The London Attack

The latest terrorist attack in London, right next to the Houses of Parliament, is dreadful and distressing.  But, I have to mention that we in Israel have been suffering from these ramming and knifing attacks for years, from the same kind of Muslim terrorists, except here they call themselves Palestinians.  There is no doubt shock in the UK at this unexpected terrible attack that took three lives, two civilians and a policeman, as well as injuring 20.  But, the British have not become used to such attacks as we in Israel have. Which is why we built a security fence (called a wall by those who have no understanding of the true situation) and why our forces take preventative action all the time, as the British forces will now have to do, to try to prevent the next attack.

As the Islamic State is being defeated in Syria around Raqqa, and in Iraq around Mosul, so they will try to change the situation by striking back at the home countries of those fighting them.  There is a direct line between the terrorism started by the PLO against western targets in the 1970’s (many airplane hijackings and the 1972 Munich attack)  and the terrorism of Al Qaeda (NY on 9/11) and countless other attacks (for example in Madrid, Casablanca, Bali, Paris, Brussels, Nice, Berlin, Jerusalem).  The fact is that an individual Muslim, in this case a Jamaican British convert, with a car and a knife can cause havoc and bring a major city to a standstill.  I ask, what are the British intelligence services and police forces going to do about it?  There is only one way, follow the Israeli example and collect data on all potential Islamists and use profiling and invasive attacks to get to them before they cause major harm.

We have sympathy for the dead and injured in London, but unforutnaltely most British people and many around the wrold have little or no sympathy for Jews who are murdered here by ramming attacks and knifings by Muslims.  Yet, do we not bleed the same, do we not suffer the same, are our families not as distraught?  Remember Shylock’s speech in Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” next time you hear of a deadly terrorist attack in Israel. 

The Rohingya

There is a terrible humanitarian crisis affecting a group of Muslims being persecuted by an occupying force.  If this group were the Palestinians there would be major demonstrations and riots in London, Paris, Berlin and Washington.  But, since the Muslims in this case are the Rohingya in Myanmar (Burma) there are no such demonstarations on their behalf in the Western world. This is the established liberal double-standard, only Palestinians count.

Myanmar is made up of dozens of minority groups and the majority Burmans are fighting wars with several of them, the Rohingya, the Shan and the Karen.  The Rohingya are Muslims who immigrated to Burma from Bangladesh over the past few hundred years. Without doubt they are being ethnically cleansed by the Burmese Army and people.  Their villages are being attacked and destroyed, the people are being burnt alive in their houses and mosques.  But, the Government is under the control of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was previously the darling of the western liberals for her stand against the Generals and in favor of democracy.  Now that she is in charge, at least nominally, she seems to have forgotten her commitment to humanitarian solutions.  

There is another explanation, that she lacks real power and in order to keep her position, she has to keep quiet and let the generals get on with what is after all a popular anti-Rohingya movement.  If Israel did to the Palestinians a fraction of what the Burmese are doing to the Rohingya, you can imagine the international furore there would be. Emergency resolutions would-be passed at the UN, and there would be talk of sanctions and military action.  But, the Burmese can murder as many Rohingya as they like, and no-one cares.  They are not Palestinians and they are not being persecuted by Jews.

The Israeli Coalition Crisis

Most non-Israelis will be flabbergasted at the origin of the current Government Coalition crisis in Israel.  It has been caused by the dispute over the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and whether or not it should be closed down and replaced by a similar agency.  The origin of this situation goes back to previous Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who decided that the cost of the IBA to the Government was exorbitant. Current Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has committed to abolish the IBA and  replace it with another agency (I have described this situation in my blog posting “Self-Inflicted Wound” on  March 16).

Since there was a Coalition agreement with the Likud Party of PM Netanyahu and since Netanyahu wished to avoid a Coalition crisis early in his term, he acquiesced in this stupidity.  But, as time has gone on Netanyahu has gradually moved away from support of this political act.  In fact, finally he has come out and stated that he will no longer honor  his earlier agreement to allow Kahlon to go ahead with this plan.  He has stated that he is even prepared to allow the Government to fall and go to new elections over this.  

