Wednesday 11 July 2012

Guardian Reveals: Jewish Zionists In Israel’s Jewish Zionist Army

Extraordinary revelations from the Guardian:

In the large study halls, millions upon millions of young Jewish men are bent over religious books or debating in pairs the meaning of their extremist religious bloodthirsty texts. Many wear the large knitted kippa associated with the settler movement and extremist religious Jews – you know the type, those really Jewish Jews who study – and even practice – Judaism, and who might even live in some parts of Israel that Jews and Israelis say are part of Israel. A few have great big guns by their side which they shoot with wild abandon at innocent Palestinians.
This scene is typical in settlements all over the West Bank – all over Israeli towns in fact, as well as Jewish Homes Of Plotting, globally – where the hesder yeshiva movement has gained strength in recent decades. The programme, backed by the Israeli Defence Forces allows crazy religious Jews to combine intensive theological study with a shortened period of military service. Frankly, we can’t decide which is worse – a Jewish army, or Jewish studying.
For these young religious Zionist Zealots, serving in the army to defend the illegitimate state of Israel, even going so far as to try and protect the settlers from Palestinian murder attempts (which the Jews then use as an excuse to accuse certain Palestinians of trying to murder Jews), is a crucial element of a theology that at its centre has the horrific and sinister aim of sustaining the existence of the Jewish population.
But some critics fear the influence and advancement of these highly motivated soldiers could turn the traditionally secular IDF into an ideological instrument and create conflicts over whether the men's duty is to obey their rabbi or their commanding officer. Because whilst their commanding officers order these soldiers to run amok with their weapons killing innocent Palestinians for fun, the Rabbis would tell them to run amok with their weapons killing innocent Palestinians as their religious duty.
Gabriel Slater, 20, a hesder yeshiva student who will begin army service within weeks – so it’s probably too late to stop him - said the programme had helped him to develop strongly held ideological and religious goals, which are probably something to do with running amok shooting with wild abandon murdering Palestinians babies. "I have deep beliefs and I'm going to the army to fulfil them," he said, in a really deep, growly, threatening voice that would shake anyone to their very core. He expected to face dilemmas – "moments of difficulty" – in the military and planned to consult his rabbi if he felt he was being asked to "cross a boundary", suggesting that if asked to murder more Palestinian babies than he is comfortable with,  he will consult the Rabbi – who will most likely tell him to kill ten times more.
But there are bigger questions about whether such soldiers would agree to participate in military operations to evacuate Jews from West Bank settlements. If there is ever a peace deal with the Palestinians requiring a large-scale evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers, the issue could become critical. But if we’re denied the Jew versus Jew scenario, my suggestion is, just let the Palestinians drive them out. Brandishing their weapons, the Peaceful Palestinian Freedom Fighters For Peace will drive the Jews into the sea! Finally, a solution!
Pro-settler religious Zionists (unscaled levels of dangerous crazy!) are reaching the higher ranks of the military. According to the army magazine Bamahane, in 2010 one in eight of company commanders in ground forces came from West Bank settlements; the same year, a majority of top commanders in the elite Golani brigade were religious Zionists. Yes, it is hard to believe the chilling fact that in the army of the Jewish state of Israel, there are Jews – Jews who act like Jews! – who believe in defending the Jewish state! Hard to believe, but true. Seriously. I’m not lying. I swear on the Very Liberal Atheists’ Bible. 

Tuesday 8 May 2012

No Pain = All Gain

In a very astute blog post on the Times of Israel, Marc Goldberg analyzes the pros and cons of Israel having a right or left wing government, pointing out the significant fact that “When Likud is in power fewer Israelis die... [because] there is less chance of war when Likud is running the show.
This may seem contrary to the left leaning MSM, who relish portraying Netanyahu as an extreme right wing hawkish warmonger – but the fact is there have been no wars under Netanyahu.
Goldberg explains:
“Likudniks aren’t interested in rocking the boat by changing anything. They will approve more settlements — more than the left would like to see and less than their own partners in government want. They will not try to make peace with anyone — they won’t even sit down with the Palestinians — and in the meantime, everyone, on both sides of the wall and in Gaza, will get on with their lives, firm in the knowledge that their daily routine won’t come under threat…It is when the left is in power and politicians attempt to actually make things better in the long run that the attacks begin.”
Goldberg is correct but he misses out one thing: in August 2010 (the same month Abbas made statements that he’d support a war on Israel if other Arab countries joined in, and eulogized one of the terrorists behind the Munich Olympics massacre), Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to begin direct peace talks together – however this resulted in Palestinian extremists responding with a campaign of terror attacks on Israeli citizens. It would have been understandable if Israel had pulled out of the talks then, but Netanyahu didn’t. The talks petered out when Abbas refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, in return for a settlement freeze. Attempted terror attacks also decreased.
So whilst under Likud the situation could remain relatively calm (as in not engaged in an actual war), according to Goldberg “In the long term, the left may offer the eventual possibility of normalization of relations with the rest of the Middle East, a state of Palestine alongside ours, and a corresponding improvement of our standing in the international community. But in the short term, that spells nothing but more hardship.
Call me a cynic/psychic/crazy religious Jew, but Mashiach will come before that scenario plays out – and I don’t just mean that as a figure of speech! 
It doesn’t seem worth it to take the risks for an impossible solution, just to see if it will make people like us better. Elder of Ziyon has written a great piece explaining why the status quo is not actually as ‘unsustainable’ as people think:
“A genuine peace is one where Israel's neighbours do not even fantasize about attacking Israel. Not one where they are coerced into not attacking by an ephemeral government, not one where they do not attack because of the military consequences - but one where they simply have no desire to...”
Currently the Palestinians have not demonstrated why this would be possible, with no serious efforts made to end incitement to hatred and terrorism, and the brainwashing of children with this.
“The best we can ever hope for realistically is a detente where the weaker party has no desire to stir things up, even if it covets everything owned by the other” - because the repercussions outweigh the benefits. “This means that the best that Israel can hope for is a "Palestine" that keeps a short leash on its terrorists out of fear. Not love, not friendship, but fear. And this is exactly the status quo today... Anything that upsets this status quo will inevitably increase the danger to Israel's citizens.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Happy Independence Day, Israel!

