Friday, August 5

The Incendiary, Miri Regev, Minister of Culture and Sport

English: Member of Knesset, Miri Regev. עברית:...
Member of Knesset, Miri Regev. עברית: חברת הכנסת מירי רגב (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Minister of Culture and Sport, Miri Regev, apparently is the “apple of the eye” of PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Miri Regev is keen on making the Likud agenda an integral part of Israeli culture. She has become involved in deciding what cultural projects qualify for getting state funding as well as being very outspoken on this issue of which she makes no bones.

Her emphasis on culture is basically a double-edged sword. The one edge is that theatre and literature must be Sephardi Jewish-oriented (this includes piyutim - A piyyut or piyut (plural piyyutim or piyutim, Hebrew פּיּוּטִים / פיוטים, פּיּוּטִ / פיוט pronounced [piˈjut, pijuˈtim]; from Greek ποιητής poiétḗs "poet") is a Jewish liturgical poem, usually designated to be sung, chanted, or recited during religious services. Piyyutim have been written since Temple times.) as well as the songs and performances of Israeli Sephardi pop stars such as Eyal Golan that she personally sponsors, which, according to the Knesset Ethics Committee, is illegal.

The following is an article from Haaretz illustrating Miri Regev’s sponsorship of Eyal Golan:

Miri Regev says clip for superstar Eyal Golan's show 'was designed to encourage Mizrahi music.'

Dafna Arad and Chaim Levinson Aug 02, 2016 9:59 PM

MK Miri Regev, December 2, 2014.Emil Salman
Eyal Golan's new album will send you running to the beach
Mizrahi culture gains a voice, experiences revival in Israel

The Knesset Ethics Committee decided Tuesday that the video clip showing Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev praising the television program “Eyal Golan Is Calling You,” which is aired on Channel 24, has crossed the line and become a prohibited public relations promotion, according to Knesset ethics regulations.

The committee, headed by MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), decided not to adopt sanctions against Regev, without explanation. The decision was made after MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) asked the committee to “clarify the boundaries regarding the participation of Knesset members in commercial activity, promotion and public relations in general, and for television programs in particular.”

In the clip that Regev posted on her Facebook page last month, she is standing in a back yard and saying, “Eyal Golan is calling you. What a joy, the program is coming back. An amazing program with Israeli, Mizrahi music, joyful, moving, including the good old songs and of course finding new talents and new songs. So go for it and good luck. Eyal, good for you, great production.” At the end Regev forms a heart with her fingers.

The Ethics Committee reminded everyone that MKs are not permitted to provide sponsorship, to help or promote commercial entities, including media outlets. “After watching the clip, the Ethics Committee believes that in this case the line was crossed between a viewpoint and a declaration of policy, and even sharing a personal experience, which are permitted and legitimate, and ‘prohibited PR.’ The nature and content of the clip serve a specific program and a specific singer, and are seen as a kind of ‘promo’ for the program. An advertising campaign and PR by commercial entities is liable to lead to a violation of ethics and the imposition of sanctions.”

Regev told the committee that “the clip was designed to encourage Mizrahi music and was part of the encouragement and support I give to activities that provide a platform for Mizrahi music, as I’ve done in the past. That’s the only reason for my activities, without a blemish and without any commercial or promotional intention.”

Zandberg’s reaction: “There is a clear boundary line between participation in a television program to promote a viewpoint, and marketing a show only for commercial promotion. In a precedent-setting decision the Ethics Committee instructs the MKs to refrain from such advertising and PR, and that’s as it should be.”

Regev’s reply: “I regret the decision of the Ethics Committee, which didn’t accept my viewpoint in the letter of reply that reflects my policy. However, I respect its decision.”
Dafna Arad
Haaretz Contributor

Miri Regev is becoming autocratic in her quest to encourage partisan “Sephardi” culture and to personally encourage it. Israel is a multicultural society of which Sephardi culture and heritage is a part and by no means superior contrary to what Regev thinks. She should represent the culture of all Israelis and certainly not be sectarian or political. She is muscle flexing to force her idea of culture on all Israel’s society, irrespective of their cultural background. Western culture that is very much part of Western civilization is inferior according to her world view and is not deserving of government subsidies to the same extent. Any artist who opposes her world view on culture is considered a traitor to Israel.

