Caroline Glick: Who leads Israel?
Israel has a problem with its security brass. And this week we received several reminders that the situation needs to be dealt with.
Since the Hamas regime in Gaza announced in March that it was planning to have civilians swarm the border with Israel, through this week’s Hamas-Islamic Jihad mortar and rocket assault on southern Israel, the IDF General Staff has been insisting there is only one thing Israel can do about Gaza.
According to our generals, Israel needs to shower Hamas with stuff. Food, medicine, water, electricity, medical supplies, concrete, cold hard cash, whatever Hamas needs, Israel should just hand it over in the name of humanitarian assistance.
Every single time reporters ask the generals what Israel can do to end Hamas’s jihadist campaign, they give the same answer. Let’s shower them with stuff.
The fact that the Palestinian Authority is blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza makes no impression on the generals. For months now, PA chief Mahmoud Abbas has refused to pay salaries to Hamas regime employees or pay for Gaza’s electricity and fuel. Hamas, for its part, destroyed the Kerem Shalom cargo terminal two weeks ago, blocking all transfer of gas and food to Gaza. And this week it blew up its electricity lines with a misfired mortar aimed at Israel.
Hamas’s determination to use civilians as human shields for its terrorists is a pretty clear message that it does not care about the people it controls. But for whatever reason, it didn’t register with the General Staff. As residents of the South were rushing to bomb shelters every 10 minutes or so on Tuesday, generals were briefing reporters that Israel must give them medicine.
Look at any news site in the world, and in almost all of them, you’ll find the Gaza Strip reported as a territory “occupied” by Israel.
Here’s the reality: Israel withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005, under the misguided assumption that the Palestinian Authority would have jurisdiction there.
But that was not to be the case. Six months after Israel’s withdrawal, Hamas won the Palestinian election and the following summer staged a violent coup. The fact that Hamas was preparing for war prompted Israel to monitor the border crossings between Israel and Gaza, knowing very well that Hamas was less interested in the welfare of the residents of Gaza than in obtaining weapons and building defenses.
The facts are readily available to anyone who looks, but that never seems to matter. We are consistently described as occupiers. Incidentally, the Egyptians also monitor their border crossings with Gaza, but no one ever pulls the “occupier” label on them. That’s reserved only for the Jews.
Let’s reiterate: The “occupation” is not a claim, it is a perception, and it is founded on the notion that Jewish sovereignty over any part of the Land of Israel is abhorrent. In the aftermath of the Oslo Accords, Israel relinquished control over the vast majority of the Arab population in Judea and Samaria. They have a Palestinian government with a Palestinian flag and a Palestinian national anthem and Palestinian budgets. They are supposed to vote in Palestinian parliamentary elections. Most of the territory isn’t populated, and Israel has a historical right to it as a nation.
MEMRI: Saudi Writer: The Arab League Summits Are Completely Pointless; Palestinian Leaders – First And Foremost Jerusalem Mufti Al-Husseini And PLO Leader Arafat – Damaged The Palestinian Cause The Most
In an article in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that was published two days after the Arab League summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Saudi writer Mash’al Al-Sudairi argued that these conferences are pointless because over the years they have produced almost nothing. While the Palestinian issue topped the agenda at all of them, he said, “all of them have concluded with nothing… [because] the Arabs are incapable of fighting and incapable of making peace.” He accused Palestinian leaders, first and foremost Jerusalem grand mufti Hajj Amin Al-Husseini and PLO leader Yasser Arafat, of damaging the just Palestinian cause, criticized the boastful anti-Israel slogans used by the Arabs at these summits, and praised the two Saudi peace initiatives – Crown Prince Fahd’s, in 1981, and King Abdallah’s, in 2002, for breaking through the “all or nothing” approach.
