Hezbollah Behind Blast

More details have emerged about the huge explosion that shook Beirut yesterday. It seems there was an initial event that might have been stored fireworks going off, that then ignited a warehouse full of 2,750 tons (!) of ammonium nitrate. This substance is extremely explosive and the question is why was this amount of a highly explosive material stored in the port of Beirut? It seems that it had been there since 2013, and notwithstanding efforts by various authorities, including the customs and the judiciary, they were unable to have it removed.

Ammonium nitrate is a favorite chemical of terrorists, because it is available as fertilizer and is extremely explosive (it breaks down into gaseous ammonia and nitrogen dioxide). Timothy McVeigh used a truck full of it to blow up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 killing 168 people. According to an article in the Jerusalem Post today (“Chemical behind blast was hidden in UK, Germany”), both the UK and German authorities discovered large quantities of this substance hidden in their countries. It seems they were tipped off by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

In the UK, 3 tons was hidden in four houses in NW London, and stabilized by ice packs. A man was arrested in that case. Hezbollah was tied to this, and also they stored hundreds of kilograms of the substance in southern Germany. This led to a raid on mosques and houses tied to Hezbollah throughout Germany last April. Both countries have declared Hezbollah a terrorist group.

It is no stretch to realize that the huge supply of ammonium nitrate held at the port of Beirut was used as a source of Hezbollah activities in other countries, and being Hezbollah owned, no one in Lebanon could do anything about it. Now the explosion and blast have killed an estimated 135 people and injured up to 6,000 and approximately 300,000 have been made homeless! Lebanon is in a terrible state, and Israel among other countries have offered medical assistance. Pres. Macron of France has visited Beirut and has offered to organize an international relief effort.

The Explosion in Beirut

Hands up if you believe that the massive explosion in Beirut that devastated the whole port and broke windows throughout the city was caused by fireworks? OK, now that we’ve got rid of that nonsense, this huge explosion destroyed the port of Beirut (on which Lebanon depends), killed at least 50 people, and injured some 2,700 according to Lebanese sources. The death toll is probably much higher than that.

Now the question is, could this have been a chemical explosion from a warehouse, or could it have been an explosion of an arms depot maintained at the port by Hezbollah (which has more arms than the Lebanese Army) delivered to Hezbollah in Lebanon by Iran? I suspect the latter.

The next question is, could this have been another in the mysterious explosions that have rocked Iran in the recent past, some of which have destroyed strategic military sites, devastated the centrifuge building at the Natanz nuclear facility, and even blown up electricity plants in far away provinces? Israel has offered help to the civilians of Beirut, but could Israel be behind this blast, that was quite devastating?

Lebanon is already in the grips of a political and economic meltdown, it is essentially bankrupt and cannot pay its debts. At the same time, Hezbollah has been gradually taking over the Government, and spending as much as it likes on its military and bleeding Lebanon dry. The excuse is that Hezbollah is defending Lebanon from Israel, but everyone knows the fact is that if Hezbollah weren’t there to attack Israel, there would be no conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Most of the Lebanese people understand this, but they are controlled by Hezbollah and so far can do little about it. Maybe this massive explosion in the center of their capital city may move them to take a stand against Hezbollah, but probably not.

Blame the Jews!

Who is responsible for the coronavirus pandemic? Not China, not American policy, blame the Jews! Who is responsible for police brutality in the USA, not the police, but the Israelis, blame the Jews! What is the flag most often seen at Black Lives Matter (BLM) rallies? The Palestinian flag. What flag is most often burnt at BLM rallies? The American flag, with the Israeli flag a close second.

This is a continuation of the age-old prejudice, whenever there are major problems in society, look for a scapegoat and blame the Jews! Whenever people are out-of-work and there is hunger in the land, blame the Jews. The total lack of rationality in these prejudices makes no difference, they are knee-jerk reactions endemic within Christian Western and Islamic societies. And they are calculated to bring popular support to extremist causes (a Nazi tactic). It might seem far-fetched to blame Israel for US police brutality, but they accuse the Israelis of teaching the US police how to kneel on people’s necks, which is stupid and totally without foundation. But, it doesn’t matter, blame the Jews!

The BLM demonstrations, have been hijacked by the far left (the Antifa) and by pro-Palestinian groups, including Jews for Palestine (they should be utterly ashamed of themselves), contributing to the wave of antisemitism sweeping the world. And the far right, that supports this antisemitism, have been found to be fueling black antisemitism in order to pit the two groups they hate against each other.

