Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nobody likes the proposed EU boycott of Israel

The European Union (EU) has begun once again to agitate for hostile economic action against Israel (“EU countries push for labeling of Israeli settlement goods”, AlJazeera America, April 16, 2015) . Apparently, EU Foreign Ministers think it’s time to put the screws to Israel. They want to see a boycott against some of Israel’s exports.

Naturally enough, Israel doesn’t like that. Israeli officials have called this attempt a de facto boycott of Israel itself—not a partial boycott (Jonathan Cook, “Europe’s feeble efforts to “punish” Israel”, Redress Information and analysis, April 25, 2015). At least some Israelis see this proposal as tantamount to economic war against the Jewish state (ibid).

The US doesn’t like it, either (Jessica Schulberg, “Congress Votes Against European Boycotts of Israeli Settlements”, Huffington Post, April 23, 2015). Almost as soon as reports of the boycott request hit the newswires, members of the US Congress voted to amend a pending free-trade agreement between the US-EU. They voted to make the pending free-trade pact conditional upon EU countries abstaining from the BDS movement entirely (ibid).

Anti-Israel advocates don’t like it (Jonathan Cook, ibid). They see it as, essentially, too little, too late (ibid). They see it as similar to trying to “punish a wayward child by docking his pocket money while at the same time letting him buy up the toy store” (ibid).

But the biggest negative reaction to this proposal comes from, of all people, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement itself. True, BDS advocates love the idea of another boycott against Israel. For them, the more boycotts against Israel, the better--but not this boycott.

They see this specific EU boycott request as dangerous. They hate it. It’s caused them to become apoplectic (William Jacobson, “Congress ramps up attack on anti-Israel boycott movement”, Freedom’s Floodgates, no date). They’re horrified by it.

Why? It seems that, for the first time in a long time, a major BDS attempt has triggered a tsunami against BDS. Instead of prompting a domino-like effect of additional boycotts from others, this EU request-for-action has had the opposite effect: it threatens to cause the sky to fall on BDS, not Israel (William Jacobson, “Anti-Boycott Bill called “devastating weapon” by anti-Israel activists”, Legal Insurrection, April 25, 2015). At least, this is how BDS people see it (ibid).

The BDS Movement is (at least, right now) frightened by that US amendment. They see it a potentially “devastating weapon” against it because the amendment would, BDS-ers believe, force European businesses to make a choice. They could either participate in an extraordinarily lucrative free-trade opportunity with the US—or retain the right to boycott Israel; they won’t get both (Legal Insurrection, above).

Everyone in the BDS movement knows which choice Europe’s businesses will make. The money to be made from this trade agreement is simply too great to ignore. Europe will turn against BDS.

Since the EU is Israel’s top trading partner, any boycott against Israel would be a major success. It could pave the way to put a serious dent in Israel’s economic engine. But a US-generated move against a major boycott proposal paves a very different path: it lays the ground-work to immunize Israel completely from all future BDS efforts in Europe.

With a single US amendment, the EU boycott door could slam shut against BDS. That’s why BDS advocates see this amendment as a ‘devastating’ weapon.

Will this BDS fear prove correct? Could this amendment really shut down BDS in Europe? It’s too early to tell. We don’t yet know, for example, what form, if any, such an amendment will take; and we don’t know if a trade bill with such an amendment would be voted into law.

Nevertheless, if you believe in Israel, the BDS fear of failure is certainly suggestive. That fear could suggest that the wheel of Fortune for the enemies of Israel may finally be turning against them.

It may even suggest that the G-d of Israel is ready to show how, on the international stage--the biggest of all stages--He will protect His beloved Israel.

Is that what all this means? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tel Aviv: a false alarm

This morning, I saw a news report that Arab-Israelis would be protesting in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. They were to protest, the story said, an Israeli government policy of demolishing illegally constructed homes (see the post below, "Does Tel Aviv face a day of change?").

The story referred to the potential presence of PLO flags which for me, at least, raised the possibility that ‘illegal construction’ wasn’t the real purpose of the protest. PLO flags are generally considered—by many Israelis—as anti-Israel. If one is protesting the destruction of illegal housing in Israel, one could just as well be Arab or Jewish: the Israeli government is an ‘equal opportunity demolisher’: it demolishes homes of both Arabs and Jews.

Therefore, this demolition-of-your-home isn’t an issue that should automatically bring anti-Israel PLO flags to the protest. Consequently, I speculated as to why those flags might appear.

It turns out that the story wasn’t about something that would happen today. Yes, the protest story reported that the protest was to be held ‘today’. The date/time of the story was April 29, 2015, at 1026. Since today is April 29th, I assumed that the protest would be held this afternoon. I was wrong.

Well, the protest was indeed held in the afternoon. But it was held yesterday afternoon. The story got the time and place wrong.

That’s Israel. Sometimes, a thing isn’t what it appears to be.

Indeed, the reader who had called me yesterday to describe the presence of the PLO flags was actually describing the protest itself, not some gathering the day before it. The crowd he saw seemed too small to be a ‘protest’. He said he thought the crowd to be about 500-600 people. News reports I found today all said there were 2,000 present.

My reader has worked with crowds. He’s good at numbers.

Israel’s press, on the other hand, has a problem with crowd numbers. Leftist crowds tend to get inflated numbers reported. Rightist crowds numbers are reduced. Sometimes, journalists will increase/decrease numbers geometrically, not arithmetically. So if my reader told me he saw 500-600, I tend to trust his number more than Israel’s journalists.

There were PLO flags at the protest. But, at least according to news reports I found, those flags didn’t bring out an anti-Israel agenda for the protest. Apparently, the protest really was about Arab homes being demolished. Haaretz described the protest as Arabs coming to a large Jewish city to call their plight to the attention of all Israelis.

Certainly, this Arab complaint is familiar to Jews in Israel. Jews often have the same problem.

So Israel did learn something from Tel Aviv today, after all. Israelis learned that, if news reports are to be believed, some Arabs in Israel are as troubled by government home demolition as Jews, for the same reasons.

We also learned something else: news reports aren’t always what they appear to be.

Of course, there's also this: when you read the news and try to understand what you're looking at, sometimes you get it wrong.

Does Tel Aviv face a day of change?

Tel Aviv is Israel’s second largest city, after Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city. Tel Aviv presents itself to the world as a cosmopolitan city, perhaps Israel’s most ‘cosmopolitan’. Its web page showcases the face it wants the world to see: beaches, beautiful women, gay pride and restaurants.

According to some, it’s also Israel’s most Left-leaning city. According to this point of view, there’s probably more ‘two-state solution’ advocacy in Tel Aviv than anywhere else in Israel.

On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, Tel Aviv will host an Arab-Leftist gathering. This gathering will be a protest against an Israeli government policy to destroy illegal Arab construction in Israel (Gil Ronen, “PLO Flag to Fly High in Unprecedented Tel Aviv Demo Today”, Arutz Sheva, April 29, 2015).

The Israeli government bulldozes homes that have been illegally constructed. The government does this to Jews (mostly, in Judea-Samaria). It does it also to Arabs in Israel.