The following are translated excerpts from Al-Sudairi’s article:
“In advance of [every] Arab League summit, I break out in hives writing on any political issue – particularly on the Palestinian issue, an extremely just issue that is handled in the worst possible way. To date, there have been 41 [Arab League] summits, from the 1946 Inshas summit in Egypt to the most recent Al-Quds Summit [in April 2018, in Saudi Arabia]. Heading the list [of subjects] at [all] these summits has of course been the Palestinian issue; all of them have concluded with nothing. Unfortunately, the Arabs are incapable of fighting and incapable of making peace, and this is their complex tragedy.
“We must admit frankly that the ones who damaged the [Palestinian] cause more than anyone else were some Palestinian leaders and some Arab leaders. Enumerating them one by one, [Jerusalem grand mufti] Amin Al-Husseini, during World War II, naively gambled on Hitler with the entire weight of the Palestinian issue. He said in a speech: ‘The Arabs are the natural friends of Germany because they have common enemies – the British, the Jews, and the Communists – and they [the Arabs] are willing to participate in the war.’ But Hitler had no position on these statements. Al-Husseini remained in Germany, receiving a monthly salary of 150,000 marks, but the moment Germany’s defeat became clear, he fled to Cairo; he was the one who tried to combine the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nazi ideology. This position of Al-Husseini brought the rage of Britain, Russia, and the U.S. down upon him, and he added fuel to the fire by opposing the [1947 U.N.] partition resolution giving the Palestinians 49% of the territory – such that as soon as the State of Israel was declared, Russia and the U.S. were the first to recognize it.
I asked him if he had seen the survey conducted by professor Steven Cohen titled “Together and Apart: Israeli Jews’ Views on Their Relationship to American Jews and Religious Pluralism,” commissioned by the New York Jewish Federation. He didn’t know what I was talking about. The survey, published last week, demonstrated in numbers that my friend was not alone, neither in his grim assessment of the state of U.S. Jews, nor in his rejection of their advice to Israel.
Forty-six percent of Israeli Jews believe that in the next 10-20 years, “most American Jews who are not Orthodox will assimilate.” Some Americans would probably find such an assessment offensive. I think it is mostly ignorant. Ten to 20 years is a very long time, and predictions about things such as assimilation are often tainted by hyperbole.
We need to keep in mind the difference between being offensive and being ignorant as we turn to the other data in this extensive survey that made headlines: Apparently, about two-thirds of Israeli Jews have no desire to see their government taking into account “the views of Jewish leaders in the U.S.” Israelis value the ties with American Jews, they understand that their support is essential for the country, they believe that a Jew in the U.S. can lead a meaningful Jewish life (see graph at right). Still, they have no use for the advice of American Jews.
A majority of Israeli Jews do not want American Jews’ advice on religion and state (61 percent), settlements (67 percent), peace with the Palestinians (64 percent), Israeli Arabs (69 percent), Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel (55 percent), prayer at the Western Wall (56 percent), conversion (54 percent), and marriage and divorce (64 percent). To put it bluntly: All the issues that some U.S. Jewish leaders consider worthy of meddling are off the table. And this time, you can’t just say, ‘Oh, it’s the right-wing religious government, not the people of Israel.’ This is a survey, so it is the people. It is they — I should say “us,” even though I somewhat disagree with the majority of my fellow Israelis on this subject — who do not want this advice.
Australia has demanded assurances from the Palestinian Authority that Australian aid has not funded payments to terrorist “martyrs” or their families.
The Palestinian Authority has in the past been accused of dispersing stipends or “martyr payments” of up to $US3500 ($4600) a month to the families of those killed while attacking Israel.
In 2017 alone, the Palestinian Authority’s budget showed a “huge increase” in the funding of salaries for imprisoned terrorists and the families of “martyrs,” according to an Israeli research institute.
Palestinian Media Watch said the amount of money allocated by the PA for payments to terrorists jailed in Israel in 2017 rose 13 percent to $158 million — compared to $135 million in 2016. During the same time frame, disbursements for family members of dead terrorists increased by 4 percent — to $197 million from $183 million.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said such payments are in conflict with Australian values and a letter to the authority demanding answers was sent from Canberra this week.
