Blow to Palestinian Unity

Palestinian unity, that was much-heralded and thought to be a factor in helping to achieve peace, has received a major and perhaps irreparable blow.  The convoy of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was bombed last week as it was entering Gaza for the first time.  This was clearly an assassination attempt, although it failed and Hamdallah was unharmed.  The ruling Hamas authority in Gaza denied any knowledge of the attack and claimed that they are searching for the culprits.  However, this seems unlikely since nothing happens in Gaza without the foreknowledge and/or tacit approval of Hamas.  It is after all a militant terrorist organization.

Now no leader of Fatah or the PLO from the PA will enter Gaza for fear of their life, and the prospect of Palestinian unity is a sham.  This is a shame since only this week Presidential adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East representative Jason Greenblatt convened the first acknowledged meeting between representatives of Israel and the Arab countries, Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Jordan, as well as Canada and several European countries.  There were no Palestinian representatives present because they are boycotting all contacts with the US.  The first item on the agenda was in fact Gaza and the need to implement political and economic reforms there to avoid a humanitarian disaster, not in any way due to Israel, but rather to the way in which Hamas treats its own people.  Now that situation has grown even more insoluble.

Meanwhile there are reports that the Trump Administration is close to finalizing its plan for peace between Israel and the Arabs.  Whether or not this can include the Palestinian Arabs remains to be seen.  While the PA is a totally failed entity and Gaza is a disaster, the rift between them does not make a two state solution seem achievable.


Murder in Salisbury

Salisbury, England, is a sleepy market town.  Nothing much happens there…until last Sunday when two people were found unconscious on a park bench.  Then all hell broke loose and it became a major international incident affecting the major powers in the world.  That is because the two people were Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.  He was a former spy for the UK in Russia, and the means of their attempted assassination was a toxic nerve agent.

By now everyone knows that the attempted assassination was “most likely” by the Russians, as stated by British PM Theresa May in her speech to the House of Commons.  She said it could have been by a rogue group within Russia who got hold of the particular nerve agent that is a military product of the Russian State, or the Russian State itself, in other words by Pres. Vladimir Putin. In this case it was evidently an assassination ordered by Putin and probably carried out either by Russian agents or indirectly by some paid assassins.  The fact that the nerve agent is known to be a Russian military grade product makes it most likely that the Russian State was directly involved in this incident.

Remember that this is not the first such assassination carried out in Britain by the Soviets/Russians.  In 1978 Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was murdered by the injection of a tiny ball coated with the deadly nerve agent ricin that was in the tip of an umbrella with which he was stabbed as he got off a bus; in 2013 Boris Berezovsky, an oligarch who fell out with Putin, was found hanged in this bathroom in London; in 2006 Alexander Litvinenko was assassinated using highly radioactive polonium, and there are other mysterious deaths and “suicides.”  After the Litvinenko murder the UK took severe political actions against Russia, including sanctions and expelling several diplomats (actually KGB agents).  They also indicted the man responsible for the murder, although he is still at large in Russia.

PM May gave Putin a few days to come up with an explanation of the incident and when he didn’t she expelled 23 members of the Russian Embassy from the UK and imposed sanctions.  You just can’t allow agents from another country to come into your country and kill someone, and particularly not with such a dangerous substance that has endangered the lives of ordinary British citizens.  In fact one constable is in grave danger from contact with the agent and a restaurant and a pub where traces were found have been closed and the number of people visiting Salisbury have dropped significantly.

And now Pres. Trump is said to be reassessing his response to Pres. Putin.  The US imposed its own sanctions and the US, France and Germany issued a joint statement with the UK deploring Russian actions in this case.  So far Trump has shown a rare degree of sympathy for Putin, as a strong fellow-leader.  But, now he is beginning to understand how dangerous Putin is, as a former KGB Colonel, as a ruthless murderer of his opponents and an enemy of democracy.  As is well-known, they have a certain way of doing things in Russia (as it was under the Czars and under Stalin), if you can’t beat your enemy, you kill your enemy!

Whatever we do

Israeli reactions are criticized whatever we do.  Two cases in point.  The Palestinian Arab girl, Ahed Tamimi, who slapped and kicked two IDF soldiers and was arrested and is awaiting trial.  In most countries she would have been either shot, taken away and never seen again or at least arrested on the spot.  But, not here in Israel, she was treated with civility, the soldiers showed amazing restraint, following orders they did not react since their lives were not in danger.  Then later the police went to her house and arrested her for breaking the law, attacking soldiers on duty.  Now the judge in view if the overwhelming and publicly known evidence against her, has ordered that she be held pending trial.  This is a normal procedure that happens with all sorts of criminals.  Yet of course, this is now a subject of criticism of Israel for the supposed ill-treatment of this “poor girl.”