The government is considering closing down the Israeli Broadcasting Authority as according to them it is not profitable and wishes to replace it with a new public broadcaster that will not be independent. The policy of this public broadcaster will be Likud-oriented. Miri Regev has given her support for that and believes that if subsidized by the government then the latter should control what is broadcast. Even Regev’s Likud colleague, Gila Gamliel, opposes this and has accused Regev of moving towards fascism.

Miri Regev is not suited for her cabinet post. She is incendiary, divisive and autocratic. Her narrow world view of culture and understanding disqualifies her from that post. She is creating a schism between the various cultural groups that make up Israel’s society. She is racist and suffers from a massive inferiority complex. Her desire to push for a macabre mix of kissing tombstones of ignorant Sephardi rabbis (tzadikim) as well as kissing amulets given by self-styled, money grabbing, lecherous, Kabbalists and rabbis. Ear-splitting low class Mizrachi music performed by singers (many of whom are on drugs) are also part of her definition of culture. In Regev’s view this partisan folklore should be given top priority in becoming Israel’s mainstream culture.

Miri Regev speaks for her community and is not concerned with Israel’s multicultural community. She has taken it upon herself as to which cultural projects are deserving of state funding and which are not. It is obvious that cultural projects that are “left wing oriented” or away from the right wing coalition political line will automatically be disqualified from state funding. Her criteria for state funding are as follows:

  • Denying the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state;
  • Inciting racial hatred, violence and terrorism;
  • Supporting act of terrorism against Israel;
  • Marking Independence Day as a day of mourning;
  • Acting against an Israeli symbol;
  • Boycotting or calling for a boycott of Israel.

"I make a clear distinction between freedom of expression and freedom of funding," the Culture Minister declared. "Freedom of expression is a supreme value in Israel. But, the state has the right not to finance factors that undermine its Jewish and democratic character." Poetry of the late talented Mohamed Darwish is considered treasonous and not to be even discussed despite the fact that he was born and bred in Israel and is part of its culture. There is no violence against any group in  his poems. Yet it is not the poetry for “La Passionaria” Miri Regev’s approval.

Interpretation of Miri Regev’s “cultural criteria” is very subjective and does not allow much cultural leeway. She has dovetailed these criteria to suit her world view as to what is patriotic and what is treacherous or anti-Israel.

Some of the criteria are reasonable. Inciting racial hatred, violence and terrorism is definitely positive and should not be allowed. As for the rest, it must be viewed in the context of the message that the writer or producer wishes to convey and should not be included in criteria for state subsidies or funding.

Regev, in her statement on her criteria even contradicts herself. She can lump any of her criteria on any cultural project that does not conform to her world view or that of the Likud Government. She can even interpret a political satirical play or book according to the criteria that she has formulated even if this may not be the case.

This is an example of the Late Poet Mohammed Darwish's Poetry! What is provacative about it?

It is an attempt to delegitimize those, who are do not hold Regev’s world view. This must be viewed as a threat to Israel’s cultural heritage that is based on many different cultures and outlooks.  