My understanding is that Arabs build in Israel far more illegal homes than Jews. I understand also that Arab advocates in Israel claim that the Israeli government destroys more Illegal Arab homes than illegal Jewish homes.   

This protest is not, officially, about ‘Palestine’. But some in Tel Aviv seem to feel that the protest will turn in that direction. That’s partly why the news headline cited above refers to those PLO flags.

Those who connect such flags appearing at an Israeli-Arab ‘construction’ protest to a different kind of protest may have reason to be concerned. On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at suppertime, I received a phone call from a reader in Tel Aviv. He called to report that there was a crowd in the same spot (Rabin Square) the April 29th protest was scheduled to occur. He didn’t know about the ‘illegal construction’ protest scheduled for the next day. He called to tell me that there were protesters in Rabin Square carrying PLO flags, chanting. He didn’t hear the words of the chant, but he assumed that those carrying a PLO flag in Jewish Israel generally don’t chant, ‘Ahm Yisroel Chai’ (depending on translation, this means something like, ‘Long live Israel; or, ‘the nation of Israel Lives!’).

Since a protest about the right to build or preserve illegal buildings doesn’t—on the face of it—have anything to do with the question of ‘Palestine’, it’ll be interesting to see why anyone would think that PLO flags (i.e., flags of ‘Palestine’) would appear at such a protest. But their appearance the day before certainly suggests that the agenda of the protest might be different from what we have been led to believe.

This protest could be about a lot more than illegally built homes. It might be a protest to demand that Israel yield to a new ‘Palestine’. It might be a demonstration of the power or stubbornness of Israel’s Left. It might be a demonstration to show that the pro-‘Palestine’ movement will assert itself even in the middle of a large Jewish city. It might be to demonstrate all of the above.  

Somehow, this protest feels different. Maybe it’s the advertised reason that’s so different—to protest against destroying illegal homes. Somehow, with PLO flags already showing up the day before, this protest feels like there’s more involved than homes.

We’ll find out soon enough. The protest is scheduled to start in just a couple of hours.

Tel Aviv: it’s Israel’s most European city. Will today’s event morph from a pro-Arab-Israeli to an anti-Israel protest? Will that change challenge Tel Aviv’s self-image of openness and tolerance? Will this protest be the moment Tel Avivians begin to reconsider how they think about the two-state solution?  Will this protest change anything in Israel?

Probably not; but then, this is Israel: anything can happen.

Perhaps today Israel will learn something from Tel Aviv. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kangaroo Court: UN judges Israel, hides the evidence

On April 27, 2015, the United Nations published an astonishing report. This report purports to reveal the results of an official UN inquiry into what Israel had done to some UN facilities in Gaza during the 2014 Gaza-Israel war. The inquiry has concluded that Israel had bombed these facilities and killed 44 Gazan civilians.

It was an astonishing report because it was so flawed. In fact, it wasn’t a report at all. Instead, it was an abbreviated ‘summary’ of a report.

The actual report won’t be available. You’ll never see it. The UN says it will not be made public.

What you get instead is a summary with set of conclusions. For example, the ‘summary’ concluded that Israel was responsible for death and damage at these UN facilities that had specifically been set aside as havens for Gazans seeking refuge. It’s a wickedly unflattering report. It puts Israel into a very bad light.

But this summary is not professional. It should never have been presented. It’s inherently unfair: it libels Israel while hiding all the evidence. You’ll never know if any of the conclusions are correct, fair or objectively deduced.

The summary is published without footnotes. There’s little to support its conclusions. It was published without an ‘evidence list’. It stated that it had gathered at least some of its evidence from “witnesses who could assist [the inquiry] in its investigation” (“Preliminary Analysis of UN Board of Inquiry Summary Regarding 2014 Gaza Conflict”, NGO Monitor, April 28, 2015). But it doesn’t reveal who these witnesses were, who they worked for and what were their political connections and organizational associations.  A reader has no idea if their testimony (or, statements) were accurate--or motivated by considerations other than truth.

The summary doesn’t discuss details of evidence. It doesn’t identify what evidence it rejected. It doesn’t identify what evidence it failed to acquire.

If the ‘summary’ is so suspect, how do we judge the inquiry itself? We can’t. That’s what makes the ‘summary’ look so unprofessional. A reader has absolutely no means to evaluate the analysis.

But the result of the publication of this summary is much less uncertain: it’s created a flood of anti-Israel headlines. The media has had a ‘field day’ with it. It jumped on the anti-Israel conclusions (Barak Ravid, “UN report: Israel responsible for hits on 7 Gaza facilities during war”, Haaretz, April 27, 2015).

In general, the media presented Israel as a brutal aggressor.  UN Secretary-General (who presented the summary to the public) was reported as saying he 'deplores' the fact that 44 Palestinians were killed as result of Israeli actions against UN premises that were being used as emergency shelters (“UN report: Israel responsible for Gaza shelter attacks”, i24news, April 27, 2015). The phrase ‘Israel blamed’ showed up in most media stories.

But, again, the UN material the media has used to condemn Israel is so flawed, one can’t assess the conclusions it reached about Israeli actions and culpability. Yes, the summary did criticize Hamas. But there, too, we can’t assess if that criticism was fair or sufficient.

It’s a bad piece of work. No wonder the media distorted its presentation of Israel. That distortion was the only conclusion one could draw.

Ahh, but isn’t that how a ‘kangaroo court’ works?

