Friday, July 13, 2018

Why Do Palestinian Leaders Oppose Helping Their People? - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

This is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Palestinians' number one priority -- the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general -- is destroying Israel.

  • Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank-based government seek to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They want the international community to continue to believe that Israel is responsible for the ongoing, intense suffering of the Palestinians. They are hoping to use the crisis there to pursue their campaign to delegitimize Israel.
  • Palestinian leaders would prefer to see their people starve than make any form of concessions for peace with Israel. Yet Al-Aloul and Abbas are not the ones who are facing starvation. There is nothing more comfortable than sitting in your fashionable house in Ramallah or Nablus and talking about starvation and humanitarian aid.
  • The Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, who are desperate for jobs and a better life, do not really care about Trump's upcoming peace plan. They also do not really care about a settlement or a checkpoint in the West Bank.
  • This is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Palestinians' number one priority -- the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general -- is destroying Israel. They would rather die than give up their dream of destroying Israel.
For years, Palestinian leaders have been complaining that the Gaza Strip was "on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe." Time and again, they have warned that unless the world helps the Palestinians living there, the Gaza Strip will "erupt like a volcano."

Israel and the US are now offering to help improve the living conditions of the Palestinians living under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. But guess who is fiercely opposed to any attempt to resolve the "humanitarian and economic crisis" in the coastal enclave, home to some two million Palestinians? Answer: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction.

In the past few weeks, both Israel and the US administration have come up with different ideas to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.

US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, who recently visited the Middle East, are said to have presented initiatives that included providing necessities such as electricity, desalinating drinking water, employment opportunities and reviving the industrial zone in the Gaza Strip.

Israel, for its part, has asked Cyprus to consider the possibility of establishing a seaport on the island for shipping goods to the Gaza Strip. According to reports, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has reached an understanding with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to pursue the port plan. Liberman's office said that Israel is working internationally in a number of ways to try to "change the reality" in the Gaza Strip.

One would think that the Palestinian leaders would be extremely happy about these initiatives to alleviate the suffering of their people in the Gaza Strip. The plans to improve the living conditions of the residents of the Gaza Strip should be music to the ears of the Palestinian Authority leadership, right? Wrong.

What, exactly, is behind this mystifying desire on the part of the Palestinian leaders to deny their people a shot at a decent life? Why does the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, which claims that it cares about the well-being of all Palestinians, vehemently oppose any plan to create job opportunities and other forms of aid for its people?

Let us take it step by step.

First, Abbas and his West Bank-based government seek to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip so that they can continue damning Israel for the crisis. They want the international community to continue to believe that Israel is responsible for the ongoing, intense suffering of the Palestinians. Difficult as it appears to for the global community to grasp, however, Israel's maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip is aimed solely at preventing the smuggling of weapons into the coastal enclave. The border between the Gaza Strip and Israel remains open for delivering food and humanitarian and medical aid into Gaza.

The border between Israel and the Gaza Strip remains open for delivering food and humanitarian and medical aid into Gaza. (Image source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Second, the Palestinian Authority and its leaders are opposed to any humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip because they fear that this would embolden Hamas by encouraging it to maintain its tight grip on the Gaza Strip and absolving it of its responsibilities towards the residents living there. Once others start providing the residents of the Gaza Strip with aid, Hamas would be able to continue investing millions of dollars in building tunnels to attack Israel and smuggling more weapons into the Gaza Strip. Hamas would no longer have to worry about paying salaries to Palestinians or purchasing medicine and food.

The Palestinian Authority is hoping that conditions in the Gaza Strip will get so bad that the Palestinians there will rise up against Hamas. It is worth noting that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah itself has imposed severe sanctions on the Gaza Strip in the past year.

These punitive measures include halting payments to thousands of civil servants and suspending social welfare assistance to hundreds of families. The sanctions have triggered a wave of protests throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent weeks, prompting Abbas's security forces to use force to disperse the protesters.

Third, the Palestinian Authority leadership are assuring us that the Israeli and US plans to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip are part of a wider "conspiracy" to force the Palestinians to accept US President Donald Trump's yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.

Abbas and his senior officials are using this issue to whip up anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments among the Palestinian population. They are telling the Palestinians that the economic and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip are primarily designed to extract "political concessions" from the Palestinians. Their argument: The Palestinians would be required to give up their "national rights," including the "right of return" for refugees and their descendants to their former homes in Israel proper, in exchange for improving their living conditions.

Palestinian Authority leaders are inciting their people by telling them that the US and Israel are seeking to "blackmail" the Palestinians. Consider, for example, what Abbas's prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, said on July 5: "We won't accept any plan to turn our national rights into humanitarian or financial rights. We have fixed political, historical and legal rights that are non-negotiable."

Another senior Abbas loyalist, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, was quoted on July 2 as saying: "We don't want your flour and wheat; we don't want your humanitarian aid."

And note another recent statement, made by Al-Aloul, who serves as Abbas's deputy in Fatah and is touted as the next Palestinian Authority president: "We are prepared to starve, but we can't, in return for resolving our humanitarian issues, give up Jerusalem and our basic rights."

The message should be obvious – after all, it is being broadcast loud and clear: Palestinian leaders would prefer to see their people starve than make any form of concessions for peace with Israel.

Yet Al-Aloul and Abbas are not the ones who are facing starvation. Life in Ramallah and the rest of the West Bank is pretty good for Abbas and his senior entourage. Unlike the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority leaders enjoy freedom of movement and live in luxury apartments and villas. There is nothing more comfortable than sitting in your fashionable house in Ramallah or Nablus and talking about starvation and humanitarian aid.

