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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Lieberman: 'Abbas must go'

Using language rarely heard from an Israeli Minister about a 'Palestinian leader' since the death of Yasser Arafat, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has bluntly said that 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen must go.
The defense minister views Abbas as a bitter enemy of Israel and says that Abbas’s policies have eliminated any possibility of advancing the peace process.

In the past two weeks, Lieberman has said several times that defense officials meet frequently with West Bank Palestinians, without the involvement or approval of Abbas and his people.

“We’ve met dozens of economists and businessmen from the Palestinian Authority, and when you ask what’s most important for the Palestinian economy, they all reply that the most important thing is to get rid of Abu Mazen,” he said on one such occasion, referring to Abbas by his nickname. “He has imposed a reign of corruption that encompasses everything. He has people in every economic sector — in real estate, the fuel market, the communications market. Abbas’ people take a tithe from every deal, and aside from the people in the inner circle, the PA leadership doesn’t allow anyone there to develop economically.

“That’s why it’s so important for him to go,” Lieberman continued. “As long as Abbas is there, nothing will happen.”

Lieberman said he didn’t think Israel should actively work to end Abbas’ rule, but at the same time, he said, it shouldn’t blame itself for the situation in the West Bank.

“Not everything depends on us,” he said. “As long as the PA’s corrupt and ineffective management continues, the economic situation there won’t improve.”

The defense minister also charged that Abbas rarely visits Nablus and Jenin, the major cities of the northern West Bank, as he prefers to take diplomatic trips abroad. “He doesn’t want to deal with problems of economics and employment,” Lieberman said. “The entire system of management there has failed.”
All of which probably makes 'Abbas' no more corrupt than any other Arab leader. But then other Arab leaders don't lead a 'people' that have a real democracy in their midst as a standard of comparison.

By the way, yes, this could well be the end of the 'peace process.'
Last week, Arab media outlets reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to arrange a diplomatic summit between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this year. Netanyahu doesn’t use Lieberman’s blunt language, but he apparently shares the defense minister’s skepticism about the prospects for real diplomatic progress as long as Abbas remains in power. And, like Lieberman, he blames the impasse entirely on the Palestinians.
Those last two sentences are Haaretz whining, but what's more interesting is that the Russians are denying that Putin ever made the suggestion.
Russia supports the Palestinian-Israeli settlement process, but there are no specific agreements on holding a meeting of the sides’ leaders in Moscow, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

"There are no specifics on this matter yet," he said, commenting on related reports issued by the Israeli media.
"Moscow maintains rather trust-based and active relations with both the Israelis and Palestinians, but there are no specifics yet," he added.

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October 8, 2016: The end of the 'Palestinian Authority'

There are 'local' 'Palestinian' elections scheduled for October 8, and while  'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen may be hoping that Israel will step in to stop them, because Hamas seems likely to win them, that is increasingly unlikely according to Caroline Glick, who sees the elections as signifying the end of the 'Palestinian Authority.'
Hamas is widely expected to win control over most of the local governments in Judea and Samaria. Hamas’s coming takeover of the municipalities is likely playing a role in decisions by Fatah terrorist cells to reject the authority of the PA. Many of those cells can be expected to transfer their allegiance to Hamas once the terrorist group wins the elections.

Given his Fatah party’s looming electoral defeat, more and more PA functionaries are wondering why Abbas doesn’t use the growing anarchy in Palestinian cities as a reason to cancel them. Abbas seems to have calculated that Israel will step in and, as it has repeatedly done over the past 20 years, cancel the elections for him.

Media organs Abbas controls are full of conspiracy theories whose bottom line is that Israel is not canceling the elections Abbas declared because it is in cahoots with Hamas and other “collaborators” to undermine the PA.

Although Israel, of course, is in cahoots with no one, it is the case that the government has apparently finally lost its patience with Abbas and is looking past him.

Repeated angry denunciations by government leaders of Abbas for his lead role in inciting violence against Israelis, leading the international movement to delegitimize Israel, refusing to negotiate anything with its leaders, and radicalizing Palestinian society, are finally being translated into policy.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s recent announcement that Israel is adopting a carrot-andstick approach not toward the PA but toward the Palestinians themselves, and will advance development projects in areas where terrorism levels are low and take a hard line against areas where terrorist cells are most active, has sent shock waves through Abbas’s palaces.

For 22 years, Israel has bowed to Palestinian and Western demands and agreed to speak only to PA functionaries and Palestinian civilians authorized by the PA to speak to Israelis. Liberman’s decision to base Israel’s actions on the ground on the behavior of the Palestinians themselves rather than act in accordance with PA directives, along with his decision to speak directly to Palestinian businessmen and others, marks the end of Israel’s acceptance of this practice.

Without a doubt, Israel’s willingness to let Abbas fall is in part a function of the wider Arab world’s increased indifference to, if not disgust with the Palestinians. As MEMRI has documented, the Arab media is registering growing impatience with PA spokespeople. Arab commentators have harshly criticized PA functionaries who continue to insist their conflict with Israel is the most pressing issue on the pan-Arab agenda.

The disintegration of Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya and the rise of Iran as a mortal threat, along with Israel’s growing importance as an ally to Sunni Arab regimes have made the Palestinian cause look downright offensive to large swaths of the Arab world.

Part of Israel’s willingness to let Abbas fall also owes to its inevitability. Once Hamas wins the elections and takes control over the local governments, Abbas’s already weakened position will become unsustainable. As is already happening in towns and villages throughout the areas, Fatah cells will transfer their allegiance to Hamas. The areas will become Balkanized and radicalized still further.

Confrontation between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Palestinians in Judea and Samaria is inevitable.