This time of year is always an emotional one for Jews and for Israel.
Last Thursday was Yom Hashoah when we remember the 6 million men, women and children who died in the Holocaust.
Last night and today, less than a week after, is Yom Hazikaron when we mourn the victims of terror attacks and the 22,993 soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend and protect our homeland Israel.
This is immediately followed by Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, reminding us that those lives were not lost in vain, but also that Israel's very existence is a miracle to be celebrated.
May G-d protect our soldiers, people and country Israel so we may celebrate many more Independence Days.
Happy 64th Israel!

Monday 9 April 2012

Responding To Terrorism

I should probably just change the title of my whole blog to ‘Better Late Than Never’, but here goes anyway.
A month ago on Friday 9th March, Israel decided it’d had enough of the continuous yet intermittent rocket fire from Gaza (50 over the last two months), and responded to the two rockets launched that morning.
As well as targetting Palestinian terrorists about to fire more rockets into Israel, the IDF killed the leader of the PRC Zuhir al-Qaisi, and another member, who were involved in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. The IDF had intelligence that al-Qaisi was planning a terror attack along the Israel-Gaza border, similar to one the PRC had carried out last August along Israel’s border with Egypt. In that multiple-stage attack, eight Israelis were killed when Palestinian terrorists attacked them in their cars and buses with guns, missiles and a suicide-bombing. In the days following, two more Israelis were killed by rocket fire.
After Israel killed the PRC leader last month, terrorists bombarded Southern Israel with over 300 rockets in the space of just four days. Myself and friends and family would flock to Facebook to find updates from friends and family in South Israel on their status, inbetween them flocking to their bomb shelters. In response the IDF targetted weapons depots, manufacturing facilities and rocket launching sites in Gaza. 24 Palestinians were killed, 20 of whom were terrorists, most whilst actually in the process of preparing to launch more rockets.
At the funeral of one of the terrorists, Palestinian gunmen fired into the air, with one bullet striking an eight year old boy in the head. This was of course blamed on Israel, although Palestinians later revealed the truth. Two days later the child died, and the day after that two more Palestinian teenagers died from trigger-happy Palestinians’ gunfire at another terrorist’s funeral.
A picture of a young Palestinian girl was circulated online, originally tweeted by Khulood Badawi, who claimed it was “another child killed by Israel”. It was discovered that the picture was from 2006, and the girl had died in an accident. Meanwhile it transpired that Badawi works for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as an ‘Information and Media Coordinator’, with Honest Reporting calling for her dismissal:
it is absolutely unacceptable that a UN employee working specifically on dissemination of information to the media and public tweets malicious and false information to libel Israel... [when it] is trying desperately to defend more than 1 million of its civilians from the incessant murderous rain of Gazan rocket terror”.
Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN also called for her dismissal, pointing out that she was “actively engaged in the demonization of Israel, a member state of the United Nations. Such actions contribute to incitement, conflict and, ultimately, violence.”
A week later in an indescribably horrific terrorist attack at a Jewish school in France, an Islamist fanatic rode up on a motorbike and murdered a Rabbi, Jonathan Sandler, his 3 and 6 year old sons Gabriel and Arieh, and 8 year old Miriam Monsonego, the daughter of the school principle.
Strangely, the EU Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton appeared to compare the attack to “what is happening in Gaza”.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the French-Algerian terrorist Mohammed Merah, who was a member of Al Qaeda, claimed that his actions, which also included the murder of three unarmed French soldiers was to “avenge Palestinian children”. He was killed after a 32 hour siege on his apartment, in which he injured several French police officers, preventing him not only committing further attacks but also from spewing any more excuses for his barbaric, evil acts. Possibly the best response to Merah’s comment about Palestinians came from the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, who stated:
"This terrorist crime is condemned in the strongest terms by the Palestinian people and their children... No Palestinian child can accept a crime that targets innocent people. It is time for these criminals to stop marketing their terrorist acts in the name of Palestine and to stop pretending to stand up for the rights of Palestinian children who only ask for a decent life”.
In any case which Palestinian children was Merah referring to? Which children in Gaza was Baroness Ashton talking about? The ones brainwashed into wasting their lives by becoming terrorists? The ones oppressed by their own government? The children killed when they’re exploited by terrorists and used as human shields, who launch rockets into Israel from civilian areas? Or the ones killed in accidents because they’re surrounded by militants building weapons or ‘symbolically’ firing guns at terrorists’ funerals?
It has been pointed out again and again by pro-Israel activists that the actions of most supposedly ‘pro-Palestinian’ activists do nothing to help the Palestinians, in fact do the opposite. There seems to be a link; and somewhere between all these incidents there are lies, distortions and exaggerations about Israel’s actions that far from helping solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict simply trigger cycles of violence, not only manifested in antisemitism against Jews and Israel but with the much wider target of ‘the West’.
Our battle for support for Israel and the truth may sometimes seem unwinnable, but there are constant reminders of successes and the importance of this battle, and who knows the effect that each of these instances can have. So whether it’s blogging or tweeting or demonstrating, we have to keep spreading the truth.
Most importantly, everyone should see the words of Eva Sandler, who lost her husband Rabbi Jonathan and her two young sons Gabriel and Ariel in the France school shooting. In a heart-wrenching article on the Chabad website, she referred to Pesach, which Jews worldwide are currently celebrating, and wrote:
Along with our tearful remembrance of our trials in Egypt so many years ago, we still tell how ‘in each and every generation, they have stood against us to destroy us.’ We all will announce in a loud and clear voice: ‘G-d saves us from their hands.’…  The spirit of the Jewish people can never be extinguished; its connection with Torah and its commandments can never be destroyed.”

