Thursday, May 26, 2016

26-May-16: Gazan Arabs fire another rocket at southern Israel: Fail to inflict damage or injury

A rocket fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Wednesday night in the general direction of southern Israel is reported [Israel National News] to have exploded harmlessly in an open area of the Sha’ar Hanegev region, fortunately causing neither human injuries nor property damage. The attack occurred around 11:00 pm.

The “Color Red” [Tzeva Adom] incoming rocket warning alert was not sounded prior to explosion since the system correctly (as it appears) computed that it was headed towards an open area.

This, it bears repeating, was not the intention of the terrorists who put their lives in jeopardy by firing missiles at Israel. They will certainly be trying for a more damaging result in the future.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

25-May-16: Wall-to-wall agreement at last: The Pal Arab kleptocrats and the devastation they wreak

Luxury and privilege in Ramallah's so-called "diplomatic
compound", reserved for PA insiders. The AP caption reads: "The
gated community of villas with well-tended flower gardens... may help
explain why Palestinians almost universally believe there is
corruption in the government of President Mahmoud
Abbas. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)"
One of the open-secrets about the seemingly-never-ending nature of violent Palestinian Arab hatred of Israel, Israelis and Jews is the sustaining role played by money and power.

That's one of the reasons we mention often how the Palestinian Arabs live in a society ruled by kleptocrats - those aggressive and powerful Abbas/Arafat regime insiders whose well-being and wealth depend on keeping the flames of hatred going and their fellow-citizens under their heels.

Yesterday (Tuesday), Associated Press syndicated a somewhat rare look at what the ordinary folk think of their Palestinian Authority overlords, and how that translates into action.

The original AP version of the article (under the headline "In tough times, most Palestinians view government as corrupt", Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh, May 24, 2016) is archived here.

But about the headline: is it fair and accurate to say "most" when the proportion of Palestinian Arabs convinced of their governing regime's corruption is almost 96% according to the data quoted by AP. Given a 3% margin of error, that's about as close to unanimous as public opinion ever gets. What other issues do we hear about where 4% of the total population disagree? Never happens.

Let's also note that massive Palestinian Arab corruption is neither new nor a secret. As the AP piece notes:
[T]he government hasn't submitted annual budget reports for mandatory audits for four years, effectively preventing scrutiny of how millions of dollars are spent, said corruption monitor Aman, the Palestinian branch of Transparency International.
How those millions are spent is precisely at the heart of the ongoing scandal via which willfully-gullible European governments, along with the co-operative United States, continue to fund the Arafat/Abbas Rewards for Terror scheme while pretending not to notice the array of fig leaves and overt lies. Those serve as cover for the jihadist murders - mainly of Israelis - that everyone involved knows is the actual purpose of the cash flowing into Ramallah.

If we have to choose one particular shortcoming in yesterday's news report, it's that AP could have depicted, but did not, Palestinian Arab corruption in ways that might have significantly changed people's perceptions. How? By photographs of those concrete expressions of corruption that we know about but that are rarely seen.

Pictures of villas for the powerful and well-tended, paved and - of course - guarded streets do that well. A shame that AP offered only one such image in its syndicated story (the photo at the top of this post), and that one shows no human beings. The text describing the exclusive neighbourhood ("built for senior Palestinian Authority officials on subsidized land") helps, but it's almost always true that pictures trump words for impact.

Modesty is not exactly at the top of their priorities. This lavish edifice
is currently under construction in Ramallah. The caption 
the Daily Mail article reads: "Grand: 
Ian Birrell at the £8 million
presidential palace on the West
Bank - built by a country that
got £72 million in foreign aid

There are probably many other concrete expressions of PA corruption that could easily have been caught on camera but were not, and perhaps never will. AP along with every other news company is subject to the reality that the production of photographic images from the areas under PA control has for years been subtly (and almost silently) controlled by the Abbas circle. By far the majority of photographers working in that field are themselves Arabs, who are the source of the photos syndicated out by Reuters, Xinhua, AFP and Associated Press.

What kind of images almost never emerge? How about photos or clips of PA insiders - the fat-cat ministers, the fancily-dressed bureaucrats, their privileged children - getting in or out of their fancy SUVs and limousines. We're thinking of that in particular because it's a reality we encounter when we make a weekly trip to the community south of Jerusalem to visit grandchildren. This involves our driving past Bethlehem, and sharing the road with drivers leaving or entering Bethlehem or Hebron or the surrounding villages.

If you have not made that journey recently, or visited other parts of the PA's domain, you might be surprised by the reality. This video clip, made last year by a creative (and justifiably angry) Israeli individual with an activist bent, Ezri Tubi, delivers in simple in-your-face form an illustration of how badly people's ignorance and/or misconceptions serve them about non-trivial aspects of the lives lived by our Pal Arab neighbours.

Very rarely, images do emerge of the armed security men - many thousands of them, in at least eight different official organizations [source] - who keep the PA elite safe from their disenfranchised citizens. Sure, AP reporters can and do write (mildly) about this sort of thing, as we have just seen. And from time to time they can also remind the world that the Palestinian Arabs are not only exploited but their own power circles, but can do next to nothing about it since those same power circles have no interest in allowing them to exercise their democratic right to vote in elections. It's good to see those things written and said occasionally because they are true and meaningful.

But there's no substitute for producing images and the honest contexts that need to accompany them. (And yes, we know life and freedom are about many issues, not just villas and Volvos.) Photos really get into people's heads in ways that words rarely do. However that threatens those PA insiders and so their appearance is much rarer.

(In case it's not obvious, corruption in Gaza and among its Hamas ruling clique is as bad, if not worse.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

24-May-16: Yet another knife-wielding Pal Arab teenage girl and her pointless, terror-driven death

Dead Pal Arab children are the logical culmination of a process that
starts in their schools and homes. Scene from the wildly successful
Pal Arab video "Birds of Paradise" [Image Source]
Monday afternoon and the pattern of Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks appears to be in one of its quieter phases. But it's a deceptive quiet.

