Friday, November 30, 2012

When Eisav and Yishmael join together

Between November 14-21, 2012, four events took place which, together, remind us that Biblical stories might be dangerous to ignore.
The first event was the November 14 start of war with Gaza. After years of terror rockets coming into Southern Israel from Gaza, and most particularly after 260 rockets had been fired in a single ten-day period, Israel chose to attack Gaza. Her goals were to stop the attacks and to degrade Gazan’s ability to continue firing rockets at Israeli civilians.
The second event took place between November 15 -17, when it was reported that both US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and, separately, US President Obama, declared that, ‘Israel has the right to defend itself.’ At the same time, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Andrea Merkel and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton all declared their support for Israel. This appeared to be the first time in recent memory that Western leaders had given unanimous support to Israel.
The third event took place on the only Shabbat of this war: we read the weekly Torah portion. For this specific Shabbat, that portion was Toldot, with its story of the birth of the twins, Eisav and Jacob.
The fourth event took place on November 21, when US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced, with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at her side, that a truce between Israel and Gaza had been brokered through President Morsi.
Three of these events have a connection to what we see--war against Israel. The fourth of these events—the story of Eisav and Jacob—has a profound connection to what we don’t see--the underlying nature of this war.
According to the Jewish commentator, Ramban (1174-1270), the Torah portion of Toldot opens with language that draws our attention to the previous week’s portion, Chayei Sara, in order to clarify relationships that involve the twins, Eisav and Jacob, and their grand-uncle, Yishmael.
It is the connection between these three relatives that interests us.
First, Eisav and Jacob.
Our Sages teach that Eisav and Jacob, while twins, were very different. Eisav was a man of action, Jacob was not. Eisav scorned his birthright, Jacob did not. Eisav was cruel. Jacob was not. Our heritage  also teaches that the original plan for these twins was that they should be harmonious and complementary partners. Eisav would defeat evil. Jacob would spread good. But Eisav had other plans. He scorned his birth-right. He hated and then thought about killing Jacob.
Eisav forever feels threatened by Jacob. He desires to dominate and subjugate Jacob—and he knows that his destiny is to serve Jacob. Perhaps the descendants of Eisav have so hated that prophesied end that they have hunted, persecuted and murdered the descendants of Jacob in order to thwart that destiny. History certainly seems to validate such a premise.
Today, most say that the West—Europe and the United States—are the descendants of Eisav.
In this week’s Torah portion, Va’Yeitzei, we see that Jacob is afraid—and wary--of Eisav.
Jacob has reason to be wary.
Jewish leaders in Israel today do not seem to share that concern. They welcome Eisav’s kiss.
Yishmael, the twins’ grand-uncle, has his own problem with Jacob. He, too, has reason to hate: he was cast away from house of his father Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather. He has never forgotten that. He has never forgiven it.
Today, Yishmael is the Arab. He cries that the descendants of Jacob are apes and pigs who must be slaughtered.
Jewish leaders in Israel seem not to hear Yishmael’s cry.
The reading of these three consecutive weekly Torah portions at exactly this time of year—when Israel confronts Gaza—is not a coincidence. These portions, called, Chayei Sara, Toldot and Va’Yeitzei, serve to remind us that the hatred of Jacob is real—and deep.
These readings also suggest that, if the last 2,000 years of history is any indication, such hate can in fact be handed down from generation to generation.
They remind us that any truce between Jacob and Yishmael (in Gaza) that is brokered by Eisav (the United States) and Yishmael (from Egypt) is not benign. The hatred is simply too strong.
Right now, Jacob, Eisav and Yishmael appear to stand in agreement. But the Jewish Tanach (our Bible) teaches us that the Jewish story of Eisav, Yishmael and Jacob is relevant even today. It alerts us to beware when Eisav and Yishmael join together to turn towards Jacob.
Do you believe this is nonsense? According to a snap poll taken in Israel hours after the truce was announced, 64% of Israelis said the truce would last only a short time and 24% said it wouldn’t last at all (The Times of Israel, November 21, 2012).
Do Israelis understand something about Eisav and Yishmael you don’t?




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Likud ballot box: bungling, betrayal--and a new ballgame

On Sunday, November 25, 2012, Likud voters across Israel went to the polls to help select who would run on the Likud ticket in the upcoming January, 2013 national elections. The polls were scheduled to remain open until 9pm Sunday. But as voters reached their polling stations, many found that the computerized ballot machines didn’t work.

By late Sunday, the Likud elections committee announced that, because of complaints, they would offer additional voting the next day, November 26.    

Was that necessary? By the actual end of Sunday voting—which had been extended to accommodate complaints--some 51.6 per cent of Likud voters had voted. A call for an extra day of voting seemed strange because, in the last primary, less than 50 per cent had voted—and no one then had called for an extra day of voting.

What was the motive for another day’s vote?

Some Likud Nationalists grumbled—mostly to themselves--that an extra day was offered because Leftists in Likud grew frightened that Nationalists had captured too much of the vote; the computer issues were simply a pretext to give Likud Leftists more time to vote, to negate Nationalist election-day gains.

Were the computer problems pre-planned?

This looked like paranoid nonsense. Reality suggested that  it was problems with the computerized voting machines, not conspiracy, that prompted the extra day.

