Goodbye Mugabe

The Army in Zimbabwe was probably the only organization that could separate Mugabe from his control of Zimbabwe after 37 years.  He clung to power at the age of 93 like a leech, clearly showing he had no concern for the people of Zimbabwe, like most dictators.  Once the Army told him he must resign, his party the ZANU-PF followed suit and finally he announced his resignation.

Zimbabwe has a 90% unemployment rate and  is worse off than when he took power in 1980.  After promising the white farmers that he would not take their farms he did so,  and divided their land among unskilled peasants.  The consequences for the country were disastrous.  From a prosperous Rhodesia it became a poverty stricken Zimbabwe without enough food to feed its people.

Whether or not that situation will change under his former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa remains to be seen.  This whole situation started when Mugabe removed  Mnanagagwa from office and the rumor was he was going to replace him with his wife, who is universally disliked, making another hereditary dictatorship.  But, if Zimbabwe wants the kind of help they desperately need, then hopefully Mnangagwa who came back from S. African exile will re-institute democracy and reform every aspect of life there.

There aren’t too many absolute dictators left in the world, but there are enough to cause great suffering.  North Korea and Iran come to mind.  The removal of Mugabe is a least a step in the right direction.

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MeTooism

I have been watching ice dancing and figure skating  tournaments from Japan and Helsinki on the TV.  I love it when the man picks up the woman or girl and throws her twirling in the air and catches her and then she twists around him and he puts her back on her skates.  You never see the woman throwing the man in the air and catching him.

It set me to thinking about the current tsunami of exposures of prominent men in TV and showbiz who have been accused of improper conduct, molesting or even rape of women.  It started with Harvey Weinstein and includes such luminaries as Bill Cosby, Charlie Rose, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Affleck, Oliver Stone, James Toback, Kevin Spacey and on and on…

All these men share in common the ability to affect the career of any young woman who is looking for a job.  It is clearly is a case of power and control as much as sex.  Certainly this has been going on since time began and definitely it is wrong, especially if force was used.  But, men are weak creatures, they cannot resist the temptation, they cannot use restraint, especially if they think that the chances of getting away with it are great.  Maybe that won’t be the case in the future.   Careers have been destroyed and fortunes lost because of these “outings.”

Men are at a disadvantage compared to women because they never know how a woman will react to a “pass” or approach.  However, if a woman says no or if there is no earthly reason why she should want such an approach, then the man is making a big mistake.  Let’s face it, gender is destiny, and men have to get used to the idea that their position should not be used to determine the destiny of the other gender.  I always hope that the male skater will safely catch the female skater.  That’s his destiny.

Fake News in Israel

There is all kinds of fake news, that which the Republicans don’t like and that which the Democrats don’t like.  But, the best fake news comes from the far left, who lie and fabricate for the good of their cause.

A case in point is a legal case that was being prosecuted in Israel against a leader of the Breaking the Silence group.  This consists of a group of left-wing former members of the IDF who have taken it upon themselves to spread rumors and lies to undermine the credibility of the IDF.   This particular person claimed that he had been guilty of beating a Palestinian youth while he was an officer in the IDF.  The problem was that when the case came before the court, both the Palestinian youth in question and the fellow IDF officers of the self-accused stated under oath that no such event had taken place.  It was simply a case of fraud and lying in order to besmirch the IDF.

As a result of this the Judge dismissed the case.  Isn’t it a wonderful concept that the member of Breaking the Silence was upset that he was not found guilty of a crime that in fact did not take place.  The Palestinians and their supporters are experts at media manipulation .  I have detailed several of these case before (see “Media Distortion of Palestinian Crimes, IsBlog Oct. 19, 2015), and I find it amazing that the media still reports their stories at face value without the usual objective confirmation.  Obviously the media is generally left-wing and anti-Israel and will print anything that puts Israel in a bad light out of sheer bias, objective reporting be damned.

There was a similar case some years ago when a graduate student at Haifa University published in his PhD thesis that there had been a massacre of Palestinians at a certain village perpetrated by a Division of the IDF.  Members of that group of the IDF went to court and sued him and his PhD adviser for defamation, and they won.  It turned out that the adviser was Ilan Pappe a well-known leftist anti-Israel Israeli, who was subsequently forced to resign from his faculty position at Haifa University.  It seems that Pappe encouraged his student to include this lie in his Thesis because although it didn’t take place, it could have done.  Pappe is now living in exile in London and still spewing out anti-Israel propaganda. So don’t believe everything  you read, especially if it comes from left-wing anti-Israel propagandists.

