Lebanon on the Brink

Shooting took place yesterday in the center of Beirut between forces of Hezbollah and Christian and other factions. Six people were killed, many injured and much damage was caused. The Lebanese Army was called in by the Government to restore order. The clashes started when Hezbollah demonstrators calling for the dismissal of Tarek Bitar, the second judge investigating the Beirut Port blast, aggressively moved from east to west Beirut. The first judge was removed because his personal property had been destroyed in the blast and he was accused of conflict of interest. Bitar has called for the arrest of several Hezbollah leaders so that the police can interrogate them for possible involvement in the cause of the blast.

Immediately fears of a renewal of the civil war that plagued Lebanon for some 10 years when mainly Christian and Shiite forces fought each other. In effect, the Shiites won that war, because as a result of the negotiated resolution Hezbollah was the only militia allowed to continue to retain its arms, on the flimsy pretext that it would remain the resistance to Israel. But in fact Hezbollah is now the main power in Lebanon, serving the interests of Shia Iran, and using the continued chaos in Lebanon as a means to increase its military hold of power.

This clash can be seen as a warning to the powers that be in the Government in Lebanon, that Hezbollah will not accept any of its members being blamed for the port blast which killed 250 people and destroyed the port and much of the surrounding area of Beirut. Although the Lebanese Army did manage to restore law and order this time, and the Hezbollah gunmen withdrew, this leaves Lebanon on the brink of another civil war. In general the population of all sects wants to see the people responsible for the blast brought to justice, but as Lebanon struggles through another economic and energy crisis, it looks increasingly as if Hezbollah is prepared to fight the Lebanese Army and any Christian militias to prevent that happening. If so then another Lebanese civil war may be in the offing.

Iran is a “Threshold” Nuclear State

The stakes have increased for Israel by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Laipid, in a press conference with US Secty, of State Anthony Blinken and UAE FM Mohammed al Nahayan in Washington DC, calling Iran a “threshold” nuclear state. What does this mean? Presumably it means that Iran is at the point where it can very quickly obtain a nuclear weapon when it wants to, its on the threshold.

There have been various estimates floated about Iran’s time-line to an actual A-bomb. Recently Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz estimated it would take Iran four months to achieve a nuclear bomb. But, the main headline in the Jerusalem Post today was “Cohen: Tehran not close to getting nuke.” The Cohen in this case is former Mossad (Israel security agency) Chief Yossi Cohen, who should know what he is talking about. But, because of these disagreements between major Israeli officials, the use of the word “threshold” is a good descriptor, since it means that Iran could achieve a nuclear bomb, and the means to deliver it, within a relatively short period of time, once the decision has been taken.

Israel has made it clear that it will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb! Given the repeated public threats by Iranian leaders that they intend to destroy Israel, this is a natural defensive reaction. The US is on record with the same policy. But, there is little appetite in Democratically controlled Washington now for the US to issue threats to Iran. After just having withdrawn effectively from the Middle East and from its wars, and under increasing pressure from the “progressive” wing of the Democratic Party, the Biden Administration is not now likely to issue similar threats to Iran, while at the same time still trying for a “diplomatic solution.”

While Yossi Cohen argues that there is greater international opposition now to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nevertheless he also states that Israel must be prepared to “go-it-alone” against the Iranian nuclear threat. What this portends is of very deep concern, no-one wants war, but the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is a matter of life-or-death for Israel, while for the US it is at most a distant concern. Nevertheless, in relation to Iran the US is “considering all options.”

American Genocide

I am currently watching the series The West by Ken Burns. It was originally made and shown on PBS in 1995, and I believe I saw it then, but if I did I have forgotten most of it. It is a searing history of how the United States, first consisting of only 13 colonies and then adding more, until the Louisiana Purchase from France doubled its size, then conquered the West. From St. Louis MO, the gateway to the West, first Lewis and Clark’s expedition in 1803-6 set out to cross the unknown territory to reach the Pacific Ocean. They were followed by wagon trains of tens of thousands of settlers. But, when gold was discovered in California in 1848, this became a flood of hundreds of thousands of settlers. What then happened to the indigenous native American peoples (incorrectly termed Indians) was nothing less than an American genocide.

I will not deal here with the treatment of the Indians in the North East and Southern USA prior to 1800. except to say that it is estimated that at the time of the establishment of the USA there were between 3-8 million native Americans living in the area that became the USA, but by the end of the 19th century there were only several hundred thousand. Most of this disastrous decline was due to European infectious disease, such as smallpox, against which the native Americans had no resistance. But much was also due to breaking of treaties that the USA signed and regularly broke and subsequent wars of extermination. It is not generally known that when California became a State in 1850 it refunded local cities and counties a sum for each Indian scalp or head that they had paid to local citizens who had murdered them. If that isn’t ethnic cleansing what is?

