Going south

Be'er Sheva City Hall - Source: Wikimedia

Be’er Sheva City Hall – Source: Wikimedia

From Arutz Sheva:

Be’er Sheva to Jump from 7th to 3rd-Largest Israeli City

20,000 new housing units – the most ever – will be built in capital of the Negev.

On Tuesday, in Be’er Sheva, the Government signed the largest ever “roof agreement” in Israel with a local authority. This is a deal whereby the local authority gets the money to build infrastructure that is essential for developing sustainable population growth. For example, schools, schools, clinics, day care centers, and so on. This aids the marketing and sale of residential properties. This particular agreement, as well as the infrastructure,  is aimed at building, developing, marketing, and selling 20,000 housing units by 2019.


Be’er Sheva, which was one Israel’s fourth-largest city, has dropped to 7th place, with some 200,000 residents. Ahead of it are Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, as well as Rishon LeTzion (236,000), Ashdod (215,000), and Petach Tikvah (214,000 residents). The addition of 20,000 new homes is expected to increase Be’er Sheva’s population by 50% in just four years, jacking it up to 3rd place, ahead of Haifa’s slightly-declining population of 275,000.

Haifa’s decline matches the perceived decline in its hi-tech presence. It would be reasonable to assume at some point there will be a fresh initiative there. Just as the south needs help, so does the north.

Netanyahu also noted that Be’er Sheva is “becoming a global cyber capital. The biggest companies in the world in this field are coming to Be’er Sheva from overseas. I have seen something else: companies in Tel Aviv and Herzliya are opening offices in Be’er Sheva. This should tell you something… The IDF is moving south, the State of Israel is moving south, to Be’er Sheva and the Negev.”

There has already been a substantial investment in the road and rail infrastructure between the central belt and the south. The railway line has been extended, as has the toll road, and other roads have been widened or added to. It brings the south that much closer to the central belt, with benefits for both areas. For example, if you are prepared to do a London length commute (say an hour and a quarter) you can live in Be’er Sheva and work in Tel Aviv, or the other way around.

[For more details on the agreement, and one or two loose ends, see Globes.]


USA State Department is in a state

Mark Toner, State Department spokesman

Mark Toner, State Department spokesman, in a state 

It’s in a state of denial.

It’s in a state of hypocrisy.

It’s in a real state!

Why? How? read on…

This is what the State Department said about the incident in the last Gaza conflict, when a UNRWA school was (apparently) hit by Israeli munitions:

“The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed…”

Fact: this was before any investigation. The State Department was playing the role of judge, jury, and executioner of Israel.

When the boot is on the other foot

Compare and contrast with the recent (apparent) USA bombing that killed at least 16 people at an MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Is the State Department saying this:

“The United States is appalled by the disgraceful shelling outside an MSF hospital in Kunduz, sheltering many injured persons, in which at least sixteen more Afghani civilians were tragically killed…”

What’s your guess?

Of course they are not. They are saying it’s too early to say much more than they are looking into it, while regretting the casualties. (It’s a shame they didn’t add they also regret rushing to judgement in the Gaza incident…)

See this Ynet report and the video extract of the State Department spokesman in a real state when these points are put to him.

Apparently, it is OK to unilaterally condemn Israel, but not their own forces.

Israel can be condemned before any investigation, because the State Department knows, you know, that Israel is guilty. But the USA must not be condemned, even a teensy weensy bit, before lots and lots and lots of investigation, because the State Department knows, you know, that the USA is not guilty!

(I guarantee any report will not be released on a slow news day, but buried (ahem) on a day when a truly big story is grabbing the headlines and 99% of the media attention.)

What a morally cowardly and dastardly approach. If these spokespeople had an ounce of shame, they would refuse to peddle the official line. These spokespeople are messengers of malice, indeed. Well done to Associated Press reporter Matt Lee who was principled enough to ask the question, and not fold in the face of a first refusal to properly answer. Even if they did not properly answer, the State Department’s hypocrisy, duplicity, and double-dealing was on show for all.


Socialism of antisemites

Harry’s Place has a recent post by Twll Dun that shows further evidence of the historic ability of one Jeremy Corbyn to unerringly choose the antisemitic option when presented with a choice. Funnily enough, you might say. In 2012, he was opposed to the removal from public display of a piece of antisemitic art. He was in “good” company; a certain Yvonne Ridley was also opposed.

But, more troubling, is the evidence that those on the left of British politics – in the Corbyn vicinity, as it were – are as antisemitic as it is possible to be. Yet they cannot see it. Sad. To quote from the post:

“Until the left accepts that it glosses over antisemitism in its ranks, that it turns a blind eye, or makes some hand-waving justification, until the left wakes up to this shit, then it betrays the morals that it claims to stand for.”