New Horizons in the Middle East?

Two news items in the media that may be harbingers of a new order in the Middle East have attracted my attention.  First, Lieut. Gen. Gaby Eisenkot, CinC of the IDF, gave an unprecedented interview with a Saudi newspaper and in it he stated that Israel would be prepared to share intelligence on Iran.  He expressed his view that Israel and Saudi Arabia have identical policies with regard to Iran’s attempts to take over control of the Middle East and that they could work together to prevent this.

The other report was an anonymous statement that Saudi Arabia is prepared to spend billions of dollars to facilitate a military alliance with Israel.   This would probably mean building airbases and other facilities that would enable the IAF to use Saudi air space and to have landing and refueling facilities that are compatible with their aircraft.  Initially the Saudis will expect Israel to destroy Hizbollah in Lebanon.  This is a lot more than the previously presumed agreement that Saudi Arabia would allow Israeli aircraft to over-fly their territory en route to attack Iran.

If these reports come to fruition, then the Middle East will be transformed, with an Israel-moderate Sunni coalition that could match and defeat Iran in its Shia expansion plans.  Iran has already taken three steps that have greatly concerned Saudi Arabia and destabilized the Middle East: 1. They have trained Iraqi Shia militias and in fact these militias are a proxy for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG); 2. They have negotiated a sweet deal with the Western powers that enables them to openly obtain a nuclear weapon in some 8 years from now; 3. They have opened up two areas of attack, in the north through Syria and Lebanon with Hizbollah and in the south with the Houthi rebels in Yemen.  No wonder Saudi Arabia feels insecure being surrounded by pro-Iranian forces.  Israel is also feeling insecure with potential IRG and Hizbollah forces set to try to establish a forward base on the Syrian side of the Golan heights.

The one issue that is always brought up to preclude such an Israeli-Saudi  coalition is the Palestinian problem.  But, Saudi Arabia is facing a huge challenge to its continued existence as the leader of the Sunni world, and frankly it does not have the military capability to confront Iran, nor after Pres. Obama does it feel it can rely on the USA to protect it.  Faced with such a challenge to its very existence, the Saudis would be very foolish to allow the Palestinian issue to prevent them doing what they need to do, that is make an open alliance with Israel to defeat Iranian aggression.

Therefore, it was no coincidence that Pres Abbas of the PA visited Riyadh last week and presumably asked the future King of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, not to make such an alliance with Israel, at the expense of the Palestinians.  But, a threat to your existence focuses the mind, and the Saudis have always only given lip-service to the Palestinian Arab cause, but never really forcefully adopted it.  They sometimes give donations, but rarely the full amount they committed, and they have always been hostile to the Palestinians themselves, not allowing them to enter the Kingdom except under special circumstances.  They must soon make their choice, either continue to support the Palestinians and forgo a military alliance with Israel and risk the overthrow of their regime, or downgrade their support for the Palestinians and enter into an peace agreement with Israel and hence be able to survive the Iran menace.  I predict that they will take the latter path.

The Agreement on Southern Syria

Russia, the US and Jordan have made an agreement about southern Syria.  As far as I know Syria and Iran were not consulted, so this is not exactly a peace agreement.  But, it concerns the need to avoid conflict in the area, especially between the US and Russia, which are on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict.  Israel was also not consulted formally, but Israel made its interest known.

The Israel Government has made it very clear that it will not tolerate a permanent military presence of Iranian or Hizbollah forces on the Golan Heights.  Although the US and Russia at first seemed to acknowledge this vital Israeli interest, it now seems that Russia has said it did not take Israel’s concerns into account when making the agreement.  Russian FM Segei Lavrov has gone on record as saying that they never promised to keep Iran out of Southern Syria, and that Iran is a natural ally of Syria.  This could be potentially very worrying for Israel, because if Russia and the US allow Iran and Hizbollah to station permanent military forces in southern Syria, this could put them in direct confrontation with Israel.

Because Iran has ICBMs and is working to develop nuclear warheads, Israel cannot allow Iran to entrench itself within a short distance from its borders.  This would be an immediate threat since Iran’s leaders have repeated many times their intentions of destroying Israel, wiping it off the map and killing all its Jewish inhabitants. These are not idle threats, although the international community doesn’t seem to be concerned about them.  But, Israel, especially given it history, must be concerned about serious repeated threats issued by a large and aggressive fundamentalist Government.   If the threats of N. Korea are taken seriously so should those equally of Iran.  If Russia and the US allow Iran to insert its forces so close to Israel they must be prepared to accept the consequences.

