Sunday, June 30, 2013

Signs that the Redemption is near?


For years, the American magazine, Sports Illustrated, has run a weekly mini-report entitled, “Signs of the Apocalypse” (or something like that). It contains a one-or-two sentence announcement that features some weekly occurrence in the Sports world. Typically, it focuses on someone doing something really stupid. It highlights how incredibly awful highly-paid or famous people can be. Such behaviour by those we honour, the piece suggests, is surely a sign that our world must soon end.

Mostly, these incidents entertain.

That magazine comes from America. We live in Israel, which follows a different religious and spiritual orientation. So if someone in America thinks about Christian-inspired world Destruction, perhaps we can think about something different--a Jewish-inspired Redemption.

Consider now some recent examples from the news that, in some way—humorous and not so humorous-- might suggest that the world might be preparing for something New. If you don’t see how these headlines might pre-sage a Jewish Redemption, that’s okay. That just means that your ‘Redemption training’ isn’t up-to-date.

For June 2013:

-PM tells internet giants to tackle porn (The London Times)

-Naked bike ride in Mexico City (The Guardian)

-Why do baseball games take so long? (Boston Globe)

-TWA Flight 800 crash not due to gas tank explosion, former investigators say (Yahoo! News)

-Barack Obama: NSA is not rifling through ordinary people's emails (The Guardian)]

-Soldiers shouldn’t need to go to law for justice (The Times of London)

-Britain is in a dangerous moral state, says Welby (The Times of London)

-The whole truth must now come out (Manchester (England) Evening News)

-Israel will get $60b from 20 years of gas sales (Al Arabiya English)

-University of Wyoming researcher warns of virus decimating European livestock (Casper (Wyoming Star-Tribune)

- Woman's breast implants explode after four-hour gaming session (msnNow)


A report that the US government might lie (the TWA 800 story) reminds us that before the Jewish Redemption begins, a world of falsehood would grow stronger. Have we reached that point?

Or, do you feel better about your world because US President Obama has declared that the United States does not read your email?

The Time of Redemption will be a time of Truth. In England, a newspaper headline declares that the Truth must now come out. Is this a heralding of Redemption—or is it just more news about yet another government cover-up?

On a happier note, a national leader wants to take down pornography. That’s good for Truth and Justice, isn’t it?

But wait. What’s this about naked bike riders? Is this connected with the pornography story? Well, have you ever tried to ride a bike naked? Ouch!

Maybe these bike riders tell us something about the price of immorality. Do these headlines tell us that the world indeed has a moral problem—or are we simply getting a peek at what the naked truth looks like?

Or, are we just looking for a peek at naked bike riders?

For morality and justice, maybe you should think about England. British soldiers cannot get justice (when killed in action due to military negligence). Does that mean that Britain suffers a dangerous moral state—or is Britain’s apparently crumbling morality a separate issue?

Why are Britishers concerned about their moral state? Do they know something we don’t?

Do major gas discoveries off the shores of Israel mean that, at last, Israel is ready to leap forward towards the rewards of Redemption?

Do we see another sign of Redemption this month? A woman’s breast implants exploded after she lay on her stomach for four hours playing video games. Does this mean that, with Redemption near, false fronts will now fail?

Look, our future beckons. The world before us reveals where we stand—and suggests where we are going. These news stories challenge us. They make us think: where are we headed?


Naturally, it’s possible that all this news is meaningless. These stories may have nothing to do with the Jewish Redemption. Maybe we needn’t worry about our future. Perhaps these headlines are simply proof that nothing—except the length of a baseball game—never really changes.

But then, The Star-Tribune of Caspar, Wyoming has recently run a headline that (just as the European Union wants to step up a boycott of Israel) a killing virus has begun to decimate European livestock.

What’s that mean?


