Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Real Palestinian Response to Trump's Jerusalem Speech

Video of the week Netanyahu thanks President Trump https://tinyurl.com/ycr6ngb8   

by Bassam Tawil
December 7, 2017
§  By misrepresenting the poster burning "ceremony" as a reflection of widespread Palestinian rage concerning Trump's policy on Jerusalem, the international media is once again complicit in promoting the propaganda of Palestinian spin doctors. The journalists, including photographers and      camera crews, have been handed detailed schedules of events that will take place in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
§  When we sit in our living rooms and watch the news coming out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, let us ask ourselves: How many of these "events" are, in fact, media burlesques? Why are journalists allowing themselves to be duped by the Palestinian propaganda machine, which spews hatred and violence from morning until night?
§  It is high time for some self-reflection on the part of the media: Do they really wish to continue serving as a mouthpiece for those Arabs and Muslims who intimidate and terrorize the West?
§  The "rivers of blood" we are being promised are flowing as we speak. Yet, it is the knife that Arabs and Muslims take to one another's throats that is the source of this crimson current, not some statement made by a US president. Perhaps that could finally be an event worth covering by the roving reporters of the region?
A short three hours after US President Donald Trump phoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to inform him of his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a number of Palestinian photojournalists received a phone call from Bethlehem.

The callers were Palestinian "activists," who invited the photographers to come to the city to document an "important event." When the photographers arrived, they discovered that the "important event" was a handful of Palestinian "activists" who wanted to burn posters of Trump in front of the cameras.

The "activists" waited patiently as the photojournalists and cameramen set up their equipment to get the "important event" on film. Shortly thereafter, the media was abuzz with reports about "angry Palestinian protesters taking to the streets to protest" Trump's intention to move the embassy to Jerusalem and his recognition of the city as the capital of Israel. The handful of Palestinians who were filmed burning the Trump pictures were made to look as if they were part of a mass protest sweeping Palestinian communities.

The incident represents yet another example of the collusion between the Palestinians and the media, whose representatives are always more than happy to serve as mouthpieces for the Palestinian propaganda machine and provide an open platform for broadcasting Palestinian threats against Israel and the US.
Had the photographers and cameramen not shown up to the erstwhile "spontaneous" poster-burning event, the Palestinian activists would have been forced to quietly slink back to one of Bethlehem's fine coffee shops.

Yet, there was no worry on that score: the Palestinian activists are well aware that local and foreign reporters are starving for sensationalism -- and what better fits the bill than posters of Trump going up in flames in the middle of the birthplace of Jesus, on the eve of Christmas and as thousands of Christian pilgrims and tourists are converging on the city?

By misrepresenting the poster burning "ceremony" as a reflection of widespread Palestinian rage concerning Trump's policy on Jerusalem, the international media is once again complicit in promoting the propaganda of Palestinian spin doctors. Palestinian leaders and spokesmen strive to create the impression that Trump's policy regarding Jerusalem will bring the region down in flames. They also seek to send a message to the American people that their president's policies endanger their lives. In effect, the media has volunteered to serve the Palestinian campaign of intimidation. And the media convergence on the poster-burning farce in Bethlehem is just the beginning.

Now that the Palestinians have managed, with the help of the media, to burn these images into the minds of millions of Americans, they are planning more staged protests. The goal: to terrify the American public and force Trump to rescind his decision regarding the status of Jerusalem. This tactic of intimidation through the media is not new. In fact, it is something that has been happening for decades, largely thanks to the buy-in of the mainstream media in the West.

Now, Palestinian and Western journalists have been invited to cover a series of protests planned by the Palestinians in the coming days and weeks in response to Trump's policies. The journalists, including photographers and camera crews, have been handed detailed schedules of events that will take place in different parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The journalists have been promised more scenes of burning photos of Trump and US flags. Some of the journalists have even received tips as to the locations where "clashes" are supposed to take place between Palestinian rioters and Israel Defense Forces soldiers. In other words, the journalists have been told precisely where they need to be in order to document Palestinians throwing stones at the soldiers -- and the predicted the IDF response.

Here is the funny part. If, for whatever reason, the cameras are a no-show, the "activists" are likely to be as well. In the Palestinian world, it is all about manipulating the media and recruiting it in favor of the cause. And the cause is always bashing Israel -- with bashing Trump not far behind.