Life without wifi

I have discovered that my life is totally dependent on the internet and e-mail, which means I am dependent on wifi.  When the wifi started to fail a few days ago, as evidenced by the lights going off on my modem, I found myself marooned, shipwrecked on an island, alone in a sea, with nothing to occupy my time, unable to communicate. Life came to a stand-still.  I realized that wifi is as important as a wife. or maybe more so.

When it became obvious that turning the modem off and on again would not accomplish anything, I decided I had to call the internet company HOT.  I always experience withdrawal symptoms when I face this because my Hebrew is not good enough, I can hardly understand the many options that they give on the automatic messages.  Finally I screwed up enough courage and called, and then navigated the plethora of indecipherable responses and more or less randomly pressed, 1, 2, 3 or more (the only language choices were Hebrew or Russian).  Finally I got to talk to someone in the technical department, but she spoke Hebrew quite incomprehensible to me (either with an Arab or Ethiopian accent), so I asked her to have someone call me back who spoke English.

I was surprised when someone did actually call back fairly soon, and then I explained the situation and he checked and said there was a problem with the cable and he would send a technician – except that he could not do that until I paid my debt!  What debt, my payments to HOT are made automatically by bank draft every month, and indeed I had seen that I had paid them in October.  But, he said I owed them about NIS 200 for the telephone which had not been paid.  In order to take care of this I would have to call customer service in the morning because they were already closed, then I would have to call back to the technical department after I paid and tell someone else the story again.

I spent the night worrying about how I would explain this situation to the customer service department.  I must not start out by saying I had a problem with the modem or the wifi, because then they would transfer me to the technical department.  So when I finally called and waited ca. 20 mins I had my story ready, I needed to pay my account to date so that I could get a technician sent to take care of a problem in my cable.  I gave her my credit card number and this worked and the girl said “hakol be’seder” (everything is OK) and then transferred me to the technical department.  I explained my problem again and told them the cable had been checked and I need a technician, and they said OK we’ll send one, but not until Sunday.

I prepared myself mentally to face a whole weekend without wifi.  What a hardship!  Then someone called back and said he would be here that afternoon, and I got a confirmatory SMS message. Then someone called at noon and said he was on the way.  When he came he did not go to see the modem but he checked the cable outside my house and then told me it was not working properly.  But, then he ran through the house replacing cable connectors and miraculously the wifi began to work again.    He said it would probably go again, but then they would have to do something more extensive to the cable.  Then as  soon as he came he was gone.

Now I am able to communicate with you through my ailing cable/wifi system.  If you don’t hear from me, you know why, my wife has probably left me.

 

Israeli Sovereignty

Recently The Jerusalem Post included an issue of “Sovereignty” in its Friday edition, published by an independent right-wing group.  They propose that Israel should extend its sovereignty to “The West Bank” (Judea and Samaria or Judah and Shomron).  They also proposed to transfer the Palestinian Arab population to Sinai.   Here is my response to their positions.
I have for long advocated the annexation of Judah and Shomron to the State of Israel.  But, for me the emphasis must be where it belongs, not on political or economic aspects, but on security.
Israel cannot allow the Palestinians to form their supposed State on the heights overlooking the coastal plain of Israel where millions of Israelis live.  One disaffected Palestinian terrorist could hold the State to ransom by lobbing mortars into Ben Gurion Airport or into the Knesset.  If Hamas or a like-minded terrorist organization should take over the supposed State then it would mean another costly war. The mini-State would be a magnet for all the anti-Israel and anti-Western terrorists left over from the various conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere in the failed Arab world.  Israel cannot be allowed to commit suicide by trusting to the intentions of a similar failed Palestinian State.
But, the idea of transferring the population of the so-called “West Bank” to the Sinai is a non-starter.  They simply won’t go and Israel cannot transfer then forcibly.  Also, Egypt will never agree to give up its sovereignty or allow the troublesome Palestinians to settle within its borders.
I agree with my friend Robert Wolfe, the former Jerusalem approach (adopted after the 1967 War) is a model for accepting the Palestinians as residents in Israel, but not conferring on them citizenship or voting rights.  As we increased our population in the current State of Israel, so we shall increase our population in Judah and Shomron.  There will be incentives for Olim and Israelis to move there.  Let the Jewish people of the Diaspora face the challenge of aliyah to the new territories of the growing State.