A message from Hamas

This, from CAMERA, should be well viewed and bookmarked:

Hamas Still Hamas, Says Will Never Recognize or Relinquish “Even an Inch” of Israel

Remember when it was all the rage for some journalists to pretend Hamas recognizes Israel and wants a two-state solution, never mind what the Islamist group’s own leaders repeatedly and consistently said to the contrary?

There was The New York Times, which told us that a Hamas leader, in the words of its headline, “Calls for Two-State Solution.” (No, he didn’t.)

And don’t forget The Guardian, chroniclers of the “news” that Hamas “agrees to Israeli state.” (Wrong again.)

Alas, it seems Hamas leaders were never close readers of those newspapers. The organization stubbornly has continued to be clear about its ideology, as it did again just a few days ago.

Over to you, MEMRI:

Speaking at a December 12 rally in Khan Younes, Hamas political bureau member Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said: “Anyone who thinks that we will recognize the existence of the [Zionist] entity or the 1967 borders is deluded… Palestine stretches from the Egyptian border in the south to Lebanon in the north, and from Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean sea in the west, and we will never recognize anything less than this.” He added: “If part of our land is liberated, we will establish our state in that part without relinquishing even an inch of the rest. Just as we liberated Gaza and established a genuine administration in it, [with] an army and security apparatuses that defend us, rather than the Israeli enemy [unlike those of the PA], we will do the same in the West Bank, as a prelude to attaining all of Palestine.”

In the festive season, what a truly festive, peaceful message from Hamas. One that all their supporters in the west should read, understand, and remember.

Not the ballroom blitz

Israel HaYom - 18 December 23014

Israel HaYom – 18 December 2014

Today’s Israel HaYom newspaper has a somewhat curious take on recent developments. The main headline, referring to Europe, translates as:

Rage in Israel: they haven’t learned a thing

Above it, the yellow box highlights:

European anti-Israel blitz

Beside it, the white text on a red background reports on Hamas being removed from the list of terrorist organizations, the European parliament recognizing Palestine in principle, and condemnation of Israel by the Geneva Convention members.

It’s curious for the following reasons:

  1. This paper is seen as a Bibi Netanyahu mouthpiece. But many would put a huge share of the responsibility for the situation on Bibi.
  2. The use of “blitz” is worth noting. The paper has used a transliterated version of the word, so there’s no translation issue. The message was clear: it’s a blitz. Does that mean the paper is trying to send a not so subtle message that it’s the Germans all over again? A bit crass. And wrong.
  3. They must know that the Hamas removal from the list is a procedural issue, not a value judgement. Sure, as the Elder points out, they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory with their non existent focus on Palestinian terrorism. But it’s going too far to see this as an active anti-Israel action.

It’s interesting to compare the coverage with Ynet, where “sources” criticize Bibi for both the situation, and his Holocaust invoking response.  He is described as “hiding behind cliches” which does tend to strike a chord. Bibi is not demonstrating a substantive pro-active approach to Israel’s diplomatic situation. Without that, further “blitzes” will be forthcoming.


Finally, completely off topic, I love the fact the front page of the newspaper reminds its readers that tonight is the third night of Chanukah:


One of those little touches that make the difference.

A peaceful solution?

Efraim Halevy in August 2014 Source: Eli Itkin/Wikimedia

Efraim Halevy in August 2014
Source: Eli Itkin/Wikimedia

A recent and interesting after dinner chat with a sabra, gave me a different perspective – always welcome – on the forthcoming Israeli elections, and the goal of the electorate.

He asked me what the central problem Israeli society faced was. I told him social inequality. He disagreed, saying the problem was the lack of peace. I told him I had discounted that, because I don’t think there’s a solution, and assuredly not one that can be, or will be, promoted as part of a party manifesto.

He told me that he remembers the situation being the same before Israel attained peace with Egypt: it was thought to be impossible, but it happened. At that point, the discussion ground down a bit as we covered the comparison of Sadat with Abbas (and, indeed Arafat).

Broadly speaking, there was agreement that many Israelis do not see peace as a possibility because of the Palestinian situation. For example, how does Israel avoid any neighboring Palestinian state being or becoming a souped up Gaza rocket factory? For example, an agreement with Fatah has as much chance of being binding on Hamas and Gaza, as Bibi has of becoming politician of the year in Ramallah.

