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Friday, August 29, 2014

IDF was forced to forego opportunity to save Daniel Tragerman

Four-year old Daniel Tragerman HY"D (May God Avenge his blood) was killed by a Hamas terrorist mortar shot from Gaza near his home on Kibbutz Nachal Oz last Friday. That mortar fire could have and should have been stopped long before it cost Daniel his life (Hat Tip: Leah P).
A new revelation suggests that the tragic murder of four-year-old Daniel Tragerman hy''d, who was killed by terrorist mortar fire last Friday in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, may have been completely avoidable - if only the IDF was given a free hand against Hamas terrorists.

Israeli TV's Channel 10 on Monday reported that residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz have said five mortar barrels have been aimed directly at their community by Gaza terrorists since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8.

The residents claim the IDF told them that three of the barrels are embedded adjacent to schools where displaced Gaza residents are taking shelter, and therefore the IDF did not strike them to eliminate the threat.

They add that the IDF said the two other barrels are located adjacent to the houses of residents that the IDF was unable to contact during the course of the 50 day operation so as to ask them to leave and avoid harming them. As a result, the IDF likewise decided not to strike.

Appraising the effect of such decisions not to strike, the commander of the IAF special reconnaissance Flying Camel Squadron said recently that aborting airstrikes due to Hamas's tactics of embedding among civilians "sabotages" the operation.

Tragerman's parents said they had less than three seconds to take cover, and that their young son did not have time to avoid the mortar shrapnel. They added that they, like many residents in the Gaza Belt, will not be returning to Nahal Oz at the end of the seven-day mourning period.
The IDF doesn't set that kind of policy. The government does. Think about that over Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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High Noon on the Golan Heights: IDF troops 400 meters from Nusra Front terrorists on the Golan

Israeli troops are now 400 meters from ISIS terrorists in a showdown on the Golan Heights after 43 UN troops were kidnapped and 81 more have had their movements restricted.
UN officials shuttled along the rocky frontier between Syria and the Golan Heights on Friday, trying to establish the whereabouts of 43 United Nations peacekeepers seized by Al-Qaida-linked militants inside Syria.

Israeli forces took up positions at Quneitra, a fortified crossing between Syria and the Golan, barely 400 meters from Nusra Front militants, who attacked a UN base on the Syrian side of the border on Wednesday and seized the 43 Fijians.

About 80 UN soldiers from the Philippines, all of whom serve with UNDOF, a UN force that has monitored the disengagement zone between Israel and Syria since the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, remain locked down in two camps on the Syrian side of the frontier, military officers in the Philippines said.

Officials from UNDOF, which has about 1,200 peacekeepers from six countries operating in the zone, declined to comment as they left one of their compounds on Friday.

...

It is the third time in two years that UNDOF troops have been seized on the Syrian side of the demarcation zone, a measure of the instability since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad began. Until then, UNDOF had been one of the quietest UN peacekeeping posts anywhere in the world.

In both previous cases those seized were released within days, UN officials said. But the situation appears to be more precarious this time. A militant close to the Nusra Front said the Fijians had been taken because they had been providing medical treatment to wounded soldiers from Assad's army.
Read the whole thing.

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More Americans want a more engaged foreign policy, but...

In the run-up to the US Presidential election, Hillary Clinton has been arguing for a more engaged foreign policy while Rand Paul has been arguing for isolationism. The American people would like a more engaged foreign policy. That would seem to favor Clinton, but in fact it may ensure that neither candidate is his or her party's nominee.
The percentage of the public saying the country does too little has almost doubled since November, from 17 to 31 percent. Thirty-nine percent say the U.S. does too much. 
Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been arguing for a more engaged in U.S. presence in the world ahead of a possible presidential run, in contrast to possible opponent Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and, to some extent, President Obama. 
Despite the overall increase in those saying they want the U.S. to do more, however only 24 percent of Clinton's own party say the U.S. does too little, compared to 36 percent who say too much. For Republicans, the numbers are reversed, with 46 percent saying too much and 37 percent too little.
Okay, that last sentence doesn't sound right, does it? So I went to the source:
Republicans, Democrats and independents all are more likely to say the U.S. does too little to solve world problems, but the shift among Republicans has been striking. Last fall, 52% of Republicans said the U.S. does too much to help solve global problems, while just 18% said it does too little. Today, 46% of Republicans think the U.S. does too little to solve global problems, while 37% say it does too much.
Oh yeah, and then there's this:
Obama gets his best rating for handling race relations; nearly half approve of how he is handling race relations (48%) compared with 42% who disapprove. His ratings for handling other issues – including policy toward Israel (37% approve), the situation involving Russia and Ukraine (35%) and the situation in Iraq (35%) – are more negative than positive.
But The Hill doesn't mention that.

Oh, and by the way, Pew says that a majority of Americans thinks Obama isn't tough enough on foreign policy. What a surprise....
Obama’s approach to foreign policy continues to be viewed as not tough enough: 54% say Obama is not tough enough in his approach on foreign policy and national security issues, while 36% say his approach is about right and just 3% say he is too tough.
 Are Americans waking up to the disaster Obama has wrought? We can only hope.

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Flashback: [Then] Defense Minister Ehud Barak: 'Restraint is strength'

DM Ehud Barak told Israel Radio that restraint is strength and those wanting absolute quiet should move to Finland. DM Barak said Israel would act to bring down the Hamas regime in Gaza and when necessary and such action would require retaking the Gaza Strip.

Let's go to the videotape.



Orwellian. How many Israelis do you think would prefer to retake Gaza over living under rocket fire? Sounds like an interesting poll question.

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Colossal #BDS_Fail in the Netherlands

One of Holland's largest pension funds has refused a demand that it divest from three Israeli banks because they finance construction in the disputed territories. The divestment demand came from teflon-coated anti-Semite Desmond Tutu.
ABP, the Netherlands’ €325bn civil service pension fund, has said it will not divest from three Israeli banks due to their alleged involvement in the so-called occupied territories of the West Bank.
In a statement, the board responded to an open letter from Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop for South Africa, who recently waded into the debate over whether the Dutch pension fund should remain invested in the banks.
The board said it would stick with its existing policy for responsible investment and that, “based on objective and rational criteria, the investments are not in violation of national or international legislation”.
Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, argued that ABP had in effect contributed to human rights violations through its €68m investment in Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi and Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot.
The ABP board discussed Tutu’s letter today, together with a petition calling for divestment signed by more than 1.7m people.
The petition was organised by Avaaz, an online civic organisation promoting activism.
The former archbishop’s letter comes as a report commissioned by Avaaz claimed that roughly 50% of the Dutch public believes ABP’s commitment to the banks is “irresponsible”. 
Of the 1,000 respondents to the survey, 10% said ABP’s stakes in the banks were of no concern, while approximately 40% said they had no opinion on the matter.
The survey asked: “If the directors keep ABP’s investments in Israeli banks that support the settlement of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers, would you view their decision as responsible or irresponsible?”
...
Earlier this year, the €152bn healthcare scheme PFZW made the controversial decision to divest from five Israeli banks, including those in which ABP is invested.
Wouldn't it be nice if PFZW reconsidered? 