Thursday, August 4

Gideon Levy of Haaretz has gone off the Rails

I had been an avid reader of Gideon Levy’s articles over the years. He had exposed much of the abuses of human rights by members of the IDF serving in the areas occupied by Israel during the June War of 1967. Individual soldiers had taken the law into their own hands and there have been incidents of torture of Palestinians over the years in these occupied territories. Gideon had brought this to the attention of the readers of Haaretz. He had been acting as a sort of “watchdog” and reporting incidents of abuse. It is well documented that settler right wing extremists have also destroyed Palestinian property and agricultural fields. Of course all incidents of human rights abuses in the territories deserve condemnation and those responsible be brought to justice and severely punished if found guilty.
Levy deserved credit for his reports. However lately he has denigrated Israel by calling it an “evil state” He is insensitive to abuse of Palestinians by their own corrupt, wealthy leadership as well as the hate and racist propaganda that they use in the education system against Jews and Israel as a whole. He never condemns the Palestinian leadership for the torture of Palestinians, who oppose them. Levy also does not condemn the Palestinian leadership for its lack of transparency and its human rights abuses not to mention that there is no democracy in Palestinian Street. He refuses to accept that Israel has an existential problem since its establishment with its Arab neighbours, including the Palestinians. He is insensitive to the terrorist acts that individual Palestinian terrorists commit against Israel – the suicide bombings, stabbings of innocent people and savagery that the Palestinian terrorists have been carrying out of the years. He seeks a moral justification for these acts of terror against Israel using the occupation as an excuse.
Beyond Israel’s borders there is ISIS, who is showing signs of cooperating with Hamas and various terrorist Islamist groups. Levy refuses to accept the fact that much of the suffering that the Palestinians endure was brought about by the Palestinians themselves because of their wealthy, corrupt leaders in Hamas and also in the Palestinian Authority. The brainwashing, the glorification of bloodshed and murder of Israelis on a daily basis does not seem to take priority for condemnation in Levy’s articles. He is oblivious to that as it does not fit his narrow world view on Palestinian suffering. His self-righteous articles condemning Israel are inappropriate, when viewing the entire tragic Palestinian – Israeli Conflict in its true and objective context.
The following article of Gideon Levy is one of the most disgusting, biased and inappropriate articles of his that I have ever read:
Stop Living in Denial, Israel Is an Evil State

Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state...

Gideon Levy Jul 31, 2016 4:49 PM
After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanation.
Eva Illouz described its signs (“Evil now,” Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 30). Her essay, which challenges the idea of the banality of evil, considers the national group as the source of the evil. Using philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept, she finds a “family resemblance” between the Israeli occupation and history’s evil regimes. This similarity does not mean that Israel is Nazi, nor even fascist. And yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. It’s a depressing and brilliant analysis.
The evil that Illouz attributes to Israel is not banal, it cannot happen anywhere, and it has political and social roots that are deeply embedded in Israeli society. Thus, Illouz joins Zeev Sternhell, who warned in his impressive and resounding essay about the cultural soil out of which fascism is now growing in Israel (“The birth of fascism,” Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 7).
But alongside these analyses, we must also present a brief history of evil. We must present the instances that combine to create a great and horrific picture, a picture of Israeli evil in the territories, so as to stand up to those who deny the evil. It is not the case of the individual – Sgt. Elor Azaria, for example, who is being tried for the death of a subdued Palestinian assailant in Hebron – but the conduct of the establishment and the occupation regime that proves the evil. In fact, the continuation of the occupation proves the evil. Illouz, Sternhell and others provide debatable analyses on its origins, but whatever they are, it can no longer be denied.
One case is like a thousand witnesses: the case of Bilal Kayed. A young man who completed a prison term of 14.5 years – his entire sentence – without a single furlough, without being allowed to at least say goodbye by phone to his dying father; a clear sign of evil.
About six weeks ago, Kayed was getting ready for his release. A representative of the Shin Bet security service – one of the greatest agencies of evil in Israel – even showed him a photograph of the home his family had built for him to stir him up even more ahead of his release. And then, as his family waited impatiently for him at the crossing point and Kayed grew ever more excited in his cell, he was informed that he was being thrown into administrative detention for at least another six months, without trial and without explanation.
Since then, he has been on hunger strike. He is cuffed to his bed. His family is not allowed to see him. Prison guards never leave his room and the lights are not turned out for a moment. Evil.
Only evil can explain the state’s conduct toward Kayed – only an evil state acts this way. The arbitrary announcement, at the last moment, of a senseless detention is abuse, and the way he has been treated since then is also abuse.
Only evil can explain the detention last week of another young man, Hiran Jaradat, whose brother Arif (who had Down syndrome) was killed in June and whose father died two days ago. He is under arrest for “incitement on Facebook” and was not released to attend his father’s funeral. Evil.
The continuation of the detention of poet Darin Tatur – evil. The destruction of the tiny swimming pool that the residents of Khirbet Tana in the northern West Bank had built for themselves – evil. The confiscation of water tanks from a community of shepherds in the Jordan Valley in the July heat – evil.
A great many of the decisions of the occupation regime that decides the fates of individuals, families, communities, villages and cities cannot be explained without evil. The list is as long as the occupation. The extortion of sick people from Gaza to enlist them as collaborators, the blockades on cities and towns for weeks, the Gaza blockade, the demolition of homes – all evil.
Banal or not, its existence must be acknowledged and it must be recognized as one of the most influential values in Israel. Yes, there is an evil regime at work in Israel, and therefore it is an evil state.
Gideon Levy
Haaretz Correspondent