But will it ever happen?

Whatever part of the British Jewish establishment that is supposed to be fighting antisemitism, has got an impossible job on its hands.

Read it all, here.


Lawyers and the wrong 7% solution

From the latest issue of Charles Christian‘s excellent Legal IT Insider:

The 7% Solution. According to a report in The Lawyer magazine, the UK’s Top 200 law firms are now spending 7% of turnover on occupancy – and these costs are heading up, year on year. This is in contrast to the average of 4-to-4.5% they spend on technology, a situation that prompted the well-known American legal tech commentator Ron Friedmann to remark: “For Big Law to be spending almost twice as much on occupancy as on tech sends clients the signal that law firms favour opulence over efficiency.”

In other words, the legal marketplace remains backward in its approach to technology, progress, and efficiency. And if that’s the situation in the UK – which is probably mirrored in the USA –  you can imagine what it’s like in Israel.

If you are in business, and want to ruffle the feathers of your favorite big firm lawyer, ask what the percentage spend is on these items. And then ask why.

The Legal IT Insider website is here.


And now?

Another terrorist attack, more orphans, and more hate.

On the one hand, there are calls for revenge; calls that any civilized society should reject and condemn.

On the other hand, we have the likes of Hamas praising “the heroic operation” which fellow travelers in terror Islamic Jihad had claimed responsibility for.

I’m typing this, hoping that cooler heads will prevail, but wondering where the solution is going to come from.

I suspect the upswing in violence is a direct consequence of the continued incitement in the Palestinian and Arab media. This, let’s not forget, is an ongoing incitement that the West ignores. BBC, Guardian, or CNN articles on this topic? None that I could find. What about steps taken by the USA or the West – who fund this hate – to stop it? None.

So long as the incitement continues – turned up or down as Palestinian political needs dictate – terrorist attacks are likely to continue. And short of collective punishment style measures, it is difficult to see an effective response.

If there is a tiny sliver of hope, it may be found here:

Arab-Israeli activist stirs controversy by condemning Henkin murders

Thanaa Jawabreh apologizes on Facebook for the ‘bloodthirsty killers among us’; says many Palestinians feel the same but afraid to voice it

It should be shocking to the world that it is controversial for an Arab to condemn terrorism, but there you go. (The details are here.) She seems to be one brave lady. If only there were more like her.

Of course, the bizarre aspect of the Henkin murders is this:

“A military wing of Fatah, Abbas’s mainstream PLO faction, claimed responsibility for the killings.”

So, Israel’s peace partner leads a faction that murders and commits terrorist atrocities. And the consequences of this for Abbas and the PLO leadership are… summed up by the same silence that featured so highly in Bibi’s UN speech. In short, it is of no consequence, apparently.

I believe the situation we are in now could have been different (for the better), but the narrative involves political criticism which I do not feel is appropriate now. Let’s simply say that in these dark days, we may be about to find out who our true friends and supporters are.


Pallywood in action

From Ynet:

A Palestinian source reported on Saturday that an Israeli had shot a six-year-old Palestinian boy, but according to the IDF who investigated the incident alongside Palestinian authorities, it was just a cover story to protect the boy’s brother.

The orginal [sic] report claimed the child was next [to] a road near Qalqilya, just over the West Bank barrier from Kfar Saba, where an Israeli driver stopped, shot him in the stomach and fled the scene.

The IDF initially rejected the report, saying that no Israelis had been involved, then later said the boy was wounded while playing with a gun owned by his brother, a Palestinian police officer.

According to the IDF, the family invented the story of an Israeli attacker to protect their older son and additionally to get a paycheck from the Palestinian Authority as victims of terror at the hands of Jewish settlers.

This is a classic combination nurtured and encouraged by the Palestinian leadership:

  • Blameless – Absolve yourself from all blame
  • Pallywood – Create a false narrative
  • Incitement – Make sure you blame the Jews – incite, incite, incite!
  • Professional Victim – Get paid for your woes

And if you live in a Western country, be aware: you are paying for this. You are encouraging it.

Two points to finish.

First, it’s worth reading the immediately following post alongside this one, for some important perspective about where the incitement leads.

Second, the next time there’s a claim by the Palestinians of violence against them, remember this incident. It’s generally safer to be a cynic about such stories.


To read the tweet is to feel the hate

The terrorist shooting of Naama and Eitam Henkin yesterday, is the topic of the following tweet from Ali Abunimah:

Read the tweet, feel the hate. Enough said.

[First seen in a tweet by Elliott Hamilton.]