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Want prayers answered? Try this approach


Last update: June 24, 2013

If you’ve ever gone to school, you know what it takes to be successful: pass tests. Sometimes, it’s the same for prayer.
Of course, school is easier. In school, you usually know when tests occur and you know what you’re being tested on. With prayer, tests are surprises.
Don’t worry. You can prepare for your tests. Master the preparation and the tests are easy; then, your prayers become powerful.
Here’s how it works: your preparation has two parts. First, you have to believe that G-d controls your life, not you. Yes, you must plan.  But you must also believe that G-d has the final say.
You must truly believe that. You will be tested on it.
Second, you must accept what G-d does—even if you don’t like it. You will be tested on this, too.
If you pass these tests, the answers to your prayers could surprise you. If you don’t pass the tests, well, don’t expect much.
It’s like being in school. If you don’t prepare for your tests, what can you expect?
Here’s a real-life example of prayer and preparation in action. My wife and I finalized our aliyah plans during the winter of 2010—one of the snowiest winters in decades. By early March, everything on our street was snow-covered. One snowy morning, my wife left the house—and returned immediately. She told me to come outside.
I walked out with her. Outside, she pointed at one of our cars—an old green car we didn’t need and drove only occasionally-- parked in front of our house.
The green car was buried under snow, except for the back end. That part of the car was clean. The snow had been knocked off. The uncovered rear of the car was crushed. Obviously, someone had driven into it and then run off.
 The car’s insurance deductible was $1,000. The instant I saw the damage, all I could see was yet another unexpected pre-aliyah expense.   
Here’s a test: how would you have reacted?
I had a double reaction. First, I uttered an anti-social word. Then, almost immediately, I said, ‘No. That’s wrong.’ I looked up at the sky and said, ‘Look, HaShem. I’m sorry I said that. I know this is from you. I have no idea why you did this. I do not understand it. But I accept it. You are King. I am servant. I accept.’ My wife came over to me and said, ‘Gam zu l’tova’ (this, too, is for the good).
Prayer Secret number one: you must really believe that it is G-d alone who controls what happens to you.
Prayer Secret number two: you must accept whatever G-d does. Do you understand what ‘accept’ means? It means looking at your smashed-in automobile and truly accepting—without anger—that G-d has just given you another $1,000 expense at the worst possible moment.
If G-d is going to answer your prayers, He wants to know if you believe in Him. He will test for that belief.
That car was certainly a test. For us, preparing for aliyah had become more expensive than we had thought. As expenses mounted, we prayed. That’s when we discovered the smashed car. In fact, soon after the car incident, things got worse, not better: our refrigerator died, my son’s new (used) car needed an expensive repair he couldn’t fully pay for, and the contractor preparing our home for sale told us he wanted more money. 
These were all tests. More than once during that snowy winter, I said, ’HaShem, HaShem, we are joining you in Israel. I do not understand these troubles. I accept whatever you do. You are King. Help me with these extra expenses!’
I believe that G-d wants to answer our prayers. But he needs to see what we believe. He will test us.
It's just like school: if you don't pass tests, you don't get anywhere. 
Remember school?  Your tests were important to you. G-d should be less important to you than school?
According to this approach to prayer, if you want your prayers answered, don’t fail tests. During that pre-aliyah winter, we were tested--a lot. But we must have passed. G-d answered our prayers. He even did it in a G-dly way--by using the mundane world: he destroyed my green car (which was not essential transportation for us); He then sent a claims adjuster who ‘totalled’ the car; that prompted the insurance company to send us a check far greater than the car’s true market value; and that insurance check paid for all those extra expenses.
It’s as if G-d had said to us, ‘I will answer your prayer. If you pass your tests, I will cover those extra expenses. There’s just one thing. I cannot miraculously give you money. I have to take your green car; then you can have cash.’
Sometimes, that’s how prayers get answered.




Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pamela Geller, Glenn Beck, Patrick Poole--and King David

Last updated: June 20, 2013

It is possible that the road to the Final Jewish Redemption unfolds through multiple paths. Consider the Biblical stories of  Esav, Yishmael and Jacob. Each of these figures built his own independent life. Each developed his own family history across time. But as the Final Jewish Redemption draws near, their paths converge. Why?  

Look at Esav. He is Jacob’s twin brother. He became Edom (B’reisheet, 36:1).  As history unfolded, Edom became Rome (The Schottenstein Talmud Bavli, Megillah, 6a, note 33).  For us, ‘Rome’ has become the Christian-inspired West, including   the West’s leader, the United States.