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President Obama with his golf partners

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! (Hat Tip: Jack W).

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William Schabas on why William Schabas should be disqualified from heading Gaza inquiry

Daniel Edelman, the brother of one of my childhood friends, uses William Schabas' own words to explain why William Schabas should be disqualified from chairing the United Nations fact-finding committee on Gaza.
Whether Professor Schabas thinks he can adjudicate the accusations against Israel fairly and independently has no bearing on the question of impartiality.  Judicial disqualification is not dependent on the judge’s subjective assessment of impartiality but is based on an objective test of whether the reasonable person aware of the facts and circumstances might consider the judge to be biased.  For example, the Rome Statute authorizing the International Criminal Court provides: “A judge shall not participate in any case in which his impartiality might reasonably be doubted on any ground.”  Even more directly, the Rules of Procedure and Evidence applicable to the Rome Statute establishes as a “ground[] for disqualification of a judge” the “[e]xpression of opinions, through the communications media in writing or in public actions, that objectively, could adversely affect the required impartiality of the person concerned.”
...
Moreover, Professor Schabas himself instructs that war crimes’ tribunal judges should be disqualified where there is even the appearance of bias under the objective test.  In his book on the UN War Crime Tribunals, Professor Schabas wrote: “A judge may be disqualified in any case in which he or she has a personal interest, or some other association which might affect his or her impartiality.  The test is one of ‘reasonable apprehension of bias.’”
Professor Schabas must concede that UN fact-finding commissions are subject to these same standards of judicial impartiality.  In various interviews, Professor Schabas has emphasized that he and others conducting the fact-finding are obliged to be as impartial as any judge.  Professor Schabas is also likely aware of Professor Thomas Franck’s seminal article relevant to UN fact-finding entitled Procedural Due Process in Human Rights Fact-Finding By International Agencies in which “choice of fact-finders” is one of the “key indicators of procedural probity.”  As Professor Franck wrote: “impartiality. . . certainly implies that persons conducting an investigation should be, and should be seen to be, free of commitment to a preconceived outcome.”
...
Perhaps Professor Schabas considers there to be only a few expert scholars with the necessary knowledge and skills to function as UN fact-finders investigating Israel.  Such elitism, however, should never be rationalized as an excuse for suppressing the fundamental due process protections safeguarding judicial impartiality.  If Professor Schabas genuinely cares about the integrity and fairness of UN fact-finding, he should immediately recuse himself from the commission.  Otherwise, Professor Schabas and the Human Rights Council have only themselves to blame for discrediting this commission as legally invalid.
Read the whole thing.

More of Schabas' words about Israel and Binyamin Netanyahu here, here, here and here. And for good measure, here's one from 2009.

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He wants to bring Gaza to Ramallah

Something tells me that there won't be much enthusiasm for what happened in Gaza among the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. While they hate Israel just as much as their Gaza brethren, the Arabs of Judea and Samaria tend to be less Islamist and less supportive of Hamas than of the 'Palestinian Authority.'

On the other hand, I could see Hamas taking over Judea and Samaria and creating another Gaza-like enclave if Israel lets them (the 'Palestinian Authority' is not strong enough to stop them - Abu Bluff's protests to the contrary).

And that is Hamas 'foreign minister' Mahmoud al-Zahar's dream.

Let's go to the videotape.



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Poll: IDF won Operation Protective Edge, Israel lost, Right would overwhelmingly win election

A poll by the Jerusalem Post and Maariv has found that 61% of Israelis agree with the proposition that the IDF won Operation Protective Edge... but Israel lost.
Sixty-one percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the IDF had won while Israel had lost, while 32% percent disagreed and 7% did not have an opinion.

Respondents expressed frustration with the cease-fire that ended the operation with Hamas still in power in the Gaza Strip. Fifty-eight percent said the IDF should have been allowed to continue the operation in order to degrade the terrorist organization’s military abilities and called the truce a mistake that wastes the achievements of the Israeli armed forces.

Thirty-three percent said the cease-fire was a correct step that could lead toward a diplomatic solution to the Palestinian conflict via PA President Mahmoud Abbas and moderate Arab states like Egypt, and 9% had no opinion.

While a Channel 2 poll broadcasted on Wednesday found that only 32% of Israelis were satisfied with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he fared better in the Post’s survey.

Nearly half of the respondents, 49%, said they were satisfied with Netanyahu’s performance, 26% said it was mediocre, 20% called it bad, and 5% had no opinion.

...

When asked which party they would vote for if an election were held now, respondents went overwhelmingly with the Right. According to the poll, the Right would win 84 of the 120 Knesset seats, up from its current 61.

The Likud would win 32 mandates, Bayit Yehudi 18, Yisrael Beytenu 17, Labor 12, United Torah Judaism 10, Yesh Atid nine, Shas seven, Meretz six and Arab parties nine.
Notice that the Tzippi Livni party - which Netanyahu fawned over in the aftermath of the last elections - disappeared.

Unless there's enough discontent in the Likud to make the coalition uncontrollable, there won't be new elections now. There is no way Netanyahu wants to head a coalition of the Right like that. Yes, I know, just yesterday I wrote that there would be new elections within six months. Those two assessments don't contradict each other. I believe that there is enough discontent in the Likud and people like Danny Dannon and Moshe Feiglin will rock the boat.

What could go wrong?

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'In a neighborhood featuring Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, just to name a few of the actors, President Obama was “enraged” at … Israel'

Peter Wehner picks up on this quote from the Foreign Policy interview with Martin Indyk that I blogged on Wednesday. First the quote, then Wehner.
Well, it started with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon attacking [Kerry] publicly during the peace process, which I attribute to two things. One, the defense minister had a very clear sense of what Israel's security needs are and they do not include withdrawing the Israeli army from the Jordan River, which would have to be addressed in the peace negotiations if there was to be a deal. So I think there was a substantive disagreement, but the lack of respect was truly disturbing, specifically given the importance of American security assistance for the well-being of Israel's defense, for which the defense minister is responsible.
But it got completely out of control during the Gaza crisis, where the secretary was assailed for supposedly betraying Israel because he was trying to work with the prime minister on a cease-fire, and he engaged with Qatar and Turkey to test whether they could influence Hamas to stop firing the rockets. And that criticism came not just from the right but from pundits on the left as well -- Haaretz published three articles by their journalists attacking Kerry. I think that's a product of a particular circumstance in which Israelis felt very much isolated, on their own -- that the world didn't understand them. In that defensive crouch, I think they were waiting for a betrayal by the United States even though the secretary and the president repeatedly supported their right to defend themselves. So they interpreted the secretary's actions as being designed to undermine Israel in favor of Hamas and undermine its burgeoning alignment with Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
In fact, nothing could have been further from the truth but that was the perception and, unfortunately, it was a line fed by some unnamed Israeli officials, one of whom described Kerry as launching "a strategic terror attack." That was just outrageous and it enraged the president.
Wehner:
Think about this for a moment. In a neighborhood featuring Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, just to name a few of the actors, President Obama was “enraged” at … Israel. That’s right, Israel–our stalwart ally, a lighthouse of liberty, lawfulness, and human rights in a region characterized by despotism, and a nation filled with people who long for peace and have done so much for so long to sacrifice for it (including repeatedly returning and offering to return its land in exchange for peace).
Yet Mr. Obama–a man renowned for his lack of strong feelings, his emotional equanimity, his disengagement and distance from events, who New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd refers to as “Spock” for his Vulcan-like detachment–is not just upset but “enraged” at Israel.
Add to this the fact that the conflict with Hamas in Gaza–a conflict started and escalated by Hamas, and in which Hamas used innocent Palestinians as human shields–had a very negative impact on America’s relationship with Israel. To show you just how absurd this has become, other Arab nations were siding with Israel in its conflict with Hamas. But not America under Obama. He was constantly applying pressure on Israel. Apparently if you’re a nation defending yourself and, in doing so, you wage a war with exquisite care in order to prevent civilian death, it is reason to earn the fury of Mr. Obama.
It’s clear to me, and by now it should be to others, that there is something sinister in Barack Obama’s constant anger aimed at Israel.
 Most pro-Israel President evah? Don't believe it for a minute. 