read more:

Israel may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil perpetrated by the state...

Tuesday, June 21

Right wing Extremist Scumbags threatening Commanding Officer giving Evidence against Subordinate

Something is going very wrong within the Israeli Electorate. We should view it as a wake-up call towards a trend towards fascism as has been voiced by ex-Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya’alon, and even the Deputy-Chief-of-Staff, Yair Golan. The outcry and intimidation of those defending IDF protocol in opening fire on terrorists, who have already been neutralized or prone is wrong.  Many years of the Netanyahu-led Coalition has given rise to extreme right wing ideologies that are doing much harm to Israel.

Right wing extremist scumbags, who unfortunately are being coddled by some members of the right wing Netanyahu-led coalition, are no credit to Israel as a democracy. After the murder of the prone Palestinian terrorist, Netanyahu spoke to the father of the suspect and even considered meeting him. He was advised against it. It was inappropriate for Netanyahu to have any contact with the suspect’s family or show empathy. Prior to his appointment as Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman demonstrated support for Sgt. Elor Azaria, the suspect, and so did the Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett. There were strong signs of empathy for the suspect in the Netanyahu Coalition.  When extreme right wing scumbags started threatening the Company Commander, Tom Na’aman on the social media, they changed their tune as it became clear that Na’aman made the right decision to testify against his subordinate, the suspect, who had broken the law by shooting the prone terrorist.

Not doing so would render the Company Commander of being guilty no less. The senior IDF commanders are correct in not supporting law breakers, who disregard IDF opening fire protocol. The suspect’s defense attorney and extreme right wing activist, Itamar Ben Gvir, has got it wrong. I wonder if Ben Gvir would have held the same view if a soldier would shoot a prone right wing Jewish extremist, who had killed an innocent Arab. Praising and defending the suspect and threatening a key witness are the result of extreme right wing elements in the government, who demonstrate empathy towards the suspect.
Sergeant Elor Azaria (Photo: Shaul Golan)

The lunatic fringe – right wing extremist scumbags, followers of the Late Rabbi Meir Kahane of the outlawed Kach Movement, Price Tag hooligans and Lehava - the racist movement led by Ben Zion Gopstein, are being tolerated. These movements exploit Israel’s democracy in the same way as the Nazi Party in Germany exploited Germany’s democracy prior to 1933. This ilk is threatening Israel’s democracy and there is no sign of them being outlawed by the present Netanyahu Government. Israel’s Electorate is moving towards the right and in doing so there is the danger of right wing extremists gaining legitimacy. The words of the moderates, not necessarily the left, see the handwriting on the wall of a definite move towards fascism. Some examples are ex-Ministers of Defense, Moshe Ha’yalon, Ehud Barak, Deputy Chief of Staff, Yair Golan and many others - ex generals of the IDF. Their warnings should be taken seriously.  

Saturday, June 18

The Fragmentation of the Israeli Left and a possible Peace Initiative

The Israeli left has never been so fragmented. The Labor Party has been in sharp decline for many years now. In fact, the tactic of uniting with Tzipi Livni’s Party, Hatnua, has been a failure. Yitzchak Herzog, the party leader and leader of the opposition, cannot be taken seriously as he straddles on the fence. He has had the carpet pulled out from under his feet by the wily, Benjamin Netanyahu. Herzog is no match for him let alone an alternative as prime minister. He lacks charisma and his strong desire to enter the Netanyahu Coalition in the hope that he will give it a more moderate face is doomed to failure.

