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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

 

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

Romney Jerusalem visit: Good intentions, bad timing

Four years ago, I wrote a column criticizing an American presidential candidate for coming to Israel as part of his election campaign. I felt that he was manipulating our country as a backdrop for a photo op. He wished to transmit a message from here to his Jewish voters – and more importantly, his Jewish donors – that they could clear their consciences. They could support him and still be able to call their Jewish mothers and tell them that Obama is a friend of Israel. As “proof” of that, he took time from his busy election campaign schedule to visit the Jewish state and tuck a note in the Westen Wall.

Back then, I had a feeling that a man who had been affiliated with racist haters of Israel – the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan and Chicago preacher Jeremiah Wright – would not grow into a true lover of Israel, and I was right. I was wrong, however, in thinking that this publicity stunt wouldn’t help him, and that the American people would see through it and could be trusted not to elect a man so bad for their own interests and so bad for the long special relationship between America and Israel.

I  did not realize then how Obama would use this blessing from the land of Israel and succeed in raking in major Jewish support in America. Nearly 70% of America’s Jews voted for Obama in the last elections. Apparently, they are not reading my column – or at least weren’t reading it back then.

But let’s be clear, American support for Israel is not a side issue or a favor to Israel and the Jews. This is not an issue of dual loyalty. As many American Christians and others have come to realize, the practice of blessing Israel blesses them in return. A strong Israel is a benefit to America, because it is a reliable ally, like no other in this difficult region, maybe like no other anywhere.

For those who believe in the Bible, the explanation is easy to come by. In Genesis 12:3, G-d promises a blessing to those who bless Israel. For those who don’t read the Bible, our track record will have to do. America has never gone wrong for standing with Israel, and has not done so well when it hasn’t.

Today, I remember the piece I wrote on Obama’s campaign visit to Israel, as another American presidential hopeful makes his show of support for the Jewish people.

I am hopeful that Romney wins the elections in the US in November. I really don’t know what expect from him, but hope that Obama will be leaving office ASAP. Romney’s repeating of the expected mantra about America standing with Israel if Israel attacks Iran is not very convincing, and is pretty close to meaningless. Iran is not the private problem of the State of Israel – it is a concern for the entire free world.

We would like you to win

A true friend of Israel will give full backing to rewriting of the format and expectations for peace in the Middle East, recognizing the total failure of the Oslo and Road Map concepts, and acknowledging that we live in new circumstances after the fall of Gaddafi, Mubarak and soon-to-fall Assad (and King Abdullah). Continued efforts to bring life to the PLO by pretending that it is friendly, not corrupt, and that working with them is a realistic avenue for peace is the opposite of friendship to Israel (or the Palestinians, for that matter).

Regrettably, I feel unhappy today with Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel: not because of the intention, which I believe is good, but because of the choice of the visit’s date – which is terrible.

On this day, the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av, the Jewish people mark the anniversary of the destruction of our holy Temple in Jerusalem – the greatest symbol of Jewish national sovereignty in the land in the long history of Israel. This is the saddest day in our yearly cycle. We fast from before sundown the day before, until after sundown of the day itself. We go shoeless and do not bathe; we don’t even wash our hands or brush our teeth for some 25 hours. On this day, we sit on the floors of our synagogues and read the book of Lamentations.

This is not a day for us to host honored guests. In accordance with our tradition, we don’t even greet one another. How could our national leaders show such an important guest around without disregarding the laws and customs of our most intimate day of public mourning? But on the other hand, they do not want to be disrespectful to such a guest and turn him away.

I am very disappointed in those responsible for the timing of this visit. I do not expect Romney himself to learn all the manners and customs of the Jewish people, but I do expect one who sets out to repair relations with Israel to be a little more considerate.

Think of this distinguished visitor coming to the Kotel for a photo op, all shining clean and smiling – while walking by Jews sitting on the ground in mourning for our Temple that once towered over that very spot.

It is about as close as an insult to our dignity as could be conceived. It is something like coming to someone’s mother’s funeral and asking for cake, and then posting your picture all over the internet eating the cake, and commenting how much you love your host and promising to put in a good word for him if he has a problem with his neighbors.

Published on Ynetnews July 2012

Obama is welcome, but he won’t change anything

American President Barack Obama will be making his premiere visit to Israel next week. This will be the first time that he has visited here since he was first elected, over four years ago. The teams in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office and other administrative branches of government here are working very hard to ensure a pleasant stay for Mr. Obama. In the news, we read that he will have dinner with Israel’s new beauty queen, Yityish Titi Aynaw, a young lady who was born in Ethiopia and emigrated to Israel as a child.

We are not sure, however, if he will visit Israel’s most holy place, the Temple Mount, since the Islamic Hamas organization has issued a severe warning that a visit there would be “a diplomatic catastrophe.”

According to some reports, the American president plans to insult Israel’s academic community by excluding students of Ariel University from his address to Israeli university students. I had actually suggested that the president take a tour of Shomron to see the Barkan Industrial Park, the university and our organic farms and wineries. It’s a shame that he will be missing out on this tour.