When Al-Aloul and other senior Palestinian leaders talk about the harsh conditions in the Gaza Strip, they conveniently forget to mention that it is, in part, their own sanctions that have aggravated the crisis there. But the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, who are desperate for jobs and a better life, do not really care about Trump's upcoming peace plan.

They also do not really care about a settlement or a checkpoint in the West Bank. Abbas and his officials seem dead-set to pursue their jihad against Israel and the US at the expense of the last surviving Palestinian. They go on selling their people old slogans about "national rights and principles and Jerusalem" while watching them die in the streets.

The final lesson to be drawn from the statements of the Palestinian Authority leaders against plans to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about economic or humanitarian issues.

By insisting on all Palestinian " national rights," including the "right of return," and by refusing to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, the Palestinians are in fact signaling that their true goal is to see Israel removed from the Middle East. How do we know that they want to destroy Israel? Abbas says he sees Israel as a "colonialist project that has nothing to do with Judaism."

This statement means that he does not see Israel as a legitimate state. Abbas and his officials do not care about the suffering of their people in the Gaza Strip because they are hoping to use the crisis there to pursue their campaign to delegitimize Israel. Hamas, for its part, is clearly stating that it will not give up its dream of "liberating Palestine, from the river to the sea," even if that means the starvation and death of its people. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas could have ensured a better life for their people a long time ago, but this is not what is on their mind. They care less about their people and more about finding ways to undermine and delegitimize and demonize Israel and Jews.

Abbas and his loyalists are saying in easy-to-understand language: "You can give us as much money as you want, we will not change our stance towards Israel and we will not give up any of our demands." In this regard, at least, they are telling the truth.

This conflict is not about money or economic aid. It is about the existence of Israel, whose presence the Palestinians refuse to tolerate in the Middle East.

This is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Palestinians' number one priority -- the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general -- is destroying Israel. They would rather die than give up their dream of destroying Israel.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Voters may get to directly repeal 'sanctuary state' laws via referendum - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Let the people speak!

A group in Oregon has already submitted a petition with 25% more signatures than required to qualify for the ballot a referendum on repealing that state's "sanctuary state" law. In neighboring California, efforts are underway to qualify a similar measure for California voters.

Valerie Richardson reports in the Washington Times:
There's virtually no chance that the uber-progressive Oregon legislature would ever repeal the state's oldest-in-the-nation sanctuary law, which is why locals worried about illegal immigration have turned to the voters.
The Stop Oregon Sanctuaries campaign submitted roughly 110,000 signatures last week to qualify an anti-sanctuary measure for the November ballot, more than the 88,000 required, stunning liberal activists and laying the groundwork for a landmark ballot battle.
"This has national ramifications and our opponents know that," said Cynthia Kendoll, president of Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which led the petition drive. "The thing that people don't realize is that very seldom do citizens get to vote on immigration issues. They're always legislated upon us. And that's particularly the case in Oregon. We never get a say."
Meanwhile, in California:
Don Rosenberg, an "angel" father whose son Drew was killed in a 2010 car crash in San Francisco with a Honduras man who had entered the country illegally but was granted temporary protected status ... is spearheading the Fight Sanctuary State campaign, which was cleared Tuesday to begin gathering signatures for a proposed initiative, the Community Protection Act, to reverse state laws on sanctuary status and driver's licenses for illegal immigrants [sic].
The initiative, which needs 365,880 signatures to qualify for the 2020 ballot, comes after organizers pulled a previous referendum campaign to repeal Senate Bill 54, the 2017 law restricting state and local cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
Fight Sanctuary State has framed the campaign as a battle between citizens and the Democratic state legislature and governor, insisting that "only the Community Protection Act will end sanctuary policies in California."
"Who will save California from illegal immigrant [sic] violence?" says one social-media post. "Not Sacramento! Not the courts!"

Guerrilla highway sign in Califonria (screen shot via Washington Examiner).

If you believe this poll, Californians support sanctuary laws by a 56-to-41 point margin. I am not sure that I do believe that, but I do know that the legislature is far more radical than the voting public as a whole.

Meanwhile, back in Oregon, Cynthia Kendoll has reasons for optimism:
In 2014, her group qualified a veto referendum of Oregon's newly passed law giving driver cards to illegal immigrants. Voters repealed the state law by 66 to 34 percent, even though Ms. Kendoll said her side was out-fundraised by 11 to 1.
"When we did Measure 88 they were very confident, even cocky, that they had the state sewn up," she said. "And they just got blown away. So this time I think they're going, 'We can't let that happen again.'"
Let the people speak!

Thomas Lifson


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

#WalkAway's Threat to Democrats’ Base - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

A movement launched just weeks ago is crippling the Left.

The grassroots #WalkAway movement aimed at getting disaffected Democrats to publicly and conspicuously abandon their increasingly radical, intolerant party is rapidly gaining steam.

The movement, founded in late May by gay hairstylist Brandon Straka, encourages Americans to share their personal stories of disillusionment with the Democratic Party and abandon, or “walk away,” from the party. #WalkAway primarily encourages the rejection of Democrat radicalism, as opposed to proselytizing on behalf of the Republican Party or Donald Trump.

“We want people on the right to use their voices and tell the world the truth about whom they are by making videos telling everyone what it means to be a conservative in America and what your values really are,” states the campaign’s website. “Tell minorities on the left, who have been told their whole lives that they are not welcome on the right because of the bigotry and hatred, that they are welcome. Tell them there is a seat at the table on the right for everybody.”