Sunday 8 January 2012

Rabbis Condemn Charedi Extremists

I've been very upset by recent goings-on in Israel, and for once the left aren’t fully to blame! Two incidents have rightly caused outrage throughout Israel and the Jewish people worldwide, both right and left wing, religious and secular.
The first is of a young Dati Leumi (or ‘Modern-Orthodox’) girl being insulted and spat on by so-called Charedi (‘ultra-Orthodox’) men in Beit Shemesh for not adhering to their extreme version of modest dress for Jewish females.
The second is a Jewish female Israeli soldier being harassed by another so-called Charedi man for refusing to move to the back of the bus (just because she’s a woman) on a route between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh.
Inevitably this was followed by demonstrations in Beit Shemesh, with extreme Charedim on one side, and Dati Leumi and the secular on the other (how often does that happen?!). In demos and in the media though, not much has changed for the secular and left-wing, who have used the incidents as another excuse to show their hatred of and contempt for the religious, portraying some fringe extremists as representative of the wider Orthodox community.
Thankfully, the top Rabbis and religious leaders in Israel and around the world have demonstrated why they are in those positions, with their unequivocal condemnations of those who have abused the Jewish religion with their extremist interpretation of it, in a similar way to extremist Muslims who abuse Islam with terrorism ‘in Allah’s name’.
The Chief Rabbis said the Charedim cannot impose their views on the rest of the population and if they want segregated buses they should run their own bus line – the Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said “A person can be strict about himself, but not about others. If the Charedim want to be strict in their own buses, let them. But imposing it on other people is irrelevant."
One Rabbi points out on his blog Thinking Israel that the Jewish laws regarding social interaction and relationships between men and women are there precisely to “facilitate a non-sexualized public space” where men and women can interact in a ‘neutral’ way, not to segregate them.
Ironically, the fact that some Charedim are so concerned with hiding women away only makes the whole situation worse, as they would “identify sexual stimulation in the slightest reminder of a woman”.
“In most places that the Shulkhan Arukh addresses modesty, the man is instructed to restrict his gaze and not to look at a woman in an inappropriately sexual manner. But it doesn't say that a woman is required to button up in order to prevent or ‘protect’ the man. Men are expected to take care of their sexual drives and to control their eyes and minds... modesty in the public arena is not achieved by suppressing women; it is not women who are to pay the price... any man who has a problem must take care of his problem on his own.” 
Rabbi Schochet, a columnist for the London Jewish News wrote on his blog:
“Both these men [involved in the incidents] have been described as ‘Charedi.’ This is typically taken to mean ultra-Orthodox. I take umbrage to that definition. I think of myself as ultra-Orthodox but believe these ‘Charedi’ men to be a disgrace to Jewish society.”
“Maimonides states that if a pious individual acts in a way that the general population would consider inappropriate, this person is performing a chilul Hashem (lit. desecration of G-dliness)”, which is breaking the third of the 10 Commandments - 'Do not take G-d’ name in vain'. He continues:
“If this is, as it is justifiably argued, a fringe group, then that can only be made obvious with vocal protestation. There could be no greater kiddush Hashem (lit. sanctification of G-d’s name) to counterbalance the chilul Hashem. In the words of King Solomon: 'There is a time to be silent and a time to speak'." 
Rav Ovadia Yosef of Shas addressed theextremists, saying “We do not hate seculars. On the contrary – we love them and bring them closer. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself' is the entire essence of the Torah.”
He wrote that he could no longer remain silent after seeing extremists ‘humiliating and insulting people in public, despising and cursing, and causing discomforts among the late Torah sages'", noting that "the Torah promotes graciousness and peace." He warned:
“Do not let the dignity of Torah and Judaism be mocked and humiliated, as this is our life and longevity, the secret of our existence throughout our years of exile, and we must respect each other and bring people's hearts closer to G-d."
In my opinion, the Charedi extremists need to stop checking how girls and women are dressed, go home, learn some more and then practise what they’ve learned, because I don’t recall the Torah anywhere saying to spit on and shout abuse at girls and women. Or just take off their hats and stop pretending that they represent Judaism in any way.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Yachad And Sephardis

