Monday, August 03, 2015

03-Aug-15: A firebomb attack on an Israeli car in Jerusalem

The scene of tonight's attack [Image Source]
We were alerted to trouble, as has happened many times in the past, by the shrill sounds of emergency vehicles on the highway that passes closes to our Jerusalem home. The very warm evening, the open windows, the still air - all helped ensure the tension spread quickly.

The reports in the past hour on the major Israeli news channels - television, various breaking-news websites, text messages, Twitter - say there has been a firebomb attack on an Israeli car traveling on one of the major roads of north Jerusalem:
Two people were injured in a Jerusalem firebombing attack on Monday night. A 27-year-old Israeli woman was moderately hurt by the Molotov cocktail, suffering burns on her body, Channel 2 reported. The car she was riding in rammed into a nearby car, lightly injuring the driver of the other vehicle. The woman was evacuated to the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, and the injured man was transferred to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment. The attack took place near the Beit Hanina neighborhood in East Jerusalem. [Times of Israel, August 3, 2015]
Still in flames [Image Source]
Beit Hanina, an Arab neighbourhood of Jerusalem, is served by the Jerusalem Light Rail, giving its 27,000 residents (up from 1,600 in 1945 - the proximity to Israel's fast-growing capital city has always served as a magnet for Arab immigration) easy access to downtown and other parts of the city. It's a prosperous part of town with a villa precinct that is home to some prominent Palestinian Arab figures including the former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad.

Ynet adds some detail:
The wounded woman's husband managed to escape the vehicle unharmed. A passerby, around 20 years old, who tried to put out the fire that broke out was lightly hurt from smoke inhalation. Another man was lightly hurt when the car rolled back and hit another vehicle - which was partially damaged. The vehicle was completely burned. The woman... is suffering from first- and second-degree burns on 15 percent of her body, was taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem's Ein Karem, while the man was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital. Police and Border Police forces were dispatched to the area and are searching for suspects. [Ynet]
We are hearing helicopters overhead suggesting the search is still fully underway at this hour (21:30).

Inevitably, some of the reports frame the attack on an Israeli car as an Arab response to the lethal firebombing this past Friday morning ["31-Jul-15: In the wake of a lethal arson attack"] in Duma, a Palestinian Arab village near Nablus.

03-Aug-15: The triumph and the silence: A killer's fame and what it reveals about her world

Our daughter's happy, happy, happy murderer - a celebrity who now travels
widely throughout the Arab world to universal Arab and Islamic acclaim:
a hero of the Arab world [Image captured from this video interview]
This coming Wednesday, we remember the lives and deaths of our beloved daughter and her best friend by going up to their graves on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Since the date is computed according to the timeless principles of the Jewish calendar, the day of remembering actually starts at sunset on Tuesday, the onset of the twentieth day of the month of Av. (The civil calendar date of the Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria massacre is August 9, 2001.)

We rarely do this, but given the turbulence now affecting life in our city and our land these past few days, we feel it's time to re-run a previous post. This one, below, expresses very painful - but timely - thoughts about silence, hatred and extremism

What might civilized people be thinking when sociopaths bask in adulation?

(This article was originally published in this blog on August 21, 2012. Permission to reproduce it is freely given, with a request that a link to the source is mentioned.)

After receiving some offline comments on the Tamimi speech we publicized yesterday, we have a few further thoughts to share. The urge to do this is triggered by a sense that something deeply disturbing is going on; it's being ignored or willfully not noticed by people who ought to be noticing.

When a politician or public figure on our side of the fence makes an ignorant or dumb or smart or incisive statement, particularly when it's about the Arabs (you know the examples), his/her comments are greeted with near-instant analysis and frequently with condemnation from a global array of press and politicians. The Arab media focus obsessively on such things. Outside the Arab/Islamic world, we frequently see European, American, Australian and other critics drawing wide inferences about how those specific Israeli views are going to bring on the next Black Plague or an increase in pogroms in France. The claim, at minimum, is that irreparable harm is going to be caused to the souls and DNA of innocent Israeli children, to world peace and so on. 

The woman is proud to say she wanted to kill more Jewish children
and has devoted her post-prison freedom to making it happen
[Image captured from this video interview]
To illustrate: when a posse of Israeli delinquents (it happens to be a very current issue here) beat up an Arab youth in a street fight, the New York Times says the event has led to "a stark national conversation about racism, violence, and how Israeli society could have come to this point" That's an actual quote: check it out

We think the Times' journalist's conclusion is overwrought nonsense, but that's not the point. Israel is not, never has been and should never be, immune to criticism, or even object to it, and mostly doesn't. 

Now think for a moment about how Ahlam Tamimi and her hundreds of published interviews and speeches are treated by global public opinion. Pay attention in particular to how Arabs view her, since they are her principal audience.

No one - certainly not the woman herself - denies the fact that she planned and carried out a premeditated killing on a large and vicious scale, which was the whole point of doing it. 

The law convicted her on the basis that she's a murderer; she says (more or less) that she did it for the freedom and honour of her nation. The fact that she planned to kill and succeeded mightily has never been in dispute. 

She does not miss an opportunity to say that it was children, and specifically Jewish children, and even more specifically orthodox Jewish children like ours, who were the target. She regrets that she did not kill more - it's there in yesterday's video and in numerous other speeches and earlier videos recorded in her Jordanian freedom.

She appears on television and in front of adoring crowds (ask us if you want to view the video files) and expresses the vilest kind of racist hatred of Jews, Israelis and Zionists. She has done this many times since she unjustly got her freedom in October and her message is hugely amplified by the social media. She is a star on YouTube, a hero on Facebook. She is globally broadcast via satellite television into every corner of the Arabic-speaking world. It's arguable that she has the largest footprint of any ordinary murderer (ignoring "celebrities" like Hitler, Mao, Stalin et al) in human history. If that seems like an overstatement then we urge you to concede that she is in the major leagues. The fact that most people don't know this is largely because most people don't speak Arabic.

