Monday, March 17, 2014

The American dream comes to Israel

On Vacation: this is my last essay until the week of May 1, 2014.

US Secretary of State John Kerry prepares to present his ‘framework’ for peace. Thanks to Leftists in Israel, the framework Kerry presents will be hailed with a Chamberlain-like triumph. The Left will be happy. The media in Israel will also be happy. Their headlines will read something like, ‘Look, peace in our time is finally near’.

But Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas will ignore it. He will attack it. He will accuse the US and Israel of attempting to decapitate ‘Palestinian’ dreams.

Kerry will ignore those attacks. Instead, he will lock in on ‘peace’ with a laser-like concentration. He will be relentless in his pressuring of Israel to take what he may call, ‘the deal of the century’.

During these current peace talks, Kerry has demonstrated extraordinary focus. Some have characterized that focus as a psychological obsessiveness. But it isn’t—at least, not in a negative sense. It’s American. It’s how American business leaders have become icons in the marketplace. It’s how America won World War Two. It’s a ‘full speed ahead—damn the torpedoes’ attitude.

It’s the attitude, Americans believe, that always wins. It’s the attitude, Kerry apparently believes, that will bring peace to the Middle East.

His obsessiveness at the diplomatic table is as purely American as apple pie, baseball and Apple computers. He’s Ted Williams and Steven Jobs as diplomat.

That obsessiveness is what made Henry Ford, Jonas Salk and Vince Lombardi great men in their respective fields: the absolute, almost blind commitment to succeed no matter what.

It’s a story-book attitude. It’s what created the American dream. It’s what pushed Thomas Alva Edison to fail 6,000 (or, some say 10,000) times before he found the right filament to make his crazy dream of an electric light bulb become a reality. It’s the obsessive focus that motivated Henry Ford to ignore every failure he faced until he had bullied his way to a workable V-8 engine for a low-cost Ford automobile.

It’s what motives and pushes John Kerry. His focus is not just an obsession. It’s the American magnificent obsession.

It’s wonderful. It’s magical. It’s the stuff of a 1940’s Hollywood classic: once again, success is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.

There’s just one problem. The Arab Middle East is not America. The Arab Middle East sees Hollywood as worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. The Arab Middle East doesn’t obsess over inventions or creating a faster and cheaper way to make hamburger, pizza or personal hygiene products. The Arab Middle East obsesses over spreading Islam. The Arab Middle East obsesses over the sword.

This is why John Kerry ignores PA hostility. If he listened to it, he’s throw up his hands and say, these Arabs don’t want peace. He won’t throw up his hands because he will not be deterred. He will say, full speed ahead—damn the torpedoes.

Kerry is as American as Thomas Edison. Edison was not known for compassion or doing what is ethical and proper. He was not sensitive to those who questioned him.

Kerry wants to be the Vince Lombardi and the Thomas Edison of international politics. Vince Lombardi was a man obsessed about winning on the football field. Edison was obsessed to win with his electricity.

You did not say no to Vince Lombardi. You did not say no to Thomas Edison. You do not say no to John Kerry.

Lombardi and Edison succeeded with that attitude. Kerry aims to succeed, too.

He won’t. The Lombardi-Edison-Ford school of success doesn’t work in the Arab Middle East—unless, that is, you apply it to destroying Israel. Then, obsession makes you famous.

In America, when a struggling businessman says, ‘do or die’, the death he refers to is not a literal death. It is the ‘death’ of his enterprise. His obsession is to work 24 hours a day to make his business work.

But in the Arab Middle East, that ‘do or die’ attitude is literal. Death is part of the obsession.

That’s the difference between the Arab and the American. The Arab is prepared to blow himself up. The American is not.

To the Arab, killing yourself is the ultimate act of commitment. It is the fulfilment of the ultimate religious devotion.

This is why Kerry will fail. His obsession is not the Arab obsession. His commitment is not the Arab commitment. His love of life cannot compare to the Arab embrace of death.

All Kerry can do in the Middle East is pressure the Israelis. He can do that because the Jews who lead Israel do not have the save sense of commitment as the Arab. They lack America’s commitment to ‘success at any cost’. The Jews who lead Israel have no commitment at all.

Kerry knows that. He can see it.

That’s why he keeps coming back to Israel.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Purim, the ‘Palestinians’ and Israel

Today is Purim 2014—March 16th. Today, we celebrate how the G-d of Israel saved the Jewish people.

The key to understanding Purim is how G-d did it. He didn’t save us with a light show or a magic show.  He did it the hard way—with hidden miracles.

The miracles of the Purim story unfold just like our own story. The Hand of G-d is not visible.

In the Purim story—as today--individuals made decisions for their own reasons. For example, the King of Persia decided to replace his Queen. Mordechai the Jew decided to tell his ward, Esther, to present herself to the King. The King decided to marry her.

The wicked Haman decided to destroy the Jewish people. He decided to use a lottery to choose the day he would act (the word, Purim, comes from the word for lottery, ‘pur’). He decided to build a gallows for the Jewish Mordechai.