“This is a movement of Patriots from all walks of life – men, women, black, brown, white, straight, LGBTQ, religious, and non-believers – who share something very important in common. WE ARE ALL AMERICANS and we will not surrender our country.”

Democrats had been sliding left in the Obama era as the party embraced Black Lives Matter, traitor Chelsea Manning, and Antifa, but the slide has been accelerating in recent months as Trump Derangement Syndrome paralyzes their intellectual capacities. Small-c communist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s shocking upset victory in a Democrat New York primary race over House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley on an extreme-left utopian fantasy platform of abolishing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, providing Medicare for All, and guaranteeing jobs for all, hasn’t encountered much pushback from the party establishment. Instead of the revulsion this Marxist ought to inspire, she has been welcomed with open arms. DNC Chairman Tom Perez describes the soon-to-be-congresswoman as the “future of our party.”

It is against this disturbing backdrop that the #WalkAway movement was founded.

The movement is largely Facebook-based. It was launched when Straka posted a powerful self-narrated video on Facebook weeks ago. (I have produced a full transcript of Straka’s remarks at the bottom of this article.) The #WalkAway Campaign on Facebook now has close to 100,000 members.


Echoing Ronald Reagan’s powerful 1962 denunciation of his former party – the famous “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me" comments, Straka now asks, "What do these people stand for? What is their platform? All I can figure out so far is ‘We hate Trump’ and ‘We love illegal immigrants.’”

It wasn’t that long ago that Straka was a left-wing Democrat. He was “devastated” in November 2016 by President Trump’s election, but walked away from Democrats after he realized how dishonest Democrats and their allies in the left-leaning media were.

In his dramatic video, Straka explains:
For years now, I have watched as the left has devolved into intolerant, inflexible, illogical, hateful, misguided, ill-informed, un-American, hypocritical, menacing, callous, ignorant, narrow-minded, and at times, blatantly fascistic behavior and rhetoric.
The Democratic Party, he says, “and the liberal media has embraced, affirmed, aided, and abetted this cult ideology. In an effort to gain voters and maintain power, the Democratic Party that I once loved has joined forces with the extremist left.”

Straka continues:
I staunchly reject racism of any kind, I reject the marginalization of any human being based off of their gender or sexual orientation. I reject tyrannical group think, I reject a system which allows an ambitious, misinformed, and dogmatic mob to suppress free speech, create false narratives, and apathetically steamroll over the truth. I reject the acceptance of junk science and superstition to advance ideological agendas. I reject hate. These are the reasons why I became a liberal and these are the same reasons why I am now walking away.
Those who have posted #WalkAway testimonials have done so for a multitude of reasons.

Some speak of overcoming indoctrination in college, liberal stereotypes about minorities, and the Left’s worsening radicalism problem.

#WalkAway has been aided by a black awakening or sorts. Black ex-Democrats like Brandon Tatum have been truth-bombing about the Democrats’ traditional hatred of and persecution of black Americans. His “Democrats Hate Black People #walkaway” video posted on YouTube on July 2 now has close to a quarter million views.

Turning Point USA’s communications director Candace Owens is optimistic about #WalkAway’s prospects.
We’re seeing a major shift happen. And black supporters are leaving the left and going over to the right. You need to pay attention to the underground movement. And look, you’re correct to say that just because a poll says something, it isn't right. The polls told us that Hillary Clinton was going to win and she didn't. I wasn’t fooled by the polls. I thought that Hillary Clinton was going to lose, in the same way that I am also saying that I believe black voters are going to exit the left completely by 2020.
Quantifying the success of #WalkAway is difficult. It is too early to say if #WalkAway represents a major cultural shift but it certainly is generating plenty of bad ink for Democrats who would prefer that it disappear lest it spoil their plans for the midterm elections.

Naturally, more than a few Democrats claim the movement is a hoax.

The paranoid leftists at hate site claim #WalkAway is a Russian-operated misinformation campaign. Bob Cesca writes that #WalkAway “is a likely Kremlin operation” that is fueled by “online trolls.” It is a myth that “real-life Democrats [are] leaving the party in disgust[.]”

Another farfetched article over at the Huffington Post, this time by Mary Papenfuss, glosses over the intensifying incivility and violence of the Left by claiming all of this leftist misbehavior is invented by Russians.
In what may be an early onslaught of Kremlin-linked Twitter attacks ahead of the U.S. midterm elections, Russia bots appear to be fueling a wave of criticism targeting Democrats over alleged intimidation in political confrontations and a lack of “civility,” according to bot trackers.
Attacks with the hashtag #WalkAway purport to be from a “grassroots” wave of one-time Democrats who have left the party in part because they say they are so incensed by the hateful and divisive behavior of party members. The message is to “walk away” from ugly confrontations, “intolerance” and hate — and from the Democratic Party.
Papenfuss accuses Fox News of conspiring with these mysterious allegedly Russian troublemakers by merely reporting on the #WalkAway phenomenon. Fox “and other conservative outlets in turn have helped amplify the message by reporting on the #WalkAway ‘movement.’”

This is what we can expect more of. All criticism of Democrats and left-wingers will be labeled illegitimate, even treasonous, no matter how many Democrats end up walking away.

Meanwhile, Straka is taking heat in his personal life for his politics.

Straka was discriminated against at camera supply store Adorama on West 18th St. in Manhattan because of his political beliefs.

After spending what he described as a considerable amount of time selecting equipment on July 5 a salesman refused to process his purchases.

“He stared at me with this kind of deadpan expression,” Straka said. The salesman asked him: “Are you planning to use this equipment for alt-right purposes?’” The clerk refused to sell to him.