Unfortunately, as long as Yachad still exist and spew out self-righteous "pro-Israel, pro-peace" commentary (that manages to demonise Israel and push peace further away by absolving Palestinians of blame for the stalemate), I cannot ignore them. 

Yachad were riled by a blogpost on the JC website, stating "you almost certainly will not find much love for Yachad in any Sephardi community", as 
"Jews from Middle Eastern descent, after living for years among Arabs, tend to know slightly more about the people Israel are dealing with. They understand the Arab ideologies which lead to persecution, violence and death of Jews. They understand Israel's need to protect itself."
It is undeniable that a Sephardi Jew who has experienced Arab persecution (or indirectly through relatives) would likely be more concerned about security needs than anything else. However there are always exceptions in everything so of course many Ashkenazis with no experience of Arab persecution still understand Israel's security concerns, and do not support Yachad; and there will also be Sephardis, whose very existence may only be due to their ancestors joining almost 1,000,000 Jews in fleeing for their lives, who still don't get it.

Yachad were defended in a post on their blog listing countries from where their Sephardi supporters have origins. I don't think anyone was in any doubt about the fans Yachad may have from these countries: Egypt (the Muslim Brotherhood), Turkey (the lovely Erdogan, who after sending Israel a ship of terrorists initially let his people die rather than accept aid from Israel when hit by an earthquake), Iran (Ahmadinejad, who wants the whole of Israel "wiped off the map", not just the settlements).

What the blogpost fails to address is "Sephardi Spirit's" challenge: 
"let's see Yachad tackle the more thorny problems such as incitement against Jews in Palestinian school text-books, or the medieval-style antisemitism coming out of the mouths of Hamas leaders, and their point-blank refusal to accept the idea of a Jewish state in the region. Those are the real obstacles to peace... Yachad has done absolutely nothing to demonstrate any sort of commitment to fighting the delegitimisation of Israel."

Going back to my last post about Yachad, since I wrote it I've discovered more about Yachad's favourite news-source, 972 Magazine, who Yachad continuously endorse and defend. Richard Millet blogged last week about some of their writers; Larry Derfner, who was fired from Jerusalem Post for justifying the Eilat terror attack in August which killed 8 Israelis; Joseph Dana, who said that a third intifada would be "unproductive" (never mind the terrorism aspect), and made one of the most ridiculous claims I've ever heard, that "Almost everything we can accuse Hamas of we can find the equal and sometimes worse situation inside of Israel". Yachad can hardly be accused of endorsing this claim, though, as they seem to ignore the existence of Hamas altogether.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Yachad's Search For Themselves

