Friday, August 4, 2017

Will Netanyahu go to jail?

(Last update: August 6, 2017)

Today in Israel, as many prepare for the beginning of Shabbat, news reports surfaced that a former Netanyahu Chief of Staff has signed an agreement with Israeli police. That agreement states that Ari Harow--the former aide--will tell police all he knows about two corruption cases that have been developing (for a year-and-a-half) against Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In exchange for his testimony, Harow has reportedly agreed to plead guilty to one fraud count, get no jail time, pay a 700,000 shekel penalty and serve only six months' community service.

Police believe Harow's testimony will be enough to indict the Prime Minister for fraud, bribery and something called, breach of trust. News reports suggest the police are very close to announcing such an indictment.

The Prime Minister has already said there is nothing to these charges. He has declared that these police probes represent a political witch hunt designed to get him out of office.

Is Netanyahu guilty of fraud, bribery and breach of trust--as alleged?  Is he innocent? Is he innocent until proven guilty?

If you live in Israel, you already know the answer to these questions: he's guilty. That is, according to  many in Israel's political and media elite, these news reports make the Prime Minister is so guilty he should  resign immediately ("Opposition leaders say Netanyahu should resign over corruption probes", timesofisrael, July 17, 2017). 

Now that the phrase 'corruption probes' looks like it could turn into 'corruption indictment', you can expect calls for resignation to proliferate. But that might not happen.

Netanyahu is tough. He might not resign. He's also, potentially, more popular than his opposition realizes. 

At almost the same time the news reports of a potential indictment hit the wire today, another news story came out. This news story says a recent poll suggests (reveals?) that, if national elections were held today, Netanyahu's Likud Party would pretty much trounce Netanyahu's main competitors ("Likud surges to double-digit lead in latest poll", arutzsheva, August 4, 2017). 

Granted, this poll was completed before the above police announcement was made. But the people who participated in the poll have been seeing news about these 'probes' for months. The probes aren't a surprise. Neither is a potential indictment.

Will Netanyahu's lead now plummet because the media seems eager to watch him get replaced? If you live in Israel, you probably already know that such a descent in popularity isn't a certainty. Netanyahu's poll numbers may remain strong.

First of all, if Netanyahu is indicted, he may not be required to resign. Also, he could 'tough it out'. He could claim innocence, then dare the police to make the charges stick. 

He could win. Unless the police have a convincing 'smoking gun' evidence against him, efforts to send him to jail could backfire. Netanyahu's claim that this is simply a witch hunt against him could 'play in Peoria'; that is, if his base remains loyal and the evidence against him turns out to be less than compelling, Netanyahu's suggestion that these accusations are a Leftist plot against him could resound with the Israeli public. 

If that happens, Netanyahu's popularity would protect him. More than that, any successful rebuff of these allegations could give him the public backing he needs to 'clean the swamp'', to get rid of many in the government and in the civil administration who have actively opposed him and his policies--and who may be responsible for these allegations. 

This black moment (an indictment against him) may not be so black. Remember, this is Israel. Nothing is as it seems. 

Right now, Netanyahu is getting trashed. That trashing could last for months. 

But will any of it stick? Will he go to jail? Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

In Israel: G-d, democracy, Moshe Feiglin & the 3rd rail

In Israel, we constantly see Palestinians referencing their god. They talk about their god in speeches. They talk about their god on TV. They talk about their god in their schools. 

They use their god's name when they go onto social media. They use their god's name when they talk about the weather--and when they attack Jews. 

In fact, for Palestinians--from top leadership to any 5-year old--the Islamic god is always close by. In public discourse, that name stands at stage-center.

Is this why they have such power against Israel?

Israel's Jewish elite is different. These Jews don't speak of their own G-d. They ignore their G-d.  

Israel's ruling political, military and media elites seem never to speak of G-d in public. They seem never to mention His name. 

Is this why Israel has become so vulnerable before its enemies?  
To Palestinian Muslims, their god is everything. To Israeli Jews, G-d gets treated like the family outcast no one wants to talk about.

Is this why Israel loses ground in its war against the Palestinian Cause? 