Moreover, this process will likely be rapid. Just as Hamas’s complete takeover of Gaza from Fatah forces happened seemingly overnight in June 2007, so its seizure of control over Judea and Samaria will happen in the blink of an eye.
The collapse of the 'Palestinian Authority' and the likely end of the 'two-state solution' are also part of Barack Hussein Obama's disastrous foreign policy legacy. It's been more than seven years since 'Abbas' told the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl that his only role in the 'peace process' was to wait until President Obama forced Prime Minister Netanyahu to give him what he wanted. 
Yet on Wednesday afternoon, as he prepared for the White House meeting in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Abbas insisted that his only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear off violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula.
Until Israel meets his demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin negotiations. He won't even agree to help Obama's envoy, George J. Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures. "We can't talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution," he insisted in an interview. "Until then we can't talk to anyone."
So why is that Obama's fault? Because instead of taking 'Abbas' to task for his recalcitrance, Obama and his two Secretaries of State pandered to the 'Palestinian leader,' continuing to pressure only Israel to make concessions. Abu Mazen read that correctly seven years ago, and he still reads it correctly today.
What's interesting about Abbas's hardline position, however, is what it says about the message that Obama's first Middle East steps have sent to Palestinians and Arab governments. From its first days the Bush administration made it clear that the onus for change in the Middle East was on the Palestinians: Until they put an end to terrorism, established a democratic government and accepted the basic parameters for a settlement, the United States was not going to expect major concessions from Israel.
Obama, in contrast, has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions, whether or not its democratic government agrees, while Arabs passively watch and applaud. "The Americans are the leaders of the world," Abbas told me and Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt. "They can use their weight with anyone around the world. Two years ago they used their weight on us. Now they should tell the Israelis, 'You have to comply with the conditions.' "
That is why for the past seven years, nothing has happened with the 'peace process.' And that is why nothing will happen during Obama's remaining months in office. Obama only knows how to pressure one side, and the Democratically elected government of Israel has a much better ability to resist Obama's pressure than does Abu Mazen, in his 11th year of a four-year term.

At this point, as Caroline Glick notes above, there are more reasons for peace not to happen than there were seven years ago. The Arabs don't care about the 'Palestinians' anymore. They are busy with their own. If there was an opportunity for peace during the past seven years, it was surely missed.

And that is Obama's legacy to our region.

Read the whole thing

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Iran's weapons ferrying service about to expand big time

For at least five years, Iran has been using commercial airliners from Mahan Air (an IranAir subsidiary from what I can gather) to ferry terrorists and weapons from Tehran to Damascus. Now, thanks to the Obama-Kerry sellout and the lifting of sanctions Iran (having been blocked by Congress from purchasing from Boeing) is about to buy 500 new jets from Airbus, the European consortium. Iran currently has 50(!) commercial jets. Imagine how much more trouble they can make with 500.
A report published by Forbes said Iranian commercial aircraft routinely violate international aviation rules by transporting arms and military personnel to Syria, and therefore, “selling aircraft to Iran will expose manufacturers to the risk of becoming complicit in such activities.”
Forbes said Iran was trying to ink a deal to buy up to 500 aircraft over the next decade.
The magazine said: “Iran remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world and is still number one on the recently-released Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index Report of 2016, which assesses the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing in 149 countries.”
The report coincides with the comments of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who expressed his country’s worries regarding Iran’s transfer of weapons to Yemen.
Also, the international community is worried from an Iranian activity towards refueling conflicts in Arab countries, which Tehran says was protecting its security and national interests.
Last Thursday, Iran announced that a deal with Airbus was in its last phases,” according to Fars news agency, quoting Iranian Minister of Transportation Minister Abbas Akhoundi.
Forbes warned the Airbus Company to think twice before inking such a deal.
The report said: “The problem with the Islamic Republic’s aircraft shopping spree is that Iran’s state-owned airline, Iran Air, will be the sole company purchasing these aircraft.”
It said Iran’s current fleet stands at 36 aircraft while its subsidiary, Iran Air Tours, has 14.
Mahan Air is considered the first Iranian company, which conducted flights to Syria for transferring weapons in 2011.
 Yet another frightening installment in the Obama legacy. What could go wrong?

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Brussels Air abandons BDS

Almost as quickly as it started, Brussels Air's cooperation with the BDS campaign has stopped. The airline has gone back to serving Achva halva bars (the fancy flavor pictured is not one I have found on most airlines) to its passengers. Achva is manufactured in the Barkan Industrial Zone in Ariel, Samaria. And just to make the sacrilege complete, the picture above came from the website alibaba.com.
While Brussels Airlines said last week it did not order the halva and the snack was served on its flight by mistake, the airline now called the food manufacturer Achva “one of our trustful suppliers” in a statement to the Israeli Foreign Ministry quoted by The Times of Israel.
“It is clear that Achva remains one of our trustful suppliers and without any distinction related to the origin of the product, and therefore we will continue to accept Achva’s products on board our flights, especially given its positive role in the community,” the Brussels Airlines statement read.
The change came about through “the quick work of the Foreign Ministry, at the direction of Dore Gold, the deputy head of public advocacy and the advocacy unit, and our embassies in Brussels and Berlin,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Last week, Brussels Airlines stopped serving its passengers the halva snack following complaints by the Palestine Solidarity Movement, a proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. A passenger had alerted the group about the snack.
“We’re an airline catering to a large international audience, it’s our responsibility to offer products that please all,” the airline said in its earlier statement on pulling the halva.
“Therefore, we decided to take the halva bars off the menu and replace it with another product.”
 Another #BDS_Fail....

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

United Nations has awarded tens of millions in 'aid' contracts to Assad cronies

The United Nations has awarded tens of millions of dollars in aid contracts to people associated with the Assad regime, including the dictator's wife Asma, and close Assad associate Rami Makhlouf. According to Britain's Guardian, many of the persons who received the contracts are subject to United States and European Union sanctions.
The UN says it can only work with a small number of partners approved by President Assad and that it does all it can to ensure the money is spent properly.

“Of paramount importance is reaching as many vulnerable civilians as possible,” a spokesman said. “Our choices in Syria are limited by a highly insecure context where finding companies and partners who operate in besieged and hard to reach areas is extremely challenging.”
However, critics believe the UN mission is in danger of being compromised.

They believe aid is being prioritised in government-held areas and argue UN money is effectively helping to prop up a regime responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its own citizens.

UN insiders admit the relief mission in Syria is the most expensive, challenging and complex it has ever undertaken.

But the contentious decisions it has had to make are now exposed for the first time by a Guardian analysis of hundreds of contracts it has awarded since the operation began in 2011.

This shows that:
  • The UN has paid more than $13m to the Syrian government to boost farming and agriculture, yet the EU has banned trade with the departments in question for fear of how the money will be used.
  • The UN has paid at least $4m to the state-owned fuel supplier, which is also on the EU sanctions list.
  • The World Health Organisation has spent more than $5m to support Syria’s national blood bank – but this is being controlled by Assad’s defence department. Documents seen by the Guardian show funds spent on blood supplies came directly from donors who have economic sanctions against the Syrian government, including the UK. They also show the WHO had “concrete concerns” about whether blood supplies would reach those in need, or be directed to the military first.
  • Two UN agencies have partnered with the Syria Trust charity, an organisation started and chaired by President Assad’s wife, Asma, spending a total of $8.5m. The first lady is under both US and EU sanctions.
  • Unicef has paid $267,933 to the Al-Bustan Association, owned and run by Rami Makhlouf, Syria’s wealthiest man. He is a friend and cousin of Assad, and his charity has been linked to several pro-regime militia groups.
  • Makhlouf runs the mobile phone network Syriatel, which the UN has also paid at least $700,000 in recent years. Makhlouf is on the EU sanctions list and was described in US diplomatic cables as the country’s “poster boy for corruption”.
  • Contracts have been awarded across UN departments with companies run by or linked to individuals under sanctions.
These contracts show how the United Nations operation has quietly secured deals with individuals and companies that have been designated off-limits by Europe and the US.