Jews in Israel today face a similar situation. Every attack against Israel has unfolded because of decisions people have made.

For example, the Muslim Waqf of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Hussieni (1897-1974) decided in the early 1920’s to incite Arabs to kill Jews in Israel; he decided to beg Adolf Hitler to bring the Nazi Jew-killing machine to Israel—and when Hitler decided to reject him, he decided to pursue his Jew-hate on his own.

Yasser Arafat decided to create the ‘Palestinian people’. Mahmoud Abbas decided to create the ‘State of Palestine’. He also decided to create maps of his new ‘Palestine’ which show Israel completely erased from the map.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) decided to ask to have the Fourth Geneva Conference apply to the ‘Palestinian Territories’. The UN has decided to support the PA against Israel.  

Today, we see how the PA seeks to build a Haman-style gallows for the State of Israel: in the six weeks leading up to Purim--on February 5, February 27 and March 5, 2014--’The State of Palestine’ sent official complaints to the United Nations. These complaints criminalize Israel.

The PA wants to lynch Israel in the central international marketplace (the UN). Like Haman, it wants to hang the Jews. It will build a gallows using, in part, the Fourth Geneva Convention.

For example, in each of these three recent PA complaints to the UN, the PA accuses Israel of violations of the Fourth Geneva Conference. It has been doing that for years. These new complaints offer nothing new; but they remind us at Purim how a Haman-like PA uses international law to build a Haman-inspired gallows for the Jew.

The PA complains that Israel violates the State of Palestine (yes, at the UN, the PA is now, ‘The State of Palestine’). Israel is an ‘Occupying Power’. It uses its ‘occupying forces’ to oppress the innocent people of the ‘occupied’ State of Palestine. It violates Geneva Conference requirements.

This is a main theme of Arab ‘lawfare’—using international and Humanitarian law to attack Israel. Lawfare is the gallows the PA will use to lynch the world’s only Jewish State.

Like Haman, the PA is arrogant. Like Haman, the PA thinks it can destroy the Jew. Like Haman, the PA has a plan.

Each of these three pre-Purim PA complaints reveals the PA plan: Israel, each complaint declares, is an occupying Power; it must be held accountable for its crimes against the ‘State of Palestine.’ Because the State of Israel is guilty of international crimes, the Jewish perpetrators of those crimes must be punished.

In its arrogance, the PA claims that more than 450,000 ‘Palestinians’ have been victimized by the crimes of Israel’s ‘occupation’. The PA wants every Israeli police officer, soldier and criminal justice employee who signed any document for detaining each of those 450,000 ‘Palestinians’ to face ‘justice.’

Like the Haman of old, the PA has been cunning. The PA has also been two-faced. It engages in ‘peace talks’. But at the same time, it reveals its Haman nature by criminalizing  its peace partner.

As with Haman’s plan, one man—Abbas--plots the strategy. Thousands of others will do the dirty work. Each one will willingly contribute because he chooses to do so. 

That’s the modern Purim story. It’s a story that will end in a familiar way. It will end just as the original Purim story ended—with Haman defeated and ruined.

Soon, just as things begin to look grim for the Jews of Israel, the G-d of Israel will go to work. He will start with hidden miracles. Just as with the original Purim story, individuals will make decisions that promote their own interests. But in this new Purim story, those interests will cause conflict.

That conflict will be catastrophic. That ‘catastrophe’ will ruin all the Hamans of the world.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Purim: choosing between G-d and fear

Israel is under pressure. Arab Muslims want to erase the Jewish State. They want to create a Muslim state in its place.

We know that’s what they want because the Muslim Mahmoud Abbas has a new logo (2013) for his Fatah Party. That logo shows the Arab Muslim ‘Palestine’ in place of Israel.

Israel worries about that logo. Such a logo proclaims a Muslim desire to conquer Israel.

The United States and the European Union don’t care about what worries Israel. They don’t care about that Fatah logo. They want Israel to surrender land to the Muslim because the Muslim demands it. 

Israel doesn’t know what to do. It understands the danger it faces from aggressive Muslims.  But it fears what the world will think if it doesn’t surrender. It fears powerful rulers. It fears non-Jewish threats.

Israel is ruled by leaders who understand fear too much. Our leaders are afraid. They do not know courage.

They do not know the G-d of Israel. They do not know that the G-d of Israel is more powerful than fear.

Have you heard Israel’s leaders speak of the G-d of Israel? Have you heard Israel’s leaders declare that the land of Israel belongs to the G-d of Israel?

You haven’t.

Have you heard our leaders talk of fear? Yes, you have.

That’s a problem because Israel is no ordinary country. Its Destiny does not depend upon men. Its Destiny depends upon G-d. Its Destiny depends on whether Israel’s leaders choose G-d or fear.

Israel is a tiny country. It needs G-d to survive. It will not survive on fear. It is surrounded by millions who hate her. Do you believe Israel can survive in this neighbourhood without G-d?

It can’t.

