Saturday, November 29

Israel - The Nation State of the Jewish People (Jewish Nation State Bill)

Many stupid bills are discussed in the Knesset, becoming hot potatoes in order to keep the right wing Netanyahu Coalition intact. There is none so stupid and idiotic as the bill to declare Israel, the Nation State of the Jewish People

Hello?As if after nearly 67 years of Independence, nobody is aware that Israel is a Jewish State and has to be declared as such by the right wing coalition today. Really? What was Israel in 1948 after the Declaration of Independence? Did all the previous governments of Israel prior to the present one not view Israel as a Jewish State and a state of all its citizens? Did the rest of the world, the majority of whom voted for partition in 1948 not view Israel as a Jewish state either? 

This is a tactic in order to seek legitimization of Israel as the "Nation State of the Jewish People" by President Mahmoud Abbas. Does Israel really need Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as the "Nation State of the Jewish People"? After all, on all the official letter heads of Israel describes Israel as the "State of Israel" with the appropriate emblem, which even the Palestinian Authority recognizes as they have stated many times. This is not good enough for the Netanyahu Government. It is good enough for the rest of the world, even for the Saudi Initiative of 2002 which accepts Israel.

It is obvious that this is a delaying tactic used by the Netanyahu Government to maintain the status quo. This will prevent negotiations for a two–state solution. The Netanyahu Government wants peace with increased settlement building in the occupied territories that will achieve non-viability of a future Palestinian State alongside Israel. This is as plain as the noses on all our faces and like our noses being part of our anatomy, increased settlement building is an integral part of Netanyahu Coalition ideology.

 The idea of passing this law can only be the product of extreme nationalist ideology. It regards non-Jewish citizens in Israel as inferior, not entitled to equal rights. It is a disgrace that in Israel, this abominable ideology is alive and kicking in the Knesset.

Israel, as defined in its Declaration of Independence is appropriate, and so it shall remain. It defines Israel as a democratic Jewish State that ensures that all Israeli citizens have equal rights irrespective of race, creed and color. Why does the Bayit HaYehudi Party see fit to change it in order to gain more support from Jewish extremists as a populist action? The problem with these Bayit Hayehudi whacko racists is that the Declaration of Independence does not ensure that non-Jewish Arab citizens of Israel will become second class citizens, who are here on borrowed time. Avigdor Lieberman, the expat Russian, Ze'ev Elkin, another expat Russian have not lived here for generations like the Arab Israelis whom they wish to transfer to other lands.Of course, the Netanyahu Government denies this. These two Russian expats are enthusiastically joined by MK's Ayelet ShakedNaftali Bennett, the multimillionaire "Start-Up wiz" or rather the "Upstart wiz", Yariv Levin and the whole bunch of like-minded right wing MKs and cabinet minister settler, Temple Mount troublemakers. 

The claim by the Likud and its coalition that it does not degrade the Arab and Druze citizens of Israel is ludicrous. Would they claim otherwise? Of course they would not! If the President of IsraelReuven Rivlin, Attorney-General Weinstein and even some judges in the law courts have come out against this bill. Are they also viewed as being traitors by the coalition, some of whom are against this bill as well? Shimon Peires, the past President of Israel, also expressed opposition to this bill. 

It is a vengeful, unnecessary bill that creates second class citizenship for non-Jewish Israeli citizens. Apart from that, it goes against the Declaration of the State of Independence which has stood the test of time and has not changed the status of Israel by endangering its identity as a Jewish State. The only problem is that over the years the Declaration of Independence has been eroded when it comes to ensuring the equality of the minorities in Israel before the law. Now with the future "Nation State of the Jewish People" Law about to be enacted, democracy will be compromised and the victims will be everybody. 

A possible victim of this bill, because of the timing of the act of vandalism, on a dual medium school catering for Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis carried out by the despicable, racist Price Tag organization.

This disgusting bill will also not serve Israel's interests in the international community.

Saturday, November 22

Has the Third Intifada Begun?

Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Since the end of Operation Protective Edge, East Jerusalem has been smoldering in unrest. Palestinian youngsters are throwing stones, fire-crackers and vandalizing the light rail train in East Jerusalem. Adding to the increasing violence, individual Palestinian terrorists have been ramming their vehicles into innocent bystanders, waiting for the light rail train to transport them. If this is not enough, the terrorist drivers of these vehicles abandon them and go on a stabbing spree, stabbing people wherever and whenever they can. They seem to be one up on the police in achieving their goal of terror.

