PLO Council Suspends Recognition of Israel

The PLO Council at a meeting in Ramallah on Monday, under the Chairmanship of Pres. Abbas of the PA, voted to suspend PLO recognition of Israel.  Not only is this a backward step that would prevent any chances of negotiations and peace with Israel, but it is a farce, since the PLO Council, notwithstanding wide-spread belief to the contrary, never actually ratified its recognition of Israel and the Oslo Accords in 1993.  Yasir Arafat, then Chairman of the PLO, famously shook hands with Israeli FM Peres and PM Rabin and Pres. Clinton, and signed the agreement on the White House lawn.  However, the PLO Council, as required, never ratified the recognition.  Hence the Oslo Accords were never actually legally implemented.

So now the PLO Council has reversed the recognition of Israel, that it never accepted in the first place.  That is why Israel still regards the PLO as a terrorist organization, since it has never actually modified its Charter and still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.  This is why they still educate their children that martyrs are heroes and that they should aim to kill Jews.

The action that triggered this retrograde step by the PLO, the Fatah faction of which controls the PA, was Pres. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and the moving there of the US Embassy.  Also, the recent passing of the Nation State Bill by the Israeli Knesset that proclaims the State of Israel to be the Nation State of the Jewish people.  Both of these things are facts, Israel is the Nation State of the Jewish people and Jerusalem is its capital.  But, the longer the Palestinian people and leadership are entrenched in their enmity to the very existence of Israel and Jews in their midst, there can be no peace.

Contrast this step to the direction of growing Arab State recognition of Israel, both as a legitimate country and as a possible ally in their fight against Iran.  For Oman, the Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the threat of Shi’ite Iranian expansionism is far greater than their fear of Israel.  While for the Palestinians it is the reverse.  In fact, Hamas, which is the Palestinian Islamist terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip, receives funding and arms from Iran, quite the reverse of the general approach of the Sunni Arab States.  In fact during fighting between the two factions PLO and Hamas, the former often call the latter “Shia,” which is considered to be a terrible insult.  It is likely that this divide between the Palestinians and the Sunni Arab States will grow greater with time.

 

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Netanyahu Visits Oman

In a significant and historic event, largely missed due to the horrific events in the US, PM Netanyahu visited the Muslim Arab State of Oman.  He was invited by the Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said, and the Foreign Minister, Yousef bin Alawi.  The visit was kept secret until after Netanyahu returned to Israel on Friday.

In a speech at a Intl. Inst. of Strategic Studies Conf. in Bahrain on Fri, Alawi stated that “Israel is a State present in the region and we all understand this. …Maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same as all other states…”

This visit to Oman is doubly significant since it followed a visit by a senior delegation from the Palestine Authority, and Pres. Abbas has expressed his concern at the Omani invitation to Netanyahu.

The evident reason for the Omani invitation to Netanyahu is the fear of Oman over the depredations and territorial expansionism of Iran, that is a far greater threat to Oman and the other Gulf States than is Israel.   Not only is Iran bigger and closer than Israel, but also the Palestinian cause is evidently not sufficiently high on Omani concerns to trump their very real fear of Iran.  Only Israel and the US stand between these relatively weak Gulf States and Iran’s plans, and the US has not been a very reliable ally in recent years, i.e under Pres Obama.  Hence the turn towards legitimization of Israel as a potential ally against Iran.

Netanyahu’s visit to Oman could be an omen of what is to come regarding acceptance of Israel by the Sunni Arab world.

Security at Synagogues

When my wife was the Executive Director of a Synagogue (Beth El of Montgomery County) in MD, USA, they installed a security system.  It was quite simple, but effective.  There was a bullet proof glass window in the office that surveyed the entrance lobby with an intercom.  The inner doors were controlled by a security switch so that they remained locked unless someone actively depressed a red button inside the office. This was installed to primarily prevent homeless people wandering in, some of whom were on drugs and were unstable.

ln one case a man who was dishevelled and dirty came in and wanted to enter the synagogue.  My wife called the rabbi and he went out to talk to him, it turned out he was Jewish and wanted to sit in the synagogue.  They let him clean up and gave him a meal and he came back a few times.  But, usually they were begging and they had to institute a policy of not giving money, otherwise all the beggars in DC would get on the Metro and come out to get a hand-out.  The problem with this kind of vetting is that it breaks down when there are many people entering at once, as on Shabbat.