“It kind of took my breath away,” Straka said.

“I said to him, ‘Listen, if you can’t sell to me, that’s fine, but, you know, person to person, I’d like to talk to you, because I don’t think you know what Walk Away is about. And he said, ‘Well, you know, I’m done. I’m not comfortable selling to you. You’re welcome to talk to someone else in the store but I’m not going to sell to you.’”

Eventually another salesman processed the purchases but the incident left Straka upset.

“I was shaking. I was hurt. I had this huge adrenaline rush. I felt embarrassed and I also felt nervous.”

Knowing the Left, that probably won’t be the end of the harassment Straka will suffer.


Once upon a time, I was a liberal.

Well, to be honest, less than a year ago, I was still a liberal.

I became a liberal because I felt I’d found a tribe whose values aligned with my own.

I staunchly reject racism of any kind, I reject the marginalization of any human being based off of their gender or sexual orientation. I reject tyrannical group think, I reject a system which allows an ambitious, misinformed, and dogmatic mob to suppress free speech, create false narratives, and apathetically steamroll over the truth.

I reject the acceptance of junk science and superstition to advance ideological agendas.

I reject hate.

These are the reasons why I became a liberal and these are the same reasons why I am now walking away.

For years now, I have watched as the left has devolved into intolerant, inflexible, illogical, hateful, misguided, ill-informed, un-American, hypocritical, menacing, callous, ignorant, narrow-minded, and at times, blatantly fascistic behavior and rhetoric.

Liberalism has been co-opted and absorbed by the very characteristics it claims to fight against. For years now, I've watched as people on the left have become anesthetized to their own prejudices and bigotry and the prejudices and bigotry of those around them who echo their values. I have watched these formerly-sensible people, who claim to reject racism, have come to embrace the principles of universally hating and blaming all of society's problems on all people who have white skin. I have witnessed the irony of advocacy for gender equality morph into blatant hatred and intolerance of men and masculinity. I have seen the once-earnest fight for equality for the LGBT community mutate into an illogical demonization of heteronormativity and the push to vilify and attack our conventional concepts of gender.

These same self-proclaimed victims of intolerance [are] now turning on the gay community that they once attached themselves to advance their agenda, [are] now calling gay people 'privileged' and themselves 'victims' of injustice. I have watched as the left has allowed themselves to become hypnotized by false narratives and conclusions, perpetuated by social justice warriors who misrepresent and misconstrue facts and evidence and events to confirm their own biases that everyone who does not comply with their prejudicial conclusions and follow their orders is a racist, a bigot, a Nazi, a white supremacist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, misogynist, and alt-right extremist. And I've watched as they've used these heartless and carelessly-assigned labels to intimidate, threaten, bully, silence, attack, un-employ, blacklist, and destroy anybody who dares to fight back.

They'll come for me and then they'll come for you.

And worst of all, the Democratic Party and the liberal media has embraced, affirmed, aided, and abetted this cult ideology. In an effort to gain voters and maintain power, the Democratic Party that I once loved has joined forces with the extremist left. The Democratic Party and the liberal media now believe their own ill-gotten conclusions and have ominously decided that they –and only they – know the remedy for society's ills.

The Left has decided that the solution to problems with race relations in America is more racism. The Left believes that attacking, insulting, and dehumanizing one group of people elevates another. The Left now believes that there are no boundaries when telling lies, omitting the truth, or misrepresenting the facts when telling the news because their end justifies their means. The Left has now decided that its point of view is the only acceptable one and that suppressing, censoring, and banning open debate is virtuous and progressive. The Democratic Party has adopted a deleterious belief system, happily and without skepticism, separating people into groups based off of identity and then organizing them into camps of 'victims' and 'oppressors.'

If you are a person of color, an LGBT person, a woman, or an American immigrant, the Democratic Party wants you to know that you are a victim and destined to stay that way. They will insist that you are a victim doomed to exist within a system that is rigged against you, that you are a victim of systemic oppression, that you are a victim of your circumstances, and that no amount of hard work or motivational action will ever allow you to overcome your victimhood or the privilege of those around you.

This is perhaps the Democratic Party's greatest and most insidious lie.

But if you are a minority in America today, the left-wing politicians and the liberal media don't ever want you to ever discover this lie. So they bombard us with stories designed to reinforce this narrative that you are in danger, that you cannot succeed. They manipulate your fears and concerns by telling you that you are disadvantaged, disempowered, and disposable to everyone – except to them. They will tell you that you need them. They will tell you that you are only safe under their supervision. They will promise to liberate you from all that chains you.

And then, they will do absolutely nothing for you.

Once upon a time I was a liberal. But liberalism has changed. And I will no longer be a part of an ideology or political party that represents everything that contradicts my values of unity, equal opportunity, personal empowerment, compassion, and love.

So I am walking away.

And I encourage all of you to do the same.

Walk away.

(end of transcript)

Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the investigative think tank Capital Research Center, is an award-winning investigative reporter and author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Israeli border towns hit with 1,000 fires in 3 months of Gaza terrorism - Nikki Guttman

by Nikki Guttman

Hamas firebomb balloons, kites set 40 new fires Wednesday • Damage totals millions of dollars

Itay Levi, left, and Adi Rozen of Moshav Netiv Haasara stand 
in one of the community's scorched fields
Photo: Yehuda Peretz

At least 40 fires raged in Gaza-adjacent communities in southern Israel on Wednesday as a result of burning kites and balloons launched from Gaza over the border fence as part of ongoing protests organized by Hamas, bringing the total number of fires set by the group's new tactic in the past three months to over 1,000.