Yishmael is Abraham’s son. He is also Esav’s and Jacob’s uncle. He became the Arab nation. Then he became the Muslim.

Jacob became Israel. He is the father of the Jewish nation.

Forty years ago, Arabs attacked Israel in what has become known as the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Despite strong anti-Israel sentiment within the Nixon administration, the United States air-lifted 27,900 tons of war material to Israel, helping the besieged Jewish state win that War (Yehuda Avner, The Prime Ministers, The Toby Press, New Milford Ct, 2010, p. 248). Forty years ago, in other words, Edom—despite an American animus towards Israel—helped save the Jewish State.

According to Pamela Geller (atlas shrugs.blogspot), Glenn Beck (The Blaze) and Patrick Poole (below), Edom appears to be changing. Edom still ‘supports’ Israel. But Edom may now  also be protecting a Jihadi Islam whose aim is to destroy Israel.

Geller and Beck describe two problems: first, the Jihadi movement to establish a world-wide Islamic Caliphate  spreads and grows bolder; and second, the American government appears to be listening to Jihadi advocates.  Patrick Poole, meanwhile, has written an essay in the MERIA Journal (volume 17, summer 2013, June 4, 2013), entitled, “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s disastrous Muslim outreach efforts and the impact on U.S. Middle East Policy.” He argues that, while the US government has gone to Federal Court to label certain Islamic groups as ‘terrorist’, that same government calls these groups ‘moderate’--and embraces them. He describes a full-scale campaign of political correctness that he says is being waged inside Federal agencies under the Obama administration to shut down all reference to Jihadi terrorism. This compulsory blindness helps to opens doors for Jihadi supporters to such sensitive places as the FBI, The Department of Homeland Security and the Oval Office. Poole names names and dates.

Writing on her blog (June 5 on atlas shrugs), Ms Geller offers more evidence of this compulsory blindness. In November 2009, a US Army Officer, Major Nidal Hasan, walked into his Fort Hood office and, shouting Islamic religious slogans, shot to death 13 servicemen and wounded 32 others. The Obama administration has refused to label this attack as ‘terrorism’. Instead, the administration calls this a case of ‘workplace violence’. One result of such a decision has been the denial of important terror-related benefits to the victims. Geller wrote her piece on June 5 because Major Hasan had just told the judge in this case that he needs more time to prepare his defense because his shooting was ‘in defense of others’. When the judge asked him who he had been defending, Hasan replied,  “the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the Taliban and its leader, Mullah Omar.”

The Obama administration insists this shooting is not related to Jihadi terror.

Poole (above, ibid) lays out evidence that the Obama government gives power and access to known Jihadists. The administration partners with them and seeks council with them even as they preach terrorism.

Beck has spent three years showcasing evidence that Washington has become saturated with anti-Israel and anti-US advisors. Like Geller and Poole, he names names, dates and places.

Are these accusations true? Does Edom (the United States) seek council with Yishmael (Muslim Jihadists)?

Almost 3,000 years ago, the Jewish King David wrote that Edom will indeed one day make such council (Psalms 83:6). We may have forgotten his words. Certainly, no one stood up forty years ago to accuse the United States of taking council with Muslim organizations that preach murder; today, however, at least three Americans make that case.

Check their internet sites. It’s all there.

It appears that when the Jewish nation stands at the threshold to its Final Redemption, the paths of Edom, Yishmael and Jacob will converge.  When you look at today’s headlines, that’s exactly what you see: the Muslim, the United States and Israel--Yishmael, Edom, Jacob.

If we wish to understand these headlines, we should remember that Edom married Yishmael's daughter (B'reisheet 28:9). What we see today is the spawn of that union: Yishmael is welcome at Edom’s White House and Edom gives Jihadi supporters a ‘place at the table.’ Perhaps Geller, Beck and Poole are correct to argue that Yishmael influences Edom’s policy decisions.

King David was correct. Edom seeks council with Yishmael against Jacob.

Does our Redemption draw near?




Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Is Israel unprepared for Iran?