But then, a curious thing happened: while Likud polls did indeed open for a second day of voting, many poll stations in Judea-Samaria (considered a Nationalist stronghold) didn’t open at all.

Nationalists complained to the Central Election Committee. That Committee ruled that multiple stations in Judea-Samaria had to open. But as Israeli news reported, even though the Central Election Committee had issued the order for more polling stations on Monday morning, it was only later in the afternoon that the stations opened.

What was going on?

Likud political opponent Yair Lapid scored points for comic political commentary by declaring, “I looked at the Likud primaries: those people want to run a country?”

Our Jewish heritage teaches us about behaviour. We learn, for example, that we must not only avoid doing what is wrong, we must avoid the appearance of doing wrong (see Talmud Tractate Avodah Zarah, 12a).

Likud gives the appearance it is doing wrong. Remember, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu has already given an appearance of wrongdoing in two previous primary battles with Moshe Feiglin. In one primary, he used arcane rules to drop Feiglin from the Likud candidate list. Then, in the last Likud primary, enough voter fraud occurred that voters never did learn how many votes Feiglin really received—20 per cent, 23 per cent or 30-plus per cent?

There may not have been wrongdoing in those primaries. But, there certainly appeared the impression of wrongdoing.

Now, computer and poll-place shenanigans raise more suggestion of wrongdoing.

Is there a pattern here? The tactics above focused on Moshe Feiglin. He seems to be the perennial target for Likud wrongdoing. His voter appeal threatens anti-Nationalist power-makers in Likud. But this primary reveals Feiglin gaining support, not losing it. He also appears to be the only candidate outside the Knesset to be elected to a coveted top-15 spot.

For many Nationalists outside Likud, the incessant pressure against Feiglin is reason he should leave Likud; clearly, the argument goes, Likud doesn’t want him.

It’s a good argument. But it’s the wrong solution.

Center-stage for Israel politics is not the Nationalist camp. That may sound cruel. But it’s true. Center-stage is Likud, Israel’s largest and most powerful political party.

If Nationalists want to lead Israel, they must lead from a stage that attracts more than just Nationalists. That means Likud; and if you have been paying attention, that also means Feiglin because his base stretches beyond the Nationalist core—perhaps more so than other Nationalists.

Nationalists might not like that. But leading Israel is not about being liked. It’s about leadership. It’s about leading people who don’t like you.

If there is one thing Moshe Feiglin learns in Likud, it’s how to deal with people who don’t like him. It’s a schooling most of us avoid. But it’s a schooling that, if it doesn’t destroy you, builds the strength you need to lead a nation.

You cannot go to that school by standing with your friends.  You do that the way Feiglin is doing it in Likud--the hard way.

The day after the primary, Nationalists dominated the Likud list. The voter message was clear. There is a new ballgame in town. Nationalists gain strength. Feiglin grows ever more prominent.

But history suggests that Likud wrongdoing could shift that list. Betrayal is possible. Feiglin is still a target.

Netanyahu should be careful. The ballgame has changed. If Likud voters see him as betraying their vote, he could ‘cut off his nose despite his face’.

Is that a knife he’s holding?


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gaza war: do ‘moral war’ requirements make the UN immoral?

In 1864, William Tecumseh Sherman, a Union General during the US Civil War, began what became known as the ‘March to the Sea,’ a scorched-earth military campaign through enemy territory. The campaign covered five weeks, during which time Sherman destroyed civilian industrial capacity, infrastructure and most civilian property he crossed. His troops burnt crops and killed livestock.

That March was controversial. But its brutality is said by some to have contributed to the end of that war.

Was Sherman’s March morally correct?

General Sherman is credited with coining the expression, ‘War is Hell.’ But today, war is more than ‘Hell;’  it is also an ethicist’s laboratory.

In the Middle East Arab-Israel conflict war is also an ethical battlefield, where morality becomes a political weapon for those who are cruel and immoral.

Man tries to make war ethical. Ethics in war seems counter-intuitive, but because war is so horrific, establishing rules of behaviour can in theory benefit both sides. The ethical challenge is, how to create rules that both sides accept.

Ethicists have learned that rules can work—for the most part—when you see your enemy as human--one with whom you share a moral identity--and with whom you know you will do business after war is over.

But when you see your enemy as less than human, war conventions are rarely applied (see “Just war theory [the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy],” Alexander Moseley,, 2009-02-10).

This is the problem with the Arab-Israel conflict. Arabs see Jews as less-than-human. Arab media, politicians and clergy publically dehumanize Jews. If the United Nations argues that such attitudes do not remove ethical responsibility from Israel, others can make the case that Arab behaviour in war—founded on the dehumanization of its enemy—actually changes the rules of war; for, as stated above, rules of war rarely apply when dehumanization of an enemy occurs.

Should dehumanization play a role in determining human rights enforcement during war? Or, if those who dehumanize their enemy refuse to act morally in a war against that enemy, what human rights protections do they deserve?

 Many ethicists--and virtually all human rights advocates--reject the dehumanization question to take an absolute stand: even as one side breaks the rules (and uses human shields, for example), the other side is still morally obligated to obey the rules.

Is that moral?

Absolute standards in such a situation do not promote moral behaviour in war (ibid); instead, they create a foundation for political rather than moral interests.