“Obviously that is completely at odds with Australian values,” an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday
“So on the 29th of May our Foreign Minister has written to her counterpart raising concerns about these payments that show up in the Palestinian Authority’s budget and seeking assurances that the Australian funding (does not) in any way enable or encourage acts of violence.”
The mounting tension between Israel and Iran, which came to a head with Iran’s firing of missiles at Israel from Syrian territory and Israel’s counterattack on Iranian sites in that country, sparked a debate in Saudi Arabia regarding which side Saudis should support. Many Saudi intellectuals declared that, in case of a military confrontation between Iran and Israel, they would certainly support Israel, for Iran is the one threatening Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s military involvement in the region – its presence in Yemen and its support of the Houthi rebels there, who are fighting Saudi Arabia and firing rockets at its cities, as well as its military presence in Syria and Iraq and its involvement in Lebanon – are perceived by Saudis as an existential threat to their country. Israel, on the other hand, is not perceived as a threat to Saudi Arabia, but as a potential ally in the struggle against Iran.
Against this backdrop, Saudi intellectuals, journalists and writers have been increasingly expressing open support for Israel, approving of its policy towards Iran and even calling to normalize relations and make peace with it. This, they said, could put a stop to Iran’s hostile policies, since the perpetuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict serves Iran’s expansionist ambitions.
In some cases, the Saudi intellectuals and journalists also expressed support for Israel in matters pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially to the clashes on the Gaza border as part of the “Great Return March” campaign. Some of them blamed the events on Hamas and on Iran, which they said were promoting their interests at the expense of the children of Gaza.
Among the Saudi intellectuals, journalists and writers who have recently been expressing open support for Israel, the voice of intellectual ‘Abd Al-Hamid Al-Hakim was especially prominent. Al-Hakim, until recently the director of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, who visited Israel in July 2016 as part of a Saudi delegation headed by Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Anwar Eshki,  expressed complete support for the state of Israel, its right to exist, and its historical right to Jerusalem. He also expressed appreciation for Israel as a developed and democratic country that respects freedom of worship. Stating that Israel is a buffer against the Iranian hostility in the region, he called to make peace with it, and also to eradicate the culture of hatred for Jews in the Arab world, including by amending school curricula.
The following are some of Al-Hakim’s recent statements:
We Want An Israeli Embassy In Riyadh
In a tweet, Al-Hakim called to open an Israeli embassy in Riyadh and even created a hashtag #we want Israeli embassy in Riyadh,” while connecting this issue to the struggle with Iran. He tweeted, “What is the significance of opening an Israeli embassy in Riyadh and a Saudi embassy in Jerusalem? It means announcing the death of the Iranian plan that spread chaos [in the Middle East] via political Shi’ite Islam, and also the death of Sunni political Islam and the creation of a new and better Middle East for the peoples of the region. History will remember that [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammad Bin Salman was the one who saved the region.”
Peace With Israel Will Benefit Saudi Arabia, Halt Iran’s Aggression
Al-Hakim emphasized the common interests of Israel and the Arab world in light of the Iranian threat, and called to make peace with Israel. In response to the press conference held by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 30, 2018, at which he revealed documents and information that Israel had acquired from the Iranian nuclear archives, Al-Hakim wrote, “Israel acquired details of the nuclear program of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s most dangerous enemy. The Saudi citizen [must], at this historic juncture, choose between an alliance with the Turkish plan, which aims to subjugate [Saudi Arabia] – either in the guise of a caliphate or [under the banner of] nationalism, whose failure has been proven – and peace with Israel so as to contend with [the Saudi citizen’s] Iranian enemy and grant his homeland a leading role. The choice of peace with Israel first and foremost serves the interests of his homeland.”