Tamimi testifies in a very widely watched video that the people
traveling in the taxi with her, hearing the explosion and then the
radio reports of many Jewish children killed, erupted with joy
[Image captured from this video interview]
She smiles warmly when she says she killed those Jews, and her god wanted her to do it. She points to how she has subsequently been rewarded with freedom, fame, a wedding that received live television coverage. The adoring crowds applaud and ululate. The encouragement (and probably the will) to emulate her actions is clear.

How many Arabic speakers are there in the world? A quick query on the web turns up these numbers: "280 million native speakers, and an extra 250 million non-native speakers" [source]. How many Arabic newspapers? Many.

Here's our point: We have searched and have not yet found a blog, article, published speech or op-ed in her language, Arabic, which criticizes the woman or her views. So far, not one. If our readers can point us to exceptions, please do.

This is deeply shocking. Tamimi's message resonates throughout the Arab and Islamic world. Her views don't even rise to the level of controversial. She's simply a hero, wall to wall. She and her vile deeds, opinions and intentions appear to represent some sort of global consensus in the Arab and Islamic world. There is no public debate, no expressions of outrage - not even concerning the passivity of the Kingdom of Jordan where she lives and from where a vibrant Tamimi-focused industry of online and broadcast videos sends its message of hatred and death out to the world. 
The mass-murderer (second from right) addressed a large crowd of faculty 
and students at Al-Jinan UniversityTripoli, Lebanon, in January 2015 

Does the absence of criticism throughout the Arab world mean they support the deliberate killing of the innocent people among their enemy? Does their silence mean they support the murder of children as Tamimi certainly does, and they want to see it happen again and again as she certainly does?

What does this say about the discourse underway in the Arab world? What light does it throw on the global news media? 

What can we learn from here about the chances of ever making peace? 

Postscript (August 3, 2015)Malki's beautiful life is honoured by the exceptionally fine work done daily in her name for more than a decade. It expresses eloquently the unbridgeable chasm existing between the values she lived in her fifteen years and the unspeakable deeds embodied by those who wished her dead. More at the Malki Foundation website.

03-Aug-15: Left, right and wrong

Real injuries, real attack, not so real account of
cause-and-effect: Mr Abu Sharah of Lod [Image Source]
As any number of thoughtful commentaries have pointed out in the past 72 hours, Israel is going through some challenging times in the wake of a sudden convergence of incidents in which lives were threatened and/or lost by the actions of Israelis perceived as "representing" a right-wing viewpoint.

You can therefore understand how news platforms of a certain bent would react to a report that seems to extend the run of right-wing malevolence. Not only a wild-eyed right wing Jew with a knife who hurls himself lethally at peaceful marchers in a human-rights parade. Not only a right-wing arson attack on a church connected with a miracle attributed to Jesus. And not only a right-wing firebombing of an Arab family asleep in their home, and death and awful injuries that ensue. But also...

But also
Amad Abu Sharah, a Palestinian citizen and activist from Lydd (Lod in Hebrew), was attacked in the early hours of Sunday morning at the entrance to his house on his way back from morning prayers at a nearby mosque...  A protest denouncing the attack is also scheduled for Sunday evening. The Arab residents of Lydd have been on high alert ever since the arson attack on a Palestinian home in the West Bank village Duma burned an 18-month-old infant to death on Friday... According to his police testimony, Abu Sharah was attacked by a group of religious Jewish men, who were armed with sticks, jumped on him and attacked him before fleeing. Neighbors brought Abu Sharah to Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center, where he is currently hospitalized... ["Palestinian citizen attacked in suspected hate crime", Samah Salaime in +972 Magazine, August 2, 2015 - archived here
Ms Salaime, the reporter, without revealing any of her reasons or evidence, shares with readers the concrete suspicions in the air
Activists in Lydd are planning to hold a meeting Sunday in light of the growing tensions between the settlers from the “Garin Torani” (a core group of national-religious Jews who often move into poor, mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhoods in order to strengthen its Jewish character) and the Arab residents of the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood in the north of the city. [+972]
The pressing need for a villain - a right-wing villain - is palpable. (For a less demonizing view of the admirable Garin Torani phenomenon, check out Wikipedia and - yes - Haaretz.)

The Chinese global news syndication agency Xinhua published a similar version of the attack report [see "Israeli Arab injured in central Israel in suspected hate crime attack", Xinhuanet, August 2, 2015 -  archived here], though show a little more care when describing the attackee's citizenship, calling him "Israeli Arab", which certainly sounds right. Recall that for +972, he's "a Palestinian citizen".

To be fair, someone at +972 - perhaps the reporter, perhaps an editor - had some tiny doubts about how well the Lod affair fit with the spirit of the times, and tacked this on at the end of their report:
According to the police, it is unclear whether the attackers were Jewish, and the matter is currently under investigation. [+972]
Turns out that was not a bad call, though neither report has been updated in the past 24 hours. We will be watching to see if they do a revision in view of the following:
An Arab resident of Lod in central was caught fabricating an alleged attack by "Jewish extremists" Sunday morning, as tension remain high over the murder of a young Palestinian child in a terror attack Friday. Imad Abu Sharikh was hospitalized in moderate condition after being severely beaten by a gang of youths Sunday. Abu Sharikh told police he was heading to the mosque when three "right-wing extremists" attacking him, shouting "filthy Arab, expel all the Arabs!" The report quickly made the rounds in the Israeli and Palestinian media, along with pictures of a bloodied and battered Abu Sharikh. The claim that he had been the victim of a racist attack by Jews was particularly sensitive, coming just two days after the death of Ali Dawabsha in an attack believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists Friday. The leader of the Arab Joint List party MK, Ayman Odeh, rushed to issue a condemnation and blame right-wing "incitement." "Once again an Arab citizen (of Israel) was attacked for nationalistic motives, this time in Lod," Odeh said. "The racist, anti-democratic discourse of ministers and MKs from the Right gives a green light for thugs." ["Lod: Arab Man Fabricates Attack by 'Extremist Jews'", Israel National News, August 2, 2015]
The injuries of Palestinian/Israeli Mr Abu Sharah/Mr Abu Sharikh turn out to be real. But the story? Not so much:
As his version of events continued to unravel, police say it became clear the assault - which really did take place - was in fact the result of a family feud... Police soon arrested the three suspects - all of whom were Arab residents of the city. Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Jewish residents of Lod - who themselves are often targeted in racist attacks by local Arab extremists - voiced their dismay at the rush by some media outlets to immediately buy Abu Sharikh's story without fact-checking. "Again and again we get lectured by the media, while part of the media wants to only hear one side of the story," one resident told Arutz Sheva. "Day and night Jews are bullied in Lod, and if it even reaches the media no one dares to say out loud that the attackers are Arabs." [Israel National News]
We provided archive links above so that if the published +972 and Xinhua reports get updated to reflect the fundamental change in what's known, readers can check for themselves to see how. From experience, we advise not holding breaths.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