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Aharon Soffer, z"l?

A body was found around 5:00 this afternoon in the Jerusalem Forest near Yad Vashem. While they have not completed the identification yet, police believe it is the body of Aharon Soffer, the yeshiva student who has been missing since last Friday.
According to Yisrael Erlich, a United Hatzalah worker who was among the first on the scene, the body, found using a GPS program, closely matched the description of the 23-year-old, red-headed yeshiva student, who has spent the last year studying in Jerusalem.

“Soon after beginning our search we came across a man’s body among the shrubbery that seemed to match the missing student’s description,” said Erlich. “We immediately notified the police via our phone app, and a large group of police and rapid-responders quickly appeared on the scene.”

“I was not expecting the incident to end in such a horrific tragedy,” he continued.

The discovery was announced at approximately 5 p.m., less than five hours before a planned press conference and prayer vigil at the Western Wall arranged by Sofer’s parents was set to take place. Moshe and Chulda Sofer had previously flown in to Israel from Lakewood, New Jersey, to aid in the search.
If this is true, May God Comfort the family among all mourners for Zion and Jerusalem, and may they know of no more sorrow.

UPDATE FRIDAY 12:31 AM

 DNA tests have now confirmed Sofer's identity. The funeral is Friday morning in Beit Shemesh. Hashem Yerachem (May God Have mercy).

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It's come to this: Moscow orders to Obama to clear Syrian airstrikes with Assad

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has ordered the Obama administration to clear all airstrikes against ISIS with Bashar al-Assad.
In comments likely to irritate Washington, Lavrov said the United States had made the same mistake with Islamic State as it had with al-Qaida, which emerged in the 1980s when U.S.-backed Islamist insurgents were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
"I think Western politicians are already realizing the growing and fast-spreading threat of terrorism," Lavrov said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria and Iraq.
"And they will soon have to choose what is more important: a (Syrian) regime change to satisfy personal antipathies, risking deterioration of the situation beyond any control, or finding pragmatic ways to unite efforts against the common threat."
Russia has been Assad's most prominent international backer in the civil war that broke out in early 2011 and in which the U.S. and the West, as well as many Gulf and Arab states, backed the rebels seeking to oust him.
Islamic State has now emerged as the strongest rebel faction, capturing large areas of both Syria and Iraq and declaring a caliphate on the territory it controls.
"At the start the Americans and some Europeans rather welcomed (Islamic State) on the basis it was fighting against Bashar al-Assad. They welcomed it as they welcomed the mujahideen who later created al-Qaida, and then al-Qaida struck like a boomerang on Sept. 11, 2001," Lavrov said.
"The same thing is happening now," he said, adding that the U.S. had only started fighting the group after it began rampaging across Iraq and approaching the capital Baghdad.
The U.S. has conducted more than 90 air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq, and Washington is considering taking its fight against the militants to neighboring Syria.
Damascus said on Monday it must be involved in coordinating any air strikes on its territory.
Backing this stance, Lavrov said: "If... there are plans to combat Islamic State on the territory of Syria and other countries, it is indispensable that it is done in cooperation with legitimate authorities (there)."
Having long been denounced by Washington and others for protecting Assad, Lavrov made clear that Russia now feels vindicated.
"At one time we were accused of supporting Bashar al-Assad and preventing his overthrow.... Now no one is talking about that," he said.
The Americans and Europeans were now starting to acknowledge "the truth they have long recognized in private conversations: namely that for the region and for the interests of the West, the main threat is not the regime of Bashar al-Assad but the possible threat of seizure of power by terrorists in Syria and other states of the region."
Lavrov doesn't deserve to say 'I told you so.'

The answer to this was not to keep Bashar in power. It was to back the rebels before they became Islamist. Unfortunately, that possibility is long since gone, and there may be no choice but to back Bashar.

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Hamas leaders at odds over 'cease fire'

The split between Hamas' leadership in Gaza and its political leaders in Qatar that manifested itself during Operation Protective Edge is continuing (Hat Tip: Honest Reporting).
Unlike the Gaza leader and former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Mashaal has not welcomed the cease-fire and according to some reports he has been telling his associates that the cease-fire underscored a colossal failure on the part of Hamas. Mashaal's deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, who is close to the Egyptian regime, has sided with Haniyeh in the ongoing internal feud.

Only several thousand Palestinians attended a Hamas rally celebrating the cease-fire on Wednesday, a significant drop compared to the celebration following other rounds of hostilities. "The Palestinian resistance, its courage and determination surprised the Zionist occupation forces," Haniyeh told the Gazan crowds. "No words can truly capture the scope of the victory; it is beyond time and space," he continued. "This campaign is not like any war we have seen in this conflict with our enemy," he said.

This was the first time Haniyeh appeared in public in more than 50 days, having chosen to lay low during Operation Protective Edge. According to unverified reports, Haniyeh was admitted to a Gaza hospital on Wednesday.

A senior Gazan official told the Arab media outlets Wednesday that in light of significant damage to schools, there was a real possibility that the start of the school year would be delayed. He said many schools had been damaged and those that have remained in tact were now occupied by displaced Gazans. A senior Palestinian official told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that it would take at least 10 to 15 years to rebuild the Gaza Strip.
The rumor is that Haniyeh had a heart attack and is back in Shifa where he's been for the last seven weeks. Poetic justice. 

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Islamist Nusra Front kidnaps UN peacekeepers on Golan Heights

Syrian rebels from the al-Nusra front in the Golan Heights have kidnapped 40 Philippine peacekeepers from the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force between Israel and Syria.
The al-Arabiya network reported that militants fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, affiliated with al-Qaeda, kidnapped soldiers of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights. According to reports, those abducted include 40 soldiers of Philippine origin.
Meanwhile, Irish forces in the same group are reported to be hunkered down, but safe.
And this is really likely to convince other countries to send their troops to this area as 'peacekeeping forces'....



