Thursday, December 29, 2005


Profiles in Courage

Read this excellent report about the brave police and soldiers, who risked their careers for the sake of Eretz Yisrael.

Yes, there are things more important than job security. There is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you've done the right thing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Will this be in the news?

I really wonder if this will be in all the papers, especially abroad. Israel is being attacked, and everyone is ignoring it. Kiryat Shmoneh's peace and quiet has ended, and that's in addition to the threats from Egypt and the already frequent rocket attacks by the Arabs on Southern Israel.

Let's get our heads out of the sand and fight the enemy!

Saturday, December 24, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 23, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 23, 2005

I begin by wishing my Jewish friends a happy Chanukah, and my Christian friends a merry Christmas.

Briefly before Shabbat, primarily issues of a political nature...

[] New head of the Likud, Benyamin Netanyahu, is tilting left. What he is doing is attempting to appear centrist in an effort to draw centrist voters from the still-leading Kadima party. Am I comfortable with this? No. Do I understand his motivation. Yes.

He began by promising 2nd place on the list (with the consent of the Central Committee, which will of course accede) to Silvan Shalom, a Sharon buddy. He has since made other centrist statements, declaring that Likud is not a "far right" party. Critics are charging that he is not allowing Likud to be Likud, never mind a "far right" party. He challenged the wisdom of Sharon's unilateral disengagement, saying that he was able to negotiate real deals with the PA. Oi. It was on his watch that Hevron was given away.

One of Netanyahu's less acceptable moves was to try to banish Moshe Feiglin of Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership), on the right wing of Likud -- part of his effort to make Likud look more centrist. Not nice. Not fair. Not democratic. Apparently a deal has now been struck in which Netanyahu will not push Feiglin out if Feiglin agrees not to try for a place on the list. Last I heard, Feiglin, who has a distinct following and drew more votes in the primary than had been expected, agrees, saying that his goal is not to be in the Knessat anyway, but to influence thinking inside Likud.

With all of this said, however, I recognize that the priority is taking down Sharon's party, and this may be the only way to do it. The key, when he speaks about real negotiations with the PA is whether he would be serious about holding them to their obligations, such as dismantling terror and stopping incitement. IF (a big "if") that turns out to be the case, talk of "real" negotiations with the PA will remain no more than talk. As I've been discussing here, the PA is becoming ever more radical and there is not the remotest of chances of genuine peace negotiations with the PA carrying its weight. IF Netanyahu does not bow before American pressure as Sharon is doing and refrains from making undeserved concessions, then we will be OK.

In any event, this is all we have. It all bears the closest watching, because the future of Israel is quite literally at stake here.

[] There were again rumors -- which I didn't bother to report here -- of a resolution of the differences between National Union and National Religious Party so that they could form a united bloc for elections, which would substantially increase the number of mandates (number of seats in the Knesset) they would secure. But, again, sadly, it fell apart. Maybe they can figure it out before elections.

[] Polls show that while Kadima is still in the lead, Labor is slipping as people become disenchanted with Peretz. Where will these voters turn instead?

[] Sec. of State Rice has raised a great deal of ire here in Israel, from all sides, with public statements she has made supportive of the Kadima party. This is outrageous interference in internal Israeli politics.

Commentator Carolyn Glick, who works from solid information, says today that the Israeli gov't is increasingly distressed by the degree of US pressure being applied with regard to the crossings from Gaza to Israel. Increasingly, the US is taking the Palestinian side and making light of Israeli security concerns.

[] Kofi Anann, that staunch supporter of Israel, is now saying that when the Quartet (the US, UN, the EU and Russia) meet in the coming year to discuss "peace" issues, Jordan, Egypt and Saudia Arabia can participate in the discussions. Alarming and stomach turning. The tilt is clear, and I am very very much afraid that Bush is tilting along with the majority and less and less can be conceived of as a friend to Israel.

[] With regard to whether Israel allows voting for the PA elections to take place in Jerusalem: Now PA officials are saying that if Hamas wins because there were no votes in Jerusalem they will blame Israel. Cute, as always.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Anti-Semitism epidemic?

Not pleasant for sure. Read this.


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 22, 2005

From Israel
Arlene Kushner

December 22, 2005
[] According to a piece in today's Jerusalem Post, Yuval Steinitz, Chair of the Kesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, has accused Minister of Defense Mofaz of misleading the committee when he gave a statement that a final agreement had been reached with the Palestinians over the Rafah Crossing issue. Steinitz now maintains that no agreement has been reached. He said Mofaz outlined the agreement before the committee on Nov. 15, but then declined to provide a signed draft when requested to do so. Following this the committee launched its own investigation and came to the conclusion that there was no agreement and that Mofaz, eager to placate Sec. Rice, had acted as if there was. Very significant stuff if this is so. It would be very good news, in spite of the deeply distressing implications of a Minister of Defense who would misrepresent this way, because the agreement as presented was a security disaster. The Defense Ministry, says the Post, has had no response.
I find this particularly fascinating because I was following the process of finalizing the agreement closely. At one point after the agreement was announced, I heard that it had not been signed and this signaled to me a window of opportunity for stopping it before it was. But when I called the Ministry of Defense and asked them when there would be a signing, I was told there would not be. Several people told me that such agreements often go ahead without signing. Now let's see if something comes of this... Of course not officially signing what had been agreed to is different from not having even reached an agreement.
[] Speaking of the defense minister, Mofaz now says that a terror wave is imminent. Is this earthbreaking news, or what? There are currently six alerts of planned suicide bombings. Israeli Intelligence further indicates that there will be a spike in terrorism after the PA elections.
Minister Mofaz, in a meeting here yesterday with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, asked Suleiman to get the PA to curb attacks on Israel. Suleiman will be meeting with Abbas and pushing the issue.
There is a important difference of opinion among various political analysts here about Abbas's capacity to reign in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and curtail terrorist attacks on us. Some see Abbas sitting on his hands, refusing to give orders to his 60,000 security personnel, and are convinced that he could do so if he wished to, but prefers to keep Hamas strong for his purposes. This is certainly the way Arafat played it.
Others see the growning strength and influence of Hamas and question whether Abbas any longer has the power to reign in the situation without totally tearing the society apart, if at all. They see Abbas as having passed the point of no return here, with the influx of additional Hamas leaders via the Rafah crossing and the growing popularity of Hamas in the street.
I tend to fall in the latter catagory. Citing 60,000 security persons is impressive. But I am mindful of the fact that some of those "security" persons were co-opted from terrorist groups, and I remember interviews in which security persons have declared openly that they are no sure which side they are on and would not take on their Islamist brothers even if ordered to do so. I tend to see the PA -- which certainly could have taken on Hamas at one point and opted not to -- as close to non-existent in these spheres today, and the Palestinian society as on the verge of anarchy.
The implications of the two positions are at great variance: Those who see Abbas as capable of taking on Hamas but unwilling, will want to be tougher with him. Regrettably, some of those who see Abbas as not capable of handling it (I am not NOT among these), believe the answer lies with strengthening Abbas. This is what the EU and the US keep doing: pump more money in, give the security forces more professional guidance. Keep doing it even though it hasn't made a particle of difference until now.
At the moment, anyway, the government is taking a tough line, saying it will make no concessions when Abbas is not doing his part.
[] Israel finds itself in a bit of quandry with regard to the upcoming PA elections. Because of Hamas participation, Israel said it would not permit voting to take place in Jerusalem. The PA, which desperately wants to delay these elections and needs a hook for doing so, has now found it, saying that it wouldn't be democratic if the Arabs in Jerusalem cannot vote and so they may have to postpone the election. Israel, not wishing to allow the PA this out, is rethinking the matter. No final decision has yet been made.
[] The question I pose is what earthly difference it would make if Hamas won those PA elections. It seems we're dealing with terrorists in any event. I had reported here about a split within Fatah, with the Young Turks, headed by Marwan Barghouti, challenging the Old Guard. Well, the split, which would have weakened Fatah at the polls, has been averted. There will be only one Fatah list after all, and guess who is heading it? Marwan Barghouti, the terrorist currently serving five life sentences in Israeli prison. He, next to Yasser Arafat, is most responsible for the second Intifada, the terrorist war waged on us since 2000, which has taken some 1,000 Israeli lives. I predict once again that if he should win we will be accussed of keeping a democratically elected official of the PA in prison and there will be a huge outcry and demand for his release.
[] Bless him, Nobel Laureate Professor Yisrael Aumann addressed the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday on the matter of current government approaches to dealing with the Palestinians. Calling the "disengagement" a disaster, he insisted that patience is required. Drawing on his work in game theory, he explained the application of its principles to achieving gains in the political arena.
Continued withdrawals, he said, would lead to bloodshed, as they would indicate to the Palestinians that we don't know what to do and are merely acting for the sake of "doing something."
"The current drive for peace now, not tomorrow," he said, "is more likely to bring about the opposite." The Palestinians must understand that we are prepared to wait it out.
[] The material below from a report by Palestinian Media Watch ( indicates just how low Palestinian society has sunk:
"Transforming Palestinian society into one that unabashedly embraces terror has necessitated terror promotion at all levels of its social, educational and political infrastructure. One of the most important components has been the indoctrination of mothers to see the deaths of their sons as positive - even beneficial - for their sons and their family status.
The Palestinian Authority has accordingly made it a principle to honor not only suicide terrorists but also the mothers who actively send their sons on suicide terror missions, as well as the mothers who express joy after their sons' Shahada - Death for Allah.
A striking example of this glorification of mothers of terrorists is the case of Um Nidal, who has recently been chosen to be a candidate on the Hamas list in the upcoming Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections.
Um Nidal...participated in a farewell ceremony in which she sent her 17-year-old son to die through terror, "ordering him not to return except as a shahid [martyr for Allah]." In an interview recorded after her son murdered five Israeli teenagers in a suicide mission, she explained that it was a mother's love for her son that motivated her to be joyous over his Shahada death. Um Nidal's parting ceremony and interview were filmed, and turned Um Nidal into a heroine and role model in Palestinian society.
Um Nidal didn't stop at one son. She has proudly sent three of her sons to their death as terrorist shahids. Palestinian society has responded by dubbing her the "Al-Khansah of Palestine." Al-Khansa is a a heroic figure from Islamic history who is glorified and revered solely for celebrating the deaths of her four shahid sons. The PA has underscored the importance of joyfully sacrificing sons for Allah in many different ways, including by naming five girls' schools - in Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Khan Yunis and Rafah - after Al-Khansah, sending a clear message to young and impressionable girls about their future role as the mothers of shahids. Al-Khansah was also honored in the Palestinian Authority's recognition of International Women's Day.
Because of her status as a role model, Um Nidal...has been chosen to be a candidate on the Hamas list in the upcoming Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections. It is striking...that a woman could be chosen to be a legislator solely by virtue of her celebration of her son's terrorism and death.
[] Not at the top of the list in terms of priorities, but I wanted to mention this since it reflects on a whole worldview: The news coming out about Steven Spielberg's "Munich" is distressing, as he does moral equivalency. This is the story (fictionalized) of the Mosad agents who went after the terrorists who arranged the killing of Israeli athletes at the Olympics in Munich. So, we have terrorists killing Jews, and then, in this film, Jews killing terrorists, with everyone suffering equally and Mosad people anguished about having to be involved. The fact of the matter is that taking out those who were responsible for this heinous crime was essential. Please, be forewarned, should you be planning to see it.
For a clear perspective on the matter, you want want to see this site:

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Storm Troopers

Some terrible things have been going on in Israel. The police have been used to brutally repress demonstrations. Besides what I've seen on television, which is usually censored, I've been hearing terrible, frightening stories from my friends about what happened to their children.

Here's a short movie; it's in Hebrew, but you can just look at the pictures. The children ranged in age from about 12-20. Look at the police, big burly police. They used all of their superior strength and training to attack the kids, especially the girls.

It has taken a couple of months for the kids to react. They can't report the police, because the police don't wear tags, no identification. There's just this movie, and it doesn't show the worst of the brutality.

Another of the problems is that the "settlement leaders" have deserted the kids on the field. It is another complaint of the kids. They were educated to settle the Land, and they want to. I'm very proud of these kids. Without settlement, the country will die.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 20, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 20, 2005

[] As some, if not most, of you undoubtedly already know, Binyamin Netanyahu has won the Likud primary solidly. As he garnered 44% of the vote, no run off will be required. He did substantially better than Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who got 33% -- which was a surprise. Moshe Feiglin came in with 15%, which is better than had been expected, and Agricutural Minister Yisrael Katz got about 8%.

Netanyahu is now speaking about reinvigorating the Likud party -- which was demoralized as members ran to join Sharon -- and getting it back on track.

He offers our country -- never mind just his party -- the best chance for turning around before we are destroyed. (There is little doubt in my mind that we would be destroyed if we were to keep going in the direction in which we've been headed these last several months.)

Will he accomplish this? We can only pray so. Netanyahu has a reputation for slipperiness. What gives me hope here is that he is being backed and supported by people whose integrity I do trust: Foremost, Uzi Landau, who secured from him a written pledge to stay true to principles. But also Natan Sharansky. And Yuval Steinitz, Chair of the Knesset Foreign Relations and Defense Committte. If they continue to work with him, it should keep him on track.

Netanyahu's task between now and March, when national elections are to be held, is to convince the nation that Sharon's path is the way of destruction and that he is better able to keep us secure and flourishing.

There are so many unknowns that will have to be contended with between now and then that it's hard to predict how this will play out.

The best possible scenario I can see involves a unified right-wing bloc that would pull substantial votes and help set the national agenda within a coalition along with Likud.

[] PM Sharon was released from the hospital today. However, his doctors have insisted he remain in Jerusalem and not go down to his ranch, in case he needs to be re-hospitalized. This is in spite of the fact that the chief doctors in the hospital held a press conference attesting to his good condition. Just one source ran an item that quoted the doctors who actually cared for him, who say that he was worse than is being represented. (Conflicting statements abounded -- he was unconscious, he never lost consciousness; he was coherent, he was confused.) Not with certainty can I say that this one source is accurate, but there is a strong feeling here (much in line with what might be expected) that the severity of his condition is being scrupulously downplayed for political reasons.

[] Officials in Fatah are pressuring Abbas to delay elections because they fear a Hamas victory. Abbas says he cannot do this without Hamas consent, and there's no way in the world they would give consent. From their perspective, why should they? Should Abbas decide he will delay anyway (Egypt is pushing for this), there would likely be considerable Hamas violence following. They would not take this lightly, as they are already planning to assume cabinet seats in the new government. Hamas, it should be noted, has now started coordinating with the outlawed radical Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 19, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 19, 2005

[] Barry Rubin, Director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center, has written a superb and very somber piece in today's Jerusalem Post, entitled, "The death of Palestinian moderation."

His thesis, very simply, is that the forces rising in the Palestinian areas -- both Hamas and the young Turks of Fatah represented by Marwan Barghouti -- represent radical, hard line positions. There is no leader present speaking for moderation, and the agenda of Hamas, which is the destruction of Israel, is gaining ascendency.

He says, "For a dozen years, Palestinians have been subjected to an intense campaign of incitement to hate Israel and to believe that it will be defeated by violence. While many do not completely accept this and hold such reasonable goals as enjoying peaceful lives and educating their children, this perspective has no place in Palestinian politics today.

"In short: There is no peace process and there isn't going to be a peace process. This is disappointing and shocking to many around the world; it certainly runs contrary to their expectations. One day it might change but for the foreseeable future what is needed is a new framework for understanding the conflict. How about this one:

"Israel is tarted by genocidal reactionaries using terrorism, incapable of keeping their commitments, and unwilling to take the offer of their own state living alongside Israel in peace. As a result Israel has a right to defend itself and a claim for the world's support.

"...Now this process of collapse and radicalization has visibly passed the point of no return..."

Unfortunately (I've run into this problem before) there seems to be a lag time between when an article appears in the hard copy of the Post and when it is up on its website, and so I cannot yet provide a URL. This is a message that needs to be shared with decision makers in the States.

[] The threat of terrorism hangs over us. Every day there is something else. Today, outside of the Har Homa neighborhood of southeast Jerusalem, police caught two Palestinians teenagers, members of Hamas, who had come out of PA controlled Bethlehem. They had guns, firebombs, and the makings of pipebombs, and were planning a terrorist incident. Elsewhere a terrorist was caught with an explosive belt. And tonight an Israeli motorist on the Gush Eztion-Hevron road was targeted by a firebomb.

There seems to be a general rule, a very unfortunate rule, that there is no action taken by the Israeli government unless an incident is successful. If a car full of explosives intended to catastrophically blow up in a tunnel is caught before harm is done, if the belt with explosives is confiscated and safely exploded... it's as if nothing happened. But the intention for something to happen was there. The planning to make it happen was there. The Palestinian desire to do us major harm was exhibited. Yet if no Jews die, no action is taken. Jews have to die first.

[] There is growing concern about the barrage of Kassams coming out of Gaza. While Israel is responding by air, Minister of Defense Mofaz says there are no plans to re-enter Gaza on the ground. Not at this time, anyway. The talk is that ultimately such an operation may be necessary. Are you ready to guess where? In the area that used to be Gush Katif, to push back terrorist forces so that they are not close enough to aim at Ashkelon, where there is danger of a pipeline and powerplant being hit.

Forgive me, but the colossal idiocy of this entire situation, which we brought upon ourselves, defies description.

[] Ariel Sharon's health will undoubtedly be an issue in the upcoming campaign. And legitimately so. Sharon's stroke was minor and doctors have declared him fit to govern. But there have been whispers about his health for a long time that are now being spoken outloud. Sharon, at almost 78, is grossly overweight. He is heard to breath heavily sometimes, and has been seen dozing at meetings.

Sharon, and his party, will do their utmost to show how healthy he is. But it is exceedingly likely that this will pull down his drawing power come election time. There will be people who might have been inclined to vote for him who will now wonder if he should be given an additional mandate to govern.

What we're already seeing is a scrambling within the Kadima party. This is highly amusing, from where I sit. Kadima was founded on Sharon's initiative and on his personality; people followed him. Now those who followed are growing uneasy. Suddenly the message coming out is that people should know that Kadima is a REAL party, and not just about Sharon. My best laugh will come when (please G-d) the party falls on its face and these opportunists says, "Uh oh, we made the wrong decision. Now what?" As commentator Herb Keinon puts it, "Without Sharon, there is no cement keeping Shimon Peres and Shaul Mofaz in the same party."

[] The Likud primary. No word. Nothing to report, as yet, except that turnout is exceptionally low. Says candidate Shalom, "Likud has lost its fighting spirit." No prediction on what the low turnout portends in terms of a frontrunner (with a run off likely to follow). In polls it was reported that those for Shalom also said they weren't sure they would vote -- Netanyahu supporters were more likely to say they'd vote. However, elsewhere I read that Shalom's machinery for getting out voters was better and I know Netanyahu was calling for each supporter to bring another to the polls. Waiting is the name of the game...

Monday, December 19, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 18, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 18, 2005

[] As I write there is breaking news here that Sharon has been taken to the hospital. It appears he has had a mild stroke. He reportedly was having a meeting with Peres when he blacked out and was rushed to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital; he has regained consciousness.

[] The Likud primary is tomorrow. Benyamin Netanyahu and Silvan Shalom are still the frontrunners with Netanyahu ahead in the polls, anywhere from 20% to 1.2% depending on which poll you accept. (This teaches us something about the reliability of polls.) Accusations are flying hot and heavy. Netanyahu charges Shalom with planning to turn Likud into an extension of Sharon's Kadima party; my understanding of the situation is that he's not wrong on this. Reportedly Shalom, relying on the old Sharon machinery, has better mechanisms for getting out the vote.

In order to win the primary, the frontrunner must receive at least 40% of the vote; if he does not there will be a run-off. The fact that there are two other candidates -- MK Yisrael Katz, Agriculture Minister, and Moshe Feiglin, head of the Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction -- trailing behind, but nonetheless drawing votes from the frontrunners, makes it more likely that this will be the scenario.