02-Aug-15: Can't make this kind of shot up

A few hours ago, we wrote here about the rocket attack that emanated from the Gaza Strip last night, seeking in the traditional way more Israeli victims. 

Several Israeli reports said there were two rockets in total, and that they came crashing down somewhere more or less on the border fence separating Israel from the Islamist regime's territory. Then when we went looking, we found a credible Gazan source that said there were in fact four rockets in the overnight barrage. And that all four crash-landed on the Gazan side. 

Naturally (since Arab-on-Arab violence in the dark recesses of the Hamas regime's fiefdom has close-to-zero news value in the eyes of the mainstream media) there is not a word published anywhere about Gazan casualties resulting from this latest Gazan Fell Short (that's the name we give to Palestinian Arab rockets that misfire and hit something Gazan instead of something Israeli - they are very, very common). Sad, but nothing new. But worth knowing if you are trying to make sense out of the highly partisan way in which news is and is not reported from the violent margins of the great country in which we live.

Now we see this:

We don't especially want to give this guy the traffic. (Anyone who wants the link can ask, but it's easy to find.) But we do want people to be aware, as Mr Dabour demonstrates so eloquently, that there is almost literally nothing hostile to Israel - no matter how ludicrous, no matter how totally lacking in evidence - that cannot be said by opinion-warriors like him. Nothing is too irresponsible. Nothing is too outlandish. Nothing is too absurd. You can't make this stuff up. 

Ah, but yes you can.

His invented-out-of-whole-cloth claim currently has 123 Retweets and 42 Favorites. The man says he is a doctor who writes for Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, published in London, and for something called Electric Intifada. If they're bothered by the practice of reportage in the way he exemplifies, they appear not to show it. Nor does he. Nor do his fans.

02-Aug-15: Violence, incitement, double-talk, more violence

Site of the child's death: Intensive IDF and Israel Police investigation
[Image Source]
In the wake of Friday morning's apparent attack on a sleeping Palestinian Arab family in their home, the death of their infant and widespread Arab rioting, there's a poisonous atmosphere of unrestrained incitement to revenge and further acts of violence and murder.

Not so much from the Israeli side: the president condemned the awful events, addressed an anti-violence-and-incitement rally in downtown Jerusalem on Saturday night and conveyed the same message to the Arabic media on Friday. The prime minister visited the injured family in hospital (as did the president) and told them and the media that
we’re shocked, we’re outraged,.. We condemn this. There is zero tolerance for terrorism wherever it comes from, whatever side of the fence it comes from. We have to fight it and fight it together. [Jerusalem Post, July 31, 2015]
During Saturday night, there were reports of incoming explosive missiles emanating from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and directed at Israelis. Readers of this blog know better than most that rocket attacks by Palestinian Arab terrorists are very far from new in southern Israel, or rare, and those doing the firing have never needed a trigger like the death of a Palestinian Arab child.
Two rockets fell near the Israel-Gaza border fence late on Saturday night. No warning sirens were heard and the military was initially unsure whether the projectiles struck the Israeli or Gazan side of the border... The [IDF] army’s official policy is to retaliate to attacks based on their damage, not the attackers’ intent. Misfired rockets landing on the Gaza side of the fence do not generally elicit an Israeli response. [Times of Israel, today]
If, as is the case with many of the previous Gazan Fell Shorts (Palestinian Arab rockets that misfire and hit something Gazan instead of something Israeli) someone was hurt or something was damaged on the Arab side, this will almost certainly go unreported. (Check out some of our past Fell Short reports.)

Though no news channel, to our knowledge, quotes Gazan sources on the subject of last night's rocket attack, this morning we checked the European Union-funded GANSO website which we have mentioned numerous times in the past. Visit their Incident Alerts page right now, as we did (see image below) and you see their report of four, not two, Gazan rockets last night, all of which crash landed on the Gazan side of the border.

Was anyone killed? Were any houses destroyed? No one, but literally no one, seems ever to report on such Arab-on-Arab casualties. Why? Ask the foreign media reporting from there. They're sure to find a justification.

From the GANSO website, Sunday morning August 2, 2015. Published in Gaza, GANSO say 4 rockets were fired at Israeli targets last night, not just 2 as reported in Israel. And not one managed to get as far as the Gazan border. Our sympathies to the hapless Gazans who have to live with this kind of catastrophe daily/nightly.

In the background - the very distant background to judge by the almost entirely absent media news coverage - there have been dozens of attacks on Israelis during Friday and the Sabbath day. This Hebrew-language report provides a summary and a time line, replete with photographs depicting the aftermath at some of the attack sites. One of them [here] shows a fire bomb (a so-called Molotov Cocktail) being hurled at an Israeli bus inside Jerusalem on Saturday evening. Israel National News [here] provides its customary close-the-action reports on the weekend's wave of anti-Israel violence.

