Friday, May 22, 2015

Israel vs the PA: who wants peace, who doesn’t

Arabs (the ‘Palestinian’ Authority (PA)) and Jews (Israel) are in conflict. The US and the European Union (EU) worry about this conflict. The US and EU want peace. They tell Israel that the Palestinian Authority and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, are ready, willing and able to create that peace. The US and EU tell Israel that Abbas is Israel’s truest and best peace partner.

Since that’s the case, the US and EU believe, there’s only one possible reason to explain why there’s no peace: Israel doesn’t want it.

Before you see how Israel ‘doesn’t want peace—and how the Palestinian Authority ‘does’ want peace, take a look at the definition of ‘peace’. That definition will tell you two things: first, peace can happen only when people cannot just live together side-by-side, but live well together cooperatively, such that both parties seek to help each other, and neither seeks to harm the other; and second, peace requires the absence of violence.

Violence means more than physical harm against another. It also means verbal violence in the form of incitement, glorifying the murder of the ‘other’, demonization and dehumanization.

It’s a simple recipe with two obvious ingredients. To create peace, you need to have the presence of ‘harmony’ and the absence of both physical and verbal violence.   

Now, with that recipe in mind, let’s look at how Israel ‘rejects’ peace and how the PA ‘seeks’ peace.

During the week May 14-21, 2015, Israeli leaders made two statements. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the EU’s new high representative of the EU for foreign affairs he believes in the concept of having two states (Tovah Lazaroff, “Netanyahu to EU foreign minister: I support the vision of two states for two peoples”, Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2015). The next day, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin reinforced Netanyahu’s statement when he told the same high representative for foreign affairs how important Netanyahu’s ‘vision’ was (Greer Fay Cashman, “Rivlin: The whole world heard Netanyahu's commitment to two-state solution”, Jerusalem Post, May 21, 2015).

Look at these two Israeli comments. What do they tell you? They tell the US and EU that Israel doesn’t want peace. Can you see their reasoning? I can’t.

US President Barack Obama ignored this ‘vision’ and has threatened Netanyahu instead over a comment Netanyahu made more than two months ago in the heat of an election. Obama has also chosen to reject Netanyahu’s subsequent retraction of his election comment (Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, “Obama administration rejects Netanyahu backtrack on two-states”, Times of Israel, March 19, 2015). After the Netanyahu ‘vision’ statement, Obama didn’t express hope for a ‘newer vision’. He didn’t complement Netanyahu for his ‘vision’. He threatened Israel (Zalman Ahnsaf, “Obama Warns Israel of Consequences”, Hamodia, May 21, 2015).

Israel is threatened for not speaking of peace. It’s threatened when it does speak of peace.

Now look at how the Palestinian Authority ‘seeks’ harmony, cooperation and peace with Israel. For harmony, the PA can’t wait to charge Israel with war crimes in the International Criminal Court (Khaled Abu Toameh, Tovah Lazaroff and Yonah Jeremy Bob, “Palestinian Authority advances bid to file lawsuits against Israel at ICC “, Jerusalem Post, May 18, 2015). For cooperation, the PA can’t wait to get Israel kicked out of the Federation Internationale Football Association—the international soccer association that’s much larger than but similar to America’s National Football League (“PA Insists on Its Campaign to Kick Israel out of FIFA”, Arutz Sheva, May 21, 2015). To express its commitment to a two-state solution, Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Party in the PA, has just declared (for the umpteenth time) that the new state of ‘Palestine’ won’t be situated side-by-side with Israel, but in place of Israel (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Fatah leaves no room for a two-state solution: ‘From its Sea to its River... it is ours’”, Palestine Media Watch, May 18, 2015).  

The truth is, Arab leaders regularly incite Arabs to cause harm to Israel. Arab leaders glorify—not condemn---those who kill Jews.

In addition, Arab leaders pass laws making it illegal to do business with or work for Jews. Arab organizations and Parties incite against all cooperation with Israel.

That’s how Israel’s ‘truest and best peace partner’ behaves.  The PA is no peace partner. It behaves instead like Israel’s truest enemy.

For their part, both the US and EU ignore such obvious hate-based behaviour. They rarely—if ever—call Abbas and his top officials for their anti-Israel rhetoric. But they never miss an opportunity to criticize or threaten Israel.