An Israeli police officer gestures as he holds a weapon near the scene of the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue Photo: Reuters
Right wing religious Zealots, despite the warnings of the Chief Rabbinate, who claim that it is forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount, take no heed. They go there and aggravate the situation as well as asserting their right to be there. They are also encouraged by extremist right wing cabinet ministers in the Netanyahu Government coalition. The list of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Jerusalem this year and still continuing is horrifying.

All this violence occurs because of the propaganda of Hamas and Islamic Jihad that Israel wishes to change the "status quo" of the Al Aqsa mosque, which is not true. If it would not be this assumption, these terrorist organizations would find something else. The bottom line is the desire for the destruction, non-recognition of the “Zionist Entity” is top priority, and nothing on earth will change that mantra. Many in the Palestinian leadership, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and probably some members of Fatah, have similar fantasies of the destruction of Israel. According to the Shin Bet Chief, Yoram Cohen, Mahmoud Abbas is is not inciting terror. Mahmoud Abbas even came out in condemnation of the murder of Jews praying in the Har Nof Synagogue in Jerusalem.  
 The more the Israeli Government refuses to negotiate with the Palestinians and threatens to increase settlement activity in the territories as well as increases the use of force, the more it plays in the hands of the Palestinians and their supporters.

The only solution to the conflict is by negotiations. Palestinian violence, bloodshed, and retaliation by Israel are no solution. As mentioned in my last article, President Mahmoud Abbas is taking an extreme position in order to bring Hamas supporters back to the Fatah fold and thus increase his sagging support. He is even using cliché’s like "religious war" over Al Aqsa and even showing signs of "out-Hamasing" Hamas in rhetoric.

This proves that successive Israeli Governments have failed to achieve a common patriotism towards Israel that is inclusive of all Israel's citizens. It is during these times of tension when the true test of patriotism of Israel’s non-Jewish minorities is called.

The pandering to the extreme right wing in the coalition, building more settlements and asserting the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount despite the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate that it is against halacha, are catalysts for violence and bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians. Israel has occupied the West Bank for many years now and has not improved conditions of living of the Palestinians there. Overcrowding, severe poverty, poor infra-structures, poor education and unemployment are the ingredients for violence. The Israeli Government shows insensitivity to the conditions of  Palestinians in the refugee camps around East Jerusalem. The constant nationalist rhetoric of the extreme right wing elements of the illegal settlers are also factors. Now and again these elements go on a vengeful rampage against the Palestinians, destroying their property and agricultural lands. Closing our eyes to this is no solution. Hardly any settler vandal has been brought before the law. So we cannot regard Israel as being blameless for the violence that is occurring. There have been no negotiations except force to be answered with force.

A trilateral meeting was held in Amman, Jordan on 13th November 2014 between  John Kerry, King Abdullah and Benjamin Netanyahu. Mahmoud Abbas was in Amman but not present at the meeting. He decided that it was sufficient for King Abdullah to represent Palestinian interests in restoring calm to Jerusalem. According to spokesmen at the meeting, there will be no direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on renewing peace negotiations as their positions are too wide apart. Hopefully this meeting will restore calm as the three sides agree that they have common interests in fighting extremist Islamist elements that threaten future peace in the Middle East.

Netanyahu reiterated that the status quo in Jerusalem will be maintained. This is subject to interpretation as the building of apartments in East Jerusalem for Israeli settlers does have the potential of promoting violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

On Friday 14 th November 2014, age restrictions for praying in the Al Aqsa Mosque was lifted by Israel and the prayers at the mosque were peaceful. This was the first time in many months there was no violence! Now that Jordan is in the picture it may have a moderating influence on the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas to maintain calm.

At the time of writing on 18th November 2014, a terrorist attack occurred in a Jerusalem synagogue resulting in the death of 4 worshipers, several were injured and 4 in a serious condition. A Druze policeman died of his wounds a day later. Two attackers were killed by police, one suspect had escaped.

The rhetoric of Mahmoud Abbas has also received a more moderate tone since the meeting. If anything it will be Band Aid on the third Intifada. However, this temporary calm will only become permanent when both Israeli and Palestinian leaders return to the negotiation table to find a solution to this festering conflict. If not, the third intifada will not be long in coming.