I won’t be here during his visit, as I will be leading a delegation to the EU parliament in Brussels. Our group, headed by Shomron Regional Director Gershon Mesika, will be meeting members of the European Union Parliament to defend the products manufactured in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), in light of the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton’s statements calling for labelling and boycotting products from Judea and Samaria.

Many international officials are not aware of the benefits produced by the Jewish communities for both Jews and Arabs in this region the development and workplaces that they provide. We who live here are convinced that if the public and policy-makers had a more even picture of the reality on the ground, their opinions on the future of this area might be very different.

If President Obama and Catherine Ashton really care about the people who live here, they should be encouraging the expansion of Jewish communities (settlements) and support investment in projects that would bring more workplaces to the region.

Many have asked me if I expect President Obama’s visit to be a “game changer” on the peace process in the region, and if he will revive the Two State program. In truth, I think that Obama will have a nice visit in Israel. Then he will go home and life here will continue as it was before. People here are tired of arrogant western politicians who think that they know better than we do, how we can best get along with each other.

The Two State idea that the West has been pushing on us has proven, over the past 20 years, to be a total failure, as was the entire Oslo process. The plan of bringing in the PLO from Tunis to take control of the local Arab population in Judea and Samaria has brought only tragedy. The international community has funnelled in billions and billions of dollars, meant to assist the Palestinians in developing an economy that can provide for its residents. The donor states know that their money have been embezzled by the PLO leadership, but they continue to refuse to open their eyes and acknowledge that the Two State program is actually the biggest obstacle to peace.

I doubt that Obama is really interested in learning about the real problems of this area, nor do I expect that he has much to offer here. His visit will be short; he will be treated well and receive some media coverage. But he will go home and is primarily expected to find solutions to America’s problems. I wish him luck.

Published on YourMiddleEast.com April 2013

Welcome Obama to Visit Shomron

In response to my posts calling for American President Barack Obama to visit the Jewish communities in Shomron, some readers have asked “Why?”And they highlight the ways that he is historically an antagonist to the land of Israel’s agenda. This information is not a surprise to me. I do not mistakenly think that Obama is a friend to Israel, nor pretend he is really concerned with our best interests.

However he is the executive representative of a great nation – the citizens of which mostly do care for Israel. They deserve our act of good faith in showing hospitality to their national office. But there is more to this than just about showing appreciation and friendliness to the people of America.

We in Judea and Samaria (called “the West Bank” by some) have come to the realization that our greatest enemy is ignorance. Ironically, while so many people worldwide are voicing opinions regarding the issues at hand in this land, very few people have actually visited here. Very few have their own personal experience to draw from, when formulating their opinions. They call our communities “settlements,” but have never seen one. They have no idea what our residents are like, because they have never met a “settler.”

They speak in terms of “moving the settlers out of the West Bank,” but they have no perspective on the population size of our communities and the permanent investment in homes, schools, businesses, farms and so much more that exists here.

Normally, when I take international guests around on a day tour of Shomron, I need not “argue” our case. I prefer to just let them see for themselves. I like to call this day tour a “’Wow’ experience,” because the visitors just keep saying “Wow, I didn’t know this” and “Wow, I didn’t realize that.” I have found that letting people see it all for themselves is incredibly effective. Regardless of what a person’s political opinions are, he or she should have the opportunity to connect to reality and consider whether the solutions he wishes to suggest are realistic.

The fact is that there are some 350,000 Jewish people who live in the areas east of the Green Line, aside from those who live in the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The Jewish population in Judea and Samaria (not including Jerusalem) is 45 times more than the number of Jews who lived in Gush Katif. The disengagement from Gush Katif cost the State of Israel 2.5 billion dollars and now, some 8 years later, some of those displaced residents have still not been resettled in permanent homes. Do the math for argument’s sake – $112.5 billion dollars would be needed to carry out disengagement in this area.

Again, the point is to put all of these facts on the table for those who throw around ideas like a “Two State Solution,” in order to help bring that idea back down to the world of reality. One guest who visited with me in Shomron, a leader of JStreet and APN, told me at the end of the day that she still believes that we “settlers are the cause of the problem,”but that now, after seeing the region for herself, and absorbing the implications, she no longer believes that the “Two State Solution” is feasible. She blames us for ruining her dream of establishing a Palestinian state in “the West Bank,” but she understands that this plan is impractical and other concepts will need to be proposed.

It is important that those who bat around ideas for the future of this region meet with the Jewish residents here and learn for themselves that most Jews who live here have invested their lives in these mountains, are strongly motivated and plan to stay here forever. This is not about Hasbara and the intent to win over support from the other side. The issue here is to expose the facts on the ground. The Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are here to stay. Talk of moving them around is totally unrealistic. When people see and understand this, their narrative will naturally change.

So I do encourage not just Obama, but all people – Jews and gentiles, who are interested in Israel. Come to Shomron; see the reality behind the headlines that you read about in the news. Take back with you a personal account of what you have seen. I am sure that with firsthand information, your discussions on these issues will be much more meaningful and effective.

 Published on Israel National News, March 2013

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