Venezuela is a disaster

If you want to destroy a country elect a socialist government, as they did in Venezuela. Venezuela may have had its problems, the gap between rich and poor was great and there was a need for greater transparency in government, but it was a fairly prosperous country, with a large petrochemical industry.  Now, it is a disaster, with the highest inflation rate in the world, a nationalized oil industry that has collapsed, no food, no money and almost continuous rioting.

Hugo Chavez, a left-wing military officer with political ambitions, was imprisoned for leading a coup attempt in 1992.  After two years he was released and formed a political party and was elected President for the first time in 1998.  He was elected President four times and during that time he changed Venezuela to a socialist system.  He nationalized the oil industry, which was by far the major earner of foreign income, he aligned his foreign policy with that of Cuba and was very anti-American and he gradually changed Venezuela from a democratic to an authoritarian system.

When he died of cancer in 2013 he passed the reins of power to his protegé Nicolas Maduro, who seems unable to run the country.  The situation inside Venezuela has rapidly worsened, with long food queues and empty supermarkets and many banks closed and little currency available, reminiscent of the Soviet Union.  This has led to demonstrations and rioting that has spread throughout the country.  Whereas the left started out with a little over 50% of the vote, now it is estimated that 95% of the population are against the current government. Yet, Maduro refuses to have elections and is trying to organize a new Congress that will consider his propositions for a new constitution that will give him unlimited power.  He will become the dictator of Venezuela, with full military support.

In clashes between civilians and military at least 200 people have been killed and the number may be much higher.  The Venezuelan government failed to diversify its sources of income and the reduction in the price of oil caught them napping.  Its anti-capitalist policies caused most rich Venezuelans to transfer their capital out of the country and its anti-Israel and anti-Semitic policies caused many of the Jewish community to flee. Its anti-American policies resulted in sanctions against Venezuela and the UN has also voted to impose sanctions against the country as a result of the anti-democratic policies of the socialist government.  If ever their was a poster-boy advert against socialism, Venezuela is it.  Enlightened democratic capitalism with a free market economy is the best system yet devised by man.  Communist China has reinvented capitalism with a market economy.  The fact of the matter is that socialism doesn’t work. .

 

Focus on Real Issues

I agree with the majority of the American people, who cares about the so-called “Russia collusion” investigations, they are unimportant and will lead nowhere.  They are merely a device by the Democrats that demonstrate how desperate they are that they lost the election, and can’t get over it.  Trump was elected fair and square, its old news. Russians may have interfered in the election but there is no evidence whatsoever that they in any way did so with collusion from the Trump campaign.

There have been any number of hearings, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner testified, and the Committee even dropped the need for former Trump Campaign Head Paul Manafort and Trumps’s son to give evidence.  Why? because there was no basis for an investigation.  The American people are tired of this “get Trump at any cost” mentality, and it is indeed costing both in time and money.  What they want is for the Congress to do the business of the people that is necessary, to finally come to terms with the real issues, of health care, tax reform and infrastructure repair.  This is what Pres. Trump has been saying, to both Democrats and Republicans alike.

What is the real news that is being overlooked by the biased liberal news media: 1. The Dow industrial index has continuously risen from less than 20,000 when Trump was elected to over 26,000 now.  That rise in the US stock market is an incredible indicator of the strength of the US economy; 2. The top 5 technology companies in the US (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Alphabet) have added 3 trillion dollars to their worth in the past few months and now spend more on R&D than the US Government;  3. As Trump promised, ISIS is being defeated with US help, in Mosul and Raqqa; 4. After incredible opposition from Congress, the Trump promise to repeal Obamacare finally has been stopped due to Republican resistance.  So stop the show trials and get to the real business of government.

The Mosque Fiasco

The Israeli Government caved in to the demands of the Palestinian Muslims to remove all forms of security surveillance from the entrance to the Al-Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  It appears that violent demonstrations and murder have once again succeeded against rational compromise.  Israel was prepared to remove the metal detectors in favor of unobtrusive “smart” cameras that could detect concealed weapons. But, the Muslim Wakf (Religious Trust) rejected even this and called upon the Palestinians to resist any change in the so-called status quo.

The Israeli Government may have caved because they did not want to see a long drawn out series of violent demonstrations while the Wakf went to the Israeli Supreme Court and the issue of whether or not non-invasive cameras constitute a change in the “status quo” was slowly deliberated.  As it is there is now a sense of victory in the Palestinian camp, they got away with murder and they can still smuggle weapons, guns and explosives, into the Mosque.  Is that a viable solution?  How many more people, including Israeli border police, must die before resolute action is taken?

The murder of the three members of the Salomon family in Halamish on the West Bank was clearly a case of terrorism.  But, the UN Secty. Gen. Anthonio Guterres, in criticizing this incident, failed to label it as terrorism.  By contrast, in three other recent statements on incidents where civilians were killed by violent actions he did call all of them terrorist incidents (I thank Michael Freund for pointing this out in The Jerusalem Post).  This callous attitude that the killing of Jews is different from the killing of all other civilians, because the Palestinians are felt to have some special justification for killing Jews, is unacceptable.  Israelis do not accept this moral relativism of the international community.  All terrorism is morally unjustifiable.