The nature of the Palestinian violence is taking on a different character. Individual Palestinian terrorists wake up in the morning and decide to go on a rampage of killing using axes, poles, knives and vehicles for running over innocent people waiting for public transport. This makes it more difficult for the Security Forces to apprehend them apart from shooting them in action. The praises that these terrorists receive from many in the Arab world is alarming.

A strong, religious factor is becoming more prominent in these terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. In the past and probably even today, the conflict was based on land disputes. Adding the religious dimension on both sides will create a catastrophic situation which will make return to the negotiating table impossible with horrendous consequences for both sides.

The Palestinians are not living in a vacuum. The ISIS ideology is seeping into the conflict as we have observed over the last couple of months in the methods used in murdering innocent Israelis.  

Saturday, November 8

Condolence Letter, President Mahmoud Abbas and Terror in Jerusalem

A Palestinian man rams his car into a crowded train platform in east Jerusalem, then attacks people with an iron bar and injures at least six in what authorities called a terror attack before he was shot dead by the police.
A man looks on at the site where a Palestinian rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians in Jerusalem  Phtoographer: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images 
President Mahmoud Abbas seems to be playing a game of contradictions. His speech made at the UNGA 2014 accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians is a case in point. After the shooting of right-wing activist, Yehuda Glick, he sent a condolence letter to the family of Muatez Hijazi, the prime suspect, after a gun fight with the police in which Hijazi was killed.

There is a feeling in the US and the EU that since the end of Operation Protective Edge, opportunities for peace has increased because of the false belief that President Mahmoud Abbas's stature in the Palestinian camp has improved. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Hamas has suffered a severe beating by the IDF, their stature in the Palestinian camp has not. Recent Palestinian polls show that Hamas has increased support over the PLO or the PA of Mahmoud Abbas. Mahmoud Abbas in theory may be stronger but in practice, he is weak. He has very little support from the Palestinian people and he is well aware of that. How can he increase his support from his people? He can achieve this by rhetoric that is not Israel friendly!

As mentioned earlier in this article, his UNGA 2014 genocide speech was addressed to the Palestinian People rather than to the world. He had to show his sympathy for Palestinian 
English: Mahmoud Abbas
English: Mahmoud Abbas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
suffering and victims of the recent IDF operation in Gaza.

By default rather than by elections, Abbas is now leader of Gaza while Hamas remains all powerful in Palestinian support and in rhetoric based on fantasies and falsities that are the tools of the trade of Hamas. Credibility is not a strong point of Hamas and this is grist to the mill for Palestinian support. Repeat a fantasy in Palestinian Street often enough and it becomes the truth - the fulfillment of Hamas fantasies and ideology.

In order to gain the support that he does not have, Mahmoud Abbas has decided to adopt the strategy of fueling the dreams of Hamas-supporting Palestinians to win them back to his fold of cronies. He can only do this by adopting Hamas-like rhetoric that is popular in Palestinian Street. The results are the rioting in Jerusalem and retrogression to support of terror against Israelis in Jerusalem, especially in East Jerusalem. The recent ramming of a bus by a Hamas terrorist resulted in the death of a 3 month old baby and an innocent bystander and injury to 8 people. A week later, the attempted assassination of Yehuda Glick was undertaken by a Hamas terrorist who was later killed in a gun fight with the police.

Rabbi Yehuda Glick is described as right wing in the press because of his belief in the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. He differs from right wing religious Zionists because he believes in the right of Muslims to pray there as well as it is also a holy place for them.

Mahmoud Abbas is playing a double game of rhetoric support of terrorist acts, while at the same time, damning PM Netanyahu with faint praise in supporting him trying to stop the terrible violence that has engulfed Jerusalem. He supports Netanyahu in saying that the status quo of Jerusalem must be maintained.

Israel's extreme right wing in Netanyahu's coalition must also be held accountable for the deteriorating situation in Jerusalem. These MKs in his cabinet are encouraging settlement of Israelis in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem such as Silwan with the building of over 500 residential units in disputed areas. This is not wise. It has resulted in severe criticism from the US and the EU. The timing for doing this could not be worse. It has weakened Israel's credibility even further by adding another obstacle to a return to peace negotiations with the Palestinians that is moribund. Netanyahu's famous 2009 Bar Ilan speech in which he expressed his support for the two-state solution was a total farce! If he believed in that why carry on building settlements in hot spots where Palestinians live in order to make the two-state solution unattainable? Is this a tactic to placate his right wing coalition? The answer is obviously in the affirmative.