Hamas wants money. It receives lies and betrayal

Even before the 2014 Gaza-Israel war ended, it seems that everyone decided that Hamas didn’t have the money or the materials it’d need to rebuild Gaza, parts of which had been devastated by that war. At that time (early August, 2014), it was also decided, apparently, that Hamas wouldn’t be the ones to do the rebuilding (Erin Banco, “Ruined Gaza Will Not Be Rebuilt By Hamas”, International Business Times, August 7, 2014).   
Before the war had ended, conventional wisdom proposed that any reconstruction of Gaza would most likely be left up to humanitarian and other aid organizations on the ground (ibid). It was further decided that Hamas wouldn’t be held responsible for paying for any reconstruction costs (ibid). The costs would be covered by the ‘international community’ (ibid).
Hamas was very lucky. It had started a war. As a result of that very bad decision, part of its Gaza had been pummelled into the Stone Age. Yet it would carry no responsibility for the damage it had brought upon itself.    
By October 2014, seven weeks after the war, the international community appeared ready to come to Hamas’ aid.  Representatives from “dozens” of countries gathered in Cairo (Bill Chappell, “U.S. And Other Nations Pledge $5.4 Billion To Rebuild Gaza”, npr, October 12, 2014). It took them less than a day to decide what to do.
They’d give Hamas billions. News outlets around the world reported the story: these donors pledged $5.4 billion for reconstruction.
Fifteen weeks later—near the end of January, 2015—the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reported that “virtually none” of the pledged donations had reached Gaza (“UN out of money to rebuild Gaza after donors fail to pay”, National World, January 27, 2015).  What had happened?
Nobody said. Nobody asked anyone what went wrong—or, if they did ask, they didn’t report the answer.
A month after that, UNRWA officials got angry. They accused the ‘world’ of forfeiting on their pledges (Chris Gunness, “The world has broken its promises about rebuilding Gaza – and the children will suffer”, unrwa website, February 24, 2015).
Had all those donors lied to Hamas? Were their $5.4 billion pledges a cruel hoax?
Nobody was saying. Nobody attempted to answer the question.
Two weeks ago, the Gaza story took cruel another turn. We learned that Gaza had apparently become the victim of ‘creative accounting’ (“International donors fail to deliver promised aid to Gaza”, Jerusalem Post, April 13, 2015).
You know about ‘creative accounting’, right? It’s a form of lying. It’s a way to deceive.
Here’s the deception: originally, those wonderfully generous international donors pledged $5.4 billion, as you saw above. At that time (October, 2014), that was a big deal. That much money always is.
But it now turns out that the $5.4 billion never existed. It was a fake number. The amount pledged had only been $3.5 billion (Jerusalem Post, ibid).
Where did the other $1.9 billion go? Nobody said.
Did donors back out? Nobody said.  
Had some donors lied about their pledges? Nobody said. Nobody inquired—or if they had, they weren’t talking about it.
It didn’t really matter. The Gaza reconstruction fund didn’t reach $950 million. Who cared if the original pledges were ‘only’ $3.5 billion?
Now, near the end of April, 2015, we see the consequences of all the lying, deception and creative accounting. Last week, UNRWA reported that, as of April 20, 2015, it has received only enough funds to rebuild 200 of some 9,161 homes destroyed during the 2014 Gaza war (“Gaza Emergency Situation Report”, unrwa usa, April 14-21, 2015). More significant, however, was the fact that it really doesn’t matter how much—or how little—Gaza has received for rebuilding: since the war ended eight months ago, “not a single totally destroyed home has been rebuilt in Gaza” (ibid)--not one.
Truly, Gaza has been abandoned. It’s been betrayed.
No one reports on this. Apparently, no one cares.
Perhaps the G-d of Israel is teaching us a moral lesson here. Perhaps He’s teaching us about what happens when you attack His Chosen, His Treasure--His nation of Israel.

The Arab war isn’t about statehood. It’s about Jews

Many people around the world have been fed a lie. They’re victims of a massive propaganda hoax. They’ve been ‘educated’ to see the Arab-Israel conflict as a showdown between a brutal Western regime that’s controlled by villainous Jews versus innocent and abused Arabs who fight for a state of their own.

It’s a hoax about yearning to be free. It’s a hoax that’s very attractive, particularly to a Western mind which has ‘yearning to be free’ embedded into its DNA. It’s compelling. Many accept it as a natural political truth—just as they accept the ‘naturalness’ of ‘the pursuit of happiness’ that’s embedded into America’s founding document.

But it’s still a hoax. The unspeakable Jew-hate that comes out of the Palestinian Authority (PA) suggests that the ‘Palestinian’ Cause is more a malicious deception than a dream for freedom. Certainly, the raw, vicious hate we see from the PA tells many Israelis that the Arab war against Israel can’t possibly be about statehood or freedom.

Actually, we in Israel know that this Arab war can’t possibly be about freedom because we know that Arabs in Israel have more freedom in Israel than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East. If freedom was the Arab goal, Arabs would be praising Israel, trying to find ways to imitate Israel and clamouring to find uniquely Arab ways to improve upon Israel’s successes.

But few Arabs do any of that. Few care.

There’s a reason for this silence about Israel’s freedoms. Think about it: when you want something, what do you talk about? You talk about the thing you want. For example, if you want a bicycle for your birthday, you don’t talk about a yo-yo. You talk about that bike.

So if Arab leaders want a state, why do they spend so much time talking about Jew-killers? What does glorifying Jew-killers have to do with getting your own state? (Morton Klein, “Two Weeks In Abbas’ P.A.: Jews Killed Arafat; Fatah Convention Named For Olympics Jew-Killer; Pro-Terror Band Honored”, zoa, December 2, 2010; “Palestinian Authority Honors Killer of Elderly Jews”, ipt, April 8, 2011; Robert Spencer, ““Moderate” Fatah posts image of huge pile of Jewish skulls”, Jihad Watch, January 5, 2015; Moshe Phillips and Benjamin Korn, “Op-Ed: Embracing killers of Israeli students”, Crescent City Jewish News, February 20, 2014; “Abbas’s Hypocrisy Shows as Fatah Praises Killers” unitedwithiasrael, January 18, 2015; “Heroine from hell: Palestinians honor mass killer [of Jews] with monument, Fox News, March 19, 2015).

If Arab leaders believe that living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security is so important, why do they tolerate religious leaders calling Jews apes and pigs? If Arab leaders want to live side-by-side with Israel in peace and security, why do their schools teach their children that Israel has no right to exist and must be destroyed? 

Look, Arabs are just like you and me. They continuously talk about what they want—just as we do.

They don’t talk continuously about creating a free and independent state where Arab citizens can flourish in peace and cooperation with Israel. They talk about erasing the Jewish state.

They do that for a reason. They do it because that’s what they care about. That’s what they want.

That’s why Fatah (the ruling power in the PA) spends so much time demonizing Israel. It’s also why they spend virtually no time talking to their followers about the civic, economic and political benefits those followers will see once there’s a new, independent ‘Palestine’.

The Arab war isn’t about statehood. It’s not about independence. It's about eliminating Jews from the Levant. Just look at the maps of ‘Palestine’ they print: their ‘Palestine’ doesn’t sit side-by-side with Israel; it replaces Israel.

Stop believing in a lie. Ask, why does the new map of 'Palestine' replace Israel?

Monday, April 27, 2015

The problem with Israel: Nazism

Israel has a problem. That problem can be described in one word: Nazism. It’s a problem that won’t go away.

Nazism is racist. It’s anti-Semitic. It promotes superiority over others. It believes in the use of force to prove its supremacy. It believes genocide is a legitimate means to political ends.

Israel is regularly accused of being the new Nazi regime. But as Efraim Karsh has suggested (“The war against the Jews”, from Israel Affairs, July 2012, pp. 319-343, as reprinted in Middle East Forum), the truth of the matter is that if there is indeed a resurgence of Nazism in the Middle East (ibid), that resurgence doesn’t come from Israel. It comes from Israel’s Arab neighbours.

You see this Nazism clearly in the Arab world's vile anti-Semitic propaganda. You see it in the persistent Arab commitment to Israel's destruction.

In numberless articles, scholarly writings, books, cartoons, and public statements, Arabs paint Jews in the blackest terms imaginable (ibid). It’s an unrelenting drum-beat that’s based upon a Nazi-style hate: it’s pervasive, demonizing and viciously racist. You see nothing like it in Israel.

 It’s institutionalized. It’s as integrated into modern Arab culture as it had been in Nazi culture. It’s Nazi Jew-hate ideology reborn as Arab nationalism.

That’s Israel’s Nazi problem. Israel’s neighbours aren’t committed to living side-by-side in peace with the Jewish state. Those neighbours are instead committed to what the Nazis wanted: the destruction of the Jews.

