Gaza War Diary Fri-Sun. Feb. 24-26, 2017 Day 1265-1267 1 1:30AM
According to Wikipedia: Fake news websites
Fake news websites (also referred to as hoax news deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda & disinformation purporting to be real news — often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. Unlike news satire, fake news websites seek to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gain. Such sites have promoted political falsehoods in Germany, Indonesia & the Philippines, Sweden, Myanmar & the United States. Many sites originate, or are promoted, from Russia, Macedonia, Romania, and the U.S.
Gail Winston Winston@winstonglobal.org Gaza War Diary Fri-Sun. Feb. 24-26, 2017 Day 1265-1267
Shavua Tov & Hodesh Tov Adar!
Dear Family & Friends, A bit behind in sends: We’ve had lovely spring weather for sitting in the sun – a signal that we probably won’t have any snow at all this year. First flowers are out & about. The white almond trees are blooming in full fluff in the cooler valleys. Welcome, Adar (Spring in
I watched the American Academy Awards tonight, live. It seemed that there were many comments by hosts, awarders & awardees about Global issues, recognizing diversity & not to flood the news media with sometimes too much hostile commentary resonating with issues President Trump has chosen to highlight. The main host was comedian, Jimmy Kimmel – who handled all the incoming & glitches with some style & grace.
It seemed as if there was genuine pleasure & unity of audience values.
All the very best, Gail/Geula/Savta/Savta Raba x 2/Mom
5.Israel’s economic surge in defiance of adversity by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger 6.Poles Apart On Trump By Gary Rosenblatt, Jewish Week 7.“Palestine”: Who has moral high ground? By Dr. Martin Sherman
In March 2002, the Arab League met in Beirut and adopted a two-state solution proposal, based on normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal to pre-Six-Day War borders and the return of the 1948 refugees. This proposal was a non-starter, designed more as a positive image builder for Arabs and especially for the Saudis, who made up 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers, than a genuine contribution to peace in the Middle East.
On April 30, 2013, Qatar’s foreign minister suggested the revival of the Arab Peace Initiative, introduced in 2002, and for the first time eased its demand that Israel return to its pre-1967 borders. Instead, the minister accepted the possibility of tweaking those borders with a comparable and mutually agreed “minor swap of the land.”
However, it is illuminating to examine the record of the League of Arab States’ resolutions, since the founding of the Arab League in 1945, which is hardly a model for peaceful settlement of disputes in the spirit of the United Nations. For instance, prior to the establishment of the Jewish state, the League took the following steps:
In December 1945, the Arab League launched a boycott of “Zionist goods” that continues to this day.
In June 1946, it established the Higher Arab Committee to “coordinate efforts with regard to Palestine,” a radical body that led & coordinated attempts to wipe Israel off the map.
In December 1946, it rejected the first proposed Palestine partition plans, reaffirming “that Palestine is a part of the Arab motherland.”
In October 1947, prior to the vote on Resolution 181 – the “Partition Plan” – it reasserted the necessity for military preparations along Arab borders to “defending Palestine.”
In February 1948, it approved “a plan for political, military, and economic measures to be taken in response to the Palestine crisis.”
In October 1948, it rejected the UN “Partition Plan” for Palestine, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 181.
On May 15th 1948, as the regular forces of Egypt, Trans-Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and contingents from Saudi Arabia and Yemen invaded Israel to “restore law and order,” the Arab League issued a lengthy document entitled “Declaration on the Invasion of Palestine.” In it, the Arab states drew attention to:
“The injustice implied in this solution [affecting] the right of the people of Palestine to immediate independence … declared the Arabs’ rejection of [Resolution 181]” which the League said “would not be possible to carry it out by peaceful means, and that its forcible imposition would constitute a threat to peace and security in this area” and claimed that the “security and order in Palestine have become disrupted” due to the “aggressive intentions and the imperialistic designs of the Zionists” and “the Governments of the Arab States, as members of the Arab League, a regional organization … view the events taking place in Palestine as a threat to peace & security in the area as a whole. … Therefore, as security in Palestine is a sacred trust in the hands of the Arab States & in order to put an end to this state of affairs … the Governments of the Arab States have found themselves compelled to intervene in Palestine.”
The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, was less diplomatic & far more candid. With no patience for polite language & on the same day that Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, at a Cairo press conference reported the next day in The New York Times, Pasha repeated the Arabs’ “intervention to restore law and order,” revealing:
“This will be a war of extermination & a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres & the Crusades.”
The League of Arab States continued to oppose peace after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence:
In July 15 1948, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 54 calling on Arab aggression to stop:
“Taking into consideration that the Provisional Government of Israel has indicated its acceptance in principle of a prolongation of the truce in Palestine; that the States members of the Arab League have rejected successive appeals of the United Nations Mediator & of the Security Council in its resolution 53 (1948) of 7 July 1948, for the prolongation of the truce in Palestine; & that there has consequently developed a renewal of hostilities in Palestine.”
In October 1949, the Arab League declared that negotiation with Israel by any Arab state would be in violation of Article 18 of the Arab League.
In April 1950, it called for severance of relations with any Arab state which engaged in relations or contacts with Israel & prohibited Member states from negotiating unilateral peace with Israel.
In March 1979, it suspended Egypt’s membership in the League (retroactively) from the date of its signing a peace treaty with Israel.
On March 27th 2002, it adopted the Beirut Declaration, at the height of Palestinian suicide attacks in Israel, the Arab League declared:
“We, the kings, presidents, and emirs of the Arab states meeting in the Council of the Arab League Summit in Beirut, capital of Lebanon … have conducted a thorough assessment of the developments & challenges … relating to the Arab region & more specifically, to the occupied Palestinian territory. With great pride, we followed the Palestinian people’s intifada & valiant resistance. … We address a greeting of pride & honour to the Palestinian people’s steadfastness & valiant intifada against the Israeli occupation & its destructive war machine. We greet with honour & pride the valiant martyrs of the intifada.”
Note, the League of Arab States, which has systematically opposed and blocked all peace efforts with Israel for the past 69 years, is also in a declared state-of-war with Israel. When talks broke down at Camp David in 2000, Palestinian Arab leaders unleashed the al-Aqsa Intifada, which amounted to a full-blown guerrilla war against Israel. Unfortunately, Arab leaders often turn to such violence to gain what they were unable to achieve at the negotiating table.
Dry Bones blog updates for firstname.lastname@example.org
According to Wikipedia: Fake news websites
Fake news websites (also referred to as hoax news deliberately publish hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news — often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. Unlike news satire, fake news websites seek to mislead, rather than entertain, readers for financial, political, or other gain.Such sites have promoted political falsehoods in Germany, Indonesia and the Philippines, Sweden, Myanmar,and the United States. Many sites originate, or are promoted, from Russia, Macedonia, Romania, and the U.S.
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 23, 2017
The director of Saudi Arabia’s General intelligence agency, Khalid Bin Ali Al Humaidan, paid surprise visits to Ramallah & Jerusalem on Tuesday & Wednesday, Feb. 21-22. Neither Palestinian nor Israeli officials have confirmed that the visit took place.
Last week, DEBKA Weekly carried an exclusive report that Iranian engineers were working round the clock on a project dubbed “Riyadh First,” for adding an extra 100km to the intermediate range of the Scud-C (600km) & Scud-D (700km) surface missiles, to enable them to reach the Saudi capital & explode in the center of Riyadh.
The project, which is going forward at the Al Ghadi base in Big Ganesh, 48km west of Tehran, was ordered by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei & President Hassan Rouhani.
This plan was behind the threat made by IRGC Air Force Commander Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the start of an Iranian military exercise: “Should the enemy make a mistake, our roaring missiles will rain down on them,” he said.
Gen. Hajizadeh, who is in charge of the missile testing site, ordered all other work halted in order to concentrate on the fast-track “Riyadh First” Scud development project.
On Feb. 4, Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthis fired a missile which they claimed was a homemade Borkan with a range of 800km into Saudi Arabia. It struck the al-Mazahimiyah military camp west of Riyadh.
According to our military sources, the Houthis don’t possess a missile of that range. Their attack was in fact the newly-extended Iranian Scud’s first test – a dress rehearsal for the real strike.
If the visit by the Saudi spy chief is confirmed, he will have come for several missions. In Ramallah, he would have warned the Palestinians not to go through with their bid to strengthen direct ties with Tehran (which was first revealed by DEBKAfile on Feb. 13). The first meeting of Iranian & Palestinian delegations has already taken place in Brussels.
In Jerusalem, Al-Huymaidan may have explored security issues related to the US-Israeli-Arab regional conference proposed by US President Donald Trump & Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when they met in Washington on Feb. 15.
DEBKAfile’s sources note that the Saudi spy chief is a professional soldier & the first commoner to hold the post of Director of Saudi General Intelligence. Among his predecessors were high-ranking princes such as Bandar Bin Sultan, Turki Bin Faisal & Muqrin Bin Abdul Aziz.