A few weeks ago Netanyahu decided to increase his power by bringing in Avigdor Lieberman, giving him the post of Defense Minister and ousting Moshe Ya’alon from that post. All this was done while he was negotiating with Yitzchak Herzog to bring the Zionist Camp into his coalition. Herzog had no knowledge of Netanyahu’s negotiations with Lieberman. The result was Herzog coming out of the deal with egg yolk covering his face and his tail between his legs.
Many members of the Zionist Camp feel betrayed by Herzog and his credibility as Zionist Camp leader has taken a great knock. Herzog declared rather unconvincingly that the Zionist Camp will remain a fighting opposition to Netanyahu (until another attempt is made by him to crawl on all fours into the Likud Coalition Government, where he hopes he will be made foreign minister). Meanwhile, the terrible terrorist attack in Sarona, Tel Aviv has taken the attention away from the wheeling and dealing with Yitzhak Herzog. Netanyahu has many rabbits in his hat unbeknown to Herzog in his ambition to reach a deal with Netanyahu.
Yitzhak Herzog is trying to move his party toward the center if not a shade to the right in order to gain support from the right. He made some disparaging remarks about the party not being an “Arab lover’s Party”. This was a most divisive, racist statement and he got wrapped over the knuckles over it by members of his own party and Meretz as well as the Joint List. Even Naftali Bennett of the right wing Habayit Hayehudi criticized Herzog for his statement. Trying to “out-Likud” on its inherent racism will bring Herzog more ridicule and will further damage the Zionist Camp that is already disunited and in the doldrums.
The time has arrived for the left in Israel to be inclusive of all its supporters in order to offer the electorate a viable and realistic alternative to the right wing policies of the Likud and the coddling of the settler camp and right wing religious camp, including the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) parties. The real issues of peace, social and economic issues are not being addressed as it should because of the budgeting for political favors within the ruling camp each having its own sectarian issues. The left has to re-organize in order to survive and become relevant again and Yizhak Herzog must be replaced as Leader of the Opposition.
There are members within the Zionist Camp, whose ideology is closer to Meretz than it is to the centre with a touch of right wing in the Zionist Camp. If this trend in the Zionist Camp continues towards becoming Likud B, it will cease to be relevant as the majority of the electorate is right wing to extreme right wing and will not vote for anything that has a “left wing stigma”.
Perhaps the time has arrived whereby a new left wing social democratic political platform can be supported by all parties on the left, including Meretz, Joint Arab List and disillusioned Zionist Camp members can join. The new social democratic party should embrace all Israel’s citizens irrespective of race, color or religion in a new Israeli patriotism for the good of the State of Israel. This is the only viable alternative to the partisan right wing coalition that rules Israel at present. Individual members of the new party need not be Zionists. This is a matter of personal choice. Historical divisions between Zionists and non-Zionists under the new order becomes irrelevant as both sides can work together for the common good of the country of which they both share equal citizenship. The main ideology that all members have is a common loyalty to Israel that goes beyond sectarian interests. This would also strengthen the movement towards a solution of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by negotiations. Here, members of the Joint List within the new coalition can play an active role in negotiations. An old conflict that is deadlocked with no movement is bad for Israel and the Palestinians and offers no future for either side.
Ehud Barak speaks at the Herzliya Conference, June 16, 2016. (Adi Cohen Zedek
Ehud Barak, ex Chief of Staff, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense in Netahyahu’s Cabinet has made a scathing attack on the present Government, so has Moshe Ya’alon until recently Defense Minister, has also attacked the Netanyahu Government. A number of ex Generals have also come out against the present government and the direction that it is moving. It may be the beinning of the "night of the long knives" against Netanyahu. It remains to be seen whether it will destabilize the present government or  not. The fragmented left is out of the picture as an alternative. These attacks on Netanyahu seem to be “sour grapes attacks” or personality problem clashes that were unknown to the public while they were serving in the Netanyahu Cabinet. ThEhud Barak speaks at the Herzliya Conference, June 16, 2016. (Adi Cohen Zedek)ey do not offer any movement towards a viable alternative that is moderately left. The Zionist Camp is out of the picture entirely apart from a few impotent clucks from Yitzhak Herzog, who is still finding a way to join Netanyahu’s coalition, despite the setback of the carpet being swept from under his feet by Netanyahu.
A new peace initiative that merits examining for solving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict has been making some soft ripples in the headlines. This is the Two States, One Homeland Initiative.
The following is an article from Haaretz about this new initiative:

“Out with separation, in with confederation – declare the proponents of the 'Two States One Homeland' initiative that will have its official launch on Thursday at a special full-day conference in Tel Aviv.
Judy Maltz Jun 01, 2016 7:37 PM
BEIT JALA, West Bank – Countless proposals for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been bandied about over the years. What sets this one apart, beyond everything else, is the unusual mix of supporters it has galvanized – among them Palestinians, settlers, ultra-Orthodox Jews, and left-wing activists.
Out with separation, in with confederation – declare the proponents of the “Two States One Homeland” initiative that will have its official launch on Thursday at a special full-day conference in Tel Aviv.
In a nutshell, here’s the plan: two sovereign states with open borders, every house stays where it is, and all people get to live where they want. Forget about uprooting settlements, evacuating residents, building high walls, and swapping territories. The border, under this plan, will be in the exact same place it was on the eve of the 1967 Six Day War, and all those Jews living on the other side are welcome to stay where they are provided they are willing to live as Israeli citizens under Palestinian sovereignty. In other words, they get to vote in Israeli elections, but their speeding tickets will be issued by Palestinian police. The same holds true for Palestinian nationals who choose to live under Israeli sovereignty. (Yes, this initiative does accept the Palestinian demand for right of return – despite being anathema to most Israelis.)
Several days before the official launch of their peace plan, a small group of activists – some new to the cause, others engaged from the start – have convened at their usual haunt, a hotel in this small town near Bethlehem, for some last-minute preparations.   
“The difference between this initiative and others,” explains Awni Elmashni, its lead Palestinian architect, as they settle down, “is that we try to work with reality rather than change it.”
Elmashni, who was born in the Dehaishe refugee camp, spent 12 years in Israeli prisons before moving up the ranks of the Fatah movement.  He is in a better position than many to know that certain key elements of the plan – keeping the settlements intact, for example – will not go down well with the average Palestinian. But what better alternative at the moment is there, he asks.
“Everything else that’s been tried has failed,” he notes. “And we are right now in a situation where there is no political horizon, and the status quo is unsustainable.”
It all began in 2012 when Elmashni was introduced to Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport, whom he was told had some “original ideas” about solving the decades-old conflict. Elmashni heard him out and liked what he heard. Operating largely under the radar, the Israeli and Palestinian set out to build a movement. They organized parlor meetings, met privately with key opinion leaders, drafted position papers and reached out to communities not typically part of the peacemaking discourse.
More often than not, they were dismissed as delusional. After all, who in their right mind could believe that after years of bloodshed, Israelis and Palestinians would be able to put all the bad feelings behind and live happily among one another?
Yet, slowly but surely, they succeeded in winning over some less cynical hearts.