Israel is the chosen. What it is chosen for depends upon the path our leaders choose to follow—G-d or fear. Right now, they choose fear. Therefore, Israel becomes chosen for boycott. It is chosen for terror attack. It is chosen to be the nation which must surrender ancestral homeland to those who swear to destroy it.

Without G-d, Israel will have no peace. Without G-d, we are  alone—and surrounded.

Without G-d, we have reason to be afraid. G-dless, no one will defend us. No one stands up for those who reject G-d.

The truth is, if we choose to stand alone without G-d, we will fail. Israel’s non-believing Left understands this. They reject G-d and then tremble with fear at what will happen when current peace talks fail.

Our reputation will suffer. Our safety will suffer. Our economy will suffer.

The Left is correct. We cannot survive alone.

But what if we turn to G-d? What if we put fear aside and ask the G-d of Israel to help us? What happens then?

Read your Tanach. It’s all there. G-d has made promises to the Jewish people.  

We are His beloved.  When we embrace Him, He protects us.

When Jews turn to G-d as a unified community, the world changes. The universe itself changes. Life conspires to help us.

Read the story of Purim. Everything changes when we turn to G-d—everything.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Racism, Apartheid, Democracy in Israel

Some say that Israel is a racist apartheid state. They claim Israel oppresses innocent Arabs while hiding its ugliness behind a self-styled ‘democracy.’

If you understood Apartheid, you’d know this is a lie. But most people don’t understand Apartheid. They accept the accusation as truth.

There’s just one problem. Israel might not be the racist you’ve been told it is; and much of the racism you find in Israel might not be directed against Arabs. It’s directed against Jews.

Consider two 2013 news stories from Israel. These stories happened about six weeks apart, in June-July, 2013. The first involved an Israeli amusement park. According to a report on one anti-Israel site, this story began when an Arab woman called the park to book a block of tickets for an Arab school for its preferred date (remember these words). The caller was refused that date. But when she called back later that day impersonating a Jew, the park accepted the booking for that same date.

Immediately, calls of ‘racism’ and ‘apartheid’ appeared. Haaretz, Israel’s premier anti-Israel newspaper, called this an example of two states existing within Israel, one for Jews, one for Arabs—in other words, Apartheid.

The amusement park offered an explanation.  According to the anti-Israel media, the park explained that it wanted to ‘avoid friction between children’. The explanation was rejected. It was ridiculous—and racist.

A call was heard across Israel to defend Democracy. Leftists and Arabs wanted a formal investigation. Anti-Israel media used this incident to illustrate how the Arab in Israel is excluded, oppressed and humiliated.

The accusation was simple: this was racism. It was Apartheid. It was a threat to Israel’s beloved Democracy.

Was it? Look again at the amusement park’s explanation: it had excluded Arabs because of children’s ‘friction’. Do you know what that means?

It turns out that this incident, like so many others that are trumpeted by anti-Israel media, was not an example of Jewish racism towards the Arab. It was an example of Arab racism towards Jews.

Here’s the story: the amusement park in question once had an open-door policy. Arab groups could book tickets for any day the park was open—just like Jewish groups. But problems developed. Groups of Arab ‘children’ would harass Jewish children. Parents and chaperones for Jewish groups complained.

Therefore, to keep Arab children from harassing Jews within park limits, the park came up with a solution: no more mixing of Jewish groups with Arab groups. Arab and Jewish groups could visit the park—but on their own separate days. Arabs and Jews could have their preferred dates rejected.

Anti-Israel Leftists ignored these facts. Apparently, the facts of the case did not fit their agenda.

This incident did not illustrate Jewish racism towards the Arab. It illustrates Arab aggression against Jews. The anti-Israel, ‘pro-democracy’ set ignored this aggression. They ignored the safety of Jewish children. Instead, they shouted, ‘racism’.

That’s not ‘protecting democracy’. That’s called favouring one group at the expense of another; and if the unfavoured group is homogenous (Jewish), then the favouring of the other group (Arabs) is called, ‘racism’. Look it up.

The formula to call Israel racist is simple: take racist Arab behaviour and report it as racism committed by Jews.  

The second story is also about racist behaviour in Israel. But for this second story, the pro-‘democracy’ and anti-Israel media were silent. Guess why.

This second story unfolded at the end of July, 2013.  Israel’s press reported that all Jews would be barred from the Temple Mount between July 29 and at least August 11, the end of Ramadan. Officials gave no explanation for this decision.

Leading up to this, Arabs had become increasingly aggressive against Jews on the Mount. Jewish entry to the Mount had become almost impossible. Even Members of Knesset had been stopped. That included Moshe Feiglin, who had made monthly visit to the Mount for years without interference. Suddenly, he was barred from the Temple Mount.

The original 1947 United Nations plan for freedom of religion in Jerusalem was based on free access to holy sites (see Part III of UN Res 181). While that part of 181 was never implemented, Israel has nevertheless lived by those rules. Israel has committed to protecting freedom of religion for the Arab.

