Expediency in Syria

What is the best outcome for Israel in Syria?  When I was young and liberal I would have said that for humanity in general it is best if Pres. Assad, the butcher of Syria, was removed from power and let the Syrian people choose.  But, now being older and wiser and knowing that humanism actually plays a very small role in political reality, I realize that for Israel the best outcome is if the war in Syria continues and that Pres. Assad survives for as long as possible.  The same was true of the former Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 that was a let-off for Israel.  Also, the current war in Syria has destroyed the effectiveness of one of the most virulent enemies of Israel.  There is now no combination of Arab States that can challenge Israel militarily.

Only non-Arab Iran is a potential existential threat with its development of nuclear weapons and missiles. Israel cannot allow any Iranian military facilities to be established on the Golan Heights of Syria adjacent to Israel’s border.  Press. Trump and Putin know this, they have been informed by PM Bibi Netanyahu and no doubt will understand if Israel needs to strike there to prevent that happening.  Sometimes the devil you know (Assad) is better than the devil you don’t know (Iran or IS).

Meanwhile the US under Pres. Trump is upping the ante by providing more arms and support for the Sunni Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian Kurdish YPG forces, that are the most effective in fighting IS.  They are rapidly closing in on Raqqa and will probably be the future occupiers of a large swathe of Syria.  This is bad news for the Sunni Muslims who hope to replace the pro-Shia Assad Alawite regime, as well as for Turkey that vehemently opposes any Kurdish advances.  This policy put the US at odds with Erdogan’s Turkey and could result in a rift with them in due course.  It makes no sense that Turkey is fighting Assad and at the same time fighting the Kurds who are the most effective enemy of Assad and IS.


A New Approach to Peace?

There was a report in The Jerusalem Post that an aide to Pres. Abbas of the PA had leaked to the media that Pres. Trump has a new approach to the peace process.  He is intending to persuade Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to sign a peace agreement with Israel (Egypt and Jordan already have peace agreements) that would result in normal relations and an exchange of Ambassadors and would then leave it to Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a deal based on the Saudi Peace Plan.   As it is, this plan is basically the Arab position and is unacceptable to Israel, but with compromises on both sides it is then assumed something can be managed.

There have been three main factors preventing the Palestinians from making any kind of peace agreement with Israel:

  1. Their insistence that all of the former Palestine Mandate belongs to them and therefore their only strategy is to destroy Israel
  2. Their sense that they have the huge hinterland of the Arab world in support of them
  3. The Arab world and to a lesser extent the liberal politically correct Europeans have supported Palestinian aspirations (such as at the UN) against Israel

Now if point 2 is removed from the equation, the Palestinians will realize that they are in fact on their own, no Arab States are going to come to their aid if there is a military confrontation with Israel.  This is certainly true of Hamas, that is considered an enemy of Egypt as well as the Saudis.  Also, the Palestinians have known this for a long time, that the Arabs have paid lip service to their cause while really not actually supporting them. This was in fact the motivation for the formation of the PLO after the 1967 Six-Day War, when the Arabs States were handily defeated by Israel.  Palestinians are not allowed to live in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf States and the funds promised to the PA and Gaza by the other Arabs are very rarely actually paid.

Since the Arab world as a whole is in turmoil, with Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya in civil wars, and the menace of Iran breathing down their necks, the remaining so-called moderate Sunni States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf States, are poised on a precipice.  Their only real hope is support from the US and possibly a coalition with Israel.  In order to achieve the survival of their regimes they will happily join with Israel, that is no threat to them, and leave the Palestinians to their own fate.

Point 3 is also in play, as the Arabs and other Muslim States and the Europeans become more concerned about confronting radical Islamic terrorism rather than supporting the customary status quo, that includes a Palestinian entity that is at least sympathetic to such terrorism, if not actually directly engaged in it (as is Hamas).  Then the Palestinians are forced back to point 1, their own recalcitrance in face of any and every attempt to achieve peace with Israel.  This will prove their undoing.

Armed Troops in the Streets

Since UK PM Theresa May declared a “critical” state of emergency in the UK after the Manchester terrorist bombing, armed soldiers have been patrolling the streets of London and other UK cities.  It is said that they are only there to free up armed police for other duties.  But, nevertheless it is a measure of how unprepared the British have been to confront the reality of radical Islamic terrorism.  Basically after the 7/7 bombings in London that killed 52 people, the UK has been sitting back and hoping for the best.  That is demonstrably not good enough.