Yes, the Palestinians will protest in the coming days against Trump. Yes, they will take to the streets and throw stones at IDF soldiers. Yes, they will burn pictures of Trump and US flags. And yes, they will try to carry out terror attacks against Israelis.
But when we sit in our living rooms and watch the news coming out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, let us ask ourselves: How many of these "events" are, in fact, media burlesques? Why are journalists allowing themselves to be duped by the Palestinian propaganda machine, which spews hatred and violence from morning until night? And, why are the journalists exaggerating and compounding the Palestinian threats for violence and anarchy?

First, many of the journalists want to appease their readers and editors by offering them stories that reflect negatively on Israel.

 Second, some of the journalists believe that writing anti-Israel stories paves the way for them to win awards from assorted professed "virtue-signaling" organizations. 

Third, many journalists believe that writing anti-Israel reports give them access to so-called "liberals" and a supposedly "enlightened" coterie who romanticize being "on the right side of history." They do not want to see that 21 Muslim states have been trying for many decades to destroy one Jewish state; instead, they appear to think that if journalists are "liberal" and "open-minded," they need to support the "underdog," who they believe are "the Palestinians." 

Fourth, many of the journalists see the conflict as being between bad guys (supposedly the Israelis) and good guys (supposedly the Palestinians) and that it is their duty to stand with the "good guys," even if the "good guys" are engaged in violence and terrorism.

Recently, more than 300 Muslim worshipers were massacred by Muslim terrorists while praying in a mosque in Sinai, Egypt. That tragedy was probably covered by fewer journalists than the orchestrated Trump-poster episode in Bethlehem. Where was the outcry in the Arab and Islamic world? Now, Arabs and Muslims are talking about "days of rage" in protest against Trump. Why were there no "days of rage" in the Arab and Islamic countries when more than 300 worshipers, many of them children, were massacred during Friday prayers?

It is high time for some self-reflection on the part of the media: Do they really wish to continue serving as a mouthpiece for those Arabs and Muslims who intimidate and terrorize the West?

Journalists are actively colluding with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to create the false impression that World War III will erupt if the US embassy is moved to Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Christians have been massacred since the beginning of the "Arab Spring" more than six years ago. They were killed by Muslim terrorists and other Arabs. The bloodshed continues to this day in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Egypt.

So, make no mistake about it: the "rivers of blood" we are being promised are flowing as we speak. Yet, it is the knife that Arabs and Muslims take to one another's throats that is the source of this crimson current, not some statement made by a US president. Perhaps that could finally be an event worth covering by the roving reporters of the region?


Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gaza’s Latest Lesson in Self-Inflicted Misery



Video of the week:  Kuwaiti Arab says Israel is Legitimate:  https://tinyurl.com/yd7h9uo3