In Nazi Germany, that desire focused on Jewish people. Today, it focuses on the Jewish state.

As Karsh writes, Israel is the world's only Jewish state. Zionism is the Jewish people's national liberation movement. But Israel’s Arab neighbours (who demand legitimacy for their own nationalism) absolutely deny Jews the right to their own national self-determination (ibid). Indeed, the Arabs claim that Jews are not even a nation (see the PLO Charter).

Of all the nations in the world, Israel is one of a very, very small number which can actually trace its ‘corporate’ entity and territorial attachment to antiquity (ibid). Arabs who claim ‘Palestinianism’ have no such evidence. As Karsh puts it, such a discriminatory denial of the basic right to nationhood against only one nation while allowing this right to all other groups and communities, however new and tenuous their claim to nationhood, is pure and unadulterated anti-Jewish racism (ibid).

By any conceivable standard, Karsh says, Israel has been an extraordinary success story. It’s shown the world a national rebirth in the ancestral homeland after millennia of exile and dispersion; resuscitation of a dormant biblical language; the creation of a modern, highly educated, technologically advanced, and culturally and economically thriving society, as well as a vibrant liberal democracy in one of the world's least democratic areas. It’s a world leader in agricultural, medical, military, and solar energy technologies, among others; a high-tech superpower attracting more venture capital investment per capita than the United States and Europe; home to one of the world's best health systems and philharmonic orchestras, as well as to ten Nobel Prize laureates (ibid).

Nevertheless, Israel has its Nazi problem because those who imitate Nazi Jew-hate imitate the Nazi demand: get rid of the Jews. This is why all maps of ‘Palestine’ show ‘Palestine’ replacing Israel.

Karsh makes a serious accusation. He ask why is Israel the only state in the world whose right to exist is constantly debated and challenged while far less successful countries, including numerous "failed states," are considered legitimate and incontestable members [my emphasis] of the international community? His answer is simple: the attacks against Israel, the only Jewish state to exist since biblical times, are a corollary of the millenarian obsession with Jews in the Christian and the Muslim worlds. Jew-hate, he suggests, has never been erased from Christianity or Islam.

His accusation echoes something Caroline Glick recently said at a panel discussion (I paraphrase): I understand why the European Union has a problem with Israel (her topic was EU-Israel relations). I understand why the EU feels as it does about Israel. The EU has the same problem with Jews the world has had for the last 2,000 years.

The world once dreamed of destroying what is Jewish. That dream still exists.

On a national-political level, the oldest modern form for such a dream is Nazism. The newest modern form is ‘the Palestinian Cause’.

The Nazis waged war against Jews and Judaism (“Watch: 'The Nazis Declared War Against Jews and Judaism'”, Arutz Sheva, April, 16, 2105).  Arab leaders and clerics do the same.

It’s the same war. It’s the same Nazi mentality with the same Nazi goal.

Nazism fuels the Arab war against Israel. Without that Nazism, the Arabs would have peace with Israel.
Because of that Nazism, there will never be peace. 


Sunday, April 26, 2015

‘Palestinians’ don’t want to be side-by-side with Israel

Everybody talks on behalf of the ‘Palestinians’. Everybody says the ‘Palestinians’ want their own state. Everybody says the ‘Palestinians’ want to live side-by-side with Israel in peace—if only Israel would accept that.
But that’s not what ‘Palestinians’ say. They don’t talk in Arabic about living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel. They have another goal for Israel.
Here are some words from ‘Palestinian’ documents and leaders. See if you can figure out what they want for Israel:
“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (Hamas Charter)
-“Palestine [all of modern Israel] is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgment Day” (Hamas Charter)
-“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad [holy war]. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors” (the Hamas Charter)
-“We demand the liberation of the West Bank, and the establishment of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as its capital – but without recognizing [Israel]. This is the key – without recognizing the Israeli enemy on a single inch of land… Our plan for this stage is to liberate any inch of Palestinian land, and to establish a state on it. Our ultimate plan is [to have] Palestine in its entirety.” (Mahmoud Al Zahhar, co-founder of Hamas)
-We will never recognise the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem." (Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas political wing)
-“Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded. Allah willing, before they die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day” (Khaeld Mashal, Hamas political bureau chief)
-“The Israelis will not know security. We will fight them until the liberation of Palestine, the whole of Palestine [all of modern Israel]" (Dr. Abdel Aziz Ali Abdulmajid al-Rantis, co-founder of Hamas)
-“ We shall return, we shall return. We shall return. We shall return. We shall return - despite the borders, despite the obstacles, despite the Jews. We shall regain Safed [Israeli city inside 1967 lines]. We will regain Beit Shean [Israeli city inside 1967 lines]. We will regain Tiberias [Israeli city inside 1967 lines]. We will regain Ashkelon [Israeli city inside 1967 lines]. We will regain Lod [Israeli city inside 1967 lines]. We will regain our entire country" (Nizar Riyan, former senior Hamas leader)
-“ Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence” (PLO Charter)
-“ The Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel's Jewish identity” (Saeb Erekat, chief Fatah peace negotiator)
-“Israel is a cancer spreading through the body of the Islamic nation, and because the Jews are a virus resembling AIDS, from which the entire world suffers" (Ibrahim Mudeiris. ‘Palestinian’ cleric)
-“ We shall never stop until we can go back home and Israel is destroyed” (Yaaser Arafat)
-The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediations “ (Yaasser Arafat)
-“ We don't want peace, we want victory. Peace for us means Israel's destruction and nothing else." (Yaaser Arafat)
-“ Our agreements with the Israelis are like the Trojan horse. I explain to our people that this is the only way to get into the walls of Jerusalem, like the wooden horse the Greeks used against the Trojans." (Faisal al-Husseini, former politician)
-"My country Palestine is beautiful. Turn to Safed [IsraeI city inside 1967 lines], and then to Tiberias [Israeli city inside 1967 lines], and send regards to the sea of Acre [Israeli city inside 1967 lines] and Haifa [Israeli city inside 1967 lines]. Don't forget Nazareth [Israeli city I believe to be inside the 1967 lines], the Arab fortress, and tell Beit Shean [Israeli city inside 1967 lines] about its people's return" (Song sung two weeks ago by Arab singing idol, Mohammed Assaf).
Some of these people are dead. At least one is young. All of these words express what is real and true for ‘Palestinian’ leaders and clerics.
These words were originally spoken in Arabic. They reveal what the ‘Palestinians’ want.
They don’t want peace with Israel. They want to conquer Israel.
(Quotes were taken from say yes to peace org quotes. Song lyrics are from, “Watch: PA's 'Arab Idol' Sings 'Haifa is Palestine'”, Arutz Sheva, April 26, 2015).

Jews oppress ‘Palestinians’—again

You know about those damn Jews in Israel, right? They just won’t stop oppressing ‘Palestinians’.

They mistreat Palestinians’. They abuse ‘Palestinians’.

The Jews in Israel run an Apartheid state. Everyone says so. You can even see the ‘Apartheid’ in how Jews treat the ‘Palestinians’ who work for them.