The Arab, however, rejects freedom of religion for the Jew. He doesn’t want a single Jew on the Mount, ever. For some unexplained reason, Israeli authorities have protected this Arab demand. They bar Jews from Judaism’s holiest site because the Arab demands it.

That’s called racism. But because it is directed against Jews, Leftists are silent. This silence reveals their hypocrisy: for them, democracy is strong if the Arab is racist towards Jews; but it’s a crime-against-democracy if Jews do anything against the Arab. That includes actions taken to defend Jews against Arab aggression.

That’s not defending democracy. That’s racism—and it’s a fast-track to destroying democracy.

Perhaps that’s the Leftist goal for Israel.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Newsflash: US endorses non-recognition of Israel

Since the end of July, 2013, the US has attempted to broker what it calls a peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). For this peace, Israel wants to be recognized as the national home of the Jewish people.   

The PA rejects that recognition. It demands a ‘peace’. But it claims that recognizing Israel as ‘Jewish’ would require it to rewrite its entire Arab narrative about ‘Palestine’. Therefore, recognizing Israel as ‘Jewish’ is out of the question.

If you want a state of your own, why should your neighbour’s self-identity matter to you?  Your goal should be that state, not the neighbour’s self-identity.
Nobody asks this question. Nobody notices that Israel’s self-identity shouldn’t have any connection at all to Arab statehood desires.
Nobody confronts this Arab intransigence. Nobody asks the Arab for an explanation.Is everyone afraid to anger the Arab?
For a while, the US remained silent about this issue. The Arabs kept restating how they would not recognize Israel as Jewish—and the US continued to say nothing. Then, on February 21, 2014, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said something. He supported Israel’s demand for recognition (“US Framework to Demand that PA Recognize Israel as Jewish State”, Arutz Sheva).

Ambassador Shapiro was quoted as saying that the PA ‘will be obligated’ to give Israel that recognition (Arutz Sheva, ibid). The PA immediately rejected this requirement. But the US did not back down. Recognizing Israel as the Jewish state, Shapiro said, would be part of the ‘framework’ agreement the US was creating for the two ‘peace partners’ to sign.

That angered the PA. The PA became incensed. It repeated its demand: it would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state (“Abbas Repeats Rejection of Israel as a Jewish State”, Arutz Sheva, March 7, 2014).

 Now, less than three weeks later, the US does a flip-flop. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki now says that the “United States believes there is no need for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of a peace agreement” (“U.S.: No Need for PA to Recognize Israel”, Arutz Sheva, March 9, 2014). Suddenly, the US endorses the PA’s anti-Israel position.

We have seen this anti-Israel flip-flop before. In August, 2013, as the current round of peace talks were just beginning, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that new building permits would be issued for new Jewish homes to be built over the green line. Israel briefed Kerry about this announcement. His response was clear: he had no objection to the new building because it did not affect areas destined to be given over to the PA for their new state.

The PA didn’t like Kerry’s silence over the new building permits.  It got angry.  It became incensed.  

As a result of that anger, Kerry changed his tune. Suddenly, those new building permits weren’t okay.

Prompted by the PA anger, Kerry made the anti-Israel declaration that “settlements at any time, and not just during the peace process, were considered illegitimate by the United States” (“Kerry admits Netanyahu said he'd be building in places that don't affect 'peace map,' but lacks integrity to back Netanyahu”, Israel Matzav, August 14, 2013).  

Flip-flop is not a strategy for a successful foreign policy. It’s a strategy for failure.

Would you buy a used car from someone who flip-flops? Would you sign a peace agreement from a broker who flip-flops against you?

Why would you sign a peace agreement with someone who refuses to accept your identity?

Why would Israel give to an enemy what belongs to the G-d of Israel?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Does America choose dictatorship over freedom?

Note: next week there will be only three posts

America is the Home of Freedom. It’s the place you turn to when you want to see what Lady Liberty looks like.

America believes in personal rights. It believes in equality. It believes in democracy.

Rights, equality and freedom are the building blocks of the American political dream. They underpin the Bill of Rights. They are what make America the Citadel of Freedom.

But now, according to a new study of global freedom, it seems that America may have lost its compass. Our America—the home of the free and the brave—abandons her core values. America suffers what this Report terms a ‘crisis in confidence’—and as a consequence, Lady Liberty turns her back on the world-wide struggle to keep democracy alive. America seems now to prefer the totalitarian despot.  

America has changed. According to this Report, America may have lost interest in protecting liberty and defending those who cling to freedom. Its interest may now lie elsewhere.

America no longer defends the free. If she does, she does it half-heartedly. She is no longer the Citadel of Freedom. She appears to be more the wolf in shepherd’s clothing than the shepherd.

This 2014 Freedom Report is published by Freedom House. Freedom House describes itself as an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world. It publishes an annual Report to analyze  global political rights and civil liberties.

Their 2014 Report describes the state of freedom around the world as of the end of 2013. The Report concludes that, for the eighth consecutive year (a record) global freedom has taken a hit: for the eighth year in a row, more countries gave up freedom than took it on.