130,000 Likud party members will vote. Ynet reports that Netanyahu is requesting Likud members who do come to vote to sign a loyalty pledge that they will not vote for another party. This seems a strange thing to do. You can belong to one party and vote in that party's primary, and then vote for another party in an election. The impetus for this action is clear, however: There are people registered in Likud who are Sharon loyalists and fully intend to support Kadima, but are planning to vote in the Likud primary to support Sharon's candidate.

[] There is news of renewed negotiations between National Union and National Religious Party regarding unification for elections. One of the major issues of contention has been the question of who would head the combined list, Benny Elon of NU or Zevulun Olev of NRP; apparently there is now talk of a compromise figure being brought in.

[] Military Intelligence Chief Aharon Ze'evi Farkash, cited by Ynet, believes we may be looking at the establishment of a Hamastan and a Fatahstan. That is, a separation of what is today considered PA territory into an area controlled by Hamas in Gaza and another controlled by Fatah in Judea and Samaria. Not implausible, when you consider the current situation.

[] A Kassam rocket fired from nothern Gaza has landed in an industrial zone south of Ashkelon, for the second time in just days. There were no casualties, but potential targets in the area include a major oil pipeline, a power plant, and a desalination plant. IDF response has been to bomb the routes in Gaza taken by the terrorists en route to launching the rockets.

Reportedly this evening Defense Minister Mofaz is meeting with security officials to discuss how to deal with the growing threat to Israeli cities of Kassam rockets.Are they surprised that this is happening? There was ample warning that it was coming, in spite of Sharon's declarations that the "disengagement" would improve our security situation.

I wonder if people see it yet: That the brave residents of Gush Katif took the hits that the rest of Israel is now starting to get worried about. They weren't 'parasites,' getting perks and causing expenses, they were a first line of defense and protected the rest of us from a great deal.

[] In my book it's an unacceptable outrage: Azmi Bishara is an Israeli Arab and a member of the Knesset; he is the founder of the National Democratic Assembly party. This past week, not for the first time, he travelled out of the country and made inflammatory and hostile (if not technically treasonous) remarks about Israel. In Lebanon without having received official permission to visit a hostile country, he gave talks and made a statement for the Lebanense newspaper Al-Safir. Among the things he said:

"[The] 1.2 million Palestinians living in Israel...are like all Arabs, only with Israeli citizenship forced upon them. We are the original residents of Palestine, not those who came from Poland and Russia." "Return Palestine to us and take your democracy with you. We Arabs are not interested in it."

Democratic principles that permit freedom of speech are critically important. But how does a nation allow someone who does not subscribe to the principles of democracy, but rather uses those principles for his own subversive ends, to remain a member of the parliament? His suggestion that Israeli Arabs had citizenship "forced" upon them rankles, as well.

[] You may have picked this up. I believe it to be of more than passing interest:

Last week former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, gave an interview with the NY Sun, in which he said that he believes that Iraq moved its chemical weapons to Syria six weeks before the Iraqi war started. I have long been under this impression because of various intelligence reports I've seen. And you don't find military men much straighter than Moshe Ya'alon. (He was fired by Sharon for refusing to play the game and speaking about the disaster that would follow the "disengagement.") This statement comes in the face of President Bush's declaration that he functioned on erronious information regarding Iraq's WMD. Says Ya'alon, no one has gone to Syria to look for these weapons.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


A post from a friend...

My friend sent me this.

בס"ד December 15, 2005

Judging the Soldiers
by Rachel Bar Yosef

One of the moral quandaries that grips us as we muddle through our existential struggle here in Israel has to do with soldiers. In the run-up to the expulsion, we agonizingly debated the morality, or lack thereof, of ordering soldiers to evacuate their fellow Jews (officers, the government), or ordering soldiers not to obey (rabbis), or, between loyalty to Tsahal and conscience, deciding on priorities (the soldiers themselves).
The expulsion, to our great misfortune, is behind us, but the moral dilemma has metastasized. Many of the friends of the akurim routinely pick up hitchhikers, especially in Yesha, where bus service is spotty, but they report that if the hitchhiker is a soldier, they first ask him or her what he/she was doing at the time of the expulsion, and they refuse to give a ride to anyone who had a hand in the great crime. In the impotence we all feel, this is one of the few protests drivers feel they can make.
I understand the pain and the impotence, but I’m uncomfortable with the stand these people are taking. Every single Israeli whose feelings and conscience haven’t been numbed by the good life (that means, actually, not very many people) has had to deal with the soldiers’ quandary in his own heart: What would I do in the same circumstances? Shimon would listen to his rabbi and his conscience. Levi would conclude, despite the pain involved, that such conscientious objection could weaken Tsahal, G-d forbid, which is the defense arm of ראשית צמיחת גאולתנו, and pose an equally existential threat. Neither Shimon nor Levi’s decision would be made lightly. No soldier’s ultimate decision was made lightly, and who can forget that this is children we’re talking about, these 18- and 19-year-olds thrust into this position requiring the wisdom of Solomon.
Something else: there are other soldiers whose decisions and behavior have not been unimpeachable, whom the driver-boycotters-of-undesirable-trampistim might also consider punishing. These are fewer in number, but for someone who’s judging, they shouldn’t be let off the hook. I’m referring to the sons of the Mothers in Black and their followers. I don’t remember reports of any of these boys saying, “Mom, please don’t interfere. You’re embarrassing the hell out of me.” Where were the soldiers who felt their government’s and their commanding officers’ directives were the product of a sovereign state implementing its decisions, which were duly arrived at after weighing strategic as well as political and values-based considerations most of us are not privy to? Did they forget, in the admittedly perilous position defenders of the settlements and settlers were often in, that the reason a sovereign state trains and arms its young people is that for a state to stay sovereign, some people are going to have to put their lives on the line to defend civilians and territory? Might the path chosen by all those made uncomfortable by confrontation and “militarism” not have been the easy way out? How portentous were the outcomes of the interference of those photogenic women, together with their sons’ complicity! For someone who’s judging, I think those soldiers should also be held to an accounting.
(In college in the 60s, I had a job one summer working for Headstart. My pre-kindergarten was in the Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park, where all of the children were Hispanics. At some point during the summer, we aides helped administer a standardized test. We had answer keys to guide us in the assignment of points to the children. One section of the test asked the children to define certain words and concepts, and I remember one delightful child who responded to the item asking what a soldier is, “He stands up straight and kisses his mother good-bye.” His answer was worth zero points, according to the answer key. Where on earth is the one who will give the writer of the answer key a failing grade?)
In the pain and turmoil we all feel, sticking it to a soldier of whose actions during the expulsion we don’t approve gives us the illusion of having the upper hand. For a fleeting moment, we’re in control of a situation. If Ariel Sharon were thumbing a ride and we could leave him behind in the dust, that might be a meaningful act of protest. If Ariel Sharon were thumbing a ride. But turning a soldier-hitchhiker of whom we disapprove down is unseemly. It’s the wrong time, and the wrong place, and the wrong face. It’s also unfair to the poor soldier. And like a valve to let off some steam, it weakens pressure that could be better harnessed to truly be a moving force.


Ir Ha'emuna, An Update of an Update

This was sent to me by a friend.