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Senior PLO official Ashrawi attacks Obama for acknowledging Jewish history

Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi has attacked US President Hussein Obama for acknowledging Jewish history.
Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi is attacking a recent statement by US President Barack Obama to the New York Times as "dangerous" because in it According to Ashrawi, "speaking about the Jews' return to their land" is "extremist Zionist ideology."
Let's go to the videotape.




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Unbelievable: Israel turning over control of Gaza crossing points to 'committee'

Israel's Channel 2 reports that Israel has agreed to turn over control of what is allowed through the Gaza crossing points to a committee of three in which it only has one vote.
Channel 2 reported that a three-person committee made up of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, UN Mideast envoy Robert Serry and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will supervise the [reconstruction] process and determine what goods are allowed in.
So we're relying on the UN's Serry to control the 'Palestinians.' What could go wrong?

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'Palestinians' to demand that Security Council set 'timetable' for Israel to abandon Judea and Samaria, Israel to rely on OUR friends the Saudis

On September 15, the 'Palestinians' plan to demand from the United States Security Council that it set a 'timetable' for Israel to abandon Judea and Samaria. The United States is to chair the Council in September, with King Barack himself to sit in the chairman's seat on September 24. This is from the first link.
[Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil] Sha'ath said that the PA expected the Security Council to comply with its demands; if it does not do so, the Authority will seek help from the International Court of Justice in The Hague. There, the PA will demand that Israeli officials be charged as “war criminals” for the damage caused to Gaza, as the IDF responded to incessant rocket attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilian population centers.
It should be noted that if the PA does take its case to the Court, it will have to become a full-fledged member of that organization. While the PA has in the past sought membership in international organizations, Israeli officials said that they were unlikely to seek membership in the Court, because it would open them up to being charged with war crimes.
On Wednesday, Israel's ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, submitted a list of Hamas war crimes that took place during Operation Protective Edge to the UN Security Council. In a message accompanying the list, Prosor wrote that “despite the fact that the Council recognizes that Hamas has committed war crimes, nothing has been done yet about them.”
Prosor submitted a lengthy, detailed list of all the rockets fired by Hamas – their targets and the damage they caused – with nearly all of them fired at civilian targets, which in itself is a war crime, as well as many examples of Hamas using the Gaza civilian population as human shields, launching attacks from homes, schools, and hospitals. “I expect the Security Council to loudly condemn Hamas' activities. The Council cannot remain silent over the use by Hamas of Gaza civilians as human shields.”
Good luck with that list. The world doesn't give a damn when Muslims kill other Muslims or get them killed. Ask the Syrians about that. And as to them shooting at the Jews... hey... that was 'self-defense' because Israel didn't give them Iron Dome.

JPost reports that the 'Palestinian Authority' also hopes to play a role in reconstructing Gaza, after Prime Minister Netanyahu's 'great victory.'
The Palestinians also intend to form a permanent unity government that has the complete backing of Hamas in hopes that such a government would expedite the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip.

“In cease-fire discussions, Israel was forced to give up on its demand that Hamas decommission its weapons, and this was due to American pressure,” Shaath told Ma’an.
And guess who Israel will rely on to ensure that money doesn't go to waste.... OUR friends, Saudis.
The PA will lead coordination of the reconstruction effort in Gaza with international donors, including the European Union, Qatar, Turkey and Norway. Saudi Arabia is also likely to be a major donor, with the expectation in Jerusalem being that unlike Qatar, it will take pains to ensure that its funds will not be directed to Hamas, but rather to build up the PA.
What could go wrong?

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A shout-out for Israel's non-Jewish supporters

Caroline Glick writes about the necessity for Israel to cultivate non-Jewish supporters and then gives a shout-out to two of them: Jon Voight and Rick Santorum.
Consider the case of Jon Voight.

The celebrated Oscar-winning actor is an outspoken champion of Israel. Earlier this month, Voight published an open letter to Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem in Variety where he harshly criticized the Spanish performers for their public statement condemning Israel and siding with Hamas in its war against the Jewish state.

In his words, “I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.”

...

Last week, two UCLA professors, Mark LeVine and Gil Hochberg, co-authored an article published in The Huffington Post assaulting him for his views and his temerity to suggest that Israel is a moral, embattled democracy fighting genocidal forces committed to its destruction.

The two Jewish academics are supporters of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The principal aim of the BDS movement is to make it socially unacceptable to support Israel. In 2010 LeVine and Hochberg signed a petition calling for California state universities to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

Online Hollywood commentators, such as Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva, opined that Voight, who was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role in Showtime’s Ray Donovan series, was liable to lose his Emmy bid due to his support for Israel.

Hochberg and LeVine’s assault on Voight was a long-winded voyage into the post-Zionist and anti-Zionist literary moonscape. Their principal criticism of Voight was that he refuses to accept this intellectual wasteland’s rejection of the known facts of history.

Voight is not an academic, nor has he ever claimed to be an expert on Middle Eastern history. He is a non-Jewish American concerned about the future of America.

That is why he stands with Israel. Voight recognizes that when Israel is under assault, and its right to defend itself is denied while terrorists are supported, the US is endangered. And so he feels compelled to speak out, regardless of the price.

...

Another non-Jewish champion of Israel is former US senator and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. Both during his tenure in the Senate and since, Santorum has spoken out strongly against Iran’s nuclear program, insisting that it is a serious threat not only to Israel, but to the US itself.

Like Voight, Santorum recognizes that the fate of the US is directly tied to the fate of Israel.

For his trenchant support for Israel, and his outspoken concern about Iran’s nuclear program, as well as his support for domestic issues where he has not shied away from taking controversial, inconvenient position, Santorum’s critics have demonized him.

...

Last week, Santorum led a solidarity mission to Israel. The majority of his colleagues were non-Jewish opinion shapers from Iowa, the first state to hold Republican presidential contests. Santorum explained that his goal in coming to Israel was not simply to show Israelis that the American people support us. It was to build support among Republicans in Iowa for a robust US engagement in foreign affairs based on supporting Israel, fighting America’s enemies and preventing the forces of hatred, like Hamas and Iran, from expanding their power.

Santorum’s chief concern is that weary of foreign policy failures, more and more Republicans are embracing the isolationism most identified with Senator Rand Paul. Paul is currently polling well in Iowa.

...

Santorum is convinced that if Iowans are educated about the nature of the threats emanating from the region, and of Israel’s singular contribution to the cause of freedom and stability, their position can become the basis for a Republican foreign policy that rejects isolationism and embraces US leadership in world affairs as the only way to secure the US and strengthen its embattled allies.

In other words, like Voight, Santorum’s support for Israel is rooted in his concern about America, and its future. Like Voight, Santorum recognizes that the growing penchant among elite opinion shapers to ignore truth in the pursuit of moral relativism and fake sophistication or isolationism constitutes a danger to America.
Read the whole thing.

UPDATE 5:55 PM

Unfortunately, Santorum's trip left much to be desired.  Please make sure to read the comments below as well.

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Muslim leaders warn United States


This morning a coalition of Muslim leaders warned the United States that if military action against Muslim countries continues, they won't send them any more Presidents.

Heh.