From the Commentary, by Evelyn Gordon - https://tinyurl.com/yb5p5dsg

Observing developments since Hamas and Fatah signed their latest reconciliation deal in October is an object lesson in just how much of the Palestinians’ misery is self-inflicted–or to be more precise, inflicted by their two rival governments.
The first thing that happened after implementation of the deal in early November was that prices of merchandise imported to Gaza plummeted by up to 25 percent. Having your money go 25 percent further is an obvious boon to anyone, but especially for impoverished Gazans. Prices fell because, for the first time in a decade, Gazans weren’t paying taxes to two different governments–the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza–but only to one. As part of the reconciliation deal, Hamas handed control of Gaza’s borders to the PA and dismantled the tax collection checkpoints it had set up at the border crossings.
This long-overdue relief didn’t last long. Earlier this month, I pointed out that, since Hamas would remain the dominant military power in Gaza even after the deal was implemented, it wasn’t clear how anyone could stop it from extorting taxes again once it had gotten what it wanted from the deal. I overestimated Hamas’s patience. Though the PA has yet to fulfill most of its promises to Hamas, the latter has already resumed collecting taxes.
True, the checkpoints are gone, but Hamas found another method to seek the rents on which it survives. It simply summoned several hundred businessmen to appear in its offices and demanded payment of tax on everything they have imported to Gaza since the reconciliation was signed. After all, Hamas needs that money; it has rockets and tunnels to build. So who cares that Gazans will once again be paying inflated prices they can ill afford?
The reconciliation was also supposed to bring another benefit: the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which has been closed almost continuously for the last four years. Since Israel allows only limited traffic from Gaza through its territory, Rafah’s closure has meant that leaving Gaza is virtually impossible for most Palestinians.
Israel and Egypt have restricted traffic from Gaza for the same reason: Hamas’s incessant efforts to undermine both countries’ security. In Egypt’s case, Hamas has cooperated enthusiastically with Islamic State’s affiliate in Sinai, providing money, weapons, training, medical care and refuge in Gaza for terrorists fleeing Egyptian security forces. An open border would simply have made it easier for Hamas to supply all these services, as Israel can attest. Israel allows thousands of Palestinians to enter its territory from Gaza every month for business, medical care or transit to another country, and Hamas has exploited that traffic to smuggle everything from cash to explosives.
Once Hamas handed control of Rafah over to the PA in early November, as mandated by the reconciliation deal, Rafah was supposed to reopen. And in fact, it did open for three days two weeks ago, and was supposed to open for another three days this past weekend. But after Islamic State’s horrific attack on a Sinai mosque last Friday, Egypt abruptly announced that Rafah would once again be shut for “security reasons.” As the daily Israel Hayom explained, citing a senior PA official, “Egypt’s security forces suspect that some of the terrorists involved in the attack, as well as other wanted individuals, fled Sinai and entered Gaza via underground smuggling tunnels belonging to Hamas, with the knowledge of senior Hamas officials.” Given Hamas’s track record, that would hardly be surprising.
Incidentally, this track record conclusively disproves the widespread fallacy that Hamas is primarily concerned with the Palestinian cause rather than the cause of global jihad. An organization concerned with Palestinian well-being would strive to preserve good relations with Egypt in order to ensure that Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world remained open. Only an organization that prioritized global jihad way above Palestinian wellbeing would offer extensive aid to Islamic State, even at the price of having Rafah almost permanently closed.
Finally, there’s the minor detail of Gaza’s electricity crisis–a topic I’ve covered extensively in the past. Gaza has been down to four to six hours of power per day for months now, ever since the PA stopped paying for Gaza’s electricity last spring on the not unreasonable grounds that since Hamas was ruling the territory de facto, it should also cover the territory’s expenses. The reconciliation deal requires the PA to resume paying for Gaza’s power. But the PA and Hamas are embroiled in a dispute over which of two steps called for by the deal comes first: the PA’s resumption of the payments, or Hamas’s handover of control of civilian affairs in Gaza. Meanwhile, Gaza remains without power.
Granted, one benefit of the reconciliation does seem to have survived the first month: Gazans with permits to enter Israel are thrilled that, since Hamas dismantled its checkpoint at the border, they’re no longer subjected to lengthy Hamas interrogations every time they leave and every time they return. But we’ll see how long that lasts. After all, Hamas knows who the permit holders are, so there’s nothing to stop it from simply summoning them to its offices for interrogation, just as it summoned the businessmen to pay taxes.
Meanwhile, much of the world will doubtless continue to blame Israel for Gaza’s woes. That will make many self-described humanitarians feel good about themselves, but it will do absolutely nothing to ease Gaza’s misery.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Storm clouds gathering over the region


Video Of The Week –Holocaust Survivors - https://tinyurl.com/y9gbsvbt   


JPost, By Isi Lebler 28-11-2017
For the full article go to https://tinyurl.com/y9sed39r

 The volatility of political activity in the Middle East region is dizzying.

The Syrian civil war is almost at an end. President Basher Assad remains in power and Iran and its surrogate Hezbollah have emerged as the clear victors.

Disconcertingly, both the Americans and the Russians have apparently reached an agreement over Syria that would enable Hezbollah and Iranian ground forces to remain – effectively threatening Israel’s northern borders. In providing legitimacy for the Iranians to remain in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave assurances that Israel’s security would not be threatened. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly stated that this is unacceptable and that, if necessary, Israel would take military steps to keep the Iranians at bay. This will require a balancing act because Netanyahu does not wish to jeopardize his good relationship with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who hitherto ignored Israel’s security concerns to forestall Hezbollah in southern Syria.

