Thursday, December 14, 2017

Chanukah 2017-- and the Israeli donut

(Last updated: December 15, 2017)

Israelis love donuts. We know that because the 8 million people of Israel consume 24 million donuts a year (Dr. Yvette Alt Miller, “8 Interesting Facts about Donuts”, aish, December 13, 2017). When you walk the streets of Jerusalem at Chanukah-time, you might easily conclude that most of those 24 million donuts are probably eaten at Chanukah.

On Chanukah in Israel, the Israeli 'donut' is everywhere. It appears at the shuk, in bakery shops, supermarkets and Malls. It appears in multiple colors, flavors and arrangements. 

On Chanukah, a virtual army of donuts lines up to march through Israel:

Image result for pictures of sufganiot in israel
from: "Israeli Health Minister declares--out!", timesofisrael, December 12, 2016

from: Jacob Richman, machatjrcoil/hotsites/chanukah-photos, retrieved December 14, 2017 

from: Jacob Richman, ibid

from: Jacob Richman , ibid

from: Jacob Richman, ibid

from: Jacob Richman, ibid

Image result for pictures of sufganiot in israel
from: the 5 best places for sufganiots in Israel, yeahthatskosher, November 9, 2015

from: City Mouse Online, "The 8 best Hanukah sufganiot in Israel", harretz, November 24, 2013

from: haaretz, ibid

from: haaretz, ibid

from: haaretz, ibid

from: haaretz, ibid

from: haaretz, ibid

קונדיטוריית שמו_סופגניות ערמונים_חנוכה 2015_צילום- דניאל לילה (7) (Custom) (Custom)
from: Karen Brown, "The sweet stuff", timeoutisrael, December 3, 2017

Photo: Sarit Geffen
Photo by Sarit Geffen , in "Where to get some of the best Chanukah donuts [in Israel]", ynetnews, December 12, 2015.

Roladin Hanukkah doughnuts (Photo: Ronen Mangan)
Photo by: Ronen Mangan, ynetnews, ibid

Yes, the Israeli 'donut' is not a cookie-cutter item. For Israelis, if you can imagine it, you can do it with a donut. 

Well, almost.

What's an Israeli 'donut'? Let's start first with a history of the donut. Then, you'll learn about the Israeli 'donut'.

This history lesson  comes from Dr. Yvette Alt Miller, “8 Interesting Facts about Donuts”, aish, December 13, 2017:

Donuts, or sufganiyot in Hebrew, are a quintessential part of Hanukkah in Israel and much of the Jewish world.  Fried in oil, they recall the miracle of oil that burned for eight days.

Here are eight interesting facts about donuts:

Ancient Origins

Fried dough - the precursors to today’s donuts - was enjoyed in ancient times throughout Greece and Rome.  Strips of dough were fried, often in olive oil, and then sprinkled or spread with ingredients to add flavor… 

Bringing Donuts to Europe

Fried dough was popular throughout the Middle East during the Medieval period.  These donuts differed from ancient pastries in that they were made with yeast, much like modern doughnuts are today.  Because too much sugar kills yeast, these doughnuts weren’t terribly sweet, and it was popular to drench them in sugar syrup once they were cooked.

These Middle Eastern delicacies gradually spread into Europe, in part spread by Jewish merchants and cooks.  To this day, many Sephardi Jews prepare “Bimuelos” for Hanukkah: delicious yeast doughnuts which are first fried and then drenched in a sugar syrup, which often flavored with lemon, rose water or orange-blossom water.  Some Egyptian Jewish communities call these sticky types of sweets “zalabia”; in Iraqi Jewish communities they are sometimes called “zengoula”.

The first recipe for a jam-filled donut was published in Germany in 1485.  At the time, many donuts were filled with savory fillings such as fish or mushrooms, but it seems that sweet doughnuts were becoming popular too.  “Gefullte Krapfen” is a recipe for a dollop of jam placed between two rounds of yeast bread and deep fried in lard.

Making Donuts Kosher

Jewish cooks in Europe made one key change [to the donut]: instead of frying donuts in lard, they substituted other fats, including schmaltz and goose fat.  In Poland, Jews called their variation ponchiks, and soon adopted them as a Hanukkah specialty.

Coffee and a Donut

In the 1700s and 1800s, Europeans began eating donuts as an accompaniment to a new drink that was sweeping Europe: coffee.  Jews were highly instrumental in spreading the taste for coffee throughout Europe.  The first coffee houses in Europe, opened in 1632, in Livorno, Italy, were opened by Jews.  England’s first coffee house was opened in Oxford in 1650 by a Jewish immigrant from Lebanon called “Jacob the Jew”. 

