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Featured Hebrew in the Heartland for haivri.com Jan. 25, 2017

A Hebrew in the Heartland – January 25, 2017 – Kenya, Jordan, and Video Activism

A Hebrew in the Heartland 25Jan2017 – PODCAST

On today’s show David Ha’ivri will be speaking Nejri Elizabeth about Israel Relations and building partnerships with Shomron. Nejri is a Kenyan Israel activist and author of “Israel and Kenya, 50 years and beyond“. Her book is available online on Amazon.

Guest Mudar Zahran will be speaking about the planned move for US embassy to Jerusalem.
Avi Abelow of http://www.israelvideonetwork.com will be speaking about video activism on Social Media and live-streaming from Israel. He will also share insight on the weekly Torah reading and its connection to current events and our expectations from newly elected US President Trump.

Featured Hebrew in the Heartland for haivri.com Jan. 25, 2017

 

HE MEANS THE JEWS!

Relaunching talks between Israel and the PLO chief Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas)

Many questions arise as these negotiations begin. What is the real goal of the “Two State Solution”? What does Abbas mean when he repeatedly declares,

“no Israelis will live in the future Palestinian state”? Why is Israel releasing 104 terrorist prisoners convicted of murdering Israeli citizens? Why is the Obama administration pushing Israel to concede to the PLO, and how does that relate to its impotency in the face of the extreme suffering and human rights violations in other Middle East countries?

Obviously, Israel exists in a reality totally unique in the world, in regard to the continuing threats both outside and inside its borders. Within its tiny geographical domain, it is the world’s only Jewish state, founded after a two thousand year exile, during which the Jewish people wandered from one land of persecution to another. In short, the countries of the world collectively had a very bad record on showing kind hospitality to the countryless Jews.

Some one hundred and fifty years ago, modern Zionism brought Jews together to devise a practical plan to establish an independent Jewish country. Thoughts of planting the new state in lands other than the historical homeland were considered by some, but quickly recognized as unviable. The unprecedented gathering of an exiled and dispersed nation could only take place if they were allowed to gather in the ancient homeland to which they dreamed and prayed to return.

At the time, Egypt was the only country in the region independent of the Ottoman Empire. The remaining lands of what are now considered the Middle East and North Africa were all administered by the Turks and were not divided by the borders nor represented by the countries we know today.

The impression that Israel is occupying “Palestinian” lands is incorrect. A Palestinian country did not exist in these lands, prior to its coming under Israel’s control. As a result of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel did capture Jerusalem, Samaria and Judea – not from Palestine, but rather, from Jordan. It is true that the PLO was established in Jerusalem in 1964, some three years before Israel’s defensive acquisition of these lands in 1967. Obviously, the agenda of the PLO was not to free lands from Israel which it did not even possess. Its mission then, as now, is to replace Israel on all of its land from the river to the sea. This is not a deeply concealed secret. It is taught in PLO and UNRWA schools and is proudly presented on maps and official emblems of the PLO and its branches.

The mission of the PLO is and always has been denial of the right of the Jewish people to their own county in their historical homeland. PLO spokespeople and negotiators are always very clear not to utter the words “Israel” and “Jewish State” together as one identity because they refuse to accept that it has any valid claim whatsoever. If you pay attention to the PLO narrative, you will notice that the Two State concept includes a Palestinian state with no Jews, alongside a binational state for all of its residents, regardless of their nationality. The Jewish state does not exist in the PLO concept.

Readers should take note that a Two State Solution was already implemented by the British in 1946, when they divided the area of the mandate and allocated two thirds of it to establish the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as a gift to the son of their Bedouin friend from Mecca. A second Two State Solution was set into motion in 2005, when the Israeli government removed all Israeli communities and interests from the Gaza region. Unfortunately for the PLO functionaries, the people of Gaza elected the Islamic Hamas in their place as government, and the PLO was thrown out right after the Jews.

And now on the table again for the third time, we have the Two State Solution. As Abbas states very clearly, his vision is to have no Israelis in the future Palestinian state. He means Jews! As a precondition of taking part in any discussions, he demanded that over a hundred convicted terrorist murderers be freed from Israeli prisons. Is there a statement that could better express the cheapening of the blood of Jews than that of letting their murderers walk free?

Next, he says that no Israelis will be allowed to live in the country he wishes to establish. This doesn’t sound very peaceful. Today there are about 750,000 Israelis who live in the areas that Abbas would like to see as his future state. That is between 25 – 30% of the total population, depending on how you count. East of the 1967 Green Line, in the area that Abbas sees as a future binational state, 20% of the population are Arabs. Why should the envisioned “peace-loving Palestinian state” be closed to Jews? Why would the suggestion of expelling 750,000 people from their homes be considered a legitimate narrative in international discourse?

But the truth is that it is unfeasible. The number of Jewish residents in Jerusalem, Samaria and Judea has passed critical mass. The state of Israel was founded in 1948, with a total Jewish population of 600,000, and it survived the combined efforts of seven Arab armies to wipe it off the map. Today the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria (or “the West Bank,” if you like) is greater than the entire population of Israel on the day of its modern founding. The Jewish communities (or “settlements,” if you like) are permanent fixtures in the scenery here, with million dollar homes, shopping centers, schools, playgrounds and a full-fledged university. These are not things that can be packed away on moving trucks.

Abbas knows that he is stuck with us; the time has come for him to figure out how to live with us.

Is Abbas the last Palestinian Authority president? by Mudar Zahran

After Israel’s most recent military operation in Gaza, which ended with a cease-fire, Hamas has been claiming victory and enjoying popularity with the Palestinians, which comes as a setback for Hamas’s rivals; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.

With Hamas popularity on the rise, Abbas was left with one desperate option to boost his image: pressing his quest for UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state.

Still, Abbas has other problems in his own house; there is friction within Abbas’s Fatah, as Abbas’s rival, Muhammad Dahlan, is still very influential and has a huge following.

Dahlan was a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee and the chief of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service. For years, he served as the main Palestinian counterterrorism coordination figure with Israel.

Abbas’s Fatah managed to expel Dahlan in June 2011 following allegations by Abbas that Dahlan had murdered Arafat using poison.

Dahlan lives in exile now, but he has the money and the followers to disrupt Abbas nonetheless, if not necessarily to topple him. It is not unlikely that rivalry between Abbas and Dahlan would evolve into further friction between their followers should Abbas exhibit further signs of weakness or step down.

In addition, the Arab Spring has drawn attention from the Palestinian cause as a whole and from Abbas as the poster child for the Arab-Israeli conflict; the media now has Syria, Egypt and other hot-spots to cover over Abbas’s heart-felt speeches, or his meetings with world leaders.

As a result, Palestinians in the West Bank are no longer seeing Abbas in the international media, or mingling with world leaders, and are therefore focusing more on their miserable living conditions, which, as revealed by a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 70 percent of them believe are due to PA corruption.

Last October, prominent Israeli political scholar and Arabist Mordechai Kedar told a crowd in London that “the biggest victim of the Arab Spring is the Palestinian cause, as the world’s media is no longer occupied with it” – and with the fading significance of the Palestinian cause goes Abbas’s own significance.

Adding to Abbas’s woes is that the Palestinians in the West Bank do not seem to be too enthusiastic about his quest to gain UN recognition for Palestine as an independent state.

While Abbas’s UN stunt succeeded – Palestine is now an observer state in the UN – its very success could cause Abbas’s disappearance from the political scene, because the Oslo peace agreement requires the Palestinians to not unilaterally seek international recognition as a state, and therefore Abbas’s stunt gives Israel the full legal right to end Oslo altogether.

BUT SAY he does disappear, due to a “Palestinian Spring,” a coup by his rivals or even retirement – the man is 77 after all – would the PA survive? First of all, the PA is not favored within its own jurisdiction, as confirmed by the above-mentioned poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. In 2005, renowned scholar Daniel Pipes reported Palestinians under the PA were already saying that “Israel’s hell was better than Arafat’s paradise,” and considering that Arafat had much more credit with the Palestinians than does Abbas, one can only imagine how Palestinians would view a PA without even Abbas.

In fact, a 2011 poll conducted by Pechter Middle East Polls in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, when asked if they preferred to become a citizen of Palestine, with all of the rights and privileges of other citizens of Palestine, or a citizen of Israel, only 30 percent chose Palestinian citizenship.”

True, Abbas’s second in command, Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, has a reputation for transparency and decency, but since Abbas appointed him in June 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council has not confirmed his appointment. It is therefore, unlikely he would be able to secure the presidency.