The tension is further compounded by Iran’s repeated threats to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. This was exacerbated by the upheavals in Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon with Prime Minister Saad Hariri announcing his resignation while in Saudi Arabia, alleging that he was fearful of being assassinated – and a week later retracting it on his return to Lebanon. At the same time, President Michel Aoun alerted the Lebanese army to an imminent attack by Israel.

Alongside this, Israel is developing a common front with the Saudis where newly entrenched Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman describes Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the new Hitler. IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot stated in an interview with a Saudinewspaper that Israel is willing to share intelligence about Iran with Saudi Arabia. In turn, two Saudi former senior ministers visited a Paris synagogue – an unprecedented occurrence and an important signal.

Yet without detracting from the benefits, this essentially covert alliance between the moderate Sunnis and Israel is based on expediency and cannot necessarily be regarded as a long-term situation.

The Saudis remain on record insisting that they have no relationship with the Israelis. While downplaying the Israeli issue, they are still exerting a major influence on U.S. President Donald Trump in relation to Jerusalem and the settlements and urging him to revisit their original plan which would not meet Israel’s security requirements. But it is impossible to distinguish between fact and fantasy in conflicting media reports.

Relations with Egypt based on collaborating against ISIS forces in the Sinai Peninsula and the personal relationship with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi are excellent but the media and the mosques continue their traditional anti-Semitic incitement.

As to the Palestinian Authority, the Fatah-Hamas unity government has not lessened Hamas’ obsession with obliterating Israel and their determination to retain military control of Gaza.

The duplicitous ailing President Mahmoud Abbas continues his anti-Israel incitement but maintains military coordination with Israel, which effectively protects him from a Hamas takeover. He has shown no sign of willingness to make any concessions and brazenly continues paying huge stipends to terrorist prisoners – now including Hamas members – and their families, despite being warned by the Americans to desist from this barbarous practice of encouraging murder.

On the international scene, the European Union is now in the process of orchestrating a boycott of Israeli goods produced over the Green Line – an unprecedented step reflecting the bias and double standards continuously applied to Israel.

However, the determining factor in relation to international diplomacy undoubtedly rests with the Americans. Public opinion and Congress are pro-Israel and, paradoxically, Christian evangelicals are more supportive of Israel than most Jews.

But there are so many contradictory signals concerning Trump’s intentions and given his penchant for unpredictability, one can only very tentatively guess what they are.

He failed to fulfill his promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and has taken no real punitive action in response to the defiance of Abbas to his demands that he cease paying lucrative state pensions to terrorists and their kin. In a sense, Trump has extended President Barack Obama’s policy of talking to both parties and ignoring Palestinian intransigency. The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem continues to act as though its role was to represent the interests of the Palestinians over the Green Line.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that he would close the PLO office in Washington if Abbas initiated war crimes proceedings against Israel at the International Criminal Court and refused to enter serious negotiations with the Israelis. The Palestinians rejected these proposals and threatened to break off relations with the Americans if this was implemented. In response, the U.S. almost immediately backtracked.


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Thursday, November 23, 2017

BIPOLAR BRITAIN


Video of the week- All aboard the UN Titanic - https://tinyurl.com/y8ndpo64  
JPost;  12-11-201

We understand that newspapers have to make money and that sensationalism sells.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that in many respects relations between Israel and Britain have never been better. Last Thursday night, during an event to mark the centennial of the Balfour Declaration, Theresa May spoke approvingly of the Jewish state and of her pride in Britain’s instrumental part in bringing about its founding. She declared anti-Zionism to be the modern-day version of antisemitism.

Many in May’s Conservative-led government are outspoken in their support of Israel, not just Priti Patel, the UK’s former secretary of state for international development.

However, the scandal surrounding Patel, who was forced to resign last week after it came to light that she had met with a number of Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seems to point to the bipolar nature of Israeli-British ties.

On one hand, the two countries share sensitive intelligence; Britain has purchased hundreds of millions of pounds worth of Israeli weapons systems; and coordination between the militaries of the two countries has reached new heights.