Jews owned many coffee houses in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, and in many cases offered pastries - including doughnuts - to go with the new beverage.  As coffee gained in popularity, so did donuts: the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee in the morning or for an afternoon snack.

Donuts for Everyone

Donuts were introduced to the New World by Dutch settlers and were a popular home-made treat.  During World War I, both the Red Cross and Salvation Army gave American servicemen donuts as a tasty treat; after the war, thousands of servicemen returned home with a greater taste for donuts than ever before. 

Adolph Levitt was a Jewish refugee from Russian pogroms who moved to New York and opened a store in Harlem, in which he made donuts.  In 1920, he devised an automated donut making machine, allowing cooks to produce hundreds of high-quality donuts a day.  In 1925, Mr. Levitt produced a donuts mix that bakers could use with his machines, guaranteeing consistent quality.

The demand for donuts exploded.  Mass produced doughnuts, made using Mr. Levitt’s machines, were called “the food hit of the Century of Progress” at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair….  More and more, specialist donut making companies produced America’s donuts, and sold the cakes to restaurants, bakeries and cafeterias.  By the 1950s, Adolf Levitt’s company, the Doughnut Corporation of America, was selling over $25 million worth of donut making equipment each year, and donuts were America’s favorite pastry.

Franchising Donuts

In the mid-20th Century, William Rosenberg, a Jewish son of immigrants who was living in Dorchester, Massachusetts, operated a corporate catering business.  He noticed that coffee and donuts alone accounted for nearly half of his business, and quit to focus on donuts and coffee full time.  He opened a donut shop in 1948, and introduced an innovative new gimmick: offering 52 varieties of donuts, enough for customers to sample a new donuts type each week of the year.

Within a few years, Rosenberg began franchising other donut shops, and he soon changed the name of his chain from the original name, “Open Kettle” to something more catchy: “Dunkin’ Donuts”.  By the time Rosenberg died in 2002, Dunkin’ Donuts had over 5,000 outlets, including 40 under kosher supervision, in 40 countries around the world.  Dunkin’ Donuts’ success had also spawned a number of imitators, ensuring that the craze for doughnuts continued to grow.

Millions of Donuts

Always popular, donuts have become even more sought after in recent years.  In the United States, it’s estimated that consumers spend over half a billion dollars on the round confections annually.  In the US, convenience stores alone sold 391 million donuts in 2014.  Canadians might consume the most donuts in the world: they have more donut shops per capita than any other country.  Britain is in the midst of a donuts moment: the Daily Telegraph called donuts Britain’s new favorite treat in 2017.

Israeli Donuts: Sufganiyot

In Israel, plump, jam or custard-filled sufganiyot, as donuts are known in Hebrew, are enjoyed each year at Hanukkah.  One recent survey found that 80% of Israelis eat at least one donut during the eight-day festival.

Sufganiyot derive their name from a spongy dough that’s mentioned in the Talmud: sofgani.  These Israeli confections aren’t doughnut shaped at all: instead of having a hole in the middle (which helps create a more evenly cooked doughnut), sufganiyot are baked round, then injected with a filling after cooking.  About 70% of sufganiyot are stuffed with jam, but Israeli bakers experiment with other fillings, such as caramel, espresso cream, chocolate, halva - even fillings flavored like the popular Israeli peanut snack Bamba.

Each year Israelis consume about 24 million sufganiyot.  The Israeli Defense Force alone buys about half a million sufganiyot for the troops.  In recent years, sufganiyot have become popular outside of Israel, as a tasty addition to the Hanukkah holiday table.  


In our Israel household, we hold a 'Sufganiot Festival' each Chanukah. It's informal. It's unofficial. But it gives us reason to scarf down as many suganiot as we like.

We just love our sufganiot.

When people ask me if I eat sufganiot, I reply that I do eat them, but only if they're made by my wife. When they ask me why, I reply, her recipe comes directly from Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden. 

Ahhh, such taste!

Happy Chanukah!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Chanukah 5778 (2017)

Today is the first day of this year's traditional 8-day Chanukah celebration.  A few minutes ago, I published an essay for you about Chanukah in Israel, 2017.

After publishing the essay, I sent an email to my regular readers, to alert them that a new essay was now available.

Then, as sometimes happens, I spotted a typing error in the published text. I acted immediately to fix it.