With no heir apparent for Abbas, who could secure public support and control the various military factions? With the PA’s reputation for corruption and the disapproval of it among the Palestinian public, it is possible that the PA’s future will be in jeopardy if Abbas steps down, quits, or retires.

While there are a few who argue that the West Bank should be handed to the Hashemite regime in Jordan, King Abdullah faces his own domestic challenges. Despite the media’s low coverage of unrest in Jordan, there is an on-going, relentless public call to topple the Hashemite regime. Those hoping the Jordanian regime could play a future role in the West Bank ignore the possibility that the Hashemite regime itself might not exist in the near future.

It is about time those concerned with peace and regional stability start considering contingency plans for a West Bank without Abbas, and possibly even without the Palestinian Authority. There is much to consider, and not necessarily as much time.

Holding On to Our Homeland: No You Cannot Tell My People By Howard Teich

An interesting thing happened when I watched the movie, Mandela: Long Road to Freedom.  I listened, and learned, and applied his thinking to Judea and Samaria. His concern was apartheid and that the powerful people in South Africa were directing the destiny of his people, and he asked the right question, “Am I to allow that powerful person to tell my people where to be!”

Well, I say the same thing, “Are we to allow the world powers to tell the Jewish people that they cannot live in their Biblical homeland, Judea and Samaria, and take away our rights to control our own destiny there?  I say no on every level.

Let’s really take a look.  The Israel of today is a small sliver of land; one country carved out of the wide expanse of the former Ottoman Empire, with the Arabs being given the overwhelming bulk of the land for their numerous countries and kingdoms, including a country for the Palestinian people, Jordan.  With the League of Nations unanimously declaring in 1920, “whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country,” and with the Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres, the League of Nations, the U.N.”s declaration of statehood, and so many wars and treaties later, the issue of Israel’s right to all the land that it now has reclaimed must be a closed issue.

As Churchill voiced it, the Jewish people returning to its land in Palestine are “further development of an existing community,” and he added that it should be known that the Jewish people “are in Palestine as of right.”

Fact:  The Arabs refuse to recognize the right of the Jewish people to have even one state of their own, notwithstanding the reality of Israel as a leading country in the world.  The Arabs want to destroy Israel, and the Jewish community wants it to continue to exist.  That is the essence of the continuing problem.  Israel has shrunk its land in the name of peace, sacrificing its rightful land – land it reclaimed in wars brought against it by the Arabs with the directed intention of destroyingIsrael, or as they term it, throwing Israel and the Jewish people back into the Sea.

Fact:  With 700,000 Jewish people now living in Judea and Samaria, including post-1967 Jerusalem, the Jewish homeland is now being reconstituted in its ancient homeland after 2,000 years.  Hebron, Beit-El, Shiloh, Shechem, and Bethlehem are all Jewish centers of great significance in our biblical history, and each continuing to thrive with Jewish people living on the land.  Dani Dayan, chief foreign envoy of The Yesha Council, put it succinctly, “The Jewish communities of Judea andSamaria are not only legal but are impeccably legitimate. Shiloh in Samaria and Hebron in Judea are the cradles of Jewish civilization, and as such the centers of the Jewish sovereignty, preceding even Jerusalem. These are the sites in which the ancient Jewish Tabernacle stood and where the founding fathers and mothers of the Jewish people were buried, where King David set up his first capital and where Jews have lived from time immemorial.”

Now, let’s take a realistic look at what will happen if this land would be handed over to the Palestinian Arabs as part of a supposed peace plan.  First, all Jews would be forced to leave, be forced to march out of their sacred land and remove remnants of their current civilization there.  In fact, if the withdrawals for peace with Egypt in the Sinai, and with the Palestinians in  Gaza are a guide, not only will every Jewish person, house, synagogue, greenhouse and flower have to be removed, even every Jew who was buried there will have to have their graves moved out.  Yes, all of that was required when Israel left Yamit and Sharm El Sheik in the Sinai, and Gush Katif in Gaza,.  We will never forget, and we cannot ever have that happen.  Never again!

This is not just an Israeli issue.  It affects all Jewish people, in Israel and in Diaspora, for after withdrawal the worldwide Jewish community can expect to never visit its sacred places again, as we would not be allowed back on the land.  And, there may not be another opportunity for future generations, as one could reasonably expect that the Palestinian Arabs, with control in their hands, will attempt to destroy each and every Jewish site in Judea and Samaria, to essentially eliminate all remnants of a Jewish civilization on that land.  That’s their way of insuring an end to a Jewish future there, by destroying a Jewish past.

Well, world, that’s not who we are.  As a Jewish people, we will not stand by and let that happen.  Jewish survival has always been based on forging ahead.  Going back to the time of Moses, the Jewish people were not willing to remain as slaves, and a leader emerged to take us out.  Whenever we have faith, and believe in a guiding hand, we forge ahead.

When Moses was told to lead his people into the Promised Land, Canaan, the Jewish people knew they would face battles from people who did not want them to live there. Yet they had faith, and were victorious.  In the multiple wars in Israel, with odds against the Jewish people, Israel won each time.  Notwithstanding the Holocaust where the Europeans destroyed six million of our own, the Jewish people forged ahead when they may have collapsed, and now live in a golden age in our history, in Israel, in America, and throughout the Diaspora.

We have seen Jewish land and property taken away previously in Europe and in the Arab countries.  So, is this a surprise?  Not really.  We have seen the removal of Jews from their territory previously in Europe and in the Arab countries.  So, is this a surprise?  Not really.  We have seen worse previously from Europe and the Arab countries, threatening our very existence, so if they press for policies today that once again, though more subtly, threaten the very existence of Israel and the vibrancy of a Jewish civilization in Judea and Samaria, we should not be really surprised.

A great Jewish Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, in the early 1900s took a tough stand when the British controlled the lands  that were to be divided into the countries of the modern Middle East.  He rightly stated that what comprised Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Israel was always Jewish land, and that any Arab claims on the land would simply be attempts to steal the land.  So, it is time today for the Jews to surprise the world, and to say, in his words, “no, you cannot steal our land”.

Let’s be clear about the land in question.  Israel has every right to each and every inch of that land, by historical and legal right.  It is outrageous that the world today should declare once again its position that Jews have no place in their ancestral homeland, and should essentially say, “get out.”

Israel was attacked in 1967 and 1973, defended itself, and in the process was able to reclaim land that was wrongfully taken from it:  Judea, Samaria and part ofJerusalem.  Jordan controlled that land for years, although only two countries in the world had recognized their claim to it.  In 1988. 10 years after Israel made a great sacrifice for peace by giving back nearly 50 percent of its land, Sinai, to Egypt, and in the midst of the first intifada by Arafat, the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies issued a landmark report, “Israel’s Options for Peace”.  Six options were given after much study, with a seventh recommendation forming the basis for the two-state solution.

The Jaffee Center Report called for defensible borders for Israel, and security arrangements, never calling for the return of all the land.  It was the expectation thatIsrael would retain control of the Jordan Valley, and that Jews would remain in Judea and Samaria after the Palestinian state was established side-by-side withIsrael.  There would be demilitarization of the land, early warning and air-defense systems, a significant transition period for testing before any sovereignty was given up, and peace treaties in the works with other Arab countries..  It was never intended, nor even contemplated, that Jews would entirely leave the land as part of the peace, for that’s no peace at all.

Today, from the history of negotiations and current statements in the media, thinking exists that Israel should return to the 1967 land status, trade parts of its land if it wants to remain in any part of Judea and Samaria, force all Jews to remove themselves and their communities of generations, as well as IDF forces and outposts, even early-warning stations, and then have on the table discussion of the status of Jerusalem, and have the Temple Mount remain off-limit to Jews.  And of course, there’s the issue of refugees.

This is insanity at best, and relative suicide at worst.  Changes since 1988 include the total withdrawal from Gush-Katif; the establishment of a Hamas-led Gaza with no Israeli controls; a Hezbullah power-center in Lebanon; turmoil and danger in Syria;  Egypt continuing in a revolutionary swirl; and an enemy in Iran with its stated policy of eradicating Israel, and thousands upon thousands of missiles targeted for Israel, with the future potential of nuclear and chemical warheads.

So, when powerful people in the world see fit to cast their design on the future of the Jewish people, we have to say to them, “No, you cannot tell my people to give up our ancestral homeland that Israel reclaimed in wars defending their land, and that is my history and my legacy, and now guards the security perimeters required potentially for Israel’s future existence.”    Whether the recent policy decisions on Iran prove right or wrong, we’ll see in the future.  What is now more eminently clear is that the case for remaining in Judea and Samaria became much stronger.