On the other hand, Patel’s innocuous 13-day visit to Israel has been betrayed in the most nefarious way, as if Patel had not been visiting a close ally with mutual interests and shared values, but a country with which Britain was at odds. As noted by Tovah Lazaroff, The Jerusalem Post’s deputy managing editor, “One has to ask, if Patel had secretly met with officials in the Netherlands, would anyone care?”

Patel’s meetings have been portrayed as “secret,” as if some hidden, perhaps dangerous, agenda that Patel felt should be kept under wraps was being pursued. But nothing could be further from the truth. The meetings were fairly well known while they were taking place, even though Patel and Lord Stuart Polak – a Jewish Conservative Party politician and pro-Israel lobbyist – did make a mistake by failing to disclose the meetings to the Foreign Office in advance.

Nobody tried to hide the fact that Patel was having the meetings. Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan both even tweeted photographs of themselves with Patel speaking together in public.

The same day that Netanyahu met with Patel, Deputy Minister Michael Oren reportedly notified Britain’s Deputy Ambassador to Israel and Middle East Minister Alistair Burt about the meeting.

What’s more, the meetings became known to the Foreign Office three months ago. If they were such a big source of concern, why was nothing done about them for so long? Why is it that the “scandal” was made public in Britain last Friday, to coincide with Netanyahu’s visit to London for meetings with May and to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration?

Meanwhile, the British press, in a tendentious attempt to sensationalize what was in reality nothing more than a breach of protocol, presented one leg of the trip as though Patel was seeking to transfer hard-earned British taxpayers’ money to the Israeli military.

In reality, however, Patel was looking into the possibility that Britain would help defray some of the costs for maintaining an Israeli field hospital on the Golan Heights that treats wounded Syrian refugees.

Both The Guardian and The Independent – at least initially – reported that the money was going to the IDF, as noted in a piece for The Algemeiner by Simon Plosker, managing editor of HonestReporting.com.

The Times of London claimed, meanwhile, that Patel sought to provide British aid to an Israeli Army program “treating wounded Syrian jihadists, including al-Qaida fighters.”

We understand that newspapers have to make money and that sensationalism sells. We also understand that nearly anything to do with Israel arouses strong emotions in Britain.

But what about journalistic integrity? There is much to appreciate in Britain’s approach to Israel. May is undoubtedly one of the most pro-Israel heads of state in Europe, though she is bogged down with political problems.

But Patel’s treatment is not just the collateral effect of May’s crisis-ridden government. Rather, the Patel scandal is an uncomfortable reminder of the toxic atmosphere of anti-Israel sentiment both in British society and in the Foreign Office. Apparently, it is no coincidence that this reminder was made now, as Israel and Britain celebrate the Balfour Declaration, the Jewish people’s first decisive diplomatic success on the road to statehood.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Palestinian children and their status in society


Video Of The Week - Super Rich Palestinians - http://tinyurl.com/yartplsr

 by Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch, “Palestinian Media Watch”

For almost a decade, the Palestinian NGO Defence for Children International - Palestine (DCI-P) has unjustifiably been accusing Israel of breaching the rights of Palestinian minors who are arrested on suspicion of committing terror attacks. Most recently, DCI-P launched a campaign in the US and in Canada under the title "No Way to Treat a Child", whose goal is "to challenge and end Israel's prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system."
Among other baseless claims, DCI-P argues that the Palestinian minors are arrested, interrogated in breach of all of their rights, prosecuted and sentenced to prison terms.
A recent interview with DCI-P's Accountability Program Director Ayed Abu Qteish on official PA TV, shows that the claims made by his own organization are false. Abu Qteish explained that Palestinian minors do in fact commit terror attacks, and they do it, not necessarily because they want to attack Israelis, but in order to enhance or maintain their status in Palestinian society.