Why do the EU and US so stubbornly criticize Israel so much, even as the PA uses war-like language against Israel? The answer is simple: with each passing month, the US and EU prove that they agree with the PA Mission Statement to destroy Israel.

The Jewish Redemption and the year 2015

The idea of a future Final Redemption for the Jewish nation is linked to Judaism. It’s so important, two of Judaism’s “Thirteen Principles of Faith” focus on the issue of  Redemption.

Our Jewish Heritage reminds us repeatedly about Redemption. It appears in our Tanach, our written Torah. It’s explained and explored in our Talmud, our Oral Torah. It’s studied and discussed by our Sages and their successors throughout the generations, to this day (if you know the writings of Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, zt”l, you will notice that this essay relies heavily on—and in many instances, comes directly from--Rav Kook’s “The Redemptive Vision”, reprinted in The Koren Mahzor for Yom HaAtzma’ut and Yom Yerushalim, Nusach Ashkenaz, Koren publishers, Jerusalem, 2015, pp 3-15; any misstatements about Redemption are mine, not his).

Paradoxically, Redemption begins with exile. Exile includes the conquest of the homeland of the Jewish people, the destruction of the life of the Jewish nation and the removal of the Jewish nation from its rightful place.

Exile scatters the Jewish nation.  It turns the land of Israel into copper. It renders the land barren.

Exile devours the hearts and souls of Jews. It diminishes Torah. It banishes Torah.

Redemption is the reverse of exile. It’s the process of nullifying the exilic experience.

Redemption is rejuvenation. It rejuvenates the life of the Jewish nation.

It brings the return of the Jewish nation to Israel--its rightful place. It uplifts the Jewish spirit. It empowers Israel’s greatness.

Today, the Jewish nation has been restored, reconstituted. Jewish sovereignty in Israel has been rejuvenated. Jewish hearts and souls have been rejuvenated. Torah has been rejuvenated.

Torah no longer diminishes. It increases. It grows stronger.

The land of Israel is no longer copper. It’s no longer barren. It blossoms with world-class agriculture advances, medical technology and high-tech creativity.

Some say that this rejuvenation and empowerment are sure signs Redemption has begun. Others aren’t so certain. Yes, in 1947, the United Nations passed Res. 181 to create the modern state of Israel. That triggered a process of return to Israel that runs concurrently with an equally great return to Judaism and Torah. But what does it all mean?

In 2015, where do we stand relative to Redemption?  Are we still far away from it or close to its threshold? Are we at the beginning of Redemption, the end of the beginning of Redemption or the beginning of the end of the entire Redemptive process (Rabbi Jacob Schacter, “The Beginning of the Flowering of our Redemption,” reprinted in the Koren Mahzor (above), pp93-100)?

Personally, I believe that history tells us two things about Redemption: first, it tells us that Redemption will be a process, not a single one-moment event. Look at what’s happened to the Jewish people in the last 100 years: the Balfour agreement in 1917; the founding of the state of Israel in 1948; the increase of the Jewish population of Israel from perhaps 83,000 total (in 1915) to more than 6 million (in 2015) (“Demographics of Israel:  Population of Israel/Palestine (1553 – Present, jewishvirtuallibrary); the absolute explosion of Torah-study in Israel; the increase of Torah-observance in Israel as a percent of population.

The Jewish nation rejuvenates. The Jewish religion rejuvenates. The Jewish land of Israel rejuvenates.

The second thing history tells us about Redemption is that our Tanach’s descriptions of the Final Days before Redemption reappear almost every month—sometimes every day—in our news headlines.

The nations turn against Israel (Yechezkiel). Jerusalem is under ‘attack’ (Zechariah). The presumed most powerful leader in the world plots evil designs against Israel (Yechezkiel). Edom (the Christianized West) and Yishmael (essentially, the Muslim word) lead a ‘counsel’ (the United Nations?) against Israel (Tehillim).

The foes of Israel are in an uproar (Tehillim). They seek to cut off Israel from its nationhood (ibid). Their goal is that Israel’s name will be remembered no longer (ibid).