Is it moral for morality to be managed by political agendas?

Applying an inflexible moral standard to a war where only one side accepts that standard could be immoral. Discussions of moral behaviour in war depend upon the question of what is ‘just’. Giving one side in conflict an unjust advantage breaches the ethicists’ commitment to that sense of ‘just-ness’.

We must determine who is morally responsible for protecting civilians.  But we must not do that to the disadvantage of the side that upholds the rules.  

That would not be moral. It would not be ‘just’.

The UN, however, appears to work with a rigid moral standard for war rules, even in cases where one side refuses to accept that standard. Common sense suggests that if one side rejects all conventions and uses human shields and civilian casualties to promote its success at the expense of the enemy, the moral responsibility should lie with that side—because, for one thing, it is they who control those civilians.

In war, you should be morally responsible for what you control—not for what your enemy controls.

According to the accepted rules of war, Israel has a just cause for its 2012 attack against Gaza—self defense. But if Israel obeys the rules and refrains always from harming illegally placed human shields, avoids military targets because they have been deliberately established within civilian population centers and insists that it will kill only those who wear identifiable military uniforms, then Israel cannot win that war; she could hardly fire a shot for fear of killing civilians.

Worse for Israel, modern ethical rules are so exact that they deny a war’s morality if there is no chance for a beneficial outcome. If Israel initiates a war it cannot prosecute, it starts a war that does not have a potentially beneficial outcome; therefore, it could be starting an immoral war.

Rules that have been designed to mollify the horrors of war now prevent Israel from protecting her citizens which, according to those same rules, is a legitimate cause for war.

It’s an impossible moral catch-22. Israel loses if she doesn’t fight and she loses if she does fight.

Ethicists have created a monster. They intend to empower morality in war.  But they create the opposite effect: they empower the cruel and the immoral by denying a sovereign power the right to defend itself.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Israel must reconsider its strategy against Hamas

Before a truce between Hamas and Israel brought an apparent halt to fighting on November 21, 2012,  political commentators around the world decided to solve Israel’s problem with Hamas. Most of these essays seem to borrow from the same political inventory: they acknowledged Israel’s right to defend herself; they questioned Israel’s use of force; they implied that Israel does not yet understand that Hamas is a much stronger adversary than Israel believes; and they ended calling for a ceasefire, so both sides could get back to their real business—peace talks.

Almost all the essays suggested that Israel cannot continue to oppose Hamas. Their proof is the on-going violence. As long as Israel continues to reject Hamas, they argued, the violence will continue.

The force of their argument focused on Israel. Even if Israel has the right to defend herself, they all seemed to claim, she nonetheless carries the sole responsibility for the current problem. Peace depends upon Israel, not Hamas.

This concept is attractive. It is popular. But it’s false.

Most everyone in the West—including those who brokered this latest truce—do not show evidence that they have taken a serious look at Hamas. Instead, they create a kind of moral and political equivalence between Israel and Hamas, as if the two adversaries have been cut from the same mould promoting equally the same goal—self-determination for their people. The premise is simple: just as Jews in Israel want to live in peace, Arabs in Gaza want to live in peace. Arab and Jewish goals are equal. The only problem is, Israel refuses to acknowledge this equality.

This is, possibly, where the ‘apartheid’ accusation gains credibility. If we posit that Israel refuses to recognize Hamas as an equal because Israel is racist—and apartheid in nature—then we can understand Israel’s motivation for rejecting Hamas.

If Israel reconsidered its racism, there could be peace.

But that’s not true. It’s a false accusation. First of all, Hamas and Israel do not share mutual ideals. They do not share a mutual goal (self-government). They do not share a mutual desire for peace.

In fact, if you read the Hamas Charter, you would know that the problem in this conflict is not Israel.

Hamas does not seek peace. According to their Charter, they have another goal.

The document is available online. Do a Google search for, ‘Hamas Charter.’ ( Read it. Then re-read some of the essays suggesting that Israel ‘re-consider’ its strategy with Hamas. You might see those essays in a new light; and that light will not flatter the essayist.

Once you read the Charter, you’ll understand what Hamas wants—and why.

The first thing you notice about the Hamas Charter is that it is not political in nature. It is religious. Very religious. Any politics within the document are explicitly shaped by Islamic ideology.

In Hamas, Israel does not find a political adversary or potential partner. It finds a religious enemy.

Through its Charter, Hamas commits to a religious ideal whose sole goal is to remove the Zionist entity from all of Palestine (today’s Israel) and to establish Islamic rule.

The Charter states explicitly that there can be peace in Palestine (today’s Israel) only when Islamic rule reigns.

The Charter quotes the Prophet of Islam calling to kill Jews (Article Seven); and to make certain that we understand the Hamas world-view, the document declares clearly that  “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad [holy war]. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time” (Article Thirteen); “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it” (the opening).

Essayists don’t mention these declarations. Instead, they want to know why Israel doesn’t want peace.

The Hamas Charter is filled with information. It tells you all you need to know about Hamas’ attitudes:  Leaving the circle of struggle against Zionism is high treason (Article Thirty-Two); Zionists are invaders (Article Seven); Palestine must be liberated through holy war (Article Fifteen); Jews/Zionists are Nazis (Article Twenty, Thirty-One and Thirty-Two); the Jews have usurped Palestine (Article Fifteen); the Palestinian problem is a religious problem—and should be dealt with on this basis (Article Thirteen).