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 24, 2017
5.Israel’s economic surge in defiance of adversity by By Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative” Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom #218
Yoram will be in the US in March, May and August, 2017, available for speaking engagements.
1. Notwithstanding Israel’s unique challenges of the chaotically unpredictable state of the Middle East, the Islamic and Arab onslaught, the scarcity of natural resources (other than brain power), the UN enmity, the European appeasement of rogue regimes, systematic criticism by the “elite” media and the attempt to boycott, divest and sanction, the independent, non-partisan quarterly, The American Interest, stated on January 24: “This is there is a new name on our list of The Eight Greats, Israel….
“Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs…. Large off-shore discoveries of natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter [e.g., a $3.5bn-$4bn dollar initiative was just concluded to expand Israel’s natural gas fields]…. Turkey’s ties with Israel strengthened…. Israel’s newfound clout comes from the rise of industrial sectors and technologies that good Israeli schools, smart Israeli policies and talented Israeli thinkers and entrepreneurs have built…. The rise of domestic cybersecurity and infotech economy…. Private investors all over the world look to invest in Israel’s tech startups…. It’s not just America; India, China and Russia want a piece of Israeli tech wizardry…. In the Middle East, Israel has been transformed from a pariah state to a kingmaker…. Never has Egypt-Israel security cooperation been as close as it is today…. The rise of Iran has made Israel critical to the survival of the Sunni Arabs, including the Gulf States…. Israel begins 2017 as the keystone of a regional anti-Iran alliance, a most-favored-nation in the White House and a country that enjoys good relations with all of the world’s major powers bar Iran…”.
2. Bloomberg, February 16, 2017: Israel’s economy grew 6.2% in the fourth quarter of 2016, its most robust gain since 2014, sending the Shekel to its strongest level in more than two years. GDP for 2016 grew 4%, the most since 2013, supported by record-low unemployment rate of 4.3% in December, 2016. Manufacturing reached its highest level in 7 years. Exports advanced 11.2% and capital investment grew by 7.4%.
3. Israel’s debt-to-GDP ratio has systematically declined (62.1% in 2016), compared with Japan’s 250.4%, the USA’s 104.9%, France’s 97.1%, the Euro bloc’s 91.7%, Britain’s 89%, Germany’s 68.2% and South Korea’s 39.9% (Globes, January 23).
4. In 2016, Israel’s population grew by 2% – compared to 1.2% globally, 0.81% in the USA and 0.18% decline in Germany – identical to Israel’s population annual growth during the last 10 years – 83% due to natural growth and 17% due to Aliyah (Jewish immigration), resulting in a substantial expansion of Israel’s infrastructures of housing, transportation, education, health, medical, etc. (Globes business daily, January 9, 2017).
5. While global venture capital funding has declined during the last two years – according to PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Money Tree and CB Insights – $420mn were invested, during January 2017, in Israel’s hightech companies, sustaining the record level of 2016. Israel’s cyber technology companies attract investments. IntSights raised $15mn, 6 months following a round of $7.5mn. Israel’s CrediFi raised $13mn (Globes, Feb. 14). Israel’s Feedvisor raised $20mn (Globes, Feb. 1). Israel’s cyber security SentinelOne raised $70mn, led by RedPoint from the Silicon Valley (Globes, January 26), which also invested $16mn – along with Emergence Capital from the Silicon Valley – in Israel’s Chorus.ai (artificial intelligence), according to Globes, Feb. 8).
6. John Donovan, AT&T’s Exec. Vice President and Chief Strategist: In 2010, we established a research & development center in Israel, which offers a unique array of startups. Unlike other US companies, which acquire Israeli companies, we consider Israel a platform of development and expansion. AT&T’s personnel has grown 20% in 2016 (Globes, Jan. 17).
7. “The volume of venture capital now flowing into Israel in search of automotive technology instruments is something that has not been seen here since the Internet bubble days in 2000…. There are numerous Israeli companies in the sector which were founded less than three years ago and have raised a few tens of millions of dollars to date, and now have values in the hundreds of millions of dollars…. Sweden’s Volvo and Honda – which actively explore the Israeli potential – represent a potential market of millions of vehicles annually…. Honda has already invested in Israeli auto-tech companies, such as VocalZoom…. The arrival of Hertz’ President (a fleet of 3 million vehicles), to Israel, highlights the change taking place in the auto industry balance of power…. Last week, Volkswagen and Israel’s Mobileye concluded an agreement for future commercialization of Mobileye’s mapping product….” General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler operate research & development centers in Israel (Globes, Feb. 21).
8. “Israel is a power in dental implants…. Israel’s MIS Implants Technology was sold this year, for $375mn to the Pennsylvania-based Dentsply Sirona, the world’s largest manufacturer of professional dental products and technologies…”.
9. China’s robotics and electronics giant, Midea, acquired control of Israel’s $170mn, Servotronix, for $56mn (Globes, Feb. 13). The Chinese government and public venture funds invested $150mn in the Israel-China BlueEconomy Fund, seeking investments in Israel’s sea-oriented technologies: wind, wave, solar, marine food, artificial islands, water purification, etc. (Globes, January 31).
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 24, 2017
ADL’s Greenblatt takes on the president’s policies; ZOA’s Klein defends them.
Mort Klein, President of the (ZOA Left); Jonathan Greenblatt, Pres. Of ADL (Right)
That is, it has changed who’s in & who’s out in terms of White House preference, from the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), a legacy institution now more in the role of outsider given its feisty readiness to openly criticize the president’s policies, to the ZOA (Zionist Organization of America), which in recent weeks has moved from the communal wilderness on Israel issues to best reflect the emerging views of the new administration on the Mideast.
In fact, ZOA is to the Trump White House what J Street was to the Obama White House: the go-to Jewish organization on Israel.
Quite a dramatic shift.
Until recently, neither of the professional heads of these two venerable Jewish institutions — the ZOA was founded in 1897, the ADL in 1913 — was a household name for most American Jews. Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO & national director of the ADL, and Morton Klein, the national director of the ZOA, make as sharp a contrast in style & perspective as one could imagine, underscoring the deep divisions in our community over key issues ranging from combatting anti-Semitism to ensuring a secure Israel.
Not surprisingly, there is no love lost between them.
Klein has publicly slammed Greenblatt & the ADL for sharply criticizing President Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist; not being tough enough on Black Lives Matter; initially speaking favorably of Rep. Keith Ellison, the Muslim-American candidate to head the Democratic National Committee; opposing the Trump ban on Muslim immigrants; & for Greenblatt’s appearance at a J Street conference.
(Klein says the Washington-based lobby is “not far Left, it’s anti-Israel.”)
Greenblatt’s policy is not to publicly criticize his peers & blunt, open criticism by one national Jewish leader of another is rare. Klein takes a certain pride, though, in being a lone wolf. He says his track record over more than two decades in opposing the views of mainstream Jewish organizations speaks for itself.
‘It’s painful for me to criticize other Jewish organizations, but I feel I have a duty to pressure them to do the right thing,” he told me this week.
“I wish other Jewish groups had told [Rabbi] Stephen Wise” to criticize his friend FDR for the president’s passive attitude toward saving European Jewry during World War II.
“I am almost the only leader to assess the [Mideast] situation correctly,” Klein continued. “ZOA & I were the only ones to predict everything: the failure of Oslo, [the false promises of] Arafat, the missiles [that Israel would endure in return for evacuating Gaza].”
Klein is still odd-man-out among his peers in mainstream Jewish organizations. He is an outspoken advocate of Bannon, asserting the Trump strategist is as “philo-Semitic & deeply supportive of Israel as anyone I’ve ever known working in the White House.” Klein is opposed to the two-state solution & in favor of increased settlement building in the West Bank & he supports Trump’s immigration ban.
Only now, his views are in sync with the White House & his major supporter, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is among the president’s inner circle.
(Klein denies reports that Adelson bankrolls ZOA. He says the Las Vegas casino owner & philanthropist accounts for about 15-20 percent of ZOA’s budget, noting with pride that other very wealthy businessmen, like Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus, are also major contributors.)
Despite the new element of caution that Trump appears to be taking on moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem & in mildly criticizing settlements, Klein says he is certain the president will make good on his campaign promises to move the embassy & support future settlement building.
A Philadelphia-based statistician & economist for the government, Klein rose out of nowhere to become president of ZOA in 1994. For the first 6 years, his was a volunteer post, but since then he has drawn a salary as chief executive of the group, whose membership numbers “20,000, counting children,” Klein said. He pointed out in an interview this week that he’s been elected “every two to four years” though he only once faced opposition.
Even his strongest critics acknowledge that Klein, who inherited a bankrupt ZOA, is a tireless fundraiser & advocate for his cause. Even his defenders admit that his insistent style can be exasperating. Fellow members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are known to roll their eyes when Klein gets up to challenge guest U.S. officials or other dignitaries with sharp questions about Mideast policy.
