Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Digging up Arafat Proves There is No Rest for The Wicked

I'm not sure if I want to blog on this topic or not - part of me is enjoying this master terrorist having his rotten bones dug up - why should he be allowed peace even in death, when he brought none to his own or the Jewish people in his life? Part of me is also laughing at the waste of energy, resources and time going into this conspiracy theory, but there's also the thought in my head of where this will lead:

The story goes that Al Jazeera uncovered the 'hidden secret' of there being a radioactive source (Polonium) in Arafat's belongings when he died. That particular element can be traced to 2 known sources - Russia and Israel. The Palestinians, who always believed their decrepit old leader was murdered by the evil Zionists, leaped on this story & independent French and Swizz CSI boffins were flown in to dig up his maggot ridden remains.

The chances are that they will find nothing. For one thing, from what we know of his symptoms, they were not consistent with Polonium poisoning. If by some bizarre twist they do find what they are looking for, then they are left with a near impossible "whodunit" - Palestinians will obviously go wild with "Jews killed beloved leader Arafat" and he'll be elevated to martyr of Islam, which is similar to a catholic saint, but involves more killing innocents than saving them! The truth is, whoever would have planned his death, the actual person or people that did the deed would almost certainly have had to be in his inner circle - something I cannot imagine Fatah wanting to think about! Candidates for wanting Arafat out the picture range from Mossad to CIA; Abbas, Iran, Hamas, even his own wife and so many more.

If, as I suspect, in a few weeks the CSI body snatchers announce that their results are "inconclusive", it will make no difference - Palestinians will carry on believing Israel bumped him off, and nobody else will care. My suggestion to the Palestinians would be, if the results are inconclusive, don't give up  -dig him up again! In fact make shaking up his rotting carcass an annual event!  It's important that this yearly churning up of his grave be seen by the world as a fair and open process, so to make sure it is done with due diligence, the Palestinians should invite respected witnesses to the event. Ideal candidates for this role could be selected from the committee who awarded a Nobel prize to an unrepentant terrorist, that died with blood of thousands on his hands and the millions stolen from his own people in  his bank accounts.

In the highly unlikely and near impossible event that they are able to prove conclusively that Israel did in fact assassinate Arafat in this weird James Bond way, I would demand that all those involved are hunted down and exposed by the Israeli government, and awarded medals of honor by the UN.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Israel - Not The Problem, The Solution!

Once a year the President of the United States stands before Congress to deliver the "State of The Union Address". Often that speech contains the phrase "our democracy is strong". This is a given - whatever challenges the United States faces from economic downturn to war, whatever political arguments split the electors,  the American democracy is truly strong. The same can be said for Israel! A much younger country, whose electoral system certainly needs tweaking,  but nobody can argue that the Israeli democracy is not strong: regular, fair and legal elections, with the entire citizenship, regardless of gender, race or religion, enfranchised; Israel has a vociferous and active judiciary, that often shows its independence with decisions that cause the government of Israel to lose sleep over; and last but by no means least, a free, open  media.

The Palestinians argue with some justification, that they are an occupied people, denied basic rights . However when you get past the polemic and easily dismissed propaganda lies they aim at Israel (apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing, holocaust, etc), their lives under Israeli control (at least prior to the Palestinian Authority taking autonomous control over the majority of West Bank Palestinians in the 1990s) were far better than Palestinians enjoyed in almost any other country in the Middle East: Life expectancy soared from 48 years in 1967 to 72 years by 2000 while infant mortality plummeted from 60 per thousand live births to 15 per 1000 and childhood diseases disappeared due to systematic Israeli programs to eradicate them; Israel fostered educational development, building 7 universities and 20 community colleges for the Palestinians, where not one existed under Jordan. Israeli educational standards meant that Palestinian illiteracy dropped from 50% to 30% just between 1967 and 1980. By 1990, only 14% of Palestinian adults over age 15 were illiterate; and Israel offered political and civil freedoms, including freedom of association, trade unions, civic organizations and opposition parties, none of which had been allowed under Jordan, and still aren't allowed for Palestinians in countries such as Lebanon or Syria. It also established freedom of the press, even for newspapers hostile to Israel, giving the Palestinians of the West Bank the freest press in the Arab world. 