In case a Western essayist does not understand the Jew-as-Zionist, he can learn from the Charter that Zionists aim to undermine societies, destroy values and annihilate Islam; Zionists are “behind the drug trade and alcoholism so as to facilitate [Zionist] control and expansion (Article Twenty-Eight)”.

Essayists don’t mention these beliefs when discussing peace for Israel.

Essayists want Israel to reconsider her approach to Hamas. Hamas is an official terror organization. Each rocket Hamas fires at Israeli civilians is a war crime. They use human shields. Their Charter calls for the killing of Jews. Their solution to the ‘Palestinian problem’ is a religious holy war against the Jew.

What exactly is Israel supposed to ‘reconsider’?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The exit plan

An exit plan identifies the moment you should stop something. Today, people talk about an ‘exit plan’ for Israel. They ask, when will Israel stop its military attack against Gaza? Since many who demand to know Israel’s exit plan are also those who didn’t want her to attack in the first place, one might assume that their focus is more ‘exit’ than ‘plan’.

Others, who believe that Israel waited too long to attack Gaza, are not concerned about an exit plan. They worry about an exit disaster where, as in 2008, Israel attacks, doesn’t finish the job and reaps international condemnation for inflicting ‘disproportionate’ casualties.

If 2012 becomes a repeat of 2008, they argue, we gain nothing. Rockets into Israel will not stop. Arabs will again conclude that killing human shields so terrifies Israel that she becomes a cowardly lion.

If Israel exits ‘too soon’, Arabs will have incentive to continue using human shields to control the Jewish Goliath.

Therefore, if Israel stops too soon, she’ll see no peace. Instead, she’ll have to re-arm.

Hamas, meanwhile, will surely celebrate a victory over Israel. Hamas might also conclude that she can fire rockets anywhere she wants—and Israel cannot stop her. This might suggest the future: Hamas never stops the rockets and then, when Israel attacks again, uses human shields to frighten the cowardly lion.

If Israel stops too soon, Arabs will have no motivation to change. They will have every motivation to ‘continue as usual.’

What should Israel’s exit plan be? It should be realistic. If we do not intend to shut down Hamas completely, we should not intend to over-expose our troops.

Therefore, Israel’s exit plan should be quick—but not too quick; soon, but not too soon.

Israel should deal with Hamas later.

That doesn’t sit well with many Israelis. It leaves Hamas standing. In an ideal world (for Israel) that’s a bad idea. But this isn’t an ideal world for Israel. ‘Finishing’ Hamas today is not a plan. It won’t work. It likely requires a World War Two-style invasion or expanded bombings. Both strategies create high casualties. Israel may not yet be prepared to tolerate high IDF casualties; and--right now--the nations will not tolerate high civilian casualties in Gaza so Israel can have peace.

The nations do not believe in peace for Israel. They believe in  ‘proportionality’.

Israel can benefit by avoiding disproportionality—for now.

Gaza exists in a context. That context should dictate Israel’s decisions because, for better or worse, Israel must deal with other nations; besides, the time is not ripe for Israel to stand alone.

That time will come. But it is not now, not today.

Gaza is a bump in the road, not the road’s end. Nevertheless, it is a bump that can help Israel.

Gaza can validate that Israel has the right to protect itself against an irrational enemy. A smart exit plan is important because the nations have given Israel a moderate ‘pass’ right now. But their patience is not unlimited. Israel must give them reason to trust her.

Then, Israel can ask for something in return—a carte blanche to pound Gaza every time Gaza attacks.

To get that carte blanche, the nations should first be challenged: you don’t want Israeli boots in Gaza? Then convince Hamas to stop the rockets.

Of course, that won’t work. Therefore, Israel can explain to her peers, she must act as you would--to protect her population.

The exit plan can then be based upon three goals:

(1)  Pound Gaza mercilessly with precision strikes to degrade weapons storage and launching facilities;

(2)  Create a sealed Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the border with Gaza and a pre-determined distance inside Gaza;

(3)  Destroy as many tunnels as possible;

Once those three goals have been met, Israel can announce that her mission is complete. She will cease her attack—unless Hamas continues.

If Hamas continues, Israel should inform the nations that the rules have changed. As a sovereign nation, she is not required to tolerate terror attacks on her sovereign territory—and she no longer will.

If Hamas continues the rockets and the nations cannot convince Hamas to stop, Israel will continue the attacks. The burden will shift from Israel to Hamas and the nations. They will bear the responsibility for war, not Israel.

The nations have become accustomed to pressuring Israel. Now, they see what Israel faces. For the moment, they hesitate.

That hesitation—brief though it is--gives Israel an opportunity. Israel should use that opportunity to fight, yield—and then declare it will defend itself aggressively until Hamas changes.

An exit plan can work only if it is presented as a gesture of good-will that is also a warning for the future; for example, every Hamas rocket into Israel will trigger 100 Israeli air attacks--until the nations pressure Hamas to change.

Israel’s exit plan should come with a caveat: sovereign Israel will no longer tolerate terror against its citizens.

Of course, that point is not made when Israel exits. It’s made in the future, when Israel truly strikes 100 targets for every Hamas terror attack.