It’s disgusting. It’s immoral.

If you want proof how the Jews in Israel  treat ‘Palestinians’, try this on for size:

On September 21, 2014, the Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published a damning expose. You should know about it. It comes to our attention because the blogger Ari Rusila has brought it up in an essay about the anti-Semitic nature of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) efforts in the European Union (“Top Priority of EU Foreign Policy: A New ‘Jude’ Badge”, Ari Rusila’s Conflicts, April 23, 2015). He references statistics from Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). It’s those statistics that show what the Jews are really like.

This expose (the Arabic article) strips the curtain of obfuscation Jews have thrown over their Apartheid crimes. It’s shocking. In fact, it’s so shocking, you might not believe it.

Well, believe it. Here’s a translated excerpt from the Arabic article. It reveals details of worker exploitation and abuse. This excerpt, as you’ll see, derived directly from interviews with ‘Palestinians’ who work for Jews:

"Whenever Palestinian workers have the opportunity to work for Israeli employers, they are quick to quit their jobs with their Palestinian employers - for reasons having to do with salaries and other rights.

An interview conducted by [the PA newspaper] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida with a representative group of Palestinian workers revealed that those working for Israelis receive much higher salaries than their colleagues employed by Palestinians. In addition, those working for Israelis receive their pensions directly or through the lawyer representing the union of professional organizations in their region, while Palestinians working for Palestinian employers receive their pensions [only] after negotiating with them, and after many deductions, or through a personal appeal to court ...

Furthermore, those working for Palestinian employers stated unanimously that they work without medical insurance, as [insurance] is not required by the Palestinian Labor Law, and that they receive no compensation for their travel expenses, while the Israeli employers, in most cases, pay their workers' travel expenses in both directions…

[According to one PA worker,] ‘The only cases in which a Palestinian worker does not receive the salary his Israeli [employer] determined for him are those cases in which the middleman is Palestinian. This is because he employs the workers at his own expense, and he is the one who pays their salaries, which puts the worker at risk of being exploited or having his wages withheld.’…

[Another PA worker said,] 'I work 10 hours a day [in the PA] and receive a monthly salary of not more than 1,900 shekels, and we have no additional rights like yearly vacations, travel expenses and so on.' He reveals that 'my colleagues who do the same work for Israelis receive 4,000 shekels a month for the same number of hours.'

[Another worker noted], 'I work eight hours in an Israeli restaurant near the Dead Sea and receive a salary of over 4,000 shekels, and my salary will increase because they are required to pay minimum wage [for Palestinian workers].' He added: 'They treat us well, and we receive our pensions easily…’

…Muhammad Al-Hinnawi, a construction worker, says: 'I receive [from a PA employer] a daily salary of 70 shekels, without pension, and I have no other choice.' By contrast, Thaer Al-Louzi, who used to work for an Israeli concrete factory, notes: 'I received a salary of 140 shekels a day. Now, after I was injured, I receive a salary through the insurance.' He adds: 'The work conditions are very good, and include transportation, medical insurance and pensions. These things do not exist with Palestinian employers'…

Surveys and interviews conducted by Al-Hayat Al-Jadida clarify that the salaries of workers employed by Palestinians amount to less than half the salaries of those who work for Israeli employers in the areas of the Israel-occupied  West Bank, which house factories, tourist facilities and agricultural lands….

In addition, the Palestinian worker receives nearly all of his rights from his Israeli employers…[and he] is entitled to yearly vacations, sick leave, [bonuses for] additional work hours and is paid for his travel expenses, while the majority of Palestinian employers do not provide these benefits to their workers” (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “Official PA daily lauds Israel’s treatment of Palestinian workers”, Palestine Media Watch, September 23, 2014; the article quoted was originally published in Arabic on September 21, 2014).

Dirty Jews. How dare they treat ‘Palestinians’ this way. You should boycott them so they won’t hire ‘Palestinian’ workers any more.

At least, that’s the message of the Boycott movement. But then, their message isn’t intended to help the ‘Palestinian’ people. It’s intended to destroy the Jewish state.

By the way, you might note that even though Leftists complain that Arab workers in Israel make lower salaries that Jews, those Arabs often have housing costs that are as much as 65 per lower—in many cases for similar housing—than what Jews have to pay. Many Arabs don’t pay real estate tax or pay for electricity. When you include the impact of these lower costs, those lower salaries are, in many cases, on par with their Jewish peers—or, in some cases, higher.

Of course, those who curse the Jews won’t tell you that. They also won’t tell you what the average PA worker will tell you: it’s better to work for the Jews than for a ‘Palestinian’.

This expose was written in the PA for an Arabic audience. It wasn’t written by Jews.

It’s a shock. You might not want to believe it. But the Jews treat PA Arabs better than the PA does.

Those who want ‘justice’ for the ‘Palestinians’ don’t want the Jews to do that. They don’t want the damn Jews anywhere near their ‘people’.

You might remember that the next time a ‘Justice for Palestine’—or ‘Boycott Israel’--rally shows up on your TV screen.

Friday, April 24, 2015

All is not well in the Palestinian Authority

This week, Israel learned that its citizens are among the happiest in the world (Tova Dvorin and Sarah Leah Lawent, “Israel Eleventh Happiest Country Worldwide”, Arutz Sheva, April 24, 2015). This result has shown up in the third annual World Happiness index produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), an initiative of the United Nations (“Switzerland is 'world's happiest' country in new poll”, BBC, April 24, 2015).

Of 158 countries examined, Israel ranked 11th. The US ranked 15th. The UK ranked 21st.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) was on the list, too. It didn’t do so well. It ranked 108th . Its citizens aren’t very happy (Arutz Sheva, ibid).

This wasn’t the only unsettling news for the PA this week. Apparently, the PA has much to be unhappy about.

For example, ‘Palestinian’ news has updated a story from last month about PA prospects in the face of a Netanyahu win in Israel’s March 2015 national elections (Ghassan Khatib, “Analysis: The rise of the Israeli far right and the future of the PA”, Ma’an News Agency, updated April 21, 2014). According to this analysis, those prospects aren’t very good. Netanyahu’s victory doesn’t just mean a more right-wing Israeli government to contend with. It means that, after decades of ever-more right-leaning governments, this one will prove to be the most right-leaning so far; and that won’t be good for PA prospects at the negotiating table.

Things look so bleak that PA news now runs another updated opinion essay this week that suggests that those Israeli elections, and a serious financial crisis within the PA, could provoke a potential collapse of the PA itself (Alaa Tartir, “Analysis: Surviving without the Palestinian Authority”, Ma’an news, updated April 21, 2015). This essay tries to put a positive spin on this possibility. But then, embedded in the analysis, is the statement that the PA isn’t likely to pursue any of the writer’s recommendations (ibid).

Then there’s the problem Fatah (the PA) has with its unity government partner, Hamas. After a year of unity, ‘unity’ is nowhere to be found (“One year after agreement, Palestinian reconciliation hits rock bottom”, middle east online, April 22, 2015). In fact, it’s on the brink of collapse (ibid).