The truth is that the one thing that Palestinians do not have under Israel is the democratic right to elect a government, to have their say in the running of their lives, to be citizens of a state they feel is their own. I understand that urge and desire for self determination. I could argue with much justification and proof that the Palestinians did not exist as an entity,  people or nation prior to the formation of the State of Israel, but were and in truth remain, merely southern Syrians, which is how the historical records show they saw themselves in 1948. However, it is clear since then that through the processes and events of history, they have formed a separate national identity. To a great extent it has been forced on them by most of the arab states treating them as worse than second class citizens, denying them basic civil rights for 3 generations, but nevertheless a people they have become. It can also be said, and is true, that if the PA represents the beginnings of a future democracy, it is a failure, with elections many years overdue and results of elections that did occur being ignored, or overturned, sometimes violently

The hypocrisy of international pro-Palestinian movements is that they promote the right of self determination for Palestinians whilst denying it to the Jewish people. If you say you are not antisemitic, that you "have nothing against the Jewish people" but that you "hate zionism" and that "zionism isn't Jewish", you are in fact saying that you deny the Jews the right of self determination, which is at its root what zionism is. Zionism is merely the practical application of the right of Jewish self determination.

Let is for arguments sake, say that you are not against Zionism, that you believe there should be a Jewish state, but that the Palestinians deserve the same - they deserve their own state. I'm not arguing against that idea, but we must ask ourselves if this Palestinian state is a goal in and of itself, or do we want a state so that Palestinian lives will be better than they are now? If that is the case, can we really see any evidence that a Palestinian state will enjoy successes similar to Israel, creating a beacon of economic growth, freedoms and innovation that Zionism created in Israel? In all likelihood it will be a corrupt regime, where ordinary citizens lives will be far worse than they are under Israel control.

The truth is, if we look across the Arab world, there are no democracies and rights are given little more than lip-service. Yes, the people sense what is missing, they try every few decades to change things, hope arises with events such as The Arab Spring, only to be quashed when the candidate of democratic reform becomes the next generation of dictator. Democracy becomes "One man, One vote, One time"! Egypt is a perfect example, with democratically elected Morsi attempting to grant himself the power to be above the law and the constitution...to be the next Mubarak. When we compare the arab world, despite its resources, to Asia or the Indian subcontinent, it is an abject failure: it fails to innovate, to manufacture, indeed the Arab / Islamic world fails in every evaluation - no freedoms, no  elections, no representations; no production;  little contribution to thought or ideas -  Islam tries hard, and often succeeds, to drag the Arab world back to the violence and crude injustice of the Middle Ages - can one imagine in Japan, Korea, or India, political prisoners being summarily executed and their dead bodies dragged through the streets behind motor bikes driven by AK47 brandishing members of the ruling party? 

If we want the Palestinians to have a state that is more than another corrupt Middle East dictatorship, viewing its people as cattle to be prodded in whatever direction benefits the small elite, then the international community has to work toward that end: Aid cannot be delivered unconditionally, but needs to have clear objectives and achievement goals, it must be targeted, monitored, assessed and when necessary withdrawn. If the Palestinian Authority chooses to spend EU aid on paying convicted terrorists large wages, while PA employees fail to be paid month after month, then the aid giver has to redirect the money, bypass the PA and put in place local NGOs to drive education and an economic engine, let people feel the benefit of growth,  engage them in local projects that empower them, and cultivates a new generation of genuine leaders. If an independent Palestinian government, such as the Hamas regime in Gaza, chooses to  treat its people as human shields, spending its money and energy on weapons rather than schools and growth, then no money should reach Hamas - nobody should give them support. People who say "Free Gaza", should think about what freedoms they are talking about, and who is the obstacle to these things. A Gaza that develops a vibrant economy could (and should have been since 2005) a beacon of hope - an example of what could be across the Palestinians and wider Arab world! What pressure would Israel have been under if post withdraw Gaza had gone in that direction? How could Israel not look at the West Bank differently had the Palestinians shown what their state would look like in Gaza. The reality is that many of us believe Gaza is view of what a future Palestine will look like - can you tell me why it should not be seen that way?