Forge ahead, the world Jewish community must, for this is the historic land of the entire Jewish community.  So, we say to Israel, which is our front-line there, build communities today, and continue to rediscover our ancient communities lost for thousands of years.  That must be the plan.  I have called for annexation of Judea and Samaria for years, and once again call on the Knesset and Prime Minister to make that choice.  Do it in 2014, for Israel and for all the Jewish people in Diaspora.

The Palestinian Arabs can choose to remain in Judea and Samaria, a choice the Jewish people would not have if that land ever became a Palestinian state.  The fact is that Jews and Arabs live together on that land today, and their economy is doing well, and the fact is they are living mostly at peace and mostly well.  Yes, there are limitations today, and in a new situation of peace without leadership impediments, the future can be bright for all peoples on that land.  So, forge ahead, Israel, and we will be with you.

Once again citing the words of Nelson Mandela from the four walls of his cell, as taken from President Obama’s eulogy, “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll;  I am the master of my fate,  I am the captain of my soul!”

No, world, you cannot tell my People what to do with our land.  The Jewish people’s  history and future are in Judea and Samaria.  It is time to take a stand for our claim, our right and our legacy, and it is time to do so now.

Published in the Long Island Jewish World/ Manhattan Sentinel, January 10-16. 2014

I Remember Moshe Tamam by Lenny Goldberg

The murderers of Moshe Tamam were released along with 26 other murderers this week.

Moshe Tamam was an IDF soldier who was kidnapped and murdered on the night of August 6,1984 by Arabs from Baka al-Gharbiya while on his way to the townof Havatzelet Hasharon.

His name is forever etched in my memory since the days Rabbi Meir Kahane, H”yd constantly used his gruesome murder as an example of the Arab terror which he predicted would only escalate. For us, the murder of Moshe Tamam was a symbol, the tip of the iceberg of what awaited us if we didn’t deal decisively with the Islamist Arab enemy.

These were the pre-Intifada days, and the problem of Arab terror was barely known. Sure, there were the murders of Danny Katz, Shaltiel Akiva, and other terrorist attacks, but they were too few and far between to make anybody notice. Rabbi Kahane was trying to get people to notice: “I’m sure nobody in this room even knows who Moshe Tamam is”, the rabbi would say. “But it is because of Moshe Tamam that I will become Prime Minister of Israel.”

Well, not only did Rabbi Kahane not become Prime Minister (he was banned from the Knesset in 1988 and murdered in 1990), but the murderers of Moshe Tamam have been set free. Nothing can epitomize more than this how low the state of Israel has sunk.

Rabbi Kahane had been at the trial of Moshe Tamam, and would recount the details of the murder quite graphically, in order to wake us from our slumber. Moshe’s body was mutilated and hacked to pieces. You will not hear such details from the Israeli media – it would make the release of the murderers even more unsavory.

These Arab terrorists didn’t just murder, but savagely tortured their victims. But let’s not get into the details. Let’s call them “terrorists”, or “prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands” and hope that the Israeli public doesn’t remember too much. After all, it was a long time ago.

But I remember. I remember the name of Moshe Tamam and what happened to him. He symbolized what the future holds in store for us if we don’t get our act together. The release of his murderers (who receive money and a hero’s welcome), however, symbolizes much more. It means that the rulers of Israel have chosen madness and we stand before tragedy as those Islamist knives come closer.

Washington’s arm twisting campaign

We have already lost count of the number of times that US Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Israel over the past few months. Is it ten or eleven times? Israeli patriots resent the intensive American pressure coming from the Obama administration to force Israel into yet another agreement with the PLO. Twenty years into the failed Oslo Accords, the dreamy ideologues still refuse to face the facts and acknowledge that this course for “peace” was built entirely on false assumptions.

The PLO leadership makes no effort to hide the fact that they refuse to recognize any right of the Jewish people to a state of their own. Actually, they don’t even acknowledge the Jews as a people at all, but rather as a religion that does not require a state – and surely not on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, in any case.

Kerry’s stated goal for this shuttle diplomacy is to see a final agreement between Israel and the PLO within months, but calling his conduct “diplomacy” is questionable; it is really more like an arm twisting campaign.

“The US’ careless policies in other MENA situations over the past two years should raise major concerns”The question that all local players should be asking is: “On what basis does the US administration flash around their ‘wisdom’ on how things should be done in this region?” If you examine the seemingly endless list of American fiascoes in MENA, Bengazi, Egypt and Syria, not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan, you will notice that US policy hasn’t recently provided any positive accomplishments to point to or uphold as winning concepts to copy.

America’s strongest argument is “Well, we have a lot of money to flash around…” But is that still really the case? With the USA now in debt 17 trillion dollars to China and still counting, maybe the time has come for MENA countries to start to face east and ignore the obnoxious pressure from the western countries that can hardly pay their own bills.

Secretary Kerry’s arrogance and unconcern for the people who live here has been exposed in new dimensions, as reported by Maariv’s Shalom Yerushalmi. He shares his personal experience of being one of hundreds of Jerusalem drivers forced to wait in their cars at police roadblocks set up in Jerusalem to provide clear passage for Kerry on his return from Ramallah to Jerusalem in the first hours of the worst snow storm to hit this region in the past one hundred and fifty years.

Ultimately, the heavy snow locked many cars on the highway and made it impossible for the city’s limited snow plows to access and clear the roads. These cars lay stuck in the middle of the road until after the snow storm on Sunday, four days later. Drivers had no choice but to abandon their cars and attempt to reach their homes by other means.

Kerry’s insistence on coming here uninvited again and again, with no regard for the discomfort that this causes to the local population is a microcosm of the current US administration’s disregard for the well-being of our local population. In addition, the US’ careless policies in other MENA situations over the past two years should raise major concerns for our regional leaders, whom the Americans are trying to push around.

Published on YourMiddleEast.com

Who Is Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque? by Mudar Zahran

In a recent visit to Jerusalem, where I visited and prayed at Al-Aqsa, it occurred to me that perhaps we, the Arabs and Muslims, are the ones causing harm to Al-Aqsa, and not, as we claim, the Jews.

“You see these scaffoldings? They [the officials] put them up to claim maintenance work is being done in order to beg donors for money. These scaffoldings have been here for years with nothing done….The sheikh here just takes photos of them to show to donors. Look at the donation boxes here; they collect an average of one million shekels ($284,000) per month. We have no idea where that money goes…The poor and the needy never see any of it.” — Members of the Muslim security staff of Al-Aqsa Mosque

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, was built on the Temple Mount — which is the holiest site in Judaism, where the Temple that was destroyed nearly 2000 years ago stood.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been one of the items at the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Almost every known Arab political organization has vowed “to liberate Al-Aqsa from the Jews.” In a recent visit to Jerusalem, where I visited and prayed at Al-Aqsa, it occurred to me that perhaps we, the Arabs and Muslims, are the ones causing harm to Al-Aqsa, and not, as we claim, the Jews.

In 1948, when the Jordanian government occupied Judea and Samaria, the Al-Aqsa Mosque was placed under the Jordanian Waqf Ministry, which oversees Islamic sites. In 1967, when Israel won the Six-Day-War and regained control over Jerusalem, it did not take control of Al-Aqsa. Instead, Israel transferred control of the mosque to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf [trust], an independent religious body to oversee the Islamic holy sites there.

The Hashemite regime in Jordan continued to pay the salaries of the managers and the staff members of Al-Aqsa, in accord with what Jordan’s King Hussein described in 1988 as a religious duty he had inherited as the alleged descendent of the prophet Muhammad.

Israel’s responsibility has been limited to providing security and, when necessary, conducting patrols and searches. In addition, the Israeli security forces conduct a strict policy of refusing to allow non-Muslims — including Israeli Jews — into Al-Aqsa except for tourism purposes and only at certain hours of the day.

Upon entering the silver-domed mosque, one can quickly notice how neglected the mosque is, and badly in need of maintenance, with dirty walls, dust-covered ceilings and worn-out chairs, including the one on which the Imam sits. Fire equipment, tossed randomly in a heap in a corner, looks as if it has not been touched in a long time.

When they were asked about the shocking condition of the mosque, its staff members, although audio-recorded, spoke on the condition of anonymity:

“The officials themselves and the staff members are the reasons,” one of the Mosque’s Muslim security staff said. “This chaos and indifference rolls down from the senior officials here who enjoy huge salaries compared to the average staff member.”

He pointed at scaffolding stretching to the Mosque’s dome, “You see these scaffoldings? They [the officials] put them up to claim maintenance work is being done in order to beg donors for money. These scaffoldings have been there for years with nothing done… The sheikh here just takes photos of them to show to donors. ”

He points to two large donations boxes at the center of the mosque. “Look at the donation boxes here; they collect an average of one million shekels ($284,000) per month. We have no clue where that money goes…The poor and the needy never get any of it.”