On Jerusalem's northern edge, where the Arab villages of Biddu and Beit Iksa meet the security barrier, a woman approaches a security checkpoint. Police of the Mishmar Hagvul (Border Guard) watch her warily and when she pulls a knife out of some hidden recess and brandishes it at them, they are probably thinking back - fast - to the training which seeks to prepare them for attacks of this sort.

As Times of Israel reports it, one of them calls to her to stop; she keeps coming. One of them fires into the air to be sure the message is clear enough; she keeps coming. It's evident to the security personnel that she means to thrust her knife into any available Jewish flesh. So one of them fires directly at her and she stops.

As of today (Tuesday), it's not known what brought the woman to the scene. Her name and other personal information remained unknown until hours later. No identifying documents were found on her dead body. The Palestinian Health Ministry issued a news release last night saying the knife-wielding attacker is a seventeen year old female, and gives the English form of her name as Sawsan Ali Dawud Mansur. She's from Bidu. Her picture, which we will not publish, is online via this Arabic TV channel.

The Arabic-language edition of Ma'an, a European-funded Palestinian Arab news service, in characteristic fashion calls her "martyr", ensuring the pointless, useless steps she took that brought about her death will be retold in ways that guarantee yet more Palestinian Arab children will follow her example and very likely die. (In its English-language edition report, read by outsiders and not by villagers, Ma'an avoids the use of "martyr" today and in general.) In Arab parts of Twitter, she's described as "executed in cold blood". Martyrdom posters are almost certainly being tacked to walls throughout the PA's domain this morning.
For the girl with the knife, the
end of the road [Image Source]

It's unlikely the people doing the tacking will give thought to the process by which high school-age Arab youngsters - not a handful but many - are led to derive meaning from suicidal attacks on Israelis. It's simply their culture, and a matter about which, when the subject comes up, they are proud.

The rest of us, at least some of us, can't shake from our minds the thought of a society living among us and right next to us that literally weaponizes its children, hijacking their education [see "18-May-16: Does Pal Arab hate-culture education leave room for messages of tolerance and kindness? Let's see."] and wiping thoughts of a better future from their young brains, replacing them with a diabolical vision of the redemptive power of martyrdom.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

22-May-16: (Alleged) harassment of journalists as news-management strategy: The Hamas model

Gaza: Hamas works the news-reporting media
Two summers ago, when war was raging here between the Islamists of Gaza and the IDF, an odd aspect of the way the media was covering events caused us to post here ["11-Aug-14: So did Hamas intimidate reporters or not?" and "13-Aug-14: A lesson about war-time nonsense from the New York Times"]. 

We were struck - astounded really - by how the then-bureau chief of the New York Times engaged publicly in a stark dismissal of some very serious criticisms of Hamas made by her professional colleagues and others. In fact, the things said at the time by the Foreign Press Association, and utterly rejected by Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times, about how the Islamist terrorists thugs strong-armed their way to changing how the news, and especially the images, of the fighting inside Gaza were covered, were about as serious and consequential as journalistic criticism ever gets

We said then:
Perhaps in some parallel universe in the future, there will be some seriously critical public review of how it can be that a vast and incredibly influential medium like the New York Times aligns itself with the interests of the child-murdering Hamas... [here]
and we backed up our amazement with some concrete examples.

Other voices, much better informed than we and closer to the events, gave some invaluable context to what the news media did and not do, and what was and was not done them. We're thinking in particular of Matti Friedman, a long-time AP correspondent in the field, who wrote this at around the same time:
The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues... ["An Insider's Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth", Matti Friedman, Tablet, August 26, 2014]
Some Gaza images seem to be more published than others [Image Source]
A lot of time has passed. That seriously critical public review never happened - it's hard to know why. Jody Rudoren moved on to become a Deputy International Editor at NYT, so can we assume her time as Jerusalem Bureau Chief got high marks back in New York City? But in Gaza, it's sadly clear that not much has changed as a news report from yesterday shows:
Israel’s Foreign Press Association has condemned the Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers for “thuggish behavior,” after the terror group detained a photographer for several hours and banned her from returning to the coastal enclave.
“On Thursday, FPA member Heidi Levine, a photographer for SIPA Press, was detained by Hamas security men for more than three hours before she was allowed to leave Gaza,” the umbrella group representing foreign journalists working in Israel and the Palestinian territories said in a statement Thursday night. As she exited, Hamas security told Levine she was banned from the territory, claiming her work “reflects badly on Gaza.” It provided no examples of the work that allegedly upset it.
“The FPA strongly condemns the thuggish behavior of the Hamas security and the implication that Hamas should judge what is or isn’t acceptable coverage of Gaza,” the group said.
“Unfortunately, this incident is not isolated. A number of FPA members have reported being forced to undergo uncomfortable questioning by Hamas security forces while entering or exiting Gaza in recent months. We call on Hamas to end these practices immediately and urge the group to give journalists unfettered access in and out of Gaza.”
...During the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, the FPA condemned Hamas for attempts to intimidate journalists and interfere with their coverage of the fighting in Gaza... As well as targeting journalists in Gaza, the FPA said it was aware that Hamas had also been taking steps to vet those media personnel it doesn’t approve of and to prevent them from reporting in Gaza. “Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA,” the statement said. The FPA asserted that “in several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media.”
A numbers of reporters working in Gaza reported on Hamas’s use of civilian infrastructure for military means, but said they were only able to do so once out of the Strip, for fear of Hamas reprisals.
A week after the FPA complaint, a Hamas spokeswoman boasted on Lebanese TV that the terror group contacted those whose work was “immoral” and made them change “one way or another,” and also booted out journalists who sought to “film places where missiles were launched.” ["Foreign press group blasts Hamas’s ‘thuggish behavior’", Times of Israel | May 21, 2016]
How nice it would be if the New York Times deputy international editor were to now publish a reflection, looking back, on what she meant when she tweeted this:
Extracted from our August 11, 2014 post
And did we mention that in rejecting the idea of Hamas harassment and calling it nonsense, Ms Rudoren of the New York Times confessed she had not even been physically present in Gaza at any of the relevant times?