Since it came to power in early June last year, the unity government has neither paid the wages of former Gaza government employees (who belong to Hamas), nor integrated them into the Palestinian Authority hierarchy that’s based in Ramallah (“Unity government won’t work without solving employee issue, insists Hamas”, middle east monitor, April 22, 2015). Hamas is fed up. It’s not happy.

Hamas has reason not to be happy. The PA uses $170 million a month to pay its own employees (Dalit Halevy, Ari Yashar, “How Much Does the PA Pay Terrorists?”, Arutz Sheva, April 24, 2015). The PA also keeps an extra 25,000 names on its monthly paylist who may not even work. They’re prisoners and ‘martyrs’ who receive payment for their terror actions against Jews (ibid). Most of these people are dead (their families collect their money), in jail or seriously injured as a result of their terrorism.  

The PA also pays an additional 30,000 workers who are listed as ‘workers in the military field’ (ibid). Hamas workers in Gaza, meanwhile, complain they aren’t being paid (middle east monitor, above).

It’s also been reported this week that Fatah now accuses Hamas of holding secret talks with Israel about creating its own mini-state with ‘temporary’ borders (Ahmed Al-Sayed, “Will Gaza go it alone?”, Al-Ahram, April 22, 2015). The deal, if true, could jeopardise the chances of statehood for the Palestinians (ibid). This especially irritates the PA because such a deal will not mention Jerusalem (as a Palestinian capital) or the future of the refugees issue (ibid). Fatah is not happy about that.

Israel is one of the happiest countries in the world. The Palestinian Authority isn’t.

If this week’s news is any indication, the PA isn’t going to get much happier any time soon. Its prospects for happiness don't seem to exist. Instead, it's prospects for woe and even war seem much greater. 

Stay tuned.



Israel, state-mandated Jew-hate—and the US

Last week, Foreign Ministers of the European Union (EU) decided to do something about the peace impasse in the Middle East. They chose to use state-mandated Jew-hate for peace (Barak Ravid, “European FMs urge policy chief: Label West Bank settlement products”, Haaretz, April 16, 2015).

Specifically, Foreign Ministers from 16 of the EU’s 28 countries have sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. They request that all goods produced in Israeli ‘settlements’ that are sold in grocery chains across the continent be labelled as coming from Israeli ‘settlements’. It would be a partial semi-boycott against Israel: all goods from Judea-Samaria, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights will have to be identified.

These European Foreign Ministers want this labelling because they see ‘settlements’ (and not Arab Jew-hate) as a threat to “a just and final peace agreement" (ibid). They want European consumers to have the ability to boycott ‘settlement’ product, if they wish.  

Their language in this letter is curious. They don’t say they request this labelling in order to push Israel back to the negotiating table. They claim instead to want this labelling because—get ready for this—they’re concerned that, without this labelling, consumers might be "misled by false information" (ibid).

I hope you understand that. I don’t.

In 2013, the EU sought to enact this labelling requirement. It didn’t happen. At that time, pro-Arab advocates saw a labelling requirement as an important step to help slow down  or, ideally, halt the ‘Judifying’ of Judea-Samaria (“European Union Measures Against Israeli Settlements”, doha institute, August 4, 2014). Labelling would do that because it would, in theory, encourage consumers to stop buying Jewish goods from the ‘settlements’. That, in turn, would, in theory, reduce and constrict the economic growth of Jewish businesses in the ‘settlements’ (bid).

Now these EU Ministers want to try again. Apparently, they want to stop the Judifying of the ancestral Jewish areas called, Judea-Samaria, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Such an official effort against Israel sounds a lot like state-mandated Jew-hate. Here’s how:

First, a state mandate is a decision, law or order issued by a governing or legislative authority. In this case, that authority would be the EU. A state mandate requires those affected to create or modify their actions in order to conform to the mandate. In this case, it means a requirement to label goods.

Second, look at Jew-hate. Jew-hate is the hatred of Jewish people and/or institutions or entities associated with Jews. It’s a phrase used to describe hostile actions aimed against individuals Jews or any entity described as ‘Jewish’.

Third, there’s Israel. Israel is the homeland of the Jews. It’s the independent sovereign entity of the Jewish people. It’s the Jewish state.

State-mandated Jew-hate would, in this case, be a state or legislative order that requires individuals and entities to  modify their activities so as to act with hostility towards Jews.

The EU’s desire to create this labelling to discriminate against Israeli product meets this definition. It’s a request that requires hostile actions against the Jewish state.

I’m not the only one who understands this EU desire in this light. The US Senate Finance Committee has just taken action against the EU specifically because of this boycott effort. The Committee has adopted a new amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that Congress is scheduled to vote on as early as next week (Rebecca Shimoni Stoilon, “Congress moves to pressure Europe against BDS steps”, Times of Israel, April 23, 2015).  This TPA is part of a US-EU effort to complete a historic trade pact (ibid). This pact is important to both the US and the EU (ibid). The amendment would add the discouragement of BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) actions as a principal objective for US envoys in the talks with Europe (ibid).

Amendment co-author Bill Cardin (D-MD) explained that the reason behind this move was Israel: “Israel is one of America’s closest allies”, he said. It’s “the only stable democracy in the Middle East. We may not agree with every Israeli policy, but we cannot allow our potential trading partners in the EU to fall prey to efforts that threaten Israel’s existence” or seek to de-legitimize its existence (Ben Ariel, “Senate Committee Passes Measures to Combat BDS”, Arutz Sheva, April 24, 2015).

If this amendment gets added to the trade bill, it’ll be a shot across the EU’s bow. It’ll be very interesting to see how far the EU’s attempt at state-mandated Jew-hate gets in the face of a new trade agreement that could come with an anti-boycott condition.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Israel and the PA remember Israel’s dead

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 was Israel’s Memorial Day. It’s the official day when all of Israel remembered Jews (and non-Jews) who have been killed by Israel’s Arab enemies.

Because as many as 1.5 million Jews plan to visit military cemeteries for private Memorial moments with loved ones, Memorial Day in Israel isn’t limited to one day. Were everyone to try to visit Israel's cemeteries on the same day, the crowds and the attendant traffic jams would be mind-boggling. To cope, Israelis know to spread out their visits over the month.

One prominent example of such a tactic comes from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His brother Yoni was killed in 1976 fighting for Israel. Instead of waiting for Memorial Day itself, Mr Netanyahu visited his brother’s grave earlier in the week.

I mention this elongated Memorial ‘season’ for Israel because I want you to understand how the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been treating Israel’s dead. While Israel is, essentially, spending part of this month remembering its dead, the PA has been having its own ‘remembrances’ of Israelis killed. But their remembrances aren’t to mourn. They’re ceremonies are to celebrate.

In what has to be some kind of over-the-top gesture of pure hate, the PA has spent much of this month honouring and glorifying the murderers who killed the Jews Israel now mourns.

In a stunning revelation, Palestine Media Watch has just released a survey of how Palestinian Authority and Fatah (which runs the PA) have used April 2015 to commemorate  Jew-killers (Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, “While Israel mourns terror, the PA celebrates terror”, April 21, 2015). Essentially, during April, both the PA and Fatah (both of which are headed by Mahmoud Abbas) honoured 14 terrorists who had murdered more than 160 people in acts of terror (ibid).