On top of this, analysis of the United Nations own procurement documents show its agencies have done business with at least another 258 Syrian companies, paying sums as high as $54m and £36m, down to $30,000. Many are likely to have links to Assad, or those close to him.
There's more too - read the whole thing.

If the Obama administration and the Europeans had expended even half the effort on Syria that they have expended on the 'poor' 'oppressed' 'Palestinians' over the past five years, it is hard to believe that the situation would be this bad. But they don't. Unfortunately for Syrians, "No Jews = No News" and the news that Jews have actually been saving Syrians almost isn't being reported anywhere outside of Israel.

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In Israel, which is an OECD country, my two youngest children studied in a school that doesn't have a building last year (one of them will still be there when school starts on Sunday). They study in corrugated tin boxes that are boiling in the summer and freezing in the winter.

Funny, I don't see the 'international community' lining up to give my kids a fancy school building like the one in the picture above.

(Forget the funny number in the tweet - it's almost irrelevant).

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Monday, August 29, 2016

More funny 'Palestinian' population statistics

Yesterday, we were told that there are 263,200 students in Gaza.

Today, we are told that there are 50,000 in the 'West Bank.'
As of July 2014, the UN estimates a population of 2,731,052 in the 'West Bank' of which 83% are 'Palestinian Arab,' 33.7% are aged 0-14, and 21.7% are aged 15-24.

As of July 2014, the UN estimates a population of 1,816,379 in Judenrein Gaza, of which 44.7% are 0-14 years old.

Anyone else see a problem with those numbers?

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Iran deploys S-300 to protect Fordo nuke plant, forms Shiite army to eradicate Israel

Here's Barack Obama's legacy. After allowing Iran's nuclear program to survive and thrive and giving the Mullahcracy $1.7 billion in spending money, Iran is using the money exactly how it promised to use it. It has deployed an S-300 missile system to protect its Fordo nuclear plant, and it has formed a Shiite army whose goal is to eradicate Israel. This is from the first link.
A video showed an S-300 carrier truck in Fordo, raising its missile launchers toward the sky, next to other counter-strike weaponry.
The images were aired hours after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a speech to air force commanders, including Esmaili, in which he stressed that Iranian military power was for defensive purposes only.
"Continued opposition and hype on the S-300 or the Fordo site are examples of the viciousness of the enemy," Khamenei said.
"The S-300 system is a defence system not an assault one, but the Americans did their best for Iran not to get hold of it."
The Fordo site, built into a mountain near the city of Qom has stopped enriching uranium since the January implementation of a nuclear deal with world powers.
Under the historic accord, Iran dismantled most of its estimated 19,000 centrifuges -- giant spinning machines that enrich uranium, keeping only 5,000 active for research purposes.
Maybe for a few years anyway....

In the meantime, Iran has not given up on eradicating Israel.
Retired General Mohammad Ali Falaki, who is currently one of the Iranian forces leaders in Syria, has recently revealed that Iran has formed a “Shiite Liberation Army” led by Quds Force commander, General Qassem Soleimani.

The Quds Force also known as Pasdaran in Persian is a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and is responsible for the Islamic Republic’s extraterritorial operation.

“The Shiite Liberation Army is currently fighting on three fronts - Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he told Mashregh news agency, which is close to the IRGC, in an interview published on Thursday.

The retired general said “This army is not only composed of Iranians but it recruits locally from the regions witnessing fighting.”

Falaki, who is leading part of the IRGC fight in Syria to give support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, advised that it was “not wise to directly involve Iranian forces into the Syrian conflict.”

“The role of our personnel should be limited to training, preparing and equipping the Syrians to fight in their areas, ” he added.

Falaki said that the main objective behind the formation of the first nucleus of the ‘Shiite Liberation Army’ is to “eradicate Israel after 23 years, especially that these battalions are now on Israeli borders.”

And you were still wondering why he hasn't taken the fight to Assad?

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gaza is a funny place

UNRWA claimed in a tweet on Saturday that 'oppressed' Gaza has 252 schools (and 78 hospitals - a World Bank report puts that number at 30, still a lot for a small area).
Today, the number of schools has grown to 267. That's right - 15 new schools in a day.

And by the way, it seems that UNRWA forgot to coordinate their numbers with the 'Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.' The PCBS claims approximately 1.73 million 'Palestinians' in Gaza in 2014.  The CIA gives the Gaza 'Palestinian' population at the same time as 1,816,379 (as of July 2014).

But the CIA says 44.7% of the 'Palestinians' are aged 14 and under. I think that means there should be a lot more than 263,200 students.

Hmmm. You don't think someone's monkeying with the numbers, do you?

And by the way, how are they re-building with that alleged Israeli 'blockade' in place?


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Israelis win a different kind of Olympic medal

Israelis may have won only two bronze medals (still a significant achievement for a small country) at the Rio Summer Olympic games, but they've brought home 14 medals in a different kind of Olympic competition.
While almost all eyes were focused on the Rio Olympics in August, four other Olympiads were taking place in the science arena around the world. And Israel’s students brought home 14 medals from the International Science Olympiads.
The latest Olympiad competition was a two-day computer science contest in Russia. Israel won silver and bronze medals.
The International Science Olympiads are worldwide annual competitions in different areas of science. Four to six of the best high school students from each participating country take part in the contests.
In the past month, Israeli students have won the two medals in computer science, six medals in math, four in physics, and two in chemistry.
 We've always been much better at brains than brawn.