December 14, 2005
An Update of my Update

I spent a good part of yesterday at Ir HaEmuna talking to people, and again, as always, I came away inspired. Depressed, but inspired.
The physical conditions are terribly difficult. We’re having unusually warm weather here in Israel lately with what I believe the meteorologists call an inversion—if I close my eyes I can imagine what the polluted air I’m breathing is doing to my lungs. But there’s certainly no need to shlep a coat or umbrella when I go out. When this breaks and it gets cold, and when and if the rains come (pray!), they’ll be coping again with those discomforts in their tents and caravans (they could change the name of The City of Faith to The City of Mud).
They’re still a very long walk away from the nearest town, Netivot, and very much off the beaten path, although there are usually intrepid people who make it their business to visit—there’s me, for one, whose daughter lived there until a month ago until she and her husband couldn’t stand it any longer and went elsewhere, and others, my guess is they’re almost exclusively from the religious public. While I was sitting with N and A in their tent kitchen, a woman from Monsey came with her son and joined us for a cup of coffee. They were in Israel for her son to put on tfillin for the first time tomorrow. So the evacuees are not totally forgotten, and they love every visit and every visitor.
Everything in Ir HaEmuna is makeshift. You have to stand in awe at the people’s resourcefulness. How there can be rooms and a measure of privacy inside a tent beats me, but there are, with even pictures hanging on the “walls”. There are all kinds of arrangements for getting from ground level up to the doorways of the caravans, and one favorite is piling up paving stones strategically. My niece’s husband S had their little girl in his arms and fell down the “steps”, breaking his leg. The child, luckily, was unharmed.
I still saw only two washing machines and one drier in the vast public area, though by now many people have acquired their own washing machines and other expensive necessities. One of the two banks of public toilets was out of commission for the whole day while some repairs or other were being made (the public toilets serve those whose homes are in either tents or meguronim, which are plumbingless caravans, as well as anyone who might live in a caravan with a bathroom but is at the wrong end of the enclosure at the moment he needs to go to the john). The communal kitchen is well organized. At lunchtime, women come with their own plastic containers and help themselves to whatever and however much of the offerings they need for their families, but the catering service is very partial to spicy seasonings, fried foods, and lots of carbohydrates. My niece asked E, who’s in charge of the kitchen, if there couldn’t be a fish and/or soy option once in awhile, but E told her that most of the people never touch the stuff.
On the positive side, the public area is clean and tidy. The dwellings of some people are, too, and of some others are not, just like in normal communities. You see a few people walking around purposefully, going about their personal or community business, but there’s good reason to believe depression is gaining a foothold with some, or many, more and more with each passing day and the future still very uncertain. The children are all in school and Talmud Torah, and I believe everyone is very pleased with everything having to do with their schooling. (M, who’s responsible for education, told me one of their greatest needs is money to pay the salaries of the melamdim—for anyone reading this who wants to help but doesn’t know how.) There are outings and chugim, some right in the tent city and some in nearby Bet HaGeddi or Netivot.
On the subject of donations, my niece T pleads, “Don’t send us any more used clothes and shoes!” She told me how burdensome it is to have to go through the piles and piles of cast-offs that get dumped in the middle of the Ir, sorting and folding neatly for people to come and help themselves. It’s not that no one ever needs anything. Some items do get taken and used sometimes, but T feels it’s an insult not to be asked, “What do you need?” Sometimes people have had to drop what they’re doing, sometimes even having to drive somewhere to pick stuff up. My friend A volunteers the information that what’s needed most is money. For people to be able to hold their heads up high until they’re on their feet again, they have to be able to make their own choices. A. told me of one woman who can’t invite her married daughter for a cup of coffee in the crowded conditions she’s living in, because the children run in and out and it’s impossible to have a satisfying conversation with her daughter. Having a little money to go with her daughter to a bet cafe is a basic need, not a luxury, for this woman. It’s important to establish and maintain contacts with whatever individuals in this plight one might know, in order to stay on top of what needs there well as to let them know there are people who care.
Someone made a big donation, which was used to buy an enormous expanse of some kind of canvas, which I saw being strung up to enclose the windy and rainy side of the tent city. They’re hoping that the next time it rains, which please G-d will be soon, they’ll be spared a lot of the chill, wet, and mud, and the middle-of-the-night mopping up. There are fewer power failures than there were at first, and they found a way to improve the acoustics so that the perpetual noise from the generator no longer plagues them, while any sound produced at one end of the enclosure isn’t clearly heard at the other end. T (not my niece; a different T) told me about one night soon after the expulsion when she couldn’t sleep. She decided to eat an apple, but when she took a bite, the echo was deafening and she was afraid she’d awaken her family, so she stepped outside the tent. But there she saw the men were having some kind of a meeting, and her apple would distract them. OK, she figured, scratch the apple!
I’m no psychologist, but among the people I talked to yesterday, no one seemed depressed. The one woman who someone with a more practiced eye might consider depressed had enough anger in her to offset any depression she might be feeling. Z is furious with the government, the despised minhelet (the body that’s overseeing the administration of the resettlement effort, such as it is), and the people into whose village they’re slated to be moving and setting up their new permanent community, who seem to her to be driving a hard bargain with the government for their houses and land, while they talk as if their motivation is pure patriotism and selflessness.
Another woman, N, the one to whose tent the woman from Monsey came, is disappointed and angry at how for most people life is going on as if nothing had happened to the people of the Gush and northern Shomron. N. never expected much sympathy from anyone without some connection to hahityashvut, but feels very let down that the religious public are not involved enough. She told me that for the people of the Gush, the school year didn’t start on September 1st, like for everyone else, but a month later. Why, she asked, couldn’t there have been a strike, even for half a day, on that first day of school; why couldn’t someone have been a spokesman for these people who’d been robbed of everything, even of their voices, saying, “As long as there’s no school for the children of the Gush, we’re striking for these few hours in sympathy with our brothers and sisters”?
I remember when I was teaching at a Chicago inner city high school in the 60s, I used to take the subway home at the end of the day, and one of my students, a kid who always seemed very well-adjusted and laid-back to me, would ride with me as far as the Loop, where he had a job at the Post Office. On the last day of the school year, as he got up to get off the train, I said to him, “Have a good summer, Lewis!” and I got a nasty surprise when his voice turned bitter and he said, “That’s easy for you to say—you don’t have to live here.”
No one in Ir HaEmuna would ever make such an utterance. That’s their nobility. They’re proud, gentle, and fortified by their faith and by their vision of rebuilding their homes and their community, continuing to see their fate and the fate of Eretz Yisrael as being intertwined. They deserve our gratitude, our respect, and our embrace. As long as our brothers and sisters are suffering from the cold and the damp and the mud; from lack of privacy, disruptions of their family life, unemployment, not knowing where they’ll be spending the Seder, let alone where they’ll be living two or five years from now; and from wondering whether in their new home they’ll again be subject to patzmarim and kassamim and to a nation that gets cold feet and trades their homes and land away yet again in exchange for promises of a cessation of hostilities—for as long as they’re still suffering, we in our warm homes must be sensitive to their needs and remember that their fate is ours, and act accordingly. יש"ע זה כאן, and עיר האמונה זה כאן.


C is for...


The Carnival of Vanities and the Carnival of Liberty, which include lots of thought-provoking posts, including ours.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 17, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

Motzei Shabbat (Saturday night) December 17, 2005

[] It's not going to get better and it's very likely to get a whole lot worse in coming days. The terrorism, that is. It was predicted by Israeli intelligence and security persons before the "disengagement." Now what Sharon has wrought in this nation will become more and more obvious. The Palestinians said it plain: We believe our terrorism in Gaza drove the Israelis out of Gaza, and so now we will increase our terrorism in the West Bank to get the Israelis to move from there as well. Who was listening?

Yesterday, in the Hevron hills south of Jerusalem, there was a drive-by shooting by Arabs riding in the opposite direction from the car they attacked. Two passengers were wounded, while a third, Yossi Shok, from Beit Hagai, a 35 year old father of five (including an infant girl), was killed.

So painful to read that shortly before this attack a local roadblock had been removed by the IDF.

How many times does this point have to be made? Every time we reduce our guard and show "good faith" someone pays for it with his/her life.

A friend of Shok, Yair Lior, lamented, "We pray that we will be delivered from this government that does not care about the spilled blood of Jews."

Both Islamic Jihad and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility; but Judea and Samaria Division Commander Yair Golan said that the specific attackers were part of the same cell of terrorists responsible for the deaths of five Israelis in the area. Some four months ago, two Israeli teenagers were killed in a similar drive-by at the hitchhiking post near Beit Hagai.

[] Now things are being tightened up -- for the time being anyway -- across the country, in the face of multiple attacks, not just this one. In the last several days,
IDF, operating in and around Nablus and Jenin uncovered the following:* An explosives laboratory in the Massaken Sha'abiya neighborhood in Nablus. In the laboratory were found an explosive belt ready for use, a projectile rocket, 160 pounds of explosives, an electronic system used for cellular activation of a network of explosive devices, a small explosive device and a large quantity of raw materials used for the manufacturing of explosives. * A number of explosive devices, weighing hundreds of pounds, in a well in the village of Kabatya, southeast of Jenin. Four wanted Islamic Jihad terrorists were arrested in the operation.* Two metal cans filled with explosives were found in the possession of a 15-year-old Arab boy who arrived at the Hawara Crossing, south of Nablus. This crossing has caught multiple terrorists attempting to slip through. * Two pipe bombs were confiscated at a temporary roadblock west of Jenin and a belt full of ammunition confiscated at another roadblock south of the city.

This is all very bad news, folks.

[] I had referred in my last posting to the likelihood of a trial run of bus convoys between Gaza and Judea/Samaria for the "free passage" deal in the Rafah Agreeement. That never happened. This is part of the "tightening up." Israel is balking in the face of the escalating terrorism. May the spines of those responsible for making decision on the Israeli side continue to be strengthened. The terrorists are heating up in Judea and Samaria, and we should bring people from Gaza to that area?

[] Marwan Barghouti -- the terrorist serving five live sentences in Israeli prison -- has been promoting an alternate Fatah list for the elections. This represents, quite clearly, a contest between the old guard and the young turks of Fatah. The old guard has been negotiating with Barghouti and trying to get him to pull back on this action. What he proposes represents not only a slap in the face to the old guard, it would create a split in Fatah strength that would benefit Hamas come election time.

[] Speaking of Hamas and the elections in the PA...

Many of you have undoubtedly already heard about the overwhelming vote in the US House of Representatives (bless them!!) passing a resolution that all US aid to the PA be cut unless the PA set criteria for groups running in the elections; criteria include acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state, stopping terrorism and condemning the use of violence, and halting incitement. While other smaller groups would also be affected, clearly it is Hamas that the legislators had in mind in this attempt to stop the blatantly terrorist group from strongly influencing if not running away with the January elections.

Now a representative of PA president Mahmoud Abbas has said, "...this does not serve the peace process nor the US efforts to maintain peace in the region...all Palestinian parties have a right to participate...Otherwise the elections wouldn't be democratic."

And that old standby Saeb Erekat, pointing out that the PA's electoral law allows anyone to run, added, "On the other hand, we have have a law that forbids the use of weapons and incitement in mosques and churches."

I love it when they give me the chance to run these idiotic statements.

For the record I remind everyone that the pulpits of their mosques constitute one of their favorite venues for venom-filled incitement.

The bottom line: At this point the PA pretty much has no choice but to let Hamas run, because of the strength Hamas has today in the street and the physical threat it represents: their people would tear the place apart (or that part of it not already torn apart) if banned at this point. But at the same time the current Fatah majority of the PA is plotzing (having a small fit) over the propect of having to share legislative power with Hamas. So they babble about "democratic process" and such.

What does all this say about genuine prospects for peace? And why are there still people talking as if it is around the corner?

[] Allow me to be politically incorrect here, and to tell the truth in the process.

The Jerusalem Post Magazine on Friday ran an exposé on the violence against women in the Israeli Arab community. One story relayed, which will give readers a feel for what we're talking about here:

In the Druse community of Shfaram, near Haifa, there was a young girl who was dating a Muslim boy who wasn't Druse. What is more, there was suspicion that she was sleeping with him. This brought shame and loss of honor to not only the Hasson clan that she came from, but the whole community. So the father, with the assistance of two uncles, took the situation into his own hands, and hung his daughter from a tree.

"Everyone was celebrating, it [the hanging] was beautiful," a young man from the Hasson clan told the author of the article. Said a leader in the community, the men of the clan were "ashamed to be seen on the streets," but now, "from the way they carry themselves, my impression is that [the hanging] has been good for their morale. The family has gotten its pride back."

The father and uncles, caught in this instance (although typically no one talks) are being charged by Israeli authorities. But there are some ten such killlings within the Muslim community each year. In some instances women have been killed for "staying out late and smoking" or "leaving the house frequently."

Why do I write about this here? Because it is related to what we are dealing with. In a companion article in the Post, there is discussion about what can be done with regard to the problem of abuse of Arab women. According to Professor Muhammad Haj-Yahia, an expert on Arab domestic violence in Israel, "...there are very high percentages of Arab men who justify abuse."