In the case of the terrorist shooting of Rabbi Raziel Shevach last week, the IDF in pursuit of his killers, traced them to a house in Jenin in Samaria.  They surrounded the house and there was a shoot-out and the killer was himself killed.  They also captured his accomplice as well as injuring several other people during the usual attempt to impede the soldier’s actions.  A curfew was placed on the area.  Now, of course, Israel is criticized for the “killing and injuring of Palestinians.”  I doubt if there would be many survivors if this was an attack by the military in Egypt, Syria or any other Arab country, let alone the civilized West.

Let’s be real.  These are legitimate actions by Israeli authorities and forces in pursuit of specific individuals, according to the laws that pertain.  Those who break the law by attacking soldiers may be arrested, terrorists may be killed if they resist arrest.   These two represent the two forms of action against Israel, violent civil action to provoke IDF reaction with photographers standing by ready to record and outright terrorism.  We fight them both according to our laws.


Abbas Turns His Back On Peace

In a rambling speech Sunday to the Palestine Council of the PLO in Ramallah Pres. Abbas of the PA essentially revoked the chances of peace.  Not only did he call for the Council to vote against the former supposed recognition of Israel, that was never ratified by the PLO anyway, but he denied Israel’s right to exist and denied any actual relationship of the Jews with the Holy Land.  He said Israel is a “colonial project with no relationship to Judaism” and furthermore he added that this colonial project was a plan by the Europeans to take over Muslim land.  Given the current antipathy of the EU towards Israel, they might find this comment puzzling.  What nonsense!

He reserved his strongest invective for Pres. Trump, who he cursed by saying “May God destroy your house,” a strong insult in Arabic.  He stated that while Trump occupies the White House the Palestinians will not deal with the US and will not continue negotiations with them. And this all because Pres. Trump recognized the obvious, that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.  Reports also said that the impending peace plan that Trump’s advisers are working on was leaked to him by the Saudis.  His speech puts the lie to the supposed belief that Abbas is a moderate who is a “partner for peace.”  Soon after his speech the White House confirmed that m$65 would be cut from the US commitment to UNRWA, the UN agency that supports  Palestinians.

Abbas reaffirmed his opposition to the use of terrorism, but he called for a “popular peaceful uprising” which to the Palestinians is a code-word for further lone-wolf terrorist attacks.  Almost every day there are violent incidents against Israeli civilians in Israel and the territories using knives and guns.  Often the innocent people attacked are not Israelis, for example former US marine Taylor Force was stabbed to death in 2016 on the promenade in Tel Aviv, which has led to the passage by the Congress of the Taylor Force Act against the payment of US funds to the PA that are used for paying the terrorists and their families.  Also, for example, a visiting Greek Church dignitary was stabbed in the West Bank in the mistaken belief that he was an Israeli.   Is this not actually a terrorist wave?  There is no peace and there cannot be peace given the intransigence of the Palestinian Arab leadership and people.


Another Palestinian Terrorist Murder

Rabbi Raziel Shevach was gunned down by Palestinian terrorists in his car near the settlement of Havat Gilad in Samaria last Wednesday.  He left a wife and six children.  This is another of the so-called “lone wolf” attacks, in which a Palestinian terrorist will be paid (or his family will be compensated if he is caught) for murdering Jews, with PA money derived from aid donations.  Please explain to me what is the difference between this and organizing terrorism, the answer is NONE!

After the shocking murder, the IDF are hunting for his killer(s) and the Israeli Government has decided to recognize the settlement of Havat Gilad and to supply it with water and electricity, that it has not had until now.  Yael, the wife of Rabbi Sevach, legitimately asked “why did my husband have to die for us to get connected to the grid?”

The response of the PA leadership to the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel goes from bad to worse, with a statement by Saeb Erekat that the Palestinians will revoke their 1993 recognition of Israel.  Actually they never really recognized Israel, they voted to amend the PLO charter to remove the clause calling for the destruction of Israel, but under Yasir Arafat they never did.   How can the Palestinians maintain that they favor peace while all the time doing the opposite.