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NY Times worries Israel will make peace with Saudi Arabia and leave the 'Palestinians' in the cold

In an editorial in Sunday's editions, the New York Times worries that Israel will make peace with Saudi Arabia (and Egypt, with which we made peace nearly 40 years ago) and leave the 'Palestinians' out in the cold.
The Israelis and the Saudis have reasons to work together. They share antipathy toward Iran, the leading Shiite-majority country. Both are worried about regional instability. Both are upset with the United States over the Iranian nuclear deal and other policies, including those dealing with Syria. For some time, Israeli and Saudi officials have been cooperating covertly on security and intelligence matters.
It’s hard to tell sometimes whether and through whom the Saudi royal family is speaking, and some analysts do not view General Eshki as a serious interlocutor. But his visit to Jerusalem, which included a meeting with members of Parliament, suggested a new Saudi openness to testing how the public in both countries would react to overt contacts.
Significantly, Saudi Arabia has also begun a media campaign in the kingdom, apparently to prepare its citizens for better relations with Israel.
In recent years, Israelis and Saudis have encountered each other often at academic and policy forums. In addition, Israel has established separate official channels of communication with Saudi Arabia, as well as with the United Arab Emirates, and these channels are considered “real and significant,” according to Daniel Levy, president of the U.S./Middle East Project.
Egypt has also been pursuing warmer ties with Israel. A week before the Saudi delegation arrived, Sameh Shoukry became the first foreign minister of Egypt to visit Israel in nine years. Although the two countries signed a peace treaty in 1979, the relationship never fulfilled its promise. However, ties have improved since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became Egypt’s president in 2014, enabling greater security cooperation against Hamas in Gaza and the militants battling Egyptian troops in the Sinai.
Where does this leave the Palestinians? Both the Saudi and Egyptian visits were ostensibly aimed at promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, who have relied on the Sunni Arab states to advance their interests. General Eshki, for instance, talked of reviving the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which promised Israel normalized relations with the Arab League countries as part of a deal to end the Palestinian conflict.
Unfortunately, neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians show interest in serious peace talks. And there are reasons to doubt that the Palestinians are the Arab countries’ real focus. Mr. Netanyahu, in fact, has made clear his preference for improving relations with the Arab states first, saying Israel would then be in a stronger position to make peace with the Palestinians later on.
Of course, improved relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors do not preclude a Palestinian peace deal. The danger is that these countries will find more value in mending ties with each other and stop there, thus allowing Palestinian grievances, a source of regional tension for decades, to continue to fester.
There's no danger there. The 'Palestinians' are an invention of the Arab states anyway.
In an interview given by Zuhair Mohsen to the Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977, Mr. Mohsen explains the origin of the 'Palestinians':
The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism.
For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.
It's long past time to acknowledge reality: There aren't going to be two states - a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of 'Palestine' living side-by-side in peace - unless the Arab state is the one known today as Jordan. The 'Palestinian grievances' can never be satisfied, and even the Arab states recognize today that they have more important things to do with Israel than try to dismember it by creating a 'right of return' for 'Palestinian refugees' who are non-citizens in weaker Arab countries like Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. There will be no 'right of return.'

The 'Palestinians' who live within Israel (including Judea and Samaria) will either learn to accept reality and economic and political conditions in the State of Israel that are far better than those anywhere in the Arab world outside of the royal families of the Gulf, or they will leave for Western countries that are willing to have them (Frau Merkel?). And Israel will eventually have relations with Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and maybe even Qatar (which today is Hamas' biggest supporter) because economic realities dictate that those relationships will happen.

And the New York Times will go off crying into the sunset. Speedily and in our times.

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Israelis in Germany spearhead anti-BDS movement

I'm about three quarters of the way through Tuvia Tenenboim's Catch the Jew, in which, among other things, he uncovers anti-Israel activity by Europeans - especially by Germans - in Israel. Because of what I have read about the Germans, I was especially pleased to read this article by Benny Weinthal about an anti-BDS group operating in Germany.
Israelis along with Germans launched the Action Forum group, which included a protest against BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activists targeting Jewish state products in front of a Berlin department store on Thursday.
The group’s goals are to counter “one-sided and wrong information” about Israel in the German media, as well as to combat BDS, Gaby Spronz, an Israeli engineer working in Germany and one of the founders of Action Forum, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday The group has 1,500 members, most of whom are in Germany, Spronz said.

Action Forum (Aktionsforum Israel) jump-started its activity with 20 activists distributing flyers against BDS at Alexander Square in front of the Galeria Kaufhof department store on Thursday.

“BDS is against Israel’s right to exist and for a Jew-free Palestine from Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea,” the Action Forum flyer read.

“They are anti-Semites who are calling for a ban of Jewish products,” activist Jan Zimmermann told the Post at the demonstration.

Zimmermann was referencing a group of roughly 20 BDS supporters who circulated flyers in front of Galeria Kaufhof calling for people to boycott the Israeli carbonated drink maker SodaStream.
SodaStream has moved its plant from Mishor Adumim to the Negev, costing over 500 'Palestinians' their jobs. But that's not enough for the BDS movement. If any of you think the Action Forum is exaggerating the threat, please consider this from an editorial in the New Jersey Jewish News (New Jersey outlawed BDS last week).
Like the World Conference Against Racism in 2001, aka Durban I, from which BDS originated, rather than fulfilling its stated goal of fighting racism, the movement itself is peddling lies and racist ideology masked as the good fight. Though supporters have been led to believe that they are advocating for the peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side, that’s not what BDS leaders appear to have in mind. By including the “Right of Return” — an often-invoked misnomer, as the language in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, established in 1948, states that Arab refugees “should” be allowed to return to their homes, not “must” — as one of their objectives, they’ve made it clear that they envision Palestinians living by themselves. Just listen to BDS founder Omar Barghouti:

“If the refugees were to return, you would not have a two-state solution. You would have a Palestine next to a Palestine,” he once said. He also wrote, “A return for refugees would end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”
The obvious conclusion: BDS is not about human rights, and Barghouti has acknowledged as much by saying the movement would continue even if the “occupation” were to end. BDS is rather a shrewd public relations strategy designed to draw intelligent, honorable individuals into the movement’s racially motivated struggle to forcibly dissolve the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, ordinary Germans are wising up to what's really behind BDS. This is from Weinthal's article:
The Action Forum equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. BDS is widely considered to be anti-Semitic in Germany among experts on modern anti-Semitism. The prominent German political scientist Samuel Salzborn said BDS is “an influential anti-Semitic campaign against Israel.”

The student council at Leipzig University approved an anti-BDS resolution in early August. The resolution states: BDS “connects seamlessly to the anti-Semitic boycott campaigns of decades past and explicitly to the National Socialism” and to “the Nazi slogan ‘Don’t buy from Jews.”’ The student council document noted: “In light of the Hamas, Hezbollah and Iranian regime’s open and relentlessly expressed threats to destroy not only Israel, but Jews worldwide, the BDS campaign presents an existential threat to the Jews.”
Having experienced anti-Semitism, ordinary Germans are probably better able to identify it than anyone else.  Too bad their government buries its head in the sand.