In the Palestinian Arab media, the call to arms is unmistakable:
Clashes broke out across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank on Friday night in response to the death of an 18-month-old Palestinian who was burned alive in an arson attack carried out by suspected Israeli settlers earlier that day... [Maan News, Saturday]
It's almost comical to witness the straight-faced reporting of old/new threats emanating from the terror-addicted ranks of the Islamist Hamas regime in Gaza whose rockets and thuggish "security" agents have been - and continue to be - the cause of so many Palestinian Arab deaths:
Hamas said Friday that every Israeli is now a legitimate target following the deadly terror attack in the village of Duma in which a Palestinian toddler was killed, Israel Radio reported. In an official message to the public, Hamas also called for a "day of rage" to protest the deadly terror attack and "in order to protect al-Aksa mosque..." Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces are on high alert in Jerusalem and the West Bank as Hamas calls for "day of rage." [Jerusalem Post, Friday]
Alert readers understand that declaring Israelis now to be legitimate targets for the rage and murderous hatred of the ranks of Hamas is a cynical joke. The Hamas Charter, its constitution, lays down the foundation for "legitimizing" the murder of Israelis, and virtually every public statement by its spokespersons reinforces the message. Friday's declaration is entirely directed at foreigners, and in particular foreign news reporters.

But not all. This Hamas statement was plainly directed at Palestinian Arab society:
Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri has accused Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas with bearing responsibility for the death of an Arab infant in the village of Duma in Samaria on Friday, which came during an arson attack the IDF suspects may have been committed by Jewish extremists. "I call on Abbas to stop pursuing Hamas in the (West) Bank, and place on him personal responsibility for the burning of the infant Ali Dawabsha, due to his harassment of resistance fighters," said the terrorist spokesperson. "If Hamas had a free hand to act in the (West) Bank, the settlers wouldn't be able to commit crimes like this and burn our children," claimed Abu Zuhri. [Israel National News, August 1, 2015]
(Abu Zuhri's non-stop venom has been the subject of some of our previous comments.)

Some other selected voices from this weekend (all direct quotes):
  • Palestinian officials say Israel is "fully responsible" for the death of an infant in an arson attack blamed on Jewish settlers... [T]he Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which dominates the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, said it held the Israeli government "fully responsible for the brutal assassination" of the child, Ali Saad Dawabsha. "This is a direct consequence of decades of impunity given by the Israeli government to settler terrorism," it said. [BBC, Friday] The head of the PLO is Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.
  • Husam Badran, a key Hamas leader in Judea and Samaria... [said] that "this crime has turned IDF soldiers and settlers into legitimate targets, in any location and situation... Badran called for every "free person who can harm the occupier to start conducting revenge activities" because "the enemy doesn't understand anything but the language of force." [Israel National News, July 31, 2015]
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the firebombing "an act of terrorism in every respect" and made a rare telephone call to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas... Abbas said he had ordered his foreign minister to file a complaint at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. "We want true justice, but I doubt that Israel will provide that," he said of the attack in Duma, near the northern city of Nablus. [AFP, July 31, 2015]
  • The US State Department condemned the "vicious terrorist attack" in "the strongest possible terms," urging Israel to "apprehend the murderers" and calling on both sides to "avoid escalating tensions". [AFP, July 31, 2015
That last point causes us personal heartburn, and here's why.

The State Department and especially its now-departed spokesperson Marie Harf, have a history (with us personally) of being mystifyingly unable to label certain kinds of acts of murder as terror, let alone characterize them as vicious. That's astonishing (we feel) when you take into account the plain nature of the crimes of those people, determined in a court of law and with the terrorists mostly confessing to their savagery, and even taking credit for it. (For a reminder of the background: "14-Sep-13: Memo to Secretary of State Kerry: Your staff need some urgent guidance").

We're offering no prizes for readers who can figure out which vicious acts by which people are ranked as terror by State's clever professionals, and which are not. It's about as obvious and clear as such matters ever get. You have to be a certain sort of diplomat to be blind to the nature of what's happening.
Meanwhile. the intensive police and army manhunt for the perpetrators of the Duma village fire-bombing is still underway.

Friday, July 31, 2015

31-Jul-15: First do no harm

Sieff Hospital in Tzefat, Israel: In which direction did the critically injured person on the
gurney face when he last prayed? No one asks, no one cares...
The statement in the title of this post is an element of the training given to doctors and expresses one of humanity's core ethical values. With savagery of a kind most of us have never seen and can scarcely believe is going on just across our country's border, humanity and values are on the minds of many of the people among whom we live.

Comprehending the question posed in the following para (from this recent article on the website) and the incredible real-world scenarios that surround it, a person can become either bamboozled (assuming they know only what most of the mainstream media tells them about our side and the other side in this ongoing war) or deeply moved:
How do you check the military credentials of an unconscious, unaccompanied, malnourished teenage boy in plastic sandals and blood-soaked trousers as he bleeds out on a dusty hill? More tellingly, among the doctors stitching such boys together again, it's not clear whether that even matters. ["Inside the Hospital Where Israeli Doctors Treat Syrian Patients", VICE, July 25, 2015]
It's a great article. Please click the link and read it all right through to the end. (Our own earlier visits to what is happening up north in Tzefat are here and here.)

Visiting a hospital - any hospital - in any part of Israel, and especially the paediatric departments, is likely to lead to a degree of cognitive dissonance among people who haven't yet fully understood what makes Israeli society tick. When reporters and journalists interview us, as hundreds have over the years, we usually invite them to make such a visit together with us (unfortunately we have deep first-person familiarity with the terrain).

Only one of them, in all these years, has ever taken us up on the offer.

31-Jul-15: In the wake of a lethal arson attack

In an IDF operation, the injured were evacuated to hospital
early today from Duma, the village where the destroyed
home is. [Image Source: Ynet
Awful news. Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, indications of a gloating attacker and first signs of self-justification. It's a scenario we have witnessed from within.