The US will “unquestionably” veto an Arab-backed resolution that asks the UN chief to propose measures to ensure “international protection” for Palestinian civilians, ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday.
Diplomats say the measure could come up for a vote as early as Friday.
The vote was initially expected Thursday evening, but diplomats said it would be delayed after the US proposed changes.
The Kuwait-sponsored draft demands a halt to “the use of any excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” by the Israeli military. It also “deplores the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilian areas.”
Haley and Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, sharply criticized the draft for not mentioning Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza.
“It is a grossly one-sided approach that is morally bankrupt and would only serve to undermine ongoing efforts toward peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Haley said in a statement Thursday evening. “There is not one single mention of Hamas in the resolution, when Hamas is chiefly responsible for the recent violence in Gaza.”
Hamas was proud to take responsibility this week for unleashing a barrage of 199 rockets and mortars directed at southern Israel; on houses, towns, villages, kindergartens and schools. For such is the nature of this dangerous Islamist movement which has controlled Gaza for 11 years and for whom the only aim is the publicly-avowed destruction of the Jewish state.
Hamas has dedicated almost the entirety of its resources to that single aim. The public relations campaign disseminated by its apologists brazenly blames the poverty of ordinary Gazans on Israel.
Indeed, Gazans are living in poverty but the reality should and could have been wildly different.
According to every serious international estimate, two-thirds of the income of Hamas ends up in the pocket of its military wing.
Money that could and should have been used for building hospitals, roads, housing, electricity supply and basic needs is instead funneled into the manufacture of rockets and missiles and especially into the building of a network of terror tunnels whose only aim is the facilitation of entry of Hamas operatives into Israel for the purpose of kidnapping and murdering innocent Israelis. In the past few years alone, Israel has uncovered over 35 of these attack tunnels and it is presumed that a significant number remain undetected. Palestinian estimates emphasize that each tunnel costs just over 7.8 million Australian dollars.
A May 29, 2018 Washington Post report on a recent Hamas missile attack against Israel omitted key facts and context (“Tensions rise as Gaza militants fire more than 70 mortars, rockets into Israel”). The dispatch, by reporters Ruth Eglash and Hazem Balousha, also seemed to blame some Israelis for being upset that the U.S.-designated terrorist group was trying to murder them.
Hamas’s charter calls for the destruction of Israel. The group routinely launches rockets and wages war against the Jewish state. However, the group’s barrage on May 29, 2018 was “the largest amount of rockets and mortars fired at Israel” since the 2014 Israel-Hamas War, said Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Lt. Col Jonathan Conricus.
Armed with Iranian-made rockets and mortars, and assisted by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), another U.S.-listed terror group, Hamas purposefully launched missiles at Israeli schools, among other targets. As The Post bizarrely reported:
“One of the mortars in the first round of fire early Tuesday struck the yard of a kindergarten, drawing angry responses from Israeli leaders, although no children were in the preschool at the time [emphasis added].”
This description could be read as implying that the “angry response” from Israeli leaders was an overreaction. At the very least, it’s an odd way to describe a terror groups—referred to as “Palestinian militants” by The Post—failed attempt to murder Israeli schoolchildren.
Reporter Anne Flaherty’s report on the “violent clashes” at the Israel-Gaza border omitted key facts, not the least of which is the party responsible for the violence: Hamas and its Iranian sponsor (“Trump’s aides celebrate Jerusalem embassy as border burns,” May 14).
Hamas’s charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of Jews. Along with other U.S.-designated terrorist groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas has orchestrated the demonstrations, interspersing armed operatives among human shields for propaganda effect.
According to an April 26, 2018 report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, as many as 80% of the Palestinians fatally shot up to that point have been linked to terrorist organizations. Hamas itself has openly acknowledged several of them as “martyrs.”