‘Palestinians’ aim to conquer Israel. They want to rename Israel, ‘Palestine’. The creation of this ‘Palestine’ requires that the state of Israel be destroyed (see maps of ‘Palestine’ produced by the Palestinian Authority).

The Catholic Pope has endorsed this ‘state’. The European Union threatens Israel if Israel refuses to empower this ‘state’. The US threatens that Israel will suffer ‘consequences’ if it refuses to midwife this ‘state’.

In 2015, the gentile nations inch closer and closer to war against Israel. That movement towards war is the Redemptive echo of our Tanach.

If you want to see how this story ends, don’t wait for the movie. Read the Book.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The truth about numbers that demonize Israel

A reader has sent me a link to a demonizing anti-Israel website. I won’t tell you its name. I don’t want to encourage you to visit the site.

In an internet world where the number of visits to (or, ‘hits’ on) a website can enhance legitimacy, I have no interest in helping Israel-haters spread their hate or watch their numbers of viewers go up. Instead, I’ll tell you what they say. Then, I’ll comment.

The site in question uses vertical bar charts to compare Israel with ‘Palestine’. It uses these graphics to ‘prove’ how unspeakably brutal Israel is.

The first bar chart compares the number of Israeli and ‘Palestinian’ children killed between September 29, 2000 and May 15, 2015. The numbers state that, during this time-frame, ‘Palestinians’ killed 133 Israeli children. Israelis, meanwhile, killed 2,060 ‘Palestinian’ children.

The message is, those Israelis have no concern for human life. They kill ‘Palestinian’ children indiscriminately.

These numbers remind me of a recent anti-Israel campaign. That campaign, run out of the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Information (can you say, ‘Ministry of Propaganda’?), stated that Israel had killed a ‘Palestinian’ child every three days for 13 years, 2000-2013. The Ministry’s message was explicit: ‘Palestinian children are still subject to attacks by the Israelis and Jewish settlers on an almost daily basis’.

However, when you look in detail at the deaths, you discover that almost all of them were concentrated into three ‘events’: wars between Israel and Gaza in 2008-9, 2012 and 2014. Each of these ‘wars’ were started by Hamas shelling Israeli civilians; and when Israel finally stood up to defend itself, Hamas used children as human shields. It also used school buildings as weapons depots and launching sites. Hamas did this deliberately, daring Israel to attack.

Hamas’ goal was to entice Israel to kill civilians and children—or do nothing while Hamas fired rockets at Israeli civilians. This tactic put Israel between the proverbial rock and hard place.

As a sovereign state, Israel has the right to defend itself. It did—and Hamas used the resulting casualties to demonize Israel, just as this website illustrates.

It’s an unspeakably cynical use of the death-of-your-own (which you caused) in order to support your hatred for another. But then, that’s the ‘Palestinian’ specialty: kill your own, blame the Jews.

In case you didn’t know, international law is clear: the party responsible for the death of human shields is the party that control those ‘shields’. That party is Hamas.

A second bar chart states that ‘Palestinians’ had killed 1,195 Israelis in this 14.5 year period. The chart also shows that Israelis had killed 9,131 ‘Palestinians’.

Again, a look at the details for these deaths is revealing:  almost all of the ‘Palestinian’ deaths occurred in hostile confrontations initiated by ‘Palestinians’.

There’s a qualitative difference here which this anti-Israel site ignores. Those Israelis were murdered by terrorists. The ‘Palestinians’ were killed because they—or their masters—had attacked Jews or Israel, and Israel was defending itself.

This—and other anti-Israel websites—use these numbers to ‘prove’ to you that Israelis are brutal oppressors who kill indiscriminately over a long period of time. But what these stats really show is what happens when Arabs who teach raw Jew-hate and who celebrate a cult of death initiate suicidal and homicidal hostilities with Israel: they and their followers get killed.

Political essayist (on youtube video) Pat Condell is credited with reminding us that, ‘if Arabs laid down their arms today, there’d be peace tomorrow. If Israel laid down its arms today, tomorrow there’d be no Israel’. We all know what that means. It means the moment Israel stops defending itself, the streets would run red with Jewish blood.

It’s morally disgusting that someone should start a war, get their people killed, then blame the victim for those deaths. But then, that’s the ‘Palestinian specialty’: do something stupid, cry ‘innocence’.