What is it that makes some parts of the news reporting industry abandon all good sense and principle when it comes to reporting on murder-minded, thuggish Islamists?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

21-May-16: Darker sides of the JCPOA, the agreement that never was, emerge

Aspirational J Street: Changing the world is an
expensive undertaking [Image Source]
In the US world of liberal public radio, there's considerable agitation in reports emerging yesterday (like "Did $100K grant to NPR help sell Iran nukes deal?" from the website of an NPR affiliate) that large swags of cash were instrumental in the process of making that pro-JCPOA echo chamber of which Ben Rhodes recently boasted. 

It turns out NPR got $100,000 of that, which is making some people in NPR's world uncomfortable and for good reason. How do you do an honest job when someone is sending you cash to do it in a specific way?

But compared with some others, NPR got chickenfeed.

Ploughshares Fund, one of the "outsourcing" agencies (that's our word, not his) Rhodes explicitly mentioned in that famous NYT Magazine interview, is described in a Friday report ["Group that helped sell Iran nuke deal also funded media", Associated Press] as being really proud of the role it played:

Ploughshares boasts of helping to secure the deal. While success was "driven by the fearless leadership of the Obama administration and supporters in Congress," board chairwoman Mary Lloyd Estrin wrote in the annual report, "less known is the absolutely critical role that civil society played in tipping the scales towards this extraordinary policy victory." The 33-page document lists the groups that Ploughshares funded last year to advance its nonproliferation agenda.

If the name is not already familiar, there's some background in a Wall Street Journal piece from last year that explains how Ploughshares Fund was part of a behind-the-scenes White House strategy designed to "help overcome opposition to an Iran nuclear agreement". Ploughshares is
a San Francisco group started in the 1980s to resist nuclear war between the U.S. and Soviet Union. The nonprofit group has invested more than $7 million in the past four years in think tanks, media organizations and activist groups focused on championing diplomacy with Iran. The Ploughshares coalition includes a former Iranian government spokesman, the liberal Jewish organization J Street and a group of former American diplomats who have held private talks with Iranian government officials.,, ["Barack Obama Ramps Up Lobbying on Iran as Deadline Looms", Wall Street JournalMarch 29, 2015]
Its website states its goals in admirably succinct terms:
How do we do it? By funding organizations and people who promote the elimination of nuclear weapons, prevent the emergence of new nuclear states, and build regional peace.
Who else got some of those Ploughshares payments? According to AP
  • National Iranian American Council: $281,000
  • The Arms Control Association: $282,500
  • Brookings Institution, $225,000
  • Atlantic Council, $182,500 
among others.

But, as far as we can tell from the reports, one group scored more than twice the amount any other did
"J-Street, the liberal Jewish political action group, received $576,500 to advocate for the deal." [AP]

If J Street (of whom we asked some JCPOA-related questions a few months back here) has explained this yet, we're not aware of it. It's not one of those achievements that people proud of their work ought to hide, you might think. Especially if regional peace is part of what it achieved. (We're not clear on which region.)

By the way, all the talk - yet again - of a deal or an agreement or a treaty or something signed with the Iranians is seriously misleading, as we explained in "29-Jul-15: Built not on trust but on... verification". Nothing was signed with them, and that's a deliberate part of Iran's strategy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

18-May-16: A reminder of how today's Iran operates

Soleimani [Image Source]
The US is officially continuing with the charade that an unsigned agreement ["18-Jul-15: The Iran Nuclear Enablement Deal for Dummies"] with the Iranian regime brings the world closer to peace and further away from an Iranian nuclear adventure. [For a reminder of the road to here, see "09-May-16: How we got into this incredible mess with the Iranians and who engineered it".] 

The Iranians, meanwhile, are quietly pressing ahead with business as usual
Iran Orders Hizbullah to Target Saudi Arabia  
May 17, 2016 | Middle East Eye | David Hearst 
Hezbollah has been instructed by Iran to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead, in the wake of the apparent assassination of Mustafa Badreddine, its military commander in Syria. According to well-informed sources in Lebanon, the order was conveyed in person by Qasim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who came to Beirut to give his condolences. Soleimani also named Badreddine's successor and his two deputies. Badreddine's replacement is Fuad Shukr, 55, whose nom de guerre is al-Hajj Mohsen. Shukr comes from the core group which started Hizbullah along with Imad Mughniyeh, Badreddine, and Mustafa Sahadah. Shukr was responsible for operations against Israel, including the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. His two deputies are Ibrahim Aqil and Talal Hamiah. The appointments are unprecedented, as previous appointments have been an internal matter for Hizbullah. 
Shukr's appointment contradicts an earlier report in Asharq al-Awsat that Badreddine's nephew Mustafa Mughniyeh would be named as his successor. Iran's order to Hizbullah appointing a successor confirms the significance to Iran of Badreddine's death.

Additional relevant background here: "02-Mar-16: Saudi and Gulf states announce they now view Hezbollah as terrorists".

18-May-16: Does Pal Arab hate-culture education leave room for messages of tolerance and kindness? Let's see.

Honored guests: Family members of jihadist murderers take part in
a Jerusalem elementary 
school ceremony a month ago 

[From the Facebook page of the Jabel Mukaber school - but 
taken down once people started talking about itbackground here]
We wrote here a few weeks ago ["24-Apr-16: Weaponizing children: Here's one way it's done in Jerusalem"] about the barely-reported, intense and sickening process fostered by the Palestinian Authority to inject hatred and a passion for murder into the minds and lives of the children whose welfare they are charged with protecting. 