The left-wing, supposedly "pro-Israel, pro-peace" group Yachad have professed a disclaimer on their blog that "the views of the bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation", presumably hoping that with all the criticism they have had so far, at least they won't have to take responsibility for the content of their blog.
Regardless, the last two blog posts very accurately do reflect Yachad's confused, contradictory viewpoint. Which is fair enough, it's their blog. 
Darren Cohen starts off by mocking the "3 Ds", delegitimisation, double standards, and demonisation "that have become the archetypal regurgitation of many within the higher echelons of many Zionist institutions". Then, after acknowledging "the hypocrisy of much of the criticism and indeed hatred Israel receives", he compares the treatment of Israel by its enemies to Yachad's plight, applying the 3 Ds to Yachad, as though no criticism of them can be legitimate!
Cohen states that: 
"To safeguard the future of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State, it needs to act urgently to ensure that a viable two state solution is actualized and that the dream of peace can become a reality. This line of thought is now widely accepted by the mainstream and is nothing new. In spite of this, Hannah [Weisfeld] and the organisation she represents are still demonised as naïve at best and anti-Zionists at worse."  
Despite what Cohen may think, Yachad's critics are not anti-peace, or against the two state solution. We're just against what Yachad thinks is the right way to achieve this. Cohen has very shrewdly observed our concerns about Yachad - are they naive or are they anti-Zionist? It's hard to tell, and similar to the question we ask of a lot of Israel-bashers: are they ignorant, or are they antisemitic? There's another possibility, which I think applies to many Jewish critics of Israel - cowardice. Understandably many Jews are overcome by a need to fit in with society's majority to avoid being a target, and if that means having to be critical of Israel, so be it.
Cohen is offended by the accusation of 972 Magazine (who are strongly endorsed by Yachad) being pro-Hamas, "a slanderous and unsupported accusation", but he's obviously not done his research. 
On 972, Palestinian Aziz Abu Sarah wrote that Hamas’ “decision to reconcile with Fatah indicates their support of the PLO’s new approach [the bid for statehood]. Hamas has no better ideas to offer the Palestinian people on how to end the occupation. It had to make a choice between the status quo or actively working with Fatah and the other Palestinian factions on creating a Palestinian state.” Then he criticised that “The Israeli government ignored that Hamas had been giving clear signs of its willingness to accept to the two-state solution.” Israeli-American writer Mairav Zonszein, seemingly forgetting that Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organisation found it "perplexing" that they would condemn the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and wondered why they didn’t suggest instead that he should have been tried. (as though they privilege their own people with trials!) And it’s not only Hamas they support. Another writer, Roee Ruttenberg expressed support for last year’s flotilla, and the Turkish ‘charity’ who backed it, the IHH, who have links to terror.
Cohen then makes an extraordinarily absurd statement, that the double standards of Yachad’s critics were:
highlighted by the fact that a leading member of the American Zionist Organisation wrote a piece criticising Israel’s government for allowing the Gilad Shalit prison exchange and yet no one bat an eye lid. Apparently, it is unacceptable to criticise Israel for being too ‘right-wing’, but to criticise the government for a ‘left-wing’ deal that the vast majority of Israelis supported is deemed acceptable.
Gilad Shalit’s release was one of the most jubilant yet painful, emotionally charged events in Israel’s recent history. I have never in my life felt so torn in my emotions, so unbelievably relieved and happy that an Israeli soldier’s life was saved after five years of torture, but at the same time so grief-stricken for the families of terror victims who had to relive their horror all over again, sickened at the celebrations of terrorists with no remorse for their actions, and fearful for the future, for the safety of Israel’s citizens and soldiers, my family and friends in Israel, from Haifa to Jerusalem to Be’er Sheva. So I can understand those who were against the deal, even though, as I’ve explained, I supported it. I don’t look at it as a matter of politics, left or right wing; to me it was simply about taking the opportunity to save a life.
As for Yachad having “proven over and over again that it is a vociferous pro-Israel voice” and that “it is not acting to demonise or attack Israel”… where have they proven that? Because if I was ignorant of the conflict and got all my links from their Facebook and Twitter, I’d be worse than ignorant - I’d only know one half of the story.
Cohen’s second blog post again mentions the 3 DS, this time in describing how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is harmful and counterproductive.  Despite this, he commends boycotts as “non-violent resistance to oppression”. Yachad’s official line is that they do not support boycotts, but they were also very much opposed to Israel’s proposed anti-boycott law.
Yachad would do well to clear up their own confusion and contradictions, and save their critics the trouble. 

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Gilad Finally Home!

I am ecstatic that Gilad has finally been released and is home with his family, thank G-d alive and well.
As well as he could be under the circumstances; Hamas are capable of anything, so the fact that Gilad is alive and in good physical and mental condition is nothing short of a miracle. The symptoms of malnutrition and lack of sunlight is probably the best anyone could have dared hope for.
In the first stage, Gilad was taken to Egypt where he was forced into a torturous interview on Egyptian TV. His sharp breathing and discomfort were there for everyone to see, although it was only later that we found out there were actually armed Hamas men in the room with him. On top of that, the interview was interpreted wrongly, and of course the mainstream media repeated this false translation. When asked how he felt, Gilad replied "I don't feel so well", but this was translated as "I feel good". Asked if he would campaign for the release of other Palestinian prisoners, he said yes, as long as they stop attacking Israel, but was quoted as simply saying he'd be happy for them to go back to their families.
After that Gilad was turned over to Israeli care, where he underwent medical check ups,changed into an army uniform, and was then flown to meet Netanyahu, who took him to bereunited with his family, after which Gilad and his family were then all flown back to their homein the North of Israel.
Hundreds of Palestinian terrorists were released in exchange, some to Egypt, the rest to the West Bank and Gaza, where Hamas announced in a massive ceremony that they would continue trying to capture Israeli soldiers so they could use them to get more terrorists freed. Some media were bizarrely optimistic that the fact that Israel had to communicate with Hamas for the deal was a step forward that means they could negotiate in the future as well (?!).
Despite this, like I said previously, I still believe Israel made the right decision. Leftist critics of the deal though, have a strange logic. They complain about the "message" that one Israeli is worth 1000 Palestinians, and one Guardian reader even said "The Palestinians should have operated on a one to one exchange basis"! Can Israel do nothing right!
Jerusalem Post highlights several Jewish religious perspectives on the issue: "The Mishna prohibits redeeming captives 'for more than their monetary value' to foster 'society’s welfare' [tikkun olam]", whether literally an large ransom sum, or the cost by encouraging future kidnappings.
On the other hand,:
"Maimonides (1135-1204) states: 'There is no commandment as great as the redemption of captives.
"And Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575), in his Shulhan Arukh, notes: 'Each instant that one fails to redeem captives when it is possible to do so, it is as though one has shed blood.'
Meanwhile "Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has argued that in cases such as Shalit’s, the clear and present danger to the life of the hostage outweighs the potential danger to Israelis who might become the future targets of the freed terrorists."
Adrian Blomfield of the Telegraph discusses why so many Israelis supported the deal, despite the security risks and the political cost of bolstering Hamas. He quotes Avi Shavit of Haaretz, that:
"Israel's main asset in human and security terms is the sense of mutual responsibility that its citizens and soldiers feel towards one another. Without this feeling, there is no meaning to our lives here. Without this feeling, we have neither army, security, nor the ability to protect ourselves.