Another chart shows the number of injuries each has caused. In this time-frame, ‘Palestinians’ have injured 11, 412 Israelis. Israelis, meanwhile, have injured 72,504 ‘Palestinians’.

Again, this is supposed to ‘prove’ to you how brutal the Israelis have been. But it only illustrates what happens when you start something you know you can’t finish. It also shows how many Israelis have been harmed by terror attacks specifically aimed at civilians.

The charts continue: UN Resolutions Targeting Israel and the Palestinians, 1955 – 1992; Current Number of Political Prisoners and Detainees; Daily U.S. Military Aid to Israel and the Palestinians, Fiscal Year 2013. There are other charts, but you get the picture: the numbers ‘prove’ that Israel is a warmongering, brutal killing machine.

But the warmongering, killing and indiscriminate attacks are almost all one-sided: Arab against Jew. The websites that demonize Israel misrepresent truth. They distort reality. They entice you to hate.  

If you want to join Al Qaeda, start here

Fed up with your current job? Feel you're not properly challenged? Bored of the 9-5 routine?

These questions come from a story just printed at BBC News. The story has begun to show up elsewhere, too.

I suspect you’ll see it later in the day (it’s now 3am ET). Perhaps you’ll see it on your morning news.

It’s about joining al Qaeda. It’s about how Osama Bin Laden ran his anti-US terror organization before he left his position as CEO in order to meet his maker.

If you haven’t seen this story, here it is. If you have seen it, here’s the BBC version. It’s called, “The al-Qaeda job application form”. It was written by Jon Sopel. It appeared at BBC News on May 20, 2015. I’ve rewritten and edited it:


Fed up with your current job? Feel you're not properly challenged? Bored of the 9-5 routine? Al-Qaeda has a job for you.

But you just can’t walk in to join al Qaeda. Before you join, you’ll have to fill out a job application form that looks like it’s been written by someone who has spent too much time working for Deloitte or Accenture. But then, bureaucracy exists in every walk of life - so why not on the path to violent jihad?

When Osama Bin Laden was killed four years ago (May 3, 2011), the US SEALs who did him in found a ton of documents, mostly on his computer. Some of those documents were declassified on May 19, 2015. Included in that release was one priceless document: a job application form for becoming a member of al-Qaeda. It was translated into English by US officials.

Here’s a breakdown of what the application looks like:

Points 1-3 are fairly unremarkable - please write clearly and answer truthfully - pretty much what you’d expect to find were you applying for a clerk's job at the local water company.

You then have to fill in your personal details - including name, date of birth, father's name, grandfather's name, profession etc etc.

That’s page one. Page two is where it starts to part company with the average job application form.

Amid the ordinary and prosaic questions like "What foreign languages do you speak?" "What education level have you attained?", there are the more unusual - "Date of your arrival in the land of jihad", "Which Shaykhs do you listen to or read often?", "Do you know anyone who travels to Western countries?"

On page three, the form gets down to the nitty gritty.

Have you ever been convicted by any court? Have you ever been in jail or prison?

In normal circumstances, the preferred - likely required - answer to those two questions is a big NO. I’m going to guess that this form is really looking for a YES.

And then these two questions appear -

Do you wish to execute a suicide operation? What objectives would you like to accomplish on your jihad path?
[on a different website, one reader suggested an additional question for this part of the application: 'any prior experience as a suicide bomber?']

At the end, the form returns to the - almost - banal.

Do you have any chronic or hereditary diseases? Who should we contact in case you became a martyr?

This last question is followed by lines for an address and phone number of the person who will be informed of your not-so-accidental death.

It’s hard not to read this without a slight sense of disbelief. But then I remembered my undergraduate studies of the German sociologist and philosopher, Max Weber.

His great piece of work was to identify the depersonalising effects of bureaucracy, and how it marked out a modern organisation.

Bureaucracies are organised according to rational principles. Offices are ranked in a hierarchical order and their operations are characterised by impersonal rules.

But who knew that in the dusty, arid mountains around Tora Bora, there was a cave devoted to al-Qaeda’s Human Resource facilities, codifying the skill-sets of every applicant?