By the end of April, 2013, war with Iran appeared to creep closer. First, former Israeli Military Intelligence head, Maj Gen (Res) Amos Yadlin announced that (in his opinion) Iran had crossed the nuclear ‘red line’ set in 2012 by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then, the US announced that Syria had crossed another red line by using chemical weapons in its civil war. Finally, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin warned that failure by the US to act against Syria for its use of chemical weapons would show Iran that the US will not act when a ‘red line’ is crossed, thereby convincing Iran that US threats are meaningless.

By the end of May, 2013, we saw Israeli airstrikes inside Syria (an Iran surrogate), more allegations of chemical weapons use by Syria, and Syrian gunfire against Israel.

Now, June, 2013, we are looking at Syrian tanks at the border with Israel—and UN forces wanting to leave the Syrian-Golan area.

Is there an Iran-inspired noose tightening around Israel’s neck?

Popular belief asserts that Israel is frozen in this noose for several reasons: it doesn’t have the aircraft to complete a  round-trip attack against Iran; its aircraft cannot carry the bomb loads necessary to destroy facilities deeply embedded in underground Iranian manufacturing redoubts; and its non-nuclear weapons are not up to the task.

But popular belief focuses exclusively on the capabilities (and limitations) of the Israel Air Force (IAF). Is that how Israel will attack Iran (should it decide to attack)? Is the IAF the only way Israel can create an Iran mission?

Here’s a look at some of Israel’s non-IAF options for a raid on Iran. All the information you’ll see is from public sources.

Cyberwar. We have already seen cyberwar against Iran. We saw it as, Stuxnet and Flame, two malware assaults of 2012 that disrupted Iran’s nuclear production facilities.  In September, 2012, The Guardian of England reported that  cyberwar against Iran was far more sophisticated than had previously been understood.  We have not seen the end of these attempts. They could play a crucial role—on many levels—during an attack on Iran.

Israel’s navy. You may not know this, but Israel has a navy. It’s not big. But it is at the cutting edge of naval warfare. Two items are noteworthy. First, Israel’s naval arsenal of long-range surface-to-surface missiles grows in both size and sophistication almost monthly. Second, Israel has perhaps the most sophisticated non-nuclear submarines in the world. They are operational, and they are equipped to carry submarine-launched-cruise-missiles with a reported range of at least 1,500 km. They can strike Iranian nuclear sites from the Persian Gulf—and elsewhere. They can carry either nuclear or non-nuclear warheads. 

Buck Roger’s science-fiction.  In September 2012, The London Sunday Times reported that Israel had developed a ‘science-fiction’ weapon that could send all of Iran’s communications and electronics back to the Stone Age. It’s called, Electromagnetic Impulse (EMP). EMP is said to cause non-lethal gamma energy to react with the earth’s magnetic field to produce a powerful electromagnetic shock wave that is reported capable of destroying both electronic devices and Iran’s nuclear production computer infrastructure. In August, 2012, the WorldNetDaily reported that Israelis have not ruled out a missile launch to detonate a single electromagnetic pulse warhead at a high altitude over Iran.

This is indeed a weapon from science fiction. It sounds like  nonsense. Is it?

Satellites. Satellites hovering high in the sky do not necessarily mean ‘outer-space’ warfare. But as of July, 2012, Israel was reported to be one of only eight nations that have produced and launched satellites into space. Currently, Israel is said to have ten operational satellites, mostly for military purposes.

One of those ‘military purposes’ could surprise Iran.

Drones.  Most people think of drones as small and portable. That’s true. But Israel’s military has two intriguing drones that might be used in a far-away war. Both are reported to be armament-capable. One of these drones is said to be capable of flying to Iran and back. 

The other drone is unique (no details provided).

Covert action. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) is no stranger to long-distance covert operations. We have seen reports of such action in the Sudan, Syria and the Persian Gulf. ‘Covert’ covers a lot of options. It could include cyberwar or men-on-the-ground-in-the-dark. Israel has already been reported to be operating covertly in Iran.

Contrary to popular belief, Israel is not stuck. It does not need to hesitate. Its arsenal is not limited to air attack or a nuclear-only option. It does not need to penetrate mountains in Iran. It can launch a navy-based attack to render useless Iran’s nuclear facilities (by destroying entrance roads, tunnel entrances and facility-servicing power plants)—and then keep pounding away until nuclear production shuts down--all with less-than-average risk to IDF personnel.