At the center of Al-Aqsa, two glass cupboards exhibit tear gas shells used by the Israeli police during riots of the first Palestinian Intifada, which began in 1987. “We’ve had these since the first Intifada,” an Arab security guard said. “The managers here use these to make visitors sympathize and give donations, they are beggars’ tools, that is what they are.”

At the mosque’s washrooms where worshipers get cleansed according to Islamic precepts, graffiti on the wall states: “Sheikh Azzam Al-Khateeb has destroyed Al-Aqsa.” Al-Khateeb is the mosque’s general manager, who handles all financial and administrative affairs.

The custodians of the washrooms did not allow photos taken of the graffiti. Nonetheless, an elderly man beckoned and said: “They are slackers, we just have slackers in this place … This mess you see here is our responsibility; the wrongdoers are from us…among us… We cannot properly pray here, they [the staff] are bad people.”

When asked to name names, he refused, but said, “The wrongdoers are from our own folks, son. We are the ones who have destroyed Al-Aqsa… I have worked with the Jordanians, with the Jews, and the Palestinians, I have seen them all, and I know what is really happening.”

Another of Al-Aqsa’s custodians said: “There are no more Muslims left in the world who care for Al-Aqsa…. The money comes from Jordan not to the poor people, but just to be handed to those running it. They are all thieves. Al-Aqsa is like a plate of food that all dogs are attacking for a bite…. All of those inside the Waqf are thieves…. They all blame each other while actually they are working together. You should see the trash that mounts up here during Ramadan [when people come to visit]; the officials are not committed to their responsibility at all. All the donations and aid money paid for Al-Aqsa by Arab states do not filter here; we do not see any of it here. Jordan provides the money for salaries here, but it provides zero accountability for the staff handling the money.”

Another staff member joins the discussion: “Jordan and all Arab countries that give money to Al-Aqsa must be collecting much more donations than what they actually give out, otherwise, trust me, they wouldn’t be giving anything at all. Look at the washrooms, the government of Turkey provided $2 million dollars to fix and expand those, and then Al-Aqsa’s administration collected $2 million more in donations [for the project]…still, nothing was ever fixed or built.”

When a group of staff members having lunch was asked why Al-Aqsa was in such a poor state, one of them answered: “You should ask Azzam Al-Khatib [Al-Aqsa’s manager]; ask him why Al-Aqsa is dirty and full of flies. All Arab countries donate money for Al-Aqsa; ask Azzam Al-Khatib where does that money go?!” Another man said: “We do not even have proper loudspeakers for the worshipers to hear the Imam. Would those Jews do that to us if Al-Aqsa were under their management?”

A staff member at the nearby Dome of the Rock, where the Quran states that Prophet Muhammad ascended to the sky and met God, said: “The staff here is careless, they play a role in all of this bad state of affairs.” He added, “This is all the fault of the Jews; they are to blame for all of this.”

When asked how the Jews were responsible for the dirty walls, the worn out furniture, and the neglected facilities, he did not answer.

At the Al-Aqsa Mosque manager’s office, located within the mosque, there were no executive staff members with whom to meet. I was told no one was there.

Repeated calls to Al-Aqsa’s designated office at the Palestinian Authority Waqf Ministry, to request a comment, were never answered, not a single time.

As a practicing Muslim, I was sad to hear that those managing Al-Aqsa were more concerned with donations and their personal welfare rather than with the mosque itself.

Which prompts the question: Is Al-Aqsa is an Islamically sacred site, or is it a tool to collect donations by trying to elicit global Islamic sympathy — just a goose that lays golden eggs for its managers?

It seems that it is we Arabs and Muslims who are harming Al-Aqsa, not Israel or the Jews.

Al-Hiwar TV: Islamists’ Loudspeaker in Europe by Mudar Zahran

Al-Hiwar is not “just” your friendly neighborhood Arab TV station. As its founder, Azzam Al-Tamimi, states, “We must refrain from violating these [Western] laws because this might… ban us from the air…At the end of the day; you want to convey a message.” Oh? And what message is that?

The British communications regulator and watchdog organization, Ofcom, recently fined an Islamic TV £105,000 ($158,000) for airing a speech that condoned murder as a punishment for blasphemy.

In its explanation of the fine, Ofcom said the TV channel, DM Digital, had aired a speech by an Islamic scholar who made remarks “likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder.”

DM Digital, however, is not the only Islamic TV station in the UK “likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder.”

When mentioning Islamic stations in the UK, Al-Hiwar TV, based in London, is usually the first to come to mind. Established in 2006 by Azzam Al-Tamimi, author of the book Hamas from Within, Al-Hiwar has been described by the website Crehi Plethi as the Muslim Brotherhood’s “main medium.”

Although the Muslim Brotherhood denies any connection to Al-Hiwar, according to journalist Elizabeth Blade, the Muslim Brotherhood does in fact run it.

Al-Hiwar’s founder and manager, Azzam Al-Tamimi, has been described by the journalist Patrick Poole, as a “well-known international Muslim Brotherhood operative and Hamas insider.”

Al-Tamimi has expressed his willingness to become a suicide bomber “if he had the opportunity.”. He is also a member of the Muslim Association of Britain [MAB], which had been described by British parliament member, Louise Ellman, as “a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood—an extremist fundamentalist organisation founded in Egypt in 1928, and the spiritual ideologue of all Islamic terror organizations.”

A former Al-Hiwar staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity , confirmed that MAB operates an office inside Al-Hiwar TV, with Muhammad Sawalaha, who has been described as a “Hamas operative”, serving as MAB’s liaison officer.

The Muslim Brotherhood, despite having officially renounced violence, has been known for inciting often-violent political and social instability; it also openly claims responsibility for the installation of Hamas, a terrorist organization committed by its charter to the destruction of Israel.

Ofcom, in 2009, found Al-Hiwar in breach of British broadcasting regulations after the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood leader, Rachid al-Ghannouchi, used the channel to praise Hamas’s military operations and “the use of bombs.” In explaining its decision, Ofcom said Al-Hiwar’s fault was to be guilty of “not challenging” Al-Ghnnouchi’s statement. Al-Ghannouchi nonetheless remained a regular guest on Al-Hiwar TV, delivering his messages to millions of viewers.

In an interview with Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV in Gaza, Al-Tamimi confirmed that his focus was “conveying the message” while keeping within the regulations to remain on the air: “There are those who lie in wait for the Arabic TV Channels …they seek loopholes in order to stop you from broadcasting, therefore my advice to my brothers in Al-Aqsa TV and other Arab channels is that as long as we are broadcasting on satellites we do not own, these satellites are owned by the West, we must refrain from violating these laws because this might be a platform to ban us from the air ….At the end of the day you want to convey a message…” Oh? And what message is that?

Al-Hiwar TV has also led a campaign against the United Arab Emirates [UAE] for their crackdown on Islamic fundamentalists and Muslim Brotherhood operatives on their soil. Al-Hiwar has continued its targeting of the UAE, by running a live show entitled, “Is the UAE Responsible for What is Happening in Egypt?”, in which Al-Hiwar’s anchor claimed, “If the UAE is involved [in Egypt’s events] I will declare this publicly: the UAE has a hand in exploding the situation in Egypt.”

Such messages succeed in making the UAE a target for the wrath of Islamists and Muslim fundamentalists, and could easily lead to disorder on UAE soil.

The larger problem here is one of freedom of speech, and how it can easily be subverted to spread messages of hate and even death threats. Yasser Arafat used to say, “I don’t have to tell you what to do. You know what to do.” A Muslim who decided to flee the Middle East has been receiving anonymous phone calls saying, “We know where your children go to school and what time the school lets out.” The words themselves are innocent, but there is no question about what is meant. So at the end of the day, if “you want to convey a message,” the question then becomes: “How do you skirt the rules to convey it?”

Al-Hiwar, not “just” your friendly neighborhood TV station, is privately funded. Two of its former staff, who spoke to this author on the condition of anonymity, claimed Al-Hiwar’s annual budget exceeded £3 Million ($4.82 million). Nonetheless, Al-Hiwar does not seem to publicly disclose where the funding comes from. The question then arises, in public communications, as with a public utility: if something is broadcasted to the public, should not the public have a right to know who is backing it?

For the sake of peaceful Muslim countries such as the UAE, and in the interests of maintaining airwaves free of hate and intimidation, Ofcom might do well to look at Al-Hiwar — and the UK might look at its foreign influences laws — a bit harder.