The fires have laid waste to over 8,200 acres of forest and agricultural land, with damage totaling tens of millions of dollars. Experts say it will take at least 15 years to rehabilitate the vegetation and wildlife in the scorched areas.

When the remote arson attacks began a few months ago, some politicians and military officials dismissed them as a passing nuisance. But the protesters added explosives-laden balloons that ignite upon landing on the Israeli side of the fence to their arsenal, and now Israeli children who come across a stray kite or balloon have to back away and tell their parents to call in sappers.

Bruria Karni-Hadas, a resident of Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, admitted Wednesday that when the kites first appeared, she dismissed them as an inconvenience.

"I didn't realize at first how big [a problem] they would become, but soon it became clear. We know what to do and how to defend ourselves from mortar shells and rockets. But now there's a different sense of helplessness, that we don't know what to do. The feeling is that there is no end in sight," said Karni-Hadas.

Karni-Hadas, a professional photographer, has been documenting the scorched region.

"We need to show as many people as possible in Israel and all over the world what's happening here. We're talking about enormous areas that have been burned down; about people's livelihood; about ecological damage and harm to our health, because heaven knows what we're inhaling.

"It's not just the sights, it's also the stench. There's always an odor of burning in the air. Every time I leave the house, I see a layer of smoke hanging over the region," she said.

Valeria Mashinsky of Kibbutz Karmia is also alarmed by the latest form of terrorism from Gaza.

"Operation Protective Edge [in the summer of 2014] was scary. There were sirens and booms, but they said an operation was on and they were going to take care of Hamas, so we were willing to suffer in silence and wait for results," Mashinsky said. "Here, we don't know when it [a fire] will happen. There are no early-warning alerts, and Hamas is threatening to send over burning balloons during the night, too."

"It's stressful and the most alarming thing is that we don't know when it will be over," Mashinsky said.

Mashinsky has contacted various environmental groups about the damage caused by the fires, but has yet to receive a satisfactory response.

"It drives me crazy that [environmental] groups in Israel are worried about polar bears but not about nature in their own country. Nature in the south is going up in flames – where are their voices?" she asks.

Nikki Guttman


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Sick, wounded Syrians secretly cross border for treatment ‎in Israel - Adi Hashmonai, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Adi Hashmonai, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff 

Syrian children, some suffering from chronic health ‎problems, are treated in Israeli hospital

A Syrian woman crossing into Israel with her children, Wednesday
Screenshot: Reuters

Keeping a doctor's appointment in Israel, Syrian ‎children and their mothers stepped across a tense ‎Golan Heights border in the dead of night on ‎Wednesday, under the watchful gaze of Israeli ‎soldiers.‎

The patients, Israeli medical officials said, were ‎not the walking wounded of the seven-year-old Syrian ‎civil war but children with chronic health problems ‎coming across the frontier for a day's treatment in ‎a hospital in northern Israel.‎

Israel has treated some 4,500 war casualties ‎from Syria since a ‎humanitarian aid program dubbed Operation Good Neighbor was launched five ‎years ago.‎

The group of more than 40 mothers and children that ‎crossed over in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday were ‎among the 3,000 Syrians who Israel says have ‎received separate treatment as part of a subsequent ‎operation called "Doctor's Appointment."‎

Supervised by Israeli soldiers with night-vision ‎equipment, one woman – carrying one child and ‎holding the hand of another – stepped through a gate ‎built into Israel's security fence in the Golan ‎Heights.‎

After a brief security check, she joined others at ‎the roadside to wait for a bus that would take them ‎to Ziv Medical Center in the northern city of Safed, ‎where a medical clown entertained the children waiting for treatment.‎

‎"They are treated in hospital and go back the same ‎day," Maj. Sergei Kutikov, an Israeli military ‎health officer, said. "Sometimes they return twice or ‎three times for further treatment or surgery," he ‎added.

Israel has largely stayed out of the Syrian civil ‎war but it has carried out scores of airstrikes on ‎Iranian or Hezbollah weapon convoys in Syria. Only ‎hours after the latest batch of patients came ‎across the border, sirens sounded across the Israeli ‎communities in the Golan Heights as an Israeli ‎missile intercepted a drone incursion from Syria.‎

For Israel, the medical aid program can help win ‎hearts and minds in border areas where the number of ‎refugees has increased in recent weeks, as Syrian ‎President Bashar Assad's forces advance in an ‎offensive to recover southwest Syria.‎

Dr. Michael Harari, a pediatrician at Ziv hospital, said ‎medical infrastructure in southwest Syria has ‎largely broken down, and groups of Syrian children ‎are brought to the facility every two to three ‎weeks.‎

‎"We were afraid in the beginning to come [because we ‎regarded Israelis] as Zionists and enemies," said ‎one woman, who brought her son for treatment. "Now ‎we know it's the opposite."‎

Also on Wednesday, the IDF revealed that it has ‎teamed with the communities in the Golan Heights to ‎transfer donations and humanitarian aid to the ‎Syrian refugees across the border.‎

Last week, the Golan Regional Council opened a ‎collection center and according to council ‎officials, it was immediately flooded with ‎hundreds of care packages, toys, clothes and food ‎for the refugees, for the IDF to collect and deliver ‎to the Syrian side of the border.‎

Adi Hashmonai, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Balancing dangers and opportunities - Isi Leibler

by Isi Leibler

An escalation in worldwide anti-Semitism, European contempt for Israel and the growing distance from American Jews is more than offset by positive factors: Israelis are more united than ever, and Israel remains a mini-superpower.

The speed of recent changes is breathtaking.