Though it's too early for anyone to be certain of what has happened, two points immediately stand out:
  • In all the years (and this week it's exactly 14 years) since our daughter was murdered, we have not found a single Arabic-language post, article, tweet or speech condemning that attack in the center of Jerusalem or the killings. We don't say there have been none, and don't claim perfect knowledge. But we look for them all the time (as we noted here, here and elsewhere) and have not found them - and we very much do want to be wrong on this. On the other hand, there is an endless supply (easily found - no need for us to republish them here) of the opposite in the opinion columns, on Twitter and Facebook and YouTube.
  • No society has been free of people with murder on their minds, ever, anywhere. What distinguishes one from another is how that society deals with it. Does anyone doubt that there is going to now be a manhunt, a trial, an incarceration, and revulsion among the people on our side?
And some speculation. It's unlikely (to say the least) that whoever did this terrible deed and eventually gets brought to justice is going to be described as a "detainee" who is "kidnapped" by the police because of his/her "resistance activity". Or that posters are going to be held aloft by protesters demanding his/her release now, and declaring him/her an honored celebrity. Instead, whatever self-justifying argument gets expressed by the perpetrator/s now or later will be pushed aside with disdain by Israel's mainstream.

On the whole, of the two societies, of the two value systems living side by side, we know which we want to be counted among.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

30-Jul-15: For our friends in and near Jerusalem

The annual Aliyah Lakever (going up to the gravesides) and Azkara (memorial service) in memory of our daughter Malka Chana Roth and her friend Michal Raziel, may their memories be a blessing, will take place at the Har Tamir cemetery in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, August 5, 2015 (Chaf Av) at 17:00For driving and bus directions, please email us and we will be happy to provide some notes. As in past years, free bus transport is available to and from the ceremony. A bus will leave the Ramot 01 Jerusalem branch of the Ezra youth movement (corner Abba Hillel Silver and Harry Truman Streets, Ramot 01, Jerusalem) at 16:30 and will return to the same place afterwards.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

29-Jul-15: Built not on trust but on... verification

The notion that the deal is based on verification gets a response from political leaders
in Vienna, July 14, 2015 [Image Source]
Allow us, in these confusing times, to draw some attention to three quite revealing recent quotes about the Iran Nuclear Enablement Deal, the one the US president has called a deal not built on trust, but on verification.

The first, from John Kerry's US State Department, lays out why Iran is one of four (Cuba, Syria, Sudan are the others) US-designated state sponsors of terrorism. The unsigned (keep reading - we explain this below) JCPOA with Iran, by far the largest of those state sponsors of terror, gradually nullifies the sanctions that come with that distinguished title, and gives Iran access to vast cash resources, frozen for some years, that are going to be used for... well, no one can really say. 

But if - just for argument's sake - any of it is going to give even more teeth to the extremely hostile messaging issuing forth from authoritative Iranian sources [like this "22-Jul-15: Now that peace is on the way, what to make of blood-curdling Iranian incitement like this?"; and like this "27-Jul-15: Even more peace from Iran's highest-level military force"], this could become very bad, very quickly. 

US State Department Country Reports on Terrorism 2014
Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism Overview: Iran [Source]
Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran continued its terrorist-related activity in 2014, including support for Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, Lebanese Hizballah, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East. This year, Iran increased its assistance to Iraqi Shia militias, one of which is a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), in response to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) incursion into Iraq... Iran and its proxies also continued subtle efforts at growing influence elsewhere including in Africa, Asia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America. Iran used the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to implement foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and create instability in the Middle East... Iran views Syria as a crucial causeway in its weapons supply route to Lebanese Hizballah, its primary beneficiary, and as a key pillar in its “resistance” front... Iran has historically provided weapons, training, and funding to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)... Iran has also assisted in rearming Lebanese Hizballah, in direct violation of UNSCR 1701... Despite multiple UNSCRs requiring Iran to suspend its sensitive nuclear proliferation activities, Iran continued to be in noncompliance with its international obligations regarding its nuclear program... 
Not built on trust [Image Source]
The second comes from an opinion column by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal's July 27 edition. Here, he bitterly takes apart the hubris of a US president bent on turning Americans into believers in the value of coming to terms with the same Iran described in the previous paragraph, essentially because there is no better alternative and why not?

The Syria Sham and the Iran Deal
Bret Stephens | Wall Street Journal | July 27, 2015
There was Mr. Obama... at a Camp David press conference in May: “Assad gave up his chemical weapons. That’s not speculation on our part. That, in fact, has been confirmed by the organization internationally that is charged with eliminating chemical weapons.”
Note the certitude of these pronouncements, the lordly swagger...
The CIA now admits that Syria retains significant quantities of its deadliest chemical weapons. When Mr. Obama announced the Syria deal, he warned that he would use military force in the event that Mr. Assad failed to honor his promises. The threat was hollow then. It is laughable now. 
What ties the Syrian sham to the Iranian one is an American president bent on conjuring political illusions at home at the expense of strategic facts abroad, his weakness apparent to everyone but himself.
So either verification is not relevant where Syria is concerned, or he didn't mean to be taken so literally.