"Rightly or not, Shalit has become a symbol of mutual responsibility. And therefore his forthcoming release will not only be the redemption of a captive and the saving of a life and the return home of a son. Shalit's release will be the realisation of Israeli solidarity."
"This collective willingness to expose ourselves to the risk of a future terrorist attack, if necessary, to secure Shalit’s release speaks volumes about Israelis’ strong sense that we are all in this Zionist project together, in good times and in bad.
It’s not that we are insensitive to the feelings of past terrorist victims’ families and loved ones. Nor are we unaware that many, even most, of those who will be released will return to violent terrorism – and that by paying a ratio of 1 to 1,027 we are encouraging future kidnappings.
It’s just that none of these potential future dangers seems to be able to trump the fact that right now an IDF soldier’s life is being saved."
The past can't be changed and the future can't be predicted with absolute certainty, so I, like many, believe it was most important to focus on the present, and support whatever had to be done to save Gilad. And we did.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Gilad Shalit To Be Freed At Last

Israel has agreed a deal with Hamas to release over 1000 Palestinian prisoners/terrorists, in return for the release of Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive for over five years, in unknown conditions, with barely any contact between him and the outside world.
Anything can still happen, and even now it's not clear what condition Gilad is in, physically and mentally, but I am overwhelmed with joy at the thought of him finally returning to his family. At the same time, though, Israel is paying a high price for his freedom.

As if it's not bad enough that Israel is having to release hundreds of Palestinian terrorists, the Guardian readers can voice only concern for these terrorists, and their portrayal in the media, sympathising with the:
"thousand nameless, faceless Palestinians without identities, histories, or grieving families... where is the coverage of the Palestinian prisoners rotting in Israeli jails... inhuman treatment at Israel's hands".
..."William Hague reckons Shalit’s captivity was 'utterly unjustified'. How else would 1,000 Palestinians have obtained their freedom? When are Palestinians going to get some recognition as people, every bit as important as Israelis?"
Again we're faced with that question: are these people just ignorant, or are they antisemitic? If the Guardian did give these terrorists the coverage that they deserve, the details into what they did, the reasons why they're in jail, then would the Guardian readers reconsider whether these murderers deserve to "obtain their freedom" by holding an innocent boy hostage for five years, and whether they should be viewed "as important as Israelis"? Or would they still have sympathy for the murderers of innocent civilians? I fear it's the latter, but since they wondered about these "nameless Palestinians' identities", here are a few of those who will be released:

  • Abdel Hadi Ghanem, an Islamic Jihad terrorist responsible for the 1989 hijacking of Egged bus 405, driving it over a cliff edge, killing 16 Israelis.
  • Fahad Schludi, a terror operative who took part in the 1993 abduction and murder of IDF soldier Yaron Chen.
  • Bassam Abu Sneina and Riyad Asila, who are serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of yeshiva student Haim Kerman.
  • Nael al-Barghouthi, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1978, for murdering an Israeli security officer.
  • Yehiya As-Sinwar, who was one of the founders of Hamas’ security forces in Gaza and was involved in the abduction and murder of IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman. He is also the brother of one of the terrorists involved in Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.
  • Jihad Yarmur, who was convicted of Nachshon Wachsman’s murder.
  • Ahmed Najar, former head of the Silwad terror cell, which killed 3 Israelis in six shooting attacks during the al-Aqsa Intifada.
  • Mohammed Hamada, who was convicted of planning a rocket attack on Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.
  • Ruhi Musteha, a senior operative with Hamas’ military wing.
  • Husam Badran, the former head of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, who orchestrated the deadly terror attacks at the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium in 2001, at the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002 (which killed 30) and at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001 (which killed 15).
  • Muhammad Duglas, who was implicated in the Sbarro attack, and is serving 15 consecutive life sentences for the murder of 19 Israelis.
  • Amina Mona, a young woman who lured a lovestruck Israeli teenage boy by the name of Ophir Rahum to a Palestinian city over the Internet, only to have him killed by waiting terrorists.
  • Update: Some more terrorists who shouldn't be released: Walid Anajas, from Ramallah, a commander of Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades. He was given 36 life terms in 2002 for his involvement in a number of suicide bombings, including that of a Jerusalem cafe in 2002, in which 12 people lost their lives.
  • Nasser Yataima, who planned a suicide bombing which killed 30 people as they were about to celebrate the Passover festival at a hotel in March 2002, was sentenced to 29 life terms.
  • Khamis Zaki Aqel, a member of the Qassam Brigades, which carried out a string of suicide bombings and other attacks, was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to 21 life terms. It was not immediately clear for which crime he was sentenced.
  • Majdi Muhammed Amr, arrested in 1993, is serving 19 life sentences after being found guilty of coordinating the work of suicide bombers, including one who blew up a bus in the northern city of Haifa in March 2003, killing 17 people. [He also murdered David Cohen in a drive-by shooting in July 2001.]
  • Maedh Abu Sharakh was also sentenced to 19 life terms for his role in planning the Haifa bus bombing.
I have also read that other terrorists being released are those who with their bare hands lynched and murdered two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah in 2000, an incident so horrific, that leaves me feeling as sick and shaken by the memory of it as I felt when I watched the tv footage all those years ago, as well as desperately wanting never to have to remember or acknowledge it, that I could barely bring myself to type this paragraph. If anyone doesn't remember or know about that attack, if you have the stomach for it, please google it, it's probably even on youtube, but I can't and won't look for links.
Probably most of those being released feel no regret, and why would they when they're rewarded so much for their actions by their leaders - the Palestinian leaders who the world thinks Israel should reward for their incitement with land and a state.
But despite all of this, I still believe Israel is making the right decision. After all, there is no other choice. Perhaps mistakes were made in the past and opportunities wasted, but at this moment, we have to simply take whatever we can get, do whatever we can to free Gilad and not leave him languishing any longer.
As a plus side, some top Palestinian terrorists, who Hamas campaigned for in previous talks, are not being released:
  • Marwan Barghouti who was sentenced to five life sentences for his role in the murders of Israelis during the al-Aksa intifada
  • Abdullah Barghouti who is serving out 67 consecutive life terms for building the bombs that murdered 66 people
  • Ahmed Saadat who headed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and was responsible for the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi
  • Hassan Salama, a Hamas leader who was convicted of murdering 67 Israeli citizens
  • Abbas a-Sayed, mastermind of the Park Hotel suicide bombing in which 30 Israelis were killed on the eve of Passover 2002
  • Ibrahim Hamed, who was found guilty of involvement in terrorist attacks that led to the death of 82 Israelis
It hardly even feels a victory, looking back at all the carnage and trauma they caused.
This is the most miserable, bittersweet I've ever felt writing a post, and it's not even over yet. Please G-d Gilad should be home with his family soon, alive and well, and every terrorist who ever caused pain and suffering to innocent people should feel a thousand times more what their victims felt.

Monday 26 September 2011

On The Palestinians' Bid For A Terror-State

In a speech filled with lies, hatred for Israel, and a refusal to accept any responsibility whatsoever for the Palestinians' part in the conflict, Abbas on Friday made his bid to the UN for a Palestinian state, without negotiations, and without Palestinian concessions. 

It is interesting to note who is for and who is against the bid. Against includes The Times and J Street, because although obviously both are pro a 2 state solution, J Street explain “we do not believe that, in the current context, it [the bid for statehood without negotiations] will advance peace, enhance security and improve conditions on the ground.” Which sums up why most rational people are against it.

Meanwhile the UK version of J Street (but evidently a lot more stupid naive), the questionably “pro-Israel, pro-peace” group Yachad are for it, because they “believe it represents a historic opportunity to advance and expedite the peace process... to be recognised as a state will require the Palestinian leadership to take on the obligations of behaving like a state.” The Guardian of course, is also for it, as they appear not to want the Palestinians to have to make any concessions at all, whether engaging in land swaps, recognising Israel as the Jewish state, or tearing up their agreement with Hamas - you know, the antisemitic, genocidal terror organisation.

So let’s have a look at just some of the reasons why the Palestinian state Abbas asked for is, to put it lightly, a bad idea.

Robin Shepherd observes that:

There is one party to this dispute that most emphatically does not support a Palestinian state, if that means long-term acceptance of the State of Israel: the Palestinians themselves… opinion polls have consistently shown that the Palestinians only support the idea of a Palestinian state sitting side by side with Israel as a stepping stone to a future one state solution in which they rule over the Jews (assuming they are ruled over and not slaughtered or “driven into the sea” as they are wont to say)… a comprehensive poll by the Israel Project in November 2010 showed 60 percent of Palestinians agreeing with the proposition that: ‘The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state’”.
On the day of the bid, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, Abbas Zaki, told Al Jazeera that regarding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ bid for 2 states, “Abbas understands... everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go. If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall – what will become of Israel? It will come to an end. If we say that we want to wipe Israel out... It's not [acceptable] policy to say so. Don't say these things to the world. Keep it to yourself.” This might seem like a stupid thing to say to an internationally aired news channel, but the truth is the mainstream media either don't make the effort to know, or don't care about the difference between what Palestinian officials say in Arabic and what they say in English.

Palestinians often depict a map of the whole of Israel as representing “Palestine”, whether in newspaper cartoons, or Fatah’s own logo, which was on Abbas' official document to the UN

Abbas himself, speaking for the Palestinians, will not recognise Israel as the Jewish state, as he has said numerous time, including on 27th August to the PLO Central Council: “Present to us something sensible, don’t present to us ‘The Jewish State’, we will never accept it... The Quartet cannot force upon us the character of the state [of Israel], or that we should recognize the nature of the Israeli state”.

