Solomon Yaakobov observed his bar mitzvah on Thursday at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. (A boy can be bar mitzvah on Shabbat, or Monday or Thursday — all days when the Torah is read). He put his tfillin (phylacteries) on for the first time and approached the Torah. Appearing dazed, he was heard to murmur, “It’s sad, but there is nothing to do, I have got to do this… ” Around his neck he wore his father’s army ID tag. In the course of services, he recited the mourner’s kaddish for his father.

Just weeks ago, Solomon’s father, Yaakov, was killed by a Kassam rocket in Sderot; the family had been in the midst of planning the bar mitzvah. On Thursday, Solomon’s mother was too overcome with grief to speak. The bar mitzvah event was planned and handled — free of charge — by the One Family Fund that helps the victims of terror and their families.

Sometimes statistics and hard facts don’t quite bring home the message and something personal is needed.

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Our Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, the inveterate promoter of “diplomatic solutions,” has a new one: Let’s negotiate with the Palestinians now and reach a deal so they know what they would get from us, but let’s use it as an “incentive,” holding off on giving it to them until they dismantle terrorism.

Well… if the Palestinians wanted a true negotiated “two state” solution, they could have had it a long time ago. This is not their goal. And if she thinks they are going to abandon all of their violent intentions towards us, or their goal of destroying us completely, because we say, “See, see, you can have the whole West Bank,” she’s living in a different time warp. What this would do would be to set up raised Palestinian expectations and increase the pressure on us.

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A recent suggestion by MK (Likud) Yuval Steinitz, formerly chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, is much more to my liking:

Said he: “After 13 years of incitement and violence and terrorism and agreement violations, one should say that enough is enough. It is high time [that Israel] should abolish the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria and transfer the leadership to Gaza.”

Glory be! Now we’re seeing a bit of common sense! It’s a start. Steinitz is very much within the political mainstream. To hear him advocate dismantling of the PA provides a bit of hope that sanity might yet reign. (I can dream, can’t I?)

The Western world is stuck — stuck with a notion that has failed but keeps getting recycled, the notion that we have to work towards making the PA into a state. There is some really distorted notion that the Palestinians are entitled to this. In truth, nothing but the dismantlement of the PA makes sense. There is no justification for its existence, and doing away with it is the way to take on the terrorist infrastructure starting at its roots. The whole establishment of the PA was an extremely faulty experiment: Arafat and his Fatah cronies — supporters and enablers of terrorism, all — were brought in for this wide-eyed venture and it was expected they would make peace.

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Part of the problem right now is that the Israeli gov’t is devoid of a coherent policy with regard to the PA and a variety of other matters. Mixed messages abound. Could it be — could it possibly be? — that this is because the people heading the gov’t are without moral or diplomatic rudders and go as the wind blows?

Thus does Livni promote her idea, which does not have the blessings of Olmert (at least not publicly). And thus do a variety of other things occur:

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This past week the head of army intelligence announced that Syria was serious about making peace. This was rather fascinating, in a perverse sort of way. For, only days ago the head of the Mosad had declared unequivocally that Syria was NOT serious and there should be no attempt at negotiations. Surely the two intelligence groups could not be getting diametrically opposed information? Nahh… I saw the hand of the political echelon in this announcement — a way to soften up public opinion, promoted by politicos interested having us talk with Syria. The disturbing part for me is the evidence of how far the political arm reaches. One has some idea of “army intelligence” as “pure.” Ain’t necessarily so. Never mind that Olmert has come out against talking with Syria. Most of the time, anyway. Others in the gov’t are for it.

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You know what today is? The Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. That’s the holiday for which Olmert said last week — after having that lovely Saturday night dinner with Abbas — he would try to release Palestinian prisoners. Traditional good will gesture, and all that. At the time, not a word was mentioned about getting Shalit back first. Now, he’s saying we must have Shalit back before he can do this.