Nor are the protests because “infuriated” Palestinians, upset with the U.S. sovereign right to move its embassy, “seek east Jerusalem as a future capital.” In fact, Palestinian leadership has turned down several formal U.S. and Israeli offers for statehood in exchange for peace that would have given them a state with its capital in that portion of Jerusalem—most recently in 2008.
IsraellyCool: The (Almost) Daily Douche: Tunnel Vision Edition
We are already used to anti-Israel douchebloggerTMRichard Silverstein saying the dumbest things. That is not to say, it doesn’t still crack me up when he does so.
This is from yesterday:
Even if you accept the Hamas narrative these tunnels are just for smuggling goods (as opposed to smuggling weapons as well as terrorists), does he truly think almost all of them are for doing so between locations in Gaza?!
The Kremlin has given Israel a green light to launch attacks in Syria, as long as they do not target Syrian President Bashar Assad’s assets, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Friday.
According to the report, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu assured Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman during their meeting in Moscow on Thursday of Russia’s approval for Israeli strikes.
The two defense ministers discussed a de-escalation zone in southern Syria, the Russian news agency TASS reported.
“A lot of questions have built up,” Shoigu was quoted by TASS as saying. “We should discuss today everything concerning work on the border in the southern de-escalation zone where we have an agreement with Jordan and the United States.”
Israel’s Defense Ministry issued a statement saying Lieberman had told Shoigu that “Israel greatly appreciates Russia’s understanding of our security needs, especially regarding the situation on our northern border.”
The statement said the two met for more than 90 minutes and discussed “security issues of concern to both countries, the situation in Syria and the Israeli campaign to prevent Iranian entrenchment in Syria.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to meet with a delegation of Congressional Democrats in March in protest at the decision of US President Donald Trump to move his country’s embassy to Jerusalem, the Haaretz newspaper reported Friday.
The delegation of 10 Democrats, many of whom criticized Trump for the Jerusalem decision, visited Israel and Jordan in March and was headed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The group held a series of meetings in Israel, including with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador David Friedman.
The delegation also asked to meet with Abbas in Ramallah, but the request was refused. A PA source told Haaretz that the PA has suspended ties with the entire American government and makes no distinction between parties or the individual views of representatives.
The Palestinian source said that Abbas wanted to send a protest message to the delegation that, despite their opposition to the Trump administration, they had not presented a united and consolidated view against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem and embassy move.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday defended comments he made to The Times of Israel that Republicans are better friends of Israel, saying he continues to work toward fostering bipartisan support for the Jewish State.
“Observing overwhelming Republican support for Israel is not a ‘partisan shot’ as some have described,” Friedman tweeted Friday.
“I firmly believe that American support for Israel needs to be bipartisan and I will continue to welcome any Democratic legislators who wish to visit Israel — and I hope they do!” he said.
His remarks come after a group of Jewish Democrats on Thursday slammed him for “politically divisive” and “damaging” comments in an interview with The Times of Israel, in which he said Republicans are better friends of Israel.
“It is truly unprecedented for a sitting US Ambassador to Israel to engage in explicitly partisan rhetoric and behavior. Ambassador Friedman must remember that he is not the head of the Republican National Committee or the Republican Jewish Coalition political organization,” said former Congressman Ron Klein (D-FL), who chairs the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
US President Donald Trump is considering giving US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman more authority over the US outpost that handles Palestinian affairs, five US officials said, a shift that could further dampen Palestinian hopes for an independent state.
Any move to downgrade the autonomy of the US Consulate General in Jerusalem — responsible for relations with the Palestinians — could have potent symbolic resonance, suggesting American recognition of Israeli control over East Jerusalem and the West Bank. And while the change might be technical and bureaucratic, it could have potentially significant policy implications.