That would include people like Nuri Gross, a 25-year-old college student who grew up in a right-wing Orthodox family and participated in demonstrations against Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. “On the one hand, I care about other people, so right-wing style solutions don’t appeal to me,” he says. “On the other hand, all those on the left who call for separating from the Palestinians – to me, there’s also a bit of racism in that.”
Gross was first introduced to the confederation idea during a parlor meeting held at the home of Hadassah Froman at the West Bank settlement of Tekoah. Following in the footsteps of her late husband, Rabbi Menachem Froman, Hadassah, a core activist in the movement today, has evolved into a rare breed of peace activist settler.  “What I heard in her home really made sense to me,” says Gross.
Even newer to the movement is 37-year-old Pnina Pfeuffer, an ultra-Orthodox mother of two involved in various efforts to engage the Haredi community with the Israeli political discourse. Pfeuffer had always supported the classic two-state solution that involved building a wall to separate Israelis and Palestinians. “But as far as I’m concerned, any solution is better than no solution, and if we can get Israelis and Palestinians to support this new idea, then I’m all for it,” she says.
For the leaders of the new initiative, a recent coup was signing up Eden Riskin, the grandson of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the prominent American-born founder and spiritual leader of Efrat, one of the larger West Bank settlements. He joins two well-known Haredi activists, Shmuel Drilman and Rabbi Shmuel Pappenheim. Some notable representatives of the Israeli left are former Peace Now executive director Moriah Shlomo, Meretz activist Avi Dabush, author (and Haaretz contributor) Nir Baram, and prominent civil rights attorney Limor Yehuda”.
Yehuda, formerly head of the occupied territories department at the Israel Civil Rights Association, estimates the number of core activists in the movement at “several dozen,” but says “we are growing every day.”
Israelis on the left tend to have two key reservations about the confederation plan. Like most Palestinians, they don’t like the idea of leaving the settlers where they are in what could be construed as handing them a victory. Where they differ with the Palestinians is on the issue of repatriation of refugees: Even hard-core leftists tend to draw the line there, seeing the Palestinian right of return as an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Many of the details of the plan have yet to be worked out, but according to Eran Tzidkiyahu, an Israeli activist in the movement, “the main obstacle is not deciding whether Jerusalem will have one mayor or two mayors but overcoming the lack of trust on both sides.”
At one point, he and his fellow activists debated the possibility forming a political party. They eventually concluded that growing the movement from the ground up was a preferable option. “The Israeli politicians aren’t there yet,” laments Yehuda. “Either we have to wait until we’ve gained more public support or until there are different politicians in power.’
They do take heart, though, from recent support expressed by President Reuven Rivlin for the idea of confederation (even if not exactly in the format they advocate), as well as some Knesset members on the Israeli left, whose names they prefer not to mention.
About two weeks ago, Al-Mashni organized a gathering of 70 Palestinians in Ramallah to hear about the initiative. “There was great interest,” he reports. “But what’s most important for our people is to know that there is a serious partner on the Israeli side.