My comment: I have no idea if this is a joke, or if it’s real. But if it’s real, it does suggest why ISIS is growing and al Qaeda isn’t: I bet ISIS doesn’t make you fill out a job application form.





Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why Arabs will always reject peace with Israel

Here’s an essay you might have missed (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinian Authority's ‘Crimes of High Treason’”, gatestone institute, May 12, 2015). Take a look (it’s not been edited):


The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership continues to give false hope to Palestinians regarding the "right of return" to their former villages and towns in Israel, as do the leaderships of most Arab countries.

This is what the Arab and Palestinian leaders have been doing since the establishment of Israel in 1948 -- and why millions of Palestinians continue to live in refugee camps throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Instead of helping the refugees and encouraging them to move on with their lives, Arab and Palestinian leaders continue to ask them to stay where they are because, they will are told, they will return to the homes of their grandfathers and great grandfathers inside Israel.

Arab and Palestinian leaders are afraid to confront the refugees with the truth sixty-seven years later, namely that the majority, if not all, will never return to towns and villages that no longer exist inside Israel.

When PA President Mahmoud Abbas, back in 2012, made the "mistake" of saying that he was not seeking to return to his birthplace of Safed in northern Israel, Palestinians across the political spectrum strongly condemned him for abandoning the "right of return," with many dubbing him a "traitor."

In a sense, Abbas can only blame himself for the outrage his comments sparked among his people. After all, he has been telling Palestinians for many years that the "right of return" is "sacred" and should never be relinquished. His media, especially the TV and radio stations, regularly refer to Acre, Haifa and Jaffa as "Palestinian cities inside the Green Line."

The strong condemnations that followed his remark about Safed forced him to backtrack, denying that he had agreed to waive the right of return.

"My words about Safed were a personal position, and they do not indicate a relinquishment of the right of return, since it is not possible for anyone to give up the right of return, because the wording of all the international and the Arab and Islamic resolutions states that a just and agreed solution must be found to the refugee problem, based on UN Resolution 194, with the word "agreed" meaning in agreement with the Israeli side," Abbas clarified.

Since then, to avoid further criticism, Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have refrained from talking about the sensitive issue of the "right of return." The only time they make any mention of the issue is when they call on Palestinians to mark "Nakba Day" (Day of Catastrophe) on the anniversary of the establishment of Israel.

Nakba Day is marked every year in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with rallies and marches, during which speakers and participants emphasize that they will never abandon the dream of returning to villages and towns inside Israel. On this day, many Palestinians also hold a key, which is the symbol of the "right of return." Some, such as Hamas, go as far as repeating their call for the destruction of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is responsible for organizing and funding "Nakba Day" events, which often turn into anti-Israel protests and clashes with Israel Defense Forces and police.

On May 7, the PA decided that this year the Palestinians would again mark "Nakba Day" with numerous rallies. The government set May 15, as the day for the events, calling it a "Comprehensive National Day." It urged all Palestinians to participate in the rallies, during which a siren of "mourning" would be sounded for 67 seconds – the number of years since Israel's establishment. Churches have also been advised to ring their bells in "mourning" over the creation of Israel.

The PA also instructed its Ministry of Education to devote the first class in all schools to acquaint pupils with the "right of return" for refugees and the Palestinian "Nakba." In addition, it instructed all mosque preachers to devote their sermons to talking about the "Nakba" during Friday prayers. The Palestinian government is also planning a major rally in Ramallah to mark the event.

Hamas, for its part, has already launched a series of events in the Gaza Strip in "mourning" over the establishment of Israel. One of the events includes inviting Palestinians to come to its border with Israel, and watch "occupied Palestine" through special binoculars.

At the event, Hamas leader Ahmed Bahr announced that his movement was preparing 100,000 fighters "to liberate Palestine." He added: "The resistance groups will continue to carry weapons and we will not give up our land and holy sites. The Israeli occupation must go. No one is entitled to relinquish the right of return or make any concessions on it. Anyone who violates this would be committing the crime of high treason."

Hamas is at least being honest about its intentions to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamist state. But the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank continues to deceive not only its people, but also the international community, with regards to the refugee problem.