He says that many Arab men are educated as children to view violence as a legitimate way of solving problems.

And this is why I am writing about it. The professor believes Arab men must be taught alternatives to violence because he is concerned, very legitimately, with saving Arab women. But let's extrapolate for a moment: Would a society in which the men are raised to see violence as a legitimate tool for solving their problems be capable of making a genuine peace? Doesn't this underlying attitude speak to the way in which the Palestinians resort to terrorism instead of sticking it out at the negotiating table? And isn't genuine education for peace over the course of a generation going to be necessary before peace can truly be anticipated?

[] Ending on a lovely note. Because of Israel's strategic geographic location between continents, it is one of the prime sites in the world for bird watching, as all sorts of birds cross our territory in migration. That migration takes place over the winter and before our winter is done, almost 500 million birds -- from song birds to raptors -- will fly over the Hula Valley in the north. Tens of thousands of these are cranes, and for some reason they arrived a month early this year and in greater numbers than ever.

Life does go on here, and it can be beautiful...

Friday, December 16, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 15, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 15, 2005

[] A Newsweek article in which Sharon aide Kalman Gayer was quoted as saying that Sharon is planning more unilateral withdrawals in Judea and Samaria and that for peace he would give up 90% of this area as well as part of Jerusalem is causing quite a furor here.

Sharon, on the defensive, is vociferously denying this -- in particular with regard to Jerusalem. But what is a Sharon denial worth?

[] Already the Kadima party is losing some of its glitter. Polls this week indicate that the party would receive some 7 fewer seats than was predicated last week. It is said that the rush of Hanegbi and then Mofaz to leave Likud and join was viewed by the public as opportunistic.

[] As a result of protests, the Supreme Court has ordered that construction of the Security Fence in the area of Gush Etzion -- which was about to begin -- be stopped for five days while the issues are reviewed. The residents of Gush Etzion, with excellent reason, are up in arms about the planned route of the fence, which will strangle the communities and put many at risk. More and more it becomes clear that what was supposed to be a temporary defensive measure to protect Israelis from infiltration into their communities by terrorists is intended by Ariel Sharon to ultimately constitute the final border of Israel. The path the fence is taking is convoluted, and keeps changing for political rather than security reasons. In the region of Gush Etzion there is a forest/nature preserve at risk as well.

[] Yesterday a missile strike killed four terrorists driving in a car in Gaza to the Karni Crossing leading into Israel. Their car was loaded with explosives and their plan had been to blow it up at the Crossing, and then fire on Israeli soldiers. It has been revealed that a Palestinian Authority policeman stationed at the Crossing was involved in this plan: He had passed intelligence information to them and intended to let them drive their car to the checkpoint.

[] This morning IDF forces arrested a Palestinian woman in the West Bank village of A-Sira A-Shamaliya suspected of planning to commit a suicide bombing.

[] This afternoon the IDF intervened in what might would have been a far more catastrophic car bomb attack. Soldiers found a car packed with explosives parked near Beit Jala, on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion Tunnels Highway. Inside the car were gas canisters, a pipe bomb, and gas-soaked tires and other materials. Terrorists apparently planned to send the car rolling one of the highway's two tunnels, and detonate it there.

[] Also today a Kassam rocket of a larger than usual size hit the industrial area of Ashkelon; there were no injuries.

In the past two weeks there have been 92 rockets and mortar shells fired on Israel.

[] Under continuing duress from the U.S. to start the "safe passage" convoys on time, Israel is still holding out and refusing to begin continuous runs. There is talk now about some trial runs of five trips/day and very stringent security measures (getting names in advance, restricting by age as young men are most likely to be violent, etc.).

[] Hamas has made a strong showing in municipal elections in PA areas -- sweeping in Jenin, Nablus, and El-Bireh near Ramallah. Their continuing strength represents a real threat to what's left of the PA (which ain't much), and radicalizes the political climate. I note again that while Hamas has opted to join the political fray it has in no way whatsoever renounced violence.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


and what about Jews who want to visit Kever Rachel, or just visit?

Spokesperson’s Office
2005-0005-1040Reference No:

December 14, 2005
יג כסלו תשס"ו

Press Release

Tourism Ministry Bureau Opens at Jerusalem-Bethlehem Crossing to Ensure Travelers' Smooth Passage

To ensure the smooth passage of tourists traveling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Israel's Tourism Ministry has opened a bureau at the 24-hour Rachel crossing point between the two cities. The bureau will coordinate between Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

"We are making every effort to smooth travel between Jerusalem and Bethlehem for pilgrims and tourists," says Israel' Minister of Tourism Avraham Hirchson. "We will continue cooperating with Palestinian and other tourism authorities in the region."

The bureau will operate five days a week between 08:30 and 17:00.

80,000 Christian tourists are expected to arrive in Israel for the Christmas holiday. Between January and August 2005, approximately 160,000 tourists made the trip between the two cities.


The Deportees

Yesterday I toured some of the Disengagement deportee homes. Here's my report.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


The Curse!

The area known as "Gush Katif" had never been part of any Arab nation, society or even neighborhood. According to local lore, it was cursed.

When the first Israelis moved there, the nearby Arabs were amazed and really didn't care, since they didn't consider it as a place to live or cultivate. There wasn't even the usual desert plants.

To their great amazement, the Jewish farmers turned it into one of the greatest successes in modern agriculture. The Israeli experts were also amazed, since nothing happened according to the predictions of the "experts."

Despite the success of the agriculture there and the millions of dollars in exports, the Israeli Government destroyed it all in what they called "Disengagement."

Foreign Jews even bought the hot houses and donated them to the Arabs in order to give them a chance at financial success. The Arabs, in their enthusiasm to destroy everything Jewish and Israeli, destroyed the hot houses. But now, the latest reports have come in that some Arabs have been attempting to inherit, or imitate, the Gush Katif agriculture business success.

To their great disappointment, the curse has returned. Gush Katif is only hospitable and fertile to Jews. The ancient Arab legends are true.


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 13, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 13, 2005

We have a variety of political/election news items today:

[] First is news about the advancement of democracy in the Palestinian Authority. Seems the Palestinian Central Election Commission has suspended operations, which places the upcoming elections in jeopardy. They could hardly be blamed for their action however, because the safety of their employees was also in jeopardy. Masked gunmen stormed their offices, firing their guns and destroying computers.

Apparently this is about a power struggle within Fatah. The young guard was victorious in the primaries, but Abbas, who is very old guard has final say on who will be on the ballot for Fatah. (I, of course, cannot explain why they bother to have primaries if this is the case.) Needless to say, the masked men represented the young guard -- members of Al Aksa Brigades, actually.

If the election is delayed, this will not sit well with Hamas, I suspect, as this terrorist group is slated to be quite successful. But Abbas is being pressured to postpone until things quiet down. Actually, Al Aksa members are so angry they say they will not let the election proceed in any event.

This was to be the first election to be held for the Palestinian Legislative Council in ten years. The original elections were held after the PA was established under Oslo. Terms of office expired in 1999. (Did you realize that the PA legislative gov't doesn't exist legally?) But somehow it was never the right time for another election with the Intifada and all that violence. I have a very vivid memory of interviewing by phone an assistant to Ahmed Qurei, who is now prime minister and was then speaker of the legislator. I was trying to find out when they were going to have elections. In the course of my discussion with him, I asked, "Aren't you excited? You have the right to vote?" His answer: "We voted once, why do we need to do it again?"

[] Last night I kicked off this posting by laughing about Omri Shoron's concern that if he is sentenced to prison before the elections in March, it will make people think that Kadima is corrupt. I have just one piece of information to add here:

Chaim Barbivai, the mayor of Kiryat Shmona, joined the Kadima party quickly after Sharon founded it. The news now is that he is to be indicted on charges of bribery. Pending the outcome of this, Barbivai has "suspended his candidacy" for a position on the Kadima Knesset list. Good idea.

[] The National Union (right wing, nationalist) party, headed by Rabbi Benny Elon, is kicking off its campaign, with the slogan "Orange Now." This is in reference to the color orange, worn this past spring and summer (and in some cases still now, in protest) by those opposed to the "disengagement." It will strike a strong cord. The message is obvious, and welcome.

There is still no word about a merger of National Union with the National Religious Party.

[] Netanyahu is still in the lead in the polls, with the primary election in Likud next Monday. What is promising is that Uzi Landau is going about with Netanyahu -- they are addressing crowds as a team. Landau's integrity is so high that he would not be doing this if he were not convinced that Netanyahu will hold tight to his committed positions.

[] "No Jerusalem, no peace." Such was the statement at a PA cabinet meeting yesterday of Ahmed Qurie, PA prime minister. He said that the PA will never give up its demand for sovereignty over Jerusalem, and that this is is a primary consideration for making peace with Israel.

Please note: He did NOT say "East Jerusalem" or "Arab Jerusalem." He said, "Jerusalem." It gets more blatant. This is in line with the attempts, which I write about, to "de-judaize" Jerusalem -- to promote the fiction that there were no Temples on the Mount, to claim the Kotel as theirs. And so on. This is a critical battle, not to be taken lightly.

My response, as a resident of Jerusalem? OK, no Jerusalem, no peace. Jerusalem is ours.

[] The news is full of speculation, still, regarding when Iran might become a nuclear power. Different news sources, however, tend to yield different information. It seems that there is a time gap of years between that point of no return, when Iran has the capability, and when the weapons are actually developed. Speculations vary as to how long this would take and when Israel would actually be at risk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Terrorism? What's that?

Israel's hear no terrorism, see no terrorism and don't call it terrorism government has decided to "ease restrictions" on the nebich terrorists.
December 12th, 2005

Easing of restrictions for the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip
Following decisions made by the political echelon and in continuation with the IDF's policy of easing restrictions on the Palestinian population, the following steps have been in effect since this morning, December 12th, 2005 in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip after the general closure that had been placed on these areas following the suicide bombing attack in the city of Netanya on December 5th, 2005.
Judea and Samaria:
Authorization for 16,000 Palestinian workers to enter and work in Israel.
Authorization for 12,500 merchants to enter and work in Israel.
Authorization for 1,000 workers to enter and work in the "Atarot" industrial zone.
Authorization for 500 workers to enter and work in East Jerusalem.