Never before has Freedom House seen world freedom erode for eight straight years. By the end of 2013, more than 25 per cent of the planet-- some one-point-six  billion people--do not live in freedom. They live instead under oppressive rule.

Increasingly, people around the globe live like Arab Muslims in Middle East Arab countries. Increasingly, authoritarian rulers deny basic rights to their citizens with exactly the same brutality found in Gaza, Cairo and Aleppo.

Of the 14 Middle East countries studied in this Report, only one—Israel—is labelled ‘free’. Only Israel promotes democracy.

But Israel is not America’s best friend in the Middle East. That title goes to Saudi Arabia which like Syria, is listed among the world’s 10 worst countries. That means that citizens in Syria and Saudi Arabia are seriously oppressed.  

Lady Liberty loves Saudi Arabia. America’s relations with the authoritarian Saudis seem far more positive than its relations with democratic Israel.

Gaza is listed as ‘not advancing’ in freedom; its freedom score deteriorated during 2013. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is not included in the Report. But other sources (see the Annual Report of Human Rights Watch) submit evidence that the PA would not get a ‘free’ label. Evidence suggests the PA would have a freedom score similar to other Arab Middle East countries.

Nevertheless, America supports ‘Palestinian’ claims against Israel. America prefers the Arab dictators who rule Gaza and the PA over Israel.

America pressures the free Israel. Lady Liberty coddles the oppressive PA and Gaza. America demands Palestinian statehood—without a word about freedom.

America favours Arab leaders who rule as dictators. America does not favour the democratically elected Israel Prime Minister.  

During current Arab-Israel peace talks, how many times have you heard American officials criticize, warn or threaten Israel? How many times have you heard American officials criticize, warn or threaten Mahmoud Abbas?

Clearly, for America, the absence of democracy in the Arab Middle East means nothing to its Middle East foreign policy. Just as clearly for America, the existence of a democratic Israel in a despotic Middle East wins Israel no extra points in the game of Middle East diplomacy.  If anything, Israel’s democracy seems to lose points for Israel.

For America today, democracy means little. Are you surprised that world freedom retreats?

America, once the home of the free, has been Citadel of Democracy for two centuries. But today, it no longer values democracy enough to support it.

America does not truly support the only free nation in the Middle East. Instead, it shows preference to the totalitarian rulers of the Middle East. It does not promote Israel as a beacon of freedom in the Middle East—to be honoured and protected. Instead, it pressures Israel to yield to totalitarian demands.

Repression in the Middle East did not recede in 2013. It intensified. America says almost nothing.

America abandons democracy. That abandonment empowers dictators. America helps to isolate Israel-the-free. America ennobles those who would rape Lady Liberty.

America no longer supports equality or rights. It abandons them .

Around the world, freedom erodes. In America, the Citadel of Freedom crumbles.
Is Israel destined to become the new Citadel of Freedom?
Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Obama-Netanyahu confrontation fizzled: what happened?

Before Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to America to meet with US President Barack Obama on March 3, 2014, Israel’s press was filled with reports of doom for the Israeli leader. Israel’s press didn’t see this meeting as a conference between friends. They pictured it as an assault. Netanyahu was travelling 6,000 miles to get mauled by a  bully.

Israel’s press had reason to worry. Current US-led peace talks between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas have not been going well. A March 28th deadline looms. No peace is in sight. With less than a month to go, President Obama has little to show from a massive US effort.

Enter a Netanyahu visit to the US. That visit looked perfect for Obama.

Obama wants action. He wants results. He wants ‘peace’. As you’ll see in a moment, he needs ‘peace’. It doesn’t matter what kind of peace he gets. He just needs a paper to be signed.

As Netanyahu’s arrival approached, Obama sent the Israeli PM a message: Israel had no more choices. Israel could no longer stall (“Obama: US won’t be able to defend Israel if peace talks fail”, Times of Israel, March 2, 2014).

For Israel’s press, the US agenda for this meeting was closer to a fight-card than a meeting. They saw Obama rolling up his sleeves to take the recalcitrant Jew behind the woodshed (“Report: Obama to Press PM to Take Kerry Deal”, Arutz Sheva, February 27, 2014).

Israel’s press saw only pain for Netanyahu (“Sources: PM Could Face 'Tough' Meeting With Obama”, Arutz Sheva, March 2, 2014). Even when Israeli officials said that Iran was their priority for this head-of-state meeting (“US unlikely to unveil peace framework during Netanyahu-Obama meeting next week”, Jerusalem Post,  February 27, 2014), the US fired a shot across Israel’s bow (“Report: US Pressures Israel, Stop Killing Iranian Scientists”, Arutz Sheva, March 2, 2014).

Israel couldn’t catch a break from the US. It seemed clear that Netanyahu was going to get mugged.

