Hamas raises the heat

Hamas has been desperately trying to get itself and the Palestinian cause back in the headlines.  Compared to what is going on in the Arab world it is certainly the least of their concerns, and the world is perhaps finally growing weary of the Palestinian eternal obsessive quest to destroy Israel, like tilting at imaginary windmills.   The attacks by tens of thousands of civilians against the Israeli border, led by Hamas terrorists, is a case in point.  But, with only 62 fatalities, 50 of them Hamas operatives, they were unable to do more than get a UN Security Council statement and an EU meeting, both worthless.

So now they have resorted to real military activity, probably ordered by Iran.  They blasted southern Israel, not far from where I am writing this, with 70 rockets.  One of these exploded in a kindergarten, luckily before the kids arrived.  Israel cannot, of course, accept this.  But, Israel is, as always, in a dilemma.  The IDF could destroy Hamas, and flatten Gaza in the process.  But, in doing so they would give Hamas, even in defeat, a great deal of sympathetic media coverage, and this would, as always, result in anti-Israel animus.  Israel cannot afford to win.  A defeat for Hamas is the only way they can win.

PM Netanyahu has been meeting with his security cabinet and trying to decide how to respond.  The IDF already pounded Gaza, hitting 35 Hamas targets, including an attack tunnel that entered Israel after going thru Egyptian territory.  But, even though some in Israel would like to finally destroy Hamas and take care of this thorn in Israel’s side, the current threat from Iran in Syria, a far more serious problem, looms large in all security calculations.  So for now, it is likely that Israel will strike back, but will not take such extensive action that would lead to a war.  Iran was hit hard in Syria, and Israel does not want to give the Iranians and Hezbollah an excuse to try to hit back.

The latest reports are that Egypt has mediated a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, and this is good from the Israeli perspective.  As PM Netanyahu stated, “If they test us they pay immediately, if they continue to test us they will pay dearly.”

Personal tragedy

I admitted Naomi, my darling wife of 57 years, to the closed Alzheimer’s ward at the Orpaz Home in Beer Sheva, that is about 5 mins drive from our home.

Since we moved last Sept from Netanya we have seen a marked deterioration in Naomi’s cognitive ability.  It has become like living with an insane woman.  Everything she does, getting up in the morning, undressing, showering, drying herself, dressing, eating, has to be told to her, often against aggressive denial.  Finally I was spending at least half my time being with her. She would come into the study every 3-5 mins and check where I was, and then she would forget and check again.

Miriam and I had seen two Homes in Beer Sheva (one of the municipality) and we were not impressed with.  When we were getting the required forms prepared by our doctor (GP), we also had to see his nurse, and she told us that the Orpaz Home in Beer Sheva had a small closed Alzheimer’s ward and she highly recommended it and she had in fact put her father in there.
So we visited it and it was quite nice, although small (only 25 patients).  For Miriam it has a great advantage that she could walk there on Shabbat to visit her Ima.  We  were also impressed by the Manageress, who speaks English and was very responsive and they had a much brighter facility than the others in Beer Sheva.  Added to which it is really only 5 mins drive straight down the main road outside our house.   So we decided we wanted Naomi to go there and I gave them the required forms.
Last Monday (when Miriam was still here (before leaving for a trip to the USA and at our request) they sent their Admissions Committee to meet with Naomi, and they asked the usual questions etc. and made sure she can walk etc. and then told us she would be admitted.  On Tues I went there and signed the contract and Naomi was admitted on Weds morning.
It was of course very difficult.   At first she was very friendly and happy there and we sort of left her.  But, then a nurse tried to take her blood pressure and she got upset and shouted, so I had to go back in and tell the nurse to stop and calmed her.  Then  I had to leave her. I spent half an hour meeting with the chief nurse (a Beduin man named Wadiah) and an hour meeting with the social worker and the manageress and then the doctor (a Russian lady).  I gave them all copious details about Naomi and her pills etc. and it was all entered into their computer.
I felt guilty as if I were abandoning her, betraying her trust. I hope that they will treat her well. Finally, after many years it had to be done.