Its very easy to say "well, if Israel hadn't come along everything would be ok", "if Israel stopped settlement building, Palestinians would be in utopia" - stuff and nonsense - look at the arab world - Israel is the excuse, not the problem! Palestinians could have had a state in '48, 67, and several times since, but they chose not to! 40,000 people are not dead in Syria because of Israel; President Morsi is not trying to become a dictator because of Israel; bombs are not exploding in Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon etc  because of Israel - its truly time to stop the absurd scapegoating that says Zionism is root of all the myriad of problems and failures in the Middle East, and see Israel for what it is - a potential engine for being the solution. If Israel were the model for a future Palestine, Lebanon, Syria etc - providing not only the example of a state's development  but a partnership in growth and democratic change, what would the Middle East look like? It sounds like a dream, but  what's holding it back? I'd argue only the vested interests of highly violent people and lets be frank, deeply rooted Islamic hatred for all things not Islam, and a related antisemitism of almost Hitler-like proportions.  Eliminate those problems, and the Middle East could become an economic engine - a vast area of states with 130,000,000 people that innovate in the way tiny Israel with just seven million inhabitants innovates. A dream? Yes, but seriously - why is it a dream? 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Announcement: I'm Appointed Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Israel New Talk Radio


Over the past few months I've been recording items on Israel current affairs for the Israel News Talk Network INTN, and it looks like I will be doing much more in the future! INTN produce high quality current affairs radio on Israel related topics, for syndication on talk radio stations across the US. Programs can also be heard directly from on the INTN website 

Please check out and 'like' INTN's Facebook page & if you feel really motivated to become an INTN partner in this high quality Hasbara project, then there's more info here.

Last week I recorded a wide ranging discussion, during the latter hours of the 'Operation Pillar of Cloud', with INTN head Michael McGuire about the situation here in Israel, much of which is still relevant, despite the fact that there is now a ceasefire in place. You can here the archive of the interview here .

For those that want to check out "J-JAM" my weekly Jewish music show which airs live every Tuesday at 7pm Israel time on Arutz7 ( www.Israelnationalradio.com ) , all the past episodes are archived here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gaza Ceasefire - why Hamas's Celebrations Mask a Major Defeat.

I write this just 40 minutes after the 'ceasefire' between Israel & the Gaza terrorists and I do it with some haste, so apologies for the lack of finesse in the writing. My initial reaction was anger - this makes no sense, the job isn't done & Hamas will claim victory, but then I started to think: Netanyahu is nobody's fool, and neither is Egypt's Morsi, who has proven himself a skilled opportunist politician. So I ask myself, what has really happened tonight? What has Israel been promised?

Its no coincidence that Hillary Clinton has been shuttling between the two leaders all day. Whatever she has said to both men, and especially to Netanyahu, has been enough for him to call a ceasefire, so what could she offer him? Thats easy - Iran - Hamas is a distraction, they are merely Iran's proxies, therefore a symptom of the problem, which in Israel's mind has always been Iran. Clearly, Netanyahu has got the policy agreement with the Obama administration that he has craved for months - that's a big victory for him.

In addition, it is clear from the various leaders statements that Hamas has been placed on a very short leash. Netanyahu is not withdrawing his forces from Gaza's border and any infraction of the ceasefire, those men will be going in. Over the past few days, international support has largely been on Israel's side, but its been made clear that a ground incursion would seriously damage that support. Now, if Hamas & Islamic Jihad do not abide by a ceasefire that has essentially been forced on them by Egypt, Israel appears to have a clear green light from the US (and Egypt) to use ground forces. That's also a major victory, and in part is due to how successful Israel has been in getting its 'message' out.

So what's in it for Egypt's President Morsi, who after all, was not a combatant in this fracas.  I can only speculate, as probably much of what he will gain from this will not become apparent right away. However I do think he's a very clever man indeed. He steers a difficult path between being an Islamic Brotherhood president, and still seen as a man the west can deal with. The jury is still out as to who Morsi really is, but he certainly does not have an easy job: He leads a country with a deep rooted antisemitism and hatred of Israel, that is also at peace with Israel. He has been seen even by Israel as a someone who can act as a go between. Egypt used to be the leader of the arab world, and could well retake that position, but today there's another candidate for the role, and one that isnt even Arab - Iran! Morsi's role must have involved being rewarded by the US in some way, probably with promises of aid, sophisticated weapons etc. In addition, Hamas are a pain in the rear to him- entangling Egypt with Iran and agitating the Egyptian public  against Israel, which is the last thing he needs if he is to maintain a relationship with the US that Egypt needs, but that its people hate. Hamas's Gaza provides a base for the "Sinai terrorists" who are causing him headaches and have cost him a lucrative source of income supplying Israel and Jordan with gas. He has agreed to restrict Hamas's weapons supply routes through Egypt, and Hamas cannot be pleased about that. He is vital to the collar that has been placed on the neck of Hamas tonight.