Perhaps we shouldn’t call this an exit plan. Perhaps we should call it, ‘speak softly but carry a big stick’.




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

War and world Media: readers to the rescue?

As of dawn, November 19, 2012, Israel time, a state of war exists between Hamas in Gaza and the state of Israel. The fighting began on November 14, after Hamas fired more than 250 rockets at civilian targets in Israel, over a thirteen day period beginning November 1.

So far, a pattern emerges. As Israel and Hamas pound each other, exchanging perhaps 1,750 rockets and bombs over the first 100 hours of fighting, journalists, political commentators and world opinion-makers rush to publish. Much of what they write is anti-Israel. To one who supports Israel, such reporting is not new. It may actually be today’s norm.

But there is something new. Consumers of news are changing the tenor and, possibly, the impact of news and political commentary.

As Israel appears to prepare a ground assault into Gaza, we see a second war unfolding—on the internet. It is a war for the hearts and minds of news consumers, and pro-Israel forces are aggressive. On CNN, NBC News, CBS News, Al Jazeera English, Yahoo!News and the Guardian (to name just a few internet news sources), anti-Israel references get hammered almost the instant they get published. Read the ‘reader comment’ sections of these outlets. According to an informal scan of these news sources for days number 2-4 of the fighting, a strong pro-Israel voice has emerged in those comments. The Israel narrative is being told. The Hamas narrative does not go unanswered.

Hamas—and its supporters--attack Israel on the internet because its war against Israel is both actual and verbal. To demonize Israel, they re-invent language, history and Western morality. At times one suspects this is done specifically to keep you from remembering that Hamas is an outlawed terror organization.

The pro-Israel voice reminds us that Hamas are killers--who lie.

For example, after just two days of fighting, readers and internet watchdogs (and then readers again, as they pick up on watchdog observations) hammer home the accusation that two Hamas anti-Israel pictures have been proven false, an anti-Israel news video was faked, and news reports of ‘civilian’ injuries in Gaza are being exaggerated.

These observations appear at the bottom of essays that support the Hamas narrative, thereby undercutting that narrative. The presence of this readership voice reveals Hamas’ criminal underbelly. 

Until fighting broke out on November 14, Hamas had reason to believe that its version of history had become accepted tradition; they seemed the darling of the world’s media. But a vigilant pro-Israel readership fights back. Here are some comments:

-you say it is misleading that Israel uses ‘precision’ bombing to protect civilians? Well, with 1,000 air strikes and only 24 civilian deaths [to date], I would call that pretty damn precise, especially since Hamas uses heavily populated areas to fight from;

-do Gazan authorities provide sufficient and effective air-raid shelters for their citizens? Did Gaza put any of its money into safe infrastructure, or do they use their money to kill Israelis?

-What gives Gaza the right to terrorize Israeli civilians?

-the world protests 51 deaths in Gaza—half of which are terrorists. Meanwhile, the death toll in Syria for defenceless children is 2,300 and counting. The world should protest the real horror—in Syria.

-There is a saying, ‘if Arabs put down their weapons, there’d be peace; if Israel put down her weapons, there’d be no more Israel.’

 -stop your claims that Israelis murder civilians. If Hamas stopped using human shields, civilian death would [plummet].

-you say Israel must negotiate, not fight? How do you negotiate with people who say you have no right to exist—and whose goal is to destroy the country you live in?

-you want peace? Give Palestinians hope by building within your own Arab societies more freedom and opportunity than Israel offers Arabs.

-the people who live in Gaza voted for Hamas. They chose terror over peace. After Israeli disengagement [in 2005], Hamas could have made an example of Gaza as a thriving peaceful region. Instead, Hamas turned Gaza into a military base to attack Israeli civilians.

-iron dome—and Israeli intelligence services—are the real winners in this conflict. Israel has now re-established its deterrence capability.

Finally, a comment that quotes writer Jeffrey Goldberg: the media is biased against Israel…probably 300 people in Syria have been murdered since the Gaza [attacks began]…a Syrian acquaintance [has complained] that Syria gets very little attention in international press…Mr Goldberg’s advice is to get killed by Jews.

On the most anti-Israel sites, readers defend Israel in comment after comment, sustaining their arguments, point-by-point, against those who attack Israel.

This strong pro-Israel defense is neither random nor accidental. Readers believe in Israel. They go to battle for Israel. Consumers of news are no longer passive.  Media might malign Israel. But readers now come to the rescue.

Suddenly, a war for Israel has begun online.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An Arab battle-plan in Gaza--for your TV screen

Many Arabs in Gaza want war against Israel. Their political Charter demands it.  A nuclear war excites them. But that’s for the future. They seem instead to want real war right now--on their terms, so men can fire rockets at Israel and run.

In the first thirteen days of November, 2012, they fired perhaps 260 rockets at Israeli civilians in southern Israel. That’s once every 45 minutes, just the right interval to keep a million Jews in Israel sprinting repeatedly to bomb shelters.

This was their kind of war: lots of rockets into Israel, irrelevant property damage but a million Israeli civilians terrorized.

Bombing civilians is a serious war crime, but if the Arabs do not make a mistake here, this could be a good war because they’re good at it. Their battle-plan seems to be based partly on four war-concepts which they seem to have perfected; and each links directly to your TV screen.