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Report: Israeli-made Hermes drone shot down over Baghdad

For the third time in a week, there is a report that an Israeli-made drone has been shot down. This time, the report comes out of Lebanon, the drone is a Hermes and the claim is that it was shot down over Baghdad.
According to a report on the Lebanese Al Mayadeen TV channel, considered a mouthpiece for the Hezbollah terror group, an Israeli drone exploded in mid-air over Baghdad. The report claims that the drone was another Hermes-class craft, the same type of drone that Iran claims fell over its airspace earlier this week.
The report said that Iraqi army officials had gathered up what was left of the drone, but were not commenting on the incident at this time. A reporter on the ground in Baghdad said that staff from the US Embassy in Baghdad rushed to the scene of the crash in order to assess the situation.
On Monday, Iran claimed to have downed an Israeli drone as well. “A spy drone of the Zionist regime (Israel) was brought down by a missile... This stealth drone was trying to approach the Natanz nuclear zone," the corps said in a statement on its official website sepahnews.com. “This act demonstrates a new adventurism by the Zionist regime... The Revolutionary Guard and the other armed forces reserve the right to respond to this act," the statement added.
Iranian officials said that the drone was an Israeli-made "Hermes" drone with a maximum flight range of 1,600 km (994 miles) and a 800-km (500 mile) combat radius. The UAV's wings have a 5.5 meter (about 18 feet) wingspan, he added, and two high-quality cameras were mounted on each end to capture precise images. The Al Mayadeen report said that the drone that fell over Baghdad was of the same type.
The drone that was shot down over Natanz is widely believed to belong to Azerbaijan. Hamas also claimed to have shot down an Israeli drone last week, but has yet to provide any evidence. The government and the IDF have had no comment about any of the drones supposedly shot down.

JPost adds:
According to the Arab-language Al-Mayadin television network, the Hermes Model drone was shot down near Baghdad Airport.

The Iranian news agency Fars reported that American embassy personnel rushed to the site of the crashed drone to collect debris and remains.

Err.... Not sure I consider a Hezbullah television network or Fars to be reliable sources.

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Europe's last stand

“Europe’s Last Stand” is a shocking and graphic documentary by PRB Films, in association with Christian Action Network, which examines the Islamic invasion of Western Europe and its threat to European democracy, freedoms, culture and history.

It is also a warning to the U.S: This Islamic invasion – which we are witnessing on its rampage through Europe and the Middle East – is headed to America!

Let's go to the videotape (Hat Tip: Jack W).




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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Most Israelis don't think we won the war; Netanyahu's ratings plummet

A new poll indicates that most Israelis aren't buying the government line that Israel won the war. The poll also shows an additional drop in Prime Minister Netanyahu's popularity ratings.
The poll, which was conducted by Shiluv Millward Brown and iPanel for the Hebrew-language Channel 2 news site, found that a full 59% of Israelis felt Israel did not win in Operation Protective Edge. A paltry 29% said the operation was an Israeli victory.
A decisive majority of the public, 54%, opposed the ceasefire which Netanyahu unilaterally sealed with the terrorist organization Hamas, using a technically to avoid putting the deal up for a Security Cabinet vote. Only 37% supported the ceasefire.
Clearly the disappointment is not directed at the IDF, which 83% of the public said it was satisfied with - instead Israelis apparently are severely dissatisfied with the political echelon, and Netanyahu at its head.
Netanyahu's approval rating nose-dived to a mere 32% in the poll, with a full 59% saying they were not satisfied with him.
Those figures signify an even further plummeting in Netanyahu's ratings; a similar poll two days earlier found that only 38% of Israelis were satisfied with Netanyahu, as opposed to 55% four days prior to that point. At the start of the operation with the ground entry to Gaza, that figure was a whopping 82%.
Criticism has been pouring in from all corners over Netanyahu's apparent unwillingness to take decisive action against Hamas and return security to residents of the south.
The only impediment to new elections is whether the coalition is willing to protect itself and Netanyahu. 

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The UN observes all Christian and Muslim holidays as days off...

... but
Like @AliAbunimah - a good friend of US President Hussein Obama - stays up at night fretting over global anti-Jewish sentiment....

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Indyk's obsession

Here's a lengthy interview with Martin Indyk about the US-Israel relationship in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge.

There is much with which to disagree.... Suffice it to say that he is still obsessed with the 'two-state solution.'

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Oh my... Steinitz tells the Beeb Gaza op 'for nothing'

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, one of the Prime Minister's closest confidantes, has told the BBC that Operation Protective Edge was 'for nothing.'

Let's go to the videotape.



Hmmm.

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Al-Qaeda now just across the border in Syria

What could go wrong?

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Israel won the Gaza war?

Yossi Melman argues that Israel won the Gaza war, and implies that Hamas' declarations of victory are the result of Hamas seeing Israelis criticize their government's conduct of the war.
Hamas’s highly publicized executions during the war, and in particular last week, of alleged traitors were not aimed at unveiling and disrupting Israeli intelligence operations. They were aimed at sending a clear message to the Gazans: We are Hamas and we are here to stay. Don’t dare revolt against us. 
But the locals have a long memory. They will remember who brought them the calamity.
In a sense, the Gaza war is reminiscent of what happened during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Hezbollah was defeated. Its secretary-general admitted it in public. But then he heard Israeli defense commentators who criticized the war’s conduct by then-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s government. That made the Hezbollah leader regain his self-confidence.
Hassan Nasrallah told himself that if stupid Israel thought that it was defeated, so let it be – and he declared his false victory.
Eight years later, it is quite clear that “the Second Lebanon War” brought Israel significant gains at the strategic level. Northern Israel has enjoyed peace and tranquility. Hezbollah is deterred and doesn’t dare to initiate violent and aggressive actions against the Jewish state. Nasrallah himself is in hiding, fearing for his life.
As then, some of the veteran commentators in the 2006 war coverage now express the same criticism with the same weeping voices, claiming that Hamas defeated Israel.
Sooner or later it will emerge that as against Hezbollah, Israel will deter Hamas too.
I don't buy Melman's comments about the Second Lebanon War. The thing that is false about the results of that war is the quiet that followed it. We had six years of 'quiet' when Ehud Barak fled southern Lebanon in 2000 - would Melman also call that a victory?  Hezbullah has rearmed to become a far more formidable force than they were in 2006, and when they find an opportune moment they will strike. The reason that moment didn't arrive last month may be because Hezbullah is preoccupied with serving the interests of its Iranian masters in Syria. But that moment is likely to arrive eventually.

And the same goes for Hamas. The real test of whether this war (or 'operation' as the government insists on calling it) was a success is what happens going forward. How much of Israel's stated objectives were achieved? It's not just a question of whether Hamas will shoot off 50 rockets next week. It's also a question of whether they will rebuild their rocket supply, rebuild their tunnels, and sit and wait like Hezbullah is doing for an opportune moment to strike us. That moment could even - God Forbid - be coordinated between the two terror organizations.

The concept of deterrence requires rational actors. Hamas is not a rational actor. Think of Iran sending young boys to blow up mines in its war with Iraq in the 1980's. Could Iran be deterred? No. Because they were convinced that it was their duty to kill themselves and to send their children to their deaths. The same is true of Hamas - and by the way the same is true of Hebzullah. There is no such thing as deterring these people. They regard death as a reward and they don't care what happens to them until death.