The response was that we should ignore Hamas and Gaza because they really are beyond the pale. However, in my opinion that is unrealistic, mainly because no Palestinian leader will do a deal that is not universally backed. It may be that an Arab League initiative would be enough, but even that is not in sight. But overall, the suggestion was that we take the issues and the problems, and we negotiate.

With all of that in mind, this Times of Israel interview with Efraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad intelligence agency, is interesting.

[He] accused the outgoing government, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, of having violated the fragile status quo in Jerusalem. The elections of March 2015 are not merely a referendum on Israel’s leadership, he said, but constitute an unprecedented opportunity to determine Israel’s policy vis-à-vis the peace process.


There is no word in Hebrew for dignity, he quoted a friend observing once. The Arab world has long felt deeply inferior, and Israelis are basically telling Arabs that they don’t suffer from an inferiority complex but are indeed inferior, Halevy said. “The problem we have had over the years has been that they have sought dignity and the last thing we ever thought of was addressing them in a manner that gave them a feeling of some dignity.”

His criticisms of Bibi are ones I would endorse, in the main. But the stuff about dignity is misleading, as it absolves the Palestinians and their leadership from all blame. Their lying, their incitement, their previous intransigence when deals were on the table, cannot be explained away by dignity. It can be explained away by other, more negative, characteristics. For example, there are many who say the Palestinians do not want a single square centimeter of a Jewish state. So, discussion about the borders of a Palestinian state are, at best, a temporary situation, and a cover for a future war of obliteration. It is difficult to see the peace loving bridge building aspects of Palestinian society. I am almost sure they exist. I am almost sure they are insignificant.

It’s important to stress that while I don’t agree with Halevy’s rationalizations, or his perspective, I don’t exclude the possibility that his approach may be worth trying. As I previously posted, we have a duty to our children – and their children – to do the best we can to make peace.

Squeeze play

This post at the Times of IsraelCentrists feel the squeeze – is an authoritative opinion about the current state of play in Israeli politics as we head towards the March elections. (Remembering that a week is a long time in politics, everything could change, however.)

The narrative there – about the left and the right squeezing the center – seems to match my experiences and feedback received over the last week or so, in discussing the situation with people across the political spectrum. In short, Lapid’s voters are going to the left (in the main), with Labor now seen as a credible force. Lapid knows the challenge, and is trying to build up confidence that his way remains the best challenge to Netanyahu that will deliver what most people want: peace, security, and economic well-being. A tough ask.

If there is one area that keeps centrist voters away from Bibi, it is his lack of success in the peace talks. Whatever (valid) excuses Bibi can put up about the Palestinian blame for the breakdown of negotiations, what they – and I – would fault him for, is his inability or unwillingness to be proactive. He should have been out there with a coherent plan; an initiative that could have got Obama onside, and improved Israel’s political situation.

For example:

Lapid frames his regional peace strategy as a response to the alleged diplomatic failings of Netanyahu. “It is amazing that having sat with the prime minister as a member of the security cabinet for nearly two years, I still cannot describe his plan for our future security,” he told the [Jerusalem Post Diplomatic] conference.

Is there a peace deal to be made? I doubt it. But, as Dov Lipman asked so courageously, will we be able to tell our children that we did everything we could to make the world a safer place for them? As things stand, the answer is no.

UNRWA’s propaganda campaign

If you go here (Huffington Post), you will see stuff like this:

Human Rights Day has a unique significance for over half a million children educated daily in hundreds of United Nations schools across the Middle East. It is a moment of hope and potentially of despair, when many of our students and more than 20,000 education staff will look at the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration and wonder why so many of them are denied to themselves and those they teach. We educate students living under blockade in war-ravaged Gaza, under occupation in the West Bank, in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon and amid civil war in Syria. There are many challenges to ensuring these children receive the best education they can, but through dedication and a school environment that promotes their well-being and helps realize their full potential, they can succeed. Today is also a day when we join together and renew our commitment to work for the universal respect of human rights. It is a day on which we advocate for our own rights to be respected and pledge not to violate the rights of others.