Our Heritage teaches that Israel will rise like a lion before its enemies. Iran has never seen a lion like this.

Israel is ready.





Sunday, June 9, 2013

The hypocrisy of Human Rights NGOs in Israel

Human rights are not just ideals. They are not simply philosophical concepts. They are real. The 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the source for all modern human rights expression--identifies more than forty rights which should be available to all people.  These rights are, for the most part, clearly stated and easily understood. For example, everyone is entitled to an elementary education. Every woman is entitled to marry based on her own consent. We are all entitled to a fair trial, etc.

Human rights speak to fundamental personal freedoms. They apply to our daily life—work, school, marriage, religion, etc.

If the goal of human rights is individual freedom, the goal of human rights organizations—particularly those called non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—is to monitor and advocate for these freedoms. Through advocacy, these organizations seek to transform the world we inhabit.

NGOs have a noble goal. They want to transform the world from a place where repression, torture and arbitrary detention seem commonplace, to a world where each individual is granted personal freedom, opportunity and the right to feel safe. But noble goals create responsibility. If you pursue the noble, you travel a higher road: you become accountable for your nobility. This means that, at the very least, NGOs should demonstrate that the human rights they advertise are the human rights they monitor.

Unfortunately, many Israel-based human rights NGOs which advertise human rights for Arabs appear mostly to fail this accountability test.  They do not live up to what they advertise. They say one thing but do something else.

 Here are some examples; all information listed below comes directly from NGO Homepages as of May, 2013:

B’Tselem: the advertised mission statement for this NGO is to champion human rights for Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank. While that is their stated goal, the abuses they track are by far Israeli abuses, not Arab-on-Arab abuse. Their 2011 human rights report for Gaza and the ‘territories’ says nothing about Arab-on-Arab abuses in either Gaza or the territories—even as both Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) reference hundreds of serious Arab-on-Arab abuses in these locations.

Defense of Children International—Palestine section: this organization was registered in Israel in 1996 and then in the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2003. Its website is not clear if it is now Arab-only, or if it continues to maintain its Israeli registration. Its advertised mission is to protect PA and Gaza children. Among other issues, it tracks deaths of children since 2000 and the use of children as human shields since 2004. As of May, 2013, the only such abuses listed are by Israel. Since 2000, world news media, HRW and AI have reported multiple instances of children killed by Arabs--and children used by Arabs as human shields. This website, however, ignores those Arab-on-Arab rights violations.

Gisha: its advertised goal is to promote awareness and sensitivity for human rights in the ‘occupied Palestinian territories’. It has a lot to say about allegations against Israel. It says nothing about rights offenses by Arab authorities.

Mandela Institute for Prisoners: this NGO appears to be registered in Israel under one of several variant names. Its advertised goal is to advocate for prisoners held in prison who experience harsh conditions. The only offenses against Arabs listed are by Israel. This website ignores all Arab-on-Arab offenses, even as AI and HRW identify dozens of instances of harsh treatment against Arabs detained by Arab police and security forces.

Physicians for Human Rights—Israel: this NGO advertises that it stands ‘at the forefront of the struggle for human rights in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian territory.’ But their struggle for human rights does not include defending Arabs from abuse by fellow Arabs. They appear to ignore those abuses.

It would be more honest—and more moral—were these NGOs to declare that they are anti-Israel organizations dedicated to accusing Israel of Human Rights violations. But they don’t make that claim.  Instead, they speak of human rights for Arab citizens; then they accuse Israel of--and excuse Arabs from—those crimes.

This behaviour endangers Arabs. The goal of human rights –in this case, for Arabs in Gaza and the PA--is to facilitate   personal freedom and safety. If every alleged Israeli abuse stopped today, Arabs in those places would still have no freedom or safety.  These NGOs do next-to-nothing to monitor and publicize Arab-on-Arab rights violations. Take Israel out of the picture and you still have massive, pervasive and official Arab-on-Arab brutality—leaving Arabs bereft of Rights.  

Worst of all, when these NGOs do not do what they advertise, those who need them most are increasingly brutalized by fellow-Arabs who have become empowered by NGO neglect. NGO neglect, in other words, actually facilitates and protects the very brutality they claim to stand against.