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ICYMI: Erdogan sends Deputy Mayor(!) to greet Biden at airport, Biden calls coup plotters 'terrorists'

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

You probably didn't hear much about Joe Biden's trip to Turkey last week. It's funny how Biden was 'humiliated' six and a half years ago when an Israeli bureaucrat announced a building permit when he was here in Israel, but apparently didn't notice who greeted him at the airport in Ankara last week. But don't worry - that didn't stop Biden from sucking up to Sultan Erdogan.
Erdogan sent a lowly deputy mayor to meet him at the airport and later said the US must arrest Gulen to stop him from giving press interviews.
Biden called the coup plotters “terrorists” and urged Kurdish forces in Syria to move away from Turkey’s borders, but he said the US must follow due process on Gulen.
“The constitution and our laws require for someone to be extradited that a court of the United States has to conclude there’s probable cause to extradite," he said.
"Thus far ... there has been no evidence presented about the coup."
The rift between Western powers and their Nato ally in the Middle East has prompted speculation that Turkey might forge a new alliance with Russia.
Erodgan met Russian leader Vladimir Putin earlier this month, while Russian propaganda has switched to highlighting irritants in EU-Turkey and US-Turkey relations.
By the way, those apartments are now being built six and a half years later. They're scheduled to be ready in 2020 (there's no infrastructure there - that comes first). Aren't double standards grand?

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Friday, August 26, 2016

The chickens of Western-backed 'Palestinian' intransigence come home to roost

The chickens created by years of Western-backed 'Palestinian' intransigence are coming home to roost.

In the 23 years since the 'Palestinian Authority' was created, we continually heard the claim that they had to be armed in order to be the only law enforcement authority in the 'Palestinian territories.' But the 'Palestinian Authority' never chose to assert control, instead allowing all kinds of lawless gangs to arm themselves and inflict terror on Israelis. Now, those armed gangs are turning their guns on the 'Palestinian Authority.' And like in Gaza in 2007, Abu Mazen is losing control.
Hours after his security officers lynched a detainee, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Palestinian businessmen living abroad to support the Palestinian economy by investing in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian Authority (PA), he asserted, was "working to provide security and safety to encourage investment."
According to Abbas, "The Palestinian territories are living in a state of security stability, which we are working to provide for residents and investors alike by enforcing the rule of law and enhancing transparency and accountability."
Funny that he never speaks that way in front of the 'international community.' And this time it's really a lie.
In his speech before the businessmen, Abbas neglected any reference to the latest wave of "security chaos" in PA-controlled areas in the West Bank, specifically Nablus, the largest Palestinian city.
Five Palestinians, including two PA police officers, were killed in the worst scenes of internecine violence to hit the West Bank in recent years. Abbas was either playing the businessmen for fools or hoping that they share his deaf and blind state.
The violence in Nablus did not come as a surprise to those who have been monitoring the situation in the West Bank in recent months.
In fact, scenes of lawlessness and "security chaos" have become part of the norm in many Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps -- a sign that the PA may be losing control to armed gangs and militias. Palestinians refer to the situation as falatan amni, or "security chaos." An article published in Gatestone in June referred to the growing instances of anarchy and lawlessness in PA-controlled areas in the West Bank, first and foremost Nablus.
The chickens of years of Western-backed 'Palestinian' intransigence and weapons supplies are coming home to roost. And the 81-year old 'Abbas' - the 'moderate' hope of the Leftist West - may not last much longer.
The Palestinian Authority is now paying the price for harboring, funding and inciting gang members and militiamen who until recently were hailed by many Palestinians as "heroes" and "resistance fighters." Unsurprisingly, most of these "outlaws" and "criminals" (as the PA describes them) are affiliated in one way or another with Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.
Nablus, the so-called Mountain of Fire, is now threatening to turn into a volcano that is set to erupt in the face of Abbas and his PA government.
The situation in Nablus the past few days raises serious questions about the ability of the PA to perform basic security measures and rein in armed gangs and militiamen.
Moreover, the unprecedented violence has further shattered Palestinian confidence in the PA and its leaders ahead of the local and municipal elections, scheduled to take place on October 8.
And guess who is stepping into the vacuum....
Hamas's dream of extending its control to the West Bank now seems more realistic than ever. Under the current circumstances, Abbas would be offering the West Bank to Hamas on a silver platter -- unless he wakes up and realizes that he made a big mistake by authorizing the local and municipal elections.
Sounds like 2006 all over again, doesn't it?

Pass the popcorn and read the whole thing

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Huma: 'Jews in America greatly aided by the American memory of the Holocaust, the use of Israel as an American 'strategic ally' in the Middle East'

A radical Muslim journal for which Huma Abedin - likely to be chief of staff in a Clinton White House - served as assistant editor, published an article during her tenure containing anti-Semitic overtones directed at American Jews.
Abedin, who is vice-chair of Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, spent 12 years as an assistant editor for Journal of Minority Muslim Affairs.
Her mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, is the journal's editor-in-chief and has been accused of espousing the views of the Muslim Brotherhood through the publication.
Huma Abedin's brother, Hassan, is an associate editor and her sister, Heba, is an assistant editor.
Huma Abedin was listed on the journal's masthead for more than a decade after she joined Clinton's team in 1996, rising from White House intern to one of the presidential nominee's closest confidantes.
One article, published during Huma Abedin's tenure, claimed that many Americans have a 'distorted and negative view' of Islam, Muslims and Arabs - ranging from perceptions of 'poverty, filth, the desert' to ideas that 'their 'sport' (other than sex, of course) is to destabilize Western economies and ruin the world in order to master it'.
The piece from 1999 also alleges that there are deep ties between the upper echelons of U.S. politics and pro-Israeli, Jewish-Americans, suggesting that Jewish people have been able to 'work the system' and are 'greatly aided by the American memory of the Holocaust' and Israel serving as America's ally in the Middle East.
The article was written by Michael W. Suleiman, a professor of Arab studies at Kansas State University who died of cancer in 2010.
'Within the US, pro-Israeli support has been strong among Jewish Americans, whereas Muslim and Arab Americans (another ethnic community) have sympathized with the Palestinians,' the article reads.
'However, Jewish Americans have had a distinct advantage over Muslims and Arabs in the US in that they are better organized, more committed, more united, and generally far better adept at working the American political system of presidential democracy.
'In this they have been greatly aided by the American memory of the Holocaust, the use of Israel as an American 'strategic ally' in the Middle East, as well as by the active missionary zeal and political support of Christian Zionists.'
The article goes on to say that while other minority groups in the U.S. have made great progress in equality, 'it seems that the only people that continue to be presented negatively and maligned with impunity are the Muslims/Arabs'.
But American Jews will vote overwhelmingly for Clinton anyway, because Trump is anti-abortion anti-immigration a Republican.

Read the whole thing.

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Hillel's anti-Israel educators

I'm now back in Israel, thank God.