“We were considered right wing for opposing Oslo and Arafat,” Klein said of ZOA, “but to tell the truth, I consider myself a rational centrist. I wish other Jewish organizations, like AJC & the ADL, would become as animated and & at the PA [Palestinian Authority], which promotes murder & refuses to negotiate [with Israel], as they are about the settlements.
“I think they mean well,” he said of his peers, “but [their position] stems not from principle but from fear of Muslims & other non-Jews who hate us,” he asserted. “It may be subconscious, but they are frightened Jews trying to appease those who hate us.”
Klein & Donald Trump seem to share a similar worldview: the good guys are under siege, too often ready to give in rather than toughen up. The key is to buck the establishment, be more aggressive & put your enemies on the defensive.
So to Klein, a national Jewish leader like the ADL’s Greenblatt, with his emphasis on engaging American Muslims, blacks & other minorities, represents precisely the wrong way to respond to a world in chaos.
But for many Jews opposed to & fearful of Trump’s actions, Greenblatt is an emerging hero, praised for being at the vanguard of mainstream Jewish leaders in being willing to confront Trump’s policies head-on.
He has come a long way in a short time on the national Jewish scene.
Succeeding the iconic Abraham Foxman, a veteran of 5 decades at the ADL, in 2015, he is 30 years younger than his predecessor. With an intense but low-key persona, Greenblatt has had a varied & impressive background as a successful social entrepreneur, university faculty member & corporate executive before heading up the office of social innovation & civic participation in the Obama White House.
Foxman, a child survivor of the Holocaust, was a beloved figure to several generations of ADL supporters for his warm, down-to-earth manner, shoot-from-the-kishkas style & deep commitment to Israel.
But the lay leadership recognized that in order to maintain the group’s prominence, “we needed to be relevant to the next generation,” Barry Curtiss-Lusher, a Denver businessman and immediate former national chairman, told me recently. He played a key role in bringing Greenblatt to ADL, convinced that his skill set & outlook would engage millennials and other younger Jews perceived to be less emotionally attached to Israel & more deeply committed to a wide array of social causes.
“Jonathan’s is a new voice, but he is speaking with an ADL voice,” Curtiss-Lusher said, noting that the non-partisan organization has always had a dual mission to fight anti-Semitism & other forms of bigotry & to partner, when possible, with other minority groups.
“Our job is to speak out when we see potential harm to the community,” he said, even if it sometimes means disagreeing with a president. “We put a premium on access, but we don’t believe the ends justify the means.”
As for results, “we’re engaging the next generation, big time,” Curtiss-Lusher said. “We had 25,000 new contributions to ADL in the last two months.”
Much of that support is believed to be coming from younger Jews whose more universalist outlook is in sync with several positions Greenblatt has taken. He received loud applause at a major ADL conference on anti-Semitism in December when he announced that if the administration starts registering Muslims, he will register as a Muslim in solidarity. He was the first mainstream Jewish organizational leader to blast Trump’s appointment of Bannon.
In an interview, Greenblatt noted that in these turbulent times it’s difficult to navigate between engaging with the new administration & working with other groups to oppose the president on positions that seem inconsistent with ethical values.
“I believe that we’re stronger when we work together,” he said, citing an African proverb that you run faster alone but farther if you run with others. For Greenblatt it’s part principle, part pragmatism. “At best we Jews are 3 percent of the American population,” he said. “We punch above our weight, but I believe that the only way we can engage the other 97 percent effectively is through partnerships with others who have shared interests.”
He attributes the dramatic increase in donations for his organization of late to being “true to our ADL heritage, speaking truth to power. We were strong. We showed up. We didn’t straddle. We were principled, not political.”
The great majority of American Jews, who are in the liberal camp, identify with Greenblatt’s criticism of Bannon’s influence in the White House, the executive order on immigration & the Israeli Knesset’s vote last week to legalize all West Bank outposts.
But Klein’s praise of Bannon, support for curtailing U.S. immigration & call for a greater Jewish presence in Judea & Samaria (the biblical terms for the West Bank) increase his status with the White House.
The fact that the ADL & ZOA leaders’ views are so diametrically opposed & are each attracting greater attention, speaks to the rift within the Jewish community that seems to be growing deeper. This week’s love-in between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu & President Trump at the White House could tip the scales one way or the other.
U.S. Jews may be greatly relieved to see the U.S. & Israel on the same page, after 8 years of deep tension, or deeply disturbed to find the leaders of both countries in sync, under strong criticism for perceived cracks in their democracies.
Or both. Gary@jewishweek.org
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 24, 2017
7.“Palestine”: Who has moral high ground? By Dr. Martin Sherman
The “Humanitarian Paradigm”, advocating funded emigration for the resolution of the “Palestinian problem”, will be the most humane of all options if it succeeds & the least inhumane if it does not.
Even if the Palestinians agree that their state have no army or weapons, who can guarantee that a Palestinian army would not be mustered later to encamp at the gates of Jerusalem and the approaches to the lowlands? And if the Palestinian state would be unarmed, how would it block terrorist acts perpetrated by extremists, fundamentalists or irredentists? –Shimon Peres, The New Middle East (1993), on the perils of the two-state prescription.
Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist. –John Stuart Mill, On Representative Government, (1861) on the perils of the one-state prescription.
With all the money that has been invested in the problem of Palestinians, it would have been possible long ago to resettle them and provide them with good lives in Arab countries. – Andrei Sakharov, Nobel Peace Laureate, quoted in Jerusalem Post , May 24, 2009., on the merits of funded emigration prescription.
In ending last week’s article, I undertook to demonstrate why policy prescriptions that promote funded emigration of the Palestinian-Arab residents in Judea-Samaria to third party countries are superior to all other proposed alternatives—both in terms of practical outcomes and morality. Additionally, I pledged to show why such a policy paradigm—The Humanitarian Paradigm—would be the most moral (even in terms of the value system of its detractors); & why it would produce the most desirable results if it is successful—& the least traumatic results if it is not.
Resolving “Palestine”: A Typology
In addressing the problem of “Palestine”, approaches to resolving the conflict can be divided into two major categories:
(a) Those endorsing significant territorial concessions by Israel to facilitate establishment of a self-governing Palestinian-Arab entity—either in the foreseeable future or at some later, yet-to-be-determined, time;
(b) Those opposing territorial concessions & establishment of such a self-governing entity.
As I underscored last week, the latter category, can be divided into two sub-categories: (i) Those that maintain that Israel can survive in the long-run as the nation-state of the Jewish people if over one third of its permanent population is made up of Muslim-Arabs; and (ii) those that warn that this would critically imperil Israel’s ability to endure, over time, as a Jewish nation-state.
Clearly, the policy I have long advocated—of endorsing funded emigration for the Palestinian-Arab population –falls into the latter category.
In the ensuing sections, I will proceed to analyze the ramifications of the success and the failure of such a policy, compared to those of alternative policies based on the parameters of the other categories.
Comparing implications of implementation
The clear superiority of “Humanitarian Paradigm” in the case of successful implementation is virtually self-evident. After all, this would provide Israel with short, defensible frontiers, topographical advantage and a manageable sized Muslim minority. No other policy paradigm can produce a similarly desirable outcome—even if successfully implemented.
Thus, policies based on relinquishing large swathes of Judea-Samaria to facilitate a self-governing Palestinian entity will leave Israel with borders that are both tenuous and tortuous (anywhere from 450 to 2000 km long depending on the precise parameters of the prescribed pull-out) & exposed to chilling topographical inferiority. Indeed, it was none other than the late Shimon Peres, who aptly designated such frontiers as “constituting compulsive temptation to attack Israel”. Such tempting vulnerability would leave little room for error of judgment, compelling the IDF to be in a constant state of alert, ready for massive preemption at minimum provocation.
Hardly a recipe for stability.
Any hostile forces, whether regular or renegade, could potentially cripple the socio-economic routine in the coastal plain, either in compliance with, or defiance of, the regime set up in the areas evacuated by Israel. Moreover, the goodwill and sincerity of any envisaged Palestinian peace partner (whether real or imagined) is largely irrelevant.
After all, since he could well be replaced by some more inimical successor, likely to invoke any such “perfidious” deal with the hated Zionist entity as justification for seizing power, any territory that was relinquished to allegedly moderate elements would fall to elements of a very different ilk.
Triumph of optimism over experience?
Similarly, if a policy of annexing all or most of Judea-Samaria and co-opting the Arab residents into the permanent population as enfranchised (or potentially enfranchised) citizens were adopted, the resulting realities would hardly be more desirable for anyone advocating the long term survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews.
For if such measures were implemented, even given the optimistic demographic assessment of the numbers of the Palestinian- Arab in Judea-Samaria, Israeli society would include a recalcitrant Muslim minority of anything between 35%-40% of the permanent population.
It would be a huge triumph for naïve optimism over bitter experience to believe that in such conditions it would be possible to forge anything remotely approaching a coherent and cohesive society—never mind one with a predominantly Jewish character.