That’s not human rights work. That’s hypocrisy—and it kills.

These NGOs advertise they help Arabs. But if their hypocrisy facilitates torture and murder, does that mean they have Arab blood on their hands?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

When you fix a refrigerator in Israel

What happens in America when you need your refrigerator fixed?  You call a repairman and he comes to your house.  What do you have in common with him? If you live outside New York or New Jersey, not much. What do you talk about?  Most of the time, you talk sports or TV or weather.

Israel is different. Yes, repairmen repair refrigerators here. But because this is Israel, refrigerators aren’t a repairman’s only expertise.

When my refrigerator developed a cooling problem, I called someone recommended to me as competent, clean and prompt. A dark-skinned man came to my house—and, as recommended, promptly fixed the problem.

As he worked, we talked. This man, looking to be close to retirement, came from Tunisia in 1956. At that time, the Israelis organizing the family aliyah told his father that he—the father—was welcome in Israel because he was young and strong. He should come. But the Israelis also said that my repairman’s grandfather and grandmother should stay in Tunisia. They were too old. The repairman’s father was adamant. He argued. He would come to Israel. But he would bring whomever he wanted to bring.

The Israelis acquiesced. The entire extended family came, except for my repairman’s aunt. She had been murdered, the repairman said, by ‘the Germans’.

He told a war story. The German army came to Tunisia in 1942, as World War Two began its third year. Tunisia became the only Arab country to come under direct German control. They imposed anti-Jewish rules. According to my repairman, the Germans began to gather Jews into ghettos (or, one ghetto---he wasn’t clear). One day, three German soldiers knocked on his grandfather’s door. When the grandfather opened the door, he was confronted by three giants (the grandfather was very short). The grandfather didn’t want to have anything to do with these Germans, so he said in Arabic what in English would translate as, ‘go to hell’, and in Hebrew would translate as, ’may your name be blotted out forever.’ The Germans were surprised. They heard the Arabic and replied, ‘Araviya’ (Arab), and left the house.

Immediately, the grandfather ordered everyone in the family to gather together. They ran to the mountains, where they remained, safe—except for the repairman’s aunt. She wouldn’t go. She stayed. The Germans shot her.

He told me he was proud to be in Israel. He said that his family had prayed to come to Israel. He spoke of prayers Jews say every day. But he put those prayers into his own perspective. First, he cupped his hands together as if to pray and started to sway back-and-forth as if in prayer. Then, imitating prayer, he said, for almost two thousand years my family prayed, ‘Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel), eretz yisroel, eretz yisroel.’ He stopped swaying and said, ‘and now we are all here.

This man did not appear outwardly religious. But he understood two things most American Jews—even religious Jews—fail to understand: the power of our daily prayer and the Israel-centric nature of that prayer.

Before I made my own aliyah I was often asked by my Jewish friends why I was going to Israel. My answer was simple: I believe what I read when I pray every day.

Our prayers are Israel-centric. I once counted more than 30 references to Israel-Jerusalem-Zion-‘the land’ in our everyday prayers (the total varies, depending upon one’s eating habits, which determine which after-eating blessing one makes). Thirty repetitions a day means more than a thousand a year: I understand what this man means when he condenses his family’s prayer to, ‘eretz yisroel, eretz yisroel, eretz yisroel.

I asked the repairman about Israel’s leadership surrendering land. He was unimpressed. This is not their land, he said. I objected: they control the land. He was still unimpressed.  Never forget, he replied, this land belongs only to G-d.

As an American who worked in Corporate USA, I have been trained to plan for today and tomorrow. I plan out every week. Not this repairman. He doesn’t think in terms of today or next week. He thinks in thousands of years: his family prayed for a thousand years--and here he is. G-d Promised this land to us—and here we are.

What more is there?

Can you imagine a corporate officer saying to his boss, ‘so what if we lost a month of profits? What’s one month in a  journey that lasts a thousand years?’

His point was clear: who cares if Israel has anti-land leaders? They are nothings. They own nothing. G-d owns everything—and Israel is His alone. Look at us, he said. We pray to be ingathered. Well, I’m here from Tunisia. You’re here from America. Don’t you understand?