Perhaps this is the Gaza battle-plan:

First, Israel’s military must be neutralized. It’s too powerful to confront head-on. It must be constrained—and then handcuffed.

Gazans constrain Israel’s military by moving the battlefield into civilian populations. That may be another war crime, but they don’t care about that because no one else seems to care. They also know that Israel is terrified of killing civilians because Western nations judge Israel harshly when human shields die.

They handcuff Israel’s military by formatting these civilian battlefields to fit your TV screen. You see, your TV determines what you believe. That’s why this conflict is a TV war. This is reality TV with  ‘david-the-good-guy’ fighting ‘Goliath-the-bad-guy’.

Without your TV, the Arabs cannot win this war.

Second, attacks against Israel must be organized in an asymmetric (unconventional) manner. They must also be unrelenting.

In theory, tiny flies that never go away annoy a powerful beast. Flies that attack in unpredictable, relentless waves can drive that beast away. 

Israel’s enemy in Gaza is spread across disparate groups. These groups appear to have no coordinated organization. But they know that, even when attacks against Israel are not coordinated, the impact of those attacks is no different from a pre-planned assault.

Think of a pack of wolves attacking a prey. Each lunge by each wolf is based on opportunity, not plan; but the total effect has the look and feel of a pre-planned assault.

Wolves who kill know how to work together to achieve a common goal.

Those who would destroy Israel organize on the conceptual level and execute at the cell level. This approach is safe, it’s extremely asymmetric and because this type of fighting focuses on the individual, it creates great TV images.

In this war, it’s Israel versus your TV screen.

Third, the battlefield must be managed to Israel’s disadvantage. Unless backed into a corner, Arab fighters in Gaza will not engage the Israeli army. They will harass that army—and then film the results. The battlefield then transfers to film. Film can be edited.

Watch your TV screen. David-the-Arab can out-manoeuvre Goliath- the-Jew.

Fourth, Israel must fear the pressure of deterrence.

In practice, (see Wikipedia, deterrence, for a quick definition), deterrence refers to the use of threat in order to compel an adversary to do something—or prevent him from doing something.

Arabs watch Israel on TV. They know that if an Israeli attack against Gaza kills civilians, the United States could turn hostile to her; the European Union could turn hostile; and the United Nations could support unilateral Palestinian statehood. The threat of world reaction, in other words, compels Israel to hesitate defending itself.

That threat—and this version of a Gaza battle-plan--worked for most of this year.  Between January I, 2012 and October 30, Gazans fired perhaps 600 rockets at Israeli civilians, sometimes paralyzing Israel’s south. Israel’s only response was tit-for-tat because they had been compelled by world leaders to go no further.

Israel hesitated to defend herself. Apparently, she felt the fear of deterrence.

Until November, the Gazan battle-plan looked good.

Then, something changed. As November began, Gazans fired 77 rockets over a 72-hour period. A few days later, they fired an additional 100 rockets over a 48-hour period ending November 12. Perhaps this was a mistake because, suddenly, tit-for-tat couldn’t keep up; on November 14, 2012, Israel decided to stop fearing world opinion. She decided instead she needed to stop the rockets. She attacked Gaza.

Israeli soldiers are now in harm’s way. We pray for their safety.

The Arabs now appear to have the war they want.

During the first two days of fighting, it has been reported that Gazans have used at least two false pictures and one staged video to show ‘civilians’ killed or injured by Israel. It’s another element for their TV war: faked pictures for faked casualty numbers.

Will the Gaza battle-plan work?

That depends upon how you react to your TV screen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Middle East as mirror

The Middle East amazes. The more we talk about peace for the Region, the closer we come to war. The more Israelis are called oppressors, the more we learn about Arab-on-Arab brutality. The more we label Israelis as Nazis, the more Nazi-inspired atrocities come to light from the Arab world. 