I thought Hillel Director Eric Fingerhut was turning Hillel into a pro-Israel organization. Apparently he has not succeeded (assuming he tried). Here's a petition at Change.org calling for the dismissal of North Carolina Hillel director rabbi Jenny Solomon, for running a tour to Hebron with the viciously anti-Israel Breaking the Silence. Here's the petition.
On July 4, 2016, Rabbi Jenny Solomon co-led a trip to Hebron led by Breaking the Silence, a group that is closely associated with BDS (boycott, divest, and sanction Israel) organizations, harasses Israeli soldiers, and spreads hearsay accusations that demonize Israel that would be inadmissible in a court of law.
Rabbi Solomon and the Truah organization invited college groups to join the trip.
Who is Rabbi Jenny Solomon? She is the Senior Jewish Educator for NC Hillel.
In the 2015-2016, anti-Semitic attacks on campuses doubled. These attacks are directly correlated with the presence of BDS groups on campus.
This is NOT the time for Hillel to be hiring educators, rabbis, or directors with afiliation to the BDS movement.
URGE Hillel to remove employees like Rabbi Jenny Solomon with BDS associations.
URGE Hillel to vet all future hires to prevent Hillel from giving voice to those who would promote anti-Semitism by demonizing, delegitimizing, and applying a double standard to Israel.
Please SIGN and SHARE this petition.
If Rabbi Jenny's name sounds familiar, perhaps it's because she's the spouse of Rabbi Eric (Rabbi and Rabbi Solomon? Rabbi and Rabba Solomon? Rabbis Solomon?), who was recently forced by his congregation to drop a plan to take them on an anti-Israel tour run by Breaking the Silence.

For those of you who have forgotten 'Breaking the Silence,' they are an organization that claims to be dedicated to exposing IDF abuses of 'Palestinians' in Judea and Samaria. They are funded by European governments, by the European Union (which awarded them the prestigious Andrei Sakharov prize) and by private American citizens (as well as by UNICEF and OxFam). 'Breaking the Silence' interviews discharged IDF soldiers and debriefs them regarding their IDF service. Or so they claim. It now seems that they do a lot more.

And in case you were wondering, of course George Soros funds Breaking the Silence. Eli Lake disclosed that last week.
The 2013 document describes the "toxic atmosphere" in 2000 and 2001 when the foundation began its work in the Middle East, and how this environment could lead to "politically motivated investigations" from either the Bush administration or what it calls "pro-Israel entities." Soros himself was worried about George W. Bush. In 2006, he said the president's communications strategy reminded him of Nazi and Communist propaganda. Hence his foundations took a "cautious approach."
"For a variety of reasons we wanted to construct a diversified portfolio of grants dealing with Israel and Palestine, funding both Israeli Jewish and (Palestinian Citizens of Israel) groups as well as building a portfolio of Palestinian grants and in all cases to maintain a low profile and relative distance –particularly on the advocacy front," the 2013 paper says.
Some of this was known before. I reported in 2010 that the liberal Jewish group J Street had received Soros money but had denied receiving it to the press and on its website. In 2013, the pro-Israel group NGO Monitor issued a report on Soros funding for Israeli and Palestinian activists covered in the documents released this week.
Still, let's take a minute here to savor the irony. An outfit that promotes the "open society" is shielding its efforts to influence public policy. It's true that plenty of foundations take a similar sub rosa approach to funding advocacy work in Washington.
But those foundations are not named for Karl Popper's famous defense of liberal democracies. It's enough to make you wish there was a new Open Society Foundations to expose the old one.
The group that leaked these documents is mysterious. It's called DCLeaks.com, and it says it's a project of "hacktivists" committed to many of the same principles espoused by Popper and Soros.
Rebecca Beyer, a communications officer for Open Society, confirmed to me Monday that documents were removed from an online forum used by the staff of the foundation and its partners. She said the breach was reported to the FBI. "The materials reflect big-picture strategies over several years from the Open Society Foundations network, which supports human rights, democratic practice, economic advancement, and the rule of law in more than 100 countries around the world."
When it comes to Israel, that translates into funding organizations like Breaking the Silence, a group of Israeli ex-soldiers who tour Europe and the U.S. to discuss the Israel Defense Force's war crimes. The document says that between 2012 and 2014, the Open Society Foundations gave this group $100,000 -- a significant donation for a group that in 2012 had a budget of only $841,410.
Emphasis mine. I wonder whether Soros also contributes to Rabbi and Rabba Solomon's salaries. Hmmm.

Time for Hillel to clean house. 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

That very special brand of UK anti-Semitism

Can you imagine something like this happening at any sporting event in the United States? (The only country in which I attend sporting events).

Welcome to Scotland where Celtic - one of the local soccer teams and NOT related to my beloved Boston Celtics - has just been fined by UEFA, the European soccer governing body for the eighth time in the last five seasons for their fans' insistence on showing their love for the 'Palestinians,' especially at games involving Israeli teams (this one was against HaPoel Beer Sheva). The fans' response has been to raise more than the amount of the fine (£136,000) through GoFundMe in just two days.
The fans waved more than a 100 Palestinian flags at the match last week in spite of prior warnings, breaching UEFA rules on political statements at matches.

The online 'gofundme' fundraising page was launched shortly after the charge from UEFA and shared via social media as #MatchTheFineForPalestine.

UEFA considers the Palestinian flag an "illicit banner" and according to the group's rules and regulations, bans all messages that are of a "political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature."

According to the BBC, the club has been penalized at least eight times in the past five seasons for fan misconduct.

The Celtic group affiliates itself with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which it hails as “inspiring and unstoppable.”

According to the Facebook page which organized the protest, an Israeli soccer team should not be allowed to participate in the soccer competition “due to the system of apartheid laws and practices including religious- and ethnic-based colonization, military occupation and segregation of what remains of Palestinian land and over 90 laws which discriminate against indigenous Palestinians who make up 20 percent of the population of current-day Israel.”

The soccer club is due to present their case at a disciplinary hearing on the 22nd of September.
What do soccer fans (who from what I hear from friends in the UK often come to games drunk out of their minds) care about the 'Palestinians'? It's not about the 'Palestinians.' It's about hating the Jews. 

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The Manchurian money transfer

Greetings from Paris. I'm on my way home.