We see catastrophic Arab education and the Palestinian Arab lust for weaponizing their children as critical factors in the generations-long struggle to establish and protect a Jewish homeland. There are lots of bad people in the story. They include no shortage of square-headed Israeli bureaucrats whose passivity (which we describe in that post) in the face of this outrageous fixture of Palestinian Arab life helps, perhaps in a small way but surely in a real way, to keep it going.

It's important to focus on the good people too, and there are plenty of those. (But we will not be tempted into the silly practice of pretending that good and bad are found in roughly equal proportions on both sides of the Arab/Israel divide. They simply are not; wishing for a different reality won't change that. For a sense of our position on this, see "03-Nov-15: What do they mean when the Palestinian Arabs say they oppose terror?" and "6-May-14: In search of appalled, sickened Palestinian Arabs".)

We want to share a moving and meaningful opinion piece published last night and written by the very articulate son of Richard Lakin, a passionate and good man whose life was forfeited to the practitioners of this Arab education process we call catastrophic.
The Anti-Israel Poisoning Starts Young | Palestinian schools honor the killers of my father, a teacher. This would break his heart | Micah Lakin Avni | Wall Street Journal - May 17, 2016 
My father, Richard Lakin, a 76-year-old retired elementary-school principal from Connecticut, was on a bus in Jerusalem last October when two young Palestinian men boarded and began shooting and stabbing passengers indiscriminately. Two passengers were killed that awful day and 16 injured, including my father. Despite the efforts of first responders and the nurses and doctors at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, my father died two weeks later. He had been shot in the head and stabbed multiple times in the head, face, chest and stomach. 
Over the past seven months I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand what would cause two educated Palestinian men in their early 20s to board a public bus and butcher a group of innocent civilians, many of them senior citizens. I’m sorry to report that the Palestinian reaction to the attack has led me to believe that the “peace process” is more one-sided than ever. 
My father grew up a fighter for civil rights in America. He took those values with him in 1984 when he emigrated to Jerusalem, where he taught English to Arabs and Jews. He was a kind, gentle-hearted man who dedicated his life to education and promoting peaceful coexistence. 
Yet Palestinian newspapers praised Baha Alyan, one of the terrorists who murdered my father, as a “martyr and intellectual.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has met with the families of the attackers and praised them as “martyrs.” A Palestinian scout leader said Baha Alyan, who was shot and killed by a security guard before he could kill more innocent passengers, was “an example for every scout.” 
Muhammad Alyan, the father of Baha Alyan, has been invited to speak at Palestinian schools and universities about his son the “martyr.” He recently spoke to children at Jabel Mukaber Elementary School in East Jerusalem, about a half a mile from where my father lived. Tragically, many Palestinian children, perhaps most, are still taught to honor terrorists and fight for the destruction of Israel. 
All of this would break my father’s heart. In 2007 he published a book called “Teaching as an Act of Love” summarizing his life’s work and educational philosophy. The message of his book is that every child is a miracle that should be nurtured with love. After Baha Alyan’s father visited Jabel Mukaber Elementary School, I asked school officials if I could come and share my father’s message of peace and coexistence. My offer was rejected. 
As long as Palestinian leaders nurture a culture of hate, encouraging school children to go out and kill, more violence is inevitable. By encouraging hatred, they distance all of us from the love and belief in peaceful coexistence for which my father stood. 
My father’s book begins with a quote from William Penn: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” 
My father lived by those words. If only his murderers had as well.
There are many NGOs active in Israel who loudly declaim co-existence and peace but too-often turn out to be ordinary political activists arguing that it's Israel, only Israel, that needs to be blamed. How constructive it might be if they got behind Micah Avni's cry against the poison being injected daily into the Palestinian Arab bloodstream.

We're thinking of one particular such group, based in Israel but funded (lavishly) mainly by churches, NGOs, governments and other non-Israeli sources, and which has claimed for fifteen years to be making thousands of peace-building presentations annually to Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Arab school groups. We make no secret of our feelings of deep disdain (as we explain here) for their fanciful and politically-spun claims. Still, it's appropriate to call on them now and insist they shine a critical light on the people at Jabel Mukaber Elementary School who rejected Mr Avni's offer to go there and speak of his murdered father's legacy.

While they're considering this, they might also tell us about their experiences talking peace to the Jabel Mukaber children and how that has gone for them - and for the rest of us. Perhaps there is even a teachable moment here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

17-May-16: The snark at Reuters

If your Twitter account name incorporated the name of one of the world's most influential news syndication agencies as Luke Baker's does (he's a Reuters bureau chief), would you choose to unleash your snarky (and in our personal view, your unacceptably unprofessional) sensibilities in order to comment on Middle East events this way?

Source: Twitter

Monday, May 16, 2016

16-May-16: What do the Palestinian Arabs think?

"Peace-partner" Abbas: The Pal Arabs say they are sick of him [Image Source]
The Ma'an News Agency people in a report whose headline - characteristically - calls this morning's stabbing attack in Jerusalem "alleged", quote Luba al-Samri, the Israel Police spokesperson, saying
police officers patrolling the scene this morning saw a Palestinian stab a religious Israeli man. The suspect allegedly threw the knife away and attempted to flee the scene. Israeli police chased and apprehended the youth without shooting him... [He is] identified... as a 20-year-old Palestinian from the village of Abu Dis [a Jerusalem neighbourhood]... The youth [Ma'an's word] was taken in by Israeli police for interrogation. Paramedics treated the Israeli for light injuries on the scene before transferring him to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. He was identified by Israeli media as a 30-year-old ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva student.
The Ma'an report - generously funded along with everything else Ma'an does by US and European donors - goes on to say that
the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found in a poll last month that support for stabbing attacks had seen a decline in the West Bank in recent months -- "due, it seems, to a rising perception in its inefficacy."
Kind of encouraging, no? We guess that's why they say it but the actual poll data send a less charming message.