So now the forces of terrorism within the Palestinian movement, such as Hamas, that are very strong, will take away from this series of incidents the message that terrorism works and they will gain confidence and will strike again.  To exemplify this, it is reported that tonite further violent Muslim demonstrations are continuing on the Temple Mount with 100 injured in clashes with Israeli police.  If they riot with metal detectors, if they riot with cameras and if they riot when they are all removed, might as well keep the cameras.

The Irrational in Mid-East Politics

As I pointed out in previous blog articles, all major religious sites, including Mosques have metal detectors to prevent the smuggling of weapons and explosives.  Also, all Jews and foreign visitors who visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem are subject to metal detectors and security checks.  But, Muslim Arabs have never been subject to such security checks.  After the shooting death of two Israeli border guards by Palestinian Arab terrorists who came from the Mosque, it became clear that such a security check is necessary.

However,  the Palestinians, egged on by their leadership in the PA including Pres. Abbas, have refused to accept the introduction of metal detectors at the entrance to the Mosques.  Their attitude is that this is an example of the imposition of the Israeli occupation, irrespective of the merits of the case.  But, the situation rapidly became more complex when, apart from the rioting in Jerusalem, a 17-year-old Muslim boy helping with the moving of furniture in the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan, stabbed an Israeli guard with a screw-driver.  The guard shot him dead and also a man who came to his aid.  So with the two dead Israeli policemen and the three Salomon family members murdered in Halamish, and the five Palestinian rioters killed and the two Jordanians, that makes 12 dead so far.

But, although the Israeli guard in the Amman Embassy was wounded, he was unable to go to the hospital because the Jordanian authorities wanted to arrest him.  However, under international law, they have no jurisdiction within the Israeli Embassy and were unable to do so.  However, neither were the Israelis in the Embassy able to leave. Overnight a compromise was struck between PM Netanyahu and King Abdullah, supported by the US negotiator, that Israel would remove the metal detectors and replace them with unobtrusive “smart” cameras that would not disrupt the movement of Muslim worshipers, and Jordan would allow the Israeli staff of the Embassy, including the wounded guard, to return to Israel.  In this situation, both sides wanted a quick solution, Netanyahu wanted an excuse to remove the objectionable metal detectors, and Abdullah wanted to quiet the situation because he fears the backlash of his Palestinian community.  He also needs to keep good relations with Israel, since his is a very tenuous situation.

However, the compromise of Israel replacing the metal detectors with smart cameras has not so far been accepted by the Palestinians.  As far as they are concerned any Israeli move, even one that in no way interferes with their movement in the entrance to the Mosques, is unacceptable.  Just as their claim that the Al-Aksa Mosque is where Mohammed ascended to heaven and that it is the third holiest shrine in Islam is all based on irrational belief, so their rejection of any Israeli action to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the Mosques is also irrational.

A committee of the Wakf, the Muslim Religious Trust, met to decide if they can accept the cameras.  It should, be remembered that a few years ago, after a serious incident of rioting, the Israelis installed cameras in the area of the Mosque, but they were soon totally destroyed by bricks thrown by Palestinian youths.  So will this time be different?  Israeli will have to ensure some form of protection for the cameras or the whole process will be futile.  So far the Wakf decided that the the Palestinians will not accept a civilized and peaceful solution to this irrational situation.  The rioting and killing will continue.

Facts About Jerusalem

Here are some facts about Jerusalem, perhaps unpalatable to some:

  1. Mohammed died in 632 ce. In the Koran it says he ascended to heaven on his steed Buraq from the “fatherest Mosque.”  This clearly refers to a Mosque in Arabia, because Mohammed never left Arabia and there were no Mosques outside Arabia at that time and no Muslims had ever been to Jerusalem up to that time.
  2.  The Arab Muslims under Mohammed’s successor Caliph Omar (or Umar) conquered Jerusalem and the surrounding country from the Byzantine Christians in 637 ce, 5 years after Mohammed’s death! Jerusalem was still a predominantly Jewish city at that time.
  3. The Mosque of the Dome of the Rock was not built until 691 ce and the Al-Aksa (or “Fartherest”) Mosque was not built until 705 ce, although a wooden structure existed on the site before that.  However, it is clear that Mohammed could not have ascended to heaven from this Mosque because it was not built until 73 years after his death.
  4. It is evident that the Mosques on the Temple Mount (called Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary by the Muslims) where the Jewish Temples stood for thousands of years before, were claimed as holy or sacred to Islam in order to establish their claim to the Holy city of Jerusalem.
  5. Jews and other visitors who enter the area of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount from West Jerusalem must go through metal detectors and undergo a security check.  Muslims entering the Temple Mount and the Mosques from East Jerusalem until now have not had to undergo any security check.
  6. This is because after the 1967 Six-Day War, in an attempt to show magnanimity, Gen. Moshe Dayan then Israeli Defense Minister, allowed the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism) and its Mosques to be controlled by the Jordanian Muslim Trust or Wakf.  As Churchill said “in victory magnanimity” but the Muslims have shown no gratitude for this colossal mistake by Dayan.  It has led to many years of further strife over the site.
  7. Many times there have been violent confrontations between Muslim gangs throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks on Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall below and the Israeli border police or IDF.  On several occasions Israeli forces have had to enter the Mosque to put down riots and attacks.
  8. The fatal shooting of two Israeli Border Police last week by a gang of Palestinian Arab terrorists who came from the Mosque with guns and then returned there has caused the IDF security experts to decide that metal detectors are needed there too.
  9. Metal detectors are used at most major Mosques, including the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and at most Mosques in India.  This is a basic security precaution and does not in any way interfere with the ability of Muslims to access or to pray at the Mosques.
  10. The current rioting and violent confrontations in Jerusalem and elsewhere are part of the usual Arab Muslim reaction to anything Israel does in Jerusalem, where Israel has full sovereignty.  The false rumor that “Al-Aksa is in danger” has been used time and time again to foment Muslim anger at Jews and was the primary excuse for the anti-Jewish riots in 1929 in Jerusalem and Hebron that resulted in massacres of the Jewish inhabitants.  The murders of the Salomon family in the settlement of Halamish by a Palestinian Arab last week is another example of that false incitement.