In Gaza they will celebrate their 'victory' - this ceasefire allows them just enough to be able to spin it that way to Palestinians who want to believe they won, but Hamas has got little else from it. Hamas has lost key generals, international support, used up a huge quantity of its weapons, lost key infrastructure and helped give Israel the international support it needs for a ground op in Gaza if Hamas misbehave. In addition, Israel's Iron Dome has proven very successful, and the US has agreed to supply more, making Hamas's weapons of choice increasingly less effective as the days go by. Hamas has also probably not delighted its Iranian masters either, as this conflict has brought Israel and the US closer than it has been since Obama took office - good news for Israel, but bad news for Iran as the split between Israel and the US was primarily over Iran. In fact, other than a possible improvement in support from Palestinians and some bragging rights in the "we're nasty terrorist" society, it is hard to see what if anything Hamas got out of the past week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Palestinians: Not Yet Ready For Statehood

Once again Palestinian Authority's  leader "President" Abbas, is heading to the UN to ask the General Assembly to defacto create a Palestinian state. This stunt will have no meaning in international law, and will not advance hope of a better future for Palestinians or Israelis but would be a major propaganda victory for a man who's had few victories of late, and would further demonize Israel, whilst maintaining the illusion of seeking peace. He holds out the "promise" of heading to direct talks with Israel if successful at  the UN, as an incentive to encourage gullible states to vote for this mischief making PR circus. Surely nobody believes that after years of avoiding talks, a pat on the back from the UN General Assembly will propel Abbas to the negotiating table? Especially as this ridiculous waste of time takes place while Palestinian terrorists living in part of his territory he cannot even enter, never mind control, are firing hundreds of rockets at Israel! Abbas's recent crude effort to be seen as a peacemaker is doing him no good - recent interviews he has given in English where he has suggested he could drop the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees were followed by interviews in Arabic where he assured Palestinians he had not meant it!

Let us remember that Abbas is essentially unelected - his mandate as President ran out years ago, and recent limited local elections in the Palestinian Authority, boycotted by Hamas, left his faction in 5th place! Abbas therefore represents nobody - as Israel's fiery foreign secretary Lieberman has loudly pointed out and thanks to lack of Arab support, coupled with rampant corruption, the Palestinian Authority which he controls would be bankrupt if not for Israeli & EU bailouts. Many of the PA's employees get paid infrequently and poorly at best (except for Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons who are paid generous 'wages' by Abbas's government, and always on time!). Abbas rarely leaves his base in Ramallah, because of widespread threats from his own people in other parts of the West Bank. Ironically,  he is free to travel in Israel! Any efforts on his part to unify the Palestinians in the West Bank with Gaza are stalled, if not dead in the water. 

Despite not representing anybody, leading a PA on the verge of collapse, and a presiding over a Palestinian people who dislike him intensely and who are so divided, it is hard to imagine how they will ever be reunified, Abbas will somehow explain to the UN that Palestine is ready to be a state. He'd like the members of the UN to provide him some defined borders, and ideally some generous donations to the cause. This new status of Palestine would of course be imposed on Israel, without negotiations, as something even stronger than preconditions - UN mandated preconditions - making it even less likely that there could be successful resumption of talks. 

There is of course, no benefit to Israel whatsoever in this UN bid: A successful Palestinian bid at the UN would limit Israel's ability to enter talks and even in the best case scenario, were Israel able to conclude a successful negotiation with Abbas, it is highly unlikely he could carry his people with him. Iranian backed Hamas would reject such an agreement, and would likely end up replacing Abbas (despised by most Palestinians) with their own government, either by an election or violent overthrow. Either way Palestine would become Hamasistan and Israel would be back to square one. 