It is pathetic when shallow showbiz personalities, including Jews like Josh Rogan, repeat such calumnies without understanding the history or complexities of the situation and the damage they are doing. Many of them make mealy-mouthed retractions, after the damage is done. And black people like Rodney Mohammed, chief of the NAACP (an organization that was founded by Jews) in Philadelphia who made antisemitic statements and then claims that he is being forced to recant by Jewish pressure (what does he expect).

No-one can predict where the current wave of antisemitism and lawlessness will lead. The media do not report that under the cover of the riots Jewish businesses and institutions, including synagogues, are being deliberately targeted. This is not only antisemitic is is also anti-democratic. When cities like Portland decide to defund their police department, and cities like Chicago for political reasons refuse to allow federal forces to protect federal buildings, then the consequences can be disastrous. Beware!

Covid Infection Rate Drops

For the first time since the second wave started, the Covid-19 infection rate in Israel dropped blow 1. That means the R value that measures how many people an infected person infects is now less than one and therefore the spread of the disease will be reduced. This is surprising seeing how many people have been demonstrating in dense crowds.

Now that we have a Coronavirus Czar, Ronni Gamzu, there is a centralized bureaucracy and things seem more organized. He brought the army in to manage things and they are using the software they usually use to track terrorists to track coronavirus infections. Hopefully we have seen the worst and now things can gradually be opened up thus improving the economy.

Around the world there are other hot spots where things are still getting worse, In Australia the State of Victoria has been forced to shut down due to an increase in cases. In S. America the pandemic is still getting worse in countries like Brazil and Chile. In the US the States of Florida and Texas are still badly hit, partly because people aren’t following the basic orders to keep social distance and wear masks.

Anti-Netanyahu Demonstrations

The big story in Israel these days are the number of people demonstrating against PM Netanyahu. The headline in The Jerusalem Post today is “Anti-Netanyahu demonstrations hit new peak of 60,000 nationwide.” The accompanying picture shows a huge crowd of some 13,000 people crammed into the square just outside his official residence in Jerusalem. They are certainly not following Health Ministry guidelines on social distancing.

My first reaction was one of horror, don’t these people know that there’s a deadly coronavirus pandemic on-going, with ca, 1,800 people a day being infected. Some of those will die (maybe 2-4%), so is it worth dying to demonstrate your opposition to Netanyahu? And what about the rest of us, spreading the coronavirus will kill other innocent people who have nothing to do with these demonstrations. How irresponsible!

A second thought is, whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? These people have already found Netanyahu guilty even before his trial and want him to resign. Can’t they wait for the court to decide? But, if he would resign that would trigger another another election (the fourth in 2 years), and there is little doubt about the outcome, Netanyahu would be re-elected with a larger majority. All the polls show that, and it makes sense, since the left (from which most of the demonstrators come) has collapsed (Labour only received 4 mandates), and even the centrist Blue & White Party is now split since Gantz decided to join Netanyahu’s coalition, leaving Yesh Atid to return to the opposition. So Blue & White would supposedly get 9 seats as opposed to 32.

Finally, there is the clash between Netanyahu and Gantz over the budget. In recent years it has been customary to pass a two year budget. But, Netanyahu has decided due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, that this year they should pass a one-year budget. But, Gantz suspects, Netanyahu’s motives. If he passes a one-year budget that will make it easier for him to precipitate an election soon and thus prevent Gantz becoming the alternate PM as agreed in the coalition agreement. Netanyahu being a clever politician knows that since B&W split, if there is another election, B&W will be decimated. So all these demonstrators are doing is spreading coronavirus, not affecting the political situation towards their aims at all. Why don’t they stay safely at home and wait for the result of the trial or an election to democratically decide Netanyahu’s fate?

Hezbollah Incursion

In a piece of military theater, a group of 5 Hezbollah soldiers tried to enter Israel across the northern border from Lebanon. They were easily detected and fired on by waiting IDF troops. None of them were killed and they withdrew back to Lebanon. This was supposed to be the dreaded revenge that Hezbollah Head Sheikh Nasrallah warned about after the IAF destroyed a car travelling near Damascus that contained three Hezbollah military leaders.

But, wait a moment, why would they send 5 men in broad daylight to be easily detected by the waiting IDF, on maximum alert. And why were they not killed if they were so easily detected by Israel’s deadly accurate snipers. I suggest that this was piece of theater, arranged so that both sides could claim credit. Hezbollah claimed that they entered Israel and the IDF claimed that they repulsed the attack. Both sides happy. It seems neither side wanted to escalate the situation.