Gaza Strip:
Authorization for 7,000 workers to enter and work in Israel.
Authorization for 2,000 merchants to enter and work in Israel.
Authorization for 500 additional workers to enter Israel and work in factories that were relocated into Israel following the implementation of the Disengagement Plan.
The "Karni" goods crossing and "Suffa" security crossing will continue to function at full capacity, as they have throughout the closure.

Yes, since low level attacks causing light injuries are "perfectly acceptable" to Arik Sharon and his followers. It is clear that the safety of Israeli citizens is not a priority for the Sharon Government.

This is even more amazing, since we're in the "midst" of an election campaign, which should be a time to show more sensitivity to the security of our citizens. But in post-Zionist, post-Disengagement Israel it is clear that the government doesn't even pretend to protect us.

We must campaign harder for a political party that considers the needs of the country, the needs of its citizens as more important than anything else.


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 12, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 12, 2005

[] I try to maintain a sense of humor in the face of happenings here, whenever it is appropriate to take that approach. It helps me stay sane, no small task these days.

The subject below offers the perfect focus for a bit of lightheartedness in spite of everything. Consider:

MK Omri Sharon, son of Prime Minister Arik Sharon, today asked that a Tel Aviv court wait to hand down his sentence for corruption charges until after the coming elections.

Why? you may wonder.

His attorney explained: the current court date for sentencing falls in the midst of the national election campagin. As Omri's father is running for prime minister as head of Kadima, the media will focus attention on the court sessions, which may be used by opposing political parties to unduly influence the election and bolster the public's perception of Kadima as a party riddled with corruption.

OK, everyone: LAUGH! The Kadima party IS riddled with corruption. Omri himself is in Kadima. The head of the party, Arik Sharon, looking for re-election as prime minister, is also under investigation. Besides which there is probably not a soul in Israel over the age of about 16 who doubts that Omri took the fall for his father. He has been convicted of taking huge campaign funds illegally, but claims his father had no idea he was doing this. And then there's Tsachi Hanegbi, a new convert to Kadima, who is under investigation now as well and will likely be charged with having made illegal appointments.

Chairman of the Knesset Ethics Committee MK Aryeh Eldad described Omri Sharon's request as "nauseating." Eldad added that, "Omri Sharon is a confessed criminal who committed a crime specifically in order to cheat the electoral system, in order to use funds acquired illegally to distort the electoral system…Sharon's crimes are punishable by between three and five years in prison and he is requesting that his case just be put on hold until after elections?"

I love it. I will not love it, however, if the court finds for Omri in this matter.

[] One other election matter for today: The Jerusalem Post this morning reported that Sharon was not happy that Mofaz jumped the Likud ship and came over to Kadima. Interesting... The Post says Sharon was considering refusing to accept him. Seems part of the problem is what posts to give all these people. This is a party with all cooks and no bottle washers. Everyone wants a promise of a specific major appointment if Kadima wins.

Myself, I think, Mofaz fits right in at Kadima. Seems that at the very same time he announced his resignation from Likud, a letter to Likud supporters was in the mail promising that he would not leave Likud, no matter what.

One further point here: Kadima is the epitome of non-democractic process. There has been no time to establish a rank and file membership for this new party. There is no Central Committee. Sharon himself will determine the list for the election.

[] We've had our laugh, and now it's time to get serious:

According to a report by Arutz Sheva, the Palestinian Authority’s Office for Religious Affairs claims that the Kotel (the Western Wall), the last structural remnant of the Second Temple, is Moslem property.
The PA office claims Moslem ownership of the Western Wall by referring to the wall on its website as the Al-Boraq Wall. According to Moselm legend, the wall is the place where Mohammed tied his horse, named Boraq, before ascending to heaven.

I have addressed this issue here before and undoubtedly will again. This is not an esoteric argument, but goes to the heart of our rightful place as Jews here in this land. There is a concerted Muslim effort to read us out of our own history and our own heritage.

[] The Palestinian Media Watch ( reports that Hamas has a new campaign video in which it declares it will not give up the struggle until Israel is destroyed. It also celebrates their love of death as superior to the Israeli love of life.

Hamas is fast becoming a major political contender in the PA elections and setting the political agenda. In the face of their challenge, moderation is out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 11, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner
December 11, 2005

[] How nice to begin by writing about something up and cheerful: It's a boy -- of weight and name unannounced as yet -- born to a Thai elephant named Tamar at the Jerusalem zoo early Saturday morning. During my trips to the zoo, I have long been fascinated by the Thai elephants, gifts of Thailand some ten years ago. Asian elephants, smaller than African elephants, are an endangered species, and this baby, conceived by artificial insemination, is considered a victory for the preservation of the species. The elephants have three handlers (two Thai and one Palestinian, apparently) who remain with them at all times -- they are the only handlers who actually live on the zoo premises -- their presence keeps the elephants calm. The animals are kept busy via various routines, and are actually taken out of their compound for walks around the zoo. It's neat.

If you're planning a trip to Israel -- even if you have no children or grandchildren -- I suggest a visit to this marvelous zoo, which is so beautifully landscaped and such a pleasure to stroll through.

[] More good news: Yisrael Aumann, a religious man of extraordinary decency and a professor at Hebrew University, has won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his game theory and done the Jewish people and Israel honor. He hopes his theory can be applied to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

How I wish there were other news as upbeat as this, but, sadly, there is not:

[] Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, who was clamoring to become head of the Likud in the primary, has now decided to bolt his party and join Sharon at Kadima. Mofaz, who has not been doing well in the polls, had promised to stay in Likud no matter the results of the primary. His actions are politically obscene and politicians of every stripe are seeing it this way:

Likud MK Ayoub Kara: "...The mask has been removed from Mofaz's face, and he has been revealed as just another two-bit politician who is concerned only about himself."

Netanyahu (the frontrunner in the Likud race): "This gives new meaning to the word opportunism."

MK Avraham Poraz (Shinui): "...What he did is so degrading that I look around and wonder what it will cause the public to think about politicians in general..."

MK Zahava Gal'on (Meretz -- left wing): "Kadima is becoming a refugee camp for losers from all the other parties."

Ah! the question is when the public will realize that Kadima is composed of losers and will stop indicating to polsters that they would vote for this party. The fact that Kadima is doing well in the polls right now is a phenomenon that is totally beyond my capacity to comprehend.

I have been following Mofaz's career and decisions he's made as Defense Minister long enough so that I would not be shocked by anything he does -- it has been clear for some time that he is an opportunist.

There is only one issue of concern to me here: Sharon loyalists in Likud would have split their votes between Mofaz and Shalom. This gives Shalom a boost; his emergence as head of Likud would be a horror for the nation, for he and Sharon would manage things jointly. There are eight days until the Likud primary, and I pray that Netanyahu maintains his lead.

[] There are conflicting reports from the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz regarding whether the U.S. and other members of the Quartet are now pressuring Israel with regard to initiating the "free passage" route that Israel has balked on starting because the PA has not delivered on its end. How long will Israel hold out? This is a worrisome situation. It is Ha'aretz that says the U.S. is demanding we start the conveys as promised on time this week.

There is totally one-sided thinking on the part of members of the Quartet regarding Israeli "responsibility" for the economic viability of the Palestinians. We are supposed to give them jobs inside of Israel, and allow them to export their materials via Israel and allow them to travel back and forth over Israeli territory. While focus is on Palestinian economic needs, Israeli security needs are lightly dismissed. The argument is that if they have economic viablity the Palestinians will no longer present a security risk, but this is nonsense.

Even aside from their failure to deal with the issue of terrorism from their side, the Palestinians have failed in other ways that impinge directly on their ability to be economically viable, yet the Quartet cuts them slack and does not hold them accountable. There is, primarily, a breathtaking degree of corruption, so that money that should go to projects to help the people ends up in private bank accounts. There was the willful destruction of greenhouses built by the people of Gush Katif, which they were supposed to use, just as there was the willful destruction of other infrastructure (schools, for example) left behind. And then, as corollary, there is the loss of confidence on the part of potential international investors as a result of this wholesale destruction and the general chaos.
[] According to the Times of London today, "ISRAEL'S armed forces have been ordered by Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, to be ready by the end of March for possible strikes on secret uranium enrichment sites in Iran, military sources have revealed."

Israel is, of course, denying this. Would we acknowledge it? But here's a case of praying that indeed Israel is doing this.


Human Rights?

This most peculiar announcement by the Israeli Border Police was made about Human Rights Day.

Am I nuts or are they? I don't see the point just a couple of days after a soldier was stabbed to death while checking Arabs in Jerusalem.

I'd like full human rights to live in my Land.



Jewish Israeli Blogs

I'm afraid of deja vu. Last year all of my blogs came in dead last in every category nominated in the JIB Awards. So, as you may expect, I'm sort of ambivalent about it all.

Will I be embarrassed again? Maybe I should just ignore the entire business? Or just not take it seriously. Well, if I'm nominated, please let me know, but...

Friday, December 09, 2005


From Israel: Arlene Kushner, December 8, 2005

From Israel

Arlene Kushner

December 8, 2005

[] The so-called Rafah Agreement, coerced upon us by Condoleezza Rice, involves more than terms for crossings at Rafah, between Gaza and Egypt. One key part of the agreement addresses the issue of "free passage" -- that is, the right of Palestinians to travel across sovereign Israeli territory to get back and forth between Gaza and Judea/Samaria. I knew that negotiations were going on, and I knew that the PA had demanded that their security people be used on those buses. I have been waiting for word on how those negotiations were resolved. Well, the word I am receiving now (from one source: Arutz Sheva) is that the talks have halted because Israel won't give on the terms being demanded.

There are several outstanding issues: The Palestinians want passage from Gaza to three different places -- outside of Hebron, to Ramallah, and to Nablus. Israel says one route only, to the Hebron area. The Palestinians want buses running back and forth all day long. Israel says five two-way trips a day is the limit. Most significantly, the Palestinians say that they want their buses to make the trips. Israel says nothing doing -- it must be Israeli buses. (It is hardly necessary to spell out the potential for mischief that would exist if Palestinian buses, blocked to Israeli security checks, were to drive across Israel.)