Somewhere in the process of fixing that error, I made what was, in my opinion, a horrible mistake: I deleted the entire essay.

I tried to retrieve it. I couldn't. 

I am now convinced it's gone.  Forever.

Woe is me, right? I worked several hours today, as I usually do, to create this essay. Now, it has evaporated.

Woe is me, indeed.

I don't have the energy to recreate that essay. So I will 'cut to the chase' for you. Below, I post two short videos I had put into that essay. I will not attempt to redo the essay, to show you how I had originally linked the two videos.

Take a look at the two videos below about Chanukah. See what you think. 

The first video is by Yaakov Cohen  ("Carrying the torch: the menorah and the eternal Jewish people", aishyoutube, published December 6, 2017). It offers an intriguing view of what the Chanukah message is for us in 2017.

The second video is just plain Chanukah fun. It's about children. It's called,  "The Yeshiva boy's choir--Those  were the nights of  Chanukah", EG Productions, youtube, November 30, 2011.

Happy  Chanukah!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Does mainstream media unhinge over Trump recognizing Israel?

Last week, US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mainstream media around the world immediately panned that decision. 

Trump, it was suggested, would provoke nothing good, everything bad. Trump was a fool to do this. He would destroy peace. He could destroy America. He would destroy Israel. He was mental.

That assessment seemed universal. Almost everyone agreed: Donald Trump was bringing an end to Western, democratized civilization as we know it. If he wasn't doing that, then he was certainly bringing an end to peace in the Middle East. Trump's announcement was a match that would ignite Jerusalem and burn it to the ground.

It didn't happen. The media-hyped Apocalypse didn't happen. Wild Arab rioting in Israel didn't happen. 

The mainstream media made it look like that was happening. But most of the pictures you saw weren't about Arabs attacking Jerusalem. They were about Arabs stoning--for the most part--their own neighborhoods. 

It's how Arabs riot in Israel. They stay close to home.

Now, we're some fours days out from Trump's announcement. Now, it's suppertime in Israel. It's 6 pm Sunday, December 10, 2017. Israel's news outlets are underwhelmed by the mainstream's supposed apocalypse (Joshua Davidovich, “Apocalypse some other time”, timesofisrael, December 10,  2017). Arab response to Trump has actually--so far--been far, far from  'apocalyptic'.

As one essayist here has said, "Newsflash: Jerusalem not on fire!" (Bassam Tawil at gatestoneinstitute, December 10, 2017). In some instances, there seemed to be more journalists than protesters at a protest (ibid).  

Of course, we don't know what the rest of this new week will bring. But the response of the Arab street has seriously undercut mainstream media's anti-Israel, anti-Trump hysteria. 

Could those of us who live in Israel know something the anti-Israel mainstream media doesn't know? I think we do. We know the truth.

If you live in exile, my advice is simple. If you want to get a handle on what's going on in Middle East news these days, stop listening to or reading mainstream news. 

 That news is disconnected from reality. It's truly unreal.

When the mainstream gets this unhinged with its news coverage, it's time for a change. It's time for a cartoon. 

Yes, a cartoon. A cartoon is easy to understand. It tells it's story simply. If it's a good cartoon, it'll tell you the truth.

Here's a cartoon for you. It tells a truth about the mainstream  media (please page down):

From:  Steven  Hayward, "The week in pictures; 'The conversation' edition'", powerline, December 9, 2017. Note: the cartoonist's name is at the left border. There is additional information about the source of the cartoon below the cartoonist's name. 

Trump is what? Like Hitler? 

Can the media explain why Trump, who just did something to help the Jewish Israel, is exactly like a man who wanted to  annihilate all Jews (Matt Vespa, "MSNBC reporter: Trump is acting like Mussolini, Franco and Hitler", townhall, December 9, 2017)? The media can't--at least, not with a straight face (Kyle Smith, "Trump vs Hitler", nationalreview, October 19, 2017). 

The media unhinges itself (Dan Gainor, "Media goes crazy over Trump announcement on Jerusalem, CNN's sloppy mistake and other journalism disasters", foxnews, December 9, 2017). It can't think straight any more. It renders itself incapable of rational thought. 

Has Trump driven the media to madness? 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Arab Muslim purveyors of truth, Abbas and the Jews

If you listen to what the world says about US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, you might conclude that (1) Trump is a purveyor of Jewish lies about Israel, and (2) the Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is the world's chief purveyor of peace and truth for the Middle East. 