By sponsoring, funding and encouraging Palestinians to take to the streets to "mourn" the establishment of Israel and remain committed to the "right of return," Abbas and his officials in Ramallah are not being honest with their people. They are undoubtedly afraid of telling their people that Israel would never allow millions of Palestinians into its borders. They are even more afraid of admitting to the refugees that Arab and Palestinian leaders have been lying to them since 1948 by asking them to stay in their camps because one day they will return to non-existent villages and homes.

If and when the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks ever resume, PA leaders will not be able to make any concessions on the refugee issue. They will not because they know that their people would not accept any kind of concessions on this matter. Once again, the PA leaders will have only themselves to blame for having radicalized their people over the years to a point where Palestinians consider any concessions to Israel as a "crime of high treason." This stance not only applies to the refugee issue, but also to other matters, such as the two-state-solution, the status of Jerusalem and the future borders of a Palestinian state. Neither Abbas nor any future Palestinian leader will be able to reach a compromise with Israel when the Palestinian Authority itself continues to promote such anti-Israel sentiments.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Remember Jerusalem!

The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas do not accept Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem (Elad Benari, “PA, Hamas Blast Netanyahu Over Comments on United Jerusalem”, Arutz Sheva, May 19, 2015). They deny Judaism’s historical and religious ties to Jerusalem (Ricki Hollander, “The Battle Over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount”, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), November 6, 2014). They want to de-judaize Jerusalem (Richard Cravatts, “The Lethality of De-Judaizing Jerusalem”, Front Page Mag, December 2, 2014).
We’ve just celebrated Jerusalem Day. Those of us who know what we celebrate on Jerusalem Day were excited to give honor to our capital city. It was a fun day.
But in a recent poll about Jerusalem, Israelis have revealed an ugly reality about themselves. Many Israelis are ignorant about Jerusalem--and about why we celebrate Jerusalem Day (Hillel Fendel, “Worrisome Jerusalem Day Poll Has Activists Rolling Up Sleeves”, Arutz Sheva, May 18, 2015).
For example, in answer to poll questions, 28 per cent of Israelis don’t even know why Jerusalem Day is celebrated.  Some said, incorrectly, it was to celebrate "the day of the destruction of Jerusalem". Others said it was--also incorrectly--a "day of prayer and fasting." Even 15% of those who identified themselves as Religious-Zionist didn’t know that it marks the day Jerusalem was liberated and reunified during the Six Day War 48 years ago.
If you count yourself among those who don’t know much about Jerusalem, here are some facts that might help you (courtesy of KeepJerusalem):
•There has been a Jewish presence in Jerusalem for 3,000 years and a Jewish majority since at least 1844.
•Since Israel united Jerusalem in 1967, the Arab population has quadrupled, and Jerusalem has become an open international city embracing all religions.
•Today there are 225,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem [which Arabs claim as their capital]. The Jewish population of East Jerusalem represents half the total population of the Eastern part of the city.
•Jerusalem was never the capital of any other nation in history except for the Jews.
•During Jordanian rule over Jerusalem (1948 – 1967) the city was gravely neglected. In fact, it was closed to Jews and Christians. Today, the city flourishes. It’s open to all religions.
•Until 1967, the Palestinians considered themselves to be an integral part of the Arab world and not as a separate nationality. Moreover, they never before claimed that Jerusalem was their capital.
•Jerusalem never appears even once in the Koran. [But it appears over 600 times in the Jewish Tanach].The prophet of Islam never once visited Jerusalem. There is only a Moslem legend that claims that Mohammed was brought to Jerusalem in the dark of night by the angel Gabriel.
Jerusalem is the eternal Jewish capital of the world’s only Jewish state. The US and EU want Israel to cut Jerusalem in half as part of a ‘peace’ settlement with the Palestinian Authority. But that won’t work. It would be like cutting a human baby in half: it won’t bring peace. It will kill the baby.
Stand strong for Jerusalem.

Jordan’s ‘out-crowding’, Israel’s Left and our future

Like Israel, Jordan lives in a tough neighbourhood.  It’s a neighbourhood marked by conflict, chaos and raw hate.

These two countries are neighbours. The leadership of both countries deal with similar problems: enemies who want to destroy, local Arabs who are so hostile to the ruling power they seem but one incident away from open revolt, and a struggle to establish stability. But they handle these issues very differently.