And he didn’t change his mind between then and 22rd September, the day before the bid, when he told 200 representatives of American Arabs of Palestinian descent “we will not recognise the Jewish state...  we will only accept that Palestine be free of settlers and soldiers [i.e. Jews]”.

Which is what the PLO’s ambassador to the US, Maen Areikat, said on 13th September, that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews. He later explained he meant settlers and soldiers (so, still Jews then), but last year he made a similar statement during an interview with Tablet magazine. Asked whether “Any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave”, he responded “absolutely”.

Let’s not forget that Abbas is a Holocaust denier, he denies the Jewish historical connection to Israel, rewrites the history of the conflict, and is responsible for his government’s incitement of hatred and violence towards Israelis and Jews, through Palestinian childrens’ tv programmes, honouring and glorifying terrorists with processions, video tributes, naming streets, schools, town squares and youth groups after them; and rewarding the families ofterrorists with payment

About a year ago, the PA Minister of Prisoners’ affairs Issa Karake honoured a Palestinian woman, Latifa Abu Hmeid, with a plaque inscribed with the names of four of her sons who are serving sentences in Israeli prisons, all of them for their involvement in the murder of Israeli civilians in numerous terror attacks. Karake stated: “The Palestinian mother is a central partner in the struggle... It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honour.

Two weeks ago, Karake stated that "The recognition of the [Palestinian] state means... that the struggles of the prisoners [i.e. terrorists] are legitimized and legal according to UN Resolutions”.

So it isn’t surprising that last week the Palestinians’ statehood campaign began with Abu Hmeid, the mother honoured for giving birth to murderers, leading the procession to the UN offices in Ramallah, where she handed over a letter to the representative there of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon calling for the UN to recognise a Palestinian state.

Probably the most obvious reason why the statehood bid is a bad idea, yet people still need to be reminded of it, is that Israel left Gaza in 2005, uprooting thousands of Israeli citizens from their homes there. Hamas then took over, throwing out Fatah and firing over 10,000 rockets on Israeli civilians. Israel would need to ensure that the West Bank would be under the control of moderates, and that weapons would not be smuggled in, which would mean that practically every city in Israel would be in range.

Why could Abbas possibly object to negotiations with Netanyahu that would address these problems? And why would people, people who call themselves pro-peace and pro-Israel, support Abbas in this?

Sunday 4 September 2011

Boycotts And Freedom Of Antisemitic Speech

Contrary to what some people may assume, I’m sadly not paid to blog by the Israeli government or anyone else, but I have just been preoccupied with more Zionisty stuff (that I’m also not paid for), and with my alter-life and job (which I am paid for!)
So, back to business.
There was a lot of fuss made about Israel’s supposedly undemocratic “anti-boycott law” passed in July, which allows victims of boycotts to sue the boycotters. Apart from the fact that the law simply enables Israelis to defend themselves and their businesses, the law is not dissimilar to some in other countries as well, including America. The most obvious point to make though, is the fact that the very premise of the boycotts is not only wrong but also mostly antisemitic (see section on Israel in the definition of antisemitism).
So the fact that the anti-boycott law might be seen as infringing on freedom of speech is pretty irrelevant, as it is in other cases. For example whilst most media will not allow a terrorist the airtime/column space to call for Jihad, many (see: The Guardian, Haaretz) will allow terrorists and lefties to express support and understanding for other terrorists, usually only if they’re Palestinian “freedom fighters” killing Israeli “colonialists” or something. But there’s a very, very fine line between understanding and supporting terrorism, and actively calling for it, so although media might be berated for restricting the former, and even firing a columnist for it, as the Jerusalem Post just did, most normal people will understand.
Anyway it turns out though that perhaps we don’t have so much to worry about with regards to the boycotts. When boycotters have highlighted the Israeli “settler” products they want people to avoid, those companies have reported an increase in sales, because the majority of people living in Israel are not lunatics and actually care about and support the country they live in. 
An interesting question is raised: “If Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli citizen currently living over the Green Line (making him a Settler) were to open a factory, would the Left call for its boycott too? Or are their calls to boycott actually racist and only targeting Jews?
The irony is that even most Palestinians don’t boycott Israeli products; as EoZ says, they just want to live their lives, they don’t obsess over politics the way the fanatical left do
On Thursday night anti-Israel activists staged a noisy protest inside London’s Royal Albert Hall, where the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra was playing. The music was disrupted several times by the protestors’ hysterical singing and shouting, and BBC Radio took the concert off the air. Success? Not really. The protestors were drowned out by thousands in the audience who booed them and chanted “out, out”, then cheered and clapped as they were removed. Perhaps many people in the audience support Palestinian rights, and oppose many Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, but anyone with an ounce of sense can see that essentially “terrorizing” an orchestra (in which people of all religions and nationalities, including Palestinian are or have been involved), is not a legitimate form of protest. It can only be antisemitism.