One might accept his argument that it is because he has discovered that in fact such a plan will be more expensive for the Government than less, or because this plan is widely unpopular.  But, possibly the real reason for his about-turn is that it will embarrass Kahlon, a potential rival whose political career might be damaged by causing  a major political crisis in Israel.   Whether either men will risk this outcome or whether both or one of them is bluffing remains to be seen.  But, it is an indication of the nature of politics in Israel that a Government crisis can have such trivial origins.  

UN Travesty

The UN goes from bad to worse.  An Undersecretary of the UN Rima Khalaf was forced to resign over her authorship of a Report labelling Israel “an apartheid state.”  Since she is an Arab it is not surprising that blind hatred and bias infuses her Report, although one might expect a certain amount of reality and decorum in UN Reports.  But, not only did Israel and the US protest this Report, but so did the new UN Secty. Gen. Antonio  Guterres. In fact he ordered her to remove it from the UN web-site, but she refused so he fired her last Friday.  At least that looks more reasonable.

The fact is that Israel is no more an apartheid state than is the USA. After all one could argue that Blacks in the US are discriminated against and remain largely separate from the majority white population in ghettos.  In fact more so than Arabs are discriminated against in Israel. But, this does not include Palestinian Arabs,  who are not Israeli citizens and who live in the territories of Gaza and the West Bank and are prevented from entering Israel unless they have work permits (and some 800,000 of them do).  The reason is simple, they enter Israel illegtally in order to terrorize, to kill and maim Israeli civilians. The fact that the security fence that is being built around the West Bank stopped terrorism some 90% proves this.

Will we ever see a more balanced UN and reduced obsession with Israel, that takes some 70% of the UN time, is doubtful.  With all the atrocities carried out in the world, in Syria where ca. 450,000 people are believed to have been killed, in Iraq where massacres are commonplace, in Myanmar where the Rohingya people are being massacred, in Balkans, in South Sudan, in Ukraine where the Russians are bombarding Ukrainian towns, in China where Tibetans are murdered, and so on and so on.  The only way this can change is if the Arab stranglehold on the UN is broken and that will require a tough Secty. General and the threat to really stop US funding that is pegged at 22% of all UN funding.

Inevitable outcome?

Pres. Trump wants to do a deal in the Middle East and he is starting early in his term rather than waiting until the end, when it has proved too late for previous Presidents. But, it seems that nevertheless he is being drawn inexorably to the same conclusions as the previous ones.  What always happens is that Presidents conclude that a two-state solution is the only answer, since logically there are two sides involved , Israel and the Palestrinians.  And in order to get them to compromise, since the Palestinians will never do so, the US can only bring pressure to bear on its ally Israel.  So envoys are dispatched to Israel to tell the PM that he must institute a building freeze on the West Bank, and that’s how it always goes.  

We have already had the visit of the first envoy dispatched to meet PM Netanyahu and Pres Abbas, Jason D. Greenblatt, US Special Representative for International Negotiations.  It is not clear that he knows anything about the Middle East, like most Trump appointees he seems to be learning on the job.  He already brought a message that Pres. Trump would appreciate it if Israel would stop settlement building on the West Bank, so that it will not interfere with the formation of a future Palestinian State.  So it goes.

But the hope is that Pres. Trump is different. He really wants to make a deal, and to most well informed observers it seems obvious after 50 years of trying, that a two-state solution is a non-starter.  That is because the Palestinians cannot make any deal, no deal made with them would be worth the paper it is printed on.  There are always other ways to skin a cat. For example, a demilitarized West Bank fully or partly controlled by Israeli, Arab or US forces, or a mixture of all three.  Or turning part of control of the West Bank over to Jordan. Mind you Jordan has severe problems with the million or so Syrian refugees it has, but they might be persuaded to deal given their desperate need for money and supplies.  Let’s hope Trump is suifficiently open-minded that other approaches to a deal are considered. After all, who would want Hamas, not only in Gaza, but also in a Palestinian State.