The "status quo" seems to go beyond freedom of praying on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with the various arrangements that were in place over the years. In Israeli Government Coalition eyes, it also means achieving peace and maintaining the occupation including controlling Palestinian lives and an end to the Two-State Solution.

It appears that the knee-jerk reaction of Israel's Government is "the more Palestinian violence, the more we will build Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas!" It is a reaction of vengeance that will also give legitimacy to fringe right wing extremists, such as Price Tag (whose barbaric vandalism against Palestinians is treated with kid-glove indifference) to take the law into their own hands and aggravate a situation that is very volatile.

At the time of writing, another terrorist attack was carried out in Eastern Jerusalem. The driver of a vehicle, Ibrahim al-Akri from Shuafat, decided to ram his pick-up truck into innocent people waiting for the light rail tram, killing 2 persons and injuring 14 people. The terrorist driver was killed, after he left his vehicle to attack people with a metal bar, by the police. Ibrahim al-Akri was an active Hamas terrorist. His brother was a prisoner released during the Gilad Shalit agreement. It appears that there are many Hamas-Islamic Jihad terrorists adopting the tactic of driving their vehicles into places where innocent people are waiting for public transport in Eastern Jerusalem. Hamas, as expected, has praised this latest act of terror. It is obvious that this tactic of ramming vehicles into innocent people is becoming more frequent and unfortunately it will not be surprising if there will be more attacks of this nature in the near future.

There are discussions on blowing up the homes of terrorists and their families who were involved in terrorist attacks. This should apply to Jewish terrorists as well as in the case of the killing of the Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and the burning of his body. Everyone should be equal before the law but unfortunately this is not the case.

Despite all the Hamas terror acts against innocent Israelis, it must never be used as a tool for vengeance by establishing new settlements in occupied territories. Every case of terror must be dealt by bringing the perpetrators to justice. Building illegal settlements aggravates the situation even further for reasons already stated in this article. Another ignition point is the arrival of extreme right wing Knesset members such as Moshe Feiglin, Tzippi Hatovely, Uzi Ariel,  "La Passionaria" Miri Regev and company onto the Temple Mount to emphasize their right to pray there, aggravates a highly volatile situation causing more violence and bloodshed. This is reckless, irresponsible behavior by those who should set an example for restraint. It serves no purpose apart from a clarion call to violence and hate. Apart from that, according to Halacha, it is forbidden for Jews to go to the Temple Mount for prayer. However, this does not seem binding on the right wing religious Zionists in the Netanyahu Coalition, when politics acts supreme despite the violence that is ignited. The solution to the conflict is by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Freezing settlements is a first step towards creating an atmosphere of trust between the two sides and will also weaken Hamas, which is a terrorist organization. Increased settlement activity in the occupied territories increases Palestinian support for Hamas. Even President Mahmoud Abbas, considered a moderate by Israel's allies, is moving to a more extreme position. This is a negative development for Israel.

Saturday, November 1

Violence in Jerusalem

English: Piece of File:Westbankjan06.jpg which...
English: Piece of File:Westbankjan06.jpg which is a detailed map of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, January 2006. Produced by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - public UN source. Map Centre:§ion_id=96&format=html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Since the end of Operation Protective Edge, the violence in Jerusalem has increased. The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens by Palestinians in the West Bank, and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian youth by Israelis in Jerusalem, sparked a chain of events that led to the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. 

The same events also stoked violence in the streets of Jerusalem, and the Gaza war fed the turmoil. On 23rd October 2014, a three month old infant, Chaya Zissel, was killed and several US citizens and Israelis were wounded when a convicted Palestinian terrorist from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people in the capital. The attack, which was captured by a security camera, took place at the Ammunition Hill light-rail stop a few hundred meters from Israel’s national police headquarters, situated across a densely traveled thoroughfare, shortly after 6 p.m., a senior police official said. The terrorist was shot by police and late Wednesday evening he died in hospital.

