Action, Reaction

Every action has its reaction.  When Hamas decided to use mock demonstrations on the border with Israel, they knew the IDF would respond with force.  When the IAF attacked Hamas facilities in Gaza, so Hamas retaliated with some 500 rockets fired into Israel, and incendiary balloons causing immense damage.  In reaction the IAF hit many Hamas targets in Gaza.  This caused Hamas to accept Egyptian mediation to bring about a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

But, since Hamas does  not recognize Israel, they wanted to show that they haven’t changed their basic policy so they decided to continue the attacks by sending a wave of terrorism into Israel from the West Bank. At least 5 Israelis were killed.  This caused pressure on PM Netanyahu from the right-wing to do something more drastic against Hamas.  In order to avoid a war in the south while the north looks to be more dangerous, with Hezbollah attack tunnels being exposed and Iran trying to establish itself in Syria,

Netanyahu knew he would have to find a way to placate his critics.  So he announced that 70 hilltop settlements or outposts in the West Bank would be recognized by the Israeli Government. The Govt. has initiated a Bill in the Knesset to do just that. This is a victory for the right in Israel, exactly opposite to the reaction that Hamas would have wanted.  It shows that you don’t always get what you want.  Instead of weakening Israel, this terror wave has strengthened Israel’s hold on territory it claims as its own as the legitimate sovereign successor of the British Mandate.

It should be mentioned that there has never been a sovereign Arab entity (country or State) in what has been dubbed “Palestine”.  In fact the area went from being part of the Turkish Empire to being controlled by the British in 1917.  Subsequently the UN tried to decide the fate of the area, but when the UN Partition Plan was broached, the Arab States invaded, but were defeated.  Consequently, let me reiterate, there has never been any Arab sovereignty in Palestine/Israel.  In fact, the only recognized sovereignty has, since ancient times, been Jewish.  It will forevermore be so.

 

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Lesionless Shower

More than a year ago I noticed I had a small pimple on the shin of my right leg, . I thought it was a boil, so I put antiseptic cream on it. Some time later I noticed it had grown a bit, but I ignored it. Then one day I must have knocked it because it started bleeding and was difficult to stop. After that I went to my doctor and he sent me to a skin doctor. It took a month, during which I had another bleed at the gym.

The skin doc looked at it and pronounced it was a carcinoma. He sent me to a plastic surgeon to have it removed. A month later I saw the plastic surgeon, by which time it had doubled in size. He said he would remove it, in a month or so.  I had another serious bleed while I was at the gym, when blood soaked my sock and was in my sneaker.

Finally the moment came for the actual excision of the lesion. This was a small op using local anesthetic, minor compared to many more serious problems.   The cut was only about 1 inch long.  Nevertheless, it hurt like hell after the local anesthetic wore off.  I also had a small bump under the skin in my left forearm removed at the same time for a biopsy.  When he removed the tissue I thought it might be alive, as in “The Matrix,” but it looked like a pink piece of goo.  The surgeon said he thought it was only a lipoma.  So I also have several stitches on my left arm.

Then the surgeon told me not to allow water to get on the cuts when I have a shower for at least three days.  So I have the interesting problem, how do you have a shower and not get your right leg and your left arm wet?  I envisaged myself with my right leg and left arm sticking out of the shower stall while having a shower standing on one leg.  Impossible!  I had once tried using saran wrap around the bandage, but that didn’t work, it got wet.  Then I remembered a saying of Zaida, my father-in-law, “you wash down as far as possible, then you wash up as far as possible, and then you wash possible.”  So therein may lie the solution, use a bowl filled with hot water and follow those instructions using a face cloth (a flannel), at least for a few days.  It worked!

 

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Brexit Deadlock

Imagine, there was a time before we had even heard of Brexit. Now it is moving towards a confusing deadlock. UK PM Theresa May seems to have done the best she can to achieve an actual British exit from the EU, while retaining some trade advantages for the UK as well as finessing the issue of the Irish border.  She managed to defeat a vote of No Confidence in the Commons last week.

The problem is that the Brits are totally divided between about five different approaches, most of which differ from May’s pending solution.  The options are: 1. Hard Brexit: There are some mainly in the right of the Conservative Party who want a total and complete exit from the EU, without any remaining connections, consequently they oppose May’s compromises with the EU; 2. No Brexit: There are those on the other extreme who cling to the original majority of those in several areas of the UK, namely Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and London, who opposed Brexit in the original referendum; 3. Another Referendum: Those who say that things have changed so much since the first referendum, and that now there is a definite agreement between the UK Govt. and the EU, that the people should be able to vote again in a second referendum; 4: New election; Those mainly in the Labor Party who maintain that May has not been able to come up with an acceptable solution to Brexit and they want a complete new election in the hope that they will be elected, note that Labor has generally opposed Brexit; 5. May’s Agreement; those who support May insist that this is the best deal they could get from the EU, allowing UK independent sovereignty while retaining some beneficial ties to the EU.