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Who's deterred?

There's a new poll of 'Palestinians' out asking whom they believe was deterred by the results of Operation Protective Edge. Guess what? It's not Hamas.
Dr. Kukali: “The PA-President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) enjoys the satisfaction of his people in Gaza Strip with his performance”.
The key poll results are:
(61.2%) of the Palestinians oppose the deployment of UN-multi-national forces in Gaza Strip.
(54.0%) are satisfied with the performance of the PA-president “Abu Mazen”.
(64.7%) rated the stances of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as “negative”.
(88.9%) support the firing of rockets from Gaza at Israel.
(58.1%) are content with the ICRC performance, (71.2 %) with that of the UNRWA.
(75.4%) believe that the deterrence of the Palestinian Resistance has increased.
Read the whole thing.

Some victory Netanyahu declared.

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HaZorfim wins tender to supply Hamas with silver platter

The venerable HaZorfim silver chain has won a government tender to supply the silver platter on which Hamas' victory in the recent war will be placed (Hat Tip: Danny S).
Proposed designs for the platter varied widely, but the winning selection will be oval, with ornamental handles and a pattern in bas-relief that spells out “Death to the Jews” in one direction and “In blood and fire, we will free you, Palestine.” The size will exceed twelve meters in diameter along the platter’s longest dimension, and slightly more than eight meters across at its shortest.
The exact amount of the impending transaction was not disclosed, but sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office placed it at about 10 million shekels (about $3M). Manufacture of the platter, which will be handmade, is expected to take approximately two weeks, with delivery to occur via the Kerem Shalom crossing along with several truckloads of dual-use cement that can be incorporated into more tunnels into southern Israeli communities for purposes of kidnapping or massacres.
Yosef Merdiger, a spokesman for HaZorfim and a descendant of its founder, offered details of the platter’s design. “We have yet to produce an item of this scale, but the principles of its production are in line with our other products,” he explained, noting that the company makes a large variety of silver trays, typically to hold Sabbath candlesticks. “The platter will be of classic design, of the sort that HaZorfim preserved from Romania in the 1940′s. That will drive home the idea that what is happening now is a repeat of what happened to the Jews of Romania and Eastern Europe at large during that fateful decade.”
He added that the packaging for the platter will also include instructions on how to melt down the metal for use in various weapons systems.
Read the whole thing.

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Did Hamas win?

David Horovitz explains how Hamas may have just won the war.
[I]f, under a long-term deal, Hamas is able to replicate Hezbollah’s strategy in Lebanon — to retain full or significant control of Gaza, to re-arm, to build a still more potent killing mechanism — then its claims of victory, appallingly, will be justified.
Only if a long-term mechanism can be fashioned that denies Hamas the capacity to fight and kill another day will the Israeli leadership be justified in asserting that its goal — ensuring sustained calm and security for the people of Israel — has been met.
The early word is that Israel has made no commitment to meeting any of the central, long-standing Hamas demands — for a lifting of the security blockade, and for the opening of a seaport and an airport. These are concessions that, if agreed in the absence of an effective supervisory mechanism, would give Hamas the ready means to strengthen itself militarily. But it is extremely hard to imagine how such an effective supervisory mechanism could be constructed. And one can only wonder whether Hamas, if it is denied concessions on those issues in the coming weeks of negotiations, will refrain from renewing the conflict.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity has nosedived in recent weeks as the war has continued, as the rockets have pounded on, and as residents of the south have learned to their bloody cost that the political and military leadership were wrong in assuring them three weeks ago that it was safe for them to return to their homes. Support for Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict will rise again if time, and the long-term ceasefire terms, prove that Hamas has been marginalized and de-fanged. Many Israelis, indeed, will come to hail him for not having ordered a far more extensive ground offensive into the treacherous heart of Gaza, where Hamas lay in wait, with the consequent likely loss of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of soldiers’ lives.
But if Hamas is not marginalized, if it proves capable of rebuilding its tunnels, restocking its rocket arsenals, and plotting new strategies toward its goal of Israel’s annihilation, the Israeli strategy for handling this conflict will have been a failure, and the popularity of the prime minister will be far from the most central of Israel’s concerns.
I would guess that Hamas will start shooting again when (not if, but when) they don't get what they want at the negotiating table. Of course, it's possible that Netanyahu will just give them what they want anyway.

What could go wrong?

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Shame on you, Netanwho?

The office of the soon-to-be-deposed Prime Minister declared 'victory' this morning.
"We were victorious in the negotiation phase,” said Liran Dan, Head of the National Information Directorate in the Prime Minister's Office, in an interview with IDF Radio Wednesday. “The military blow that the IDF dealt Hamas – the hardest it has experienced since it was founded – was heavy and meaningful. What we saw is that in a prolonged and well executed campaign, Hamas suffered a harsh military blow and damage to the most heavily constructed arrays it built.”
Idan said that Hamas built up networks of rockets, attack tunnels and terror forces over years with the intent of using them against Israel, and these have been smashed by the IDF. 
"We should ask the opposite question,” Dan said. “What has Hamas achieved with this campaign? It set out with a very clear goal and did not achieve it.” Hamas wanted sea and air ports, it wanted funding allowed into Gaza, it wanted the blockade of Gaza lifted, it wanted the terrorists who were released in the Schalit deal and recently rearrested released, it wanted Turkey and Qatar to mediate in the negotiations, and received none of these things, he noted.
Hamas thought that the Israeli public's spirit would break after one week's fighting, and was proved wrong, he insisted.
Really? Guess what's on the agenda next week in Cairo.... Air and sea ports? Check. Funding? Check. Lifting blockade? Check. Terrorist release? Check. 12-mile fishing limit? Check. The only thing that might not be on the agenda is replacing Egypt with Turkey and Qatar. So just what did Israel achieve by agreeing to a cease fire when it had Hamas reeling?

Haaretz's Barak Ravid got it right last night. 
The same Benjamin Netanyahu who ran for election five years ago, after Operation Cast Lead, on the platform that the mission had not been accomplished, that Hamas rule had to be destroyed and that he was the only one who could do it.
Netanyahu's conduct during the 50 days of fighting in Gaza highlighted the gap between his statements and promises and the reality. The prime minister, who was the most strident in his statement against Hamas, ended the confrontation with the organization in the weakest position. All he wanted was to achieve a cease-fire at just about any price. When the opportunity came, he simply grabbed it and ran.
The Egyptian cease-fire proposal that Israel accepted on Tuesday did not deliver a single achievement. The only thing that the prime minister's spokesmen could boast about on Tuesday was the denial of achievements to Hamas, such as the dissolution of its demands for a sea port, an airport and salary payments. But all those demands will be raised during the negotiations with Hamas that will resume in Cairo next week.
In return for unlimited quiet, Israel agreed to immediately open the border crossings with Gaza to humanitarian aid and to extend the fishing zone to a distance of six nautical miles. Israel also agreed to the immediate entry of construction materials for the rebuilding of Gaza, without any guarantee from either Egypt or Hamas for the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to ensure that the cement and concrete is not used for the rehabilitation of the tunnels project.
The Egyptian proposal didn't include any statement, not even a hint, regarding Israel's security demands. There was nothing about the demilitarization of the strip, the re-arming or the issue of the tunnels. When reading the thin Egyptian document to which Benjamin Netanyahu agreed, John Kerry's draft – which was rejected by the cabinet with a disdain that bordered on humiliation of the secretary of state – suddenly looks like the proposal of the year.
The third agreement that Netanyahu has signed with Hamas since he entered office in 2009 does not even return Israel to the starting point with Gaza. Netanyahu just wanted to return to the status quo that has become a personal ideology, but the reality is that Israel has regressed.
So just what has Netanyahu achieved? An audience with King Barack after the November elections that will bring nothing but more demands? 

