Monday, November 24, 2014

24-Nov-14: What it takes to be a real man in a society of sociopaths

Fathi Hamad, once the Hamas minister of the interior and a man who has a way with words - ugly words, conveying violent hatred, often directed at putting the lives of children at risk - got a mention in a post we published here earlier today, and not for the first time: click here for previous Hamad appearances in our blog.

Just this afternoon, by coincidence, someone over at the IDF Spokesperson's Office gave Hamad the ultimate accolade: a poster of his own, and a quote that reminds people of what a man's man this man is:
Courtesy IDF Blog [here]
Ah, but this Hamad is so much more than just a pretty face. Six years ago, Frimet Roth quoted him in a post ["27-Mar-08: Palestinian infanticide"] on our blog that got a fair amount of attention because of the way Hamad's rant completely upended some outrageously dishonest statements famously made some years earlier by Hanan Ashrawi, the long-time apologist for the now-deceased, corrupt despot, Yasser Arafat. 

Frimet quoted a Hamad speech delivered on February 29, 2008 that had been broadcast on the Hamas Al Aqsa television channel, reaching an exclusively Arabic-speaking audience, unfortunately. MEMRI fixed that; they translated it to English, under the title "We Used Women and Children as Human Shields" and put it where the world could see and pay attention:
"For the Palestinian people", Hammad boasts in Arabic, "death has become an industry at which women excel and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this and so do the mujahideen and the children... This is why they [the Palestinian people] have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine."

Frimet recalled how Ashrawi had appeared on the CBS "Sixty Minutes" program back in October 2000 [transcript here], injecting heat but not so much light into an interview with the show's Bob Simon:
"To me this is the essence, the epitome, of racism... They're telling us we are – we have no feelings for our children? We're not parents? We're not mothers or fathers? This is just incredible.

As Frimet wrote in that 2008 post: Indeed it is. But we in the Middle East learned long ago that reality can be incredible.

24-Nov-14: Destroying their own children's lives is not the worst option for the terrorists. In their eyes, it may even be the best

Golda Meir visits a Milwaukee elementary school, 1969
[Image Source]
Khaled Abu Toameh, writing for the Gatestone Institute today, reviews the unsatisfied list of demands the jihadists of Hamas have made in the three months since the latest phase of their ongoing war with Israel segued into a ceasefire, explains why they are not going to get what they want, and predicts a bad outcome:
  • The only option Hamas faces, therefore, is to attack Israel again as a way of ridding itself of the severe crisis in the Gaza Strip and the growing frustration among Palestinians living there. Hamas's biggest fear is that this frustration will be translated into disillusionment with its regime. That is why Hamas is now seeking to direct the anger on the Palestinian street toward Israel... 
  • Hamas is now talking about an imminent "explosion" against Israel if the promises to rebuild Gaza are not fulfilled. Some Hamas representatives even have the audacity to hold Israel fully responsible for hindering the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip...
  • Hamas's threats against Israel should be taken seriously, especially in light of reports that the movement is continuing to prepare for another war. Hamas not only continues to dig tunnels under the border with Israel [as we wrote here: "23-Nov-14: Gaza's wealth and where it is - and is not - going"]; it has also been test-firing rockets into the Mediterranean Sea...
  • Hamas does not have much left to lose in another military confrontation with Israel. The killing of a few hundred more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will allow Hamas to shift attention from its failure to rebuild the Gaza Strip to blaming Israel for "waging another war" on the Palestinians...
  • Hamas is also hoping that another war will further increase anti-Israel sentiment around the world and earn the Palestinians even more sympathy.
Hamas continues to funnel jihad-centric hatred into the heads, hearts and blood stream of Gaza's children ensuring a steady stream of willing cannon fodder. Of all the options open to the Gazan regime, the one that focuses on the well-being, safety and health of their people, and especially their children, comes stone, motherless last.  Bottom of the list. Not worthy of serious consideration. 

The Hamas terrorists who murdered our beautiful daughter sought a children-rich, explicitly-Jewish target and then boasted about it on camera. So we have long felt it's right, moral and essential to remind people at every chance of how the savages of Hamas see children, even their own people's children (though not necessarily their own actual offspring, as we will explain).

Last year, we quoted the Hamas regime's Minister of the Interior, an especially loathsome individual called Fathi Hammad ["27-Jan-14: In Gaza, a death cult celebrates its graduating class"]. His theme was children. Even now, it makes our blood run cold to hear the man's words:
"Sons and brothers, you do not have much time to train. Study, conduct training, become experts and be inventive, with the help of Allah. The battle will be your battle. The Jihad will be your Jihad. Palestine is your land, Islam is your religion, and Allah is your God. The Messenger is your role model, and the Koran is your constitution. You have been planted by Allah, and therefore, you will harvest the enemies of Allah in the battle to come... We pray for Allah to choose martyrs and leaders from among you – and not only in Palestine, but throughout planet Earth, so that the call for Jihad will be spread all over the world, and the entire world will embrace the religion of Allah." 
Hamad's own child needed the best possible medical care in April 2010 following a botched medical procedure in Gaza. Like other Hamas insiders, he had little hesitation in getting her across the border into an Israeli children's hospital ward. Her life was saved by the Israeli medical team. He later thanked those responsible for the act of salvation, carefully avoiding any mention of Israel. [For similar expressions of screw-you Hamas fat-cats, see "20-Oct-14: Sincere wishes for a complete and thorough recovery as soon as possible", "18-Nov-13: When Hamas insiders need the best care around, to which Zionist Entity do they turn?", "23-Apr-12: Does a people really get the leadership it deserves? Ask the Palestinian ruling class as they make their way to Israeli medical centers"]

But in the Palestinian Arab world, sociopathic views of what children are good for are not a Hamas monopoly. Consider a Fatah (not Hamas) poster that is central to a piece we wrote here a while back ["1-Feb-12: A video that reveals more about how the war against the terrorists is going than a shelf-full of analyses"]
The text [of the Fatah poster] reads: "Our children are our honor and glory. They were created to be fertilizer for the land of Palestine, and for our pure land to be saturated with their blood." [Our comment at the time:] What kind of future do youngsters raised to see themselves as fertilizer build for themselves? And who is at fault? - because someone surely is.
The nausea-inducing Palestinian Arab leadership's disregard of the welfare of their own people's children is hardly a new phenomenon. Most people have heard of the famous epigram attributed to the late prime minister of Israel, Golda Meir, who said to the National Press Club in Washington nearly sixty years ago: Peace will come only when the Arabs love their children more than they hate ours. Too true then, even more strikingly true today.

So many decades; so little advancement.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

23-Nov-14: Global terror: just how well did we think the world was doing?

Image Source
For only the second time, a systematic ranking of global terrorism by country has just been published and it has some startling findings.

The 2014 edition of the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), produced by an organization modestly named Institute for Economics & Peace, headquartered in Sydney
is an attempt to systematically rank the nations of the world according to terrorist activity. The index combines a number of factors associated with terrorist attacks to build an explicit picture of the impact of terrorism over a 10-year period, illustrating trends, and providing a data series for analysis by researchers and policymakers... [source]
It's a major work, filled with interesting data-driven insights about terrorism in 2013 across the world, and by comparison with the past:
  • 87 countries experienced a terrorist incident; the number was 81 in 2012. That's a 7.4% year-on-year increase by our figuring.
  • The number of people murdered by terrorists (the study calls such events deaths, which we think is somewhat missing the point) in 2013 was 17,958. For the previous year, it was 11,133. According to our spreadsheet, that's a year-on-year increase of 61.3%.
  • And for those who still think the forces of good are prevailing over the terrorists, this shrieking siren: "The number of people who have died from terrorist activity has increased fivefold since the year 2000". That's a global statistic, and it ought to shake us.
  • In some ways, the data seem to say terrorism is a highly localized problem. 60 per cent of all attacks (by number) occurred in a handful of countries; Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria. But the entire rest of the world, apart from these five, experienced a 54 per cent increase in terrorist events during 2013, year on year. Kind of hard to make the case that we're overcoming the threat.
  • From the GTI report
  • Still, the authors try to offer comfort in this statistic: more than 85 per cent of all 2013 terror incidents "were successful". (How does that compare with attempted bank robberies, attempted rapes, attempted murders, across the globe in 2013? We don't know.) The "good" news? In 2011, the success rate exceeded 90%. So, compared to that, things are looking up, right? Wonderful.
Here's the most serious point we want to make, and it's not about the numbers but the words. Like most observers of terror and like the entire global news reporting industry, the GTI repeatedly uses the expression "suicide bombers". It's a usage we wish could be eliminated because it's wrong on several levels. It puts the focus on the perpetrators, and simply ignores the victims. It connotes an unwarraned degree of selflessness that in some quarters is understood as bravery, or even heroism - and that's simply deplorable. But the main point is that bombings carried out by terrorists who conceal the explosives on their person are not about suicide at all, but about murder The death of the person carrying the bomb is incidental to the plan; those behind the plan virtually always include people who are not injured by the explosion, and were never endangered by it in any way. We think the terms "human bomb" and "human bomb attack" are more accurate. We wish they were widely adopted instead, and try to encourage everyone we meet to take the same view.

We speak often, in front of many different kinds of audience, about how terror impacts societies and ordinary people, and we almost always finish with words to the effect that the war against the terrorists is certain to get much worse before it gets better. The statistics, sad to say, seem to be with us.

23-Nov-14: Partial reporting from the lethal Gaza border

The BBC has a major story to tell at this hour:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30166957

A cold-blooded attempt by trigger-happy IDF soldiers to raise the body count? Maybe. But why does the BBC not also report what Israeli news channels have been reporting since early this morning? That two Palestinian Arabs — one armed with a grenade — were detained near the Kerem Shalom crossing (on the Israel/Gaza border) after infiltrating into Israeli territory just a short time before. Times of Israel knows it. The Jerusalem Post knows it. For crying out loud, even the Palestinian Maan News Agency knows it. But the BBC makes no mention of it at all.

23-Nov-14: Who cares about rebuilding Gazan lives?

Kerem Shalom crossing seen from the Israeli side, August 2014
More than an ordinary stream of trucks; a lifeline [Image Source]
If you have not already seen our post from earlier today (including video) of Hamas trumpeting the tunnels they are busy digging and/or repairing in order to murder more Jews ["23-Nov-14: Gaza's wealth and where it is - and is not - going"], please do that before reading on. It's at the top of the list of messages Hamas is delivering to its captive population and the larger Arabic-speaking world.

Back? OK, so if it's not the thugs of Hamas (and it is surely not), who is taking seriously the need of the Palestinian Arab Gazans for repaired houses and a better life? From the Jerusalem Post:
Under an arrangement reached last month to ensure that building materials needed to rebuild the thousands of homes destroyed in the seven-week Operation Protective Edge are not diverted to build terror tunnels or manufacture rockets, the UN is to present Israeli engineers with construction plans, and the engineers will determine how much cement is needed. That cement then will be allowed into Gaza in stages, to enable inspection to ensure that it is being used for the designated purpose. If it is determined that the cement is being stolen and used for other purposes, the supply will stop. A recent assessment conducted by the UN found that more than 100,000 homes in Gaza remained damaged or destroyed. The first batch of construction materials since the Gaza military operation in the summer entered the Strip from Israel in September... ["25,000 Gazans to get access to construction materials to rebuild homes", jpost.com, November 22, 2014]
Keep in mind the mentality of the parties concerned.
  • Israel fights the Hamas regime because of the jihadists' rockets, terror tunnels and single-minded desire to kill as many of us as possible. The fight that it fights can, given the circumstances, be devastating. (It's hard for us to see the logic of Israel doing less than that.) But at the same time, and with essentially the same goal in mind, Israel permits a steady flow of goods, services and electrical energy to traverse its roads and borders even while the Gazans are firing rockets into Israeli towns. Israeli repair crews, for instance (among many instances) risked their lives worked on fixing the high-voltage cables running into Gaza [see report] even while those Gazan rockets were being fired at them in August. Those cables had been put out of action by Hamas/Islamic Jihad Gazan rocket fire.
  • The Hamas inner circle systematically fails to provide anything close to a livable environment for the people they dominate. They consistently point to other parties (always other parties) who they say are responsible for almost everything, even including Gaza's own security. But - and this is mostly unknown to the Gazans themselves - when their own wives, children and close family members need the best possible, most conscientious and professional medical care, to which Zionist entity do they run (with not the slightest sign of embarrassment)?
Who cares about rebuilding Gazan houses and lives? Who cares about the Gazans?

According to the most recent daily report filed by the people at COGAT, Israel supervised the entry across its Gazan border of 1,014 people that day (last Monday), as well as the entry of 274 trucks carrying 7,335 tons of goods for the people of Gaza. An additional 94 semi-trailers that had been authorized and scheduled by the Israeli side (this has consistently happened over the years, as we know from visiting the crossings) simply did not show up. Requests for a entry/crossing permit from the Israelis is seen by the Hamas side as part of a war strategy, and dealt with accordingly, consequences be damned. Some 600 kg of Gazan fish were trucked through Israel to the towns of the Palestinian Authority the same day.

And there is some additional somewhat startling background, here: "Egypt tightens closure on Gaza as Israel eases it" [Ynet, yesterday].

A strange form of warfare, no? But it tells a reasonable person something about the relative values of the human societies on the two sides.

23-Nov-14: Gaza's wealth and where it is - and is not - going

Khaled Mashaal: Almost inconceivably wealthy
Hamas top dog, in his non-Gaza residence
A flurry of recent reports, like this one from Haaretz and a post of ours ["16-Nov-14: Gazan money, Gazan terror"], say that Hamas is now the world's second wealthiest terror organization. It has income on the order of a billion US dollars per year. And it's not just the organization: among its kleptocratic leadership are some newly-super-wealthy career-terrorists, prominent among them Mousa Abu Marzouk and Khaled Mashaal, Arafat would have admired their cynical brazenness.

Keep that in mind as we revisit the matter of how the damage from this summer's war with Israel is (or is not) being repaired.

A BBC report ["Gaza reconstruction facing obstacles despite aid"] reminds us that the International Donor Conference in Cairo on October 12, 2014
ended with pledges to Gaza that added up to about $5.4bn (£3.4bn)... a powerful signal that help was at hand. The reality is slightly more complex... Of that $5.4bn,, about half has been earmarked for the direct repair of war-damage - the reconstruction of buildings, roads, electricity supply lines and sewerage systems. It is not immediately clear how the rest of the money will be spent - but Gaza has no shortage of needs.
(About that mystery, the rest of the money is likely intended to be appropriated by Fatah officials. Which when you think about it - and this April 2014 post of ours can help - is quite outrageous.)

Most people will understand those Gazan needs to include improved water supply and sewage disposal, better roads, schools that begin to approach the needs of a 21st century society, decent hospitals, medical supplies, and so on. Not a short or inexpensive list. You don't need a great imagination or deep familiarity with Gaza's generations-old misery to figure that out.

Osama Hamdan, one of those senior expatriate Palestinian Arab "leadership" figures, is quoted during October by a sympathetic online publication saying
"Hamas is not going to spare any effort to support the reconstruction mission... The real goal of the reconciliation [with Fatah, with whom there are in reality endless cat fights] is to serve the Palestinian people and their cause,"
To illustrate what Hamdan means about Hamas serving the Palestinian Arabs, and what is truly on the top of the Hamas collective mind, here's a new video. It was posted just yesterday by a Palestinian "news agency" with the usual sort of agenda ("to expose the crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people"). And as clearly as video can, it demonstrates the current reality: what's being done right now with the Gazan Palestinian Arab people's resources:



The military-sounding audio track, the typical grinding chant of the male voices, the manly men with guns and uniforms - as if this were a real military with discipline, rules, principles and so on - make clear that Hamas - far from acknowledging that they brought destruction onto the heads of the Gaza beleagured population - are on the road to the next installment of their ongoing jihad. And let the consequences fall where they may.

That, plainly, is their message to their own people in their own language. What they tell the world, and especially the money sources, is an entirely other matter.

So let's go back to what the donor governments who are providing that astronomical quantum of money were told it's all for (source: the Donor Conference website):
The goal of the conference is to strengthen the basis of the ceasefire and improving political solution prospects for the conflict through:
(i) Strengthening the Palestinian government's ability to assume its responsibility in the rehabilitation of Gaza Strip.
(ii) Enhancing the existing UN mechanism for import and export of goods and materials to and from Gaza.
(iii) Providing the financial support required for reconstructing Gaza Strip.
Not much evidence in the Hamas video clip above of those goals being achieved. In fact, not even a whisper. The tax-payers of the main giving states might want to ask their treasury people whether the cheques are already signed. They include Qatar ($1bn). Saudi Arabia ($500m), Turkey ($200m), United Arab Emirates ($200m), the European Union ($568m), the United States ($212m) and the United Kingdom ($32m).

Looking on the slightly-less-dark side, we can hope the analyst from the BBC was right when he wrote:
It is a simple truth that governments do not always honour pledges they make to good causes at moments of international crisis. Palestinian officials have said that most of the money pledged after Gaza's conflict with Israel in 2009 for example never came. So for the moment that $5.4bn has a rather theoretical feel to it - but it is reasonable to assume that a substantial amount of money is on its way.
For the sake of the victims of the Hamas Billionaire's Club, let's hope he's right about the first part of his assessment. And wrong about the second.

And a request: if anyone finds online video of Gaza reconstruction and repairs now underway, please email us right away. That would be something worth reporting. Then again, as the BBC notes
However quickly and completely those donor nations cough up the cash, the truth is that without some sort of political progress between Israel and the Palestinians - of which there is absolutely no sign - there is no guarantee that anything rebuilt in Gaza this year or next year won't simply be destroyed again in the next conflict.
That very likely includes those shiny new, concrete-lined millions-of-dollars-each terrorism tunnels.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

22-Nov-14: What youths and children are good for

The children are always innocent.
But what of the people who educate and equip them?
We posted here some weeks back ["07-Nov-14: In reporting terror, what the perpetrators and their victims are called is part of the war"] about the practice in some parts of the media to use descriptive words like "youth" and "man" in highly subjective ways. A pedestrian mowed down by a murder-minded Arab in Jerusalem is called a "17-year-old man"; the victim was, of course, an Israeli. Meanwhile, a "20-year-old youth" attacked police; he is, of course, a Palestinian Arab. There are other instances of this tendentious form of news reporting in that post. They lead us to say (as we did) that
those of us deeply irritated by the way news editors often spin an entire report via the judicious choice of specific words can't help suspecting there might be a little something on display here about agenda-driven reporting and editing.
Take a look at a report currently on the front page of the Palestinian news-site Maan:
A Palestinian youth was attacked and beaten by a group of Jewish settlers at Damascus Gate near the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Friday night, a local political activist who was present at the time of the incident said. 22-year-old Ahmad Yaqub al-Ghoul lost consciousness as a result of bruising and bleeding he suffered after three Jewish settlers described as being in their 20s hit him... [Maan]
This Palestinian Arab "youth" is 22 and the attackers "in their 20s" are not men, youths or boys but merely "settlers",

Over at Israel National News, they have some insights today into what is being done to youths - real youths, children below the age of thirteen - in the Arab quarters of Jerusalem. It's sickening:
  • Yedioth Aharonoth interviewed Jerusalem's youngest Arab terrorists last week, providing a unique look into the minds of those who have forgone their studies and futures for the pursuit of violence. Even more Arab children join them in their attacks after the school bell rings.
  • Salah, Hassan, Riyad and Ahmed of Jerusalem's Shuafat neighborhood - just a handful of the many Arab children aged eight to 13 who, instead of going to school and learning, mask their faces and assault police officers with potentially lethal rocks every single day. 
  • "We are ready to die as martyrs, we have nothing to lose," says one Arab child terrorist. "Our heads aren't in studies at all, we are always planning what to do against the police."
  • "Today I didn't go to school because I want to continue our struggle as a response to the murder of the martyr Ibrahim al-Akari," one 13-year-old said, referring to the Hamas terrorist from Shuafat who murdered two Israelis with his van earlier this month... And the commitment to violent attacks shows no signs of slackening, with one child saying "all of us here are ready to sacrifice our lives and die as martyrs."
  • Another child... "Today the only thing I think about is throwing rocks at police..." 
  • One rioter at the tender age of eight pledged more violence, and was quoted saying "inshallah (Allah willing) we'll succeed in liberating Palestine and Jerusalem."
  • "Me and my friends every day plan what to do during the day against the police. We've thrown molotov cocktails, fireworks and rocks. I'm proud of these acts."
The child abuse industry that produces outcomes like those gets pathetically little exposure, and even less understanding, outside the Arabic-speaking world. [See "3-Mar-13: Incitement to terror: Understanding the Palestinian Arab official view on what children are good for"]

Television programs directed at children in pre-school, elementary and high schools make this plain to anyone willing to wade through the Arabic sources. A small proportion of them are translated to English, like a gem (we selected it literally at random) called "When we die as martyrs" from which these screen shots below come. It's impossible to watch the whole 3 minute atrocity and remain ambivalent. The children's sweet voices coupled with the murderous hatred of the words put in their mouths by instructors and parents make for classical cognitive dissonance - the screen shots alone don't come close to conveying that.
Universal Children's Day took place just two days ago, on November 20. The annual event might have been the perfect opportunity to shine a bright light on the programming, the brain-washing, the hate-focused preaching, the terror-friendly education that are all indispensable ingredients in the process of producing terrorist youths. But of course they were not. 

In a post we wrote just before UCD ["02-Nov-14: Understanding what they really mean when the terrorists say children are their main concern"], we quoted an impeccable Arab source who notes that the principal Palestinian Arab terror groups, Hamas and Fatah. long ago discovered that children are one of the most effective tools in the fight against Israel - especially because of the damage it causes to Israel in public opinion terms. And by blaming Israel for "deliberately" targeting children and women, they can count on the readiness of the mainstream media in the West to endorse the claims without question.

Not for the first time, we are left wondering why UNICEFSave the ChildrenAmnesty, Terre des HommesInternational Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and so many other well-funded, high-profile, public-interest organizations with children at the heart of their agenda take so little interest in this unfolding tragedy

Friday, November 21, 2014

21-Nov-14: How safe is it for an Arab in Israel to call for tolerance? This religious leader can tell us

The Imam of Acre: Voice of tolerance
Life is not easy anywhere for Arabs calling for tolerance and understanding of others. A fresh instance today from Haaretz: "Vandals deface car of Acre imam, who called for tolerance after J'lem attack"
Vandals defaced the car of Sheikh Samir Assi, the imam of the Al-Jazaar mosque in Acre, overnight Thursday, in what the city's mayor called an unfortunate incident. Police suspect the vandals poured acid on the car, which was parked outside the religious leader's home. Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri denounced the crime and said he hoped its perpetrators would be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. "The residents of Acre, Jews and Arabs alike, have proven they know how to respect one another and to coexist with mutual respect and understanding," he said.
The imam was among clergy representing Christians, Jews and Muslims who met Wednesday near the Jerusalem synagogue where five people were killed in a grisly Palestinian attack to plead for tolerance amid spiking regional tensions. Absent from the meeting were Muslim authorities from Jerusalem and senior Israeli rabbis... With Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theofilis III of Jerusalem and Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal in attendance, Assi condemned the Palestinian attack on the synagogue. "We came to this place to take a stand toward this criminal act, which involves an assault against the sanctity of the house of God, and against the unarmed worshipers," Assi said.
Acid attack on the Imam of Acre's car
[Image Source]
In the background, there are more riots by more "angry" Arabs today [Hundreds riot throughout West Bank after Friday prayers, Times of Israel today]:
  • Several riots were reported throughout the West Bank Friday afternoon following weekly sermons.
  • Around 350 Palestinians demonstrated in Hebron... hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, who were responding with non-lethal means to disperse the protesters.
  • Another hundred people were demonstrating and assaulting security forces near Nablus, where soldiers were using rubber bullets and other means to quell the mob. Three Palestinians were lightly injured there and evacuated to hospital...
  • In Qalandiya, north of Jerusalem, several dozen Palestinians were rioting. One man was said lightly injured by a rubber bullet fired by security forces.
A Palestinian Arab source says the violence in Hebron today was not a terribly sophisticated thing - just another instance in which
Hamas movement called for a march against the occupation, concurrent with protests across the West Bank.
The Jerusalem Post says on the highly contentious Temple Mount, where in past weeks, "entry has been limited to [Moslem] men above the age of 35 and women, amid fears of youth rioting". the police decided to lift the restrictions this morning for the second Friday running. This despite the fact that the Hamas terrorist organization, now operating relatively freely throughout the West Bank towns controlled by the PA, had called for a “Day of Rage” against Israel today. The outcome?: Prayers on the Temple Mount ended peacefully, with some 40,000 worshipers - all of them Moslems, since Jews are forcibly prevented from praying there - taking part, according to Times of Israel quoting an Israel Radio report.

21-Nov-14: Souring relations

Jordanian police exchange views with Jordanian protestors,
July 23, 2011 [Image Source]
Some more thoughts here about the land lying just to the right of ours (we wrote some pungent things about it here back in January 2013), and in whose parliament solemn tribute was paid to the human savages whose profound hatred for a different lifestyle and religion led to a massacre on Tuesday (as we wrote yesterday). Recall that they don't actually call them savages in the Jordanian parliament, preferring to say (sickeningly) martyrs and heroes. It bodes very poorly for future relations.

Here's a fresh insight how law and justice work in the Hashemite Kingdom:
Jordan on Thursday arrested the deputy head of the country's mainstream Muslim Brotherhood for critical statements... Zaki Bani Rushaid was detained shortly after a late night meeting of the Shura Council at the party's headquarters in Amman, and were told the state security prosecutor general had ordered his arrest on charges of "souring relations with a friendly country." [Source]
How does a person sour inter-state relations? In this case, evidently by authoring an opinion column, according to Al Arabiya today.

Now we have no interest, to say the least, in protecting or defending the Muslim Brotherhood or its Palestinian Arab spin-off, the unspeakably thuggish Hamas. But it does make sense to take a moment and think through the implications of a state, fully owned and controlled dynastically by one family (not at all unusual in the Arab world, of course), "a key ally of the USA and UK..." that can throw a person into jail on charges of souring relations with another country. What sort of relations does it make sense to have with people like these? What exepectations can be placed on their shoulders?

A Los Angeles Times report from June 2013 throws light on the delicate dance that the owners of Jordan play:
Since 2009, Freedom House has characterized Jordan as "not free," and traditional newspapers in the kingdom have long faced pressures. Indeed, editors of Jordan's nongovernmental papers say the palace weighs in routinely when it disapproves of stories... Given the ongoing turmoil in the region, it would be unwise to press for radical political reform in Jordan now. Indeed, the majority of Jordanians are not clamoring for such change. But rolling back the nation's already limited freedoms is not a recipe for enhanced stability. [LA Times]
A recent survey ["Jordan: The doubtful stability of a key U.S. ally", June 18, 2014,] by USAtoday added this:
"We have very few very good friends in the region," says David Schenker, an expert on Middle East politics and security... "Jordan has been an excellent friend to the United States," helping us, among other things, fight our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They've also maintained a 20-year-old peace deal with Israel, on their western border. "They do really much of what we ask of them," says Schenker... The United States has budgeted $1 billion in economic, military and counter-terrorism aid to Jordan for 2014. Total U.S. aid to Jordan since the 1950s adds up to $13.8 billion.
The Jordanians - unlike the Egyptians and the Gulf statelets - generally tolerate the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, allowing the free operation of several Muslim Brotherhood mouthpieces from Amman: Al Yarmouk, a satellite television channel that started up in 2011, about which its manager says "lots of Jordanians watch the channel... because it addresses all sectors of society through its variety of political, cultural and social programmes" [Aljazeera, April 7, 2013]; Assabeel, a newspaper appearing daily (according to Aljazeera) since 2008; and the Al Bosala online news agency (which may have been blocked inside Jordan by the authorities, but is accessible from here).

Also this: the Muslim Brotherhood television channel in Jordan provided a 45 minute platform for our daughter's murderer during August 2014. It can be viewed on YouTube here. The woman has been living absolutely freely in Jordan since 2011. She hosts a weekly TV program of her own from the Jordanian capital that is beamed throughout the Arabic-speaking world by satellite. And she routinely travels to and from there to speak in most parts of the Arab world. Life has been shockingly good to her.

Jordan has had a formal peace treaty with Israel since 1994. It also has a new supply contract under which $15 billion of gas will flow from Israel's Leviathan offshore field directly across the border by a new pipeline to Jordan over a 15-year period: a deal which might be about to end. Jordan’s information minister says today that if the escalation - the process by which more Palestinian Arabs murder more Israelis standing at tram stops or hitch-hike posts - continues, "all sorts of coordination and cooperation regrettably might be affected". For instance, according to the Financial Times, the gas deal which would Jordan's dependence on natural gas from Egypt and cut its annual energy bill by some $1.4 billion. The FT said yesterday that the transaction
Man riding a donkey near Jericho [Image Source]
is facing strong opposition in the kingdom because of the intensifying Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which officials fear could delay or even scupper the deal. Jordan this month took the unprecedented step of recalling its ambassador after Israeli security forces entered Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque to subdue protesters... Mohammad al-Momani, Jordan’s information minister, said: “The peace treaty between us and the Israelis organises all sorts of bilateral relations. If the escalation continues, all sorts of co-ordination and co-operation regrettably might be affected..." Yahya Mohammad Al Saud, an MP and president of the Jordanian parliamentary committee on Palestine, said: “The Jordanian [people are] not willing to accept this agreement. I will return to riding on a donkey and heating my house with wood before I would consider taking gas from Israel.” [Financial Times]
Jordan is the home of the financial institution described in this recent Wall Street Journal profile: "Arab Bank Found Liable for Providing Assistance to Hamas"; it has a presence as well in "all the key worldwide financial centers including London, New York, Dubai, Zurich, Singapore, Geneva, Paris, Frankfurt, China, South Korea, Sydney and Hong Kong..." according to one of its websites. There's this background from American Lawyer
After two days of deliberation, a federal jury in Brooklyn found that Arab Bank knowingly processed payments for Hamas and is therefore liable for 24 acts of terrorism committed by the organization in the Middle East. The verdict came in the first-ever trial of civil claims against a bank under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The roughly 300 plaintiffs—American victims of the attacks and their families—will have a follow-on trial to determine damages.
Wikipedia says Arab Bank is "one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East", and "a major economic engine in Jordan and throughout the Middle East/Northern Africa... In 2005, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency assessed a $24 million penalty against the New York Branch of Arab Bank for failing to implement an adequate anti-money laundering program to manage the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing, and violating the suspicious activity reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act."

21-Nov-14: Why Har Nof is different but also the same

Har Nof's Kehillat Bnei Torah synagogue is housed
in this building on Agassi Street Jerusalem [Image Source
It's become an easy cop-out for the mainstream media to blame Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks on a handful of background grievances that any "reasonable" person would see as understandable even if a tad unfortunate. 

But the savagery in the Har Nof prayer chapel attack is different. It exposes the empty falseness of the motivations used in media reports in the past to casually fig-leaf the terrorists and to convey "understanding" of their lethal ways. 

One by one, the usual factors fall away:
  • The massacre in the Har Nof Bnei Torah synagogue had nothing to do with bogus grievances about Haram al-Sharif because Jews of the kind targeted in Har Nof don't subscribe to the view that Jews ought to be visiting the holy Temple Mount, a legitimate controversy within Jewish law.
  • Nothing to do with occupation: Har Nof is well behind any frontiers or the 1949 ceasefire lines (those lines now misleadingly called the 1967 borders)
  • Nothing to do with settlements: No Arab ever made his home where Har Nof stands. We watched it being built in the eighties, carved out of barren hillside and rocks.
  • Nothing to do with oppressing Arabs: at least one of the two murdering Abu Jamal cousins is reported to have worked in a neighbourhood grocery just down the street from the synagogue, supporting himself and probably others from there.
  • Certainly no dimension here of getting back at the Israeli military: the victims were men engaged full-time in learning and Torah, and of the demographic whose members Israel routinely exempts from national service or reserves duty. In Jerusalem, the killers had no shortage of soldiers, police and other security personnel to target. They made their decision: men in prayer shawls, eyes closed and in fervent prayer.
  • Yes, it might be because of the somewhat unexplained death of an Egged bus driver two days earlier. If that's the motivation for a massacre with knives and axes on unarmed men at prayer, it definitely helps us understand the attackers' mindset. Of course, it's now clear that the family of that Egged bus driver, an Arab from East Jerusalem, were invited to have their own pathologist, an Arab, present at the autopsy and those present say he agreed with the conclusion that the Egged bus driver hanged himself for reasons we might never learn. (And only afterwards revised his view for whatever reason, and said the Israelis killed the man.) But let's buy that for this discussion. Let's say that an unsolved death of a driver whose body was found inside a bus belonging to the co-operative that had employed him, and employs hundreds more Arabs, is the reason behind the barbarism of the Har Nof terror. Clear moral equivalence.
  • The site of the killings, a Haredi synagogue, is not emblematic of what Israel stands for in the Arab mind. It is emblematic of what Jews represent, especially in the torrent of Jew-hating sermons, news reports, cartoons, video-clips that are central to the Palestinian Arab discourse on their grievances. An example from today: an Iranian news site, controlled by the Iranian government, embodies the pathology well. (The Elder of Ziyon blog pointed this out some hours ago.) If you go there now, Friday morning, to this page (and featured on their home page), you can see a headline that captures the Jew-hating depravity in all its counter-factual glory: "Nazis with beards..." The beards are of course the beards of the men slaughtered on Tuesday morning. But the examples that the article gives of these wicked people are all of non-Israeli Jews, mostly Americans ["It’s not important whether these Israelis and several others are still alive or hold key positions in the American and European governments. What is important is...] In the lexicon of the jihadists, Jews are Israelis and Israelis are Jews. It's not so hard to understand why the Western media hesitate before shining a light on that form of logic which we know is so pervasive in the Middle East.
From this morning's news [Source: FARS News Agency, Iran]
A handful of liberal thinkers and writers have spoken out about what the Har Nof killings really do represent. But there is certainly not enough exposure or fury, given the way it throws a light on the nature of the true nature of the passions in this part of the world. (And it has to be said that by far the largest part of the analysis and coverage is from within Israel and the Jewish world.)

Then again, given how the facts undermine some of the shibboleths of the media, that's not so surprising.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

20-Nov-14: In the face of savagery, what do you do?

What do you do in the face of truly evil actions?

It's not a rhetorical question. When men and women do acts of beastial evil, and it happens just down the street or even closer, and to people you know, and when it appears to escalate in intensity, scope and frequency with time... what do you do? Not "what does one do" in the passive sense. But what do you do? What do I do?

The closer you live to Jerusalem, the more you will understand that these questions pertain to the horror that unfolded just two mornings ago: an attack by determined, well-armed men on a place of worship and the people inside preoccupied with prayer and learning. The victims, the targets of the attack, had no form of physical protection and the attackers had zero mercy; not the slightest hesitation in shooting, slashing, stabbing unarmed people with their eyes closed at point blank range.

The killings and maimings in Jerusalem's Har Nof quarter on Tuesday have barely been absorbed here. This will take time. Initial shock will give way to longer-term reactions on the part of the families directly impacted. Some of this will be visible to their neighbours and friends. Much of it will not. It will not be over and done quickly - or in many cases ever. On a single street of a small neighbourhood of this small city, there are now four new widows, more than two dozen orphaned children, and a pervasive air of horror, fear, anger, deep puzzlement, powerlessness.

How should we be thinking about the men with the knives, the meat-cleavers, the guns and the axes? How saddened should we be by the sight of their bereaved family members? By the deaths of two young men, both members of the Abu Jamal clan, both in their twenties, both with their lives ahead of them?

In Jordan's House of Representatives yesterday
[Image Source]
Here's one way: over the river in the Kingdom of Jordan, the parliament yesterday paid formal and public tribute to them. Just a few hours ago, the Elder of Ziyon blog quoted the praise expressed in the Hashemite Kingdom's legislative chamber:
MP Mohammed Al-Qatathh of the House of Representatives issued a statement to the assembly condemning the "Zionist attack on Jerusalem and its people" in the wake of "the heroic operation" on the synagogue... The Council also read the Fatiha on the spirit of the martyrs... at the request of Khalil Attieh MP... [Alrai Newspaper, Amman, Jordan, November 19, 2014]
Should it surprise us that Al-Qatathh and Attieh were not immediately arrested and removed from the parliament and charged with conduct demeaning the honour of the kingdom? Yes, it should surprise us. Jordan has special standing in the eyes of the United States. The Jordanian leadership is routinely praised in the West for aligning with the anti-terrorist side in the huge global war now underway. Rational people might expect the leaders of its government to do everything possible to preserve that. After all, the US State Department calls Jordan
a strong ally in combating terrorism and violent extremist ideology. Jordan's geographic location renders it susceptible to a variety of regional threats, while also making it a natural regional leader in confronting them... [At p.151] On October 1, the Government of Jordan signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States... Jordan is a key participant in the State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. [Source: The most recent edition of the State Dept's official annual  "Country Reports on Terrorism", published a few months ago]
Let there be no doubt that, in official US circles, Jordan and its political leaders are counted as being against terror and for truth, justice and the American way. In fact, on the very same day as its parliamentarians rose to their feet to praise the Abu Jamal savages, over at the United Nations Jordan trumpeted its active membership of the forces of good valiantly fighting the terrorists:
Jordan to launch initiative to curb terrorist groups’ media practices | Petra | Nov 19, 2014 | 23:04 | NEW YORK — Jordan is going to launch a regional initiative to curb terrorists’ increasing use of telecommunications and media technologies. During the UN Security Council (UNSC) session on international cooperation in combating terrorism, which convened on Wednesday, Dina Kawar, Jordan’s representative to the UNSC said Jordan intends to launch the initiative in Amman with the participation of international experts, community representatives, and concerned entities... 
The problem is that Jordan does not actually use the word "terrorists" in the way that most people hearing the diplomat's speech at the UN might have expected. Here is an authoritative Jordanian news source explaining Jordan's legislative approach to terror:
The Lower House on Wednesday endorsed draft amendments to the State Security Court (SSC) Law following extensive discussions over its provisions. The deputies excluded "resistance actions" against Israel from the court's jurisdiction, following a proposal to do so by Deputy Tareq Khoury (Zarqa, 1st District). The deputies agreed that any actions against Israel cannot be "terrorism" at all; hence, they approved a provision that excludes actions against Israel from terrorism crimes. [Jordan Times, December 11, 2013]
Other than in the Jordanian media (and they can be expected to know, right?) where else have you seen any mention of this in the mainstream news media?

Here are two more Jordan-related realities that are far too often overlooked or deliberately ignored
  1. Jordan's army illegally occupied large swathes of Jerusalem for two decades up until they were removed by force in 1967, leaving behind massive wanton destruction of Jewish holy places, defilement of thousands-of-years-old graves and of synagogues, and the leveling of Jerusalem's ancient Jewish Quarter. No Palestinian Arab state ever existed, or was proposed, under Jordanian rule. Freedom of religious practice in one of the world's holiest cities was a nonsense so long as the Jordanians were there. 
  2. Jordan is where the convicted and entirely unrepentant murderer of our daughter now lives in total freedom, free to make television programs, to speak in honour of terror and terrorists and to move about with complete safety. It is where one of the government's showcase institutions, the Family Court in Amman, played host to a gala celebration in her honour when she arrived back (she had lived most of her life in Jordan before engineering the massacre at the Jerusalem Sbarro pizza shop) in October 2011. In Jordan, they know what celebrating acts of murder means.
Thousands of Jews, Druze and others took part in the funeral of
Master Sgt Zidan Nahad Seif of the Israel Police, in  Yanuh-Jat, northern
Israel, yesterday [Image Source]
We asked: what do you do in the face of truly evil actions? We suggest
  • Remember the victims; honor their innocence.
  • Reduce - in whatever small measure that is possible - the impact on the world of the unspeakable hatred and evil that the jihadists executed, by means of doing simple good.
  • Weap just a little.
Israelis from every walk of life honoured the memory of the five victims in funerals conducted in Jerusalem and in a Druze town in northern Israel.

A genuine hero of the bloodbath, an Israeli Druze policeman, died of the wounds inflicted by the Abu Jamals, His funeral yesterday was attended by a huge crowd of grieving strangers from every part of Israel's socio-demographic spectrum. One of those delivering a eulogy was Rabbi Mordechai Rubin the spiritual leader of the Bnei Torah synagogue community in Har Nof where the killings were done. In our opinion, he got the tone and message exactly right:
We came from Jerusalem, from the place of the massacre... simply to be with you and to cry with you”...
(At about the same time, and for the record, Arabs in Gaza, Ramallah and other places, conducted their own tributes by handing out candies and dancing in the streets. No more details are necessary, and no more photographs; there are many of those on the websites of the various news photo syndication services, additional reminders of the active death cult at work on the far side of the barrier that divides us.)

Acts of good - given what we know about the Har Nof community, there will be many. People who choose to make their homes there know intimately the power of chesed, of doing simple good. Good for its own sake, and not for any reward. We created a foundation in our daughter's memory with that in mind. (Some background.)

Here's an instance of how good-for-its-own-sake works. And how utterly different it is from the evil that has so many of our neighbours in a vice-like hold - an evil that certainly includes bogus 'opponents' of terror like Mahmoud Abbas, the president (ten years after being elected to a four year term of office) of the Palestinian Authority and still the central figure in Fatah, the PLO and a large part of the Palestinian Arab terror industry. In the past several weeks, those of us who watch closely for this kind of thing have witnessed a crescendo of Islam-based calls from the organizations over which Abbas presides, calling for blood to be spilled in pursuit of an Arab Jerusalem.
  • Hassan Al-Saifi, an official in the PA Ministry of Religious Affairs condemning "the continuing Israeli desecration of Al-Aqsa" and declaring that Jerusalem "needs the religious scholars in particular to fulfill their duty, rush to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices and blood" [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the daily house newspaper published by Abbas' PA, November 14, 2014, quoting an official in the PA's Ministry of Religious Affairs, recorded by Palestinian Media Watch here]
  • "They are the ones who heard the call of Yasser Arafat, while the Arab and Islamic nation ignored his call... They came out with their weapons, with their true belief that Jerusalem needs blood to purify itself of Jews." [A Fatah official, Muhammad Al-Biqa'i, invoking blessings on murderous terrorists, interviewed on the PA's wholly-owned and authoritative TV channel, November 7, 2014, and captured on video, translated into English by Palestinian Media Watch here]
  • "Not a centimeter of  Jerusalem will be liberated unless every grain of Palestinian soil is soaked in the blood of its brave people... For Jerusalem doesn't need negotiations, because negotiations will not bring Jerusalem back to us." [Fatah official and member of its Central Committee Tawfiq Tirawi, speaking on camera at a public event in December 2013, translated to English by PMW here] Tirawi means it. This week, he said of the massacre in Har Nof: "I consider the Jerusalem operation to be a natural response to the occupation and the crimes of the settlers."
  • "By the blood of the youth, Jerusalem will come back to us... We'll free every inch from the foreigner's clutch" - A child performing a song on government-controlled PA Television, September 8, 2012: the video clip with English subtitles is here.
Australia's ambassador to Israel, His Excellency
Mr Dave Sharma
Here is a very different take on the role of blood in today's Jerusalem. It focuses on a diplomat who we believe brings genuine honour to his country and his role. (We wrote about him back in September as well.)
Following the horrendous terrorist attack at a Synagogue during morning prayers in Har Nof, Jerusalem, some diplomats stationed in Israel expressed their countries’ condemnation. None of them however acted as quickly or as decisively as Dave Sharma, the Australian Ambassador. Wasting no time after the murders, he issued a strong statement deploring the terror outrage and then decided that something more than mere expressions of regret were called for on this occasion. The Ambassador swiftly arranged to make the one hour trip from Tel Aviv to Israel’s Capital and visit the wounded at Hadassah University, Ein Karem Campus in order to not only show solidarity with the wounded but to also express Australia’s outrage at this latest manifestation of irrational hatred against Israelis...  I caught up with him in another part of the hospital where Dave was demonstrating true Australian grit and solidarity. He was at the blood bank of the hospital, not only helping to provide badly needed blood but showing in practical ways that diplomacy can be more than just empty gestures... It gave him the opportunity to do something positive and practical in the face of fanatical evil... Groups of charedi young men, waiting to donate blood, came up to us and upon hearing that the Australian Ambassador had done the same, showered him with blessings and encouragement... [From a report by Michael Kuttner published by Jwire, an Australian online news service, today.]
What do you do? There's always something you can do.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

19-Nov-14: Millions in Arab world now "know" the secret behind yesterday's massacre

Celebrations in the Arab street after reports of knifed-to-death Jews.
Think: How happy would you have to be to pick yourself up and go out onto
the street and dance. That's how happy the murders made these people.
[Image Source]
Among the various kinds of self-serving nonsense that many of the mainstream media outlets have either swallowed whole or purposefully buried in the wake of Tuesday morning's bloody assault on Jerusalem worshipers at prayer is this one from the very well-connected and almost uniquely well-informed Khaled Abu Toameh.

He Tweeted this morning that the organization claiming to be behind the knife men, the PFLP, is saying today
Attacked synagogue was being used as 'operation centre for planning attacks on Palestinians and their holy sites.'
As imbecilic as this claim is, it is certain to fit well within the self-perception in the Palestinian Arab camp that they are the aggrieved, victimized, offended side. Now wait and see which reporters and which publications pick up this news and hold it up to journalistic scrutiny. Even while it gets ignored in the West, it is sure to become yet another powerful theme - in Arabic, naturally, with which most of the world's reporters are unfamiliar in both senses of that word - that justifies the unjustifiable and ensures more of the same sickening terror.

Israeli spokespeople keep referring in their reactions to the notion of incitement. How many of your neighbours, do you think, actually know what incitement means in this context? Or understand what effect it has in societies like those where a massacre brings people out into the street to dance and pass out candies to strangers? How many mainstream media journalists are going to explain it to them? 

19-Nov-14: In the wake of Tuesday's murderous attack on Jewish worshipers in Jerusalem

Comprehending the unthinkable events that unfolded in the sanctuary of Kehilat Bnei Torah in Jerusalem's Har Nof quarter yesterday, and then in Gaza and Ramallah, and then later in the editorial offices of the BBC, the New York Times and CNN, is too important, multi-faceted and consequential a task to be wrapped up in a simple post. Here instead are images of the matters on our minds today.

Police officer Master Sgt Zidan Nahad Seif, murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists
R Kalman Levin, murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists
R Aryeh Kupinsky
R Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists
R Moshe Twersky, murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists
Honoring the victims yesterday: Har Nof funeral
Honoring the knife men yesterday: They have their ways, we have ours