The third, from a non-American source ["Critical Points To Consider In Understanding The Iranian Nuclear Deal", MEMRI, July 24, 2015], relates to what was and was not done between Iran and the West a fortnight ago

But first this. Much of the news coverage in Western countries describes how the JCPOA (the authorized final text is here - an Iranian site has the text plus all annexes here) is an agreement (yes, an agreement) reached between Iran and a group of Western powers led by the US, and signed (yes, signed) in Vienna on July 14, 2015. Some examples:
  • "The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) (Persian: برنامه جامع اقدام مشترک‎, abbreviated as برجام) is a nuclear agreement signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), and the European Union." [Wikipedia]
  • "Following is a timeline for the implementation of a historic deal signed between Iran and six major powers on July 14..." [AFP, July 15, 2015]
  • "[T]he agreement was signed by representatives of the United States, its negotiating partners and Iran. The implementation plan called for immediate approval by the U.N. Security Council — which occurred Monday — of the agreed-upon resolution endorsing the JCPOA." [Washington Post, July 20, 2015]
  • "The UN Security Council on Monday backed Iran's nuclear agreement with world powers..."[Times of India, July 21, 2015]
  • "Iran signed a nuclear agreement on July 14 with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council..." [Deutsche Welle, German Radio, July 21, 2015]
  • "Here's a pop quiz about the six-nation nuclear pact with Iran, signed last week..." [Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2015]
  • "Now that the deal has been signed... there are several steps that the Iranian leadership can take to build on its newly minted goodwill." [The National, United Arab Emirates, July 15, 2015]
  • "The nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1... will remain a point of contention in Washington for many years to come." [USA Today, July 15, 2015]
  • Iran's foreign minister Zarif, Vienna [Image Source]
  • "Iran and the P5+1... signed a final agreement in Vienna on Tuesday, bringing to a close nearly two years of contentious talks..." [Anadolu News, Turkey, July 15, 2015]
In reality, as our third quote clarifies, there is a text but there is no agreementNothing was signed:
[C]ontrary to how it is perceived, the JCPOA is not a bilateral or multilateral contract between the United States and/or Europe and Iran. Nothing has been signed and nothing is judicially binding between any of the parties. It is a set of understandings that was sent to a third party, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), for endorsement. This structure is a result of Iran's insistence to not sign any bilateral or multilateral contract. [MEMRI]
For their part, and to give them credit, the Iranians have been scrupulous about explaining the limits of the document to their own people:
  • "[T]he United States, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany – finally arrived at a final deal on July 14 which would put an end to a 12-year nuclear dispute." [Islamic Republic News Agency, July 21, 2015]
  • "Iran and the {Western powers] finalized the text of a lasting agreement on Tehran's nuclear energy program in Vienna, Austria, on July 14. Later, the 15-memebr United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the text of the deal..." [Al Alam News Channel, Iran, July 27, 2015]
  • "Iran and the six powers on July 14 finalized the text of a lasting nuclear talks conclusion dubbed as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution afterwards to endorse the deal, the text of the document needs to be ratified by both Iran's Parliament and the US Congress. [IRIB The Voice of the Islamic Republic, Iran, July 26, 2015]
  • [Discussing what president Obama has called snapback and "real consequences"] "Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said the country will be able to “immediately” reverse its commitments under a final nuclear deal with world powers if it finds out that the other side has breached commitments under the [JCPOA]... Whenever Iran feels the other side has not honored its commitments, the “reversibility” of Tehran’s nuclear program will happen immediately, he said." [Tasnim News Agency, Iran, July 28, 2015]
It's not an agreement. It's not signed. And Iran sees it as not binding on Iran. 

Makes a thinking person wonder how the mainstream news media work, and what's really on the minds of the many - politicians and citizens alike - who think this is all worth getting solidly behind.

Monday, July 27, 2015

27-Jul-15: Even more peace from Iran's highest-level military force

Mr Salami [Image Source]
The transaction that we choose to call the Iran Nuclear Enablement Agreement (a less nuanced, and therefore more realistic, title than the official one) is wending its way through Congress, US opinion and the political corridors of countries throughout the West. 

In those circumstances, and without dwelling on the peculiar manner aspects of this process are being reported in the mainstream news media, there's no reason for apologies about drawing the attention of readers of this blog to how the parallel process is going over on the Iranian side. 

We offered some initial insight, using Iranian sources and plain Iranian-to-English text, unembellished and exactly as it appears in the English-language Iranian news media, just a few days ago: see "22-Jul-15: Now that peace is on the way, what to make of blood-curdling Iranian incitement like this?

Today we offer the snarling, glowering Iranian news report below.  It went to air in Tehran just yesterday. And like the earlier report, it bears the imprimatur of FARS News Agency which calls itself:
"Iran's leading independent news agency, covering a wide variety of subjects in different, political, economic, cultural, social, legal, sports, military and other areas with the most up-to-date, independent, unbiased and reliable news and reports in Persian and English. Ever since its establishment in early 2003, it has been making its way towards daily progress and gaining reputation as a trustworthy source [etc]... As our English department was established in December 2005..." 
As Wikipedia points out, though FARS says it's independent, both CNN and Reuters say it's a "semi-official" government news agency.
Salami, gently preparing his fellow-Iranians for peace, November 2013
[Video grab from YouTube source]
IRGC Deputy Top Commander: US Unable to Take Slightest Hostile Move against Iran | July 26, 2015 | TEHRAN (Fars News Agency) - Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Hossein Salami played down the US officials' war rhetoric against Iran, warning that the US knows its slightest hostile move would receive a crushing response. Brigadier General Salami's remarks came after US State Secretary John Kerry threatened to use military action against Tehran if it fails to respect a historic nuclear deal sealed on 14 July. "Today the US knows that the slightest move against the Islamic Iran will ruin its house of dream," Brigadier General Salami said, addressing a ceremony in the city of Zahedan, Southeastern Iran, on Sunday.
He pointed to the US officials' catch phrase "all military option are still on the table" even after the Vienna nuclear agreement, and said, "The Americans have always resorted to bullying because they lack diplomatic skills..."...In relevant remarks on Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a statement blasted US officials' recent comments against Tehran after the country and the world powers reached a nuclear agreement earlier this month, calling on them to kick the bad habit of threatening Iran.
"Unfortunately, the US secretary of state has spoken of the worn-out rope of 'the US capability to use military force'," Zarif said on Friday... "Therefore, it is better for the Americans to forget their old habit and leave the language of threats and sanctions against this great people once and for all," Zarif said. He also underlined the Iranian officials' united stance on different issues... and said the US had better avoid repeating its past mistake of sowing discord among the Iranian officials.
The FARS report notes, accurately, that the final agreement achieved (though never signed - FARS is silent on this, and so is much of the media elsewhere) in Vienna on July 14, 2015 received the endorsement of the UN Security Council by unanimous vote a few days later, "setting the stage for the lifting of Security Council sanctions against Iran", as they put it, accurately.

