Passing game

As Ynet and other online sources report it (via Reuters), once again Israel is threatened with expulsion from FIFA at the behest of the Palestinian delegation. They complain about the treatment of their footballing athletes.

My understanding is that Israel insists on security checks at its discretion. The Palestinians want free travel with no checks.

Hands up all those who think Israel will be a safer place if Palestinian athletes (and officials?) are freed from security checks?

While the reports about alleged support for the move may be fear mongering by the racist Jibril Rajoub*, if push comes to shove, security is always going to trump football. It may kill the game here, but of course that’s the aim. (Either that, or kill Israelis…)

*Jibril Rajoub features in Catch the Jew. Not a nice man.

Ra’anana land in demand

From Globes:

“After many years in which the Israel Land Authority (ILA) issued no tenders for high-density construction in Ra’anana, tenders were closed yesterday for the construction of 188 new housing units on four lots in the Neot Sadeh neighborhood in Ra’anana. Competition for each lot was intense, with an average of nine bids each.

An analysis of the entire tender shows that the average value of the land, including development costs, is NIS 827,000 per land per housing unit. Neot Sadeh is a new neighborhood in northern Ra’anana located near Weizmann St. and the industrial zone. ILA will receive over NIS 150 million from the winning bidders for the four plots just for the land.”

On these figures, and with a back of a fag packet calculation, that’s a base cost before construction of around 138,000 pounds (Sterling) per unit. Or about $213,000 (US). I dread to think what the sale prices are likely to be.

To put matters in perspective, there’s a three block development near to us in Ra’anana that completed about three months ago. By my reckoning, there has been an average of one owner moving in per month… that’s roughly three or four flats occupied out of sixty. The word is that the price rose too far, and people dropped out. However, there’s no sign of any concerted sales effort. For example, the sales office has gone. And yet, other developments continue, on top of which there is this release of new land.

Every so often, there’s talk of a property bubble. So far, each time it has been talked about, that is all that has happened. Just talk. Presumably the buyers (and developers) of the new land are optimistic that if there is a bubble, it will not burst. But that optimism, not to say belief, may be tested if the next set of housing developments to complete in Ra’anana, also lie largely empty for a while. Yes, there are incoming residents – mostly from France, the USA, and the UK – but quite a few of the newcomers are choosing to rent. I am told you cannot get a decent return on rented property at today’s prices, so the buy to rent market isn’t there just now. That would need prices to drop by at least 10-20%. Suffice it to say, we’ll be keeping an eye on things.

Arafat is still locking them up

arafat

Click the graphic to get to the complete Times of Israel story.

Note this extract:

“This would not be the first time in recent months that West Bank Palestinians are silenced for crossing the line of political correctness. In February, a cartoon supposedly depicting the Prophet Mohammed was removed from the website of official Palestinian daily al-Hayat al-Jadidah, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordering an inquiry into the incident.”

Political correctness? More like dictatorial censorship.

Incidentally, so far it’s gone unreported by the BBC and the Guardian.

Why Amnesty International Shies Away from Fighting Antisemitism

Following on the failure of the UK franchise of Amnesty International rejecting a resolution at their AGM to campaign against antisemitism (see here), the Elder of Ziyon reports on a tweeted response from the organization to a query about their attitide. It said:

“We condemn all forms of hate crime and discrimination. Unfortunately we can’t campaign on everything.”

The Elder, predictably and in his inimitable style, harshly criticizes their stance. I mean, that’s not exactly a persuasive answer, is it?

I have my own theory about what is going on here.

The first mission in war is to dehumanize your enemy. In the Arab Israeli conflict, the most obvious expression of this is by Israel haters’ use of the term Zionist. For them, the marketing is all about making the undecided think in terms of Israel and its supporters, not as human beings, but as these bad, bad, people, Zionists. Of course, there are other terms and techniques used, but this is central. It is a word that in many quarters, wrongly, is connected with Fascism, another ad hominem label used by the liberals and the left to signal there is no need to have an argument on the merits. (This is often because they cannot argue on the merits. It is astonishing how many Israel haters are ignorant about the basics, though well versed in strap lines.)

With that in mind, it is possible that some, if not many of the people opposed to campaigning against antisemitism are fearful that such a campaign would undo the dehumanization. In other words, if people see Jews and not Zionists, the dehumanization falls away. (I know there’s a flaw here. I’ll come back to it.) So the fear is that such a campaign would undermine anti-Zionsim, anti-Israel activity, because it would expose the plain fact that much – not all – such activity is, indeed, antisemitism.

The flaw? There are some out there, no doubt some in Amnesty International, no doubt many throughout the world, who will be unaffected by any change, by any campaign against antisemitism: the antisemites, of course. But these people, will always hate.

Finally, I wonder how representative Amnesty International UK’s membership is of the general population? Of those of a ‘liberal’ political persuasion. Of those of a ‘leftish’ political persuasion? Were I living in the UK, this would be a bad, bad, sign.

Ra’anana business news

From Globes:

Technology company Amdocs Ltd. (Nasdaq: DOX), which occupies a giant 75,000-sq.m. complex at the Ra’anana Junction, today notified its employees that it was looking for a new location in the central region. The company’s lease with REIT 1 Ltd. (TASE:RIT1), the owner of the company’s current site, expires at the end of 2019.

In its announcement to the employees, company management explained the planned move by saying that it wished to improve their working environment. Among the alternatives under consideration by the company are the purchase of a new office building to be constructed for it, renting a new office building, and renovation and adaptation of the existing complex to the company’s needs. For this purpose, Amdocs has established a task force, which has already begun looking for locations.

Amdocs are on the move. It is a few years away, but the possibility of such a large site being vacant if the landlords cannot attract a replacement, will not be good news for local business.