When was the last time you heard a prominent Israeli leader mention G-d's name in public? When was the last time you read a mainstream editorial that criticized Israel's leaders for ignoring G-d? 

The last Jewish politician known to speak of HaShem, the G- of Israel, in public was Moshe Feiglin. Where is he now?

Moshe Feiglin talked about the 'G-d-factor' in Israel's Destiny. Now, he's politically moribund, at least for the moment.

When Menachem Begin was declared winner of the 1977 Israel national election, the first public statement he made began with a bracha--a blessing. Much of Israel's elite was horrified.

Israel's elite hasn't changed. It acts as if talking about G-d will never appear on its top-100-things-to-do list. Instead, Israel's elite A-List speaks of 'democracy'. 

Herzog, Livni, Olmert, Barak, prominent newspaper editors and military leaders can't stop talking about 'democracy'; they certainly act as if they wouldn't be caught dead with G-d on their lips.

Even a knowledgeable Benjamin Netanyahu--who knows enough to cover his head while reading from Tanach (the Jewish Bible)--dances around G-d's name. I can't be sure, but I believe you will hear Netanyahu use G-d's name - -but only if the venue is small enough or private enough. 

He never uses G-d's name while talking about Israel to foreign diplomats. I don't believe he has mentioned it more than twice outside Israel. He never talks of Israel's Redemptive Destiny in public.

The media elite is the same. The elite in the IDF is the same. Israel's academic elite is the same.

The way the power elites in Israel behave, you'd think it's racist to talk about religion. Certainly, no Israeli who has national aspirations talks openly about the relationship between G-d and Israel. No one does that because they all appear to believe that G-d is the fatal third rail for Israeli leaders: touch it and your career dies. 

There's a fatal flaw here. We are G-d's people. We are His Treasure. We live on land He has gifted to us. Yet, our leaders seem repulsed by Him.

Is this why the world sides with the Palestinian Authority?

Monday, July 31, 2017

The 'Nine Days' of Av, 2017

On the Hebrew calendar, tomorrow is the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. That means that tomorrow will be the last of the first nine days of Av. 

In Judaism, these first nine days of Av are called, 'the nine days'.

These nine days culminate with a 24+ hour fast on Tisha B'Av--the ninth of Av. We fast on the Ninth of Av because that is a day of national tragedy for the Jewish people. 

For example, on Tisha B’Av both Jewish Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed. They were destroyed more than 400 years apart. But their destruction took place on the same calendar date, the ninth of Av.

Other Jewish Tisha B’Av tragedies include:

-133 CE: The Roman governor of Israel ordered the site of the Holy Temple be ploughed under;

-1095: The First Crusade began, in which an estimated 10,000 Jews lost their lives in the first month;

-1290: The Jewish communities of England were expelled, making England essentially Jew-free for more than 350 years;

-1492: Queen Isabella of Spain issued her edict that the Jewish population be expelled from Spain; her edict  inaugurated the Spanish Inquisition;

1942: The deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to the death camp at Treblinka commenced'';

1994: The Argentine Jewish community center in Buenos Aires was bombed, killing 85 people and wounding approximately 300 more.

(These dates from Avner Zarmi, “The Most Calamitous Date of the Jewish Year”, pjmedia, July 30,  2017)

Our Oral Law, the Talmud, adds more detail to Jewish calamities that fell on the 9th of Av. You'll find these details in tractate Taanit, (26a-26b).

These dates of calamity are not limited to the 9th Day of Av. In our Jewish tradition, all of the days from the beginning of Av to the 9th Day are days of special 'negative' significance. These 9 days are considered by many to be a period with significant calamitous potential.

This year, both in Israel and around the world, we can see how clearly the ‘9 Days’ are not ‘propitious’. This year, the ‘9 Days’ began July 24, 2017. They will culminate tomorrow with the 9th of the 9 Days, Tisha B’Av.

Read the headlines below. They come from this year's '9 days'. These headlines tell a tale of danger for Jews:

-Simon Kent, “Anti-Semitic Attacks in UK Soar Amid Warnings of Spread in ‘Hatred and Anger’”, breitbart, July 27, 2017;

-Adam Shaw, “Palestinian UN Envoy Refuses to Condemn Slaughter of Israeli Family: ‘Do Not Expect All Palestinians to Be Angels’”, breitbart, July 25, 2017;

- Christine  Douglass-Williams, “World Council of Churches again defends Palestinian jihadists over Israel”, jihadwatch, July 29, 2017;

-Joel Pollak, “California Imam Prays for Allah to ‘Annihilate’ Jews in Public Sermon”, breitbart, July 24, 2017;

-Robert Spencer, “Catholic Churches in Jerusalem blame Israel for Muslim violence, deny Biblical roots of Temple Mount”, jihadwatch, July 24, 2017;

-Daniel Siryoti, et al, “Jordanian protesters demand end to peace treaty with Israel”, israelhayom, July 30, 2017;

-Erez Linn, “Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain at record high, new report finds”, israelhayom, July 28, 2017;

-Daniel Siryoti, et al, “Police on high alert in Jerusalem as Palestinians call for 'day of rage'”, israelhayom, July 27, 2017;

-“Amid crisis, Israel dismantles Temple Mount metal detectors”, israelhayom, July 25, 2017;

-Trey Sanchez, “Palestine Wants No Security at Temple Mount, Calls to ‘Defend’ Site Against Israel”, absolutetruth, July 26, 2017;

-Benny Avni, “Malice on the Mount: The hate behind the latest Mideast crisis”, newyorkpost, July 24, 2017;

-Lior Akerman, “The Al-Aksa intifada”, jerusalempost, July 27, 2017;

-Michael Laitman, “Who is sovereign on Temple Mount?”, jerusalempost, July 26, 2017;

-Taamara Zieve, “UK watchdog: record number of anti-Semitic incidents in first half of year”, jerusalempost, July 27, 2017;

-Ben Lynfield, “PLO official: removal of metal detectors doesn’t solve Temple  Mount crisis”, Jerusalempost, July 26, 2017;

-Jeremy Sharon, “Temple Mount is ‘for Muslims and Palestinians only’”, jerusalempost, July 26, 2017;

-Dov Lieber, “At the Temple Mount, it’s not about metal detectors, it’s about sovereignty”, timesofisrael, July 26, 2017;

-“ Hamas declares Temple Mount ‘victory,’ calls new ‘day of rage’”, timesofisrael, July 26, 2017;

-“ ‘Intensify’ struggle over Temple Mount, Fatah urges”, timesofisrael, July 26, 2017;

-“ Protesters at Israeli Embassy in US slam Temple Mount security measures”, israelhayom, July 30, 2017;

-“ 'Removal of metal detectors puts all Jews at risk'”, arutzsheva, July 25, 2017;

-“ Hotovely: Security on Temple Mount meant to save lives”, arutzsheva, July 26, 2017;

-Shimon Cohen, “Israel's policemen are 'sitting ducks' on the Temple Mount”, arutz sheva, July 26, 2017;

-Gary Willig, “Did State Department copy old reports to whitewash PA?”, arutzsheva, July 26, 2017;

-Eldad Benari, “UN chief urges Israel to show 'restraint'”, arutzsheva, July 27, 2017;

-“Abbas wants to fan the flames”, arutzsheva, July 27, 2017;

-Tal Polon, “PA officials: We defeated Israel over Al-Aqsa”, arutzsheva, July 27, 2017

Israel does not live in peace. Jews everywhere are under pressure. Those who wish to destroy us rise against us. They hate us. They call repeatedly for a Day of Rage against us. 

That is the Tisha B'Av-2017 story these headlines tell us. It is a story of Jews surrounded by hate. It's a story that has been unchanged for more than 2,500 years.

If you choose to remember any of these headlines from the 9 Days of 2017, it should be this one headline: Fred Menachem, “Why the Temple Mount crisis is calling me home, to Israel/ I often turned my back on Shabbat, yet I now seek it” , jerusalempost, July 30, 2017. 

We should remember this headline because it reminds us to Whom we owe our survival--to the One Above, the One who gifted Shabbat to us, the One who protects Israel. 

If you remember anything today, remember the 9 Days. Remember the tragedies of Tisha B’Avs past. Remember the hate that clings to Tisha B'Av today. Most important of all, remember who will Redeem us. 

You don't believe you should turn  to G-d? Fine. Go to the UN. Go to the EU Parliament. Go to US Democrats. See how they will protect you.

Turn to HaShem, our G-d. There's no one else out there who will protect you. No one.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Friday cartoon on Sunday: the meaning of 'no metal detectors'

(Last update: July 31, 2017)

Once again, Friday's cartoon doesn't appear until Sunday. Once again, last week's cartoons (available as of July 28, 2017) didn't pass muster.

Our standards are high around this blog. We don't print just any cartoon. We print almost any cartoon.

This morning, a good cartoon popped up. It's dated July 28th. I didn't see it until today. 

Today's cartoon is a double-header. They both come from the world of Palestinian media. They come to you via the good work done by the website, Palestinian Media Watch, which tracks Arabic media--and then publishes that which proves that the Palestinian Authority does not foster a 'culture of peace'. 

These cartoons come from the official Fatah Facebook page. Fatah is the political party, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the totalitarian-run Palestinian Authority. The two cartoons were posted originally in Arabic on July 25, 2017 and July 27th, respectively.

The first is titled, "Fatah cartoon: Israel removed metal detectors out of fear":

from: Nan Jacques Zilberdik, palwatch, July 28, 2017

Two days later, on July 27, 2017, the Fatah Facebook page showed a second cartoon. This was titled, "Victory is better than sleep":

from: Nan Jacques Zilberdik, ibid

The defeated. practically shoe-less  Israeli (Netanyahu?) drags his 'war' equipment away from the 'battlefield'. 

As 77% of Israelis say they disapprove of their government's removing the metal detectors from the entrance to the Temple  Mount, I'd guess that close to 100% of Palestinians celebrate their removal. True, I don't have a poll to support this observation. But then, no one in Israel needs to do a poll to see how overwhelmingly Palestinians support the detectors' removal.

No polls are necessary to validate a second point: Palestinians are ecstatic over what they perceive to be a defeat of Israel over this issue.

These cartoons paint a lovely picture for the Palestinian public. They show a fearful and defeated Israel--and joyous Palestinians.

In case you  miss the point of these cartoons, here's a headline that explains what the removal of those metal detectors means to Palestinians: Dalit Halevy, "PA leader: we are sovereign in the land", arutzsheva, July 30, 2017). 

This is not a joke. It's what Palestinians truly believe. They have defeated the Jews at their (the Jews') holiest site. To Palestinians, that means sovereignty for the Holy Land itself has fallen to the religion of Islam.

Yes, the 'sovereignty' referred to in the news story (Halevy, ibid) refers specifically to the Temple Mount. But the larger reference--to Israel itself--is inferred. The headline captures how the Palestinian leadership thinks.

Palestinians are joyous. They feel that, through the Holy Temple Mount, they have taken control of Israel. 

For Israel, this is not a benign joy. It will not lead to peace. It will lead to more violence.

You don't believe that? Stay tuned.

Friday, July 28, 2017

What does Mahmoud Abbas want?

In a speech before the UN General Assembly in September 2016, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas said he wanted to "coexist alongside the State of Israel in peace and security and as good neighbors"  ("Abbas' full speech at the UN General Assembly", haaretz, September 22, 2016). He also said that:

-There is no conflict between us and the Jewish religion;

-He supports "the efforts to confront terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and violence;

-His hand "remains outstretched for making peace".

These are wonderful sentiments. But since that speech, Abbas has shown that he doesn't believe a word he said. 

During the last 10 months, Mahmoud Abbas has done three things: (1) declared war against the holiest sites of Judaism; (2) inflamed violence against Israel and the Jews of Israel; and (3) stretched out his hand, not to make peace with Israel, but to ennoble Arabs who have committed acts of terror against Israel.

For example, he declared war against the Jewish religion by getting UNESCO to 'unJewish' the two most important Jewish holy sites in the world (the Temple Mount  in Jerusalem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron). UNESCO voted to proclaim these two sites to be Muslim only. UNESCO even declared the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron to be a 'Palestinian World Heritages site' (Tovah Lazaroff, et al, “UNESCO rules Cave of Patriarchs as Palestinian”, jerusalempost, July 7, 2017).

Abbas inflamed violence against Israel through his political party, Fatah. When Israel recently announced it would place metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount following a recent Arab terror attack that spilled onto the Temple Mount, Abbas' Fatah, which he runs with an iron fist, didn't call for peace or calm.  It called for an Arab 'Day Of Rage' in Jerusalem  (Adam Rasgon, "Fatah calls for 'Day of Rage', jerusalempost, July 18, 2017). In case you don't know, a call for a 'Day of Rage' is a call to Arabs to rush into Jerusalem to riot, destroy and throw Molotov cocktails.

Once Israel had decided to remove the 'offending' metal detectors from the entrance to the Temple Mount, Abbas didn't call for a return to normal life. Instead, he encouraged  Arabs to continue rioting (Nan Jaques Zilberdik, "Abbas encourages Palestinians to keep rioting in Jerusalem", palestinianmediawatch, July 26, 2017). 

He has stretched out his hand repeatedly not for peace with Israel but to honor 'martyrs' who have been killed by Israelis as they (the so-called 'martyrs') have tried to kill Jews in Israel. Abbas doesn't call these individuals an obstacle to peace'. He honors them. He names streets, schools and tournaments after them. He's even created a program that incentivizes the killing of Jews (Eli Lake, "The Palestinian Incentive program for Killing Jews", bloomberg, July 1, 2016).

So far as Mahmoud Abbas is concerned, Christians can use metal detectors to protect their Vatican. Muslims can use metal detectors to protect their Holy Mosque in Mecca. The Jews, however,  may not protect their Holy Temple Mount. They must be forced by threats of rioting to remove metal detectors from the Temple Mount--even after Arab terrorists had desecrated the plaza of the Temple Mount, making such protection necessary. 

Israel, fearing Arab riots, has surrendered. It has removed the 'offending' metal detectors. 

But Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't stop there. He went further. Apparently, removing protective metal detectors from the entrance to the Temple Mount wasn't a sufficient appeasement in the face of Arab outrage. Almost at the same time the metal detectors were being removed, Netanyahu announced he wanted to surrender 'land for peace'. The 'land' he chose was closer to Tel Aviv than to Jordan, leaving Tel Aviv exposed to rocket fire from such a close (future) 'Palestinian' enclave.  

Abbas got it right when he called the events of this week a victory against Israel. The Palestinian Authority was also right when it termed the events of this week a defeat for Israel.

Arabs are sensitive to appearances. They are alert to actions that suggest defeat and weakness. They know well what weakness and defeat look like.

They know full well how Netanyahu--and Israel--look right now. In this incident with the Temple Mount metal detectors, both Netanyahu and the entire Jewish state  have 'weakness' and 'defeat' written all over them. 

To celebrate, Palestinians have increased the intensity of their rioting in and around Jerusalem. 

Once the metal detectors disappeared, Islamic clerics allowed Muslims to return to the Temple Mount for prayer. They didn't just go to the Temple  Mount to pray. They went to riot (David Rosenberg, “Arabs riot on Temple Mount after metal detectors removed”, arutzsheva, July 27, 2017).

Judging from Abbas' actions and public statements to Palestinians, he is not a man who wants his people to live in peace with Israel. Clearly, he wants something different.  

What does Mahmoud Abbas want? He wants to see Israel firebombed. He wants to see Arabs stoning Jewish-owned cars on highways. He wants to see Israel torn apart by Arab rioters rampaging through Jewish streets.

He wants Israel destroyed--stone by stone, street by street, highway by highway and city by city.

Our Jewish Prophets of Old tell us that, in the days before our Final Redemption, the enemies of the Jewish people will attack Jerusalem. They will attack in order to conquer the Temple Mount for the last time. 

Right now, it looks  like we're living that Prophecy.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Israel's leaders, our Palestinian enemy and Abbas' greatest contribution to economics

(Last update: July 24, 2017)
Last week, Arabs who embrace the terror of the 'Palestinian  Cause' murdered two Israeli policeman in Jerusalem's Old City. Within a matter of  minutes, the terrorists had run up to the Temple  Mount, which was close by the attack. They were killed on the Temple Mount by Israeli police. 

To protect Israelis from future terror attacks on or near the Temple  Mount, Israeli officials ordered the placement of metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount. These detectors are similar to detectors found at the Islamic shrine at Mecca, the Vatican and airports around the world. They are everyday images virtually everywhere you travel.

Apparently, Muslims in Israel are outraged that Israel should put up metal detectors. Arab leaders have called for a 'Day of Rage' over this issue. That 'Day of Rage' has, so far, lasted five days. 

Here's a cartoon that captures the reason behind the rage that has hit Israel over these metal detectors. The cartoon comes from the jewishpress. The cartoon is by Asher Schwartz. It's titled, "Your security ends where my religion begins".  It's dated July 22, 2017:

Arabs have suggested many times that Israel does not have the right to defend itself. They rage and riot and murder to make this point. They posture with slingshots and strut with fiery Molotov cocktails. They are insanely outraged to see Jews protecting themselves against Islamic terror attack.

How will Israel respond to all of this? We don't know.

We don't know if Israel will stand strong or fold under pressure. We don't know how many Jews will die before this insane religious madness ends.

But we do know this: our leaders are uncertain. They do not stand firm.

They're afraid. They make a decision (to put up the metal detectors), then question their own decision. 

In the face of 'unfathomable' hate, our leaders become afraid of their own shadow. They have lost their way. 

Our enemy is not afraid. Our enemy is not uncertain.

Unlike our Jewish leaders, our enemy is not lost. He has found his way. 

He will kill. He will riot. He will stone policemen. He will send women, boys and even girls to stab Israeli soldiers. He will send his children on suicide missions to attack Jews.

He will celebrate his child's death as a religious 'martyrdom'. Then he will sit back, to collect a monthly income for life from the Palestinian Authority. The amount he receives will depend upon how many Jews his child has killed.

Killing Jews yields a higher return for more people in the Palestinian Authority than winning a lottery. It's Mahmoud Abbas' greatest contribution to the theory of economics. Right now, he's giving out more than $350 million US dollars a year for these payments. Abbas has made terror the biggest component within the Palestinian Authority's export business. It equals almost 50% of the income made from Palestinian exports, as of 2011, the latest figures easily available.

No wonder Palestinians rage. If they die while they riot, their families receive a windfall. 

For individual Palestinians, metal detectors, religion, rioting and killing Jews go together better than baseball and hotdogs in America.  Certainly, the payout is better.

How will all of this madness end?

G-d knows.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday cartoon: Islam and terror

Some people say Islam is a religion of peace. Some say it is the religion of peace, suggesting that this particular religion exemplifies 'peace' better than any other religion. Others disagree. They say Islam is not a religion of peace. They say it's the religion of terror (John Burger, "Islam: religion of peace or font of terror", aleteia, January 21, 2015). Still others say Islam is a religion of peace, all right. But it's been hijacked by terrorists (or, alternatively, extremists) (ibid).

Certainly, two things are true when Westerners talk about Islam: first, it's politically correct to say Islam is a religion of peace. Second, it's 'Islamophobic' if you put 'Islam' and 'terror' in the same sentence.

Now that we've got that straightened out, let's put analysis aside. Let's talk about reality.

Here's a cartoon from Israel. It's about Islam. It's about terror (please note: I do not use 'Islam' and 'terror' in the same sentence). This is not a cartoon about religion. It's not about politics. It's just a picture about reality in Israel: 

from: dirouge, at arutzsheva,  July 19, 2017

It's an ugly cartoon. But then, it depicts an ugly reality.

In Israel, relatively few people have much to say about the extent to which Islam provokes bad behavior (notice how I do not use 'Islam' and 'terror' in the same sentence). 

We don't spend a lot of time thinking about Islam and the world. We're too busy looking over our shoulder, worried about hearing the words, 'allahu akbar!'. 

We don't care about Islamic theology. We care about staying alive.

We're Jews. We don't know much about Islam. We know a lot about being the targets of terror. 

We're realists. We know that those who seek to murder us like to shout out the name of their god while they attack us. 

Do we need to know anything else?