We think advocates of the Vienna understanding ought to give real thought to words like
"the US knows that the slightest move against the Islamic Iran will ruin its house of dream"
and what it means to unwind years of sanctions and restrictions on an energy-abundant, nuclear-hungry, terrorism-obsessed state that defines itself by its military might. But there are few signs that anyone who counts is taking the breast-beating seriously. 

Brigadier General Hossein Salami [background here] has a reputation for his elegant way with words. Under an easy-going, let's-just-be-friends headline ["IRGC Deputy Top Commander: US Unable to Intimidate Iran, We Welcome War with US"], he gently whispered
"We welcome war with the US as we do believe that it will be the scene for our success to display the real potentials of our power... We have prepared ourselves for the most dangerous scenarios and this is no big deal... We warn their pilots that their first flight [to attack Iran] will be their last one and no one will be allowed to go back safe and sound..." [FARS, May 7, 2015]
No one was terribly surprised. After all, a year earlier, he was - if anything - even more blunt in addressing the US's close ally and bulwark of regional democracy:
Today, we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime's control with any volume of fire power (that we want) right from here... Islam has given us this wish, capacity and power to destroy the Zionist regime so that our hands will remain on the trigger from 1,400km away for the day when such an incident (confrontation with Israel) takes place..." [FARS, March 11, 2014]
And two months before that, an Iranian analyst quotes him speaking (in Parsi, which the analyst translates to English) on Iranian TV:
"America, with its strategic ignorance, does not have a full understanding of the power of the Islamic Republic... We have recognized America’s military strategy, and have arranged our abilities, and have identified centers in America [for attack] that will create a shock... We will conduct such a blow in which they [America] will be destroyed from within". [Daily Caller, February 01, 2014]
The analyst interpreted those threats from Salami to mean "that terrorist Hezbollah forces — allies of Iran — have infiltrated the U.S. and have mapped out targets".

Being Mr Nice Guy has paid off for Salami. See page 89 [here] of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed in Vienna on July 14, 2015, and notice how it provides for his removal from the outlaw list.

Impressive, no?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

26-Jul-15: What lies behind the newest dose of Palestinian Arab "refugee" fury at UNRWA?

Protesting outside UNRWA Gaza headquarters April 2013 [Image Source]
With all the goodwill that normal people concerned about misery in other people's lives can muster up, there is something more than faintly absurd about pretty much everything in this report.
Gazans, Jordanians stage protests against UNRWA decision to cut services to Palestinian population | Jerusalem Post | Khaled Abu Toameh | July 26, 2015

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Jordan on Sunday staged protests against the decision of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) to cut its services to the Palestinian population. The protesters claim that UNRWA has cut its health and educational services to tens of thousands of Palestinians.
In the Gaza Strip, where nearly half of the Palestinians rely on UNRWA services, scores of protesters gathered outside the agency’s offices, chanting slogans against the latest decision. Many Palestinians suspect that UNRWA’s scaling-down of its services is part of a “conspiracy” to eliminate the refugee problem. The protest was organized by representatives of various Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, who urged UNRWA to reconsider its decision to decrease its services to Palestinians.
Talal Abu Zarifa, a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, warned UNRWA against the “anger” of the Palestinian refugees. “UNRWA needs to be careful not to enrage our refugees,” he said at the protest. “Our people will erupt because they realize that this is a conspiracy against refugees and not a financial matter.”
One of the protesters,Ali Hashem, also sounded a similar warning against UNRWA. “The cuts in services will lead to a revolution against UNRWA,” he cautioned. “This is not a financial crisis, but a conspiracy against Palestinian refugees.”
UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said that his agency was suffering from a severe financial crisis. He said that UNRWA needs about $101 million to overcome the crisis. “Unless we obtain this sum, UNRWA will be forced to take harsh measures and decisions, including postponing the opening of the new academic year,” he added.
A similar protest was held by UNRWA employees in Jordan, where the agency’s Advisory Commission held an emergency meeting to discuss the financial crisis.
The Commission will review the growing risk that UNRWA may have to delay the start of the academic year in some 700 schools for half a million students across the Middle East unless the deficit of $101 million can be fully funded, according to a statement released by UNRWA.
The Commission will also be discussing a special report to be sent by the Commissioner-General to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and on to all 193 members of the UN.
UNRWA officials say they currently have enough funds to maintain its services essential to protect public health, which includes immunizations for children, primary health care, relief and sanitation and some emergency programs through to the end of 2015. However, the money is not enough to guarantee the stable provision of its education services from September onwards.
Hamas legislators in the Gaza Strip said in a statement on Sunday that UNRWA’s decision to cut services to the refugees was tantamount to a declaration of war on the Palestinians. The legislators dismissed UNRWA’s talk about a financial crisis as false and warned the agency against attempting to implement an old plan to resettle the refugees.
The Popular Committees for Palestinian Refugees in the Gaza Strip warned UNRWA against taking part in a “conspiracy to liquidate the case of the refugees.” The group warned that Palestinians would revolt against UNRWA’s moves “and burn everything that comes in their way.”
Protesting outside UNRWA Gaza headquarters July 2011 [Image Source]
Start with the insane (and little publicized) state of UNRWA's funding.

Some of the wealthiest entities in the world - they call themselves states but they function as family-owned businesses with their own postage stamps and flags - say they are desperate, desperate to help their Palestinian Arab "refugee" brethren.