On the negative side, an escalation in anti-Semitism has reduced the quality of life for most Jews. Most European governments do not conceal their contempt for Israel, and their foreign policies and U.N. voting records display an absence of moral compass.

Nothing illustrates this better than their reaction to Israeli self-defense against incursions by Hamas terrorists and rocket attacks. To depict Israel's efforts to defend itself from violent mobs as a disproportionate response to "peaceful demonstrators" is obscene. No country would have shown as much restraint.

The behavior of the ailing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his acolytes has descended to levels of anti-Semitism that would have made the Nazis proud.

A rabid hatred for U.S. President Donald Trump has led many American Jews to distance themselves from Israel. Forty-two percent of them even opposed moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

On the broader Jewish political level, the Anti-Defamation League, the once respected apolitical body whose mandate was to combat anti-Semitism, today aggressively seeks to slander Trump and often criticizes Israel.

The Democratic Party has become radicalized with the emergence of anti-Israeli agitators. The primary election defeat of Rep. Joe Crowley, the Democratic caucus chairman and a firm supporter of Israel, was a significant blow. Jewish voters were not dissuaded from supporting his opponent, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has made no secret of her hostility to Israel. She is affiliated with the Democratic Socialists of America, which supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

The situation for Jews on college campuses has worsened. Many pro-BDS agitators are fringe Jews working with radical Arabs and far-left extremists.

But outside this gloom, there is also light.

While Israelis are exasperated with corruption and the multiple allegations against the Netanyahus, were an election to be held now, Benjamin Netanyahu would be re-elected. Support for his Likud party is higher than any party has seen in decades.

Despite internal debates, the people of Israel today are more united than ever. Most recognize that, given the current Palestinian leadership, a Palestinian state would be a terrorist state and a potential launching pad for Iran. There is an overwhelming desire not to be an occupier, but separation must be conditional on security.

In the wider U.S. population, there is stronger support for Israel than ever, with enthusiastic support from evangelical Christians.

The decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was of enormous symbolic importance, as has been U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley's strident lambasting of those who employ double standards against Israel. In addition, unlike his predecessor, Trump does not refer to Abbas as a moderate. He has made it clear that an institution which gives over $4 million annually from its foreign aid grants to incentivize terrorists cannot be considered a peace partner.

The soon-to-be-announced Trump peace plan  will probably fail because the conflict is not about real estate. The core issue remains the Palestinian desire to end Jewish sovereignty in the region.

In this context, the U.S. decision to reinstate sanctions on Iran – which Trump considered on the brink of becoming a nuclear threshold state – was extremely positive. It may, in time, bring about regime change.

Considering the long history of Russian anti-Semitism, Russian President Vladimir Putin's warm relationship with Netanyahu and Israel is unprecedented. Without Russian coordination, the IDF could not have destroyed key Iranian targets in Syria. Putin has also supported Israel's demand that Iran keep its distance from the Israeli border.

In addition, Israel has developed important relationships with India, China, and many African, Latin American and Southeast Asian countries. While Western Europe is increasingly susceptible to pressure from its vastly expanded Muslim constituencies, the relationship with Eastern Europe is strengthening.

And Israel is now enjoying unofficial liaisons and allegedly exchanging intelligence with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

This is a truly incredible reversal of the isolated Israel of a decade ago.

Israel is a mini-superpower. Militarily, it has successfully deterred Iran and its surrogates from embarking on war. Economically, its amazing high-tech innovations attract entrepreneurs from around the world and its revolutionary water recycling technology assists other countries.

Finally, Israeli gas exports are expected to further strengthen its global links.

These positive factors more than offset the negative elements referred to above. It is not surprising that, despite some grumbling, Israelis are ranked as a happy people.

We should look at Israel today and, without becoming complacent, reminisce about our position of only 10 years ago, and give thanks to our leaders and the Almighty for our achievements.

Isi Leibler's website can be viewed at Email: 

Isi Leibler


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Irish senate passes bill banning Israeli settlement goods - AP and Israel Hayom Staff

by AP and Israel Hayom Staff

If passed, Ireland would become first European country to ban import of settlement goods

The Irish Senate has voted in favor of a bill seeking to ban the import of West Bank settlement products – a measure that still must pass several hurdles before becoming law.

Under the legislation, violators who import goods from "illegal settlements" in the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, will be fined. If passed, Ireland will become the first European country to ban Israeli settlement goods.

Irish Senators voted 25 to 20 Wednesday in favor of the proposal, which still needs to be debated and voted on in Parliament's Lower House – a process that is expected to take months.

The Irish government strongly opposes the measure, arguing for a common European Union response.

The bill's author, independent senator Frances Black, has termed Israeli settlements "a gross violation of international law" and compared her initiative to Ireland's efforts to combat apartheid in South Africa.

"There is a clear hypocrisy here – how can we condemn the settlements as 'unambiguously illegal' as theft of land and resources, but happily buy the proceeds of this crime?" the Irish Times quoted her as saying.

Israel's Foreign Ministry sharply condemned the vote and summoned the Irish ambassador for a meeting Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Wednesday that "the Irish Senate has lent a hand to a populist, dangerous and extreme anti-Israel boycott initiative, effectively undermining the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians."

"The boycott will affect the livelihood of many Palestinians who work in Israeli industrial zones, and they will be hurt by this initiative," Nahshon continued. "It will only cause damage to the diplomatic process in the Middle East."

Irish Ambassador to Israel Alison Kelly has already been summoned by the Foreign Ministry twice before. In January she was summoned when the initiative was first submitted and spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She insisted at the time that the bill was not motivated by the BDS movement, but Netanyahu reprimanded her, telling her that she was supporting those who seek to boycott Israel.