Actually, the Arab rioting that was going on around Jerusalem after the Trump decision has quieted down and all but died out.  It hardly caused a stir in the media or in reality.  The rioting and demonstrations in Iran caught much more media attention, because they are indeed much more important.  That is the failure of the Palestinians.  They have a fake cause, that exists more in the minds of American Jewish intellectuals, leftist Europeans and Islamic extremists than in reality.  If the Palestinians indeed do revoke their fake recognition of Israel and if the Islamic nations do indeed recognize Palestine as a fake state at the UN, it will make no actual difference.  Its like kids playing a game of  “Stratego.”


Shut down UNRWA!

I agree with the editorial in The Jerusalem Post today “Shut down UNRWA.”   There are many reasons why the UN Relief and Welfare Agency (UNRWA) should be disbanded:

  • It perpetuates the Israel-Arab conflict by keeping the Palestinians in a permanent refugee status, when it was supposed to be a temporary solution.
  •  The definition of refugee used by UNRWA is unique in the world in that it includes all descendants, children, grandchildren and so on, so that the number keeps growing, now up to supposedly 5 million, while the true number of refugees, those who actually left their country, is probably less than 50,000.
  • The internally displaced Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank are NOT refugees, since they are still within the borders of their own country (“Palestine” as it was during the British Mandate).
  • UNRWA has become a part of the Palestine National movement, supporting the aims of Fatah and Hamas.  IT shoudl be called the UN Palestine Support Agency. Of the 11,500 people employed by UNRWA in Gaza, it is well-known that many of them are members of Hamas and Fatah and that they support and teach the ideas of terrorism, conflict, killing of Jews and martyrdom to the children in the schools they run
  • Stores of guns and ammunition and entrances to attack tunnels have been found inside UNRWA facilities in Gaza
  • The Muslim nations principally established UNRWA at the UN, but most of its funding comes from the USA (ca. one-third) and the West.  So taxes paid by American and other Western peoples is being used to support the aims of the Islamic States (that are generally anti-American and anti-Western).
  • The Palestinians are supported by a UNRWA welfare system and don’t manage for themselves and also this relieves the host nations (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan) from having to integrate them as they are supposed to.
  • Palestinian refugees under UNRWA received from 3 to 10 times more money and support (food, education, etc.) as all other refugees in the world supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  • The Israel Government, and possibly the US Govt. under Pres. Trump, favor a move to support authentic Palestinian refugees by shutting down UNRWA and paying for them (much less) through the UNHCR like all other refugees in the world.

No-one has come up with a satisfactory explanation as to why the Palestinians deserve to be treated differently than say Syrian Arab refugees, who are currently much more numerous and deserving.


German Incompetence

One year ago, on Dec 19, 2016, a truck was deliberately driven into the crowd at a Christmas fair outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Church in central Berlin.  12 people were killed and 56 injured.  The perpetrator got away.  He was shot dead 4 days later near Milan, Italy, in a shoot-out with police.

The terrorist was Anis Amri, a Tunisian immigrant and failed asylum seeker in Germany.  He was well-known to police as a criminal and jihadist with links to IS, he had been arrested twice and let go each time.  He had 14 aliases and was considered for deportation back to Tunisia, but the German Federal Police failed to provide the Tunisian authorities with information that they had in their computers.  The police also failed to correctly investigate the incident, for example the id of the perpetrator was only found in the truck 3 days after the attack. These and a series of other examples of police incompetence were discovered in an investigation carried out by a German Parliamentary Committee.

One of the main problems highlighted in the investigation was the lack of cooperation between the German Anti-terrorism authority, the German Federal Police and the local police departments.  The anti-terrorism authority have identified 720 active jihadists in Berlin alone.  Of these 11 were judged to be dangerous, and they had the manpower to surveille only 3 of them.  Also, it was found that when Amri was under investigation, he was watched only from 9-5 and not on weekends.  The anti-terrorism police missed significant meetings he had with other jihadists as well as a fight with a gang of rival cocaine dealers.  Also, when he was arrested the police did not check the contents of his cell phone in the mistaken belief that he had protection under German privacy laws, that only apply to citizens and definitely not to terrorist suspects.

Supposedly all these problems have been corrected now in Germany, but I would be skeptical about that.  This is reminiscent of the screw-ups that occurred in the American system before 9/11, when the anti-terrorism authorities (CIA) the FBI (the federal authority) and the local police (NYC) all failed to communicate effectively with each other. As a result many people died.  We all hope things have changed for the better since then, but have they?