If the UN was the body its founders had hoped it would be, Abbas would not even think of attempting this nonsense. If the UN were not the broken, highly expensive  talking shop that it has become, it would demand of Abbas (and Israel too) that they negotiate - no games, no preconditions, just negotiate. Start talking - days, weeks or years, keep talking. Prepare the Palestinians for compromise, because any agreement will be final, and painful for both sides (something the Palestinian street is not ready to accept). If Abbas wants a precondition then the UN, and EU  should make negotiations a  precondition to receiving further aid. What he's doing now is the appearance of effort, but really, every day he wastes is one more day Palestinians will not be building a future, and one more day young Israeli's will have to give up for army service. Its gone on far too long, and its time for the UN and the world to stop the nonsense...but of course, we all know they wont!

Monday, November 5, 2012

UK Taxpayers Unwittingly Paying Salaries to Terrorists

Despite the economic crisis, I hope & believe that the average British citizen does not begrudge the percentage of his or her tax money that goes to international development, which of course is the PC way of saying Aid. The Dept for International Development's own mission statement goes to great lengths to show how responsibly the British government distributes British taxpayers money to help the poorest people of this world, stating:

we (have) strengthened our criteria for providing aid directly to governments of developing countries. This strengthened approach means we only provide aid directly to governments once we are satisfied, based on robust assessments that: Firstly, they share our own commitment to these four partnership principles:
  • poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals 
  • respecting human rights (from political freedoms, to the rights of minorities including Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) and religious minorities) and other international obligations
  • improving public financial management, promoting good governance and tranparency and fighting corruption 
  • being more accountable to their citizens.
Secondly, that providing aid directly to the government represents the best way of delivering results and value for money compared to other options for spending aid.

Hard to argue with those criteria, but it does beg the question of how the British government justifies continuing to pay vast amounts of money to the Palestinian Authority, which glorifies terrorism, denies human rights, attacks press freedoms and suffers from a horrendous corruption problem.

The Department for International Development spends around £80 million a year in the Palestinian Territories, of which around £30 million goes to the general budget. That money is then given to prisoners. By prisoners, we're talking about convicted terrorists held in Israeli prisons. The longer they are interred the more money the terrorists receive, which means the worse the crimes committed by them, the more British taxpayers money they get! These terrorists receive between  £500 - £2000 per month, far above the average wage that the Palestinian Authority pays the rest of its employees. To make matters worse, despite the vast amount of aid the Palestinian Authority receives from the US, UK and EU, it actually has failed to pay its 200,000 public-sector workers for the best part of the past 16 months. However, the PA always manages to pay its terrorists in Israeli prison on time, and far more generously than it pays its other employees.

This has led to questions in the UK parliament: Alan Duncan MP, International Development Minister, has written to MP Robert Halfon, who had questioned the UK’s role in funding these prisoners. He said: ‘The PA operates  two social assistance programmes to provide welfare payments to households who have lost their main breadwinner.
‘I hope you will also agree that dependent spouses or children should not be held responsible for the crimes of family members, or forced to live in poverty as a consequence.’

It's disingenuous for Mr. Duncan to describe  paying terror prisoners as "social assistance" and "welfare", because that is not the terminology that the Palestinian Authority itself uses: in PA law this payment is Ratib - salary, and their law never mentions "social assistance" or "welfare.".   And Mr Duncan is either misinformed  or flat out lying, when he says the payments are given to the prisoner's "households", because under PA law, the money is given directly to these terrorist prisoners themselves,  so there is no guarantee that this "welfare" will ever reach the families. Considering the kind of people we are talking about, it is not unreasonable to believe that sizeable contributions, paid in part by British taxpayers, are going to the terrorists' favorite causes! 

Raheem Kassam, director of communications for the Henry Jackson Society, a foreign affairs think-tank in London, was quoted by the Daily Mail recently as saying: 'Incitement in the Palestinian territories is a crucial issue when considering the potential for peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. 
'That Palestinian prisoners are being supported by UK taxpayer money is an absolute scandal that must be stopped.'

If the Palestinians want to reward terrorists, and pay them  wages while other PA employees do not get paid on time, that is their right, and If they want to spend their limited budget on naming schools, town squares and streets after terrorist "martyrs" that too is their decision to make, but the taxpayers of Britain should not be paying them to do it!