Have you noticed that? So many Arabs hate Israel. They cannot demonize the Jewish state often enough. But the more aggressively they attack, the uglier they look—and the less guilty Israel looks.
The same holds true for world news vendors.
 For example, earlier in 2012, a news story appeared in Europe about the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) running over an Arab protester. There appeared a picture with the story showing a man, clearly an Arab and clearly in agony, lying on his stomach with his legs appearing (because of the camera angle) to be underneath a mammoth IDF truck. The story suggested that this was yet another example of Israel brutality—only this time, that brutality had been caught on camera. Turns out, however, that once the IDF saw the man crying out, their supposed cruelty turned to something else: tending to his injuries. The problem was, they couldn’t find any injuries. So the IDF brought in Israel’s EMS service, Mogen Dovid Adom. They couldn’t find any injuries, either. So they in turn called a Palestinian Emergency crew. They couldn’t find anything wrong with the man—and the Palestinian crew reportedly then cursed him. Apparently, he was not injured (see CAMERA/Snapshots, February 27. 2012).
It appeared to be a show.
If negative news reports of Israel are true, why does such falsification need to be presented?
More important still, who looks guilty here, the accused or the accuser?
Perhaps we see a pattern. The story above—and so many others that have a similar ending (Israel vindicated)—suggests a kind of political mirroring between accused and accuser.  Arabs—and their Western enablers-- may take pleasure in false reports about Israel, but lies can cut both ways: lie about Israel and you run the risk of discovering unflattering truths about yourself.
 For example, fabricate a story that Israel oppresses Gaza to the brink of a humanitarian crisis for all Gazans (see Frimet and Arnold Roth, thisongoingwar.blogspot, October 28, 2012), and your readers may find a different story describing the plight of hundreds of Gazan millionaires: after investing in hundreds of luxury apartment buildings [in Gaza, the millionaires complain] that decorators are never available ( Nicolas Pelham, ‘Gaza: a way out?’ New York Review of Books, October 26, 2012).
Promote the sailing of a ‘freedom’ ship loaded with ‘humanitarian’ aid to Gaza,  and your readers may find another story revealing that the ship carried nothing humanitarian (see Simon Plosker, Honest Reporting, October 21, 2012) except human protesters--who lied about the contents of their ship.
Publish a report that Israel blocks needed fuel from entering Gaza—thereby threatening the safety of Gazans—and your readers could discover another story that Israel had allowed fuel to pass to Gaza; but Egypt had refused to let  fuel enter (see ElderofZion.blogspot, October 21, 2012).
Promote false stories, and your readers may not call you a journalist. They may call you a liar.
This well is deep. Name a subject that affects Israel’s reputation and you’ll find false stories that defame Israel.
Almost always, you can easily discover that those stories have misrepresented or even manufactured the reported ‘event’.
The Middle East amazes. It’s a fib factory. It’s also a mirror where accusations might actually reveal the accuser’s sins, not the accused’s. For example, Arabs declare that Israelis deny Arabs their rights. But the truth is, only in Israel does an Arab woman have real rights (see Philippe Assouline, The Times of Israel, October 17, 2012).   Arabs claim that Israel represses Arab religious practice. But the truth is, it is the Arab who demands that Jews cannot pray on the Temple Mount, Judaism’s Holiest site (Daniel Tauber, The Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2012).
Arabs declare that Israel does not want a two-state solution. But the truth is, Arabs publish maps showing their new state in place of Israel, revealing their desire for an Arab one-state solution.
Arabs defame Israel over the absence of ‘peace’. But the truth is, Arab clerics call their faithful to massacre Jews.
Arabs accuse Jews of chemical attacks to destroy Temple Mount foundations (Yisrael Medad and Eli Pollak, The Jerusalem Post, October 11, 2012). But it is  Arabs who dig, destroy or deface important areas on, in and around the Mount.
The Middle East amazes. It’s a mirror, where lies reveal underlying truths-- about the accuser.
Want to experience apartheid or brutal oppression?  Go to the Arab world. If that’s too dangerous for you, watch their TV.
You’ll learn what’s in them and not in Israel.




Thursday, November 8, 2012

Obama’s re-election and Jewish Redemption?

What a strange twist: will America be included in the Jewish Redemption story?

In the Eighteenth century, America established its reputation as the home of the free by standing up against foreign rule.  In the Nineteenth century, America committed to freedom when it fought a Civil War to free slaves. In the Twentieth century, she stood up against evil and fought Nazi Germany to free Europe. At the same time, when a 1941 Japanese attack killed 2,400 Americans at a military base called Pearl Harbour, America fought until those who dared attack were crushed.

Fifty years later, as the Twentieth century ended, the world appeared to turn ugly. America, still the land which fought for freedom, stood up again--in Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. America the strong stood strong.

Then, as the Twenty-First century began, everything changed. Evil attacked  America. On September 11, 2001, nineteen Muslim extremists killed almost 3,000 American civilians by hijacking four civilian passenger jets and then using those aircraft as killing machines.

 Today, ten years later, America does not stand strong. She does not defend freedom. She does not defend her allies. She does not defend her sovereign property when, for example, a US Consulate safe-house in Libya was attacked.

America retreats. She appears to yield to those who hate her. She cannot protect her Ambassador to Libya.

The world engorges with hate. Three American officials in Libya are murdered. America apologizes.

The Jewish story of Redemption involves a period during which the nations of the world recalibrate their values. They turn against Israel. Jerusalem becomes a battleground.  War breaks out. Powerful nations confront Israel.

It gets ugly.

Thirty years ago, there appeared to be no obvious evidence that America would turn against Israel. Today, it appears that America becomes increasingly hostile towards Israel. But evidence of that seems real only for those who say they see it.

Thirty years ago, there did not appear to be strong evidence that the nations of the world had committed to isolate and demonize Israel. The Zionism-is-racism vote seemed more the exception than the rule. Today, we see evidence that such attacks are the norm, not the exception. But such evidence seems compelling only for those who say they see it.

Thirty years ago, no nation worked to develop nuclear capability while at the same time calling for Israel’s destruction. Today, evidence suggests that one nation openly pursues both goals. But such evidence appears obvious only to those who say they see it.

We saw a similar pattern between 1932—when Adolf Hitler was elected to lead German—and 1939--when World War Two began. Some said Hitler was a forceful, admirable leader for difficult times. Others said the evidence pointed to grave danger—but such evidence appeared clear only to those who said they saw it.

Today, we see the same thing: some say that a re-elected President Obama will save America. Others say he brings evil to America-- and to Israel.

We see this difference of opinion another way. In Israel, early exit polls suggested that only twenty per cent of American [and presumably Jewish] voters in Israel voted for Barack Obama, while in America, early exit polls suggested that perhaps sixty-nine per cent of American Jews voted for Obama.