In the hours leading up to the meeting, The Times of Israel drew up an explosive headline (“For Netanyahu, a bombshell battering by Obama”, March 3, 2014) to report that Obama had said in an interview that he would pressure Netanyahu to sign for ‘peace’. Even the pro-two-state Haaretz characterized this meeting as hostile. Their pre-meeting headline declared, “Obama the inquisitor vs. Netanyahu, Abbas” (February 28, 2014).

But the build-up to this meeting turned into a bust. When Obama and Netanyahu met, nothing much happened. There were no fire-works or verbal fistfights. No angry words were exchanged. No dirty looks were recorded. What happened?

No one really knows.

After all the build-up, Israel’s press (as of March 6th) seemed strangely muted. No one reported much of anything.

Did Israel’s press get it wrong? Was the doom and gloom misplaced?

It might have been. But don’t count on it. There’s too much bad blood between these two men. There’s too much anti-Israel sentiment in the White House and the US State department. There’s also too much at stake for Obama.

Obama needs Netanyahu to surrender land to Abbas. He needs that because his foreign policy needs it. His reputation needs it.

The only person who can help him is Netanyahu.

Obama’s foreign policy hasn’t gotten any traction. Obama has failed with Egypt. He’s failed with Syria. He’s failed with North Korea. His ‘success’  with Iran looks increasingly suspect.

Every US President wants a positive foreign policy legacy. For US Presidents, it’s a must.

For his own foreign policy legacy, Obama doesn’t have much left to work with. Most everyone has rejected him. All he’s got is the Arab-Israel conflict.

In that conflict, he’s got two actors. One, Abbas, is a stubborn ideologue. He won’t move off of square one. But the other actor, Netanyahu, is different. Netanyahu wants to be loved by America.

Netanyahu can be manipulated. He can be played. He can be moved.  

That’s what this meeting was about: moving Netanyahu. Israel’s press didn’t get it wrong. If so little is being said by both sides following this meeting, then something happened.  Some kind of agreement has been made.

What was it?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Qeiyafa: trouble for deniers?

This is a story that doesn't end. It is part of the war against Israel. It is about a place you have never heard of.


Qeiyafa (pronounced, key-yafah) is an abandoned hilltop that sits in the Sh'fay-lah, the low rolling hills west of the Judean mountain range in central Israel (that is, between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean coast). On this hilltop sits the ruins of an ancient walled city. This ancient city had been a fortress. It had been built between the years 1060 - 930 BCE, some 2900+ years ago. Today, its ruins lie about 40 minutes by car Southwest of Jerusalem, near a modern city called Beit Shemesh.

This fortified outpost attracts our attention because of the story it tells. It is a story of the enemies of Israel--both ancient and modern.
Perhaps 3,300 years ago, the ancient Philistines came to this land, Canaan, from the sea; according to many archaeologists, they came from somewhere in the Greek Isles. They came from the West at about the same time Joshua and the Israelites were arriving from the East.

After conquering a coastal portion of Canaan (modern Gaza and Israel’s Ashkelon and Ashdod), the Philistines opposed Israel for perhaps 200 years--until David defeated them. They were a constant threat. Israel had to worry about Philistine armies marching across these low rolling hills towards Jerusalem. Israel needed a fort to here to protect Israel's 'backside' from Philistine armies.

The fortress at Qeiyafah is important not only because it reveals ancient Jewish life, but also because it speaks to modern Israel.

In Israel, the connection between ancient and modern seems never to be far away. Indeed, in this case, Qeiyafa has a particularly modern connection.

About 25 years ago, an archaeologist published a report summarizing a point of view that, so far as archaeological findings went, there was little evidence to suggest that King David and his son Solomon ever existed. This opinion reflected the findings of a 'school' of archaeologists called,  'Minimalists'. These archaeologists argued that the Bible did not contain trustworthy fact.  They claimed that if you want a true history of Israel, the only primary unbiased source was the archaeologist—and their position was, David and Solomon never lived.

 These archaeologists took this position because, they said, they could find no compelling evidence of construction that is typical of a strong, organized and powerful national
government older than 850 BCE.  Their scholarship led to one conclusion: the reign of David and Solomon (app 1,000 BCE) never happened.

Their claim amounted to proving a negative: zero discoveries meant David and Solomon never lived. This seemed an extreme conclusion, however, because archaeology has seen other ‘zero discovery’ scenarios--with no impact on the accepted story.  William the Conqueror is an example of this:  William is said to have conquered England in 1066 CE; but (I have been told), there is little evidence found (at least, as of 1999) to prove that story--no battlefield sites, no debris, no destruction, no broken walls; and yet, no one doubted the story of William the Conqueror.

 Why is Israel different? Unlike England, Israel appears to be a magnet for deniers. Israel attracts people intent upon separating Jews from their land and Heritage: the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Muslims and an assortment of modern politicians, historians and, possibly, archaeologists.

The archaeologists of this story are intriguing. Even when evidence began to surface that David and Solomon might indeed have existed, these  scholars refused to yield: although forced to grant that David might actually have lived, they changed their claim to argue a slightly different case: there was still no evidence that David and Solomon were national leaders; if they did exist, they said, these Jewish kings were nothing more than tribal chieftains; Biblical stories that they had unified Israel were just fictions.