The Jaabari Peace Option

Sheikh Farid Khadar Al Jaabari is the head of the largest clan in the Hebron region. Over the past few years, stories emerging from Hebron have revealed unexpected positive interactions and cooperation between the local Jewish and Arab communities there.

Anarchist activists who have come from afar to try to ignite tensions between the two local communities have been banished from the city. Plans to destroy a synagogue have been stopped. New water lines have been installed to provide for both Jewish and Arab residents.

These and other signs of cooperation have been made possible by Jaabari’s initiative and policy of neighborliness.

Recently, at an alternative peace conference held in the EU Parliament in Brussels, I had the opportunity to meet Sheikh Jaabari personally. There, and at follow-up meetings back at home in Israel, I learned firsthand about his platform. Jaabari represents a traditional local leadership that was common pre-Oslo before the PLO was brought in from Tunis 20 years ago. He views the Palestinian Authority administration as a bunch of corrupt criminals, and blames Israel for bringing them in and appointing them as government.

Jaabari is considered the Sheikh of Sheikhs, a powerful and high-ranking tribal adjudicator. He is one of few in the region whose authority entitles him to prevent revenge killings in family feuds. He is reputedly sought out to resolve disputes – not only by Arab residents in the Hebron area – but also throughout Israel and even Jordan.

A few years ago, a teenage member of the Jaabari clan was shot and killed by the Palestinian police. Sheikh Jaabari demanded that the shooter be turned over to him, but his requests were ignored. That night, Jaabari’s men took over the PA police station, burned 14 jeeps and held 34 PA police hostage. As a result, Mahmoud Abbas declared the killed boy a martyr and awarded his family a lifetime compensation pension.

Man of faith, and a realist

Jaabari’s independent power base enables him to take a unique stand, voicing a call for coexistence with the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria. This position runs counter to the official PLO policy, which claims that any Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is an obstacle to peace.

Make no mistake: Jaabari is not a Zionist; he is a devout Muslim leader who believes that the entire land of Israel is holy to the Muslim people. That being said, in his eyes, the holiness of Hebron and Shechem are the same as the holiness of Jaffa and Haifa. In his opinion, those (PLO and Hamas) who consider signing away any part of the land to the Jews in an agreement are traitors to Islam.

He recognizes that the PLO has failed his people, and that Hamas is not a better option. He would rather be realistic and live with the understanding that the Jews control the land de-facto, than willingly sign an agreement of consent. He is a man of faith, but a realist as well.

Jaabari calls on Israel to end the occupation by imposing Israeli law on all parts of the land that it controls and naturalizing all its residents, as was accomplished by Israel’s government in Jerusalem and the Golan through the Jerusalem Law in 1980.

As in the case of Arab residents of Jerusalem, Jaabari is calling for citizenship without the right to vote for Knesset. This could be the basis for a one state solution in which the demographic threat has been neutralized.

This plan might not be the ultimate dream of the Jewish people, but on the other hand, it might be a much better program than any currently on the table, and it deserves consideration.

Published on Ynetnews July 2012

Good Neighborliness: Jabari and Mesika Present an Alternative

A tour of the Samarian mountains led to an unusual conference at the European Parliament in Brussels. Sheikh Jabari of Hebron spoke of trust between himself and the Hebron settlers, and the Vice-Chair of the (European) Union related his positive impressions of coexistence in Barkan and at Ariel University. Not a word about occupation or apartheid.
by Asaf Gabor, Brussels
(Makor Rishon, “Yoman”, p. 20)
——-
The Bibi-Mofaz trick that produced a unity government instead of elections, again brought to the fore the issue of contacts with the Palestinians. PA head Abu Mazen sought to return to dialog, but conditioned it on stopping construction in the settlements, agreement to form a Palestinian state within the ’67 borders and release of prisoners. Attorney Yitzchak Molco, the Prime Minister’s emissary, sent a letter to the Palestinians making Netanyahu’s position clear, that he is willing to return to negotiations without preconditions. In the end, the usual political ping-pong ended with a promise to hand over 100 terrorist corpses to the Palestinian Authority as an Israeli gesture.
Jabari and Mesika Present an Alternative

Jabari and Mesika Present an Alternative

As if divorced from the political reality on the ground and from the cycle of negotiations sunk deep in the mire, the European Union this week decided to ratify Barack Obama’s two-state solution.

On Tuesday, a day after the Union’s decision, a historic visit by a remarkable delegation took place at the home base of the Union in Brussels. No, not another delegation of human rights or Israeli leftist organizations, together with members of the PLO Executive Committee or senior officials of the Palestinian Authority. This time, it was a unique group of people who daily live with the problems and challenges in the area.
The chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, was an unusual character on the European Parliament scene, being the first settler to speak from the conference stage. Another figure attracting the eye of the Europeans was Sheikh Farid al-Jabari,”leader of the Palestinians in Hebron”, according to the description of him in the program. The conference, titled “Peace in the Middle East”, for the moment abandoned the terms “occupation”, “territories”, “illegal construction” and the rest of the terminology routinely bandied about in the European dialog on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and turned over the stage to the parties who live side-by-side.
The special get-together was directed by the Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the European Union, Fiorello Provera. He opened the conference with a purview of the chaos in Arab states after the revolutions, and the threat of extremist Islam prevailing in those countries – as well as in ever-expanding areas in European countries. “We see ourselves as fighters for human rights and democracy, and at the same time we in Europe are being threatened by extremist Islam”, said Franz Obermayr, a member of the European Parliament, before the conference. “Israel is in a reality of perpetual threat from the terror organizations, and this reality needs to be solved, but the solution of two states for two peoples is making headway everywhere, so we must try to find alternative ways.”
Small Steps on the Ground
At the dinner preceding the alternative summit conference, one could have the personality of Provera dominate, as an Italian from the province of Portalina. It was evident that he believes in people. His warm Italian temperament blended in with the Middle Eastern temperament, the Arabic on one hand and the Israeli on the other.
Later on, wearing a necktie, Provera explained on the speaker’s platform how he sees the conflict: “Contrary to the popular opinion that we hear all the time, the suffering of the Israelis and the Palestinians is not caused by arguments over land. The fact is that the steps Israel has taken, such as the Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and from the Gaza Strip in 2005, have not brought it any closer to peace or improved the lot of the Palestinians. The reality in the Middle East will not necessarily change with the help of territorial compromise, but with confidence building steps taken by people.”
Provera, who four months ago toured Samaria, underwent an “awareness revolution”, according to the definition by the Strategy Unit of the Samarian Regional Council. The Unit deals with public relations, spokesmanship, visits and tours in Samaria, and in the words of Unit head Yossi Dagan, “everything that is out of the box”. The Liaison Office, which operates under the auspices of the Strategy Unit, has maintained contacts for a year and a half with tens of European Unity Parliament members. Thirty of them, belonging to the conservative stream, came for a condensed visit. Twenty more, among them Provera, came for a private visit. “He’s a very busy man. In the original plan, he agreed to dedicate half an hour to a tour, no more”, says Dagan. “We decided to take him straight from the airport on a 20-minute trip to the observation point in the town of Tzofim in Samaria. From there, he could see the lights of the Samarian settlements on one side, and on the other side the lights of Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion Airport. He was astounded, and he immediately called to cancel the meetings he had planned during the next two days. We took him on the routes that we take for senior media officials, leading opinion makers and foreign leaders. The reaction was the same. At first, people’s eyes are opened to a reality that they were not familiar with. Afterwards, their minds open up to different ideas, which become clear to them once they feel the reality on the ground.”
Jabari and Mesika Present an Alternative

Jabari and Mesika Present an Alternative

The visit to the European Parliament is in fact a reciprocal visit by the Samarians. That visit certainly left its mark, according to Provera’s words. The senior European parliamentarian went on with his speech, relating his experiences in Israel: “During my latest trip to Israel I visited extensive areas of Judea and Samaria, and also Ariel University, where I saw scenes that many of those who speak of a two-state solution don’t see. Jewish and Arab students studying side by side there, working on joint academic projects which in the end will improve their economic situation. At the Barkan Industrial Park I saw enterprises where Palestinians and settlers worked together in one factory. As opposed to that splendid reality, the head of the Palestinian Authority Abu Mazen is working with all of his might to prevent joing projects between settlers and their Arab neighbors. Ever since Sala’am Fayad’s call to boycott goods produced in the territories, many Palestinians who used to work in such places, have joined the ranks of the unemployed and sit at home doing nothing. In my opinion, small steps towards partnership such as these, lead to far more significant progress than speeches about far-reaching agreements.”