“The vehicle ran over a number of people, including several Americans, as they exited the train, and the suspect was shot when he attempted to flee the scene by foot,” the official said, requesting anonymity until the US State Department confirms the American casualties.“Nine people were injured, three seriously, including an American infant who died after sustaining critical injuries,” he continued.

The official described the suspect as a convicted terrorist who served a recent prison sentence in Israel, but did not indicate whether he was released during the 2011 Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange or last year’s release of more than 70 convicted Palestinian terrorists during peace negotiations. 

On 29th October 2014 A controversial figure, Rabbi Yehuda Glick has long advocated for Jews to be allowed to pray at a Jerusalem holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The site is Judaism’s holiest place and Islam’s third-holiest. The golden Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque stand there.

The blame for this violence lies with both Palestinians and Israelis. It always takes two to tango but in this case the results are tragic for both sides. Each side blames the other and there does not seem to be an immediate end to the bloody violence in sight.

Jerusalem has always been a dynamite keg and the root of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict must be viewed as having its origins in Jerusalem. The other trouble spots in the Arab sector and in the occupied territories must be viewed as an extension of that.

The mention of the word "Jerusalem" evokes many emotions in the Jewish and Muslim sectors of the population. The Christian Community is not involved even though Jerusalem is the "Holy City" to them as well.

It is very difficult to be objective when discussing the conflict and its affects on Jerusalem. This is a subject that will always be a bone of contention no matter how much good-will there is on both sides (assuming that there is still some good-will left) to reach a just solution. Responsible leaders on both the Israeli and Palestinian side must meet and discuss a solution to the violence on both sides. The problem is that there are Jewish and Muslim extremists on both sides of the conflict who somehow are very stubborn in what they claim is the right to pray on the Temple Mount.
Violence near the Dome of the Rock

The blame for what is occurring in Jerusalem must be viewed in the contest that both Israelis and Palestinians are to blame. The Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. He has made statements that are interpreted as being rabble-rousing and his recent speech at the UN General Assembly accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people is jarring to Israeli ears and is viewed, especially by the right wing sectors in Israel as a call to blood and violence in Jerusalem. We must view this speech as political and nothing more than that. President Mahmoud Abbas is well aware that he does not have ground roots support from the Palestinians. According to recent polls, the majority of the Palestinians supports Hamas and do not trust the Palestinian Authority.

Mahmoud Abbas has adopted the tactic of making statements to prove that he is not in the hands of the Israelis and carrying out their policies. So he resorts to portraying an unyielding posture towards Israel especially since the end of Operation Protective Shield, after Hamas received a thrashing from the IDF and went into "fantasy mode" that they had won the war. Fantasies, rather than realpolitik, are an unfortunate integral part of Palestinian psychology. This must also be viewed as a severe problem when it comes to negotiations. In fact, violence is on the increase and the Israeli Police and Security forces are applying Band-Aids to stop the violence. The words "status quo" that worked over the years to curtail violence has now been broken. Stepped up security without a solution to continuing violence in Jerusalem will not bring peace to Jerusalem or solve the conflict. 
A large part of the blame must also be laid at the door of the extremist right-wing settler movements who have decided to settle in Silwan and Ir David in the heart of Palestinian East Jerusalem.The behaviour of the Netanyahu Government has been deplorable in their attitude of supporting and encouraging settlement in areas where Palestinians reside. This has caused much of the violence. 

Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish  Home) attended this evening (Thursday 23rd October 2014) the laying of a cornerstone for the new synagogue being built in Nokdim, a new community in the eastern part of Gush Etzion together with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Davidi Perl.

In his speech Ariel addressed the building freeze that had been put in place throughout Judea and Samaria, saying, "We are working toward the removal of the building moratorium in this community and other communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as in Jerusalem. I am calling for, together with other MK's, to go to Prime Minister Netanyahu to remove that terrible word "freeze" from his agenda, and to get back to building." 

"We need to build, not as a response to murder, but because of the need to be constantly building throughout Israel. And when there is terror, we need to build even more," he added. This rhetoric is not conducive to finding a solution to the violence in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile the violence continues, maybe it has been dampened a bit by the rainy season in Israel. No side has shown any realistic desire to end the violence. Racial violence by religious Jewish extremists and destruction of Palestinian property has been a reaction to Palestinian rioting.