How strange. Jews in Israel see Obama as a brewing disaster. Jews in America seem to see him as salvation for difficult times.

Such a stark difference between Jews prompts a different Jewish opinion. This minority opinion suggests that Obama’s re- election is, potentially, a sign from above that the Jewish Redemption is ready to begin.

The Jewish Redemption and Barack Obama? How strange. Many of us reject such a thought. But as we reject, we notice that America’s values appear to change just as an international cast of players denounces Israel.

America changes. She no longer challenges anti-Israel actors as she once did. She threatens to join them.

Do you see anti-Israel aggression here, or do you see ‘international diplomacy’ at work?

Israel is already at stage-center. Nations gather to pressure her borders. They demonize her in the name of peace.

The world calls Israel evil—or vile, depending on how each organizes his attack.

Some whisper that November 6, 2012 is the date that brings us to the threshold of Redemption. The ugliness, they say, will now be unleashed.

Is this correct? Does the final path to our Redemption begin with the re-election of Barack Hussein Obama?

How could that be?

Perhaps his role is to push Redemption forward—by creating policies that encourage (consciously or unconsciously) the ugliness that precedes the Final denouement.

Some say the evidence is there to see. Others say that what we see is more coincidence than evidence.

November 6, 2012 has passed. Barack Obama has been re-elected.
Our future begins now.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Clouds over Jerusalem

It’s November, 2012. Clouds hover over Jerusalem. Some say these are rain clouds--because our rainy season has begun. These clouds are good. They carry rain. Others say these are fire-clouds. They say local Arabs burn garbage in open pits.  These clouds are bad. They carry pollution.

Others disagree. They say these clouds do not bring rain or pollution. These clouds are different. They are not natural. They are political.

 They are clouds of war.

Are they?

Israel, they say, is at war. She was born in war. She grew up at war. She lives at war.

The clouds simply remind us: Jerusalem is under attack.

Is that true?

Modern Israel has never been without war. She is at war because she is called ugly. This ugliness has a name: ‘Jew’. Her ugliness is a scar. It makes her repugnant. That scar is so hateful to certain Jews they would do anything to erase it.


The war against Israel began before the announcement (in 1947) of her impending birth. That war has never ended. It will go on, our enemies claim, until the entire Zionist entity is erased.

Read the Hamas Charter. Read the Fatah-PLO Charter. Zion is the Jew. Zion scars the land. The land can be healed only when the scar has been removed.

If Hamas and Fatah win this war, everything Jewish will be removed. Everyone who remains a Jew will be removed. The land will be cleansed. The scar will be gone.

Our pioneer fathers came to Israel because they loved the land. They came. They fought. They died—all, for the land.

Our pioneer fathers had a passion for the land. They didn’t care if they were hated. They loved the land. Wasn’t that enough?

No, it wasn’t.

The pioneers are gone. They have mostly all died. Their passion for the land has died with them.

Yes, we once loved this land. But land is too tangible—and love of a tangible can carry you only so far, one generation, it turns out, maybe two. Today, for some, land means only security; for others, it’s a burden; for still others, it is passionless, inert.

For too many, this land no longer excites. Now, the only thing that excites is that scar. It’s so visible. It’s so ugly. It must be removed. Otherwise, how can we be accepted among the nations?

Haven’t you noticed? No other nation is Jewish—no one else has this scar. Why must we?

Can’t we just be like everyone else?

Jews forget. We forget what the Arab remembers: G-d rewards those who have a passion for the land of Israel. Look at how the passion of the pioneers has been rewarded; we live today because of that passion.

The Arab understands this.

We are also rebellious. We refuse to see that the point of the passion is not the land or the struggle for the land. The point of the passion is to feel the presence of G-d—because nothing happens in Israel without G-d.

The Arab understands this, too. That’s why he calls to his god; it’s why he wars against the Jew.

This was the pioneer’s mistake. They felt the passion. But they rejected G-d. So their passion has died with them. Read your Tanach (Jewish Bible). G-d did not give Israel to the Jewish people because they had a passion for it. He gave it because that land was linked to Him.

Accept that link and you secure the land. Reject that link and you lose the land.

The Arab understands this.

Does it make you uncomfortable to think that this land could be linked to G-d—that anything real could be connected to G-d?  Wake up. Read your Tanach:  the prophesies of Judaism are not stories. They are fact.

G-d is real—and He is in this land. 

This war is about G-d. It is about land.  But most fundamentally, it is about belief.  Belief is the key. It allows man—any man--to stay on the land. It is the catalyst that activates the passion needed to own the land.

He who believes, wins.

We are at war. It is a religious war. Whose god will win? Ask Hamas. Ask Islamic clerics who regularly call for holy war against the Jew. The land of Israel is holy. The Arab understands this. He wants that holiness.  

It’s why he calls upon his god. He wants what is holy.

Can you blame him?

Go outdoors. Look at the clouds over Jerusalem. Those are not just any clouds. They suggest more than rain or pollution—or war.

Study your Tanach.  Go to classes. Learn how this war started. Learn how it will end. Ask yourself, how can Tanach so accurately predict Jewish history?

Then, think about the clouds that hover over Jerusalem.