The survey results [reported here] reflect a significant and ongoing passion on the part of a significant overall majority of Palestinian Arabs for Arab-on-Israeli knifing attacks:
Support for use of knives in the current confrontations with Israel drops from 67% three months ago to 58% in this [April 2016] poll. Support for knifing attacks in the Gaza Strip stands at 82% and in the West Bank at 44%. [Source]
We noted a while back that what the Palestinian Arabs say they want does not always make logical sense ["10-Dec-14: What else do Palestinian Arabs want, beyond the 80% who say killing of ordinary Israelis is a good thing?"] but that dead Jews seem to be a constant in their prayers.

The other constant, at least according to the polling group quoted by Ma'an, is that a steady two-thirds of Palestinian Arabs see Mahmoud Abbas as a failure and want him to resign which, given that he was elected just once to a four year term on January 9, 2005 [source] does not seem that outrageous.

To give the numbers some perspective, you might want to take a look at "14-Dec-15: What do the Palestinian Arabs think?" and "22-Sep-15: What do the Palestinian Arabs think?"  

Here's what we believe, and the polling data bear it out consistently over years:
When columnists and analysts speak of the desire of Palestinian Arabs to live in peace, to get on with ordinary, quiet, constructive lives - as compelling as this interpretation is, the data don't support it. Anyone paying attention to the incitement pumped, generation after generation, into their communities and heads will not be surprised. [Source]
What the people living on the other side of the fence are saying is clear, credible and measurable. Being optimistic about the prospects for the sort of painful compromise that leads to peaceful relations is counterfactual and foolish, as much as we wish it were otherwise. That's something we wish the public figures pushing their "peace" "plans" would internalize.

16-May-16: Monday morning knifing in downtown Jerusalem

An image from social media: The intersection of Nevi'im and Route 1, near Damscus Gate, has seen
many recent Arab-on-Israeli stabbings 
Too early to be sure of the details, but news reports are emerging this morning (it's now 9:45 am Monday here) of a stabbing attack in central Jerusalem. Ynet says the assault happened on HaNevi'im (Prophets) Street, that the terrorist "was neutralized" by a Border Guard (Mishmar Hag'vul) police officer, and that the victim suffered stabbing injuries to the upper body and is reported to be in "light condition".

Other reports via social media say the stabbing was done close to Damascus Gate (in Hebrew, Sha'ar Shechem meaning Nablus Gate), that there are light injuries to a member of the security forces, that the attacker is alive, unharmed and under arrest, and that he is suspected of having an accomplice who has also been taken into custody. (We have noted in the past that the terror organizations have taken in recent months to encouraging attacks by pairs of assailants, evidently to improve the yield they so earnestly desire.) The knife allegedly used in the stabbing has been found (allegedly).

We have also seen unverified photos [here, for instance] of a man said to be the victim - a young Haredi Jew - and have the impression that his injuries seem relatively light. No details yet of the identity of the attackers. But from past experience, it will not be surprising if they turn out to be minors.

UPDATE May 16, 2016 at 8:30 pm: The victim is Yehoshua Frank, 26. Ynet quotes his recollections of the horror:
"I was with my wife on Hanevi'im Street with our twins who were in the stroller, and we were waiting for someone who was supposed to show us a new apartment in the area. All of a sudden, a young man stopped by us. He hesitated for a moment, and I saw that he was taking out a knife. I immediately ran up to him, and he yelled and jumped on me, and stabbed me in the shoulder and ribs. I fought him and pushed him away. Then he threw his knife at me and ran... It was a miracle that I noticed him... My first thought was that G-d forbid he would hurt my kids and my wife. When I went up to him, he focused on me. It's a miracle that I looked around and paid attention to who was stopping next to me."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

15-May-16: Putting their "nakba" in perspective

Image Source
Israelis joyously and thankfully marked 68 years of renewed independence, massive economic advancement and attainment on all fronts this past Thursday. The Palestinian Arabs call the same process "catastrophe".

Much of the economic fuel for both of the two Palestinian Arab statelets - the one ruled by the PLO and Mahmoud Abbas from Ramallah; the other by Hamas in Gaza - comes not from industrial growth, not from economic progress, not from anything self-generated by them in the past 68 years. It comes, tragically, from a two-edged sword: massive gifts via foreign aid and cradle-to-grave support from a UN-created refugee agency, UNRWA.

Many billions of dollars/euros are represented by that last sentence - more money is spent on this particular cluster of self-proclaimed, humiliation-averse refugees per capita than on any other refugee group in history - by far.

Among the numerous aspects of UNRWA's odd and highly problematic existence that make it exceptional and peculiar is that it serves only the people called the Palestinian Arabs.

Many otherwise well-informed people fail to notice that every other refugee on earth has to turn to a different UN agency, UNHCR, operating according to a completely different set of rules and principles. Only the people who say they are the Palestinian Arabs are served by UNRWA. (Why this is so, and what it means in practice, is part of an astonishing narrative that needs a separate post.)

Comprehending this is often the first step to putting a meaningful framework around the lethal fury that propels much of the Arab world, and those who advocate for a Palestinian Arab outlook on life, today and for the past seven decades. And long before it as well. Occupation has almost nothing to do with it.

Today, as the friends of the Palestinian Arabs prepare to mark their Nakba, there is a (truly) simple question worth asking: How do they decide whom to call a Palestinian Arab refugee?

The best place we know for the answer is the UNRWA's own website:
UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.
UNRWA services are available to all those living in its areas of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.
You might want to read that a second time. The UNRWA definition, which for practical purposes is what everyone means today when they refer to "Palestinian refugees", is -
  • Someone who lived in the area of the British Mandate for Palestine during a window of time that (a) lasted for less than two years during a period of massive Arab immigration into the towns, cities and regions being built up by the Jews, and (b) ended nearly seventy years ago
  • And anyone who today can point to an ancestor who fits into that window - for ever and ever into the future, down through the coming generations of new "refugees".
It's unique, inexplicable and self-defeating on so many levels.