The Obama administration is stonewalling a Congressional inquiry that's looking into how the 'other $1.3 billion' in ransom money got paid over to Iran.
The Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice have all rebuffed a congressional probe into the circumstances surrounding the $1.3 billion payment to Iran, which is part of an additional $400 million cash payout that occurred just prior to the release of several U.S. hostages and led to accusations that the administration had paid Iran a ransom.
The Obama administration has admitted in recent days that the $400 million cash delivery to Iran was part of an effort to secure the release of these American hostages, raising further questions on Capitol Hill about White House efforts to suppress these details from the public.
The administration is also withholding key details about the payment from leading members of Congress, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Mike Lee (R., Utah), who launched an inquiry into the matter earlier this month.
The Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice all failed to respond to the inquiry by Monday’s deadline, according to congressional sources tracking the matter.
“The already bizarre circumstances surrounding the $1.7 billion payment to the Islamic Republic have only gotten stranger in the weeks since we learned of the $400 million in cash that was sent to the Iranian regime last January 16th,” Cruz said to the Free Beacon. “If this payment was, as the Obama administration insists, a straightforward settlement of an old debt that it would have cost America more to contest, why all the secrecy?”
The State Department said it does not know how the remaining $1.3 billion was transferred or to whom it was transferred. Cruz described this disclosure as “confounding.”
“While we are deeply concerned about the national security implications of the administration’s cash-for-hostages scheme, especially in light of reports that Iran has already arrested additional Americans, the purpose of this letter is to inquire about the legality of the payment,” the senators wrote in an Aug. 12 letter.
“It is imperative that the administration provide a full accounting of its conduct with respect to the $400 million cash payment to Iran,” they wrote. “If the administration violated the law, then Congress and the American people should be made aware of it so that they can hold the appropriate officials accountable and take whatever steps necessary to strengthen the law and prevent any reoccurrence.”
While the administration has remained silent about the circumstances surrounding the payment, investigative reporter Claudia Rosett recently disclosed that the Treasury Department transferred just under $1.3 billion to the State Department in 13 “large identical sums.”
The funds, allocated for “foreign claims,” could shine a light on how the administration moved taxpayer funds into the State Department’s purview in order to provide the additional payment to Iran.
In 13 individual payments of $99,999,999.99, the Treasury Department moved a total of 1,299,999,999.87, which roughly amounts to the remaining money owed to Iran.
All of this reminds me of some of the other mysteries of the Manchurian candidate Barack Hussein Obama. His birth certificate. His college transcript. Obamacare's 'after we pass the bill, you can read the bill.' The 'secret negotiations' (and the doctoring of a State Department press briefing about them) and secret agreements with Iran. There's a pattern here and it's not a pretty one. It's a pattern of dishonesty. And it's a pattern that's being continued by Hillary Clinton.

When will it end?

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

'Palestinian police' beat police shooter to death

Today is a travel day - but I'm not traveling until this evening.

The 'Palestinian police' beat to death Ahmad Izz Halaweh, a 'Palestinian' who was arrested for being involved in shooting two 'Palestinian police' to death in Shchem (Nablus). It goes without saying that Hamas is claiming that Halaweh's death constitutes a 'new height' of 'collaboration with Israel' as if Israel cares about an inter-'Palestinian' fight in a 'Palestinian' city.
Ahmad Izz Halaweh, the main suspect in a shooting by several gunmen last week which left two Palestinian policemen dead, was arrested during predawn raids in the Old City of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank on Tuesday and taken to the Juneid security compound, where he was attacked and severely beaten by security officers.
Governor of Nablus Akram Rujoub later pronounced him dead. 
A graphic photo shared on social media of Halaweh after the brutal attack showed his face, neck, and shoulders badly bruised and swollen.
Halaweh, reportedly the most prominent Nablus-area leader of Fatah's military wing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was the third civilian to be killed by Palestinian security officers following Thursday’s shooting. 
Huh? A leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is a 'civilian'?
Shortly after Halaweh’s killing, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah announced that a special committee would be formed to look into Halaweh’s death and publicly share the results of the investigation, calling the situation “exceptional.”
Good luck with that.... 
Hamdallah also called on Palestinians wanted by Palestinian police to turn themselves in.
Yes, 'turn yourselves in or we will kill you. But just give them a 'state' and they'll stop behaving this way. Right....

Meanwhile, while you're passing the popcorn, here comes the United Nations....
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, James Heenan, the head of the UN Human Rights Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said the UN agency was “extremely concerned about the apparent extrajudicial execution."
"We welcome the prompt announcement of an investigation into the killing by Prime Minister Hamdallah, and urge the Palestinian authorities to hold independent investigations into the string of events since last week that have now seen five people lose their lives." Heenan insisted that the security officers involved in the “unlawful killings” be "brought to justice and be suspended, pending the completion of the investigation."  
“There is no place for such acts in a State of Palestine that seeks to abide by international human rights law," Heenan said, concluding that "Our Office will follow this case closely.”
State of what? Good luck with that too....

There's lots more - read the whole thing.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Donald Trump video every Jew must watch

Ezra Levant debunks the 'Trump as anti-Semite' meme.

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Zvi S).

I won't go to the halachic (Jewish law) implications of Trump's kids all marrying or dating Jews, but the point that Trump doesn't hate Jews seems well-taken.

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Friday, the rabbi canceled his trip