The Trail of Tears

I have been watching a TV series entitled “The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen” on the History Channel.  This tells the story of the famous American heroes Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crocket and so on.  What is illuminating is the terrible degree of ethnic cleansing, as it is now called, of American Indians (or indigenous people) that took place.  What was unfortunate was that many Indian tribes allied with the British against the American settlement and Government, and so as further wars erupted after the War of Independence was won, it was essentially seen as a fight for survival of the American nation.

The Indians were mainly small and scattered tribes and they would have really been no threat to America, but as the British were considered an effective enemy, this meant that the Americans were motivated to destroy and remove the Indian threat from the eastern US.  The Shawnee chief Tecumseh organized a multi-tribe confederation with the British against the Americans in what is now Michigan as part of the War of !812.  An American army under Gen. Harrison defeated them at the Battle of the Thames River (now in Canada) in 1813 and Tecumseh was killed, thus leading to the breakup of his confederation.   The Indians were then left leaderless and defenseless against American forces.

In the Mississippi territory an armed group of Creek Indians known as the “red sticks” in 1813 massacred ca. 500 white settlers and burnt Fort Mims.  In revenge, Andrew Jackson, with Daniel Boone as guide, led a small army mainly of Tennessee volunteers and upon finding their main camp massacred every man, woman and child.  Then he forced the Creek nation to cede millions of acres of land to the United States, that became mainly the State of Alabama.  Because of this success and his ruthless efficiency Andrew Jackson was then sent as a General to defend the Port of New Orleans against a British invasion.  With a much smaller force (4,500) he defeated the British Army  (12,000) at the Battle of New Orleans.  This propelled him into the Presidency in 1829.

One of his first acts was to introduce the “Indian Removal Act” of  1830 that was passed by Congress and resulted in the physical removal of all major Indian tribes still settled east of the Mississippi River.  This included the Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw and Seminole nations.  They were forced at gunpoint by the US Army to move west from their ancestral lands to what was then known as Indian territory (later Oklahoma), in many cases a distance of 600 miles on foot.  They were given minimal food and water.  During what became known as the “Trail of Tears” some 18,000 out of a total of ca. 50,000 indigenous Americans died or were murdered.  When I first learned of this atrocity I felt ashamed to be an American.

And yet many Americans, especially liberals, have the gall to criticize Jews and Israelis for their supposed repressive treatment of the so-called Palestinian Arabs.  The American nation is built on the massacre and murder of many nations, indigenous Americans and Blacks.  But, you can’t turn the clock back, America is a fact, and similarly Israel is equally a fact.  To those who think that Israel is illegitimate, not only is it legitimate (under international law and history), but we are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel, and we will not be removed again.


The North Korean dictators, the Kim dynasty, are past-masters at brinksmanship.  That is developing threatening weapons (at the expense of their own people’s welfare) and then using them to leverage more power on the international scene.  In doing this they are aggressive risk takers.  But, the key to their actions is that they will only go so far, to the brink, but not further, they will absolutely take no action that could harm the control of their hereditary regime.

It seems that they, specifically Kim Jong-un, has met his match in Pres. Donald Trump.  When Kim Jong-un was testing nuclear bombs and long-range missiles, the surrounding countries, South Korea and Japan were understandably nervous.  He also threatened to target the US.  He wants to be recognized as a powerful actor on the international stage and wants his country to be a player at the highest levels, equivalent to a superpower.  Previous American Presidents have failed to deal effectively with them and they refused to meet with them because they were afraid it would give them too much credibility.  Meanwhile they continued their aggressive military developments.

When he “tested” missiles  recently over Japan and towards Guam (a US protectorate and military base) Pres. Trump threatened him back and flew US AF planes along the North Korean border.  He also threatened him verbally and since Trump is considered to be capable of anything, this brought about a 180 degree turnaround in Kim’s position.  Instead of threatening, he agreed to stop the tests, stop his nuclear program and enter negotiations.  In effect his brinksmanship worked, he got what he wanted, a meeting with the great chief, the President of the USA.  Clearly China played an important role in his decision; after many years of doing nothing about their ally, Trump put economic pressure on China and Pres. Xi  had two unprecedented meetings with Kim, in which he no doubt told him to stop this behavior and cooperate.

