hysterical and divorced from the events themselves. Turkey’s president called it “genocide.” A writer for The New Yorker took the opportunity to tweet some of her thoughts about “whiteness and Zionism,” part of an odd trend that reads America’s racial and social problems into a Middle Eastern society 6,000 miles away. The sicknesses of the social media age — the disdain for expertise and the idea that other people are not just wrong but villainous — have crept into the worldview of people who should know better.

For someone looking out from here, that’s the real split-screen effect: On one side, a complicated human tragedy in a corner of a region spinning out of control. On the other, a venomous and simplistic story, a symptom of these venomous and simplistic times.
Bret Stephens (NYTs): Gaza’s Miseries Have Palestinian Authors
Notice, also, the old pattern at work: Avow and pursue Israel’s destruction, then plead for pity and aid when your plans lead to ruin.

The world now demands that Jerusalem account for every bullet fired at the demonstrators, without offering a single practical alternative for dealing with the crisis.

But where is the outrage that Hamas kept urging Palestinians to move toward the fence, having been amply forewarned by Israel of the mortal risk? Or that protest organizers encouraged women to lead the charges on the fence because, as The Times’s Declan Walsh reported, “Israeli soldiers might be less likely to fire on women”? Or that Palestinian children as young as 7 were dispatched to try to breach the fence? Or that the protests ended after Israel warned Hamas’s leaders, whose preferred hide-outs include Gaza’s hospital, that their own lives were at risk?

Elsewhere in the world, this sort of behavior would be called reckless endangerment. It would be condemned as self-destructive, cowardly and almost bottomlessly cynical.

The mystery of Middle East politics is why Palestinians have so long been exempted from these ordinary moral judgments. How do so many so-called progressives now find themselves in objective sympathy with the murderers, misogynists and homophobes of Hamas? Why don’t they note that, by Hamas’s own admission, some 50 of the 62 protesters killed on Monday were members of Hamas? Why do they begrudge Israel the right to defend itself behind the very borders they’ve been clamoring for years for Israelis to get behind?

Why is nothing expected of Palestinians, and everything forgiven, while everything is expected of Israelis, and nothing forgiven?

That’s a question to which one can easily guess the answer. In the meantime, it’s worth considering the harm Western indulgence has done to Palestinian aspirations.

No decent Palestinian society can emerge from the culture of victimhood, violence and fatalism symbolized by these protests. No worthy Palestinian government can emerge if the international community continues to indulge the corrupt, anti-Semitic autocrats of the Palestinian Authority or fails to condemn and sanction the despotic killers of Hamas. And no Palestinian economy will ever flourish through repeated acts of self-harm and destructive provocation.

If Palestinians want to build a worthy, proud and prosperous nation, they could do worse than try to learn from the one next door. That begins by forswearing forever their attempts to destroy it.
Col Kemp: Hamas are using their own people as expendable tools. Don’t fall for their games
Many have condemned Israel for using excessive and disproportionate force. I cannot assess every incident, but I can say for sure that this is not the case. The IDF has strict rules of engagement, similar to our own, which conform to the laws of war and, when appropriate, to human rights law. IDF commanders exercise tight control over use of force, and I stood beside a battalion commander on the border as he directed operations in his sector.

Those who say it would be no big deal if the crowds reached the border fail to understand the potentially catastrophic implications. If they succeeded in breaking down the fence, thousands would pour through, intent on violence against Israeli civilians. Among them would be armed terrorists with orders to reach border communities and carry out mass murder. Some villages are just a few minutes’ dash from the border. Hamas social media provided Google maps marked with routes from the border to the communities they intended to attack. Had that horrendous scenario occurred, the IDF would have defended these communities with lethal force and many more people would have died.

All of this is no doubt hard to fully understand, especially if you are conditioned to see Israel in a bad light. But those who wrongly accuse Israel of using too much force play into the hands of Hamas.

I am in no doubt that the international reaction to conflict in Gaza has validated Hamas’s human shield tactics and encouraged them to step up their violence. This has contributed to the death toll. Anyone who is genuinely interested in human rights and concerned to improve the wretched lives of the people of Gaza should support Israel’s lawful efforts to defend its sovereign territory and condemn Hamas, which so malevolently oppresses its people and throws away the lives of innocent men, women and children.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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