The rabbi of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, North Carolina announced on Friday that the trip to Arafat's tomb is off.
On Friday, August 19, 2016, 10:15 AM, Beth Meyer Synagogue wrote:
August 19, 2016 
Shalom Beth Meyer Family, 
I write to you with a very heavy heart. 
The past few weeks have been extraordinarily painful for me, Rabbi Jenny, our congregation's leaders, and many in the Beth Meyer family and extended Jewish community. This letter - which admittedly is quite lengthy - is designed to provide a detailed explanation of how this situation came about and how I have chosen to resolve it. 
During my time at Beth Meyer, I have led four "pilgrimage" trips to Israel that visited many of the historic and spiritually-rich sites that lift the soul and build one's love for and connection to the State of Israel. These tours included stops at sites that illustrate the threats and precarious security issues Israel faces on a daily basis. I will continue to offer such tours in the future.  
A few months ago, I invited Beth Meyer members to participate in a trip to Israel and the West Bank under the auspices of MEJDI Tours, a company that provides customized educational tours in regions worldwide suffering from conflict. In this case, the tour was to be a "dual-narrative" tour with both Israeli and Palestinian tour guides that would visit Israel and the West Bank. 
This process began some two years ago when I first heard of MEJDI Tours and began to look into the organization. I learned that MEJDI, in the past, has partnered with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Israeli educational institutions and numerous American synagogues. In addition, MEJDI has been featured in a range of respected media outlets, including  Haaretz, Forbes and National Geographic Explorer.  
After thoroughly researching MEJDI's credentials with rabbis and Jewish leaders across the U.S. and Israel, I was comfortable that MEJDI was, in fact, a non-partisan tour operator that offers individuals unique immersive experiences to learn about complex issues first-hand. MEJDI does not preach or support any specific agenda or form of hate, violence or terror. Rather, it is an apolitical organization that believes increased education and understanding can help build bridges across cultures and stimulate peace. 
While studying in Israel in the summer of 2015, I took the opportunity to tour the West Bank in a group that had with it a Palestinian MEJDI guide. It was, to say the least, a profound (and often surprising) experience that allowed me to hear perspectives few of us ever hear. For example, the guide was highly critical of the Palestinian Authority and its leaders, both past and present. He condemned violence by Palestinians and emphasized that he "despises Hamas." When I asked challenging questions, his responses recognized weaknesses in Palestinian positions. Moreover, he mocked the backwardness of the Arab world, as well as its lack of support for human rights and democracy. And, while he did criticize a number of Israeli government policies, his words were balanced, thoughtful and nuanced.  
After reviewing this idea with Beth Meyer's leaders and securing their approval, I invited the Beth Meyer family to participate in a MEJDI tour next spring. I wholeheartedly believed I was helping to provide a rare opportunity for seasoned Israel travelers to learn about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a broader, deeper way. With expert guides who would be both supportive and critical of their own government's policies, I hoped participants would gain new insights and hear from peace-makers working on the ground to make a difference. I thought, perhaps naively, that this MEJDI tour would offer a different kind of experience for Zionist, Israel-loving Jews who want to explore the many intricacies of this terrible conflict.  
For some in the congregation, there was immediate interest in participating and many quickly submitted their deposits. For others, there was no interest at all. Some congregants asked thoughtful questions, and others criticized my attempt to organize such a trip due to their belief that the itinerary was unbalanced. And there were some who expressed serious concerns about the potential damage the tour could cause the Beth Meyer community and the image of the State of Israel. 
While my intentions were pure, my heart broke as I listened to the pain my actions had caused some congregants. I listened carefully to this feedback and discussed what I heard with Rabbi Jenny and synagogue leaders. 
After deep reflection and soul-searching, I have decided to cancel the trip. To anyone who feels confused, hurt or upset on account of my actions, I sincerely apologize and ask your forgiveness. 
Please know my decision was not made because I don't believe in the tour's value - I do. Nor was it made because a handful of individuals outside of our holy congregation - none of whom have ever talked or met with me - spread inaccurate and misleading information about Rabbi Jenny and me that spawned threats of personal violence. In this season of Tisha B'Av when we remember the many tragedies of our people, personally experiencing this kind of sinat hinam (baseless hatred) was especially painful. 
Rather, I made this decision because I deeply love Beth Meyer and what we, as a family, have built these past 11+ years. And I want to emphasize that my love embraces each and every one of you, regardless of where you land on the spiritual, social or political spectra. I am touched that so many congregants pleaded with me to move forward as planned, but I cannot - and will not - do anything that jeopardizes the integrity of the Beth Meyer family. 
I want to thank everyone who has shared their thoughts with me about this issue. Most particularly, I want to acknowledge the input and guidance I received from our President Eric Lamb, the Beth Meyer Synagogue Executive Board, lay leaders and, of course, my wife and partner, Jenny.  
Just as the Torah teaches that God created the world with immense variety, so too my vision of our congregation is one where we accept and celebrate both the common bonds and differences among us. Civil discussion, respectful debate and honoring diverse opinions are Jewish values that our people have embraced for millennia. They are the values that form the foundation of my rabbinate, and they are the values that make Beth Meyer such a welcoming community. 
When appropriate and rooted in Jewish values, I will continue to take public positions on issues where I believe my contribution can be constructive. I want to stress, however, that I do not and never will expect to have consensus across our membership on any issue, least of all, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (In fact, if all I heard was a unanimous "Amen," I would think something was wrong. It wouldn't be Jewish, and it wouldn't be the Beth Meyer that I cherish!) 
At some point in the future, perhaps, our congregation may again consider an educational initiative such as a MEJDI tour. But that would happen only after there has been ample opportunity for all interested members to learn about the opportunity and discuss it thoroughly with input from a broad cross-section of our members. 
In that spirit, I invite anyone who has questions about this situation or would like to share any other concerns to contact me via e-mail (rabbi@bethmeyer.org ) or phone (919.848.1420). I will be delighted to sit down and hear your thoughts and ideas. 
This episode, though challenging, has been a valuable learning experience for all of us. I pray that we use it to deepen the bonds we share and inspire us to continue nurturing the Beth Meyer family and strengthening our commitment to and love of God, the Torah, the Jewish people, the State of Israel and one another. 
At this moment, perhaps more than ever, I thank God and each of you for the privilege of serving as Beth Meyer's rabbi. Rabbi Jenny and I, along with our entire family, look forward to welcoming the New Year with our holy, hamish (warm) congregation at the High Holy Days. 
B'ahavah (With love),
Rabbi Eric Solomon
Something tells me there may still be a trip in the future....

The problem with trying to 'understand the other' is that it only works if it's a two-way street. In Israel, much of our population spent 1993-2000 trying to 'understand the other.' Unfortunately, it was never a two-way street (and we suffered plenty of terror attacks during that period) and it ended in a full-blown intifadeh that left hundreds of Israelis dead, wounded, widowed and orphaned.

The 'conflict' is insoluble because only one side is interested in a solution. Most Israelis now have had enough pain inflicted on them that they get that. I hope the rest of world Jewry comes around without suffering all the pain that we suffered.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Oh my... US moving nukes from Turkey to Romania

A report on a Belgian website claims that the United States is in the process of moving some 20+ nuclear weapons from the Incirlik base in Turkey to Romania.
EXCLUSIVE/ Two independent sources told EurActiv.com that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, against the background of worsening relations between Washington and Ankara.
According to one of the sources, the transfer has been very challenging in technical and political terms.
“It’s not easy to move 20+ nukes,” said the source, on conditions of anonymity.
According to a recent report by the Simson Center, since the Cold War, some 50 US tactical nuclear weapons have been stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, approximately 100 kilometres from the Syrian border.
During the failed coup in Turkey in July, Incirlik’s power was cut, and the Turkish government prohibited US aircraft from flying in or out. Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup. Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question, the report says.
Another source told EurActiv.com that the US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons. The American weapons are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania, the source said.
Deveselu, near the city of Caracal, is the new home of the US missile shield, which has infuriated Russia.
The Romanians are denying the story. And of course, no one else is confirming it.
According to practice dating from the Cold War, leaked information regarding the presence of US nuclear weapons on European soil has never been officially confirmed. It is, however, public knowledge that Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy host US nuclear weapons.
From Israel's perspective, anything that gets nuclear weapons away from Turkey is good for the Jews. 

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