Look at Trump's speech. He said,  Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital  (Trump's speech on Jerusalem, December 6, 2017). But according to world reaction to that speech, Trump is wrong, reckless and irresponsible to talk about Israel's rights (“World reacts to Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital”, cbsnews, December 6, 2017).

According to world opinion, Israel has no such rights. This is what stand behind that opinion: Mahmoud Abbas is the only man in the Arab-Israel conflict who supports peace and speaks the absolute truth; and the absolute truth is, he says, Jerusalem is 100% Muslim and zero% Jewish (Michael Wilner, as quoted in, William A. Jacobson, “Trump: today we finally acknowledge the obvious.. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital”, legalinsurrection, December 6, 2017. 

So far as the world is concerned, the Palestinian desire to destroy Israel is more 'true' than Israel's sovereign right to exist and choose its own capital city. The world believes what Abbas and his friends declare--that Israel, the world's only Jewish state, does not have the same rights as other nations. It absolutely does not have the right to choose its own capital city.

This is why the world is so horrified by Trump's declaration about Jerusalem. The world believes Abbas.

We know that Jews cannot choose Jerusalem as its capital because the Jew-hating Arab Muslim purveyors of peace and absolute truth in the Middle East have told us Jerusalem isn't Jewish. It belongs to the Palestinians (“PA official: All of Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinians”, translated from Amad, independent Palestinian news website, June 4, 2017, quoted by palwatch, under the heading, “Denial of Jewish connection to Jerusalem”). Do you think Jew-hating Arab Muslim purveyors of peace and absolute truth in the Middle East would lie? 

In his speech, Trump said that Jerusalem must remain, a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque (Trump speech, ibid). He's wrong.

We know that Trump is dead-wrong about Jews' rights at the Western Wall  because the Jew-hating Arab Muslim purveyors of peace and absolute truth have told us that the Western Wall is not Jewish. That Wall is a pure right of Muslims, a pure right that will never change (“PLO official: The Western Wall (i.e., Judaism's holiest site) “is an inseparable part of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and a pure right of the Muslims” that will not be changed by Israel’s “illusions and acts of forgery”, from the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 4, 2017, as quoted by palwatch, under the heading, "Denial of Jewish connection to Jerusalem)

The universal horror at Trump's announcement to recognize Jerusalem suggests that the world has no interest in defending Israel's rights. It hears the Arab Muslim message. It believes what it hears--and trembles: 

-“Abbas’ advisor in the name of Abbas: “the entire world will pay the price” for the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital”, from the  official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 3, 2017, as quoted by palwatch, under the heading, “Denial of Jewish connections to Jerusalem” ;

-“PLO Chief Negotiator: “By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” the US is “pushing the region… into the furnace of violence, chaos, extremism, and bloodshed”, from the official Palestinian Authority TV, Dec. 2, 2017, as quoted by palwatch, ibid;

-“Hamas says Trump's decision opens gates of hell”, thepeninsulaqatar, December 6, 2017.

In his speech to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Trump said that Jerusalem was the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times (Trump speech, ibid). But the world says, the Jewish Israel has no connection to Jerusalem. We know that's the case because the UN just last week affirmed it--urged to this affirmation by the Jew-hating Arab Muslim purveyors of peace and absolute truth (Tovah Lazaroff, "151 UN nations vote to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem" jerusalempost, December 1, 2017). 

In his own speech to condemn Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Mahmoud Abbas has been reported to have said that Jerusalem has a long Christian and Muslim history...he made  no mention of Jewish history in Jerusalem...he said, any attempt to change Palestinian history will not succeed'...he said, Jerusalem is a Palestinian city--an Arab city, a Christian city and a Muslim city (Jacobson, ibid)

The world doesn't laugh at Abbas. It believes Abbas. It rejects Israel's history in Jerusalem. It rejects Trump's declaration. Few nations declare they will join Trump by moving their own embassies to Jerusalem. They prefer the 'truths' told by Mahmoud Abbas.

In fact, the Jew-hating Arab Muslim purveyors of peace and absolute truth in the Middle East have created an entire mini-industry for denying all Jewish connections to Jerusalem (see palwatch, "Denial of Jewish connection to Jerusalem"). If you look at palwatch, you'll quickly discover that these purveyors of peace and absolute truth can't stop talking about how 'Jerusalem is ours alone'.

They also can't stop talking about killing Israel's Jews.