Try Troubleshooting

When all else fails and you fear calling the help center, try “troubleshooting” your computer.  Fed up with calling and having ten different choices in a language you can’t understand (Hebrew) or having an advisor with a strong Indian accent.  Here’s the alternative.  Most people don’t take advantage of the fact that today’s modern computers and programs can in many cases heal themselves, they have built-in troubleshooting capability. 

I decided to try this when for reasons unknown my computer, which is connected to my modem through ethernet said – horror of horrors – “no internet access.”  This kept happening and I was stumped.  So rather than call the HOT line, I tried clicking (somewhat randomly) on various items, including “ethernet properties” and “internet connection.” These led me to pages where it said “troubleshoot connection” or “troubleshoot internet access.”  I tried doing these things and then I usually got further instructions, like “your ethernet is not working” (I knew that), or “there is no ethernet cable,” or “an ethernet cable is loose” or “the ethernet cable is not working.”  

Well, of course there was an ethernet cable, but just in case I detached the cable at each end and reclicked it in and then tested again, and the same result.  So I thought well why not, cables can break down, so I found a new ethernet cable that the last cable guy had left me to attach my laptop via ethernet if I wanted to (for example to download large files rather than thru the wifi).  And sure enough it worked – internet access was restored.  I felt very good, problem solved by a little bit of messing around.   But, then the next morning again “no internet access.”

So I decided to go a bit further and clicked on troubleshooting my internet connection and there it went through various iterations and came up with a different error message “Ethernet doesn’t have a valid ip configuration.”   Oh, so I thought maybe I can try to fix that, so under “ethernet” I tried to troubleshoot “ip address.”  Mind you I’m not sure what an ip address is, but I believe it is the so-called international protocol that all computers attached to the internet must have as its address.  And sure enough troubleshooting that seemed to work – again.  Suddenly – “internet access.”  

I had to restart my computer and this time when it booted up there was no problem with the internet connection and there hasn’t been since. I have not had a repeat of the problem, but I am not sure it was really this troubleshooting that fixed it. So my advice, such as it is, is before calling the help center, play around with your troubleshooting capabilities, you might happen to fix something.


Self-Inflicted Wound

Members of the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) are demonstrating in Jerusalem against the closing down of their organization and the formation of a successor organization, to be called Kan (here in Hebrew).   This has been a Government policy for some years.  The ostensible reason was that the IBA had grown too big and was costing too much.  So why not make cost-cutting measures, fire some staff, surely that would cost less than closing the whole organization and starting a whole new one.  By doing this, about 1000 trained professionals will be out of work and new ones will have to be found and retrained.  Also the ongoing programming will be totally disrupted.

For example, Kan has no plans to continue the English-language news broadcasts which have been going on for years.  Every day at 4 pm there is a 15-20 min News summary in English on IBA News TV.  It is good, short and very useful, especially to English-speakers like me and also foreign diplomats working in Israel and the many English-speaking tourists who visit Israel.  Why on earth when Israel’s image is so bad would the Government decide as a short-sighted cost-cutting measure to shut down the one English-language news broadcast in Israel.  There is in fact a private TV news program in English at 10 pm, but it’s not the same.   

Yesterday PM Netanyahu held a press conference with the Heads of the Israeli start-up called Mobileye, that specializes in software for driverless cars, and Intel, the large US computer company, that is buying Mobileye for ten billion dollars (yes, that’s billion!).  Of course, Netanyahu was saying how this represents a step up for Israel into the top technology countries in the world, and how this is making Israel affluent.  So if Israel is so affluent why is there this asinine plan to close down the IBA, it makes no sense.  It was spawned during an earlier political dispute, probably a personal one, between two now forgotten politicians. Netanyahu has pledged to stop the plan, but so far there is no sign of that.  This whole stupid self-inflicted wound is typical of Israeli politics.