I have one report that says the US is backing the Palestinian demand for several destination points in Judea/Samaria so that people don't have to go through checkpoints there, but have not yet confirmed this. Nor do I know what the American position on the other issues is. In any event, Defense Minister Mofaz is not inclined to be conciliatory here because the PA is allowing terrorists through the Rafah crossing, and because of the current spate of Kassam attacks.

[] Last week, on November 29 (which marks the anniversary of the day in 1947 when the UN voted for partition of Palestine), "International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" was observed at the UN.

There is no parallel day of recognition at the UN for any other people in the world.

A ceremony was attended by UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan and presidents of the Security Council and the General Assembly. Maps were displayed that showed "Palestine," but no Israel. (As Arutz Sheva commented, not even Israel within the '47 partition lines.) The master of ceremonies asked that everyone rise for "a minute of silence in memory of all those who have given their lives for the cause of the Palestinian people.” I understand full well what the UN is. But even by UN standards this is shocking: a moment of silence for suicide bombers.

Anne Bayefsky, a clear-think and articulate monitor of UN activity, has videos and photos of the event on her website Take a look.

[] I have written here before about the compromise being crafted by the International Red Cross to allow the Israeli Magen David Adom to join. The ostensible problem all these years has been a dispute over the use of symbols. Israel will not function under the sign of the cross and was told that the Jewish star was not an official symbol of the international relief organization. However, the fact that Red Crescent IS allowed as an official symbol exposes the degree of hypocrisy and bias that were at work here. Now a "neutral" diamond shape has been devised that Israel can use in international settings so that its humanitarian relief services can be provided internationally and it can participate in conferences and the like.

The final decision on this was made today in Geneva, in a vote that was not unanimous (because of the opposition of Arab states) of signatorees of the Geneva Convention.

There are those who see this as a victory of sorts, a step in the right direction, and who believe that it is important for Israel to be a participating member of the international community in this respect.

I myself have problems with the aspects of this agreement that are demeaning: Israel can put a red star inside the neutral diamond, but only if the country being visited doesn't mind and gives permission. The Magen David Adom is a sterling organization. I have the impulse to say that any nation that would rather not see our red Jewish star can do without our assistance.

The Chairman of American Friends of Magen David Adom today released a statement that in part read: "The non-acceptance of Magen David Adom has long been a stain on the international community in general and the International Red Cross in particular. The placing of narrow political interests ahead of humanitarian causes that has taken place over the last few days in Geneva, and for 60 years prior to this week, is both intolerable and dangerous..."

[] A poll released yesterday shows that Netanyahu is favored by Likud members over the other candidates for the leadership position by a solid plurality. (A majority is not possible because we are looking at five candidates and the vast likelihood of a run-off.) Likud primary is December 18; this issue will be resolved before long.

Additionally, according to the poll, the Likud headed by Natanyahu would draw more votes than the party headed by anyone else -- even though this would still represent an enormous loss in votes over what it drew last time. National election is in late March, and it's near impossible to predict what will be happening by then.

[] Now that Tsachi Hanegbi, who was filling in as Likud chair until the primary, has left to join Kadima, a committee headed by Danny Naveh will run Likud until the primary. The goal is forging of a sense of unity.

[] A twenty-year old Israeli soldier was knifed to death today at the Kaladia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah. After it happened, the IDF closed down the checkpoint and a riot began. Said the brigade commander, Col Miki Edelstein, "Unfortunately, this incident interfers with our attempts to improve the Palestinians' way of life. We will now be forced to restrict them to afford our troops maximal protection."

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Safe Passage?

Yes, I'm all in favor of "safe passage," that's safe passage for Jews in Eretz Yisrael. The "safe passage" being requested of Israel is for Arabs to travel freely from Gaza to Ramallah, Shechem and other cities throughout The Land of Israel. In actuality, they already have more freedom of movement than Jews do.

Yes, that's true. Many roads are Judenrein, that's the Nazi term for an area empty of Jews. As a Jewish Israeli I am restricted in my traveling. I can't take the most convenient or direct road. I can only go on some of the roads, those which have some sort of "army presence" along with Arabs.

To give you an example, I work in a school in Beit El. Some of the students in our students live close by according to the map, but since terrorism increased during the Ehud Barak reign, they now have to travel a round-about way that takes at least four times as long, and many families found other schools.

South of Jerusalem, in the Hebron hills is a yishuv called Negahot. In its early years many people worked and studied in nearby Hebron-Kiryat Arba. Then the Israeli government decided to "give" the Arabs the convenient road the Negahot people had been taking. Suddenly Hebron-Kiryat Arba was a long distance away, and the entire educational, commercial and social network had to change. Many families were forced to leave, and now Kiryat Gat, a polar opposite of Hebron-Kiryat Arba, is their nearby city.

The roads we travel on are filled with Arab vehicles. They are not exclusively Jewish roads. I "tremp, hitchhike on our roads, and I have to be very careful about which cars to enter. In addition, periodically there are terror attacks by Arab terrorists.

"We don't have "safe passage."


Will the Next Generation of Palestinians Make Peace with Israel? - Justus Reid Weiner and Michael Sussman - VP#537

From Arlene Kushner

If you care about what's happening here, this is essential reading. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs is a very academic, establishment, middle of the road institution. If scholars there don't predict peace with the Palestinians for another generation...

Everything...everything that is coming out from experts and serious thinkers makes it clear that the notion of a quick resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is simply pie-in-the-sky. And yet, we keep hearing about peace negotiations and a two-state solution and an evolving democracy in PA territories. Do not believe any of it.

No. 537 29 Heshvan 5766 / 1 December 2005

Will the Next Generation of Palestinians Make Peace with Israel?
Justus Reid Weiner and Michael Sussman

A peace agreement can only successfully end a conflict if it enjoys underlying, wide-ranging support from its respective populations. In particular, past efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace have failed to deal with, or even acknowledge, the deep-seated psychological mechanisms of partisanship that are endemic in Palestinian culture.

The idea of the shahid (martyr) has become so ingrained in Palestinian culture that it is a major theme in formal education, family values, religious practices, television broadcasting, posters, pre-suicide eulogies, trading cards, family celebrations, movies, music, games, and summer camps. A study by psychiatrist and Middle Eastern expert Dr. Daphne Burdman has correlated this dysfunctional form of childrearing with a psychological problem known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder - considered to be an antecedent to terrorist behavior.

Even before the violence that broke out in 2000, a New York Times reporter observed Palestinian summer campers staging the kidnapping of Israeli leaders, stripping and assembling Kalashnikov assault rifles, and training to stage an ambush. Since the onset of the second intifada, summer camps have been established with the sole purpose of teaching children "how to kill Israelis," with children as young as 7 being taught how to fight at "military training camps."

Over a thousand studies have linked media violence with aggressive behavior in children. According to Palestinian human rights campaigner Bassem Eid, violence in the media causes an increased level of aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, increased fear of becoming a victim, lack of sensitivity towards violence and victims, and an increased desire to witness and participate in violence.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child states: "the child for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding." The Palestinian Authority (PA) is clearly in violation of this nearly universal norm.

The emphasis that has been placed on facilitating political dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians often disregards the mindset and aspirations of the populations embroiled in the conflict. Thus, during the Oslo period, the parties struggled to negotiate one signed agreement after another, while little effort was devoted to fully implementing these agreements in daily life. History has shown that a peace agreement can only successfully end a conflict if it enjoys underlying, wide-ranging support from its respective populations. In particular, past efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace have failed to deal with, or even acknowledge, the deep-seated psychological mechanisms of partisanship that are endemic in Palestinian culture.1

The Next Generation is Full of Anger
According to Palestinian psychiatrist Dr. Shafiq Massalha, the next generation of Palestinians will be a very murderous population full of anger and hatred.2 He reached this conclusion after his study found that over half the Palestinian population aged 6 to 11 dream of becoming suicide bombers.3 Those familiar with the social, cultural, and educational Palestinian milieu would not be surprised. Since the beginning of the first intifada in 1987, Palestinian children have been mobilized by their leaders to throw stones, create diversions, fire guns, hurl Molotov cocktails, and, most recently, commit suicide attacks targeting Israeli civilians.4 What is motivating Palestinian children to become involved in violence and terrorism?
The Palestinian Ministry of Information and Culture produced a short made-for-TV movie about the poster boy for the second intifada, Muhammed al-Dura. One segment contains the following message: "Sweet is the fragrance of the martyrs, how sweet is the fragrance of the earth, its thirst quenched by the gush of blood flowing from the youthful body."5 In another segment, al-Dura calls on young viewers to follow him into paradise. His glorified life in heaven, including beautiful women, beaches and waterfalls, adds to the incentive placed in the minds of young viewers. The actor walks through an amusement park and states, "I am not waving goodbye, I am waving to tell you to follow in my footsteps."6 The clip ends with a song whose lyrics read: "How pleasant is the smell of martyrs, how pleasant the smell of land, the land enriched by the blood, the blood pouring out of a fresh body."7

Family Values: Becoming a Martyr
The idea of the shahid (martyr) has become so ingrained in Palestinian culture that it is a major theme in formal education, family values, religious practices, television broadcasting, posters, pre-suicide eulogies, trading cards, family celebrations, movies, music, games, and summer camps.8 A study done by psychiatrist and Middle Eastern expert Dr. Daphne Burdman has correlated this dysfunctional form of childrearing with a personality disorder known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder - considered to be an antecedent to terrorist behavior.9 According to Dr. Burdman, as a result of these "strongly-held cultural belief systems and variety of deep-seated psychological mechanisms…there will be considerable difficulty reversing it [their propensity towards terrorism]."10

The power of this campaign of incitement can be measured by the upsurge in the number of child deaths. PA television reported that during a 25-day period in the beginning of the second intifada, 46 percent of the total Palestinian deaths in the conflict were under the age of 18.11 Concomitantly, Dr. Fouad Moughrabi found that during the year 2000 (including the first three months of the second intifada), 105 children were killed. Of these, approximately 62 percent died in "active participation."12 Astonishingly, nearly a quarter of the Palestinian children wounded in 2000 were under the age of twelve.13

According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there were 125 suicide bombers between 30 September 2000 and 31 August 2002. The ages of 51 of the suicide bombers were also identified, six of whom were under the age of 18. Four were members of the Al-Aqsa Brigade and two were members of Islamic Jihad.14

The theme of martyrdom is not limited to the earlier example on PA television. Much cultural programming broadcast on PA TV features elements glorifying violence. It is commonplace for "television broadcasts [to] include songs and dances accompanied by photographs of violence, all emphasizing how noble it is to die for the sake of Allah."15 An episode of a Palestinian educational program was aired in which young boys with raised arms chanted, "we are ready with our guns; revolution until victory."16 On the same show, an 8-year-old boy announced to an audience of children: "I come here to say that we will throw them to the quiet sea. Occupiers, your day is near, then we will settle our account. We will settle our claims with stones and bullets."17 When children are exposed to this manipulative programming, their perception of death is heavily influenced by glamorous portrayals of martyrdom.