I shall start in detail with the treatment of the Indian tribes of the West with the Indian Removal Act of 1825. This mandated the US Government to remove all Indian tribes that then lived in the States of Alabama, Georgia and Florida, namely the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole tribes, to the Indian Territory across the Missouri river, also known as Oklahoma (that translates as Red Man’s Territory, at that time consisting of the current states of Oklahoma, Kansas and as far north west as Wyoming). These tribes had been in contact with the white man for hundreds of years and were considered “civilized.” Nevertheless, ca. 65,000 people were force-marched by the US Army across a thousand miles under all weather conditions during which ca. 10% of them died, known as The Trail of Tears. The Indian Territory was ceded by the US Government to these and other Indian tribes as their land “in perpetuity.” This promise lasted less than 50 years.

The Treaty of Laramie of 1851 was intended to bring about peace between the USA and the various Indian tribes inhabiting the Plains, of which the Lakota (also known as Sioux) were the most numerous. They agreed to allow white settlers to pass through their lands and not prevent the building of US Forts in exchange for the sum of $50,000 per year for 50 years. But, in view of changed circumstances the US broke this treaty and asked for a new Treaty of Laramie to be signed in 1868. The Lakota considered the Black Hills of Dakota as sacred territory and had claimed it as theirs. The USA signed the treaty ceding this area to them as part of their reservation. As part of this treaty the USA also agreed to prevent settlers from entering this territory. However, when gold was supposedly discovered in the Black Hills in 1874, there was a gold rush and tens of thousands of people entered the area, without any attempt by the USA to prevent them. Naturally the tribes rose up and attacked the settlers who had illegally moved onto their land. This initiated the Indian War that led to the initial defeat of Gen. Custer at the Little Big Horn, by Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians under Chief sitting Bull. During this campaign on several occasions (Sand Creek, Bear River) Indian villages were attacked and destroyed by US cavalry, and women and children were massacred, a clear case of genocide. Eventually the Indians were defeated and forced into reservations.

The Nez Perce tribe was a special case. Their Chief Joseph had proclaimed from the beginning that he would not fight the United States. But, when their territory had been whittled down to one valley, which they claimed as their own, the US negotiator proposed that it be given to them as a peaceful tribe. But, the US Government disagreed and allowed it to be annexed to Oregon. The residual Nez Perce led by Chief Joseph then fought back, and left on an amazing nearly 1,200 mile trek with only 750 people and 200 warriors seeking sanctuary in Canada. They won 18 skirmishes and battles with the Union soldiers, but were stopped 40 miles form the Canadian border. Chief Joseph is famously quoted as saying “From where the Sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” They were then forced to accept a reservation in Idaho, foreign land to them.

The relationship between the Indian tribes and the US Government was regularized by the Indian Appropriations Act of 1871, which effectively ended the existence of sovereign native Indian reservations. Since the reservations were then broken up, whites moved in and took most of the land. A fatal religious fervor gripped the expropriated Indians, known as the Ghost Dance, in which they believed themselves impervious to bullets. To put down any sign of Indian resistance, the US cavalry was called in once again, and mowed down over 300 men, women and children camped at Wounded Knee. In 1890 this was the last act of massacre by the US forces.

The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 extended individual US citizenship to all Indian peoples. After the disastrous repressions of the 19th century, today the number of native Americans has swelled to over 5 million, with ca. 80% living off the reservations. But, the fact is that most Americans live on land stolen from the native Americans, They should remember this when castigating others in a self-righteous and ignorant manner. Put your own house in order first, reparations are in order. Remember that Jews are the indigenous people of this Holy Land and have reclaimed it back from the imperialist colonialist Arab Muslims.

Political Projection

Aggressive dictatorial regimes and leaders project their own values and intentions on their enemies. Thus Hitler was always talking about how the Jews were trying to take over the world, when actually it was he who was planning to do that. According to Hitler the Jews were obsessed with money, while it was Hitler who was motivated to steal everything the Jews owned and use the money to pay for his aggressive wars. The most ridiculous example of this was when Hitler declared “if it’s war the Jews want, we’ll give it to them.” The Jews were the most powerless, docile and peaceful minority, yet Hitler projected his own aggressive plans and characteristics on them.