It is obvious that the present Israeli Government would not support this initiative and in the atmosphere that exists between the two parties to the conflict it appears to be unacceptable. Nevertheless, the time is more than ripe to examine new initiatives and encourage discussing them.

Tuesday, June 14

PM Netanyahu should take Leave from his Post

The timing could not be better. Netanyahu pundits will admit that the PM has not been charged or indicted of any crimes and is innocent of suspicions until proved otherwise. This is true and applies to all citizens. However, public officials (this includes PM Benjamin Netanyahu), who have been elected to power, should have a clean record. If there are suspicions of misdemeanors or breaking the law that warrants police investigation, the public official should take leave of his/her public position in order to clear his/her name of suspicion of misconduct or breaking the law. If these suspicions are unfounded then he/she can return to office without a blemish. As it so happens, according to a Haaretz report, the Police anti-corruption unit is launching a probe into Netanyahu’s financial affairs.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu is a savvy and shrewd politician. He and his wife enjoy their lavish lifestyle as well as travelling abroad - presumably on diplomatic business. Let us call it “diplomatic business” or even “public relations”. However, in many cases, this may be questionable, especially when the whole Netanyahu family accompanies him.
Israel is going through a tough time with all the terrorist attacks, the latest in Sarona, Tel Aviv where 4 innocent people were fatally wounded and 10 injured. There is no question that the solution to the terrorist activities against Israel is strategic. There has been no movement, not on Israel’s side or the Palestinian side to find a solution to this ever smoldering Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. PM Netanyahu is the longest serving prime minister in Israel’s history. There has been no new idea coming from his coalition to end the conflict apart from “Rambo tactics” that has not stopped the terror but minimized its frequency. Collective punishment is morally questionable as well as not being effective in the long term.
PM Netanyahu is embroiled with his own personal problems, some of them of his wife’s creation and some of them concerning his lavish lifestyle and relationship with his tycoon friends that finance his party propaganda machine.
He is also inconsistent on the Two-State Solution without pre-conditions. One pre-condition of Netanyahu that comes to mind is recognition of Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish People” as starters, rather than recognition of the State of Israel as being the “state of all its citizens” that is inclusive of all Israelis, irrespective of race, color or religion. This would not alter Israel’s status and it would not be a bone of contention concerning the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative. It would also allow the neighboring Arab States to end the state of war with Israel and accept Israel as an integral part of the Middle East, which it is. While the dynamics within the Middle East have changed since the Arab Peace Initiative was drawn up, changes to adapt to the new situation can surely be discussed by all parties concerned and modifications by mutual agreement can be made where appropriate. The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 does have positive elements that form a good basis for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, including an atmosphere for finding a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.
Unfortunately, Netanyahu is not up to it and the time has come for him to go. He knows that if he does agree with the Arab Peace Initiative he stands a good chance of “upsetting” his right wing flank in the coalition as well as the settlers in the West Bank. This places him in a situation that may break up his coalition. He has to conform to the right wing which is his power base.
Chances of a peace treaty with the Palestinians under the present circumstances are very remote. However a long term “respite from hostilities” is still possible even under Hamas and this would be acceptable by the PA as well. This may sound very imaginative and unrealistic at present. A “respite from hostilities” does not mean a ceasefire The violations of the ceasefire are the terrorist acts that Israel has witnessed since October 2015 with the lone stabbing attacks against innocent civilians, shootings, car ramming etc.
The respite from hostilities can be achieved by the three components of Islamic Law regarding temporary cessation of war:
  1. Hudna: The concept "Hudna" stems from the Arab-Muslim tradition and refers to a reciprocal truce under agreed-upon conditions and for a specified time period. In the context of Israeli-Palestinian relations, the concept refers to a suggested framework for achieving a ceasefire between the two sides. However, the conditions for declaring Hudna, its purpose and its binding status are unclear.
  2. Tahdiah: instead of Hudna (3/05) which means "lull" or "pacification", and has no obligatory or traditional context.
  3. Treaty of Hudaybiyyah:  (Arabic: صلح الحديبية) was an important event that took place during the formation of Islam. It was a pivotal treaty between Muhammad, representing the state of Medina, and the Quraysh tribe of Mecca in March 628 (corresponding to Dhu al-Qi'dah, 6 AH). It helped to decrease tension between the two cities, affirmed a 10-year peace, and authorized Muhammad's followers to return the following year in a peaceful pilgrimage.
This is the only hope that Israel has of cessation of hostilities and terror coming from Hamas and its allies. It may seem impossible for Israel to comply with this. However, Hamas will cease hostile activities under these three components of Islamic law on “respite from hostilities” if Israel remains strong and invincible against Hamas militarily. Although Hudna, Tahdiah and the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah are temporary measures to refrain from hostilities until Hamas is strong enough to attack Israel in order to achieve its goal of Israel’s destruction. It is the most we can expect from Hamas, without recognizing Israel’s right to exist until such time as it eventually does.
Israel will have to remain strong and invincible in the eyes of Hamas. It must never show any sign of weakness. If Israel does show signs of weakness, Hamas will attack Israel, as Mohammed had attacked the Quraysh tribe of Mecca, thus breaking the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah when the Quraysh were showing signs of weakness two years after the treaty was signed with Mohammed,

Perhaps it may be a good idea for a militarily strong Israel to sign a peace treaty on the basis of these conditions. Any chance of preventing unnecessary bloodshed on both sides should always be investigated. It is doubtful if the Netanyahu Government has the will to investigate this option which is of course not perfect but will ensure a long period of peace. Israel will always have to be prepared for any violation of the agreement against future hostilities, which it is today without a formal agreement with Hamas.