Public Education and Terror
Intoxicated by the challenge of being recognized as heroes, tempted by martyrdom, and lacking the emotional maturity to calculate the dangers they are assuming, these young people are easily motivated to place themselves in harm's way.

One of the most powerful means of incitement of young Palestinians is through the public schools. The school curriculum includes incitement against Israel and the exaltation of martyrdom. Incidents have been reported of teachers commending their young students for wanting to "tear [Zionists'] bodies into little pieces and cause them more pain than they will ever know."18 Posters in university classrooms proudly remind the world that the Palestinian cause is armed with "human bombs."19

On October 11, 2004, the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, reported that children were aiding gunmen in active combat zones. "In spite of family members' warnings, groups of children are spreading around the [Gaza] camp, both to pass on information to the resistance and to bring them water."20 Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a Jerusalem-based organization that monitors incitement within Palestinian culture, has linked this behavior to the school curriculum. According to PMW, the grade school curriculum connects Islamic teachings to national aspirations, drawing analogies to Islamic history. One sixth-grade textbook, entitled History of the Arabs and Muslims, reads: "Asma, Abu Bakr's daughter, was my age when she played a role in supplying provisions and water and passing information about [the] Kuraish [tribe] to the Prophet and his companion during their secret hegira [withdrawal] from Mecca to Medina. What role can I play in order to support the national resistance movement against the occupier and colonialist?"21

In the Palestinian educational system, textbooks that venerate hatred of Israel and Jews, and glorify death in jihad, are also a major source of incitement. A seventh grade textbook states: "The Muslim sacrifices himself for his belief, and wages jihad for Allah. He is not swayed, for he knows that his death as a shahid on the field of battle is preferable to death in his bed."22 A tenth-grade reading text claims, "Martyred jihad fighters are the most honored people, after the prophets."23

Even before the violence that broke out in 2000, a New York Times reporter observed Palestinian summer campers staging the kidnapping of Israeli leaders, stripping and assembling Kalashnikov assault rifles, and training to stage an ambush. The young participants were given camouflage uniforms and imitation guns. They paraded in military formation and practiced infiltration and crawling on their stomachs through obstacles.24
Since the onset of the second intifada, summer camps have been established with the sole purpose of teaching children "how to kill Israelis."25 At these "military training camps," children as young as 7 are being taught how to fight.26 At one camp run by the Popular Resistance Committees, a Sky News reporter witnessed a training session with a militant posing as a Jewish settler. The "settler" was pulled from his vehicle by gunmen and told that if this were a real situation he would be killed.27

Religious Incitement
Palestinian religious leaders regularly praise jihad in sermons, some of which are aired on Palestinian public television. In one sermon, Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya, a member of the Palestinian Authority-appointed Fatwa Council and former acting Rector of the Islamic University in Gaza, called for Palestinians to "have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Americans who are like them - and those that stand by them."28 Another cleric, Dr. Muhammed Ibrahim Madi, declared on PA-controlled television, "Shame upon he who does not educate his children [in] the education of jihad. Blessings upon he who dons a vest of explosives on himself or on his children and goes into the midst of the Jews."29
Over a thousand studies have linked media violence with aggressive behavior in children.30 These studies have concluded that children under age 8 are the most vulnerable to being affected by media violence because of their inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality. The messages that are portrayed through the media appear real to them.31 According to Palestinian human rights campaigner Bassem Eid, violence in the media causes an increased level of aggressiveness and anti-social behavior, increased fear of becoming a victim, lack of sensitivity towards violence and victims, and an increased desire to witness and participate in violence.32 Perpetuating this problem is the lack of realism that accompanies this fictional violence. Media outlets neglect to show the suffering of the victim or the lasting effects of the violence; nor do they show punishment or guilt of the perpetrator or any legal or social ramifications.33

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child states: "the child for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding." 34 The PA is clearly in violation of this nearly universal norm.

Despite the international community's neglect in addressing this child abuse, some involved in children's mental health have taken a stance and made some recommendations to curb the effects of the incitement portrayed within Palestinian society. Although an article entitled "How the Media Influences Children's Conceptions of Suicide" does not condemn the anti-Israeli/Semitic incitement being propagated through media outlets, it does recommend that Palestinian children should receive explanations to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and learn the social ramifications for violent behavior, the lack of effectiveness of achieving objectives through violent behavior, and alternatives to violence.35

The Child Soldiers Global Report36 surveyed 194 countries and documented the contemporary use of child soldiers. Ironically, the Palestinian model of propaganda was left out and Israel was condemned instead. This is clearly an example of a political agenda standing in the way of accurate documentation. Even human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International, are biased in their criticism of the use of child martyrs by Palestinian society.

One major hindrance to a final resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains the indoctrination of children for the political purposes of jihad. The PA's manipulative use of shahid and glorification of martyrdom exponentially complicates the possibility.
* * *
1. Daphne Burdman, "Education, Indoctrination, and Incitement: Palestinian Children on Their Way to Martyrdom," Terrorism and Political Violence, v. 15, no. 1 (2003): 96-123.2. Quoted in "Hillary Decries Brainwash of Child 'Martyrs,'" WorldNetDaily, November 4, 2003.3. Ibid.4. Justus Weiner, "Child Abuse: The New Islamic Cult of Martyrdom," Faultlines, v.16 (2005): 63-87.5. Burdman, "Education, Indoctrination."6. Ellis Shuman, "What Do Palestinians Teach Their Children?" Israelinsider, May 16, 2001; Ibid.8. Weiner, "Child Abuse."9. Daphne Burdman, "Child Rearing, Personality Development, and Terrorism," (unpublished), 1.10. Burdman, "Education, Indoctrination."11. Ibid.12. See Fouad Moughrabi, "A Nation at Risk: The Impact of Violence on Palestinian Children," Gaza Community Mental Health Progamme,; Daphne Burdman, "Education, Indoctrination." Burdman's definition of "active participation" includes "violent demonstrations and confrontations."13. Moughrabi, "A Nation at Risk."14. Burdman, "Education, Indoctrination."15. Nadav Shragai, "Child Writes to Mother, 'Rejoice Over My Death,'" Ha'aretz, January 8, 2003.16. Matthew Dorf, "Palestinian Children's Show Sparks Anger in Washington," JTA, August 17, 1998.17. Ibid.18. Justus Weiner, "Child Abuse in the Palestinian Authority," Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2002.19. Ibid.20. Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, "Palestinian Children in Combat Support Roles: Behavior Mirrors Teachings in PA Schoolbooks and Popular Culture," Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, October 17, 2004; Ibid.22. Ibid.23. Ibid.24. John F. Burns, "Palestinian Summer Camp Offers the Games of War," New York Times, August 3, 2000.25. Emma Hurd, "Gaza's Killing Schools," Sky News, July 13, 2004.26. Khaled Abu Toameh, "Palestinian Children Get 'Guerrilla' Training at Summer Camps," Jerusalem Post, July 14, 2004.27. Hurd, "Gaza's Killing School."28. Information Regarding Israel's Security (IRIS), "The Palestinians in Their Own Words - Quote Sheet #50," October 16, 2000, Shragai, "Child Writes to Mother."30. See Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., "Problems and Solutions Associated with Media Consumption: The Role of the Practitioner," Pediatrics, v. 116 (2005): 327-328.31. Bassem Eid, "Children in Conflict and the Media," Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, August 2003, Ibid.33. Ibid.34. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child states the international precedent for the rights of a child. The Convention was adopted and opened for signature, ratification, and accession by General Assembly Resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 and ratified on 2 September 1990, in accordance with Article 49. The United Nations defines a child as being under the age of 18. The United Nations, "Preamble," The United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child, September 2, 1990, Brian L. Mishara, "How the Media Influences Children's Conceptions of Suicide," Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, v. 24, no. 3 (2003): 128-130.36. The Report on Child Soldiers is a non-governmental organization that monitors the recruitment and use of child soldiers in 194 countries around the world. Every three years the organization publishes their findings in the report. The research done by this organization is used by governments, various factions of the United Nations, peacekeeping missions, intergovernmental organizations, news media, academic sources, and human rights and humanitarian organizations.
* * *
Justus Reid Weiner is currently Scholar-in-Residence at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is also an adjunct lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at Tel Aviv University, and formerly taught as a visiting associate professor at Boston University School of Law. Weiner's articles have been published in leading journals of international law, intellectual magazines, and newspapers. His scholarship addresses human rights, refugee claims, freedom of movement, the Oslo peace process, planning law, peacekeeping forces, immigration law, refugee claims, war crimes, freedom of movement, and freedom of religion. Michael Sussman was a research assistant at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs during the academic year 2004-2005. The authors express their appreciation to Louis Pasek for his assistance in research and editing.

The Jerusalem Letter and Jerusalem Viewpoints are published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 13 Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-5619112, Internet: In U.S.A.: Center for Jewish Community Studies, 5800 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21215 USA, Tel. (410) 664-5222; Fax. (410) 664-1228. © Copyright. All rights reserved. ISSN: 0792-7304.
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