As Israelis mourned their dead, The PA presented these 14 terrorists to the ‘Palestinian’ public as heroes and role models (ibid). Abbas personally honored 4 of them. He cited for honor "the first Martyr," "the first [male] prisoner" and "the first female fighter prisoner". He awarded each of these 14 "decorations of military honor in admiration of their militant pioneering role." [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 17, 2015].  He also honored arch-terrorist Abu Jihad, who the PA credits with orchestrating attacks in which 125 were murdered. Abbas was also the patron of a rally held in Abu Jihad's honor. Abbas "expressed his pride" in Abu Jihad "for his significant national role" [my emphasis] (ibid).

For Abbas, pioneering national heroes don’t solve problems, win Nobel Prizes or cure disease. His pioneers and national heroes kill Jews. His national heroes include:

-Seven terrorists who were honoured as a role models for university students on Fatah's official Facebook page.

- One who had a Jerusalem table tennis tournament named after him; he, too, was honoured as a role model for university students on Fatah's official Facebook page.

-one who was described on PA TV as ‘a fighter’. The TV host who spoke of him called his terror attack ‘the heroic operation’.

Abbas himself spoke of some of these murderers as having played a ‘significant national role’, or as having played a “remarkable role in writing the modern history of the struggle”. He praised one “in appreciation of his [the killer’s] revolutionary role in the history of our modern revolution”.

The relationship Mahmoud Abbas has with Israel is, clearly, a matter of ‘revolution’. Instead of speaking of living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel (this is the West’s mantra as it pressures Israel), Abbas speaks of ‘revolutionary struggle’, martyrdom and ‘pioneering’ effort in the killing of Jews.

For a supposed ‘peace partner’ of Israel to behave this way just as Israel mourns the Jews killed by these terrorists is an act of unspeakable disrespect. The State of Israel must absolutely refuse to deal with someone who so glorifies and uplifts those who murder Jews. Israel must declare that it will not sit at any table with anyone who would mock Jewish mourning with such offensive and immoral celebration. This behaviour is beyond belief. It’s beyond immorality. It’s beyond civilized leadership. It is, in fact, barbaric.

Israel must make it perfectly clear that if Abbas wants peace, he must demonstrate he wants peace. Israel must make it clear that if the world wants peace, the world must first convince Abbas to end such barbarism.






What should Israel Independence Day celebrate?

As it has done in the past, Israel for 2015 has chosen to honour women during its most important Independence Day ceremony. Once again, Israel has announced that it will include in this year’s group of honoured women, an Arab-Israeli.
Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with the State of Israel honouring women. I also have no problem whatsoever with the State of Israel honouring an Arab-Israeli Muslim. I even have no problem whatsoever with the State of Israel actively singling out women or Arab-Israeli Muslims for such honor. My problem is, I don’t think it’s appropriate to include such honor as part of our Independence Day celebration.
I say this knowing that Ms Lucy Aharish, the Arab-Israeli women who was chosen to be honoured this year, is--in my opinion--an extremely impressive young woman. She is articulate. Her words (at the ceremony) were perfectly chosen for the occasion. Nevertheless, I just don’t think such honor belongs in an Israel Independence Day ceremony. 
I’ll explain why I feel this way. You can read my reasons. Then, you can decide if you agree.
Israel’s Independence Day doesn’t occur as a free-standing holiday. It doesn’t stand by itself on the calendar. It begins immediately following Israel’s Memorial Day.
Israel’s Memorial Day is the moment during the year we remember those who were killed so that we may live freely as Jews in a Jewish state. Following the Holocaust, that was a compelling dream. Given the state of Anti-Semitism and raw Jew-hate in the world today, it’s still compelling.
Memorial Day is also the Day we remember civilian terror victims. We remember them on this Day because, like soldiers, they were killed by enemies who, to this very moment, see every Israeli civilian as a military target.
When we paused to remember those fallen on Memorial Day, and when we listened to speeches about them, we didn’t see or hear a single reference to their having died to protect democracy, equal rights, women’s rights or equality.  They died so that Jews could have their homeland back. They died so that Jews could live freely.
As Memorial Day ended, and as we began to think of our ‘Independence’ picnics and celebrations, we did so knowing that Israelis continue to die so that we as Jews can continue to live. Remembering them reminds us that we can never take for granted our Jewish survival in our Jewish ancestral homeland.
Of course, equality and rights are mentioned in what is commonly called, Israel’s ‘Declaration of Independence’. But those who fought in Israel’s wars didn’t take up arms to defend equal rights or equality—or women’s rights or democracy. They took up arms to defend our Jewish right to return to--and continue to live in--our own Jewish homeland.
Look at the Jewish Israel this way: we aren’t Jewish in Israel because we’re a democracy. We’re a democracy because the Jews won that 1948 war—and continue to win.
That’s why Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East—because we’re Jewish. That’s why Israel is the only country in the Middle East that protects women’s rights—because we’re Jewish. That’s why Israel is the only country in the Middle East without Apartheid laws—because we’re Jewish.
In other words, ‘Jewish’ came before ‘democracy’. That’s why we should celebrate ‘Jewish’ Israel on our Independence Day’, not equality, women’s rights or equal rights.
If Israel so desires, it should honor women and Arab-Israelis. It should declare a ’Woman’s Day’ for example, or an ‘Arab-Israeli Day. Israel could even sponsor an ‘Israel Democracy Day’, to highlight to the world how the Jewish Israel has a political system that is distinctive in its region.
But we shouldn’t muddy our Independence Day ceremonies with issues that are secondary to the on-going Jewish struggle to survive. Our Independence Day should celebrate first things first—and the first thing for Israel has always been the fight to become –and remain--the Jewish state.
We are a democracy in the Middle East only because we are Jewish. Without the continuing Jewish triumph, there’d be no equal rights or women’s rights in Israel.
This is an important distinction because so many in Israel promote ‘democracy’ and ‘equal rights’ above Israel’s Jewishness. Many of these people seem intent upon denying or removing Israel’s Jewishness. For this reason alone, we should be extra careful to keep Independence Day simple, and focused.  We’d have no equal rights, women’s rights, equality or democracy if the Jews had lost any of their wars.
Given the nature of the world war against Jewish Israel, we should keep our eye on the ‘main thing’: we are what we are—and have what we have—only because the Jews keep their Jewish independence.
That’s my opinion. What do you think?  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A story for Israel Independence Day, 2015

Tonight begins Israel’s Independence Day. We celebrate Israel’s 67th birthday. Here’s an abbreviated story for you about that ‘independence’. It’s from an essay by Miriam Elman (“1948 – How American Jewish Pilots Helped Win Israel’s War of Independence”, Legal Insurrection, April 21, 2015). I’ve edited it—and re-written portions of it:


On May 30, 1948—fifteen days after the fledgling Jewish state was invaded by the armies of five Arab nations—Milton Rubenfeld, a former stunt pilot who served in the British Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Force in World War II, flew on a critical combat mission that stopped the advancing Iraqi army.