Kelly was also summoned to the Foreign Ministry in April to be reprimanded over Dublin Lord Mayor Micheal Mac Donncha's participation in an anti-Israel symposium that was held in Ramallah, and over two anti-Israel resolutions passed in the Dublin City Council.

AP and Israel Hayom Staff


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Explaining American Leftists: Part I - Dennis Prager

by Dennis Prager

Privileged monsters on the march.

As I watch a great number of my fellow Americans and virtually all of the mainstream media descend further and further into irrational and immoral hysteria — regularly calling the president of the United States and all of his supporters Nazis, white supremacists and the like; harassing Republicans where they eat, shop and live; ending family ties and lifelong friendships with people who support the president; declaring their opposition to Trump and the Republican Party the "Resistance," as if they were American reincarnations of the French who fought real Nazis in World War II; and so on — I ask myself: What is going on? How does one explain them?

Here are some answers:

1. Naivete

Many Americans are naive, about life, about good and evil, and about America. They don't realize how rare America is and how good they have it. This mass naivete was vividly expressed by the reaction of tens of thousands of mostly white middle-class Americans to then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, when he was campaigning in Columbia, Missouri. Obama announced, "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

I frequently play the recording of Obama's statement on my radio show not only to explain a basic difference between right and left — the left believes America needs to be fundamentally transformed, while the right thinks America needs to be incrementally improved — but also for people to hear the crowd's reaction.

Very few contemporary American recordings are as depressing as the ecstatic and prolonged cheering the crowd gave that terrible promise from Obama. I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that had he announced a cure for cancer, the cheering could not have been louder and probably would not have been longer.

Why would middle-class Americans — people who have more affluence, more opportunity, better health, better health care and more liberty than almost anyone alive in the world today, and certainly than anyone who ever lived — thunderously applaud a call to fundamentally transform their decent country?

One answer — one of many, as we will see — is naivete. 

Earlier this year, I had a debate/dialogue with two left-wing students at the University of California, Berkeley. I thought debating left-wing students, rather than giving a speech, would accomplish two objectives: deter left-wing protesters from disrupting my appearance and enable young people at Berkeley and around the world (via the internet) to hear differences between right and left clearly spelled out. Both aims were achieved.

My final question to them was "Do you believe people are basically good?" Without a moment's pause, both students said yes.

I told them they think that way because they live in such a decent country. It is easy to remain naive in America, where most are insulated from the suffering inflicted on so much of humanity in deeply corrupt, poverty-stricken and war-torn societies. Nevertheless, given the way humans have treated one another throughout history, and only two generations after Auschwitz, only the naive can believe people are basically good. And since no Western religion (i.e., any religion based on the Bible) has ever posited that people are basically good, this naivete is abetted by secularism, which allows for the pursuit of knowledge but destroys wisdom.

Only the naive — or willfully ignorant — could equate support for Donald Trump with Nazism. Are most Israeli Jews Nazis? Are a third of America's Jews Nazis? (Many on the left would probably answer yes, which gives you an idea how mean and sick many on the left are.)

2. Boredom

Boredom, at least in our time, is the most overlooked source of evil. In the past, before people went to college and abandoned religion — the two greatest reasons there is so much moral idiocy in our time — people knew how dangerous boredom was. "Idle hands are the devil's workshop" was a commonly used aphorism that wouldn't even make sense to most young people today.

By bored I am not referring to a lack of things to do. There is more opportunity to do and experience things today than ever before. By bored I mean a deep boredom of the soul, what the French call "ennui." This is the boredom that emanates from lack of purpose and a yearning for excitement.

The combination of affluence and secularism produces boredom as surely as the combination of hydrogen and oxygen produces water. Without affluence, people have a built-in purpose: obtaining food and shelter, supporting oneself and one's family, etc. And religion, with or without affluence, likewise has always provided people with meaning. Without religion, therefore, purpose is often lost. Add to that the number of people who are not married and do not have children (also a result of the combination of affluence and secularism) and you remove another universal source of meaning.

A disproportionate percentage of those on the left (not traditional liberals) do not lack for material needs, have no religion and are single and/or childless. Those left-wing screamers you see in restaurants, the left-wing mobs on campus, the left-wing "antifa" thugs and the left-wing Black Lives Matter demonstrators who close down bridges and highways do not generally consist of married people with children who attended church the previous Sunday.

These people find this lack of purpose assuaged by leftism. It provides meaning and excitement, a very heady combination.

These are a few explanations. In Part II I will offer others.

Photo: Bartosz Brzezinsk

Dennis Prager


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Jabotinsky and Israeli victory - Eric Ruskin

by Eric Ruskin

The study of Jabotinsky's life and thought has been the subject of increased attention in recent years, which seems to be indicative of a thirst for something that is lacking in the current Jewish political and cultural milieu. For his yahrzeit.

In the midst of the Three Weeks of mourning for tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people throughout our history, it is worthwhile to take note of the legacy of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whose yahrzeit falls on the 29th of Tammuz. One of the best ways to pay tribute to the memory of this man of ideas and action is to put into practice a central lesson of his extraordinary life by calling for victory in Israel’s just and moral struggle against its enemies.

Jabotinsky stands at the forefront of Israel’s founding fathers. Statesman, writer, orator, soldier and leader - these are but a few of the words describing the multifaceted man who abandoned a promising career as a rising star in the Russian literary world in the early 1900s to embark on the difficult path of serving the Jewish people’s cause for national liberation, the cause of Zionism.