Ayed Abu Qteish: "There are children who, when they were in prison, told the lawyer: 'I want to be imprisoned.' The first time [the child] was imprisoned, he didn't confess, and they released him because there was no evidence to convict him in the Israeli military court. The second time, there was no evidence either. The third time, he wanted to be imprisoned so that his image won't be hurt in the eyes of his friends, even though he is actually innocent... In several cases [Palestinian children] carried out stabbing operations because of the way the public looks at them. They realized 'the best way to clear myself of this image [of helping Israel] is to participate in resistance operations.'"
[Official PA TV, Personal Encounter, Oct. 11, 2017]

This statement by the DCI-P official is important for a number of reasons.
Firstly, in stark contrast to the claims of DCI-P in its campaign, it demonstrates that when Palestinian minors are arrested but the investigation ends without finding sufficient evidence, the suspect is released.
Secondly, it demonstrates that, in several cases, the motivation for Palestinian children to carry out terrorist attacks is their own perception of how their own society views them and has nothing to do with Israel.
Significantly, when discussing the motivations of Palestinian children to carry out terrorist attacks, the DCI-P representative completely ignores other real and equally relevant factors that explain their participation in terror attacks, such as:
1)    the incessant Palestinian incitement to hatred and violence that is promoted in the PA media;
 2)    the incitement to hatred and violence that is taught to children in PA schools;
 3)    the PA glorification of terrorists that is an integral part of Palestinian society and even in sporting events for youth.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Will Palestinian Reconciliation Reduce Hamas’ Cash Flow?


Video of the week - Gaza homes with tunnels built underneath-http://tinyurl.com/yd5736ne

 Evelyn Gordon 2-11-2017

When the Palestinians’ two rival governments announced their latest reconciliation deal last month, it raised two obvious questions. The first was whether it would actually be implemented, given that countless similar agreements have been announced with great fanfare only to collapse into renewed feuding between Hamas in Gaza and the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority. But the truly critical question–for Israel and for anyone else who doesn’t want another war in Gaza–was how the deal would affect Hamas’s finances if it were implemented. On that front, Wednesday’s developments offered short-term encouragement. The longer-term outlook, however, remains troubling.

Until a few months ago, Hamas effectively enjoyed control over Gaza’s revenues with no attendant responsibility for the needs of its residents, since the PA largely funded those needs (medicine, electricity, etc.). This arrangement assured Hamas of plenty of money to spend on its military wing, with much of that money coming from the taxes it collected in Gaza. As Avi Issacharoff reported in the Times of Israel in April, everything imported into Gaza is taxed twice, once by the PA and once by Hamas. 

Nor does Hamas make do with taxing imports; it taxes almost everything. For instance, as Issacharoff reported two years ago, companies in Gaza must pay 500 shekels “to have a Hamas representative participate in a company conference. Hamas charges another few hundred shekels to have the conference registered, and if it is postponed, the postponement is taxed as well.”

This convenient arrangement ended abruptly this past spring, when the PA finally tired of serving as Hamas’s ATM and stopped paying for most of Gaza’s civilian needs. The result, as I wrote last month, was that Hamas for the first time had to spend some of its own money on those needs, causing its military budget to plummet from an estimated $200 million in 2014 to just $50 million this year (not counting the extra money it gets from Iran, which is solely for military spending).

Thus for Israel, the worst of all worlds would be a return to the status quo ante, in which the PA resumed responsibility for Gaza’s civilian needs but Hamas remained free to tax anything that moves and pour the money into its military wing. In contrast, this would clearly be Hamas’s preferred outcome. The main reason it agreed to the reconciliation deal was its desire to shed responsibility for Gaza’s civilian needs so it could resume focusing on its military wing.

Viewed through this prism, implementation of the reconciliation deal got off on the right foot on Wednesday when Hamas formally handed over Gaza’s border crossings to the PA. This isn’t because of the handover itself, which was largely meaningless, but because Hamas also agreed to dismantle the tax collection checkpoints it erected near the crossings with Israel.

The handover technically didn’t affect those crossings at all: Both have been manned by PA personnel for years already because Hamas refuses to deal with Israel directly. That is also why it needed to have special tax collection checkpoints instead of just collecting tax at the border. But those checkpoints were major revenue sources for Hamas, since almost all imports to Gaza passed through them. The crossing with Egypt–the only one that actually changed hands on Wednesday–is for people only. Cross-border smuggling, which used to be a major source of imports, declined drastically after Egypt began cracking down on the smuggling tunnels in 2013. Thus the removal of these checkpoints will severely dent Hamas’s revenue stream.

Of course, it will still have the money it gets from Iran, estimated at $60 million to $70 million this year, and that money will continue going straight to its military wing. But that’s still far below what it was spending on its military in 2014 when it was getting less money from a cash-strapped Tehran but had a steady stream of Gazan tax revenue to play with.