The same is true nowadays of the Iranian regime. They label Israel as “aggressive” while practically everything Israel does is defensive, like taking out a leader of the Iranian nuclear program, in an attempt to slow it down, or developing the Iron Dome anti-missile system. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the leader of the extreme left pro-Islamic squad of the Democratic Party, said that she voted against the US funding for Israel’s Iron Dome replenishment because the US should not support Israel’s bombing of Gaza civilians. Yet, the Iron Dome is a purely defensive system. She made no mention of the fact that as always it was Hamas in Gaza that initiated hostilities by firing missiles into Israel. The Iron Dome saves Israeli lives, but apparently AOC and her ilk want there to be more Israeli casualties.

It is typical that the Iranian leaders and their followers spout propagandistic nonsense, for example they deny that the Holocaust occurred, even hosting an international conference to prove this, yet continuously threaten genocide against the Jews. An example occurred recently when US VP Kamala Harris was visiting George Mason University and was told by a student who identified herself as half Yemeni-half Iranian that Israel is carrying out genocide on the Palestinians. Harris did not disagree or correct her, but stated that her version must be heard and accepted. Sheer nonsense! The number of Palestinians has increased 5-fold since Israel was established, yet Iran openly threatens Israel with destruction and plans genocide for all Jews. Another case of projecting your plans onto your enemies.

The Abbas Dilemma

Mahmud Abbas, President of the autonomous Palestine Authority, is now 85 years old. Last year he announced that there would be elections in the PA after 14 years, but they failed to take place. There were two reasons for this failure. First, Hamas, the Islamist organization that controls Gaza, refused to cooperate with these elections, even though Gaza is nominally part of the PA. Second, Abbas himself, seeing that his popularity had fallen to a new low (polls showed only about 20% of the population of the PA supported him) cancelled the election, and had supporters of one of his main opponents, Mohammed Dahlan, who lives in exile in Qatar, arrested. He also had a major critic Nizar Banat arrested, and he died while under arrest. For any of you good liberals out there who support Palestine, remember that it is run by an octogenarian dictator who consistently arrests, tortures and murders his opponents.

However, Israel is in a bind. If anyone or any organization replaces Abbas they could be much worse. If Hamas took control over the PA, either through an election or Abbas’s death or a civil war, they would be in a much more advantageous position to attack Israel and kill Israelis. This would require Israel to take decisive action that would lead to another war. Of course, many people would die in another war, but it might have the advantage of requiring Israel to use its military force to finally defeat the most extreme Palestinian military force, resulting in a cessation of the continual deaths from Hamas actions. So to avoid a war it is in Israel’s interest to maintain Abbas in his position.

There are three advantages Israel gets out of not deposing Abbas: 1. Stability, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know; 2. Under Abbas the Palestine Security forces cooperate with the Israel security forces for their mutual interests (although Abbas rewards Palestinians or their families for terrorist action carried out against Israelis); 3. To stay in power, Abbas must show he is against any normalization with Israel, but at least he is not as militant and is not actively engaged in military action against Israeli as is Hamas.

The question is what will happen when Abbas dies, will there be civil war over the PA, Fatah against Hamas, or will there be a peaceful transition of power? This seems highly unlikely given the fractious and violent nature of Palestinian Arab politics.

The Massacre at Babi Yar

The worst single massacre of Jews during the Holocaust occurred 80 years ago on Sept 29-30, 1941, when German and Ukrainian forces murdered the entire Jewish population of Kiev at the ravine known as Babi Yar. Within 48 hours 33,771 men women and children were killed, mostly by being machine-gunned as they were forced onto ledges above the ravine and their bodies fell in.

Signs had gone up days before that the Jewish population of Kiev were to be transported, and on the day railway engines were heard chugging back and forth. But, when the multitude of Jews neared the railway lines they were diverted to the ravine, forced to strip in groups, then led onto ledges and shot. After several shootings soldiers would walk around on the corpses and bayonet or shoot any one still alive. We know this because a lucky few managed to hide under the bodies and escape in the night.

Many books have been written about this pitiless massacre. Anatoly Kuznetsov’s Babi Yar, is the most complete and definitive narration of what happened in fictional form. The book White Hotel by D.M. Thomas, is a brilliant novel leading up to Babi Yar. There is also the famous poem “I am a Jew” by Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Shostakovich’s symphony entitled “Babi Yar”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog is on a State Visit to Ukraine for the 80th anniversary of the massacre of Babi Yar. Note that the President of Ukraine Vlodomyr Zelensky had a Jewish father. They will attend the ceremony together to commemorate this horrific event, in which Ukrainian military and ordinary Ukrainians participated with enthusiasm. How times have changed, now Israel, the Jewish State, sells military equipment to the Ukraine.