There is much else that is catastrophically wrong with how Palestinian refugee-ism is defined. For instance, does anyone at UNRWA record when a "refugee" dies and his or her meal ticket ought to expire? The figure of 5 million beneficiaries of UNRWA services is suspect, unchecked, misleading and essentially meaningless. And can we really speak of 5 million refugees when two million of them have full citizenship in other Arab countries [source], and an unknown but large number are citizens of Europe, Canada, Chile, the US and other non-Arab countries?

As news coverage focuses today on the Palestinian day of catastrophe, spend a moment pondering how large that catastrophe truly is, how little chance there is of it being reversed by the Arabs (among the resource-richest states on earth), how small is the incentive for them to stop this endless cash-fest, how often all of this is used to justify acts of savagery and bigotry, and - finally - who, in reality, brought them into the morass in which they find themselves today.

UNRWA's notorious spokesperson Chris Gunness is personally invited to offer some answers.

[This article is cross-posted as an op-ed on the Times of Israel site today.]

Friday, May 13, 2016

13-May-16: Ongoing gullibility: UK foreign aid and the Palestinian "Rewards for Terror" scheme

A written question, asked in the British parliament's House of Lords ten days ago on a subject that ought to be getting much more attention, has just been answered.

The subject: Overseas aid and the payments that the UK is making to the Palestinian Arabs. Yes, the very matter that is going to be debated in the parliament next month as we noted last month ["13-Apr-16: Parliament will debate UK funding of the PA's Rewards for Terror scheme"].

It's an important debate that is going to happen because of some good activist journalism ["27-Mar-16: The PA's "Rewards for Terror" scheme and the lies that keep the pounds flowing in'] by the Daily Mail which has turned the matter into a talking point ["27-Mar-16: In UK, facing up to UK Aid's scandalous ongoing financing of Palestinian Arab jihad"] in the UK, at least for now.

Here's the exchange of question and answer [from this official UK source; and thanks to the ever-watchful MH for pointing us to this.]
Baroness Deech (asked on May 3, 2016): To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they have given any consideration to suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority in the light of its decision to transfer over £85 million a year to the Palestine Liberation Organisation for the purpose of paying salaries to convicted terrorists imprisoned in Israel.
Baroness Verma (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development and Ministerial Champion for tackling Violence Against Women & Girls Overseas)  (answered yesterday, May 12, 2016): DFID is currently reviewing all its programmes following the publication of the updated Official Development Assistance strategy last year. DFID provides financial support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to help deliver peace and support progress towards a two state solution. DFID funding helps build Palestinian institutions and promotes economic growth so that any future Palestinian state will be a prosperous and effective partner for peace. UK funding to the PA is for vetted civil servants only. The PA has reaffirmed that prisoner payments are administered by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. We continue to lobby that the payments to prisoner’s families are more transparent and needs-based. 
Seems a reasonable answer, right? There's probably been a case of confused identity but HMG has gotten assurances from the terror-addicted Palestinian Authority and their actual reaffirmation. All cleared up. Nothing much to see here, folks. Move along.

If only.

What's on display here is (a) professional incompetence (which we think unlikely given the quality and quantity of staff people employed in the parliament to prepare ministerial written answers to questions posed by the Lords); (b) a factual mistake on a minor matter (but as we noted, there's going to be a full-scale parliamentary debate on this very issue in a few weeks, so at minimum the staffers are on top of the facts); or (c) cynical sand-in-your-eyes disinformation designed to confuse the gullible and paper over a deeply embarrassing UK policy failure (quite plausible, we think, in the absence of a better alibi).

Palestinian Arabs where they can do less harm [Image Source]
In formulating this deeply dishonest answer to a vitally important question, the back-room civil servants in the UK's Department for International Development have chosen to pretend not to be aware of relevant matters that should have brought them to a very different conclusion for their minister to deliver. We have wrestled with those issues here repeatedly. They are at the heart of the life-and-death issues which keep us blogging. And they are all about money - large servings of it.

For a representative overview of what we have written about them, you might want to see "25-Jan-16: Felons, funding, fooling, failing"; "09-Jul-15: When incitement to murder is financed by foreign aid, where will the accounting come from?" "02-Jun-15: The obvious, petty lies that keep European money flowing into the hands of the PA's terrorists"; "30-Dec-14: Killers, heroes, passions and (sadly) churches"; "10-Nov-13: Who finances those savage acts of terror? And why is this so poorly understood?"; "4-Sep-12: Where's the shame? How much of your tax dollars went to fund the pension of our child's murderer? More than you probably thought"; and from nearly a decade ago, "6-Oct-06: Crying poor: The terror-laden rise and rise of the Palestinian national payroll and the men who allow it to happen". 