But, in Iran the failed attempt was expanded into an attack by Hezbollah that destroyed a tank and killed 4 Israelis. And when it was reported widely that the incursion was a failure, Nasrallah had to go on TV again and threaten further dire attacks against Israel in revenge. So the situation is back to square one, Nasrallah doesn’t want to get into a war with Israel, that would damage his standing in the current Lebanese political chaos, so he can’t afford to really attack, and Israel doesn’t want to get into a war with Hezbollah, so they can’t afford to kill his soldiers. Military stalemate.

Journalistic Propriety

This subject came to the fore recently when NY Times Opinion writer Bari Weiss, a Jewish woman, resigned form the Times blaming “a toxic work environment” in which she was constantly harassed and intimidated for holding pro-Israel views. I have not yet really understood how those on the left who oppose racism can be so racist themselves, so antisemitic as to blame all Jews for whatever their biases are against Israel. They have become so like the Nazis (I call them liberal fascists) that Jews can no longer work or study freely in the Western countries that proclaim themselves democracies. The environment has become like Nazi Germany or Communist Russia, people are afraid to speak their mind or express themselves for fear of the consequences (students are failed from courses if they don’t toe the anti-Israel line).

And what makes this situation worse is that it is happening in the offices of the so-called “paper of record” the NY Times. If this is the bias of the majority of the Opinion writers, what can we expect of the Opinions actually expressed in the news and editorials of this supposedly great paper. Whatever happened to “just the facts” or “all the news that’s fit to print.” Journalistic professionalism has been thrown out the window in favor of “advocacy journalism” that skews the facts to fit the biased opinions of the leftist journalists and editors at the newspaper.

I remember many years ago (in the 1970-80’s) when I was a member of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington DC, that we were so incensed by the consistent biased anti-Israel reporting of the Washington Post that we culled articles from the paper and then had an interview with the editorial staff of the paper. The editors were so pleasant and disarming, and then we had a talk to the JCC by the owner Katherine Graham, daughter of the former Jewish owner of the paper, Eugene Meyer, who was self-righteous and arrogant, and the very liberal Executive Director of the JCC himself pointed out that anti-Israel articles appeared in Israeli newspapers all the time, that all criticism was disarmed and they continued with the same liberal-leftist slant (for example reporting that a million Arabs had been displaced by the Israeli incursion into Southern Lebanon in 1982, when only some 330,000 lived there then).

In my opinion it is impossible to expect anything like objective reporting of the facts when these people are so pro-Palestinian (for whatever reasons?) that it is now an established fact of the liberal-left throughout the West (for example Jeremy Corbyn in the UK). My response was to throw up my arms in disgust and leave and make aliyah to Israel. But, we too have to take cognizance of the opinions, and policies that result from them, of any potential liberal-leftist governments in the West.

What are the protests for?

What are the huge protests in Portland. Oregon, and Chicago, Illinois, now about? Ostensibly they are against racism and are protesting police brutality, as exemplified in the murder of George Floyd, when Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes in Minneapolis on May 25. Neither I, nor anyone else I know about, disagree with opposing racism and police brutality. Chauvin is awaiting trial for murder. Point made, case closed, move on.

But the protests and riots continued, there must be something else going on here, some people are taking advantage of the situation. The taking over of a six block area in downtown Portland, a very liberal city, was more than a protest against racism and police brutality, it was an extreme left-wing effort to subvert the normal functioning of US governance. While it angered the Federal Government, the Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, let it be, until three (black) people were killed in this lawless enclave. Then, finally, the Mayor sent in the police to clean it up. And these cities are reducing the police budget! But, the riots and protests continue. So much so that they surrounded and defaced the Federal Courthouse in Portland and threatened to burn it down.

At that point, Pres. Trump sent in federal police to protect Federal property, which is his right as President of the whole USA. Understandably this brought out the Democratic anti-Trump political bias of the Portland citizenry to actually support the extremist rioters in Portland. Also, as Federal property is now threatened in Chicago, the Mayor there, Lori Lightfoot, a black anti-Trump Democrat, has threatened to resist if Trump sends any federal police to Chicago.