Nowadays, when people are forgetting the Holocaust, or belittling it in view of their ignorance and disbelief at what happened, it is inconceivable that a military force could murder the whole population of a single ethnic group in a major city. Imagine if US forces were ordered to kill every black person in New York City, or every person of Italian origin in Newark, To us nowadays it seems inconceivable. But, to those Muslims who hate Jews and those liberals who think that Jews are a privileged class of white people, don’t forget what was done to the Jews. Think of this again, every Jew in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, was murdered.

Arab-on-Arab Crime

One of the main topics in the news in Israel is the on-going problem of Arab-on-Arab crime. This involves only Israeli Arabs, and has nothing directly to do with the Palestinian Arabs who live in Gaza and the autonomous Palestine Authority. Arabs make up ca. 20% of the population in Israel, but they are responsible for ca. 70% of the crime. And most of that crime is Arab-on-Arab violence, such as gang violence, protection rackets, extortion, clan warfare and shootings. This week the 100th Arab victim of shooting was killed in Israel this year, Maharan Mougrabi (40) was first run over and then shot.

Last week a particularly alarming incident occurred when two police officers entered the City Hall of Kfar Kassem and were attacked and beaten by a gang of members of the security force of the Islamic Movement. Four of them have since been arrested. PM Bennett has stated that “violence in Arab society has reached a red line.” Arab Israelis have been demonstrating for more and better policing by the Israel police, because they feel that they are not being protected as well as other Israelis. In some towns they fear to go out at night because of shootings, and in mixed Arab-Jewish towns attacks by Arab youths on Arab and Jewish women have increased dramatically.

The Israeli Government has announced that it will increase the number of police stations in Arab villages and will increase the number of Arab policemen. The Arab party Ra’am that is a member of the coalition has made this an important issue for its constituents. One other innovation is that the Shin Bet, the Israeli security service, is going to be used to try to stop crime. The argument is that if they can stop terrorists they should be able to stop criminals. But, an argument against this is that using a foreign intelligence service against Israeli citizens can lead to abuse of power. However, a precedent has been set because the Shin Bet has been used to monitor Israeli citizens with Covid infections in order to establish networks of contacts. Under the current emergency situation this is probably a useful solution to use the Shin Bet to tackle Israeli Arab crime.

People will believe anything!

It is an unfortunate fact of life that people will believe anything, even two views that are directly contradictory. For example, the German people were indoctrinated by the Nazis during the 1930’s to believe that Jews were “untermenschen” (retarded), but also that they were “too clever,” and in fact Jews had won 15% of the German Nobel Prizes between 1901-1939 while being less than 1% of the population.

Some people believe that the Jews/Zionists caused the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11 and are also responsible for the coronavirus pandemic. Such views are a minority, but not uncommon. The tendency to scapegoat the Jews, to blame them for everything that goes wrong, is a fatal flaw in Western and Islamic societies. It derives from the historical fact that neither Christianity nor Islam make any sense without their origins in Judaism, and this is something that neither the Church nor the Umma (the leading Islamic scholars) could abide. For them to usurp the role of The Chosen of God (replacement theology) required the Jews to be eliminated completely.

This has led to two distinct and contradictory views of Jews today. The right view the Jews as an ethnically impure and inferior species of man (just as they view blacks), that is a racist view derived from the earlier religious prejudice. The left view the Jews as a “white, privileged class that has illegally colonized Palestine.” But, can both views be true, are Jews both inferior and privileged at the same time. Of course not, this is all propagandistic nonsense. Incidentally, while the left view the Jews as white and privileged, the majority of Jews in Israel are brown (Mizrachi) and black (Ethiopian) and most Jews feel themselves to be constantly under attack from the right and the left.

Recently I attended a dinner where one of the guests was spouting analysis of all sorts of Hebrew prayers and sources which supposedly had hidden meaning in them. This was a view that was popularized some years ago by the publication of the The BIble Codes by Michael Drosnin (1997). This theory required that some repetitive combination of numbers could reveal hidden meanings in parts of the Bible (Torah). But this theory has been debunked by leading mathematicians and statisticians, who showed that depending on what algorithm was choose you could get meaningful words or nonsense, and you could choose which ones suited you and then interpret some meaning.