“The Oslo Agreements have failed”
Sheikh Farid al-Jabari, a man of action, not words, attacked the Oslo Agreements that in his view have failed the test of reality, taking their toll in blood from both sides and leading to a worse-than-ever state of affairs for the Palestinians. “To our dismay, for the last 20 years we have not succeeded in making peace, and the two peoples have paid a heavy price in blood and loss of life. The Oslo agreements have proven themselves to be agreements leading only to conflict. The fact is that every five years there has been either a war or an intifada. For 64 years we have tried all different ways to defeat each other in war, conflicts that led to loss of life and in failed talks, too. War will not lead to a solution, and neither will terror. We want peace with dignity”, said the Sheikh.
A few days before the Brussels summit, Jabari invited me to his tent in the Ziv desert and let me in on his preparations for the meeting. “The reality is that we live without basic medical services, money to feed our children, and most importantly – without dignity. The corrupt Palestinian Authority plays a significant part in this. The money sent by the European Union to the PA does not get to us. The only hospital in the Hebron area has  no basic equipment, such as ultra-sound.”
A few days later on the Brussels stage, the Sheikh announced unequivocally: “I deny the view that land justifies killing innocent people. We cannot negotiate about this land, because it does not belong to Arafat, to Abu Mazen or to me. This land is holy according to religious faith. Islam teaches us that you cannot cancel me out and I cannot cancel out your reality. If this is the reality imposed on us, then let’s learn how to live in real peace, not with the illusions that people coming from outside try to sell us, in the wake of the Oslo Agreements.
“Education of our children needs to be changed on both sides. We must build trust, not slogans. When you guard the honor of the other person, you are preserving your own honor. The Jews living in Hebron have been labeled with the stigma that they are the most extreme Jews in the State of Israel. In spite of that, we have proven that we can come to a mutual understanding, and today they say that if the Sheikh says something, we stand behind him. I respect their leadership’s word, too. When people want to live together, it’s possible to help one another. Problems can’t be solved by filling pockets with money and hoping the reality will change and that the “other” will just disappear from the scene. We are here together, let’s learn to get along together in one state.”
The words of the Sheikh and of Fiorello Provera stirred up the Parliament members. The conference, which at first went smoothly, took on an interesting and exciting nature, and the extraordinary words spoken caused those present to sit up straight in their cushy seats.
“Turn off the faucet”
Gershon Mesika opened by making it clear that just like the speakers from the Palestinian side, the settlers are also working against the security fence, which is hurting the settlement movement and is forcefully attempting to change the reality on the ground. He clarified before the attendees the strategic importance of Samaria from an Israeli viewpoint. “This is the cradle of the Jewish people’s homeland, a place of strategic importance to the State’s existence. Israel’s width from the sea to the river is only 70 kilometers. Of this, Samaria takes up 55 kilometers. Whoever visits Samaria – and some of the distinguished MKs were with us on tours of the area and can confirm my words – sees with his own eyes Samaria’s importance as the safety belt of the State of Israel. Those in Europe who are pushing the idea of forming a Palestinian state, are in fact sticking a knife in Israel’s heart and putting Israel in real existential danger. Just like what happened with the expulsion from Gush Katif, when we settlers leave, terror comes in to replace us.
“Israel is the only democratic country in the region, and it is essentially the dam that blocks the Islamic flood threatening Europe, too. Without settlement in Judea and Samaria, the existence of the State of Israel is not feasible.”
Mesika also asked the representatives of the European Union to turn off the faucet to the extreme Leftist organizations working against the settlement enterprise. “These are extremist organizations that have a minimal influence on the public, trying with all their might to incite the world against the State of Israel by means of false accusations against it. The funds that the European Union sends them for purposes of peace, in fact are used by them as weapons against the State of Israel. I don’t see the logic, in a difficult economic reality where some European countries are on the brink of collapse and their stronger cohorts are forced to part with considerable funds to rescue them, that specific bodies in Europe consider it right to spend billions of Euros on the activities of these organizations”, said Mesika.
The children of our father Abraham
During the coffee break, people walked all around us – the strange ones with kippas on their heads, people thirsty for information. The size of the population in Samaria, the height of the mountains, water problems in the Hebron area and the cooperation between the settlers and Sheikh Jabari – all of these topics replaced the usual dialog on the ’67 borders, apartheid and occupation.
“The reality you are experiencing today in your home country, already exists in specific areas by us, too”, says Carla, an intern in one of the European lobbies. “The policy of two states for two peoples is still the leading policy of the Union, but the internal Islamic problem is starting to cause young people to speak and to see the problem in a different way.”
Right before MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas), who was also present at the event, raised the painful issue of the Jewish refugees who escaped from Arab countries and left behind all their possessions, Gershon Mesika related in his speech the story of his two older brothers who perished in the Holocaust in Libya: “I, Gershon the son of Yosef and Gita Mesika, whose two older brothers Amos and Ya’akov were murdered by the cursed Nazis in the Jado concentration camp in Libya, stand before you and declare to the whole world that the Jewish People have a state of their own, and not only are we not selling it out, but we are buying it again and again with our blood and are paying for the right of our state to exist, to protect it and to settle it.”
Ze’ev spoke about the Arab Spring and the chaos prevailing in the Middle East, in the context of the Union’s position on the Israeli-Arab conflict. “The European Union needs to take their blindfolds off and look at the realities before them”, he told the MKs. “There is still education towards violence and terror. The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, announced that his organization has no intention of honoring any agreements signed with Abu Mazen. Therefore, the European Union should understand the complicated situation and not make the general-regional solution dependent on the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Ze’ev emphasized that the Arabs in Israel today enjoy security and possibilities for development that don’t exist for them in other places, and certainly nowhere else in the Middle East. “We can’t ignore the fact that in Arab countries there is poverty, corruption and violence by the authorities. This is the main obstacle to the peace process, not the building of a balcony in Ramat Shlomo. The European Union must recognize the rights of the Jews to the Land of Israel as the children of father Avraham who was in Israel long before Islam.
“Just as it cannot be that an outside country decides that a specific region in Europe does not belong to Europe, it also cannot be that outside countries will decide that Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem are outside the homeland of the Jews. They must encourage the Jews and the Palestinians to come to an agreement that will satisfy all the children who live in the region. Two million Arabs live safely within Israel. There is no reason that Jews cannot live on their land, in the cities mentioned in the Torah – Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Hebron.”
Sheikh A’ataf Krinoway of Rahat, spoke of the ability of the Beduins to serve as a bridge between Israel, Egypt and Jordan. “Peace is made with people, not with politicians. We ourselves need to work for the sake of peace”, said Krinway.
(photo captions)(p. 20) To live in peace, not in illusions that outsiders are trying to sell. Jabari.
 “Israel is a dam holding back the Islamic flood threatening Europe, too”. Mesika
(p. 22) “Reality will not change with territorial compromises, but with confidence-building measures between peoples.” Provera (center) and his guests.

Blindfolded: Palestinian Demography

Israelis and Jews around the world are rightly proud of our small country’s hard-punching intelligence services. Each month brings new revelations of operational triumphs, which burnish such legendary agencies as Mossad, or Army intelligence Unit 8200 into the nightmares of our enemies, while earning the admiration of our friends around the world.

Quietly liquidating a Hamas weapons trafficker in Dubai? No problem. Monitoring and arranging explosive accidents for Iranian arms convoys on their way through Africa? Piece of cake. Penetrating the most heavily guarded facilities in Iran to take pictures of German serial numbers on nuclear centrifuges? Been there, done that, and got the matching mug and t-shirt to prove it.

Great, then perhaps someone in the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad, or Unit 8200 could tell me how many Palestinians there are in the West Bank. Determining this may not be as glamorous as cataloguing what Bashar Assad had for breakfast this morning by way of satellite imagery. Still, I would contend that knowing how many West Bank Palestinians we must contend with is considerably more important for the security and future of what Moshe Dayan referred to as the 3rd Temple – the State of Israel.

Actually getting a head count for West Bank Palestinians from the Government of Israel, or its many intelligence agencies, is exceedingly difficult. The Army will refer you to the Civil Administration, which will refer you to the Israeli government, which will refer you to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, which will refer you to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS).

Of course, the PCBS, having for years grossly inflated Palestinian demographics as a political weapon in the Arab conflict with Israel, is an organization greatly lacking in credibility, to put it mildly. As Michael Rubin neatly summarized in Commentary, the PCBS “isn’t allowed to report Palestinian emigration, double-counts Jerusalem (which is also counted by Israel), and has made revisions at the request of the Palestinian leadership when the population in Jerusalem, for example, was found to have declined. The error today may exceed one million people throughout areas claimed by the Palestinian Authority.”