The world doesn't see genocide in the language of the Arab Muslim leadership. It sees what the Muslim Arab purveyors of truth in the Middle East tells it to see: 'resistance' to the Jew's so-called oppression. 

Abbas and his friends claim that  genocide is 'resistance'. The world believes it and then asks, 'what genocide?'

The world sees Abbas as the ultimate purveyor of peace and absolute truth in the Middle East. That's why the  world votes to reject Israel's Jewish holy places --and its right to sovereignty.

Who would you rather believe, the Arab Muslim truth-tellers or Jews who bring their filthy feet to Jerusalem's Holy Sites (Khaled Abu Toameh, "Abbas: Israelis have no right to desecrate our Holy Sites with their filthy feet", jerusalempost, September 16, 2015). The Holy Islamic Site Abbas is talking in this news story is no simple Islamic site. It's the Temple Mount, Judaism's most Holy site in the world, the very place Muslims have declared as their own. 

This is why the world turns against Donald Trump. The world believes Abbas. 

The world defends the chief Jew-hating purveyor of peace and absolute truth in the Middle East, Mahmoud Abbas. Unfortunately, this defense will not bring peace. It will empower Jew-hating Arab Muslims to trash Jerusalem ("Arabs riot in  eastern Jerusalem", arutzsheva, December 7, 2017). 

Where will this end? Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The December 6, 2017 Trump speech on Jerusalem, Israel

Below you will find the speech US President Donald Trump gave today regarding his decision to change 22 years of US policy towards Jerusalem, Israel. The speech in the video below is app 12 minutes long. 

Some background: In 1995, the US Congress passed a law calling on the President of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel . The law also called for the US embassy in Israel to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since then, no US President has taken either action. 

In this speech, President Trump announces his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He announces that the US embassy will be moved to Jerusalem. After the speech, he signs the appropriate document, to put these decisions into action.

This video contains the entire speech. The speech begins at 14:48-14:50:

In this speech , President Trump talks of peace. I don't believe the initial reaction in the Muslim world to this speech will be peaceful. I suspect the initial reaction across the Arab Muslim world will be closer to a firestorm of hate than a chant for peace.

I also suspect that many across the world will stand with this hate against the Jewish state. I believe they will more likely condemn Trump and demonize Israel--or demonize, then condemn both Trump and Israel. 

Stay tuned.

(For some additional background to this speech, see the post immediately below, written several hours before Trump gave this speech)

US embassy to Jerusalem. Why the Muslim call for violence?

(This essay has been posted app 4 hours before a scheduled speech by  Donald Trump about Jerusalem and the US embassy in Israel. Will that speech cover some of the issues below?)

Have you noticed what's been happening since US President Donald Trump began more than a year ago to talk about moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Muslims, including those calling themselves 'Palestinians', have been promising violence if Trump did as he promised  (William Jacobson, "U. S. recognizes Jerusalem as Capital of Israel, Palestinian Days of Rage to follow", legalinsurrection, December 6 , 2017).

Before you say, it's Trump's fault for talking about moving the embassy, you should remember several things. First, according to diplomatic custom, nations establish their diplomatic missions (its embassy) in a host nation's capital city (Humaira Shariq, "Understanding the concept of diplomatic missions", linkedin, March 9, 2015). If Israel calls Jerusalem its capital, that's where a foreign embassy would go.

Two, the United States follows this custom, particularly with important Allies--except with Israel. For example, as of 1995, Israel was the only country in the world in which the American embassy was located outside the host country's capital (Congressional Record-House, page 29152, October 24, 1995). For America's allies, that still holds true--except for Israel.

Three, the location of the American embassy in Israel is not a subject in Arab-Israel peace negotiations. Indeed, it has always been assumed that any discussion of where in Israel the US embassy should be located "should only come after the successful conclusion of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal" ("Israel envoy: US embassy move to Jerusalem a step forward for peace", timesofisrael, December 21, 2016). That still holds true.

Finally--and  most important--moving a US embassy to West Jerusalem should not be an automatic casus belli (as the Palestinian Authority (PA) has claimed) because the only part of Jerusalem Abbas officially claims for a Palestinian capital is East Jerusalem (News Brief, "Abbas: No Palestinian state without East Jerusalem", arutzsheva, December 5, 2017). Did Trump say he'd be moving the US embassy to East Jerusalem? I don't think so. What's Abbas' problem?

Trump has not specified where in Jerusalem the embassy would go. He left that out of his announcements.

Nevertheless, Abbas and his friends went nuclear. He hasn't (to my knowledge) sought public clarification of where in Jerusalem the embassy would be placed. But his reaction was very clear: he chose violence and threats, not peace.