The final deal has to be voted on by the UK Parliament, and it seems none of the above options has a majority,  May’s position is that this is the only deal on the table and has been arrived at thru extensive and difficult negotiations, and she hopes and expects in the final analysis that those who are in the other four groups, when push comes to shove, will vote for her deal rather than face the prospect of a No-Deal Brexit (NDB).  Most people agree that such a NDB would be disastrous for the UK and the EU.  The Vote will be in 2 weeks and the actual final Brexit date is in less than three months. We shall see.

 

Terrorism Surge

Two more IDF soldiers were murdered yesterday at a bus stop near Givat Assaf in the Binyamin region. Sergeants Yosef Cohen and Yuval Mor-Yosef were shot from a car that stopped.  I simply don’t understand why soldiers are not ready to shoot back and why there are no bullet proof barriers at these vulnerable junctions.  A search is underway for the terrorist killers and the whole West Bank is under curfew.  Two Israeli policemen were also stabbed in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Meanwhile the search continues for the killer of the baby who died and seven others who were wounded after the previous drive-by shooting at Ofra earlier in the week. However, the killer of two Israeli workers at the Barkan Industrial site last month was finally located, cornered and killed in a shoot-out with an elite IDF unit in Samaria. There were no Israeli casualties in this incident.

The Israeli Government apparently knew that Hamas had decided to initiate a wave of terrorist incidents from the West Bank because they were forced to agree to a ceasefire in Gaza. Knowing that, they should have been taking more preventive action. PM Netanyahu is under pressure from the right for not taking more resolute action against Hamas.

Roger Waters and other pop singers who claim that Israelis are killing Palestinian children every day, have got their facts reversed. It is Palestinian terrorists who are murdering Israeli Jews every day, including babies.  Further, the so-called demonstrations at the Gaza border are being revealed for what they are,  Hamas organized attacks on the Israeli border.

In Strasburg, France, a Muslim terrorist was shot down a few days after driving a car into a Christmas fair, killing 6 and wounding several.  In Mainz, Germany, a young woman of Jewish-Turkish parentage was raped and murdered by a Muslim man.  He did not know she was Jewish, because although her mother is Jewish she kept this secret, but now he is being celebrated as a hero by the Muslim community because he murdered a Jewish woman.  This recourse to terrorism, to the murder of innocent Jews, is a stain on the Muslim world and indeed on all humanity.

A New Non-natural Genetic Code

I attended a fascinating lecture at Ben Gurion Univ. given by Dr. Floyd Romesberg of the Scripps Institute, La Jolla, California, entitled “A semi-synthetic organism that stores and retrieves increased genetic information.”   This title my be somewhat obscure to people, but it comprises a remarkable breakthrough.

All organisms on earth function through the information contained in the base sequence of DNA.  This involves four base letters (A, T, G, C) that form two base pairs (A=T, G=C).  This is the universal genetic code that has evolved thru millennia. But, there are in fact many more such bases that exist with chemical modifications that are not found naturally in DNA.  Prof. Romesberg and his collaborators decided to set out to see if they could isolate or design another non-natural base pair (note I use the word non-natural rather than unnatural, which has connotations of being weird).

In doing so they did not start with preconceived ideas, but decided to test 1,800 such non-natural bases to see if they could be involved in base pairing.  This involved a great deal of work and many false starts.  But, after working for 20 years with many post-doctoral fellows, they did in fact isolate a base pair that mimics the role of the two natural base pairs.  Two points about this base pair (let’s call it X=Y), first the bases found by the trial and error selection were very hydrophobic (that is they prefer to avoid being in water solution and tend to fit well into the water-free interior of DNA.   Second, although molecular structures of short pieces of DNA (oligonucleotides) containing the non-natural base pair have been determined, the two bases (X and Y) are not actually paired with hydrogen bonds as are the canonical base pairs (A=T, G=C), but they nevertheless appear to form such hydrogen bonds when involved in biochemical processes.

Romesberg and his associates were able to actually integrate this non-natural base pair X=Y into the genome of a microorganism, E. coli, that functions very well and produced proteins that have a non -natural amino acid derived from the non-natural base pair by the natural genetic process.  What does this mean?  It means that chemically modified proteins can be made in situ from micro-organisms that might have significant biological/therapeutic properties.

But, on another level it shows that man’s ingenuity is able to manipulate the genetic code, indicating that it is not unique or of divine origin. But, before people start worrying about unnatural organisms existing in the world, I point out that it took 20 years and testing thousands of non-natural DNA bases to arrive at one novel non-natural base pair that works in the biological world.  So no need to worry about strange mutated organisms just yet.