Indeed, as the last election indelibly underscored, even the enfranchised Arab population within the pre-1967 lines, by voting overwhelming for the overtly anti-Zionist Joint List, demonstrated that it unequivocally rejects the notion of Israel being a Jewish nation-state. If annexation were to not only double (at minimum) the permanent Muslim presence in the country, but adjoin a population indoctrinated for decades with rabid Judeophobic hatred, it is difficult to see how any form of Judeo-centric governance could be consensually administered .
Even more implications
With such a significant segment of the population not only unwilling to identify with, but viscerally opposed to, the Jewish character of the state—the flag, anthem, national symbols, structure of the calendar, conduct of public life and national ceremonies, use of Hebrew as the official vehicle of communication in commerce, academia and legal proceedings–it is entirely unclear how unmanageable frictions and alienation could be avoided.
Thus, proponents of this policy would do well to heed the warning of John Stuart Mill (see introductory excerpt): “Among a people without fellow-feeling… the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist”. In such conditions, he cautioned: Free institutions are next to impossible…”
Furthermore, implementation of a policy of annexation of land and people will inevitably induce economic and demographic dynamics distinctly detrimental to Israel’s ability to sustain itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Firstly, the need to reduce the yawning socio-economic gaps between the current Israeli population and Palestinian-Arab residents will siphon off huge budget resources, currently devoted to maintaining the standards of education, welfare, infrastructure for the existing population—where the GDP per capita is over 15 times that of Palestinian- Arabs.
This will result in a sharp downward spiral in quality of life in the country, which together with the socio-cultural impact of a greatly enlarged permanent Muslim presence, is unlikely to make Israel a more inviting location for attracting Jewish immigration—or retaining growing segments of its existing Jewish population.
Such conditions clearly bode ill for the demographic balance in the country, irrespective of optimistic assessments of an initial Jewish majority in the immediate wake of annexation.
Discussing failure: Disingenuous double-standards
So it appears, beyond any plausible doubt, that if implemented, the Humanitarian Paradigm, would produce the most preferable outcome relative to all other alternatives.
But what if implementation of these various options fails? Which will precipitate the least catastrophic outcomes?
Frequently, the prospect of failure (i.e. the Palestinian-Arabs declining the proposed grants for relocation/rehabilitation) is cited as grounds for rejecting the Humanitarian Paradigm. But this of course reeks of intellectual duplicity and disingenuous double-standards.
After all, for any proposed policy for the resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is possible to ask what the consequences of failure are—and what actions are required to deal with them. Accordingly there is little reason to avoid discussion of the ramifications of failure of ALL proposals and, similarly, to consider the consequences of failure as grounds for their rejection.
Indeed, the consequences of failure of the Humanitarian Paradigm are more than likely to be the least catastrophic of all the major proposals currently being debated.
Thus, if the initial configuration of the incentives/ disincentives package is not effective, the former (emigration grants) can be made more enticing; and the latter (gradual withdrawal of services), more daunting. This is certainly far less egregious than the responses called for should other policy prescriptions, fail.
Disingenuous double-standards (cont.)
After all, if the two-state endeavor were to fail, the consequences for the Palestinian-Arabs are likely to be far more calamitous than an enhanced emigration package of incentives/disincentives.
Thus, if, as is highly probable, the Palestinian state became a platform from which to attack Israel – as in every single instance in which Israel has relinquished territory to Arab control – how is Israel to respond?
With a massive retaliatory invasion of the renegade Palestinian state, on a 500-km. front, with difficult topographical disadvantages? With all the massive collateral damage that would be inflicted on the Palestinian civilian population as a result of a defensive IDF operation? Or would it adopt restraint, while greater Tel Aviv is subjected to the realities of the towns and settlements in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip?
Likewise, with the 1-state paradigm, if, as is more than likely, it’s not possible to forge a cohesive national identity out of adversarial ethnicities that have been at each other’s throats for decades, what would the resultant realities be? How would the almost inevitable inter-ethnic civil war be dealt with? Mass expulsion of recalcitrant ethnic groups? Forced annulment of their citizenship?
Accordingly, a strong argument can be made for the claim that the proposed Humanitarian Paradigm will be the most humane of all currently debated options if it succeeds, and result in the least inhumane realities, if it does not.
Palestinian desire to emigrate
Moreover, it seems to coincide with an emerging desire of Palestinian-Arabs to emigrate & extricate themselves from the trying travails the ill-conceived endeavor to foist statehood, has wrought on them.
Thus, several weeks after the end of Operation Protective Edge, precipitated by Hamas shelling civilian targets in Israel, Al-Monitor reported the tragic drowning at sea of 500 Gazans, fleeing the daunting realities at home: “Most of them are young people who have lost any hope of a better future, of a change in their situation”.
This was not a fleeting condition. Indeed, for well over two years after the fighting, Al-Jazeera posted an article, headlined Palestinians paying thousands in bribes to leave Gaza, explaining: “The willingness to pay such high fees to leave Gaza …reflect residents’ desperation to escape the coastal enclave”.
Furthermore, surveys conducted by well-known Palestinian polling institutes show consistently that between 45-52% of Gazans and between 24-30% of “West Bank” Arabs desire emigrating to other countries because of grave dissatisfaction/disaffection—even without a robust system of incentives for leaving and disincentives for staying being put in place.
Typical of the findings of such polls was this: “… the percentage of Gazans who say they seek to immigrate to other countries stands at 46%; in the West Bank, the percentage stands at 29%. 3 months ago 45% of Gazans and 22% of West Bankers said they seek to emigrate.” (9/27/16)
Matters of Morality
Setting aside, for moment, the matter of practicalities to address the issue of morality, the question that must be asked is “Who has the moral high-ground? The proponents of two-states, who advocate establishing (yet another) homophobic, misogynistic Muslim-majority tyranny, whose hallmarks would be: gender discrimination, gay persecution, religious intolerance & political oppression of dissidents?
Or those who endorse the Humanitarian Paradigm and advocate providing non-belligerent Palestinian individuals with the opportunity of building a better life for themselves elsewhere, out of harm’s way, free from the recurring cycles of death, destruction and destitution that have been brought down on them by the cruel corrupt cliques that have led them astray for decades.
Moreover, it should be asked, why is it morally acceptable to offer financial inducements to Jews in Judea-Samaria to evacuate their homes to facilitate the establishment of said homophobic, misogynistic tyranny, which, almost certainly, will become a bastion for Islamist terror; while it is considered morally reprehensible to offer financial inducements to Arabs in Judea-Samaria to evacuate their homes to prevent the establishment of such an entity?
Any honest debate on the conflict between Jew and Arab for control of the Holy Land must confront these questions squarely and stoutly.
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 24, 2017
8.Who’s the worst liar by Paul Schnee letter to L.A. Jewish Journal
David Suissa’s article should really have been entitled, “Is Trump Worse Than Obama?” but that would have forced him to list all of Obama’s lies from, “If you like your doctor; you can keep your doctor” to his “bullshit”, as Mr. Suissa puts it, during the 2012 election campaign about his intention to dismantle Iran’s nuclear capabilities. In between & extending far beyond those two bookends was the moving curtain of lies which characterized the grievous, suppurating & poisonous national wound of Barack Obama’s presidency.
When listening to President Obama one always had to keep the lines from George Orwell’s novel, 1984, firmly in mind, “The essential act of the party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty…” otherwise one would be unable to penetrate the membrane of deceit with which his entire administration was shrouded. A good example of this was when Susan Rice appeared on 5, count them, Sunday morning news programs to tell us that it was a 13 minute trailer about a movie making fun of Mohammed that caused the attack on our facility in Benghazi where our ambassador & 3 other brave Americans were deliberately killed. On the Richter Scale of Lies & Bullshit this performance registered at 100 & is never likely to be surpassed by any of President Trump’s hyperbolic spasms.
Basically, this article was a cheap hit piece on a man who has exposed the raw nerve of unwanted truth about how the fourth estate betrayed its charge, in the most servile fashion, of being the watchdog for the American people by acting as the microphone & stenographer for the Left’s agenda, its Pied-Piper Barack Obama & its financier, the gruesome George Soros. Impartiality, objectivity & skepticism were abandoned because it seeks to influence – not to inform.
When Mr. Suissa wrote, “But let’s be frank–for any initiative that will demand deep & grounded thinking from the man on top, it will be touch & go…” he not only demonstrated his own deficiency in that regard but also his deficiency in traces of the Muse. This wouldn’t be so bad if it was not an indication that the Jewish Journal has clearly forsaken objective reporting, balanced editorials & opinion pieces & sunk to the level of the enterprise of trying to undermine Donald Trump’s presidency with any lies or ‘bullshit” that comes to hand. The time for your editor & publisher to admit this publicly is long overdue.
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 23, 2017
9.Shaked Victorious: 4 New Justices May Tame Hyper-Activist Supreme Court By David Israel, JEWISH PRESS
The Committee for Selecting Supreme Court Justices on Wednesday evening announced its four new appointments: Jerusalem District Court Judge Dr. David Mintz, Haifa District Judge Yael Willner, President of the District Court in Haifa Yosef Elron, and Tel Aviv District Court Judge George Kara.