One of the other parts of the security system was of course a series of motion detectors inside the shool.  Unfortunately this often went off in the middle of the night, and my wife was afraid to go by herself, so I had to accompany her, and meet the police outside and then go in with them.  Fortunately they were all false alarms.  The company said the problem was that the system was so sensitive that it would pick up the movement of mice or cockroaches.  I was glad when she left that job.

About having guards, as Pres. Trump suggests, apart from the cost, it is also not very effective. A determined man with a gun can take a guard by surprise and cut him down, although this would act as a warning to those inside.  Even having a  lay person patrolling at the door is a good thing, because when a potential attacker sees someone patrolling outside, he doesn’t know if they have a gun or not and might move somewhere else, to choose a softer target.  This is what happened with the terrorist who blew himself up in the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002.  At first his driver took him to Tel Aviv, but all the hotels there had guards, so he said let’s go to Netanya, and they saw the Park Hotel did not have a guard on duty, actually he was sitting at the back of the lobby, and the terrorist walked in and blew himself up in the dining room.  There are no guarantees against such immoral craziness.

 

 

Attacks in the the US

Within days of the bomb scare of 13 packages being mailed to prominent Democrats in the US, including ex-Pres Obama and Hillary Clinton, there has been a shooting in a Conservative synagogue in the Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hills in Pittsburgh.  At times like these we are so glad that we have effective and proactive police forces and FBI.

In the case of the bomb mailings, the FBI was able to identify the criminal who mailed them from one fingerprint and two DNA samples from the intact packages.  Either these packages were not intended to actually explode, but largely to scare and intimidate, or the perpetrator was incompetent, since none of them exploded and no one was actually hurt.  Within a day the  perpetrator was identified as 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc from near Miami Florida, with ties to NY City, and a previous criminal record.  He was taken into custody in Florida and his van was taken for investigation.  Democrats accusing Pres. Trump of being responsible for these bombs is way out of line. On the contrary, he has directly and sternly condemned them

In the synagogue shooting, the shooter murdered members of the congregation (currently estimated at 11) and injured another 12, including three police officers who went to the scene.  The shooter was captured and has been identified as a white male aged 46 named Robert Bowers.  Pres. Trump called him a “wacko,” but that is not nearly serious enough.  This man no doubt had political and/or anti-Semitic motives, and is likely inspired by the current wave of anti-Semitism sweeping the Western world, using anti-Israel bias as an excuse.  Whether or not he acted now because of the bomb scares, or quite independently we shall soon know.  But there is no doubt that the continued false accusations of the BDS and other pro-Palestinian movements in the US and Europe are leading to a lower tolerance for anti-Semitism, that doesn’t need much excuse to continue murdering Jews.

This might lead to an increase in emigration (aliyah) of young Jews to Israel, and it might have a back-lash against such hate-crimes.  But, taking the long perspective, it is more of the same, the killing of Jews that has always been happening.

The Migrant “Caravan”

Some 14,000 would-be immigrants to the USA from Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico are approaching the southern US border.  But, these are not the usual immigrants, they don’t apply through the usual channels to legally enter the US, and they don’t even slink over the border thru tunnels at night.  No, these immigrants expect to simply cross the border illegally in full view, they believe it is their “right” to enter the US and simply become Americans, with all the rights that entails.

How did they get this idea?  There are I believe two reasons, first the immigration debate in the US, as well as in Europe, has two sides.  The right-wing who see the erosion of borders as a threat to the very existence of the nation State, and the left who feel sorry for the poor suffering masses and want to let them in to share in the affluence.  It seems there is no common ground between these two positions.

The second reason I believe is that the population of Gaza, organized by Hamas, has been attacking the Israeli border, claiming that they have “the right of return.”  This speaks to leftists, so that Jeremy Corbyn, the leftist UK Labor Party leader, has said that these are justified “peaceful” demonstrations.  And there are many who support that view.  On the other hand, the IDF has been positioned along the Israel-Gaza border for months, fighting off the horde of up to 20,000 people a day.  In order to protect the border and the citizens of Israel they have had to use live rounds to stop them breaking though.