It is not only UN agencies, human rights organization, civil society groups and high profile individuals who advocate for rights across the Middle East. It is also refugee students themselves who are at the center of our rights initiatives. UNRWA works to empower students to advocate and promote a culture of human rights despite the challenges they face. This very day, in 687 United Nations-run schools in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, children will advocate for human rights principles. Human Rights Education in UNRWA schools enables students to critically reflect on ways they can contribute to the realization of rights and contribute directly to their society and global community in positive ways.

And more of the same.

It’s rubbish. Out and out propaganda.

Fortunately, the Elder of Ziyon has them nailed:

unrwa human rights

As the Elder says:

A 2011 study showed that UNRWA’s human rights curriculum didn’t teach anything about tolerance of religions and does not contribute one bit to Middle East peace.

The actual human rights curriculum materials on what used to be UNRWA’s Arabic “human rights” website teaches anti-Israel lies.

A document on that same site said that Jews do not know anything about human rights.

UNRWA’s definition of human rights is not what ordinary decent people might consider to be correct, putting it mildly.

Read the Elder‘s full take, here.

Double standards

There’s a good, short, sharp, and on-target piece at the CAMERA blog on the topic. It begins:

If someone asks for a two-word description of what’s wrong with so much media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, there probably is no better answer than “double standard.”

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to find examples. Unfortunately, not enough people (a) know this; (b) see this; (c) care.

Read it all, here.

The Guardian does it again, and again…

A Guardian report says:

A Palestinian has stabbed two people in a supermarket in the West Bank before a private security guard shot him, Israeli police have said.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the attack on Wednesday took place in Mishor Adumim, east of Jerusalem, where a 16-year-old Palestinian entered the supermarket and stabbed two Israeli shoppers.

Samri said the shoppers were moderately wounded. The condition of the attacker is unknown after he was shot by the guard.

Over the past month, 11 people have been killed in Palestinian attacks, which included a deadly assault on a Jerusalem synagogue that left five people dead. Most of the violence has occurred in Jerusalem although there have been other attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank.

The Guardian headline says:


I suppose the Guardian can at least claim it is being consistent.

Letting the train take the strain

Today I took the train to work for the first time in years, and for the first time since making aliyah. What a pleasure it was. Instead of fighting the traffic into Tel Aviv, I only had to fight the traffic to Herzliya. I popped on a train and twenty minutes later popped off again, to begin the short walk to my destination. When I was finished for the day, despite the rush hour traffic, I reversed the process. How was it on the way back? Well, let’s just say I was so relaxed, I had to make a sharp exit for fear I missed my stop!

There is no train station in Ra’anana. However, next year two of them are due to complete. I only went in to Tel Aviv for work for a special meeting, and unless I change companies that is unlikely to happen much in the future. But a decent train service would make leisure trips into Tel Aviv (and beyond) a lot more palatable.

I don’t want to wish my life away, so I’ll be patient. But I will be glad when Ra’anana joins the train network.

Anger issues

I confess, I have anger issues. For example, this, from the Jerusalem Post, makes me angry:

Responding to a question at a press conference he called to announce that the Knesset would be dissolved, Netanyahu said he did not agree with the criminal sanctions clause of the law that was passed earlier this year which stipulates that a yeshiva student who refuses to perform military service be subject to imprisonment, as are all other Jewish men.

“I do not think that yeshiva students studying Torah should go to prison. This was not to my liking,” said the prime minister during the press conference.

Repeal of the criminal sanctions clause will be high on the agenda for haredi political parties Shas and United Torah Judaism when it comes to the coalition negotiations following the coming elections.

I must have missed the bit where it says in the Torah that religious Jews who break the law should suffer no penalty.

Either we live in a society with law and order, or we don’t.

Either we live in a society that believes in sharing the burden, or we don’t.

Either we are all treated the same, or we are betraying our tradition, our heritage, our history, and our obligations to one another.

I hope, with all my heart, that this approach causes such a backlash that the next government not only refuses to repeal the criminal sanctions against draft dodgers, but enforces the law without favor or affection for any group. And I hope that religious Jews are a healthy part of the electorate responsible for the backlash.