The new judges will replace outgoing justices Naor, Rubinstein, Jubran and Zilbertal.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a statement: “Today we made history. This evening the Committee for Selecting Supreme Court Justices which I head appointed four judges to the Supreme Court, after we have already selected some 150 judges since the start of this term (May 2015). The judicial appointments this evening express the human as well as jurist common sense we so need as a society and which has been so direly absent from the highest judicial echelon.”
“The stirring wheel of our judicial flagship changed their direction tonight,” Shaked concluded.
The committee has nine members, with the Justice Minister as Chairman; one additional cabinet minister, chosen by the cabinet; two MKs, chosen by the Knesset, usually one from the coalition and the other from the opposition; two members of the Bar Association; the sitting Chief Justice & two other Supreme Court justices.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) praised the Justice Minister on the selection in a tweet that went: “Kudos to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked who did the unbelievable and led a true revolution in the Committee for Selecting Supreme Court Justices, electing excellent, conservative justices. Mabruk (good for you), Ayelet.”
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) also congratulated Shaked for “an important step on the road to changing the character of the court & returning its glory from the first decades in the state’s history, before the activist agenda of Justice Barak took it over.”
Before offering an analysis of the new picks, we should start with a note of joy at the departure of Court President Miriam Na’or, who navigated her court in the tradition of her mentor, Justice Aharon Barak, usurping legislative powers not accorded her by law.
Three out the four new justices are considered conservatives & two of them are Orthodox Jews: Dr. David Mintz is a resident of Dolev, in Judea & Samaria. Yael Willner attended a religious high school & is known as affiliated with the National Religious movement. Yosef Elron was promoted by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon & is a centrist conservative.
Judge George Kara, a Christian Arab, a resident of Jaffa who graduated from Tel Aviv University’s law department. He “starred” in 2 high-profile cases where he stood up to power: he convicted Israeli President Moshe Katsav; & convicted tycoon Ofer Nimrodi of illegal wiretapping. It remains to be seen, however, if he will advocate for a more restrained, conservative Supreme Court.
The British political & media class is today poring over the entrails of yesterday’s by-elections. The Tories won an unprecedented victory in Copeland, while Labour defeated the UKIP leader in Stoke. The discussion is over whether Labour’s hapless far-Left leader Jeremy Corbyn is finished or will use the victory in Stoke to stagger on & whether the useless UKIP leader Paul Nuttall made a strategic error in targeting Labour rather than Conservative voters.
This all misses the point. The by-elections point to something rather bigger that is now taking place. The Conservative party is in the process of destroying any electorally viable alternative to itself.
This is because it has turned itself into the champion of the things that are of overwhelming importance to the British working class. These are stopping mass & unsustainable rates of immigration, restoring control over national self-government & working to make Britain once again a prosperous global trading nation, restoring in the process patriotic pride in national identity & in values such people recognise, identify with & share.
The Labour party currently stands for the opposite of all this. It is therefore unelectable whoever becomes its leader, because it is dominated by metropolitan progressive universalists who despise the (always) conservatively-minded working class.
UKIP supports that traditionalist working-class agenda but is demonstrably incapable of running a whelk-stall let alone a government. The Tories have now appropriated UKIP’s platform. Margaret Thatcher’s most famous aphorism, “There is no alternative” to conservatism, has therefore become a reality under Britain’s canny Prime Minister (former Remainer) Theresa May.
In the US, President Trump is doing exactly the same in attracting support of millions of working-class Americans. He’s done this by promising to restore jobs & defend the US against radical Islamism, thus giving ordinary Americans hope again in the future & in the idea that their country itself has a recognisable future.
Far from his Leftist caricature as another Mussolini in the making, he is actually restoring constitutionality & the rule of law – in contrast to Obama’s administration which undermined both. Trump is enforcing the law against illegal immigrants, for example; & when the courts made dubious rulings against his own admittedly dubious order suspending immigration from states designated as a danger to US security, he didn’t ignore the courts but tore up his order & drafted a new one.
Amongst the public, people are getting the measure of this most unusual President & are coming to understand the distinction between his style & substance. While his loose-lipped way of speaking is far from ideal, because language matters the US President should be careful to be & accurate in what he says, people understand what he actually means – which by & large they find to be sensible & true. They discount the careless or coarse way he talks because that’s the way many of them talk too. What matters to them is not what he sounds like but what he actually does.
As we know, those who voted for both Trump & Brexit were repudiating the progressive consensus. The continuing reaction by those progressives not only confirms everything these who voted for Trump & Brexit thought. It is likely also to drive into their camp many who didn’t vote Trump or Brexit or who have serious reservations about either or both.
Whatever their concerns, they are looking now in horror at the opposition & recoiling from their sheer irrationality, obsessive hatred & contempt for democracy & the people. They understand that those shrieking daily that both Brexit & Trump are about to usher in a dark age of tyranny embody in themselves the greatest threat to freedom, reason & decency.
In Britain Gina Miller, the lead claimant in the court case brought to require Parliamentary approval for the triggering of the Brexit process, has now started a campaign to demand that Parliament is given a full vote on the terms of Britain’s departure that will be agreed with the EU.
“In the face of no opposition, whoever feels the need to be the voice of reason needs to speak up now,” she says. “Currently MPs are too weak to do that — so we must do it for them.”
Got that? If elected MPs decide not to demand such a vote, they must be brushed aside by Gina Miller on the grounds that she has a superior mandate simply because she disagrees!
In The Guardian today, Polly Toynbee accuses Theresa May of a “preposterous seizure of absolute power (?) over the country’s most important decision” in exiting the EU. Mrs. May’s “absolute shocker” is apparently to refuse “to give Parliament a meaningful vote on whatever deal, or no deal, she emerges with in two years’ time or to accept any of the Lords’ amendments”.
Hang on! The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to trigger Brexit following the decision of the people in last June’s EU referendum. At the end of Britain’s Brexit negotiations with the EU, Parliament will be given the opportunity to accept or reject that deal. So where’s Mrs. May’s “absolute power”?
The House of Lords is merely a revising chamber. It cannot insist on its proposed amendments because, since the Brexit bill consists merely of the go-ahead to trigger the departure process, there’s nothing to amend. The Lords’ amendments are therefore nothing of the kind but rather a sneaky attempt to fetter the Government in negotiating Brexit as now mandated by the Commons.
The Lords are perfectly well aware of their absolute requirement not to behave unconstitutionally. But Polly Toynbee writes: “Parliament itself is in the process of abrogating its rights by allowing the prime minister to refuse all amendments.”
So in Remainer-verse, it seems, it isn’t possible for Parliament to reach a legitimate democratic decision if this doesn’t serve the Remainers’ purpose. The Constitution is only of value when it delivers what they want.
In the US, the Trump-o-phobes display a similar contempt for democracy, truth & balance.
The New York Post recently fired a sportswriter for a tweet likening Trump’s inauguration to the Pearl Harbour & 9/11 attacks. Before that a Politico contributing writer tweeted out a suggestion the president might be having an incestuous relationship with his daughter Ivanka.
In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof ruminated: “We’re just a month into the Trump presidency & already so many are wondering: How can we end it?” Pondering how this might be done, he identified the main problem: “Trump still has significant political support, so the obstacles are gargantuan.” Hmmn, yes, democracy is such a nuisance, isn’t it.
In the New Yorker, George Packer writes longingly of Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which allows for the removal of a President who can no longer discharge his duties. Packer writes: “After a month in office, Donald Trump has already proved himself unable to discharge his duties. The disability isn’t laziness or inattention. It expresses itself in paranoid rants, non-stop feuds carried out in public & impulsive acts that can only damage his government and himself. Last week, at a White House press conference, the President behaved like the unhinged leader of an unstable & barely democratic republic.”
In fact, that press conference was loudly cheered by millions of Americans who were delighted that the President was giving the despised media such a public kicking. Asked whether they relied more upon the President or the media to tell the truth, the public favoured Donald Trump by 45 & to 42%.
So how much insight or contrition does the media display in the face of such public disdain? None. Kristof asked: “And what does it say about a presidency that, just one month into it, we’re already discussing whether it can be ended early?” Nothing. It says everything instead about himself & the rest of the media witch-hunt.
In the New Yorker, Packer concludes: “An authoritarian & erratic leader, a chaotic Presidency, a supine legislature, a resistant permanent bureaucracy, street demonstrations, fear abroad: this is what illiberal regimes look like. If Trump were more rational & more competent, he might have a chance of destroying our democracy.”
The words “living”, “different” & “planet” spring irresistibly to mind. As Michael Barone writes in the Washington Examiner, in just 5 weeks Trump has already delivered on his promises to a very high degree:
“The Keystone XL & Dakota Access pipelines are now headed for approval & the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan & Waters of the United States mega-regulations are on the way out.” Some of Trump’s appointments, such as Judge Neil Gorsuch, Defence Secretary James Mattis & National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster have been clearly first-rate. Trump has had amicable & constructive meetings with the elected leaders of Britain, Japan, Canada & Israel.