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'We wanted to see Hamas defeated and begging for its life; instead we see Israel running to the negotiating table'

Israel has agreed to a one-month cease fire with Hamas, and the local authorities in the Gaza envelope are furious.
Tamir Idan, who heads the Sdot Negev Regional Council, said that “if the reports in the mdeia are right, and the agreement for a ceasefire is for one month only, in which Hamas's demands for constructing ports will be discussed, then this is a surrender to terror.”
He also refused to accept Israel's lack of response to a last minute attack by Hamas that killed two men in Kibbutz Nirim Tuesday.
"Israel's tacit acceptance that it is alright [for Hamas] to fire without limits, and without a response, before the ceasefire goes into force, is a very grave matter. We demand that the Israeli government and the IDF stand behind their commitment to respond in a meaningful way to any fire.”
Itamar Shimoni, Mayor of Ashkelon, said that any conmpromise with Hamas is a surrender to terror. “The residents of Israel and the south wanted to see a decision in this campaign, but this will apparently not happen,” he stated.
"We wanted to see Hamas defeated and begging for its life; instead we see Israel running to the negotiating table at every opportunity,” he added. “We did not lose 64 fighters and five civilians, including a four-year-old boy, for this 'achievement'. We did not sit in the shelters and protected spaces for almost two months for this 'achievement'. We did not take a harsh economic blow, in which businesses collapsed, for this 'achievement'. We expected a lot more than this.”
"Hamas raised demands through violence, and it seems they can expect to get what they wanted. The conclusion is that the path of terror pays off, and therefore the next round of fighting is just a matter of time. As far as I am concerned, a ceasefire agreement in this reality means starting to prepare the systems in Ashkelon for the next round, and it will be more grave and lethal than anything we have known up to now.”
The head of the Eshkol Council, Haim Yelin, said that he will not ask the residents of his region to return to their homes. “In Jerusalem there appears to be a ceasefire. I don't know what they are talking about,” he told Channel 10 news. “In Jerusalem they feel safe, and in some neighborhoods of Gaza they feel safe, but not us. We went into a war of attrition in which we paid with the lives of families and deep pain of the wounded. The government was unprepared for this war.”
The national politicians are also irate over this 'cease fire.' Half the cabinet was opposed.
Just as half of the cabinet ministers were opposed to the cease-fire, many in the coalition expressed similar opinions.

Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said “any agreement that doesn’t include eliminating the rocket threat on residents of Israel and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip is less than half of what is necessary.

“In this reality, the defense establishment will have no choice but to prepare for the next round, which will be soon,” Ariel added.

According to MK Danny Danon (Likud), in the Middle East, restraint is seen as weakness.

“Despite the heavy price Hamas paid, we did not defeat Hamas,” he said. “Fifty days of fighting, 64 soldiers killed, five civilians killed, 82,000 reservists called up, and in the end we’re back to the agreement from Operation Pillar of Defense.”

Danon said a defeat was necessary to broadcast to the whole Middle East, including Hezbollah, Islamic State and Iran, that “they should not mess with the people of Israel.”

“I am concerned we did not succeed enough. Now is the time for national introspection. The policy of restraint and hesitation hurt Israel’s deterrence,” he added.

MK Eli Yishai (Shas) said that a cease-fire without Gaza being demilitarized means Israel may as well pencil in the next round of fighting in its calendar.

“This will be time for Hamas to resupply itself with weaponry to use against Israel,” he said. “Not demilitarizing Gaza will bring Israel to another round of fighting that will be even worse.”

On the Left, lawmakers called for the government to take initiative and launch diplomatic negotiations.
What's worse, afraid he would lose, Netanyahu pulled an Ariel Sharon and circumvented a cabinet vote.
Government ministers Naftali Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman, Yitzhak Aharonovich and Gilad Erdan, who were against the deal, complained that they had merely been informed of the details of the agreement and were not given the opportunity to vote on it.

Economy Minister Bennett demanded that a vote be held on Wednesday but was informed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had received a legal opinion that a vote was not required.

A senior official in Jerusalem said on Tuesday night that Israel had informed Egypt that it accepted the proposal for a cease-fire without time limitation. The response was given only after all the ministers in the cabinet had been updated, the source said.

According to the official, the agreement does not meet Hamas' demands for a sea port, an airport, the release of prisoners and a solution to the issue of funding salaries for Gaza officials.

Each of the sides will raise its demands during the negotiations following the cease-fire; Israel will demand the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

Humanitarian aid, including equipment and materials to repair the damage in the Strip, will be allowed to enter Gaza through the crossings controlled by Israel. Entrance of the materials will be controlled. It is also possibly that the Gaza fishing zone will be extended.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni responded earlier to reports of the imminent cease-fire in Gaza and says that the end of the operation should not include "any significant political achievements for Hamas, which is a terrorist organization which doesn't accept our existence here."
I'll have more on this later, but let's put it this way: It takes three months to hold elections in Israel. I predict we will have them and we will have a new Prime Minister within six months. Write it down. 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Was Aharon Sofer kidnapped?

It's now been more than four days since American yeshiva student Aharon Sofer went missing. His peers started returning to yeshiva last night, and will all be back in yeshiva by tomorrow. But Sofer, who by all indications is a serious student is nowhere to be found. There is a growing fear that Sofer was kidnapped by 'Palestinian' terrorists.
Soffer's family members expressed their great anxiety for his welfare, an anxiety has been heightened by rumors that he may possibly have been abducted. Three Israeli teens were abducted and murdered by Hamas terrorists on June 12, and fears over potential copycat crimes have remained since.
Those fears were heightened after the revenge killing of an Arab youth soon after the murdered boys' funeral in July. Mohammed Abu-Khder's body was discovered in the Jerusalem Forest the day after he went missing.
In the last two days the police decided to involve the Israel Security Agency (ISA) in the search for Soffer, after initial efforts turned up no results.
Likewise members of ZAKA, a disaster rescue organization, have been actively leading the search, aided by many dozens of volunteers. Also part of the search is a jeep unit, ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles), a canine squad, all combing the area since Shabbat as yet to no avail.
"We don't know how to deal with this," a family member of the missing youth told Arutz Sheva. "They tell us that there are fears for his life, and there still isn't even a thread to go on, but what's driving us crazy are the rumors of an abduction."
The family member noted on the war in Gaza and growing terror in the Jerusalem area, adding "in days like these when there is tension about security, this is the worst scenario that we could have imagined."
...
One of the sources helping in the search told Arutz Sheva that the danger to Soffer's life increases with each hour that passes, saying "each passing hour that he doesn't contact us raises the concern that he is unable to contact us. There is definitely a fear for his life. Therefore, we ask for the help of the public."
This does not sound like a kid who would just disappear. If you have information, please call the Jerusalem police at 02-5391520, or the 100 emergency police hotline. 