The Minimalists refused to let go of the ‘narrative’ they had written about David and Solomon. Whatever dig-sites revealed, these two kings had no significant value.

Then, beginning with 2003/4,  a dig site near the modern city of Beit Shemesh, called, Tel Beit Shemesh, created a problem: the contents of the Tel Beit Shemesh site were dated by some to have been from the time of David and Solomon, app 950 BCE. This site presented a special problem to Minimalists because archaeologists at the dig-site uncovered a very large cistern for water collection which was too big and too well constructed to have been built by local tribesmen. I have walked down into that cistern; it is very large, and even a tourist can appreciate how expertly it had been chiselled and 'prepared' out of the bedrock. This cistern appears indeed to have been constructed by a large group of people who had professional expertise and quality equipment--exactly the kind of evidence you would expect to find in a project built by a large, organized, well-funded and well-run centralized national government.

The Minimalists agreed that this was an impressive project. They could not deny that. But they insisted that it proved nothing. They rejected the Solomonic dating. They claimed it was from Ahab's period-- 850 BCE--100 years later than Solomon.

The Minimalists refused to accept any possibility that David and Solomon could have existed.

There were other finds that suggested the existence of David/Solomon. Each time, the Minimalists repeated their story: the period 850BCE was the most accurate dating, not 1,000 BCE.

Why? Because they said so.

This unyielding insistence in the face of accumulating evidence seems suspicious. It suggests the possibility of an unscholarly preference for –and perhaps support of--Leftist and Arabist arguments that Israel’s Jewish narrative was a lie. If William the Conqueror in England could be a hero with few archaeological finds, why should David and Solomon remain fiction even as evidence mounted in their favour?

This Minimalist insistence against David/Solomon is important. It is not just an archaeological preference. It's not just for scholarly journals and graduate classes. It has extraordinary political consequences for Israel. 

If you argue that David and Solomon never existed, then two things happen: (1), the Bible becomes fiction; and (2) if the Bible is fiction--creating men who never existed--then a centralized Jewish religion in Israel might never have existed, either.  David and Solomon are at the core of the Jewish belief that G-d rested his presence in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem—and, so resting, helped to unify a strong and vibrant Jewish nation around that Temple.

Arabs have been saying for years that there is no evidence of Jews on the Temple Mount. They have even worked illegally to remove 12,000 - 15,000 tons of debris from the Temple Mount to support that argument. They know that without David and Solomon, there is no unified, powerful Jewish Kingdom in Israel circa 1,000BCE. Without that powerful Kingdom, there could be no Temple.

With no Temple, there is no Jewish narrative. Therefore, if the Bible is fiction, the Temple is a fiction--and Jewish presence in ancient Israel is a fiction--just as the Arabs have been arguing.

The Minimalist gives to the Arab an archaeology he can love. It is an archaeology that supports the Arab war against Israel. 

But now, there is Qeiyafah. Qeiyafah changes everything.

At first glance, Qeiyafa is just another ancient walled city. Its construction suggests a centralized and organized government sending out people to the outskirts of a territory. It is like other finds. The Minimalist acknowledges this similarity. But, as with the cistern above, the Minimalist has always insisted that these sites  date to at least 100 years after David/Solomon ruled.

Then, in 2007/8, the archaeologist in charge of digging at Qeiyafa found perhaps a dozen olive pits. This was a game-changing discovery. Why? Because olive pits are organic. Organic matter can be carbon-dated.

Some of these olive pits were sent to Oxford University--which has perhaps the world's most sophisticated carbon dating equipment.  The Oxford tests suggested that these olive pits were eaten and spat out between the years 1060-930 BCE--exactly the moment of David/Solomon.

Suddenly, the Minimalists faced clear scientific evidence that the Qeiyafah site existed during a period they had aggressively denied. Moreover, these olive pits not only dated Qeiyafah, they dated other, similar sites. 

 To an archaeologist, similarities between two or more dig-sites have meaning. Similarities between large structures are not random or accidental. If an archaeologist dates any one of similar structures to a specific date, then he  will date all the others to that same date. It's how archaeology works. It's one of their protocols.

If all these identical forts could now be dated through the age of these olive pits, then a very compelling case could be made that these structures had been built during a David/Solomon period. The structures are massive enough and  numerous enough to have required a centralized national government that had the money, men, training, equipment, fort-building designs and organizational skill to build with.

The Minimalists have not yet fully digested these olive pits.

Do these olive pits end the claim that David and Solomon never existed, or if they did exist, were no more than tribesmen? Probably not: carbon dating is not perfect. It can be questioned. The olive pits might be questioned. The archaeologist who found them might be questioned (his archaeological experience is not the Davidic period; his experience--12 books, 100+ articles-- is pre-Davidic). But from this point forward, those who refuse to believe that the Bible could indeed be correct regarding David and Solomon are going to have to work extremely hard to justify their denial.

Will they continue to deny?