Terrorist Attack at Ofra

A truly horrific attack occurred on Sunday when 7 Israelis were badly injured in a drive-by shooting carried out by Hamas terrorists outside the settlement of Ofra.  People waiting at a bus-stop were riddled with bullets from a passing car.  One of those badly injured was a pregnant woman, Shira Ish-ran, who subsequently underwent a Caesarean operation to deliver her premature baby.  Both mother and baby are clinging to life.  Her husband, Amichai, was also badly injured, as well as several students.

Note that this attack occurred soon after the UN refused to condemn Hamas  as a terrorist organization. Countries that failed to vote for this resolution included Iceland, Norway,. Switzerland and New Zealand, among others.  This attack also occurs during a significant rise in anti-Semitism in Europe.  In my opinion, hatred of Jews is an integral part of European civilization (so-called) that is always there, now increased by the influx of Muslim immigrants.  Jews in Europe now fear to walk the streets and to go to synagogue.  Let them come to Israel instead.

Let me set one falsehood to rest, Jews are here by right, both in Israel and what is misnamed “The West Bank,” which was part of the British Mandate that Israel inherited when it became sovereign.  IDF forces are now combing the area searching for the car and the terrorists that carried out the attack. Contrary to leftist propaganda Israel no longer occupies the Palestine Authority,  but does retain the right of “hot pursuit” in the case of attacks by terrorists, a right practised by all countries in the world.

What these terrorists don’t seem to realize is that as hatred of Jews increases as a result of their leftist propaganda, more Jews are making aliyah to Israel, thus strengthening the country.   Young Jews come and join the IDF and older Jews come with their business and innovation ideas.  They can never win!

Psychology not History

Recently I wrote a piece entitled “Death of Dictators” (Nov 29) that set me thinking about the nature of dictators.  This includes Emperors, Kings, Fascist and Communist dictators and many so-called cult leaders.  In their resemblance to each other they give away their true nature.  They are all homicidal megalomaniacs, who should be incarcerated in an asylum rather than be able to hold the power of life or death over others.  In that respect they should be judged psychologically not historically.

They were mentally disturbed individuals who found themselves in a chaotic social situation, with the break-down of law and order, who took advantage of this situation to ruthlessly eliminate rivals and to gain power.  They used whatever ideology or dogma was handy for their purpose, and once they had achieved power within the context of their historical situation, they proceeded to use whatever excuses were available to simply murder anyone who was a threat or who they disliked.  Seen in this light, although historians have written reams about Bolshevism and Communism in regard to Stalin and the nature of Fascism and Nationalism in regard to Mussolini and Hitler and all the other dictators, including Tsar Nicholas II and his Romanov predecessors, and Saddam Hussein, who used the Baathist party as a means to gain power, and Ayatollah Khomeini who used Shi’ism, we must challenge these interpretations.

I do not for a moment disbelieve that their analyses are wrong, it’s just that I don’t accept that Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Ceacescu, Saddam Hussein, the Ayatollahs of Iran and so on are really sincere about their beliefs.  That they murder hundreds of thousands or even millions of people in order to establish a greater Germany or an ideal socialist society, it’s that they use these concepts as a front, while their true motivation is ME!   This is the “cult of personality,” I know what to do, I want to have control, I need to eliminate all rivals.

Whether Hitler was a sincere anti-Semite is irrelevant, the fact is that he used anti-Semitism cleverly to gain power in a country, Germany, that was suffused with this belief.  It’s a fact that Stalin murdered every other member of the original Central Committee of the Communist Party.  Hafez Assad razed the city of Hama in 1982, not to improve the plight of the Syrian people, but to maintain power, and his son Bashar did even worse, killing at least 500,000 Syrians.  Whether Stalin, Ceausescu, Kim Il-Sung or Mao Tse-Tung really believed in the brotherhood of man and wanted to improve the plight of the peasants is irrelevant, they used these convictions that others may have believed to take over a movement and then kill all the true believers and everyone else who got in their way.

I remember a truly chilling video of Saddam Hussein, after he had gained power, having a meeting of the central committee of the Ba’ath party, and saying that there were traitors in the audience, and he kept everyone there for hours, but no one confessed.  Finally, he called out names, and soldiers took them away, shaking in fear, and they were shot outside the hall, so everyone could hear.  That’s the way a true dictator operates, a homicidal megalomaniac.  Hitler had his “night of the long knives” when he got rid of Ernst Rohm and his SA followers, Stalin had his Mensheviks, Social Revolutionaries, bourgeois reactionaries, army generals, etc, etc., who he had murdered, not to improve the lot of the people, but to satisfy his own psychological urges.  Similarly Jim Jones murdered all his followers in a village named after himself, Jonestown, when he realized he had gone too far in killing a US Congressman.

What I am saying is that we should not take the political or other stated motivations of these individuals at face value and judge them purely historically, but rather that we should judge them psychologically. In that respect they show much more similarity to each other. Hopefully democracy, for all its faults, is a system that prevents such people from taking power, by using the ballot box as the mechanism to achieve power that hopefully filters them out.