More importantly, if we wanted to ask the PCBS how many Palestinians there were, well, we’d ask them. What I’d like to know, is how it is possible for Israeli intelligence agencies, which can remotely hack Syrian air defense systems, to not know whether there are 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, as Palestinians claim, or more like 1.5 million, as asserted by reputable, independent studies.

By all accounts, official Israeli confusion on this question should be outright impossible. After all, Israel maintains an extensive paperwork regime in the West Bank, now helpfully managed by the Palestinians in coordination with the Civil Administration. Every Palestinian birth and death is noted in one database or another. Likewise, every eligible Palestinian is issued a Hawiyeh – a cross between a form of identification and an internal passport. Other metrics exist, including the number of Palestinian households connected to electricity, water or sanitation infrastructure. If nothing else, let’s simply count the residential and cellular phone numbers.

To put it bluntly, there is no shortage of ways to determine or estimate how many Palestinians there are in the West Bank. Yet, all official Israeli bodies, including those conducting diplomacy at the highest levels, refer only to Palestinian demographics as certified by the PCBS, fully cognizant that the bureau’s professional credentials are politically compromised, and for the express purpose of manipulating to the Palestinian benefit the very diplomacy Israel is engaged in.

Given what we know of the capabilities of Israeli intelligence agencies, thinking minds cannot accept that Israel does not, in fact, have its own, internal estimates of the number of Palestinians living in the West Bank. This number must certainly exist, but if so, it’s reasonable to ask why it isn’t being made public. Either Palestinian demographic data supplied by the PCBS matches internal Israeli estimates, or it doesn’t. If the Palestinians truly are in the range of 2.5-3 million residents in the West Bank, as they claim, this has important implications, not just for Israeli diplomacy, but for the future of more than half a million Israelis currently living in Judea and Samaria. Likewise, if Palestinian demographics are closer to the 1.5 million figure, as reputable critics allege, then this, too, has considerable repercussions for all parties.

The lack of official Israeli transparency on the question of Palestinian demographics has led to some unfortunate speculation on the potential motivations of Israeli officials in sequestering data vital to a healthy, democratic decision-making process from the public eye. Given that the official Israeli position parrots the Palestinian figures, without corroborating them using internal Israeli estimates, it is reasonable to suspect that actual Palestinian demographics are more favorable to Israel than we now believe. The time has come for the Israeli government to make internal estimates on Palestinian demographics available to its citizens. That way we, the people, and not unelected bureaucrats or unaccountable diplomats, can make responsible decisions about our country’s future.

Published on Algemeiner.com

Should Israel Offer Assistance To The People Of Syria?

Some months ago, I suggested that Israel offer humanitarian aid to the opposition in Syria. As expected, this idea received mixed responses from both sides. Many Israelis share the feelings expressed by their government’s inaction: “This is none of our business; we should not get involved at all.” And it’s no secret that the Syrian people have never been friendly to Israel. Even when not engaged in open warfare against Israel itself, Syria has consistently backed and supplied terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Although some Israelis – such as Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara, a Druze Arab MK and ardent Zionist – have taken a similar stance to my own, and attempted to build semi-official lines of communication with the Free Syrian leadership, these efforts have been stopped directly by Israel’s Prime Minister and Foreign Ministry.

Among the Syrian opposition leadership, the thought of Israelis coming to their aid has been received with a mixed response at best. The editor of a Syrian underground opposition newspaper told me that his paper would write about my proposal, but that they (the Syrians) could take care of themselves without Israel’s help. One Arab friend put it to me this way: “If there is one thing all people in Syria have in common, it is their hatred for Israel.” Currently, both sides in the Syrian conflict believe accusing their enemies of accepting help from Israel will strengthen their respective positions in the eyes of the Syrian public.

That being that case, offers by Israel to help the opposition might actually be counter-productive, since the acceptance of them would be viewed as colluding with “the enemy”.

For years, the Arab people have been told their greatest enemy is the Zionist. As a result of this unrelenting propaganda campaign, while their own government continues to shoot and kill civilian protestors, the Syrian public has still not fully grasped that the “Zionists” have nothing to do with the suffering they are currently experiencing at the hands of a second-generation corrupt Arab tyrant.

The logic I’ve presented in the past on this matter has been that Israel is known for extending humanitarian aid to people in need around the world. This is an imperative for our country – first and foremost because Jews are a compassionate people, but also because it is in Israel’s best interest to peel away anti-Israel prejudices pedaled by media. Videos of IDF doctors delivering Haitian babies in the only operational field hospital after the recent massive earthquake there, are a source of pride for all Jews. If we can reach the farthest ends of the earth to help people in need, then why not use the same means to help distressed people only a few miles from our borders, who are fighting for their lives and being gunned down in the streets by a bloodthirsty tyrant? The very same Assad who is currently using the Syrian army to massacre his own people would just as soon attempt to do the same to the Jews of Haifa and the Galilee, were it not for the IDF presence in the Golan.

Building bridges with the leaders who come to power after Assad’s inevitable demise would be a wise move for Israel. Helping bring Assad down would surely be a moral thing to do, and the chance that new leadership would maintain more anti-Israel inclination is difficult to imagine. No one can predict the future, but there is definitely an opportunity to open a new page with the leadership soon to arise in Syria.

A Syrian dissident recently told me, “Even the Syrian people who do not believe in the government’s anti-Israel message can’t express themselves freely, since they’ll be considered traitors. The Syrian opposition’s views may be less hostile towards Israel, and they may be willing to have direct peace talks, but they are precluded from doing so by the legacy of anti-Israel propaganda that has long saturated the Arab public. Any interaction with Israel will lead to a loss of the opposition’s credibility.” On the other hand, he maintained, “most Syrians see Assad as a greater enemy than Israel. Israel treats Arabs much better than Assad, especially in jail – they do not torture and mutilate like Assad does. Also, the Assad family has killed more Syrians and Arabs (Palestinians) in the past 41 years than Israel has – for example, in the Syrian city of Hama during the Lebanon War in the 1980s, and now today.”

Israel must weigh the pros and cons of interference, and choose their approach carefully. It’s a complicated situation with many uncertainties, but the debate must be had.

Published on Algemeiner.com

Will the conflict ever end?

A wise but pragmatic Israeli answered this way: “No, this is not going to end in the near future. Israel needs to be prepared to protect herself in this conflict for the next 100 years like it has over the past 100.” This statement surely does not sound very hopeful, but it does look the truth in the eye with an understanding that the facts must be acknowledged and dealt with. Things like armies, hate and nuclear armament can’t easily be swept under the carpet and ignored.

Many Jews and some Israelis would rather fool themselves into believing that the much-anticipated peace will be attained by merely forfeiting lands gained in the 1967 war and establishing a Palestinian state. They dream that these concessions are required to repair the damaged honor of the Arabs who have never gotten over losing the battle with Israel, which in six days fought off Arab military assaults from all sides in a joint effort to push the Jews into the sea.

What these dreamers fail to realize is that the Arabs not only have not gotten over losing the 1948 war in which Israel came into being. They have not accepted the fact that the Arab empire no longer rules these lands or others that were captured in the great Arab conquests ages ago.

According to Muslim culture, there are only two types of lands in the world – lands under Muslim control (Dar al-Islam) and lands that are not yet under Muslim control (Dar el Harb – literally “the house of war.”) Lands that have at any time come under Muslim control will forever be considered Dar al-Islam lands (Spain and Israel for example.) Lands that have not yet come under Islamic domination – the rest of the world – are on the conquering agenda whenever the global situation allows it.

No matter what they say, Israel’s sworn enemies are not interested in a peace settlement. They are interested in Israel disappearing and ceasing to exist.

With all this said, I still believe that peace can be attained, although “peace” might be the wrong term to use to define the goal. “Normalization” for Israel in its Middle Eastern neighborhood would be a much better definition of the goal that we should be aiming for.

In praise of strong army
“Peace” would demand that either Israel’s Arab neighbors become Zionists or Israel become an Arab State. Neither of those options is realistic. But what could come about in reasonable normalization would be Israel’s neighbors accepting Israel as she is and interacting with her as a neighbor. Chances are that when that came about, Israel’s relations with some Arab states might be better than the relations between many Arab states themselves.

Ironically, the biggest deterrent to proceeding with establishment of normal relations between Israel and its neighbors is the “peace camp” itself, which systematically sabotages the real potential for normalization by pushing their preferred agenda of retreat, which Israel could never agree to. If normalization is to come about, it can only be set in place by responsible and pragmatic leadership, and not by hazy eyed dreamers who fantasize that if Israel just retreats we can all live like brothers.

The fact is that in the Middle East, the Arab countries themselves would overrun each other if they had a chance (and they do, from time to time when they think they can.) That is what Israel could expect, as well, if it didn’t have a strong army protecting its borders and national interests.