Here's a selection of the truths which the UK government and its representatives and servants evidently find too uncomfortable to share with the hapless British citizens who pay for this disgrace:
  • In August 2014, the Ministry of Prisoners Affairs of the Palestinian Authority was torn down overnight. It was replaced the following morning with a brand-spanking-new, purpose-built entity that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Palestinian Authority. 
  • This is what's often called a switcheroo - a strategy carried out by frightened people (frightened of being exposed) made up of lies and bogus contentions. It's done solely to deceive.
  • Why the need for deception? Because, as the Jerusalem Post reported at the time ["Palestinians duping world by denying it pays salaries to prisoners in Israeli jails", Jerusalem Post, May 27, 2015] the Abbas-ruled PA had been proudly and publicly funneling monthly salaries to Palestinian Arab terrorists inside Israeli prisons and released from them. Then it became aware of a certain degree of pressure from Western donors, the governments whose cash - in the form of foreign aid - made this doable and affordable. 
  • What form did the deception take? The Jerusalem Post said: "Rather than a PA ministry, a PLO Commission of Prisoners Affairs – purportedly independent of the PA and its funding – was set up to pay the salaries. The international community... largely accepted these changes as assurance the PA was no longer paying salaries to terrorists... [But] the PLO commission was new only in name. The PLO body would have the same responsibilities and pay the exact same amounts of salaries to prisoners; the former PA minister of prisoners affairs, Issa Karake, became the director of the new PLO commission and PA President Mahmoud Abbas retained overall supervision of the PLO Commission." 
  • Based on comments made by Palestinian officials, the perpetually financially strapped PA spent $144 million in 2014 paying salaries to incarcerated and release prisoners. It has continued to do so right up until this week.
  • , whose hate-filled, terrorism-encouraging utterances we have quoted in this blog numerous times, is key to the flim-flammery. He's the former minister for prisoners who overnight was turned into commissioner for some PLO business unit which is a completely different and perfectly legitimate thing. It's hard to think of a more cynical public figure than he. His is a name to remember.
  • All of the donor governments who have provided the funding from the outset continue to do so and to by-and-large ignore the criticism. 
  • Outside of Israel, where the real price of the PA's Rewards for Terror scheme is paid, few governments care to know whether the Palestinian Arab political leadership is trustworthy, honest, credible - or (which we firmly believe to be the case) the exact opposite. What they want is simply for the problems to go away. Throwing money at it is, astoundingly, a widely-appreciated way to achieve that and at the same time curry favour with the Arab world.
  • The criticism that has come is from non-government observers. For instance: "What Abu Mazen [meaning Mahmoud Abbas] will not tell donors is that their money is being sent to the PLO, who does use the money to fund terrorism. Abu Mazen hopes by having the money used indirectly instead of directly to fund terrorism, the criticism will die down among donor nations to the Palestinian Authority. [Foreign Policy Association, September 8, 2014]

We editors of this blog tend to have a more hard-eyed view of the outrageous Palestinian Arab tactics behind this scheme. Regular readers of our blog know this is because two of the biggest beneficiaries of this embezzlement of European money happen to be two of the jihadist savages convicted of murdering our daughter. Details here: "31-May-15: Lights, camera, action, terror".

Is it possible that all of this was unknown to the nameless, faceless insiders who composed Baroness Verma's parliamentary reply? Readers who know the Lords quoted in the parliamentary report above might consider sharing this post with them. And perhaps asking her if the revelations about this ongoing Palestinian shell-game are news to her or to her staff.

As an afterthought: Whatever derision people might think they detect in our observations about the UK government and its parliament on this heavy issue, we do have a healthy appreciation for the British sense of humour. That's why we are not surprised to see what's on the home page of the ministry headed by Baroness Verma at this very moment:
Signs of a British sense of homour: The home page of the UK office responsible for the ongoing funding, by British tax-payers, of' the Palestinian Authority's Rewards for Terror scheme.
See the featured article? The UK's Department for International Development proudly beats its chest, trumpeting its role in helping people beat "corrupt practices around the world". Given the flagrant blind-eye treatment they have extended to the chronically corrupt, kleptocratic Palestinian Arabs since Arafat's day, you have to be just a tiny little bit amused by the chutzpah of these public servants.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

10-May-16: Stopping to remember

A country stops to remember [Image Source]
Tonight (Tuesday) here in Israel, sunset marks the start of an extraordinary period of 48 hours.

An entire country first stops, remembers and mourns collectively and individually the thousands of lives taken from us in the several wars and many terror attacks that have for generations – starting long before Israel came into existence as a separate country - characterized the extreme animosity expressed towards us by the surrounding Arab states.

That’s Yom Hazikaron, Israel's national Memorial Day.

Then, barely pausing for breath, the mood changes dramatically as the sun sets Wednesday evening and we go straight into a day of national joy” Israel's 68th Independence Day, starting Wednesday night.

Last year at exactly this time, Arnold Roth was an invited keynote speaker at Toronto's community-wide commemoration of Israel’s national days. After participating, we can say that Toronto does a really fine job: a formal occasion, very well attended, and marked by full-hearted solemnity and celebration. It felt a tremendous privilege to take a role.

In his speech, Arnold reflected on what some consider the strangeness of a day of deep sadness being bracketed closely with national jubilation. His speech, under the title Remembrance and Redemption, is the subject of the video embedded below. In it, he touches on the song that Malki, our murdered daughter, composed in the last year of her life: several versions of it, all freely downloadable, are here, along with some of the background to its creation and aftermath.

He also shared aspects of a not-so-pleasant experience - as Israel's representative - addressing an international conference on terror and its victims, convened in New York City by the Secretary General of the United Nations in 2008. (A Haaretz report of that conference and of Arnold Roth's speech is here.) That speech is the source of the audio track accompanying a short introductory film clip that was shown to the audience in Toronto and which takes up the first 4m 20s of the YouTube video below.

This video was first published a year ago on the blog of the Malki Foundation, a really fine charity worthy of your attention and support. (Full disclosure: we are among its founders, but our role is entirely honorary.)

To put some concrete data around the pain that Israelis will be remembering tonight and tomorrow, the official military data (via Ministry of Defenserefer to 16,307 bereaved families: 9,442 bereaved parents, 4,917 widows and 1,948 orphans (below the age of 30). Soldiers who fell from 1860 to May 6, 2016 number 23,447. More than one-and-a-half million people will be visiting some 52 military cemeteries across Israel tomorrow.

The first official memorial events will begin shortly after the first siren blast this evening (Tuesday, May 10 at 8:00 pm. There will be a two-minute-long siren tomorrow (Wednesday, May 11) at 11:00 am, when anyone who cares to look will be able to observe that remarkable sight of highways throughout the entire country stopping to flow, pedestrians standing with heads bowed, a nationwide hush in the midst of a bright, sunny, warm and busy day in a Middle Eastern country that has not forgotten to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

10-May-16: Practitioners of "resistance" inflict serious stabbing injuries on two elderly Jerusalem women

Forgive the deep cynicism, but there has been yet another Arab-on-Israeli "resistance" operation in Jerusalem this morning. This time the victims are a pair of Zionists whose "occupation" of the attackers' historical space made it essential that they be stabbed.