Arab Terrorist Murders Three Israelis

From Algemeiner:  Three Israelis were stabbed to death and another was seriously wounded on Friday night by a knife-wielding Palestinian Arab terrorist who broke into a home in the West Bank settlement of Halamish, northwest of Ramallah.

According to media reports, the three fatalities, all adults, included two men and one woman who were members of the same family.   The preliminary investigation found that the attacker — identified as 19-year-old Omar al-Abed from the neighboring village of Kobar — climbed a fence and entered a home on the edge of Halamish.

The victims were taking part in a Shabbat meal at the time of the attack.   An off-duty soldier who was nearby heard the commotion and ran to the home, where he shot the terrorist, wounding him. The terrorist was detained and taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

The initial probe found that the terrorist was motivated by the ongoing Temple Mount tensions. Three Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem on Friday when protests — against the metal detectors put in place at the entrances to the Temple Mount following last week’s terrorist attack there in which two Israeli police officers were killed — turned violent.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas announced on Friday he was freezing all contacts with Israel until the metal detectors were removed.

I reproduce this report since it is hot off the press.  I have some comments:

  1.  This attack is a direct result of the incitement to violence by the leader of the PA Mahmud Abbas and others.  This continual incitement is intolerable and leads to further terrorist acts.   Note that the incitement is against the use of metal detectors by Israeli police at the entrance to the Mosques on the Temple Mount that is purely a normal security device introduced after two Israeli border guards were shot dead by terrorists who came from the Mosque and returned there.  The actual status and access to the Mosques has not been changed.  
  2. How can we still call these “lone wolf” attacks?  They are part of a concerted culturally determined hatred of all Jews and Israelis and are intended to sow fear and terror among Israeli Jews.
  3. The family of this terrorist will receive a regular payment that is given to all families of Palestinian Arab terrorists.  Also, Arab terrorists in prison receive a regular stipend. Where does this money come from, ultimately it comes from the USA.  The amount given by the USA to the PA of m$30 pa is approximately the amount paid to all terrorists and their families, since there have been thousands of them.
  4. Every American reading this should contact their Senators and request them to support the “Taylor Force Act” that would rescind donations to the PA until they halt all payments to terrorists.  It is named after Taylor Force who was a US marine visiting Israel on a study trip who was stabbed to death on the Tel Aviv promenade in March, 2016, by a Palestinian Arab terrorist, who injured 11 others.  Pres. Trump has stated that he will sign this Bill into law if it is passed by the Senate.

The Metal Detectors

There are metal detectors outside the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. That is because it was attacked and captured by a group of Shia terrorists in 1979, which resulted in a large-scale battle.  The terrorists were sent by Iran.  As a sensible security measure the Saudis installed the metal detectors to prevent the smuggling of arms into the Mosque.  Similarly there are metal detectors at the largest mosque in India in Hyderabad.  When the police searched the Mosque in Finsbury Park in London they found firearms inside.  It is a simple sensible precaution to have metal detectors outside Mosques.

When three Muslim gunmen shot two Israeli Border Guards outside the Al Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem, they came from the Mosque with guns and they re-entered the Mosque after the shooting.  The Israeli police forces pursued them and killed them.  Now after clearing the Mosque, Israeli authorities have erected metal detectors outside the Mosque in order to prevent the smuggling of arms into the Mosque.  This in no way changes the basic situation, the Muslim Wakf still controls the Mosques on the Temple Mount.

But, the Palestine Authority under Pres. Abbas have decided to make this a point of contention with the Israeli Government.  They have ordered Muslim worshipers not to enter through the metal detectors but to pray outside the Mosque.  There have been scuffles with the Israel police and soldiers guarding the Temple Mount.  I for one hope that PM Netanyahu will not rescind this order.  What does it mean, that the Palestinians Arabs want to have the ability to carry weapons into the Mosque without Israeli interference?   This cannot be allowed.  It cannot be allowed in Mecca, in Hyderabad, in Finsbury Park and in Jerusalem.