Now the security forces are combing the Muslim underworld of Manchester and other cities looking for contacts and leads from the Manchester bomber Salman Abedi, who was of Libyan-Tunisian origin but born in the UK.  They have arrested at least 10 men. But, the question is why didn’t they do this earlier, why did they wait for another atrocity that killed 22 people, mostly children.  We have heard this all too familiar refrain before, the bomber “was known to the security services.”  Well why then did they allow him to return from Libya as a known disaffected Muslim loser and IS sympathizer and let him loose in England to potentially kill.  Such individuals must be suspect before the event and all such people should be arrested, interrogated and even deported back to where they came from in order to save the lives of innocent British citizens.

There is a basic misconception, fostered by the left in England and Europe, for example by the leader of the British Labor Party Jeremy Corbyn, that it is something wrong with British foreign policy that has caused the Islamic terrorists to target Britain.,  That is the highest form of self-deception.  Terrorism is totally wrong, there is no justification for it, even the foreign policy of a country, and furthermore the Islamic terrorists will target the West, including Britain, France, Belgium, Germany and so on, even if these countries in a politically correct posture bend over backwards to be sympathetic to their causes.

For example, criticizing the US for detaining suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, criticizing Israel at every turn and especially when the IDF tries to counter the daily terrorism from Palestinian terrorists against Israeli civilians, attacking the necessary military actions of Western countries in support of their allies in the Middle East, such as US support for Kurdish anti-IS forces, and so on.   This kind of sympathy for the poor underdogs in the Arab world fails totally to deal with the reality that British citizens, including children, are the targets of radical Islamic terrorism, and only intense preemptive intelligence and military action can stop them.

The current situation corresponds to the Israelization of the UK, since in Israel there have been such measures as armed patrols, checkpoints and guards searching bags and handbags at all entrances of malls and at all public gatherings.  This will be the norm for the foreseeable future in all Western countries.



Keeping cool

We were literally going out of the door, when my sister-in-law Barbara said “that’s funny my water isn’t cold!”  She had put a bottle on water in the fridge overnight for the trip and now it wasn’t cold.  So we both went and looked in the fridge and freezer and nothing was cold.  The refrigerator was dead.  It had died since yesterday and now we were just about to leave on a trip to visit our daughter and family in Beersheva.  What a disaster, what could be done?

We quickly took all the perishables out of the freezer and fridge and filled up a fairly large cold box that we have. I said we can buy some ice on the way and then Miriam can put it in her fridge/freezer.  Then I called the metapelet (carer) Sahlee and asked her to come and rescue the rest of the stuff and cook the chicken early for Friday night when we would be back, and keep the rest in her fridge/freezer in her shared apartment until we got back.  Then we left and stopped at a garage and bought a large bag of ice and put it on the top of the food.  It lasted fine until we got to Miriam’s.  Then she took the salmon steaks and cooked them and we had a great repast.  Meanwhile Sahlee cooked the chicken and kept it and the rest of the food in her fridge.

So short-term problem solved.  But what to do about getting a new fridge, since we were not returning until Friday (Shabbat) morning.  My daughter tried to call a repair engineer, but three of them said it was not worth even looking at one that was 20 years old.  And by the way this is the fridge that the top freezer door fell off (three times) which was quite a dramatic event (it was fiber glass and it bounced on the floor).  So I called Mike Electronics, where I have bought many appliances, and although Mike was not there his assistant said don’t worry we will give you a good price and deliver it on Friday within an hour of ordering. Miriam and I went to visit two stores and saw some fridges and agreed that a bottom freezer would be better.  We took down all the prices and specifications, although it proved to be pointless.

We drove back early Fri morning and got to Mike’s store before 10 am.  The Assistant was there and expecting us, and showed us his fridges in stock.  One was the right width, and had a bottom freezer, but was too tall (5-10 cm) to fit into our space.  But, at this point I had no alternative, so I bought it, it was a Blomberg (German) manufacture.  Mike gave me a good deal and he guaranteed it would be delivered within two hours.   When we got home I looked at the space and saw that the cupboard across the top was fixed only with 7 screws.  I removed 6 of them and waited until Brian could help me hold the top cupboard so that it would not fall on me as I removed the last screw. Once the top cupboard was removed it could accommodate a fridge as high as the ceiling. Unfortunately, the fridge was too wide to fit into our tiny elevator, so they took the doors off and shlapped it up the stairs and it went into the space perfectly.   So we had cold food in our new fridge for Shabbat.

Jerusalem – Reunited Fifty Years

Today, May 24, is Jerusalem Day.  Jerusalem has been reunified under Israeli sovereignty for 50 years now, since the Six-Day war of 1967.  Not only did the IDF defeat the Jordanian forces, the so-called Arab League with British officers and training, but this was a reunification not a conquest. Jerusalem had been unified under the Turks and the British, but the Eastern half was illegally occupied by the Jordanians after the Israel War of Independence in 1948 for 19 years (1948-67).  This occupation was relatively short and the occupation by Jordan was not recognized by the UN, the US and even the other Arab countries.  