The basis for regional normalization is exactly that – Israel has a strong army, and is open to having positive relations with all of its neighbors. Naturally, this cannot be at the cost of Israel’s security or by forfeiting our country’s assets and land.

The truth is that Israel’s neighbors and the international community will be much more respectful if they can see that we have a clear message and are firm on our own national agenda. Mixed messages and the willingness to negotiate on the very fundamentals of Jewish national existence project a very dangerous message to those who still hope to see the Jewish State as a passing phenomenon that will again be forgotten by history.

The return of the Jewish people from the exile and the re-establishment of the Jewish State in the land of Israel are irreversible facts. The sooner Israel’s neighbors acknowledge Israel as a permanent part of the regional scenery, the sooner we can get on with building normal relationships as neighbors living in peace and mutual respect.

Published on Ynetnews January 2012

Being Good Neighbors to Syria’s Opposition

A good neighbor is better than a brother far off. Proverbs 27:10 Some months ago, I suggested that Israel offer humanitarian aid to the opposition in Syria. As would be expected, this idea received mixed responses from both sides. Many Israelis share the feelings expressed by our government’s inaction: “This is none of our business; we should not get involved at all.” And it’s no secret that Syrian has never been friendly to Israel. Even when not engaged in open warfare against Israel itself, Syria has consistently backed and supplied terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Although some Israelis – such as Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara, a Druze Arab MK and ardent Zionist – have taken a similar stance to my own, and attempted to build semi-official lines of communication with the Free Syrian leadership, these efforts have been stopped directly by Israel’s Prime Minister and Foreign Ministry. Among the Syrian opposition leadership, the thought of Israel’s coming to their aid has been received with a mixed response at best. The editor of a Syrian underground opposition newspaper told me that his paper would write about my proposal, but that they (the Syrians) could take care of themselves without Israel’s help. One Arab friend put it to me this way: “If there is one thing all people in Syria have in common, it is their hatred for Israel.” Currently, both sides in the conflict think accusing their enemies of accepting help from Israel will strengthen their respective positions in the eyes of the Syrian public. Apparently, the most defamatory thing that can be said about you in Syria is that you are backed by Israel. That being that case, offers by Israel to help the rebels might actually be counter-productive, since they would be viewed as “making a pact with the devil,” which could be hurtful to the revolution. Syrian leadership, like that of many Arab states, has indoctrinated its citizens by telling them that the source of all of their sorrow and hardship is Israel. The Arab people have for years been told: “The Zionists are our greatest enemies,” in order to distract them from issues like their own basic rights and freedoms as citizens. As a result of this unrelenting propaganda campaign, even now, while leaders are using their own armies to gun down protesters and civilians in the streets, the Syrian public has still not fully grasped that the “Zionists” have nothing to do with the suffering they are currently experiencing at the hands of a second-generation corrupt tyrant. Israel is known for extending humanitarian aid to peoples in need around the world – this is an imperative for our country – first and foremost because Jews are a compassionate people, and secondly because it is in Israel’s best interest to peel away the anti-Israel prejudices that are otherwise pedaled by media. Videos of IDF doctors delivering Haitian babies in the only operational field hospital after the recent massive earthquake there are a source of pride for all Jews. If we can reach the farthest ends of the earth to help people in need, then why not use the same means to help distressed people only a few miles from our borders, who are fighting for their lives and being gunned down in the streets by a bloodthirsty tyrant? The very same Assad who is currently using the Syrian army to massacre his own people (alongside those soldiers who refuse to comply with those orders) would just as soon attempt to do the same to the Jews of Haifa and the Galilee, were it not for the IDF presence in the Golan. Building bridges with the leaders who come to power after Assad’s inevitable demise would be a wise move for Israel. Helping bring Assad down would surely be a moral thing to do, and the chance that the new leadership would maintain still more anti-Israel inclination is difficult to imagine. No one can predict the future, but there is definitely an opportunity to open a new page with the leadership soon to arise in Syria. A Syrian dissident recently told me, “Even the Syrian people who do not believe in the government’s anti-Israel message can’t express themselves freely, since they’ll be considered traitors. The Syrian opposition’s views may be less hostile towards Israel, and they may be willing to have direct peace talks, but they are precluded from doing so by the legacy of the afore-mentioned anti-Israel propaganda that has long saturated the Arab public. Any interaction with Israel will lead to a loss of the opposition’s credibility.” On the other hand, he maintained, “most Syrians see Assad as a greater enemy than Israel. Israel treats Arabs much better than Assad, especially in jail – they do not torture and mutilate like Assad does. Also, the Assad family has killed more Syrians and Arabs (Palestinians) in the past 41 years than Israel has – for example, in the Syrian city of Hama during the Lebanon War in the 1980s, and now today.” It seems that sitting back and watching Syrian events without openly interfering might very well be the only path of action for the Jewish State today. We can hope and pray that the new leadership destined to arise in Syria will have the wisdom to appreciate Israel as a good and friendly neighbor and implement normalization of relations between the two countries based not on efforts to undo mistakes of the past, but on the mutual regional interests of peace and prosperity.

End the Occupation – Now!

As a result of the 1967 Six Day War, Israel gained control of the Golan, Sinai, Judea and Samaria, and united its holy city and capital, Jerusalem. Until that war, all of those areas had been under the control of Israel’s neighbors – Syria, Jordan and Egypt. When those neighbors banded together in a scheme to eliminate the Jewish state in their midst, the attack did not play out as the Arabs had hoped. Not only did tiny Israel, in the first stages of establishing itself, survive the intended threat, but it was also able to expand its control into historically significant and strategically important land areas.

As might be expected, the young country was unprepared to establish a policy regarding the future of these areas. General Benny Peled tells in his memoirs of his disappointment when after capturing the Sinai, he learned that the political leadership had no plan drawn up for incorporating the newly acquired land. Israel under Ben Gurion and Golda Meir refused to consider handing over half of the Sinai in exchange for normalization of relations with Egypt, so Israeli cities, farms, bases and oil drills were established in Sinai during the 1970s. This policy was overturned when the Begin administration agreed to uproot all Jewish development and life from Sinai, giving the entire land over to Egypt. That arrangement, signed at Camp David, became the basis for the barrage of requests made since by Arab countries and Palestinian terror organizations demanding “land for peace.”

In 1980, after realizing the danger of having politicians negotiate away land of national and strategic importance, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem and Golan Law, which incorporated these areas into the State of Israel. At the same time, they nationalized the residents of these lands by granting them Israeli citizenship. Although this law is still contested by other countries, Israel internally regards these areas as having the same status as any other parts of the country, and Israeli law governs their residents in the same way as it does citizens elsewhere in Israel.

Israel’s lack of a consistent and comprehensive policy regarding the areas of Judea and Samaria (aka “The West Bank”), has encouraged the growth of the Palestinian movement in the direction of the PLO and its many factions, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the multiple anti-Israel propaganda operations worldwide. They all thrive on Israel’s mixed messages and displays of insecurity pertaining to the rights of the Jewish people to this land and Israel’s responsibility to govern this area as it does all other parts of the country.

The political and legal classification of Judea and Samaria as “under military rule” is bothersome and should be eliminated. Israel is one country between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and should have one law for all citizens and residents – without separation between regions.

Media and foreign organizations wrongfully portray the Israel Defense Force’s security measures as ethnic discrimination, which simply cannot be the case, seeing as Israel’s army and government include members of all the religious and ethnic groups in the country. Jews and non-Jews alike share all areas and enjoy the same infrastructure, services and all other opportunities.

Non-Jewish communities in Israel – Druze, Bedouin and Cherkezi – have proven that non-Jewish residents of Israel can be full partners in the Zionist effort without forfeiting their own cultures and religions. These examples should serve as a model for Israeli policy throughout all parts of its territory.

Arab residents of Judea and Samaria should be offered the privilege of aligning themselves with the Jewish State, its laws and national symbols. They should be able to demonstrate loyalty though volunteerism in the country’s military or national service like all other citizens, and they should then be eligible for its benefits. Naturally, fifth-column type activities could not be tolerated. People who might consider exploiting Israel’s openness and hospitality in order to undermine security and the Jewish character of the state would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. As expected for any other country, the Israeli government and legal system should implement all measures necessary to secure the nation’s stability and future.

Israeli leadership should have annexed Judea and Samaria many years ago. Now, 20 years after Oslo, when it is common knowledge that the PLO’s Palestinian Authority experiment is a failure, it is time to acknowledge that there is no alternative to incorporating all areas under Israeli control as official parts of the State of Israel.

Published on Algemeiner.com

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