The Washington Post has put up on its masthead just below the title the rubric “Democracy dies in darkness”. A newspaper that not only defines its entire existence in opposition to the democratically elected US President but misrepresents all available evidence to state falsely that he is destroying democracy is no longer to be taken seriously as a newspaper.
The Left doesn’t realise it but it is staring at its own electoral demise.
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 25, 2017
Are things finally looking up for the Dead Sea? By Zafrir Rinat, HAARETZ
Two new projects seek to stop the dramatic drop in water levels at the world’s lowest point. 2/24/17
It has been hard to find reasons for optimism about the Dead Sea in recent years. Its water level has continued to fall at a rate of over a meter per year, while thousands of sinkholes are appearing in the dried-out areas around its shores – systematically destroying the tourism & transportation infrastructure in the region.
Until recently, plans to artificially stream water into the Dead Sea looked like a distant dream. But all those involved in trying to save the sea are convinced such a project is feasible, although they admit concerns about possible environmental dangers.
Next week, a special issue on the matter will be published by the Israeli journal Ecology & Environment. The journal will provide an up-to-date & extensive picture of the reality at one of the world’s most important natural wonders.
Its publication comes just a short while after the PM’s Office announced its intention to coordinate the inter-ministerial handling of the Dead Sea’s various problems – most importantly, the effect of sinkholes on the region.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi visited Jordan earlier this month, ahead of officially seeking bids to implement the first stage of a major project to pipe water to the Dead Sea via the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance (also known as the Two Seas Canal), in order to stop declining water levels.
The first stage is described as a pilot in preparation for planning & building a canal to carry much larger quantities of water to the Dead Sea from the south.
The drop in the waterline has been caused mostly by the use & diversion of water from the Jordan River (predominantly at its southern section). It is also caused partly by the pumping of water into the industrial evaporation ponds that now occupy what was once the southern part of the Dead Sea. Various minerals & chemicals are produced from these ponds for agricultural & industrial use.
The plan is for a desalination plant to be built in the Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba; the salty wastewater, along with normal water from the Red Sea, will then be channeled to the Dead Sea via the new waterway.
At first, about 250 million cubic meters of water a year will be sent to the Dead Sea, which would reduce the annual drop in the water level by about 20%. The plan is to then increase this amount to 400 million cubic meters a year within a decade. However, any further increases would be contingent on environmental studies of the ecological effect, says Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry.
The desalination plant would also supply freshwater to Jordan & southern Israeli communities in the Arava Desert. In return, Israel would increase the amount of water it supplies to Jordan from Lake Kinneret.
In another development that is potentially good news for the Dead Sea, the bidding process for the operation of a barge to harvest salt from the bottom of a large industrial evaporation pond (Pond 5, which is about half the size of Lake Kinneret) is scheduled to be completed within a few months.
The evaporation pond is used by the potash-mining Dead Sea Works (a subsidiary of Israel Chemicals) & the Dead Sea’s resort is located on the shores of this pond. Dead Sea water is evaporated in the pond & the more concentrated water remaining is then pumped into other smaller ponds before minerals are eventually harvested.
The accumulation of salt on the bottom of this pond raises the water level, which is threatening to flood the hotels on its shoreline – another problem caused as a side effect of man’s exploitation of the sea.
As a result, it has been decided to begin the systematic harvesting of the salt. This was approved as part of a special master plan for the region.
“We estimate that the barge will begin operations to collect the salt within 18 months,” said Noam Goldstein, the senior vice president at Dead Sea Works who is responsible for the project.
At first, the salt will be piled up in the deepest part of the evaporation pond & on the dirt embankments on its eastern side. At a later stage, it will be returned to the northern part of the Dead Sea, from where the water was originally pumped – though no detailed plan for how this will be implemented exists as of yet.
Galit Cohen, a deputy director general for planning in the Environmental Protection Ministry, wrote in the special issue that the general trend of deterioration at the Dead Sea area is far from being halted. However, she said she saw the steps to stop the drop in the water level & the salt harvesting as the first positive signs of change.
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 25, 2017
11.New National Security Advisor doesn’t believe in “radical Islamic terrorism”? By Ed Straker, American Thinker
T. Belman. This is beyond belief.
President Trump’s new National Security Advisor doesn’t believe it is “helpful” to say the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”
President Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser has told his staff that Muslims who commit terrorist acts are perverting their religion, rejecting a key ideological view of other senior Trump advisers & signaling a potentially more moderate approach to the Islamic world.
The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic” according to people who were in the meeting.
Wrong. The tens of thousands of people fighting in the “Islamic State” & Al Qaida & Boko Haram & Hamas & Hezb’Allah are radical Muslims. To pretend that they are not Muslims is to deny who the enemy is & to give comfort to Muslim governments like Pakistan & Iraq & Afghanistan who are on the fence about confronting radical Islamists in their own rank.
In his language, General McMaster is closer to the positions of former Presidents Barack Obama & George W. Bush. Both took pains to separate acts of terrorism from Islamic teaching, in part because they argued that the US needed the help of Muslim allies to hunt down terrorists.
So we are now back to the Obama-era policy of refusing to say who the enemy is?
I don’t blame General McMaster for his Obama-style views.
I blame Donald Trump. He & his staff did a terrible job of vetting for this position, especially since an eminently qualified candidate, John Bolton, was available. McMaster’s view of the fight against radical Islam should have been the very first question that Trump asked him. Now it looks like Trump didn’t ask the question at all.
It reminds me how President Trump promised on the campaign trail to bring back water-boarding “& worse” for terrorists & then hired General Mattis as his Secretary of Defense. After that, Trump seemed surprised to learn that Mattis was against it. Well, so much for another campaign promise.
This has not been his only bad pick. This week he had to fight Betsy DeVos, his own Secretary of Education, who reportedly wanted the federal government to force schools to let disguised boys into girls’ bathrooms.
Donald Trump campaigned for president saying that he knew how to hire the best people. Some of his picks, like Jeff Sessions for Attorney General & Scott Pruitt at the EPA, have been excellent. Others, like George Soros minion Steve Mnuchin at Treasury & now a NSA advisor who won’t say “radical Islam” are terrible. I think we could get the same results using a dart board or a roulette wheel.
Ed Straker is the senior writer at NewsMachete.com.
IsraPundit by Ted Belman February 25, 2017
12.Don’t Dismiss President Trump’s Attacks on the Media as Mere Stupidity by Bret Stephens Time.Com Bret Stephens delivered the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture this week at the University of California, Los Angeles. Read the full text of his remarks below:
President Donald J. Trump
I’m profoundly honored to have this opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Danny Pearl, my colleague at The Wall Street Journal.
My topic this evening is intellectual integrity in the age of Donald Trump. I suspect this is a theme that would have resonated with Danny.
When you work at The Wall Street Journal, the coins of the realm are truth & trust — the latter flowing exclusively from the former. When you read a story in the Journal, you do so with the assurance that immense reportorial & editorial effort has been expended to ensure that what you read is factual.
Not probably factual. Not partially factual. Not alternatively factual. I mean fundamentally, comprehensively & exclusively factual. Therefore trustworthy.
This is how we operate. This is how Danny operated. This is how he died, losing his life in an effort to nail down a story.
In the 15 years since Danny’s death, the list of murdered journalists has grown long.
-Paul Klebnikov & Anna Politkovskaya in Russia.
-Zahra Kazemi & Sattar Behesti in Iran.
-Jim Foley & Steve Sotloff in Syria.
-Five journalists in Turkey. Twenty-six in Mexico. More than 100 in Iraq.
When we honor Danny, we honor them, too.
We do more than that.
We honor the central idea of journalism — the conviction, as my old boss Peter Kann once said, “that facts are facts; that they are ascertainable through honest, open-minded and diligent reporting; that truth is attainable by laying fact upon fact, much like the construction of a cathedral; & that truth is not merely in the eye of the beholder.”
We honor the responsibility to separate truth from falsehood, which is never more important than when powerful people insist that falsehoods are truths, or that there is no such thing as truth to begin with.
So that’s the business we’re in: the business of journalism. Or, as the 45th president of the United States likes to call us, the “disgusting & corrupt media.”
Some of you may have noticed that we’re living through a period in which the executive branch of government is engaged in a systematic effort to create a climate of opinion against the news business.
The President routinely describes reporting he dislikes as FAKE NEWS. The Administration calls the press “the opposition party” ridicules news organizations it doesn’t like as business failures & calls for journalists to be fired. Mr. Trump has called for rewriting libel laws in order to more easily sue the press.
This isn’t unprecedented in U.S. history, though you might have to go back to the Administration of John Adams to see something quite like it. So far the rhetorical salvos haven’t been matched by legal or regulatory action. Maybe they never will be.