As president, Trump has departed from traditional US insistence on a “two-state solution” for the Mideast conflict by leaving open the possibility of just one state. As his administration prepares to unveil a long-awaited peace plan, the Palestinians have all but cut off contact, enraged by Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
The deliberations come as Friedman, who has pushed for changes to the consulate since he arrived in Israel last year, faces growing indignation in the US over partisan comments and other actions in which he has publicly sided with the Israeli government over its critics. On Thursday, a top Democratic lawmaker even suggested Friedman should be recalled after he waded into domestic US politics, telling The Times of Israel that Democrats have failed to support Israel as much as Republicans.
For decades, the Jerusalem consulate has operated differently than almost every other consulate around the world. Rather than reporting to the US Embassy in Israel, it has reported directly to the State Department in Washington, giving the Palestinians an unfiltered channel to engage with the US government.
The Israeli government on Thursday unveiled what it billed as a groundbreaking program to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in long-neglected Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.
The “Leading Change” program aims to reduce the huge social gaps between the Arab and Jewish populations in the capital.
Palestinian neighborhoods suffer from poor infrastructure, neglect and subpar public services, and nearly 80% of the city’s Palestinian families live in poverty.
The program will invest 2 billion shekels ($560 million) in three core areas: education, infrastructure, and helping Palestinian women enter the workforce. The funds will be spent on a variety of programs, including nine pilot projects in the coming five years, with the aim of attracting further government and private investment down the road.
Various government ministries, along with the Jerusalem Municipality, will carry out the program, which was launched at a ceremony at President Reuven Rivlin’s official residence on Thursday.
Rivlin praised what he called “the most comprehensive attempt by the government to date to narrow the gaps and to develop the economy” of east Jerusalem, which has experienced “lost generations” over the decades.
Remembering the Dolphinarium Attack Victims
The IDF said it fired at two Gazans as they approached the border with Israel on Friday afternoon. The two fled back to Gaza, with Palestinian media reporting they were injured. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry did not confirm the report.
Several media reports said rioting and disturbances had begun at three different sites along the border, but the scale was not immediately clear. Palestinians threw rocks at soldiers who responded with tear gas.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank some 122,000 Palestinians traveled to Jerusalem for Ramadan prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, the army said, while another 8,200 prayed at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron.
This is the third Friday of the holy month of Ramadan and the number of Palestinians who traveled to the city for Friday afternoon prayers was the largest yet this year, according to army statistics.
A top official in the IDF’s Southern Command said Thursday Israel must take steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which would likely bring quiet to the Gaza region.
The senior official said this could be a “watershed” moment for Hamas and the residents of Gaza. He said the parties to the conflict could choose to maintain the existing and potentially explosive situation or embark on a path of humanitarian relief that will bring some respite and economic development to the Gaza Strip.
“We’re at a crossroads. Decisions have to be made,” the unnamed officer told journalists in a background briefing. “There are small things that can be done to give us a year of quiet, and it’s also possible to reach a longer arrangement,” but that would require significant concessions from Hamas. “The more Hamas is accommodating, the better the arrangement will be,” the officer said.
If the current situation continues, the defense establishment assessment is that there will be more skirmishes like the one this week when Palestinian terrorists fired over 100 rockets and mortars at towns and cities in southern Israel. The Israel Defense Forces responded with dozens of airstrikes on Hamas military targets.
The officer said future conflicts of this kind have the potential to escalate into large military confrontations.
Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched in the streets of Istanbul on Thursday to mark the eighth anniversary of the Mavi Marmara Gaza flotilla raid and to protest against Israel.
Ten Turkish activists were killed when Israeli naval commandos raided the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish boat that was trying to breach the maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip in 2010.
In June 2017, Turkish media reported that Israel had paid compensation amounting to $20 million to the families of the 10 Turkish nationals killed during the raid.
Relations between Israel and Turkey, once close regional allies, had already begun to crumble the previous, during Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, but collapsed completely after the raid. In June 2016, the two countries said they would normalize relations, a rapprochement driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals as well as mutual fears over security risks in the Middle East.
Remembering the Farhud
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