Yet (a) for most of UNRWA's nearly seventy years of existence, they have either failed to give anything, or (b) have failed to reach the ranks of the top 20 givers, or (c) failed to give sums that come close to reflecting their undying passion for the Palestinian Arab "struggle", in stark contrast to their very public passions for spending on what are euphemistically termed luxuries. And that extends way past ordinary consumer items to such self-indulgent vanities as acquiring sports tournaments for mind-boggling prices and then announcing plans for $160 billion of new sports fields and tennis courts.

So where has UNRWA's funding come from?

It's no secret. But it's certainly something that gets overlooked in the customary news reporting channels for reasons about which we can speculate. The facts and data are out there in the public domain. To save everyone the effort, we suggest taking a glance at some recent posts of ours:

And dozens more before those, as well as a recent video [click here]. It's not our handiwork but we think it explains the whole catastrophe reasonably well in a mere 3m40s.

And it isn't all that hard to figure out why this farce keeps going on and on for decades. Quoting ourselves: 
"...when you want to preserve misery at all costs, leverage it to ensure a ready supply of human bombs and other terrorists, there's an ever-willing cast of international figures, NGOs and the many arms of the UN who are evidently only too pleased to be of assistance - or to be exploited by others with more detailed agendas.
Finally, here (for the second time this month) is a shout-out to to UNRWA's indefatigable "Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications", Christopher Gunness, to straighten us out and indicate a more UNRWA-friendly way of looking at this. We know he's busy, so let it be clear that no one is holding their breaths. What UNRWA stands for is perfectly clear to anyone who looks.

Friday, July 24, 2015

24-Jul-15: If the Iranians read the Wall Street Journal, we're all in deep trouble

Iran nuclear deal acclaimed: last week's
newspaper covers in Teheran [Image Source]
Barely a year after the successful elimination of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, it's now being revealed to the shock-horror-astonishment of Western media and observers that... the Syrians failed to surrender the chemical weapons they said they were surrendering. And that they told teensie-weensie lies to get the United States and the other interested Western parties off their backs.

As a spine-chilling, lengthy analytical report published yesterday ["Mission to Purge Syria of Chemical Weapons Comes Up Short", Wall Street Journal | Adam Entous and Naftali Bendavid | July 23, 2015] shows, the wily Syrian regime is now, today, right at this moment, holding onto caches of deadly nerve agents which they
"may be prepared to use... if government strongholds are threatened by Islamist fighters. If the regime collapses outright, such chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic State or another terror group." [Wall Street Journal]
Bashar al-Assad of Syria, alleged liar [Image Source]
The details, and there is a long list of them, make for terribly depressing reading. Here are just some (all are direct quotes from the WSJ piece):
  • “Nobody should be surprised that the regime is cheating,” says Robert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Syria under President Barack Obama. He says more intrusive inspections are needed...
  • Inspectors from The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, together with U.N. personnel, arrived in Damascus in October 2013 to an especially difficult work environment... Because the regime was responsible for providing security, it had an effective veto over inspectors’ movements. The team decided it couldn’t afford to antagonize its hosts, explains one of the inspectors, or it “would lose all access to all sites.”
  • [The right to inspect sites that the Syrians were not offering] was never exercised, in part, inspectors and Western officials say, because their governments didn’t want a standoff with the regime.
  • Syrian scientists showed them [the inspectors] rooms with test tubes, Bunsen burners and desktop computers, according to inspectors. The Syrians gave a PowerPoint presentation detailing the medical and agricultural research they said went on there. A Syrian general insisted that the Assad regime had nothing to hide. As the international inspectors suspected back then, it was a ruse, part of a chain of misrepresentations by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to hide the extent of its chemical-weapons work. 
  • [T]he Syrian regime controlled where inspectors went, what they saw and, in turn, what they accomplished. That happened in large part because of the ground rules under which the inspectors were allowed into the country...
  • Among the biggest surprises for the inspectors was Syria’s fleet of mobile chemical-weapons production facilities, housed on 18-wheeler trucks. They looked so much like regular trucks that they even carried advertisements, including one for a Hungarian moving company. [One of the expert inspectors] says it was “unlike any other program that I’ve seen or read about.”
  • The Syrians laid out the ground rules. Inspectors could visit only sites Syria had declared, and only with 48-hour notice. Anything else was off-limits, unless the regime extended an invitation. “We had no choice but to cooperate with them... The huge specter of security would have hampered us had we gone in there very aggressively or tried to do things unilaterally.
  • According to the WSJ, the Syrians used disguised trucks to 
    conceal their chemical weaponry. Who would have imagined it? 
    [Image Source]
  • [Following] recent battlefield gains by Islamic State militants and rival al Qaeda-linked fighters [it's] even more urgent to determine what Syria held back from last year’s mass disposal, and where it might be hidden... The team that visited the SSRC facility in Damascus recently asked the regime for information about unaccounted for munitions. Officials say there has been no response from Damascus. “Accountability?” asks Mr. Cairns, the inspector. “At this point in time, it hasn’t happened.”
In these fraught days, we're watching a major effort by the Obama government to get the US Congress - and the world - to buy into the idea that an agreement, unsigned and devoid of almost all leverage and sanctions, is going to produce a peace-embracing effect in Iran.

It's hard not to see direct parallels between Syria and the Iran Nuclear Enablement Agreement when you read paragraphs like this one:
The White House and State Department say last year’s mission was a success even if the regime hid some deadly chemicals. Western nations removed 1,300 metric tons of weapons-grade chemicals, including ingredients for nerve agents sarin and VX, and destroyed production and mixing equipment and munitions. U.S. officials say the security situation would be far more dangerous today if those chemicals hadn’t been removed, especially given recent battlefield gains by Islamists. Demanding greater access and fuller disclosures by the regime, they say, might have meant getting no cooperation at all, jeopardizing the entire removal effort... [Wall Street Journal]
We're hoping that no-one over there in Teheran has a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Because, if they do, and if they get it into their heads to follow the Iranian-client-state-Syria's template, they might eventually end up telling lies about their nuclear weaponization and understate their deployment plans. 

And then where would the world be?