The presumed existence of such codes was supposed to show that the Bible could not have been written by a man, but must have been “written” by God, who embedded hidden meanings for man in it. However, this belief fails because: 1. It depends which algorithm you choose, some work and some don’t (why?); 2. It depends which language you use, if you use the Hebrew Bible you get certain results, if you apply the same algorithm to an English translation (with the same meaning) you get entirely different results; 3. You can apply this analysis to any book (not necessarily the Bible and not necessarily in Hebrew) and come up with all sorts of mysterious word combinations or nonsense (perhaps the author deliberately chose to put those meanings in the book); 4. These analyses could not be carried out successfully without a computer, did God know this? Statistically this is all nonsense, but some people still believe it, Just as some people believe that the world is flat, that fairies exist and that God dictated the Bible to Moses (how did he write it down and how long did it take him)? People will believe anything.

Concerns About Biden-Harris

There are certainly valid concerns about the Biden-Harris Presidency. Biden looks and acts as if he has early dementia, quite often flubbing his lines and forgetting names (I do this too, but I’m not President). His two main actions so far, on immigration and Afghanistan, have been fiascos.

I think everyone agrees that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was badly mishandled, there was totally inadequate preplanning, bad intelligence and a complete lack of apparent concern for US citizens and Afghani supporters. On immigration, the situation at the Mexico border borders on criminality, Biden’s liberal policies have resulted in a tidal wave of immigrants, from Central America and Haiti, and the fact is that out of ca. 17,000 who camped at Del Rio TX, some 12,000 were allowed into the country, without coronavirus checks or vaccinations. They will never be seen again, giving them court dates is as near to pointless as it gets. The main reason for allowing them in was that they have a child with them, no confirmation of relations (such as DNA tests) were done, so criminals simply kidnap a child.

Kamala Harris in my opinion has shown herself to be totally inadequate for her high position. She was supposedly put in charge of the Mexico border crisis, but it took months before she actually visited there, and she appears to have taken no action whatsoever. When asked about the state of chaos at the border she simply laughed, what a ridiculous reaction. A few days ago when speaking to students at George Mason University, one part-Iranian girl claimed Israel is committing ethnic genocide and blamed Jews for the US giving Israel funds. Instead of Harris disagreeing with her or correcting her, she said that “her truth cannot be suppressed.” Is that an appropriate response from a top US official?

Now the Biden Administration is asking Congress to pass two bills costing 4.5 Trillion dollars! One for infrastructure (t$1.2) and one for social welfare (t$3.5). Understandably there was concerns both from left and right over the cost of these bills to the economy. As usual liberals tax and spend, or in this case spend and then tax. If indeed both these bills pass, perhaps with some compromises, then the US economy will be in a perilous situation. What really worries me, with Biden senescent, is that Harris is incompetent and is next in line for the Presidency.

EXPO 2020 in Dubai

I watched the opening ceremony of the EXPO 2020 in Dubai, that was postponed until 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I had hoped to be there for the opening ceremony with my son from the USA, but due to Israel’s quarantine regulations he was not able to come to Israel and leave before the quarantine time of a week. So we had to postpone our visit to Dubai at least until the quarantine regulations are revised, hopefully soon (he did not want to go straight to Dubai because he wanted to visit us in Israel first).

The ceremony itself was extravagant and spectacular, the huge dome of the building in which the opening ceremony took place was used to project amazing scenes, including whales swimming around in deep water and then birds flying overhead. The dancing was energetic and the singing was good (although I couldn’t understand the words). They used a young girl to signify the future, much as was done in the Olympic opening ceremony. This amazing and extensive ceremony undoubtedly put the UAE on the map, a small country with very large ambitions. The UAE was founded in 1971 from a group of Emirates that had been controlled by Britain and that federated together to form a single country. It has a population of about 10 million, but only 12% are Emirati Arabs. From the beginning they took the decision to do whatever was necessary to develop their country from modest resources and to modernize.

The introductory speaker was Nahayan ibn Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence (how many Arab countries have such a Minister?) He spoke about the desire for the UAE to be welcoming to all peoples, and he said specifically we are “diversifying our economy.” It is good to know that Arabs can achieve these things. I was impressed by the UAE’s efforts and achievements. They are an example of “soft power,” a small country that punches hugely above its weight in development and achievements. How different from most of the Arab countries that are obsessed with excluding modernization, westernization and progress. Compare them for example with the Taliban, or the Palestinians, like night and day. The Taliban seeks to prevent any change and maintain a medieval Islamic culture, the Palestinians are fixated on destroying Israel while their people remain in dire poverty.

The UAE and Israel have much in common, their size, their population and their strong impetus to both develop and innovate. In fact, partnerships in all areas of human endeavor are now forming between Israeli and UAE businesses and this combination will be a significant source of wealth for the area and innovation for the world. How different from Iran, across the Gulf, that only seeks to use “hard power,” military power and terrorism, to control its people and other countries.