Because Eastern Jerusalem was annexed by Israel the Arab occupants were given a special status, they were given Israeli id cards, but not forced to accept Israeli citizenship.  That was optional, and many thousands of them have opted to become Israeli citizens in the intervening years.  The East Jerusalemites who are basically Palestinians have a different status from the other residents of the West Bank, who are citizens of the Palestine Authority.  

Jerusalem is the keystone of the Jewish State, Israel without it is inconceivable.  Those who covet it had best accept that we will never give it up under any circumstances and we will never agree to divide it again.  It would be best if the world accepted this as fact. The recent highly significant visit of US Pres. Trump to Israel and Jerusalem emphasizes the strong and indissoluble bonds between Israel and the USA, that survived 8 years of a truly hostile American Administration.

Above all else Jerusalem is a great city.  I have visited many major cities around the world and known some very well, London, New York, Washington, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Moscow, Berlin, Stockholm and so on.  But, I can say without hesitation that Jerusalem is the most fascinating and incredible city in the world, one that no serious traveler can afford to miss in a life time.


Terrorism again

There was a terrorist incident in Netanya this morning.  While we were driving around we saw that the main Rehov Herzl was closed off with police and ambulances.   Later we found out that a policeman had been stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist, who had been shot.  Also later I heard about the much more serious terrible suicide bombing in Manchester.  Although these attacks are far apart, they are no doubt attempts by IS to show Trump who is visiting Israel and the PA today that they can still strike.  Too bad.

I saw PM Theresa May’s statement outside No. 10 about the Manchester bombing.  It shows the damage that one man can do, one twisted Islamic radical terrorist who killed 22 people, mostly children.  What will it achieve?  It will certainly frighten people from attending crowded events such as rock concerts.  But, in the long run it will not affect anything.  IS is being defeated in Raqqa in Syria and in Mosul in Iraq.  And Trump has agreed to upgrade the support the US is giving to the anti-IS forces.

But, at the same time Trump has aligned himself against the regime of Pres Assad in Syria. How he will manage these commitments and at the same time bring peace to the Middle East is difficult to foresee.  Nevertheless, he has brought of a coup with his visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and is now on his way to Rome and then to a Summit meeting.

Trump did say after meeting with Abbas that violence cannot be tolerated for peace to prevail and that terrorism cannot be rewarded, a strong dig at the PA President’s policy of rewarding Palestinian terrorists and their families for killing Jews and Israelis. Trump also said that the US will always stand with Israel.  Very nice sentiments.  Let’s see where they lead.  During his seven public speeches in his visit he did not mention settlements, two-state solution, or a Palestinian State.  What a difference from Obama, who always said that the Israel-Palestine conflict was basic to all peace in the Middle East.  Trump’s emphasis was on developing an anti-terrorism coalition.  We will have to wait and see when the dust settles what is actually accomplished.

Trump in Israel

When a President of the United States says “I love Israel,” he gets our undivided attention.  What a difference from Obama, who could never utter the words “love” and “Israel” in the same sentence, or pronounce “Islamic terrorism.”  There was no doubt a love-fest between Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump and Bibi was positively beaming with pride to have Donald here and showering him and Israel with such heartfelt platitudes.

But, when it comes to real hard facts and issues, there was precious little substance so far.  Sure they agreed that Iran is a local menace, sure they agreed that terrorism is terrible, but not much else came out so far.  Some commentators poured cold water on the idea that Saudi Arabia and Israel could ever be mentioned in the same breath.  Yet Trump just flew here from there, and as Nixon and Begin showed, it takes the most right-wing leaders to actually make peace (leftists conveniently forget this reality).

Another first for Trump, he was the first US President to visit the Western Wall, the holiest shrine in Judaism.  His wife First Lady Melania and his Jewish daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared also visited.  It was a powerful personal moment when Trump prayed there alone.  Did he pray for peace, or was he thinking how hard it will be to get a deal?  There is no doubt that Trump’s first foreign visit as President is the most significant such visit of any previous President.  We could stop there and it would be a powerful event.

But, more than that, we hope some helpful progress will come out of it.  It will only do so if the Palestinians, with US and Arabian pressure, are prepared to drop their ridiculous positions of not recognizing the existence of Israel as the Jewish State and also stopping their continuous incitement of hatred against Jews and Israelis and directly supporting terrorism with funding for everyone who kills Jews.  My attitude is that we as the stronger and winning side do not have to make the fundamental compromises, the Palestinians have to do so.  They must face their reality and give up trying to destroy Israel rather than seeking their own best interests.  The question is do they really want a deal?