The victims, according to Haaretz, are a pair of "elderly women", reported to be "aged in their 70s"who "had gone for a walk in the neighborhood, also known as East Talpiot, on Tuesday morning when they were attacked by two masked individuals." Their injuries would be serious enough for younger, more robust people but they sound quite worrying, knowing what we know of their ages: "One of the women sustained stab wounds to her limbs and upper body, while the other sustained wounds to her upper body." Ynet reports that they described their attackers as two masked Palestinians wearing jeans and black shirts. The two women, described by hospital staff in the Ynet report as aged 86 and 80, were walking with three other friends when they were attacked from behind. This is frequently how "resistance" operations are done, reflecting on the inherent courage required by such acts.

They were rushed by ambulance to Shaarei Zedek Medical Center hospital.

The assailants are reported to have fled the scene in the direction of Jabal Mukaber, just a short stroll away. Click here for some of our previous posts on shootings, stabbings and vehicle-rammings carried out by the people of that jihadist enclave.

Police are carrying out widespread searches, including the throwing up of road blocks in Jerusalem. Haaretz says two suspects have been arrested, but the search goes on for others at this hour (now early Tuesday afternoon).

UPDATE Tuesday May 10, 2016 at 6:00pm The two suspects mentioned in the Haaretz report above have been released, says Times of Israel. Several hours after they were arrested, the Israel Police spokesperson, Luba Samri, issued a statement saying that “after a thorough investigation of the suspects who were arrested in sweeps after the attack, the suspicion of their involvement in the attack was removed and they were released.” Police are continuing to locate and arrest the stabbers.

Monday, May 09, 2016

09-May-16: How we got into this incredible mess with the Iranians and who engineered it

Leaders of the US negotiating team: Secretary of
State John Kerry, Energy Secretary  
Ernest Moniz
Image Source]
Plenty of Israelis and friends of Israel are still furious about the way an agreement-that-is-no-agreement was pushed through the US legislature last summer, delivering a stunning victory to the malevolent Iranian regime. (Click on JCPOA for our earlier commentary.)

Two things have happened in the past couple of days that reinforce the very deep misgivings that the Iran Nuclear Enablement Deal™ has caused us to feel.

The deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hossein Salami, gave an explicit and none-too-polite warning to the U.S. and its allies in the region via an interview aired by Iran's Channel 1 TV last Tuesday, May 3, 2016. The translation from Parsi is from MEMRI whose indispensable coverage of Iran and the Arabic-speaking world fills a hole that no news-reporting organization fills.

Here's what Iran's senior warrior said in Parsi:
If the US or its allies threatened Iran, Iran would prevent their vessels from passing through the Strait of Hormuz. Iran will take whatever steps are necessary. "The [Americans] believe that our navy is dangerous. Indeed, that is true. In my view, this is the first time that the Americans have assessed the might of our navy correctly. If the Americans want to level threats against us, we can be very dangerous to them, as we have declared. They are aware of our tremendous might. We have increased and expanded our naval might, in order to overcome the military might of superpowers like America... After all, we have no other enemy in the region except for America. The other countries and governments are not our enemies, and we are not theirs. Of course, they do not even have the potential to be our enemy.
Watching the Iranian deliver the message is a blood-chilling experience.

Iran's foreign minister Zarif, Vienna [Image Source
In our estimation, this week's disclosure of how the Obama administration pulled off the astonishing feat of an unsigned understanding with an avowed enemy bent on creating an active nuclear arsenal is at least as chilling, and in some ways more dangerous. It's also based on an interview, this time of a civil servant in the Obama administration with the unlikely job title "Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting".

No, this is not a joke.

His name is in the title of a long essay published today by The Federalist, called "Ben Rhodes Reveals How Obama Duped America Into The Dangerous Iran Deal". The author is David Reaboi, Here's an extract:
Obama—with the help of an equally arrogant 38-year-old national security fabulistBen Rhodes (with whom he’s said to “mind-meld”)—succeeded in remaking the Middle East to empower America’s most hated enemy, the only United Nations member state committed to the annihilation of another state: the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran. Rhodes and Obama knew that, for anyone but the hard-left to accept a deal with America’s bitter enemy in Tehran, a new narrative needed to emerge, even if it was relatively transparent nonsense. As Rhodes explained to his bemused interviewer, David Samuels, in a New York Times Magazine profile this weekend, it was first necessary to lie to a corrupted and inexperienced American media about all sorts of things, beginning with the nature and intentions of the enemy Iranian regime. Subsequent lies were caked on, as the White House took advantage of a dangerous mix of journalists’ ignorance, their ideological and partisan commitment to the administration, and, finally, their career aspirations. Rhodes said, “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns… They literally know nothing.” Thus they will believe what he tells them. He also tells friendly non-governmental organizations and think tanks what he is telling the journalists. Those outlets produce “experts” whose expert opinion is just what Rhodes wants it to be. These ignorant young journalists thus have quotes that look like independent confirmation of the White House’s lies
If the account is right, all of us need to be walking around with the idea in our heads that, when it serves the political interests of powerful people, even the powerful people in the White House, recruiting useful idiot reporters is an actual strategy.

When we all get past the Iran fiasco safe and well, we need to think through what it means for democratic societies that turning reporters at the most influential media outlets into ignorant but motivated agents in the service of manufactured lies was done, has been done and is being done in the Western world's most powerful places.

Then think about this Iranian regime insider called Salami and how much fun he and his colleagues in Tehran must have had as they pulled off last year's deal. And ponder this earlier public statement of his that we quoted in July 2015: "The Americans have always resorted to bullying because they lack diplomatic skills..."