Israel is a democracy. Its leaders can be turned out of office—and regularly are. Israel’s got a free press that is often anti-Israel, anti-religion and anti-government. It tries to maintain stability in the face of microscopic oversight from hostile observers like the UN, the EU and the US. Every move Israel makes to protect itself is either criticized or condemned.

Jordan seems lucky by comparison. It’s got no hostile ‘observers’ demonizing its every move. It receives little, if any, negative international attention. Its leadership has remained in the same family since the country became an independent sovereign state in 1946. Its press isn’t free, so no one criticizes, scorns or ridicules the nation’s leader.

Because Jordan’s press isn’t truly open, there’s much about Jordan we don’t see. It’s as if there’s a ‘curtain of privacy’ in Jordan that hides much of what happens there.

But then, every once in a while, that curtain of ‘privacy’ gets pulled back. For example, on May 15, 2015, Jordan’s government-ruled newspaper revealed that Jordan’s unemployment rate has skyrocketed (Khetam Malkawi, “Int’l survey highlights strong impact of refugee influx on employment among Jordanians”, Jordan Times, May 16, 2015). Since March 2011, unemployment has increased from 14.5 per cent to 22.1 per cent, an increase of more than 50 per cent (ibid).

By contrast, Israel’s unemployment rate in 2011 was 5.60 % (Israel Figures for 2012 (reporting on 2011), “Labour and Wages”, ‘Key figures, 2011’, p. 7).

For 2015, Israel’s unemployment rate has dropped (slightly) to 5.30% (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, May 17, 2015).

Israel’s unemployment picture is the result of active government policy-making aimed at a relatively stable, predictable population. Jordan’s current unemployment rate, however, has little-or-nothing to do with government policy or its population. It’s the result of refugees flooding into Jordan.

A civil war in Syria—which we often forget about—has created almost four million refugees who have officially ‘registered’ with the UN (“Syrian Regional Refugee Response”, UNHCR, May 2015). Of this 4 million total, 1.4 million have entered Jordan (Jordan Times, above).

Only app 125,000 of the total 1.4 million Syrian refugees live in Jordanian-built refugee camps. The remainder--some 1.25 million--have moved out of (or never entered) the refugee camps. They live in ‘host communities’ (Ibid). In those communities, Syrian refugees who work do so primarily in the informal economy (ibid). They work outside the boundaries of Jordanian Labour Law (ibid).

In practical terms, that means that 51 per cent of Syrian men who live outside refugee camps participate in Jordan’s labor market (ibid). But only 10 per cent of Syrian workers have obtained formal work permits (ibid).

The result is, Jordanians lose their jobs—and job opportunities--to thousands of under-the-table, illegal Syrian workers. The availability of such cheap and plentiful labor has caused the Jordanian unemployment rate to soar.

In the short term, there’s almost nothing the government can do. The human tide of people who need money to survive is greater than any existing policy for coping with unexpected waves of war refugees.

Jordanian officials don’t know what to do (ibid). But like all true bureaucrats, those same officials know what to call this phenomenon of Syrian refugee workers crowding Jordanian workers out of jobs. They call it, “out-crowding” (ibid).

Israeli Leftists should take note. Those in Israel who push Israel to sign a ‘peace’ treaty with Mahmoud Abbas should memorize the word-phrase, ‘out-crowding’.

If Israel’s Leftists get their way, Israel will sign a treaty with Abbas. At first, Leftists will be very happy.

But then the out-crowding (and other negative refugee-related consequences) will begin. Leftists, along with everyone else, will watch Israel’s quality of life plummet.

The Left forgets that Mahmoud Abbas has a non-negotiable requirement for peace with Israel: Israel must allow millions of Arabs (many of whom have been kept by the UN in squalid ‘refugee camps’) to ‘return’ to Israel. Do Israeli Leftists have a plan for these ‘refugees’?

They don’t. They have no solution for the troubles those ‘refugees’ will cause to Israel’s welfare, health and education systems. They have no plan to deal with the economic impact of such a flood of refugees.

They have no plans whatsoever. They haven’t even thought about one.

Do you really want to put your future into the hands of people who can’t think or plan?