But the question of what Mr. Trump might yet do by political methods against the media matters a great deal less than what he is attempting to do by ideological & philosophical methods.
Ideologically, the president is trying to depose so-called mainstream media in favor of the media he likes — Breitbart News & the rest. Another way of making this point is to say that he’s trying to substitute news for propaganda, information for boosterism.
His objection to, say, the New York Times, isn’t that there’s a liberal bias in the paper that gets in the way of its objectivity, which I think would be a fair criticism. His objection is to objectivity itself. He’s perfectly happy for the media to be disgusting & corrupt — so long as it’s on his side.
But again, that’s not all the president is doing.
Consider this recent exchange he had with Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly asks:
‘Is there any validity to the criticism of you that you say things you can’t back up factually & as the President you say there are three million illegal aliens who voted & you don’t have the data to back that up, some people are going to say that it’s irresponsible for the President to say that.’
To which the president replies:
“Many people have come out & said I’m right.”
Now many people also say Jim Morrison faked his own death. Many people say Barack Obama was born in Kenya. “Many people say” is what’s known as an ‘argumentum ad populum’. If we were a nation of logicians, we would dismiss the argument as dumb.
We are not a nation of logicians.
I think it’s important not to dismiss the president’s reply simply as dumb. We ought to assume that it’s darkly brilliant — if not in intention then certainly in effect. The president is responding to a claim of fact not by denying the fact, but by denying the claim that facts are supposed to have on an argument.
He isn’t telling O’Reilly that he’s got his facts wrong. He’s saying that, as far as he is concerned, facts, as most people understand the term, don’t matter: That they are indistinguishable from & interchangeable with, opinion; & that statements of fact needn’t have any purchase against a man who is either sufficiently powerful to ignore them or sufficiently shameless to deny them — or, in his case, both.
If some of you in this room are students of political philosophy, you know where this argument originates. This is a version of Thrasymachus’s argument in Plato’s Republic that justice is the advantage of the stronger & that injustice “if it is on a large enough scale, is stronger, freer & more masterly than justice.”
Substitute the words “truth” & “falsehood” for “justice” & “injustice” & there you have the Trumpian view of the world. If I had to sum it up in a single sentence, it would be this: Truth is what you can get away with.
If you can sell condos by claiming your building is 90% occupied when it’s only 20% occupied, well, then—it’s 90% occupied. If you can convince a sufficient number of people that you really did win the popular vote, or that your inauguration crowds were the biggest—well then, what do the statistical data & aerial photographs matter?
Now, we could have some interesting conversations about why this is happening—& why it seems to be happening all of a sudden.
Today we have “dis-intermediating” technologies such as Twitter, which have cut out the media as the middleman between politicians & the public. Today, just 17% of adults aged 18-24 read a newspaper daily, down from 42% at the turn of the century. Today there are fewer than 33,000 full-time newsroom employees, a drop from 55,000 just 20 years ago.
When Trump attacks the news media, he’s kicking a wounded animal.
But the most interesting conversation is not about why Donald Trump lies. Many public figures lie & he’s only a severe example of a common type.
The interesting conversation concerns how we come to accept those lies.
Nearly 25 years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the great scholar & Democratic Senator from New York, coined the phrase, “defining deviancy down.” His topic at the time was crime & how American society had come to accept ever-increasing rates of violent crime as normal.
“We have been re-defining deviancy so as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, & also quietly raising the ‘normal’ level in categories where behavior is now abnormal by any earlier standard,” Moynihan wrote.
You can point to all sorts of ways in which this redefinition of deviancy has also been the story of our politics over the past 30 years, a story with a fully bipartisan set of villains.
I personally think we crossed a rubicon in the Clinton years, when three things happened: we decided that some types of presidential lies didn’t matter; we concluded that “character” was an over-rated consideration when it came to judging a president; & we allowed the lines between political culture & celebrity culture to become hopelessly blurred.
But whatever else one might say about President Clinton, what we have now is the crack-cocaine version of that.
If a public figure tells a whopping lie once in his life, it’ll haunt him into his grave. If he lies morning, noon & night, it will become almost impossible to remember any one particular lie. Outrage will fall victim to its own ubiquity. It’s the same truth contained in Stalin’s famous remark that “the death of one man is a tragedy but the death of a million is a statistic.**
One of the most interesting phenomena during the presidential campaign was waiting for Trump to say that one thing that would surely break the back of his candidacy.
Would it be his slander against Mexican immigrants? Or his slur about John McCain’s record as a POW? Or his lie about New Jersey Muslims celebrating 9/11? Or his attacks on Megyn Kelly, on a disabled New York Times reporter, on a Mexican-American judge? Would it be him tweeting quotations from Benito Mussolini, or his sly overtures to David Duke & the alt-right? Would it be his unwavering praise of Vladimir Putin? Would it be his refusal to release his tax returns, or the sham that seems to been perpetrated on the saps who signed up for his Trump U courses? Would it be the tape of him with Billy Bush?
None of this made the slightest difference. On the contrary, it helped him. Some people became desensitized by the never-ending assaults on what was once quaintly known as “human decency.” Others seemed to positively admire the comments as refreshing examples of personal authenticity & political incorrectness.
Shameless rhetoric will always find a receptive audience with shameless people. Donald Trump’s was the greatest political strip-tease act in U.S. political history: the dirtier he got, the more skin he showed, the more his core supporters liked it.
Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, called on Americans to summon “the better angels of our nature.” Donald Trump’s candidacy & so far his presidency, has been Lincoln’s exhortation in reverse.
Here’s a simple truth about a politics of dishonesty, insult & scandal: It’s entertaining. Politics as we’ve had it for most of my life has, with just a few exceptions, been distant & dull.
Now it’s all we can talk about. If you like Trump, his presence in the White House is a daily extravaganza of sticking it to pompous elites & querulous reporters. If you hate Trump, you wake up every day with some fresh outrage to turn over in your head & text your friends about.
Whichever way, it’s exhilarating. Haven’t all of us noticed that everything feels speeded up, more vivid, more intense & consequential? One of the benefits of an alternative-facts administration is that fiction can take you anywhere.
Earlier today, at his press conference, the president claimed his administration is running like a “fine-tuned machine.” In actual fact, he just lost his Labor Secretary nominee, his National Security Adviser was forced out in disgrace & the Intelligence Community is refusing to fully brief the president for fear he might compromise sources & methods.
But who cares? Since when in Washington has there been a presidential press conference like that? Since when has the denial of reality been taken to such a bald-faced extreme?
At some point, it becomes increasingly easy for people to mistake the reality of the performance for reality itself. If Trump can get through a press conference like that without showing a hint of embarrassment, remorse or misgiving—well, then, that becomes a new basis on which the president can now be judged.
To tell a lie is wrong. But to tell a lie with brass takes skill. Ultimately, Trump’s press conference will be judged not on some kind of Olympic point system, but on whether he “won”—which is to say, whether he brazened his way through it. The answer to that is almost certainly yes.
So far, I’ve offered you three ideas about how it is that we have come to accept the president’s behavior.
The first is that we normalize it, simply by becoming inured to constant repetition of the same bad behavior.
The second is that at some level it excites & entertains us. By putting aside our usual moral filters—the ones that tell us that truth matters, upright conduct matters, things ought to be done in a certain way—we have been given tickets to a spectacle, in which all you want to do is watch.
The third is that we adopt new metrics of judgment, in which politics becomes more about perceptions than performance—of how a given action is perceived as being perceived. If a reporter for the New York Times says that Trump’s press conference probably plays well in Peoria, then that increases the chances that it will play well in Peoria.
Let me add a fourth point here: our tendency to rationalize.
One of the more fascinating aspects of last year’s presidential campaign was the rise of a class of pundits I call the “TrumpXplainers.” For instance, Trump would give a speech or offer an answer in a debate that amounted to little more than a word jumble.
But rather than quote Trump, or point out that what he had said was grammatically and logically nonsensical, the TrumpXplainers would tell us what he had allegedly meant to say. They became our political semioticians, ascribing pattern and meaning to the rune-stones of Trump’s mind.
If Trump said he’d get Mexico to pay for his wall, you could count on someone to provide a complex tariff scheme to make good on the promise. If Trump said that we should not have gone into Iraq but that, once there, we should have “taken the oil” we’d have a similarly high-flown explanation as to how we could engineer this theft.
A year ago, when he was trying to explain his idea of a foreign policy to the New York Times’s David Sanger, the reporter asked him whether it didn’t amount to a kind of “America First policy”—a reference to the isolationist & anti-Semitic America First Committee that tried to prevent U.S. entry into World War II. Trump clearly had never heard of the group, but he liked the phrase & made it his own. That’s how we got the return of America First.
More recently, I came across this headline in the conservative Washington Times: “How Trump’s ‘disarray’ may be merely a strategy” by Wesley Pruden, the paper’s former editor-in-chief. In his view, the president’s first disastrous month in office is, in fact, evidence of a refreshing openness to dissent, reminiscent of Washington and Lincoln’s cabinet of rivals. Sure.