Amdocs, unsurprisingly, are looking for something in the central belt. The article has this quote from an Amdocs letter to its employees:

“The main guiding criteria are a better experience for the employees, including better transportation, suitable facilities in the area, business, cost, and other operation considerations.”

The interesting part there is the reference to transportation. The traffic junction around Amdocs is currently being redeveloped. Further, while there is no train connection in Ra’anana, by the time their lease ends there will be two train stations in the city. Neither, unfortunately, is in a terrific location for the Amdocs building, but transportation connections are being improved.

As the article mentions, Microsoft are in the same area. Perhaps they will be interested in taking up the slack?

A thought for Yom HaShoah

“The Anti-Defamation League is calling the Stanford incident “an important teaching moment” in which the “university needs to make it clear to students and student groups that singling out identity and questioning on those kind of issues is discriminatory.” They’re right about that, but the problem won’t be dealt with by ignoring the clear connection between the worldwide BDS—boycott, divest, sanction—movement and anti-Semitism. That’s a stand that many supporters of Israel have refused to take believing that crying anti-Semitism will cloud the issue and make it harder to advocate for Israel. But divestment advocates are making it increasingly obvious they have no scruples about the link between Jew hatred and treating Israel as a pariah state. BDS isn’t about a political dispute within Israel, its borders, or sympathy for the Palestinians. It’s a war on Jews.”

USA.

University.

Stanford.

A war on Jews.

What more of a wake up call does there need to be?

Read Jonathan Tobin‘s well directed piece at Commentary. Then pass the word on: antisemitism is alive and well.

Another piece of poison from HRW

Making a mockery of their name, and showing a total disregard for any standards of ethics, fairness, or impartiality, they are a leading contender for the WORST ‘human rights’ organization. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Human Rights Watch.

HRW have a new report which accuses Jewish farmers in the Jordan Valley of illegally employing Palestinian child laborers.

NGO Monitor:

As with many other HRW accusations and publications on Israel, as documented by NGO Monitor, the claims in this publication are entirely unverifiable and based solely on interviews. HRW provides no evidence that it even attempted to confirm any of the claims, many of which quote children, independently. Furthermore, in this instance, the allegations are inherently unverifiable, since there are no permits, pay slips, paperwork, or other documentation for the supposed child workers. Indeed, according to an Israeli official interviewed in in response to HRW’s allegations, “It is a horrific lie. There is no justification for employing children, not just morally and legally but financially as well.”

And this is a good summary by NGO Monitor:

As the publication’s methodology section makes clear, HRW’s researcher (Bill van Esveld) began with a conclusion condemning Israel, and then sought evidence to persuade the intended audiences, particularly journalists readily influenced by NGO allegations.

You can see the NGO Monitor piece, here, and the Elder of Ziyon‘s composite and follow up, here. (I particularly liked the irony behind the photograph used for the report cover.)

Bottom line: this is hate speech in all but name.

Housing and taxes woes

There is a difficult housing situation in Israel. In a nutshell, property prices are too high, and continue to rise. Young people are – generally – unable to afford to buy. It’s a problem that is not going to be solved overnight, but it would be helpful if people recognized one of the universal laws of economics before offering solutions: supply and demand. In short, there is a high demand for the main areas, like Tel Aviv, and there is a limited supply. So long as that situation continues, high prices are inevitable. (Rents are also high, not to say astronomical.)

The government have tried to take the heat out of the property market, not so much to bring prices down, but to try and avoid a property crash.

One method they have used has been increasing the restrictions on mortgages.

Another method they have used has been increasing the purchase tax where somebody buys a second property. This latter method seems to be easily avoided judging by anecdotal evidence. There’s an article at Globes (here) which sheds some slight on the situation, and is worth reading for background purposes.

Regardless of whether this type of tax is a good idea, it does seem that the state could make a better effort in collection, and to make avoidance much more difficult. Or, if not that, to come up with a flat rate tax that everyone had to pay.

And there still needs to be a concerted effort to deliver affordable housing.

Good news from Egypt

Khaled Abu Toameh reports at the Gatestone Institute:

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s uncompromising war on terrorism, especially along the border with the Gaza Strip, seems to be bearing fruit. It is a war that is being waged away from the spotlight and with almost no reaction from the international community.

This situation is a perfect example of how the international community and the United Nations do not care about the “plight” of the Palestinians as long as Israel is not involved. Sisi’s war on terrorism has thus far failed to spark the same uproar, if any, that is often triggered by Israeli military operations against Hamas and its smuggling tunnels.

As a result of this war — which began in 2013, shortly after Sisi came to power, with the destruction of hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip — Hamas and other armed groups are now more isolated than ever.

But it is not only the isolation that worries Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip.

Rather, it is that Egypt’s tough security measures –which include the destruction of more than 1700 tunnels and the creation of a security zone along its border with the Gaza Strip — have brought the smuggling of weapons to a near halt.

You will note the point that the international community couldn’t care less what Sisi is doing, because it cannot blame Israel! This is not to say any international concern or criticism would be valid; the Egyptian leader is fighting terrorism, and is surely entitled to do what is necessary – and not what is politically correct – to protect his people.

And the author’s conclusion is an interesting – and hopeful – one:

That the Gaza Strip is facing a weapons shortage is good news not only for Israel and Egypt, but also for the Palestinians living there.

It is hard to see how Hamas will rush into another military confrontation with Israel — where Palestinians would once again pay a heavy price — at a time when Sisi’s army is working around the clock to destroy smuggling tunnels, and the prices of rifles and bullets in the Gaza Strip are skyrocketing.

On the other side of the coin, however, that situation may explain in part the recent IS terrorism aimed at Egypt. (See here, for example.)

Do read all of Khaled Abu Toameh’s piece, here.