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'Our war isn't to lift the blockade - it's to liberate Jerusalem'

You have to feel sorry for Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. Even when he says exactly what he means in Arabic (because they just won't say it in English), and it's translated into English, no one believes him. Here's a MEMRI translation of an August 17 speech by Abu Zuhri that's been on its website since yesterday, and which doesn't seem to have gotten much notice.

Let's go to the videotape. More after the video.


Given how little exposure this speech has gotten, I would argue that most of the world is not taking Sami seriously. And given the domination of the world's media by the Left, that's not surprising.

Professor Richard Landes explains.
This is our dilemma. We face an implacable enemy who wants to destroy and subject us. The enemy openly proclaims his beliefs, even acts savagely on those beliefs, and we don’t want to know that we have enemies like that. Surely, as people say so often to the Israelis, if you sat down with Hamas, I’m sure you could work something out.
We want to be nice; we don’t want to be mean. And we end up being nice to the mean and mean to the nice. If we understand that we face an apocalyptic enemy who views the “other,” the infidel, as evil that must be destroyed, then we can’t keep telling ourselves that money and economic programs will solve the problem.
As a colleague said to me once about Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, “I wouldn’t have that on my shelf.”
Academia, which tells us how to think, and the media, which tells us what to think, are both dominated by liberals.

What could go wrong?

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The most important story you will read today: How the media turns Israel into the pool into which the world spits

The article linked and discussed in this post really is the most important story you will read today - regardless of what else happens over the course of the day. Matti Friedman is a former AP correspondent in Israel, who has lived here since 1995. In this article, he discusses how the mainstream media frames the 'Israel story' so that  you think it's the most important story in the world, and why the mainstream media chooses to do that. He also explains some of the things the mainstream media ignores because they interfere with its narrative of the 'Israel story,' and why it chooses to do so. Here are a few highlights.

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.
While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.
...

The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.
News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close. 
...
A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are (understandably, in my opinion) more complicated. Who they are and what they want is not important: The story mandates that they exist as passive victims of the party that matters.
Get ready for this one - here's a biggie.
There has been much discussion recently of Hamas attempts to intimidate reporters. Any veteran of the press corps here knows the intimidation is real, and I saw it in action myself as an editor on the AP news desk. During the 2008-2009 Gaza fighting I personally erased a key detail—that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and being counted as civilians in the death toll—because of a threat to our reporter in Gaza. (The policy was then, and remains, not to inform readers that the story is censored unless the censorship is Israeli. Earlier this month, the AP’s Jerusalem news editor reported and submitted a story on Hamas intimidation; the story was shunted into deep freeze by his superiors and has not been published.)
But if critics imagine that journalists are clamoring to cover Hamas and are stymied by thugs and threats, it is generally not so. There are many low-risk ways to report Hamas actions, if the will is there: under bylines from Israel, under no byline, by citing Israeli sources. Reporters are resourceful when they want to be. 
The fact is that Hamas intimidation is largely beside the point because the actions of Palestinians are beside the point: Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians. That is the essence of the Israel story. In addition, reporters are under deadline and often at risk, and many don’t speak the language and have only the most tenuous grip on what is going on. They are dependent on Palestinian colleagues and fixers who either fear Hamas, support Hamas, or both. Reporters don’t need Hamas enforcers to shoo them away from facts that muddy the simple story they have been sent to tell. 
It is not coincidence that the few journalists who have documented Hamas fighters and rocket launches in civilian areas this summer were generally not, as you might expect, from the large news organizations with big and permanent Gaza operations. They were mostly scrappy, peripheral, and newly arrived players—a Finn, an Indian crew, a few others. These poor souls didn’t get the memo.
Are you furious after reading that? I was. Here's another story that will infuriate you.
In early 2009, for example, two colleagues of mine obtained information that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had made a significant peace offer to the Palestinian Authority several months earlier, and that the Palestinians had deemed it insufficient. This had not been reported yet and it was—or should have been—one of the biggest stories of the year. The reporters obtained confirmation from both sides and one even saw a map, but the top editors at the bureau decided that they would not publish the story.



Some staffers were furious, but it didn’t help. Our narrative was that the Palestinians were moderate and the Israelis recalcitrant and increasingly extreme. Reporting the Olmert offer—like delving too deeply into the subject of Hamas—would make that narrative look like nonsense. And so we were instructed to ignore it, and did, for more than a year and a half.
This decision taught me a lesson that should be clear to consumers of the Israel story: Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.
And why are these decisions made? Surprise: It's classical anti-Semitism (and Friedman is not a conservative - he is opposed to the 'settlements').
For centuries, stateless Jews played the role of a lightning rod for ill will among the majority population. They were a symbol of things that were wrong. Did you want to make the point that greed was bad? Jews were greedy. Cowardice? Jews were cowardly. Were you a Communist? Jews were capitalists. Were you a capitalist? In that case, Jews were Communists. Moral failure was the essential trait of the Jew. It was their role in Christian tradition—the only reason European society knew or cared about them in the first place.
Like many Jews who grew up late in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents. One thing I have learned—and I’m not alone this summer—is that I was foolish to have done so. Today, people in the West tend to believe the ills of the age are racism, colonialism, and militarism. The world’s only Jewish country has done less harm than most countries on earth, and more good—and yet when people went looking for a country that would symbolize the sins of our new post-colonial, post-militaristic, post-ethnic dream-world, the country they chose was this one. 
When the people responsible for explaining the world to the world, journalists, cover the Jews’ war as more worthy of attention than any other, when they portray the Jews of Israel as the party obviously in the wrong, when they omit all possible justifications for the Jews’ actions and obscure the true face of their enemies, what they are saying to their readers—whether they intend to or not—is that Jews are the worst people on earth. The Jews are a symbol of the evils that civilized people are taught from an early age to abhor. International press coverage has become a morality play starring a familiar villain.
Read the whole thing.

I have two further comments. First, people occasionally ask me why I write a blog when most of the world gets their information from the mainstream media anyway. Unfortunately, I and my fellow bloggers have not yet reached the point where our impact approaches that of the New York Times, the Washington Post, AP or the Guardian. But collectively, we are having an impact. Not enough of an impact, but an impact all the same.

Second, after reading this story, I am more convinced than ever that the Sheldon Adelson's of the world are correct and that the answer is to create an alternative mainstream media (Adelson finances Yisrael HaYom, which has become the largest circulation newspaper in Israel - it is handed out for free and subsists on ad money). But while Israel may have been the place to start, the real places where an alternative mainstream media needs to play out are the western countries - especially in North America and Europe.

I hope you all read the story. I'm quite jaded and I was still astounded by how blatant the framing of Israel's story really is.

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