When you call a refrigerator repairman in Israel, you don’t just learn about your refrigerator.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Shimon Peres, the Jerusalem Post and Biblical spies

Early last week, Israel President Shimon Peres spoke before Arab leaders gathered in Jordan for the 2013 World Economic Forum for the Middle East. He is quoted as having declared, “There is an overwhelming majority [in Israel] that favours a diplomatic solution of ‘two states for two peoples’ on the 1967 lines” with specified concessions.

Two days later, the Jerusalem Post headlined a story that appeared to explain what Mr Peres meant when he’d referenced that  ‘overwhelming majority’ (JPost staff, “Poll: most Israelis back Arab peace initiative,” May 28, 2013): according to a new poll by New Wave Research, 69 per cent of Israelis would back the Arab Peace Initiative if Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted it.

There are two noteworthy issues here.  First, while Mr Peres had not directly quoted New Wave as his source, a report on AI-Monitor suggested that this was indeed his source. The Post should have done some homework. For one thing, New Wave Research’s track record may be suspect. As reported in Haaretz (Chaim Levinson, “Are the polls accurate? In a word, no”, December 16, 2012), in the 2009 national Israeli elections, the very worst pollster was New Wave Research, with pre-election predictions off by 24 seats. This year, its ranking among pollsters improved, but it still missed the final 2013 election results by 20 seats.

In arithmetic, that 20-seat error (when predicting 120 seats in the Knesset) is a margin of error of 16%. In most places, you don’t business with someone whose error is that great.

Then, there is the poll itself. Like many polls in Israel, this one interviewed only 500 people. Some have criticized the accuracy of such a small sampling (see Raphael Ahren, “Poll warning: Believe the trends, beware specifics,” The Times of Israel, January 3, 2013). A sample of this size could yield inaccurate results.

The Post didn’t say if there were any political conflicts of interest that might have influenced poll questions. This is an important issue because, according to the story in Al-Monitor (above), this poll was in fact commissioned by an Israeli Peace Initiative organization, a collection of individuals who have proposed their own ‘Peace Initiative’ in ‘response to’ the Arab Peace Initiative. They are considered to be politically Leftist.  They could have an interest in commissioning questions that support their ideology. The Post did not identify who had paid for this poll—or the political orientation of that payor.

When a poll response this strong has in fact been commissioned by a payor with a political agenda, the Post should have wondered about accuracy.  It did not.

This is a concern because the Post story does suggest that the poll was flawed. The majority of those interviewed acknowledged they understood next to nothing about the Arab Peace Initiative. They needed interviewer assistance to understand the issues. Such assistance opens the door to interviewer manipulation. That manipulation could affect result accuracy. The story did not explore this issue.

The Jerusalem Post knows that a story like this could have significant political consequences.  Given the bias of those who paid for this poll and the apparent ignorance of those who took it, the Post had many reasons to be cautious about this report.

It was not cautious. Why did it publish, without cautionary comment, such a problematic survey? Does it prefer a pro-peace agenda to accuracy-in-reporting?

A second issue here is Mr Peres’ own agenda. Shimon Peres may have won a Nobel Prize for his work on the 1993 Oslo Accords, but for Israel, Oslo has brought only death and woe, not peace. Almost two thousand Israelis have died and thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel as a direct result of that agreement. These are not signs of a success. They are signs of failure. Mr Peres refuses to acknowledge this.

Does Shimon Peres remind us of Biblical spies? When those spies returned from their reconnaissance of Israel to report to the nation on the nature of the land they were about to enter, they ignored the obvious (G-d had already told the Jewish nation that the land was good—and would be theirs). Instead, they spoke of their own agenda (to convince the nation they would fail if they crossed into Israel). The consequence of that agenda was disaster. G-d punished the Jewish nation for failing to have faith in Him.

There is always a price to pay when we ignore the obvious in order to promote our own agenda. Our Arab ‘peace partners’  want to conquer Israel and call it ‘Palestine’. They do not hide that. It is not a secret. To ignore that because we have a dream doesn’t create that dream—it creates a recipe for disaster.

  Mr Peres—and Post editors-- should study Tanach and its traditional commentary. They might learn that personal agendas can lead to national disaster.