If the EU presses Israel, Israel should press back

The possibility that the EU will demand Israel labels produce from Judea and Samaria, or impose other restrictions or sanctions, is popping up with ever more frequency. Somebody is stirring the pot.

With that in mind, I seriously hope that the Israeli government has read this paper and made the appropriate preparations. It is a policy paper by Prof. Avi Bell and Prof. Eugene Kontorovich entitled:

Challenging the EU’s Illegal Restrictions on Israeli Products in the World Trade Organization

You can read the executive summary here, from which you will see that the EU action is… illegal! In a nutshell, the actions proposed by Europe breach the GATT and WTO (trade agreement) standards. Israel could – and should – take the EU to court, if the situation develops as expected. If nothing else, the EU policy makers will have a bit of challenge explaining away their blatantly discriminatory policy in a court of law.

I do hope somebody in the Israeli government is up to speed on this. If you happen to be on good terms with Bibi, please do tell him!


They hate the Star of David

From the Times of Israel:

A number of pro-Palestinian organizations have petitioned the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent to expel Israel’s national emergency medical service for using the emblem of the international federation on its ambulances operating in West Bank.

The Palestinian groups charge that Magen David Adom — the country’s medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service — is in violation of a Geneva Convention protocol stipulating Israeli paramedic teams use a neutral emblem while working outside the country, the Yedioth Aharonoth daily newspaper reported Sunday.

The background is important. The MDA only became a full (ha!) part of the ICRC in 2006, after surrendering its principles agreeing to abide by a protocol adopted by Geneva Convention signatories the year before.

The protocol introduced a neutral “red crystal” emblem to be used by any relief teams in areas where there is sensitivity about Christian or Muslim symbols.

They should never have signed the protocol. It was wrong, wrong, wrong. And now it has come back to bite them.

Here’s the graphic from the TOI site:


On the right – OK for use “in Israel.” On the left, for use “outside Israel.”

If we ignore the protocol, we see what the protest is about. They hate the Star of David. It is not the Israeli flag, but the worldwide symbol associated with Jews. They hate the Star of David. It offends them.

It’s OK for Israel to (rightly) tolerate the cross and the crescent, but they cannot tolerate the Star of David – even when doing humanitarian work!

The MDA may have given them cover for their hatred (by signing the damned protocol) but those with an objective and independent mind will surely recognize that what is being displayed here is naked Jew hate.

And the world snores on.


The unpaid Palestinian electricity bill

Have a guess how much the unpaid bill for supplying electricity to the PA is. When you have made your guess, continue reading.

Ready? Then, how close was your guess to this:

NIS 1.7 billion.

On the assumption a billion here is the US billion (1,000,000,000) that makes the debt about:

442 million dollars, or

289 million pounds.

What is going on?

“”If you don’t pay for electricity, they let it go for one month, they give you a warning in the second month, and they cut off your electricity in the third month. We haven’t got to that yet with the Palestinian Authority (PA). My unequivocal stance is that anyone who doesn’t pay for electricity should have it cut off, and since the PA doesn’t pay like it should, actual measures should be taken by limiting the supply of electricity. If that doesn’t help, their electricity should be cut off…”

Thus spake Israel Electric Corporation chairman Yiftah Ron-Tal in an interview this week.

Somebody, somewhere, previously decided not to punish the Palestinians for the unpaid bill. Or, not so much punish, as take the appropriate action: cut off supply.

Now, you can argue about whether that would have been right morally, or politically, but here’s little room for argument as to the effect on future Palestinian conduct. In other words, they were bound to continue the practice of non payment. And they did, indeed, not pay.

At this point in time, it’s worth pondering where the aid budget goes. if not to pay for basics like electricity.

As reported by Globes, it could be that the situation will shortly be more prominent in the eyes of the world:

Ron-Tal made it clear that he intended to limit the flow of electricity to the PA soon, as has already happened before, saying, “As a government company, we have to coordinate what we do with the government, but I intend – already in the coming weeks – to again limit the flow of electricity to the PA until it pays, or until the problem is solved by government decisions. This will not continue at the expense of the citizens of Israel; it’s a scandal.”

He’s right. But Israel has, by dint of a whopper of an error of judgement in not enforcing payment from the outset, dug itself into a bit of a corner. If it takes steps, how will the world see this? You can bet Israel will not be seen in a favorable light, even if it sends the cut off notice with pink ribbons and rosewater perfume.

But, realistically, it cannot continue. And Israel may have to endure ordure and condemnation on the way to sorting things out. I bet this problem is being ignored by the government in the hope it will go away. It won’t. It is a scandal, and the government needs to wake up and sort it out, for all sorts of reasons. Apart from the economics of it all, what message does this send to the Palestinian leadership about Israeli resolve for dealing with real issues?