A Summit between Trump and Kim was agreed to take place in Singapore in June, and then again, in another example of brinksmanship, Kim and his North Korean puppets started to reverse their tone again, and were unavailable for meetings to organize the summit.  So Trump did what no previous President has done, he peremptorily cancelled the Summit and once again threatened Kim’s regime.  This quick reaction must have affected Kim, because once again he reversed himself and became cooperative.  He met again with the South Korean President after cancelling the scheduled meeting.  And he does desperately want to meet with the Pres. of the USA, but he doesn’t want to pay the price, denuclearization and stopping missile testing.  By contrast, Trump is not going to a meeting unless he knows in advance that Kim is going to give major concessions.  So now the meeting hangs in the balance.

I predict the meeting will take place because both sides need it.  Kim to show his credibility on the world stage, and Trump to show he can make a deal with the devil and win.   However, the twists and turns of this plot have not yet been exhausted, expect more brinksmanship from the North Korean leader.


Evaluating Gaza

Two things haven’t worked for many years, the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, and the so-called BDS movement against Israel. That includes and is based upon a liberal-leftist attitude that says that Israel uses disproportionate force against the poor, desperate Palestinians.  But, this biased view is wrong on several counts.  I once used to believe, maybe seen from the perspective of a Diaspora Jew, that it would be possible to reason with these critics of Israel.  But, now I see from the perspective of an Israeli that it is not worth the effort.  Their basically anti-Semitic animus cannot be reasoned with.

Take for instance the recent rioting by Palestinian Arabs near the Gaza border with Israel.  THEY were attacking US.  Our border guards were defending the borders of our sovereign land.  No country in the world would allow a hostile mob to breach its border and pour into the country to carry out kidnapping, mayhem and murder.  Furthermore, Hamas spokesmen have admitted not only that the so-called demonstrations were not peaceful (duh!) but that most of those killed by targeted Israeli fire (50 out of 62) were in fact Hamas members (armed and trained terrorists, but not wearing uniform).

Well, we all knew this, even the liberal media writing their columns and the TV cameramen taking their pictures knew this.  But, it is the perceived liberal wisdom, the well-accepted story that is completely opposite to the truth.  They were not poor, desperate civilians, they were an organized mob lead by Hamas terrorists, and they were not killed indiscriminately, but only if they approached the fence or if they fired at the IDF guards.  Think how differently this would have been reported if it were a Mexican mob attacking the US border.  Would they have been described as “poor and desperate” and the US response as “disproportionate.”  Indeed one can predict that the number of casualties (62 out of up to 30,000 a day is really indeed very small) would have been far higher.

Meanwhile, Israel was the host to the Giro D’Italia, the prestigious cycling event; Israel defeated Iran’s aggression from Syria; Pres. Trump ditched the Iran nuclear deal; Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and an Israeli, Netta Barzilai, won the Eurovision Song Contest, voted for by millions of people around the world.  Life goes on, and in the final analysis who cares about the Gaza riots.  Hamas may have won the PR war, but the IDF prevented the incursion of these angry, destructive mobs into Israel, and that ‘s what really counts.  In a few years, this little Palestinian tantrum will be forgotten.  Israel hit back and destroyed about 30 Hamas facilities (hardly reported) and Hamas is running out of options.  They can win as many PR battles as they like, but it won’t get them any nearer to their tactical political goals.


The Mueller Probe

The Mueller Probe is now a year old, and it has nothing to show for the millions of dollars spent on lawyers, interviews and investigations.  There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump campaign colluded in any way with the Russians to subvert the US electoral process.

The whole scheme looks like it was concocted to cover-up the misdeeds of the Obama Administration in actively using Government facilities, including the FBI and the Dept. of Justice, in trying to compromise the Trump campaign and to prevent an investigation into the truly serious criminal misdeeds of Hillary Clinton.   Given that attack is the best form of defense, that’s what the Democrats have done to avoid damage to their favorite candidate, a truly rapacious woman.

It has now been revealed that the Obama Administration had an FBI agent infiltrate the Trump campaign to look for dirt against him.  This is a serious misuse of authority, expected only in a police state.  And the Democrats used a British counter-intelligence officer to find dirt on Trump and used his Report as a basis for a US Govt. probe, without revealing the questionable source and the political bias.  Now it has also been revealed that the Democratic campaign used a British professor to try to compromise the Trump campaign.  Maybe they thought that if they did all this via Britain they would be less likely to be found out.  But, the hens come home to roost.  They have been found out, and Obama and Democratic operatives should go to jail.

First, the Mueller probe, that has been going in ever-increasing circles, should be stopped and disbanded.  Second, former FBI and Justice Dept. officials involved in highly partisan actions to try to deny Trump the election should be tried, and thirdly Hillary Clinton  should be investigated for the use of a private server for secret Government information when she was Secty. of State, and she should be tried and sent to jail.  Hopefully that won’t take another year.

Queen Meghan

Prince Harry did what was needed to keep the British Royalty alive, he married a divorced American commoner.  And furthermore she is half-Black and a pretty TY star, what could be better. In fact, the whole wedding was so contrived that it seems to  have been scripted in Hollywood (remember “Capricorn One,” and ” Wag the dog“).  The Royal family is mired in privilege and is distant from the common people and perhaps it’s supposed to be that way.  But, anyone with any sense would advise them to become more relevant or be doomed to follow the Royal families of the rest of Europe to obscurity.

I foresee a TV drama series, a soap, that would star Meghan Markle (or the Duchess of Sussex) in the role of a new American member of the Royal family.  But, she discovers that her husband is only sixth in line to the throne, so in the fashion of “Game of Thrones” and countless real live stories, she schemes and maneuvers her way to remove the obstacles that stand in their way (remember Alec Guinness in “Kind Hearts and Coronets”).  If this means bumping off a few Royals, so be it. Assassinations can be carried out without her being suspected (look how Princess Diana died).  Until finally her husband Harry becomes King.  Then she schemes to replace him.  Long live Queen Meghan!

She could then make a move to become Queen of America, although Oprah Winfrey is already primed for that role.  Well, anyway she had her fairy tale wedding to the Prince.  Meghan’s Mom was supposed to pay for it, I wonder if she at least made a contribution.  All the wedding dress aficionados and hat fetishists will be happy for a while.  The rest of us can get back to reality.  What’s for dinner, Mum?


Artificial Consciousness

Regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI), the question is not if machines can be as intelligent as humans, the real question is whether or not they can have consciousness like humans.  Intelligence is an ability to be analytical and to understand problems, consciousness is an awareness of oneself in one’s surroundings. These are clearly two distinct concepts, the former does not necessarily imply the latter.  Therefore, there is a unique property that should be called Artificial Consciousness (AC), that would constitute the consciousness of self by a machine/computer.  I contend that it is not AI that we should be afraid of in intelligent machines, but the development of a true self-awareness or AC.

In many depictions of AI, robots look humanoid and act as if they have consciousness, but that is a stretch, since it is not clear that providing a robot/computer with an AI program would also allow it to develop self-awareness, i.e. AC.  But, to develop AC one has to understand consciousness itself.  Attempts have been made to do this, but it is not a clearly understood aspect of brain function.  Consciousness, like memory, seems to be a distributed property of the brain.  In other words, it takes a large organized proportion of the brain to maintain and allow consciousness to function (for further interesting insights see: “The Astonishing Hypothesis,” by Francis Crick).  Whatever the origin of consciousness in the human brain that makes humans aware of themselves in their environment, the ability to reproduce that in a computer program is still far way.

One approach to this might be to compare the way that the brains of animals, particularly higher mammals like apes, function compared to humans and especially babies and young children.  It is well-known that the concept of self-consciousness does not develop in the human brain until around 5 or 6 and only becomes fully mature, giving rise to the concept of individuality, at puberty.  It will be a very interesting aspect of future IT to see if or how self-aware programs can be developed and what will happen if they indeed eventually give rise to self-conscious robots.

The Basic Facts and the UNRWA scam

Whose home?  Let’s suppose you take over a house as squatters, and then find out that the real former owners have come to take it back.  You fight over it, and you lose.  But, instead of accepting the reality, you keep coming back again, and again, and again to try to take it over.  You are sore losers and you are obsessed by this house and lose all sense of proportions, this becomes your raison d’etre.  That’s the Palestinians (don’t just believe me, read “The dream palace of the Arabs” by Fuad Ajami). Whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of the situation, face the reality, get real, Israel is a sovereign State and is here to stay and will rightfully defend itself.

The two-state solution?  Most good liberals in the West and many countries have a policy that the “two-state solution” will resolve the conflict.  And most believe that the Palestinians want a two-state solution, while Israel is against it. But, that is absolutely not the case.  On at least two occasions Israel has offered a two-state solution (under PM’s Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert), but the Palestinians rejected it.  The fact is that even though they may say they want peace with Israel, it is clearly and definitely Palestinian ideology to destroy Israel and replace it with an Arab State.  Only by facing this reality, and the fact that Israel cannot be beaten by the Palestinians, nor any combination of Arabs, can the real situation be faced.  It is only the belligerence of Iran and its declared intention to develop nuclear weapons that currently threatens Israel and war in the Middle East.  Iran must be stopped!

The UNRWA scam.  A refugee is one who leaves their country, not including their descendants.  But, UNRWA changed the definition for the Palestinians only, so that instead of decreasing with time, as all other refugee problems do, the Palestinian refugee problem actually increases with time!  This is how UNRWA perpetuates the Israel-Palestinian conflict.  Not only that, many of the so-called refugees are in Gaza and the West Bank, which were part of the former Palestine Mandate, so they have not actually left their country, so they do not qualify as refugees.  It’s all a scam.  Your tax dollars have been keeping the Palestinians from cradle to grave for many years, so they have plenty of time to riot and throw stones at Israel.  Note that UNRWA closed their schools over the past few weeks to allow their pupils to attack the Israeli border.  UNRWA is a fully engaged part of the Palestinian movement, and it is paid for by US dollars.  The wealthy Arab states have paid only a small portion of the cost of UNRWA.

Under what flag?  And although Pres. Trump has reduced aid payments to the PA, due to their payments to terrorists and their families if they are killed (the Taylor Force Act), the US still supports the Palestinians while they are carrying out violent anti-Israel and anti-American acts.  An example was the rioting by West Bank Arabs in an attempt to disrupt the proceedings of the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.  They burnt the US flag, while the US is paying for their very existence.  Talking about flags, during the riots near the Gaza-Israel border, flags were seen with the Nazi swastika on them flying next to the Palestinian flag.  Also, a few days ago it was reported that at a Nazi rally in Germany, they flew the Palestinian flag.  They are true allies.


Jerusalem Day

It was Jerusalem Day on May 13, commemorating the reunification of the City in 1967, and the following day was Jerusalem’s Day, the official opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem, transferred from Tel Aviv.  For this we have to thank Pres, Trump, fulfilling his promise, the first President to do so.  But, it was difficult to view the ceremony because the liberal media preferred to show split screens and constant analysis of the rioting of Arabs along the Gaza a border with Israel.

The publicity stratagem of Hamas worked, get enough Arabs killed (including women and children) and you can get headlines, TV coverage and suddenly you’re back in the spotlight.  How many Arab lives are worth a minute of TV coverage?  The current estimate is about 30.  Of course, these deaths need not have happened if the civilians had indeed demonstrated peacefully away from the border.  But as the videos showed they were intent on storming the border and trying to breach it.  They had been warned many times by leaflets that doing so would result in live fire from the IDF guards, but their leaders urged them on.  It was pathetic to see the Security Council standing in silence to protest these deaths, when in fact as the White House spokesman said, Hamas was fully responsible for these deaths.

Many of the commentators stated that the day called by the Palestinians Nakba or Catastrophe Day was happening on Israel Independence Day, but that was incorrect.  Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) took place on April 19.  These riots at the border were scheduled to coincide with the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem in order to draw attention away from that.  But, this was not a too early development as some suggested, the Jerusalem Embassy Act was promulgated in 1995, so this move was in fact delayed for 23 years by Arab and anti-Israel forces.  Israel was the only country in the world whose self-selected capital was not recognized as such.

Yes, a lot of Arabs lived in Jerusalem, but there was a war fought in 1948, which everybody expected the Arabs to win, and they were expected to massacre the Jews (after the Holocaust who cared).  But, it didn’t work out like that.  The Jews won, Israel was declared a State and Jerusalem was and is its capital and will be forever.  So other Embassies will soon follow the US and move to Jerusalem, despite the rioting.  I don’t know about you, but I am fed up seeing this continued rioting.  They deserve what they get.  Media fatigue has set in and most people have lost interest.  Last night IAF jets attacked Hamas targets in Gaza and exacted severe damage.  This is a lesson to Hamas, don’t mess with us.  Really what have they gained by these riots?  Nothing beyond publicity.