The war against Israel continues.

(Note: I am neither historian nor archaeologist. You will  have to search on your own to confirm this story. If you find any errors here, let me know. Click on the 'Comment' icon below and write to me....I wish to thank licensed tour guide Ezra Rosenfeld ( for showing me the land of Israel with Tanach in hand.)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The fraud called, the ‘Palestinian homeland’

Note: March will be a ‘partial’ month. I believe there will only be three-four essays each week until the last week of March.

Last month, Palestinian Authority (PA) chief negotiator (for current PA-Israel-John Kerry peace talks) Saeb Erekat explained that Mahmoud Abbas could never recognize Israel as a Jewish State because that “recognition [demand] stems from its [Israel’s] desire to change historical facts” (“Name that Concession”, Israel Matzav, February 16, 2014).

The brazenness of this comment is mind-boggling. It is a Nobel Prize-winning whopper. The only side in the Arab-Israel war that seeks to change historical fact is the PA.

The PA does this a lot. It reveals itself through its anti-Israel accusations. Like all anti-Semites of the past, when it comes to Jews, the PA invariably reveals that it is actually guilty of what it accuses Israel.

For example, the PA accuses Israel of killing Arab children—then celebrates when Arabs blow up a Jewish children’s school bus. It accuses Israel of being apartheid racists. Then it announces there will be no Jews in ‘Palestine’. It accuses Israel of incitement against the ‘Palestinian’. Then it incites against Israel.

The PA’s dark accusations against Israel reveal the PA’s own dark nature. Watch their accusations and you’ll know what they’re thinking.

This ‘history-changing’ accusation is cut from the same mould. It’s so fraudulent, it’s laughable.

But it is not funny. People believe these lies.

The Arab lusts to replace Israel. He lusts to erase Israel. He manufactures lies to erase Israel.  

He starts to erase Israel by erasing Jewish history. Then he invents his own fraudulent history. Then he replaces Jewish history with ‘Palestinian’ ‘history’.

For example, Jews say that Israel is their ancient homeland. Therefore, ‘Palestinians’ make the same claim: Israel is the ‘Palestinian’ homeland.

But these claims are not equal, as many people believe. They are not equal because the Jewish claim is historical. The ‘Palestinian’ claim is a fraud.

Israel bases its case for the land of Israel as its homeland on historical fact. Israel has always done this. Israel doesn’t lie about history.  

The same cannot be said about the ‘Palestinian’ claim. The ‘Palestinian’ claim is empty.

Israel can make its claim for its ‘homeland’ because it has a linguistically distinct language associated with Jews and the ancient land of Israel. Think about that. If you want to claim you are a ‘people’ with an ancestral ‘homeland’, you need three things: land, a history on that land—and a distinct language that places you—and not someone else--on that land.  Without these three things, you are not a ‘people’ and you have no ‘homeland.’

Besides a linguistically distinctive language, Israel has a recorded history. Jews have written about ancient Jewish cities in Israel. Jews have written about kings, princes, wars and enemies. Many Jews today know the names, battles and places. Jewish children study them. 

Most important for our discussion here, you don’t have to rely on the Jews’ word about their ancient history, language and homeland. Jews weren’t the only ancient writers who spoke of Jews and Israel. Ancient non-Jews also wrote about the Jews of Israel.

Ancient non-Arabs have never written about Arab Palestinians. Ancient non-Arab historians have never written about the Palestinian ‘people’. Ancient historians have never written about a ‘Palestinian’ homeland.

There is a reason that ancient historians wrote about Jews and not about Arab Palestinians: the Jews existed. Their homeland existed. Their language and culture existed.

The Palestinians did not exist.

‘Palestinians’ claim otherwise. They claim that ‘Palestinians’ lived on this ‘homeland’ since ‘time immemorial’.

Really?  If those ancient Palestinians existed, where are the pottery shards with ancient ‘Palestinian’ words written on them? Where are the stories of Palestinian kings and wars?

There are none. They do not exist.

The ‘Palestinians’ did not exist. Their indigenous language did not exist. Their ‘homeland’ did not exist.

Michael Freund has recently written in the Jerusalem Post (“Palestine, Bigfoot and other fairy tales”, February 25, 2014) of a Muslim, Sheik Ahmed Adwan, who has posted the following on his Facebook page:

"I say to those who distort the Koran: from where did you bring the name Palestine, you liars, you accursed, when Allah has already named it 'the Holy Land' and bequeathed it to the Children of Israel until the Day of Judgment?...There is no such thing as 'Palestine' in the Koran. Your demand for the Land of Israel is a falsehood”.

 ‘Palestinian’ claims are a fraud. They use this fraudulent claim create a false narrative. They sell you a fake story that requires erasing Jews to validate itself.

That’s not how history works. But it is how fraud works.

Fraud is not history. Fraud is also not moral. It is immoral.

‘Palestinians’ claim they have a moral cause. They claim that theirs is the greatest moral cause of our generation.

It is not. It is instead the greatest fraud of our generation.