Abbas is saying, “But you promised… “

I’m not sure that he exactly promised, but he sure gave that impression, and had he wanted to make it happen he could have. My guess is that he licked his finger, put it in the air, and felt the direction of the wind. He might have been able to push it through, but a lot of people would have been mighty displeased. The press kept talking about “hundreds” released in a gesture of good will. But understand, the intention was to release 1,400.

That’s what happens when there is no guiding policy.

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Another marvelous gov’t decision taken last week: We gave permission for Egypt to send to Fatah 2,0000 rifles, in order to “strengthen” it against Hamas. This had been promoted months ago by the US.

This is a mistake for several reasons. There is a history of guns provided to the PA by us or with our permission — presumably to fight terrorism — being turned back against us. Fatah is not exactly a terror-free organization. Giving guns to them does not mean it goes to “the good guys.” One of the most vicious terrorist groups, Al Aksa Brigades, is a branch of Fatah (though there is much pretense that this is not so).

Then too, Gaza is already awash in weapons and introducing more into the region seems not the smartest of ideas. It is my understanding that Fatah already has plenty. There is every indication — and you’ll be hearing more about this from me — that Fatah’s failure to take down Hamas has nothing to do with its lack of weapons but with its lack of will to do so. The notion of strengthening Abbas “the moderate” by sending his people rifles, so that he can then defeat Hamas is simply nonsensical. But as Abbas likes to be seen as the weak underdog (this is part of how he survives), he is happy to play along.

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The Jerusalem Post revealed on Thursday that Hezbollah is paying terrorists for each Kassam attack. Each attack may be worth several thousand dollars with the precise amount dependent on the success of the hit. All money comes from Iran.

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The world is just a little bit better today because Saddam Hussein has left it. It is worth noting that there has been considerable mourning among the Palestinians over his execution. For them, Saddam was something of a hero. Draw your own conclusions.

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When I left the U.S. in 2001, and came to Israel as an olah (a new immigrant) I was eager to share personal impressions and solid information about the situation here. Thus was my listserve born. This list has grown, and its content and style have been refined. Now I do several postings a week, offering both reliable data and analysis.

Shortly after initiating my listserve, I began to work professionally as an investigative journalist for the Center for Near East Policy Research. Today I serve the Center in a consultant capacity. I work, as well, as a freelance writer.

New Jersey born and bred and a resident of Maryland for several years, I have been living in Jerusalem since shortly after my arrival in Israel.

If there has been a constant in my work over time, it has been my writing, but in many ways my background has been eclectic.

My bachelors degree is in psychology and my masters in counseling and human services.  I took up the cause of the Jews of Ethiopia in the 80s and early 90s, via the American Association for Ethiopian Jews; I worked in the field with people newly arrived in Israel, and assisted with relief and rescue efforts from the States.

I then turned to designing softskills software -- training in the computer on diversity, stress reduction and using your whole brain effectively -- and producing Jewish educational software and hard copy materials.  Simultaneously, I conducted live workshops on stress reduction, Jewish identity and more.

For a period of time, I worked with a top non-governmental anti-terrorist in the US.  This led, fairly directly, to my investigative journalism.

My articles have appeared in such venues as Azure MagazineThe Jerusalem Post, FrontPageMagazine.com, American Thinker, Arutz Sheva, YNet, National Review Online, The (Philadelphia) Jewish Exponent,  MidstreamPresent TenseThe New York TimesBaltimore Jewish TimesOutlookAmitThe Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia), and The Aish website.

I have produced several major reports on UNRWA for the Center for Near East Policy Research, as well reports on the true nature of Fatah, the dangers of funding PA security forces, the Israeli NGO Adalah, and more.

I have written three books: Disclosed: Inside the Palestinian Authority and the PLO in 2004, and Falasha No More (for children) andTreacherous Journey: One Man's Escape from Ethiopia, both in 1985.

I have done interviews with BBC online, FrontPageMagazine.com, Voice of America, IBA English News (Israeli TV), and IsraelNationalNewsTV.

I am on the Board of Advisors of EMET, a Washington based organization dedicated to providing policy makers in the US with accurate information.

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