When his plane was hit by enemy fire, he bailed out, landing in the field of an Israeli kibbutz. Since no one at the time knew that Americans were flying for Israel in its War of Independence, Rubenfeld was mistaken for an enemy pilot by the rifle-brandishing kibbutz members. Hands raised in the air, Rubenfeld—who spoke not a word of Hebrew—identified himself to the Israelis and saved his life by shouting what little Yiddish he knew—“Gefilte fish”, “Shabbos”, and “Pesach”!

This little-known true story is recounted by Rubenfeld’s widow and his son, the actor Paul Reubens (better known as Pee-wee Herman), in a remarkable new feature-length documentary “Above and Beyond”.

Produced by Nancy Spielberg (sister of Steven Spielberg—yes, that Spielberg) and directed by the accomplished Roberta Grossman, the 87 minute film tells the tale of the American airmen who, just three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, volunteered with Rubenfeld in the 1948 war.

“Above and Beyond” has won rave reviews and multiple awards on the festival circuit. It’s scheduled for an April 28 VOD release including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and other platforms.

It features the mostly Jewish American pilots who at great personal risk smuggled planes and war materials out of the U.S., trained on old Me-109 fighters (the mainstay of the German Luftwaffe) in secret behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia, and flew dozens of missions in the summer and fall of 1948 for the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) newly created 101 Squadron.

In mid-May 1948 the Jewish defense forces (the Haganah) had roughly 35,000 troops, no air force, almost no artillery, and very few tanks.

There can be no doubt that the Arab armies had a major edge in weaponry.

The Israelis had nothing.

Except that they had Al Schwimmer.

Schwimmer worked for TWA and had been a flight engineer for the U.S. Transport Command in World War II. When he learned of Israel’s need for aircraft, he single-handedly bought some thirty surplus Messerschmitt fighters and recruited the pilots to fly them.

The U.S. State Department’s hostility toward the new Jewish state and the arms embargo [by the US and Britain] of the entire Middle East made his activities a chancy business. These all had to be clandestine flights. Schwimmer formed a bogus Panamanian airline and had pilots hopscotch around the globe to get to Israel.

The U.S. government threatened to revoke the citizenship of anyone who participated in the war. But Schwimmer wasn’t intimidated.

To evade detection by the authorities, he resorted to scouring military records for former World War II airmen in the N.Y. area with “Jewish-sounding names” and sending them cryptic telegrams. Mysterious instructions for secret rendezvous would include “meeting a guy with a flower in his lapel on 57th street”.

Schwimmer was indicted after the war for violating the U.S. Neutrality Act. He lost his U.S. citizenship and stayed in Israel. But that loss was his gain: he made a fortune as the founder of Israel Aerospace Industries. In 2001, he was pardoned by President Clinton.

The movie, “Above and Beyond”, includes archived war footage and stunning aerial reenactments, accomplished with special effects created by Industrial Light and Magic, which reportedly donated its time and expertise to the project.

But it’s the interviews with the still cocky nonagenarian airmen that make the film exciting to watch (Nancy Spielberg noted in an interview that the youngest was 88 at the time of filming). As one movie reviewer put it, “the film’s heart is the interviews with the pilots themselves who recall their exploits with infectious bravado”.

With the exception of Lou Lenart, the pilots were all second-generation Americans who knew little about Zionism and weren’t particularly proud of their Jewishness.

My favorite pilot is Gideon Lichtman. He was a former U.S. Army Air Force pilot. He shot down an Egyptian Spitfire on June 8, 1948 and went on to fly more than 30 missions during the war.

“I was risking my citizenship and possibly jail time,” he says of fighting for Israel. “I didn’t give a sh*t. I was gonna help the Jews out. I was going to help my people”. Other pilots had similar feelings. They came to Israel to help their people.

While Jewish forces were often successful in the fighting, they suffered painful defeats. At one point in the fighting, this is what David Ben-Gurion reported to the Zionist Action Committee that:

Hebrew Jerusalem is partially cut off all the time. For the past 10 days, it has been completely isolated and faces a serious danger of starvation. Almost all other roads are in disarray. Jews cannot set out without risking their lives”.

Across most of the fighting lines, the Arabs often took the initiative with forces greatly superior to the defending Jewish army. The war was, quite literally, a matter of life and death for hundreds of thousands of Jews.

When General Yigal Yadin, the Haganah’s chief of operations was asked by members of Israel’s provisional government about the chances of standing up to the expected Arab attack his reply was a sobering “Fifty, fifty”. Most company commanders at the time also saw this as a grave assessment based on truthful calculations.

To defend itself, Israel had meager forces along strung-out lines utterly vulnerable to Arab attack. But while the Jewish armies struggled to survive, these airmen pulled off miracles. In one incident, a Jewish American pilot and his buddies flew four “junk airplanes” for a country that had no actual air force, and managed to convince a large  Egyptian force, encamped only 30 miles outside Tel Aviv, that there was enough “competition in the sky” to warrant aborting their advance.

There can be no doubt that these volunteers helped turn the tide of the war.

Most of the American volunteer pilots featured in “Above and Beyond” survived the 1948 war. Those who survived went on to lead productive lives in the U.S. and Israel.

Two of the airmen—U.S. Army Air Force pilot Coleman Goldstein and Lou Lenart, a U.S. Marine who served in the Pacific theater during World War II— became pilots for El Al Airlines.

Harold Livingston, who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps’ transport squadron, became a novelist and a Hollywood screenwriter, authoring Star Trek: the Motion Picture (one of the best films of all time, in my humble opinion).

But two from this courageous band of brothers didn’t make it. Stan Andrews and Bob Vickman—both UCLA art students in 1948 who had been stationed in the Pacific in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II—were killed when their IAF planes were shot down in separate incidents in July and October 1948.

As told in “Above and Beyond” by the pilots who fought with them, Andrews and Vickman came up with the logo for the 101 Squadron, scribbling the Angel of Death on a cocktail napkin at a Tel Aviv bar in June 1948.

It’s a design that still appears on Israeli F-16s today.


My comment: read the full essay. Get the movie when it comes out.

Happy 67th Israel Independence Day.

Here's a special Independence Day offer-- You might be interested in a new Yom Haatzma'ut  and Yom Yerushalayim Machzor (prayer book especially for these two days) published by Koren. 
This Mahzor is the first-ever English-Hebrew prayer book for Israel's national holidays. It includes complete services for Israel's Independence Day and Jerusalem Day according to the practices established by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The mahzor features an introduction by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, translation by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, commentary by Rabbi Moshe Taragin and Rabbi Binyamin Lau. It includes a collection of essays by leading scholars in the world of Religious Zionism.
To receive a gift along with this Mahzor, contact Pomeranz Booksellers in Jerusalem. Tell them you saw this offer on the Tuvia Brodie blog. With your Mahzor purchase, you’ll get a unique gift—a Yom Ha’Atzmaut pamphlet written for Israel’s 25th Anniversary, in 1973, before the Yom Kippur War. You’ll get a perspective of Israel-Zion-Redemption written by our fathers you may not have seen before.

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