So what is going on here is dirty politics, the Democrats in charge of these cities are prepared to stand by and allow extremists to occupy and destroy Federal property in order to oppose the Republican President. The Democrats are aligning themselves with the anti-American extremists (the Antifa) who are trying to undermine democratic norms. This is not politics as usual, this is not protesting racism and police brutality, this is anarchy!

Populations and Economy

I started wondering when the US population passed that of the UK, so I compared statistics of censuses. It turns out that between 1850-1860 at around 30 million people the US population passed that of the UK. From then on the UK population more than doubled until 2020 when it reached 66 million, while the US population multiplied by 10 to 330 million.

Comparison of the populations of Israel and the Palestinian territories is always an issue. The population of Israel is 8.9 million (2018 figures), including 20% Arabs (Israeli citizens, not Palestinians). The population of the Palestinian territory of Gaza is 1.9 million and the Palestine Authority (West Bank) is 3.0 million. So Israel now has almost twice the population of the Palestinians, and furthermore the birth rate in Palestine has reduced to 3.2 children per female, while in Israel it is 3.1, almost the same. So given time, the so-called “demographic bomb” will not be as “devastating” as it has been proposed by leftist commentators.

The population of China is 1.3 billion and of Russia is 144 million. But the GDP per capita of China is ca. $13,000, the EU is $28,000, of Russia is $30,000, Israel $42,000 and of the USA is $65,000. These comparative figures might not mean much, but they do show how much better the US economy is than that of China.

Jewish Chroniclers of WWII

The classic chronicle of the USSR during WWII, and particularly the pivotal battle of Stalingrad, was Life and Fate written by Vitaly Grossman. The classic story of the French retreat from Paris after the German occupation was Suite Francaise written by Irene Nemirovsky. The classic saga of the USA during WWII was Winds of War written by Herman Wouk. Is it a coincidence that all three writers of these iconic books were Jews?

Of course, there were many other books written about WWII by Jews, such as “The Young Lions” by Irwin Shaw, “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller, “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer and “Battle Cry” by Leon Uris. and by non-Jews, such as “From here to eternity” by James Jones and many more. But, I cannot escape the conclusion that it is more than coincidence that the writers of the three most representative works with extensive narrative scope from the three different Allied countries were Jews.

A word about each of the authors:

  • Vitaly Grossman was a writer and was engaged as a war correspondent by the Red Army newspaper. His dispatches from the front became famous. He not only witnessed the crucial battle of Stalingrad, but he was one of the first to enter Treblinka and report on the horrors of the Holocaust. His mother had been living in Ukraine and was murdered by the Nazis. After the war he gathered his notes and wrote “Life and Fate” which was rejected by the Soviet Censor, who told him it could not be published in the USSR for 200-300 years. For example he says “the only true and meaningful struggle for life lies in the individual,” (p.204 Vintage paperback). He died in 1964, but he had given microfilm of his book to several friends, including Andrei Sakharov and Vladimir Voinovich, and this was smuggled out of the USSR and was published in Switzerland in 1980. It was eventually published in the USSR in 1988.
  • Irene Nemirovsky was the daughter of a Jewish banker, who she came to hate. Her family escaped Russia in 1917 and settled in France, but were denied French citizenship. She wrote a book based on her father entitled “David Golder,” which was so anti-Semitic that even Hitler remarked on it. She married another Jewish banker (!) and was forced to flee Paris in 1940 with the rest of the population. She settled in a village in the Nazi-occupied region, and she had the arrogant notion that because she was anti-Semitic, had converted to Catholicism and was well-known, the Nazis would not touch her. During this time she wrote Suite Francaise as a mature novel of what she had observed during this most traumatic period for the French nation. In 1942 she was arrested as a Jew and murdered in Auschwitz, but she left the manuscript in a case that she entrusted to her older daughter. Fifty years later (!) her daughter re-discovered this work and had it published in France in 2004 to great acclaim.
  • Herman Wouk was born in the Bronx to Russian Jewish immigrants. In 1942 he joined the US Navy and served in the Pacific. He started writing after the War and won acclaim for “The Caine Mutiny” (1951) and many more novels. He published his epic accounts of US involvement in WWII in “The Winds of War” (1971) and “War and Remembrance” (1978) after 13 years of intense research. No other works by US authors compare to this saga.

Each of these authors had very different and individual experiences, Grossman on the Russian front, Nemirovsky in the French countryside and Wouk in the Pacific. Yet they had something in common, they were all of Russian/Ukrainian Jewish origin and each of them wrote iconic chronicles that characterized the fate of their nation during WWII.