Hamas agreed to dismantle the checkpoints because both PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt refused to accept a return to the status quo ante, demanding instead that the PA be given full control of Gaza. And they backed this demand with heavy financial pressure—the PA by ceasing its funding for Gaza, and Egypt by shuttering its border crossing for months on end.

The question is whether they have a plan for continuing to enforce this demand over the long term. After all, once Hamas is no longer responsible for Gaza’s civilian needs, it will no longer be vulnerable to that kind of financial pressure. And since the reconciliation didn’t require Hamas to disarm, it will continue to be the strongest military power in Gaza even after PA forces return to the borders. Thus, it’s not clear how anyone could stop it from using its guns to resume extorting taxes once it has gotten what it wants out of the deal, which is to stop being responsible for civilian affairs.

This matters because Hamas has shown no signs of losing its desire to fight Israel. Just last month, its new leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, declared, “The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out.” What has stopped it for the last three years hasn’t been lack of desire, but lack of capacity: Its arsenal of rockets and cross-border attack tunnels was depleted in the last war, in 2014, and another war won’t be practical until that arsenal is rebuilt. Thus, the more money Hamas has to spend on its military build-up, the sooner it will reach the point where it feels it can afford to start another war.

Hence if the PA, Egypt, and the international community want to avoid such a war, they must start thinking now about how to keep Hamas away from Gazan revenues if and when the reconciliation deal is fully implemented. For if Hamas is allowed to resume milking Gaza for cash to pour into its military wing, the next Gaza war will certainly be just a matter of time.


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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Commemorating the ANZAC liberation of Beersheba


Video of the week- Beer Sheva Anzac cavalry charge-http://tinyurl.com/y74rzupo  

 Isi Leibler, J.Post 1-11-2017

Today Australia is indisputably Israel’s best friend in the world – in every respect.

The origins of this relationship have their genesis a century ago with the spectacular victory of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) that liberated Beersheba on October 31, 1917 and paved the way for the conquest of Jerusalem.  This was followed two days later by the issuance of the Balfour Declaration which preceded the British Mandate and subsequently served as the basis for the establishment of a Jewish state.

The Battle of Beersheba was a turning point in the war against the Ottoman Empire after successive failures to capture Gaza. It was the first time Australians and New Zealanders were highlighted as having effected a critical impact. The stunning charge of the ANZAC Light Horse Brigade that overcame the Turkish defenses was hailed as a milestone of military bravery comparable to that of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854 and is remembered as the last great cavalry charge, establishing it as the best cavalry force in the world. It represented Australia’s first outstanding achievement as a fighting force, predating the 1918 Western Front victories.

With the disaster at Gallipoli, where over 8,000 Australians needlessly lost their lives, many initially predicted that this attempt was doomed to failure and represented yet another example of military incompetence and willingness to cynically sacrifice soldiers.

Beersheba was heavily fortified, making the town a virtual fortress, and the battle was considered a last-ditch effort to defeat the Ottoman Empire in the region.

Late in the afternoon of October 31, following an order by their commander, Sir Harry Chauvel, 800 Australian light horsemen, brandishing bayonets, galloped directly into machine-gun fire, many dismounting and engaging in hand-to-hand combat, surprising the Turks who did not imagine that the Australians would act so brazenly. Galloping over 2 kilometers at top speed, they overcame the stunned Turkish defenders in less than an hour. Thirty Australian horsemen were killed and 36 wounded. Over 500 Turks were killed and 1,500 surrendered.

It was a glorious victory, a turning point in the struggle enabling General Edmund Allenby to defeat the Ottomans in Palestine.

It also heralded the beginning of an extraordinary close relationship between Australia and Israel.
On the personal and individual level, it was enhanced by Australian soldiers temporarily stationed in Palestine at the outset of World War II who developed good relations with the Jews. Old timers still relate nostalgically to the friendship extended by the Australians as tensions were rising with the British mandatory officials.

This week the Australian and Israeli governments will jointly celebrate the centennial anniversary of the heroic Light Brigade’s extraordinary role in Beersheba. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, New Zealand Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a major entourage of ministers, officials, descendants of the ANZACs, and over 100 Australian horsemen, as well as private citizens from both countries will participate in commemorative ceremonies. These will include a joint Australian-New Zealand service at the war cemetery, the opening of an ANZAC museum, and a re-enactment of the charge by the Australian Light Horse Brigade.