Overall, the process is one in which explanation becomes rationalization, which in turn becomes justification. Trump says X. What he really means is Y. While you might not like it, he’s giving voice to the angers & anxieties of Z. Who, by the way, you’re not allowed to question or criticize, because anxiety & anger are their own justifications these days.
Watching this process unfold has been particularly painful for me as a conservative columnist. I find myself in the awkward position of having recently become popular among some of my liberal peers—precisely because I haven’t changed my opinions about anything.
By contrast, I’ve become suddenly unpopular among some of my former fans on the right—again, because I’ve stuck to my views. It is almost amusing to be accused of suffering from something called “Trump Derangement Syndrome” simply because I feel an obligation to raise my voice against, say, the president suggesting a moral equivalency between the U.S. & Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The most painful aspect of this has been to watch people I previously considered thoughtful & principled conservatives give themselves over to a species of illiberal politics from which I once thought they were immune.
In his 1953 masterpiece, “The Captive Mind,” the Polish poet & dissident Czeslaw Milosz analyzed the psychological & intellectual pathways through which some of his former colleagues in Poland’s post-war Communist regime allowed themselves to be converted into ardent Stalinists. In none of the cases that Milosz analyzed was coercion the main reason for the conversion.
They wanted to believe. They were willing to adapt. They thought they could do more good from the inside. They convinced themselves that their former principles didn’t fit with the march of history, or that to hold fast to one’s beliefs was a sign of priggishness & pig-headedness. They felt that to reject the new order of things was to relegate themselves to irrelevance & oblivion. They mocked their former friends who refused to join the new order as morally vain reactionaries. They convinced themselves that, brutal & capricious as Stalinism might be, it couldn’t possibly be worse than the exploitative capitalism of the West.
I fear we are witnessing a similar process unfold among many conservative intellectuals on the right. It has been stunning to watch a movement that once believed in the benefits of free trade & free enterprise merrily give itself over to a champion of protectionism whose economic instincts recall the corporatism of 1930s Italy or 1950s Argentina. It is no less stunning to watch people who once mocked Obama for being too soft on Russia suddenly discover the virtues of Trump’s “pragmatism” on the subject.
It is nothing short of amazing to watch the party of onetime moral majoritarians, who spent a decade fulminating about Bill Clinton’s sexual habits, suddenly find complete comfort with the idea that character & temperament are irrelevant qualifications for high office.
The mental pathways by which the new Trumpian conservatives have made their peace with their new political master aren’t so different from Milosz’s former colleagues.
There’s the same desperate desire for political influence; the same belief that Trump represents a historical force to which they ought to belong; the same willingness to bend or discard principles they once considered sacred; the same fear of seeming out-of-touch with the mood of the public; the same tendency to look the other way at comments or actions that they cannot possibly justify; the same belief that you do more good by joining than by opposing; the same Manichean belief that, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, the US would have all-but ended as a country.
This is supposed to be the road of pragmatism, of turning lemons into lemonade. I would counter that it’s the road of ignominy, of hitching a ride with a drunk driver.
So, then, to the subject that brings me here today: Maintaining intellectual integrity in the age of Trump.
When Judea wrote me last summer to ask if I’d be this year’s speaker, I got my copy of Danny’s collected writings, “At Home in the World” & began to read him all over again. It brought back to me the fact that, the reason we honor Danny’s memory isn’t that he’s a martyred journalist. It’s that he was a great journalist.
Let me show you what I mean. Here’s something Danny wrote in February 2001, almost exactly a year before his death, from the site of an earthquake disaster in the Indian town of Anjar.
What is India’s earthquake zone really like? It smells. It reeks. You can’t imagine the odor of several hundred bodies decaying for five days as search teams pick away at slabs of crumbled buildings in this town. Even if you’ve never smelled it before, the brain knows what it is & orders you to get away. After a day, the nose gets stuffed up in self-defense. But the brain has registered the scent & picks it up in innocent places: lip balm, sweet candy, stale breath, an airplane seat.
What stands out for me in this passage is that it shows that Danny was a writer who observed with all his senses. He saw. He listened. He smelled. He bore down. He reflected. He understood that what the reader had to know about Anjar wasn’t a collection of statistics; it was the visceral reality of a massive human tragedy. He was able to express all this in language that was compact, unadorned, compelling & deeply true.
George Orwell wrote, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” Danny saw what was in front of his nose.
We each have our obligations to see what’s in front of one’s nose, whether we’re reporters, columnists, or anything else. This is the essence of intellectual integrity.
Not to look around, or beyond, or away from the facts, but to look straight at them, to recognize and call them for what they are, nothing more or less. To see things as they are before we re-interpret them into what we’d like them to be. To believe in an epistemology that can distinguish between truth & falsity, facts & opinions, evidence & wishes. To defend habits of mind & institutions of society, above all a free press, which preserve that epistemology. To hold fast to a set of intellectual standards & moral convictions that won’t waver amid changes of political fashion or tides of unfavorable opinion. To speak the truth irrespective of what it means for our popularity or influence.
The legacy of Danny Pearl is that he died for this. We are being asked to do much less. We have no excuse not to do it
**There’s no proof that Stalin ever said this, but even if he did, he would likely have been quoting a 1932 essay on French humor by the German journalist, satirist pacifist Kurt Tucholsky. Much like Rousseau did with his “great princess” Tucholsky quotes a fictional diplomat from the French Ministry of Foreign affairs, speaking on the horrors of war.
“The war?” says Tucholsky’s diplomat, “I cannot find it to be so bad! The death of one man: this is a catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of deaths: that is a statistic!”
February 25, 2017
13.As the Naysayers Sneer, Trump Is Maneuvering To Unmuzzle Economy By Lawrence Kudlow Special to the NY Sun 2/25/17
T. Belman. Not mentioned here is the effect of his changes to the trade policy.. Will keeping jobs at home, thereby increasing labour costs, retard the economy.
Virtually the whole world is beating up on the Trump administration for daring to predict that low marginal tax rates, regulatory rollbacks & the repeal of Obamacare will generate in the years ahead economic growth of between 3% and 3.5%.
In a CNBC interview last week, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin held the line on this forecast. He also argued need for dynamic budget scoring to capture the effects of faster growth. Good for him.
What’s so interesting about all the economic-growth naysaying today is that President Obama’s first budget forecast roughly 8 years ago was much rosier than Mr. Trump’s. There was nary a peep of criticism from the mainstream press outlets & the consensus of economists.
Strategas Research Partners policy analyst Dan Clifton printed up a chart of the Obama plan that predicted real economic growth of roughly 3% in 2010, near 4% in 2011, more than 4% in 2012, & nearly 4% in 2013.
It turned out, though, that actual growth ran below 2% during this period. Was there any howling about this result among the economic consensus? Of course not. It seems they’ve saved all their grumbling for the Trump forecast today.
The Obama policy, moreover, failed to include a single economic-growth incentive. Not one. Instead, there was a massive $850 billion so-called spending stimulus (whatever became of those spending multipliers?), a bunch of public-works programs that never got off the ground & finally Obamacare, which really was a giant tax increase.
Remember when Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that the health-care mandate was in fact a tax? But it wasn’t just a tax. It was a tax hike. Added to that were an 3.8% investment tax hike, a proposed tax hike on so-called Cadillac insurance plans & yet another tax increase on medical equipment.
So 8 years ago tax-&-spend was perfectly okay. The projection that it would produce a 4% rate perfectly satisfied the economic consensus.
Make sense? No, it does not.
So here’s President Trump reaching back through history for a common-sense growth policy that worked in the 1960s, when JFK slashed marginal tax rates on individuals & corporations & again in the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan slashed tax rates across-the-board & sparked a two-decade boom of roughly 4% real annual growth.
Even so, the economic consensus won’t buy Trump’s plan.
One after another, Trump critics argue that because we’ve had 2% growth over the past 10 years or so, we are doomed to continue that forever. This is nonsense.
Most of the Trump critics point to the decline in productivity over the past 15 years. They say, unless productivity jumps to 2.5% or so & unless labor-force participation rises, we can’t possibly have 3% or 4% growth.
Stanford University economics professor John Taylor, who’s also a research fellow at the Hoover Institution & one of the nation’s top academic economists, has charted how productivity declines can be followed by productivity increases, which unfortunately can be followed again by productivity declines.
In his widely read blog, Economics One, Taylor writes, “Take off the muzzle & the economy will roar.” He notes that bad economic policy leads to slumping productivity, living standards, real wages & growth.
“Huge swings in productivity growth in recent years,” Professor Taylor writes, “are closely related to shifts in economic policy & economic theory indicates that the relationship is causal.”
He concludes, “To turn the economy around we need to take the muzzle off & that means regulatory reform, tax reform, budget reform & monetary reform.”
Well, aren’t those exactly the reforms that President Trump is promoting?
Get rid of the state-sponsored barriers to growth. Then watch how these common-sense incentive-minded policies turn rosy scenario into economic reality.