This is a crucial point. If Abbas is truly sincere about his claim that it is only East Jerusalem that he wants for his 'Palestine' capital, why should he care if the US places an embassy to Israel in West Jerusalem. He shouldn't care.

If Trump says 'US embassy in Jerusalem', why should Abbas threaten some form of Armageddon. He should ask, 'where in Jerusalem are you going to put this embassy for Israel?'

That's the key question.  But it's a question he ignores.

Now, everyone is in an uproar because Trump is also supposed to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital. With a disputed city like Jerusalem, it wouldn't be outside the bounds of diplomacy for the US to call Jerusalem the capital of Israel--meaning West Jerusalem; and then call Jerusalem--meaning East Jerusalem--the capital of 'Palestine'.
Has Abbas or any of his allies asked for such a clarification? They haven't. Instead, they threaten violence. They speak of war: 

-Palestinians warn “the gates of hell will be opened in the region and the world” (Anna Ahronheim, “Analysis: if the US embassy moves to Jerusalem, are we looking at a new Intifada?”,  jerusalempost, January 16, 2017);

-"Top PA Imam: Moving US embassy to Jerusalem a declaration of war on Islam", timesofisrael, January 8, 2017; notice, this declaration doesn't come from some rogue Islamic cleric outside the Palestinian mainstream. It's from the Palestinian Authority’s supreme Sharia judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash (ibid);

-In case you thought such a warlike sentiment was limited to the religious leadership of the PA, you're wrong. It was repeated by Senior Fatah Central Committee member Jibril Rajoub (Avi Issacharoff, "Senior Palestinian official: moving US embassy a declaration of war against Muslims",  timesofisrael, January 23, 2017).

-Dalit Halevy, "Hamas: violence will sweep the region [if US recognizes 'Jerusalem' as Israel's capital]", arutzsheva, December 6, 2017. 

-"Gazans  burn US, Israeli flags ahead of Trump recognition of Jerusalem", timesofisrael, December 6, 2017.

Palestinians call a US recognition of Jerusalem a 'kiss of death' (Jerusalem Trump: US recognition 'kiss of death' for peace process", bbcnews, December 6, 2017).

Is the Palestinian leadership so intent to go to war against Israel that it will use any excuse to do that? Seems to me that, if the PA was really interested in peace, it wouldn't (in this discussion) threaten war, burn flags or talk of 'death'. It wouldn't be talking about opening the gates of hell. It would ask for public clarifications of the American intentions--in order to keep the peace.

Why this language of war and violence? 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

For the moment, Trump silent on US embassy move. Anti-Semites fume

Many nations are 'concerned' over the prospect that US President Donald Trump will move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They are concerned that Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

Nations are concerned because just last week, these nations gathered at the UN to deny that Israel and Jerusalem are connected. They voted to declare that any action by Israel regarding "the Holy City of Jerusalem" will henceforth be termed "illegal and therefore null and void" (Tovah Lazaroff, "151 UN nations vote to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem" jerusalempost, December 1, 2017). 

The vote endangers Trump's stated plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The vote is a direct challenge to Trump's right to act on behalf of an ally, in this instance, Israel.

This vote was purely anti-Semitic. It made it illegal for Jewish Israel to do what everyone else could do: choose its own capital city. It suggested that Jews have no right to practice national self-determination.

The vote seemed to empower those who hate Israel to warn,  perhaps even threaten, Trump. The Islamic Turkey warned Trump that an embassy move would provoke a catastrophe (David Rosenberg, "Turkey  warns US of major catastrophe if Trump moves embassy", arutzsheva , December 4, 2017). The Islamic Jordan warned Trump not to move the embassy ("Jordan warns of consequences of moving US embassy to Jerusalem", jordantimes, December 5, 2017). The Islamic Arab League gave the same warning (Arab League:  moving Israel's US embassy to Jerusalem will boost fanaticism",, December 4, 2017). So did the EU (David Rosenberg, "EU to Trump: serious repercussions if US recognizes Jerusalem", arutzsheva, December 5, 2017). 

The world stands united: Jerusalem is to be stripped from Jewish hands, not recognized as Jewish. Trump has to be warned. Moving the embassy would provoke Israel to perform illegal acts (helping the US to prepare for and establish its new embassy). 

Nations fumed. Trump remained silent. He didn't say anything. He did nothing. 

By doing nothing, he quietly allowed a 'waiver' to lapse that would have kept the embassy in Tel Aviv another 6 months. That lapse appears to mean a move to Jerusalem has just been authorized by default. Is that what happened?

In October, 1995, the US Congress passed a law called, the Jerusalem Embassy Act. This law called for the US embassy in Israel to be moved to Jerusalem. It called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city. It called for the US to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

In other words, the law calls to do what the UN now says cannot be done--recognize Jerusalem as Jewish. 

This 1995 law came with a waiver provision. That provision allows a sitting US President to hold back implementing this law for 'security' considerations. It allows a President to 'waive' the law's enactment for 6 months. 

All US Presidents since 1995 have used this 'waiver' to keep the law from being enacted. Every President toed that line--until now.

By not using the waiver, Trump, in theory, immediately activated the provisions as passed by Congress. In theory, the embassy will now travel to Jerusalem. In theory, the US will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. 

How will the UN react to that? More important, how will Trump react to any UN move against him for apparently making this decision?  

All of this is theory because no one really knows exactly how the lapsing of the waiver should work. No one knows exactly how the UN vote affects both Israeli actions in Jerusalem and US actions in Jerusalem that aid Israel. No one is even sure exactly what Trump has done.

How will the UN react to that? How will Muslims and their supporters react?

Allowing the waiver to lapse could prove an interesting gambit for Trump. In the days leading to the waiver deadline (December 1st), Trump floated yet again his call to move the embassy. During those lead-up days, Muslims, along with the EU and other anti-Semites who believe Israel has no right to Jerusalem, fumed.

Trump remained silent.

We now wait for tomorrow--Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Of course, there are rumors that Trump will make an 'announcement' tomorrow about Jerusalem and the embassy--maybe.  He's certainly been busy today, we're told, calling Jordan's king and the Palestinian Abbas to declare that he will be moving  the embassy to Jerusalem. 

Did he also tell them when he will do that?

Tomorrow, he should remain silent. He shouldn't announce anything in public.

He should watch if Muslims in Israel and elsewhere call for peace or for a day of rage. He should wait to see if there will be calls to kill Jews. He should watch who calls for a civilized response to the move, and who calls for a barbaric response.

Then, in a few days, he should talk about any barbaric responses that occur. He should take the moral high ground. He should ask, how can one who acts like a barbarian be trusted with peace?

Peace is for a civilized people.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Game theory: how Trump can trump Abbas

Donald Trump has been talking about moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem since at least March 2016, some eight months before the November 2016 US Presidential elections. Nineteen  months later, he's still talking about a move.

As Trump has promoted the move to Jerusalem, officials from the Palestinian Authority (PA) have rejected it. Whenever Trump said, let’s do it!’ PA officials threatened some form of "chaos", war, violence or bloodshed if the move was made.

By October, 2017, the Trump plan to move the embassy seemed consigned to the trash heap (Allison Colburn, "Trump-O-Meter: Trump signals step back from Israeli embassy plan", politifact, October 9, 2017). Seven weeks later, however, Trump relit the fuse. In late November, 2017, he called to move the embassy (David Rosenberg, "Report: Trump expected to move embassy to Jerusalem within days", arutzsheva, November 29, 2017).

The Palestinian response was Pavlovian. The PA threatened to scuttle peace (Staff, Eric Cortellessa, "Palestinians to Kushner: peace process ends if Trump backs Israel on Jerusalem", timesofisrael, December 3, 2017).

In response to that threat, Trump again appears ready to back off from the embassy move. US National Security Advisor HR McMaster said it best: Caroline Kenny, "HR McMaster: I'm not sure if Trump will move embassy in Israel", cnn, December 4, 2017.

This is the fourth time in eleven months Trump has said 'yes-no' to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem (see (1) Hank Berrien, "Trump not moving US embassy to Jerusalem", dailywire, January 10, 2017; (2) Tovah Lazaroff, "Trump rules out moving US embassy to Jerusalem--for now", jerusalempost, May 17, 2017; (3) Allison Colburn, "Trump-O-Meter: Trump signals step back from Israeli embassy plan", politifact,  October 9, 2017; and (4) Matthew Lee, "Officials: Trump not moving US embassy to Jerusalem for now", businessinsider, November 30, 2017).

Each time Trump retreated, it appeared as if Palestinian threats had successfully forced Trump to go backwards. Each Trump retreat made the Palestinians look ever-stronger, the US ever-weaker.

It's hard to make sense of what Trump has been doing. Would a sane man behave this way?

The answer to this question might be, yes, a sane man might indeed behave this way.

Trump may not be acting in a 'yes-no', advance-retreat manner on this issue because he's incompetent or mentally unstable (as some suggest). He may be behaving this way because he's using a strategy (perhaps learned as a businessman) that's heavily influenced by a game--something called, 'game theory'.

As I understand it, game theory is no game. It's a serious approach to conflict--or, if you will--competitive situations. This theory looks at how opponents make decisions. It attempts to use mathematics to determine what actions one should take in order to secure the best outcome for himself (Avinash Dixit, Barry Nalebuff, "Game Theory", The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, no date, retrieved December 4, 2017).

Game theory analyzes both sides in a conflict/competition (ibid). More important for our Trump-Abbas conflict, game theory suggests you can sometimes get the best outcome for yourself when you play your weakness, not your strength (Presh Talwalkar, "Is it better to play your strength or your weakness? Finding the right mix", mindyourdecisions, January 27, 2009).

This could be the key to understanding Trump’s behaviour: you can sometimes win by misleading your opponent into believing you are weak. Such a belief can lead your opponent to become overconfident. That overconfidence can lead to a fatal miscalculation.

Decisions in a conflict are ‘calculations’. In any situation where you face an opponent, what happens is, ‘I take action, you take action. As a consequence, ‘something’ happens. What happens depends upon what you and I do’ ("What exactly is game theory?" bbcnews, February 18, 2015).

For example, there's a game called, 'chicken' ("Hawk-Dove game",, August 12, 2005). In game theory, two actors drive on a narrow road at high speed directly towards each other. The first one to swerve loses face (ibid). If neither swerves, there'll be a disaster. 

Every one of us knows that, in a clash between Trump and Abbas, Trump is the 60-ton truck and Abbas is the 40-pound bicycle. If neither swerves, probability says it’s the bicycle that gets destroyed, not the truck.

I suspect Trump is taking a kind of 'game-theory' approach with Abbas: sometimes you win by playing 'weak'.

In the short run, such a ploy might be working. Right now, Abbas seems to have the strong hand.  He’s trumped Trump four times in eleven months. Perhaps encouraged by this success, he seeks to strengthen his hand further. He wants the Arab League to join him against Trump.

So far, the League isn’t interested (Eldad Benari, “Abbas finding little support for campaign against Trump”, arutzsheva, December 4, 2017). Abbas loses face.

Will Trump trump Abbas by appearing weak? Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Caught on camera: hypocrisy at the UN

Here's a video ensemble that illustrates how the UN works to destroy its own reputation. It's just appeared at the website, humanrightsvoices ("Hypocrisy of Israel's enemies caught on camera @UN, NYC", November 29, 2017). The video is short. It's less than 5 minutes.

Full disclosure: the contents of the video was gathered November 14, 2017--a date you will see in a moment. The completed video appeared on humanrightsvoices on November 29, 2017.

This video presents a montage of declarations made by UN Ambassadors from countries which have voted to criticize Israel for alleged human rights violations. Their votes against Israel are classified as "country-specific resolutions on a human rights issue". The aim of these votes has typically been to punish Israel, to demonize Israel or do both. 

As you watch this video, consider two questions:

-What point do these declarations make about country-specific human rights resolutions?

-Do these declarations apply to all UN Member States equally? 

Take a look:

At the UN, countries stand on principle against country-specific resolutions on human rights issues. According the words you've just heard, such a practice is a violation of the principle of objectivity. Such resolutions are unprincipled because they are politicized--and insult the country concerned. 

These country-specific resolutions are said also to violate the principle of non-double standards. They are not helpful. They destroy the atmosphere of dialogue, understanding, mutual respect and cooperation. 

They are, in other words, unacceptable.

The Ambassadors you have just seen stand on principle to defend countries like Syria, Iran or North Korea--countries which, arguably are among the world's greatest human rights violators. But when it comes to Israel, the Middle  East's only democracy, such principle evaporates. 

Suddenly, criticizing Israel for alleged human rights violations does not affect dialogue, understanding, mutual respect and cooperation.  When it comes to Israel, the more hostile the resolution, the better. The greater the insult to Israel, the better. 

These same Ambassadors--so principled to object to country-specific human rights resolutions when Israel is not a target--don't seem to object to such resolutions when Israel is the target. They protect North Korea, Iran and Syria, then vote against Israel.

Sounds like hypocrisy, doesn't it.