Often described as the founder of Zionism’s “right-wing,” Jabotinsky was a controversial personality during his lifetime, in large part due to his insistence on the now widely-accepted notion that Jews have the right and obligation to defend themselves. The study of his life and thought has been the subject of increased attention in recent years, which seems to be indicative of a thirst for something that is lacking in the current Jewish political and cultural milieu.

Other leaders in the Zionist movement called for restraint in response to vicious Arab attacks on Jewish civilians in the Land of Israel in the decades leading up to the establishment of the state. They preached patience in the face of the British betrayals that pushed its founding further and further off even as the storm clouds of the Shoah began to form in Europe.

In contrast, Jabotinsky boldly and unabashedly called for Jewish self-defense, evacuation of the Jews of Europe for resettlement in their ancient homeland, and the establishment of Jewish sovereignty on both sides of the Jordan River. In other words, he called for victory.

Despite being smeared as an extremist and mocked as an unrealistic dreamer, Jabotinsky was undeterred. He inherently knew that while Jews have HaTikvah, Arabs have their own “hope” as well, one which is focused on the destruction of the Jewish State, whatever its size.

In 1923 he introduced a concept known as “The Iron Wall,” which demonstrated an understanding that the main obstacle to peace was the blanket Arab refusal to accept the right of Jews to establish a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. He keenly observed that peace would not be possible so long as the Arabs believe that they have a chance to put an end to that state and establish an Arab one in its place.

Contrast this with the constant refrain we hear from the false peace-peddlers of our time who call for endless compromises with an enemy that has not forsaken its dream of destroying Israel. “You don’t make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies,” they tell us. To this misplaced slogan, we should respond with what thousands of years of human history have demonstrated, “You don’t make peace with your enemies, you make peace with your former enemies.” To cite an obvious example, peace with Germany and Japan would not have been possible at the conclusion of World War II had those two nations not given up on the idea that they could defeat the Allies.

If “The Iron Wall” emphasized the practical aspect of Jabotinsky’s approach to pursuing victory, something akin to “peace through strength,” it was also a function of the sense of dignity and the unique spirit of majesty at the heart of his worldview, which he termed Hadar in Hebrew.

Thus, the sons and daughters of ancient kings of Israel were not to rely on broken promises from colonial powers to achieve their rights like beggars in the shtetls of Eastern Europe or dhimmis in the mellahs of North Africa. If necessary, they had to be prepared to fight to defend themselves and realize their rights as their forebears had millennia ago. This was not only a matter of realpolitik, but a question of self-respect.

It was therefore no accident that it was the students of Jabotinsky who against all odds and with tremendous self-sacrifice put an end to a British colonial rule that had essentially closed the doors on Jewish immigration while millions were being slaughtered in the Holocaust.

One would therefore think that the concept of striving for Israeli victory would have taken root in the newly-formed state. But in Israel’s formative years, it was Jabotinsky’s opponents who held political sway and set the tone for the subsequent approach of military success without the larger goal of decisive victory. The Likud Party’s electoral dominance, which began in 1977 and continues to the present, has for various reasons failed to result in a course-correction in this regard.

Absent a clear objective of victory, while Israel has consistently defeated its Arab adversaries on the battlefield over the course of seven decades, it has often empowered the illegitimate “hope” of its enemies by giving credence to their false narrative, exercising excessive restraint, refraining from working towards their complete defeat or even rewarding them with outright concessions. This cycle of negative reinforcement has in one form or another repeated itself in seemingly endless fashion down to the present time, to which recent events in Gaza attest.

Some twenty-five years after the Oslo Accords, more and more Israelis and their friends around the world have come to recognize the foolishness of the “land for peace” scheme, and the folly of continuing to enable an Arab rejection of the Jewish State that underlies the conflict. There are signs that a new approach is emerging, one that places the concept of Israeli victory at the center of a new paradigm.

Recently, that new paradigm received a boost when an event titled “Oslo Failed, Victory Now” was held on July 4th at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. Given Begin’s status as Jabotinsky’s student, the setting was of particular significance.

The gathering brought together panelists that included current and former members of Knesset, security officials, and specialists on the Middle East, and was held under the auspices of the Israel Victory Project (IVP). The IVP is an initiative of the Middle East Forum, a think tank headed by Daniel Pipes.

Since launching in 2017, the initiative has led to the creation of Israel Victory Caucuses in both the United States Congress and the Israeli Knesset to call for a decisive Israeli victory. Over the last year, from the halls of Congress to the corridors of the Knesset, supporters of the project have begun to outline a fresh approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict, one that proposes to stop rewarding Palestinian rejectionism.

The IVP has tapped into a rising sentiment that the time has come for a change in direction after the failure of Oslo and numerous disastrous attempts to force its discredited approach over the last decades. The two caucuses have united Israeli politicians and their pro-Israel counterparts in America and have rapidly expanded their combined ranks, which now number close to 60 lawmakers from multiple political parties.

This development is hopefully but one manifestation of a broader realization that the time has come for Jews worldwide to build new momentum in our pro-Israel advocacy in light of recent developments in the U.S. and on the international scene. Like Israel, we cannot merely sit back and allow events to overtake us. We have to regain the initiative. We too must strive for victory.

On this anniversary of that summer day in 1940 when Jabotinsky was suddenly taken from the Jewish people as he attempted to raise a Jewish army to fight in World War II, let us therefore not only remember the man. Let us remember his Hadar. Let us endeavor to rediscover a sense of Jewish majesty and the belief, confidence and will to strive for victory.

Eric Ruskin is an attorney and a member of the Board of Directors of the Israel Independence Fund.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter