Something To Watch

The Times of Israel posted the following headline yesterday:

Hezbollah denies border attack, says response to fighter’s death yet to come

Yesterday The Jerusalem Post reported:

Tensions remain high in the North after the IDF thwarted a Hezbollah terrorist attack Monday afternoon near Mount Dov along the border with Lebanon. The defense establishment is concerned Hezbollah might still carry out an attack against the military.

A Hezbollah cell, which numbered between three and five operatives, crossed the border, also known as the Blue Line, several meters into sovereign Israeli territory and was identified by the IDF, which opened fire on them with machine guns and tank shells.

The cell fled back into Lebanon without firing at the soldiers, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman said, denying reports that anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) were fired during the incident.
“We have some tense days ahead,” he said.

While the condition of the Hezbollah cell members was unclear, the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen news outlet reported that no Hezbollah fighters were killed during the failed attack. The soldiers were unharmed, the IDF said.

Hezbollah later released a statement saying there had been no clash along the border, and soldiers had fired on empty fields, making up the entire incident due to their “extreme fear” over a Hezbollah retaliation.

News from the Middle East generally resembles propaganda more than news, but the important thing to remember here is that both of these articles indicate that tensions are rising on the Israeli and Lebanon border. Please follow the links to read both stories for more information.

Some Common Sense From The State Department

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff at Power Line Blog posted an article about a recent statement of policy by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The article reports:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared today that the U.S. does not regard Israeli settlements on the West Bank as illegal. He thus reversed the position taken by former Secretary of State John Kerry in the dying days of the Obama administration.

Pompeo explained that, after carefully studying the issue, he concluded that President Reagan got it right when he found that the settlements are not illegal. Reagan had reversed the position taken by the Carter administration.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Benny Gantz both support this move.

The article also notes:

Caroline Glick views Pompeo’s statement as a diplomatic turning point. She writes:

Pompeo’s statement is first and foremost an extraordinary gesture of support for Israel and the rights of the Jewish people on the part of President Donald Trump and his administration. But from a U.S. perspective, it also represents a key advance in Trump’s realist foreign policy.

Since taking office, Trump has worked consistently to align U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and beyond to the world as it is, rather than to the world as “experts” imagine it to be. In the Middle East, this realignment of U.S. policy has provided the nations of the region – including Israel and the Palestinians – with the first chance of reaching genuine peace they have ever had.

I doubt that the Palestinians have any desire for genuine peace, and therefore doubt that Pompeo’s statement will move the parties closer to such a peace. However, I agree with Glick that Pompeo’s realism (and President Trump’s) about West Bank settlements is a prerequisite for real progress in any meaningful peace process.

Another thing that needs to be considered is that the ‘settlements’ are not really settlements–they are thriving communities that include hospitals, schools, and infrastructure. We have learned from experience that when the so-called Palestinians are given territory they do not built infrastructure–they use whatever financial aid they are given to build terrorist tunnels and buy rockets and ammunition. Until that changes, I see no point in negotiating to give any territory to them.


The Plan Behind The Tunnels

On Sunday, the Daily Caller posted an article about the battle plan related to the tunnels between Gaza and Israel. The article contained a map of the tunnels:


The article explains the plan:

Israeli security sources, citing information acquired in interrogations of captured brigands, described a scenario under which hundreds of heavily armed Hamas fighters would have spilled out into Israel in the dead of night and within 10 minutes been positioned to infiltrate essentially all Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.  Waiting then in hiding until schools and kindergartens were occupied, the terrorists would then attempt to kill the children first, and then kill and kidnap as many Israelis as possible.  The plot was set to take place during Jewish New Year, on September 24.

…Israeli military officials reported that the tunnels are stocked with tranquilizers, handcuffs, syringes, ropes and other materials used for subduing abductees, civilians and soldiers.  The tunnels also had fantastic quantities of explosives and additional military materiel meant to be used in the up-coming mega attack.  Much of these explosives had already been placed underneath Israeli kindergartens.  Some of these tunnels were as deep as 30 meters underground.

The italics are mine. We are not dealing with civilized people. The really bad news here is that the technology and strategy connected to these tunnels is also appearing at the United States’ southern border. This is not Israel’s war–this is the war for Western Civilization.


Mistreating Our Friends (Again) posted a story today about America’s denial of Visas to Israeli defense and intelligence officers.

The article quotes a government defense official:

“During the past year, everything has changed: I’ve heard many stories of defense establishment people who weren’t able to renew their visas, and it didn’t make sense to me until I tried to renew my own – and failed,” the official said, adding he would have to cancel a forthcoming trip to the States because of the visa issue.

Evidently the defense and intelligence officers are not the only Israelis having trouble entering the United States.

The article reports:

Late last month, Israeli media reported that the number of Israelis being denied tourist visas to the U.S. has risen significantly in recent years.

According to i24news, which cited State Department data, 9.7 percent of Israelis (12,000 people) who applied for tourist visas in 2013 were denied, up from 5.4 percent of requests that were rejected in 2012 and 2.5 percent that were refused in 2007.

A senior Israeli official surmised that the increase stems from reluctance in the U.S. to allow Israel entry into the Visa Waiver Program. That policy allows travelers from 37 countries to enter the U.S. for business or leisure as visitors for up to 90 days without a visa.

Meanwhile, as I reported on February 11 of this year (

The Obama administration has issued new exemptions to a law that bars certain asylum-seekers and refugees who provided “limited material support” to terrorists who are believed to pose no threat from the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department published the new exemptions Wednesday in the Federal Register to narrow a ban in the Immigration and Nationality Act excluding refugees and asylum seekers who had provided limited material support, no matter how minor, to terrorists.

So let me get this straight, we have decided to let people with ties to terrorism in and keep Israeli defense and military officials out. Are we confused as to who our friends are?

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A Contrast In Values

Hamas has repeatedly told Israel, “We love death more than you love life.” That is the culture of Palestine–Hamas rules Palestine. This week there was a vivid illustration of that statement.

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line reported that Mariam Farhat died in Gaza City after a long illness. She had been previously elected to the legislature in Gaza. She was the mother of six sons, but three died while committing suicide missions in Israel.

The article reports the touching story of her son Mohammed:

In a video that mother and son made together just before the attack, Farhat said: “I wish I had 100 boys like Mohammad. I’d sacrifice them for the sake of God.”

“When I see all the Jews in Palestine killed, that will be enough for me,” his mother said on camera. “I wish he will kill as many as he can, so they will be scared.” …

The video showed Mohammed holding hands with his mother, who prayed for him to become a “martyr,” the term Palestinians use for militants killed in attacks on Israelis. Armed with grenades and automatic rifles, he broke into a study hall, killing five seminary students before he was shot dead by a soldier.

Hamas supervised Mrs. Farhat’s funeral.

After reading Mrs. Farhat’s statement and seeing that she was honored for the sacrifice of her sons, I have no reason to believe there will ever be peace in the Middle East unless this kind of thinking changes.

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Separating The Facts From The Propaganda

Scott Johnson posted an article at Power Line today about the death of Omar al-Masharawi, the 11-month-old son of BBC stringer Jihad al-Masharawi. The baby was killed in Gaza City during fighting in the Hamas-ruled territory last November. Admittedly, it is tragic when an innocent child is killed in a war, but it is also tragic when the death of that child is exploited with little regard to the facts.

On November 23, Patrick Pexton, the ombudsman for the Washington Post, posted an article about the death of Masharawi.

The article at the Washington Post states:

That the man is Palestinian — not a terrorist but a journalist — and that the bomb was dropped by Israelis, to my mind, is almost beside the point. This photo depicted loss and pain, the horrific cost to innocents on both sides of the violence in the Middle East.

Yes, the photo does show the horrific cost to innocents on both sides of the Middle East. However, the ombudsman seems to have jumped to a conclusion that has since been proven false.

On March 11, the Washington Post reported:

A U.N. report indicates an errant Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike, likely killed the baby of a BBC reporter during fighting in the Hamas-ruled territory last November.

The death of Omar al-Masharawi, the 11-month-old son of BBC stringer Jihad al-Masharawi, became a symbol of what Palestinians see as Israeli aggression during eight days of fighting that killed more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis. A woman was killed alongside the baby.

In a way it really doesn’t matter to the child’s family which side is responsible for the death of the child–they have still lost a child, but it is disturbing that the initial reports along with the heart-wrenching picture blamed Israel before the facts were known. It is also unfortunate that the Washington Post ombudsman immediately assumed that the reports blaming Israel were accurate.

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Altering The Facts To Get The Conclusion You Want

In June 2012, I posted a story about a kindergarten graduation in in Gaza ( The article included a picture of sweet little kindergarten children dressed in camouflage outfits carrying rifles. This is the picture:

Below is a sample of Palestinian media taken from YouTube:


Meanwhile, CBN News reported today that a research study funded by the United States State Department has said that that Palestinians do not teach their children to hate Israel at school and through the media.

The article at CBN states:

American, Israeli, and Palestinian researchers spent three years examining hundreds of textbooks to determine how the two sides portrayed themselves and each other. They called their report, “Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the ‘Other’ in Israeli and Palestinian School Books.”

“As you know in the Oslo agreements, this was highlighted as a key issue, education for peace,” Dr. Bruce Wexler, professor emeritus and senior research scientist in psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, told CBN News.

Wexler, Adwan, along with Daniel Bar-Tal, professor of research in child development and education at Tel Aviv University, presented their findings in Jerusalem on Monday.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad welcomed the research, saying the “conclusions are not in line with its standing pre-conceived positions.”

One interesting aspect of this study is that it charges that putting the 1972 Olympic Massacre in Israeli history books casts Palestinians in a negative light because the terrorists who killed the 11 Israeli athletes were Palestinian.

Israeli Strategic Affairs Ministry Director General Yossi Kuperwasser is quoted in the article at CBN:

“I’m afraid that this report is going to be used in order to whitewash the Palestinians from the need to really tackle the major problem that prevents us from promoting peace here,” Kuperwasser said.

“And this is the ongoing Palestinian incitement for hatred, incitement for violence, for terror and the ongoing denial of the Palestinians of the rights of the other and the existence of the other, which is the Israelis and the Jews in this piece of land,” he added.

Until someone is willing to tell the truth about what is going on, there will not be peace.

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Would Americans Put Up With This ?

Cliff May at posted an article today about Sderot, a town in Israel that has been under fire from Hamas for thirteen years.

This is a bomb shelter in a playground at Sderot.

The article reports:

The people of Sderot have been under intermittent attack for 13 years. More than 15,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israeli targets – 12,000 of those since Israel withdrew from the territory in September 2005. Those Israelis who believed that giving up all claims to Gaza would bring peace — or at least contribute to the “peace process” — have been proven wrong.

Israelis are often advised by foreign friends not to “over-react” to the missile attacks. Imagine if Vancouver were lobbing missiles into Seattle. How might Russians respond if Poles were shooting rockets at Moscow suburbs?

The rockets can be categorized according to their markings:

More than twenty types of missiles have been identified. Hamas colors its missile red and green, which gives them an almost Christmassy look. The plain red ones are courtesy of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Yellow and red indicate the Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades. The black ones are from al Qaeda which also maintains a presence in Gaza. These weapons are often called Qassams but that’s a generic name that can refer to any improvised missile.

If Sderot were El Paso, Texas, and rockets were coming from Mexico, how long would we put up with this? The ongoing rocket attacks in Sderot are a fact of life. That fact needs to be part of the equation when we deal with Israel and the so-called peace process. If the Palestinians truly wanted peace, would the rockets be flying?

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Israel’s Actions Ultimately Protect The Middle East

Yesterday the Washington Post reported on the Israeli air strike inside Syria. The strike was apparently aimed at a new SA-17 antiaircraft missile battery the Syrians had placed northwest of Damascus.

The article reports:

The Israeli attack on the SA-17 missiles was first reported Wednesday by the Associated Press. What’s intriguing is that the same area that was hit — the Jamraya research center in the suburb known as Dummar, northwest of Damascus — is also a center for chemical weapons research. This led some Syrian opposition sources to believe that the Israelis’ real target was the chemical weapons center.

…The real significance of Wednesday’s attack, to me, is that the Israelis have laid down a marker. This is the first time their jets are known to have staged combat operations inside Syria since a 2007 raid on a nuclear reactor, a preemptive strike which to this day Israel officially refuses to confirm. The Israelis have now shown that they are prepared to strike if they see evidence of weapons that might threaten them — such as the advanced SA-17 missiles or, down the road, chemical weapons that are on the move.

Israel just made every country in the area a little bit safer. There is no telling what will happen to Syria’s chemical weapons when the current regime fails. Hopefully the Israeli strike has made them less useful.Enhanced by Zemanta

Mugged By Reality

“Mugged by reality” was the expression used by Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Jerusalem Post Herb Keinon to describe Israel when he spoke at the Ahavath Torah Congregation’s Memorial Lecture Free Speech Series. The Free Speech Series lectures are always enlightening, and the speakers are always people who have been involved with their subjects for many years. Mr. Keinon has lived in Israel for 28 years. He has a first-hand perspective on current events in the Middle East as well as friendships with many of the key players.

He reminded us that many of the events in Israel over the past twelve years are the result of the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000 and ended roughly around 2005. The Second Intifada began a few months after the July 2000 Camp David Summit failed to bring a negotiated peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.  In July 2000, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat was offered probably the best deal possible by the left-leaning government of Israel, and Arafat turned down the offer. Mr. Keinon stated that the terrorism that the Palestinians inflicted on Israel during the Second Intifada permanently influenced the minds and viewpoints of Israelis. The events created a sense of insecurity and vulnerability that changed the nation. One example of this is that the government of Israel, which tended to be center left, has now moved toward the right.

Mr. Keinon pointed out that the Israelis embraced the Oslo accords of the 1990’s, believing that negotiations were the path to peaceful co-existence with their Palestinian neighbors. The Israelis have always wanted peace; it seems as if the Arabs only wanted Israel. When the Palestinians went to the United Nations last year in an attempt to force a settlement without negotiations, that ended the possibility of further negotiations.

Mr. Keinon dealt with current events (will Israel attack Iran?) and stated quite frankly that no one really has the answer to that question. He provided a lot of insight into the impact of terrorism on Israel and the feelings of Israeli families in dealing with the threat. Sometimes when we look at world events, we forget that there are actual people involved.

The Free Speech Series put on by the Ahavath Torah Congregation is always an evening well spent.



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