In the same way, the US authorities cannot stand by and allow the immigrant mob to attack the US border with the intention of breaching it and entering the USA.  In order to prevent this US Defense Secty Mattis has sent 800 US servicemen to the border.  This crowd is not naive, they have already announced they will split up and attack the border at several points.  This is a calculated attack in the hope that some of them will be killed and therefore will gain sympathy from the liberal elements in the US and Europe.  The sight of  poor Mexican and Honduran women and children being shot down by US soldiers will certainly lead in the western newspapers, fueling the liberal agenda (“if it bleeds, it leads”).  But, when it comes to it, the integrity of the country must be the primary concern.

If this “caravan” breaches the US border, there will be more and larger ones.  All the poor and disenfranchised from the whole of S. America will pour towards the US border, with the same notion, that they have the right to enter the US. Perhaps not just 10’s of thousands, but hundreds of thousands.  Pres. Trump is right, a stand must be made.

Killing of Journalists

Pres. Erdogan of Turkey has been very actively criticizing Saudi Arabia for the killing of journalist Jamal Kashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul, which really was a criminal act.  However, one should be aware that Erdogan’s motivation is entirely political, he is shedding crocodile tears.  In fact, during Erdogan’s reign in Turkey many journalists have been murdered, for which he is ultimately responsible.  During 1990-95, 33 mostly Kurdish journalists were killed, and from 1996-2006, 18 mainly Turkish journalists have been killed (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Turkey).

Similarly, Pres. Putin has criticized the Saudis, mainly because they are an American ally, but in Russia since 1996, 50 journalists have been killed, including Anna Politskaya who was murdered at her home in 2006.  She was known to be investigating Putin’s corruption.  Of course, journalists are only a minority of the total number of people, including politicians and businessmen, who have been murdered in Russia, at the rate of almost one a month (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia).

There are many other countries in the world where journalists are either controlled, as in the communist countries China, N. Korea, Cuba and Vietnam, and the dictatorships of Iran, Venezuela and the Palestinian territories.  In fact, worldwide the astonishing total of 71 journalists and other media professionals were murdered in 2017 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_2017).  Many of these were killed in third countries, such as assassinations as in the case of Kashoggi, and many were killed in war zones, usually deliberately by an insurgent group.  Frankly you have to be brave to be a journalist in some countries.  But, the media in the West is immune from such attacks, although they often participate in character assassination.

Science and Race

There was an interesting conference, at the Jacques Loeb Centre for the history and philosophy of the life sciences at Ben Gurion University, entitled “Science, Race, Ethnicity and Identity.”  I was only able to attend the morning session  consisting of four presentations, but I found them very stimulating.

According to most popular beliefs, humans are made up of several races, such as white European, black African, yellow Asian and native Americans.  But, these are not really races at all, since each can co-habit with the other and produce offspring.  The definition of a race or species according to science is that they cannot reproduce.  Humans have been on the earth about 500,000 years at most, probably about 350,000 years.  That in scientific terms is simply not enough time for separate races to develop.

The racial ideas developed by the Nazis, that they needed to keep their “Aryan” race pure is nonsense, since there is no such thing genetically as a pure race.  All the major groups of humans in the world, that have been largely geographically separated, are genetically over-lapping.  There is diversity, but not along so-called racial lines.  The homogeneity is greater than the diversity.  This was the conclusion of Prof. Diethard Tautz, from the Max Planck Inst. for Evolutionary Biology, Germany.  According to genetic analysis, there is only one species of human being (Homo sapiens) and all others are now extinct, from genetic analysis the Neanderthals can be considered a sub-species.

Prof. Giovanni Destro-Bisol from Sapienza Univ., Italy, also said that the concept of “race’ is not useful for biologists and geneticists. But, whether we like it or not, the term “race” is useful and has entered the legal sphere.  For example, it is stated in law that one cannot discriminate on the basis of “race, religion, ethnic group, etc.”   There are organizations that seek to remove all mention of race from the law, yet the preponderance of opinion is that it is a useful concept that has meaning for most people.

Michael Gilead, a psychologist from Ben Gurion University, concluded from human experimentation, that the basis of so-called racial distinction comes from the human need to identify those who are of the same group or clan, and therefore safe,  from the others, who are not.  This is a very basic, deep inherited human response and in itself is not necessarily discriminatory.  It is only when it becomes political, that issues of rights, ownership and superiority enter into the issue.

Later presentations covered the issues of Jewish concepts of race and the genetic definitions of ethnic origins.