It is anticipated that huge numbers will attend what promises to be a spectacular event highlighting the Australian-Israeli relationship.

Australian Jewry enjoys an outstanding Jewish lifestyle and can be considered a jewel in the crown of the Diaspora. Jews were among the first boatloads of convicts transported to Australia in the 18th century.

The first military commander of Australian forces serving during World War I was Sir John Monash, a proud Jew who was also the founding president of the Zionist Federation of Australia.

In the 1930s, the Jewish community was declining and rapidly assimilating but over the course of time it became reinvigorated by Holocaust refugees and survivors. Most of the newcomers were passionately Zionist and created a unique network of Jewish schools ranging from secular Zionist to Chabad, from Modern Orthodox to Reform and even a Bundist Yiddish school. From the 1980s, the community expanded further with the immigration of large numbers of Russians and South Africans.
Many penniless Jewish immigrants to “the lucky country” became leading industrial titans. Jewish leaders were appointed prominent roles in public life, including two governors general. One, the late Sir Zelman Cowan, was an outspoken Zionist and champion of Jewish rights. My brother, Mark Leibler, a long-standing Zionist leader and head of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, was appointed by the government as co-chairman of the expert panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal Peoples.

Today, Australian Jewry numbers over 120,000, has the highest percentage of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in a Diaspora Jewish community, and is one of the most Zionist communities in the world with 15,000 – more than 10% of the community – having made aliyah.

The community, united under the umbrella of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, could well serve as a template for other Jewish communities to emulate. The Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce has emerged as probably the most successful chamber of commerce in the nation.

Despite its geographical distance, except for two minor aberrations, Australia has consistently maintained a positive bipartisan relationship with Israel since its creation, when Labor leader Dr. H.V. Evatt chaired the U.N. General Assembly.

Both parties also supported broader Jewish concerns. Successive governments made major global contributions toward ameliorating the plight of Soviet Jews, particularly in 1962 when Australia became the first country in the world to raise the issue of Soviet Jewry at the U.N., condemning Soviet anti-Semitism and calling for the right of Jews to emigrate. On a personal note, two successive prime ministers from each of the two major parties directly intervened to enable me to assist Soviet Jews and instructed the Australian Embassy in Moscow to provide me with maximum assistance. The embassy was regarded as a haven for refuseniks despite the tension this created with the Soviet authorities.

Australia was directly involved in efforts to rescind the infamous 1975 U.N. resolution that equated Zionism with racism. It also served as a crucial intermediary for Jewish leaders seeking to promote diplomatic relations between Israel and Asian countries.

The Jewish community can claim much of the credit for this.

In contrast to their American and European counterparts, Australian community leaders have not hesitated to confront their government on the rare occasions they considered their government was acting in a biased manner or applying double standards against Israel. The all-encompassing Zionist orientation of the bipartisan Jewish community is undoubtedly a major factor contributing to the pro-Israel orientation of the mainstream political parties.

However, there are now dark clouds emanating from sectors of the Australian Labor Party, whose former Foreign Minister Bob Carr has become a spokesman for extremist Arab causes and vitriolically lambasts the Jewish community for being extreme right-wing. He is supported by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who was once one of Israel’s greatest supporters. The growing electoral power of over 500,000 Muslims, especially concentrated in the Labor electorates, also strengthens these trends.

Yet, despite a growth of anti-Semitism and intensified anti-Israeli activity at universities, overall, the public tends toward Israel. But there are legitimate concerns that if the current government is defeated by Labor in the next elections, the Arab lobby – which now has a powerful electoral influence within Labor and its left-wing allies – will pressure Australia to adjust its Israel policy in line with that of the hostile EU.

But 18 months to the next election is a long time and meanwhile the Australia-Israel relationship has exceeded all expectations.

Netanyahu’s visit to Australia earlier this year was a resounding success and undoubtedly Turnbull’s visit will further cement this relationship.

We warmly welcome the Australian prime minister and his entourage to Israel and are confident that this will further strengthen the burgeoning economic, technological, defense and investment ties that bind our countries.


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